Author Archives: M D

Draw a Point on the Face of Infinity

(First, let me write that this is simply an exercise in what I term ‘musings’ which matters not about truth or falsity but only possibilities; possibilities flame the mind with openness and fuel the passions of many desires.)

Infinity, Descartes tells us, is an idea which overflows itself. It is one of many avenues which free the spirit as musings rooted in music lights up the mind and rouses our passions.

A point in the face of infinity is one of many particularizations of an abstraction. The face, as a boundary imposed on infinity is nevertheless an abstraction which in our case has been conjured up by a point. A point need not be finite, it may also be infinitesimally small which once again rouses the fabric from whence it is made. It demonstrates a circularity in facing us.

Physics as appearance, as what shows itself; what presents itself, utilizes the ‘point’ quite often to concretize abstractions which cannot be seen except in the presentation of another abstraction; the point as facing us in its stark abstraction.

If we make a series of points into an imaginary line and stretch the line through space, we will find that the shortest distance between two points is not a line because time is space and space is time and they are vastly curved by planets, suns, galaxies, and black holes. It makes no sense to speak of a straight line in time-space without lapsing into an imaginary fantasy world, an abstraction. Even a worm hole, if it exists, would be more like a curvy worm writhing time-space into extremely twisted distortions which could hardly be called a straight line. With this in mind let’s say our line is really a small increment on a non-linear abstraction such as a circle or a sphere. What happens when we shrink our circle into smaller and smaller loops? In a recent article called “The Origins of Space and Time” in Scientific America a stark observation is made:

“Natalie Paquette spends her time thinking about how to grow an extra dimension. Start with little circles, scattered across every point in space and time—a curlicue dimension, looped back onto itself. Then shrink those circles down, smaller and smaller, tightening the loop, until a curious transformation occurs: the dimension stops seeming tiny and instead becomes enormous, like when you realize something that looks small and nearby is actually huge and distant. “We’re shrinking a spatial direction,” Paquette says. “But when we try to shrink it past a certain point, a new, large spatial direction emerges instead.”” (Becker, 2022)

The article goes on to state that in two radically different mathematics, one of the extremely small which deals with quantum mechanics called conformal field theory (CFT) and one of the extremely large which deals with gravity called anti-de Sitter (AdS) space, can each equally describe the very large and the very small, gravity and quantum mechanics. AdS has one more dimension in it than CFT. Four dimensional CFT encodes everything in AdS, in five-dimensional space. Two nearby regions of space on the AdS side correspond to two highly entangled quantum components of CFT.

Certainly, as we have mentioned a point can simply revert back to what it always was, an infinitesimal, ideal and not real. However, physics has discovered that infinitesimally small does not rest in infinity in practice but reverts to infinitely large. At some point the singularity, the infinity point, of a black hole may result in a big bang creating time and space, binding into mass and forces of atoms (electro-magnetic, weak and strong force) and gravity which unfold from pure energy into forces which clump as densities and time-space fabrics weighed down by mass, deforming time and space with a force called gravity. In all of this we find a circularity from chaos as massless pure unbound energy, neutrally charged with no attraction or repulsion to anything, simply popping in and out of existence prior to a universe.

Additionally, researchers have note that,

“The researchers’ previous investigation into the early universe replaced the idea of a Big Bang singularity, where the universe emerged from nothing, with the Big Bounce, where the current expanding universe emerged from a super-compressed mass that was created when the universe contracted in its preceding phase. They found that all of the large-scale structures of the universe accounted for by general relativity are equally explained by inflation after this Big Bounce using equations of loop quantum cosmology.

In the new study, the researchers determined that inflation under loop quantum cosmology also resolves two of the major anomalies that appear under general relativity.

“The primordial fluctuations we are talking about occur at the incredibly small Planck scale,” said Brajesh Gupt, a postdoctoral researcher at Penn State at the time of the research and currently at the Texas Advanced Computing Center of the University of Texas at Austin. “A Planck length is about 20 orders of magnitude smaller than the radius of a proton. But corrections to inflation at this unimaginably small scale simultaneously explain two of the anomalies at the largest scales in the universe, in a cosmic tango of the very small and the very large.”” (McCormick, 2020)

Pure energy is unbound energy. It is a cacophony, chaotic and unable to clump together as atoms. Heavier atom nuclei are created in the fusion of the sun. Protons and neutrons are held together in the nucleus by the strong force and are millions of times more bonded together than electrons that are bonded to an atom, especially in the outer shells. Atoms are waves which bind to each other. The Higgs boson is a sub-atomic particle which is responsible for this harmony of wave-like bonds. The atom brings harmony to the world. Quantum mechanics comes from the word quanta which means discrete or digital as opposed to analog which has infinitesimally small ‘points’ which get ever closer together. The nuclei of atoms pull in free electrons from free ranging radiation, unbound energy such as photons and impose structure and order on them in the form of particles or bound energy. The closest cloud shell to the nucleus has a resonant frequency depending on the type of element. All the further shells are octaves of the first shell. Actually, electron particles are described mathematically as standing waves. These standing waves are harmonic octaves of energy ‘shells’ around the nuclei. When an orchestra resolves notes into octaves, we hear the sound as an agreement of sorts. Parmenides saw harmony as a balancing of opposites which gave illumination to the muses, to music. It was pleasing and created form from chaos. In physics we call this phenomenon standing waves.

