Universal Intelligence

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Universal Intelligence is a term used by some to describe what they see as organization, or order of the universe. It has been described as "the intrinsic tendency for things to self-organize and co-evolve into ever more complex, intricately interwoven and mutually compatible forms."[1]

A general description necessarily includes descriptions of religious thinking and terminology. For example, it has been described as that which resides within or beyond nature -- from ecological wisdom to the Tao and "God's will". While it includes concepts like self-organization, co-evolution, and co-intelligence, from a theological construct it isn't generally described as a personal "God" in the usual Judeo-Christian, monotheistic, sense, but an impersonal god in the pantheistic sense. This is a basic theological viewpoint in Vitalism, but the concepts are mutually exclusive (heretical).

In attempting to design an artificial machine intelligence, the term universal intelligence is a descriptive term based on a mathematical formula.

In chiropractic philosophy, it is used as the starting point as an "a priori" principle, "There is a universal intelligence in all matter continually giving to it its properties and actions, thus maintaining it in existence."


The term universal intelligence was possibly first used by the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras 450BC. "He introduced the idea of a Nous, the eternal mind, which transforms chaos into order and through it the material world comes into being."[2]

Modern usage

"Our ability, or even an insect's ability, to analyze hoards of always changing, almost random data coming to us at the speed of light is demonstration something magnificent is occurring within our minds. What this means is our conscious mind is in communication with a subconscious mind that already knows what to do. It also means the universe is in communication with our subconscious minds. The universe sends us information for which we must already know the meaning. Our intelligence contains the meaning of the universe. Universal intelligence is our intelligence."[3]

"Judging from the universality of phenomena, the nature of such phenomena, and the logical necessity of an adequate cause therefor, it is assumed that there is a Universal Intelligence which is the governing power of nature. Everything which exists is, in its degree, a manifestation of an Intelligence which is superior to the individual's comprehension. This Intelligent Power is not found alone in the great crises such as the first appearance of life and the dawning of consciousness or mind, but in the whole continuous, purposeful process." [4]

"There is more to intelligence than human intelligence. Intelligence is a property of the universe and of all that is in it. Universal Intelligence is the intrinsic tendency for things to self-organize and co-evolve into ever more complex, intricately interwoven and mutually compatible forms. Our human intelligence is but one manifestation of that universal dynamic. The more we are conscious of universal intelligence and connect ourselves to it, the more intelligence (and wisdom) we will have to work with. One might also describe Universal Intelligence as the mind or will of God or Spirit."[5]

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay says:

"In his Enquiry, Hume accurately described the Argument From Design as "useless" because in and of itself it can never "establish any new principles of conduct and behavior." The Argument From Design only shows at best that there is intelligent design in the universe; it tells us nothing about whether the entity cares about human beings, communicates with them, or has moral scruples. Of itself, intelligent design does not validate any theology beyond deism."
"On the other hand, intelligent design does not violate any known facts or logical principles. So why does it meet with such fierce opposition? True, many people leap immediately from the notion of intelligent design to the theology of their particular sect, but the proper response by anyone who claims intellectual rigor is to show the hidden assumptions in that leap of reasoning."
"Still, it's legitimate to raise the possibility that order in the universe arises solely from the properties of the universe itself. Or is it? We know that some cases of complex order are the result of intelligent design. We do not know that any other origin for complex order is possible. What basis do we have even for postulating such a possibility? The bottom line is that none of the criticisms of the Argument From Design are compelled by any empirical or logical evidence; they are inspired solely by the desire to discredit the Argument From Design for the sake of discrediting it."[6]

Use in artificial intelligence

There is a desire to create an "artificial intelligence" in a machine. In doing so the first problem is defining intelligence. "How can we hope to create artificial intelligence if we can't even say what intelligence is?!?!"[7] To help make this distinction, a mathematical formula has been devised to standardize a universal intelligence for comparison among various machine intelligence systems, although its usefulness and ability to be calculated may be in question.

