Is life and/or consciousness a fractal pattern?


Ok, thank you @tafan2! I did not know that. The pple I’ve been talking to seem to think everything is a fractal. So I granted it (I know nothing about Math) but made an exception for realities that seem to me things that don’t lend themselves easily to mathematical descriptions, like life itself, consciousness, will/freedom, Godhood.



To be precise, you can’t use fractals as a means of modeling everything, but if metaphysics is correct, then you can use mathematics to model everything, including God.



To be precise, you can’t use fractals as a means of modeling everything, but if metaphysics is correct, then you can use mathematics to model everything, including God.

How can you model the ineffable and incomprehensible? I remember learning very clearly that you can know THAT God is but not WHAT God is; apart from direct experience in the beatific vision (which is STILL not comprehensible to a created mind, even an angelic mind). St. Thomas clearly taught that we know God only in the sense of him being “other”, i.e. We know what he is not; not what he is. So all my instincts tell me you must be wrong. There are things that transcend logic, God most of all, and Math is just a form of logic. We are not God the Word so that we might claim to apprehend the Father as he is; and we cannot contain the divinity in our little formulas; sorry.

In addition, the Church teaches we need more than reason; we need also revelation and faith to come to true/full knowledge; of ourselves, the universe, but most of all, of God. So your statement, as you’ve put it, seems highly contradictory to the heart of the incarnation.



Let’s think about this for a minute. There are a couple of ways to explain this. First, metaphysics, and for our purposes we’ll use Aquinas’ Fourth Way, says that there are gradations to be found in things. There’s that which is the maximum in anything (God), and then there are those things which are to some degree less than the maximum. This gradation can be modeled mathematically.

So metaphysics, and specifically Aquinas’ Fourth Way suggests that God, at least on some level, can be modeled mathematically.

But let’s consider something tricky, like consciousness. Can that be modeled mathematically? In some sense, yes it can. I’m a conscious being, this means that I have an awareness of things. I know that I’m human. I know that I’m American. I know that I have a screen name on CAF of lisaandlena. I even know that I have a consciousness that can ponder all of these things. All of these things are what define who and what I am.

But the question is, what if I begin to take some of these things away? What is the fewest number of things that a consciousness can be aware of, and still be conscious?

Reason would suggest that the fewest number of things that a consciousness could be aware of and still be conscious, is that I am. If you take that away, then it’s reasonable to assume that you take consciousness itself away.

So we can begin with I am (God) as the maximum in simplicity. It’s the least that consciousness can be aware of, and still be aware. From that absolute, we can model everything else. For me, it takes a great many things to define what I am. For God, it takes only one…I am. The difference between these two can be modeled mathematically.

This isn’t to suggest that mathematics can in any manner be the cause of anything. But anything that exhibits order, can be modeled mathematically. And that includes God.

This doesn’t explain where consciousness comes from.



Whose metaphysics says this?



Since this is a Catholic forum, I was referring to Aquinas’ metaphysics, and his Fourth Way specifically.



I have never once come across a philosopher who holds to this. I am admittedly an amateur, and often find myself reading a philosophical paper I have to struggle with understanding. But I don’t think I would have missed this. It may be your suggestion, but not Aquinasa



None-the-less it’s a direct implication of Aquinas’ Fourth Way. There’s a gradation to be found in things, the objective maximum of which is God. Thus this gradation can be modeled mathematically depending upon something’s relationship to the maximum.



Let me get this right. You think we exist with God on some sort of measurable or quantifiable scale? Can you defined “Maximum” here? Because God is being itself. There is an infinite distance between him and any creature, including the not only the highest Seraph, but all the seraphs, and angelic creatures, human, all spiritual and physical creatures, that we know or don’t; combined. So creation altogether, is infinitely removed from God, in whom all attributes are exactly the same thing: him.

Are you saying that there’s a mathematical language to express this infinite distance between creation and God? Perhaps. I can roll with that. It would be “analogy written in math”. We can only speak of God analogically, not precisely as such.

What I can’t roll with is your suggestion that essentially positive “statements” can be made about what God is: I don’t care if your language is Math or ordinary language; it cannot be true. But that’s what you seem to imply.

God is not just the “most” of what we are but something so “other” that some fathers speak of him as “not-existing”, not to say he doesn’t exist but to say how radically and incomprehensively “other” his manner of existing is. I can roll with us being in a proper scale with angels and the rest of creation; but how can we be on some scale with God?



When discussing things with me, you never have to be concerned with whether or not you have a sufficient level of education. There are very few people on this forum that are less educated than I am. I possess only a ninth grade education.