Standing waves are a moment when waves combine perfectly to create their highest moment or amplitude. Instead of fighting each other the waves unite as a collectivity, a whole moment of their highest goal, culmination or perhaps, telos in Greek thought. This is the discrete octaves of quantum mechanics. The nuclei pull in chaotic radiation and photons to create an electron and an excess amount of energy which is called kinetic or in Aristotle’s terms ‘actual’ energy. The kinetic energy is spent keeping the electron in its quanta shell with angular momentum. The cool thing about an atom is the way it absorbs and radiates energy. When it is bombarded with energetic radiation, to a degree, it maintains its structural nucleus and spends and absorbs energy by binding or releasing electrons and using the energy produced in this creation to fuel its quanta shells. It is important to remember that these bounded electrons and the nuclei itself are waves. Electrons around the nucleus are more like waves in the ocean on a calm day. Atoms can maintain their nature, in Latin terms, without transitioning to another kind of nature, another kind of element. When radiation energy is too high atoms can lose or gain protons and neutrons in radioactive decay called fission or fusion. After this kind of storm of radiation atoms become something other than what they were, they transform to another element, a transposition of a musical key. Chemical bonds called molecules which make up cells are able to withstand a certain amount of abuse before they break down. This is due to the way atoms can absorb or radiate energy without changing their nature. Cells can maintain themselves with a certain amount of abuse before cancer sets in and changes their atomic nature.

What is important to understand in the previous discussion is that chaos, unbound energy, can harmonize, transform chaotic void to form. The atomic, harmonic moment is harmony in and from chaos, unbound radiation and free energy. They can also share electrons with other elements to become molecules, a symphony of octaves. String theory utilizes musical metaphors to capture how multidimensional time-space can bring sub-atomic particles into our universe. Form and order are not absolutes, they are momentary mirages in a desert of chaotic nothingness we call the universe. Form and order are not absolutes. They are a moment of a movement in the orchestration of existence. We are the audience of the music of the gods. We are serenaded by reality. It is our choice if we let the muses move us into the fleeting light or we harden our ears and become deaf to beauty, wonder and awe. Mass is the reality of a harmonic song. It is the clumping of energy into an orchestral symphony of standing waves, of harmonizing unity.

Space/time emerges from chaos. Without the clumping of wave/masses, the speed limit of light may not exist as the fabric of time-space could not emerge. For those of us in the light, we perceive sub-atomic particles of quantum mechanics chaotically existing and not existing since our universe is bound by light thrown through the prism of time-space abstractly at the speed of light in a perfect vacuum. Physics loves to isolate to see what happens to a phenomenon when it is alone and unaffected by externality. The problem is that a perfect vacuum does not exist except as an abstraction like a point. In reality, nothing exists alone, without an externality, at least in our universe. Physicists want to explore in localities. They want a compromise from a perfect vacuum to a delineated region they call a locality. They know that a locality is yet another abstraction because the universe defies localities on smaller and smaller scales. However, to greater or lesser degrees, the abstraction of localities can aid understanding. Macro phenomenon disappears into micro phenomenon which do not seem to care much about the macro and the rules of macro physics as smaller looms larger and larger. As the macro environment disappears into the micro-environment, the macro rules of physics become an abstraction. There is a radical divide between the macro and the micro. On the micro scale, we get Einstein’s, “spooky action at a distance” – entanglement. A particle is yet another abstraction like a point. Phenomena is wave-like. Waves in the ocean are created by gravity undulations. Particles focus the peaks of their waves to greater or lesser degrees. Particles can be thought as culminations or more visible, closely spaced, energy-wise, peaks. Particles are foci of energy waves. However, particles do not exist as some kind of Latin ‘substance’. What is more, these waves seem to be haunted by entanglement.

Entanglement is at the heart of quantum physics and future quantum technologies. Like other aspects of quantum science, the phenomenon of entanglement reveals itself at very tiny, subatomic scales. When two particles, such as a pair of photons or electrons, become entangled, they remain connected even when separated by vast distances. In the same way that a ballet or tango emerges from individual dancers, entanglement arises from the connection between particles. It is what scientists call an emergent property.

Entanglement can also occur among hundreds, millions, and even more particles. The phenomenon is thought to take place throughout nature, among the atoms and molecules in living species and within metals and other materials. When hundreds of particles become entangled, they still act as one unified object. Like a flock of birds, the particles become a whole entity unto itself without being in direct contact with one another. Caltech scientists focus on the study of these so-called many-body entangled systems, both to understand the fundamental physics and to create and develop new quantum technologies. As John Preskill, Caltech’s Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Allen V. C. Davis and Lenabelle Davis Leadership Chair, and director of the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter, says, “We are making investments in and betting on entanglement being one of the most important themes of 21st-century science.” (Article, What Is Entanglement and Why Is It Important?)