<math>\Upsilon (\pi)=\sum_{\mu \in E}{2^{-K(\mu)}V_\mu^\pi}</math>
where E is the set of all payoff/outcome functions (see page 11) (loosely speaking), π is a "universal" strategy, K is the Kolmogorov complexity, and (page 9)
<math>V_\mu^\pi = \mathbf{E} \left ( \sum_{i=1}^\infty r_i \right )</math>

According to Ben Goertzel, Ph. D, "Since universal intelligence is only definable up to an arbitrary constant, it's of at best ~heuristic~ value in thinking about the constructure of real AI systems. In reality, different universally intelligent modules may be practically applicable to different types of problems." [8]

Use in Chiropractic Philosophy

The term Universal Intelligence is used as a starting point in chiropractic philosophy. In order to establish the existence of a Universal Intelligence, inductive reasoning is used, while the rest of chiropractic philosophy is deductive in nature. This concept is based upon the idea that organization bespeaks an intelligence, and thus, the order and organization of atoms, which are universal, bespeaks an intelligence of the universe. The concept of Universal Intelligence was first expounded upon by DD Palmer in his 1910 book, "The Chiropractor's Adjuster:" [1]

"As the Intelligent Energy that operates the human machine is derived from an Infinite Source, the Universal Intelligence, and is, therefore, limited only by the capacity of the brain to transform and individualize it, it is evident that any excess, deficiency or irregularity of action, either of which is a form of disease, must be due to some mechanical obstruction which prevents its normal transmission."

The first principle of chiropractic philosophy is called the Major Premise:

A Universal Intelligence is in all matter and continually gives to it all its properties and actions, thus maintaining it in existence.

R. W. Stephenson, D.C., Ph. C., was the first to put chiropractic philosophy into a systematic and organized manner, which appeared in his 1927 publication, "Chiropractic Textbook:" [2]

"Universal Intelligence is in all matter and continually gives to it all the properties and actions. The expression of this intelligence through matter is the Chiropractic meaning of life; therefore life is necessarily the union of intelligence and matter. Force unites intelligence and matter. Universal Intelligence gives force to both inorganic and organic matter. That force which Universal gives to organic matter as a higher order of its manifestations, is called Innate Intelligence." [2]

B.J. Palmer wrote extensively on chiropractic and mentions universal intelligence numerous times:

"Education, so far as health problems and religious theories are concerned, works from outside in; from below upward. Universal intelligence and Innate intelligence work from above downward, within outward." vol 22
"Behind the Universe is a universal intelligence which has directed its functions in millions of ways for millions of years. It follows a definite pattern which never varies, each to its kind and form." vol 22 "THE BIGNESS OF THE FELLOW WITHIN", By B. J. PALMER, D.C., Ph. C., COPYRIGHT, 1949, BY B. J. PALMER
"We assume you have read our writings and know whereof WE speak. If you can imagine the derision, contempt, scoffing he presents in trying to make it appear that we are establishing an unfounded, ungrounded, fantastical religious “cult”, then you know what we are opposing. No where in any of my writings will you find anything taking on any appearance of a religion, other than to acknowledge as fundamental a Universal Intelligence, call it God if one must, which is personified in man as a Unital Innate Intelligence; one of which is all intelligence, all powerful sufficient for the Universe, the other of which is all intelligent and all powerful sufficient unto the unit, be that unit man or animal, insect or tree, etc., as exemplified in any, every, and all LIVING objects." vol 26, "CONFLICTS CLARIFY" By B. J. PALMER, D.C., Ph. C. President, the Palmer School of Chiropractic, COPYRIGHT 1951, BY B. J. PALMER
"Why title IT “UNIVERSAL INTELLIGENCE?” Because man, with his limited horizon, suggests IT possesses knowledge, understanding, ideas, ideals, discrimination between life and death, normal and abnormal, right and wrong, good and bad, constructive and destructive values of materials; adapts itself to conditions to preserve its integrity in all living products it creates and sustains. That IT IS “universal” is an all-inclusive term of time, abilities, materials, beyond human scope. IT is that intangible SOURCE from which spring all things superior TO mortal man, IN man, TO which all men aspire, revere and seek to comprehend its unlimited possibilities and responsibilities." vol 37, "THE GLORY OF GOING ON", by B. J. PALMER D.C., Ph. C., Original Copyright 1961 B. J. Palmer, Printed in The United States of America THE PALMER SCHOOL PRESS, DAVENPORT, IOWA

Religious implications

While it would be easy for someone who already believes in God to conclude that these early chiropractors were talking about God, they were not talking about a personal God in the usual Judeo-Christian, monotheistic, sense, but an impersonal god in a pantheistic sense, which is a basic theological viewpoint in Vitalism. The concepts are mutually exclusive (heretical) to practicing believers.

