BW: You've bundled a lot of ideas into a dualistic "muddle", making it less clear. Skeptics believe that all knowledge is presumptive and therefore false. Dogmatists believe that knowledge is self-evident and therefore true.
BW: Yes and no. Knowledge of means to survival is critical and knowledge itself evolves, but individuals don't evolve in the Darwinian sense. For a species or other biologic group, it isn't sufficient to merely survive, but also to procreate. Of course, a person with the genetic capacity to acquire and use knowledge is more likely to survive and procreate. But, her knowledge doesn't get transferred to her offspring, as Lamarck would insist. The only thing that gets transferred is the *potential* of the brain structure that facilitates the acquisition or application of knowledge. It is true that the wise procreators will nurture that potential and motivate the acquisition of knowledge in their children. But, it isn't the knowledge per-se that is inherited, so the wise act itself is not biologically "evolutionary".
TSW: "... the first step ... is to assume for a moment that knowledge is matter and that knowing is the motion of that matter."
BW: Seems upside-down to me. Knowledge is the condition of knowing some fact. The fact is more proximate to the "things" (matter) that exists in reality, while knowledge is more proximate to the mental effort of storage and retrieval (motion). However, both the condition and the known are a *result* (effect) of the learning *process* (cause) which modifies the brain. To have knowledge is to have the ability to retrieve learned facts. To know is to acquire valid facts from reality and abstract them for storage in the brain. So, they are two different processes, not different aspects of the same thing.
TSW: "From the deterministic viewpoint, information is matter outside the biological microcosm, while knowledge is matter inside the biological microcosm."
BW: This proposition doesn't follow from the knowledge=matter and knowing=motion premise stated earlier. Obviously, both relate to information, but information is not simply facts about matter; it is also facts about motion. Certainly, we can have information about matter and motion "inside" our biological construct, just as much as outside it. To speak of knowledge as being only "inside" our brain makes no sense. There can be knowledge in books or computers (external, material objects), learned by others from reality, which facilitate retrieval and learning by the reader. Piling one dualism on top of another doesn't clarify or inform, it just rattles the brain.
TSW: "From the neomechanistic viewpoint, information, like all other things or processes, is either matter or the motion of matter. Clearly, information is matter."
BW: Self-contradictory. If information is "like all other ... processes", then it is matter in motion. Saying that information is only matter discards the most important things to know: how the matter is uniquely configured as a distinct "thing" and how it moves or changes in response to other "things". Information isn't a material object; it is an observed fact, acquired from reality and expressed in human abstracts, that can be stored in our brains and communicated to others.
TSW: "... the brain, being matter, can only store knowledge in a finite form. The brain is forced to abstract from the infinite detail of the natural object."
BW: Yes and no. The brain is not merely matter: a dead brain stores nothing. The human is a processing device, with specific capabilities, such as abstraction (which may not exist in non-sapient brains). However, the human brain per-se (as an organic device) isn't "forced" to abstract; it can evade abstracting information from nature by simply ignoring it. Nevertheless, it is true that any "device" is finite, so acquiring and storing information is always a selective process. No entity - including God - can possibly know everything there is to know about the universe: brains aren't infinite and can't "contain" the universe.
TSW: "Any writer knows that it takes a lot more energy to think up words and type them than to type gibberish."
BW: I think the average human consumes 20% of its energy in brain processing. Sometimes, I think that writers consume 80% of their energy thinking about the next word in a coherent sentence.
TSW: "... because information gathering and processing is a human activity, this gives, in [the indeterminist's] view, a mystical, supernatural quality to humans, too."
BW: I'm not sure that's an "indeterminist" view, just a mystical view of cause and effect: whatever the mystic can't explain is caused by something "unseen" and therefore "supernatural". Note my prior comments on "breath=spirit".
TSW: Deutsch: "knowledge is a physical process, or rather a particular configuration of physical processes... information can be defined as a patterned distribution, or a patterned relationship between events."
"Appealing as this may be to the conjurors of matterless motion, it brings with it obvious problems. For instance, it would forbid our everyday treatment of information as matter."
BW: I agree with Deutsch, but I don't think he's advocating "matterless motion" at all, since a process is just a particular kind of directed motion of matter. It seems to me that abstraction is essentially pattern recognition, which is a capacity of the human brain. For example: observing that balls "fall" and bricks "fall" suggests a pattern of motion that is abstracted as a process called "gravity". (BTW: I disagree with Deutsch's devotion to "models" of human behavior.)
TSW: "Facts, like all other things, must be viewed in context ..."
BW: Agreed. This is almost an endorsement of my sense of facts as "unmitigated truths". An assertion about reality can be considered *absolutely true* in the absence of contrary evidence. Humans *need* that kind of certainty in order to make any progress in comprehending nature. Absent that kind of rational certainty, we would be perpetually disputing the question of whether existence exists.
Next: The Mind-Brain Muddle (Part 3 of 7)