Entanglement is not a phenomenon of particles. In quantum mechanics it is a result of a mathematics which takes place in something called Hilbert space. Hilbert space can have infinite dimensions or a minimum of 2 dimensions (called qubits). While mathematics is certainly an abstraction, there is a physical component which would more properly be called waves than particles. Photons are commonly used to observe entanglement. Entanglement binds two waves and even networks, for the merely illustrative example of a tree given below. Entanglement occurs when the quantum wave functions collapse. Does it happen faster than the speed of light? No one knows for sure, but N. Gisin published a paper in 2001 suggesting that the wave function collapse happens somewhere between two-third the speed of light and 1.6 times the speed of light. see (H. Zbinden, 2001)

Whether it is truly instantaneous is still up for debate. However, interesting to note that identical behavior dependent on observation has no dependence on distance. Distance is space and space is time. So, it appears plausible to me that this phenomenon could be pre-emergent to time-space. As I mentioned in a previous post, the block universe tells us that the universe is static and time is emergent. The Wheeler-Dewitt equations predict this. For those of us in the universe it seems quite apparent that time has an arrow, from a past to a future. However, an external observer would see a painting rather than a symphony according to current physicists. Actually, the big bang or big bounce is an emergent theory of the universe. It describes how the three forces, strong, weak and electromagnetic forces evolved from a single force. If quantum gravity is correct, that also would be an emergent force. see (Ekaterina Moreva)

Entanglement appears to be highly volatile to certain types of noisy environments. It can have very short lifespans. It can also have sudden deaths and re-births for unknown reasons. see (A. Kowalewska-Kudlaszyk, 2010)

Entanglement may happen much more often than is commonly believed but so far it has been produced more in laboratory settings where disruptive variables can be controlled. Entanglement appears to defy time-space causal relations. However, the tale of entanglement is much more bizarre than that as this analogy tries to illustrate:

Suppose we have two entangled trees.

From one angle we can see the tree has three branches.

From another angle we can see the tree has four branches.

The entangled trees are on opposite sides of the universe, and no one is looking at them (the quantum wave function has not collapsed which means the trees have both three branches and four branches).

An observer is posted on each side of the universe to watch the trees.

One observer sees the tree has three branches.

Now, the other observer looks at the tree from the same angle as the first observer (the quantum wave function has collapsed).

Both observers see the tree has three branches.

Now, the second observer changes their angle, so the second observer sees four branches (the quantum wave function has not collapsed).

The first observer now has a 50% chance of seeing three branches and a 50% chance of seeing four branches.

However, if the first observer changes their angle of perception to match the second observer’s angle, both observers will see four branches (the quantum wave function has collapsed).

In some mysterious way the connection between the two is dependent on perception. This phenomenon is called uncertainty in quantum physics. Somehow what is entangled involves perception on the part of the observer and memory in the entangled objects. In this way, entanglement embodies memory. This is how quantum computers may be the future of artificial intelligence. Entanglement has been proven to absolutely defy locality. Einstein pushed the idea of locality so far as to hypothesize hidden, perhaps multi-dimensional variables, which were later conclusively disproven. Entangled particles could possibly occur all the time, whenever particle/wave collisions occur creating new particles and new anti-particles.

Entanglement lies at the heart of quantum mechanics, and in recent years has been identified as an essential resource for quantum information processing and computation. The experimentally challenging production of highly entangled multi-particle states is therefore important for investigating both fundamental physics and practical applications. Here we report the creation of highly entangled states of neutral atoms trapped in the periodic potential of an optical lattice. Controlled collisions between individual neighbouring atoms are used to realize an array of quantum gates, with massively parallel operation. We observe a coherent entangling-disentangling evolution in the many-body system, depending on the phase shift acquired during the collision between neighbouring atoms. Such dynamics are indicative of highly entangled many-body states; moreover, these are formed in a single operational step, independent of the size of the system. (Mandel, et al., 2003)

Under certain conditions entangled particles demonstrate non-causal relationships. This alone seriously jeopardizes the metaphysics of a mechanical universe which was prevalent in the 19th century. Physics and philosophy after this period have taken seriously the implications of a non-deterministic universe.

Could it be that everything that has ever happened in the universe from the infinitesimally small to infinitely large has been copied and retained by entanglement? That would be quite a leap from what we know now. However, if entangled particles can survive, the question of where the wandering entangled particle goes when it is created may not be absurd? If entanglement is pre-emergent of time-space, this would imply that entanglement is much more important to the emergence of time-space. And, since entanglement has two fundamental components: the observer and memory, it may be that information is not created and destroyed with the big bang and the heat death of the universe. Some believe, we may exist in a black hole. Could it be that information, even observation and memory, is stored on the boundary, the event horizon of the black hole in the form of ‘hairs’? Physicists have analogized this information as ‘hairs’ on the event horizon of the black hole. Could this be the face of our universe? Others, think of this information as a two-dimensional hologram on the surface of the universe. Could it be that everything that has ever happened, including reactions from our brain neurons to galaxies and worlds has been retained as memory somewhere such that no information is lost by the universe?

