Part 2 - The Relativity of Death: The informational structure of creation

investigating the problem of life and death - The informational structure of Creation

 The Creation Michelangelo (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Creation Michelangelo
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In order to continue investigating the problem of life and death, it is necessary to describe the informational structure of Creation, at least in brief. A more detailed description is given in my articles … and my book From Infinity to Man. 

Before we begin analyzing the informational structure of Creation, I would like to highlight the principles which govern my analysis.

1. Every notion of Creation, every event must be considered and explained from the perspective of why it was necessary for the creation and the functioning of Man. We call it the Anthropic Principle of the Kabbalah of Information. 

In modern physics, there is a question: why is the Universe fine-tuned for life? This question can be reformulated to “Why the fundamental constants of the physical Universe have values which support life?” What is meant is that any slight change in the value of these constants would make life impossible. In 1974, Brandon Carter put forward the Weak Anthropic Principle: “We must be prepared to take account of the fact that our location in the Universe is necessarily privileged to the extent of being compatible with our existence as observers”. Later, he proposed the so-called Strong Anthropic Principle: “The Universe (and hence the fundamental parameters on which it depends) must be such as to admit within it the creation of observers at some stage”.

There are multiple explanations of the Anthropic Principles offered by the scientific community. The first one is the Design Argument, stating that the Universe was designed for life. The second one is the Multiverse Argument, which comes down to the statement that there are many universes with a probability distribution of the value of the constants and we are just lucky to find ourselves in one with the right set of values. In my opinion, the latter argument is implausible “as outside the legitimate bounds of logical discourse”, as John A. Wheeler put it. The objections could be formulated as follows. First, the existence of the multiverse has never been proven or experimentally determined. Second, even if we assume that a multiverse does exist, it just pushes the question of the origin of everything down the line.I fully agree with Wheeler’s statement that the “Anthropic Principle is not a conjecture but an attractive working hypothesis”. The Kabbalah and the Kabbalah of Information fully endorse the Anthropic Principle, since the core principle of our faith is that Man is the ultimate goal of the whole Creation.

2. The Relativity Principle of Creation.

2.1 Creation relative to Ein Sof (G-d in His essence) and relative to Man is different.2.2 Any event in Creation, including existence, life and death, should be considered relatively to a certain informational world of the infospace of Creation.

3. The participatory principle. The necessary condition for the existence of the Creation is the mutual informational exchange between G-d and Man. The actions of G-d affect the actions of Man, and vice versa. This principle resonates with the idea of the participatory Universe formulated by John A. Wheeler. He writes: “Physics gives rise to observer participancy; observer paritcipancy gives rise to information; and information gives rise to physics.” Wheeler calls the Universe “a self-excited circuit”. Giving an example from quantum physics, he writes that “the choice one makes about what he observes makes an irretrievable difference in what he finds. The observer is elevated from ‘observer’ to ‘participant’”. 

The winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry Manfred Eigen in his seminal work From Strange Simplicity to Complex Familiarity fully endorses the ideas of Wheeler about the informational origin of reality and the participatory principle. He takes the famous principle “it from bit”, put forward by Wheeler, and combines it with his own principle “bit from it”: “Origins of everything involved a feedback between ‘it’ and ‘bit’. Unless they are linked to one another right from the outset, one cannot originate without the other”. Eigen formulated a scientific challenge: “We need a theory of the origin of information”. He writes: “Information lies at the origin of life. <…> Information is an invention of nature. It is organised in a reproducible mathematical way and has existed in reality from the time of its origin.”

The Informational Structure of Creation

In this chapter, I will use the notion of informational entropy developed by Claude Shannon. It is important to note that Shannon’s entropy deals with the number of possible informational combinations, but not with semantics. In general, Shannon’s entropy reflects the degree of our uncertainty.

1. Worlds of emanation

1.1 Tzimtzum was a giant leap from absolute uncertainty about G-d in His essence (Ein Sof) to a degree of certainty about the world of Tzimtzum itself. In Etz Chayim, Rabbi Itzhak Luria writes: “The discourse is that Ein Sof is called Zero, for in it there is no understanding; for neither matter nor form is there”.

According to Claude Shannon, information is the reduction of uncertainty. Hence, we can consider the act of Tzimtzum as the creation of information. The notion of Tzimtzum was put forward by the great Kabbalist Rabbi Itzhak Luria. In brief, Tzimtzum means the “contraction” of Ein Sof, the creation of a hollow space (Tehiru) and the subsequent emanation of the ray of Light into it. After a long debate, the Kabbalist concluded that we should understand Tzimtzum figuratively. According to the Kabbalah of Information, in the process of Tzimtzum all the parameters of the informational structure of Creation were set. The Shannon’s entropy of Tzimtzum is very low.

1.2 The World Adam Kadmon (Primordial Man) was the introduction of the idea of Man into Creation. From Kabbalistic sources, we know that this informational world has the shape of Man; the rest was not defined. Its Shannon’s entropy is quite high.

1.3 The World of Akudim – all the Sephirot in one vessel; the introduction of the idea of the Informational Concept into Creation. The world of Akudim is more ordered than the world of Adam Kadmon, hence its Shannon’s entropy is lower.

1.4 The World of Tohu (Nekudim – “points”) comprises the ten Sephirot (concepts). Each is represented by just one complex concept – a point in the informational space. The informational distance between the concepts is big. As a result, they don’t interact with each other. The world of Tohu is highly dimensional with a very low “population density” of concepts. The structure of the world of Tohu is highly ordered and fixed. Therefore, its Shannon’s entropy is very low.