"It is important to remember that the chiropractic concept of a Universal Intelligence is a principle of organization. While it may share some of the attributes of God: omnipresent, without solicitude, and immutable, the concept of God has the characteristics of love, justice, righteousness, and personality. None of which are a part of Universal Intelligence." (Joseph B. Strauss, Copyright 1991 "Chiropractic Philosophy")

The comparison of Universal Intelligence to God is mentioned in various writings throughout the early chiropractic years.

You may call this universal intelligence—God, if you choose. Vol. 1 "The Science of Chiropractic Its Principles and Philosophies" By B. J. PALMER, D. C., Ph. C.
"We know there is a Universal Intelligence—call it “God” if you wish. We know there is an Innate Intelligence in the unit—be it tree, bird, reptile, animal, or man. The evidence is everywhere surrounding us and in us. This evidence appeals to reason, logic, common sense, and facts. It is not necessary to “believe” or “have faith” in those facts. But, where the two meet, if they do before or after death, is unknown to us. We can “believe” and “have faith” in any way we please, but there is no evidence to sustain any reason, logic, common sense, or facts." Palmer Vol. 22 1949

Even while there are religious implications with Universal Intelligence, the most influential of the early chiropractors, BJ Palmer, had his doubts about various religious teachings and even criticized the Bible.

"‘God’ is a name given to the life-giving universal principle. It is, according to the Book, both good and bad. Stories recited are constructive and destructive. These stories are full of contradictions. Our study of The Book made us distrust its reliability when confronted with facts as we know them. We were in doubt. We had questions for which we found no answers. That there was a Universal Intelligence was true, but it did not exist as The Book told the stories. It was not a He or Him. There were no places such as heaven or hell. The Book was not ‘the Word of God’ because Universal Intelligence does not speak words, language. If Universal Intelligence did speak words, was it English, Greek, Latin, German, French, Chinese, or what have you—all of which are in use now, some of which were not in use then, all of which are spoken of today as ‘the word of God.’" Vol. 22

Interestingly, BJ Palmer also speaks of the division of religion and medicine, as seen by this quote.

"In the name of education, years before Christ, Thales, a Greek philosopher, had the idea that man was two halves of a whole—that he was divisible. He propounded and advocated a new approach to the study of man, viz., —the soul, spirit, ego, subconscious mind was one study—the corporeal, material, matter, tissue structure was the other study. The soul was given to the theologians—and they have claimed it was their prior arts rights for exclusive study and investigation ever since. All others keep off. The material structure was given to the physic-ans—and they have claimed it as their prior arts rights for exclusive study and investigation ever since. All others legally dare not. Today, we have two classifications of scientists, students, investigators, schools, colleges, and universities—materialists and immaterialists—ministers to the abstract soul—physicians for the physical body. Who ever heard of a minister taking his sick soul to the physicist? Who ever heard of a physicist taking his sick liver to a minister? Christ has been trying ever since to take that which was indivisible and put them together. Man is divisible in theory and as a matter of educated man’s concept of education. Man is not divisible, in fact. His Innate and his body were soluble, each to each other." pg 39 Vol 22

See also


  1. Palmer DD.(1910)The Chiropractor’s Adjuster: A Textbook of the Science, Art and Philosophy of Chiropractic for Students and Practitioners. Portland, OR: Portland Printing House
  2. 2.0 2.1 R. W. Stephenson, D.C., Ph. C.(1927)Chiropractic Textbook'. Palmer School of Chiropractic

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