In this case, the memory of the universe is the score of the symphony. A score is static as a painting but why keep a score if there is no repeat performance? Form as the Greeks thought it has been meticulously recorded so that perhaps it will yet find another performance. There may be a reason the universe remembers but perhaps we will not be in the audience next time it is performed. Or perhaps, we will become better listeners next time. In any case, we certainly see a circularity in whatever reality is, not only in terms of creation and destruction, large and small, wave and particle but also in terms of temperature. We have the tendency to think in terms of linearity which inevitably brings on such questions as, what is outside the edge, the face of the universe? What is after this life? What was before the big bang? Linearity has evolved into metaphysics – the haunting question of how is nothing possible? If nothingness is impossible there must be a God. If nothingness is possible, it must be regardless of its perceived impossibility. All of these questions are spawned by the foreboding question of nothingness pro and con. Is nothingness spawned by the perception of linearity?

Linearity is the standing wave of our existence. It is the moment when the universe gathers itself, rouses itself, from the slumber of chaos and declares, “I am that I am” or tat tvam asi (Buddhism: thou art that; the union of Atman (individual, self, soul) and Brahman (universal consciousness, Absolute) as plurality/one, wave/particle uncertainty(?)…). Whatever we call reality, it is not an unchanging permeance otherwise it would be mechanical, the dead metaphysics of mechanism. The beauty of existence is the standing moment of harmony and unity which does not have to be, given the wave nature of reality arising out of pure energy, chaotic energy and yet, nevertheless, is. So, what about temperature? How is temperature non-linear in this sense? We think absolute zero Kelvin is the end of the temperature scale and some unknown large temperature is the high end of temperature. What if that is also circular?

A new study finds that there is a ‘negative’ to absolute zero Kelvin. Temperature is not fundamentally a measure of cold and hot, but it is really a measure of less or more active energy. While energy does have a zero point we think as absolute zero, the study shows that this is not the end of the story. At absolute zero all motion freezes, it stops – just as at the speed of light nothing can change, grow old and die, since time stops. The study shows that in a laboratory situation when temperature is zero and energy is motionless, change is possible in the ‘negative Kelvin direction’. The team pushed further in a highly controlled laboratory experiment to show results of high energetic activity after crossing the Kelvin zero point into the ‘negative’ domain. In our universe, we started out with a high level of pure energy in the big bang. However, with entropy, that higher level of energy gets ‘colder and colder’, more and more entropy, and the energy clumping level goes down until, in the heat death of the universe, the universe reaches absolute zero in which no change can occur. At this point there is no change just as when time stops at the speed of light. What the new experiment showed is that when pushed past zero into ‘negativity’ we get an immediate burst of high energy. As we push further into negativity the energy calms down.

On the absolute temperature scale, which is used by physicists and is also called the Kelvin scale, it is not possible to go below zero – at least not in the sense of getting colder than zero kelvin. According to the physical meaning of temperature, the temperature of a gas is determined by the chaotic movement of its particles – the colder the gas, the slower the particles. At zero kelvin (minus 273 degrees Celsius) the particles stop moving and all disorder disappears. Thus, nothing can be colder than absolute zero on the Kelvin scale. Physicists have now created an atomic gas in the laboratory that nonetheless has negative Kelvin values. These negative absolute temperatures have several apparently absurd consequences: although the atoms in the gas attract each other and give rise to a negative pressure, the gas does not collapse – a behavior that is also postulated for dark energy in cosmology.

According to the physical meaning of temperature, the temperature of a gas is determined by the chaotic movement of its particles – the colder the gas, the slower the particles. At zero kelvin (minus 273 degrees Celsius) the particles stop moving and all disorder disappears. Thus, nothing can be colder than absolute zero on the Kelvin scale. Physicists at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching have now created an atomic gas in the laboratory that nonetheless has negative Kelvin values. These negative absolute temperatures have several apparently absurd consequences: although the atoms in the gas attract each other and give rise to a negative pressure, the gas does not collapse – a behaviour that is also postulated for dark energy in cosmology. Supposedly impossible heat engines such as a combustion engine with a thermodynamic efficiency of over 100% can also be realised with the help of negative absolute temperatures.

 “The inverted Boltzmann distribution is the hallmark of negative absolute temperature; and this is what we have achieved,” says Ulrich Schneider. “Yet the gas is not colder than zero kelvin, but hotter,” as the physicist explains: “It is even hotter than at any positive temperature – the temperature scale simply does not end at infinity, but jumps to negative values instead.”

