Philosophical arguments are developed concerning the definition and manifestation of novelty, from the perspective of long-term life/environment coevolution:
1) Novelty is most usefully defined as discontinuity in the distribution of cause and effect relationships within time (where a causal relationship is defined in a simple sense as a repetitive temporal association between changes, and a change is in turn defined as the conjunction of identity and temporality).
2) A pragmatic reading of the history of life on Earth (and, more generally, any non-steady state cosmology) justifies the claims that novelty (according to this definition):
(a) Is unequivocally real, but also rare and step-like in nature.
(b) Is the natural phenomenon that imparts direction to time – both in terms of objective application of the scientific method to the past, and the unique importance of time in consciousness/human subjectivity.
(c) Exhibits a closer analogy to symbiosis, in the biological sense, than to any other natural phenomenon.
3) A necessary but not sufficient condition for the occurrence of novelty is the prolonged interaction of systems with similar function but different structure.
(a)Where function is defined, with respect to a given system, as causal repetition unique to, and operating within that system, and structure is defined as repetition dictated by the nature of that system’s material constituents, and imposing constraints on function.
(b) The actual instant at which novelty occurs is identifiable by the fact that changes that initially occur in a temporally inconsistent manner, due to random consequences of the structural difference between the systems, begin to occur consistently at the level of the two initial systems combined.
(c) Both the phenomena of symbiosis and of genetic assimilation may be relevant analogies.
4) The reality of novelty provides a metaphysical grounding for the fact that all objective language must continuously semantically evolve, reconciling the early and late works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and having implications for philosophical treatments of subjectivity relative to linguistic expression.
5) Although empirically speaking, novelty can only ever be identified retrospectively, it is suggested that development of a mathematical framework for the tracking of causal discontinuity within contexts that give rise bottlenecks of prolonged interactions between unrelated systems, may be of exploratory value.
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