If anyone here should feel inadequately educated, it would be me.



I am asking, in other words, how do u account for infinity plus one being infinity?

Since God is infinitely above and beyond “the highest” creature on your scale, and he is infinitely above and beyond the “lowest” creature on your scale, how do you suppose he himself occupies a place on the same scale? So that you could say some creature, say St. Michael, is less infinitely not-God than, say, me?

God is not just “maximum”; he is unconditioned. Without limit. To put him on a scale as one item among many (of creatures) is, IMO, to pretend he has a “maximum”; like you can say, “on a scale of 1 to 100”. Where God is 100 and some creature is 1: that seems false and impossible on its face.

You can say Existence and nothingness; I suppose you can say that Mathematically. Maybe 1 and 0; I have no idea, but I’m willing to grant it. But we, the conditioned, do not exist on a scale with the unconditioned.



You’ve understandably mistaken my position as being representative of what I believe, it’s not. It’s simply what can be deduced from the beliefs of others. In this case, of metaphysicists such as Thomas Aquinas. If there is indeed a gradation to be found in things, then that gradation can be represented mathematically.

This may or may not be representative of what I actually believe.

In the case of some things, no way. In the case of others…perhaps.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of God’s infinite nature, might I suggest the following thread.

Personally, I’ve tried to avoid it.

I don’t mind that you object to my position, but you have to understand that it’s not necessarily my position. It’s simply what’s implied from Aquinas’ Fourth Way. There’s a gradation to be found in things. Of which God is the maximum. If I have a nature that’s relative in some manner to God’s, then God must also have a nature that’s relative in some manner to mine. And this relationship can be represented mathematically.



When mathematical geniuses discuss how math in its many forms can describe the universe to the point that it becomes the unifying principle behind existence, I always think of the great axiom, “When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

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There may be another way to understand this: Perhaps you yourself simply have not understood Aquinas.

Why would Aquinas exclude everything we/he understood to be true of God from his understanding of these gradations? This kind of compartmentalization seems more likely to be coming from you rather than him, with due respect.

For St. Thomas might have spoken of gradation, and referred to God as maximum (which of course is true, he is being itself) but this is not decontextualized; and he did not say we could scale God as one item with creatures on a scale of all things that exist. This latter part might just be your assumption and no more; perhaps you’re drawing wrong conclusions/implications from what St. Thomas said. That’s a possibility too, and very likely, IMO…

As I said earlier, God’s maximum isn’t just “most”, but literally, per St. Thomas Aquinas, unconditioned. There is an infinite distance between him and all of his creatures: Inifinite. Precisely because he is alone the unconditioned. You putting him on a scale with creatures as if there is a way to measure/quantify this infinite distance seems wrong, again with due respect.



You cannot claim you can put God on some scale with non-God as if he is just another comparable item among the many; and then attempt to exclude the fact (not the possibility! The absolute truth) of his infinity from the discussion.



I’m not sure I understand the dilemma.

What you say in the OP just seems to be a re-hashing of what I’ve already assumed: That God, the Ultimate Cause, is Mind. All else that proceeds, proceeds so as thoughts from this one single act of “mentation.”

But God, the Ultimate Cause, is not the same as His creation, since all creatures are participants in existence, while God is existence itself. All essences are participants in God, but not that they MAKE UP God — rather, they resemble his nature in various limited ways, as light is divided into an array of colors.

As for mathematical descriptions, I don’t understand the issue. In fact, that mathematics descriptions exist at all seem to presuppose the existence of a Ultimate Reality that is Truth itself and so grounds all things, including laws and immaterial realities like math.



@RealisticCatholic , I am just wondering if math/logic can describe all realities; including life; freedom and Divinity. In other words, do you not see the difference between saying God creates through an act of his arbitrary will/freedom and saying he is creator by nature? Claiming that Mathematics can describe/model all of reality without exception, seems to me to be speaking of this latter God. Spinoza’s God, perhaps, might be that; but I don’t see how a free act, like the act of creation, can be modelled on laws and principles that would then be describable in Mathematics. Not to mention an unconditioned reality.



And does this answer to this question, either way, disturb you?

Or is it just out of curiosity?

I’m not really sure I see a consequence for God’s existence, for example. Except that God is not conditioned: God is not in Math; Math is in God, etc.



YES! This is my thought exactly!



But this does not promote pantheism.

If God is not in math, but everything else might be, then there you already have a clue that there is a real distinction between God and all other things.


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