The achievement of the Munich physicists could additionally be interesting for cosmology, since the thermodynamic behaviour of negative temperature exhibits parallels to so-called dark energy. Cosmologists postulate dark energy as the elusive force that accelerates the expansion of the universe, although the cosmos should in fact contract because of the gravitational attraction between all masses. There is a similar phenomenon in the atomic cloud in the Munich laboratory: the experiment relies upon the fact that the atoms in the gas do not repel each other as in a usual gas, but instead interact attractively. This means that the atoms exert a negative instead of a positive pressure. As a consequence, the atom cloud wants to contract and should really collapse – just as would be expected for the universe under the effect of gravity. But because of its negative temperature this does not happen. The gas is saved from collapse just like the universe.” (S. Braun, 2013)

Doesn’t this remind us intuitively of anti-particles, dark matter, dark energy and even the singularity, the zero point of a black hole? We know that the universe is expanding and will eventually result in the heat death of the universe but is heat death the end like absolute zero? What happens when energy is frozen and motionless? Does it linearly stay that way forever? That would be impossible since time, or change, is no more as we also think occurs at the speed of light, how can we call that zero point an instant, a moment of time, since time-space is no more?

What is more, in 2005 a study was published, “Influence of quantum entanglement on quantum tunnelling between two atomic Bose-Einstein condensates [rapid communication]” (Zeng & Kuang, 2005), which showed that close to zero degrees Kelvin atoms are in a highly coherent state. This means they are stable, and all occupy the same position in space. When they separated these atoms into two clouds, they found that the two clouds were entangled and remained entangled. This generated much excitement from quantum computing research.

Quantum tunneling is essential to fusion. It is an odd phenomenon that allows electrons to move through potential energy barriers which would normally offer a high degree of difficulty for the electron waves to penetrate. It is based on the quantum wave function which, like the tree branch example, utilizes uncertainty to perform a totally different kind of computation than our current digital technology allows. Our brains work like quantum computers. We can recognize images and make associations faster because we can deal with probabilities without have to perform very complex matrix operations in a more serial, linear, operation which can only use zeros and ones. Quantum computing allows much faster computational rates than our current computers. This is because the technology is much smaller than our current computing technology. It is also able to perform calculations in multi-dimensional, matrix operations. The matrix operations are highly scalable so more complex matrixes simply use more qubits. A qubit is a quantum bit. It can be in a state of 0 or 1 or both 0 and 1, like the tree branch example. This allows it to compute complex probability equations much faster using quantum transistors.

When researchers were able to couple quantum tunnelling with quantum entanglement at near zero degrees Kelvin, they found that this increased the possibilities for quantum computing exponentially from mere quantum tunneling. Article, (A quantum entanglement between two physically separated ultra-cold atomic clouds, 2018) If true, artificial intelligence is possible, it would have to be based on this technology. I was a skeptic for a long time because it seemed that for a time, artificial intelligence was really a marketing spin on expert systems. However, with quantum computing we are most likely employing the same ‘technology’ that our brains use AND that technology has the capacity to far out ‘think’ our brains. See (Article, What is a qubit?), (Article, Quantum tunnelling), (Article, What Is Entanglement and Why Is It Important?)

If intelligence is endemic to the universe as I believe, then, while it burns my fingers to type this, could it be that close to plus zero degrees Kelvin we have some indication that there is a capacity for a ‘brain’ that would make our brains look like a piece of wood? Okay, I know that sounds nutty, and likely is nutty, but not as nutty as certain politics these days (equivocations for fun). However, why have an ultra-mega-supercomputer if it is not used? While some may call this the mind of God. I would simply say that it is mind or as Plato would say, the form of which we only perceive shadows. However, these shadows are not copies of some absolute. They/we participate in the first moments (which are not anything like our time-space moments) of creation and destruction just as entanglement, likely is pre-emergent from, and gives rise to, time-space. My only redemption in thinking this is that, unlike a new-ager, I have no problem being wrong as I am merely musing.

We know that pure energy has massless, and even neutrally charged moments of pure, unbound energy in which sub-atomic, particle/waves pop in and out of existence, perhaps below and above the speed limit of light or somehow still ‘are’ that zero point where time-space has not yet emerged. Is this how we can see such artifacts of pre-emergent time/space as entanglement? I think of Shunyata in Buddhism which has been translated as emptiness, but I think of it more as Aperion in classic Greek which is more closely translated as the fertile void. There is nothing to constrain pure energy to be in this universe. Additionally, we know there are darker and colder spots in the current universe from the background heat radiation of the big bang, perhaps the fingerprint of God? Could these dark spots indicate the transition from absolute zero to negative Kelvin still at work in our universe? – before the fabric of space and time, pre-light, when light was anti-light, matter was anti-matter, energy was dark, mass was dark. Is our universe still a composite of this pre-time and its other? Could it be that when a black hole breaks reality down into a singularity it reaches a zero point where nothing is bound, nothing can move, time cannot exist and, therefore, -we can relieve ourselves of the impossible idea that more and more stuff can be crammed into nothingness and still retaining its linear, ‘stuff-ness’. Perhaps a black hole is the transition from,

stuff => no-stuff => anti-stuff => repeat

or from,

universe => heat death of the universe => zero point => immense stuff => repeat

in the opening moments of another big bang. In this case, creation and destruction are bookmarked by zero points where negative Kelvin, the speed of light, marks the transition from,

universe of high energy dying in entropy => the nothingness of zero, motionless, changeless, timeless => high energy, anti-universe (noteworthy that anti-universe would be indistinguishable from our universe or universes) => anti-entropy, increasingly lower energy => once again the zero point => beginning all over again.