According to the Lurianic Kabbalah, the world of Tohu has undergone the process of the “shattering of the vessels”. It is described as follows: the vessels could not hold the pressure of Light and shattered into many shards, each containing a spark of Light. The shards “fell” into the worlds of Creation and formed there the seeds of all self-aware creatures and the kelipot. 

In the interpretation of the Kabbalah of Information, the shattering of the vessels signified the breaking of the highly complicated concepts into simpler concepts with a projection on the dimension of “I” (“self”). 

1.5 The World of Atzilut also comprises ten Sephirot, and there, each Sephira comprises ten Sephirot, etc. It has the structure of a fractal. Unlike the world of Tohu, every Sephira in the world of Atzilut is represented by a family of concepts which are very close to each other in the informational space. The transition from one Sephira to another occurs through an “error threshold”: at a point, small, incremental changes in the informational representation of concepts lead to a radical change in their meaning. The number of possible combinations in the world of Atzilut is huge; its Shannon’s entropy is very high.

2. The Worlds of Creation

The worlds Briah (Creation), Yetzirah (Formation) and Assyah (Action) are the projections of the world of Atzilut. They have the same structure – that of the Tree of Sephirot, and Sephirot inside Sephirot (fractals). We read in Rabbi Itzhak Luria’s Etz Chayim: “And behold, the three Worlds of Briah, Yetzirah, and Assyah are all complete Vessels. And therefore, they are not a divinity. And therefore, they are called the Seals of Atzilut”. The difference is in the complexity of the concepts, dimensionality, and the presence of self-aware entities and other informational entities (Gan Eden, Throne of Glory, Angels). 

The transition from the worlds of Emanation to the worlds of Creation takes place in the informational space of the Sephira Malkhut of the World of Atzilut, which is at the same time the Sephira Keter of the world of Briah. In this part of the informational space, the Ten Utterances of Almighty were formed. 

We can draw an analogy between the abovementioned process of transition and phase transition in physics, as it is accompanied by the compression of information, a reduction in complexity and dimensionality, and a reduction in informational entropy. The same kind of transitions take place between the world of Briah and Yetzirah, and Yetzirah and Assyah, but to a lesser extent. Rabbi Itzhak Luria writes: “Indeed, there is a difference among the Worlds, and it is that Malkhut of Atzilut in all the generality of the ten Sephirot dresses in the aforesaid Throne, which dresses inside the head of Briah. Indeed, in the rest of the Worlds it is not so, for only the tenth part of Malkhut of Briah dresses in the seventh superior Palace of Yetzirah. And so, also the tenth part of Malkhut of Yetzirah by itself dresses in the seventh superior Palace of Assyah.”

In order to describe the transition, Kabbalists use the notion of a “dividing curtain”: “…the quality of a curtain, which serves as a separator between Atzilut and Briah. <…> However, Briah is the Light that comes through the curtain. <…> Indeed, Yetzirah does not receive its Light from Briah except through the curtain and the distance. <…> And likewise, in Assyah only the new curtain that is between Yetzirah and him is considered” (Etz Chayim). 

In the article What is Everything Made Of? I outline the idea that the Kabbalah of Information is based on the position of ontic structural realism. Structural realism was proposed by John Worrall in 1989. Ontic structural realism claims that there are no “things”, and that structure is all there is. The Kabbalah of Information adds to this principle: “informational structure”. Arthur Eddington, Hermann Weyl, Henri Poincare, Max Born, and others were among the pioneers of the ideas of structuralism and structural realism.

Taking into account the invariant structure of the worlds Briah, Yetzirah and Assyah, and the ideas of ontic structural realism, I can put forward the thesis that the laws governing all the worlds mentioned above are structurally and relationally the same. 

As a result of the transition from Briah to Yetzirah and from Yetzirah to Assyah, the order increases and the informational entropy decreases (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 (Credit: Eduard Shyfrin)Figure 1 (Credit: Eduard Shyfrin)

In the Kabbalah, the world of Briah is associated with the Sephira Bina (Intellectual Understanding), the first letter hey from the Tetragrammon (Four-Lettered Name of G-d), and with the intellectual part of the soul – Neshama.The world Yetzirah is associated with six Sephirot: from Chesed to Hod (Midot – Emotions), the letter vav of the Tetragrammon, and the emotional part of the soul – Ruach. 

The world Assyah is associated with the Sephira Malkhut (Kingdom), the second letter hey of the Tetragrammon, and the animal part of the soul – Nefesh. 

In the Kabbalah, Sitra Ahera (The Other Side) is the zone of evil. In the article Theory of Evil I proposed definitions of the Sitra Ahera. Here, I repeat them briefly:

  1. Evil is the violation of any of the 613 commandments of the Torah.
  2. There is no evil which is not associated with the violation of the 613 commandments of the Torah
  3. Consequently, Sitra Ahera is the zone of the informational space of Creation which contains anticommandments (where do becomes don’t do, and don’t do becomes don’t don’t do).
  4. Kelipot are, according to the Kabbalah of Information, a zone of informational space close to the position “self” (“I”). It is important to point out that Kelipot and the Sitra Ahera exist, to a different extent, in all the worlds of Creation. In Etz Chayim, Rabbi Itzhak Luria writes that in the world of Assyah, evil prevails over good; in the world of Yetzirah, they are equal; and in the world Briah, good prevails over evil.

To purchase Eduard Shyfrin’s book ‘From Infinity to Man: The Fundamental Ideas of Kabbalah Within the Framework of Information Theory and Quantum Physics’ please click here.

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