Past Meetup

Hear Bill Hall on "Knowledge and Life - What does it mean to be living?"

This Meetup is past

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Note: Melbourne Emergence Meetup members are invited to attend Bill's illustrated presentation at the Melbourne Existentialist Society Meetup ( Gold coin donations would be appreciated.

Abstract: Biology is the science of life, yet biology still has not achieved generally acceptable answers to its foundation questions, “What is life?”, "What is the origin of life?" “What does it mean to be living?”, What is the meaning of life?

Epistemology is the philosophy of knowledge, yet epistemology still has not achieved a generally acceptable answer to its foundation question, "What is knowledge?"

Bill first confronted these foundation questions as a biologist and then as a knowledge management systems analyst for a large engineering company. The search for comprehensive and scientifically justifiable answers has guided his work. His answers unify key ideas from several disparate disciplines into a single solid structure. The keystone unifies Karl Popper’s 1972 and later works on evolutionary theory of knowledge and Maturana and Varela’s ideas from the 1970s on autopoiesis and cognition that claimed to provide a necessary and sufficient collection of traits that defined life. Popper claimed that knowledge is solutions to problems. Bill argues that life is impossible without knowledge and that knowledge is a product of living.

The keystone is supported by an understanding of the heritability of objective and subjective knowledge and the theory of hierarchically dynamic systems developed by Herbert Simon, Arthur Koestler, Stanley Salthe, and others. The entire structure rests on foundation theories of emergent complexity including physical dynamics and thermodynamics, Stuart Kauffman’s ideas on the origins of order and his concept of the “adjacent possible” together with the nature of time in George Ellis’s “block-” or “crystallizing block" universes.

Readings: Hall, W.P. 2011. Physical basis for the emergence of autopoiesis, cognition and knowledge. Kororoit Institute ( Working Papers No. 2: 1-63 - The paper provides the much more complete argument underlying this presentation.

A presentation, progress draft and extract papers relating to Bill's nearly finished hypertext book project, “Application Holy Wars or a New Reformation: A Fugue on the Theory of Knowledge” can be accessed on The book explores the foundation questions from much broader evolutionary, historical, technological, and sociological points of view.