If the speed of light is the limit of time and zero degrees Kelvin is the limit of space, then time-space is emergent from this limit. The limit is both the end and the beginning of time-space. Additionally, traces of another time-space an anti-time-space are still with us as dark energy, dark matter, anti-matter.

Could it be <time-space> and <speed of light-zero degrees Kelvin> are cousins of someone who plays dice with the universe?

All of this is shrouded in the wave of uncertainty and anti-matter. Anti-particles are created every time a particle is created. Anti-matter has been created ever since the big bang. Anti-matter annihilates matter but due the Higgs boson matter wins out in our universe. Could it be the opposite in the anti-universe?

The energy of the Big Bang can be converted into particles with mass, via E = mc². However, this conversion happens only in a particular way: every time a particle of matter is created, along with it an associated particle of anti-matter must also be created. That is, when an electron is created from energy, an anti-electron (positron) is also created; when a proton is created, so is an anti-proton, and so on. Each anti-particle has exactly the same properties as its ordinary matter counterpart: exactly the same mass, the same size of electric charge (but of opposite sign). To turn mass back into energy, one matter and an equivalent antimatter particle must annihilate each other. (Article, Prof. David DeMille awarded Cottrell Plus SEED award, 2021)

In physics, the Copenhagen interpretation of physics tells us that uncertainty is a real as anything else we call reality. It agrees that uncertainty is reality. It also agrees that the looming questions of anti-reality and uncertainty, should be ignored in so far as it does not produce any real results.

So, pragmatism should win out over unanswerable questions. Yet, uncertainty is the basis of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics makes probability guesses about energies and wave/particles. It does so highly accurately which is why we talk about technology, computers and quantum computers (the next evolution of computers). However, what the Copenhagen agreement agrees to ignore might be exactly why we cannot reconcile the macro and the micro, gravity and the three forces (strong force, weak force, electromagnetic force). Are we still looking for a linear-like mechanism, a ‘pragmatism of uncertainty’ (oxymoron or Zen Koan) which cannot be found in nature or mathematics? Uncertainty is real and usable in physics to a high degree, but the implications may go much further than practicality will allow. Pure energy as motionless, timeless, changeless, the architype of zero, is but a moment when moments are impossible so we call that eternity; may as well ‘be’ – if ‘be’ here is thought for lack of better word. I see this as a type of nexus where philosophy and physics need to come back together to complete themselves in a way which cannot be accomplished separately, linearly/mechanically/causally/deterministically/absolutely. The two are at least on speaking terms after the great divorce of the Royal Society and the transmutation of alchemy. Further back still we have the possibilities all laid out in astonishing detail from the pre-Socratics of Anaximander and Heraclitus to Parmenides who is told by the goddess:

TRUTH

Come, I shall tell you, and do you listen and convey the story,
What routes of inquiry alone there are for thinking:
The one- that (it) is, and that (it) cannot be,
Is the path of Persuasion (for it attends upon truth);
The other- that (it) is not and that (it) needs must not be,
That I point out to you to be a path wholly unlearnable,
For you could not know what-is-not (for that is not feasible),
Nor could you point it out.
(areopagite, 202)

If the universe requires observers, listeners of the muses, we must not think that this means Homo sapiens. Beauty, wonder and awe can lapse into mechanics, mere causality and determinism. In this case, the death of music has become the static death of possibility. All is mere repetition, simulacra and simulation. If we choose the path of appreciative observation, do we end as Aristotle did in Nicomachean Ethics and the later revised Eudemian Ethics? -On happiness and virtue? Would this be the telos, the culmination of a life well lived? – the best observer and participatory engagement with the universal muses? Mechanics speaks of self-engagement. Mechanics does not require an other to itself. It merely needs to fulfill its cog-like function. Externality is abandoned in favor of isolated function. Does the universe spring forth the other as a face to be recognized? Is recognition purely pragmatic where any excess is mere interaction as language games, is accounted for as superfluous, mere whim, simply an all too human fabrication? If so, why is there something rather than nothing? A cog in a machine needs to know nothing, it simply functions until it doesn’t. Does the universe bring forth form and order from chaos so it cannot be recognized beyond function? Why do we reflect and observe infinites and uncertainties which astound and confound us? How far can we let the face of the other be more than ships passing in the night, quarks popping in and out of existence? Is recognition and participation as a possibility built into the universe, into the other, which sparks and invites recognition, responsibility and ethics? I will explore these topics in a later post.

References

A.Kowalewska-Kudlaszyk, W. L. (2010). Sudden death of entanglement and its rebirth in a system of two nonlinear oscillators. Physica Scripta, 2010, 014051. Retrieved from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Sudden-death-of-entanglement-and-its-rebirth-in-a-Kowalewska-Kudlaszyk-Leo%C5%84ski/c3ce044260abfa80d3d4288abb75ba6e58b45f83

areopagite, a. d. (202, November 18). Commentary on Parmenides’s On Nature. Retrieved from https://dionysiosareopagite.substack.com/p/commentary-on-parmenidess-on-nature

Article. (2018, May 16). A quantum entanglement between two physically separated ultra-cold atomic clouds. University of the Basque Country. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180516102307.htm

Article. (2021, September 16). Prof. David DeMille awarded Cottrell Plus SEED award. Retrieved from https://physicalsciences.uchicago.edu/news/article/prof-david-demille-awarded-cottrell-plus-seed-award/#:~:text=However%2C%20this%20conversion%20happens%20only%20in%20a%20particular,created%2C%20so%20is%20an%20anti-proton%2C%20and%20so%20on.

Article. (n.d.). Quantum tunnelling. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_tunnelling#:~:text=A%20European%20research%20project%20demonstrated,by%20up%20to%20100%C3%97.

Article. (n.d.). What is a qubit? Retrieved from https://www.quantum-inspire.com/kbase/what-is-a-qubit/

Article. (n.d.). What Is Entanglement and Why Is It Important? Retrieved from https://scienceexchange.caltech.edu/topics/quantum-science-explained/entanglement

Becker, A. (2022, February). What Is Spacetime Really Made Of? SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-spacetime-really-made-of/

Does quantum entanglement allow information to travel faster than light? (2011, June 21). Retrieved from https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/does-quantum-entanglement-allow-information-to-travel-faster-than-light.508536/page-4

Ekaterina Moreva, G. B. (n.d.). Time from quantum entanglement: an experimental illustration. Journal of Physics(Phys. Rev. A 89, 052122 (2014)). Retrieved from https://arxiv.org/abs/1310.4691

H. Zbinden, J. B. (2001). Experimental Test of Relativistic Quantum State Collapse with Moving Reference Frames. Journal of Physics A, 34(35). Retrieved from https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0002031

Hajjar, A. J. (2021, April 11). Quantum Entanglement: What it is & Why it is important in 2022. Quantum Computing. Retrieved from https://research.aimultiple.com/quantum-computing-entanglement/

Mandel, O., Greiner, M., Widera, A., Rom, T., Hänsch, T. W., & Bloch, I. (2003, October). Controlled collisions for multi-particle entanglement of optically trapped atoms. Retrieved from https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2003Natur.425..937M/abstract

McCormick, G. (2020, July 29). Cosmic tango between the very small and the very large. Retrieved from https://science.psu.edu/news/Ashtekar7-2020

S. Braun, J. P. (2013). Negative Absolute Temperature for Motional Degrees of Freedom. 339 (6115): 52 DOI: 10.1126/science.1227831. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130104143516.htm

Zeng, A.-H., & Kuang, L.-M. (2005, May). Influence of quantum entanglement on quantum tunnelling between two atomic Bose-Einstein condensates [rapid communication]. Physics Letters A, Volume 338(Issue 3-5), p. 323-331. doi:10.1016/j.physleta.2005.03.002. Retrieved from https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2005PhLA..338..323Z/abstract

Notes: Musings on Time and the Other

I will probably be adding some follow up notes on the previous post, Musings on Time and the Other, for some time because I think I crammed a lot into that post. I think more needs to be developed for clarity and for my musing desires.

In the previous post, I discussed the Block Universe. The Block Universe is an accepted concept in some of the main traditions of Einstein’s revolutionary paradigm. It is a static, deterministic acceptance of Einstein’s referential frames of reference. It also may seem to counter some of the heterogenous pluralities in temporality and the other which I likened to music. This deserves to get fleshed out a little more.

The idea of space-time is a radical and non-intuitive concept of reality. It continually requires an effort against ‘common sense’ which prefers a more historic narrative of absolute time and space in which time is one dimensional and space is three dimensional and each are radically different. This could not be further from the truth. Time and space are the SAME thing. ‘Thing’ is a rich historic concept which extends all the way back to the Latinization of the Greek notion of phusis (physics). The Romans translated ousia as substance but the ancient Greeks notion of ousia was much closer to our notion of ‘being’. For the ancient Greeks, time and space had not been separated into distinct notions of substance which ‘common sense’ thinks presently. However, the seeds of this transformation were certainly in various schools of the ancient Greek world. Time and space belonged to what we think today as being. This is why Aristotle could write of phusis and what the Latin world called meta- phusis (metaphysics) without thinking about them as radically separate in the notation as “meta” but simply as further investigations of first causes into ‘isness’ or reality as we deem it.

In the notion of space-time, we are beginning to return again to a unity of time and space. Contemporaneously in this radical physics which began in the 19th century and culminated in the early 20th century with Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, philosophy also systematically dismantled a lot of the absolute subject/object dichotomy as abstract and artifacts of Newton’s paradigm of absolute time and space. Actually, this began with Kant and Hegel in the mid-18th century. In effect, philosophy has once again rejoined phusis and ousia into Aristotle’s notion of being. Presently, philosophy has even taken steps further which are not in the scope of my current concern. So how can a Block Universe have anything in common with the dynamic universe I wrote about in the previous post?

One of the concerns of post-modern philosophy is narrative and what gets marginalized in the narrative but remains essential to the dominate narrative which Derrida calls logocentrism. Like it or not we have narratives which aid us in taking on the task of illuminative the difficult notion of space-time. The Block Universe is a way of highlighting the spatial aspects of time. First, there is no referential frame in the sense of an absolute standard frame. All spatial-temporal frames of space-time are relative to each other – period. The Block Universe prefers spatial adjectives over temporal adjectives. In each of these frames, physics has made extraordinary achievements in accuracy, prediction, and repeatability. This is why we can send satellites to Pluto and beyond using much of its thrust in the form of gravity. We understand the physics of these referential frames exceedingly well.

There are a few physical constants which physics has high confidence in; that they do not change in what we understand of the universe currently. These constants are:

The speed of light c, which defines the unit of space given the unit of time.

Planck’s constant, , which defines the unit of mass-energy in terms of the unit of inverse time.

Newton’s constant, which defines the unit of mass-energy in terms of the unit of space (and in conjunction with the other two, fixes a unique unit of mass, length, and time, the Planck units)

Boltzmann’s constant, which defines the Kelvin in terms of the Joule.

electromagnetic constants, which define the unit of charge

Since these purely numeric constants emerged shortly after the Big Bang, they seem to have been the same since. However, nothing can be said about whether there really was a Big Bang and not a Big Bounce for instance and how they emerged as evolving or eternally present in some pseudo philosophical-religious fashion which physics want nothing to do with. Physics also thinks that the Planck constant (6.62607015 × 10-34) is the ratio of the energy of a photon to the frequency of a photon. Nothing smaller than this is conceivable in Physics.

String theory which plays once again on my music analogy in the previous post is physics on the Planck level. It is currently inconceivable how it could ever be proven but remains as a mathematical explanation of reality on the smallest possible level. Getting back to the Block Universe and referential space-time frames, these constants have been proven to establish physics as we currently understand it. They have pragmatic use but cannot give us any information about reality other than that. Quantum gravity is an undertaking which may revolutionize these constants and physics and unite the quantum world with the macro-space-time world but that remains to be determined. The Block Universe are referential frames where the constants are highly reliable.

The Block Universe has referential realities which are dynamic and mind-boggling, but time is not a ‘thing’ which connects these spatially frames as if to harken back to the absolute difference of space and time. When we say it is static and deterministic, we are referring to the known laws of physics and these physical constants which determine their behavior. So, space-time is static and deterministic in this sense. However, the notions of static and deterministic are reflections of currently known behavior and not statements of absolute fact. When we bring in the quantum world and its absolutely inherent, precise unpredictability we are left with an as of yet indeterminate distance between the predictable certainty of the macro universe and the uncertainty of the quantum universe. Additionally, dark energy is thought to comprise 73% of all mass and energy in the universe and dark matter is thought to comprise another 23% of the universe leaving only 4% to comprise everything else where our high confidence in physics resides. There is also speculation that parallel universes would have no obligation whatsoever to our known physics. There may be endless radically different varieties of physics.

When it comes to the Big Bang and Black Holes, the magnitudes of energy and mangling of conceivability is so extreme, we have likely come to the edge of our presently knowable physics. Singularities are deemed by most physicists as mathematical hyphens which hold the place for something yet to be determined.

My musings are aimed at how narrative to some extent fashions and determines the boundary conditions of our paradigms. I understand why we think of referential frames as having a high amount of certainty in macro-physics. However, I wonder if we have made ‘discretes’ or quanta out of referential frames which may be a bit artificial and abstract. We know, as I mention in my musings, that each of us is wrapped in a physical and measurable space-time bubble which is a result of our mass and certainly shapes our lived time and space AND conditions our historic and linguistic narratives. While I see the usefulness of referential frames in macro-physics, I see no reason why these frames cannot be further divided into quanta and minutia of ‘frames’ which at some point show the macro-frame boundaries as artificial and pragmatically imposed AND may further obfuscate a foundationless footing of other possibilities which are not essentially discrete. It may be that their usefulness has more to do with a pragmatic narrative than a physical reality.

While physics has had a much longer tradition of thinking energy in terms of macro-observations, we are now faced with its radical alterity on the micro-quantum reality. If we stick with the narrative, we are faced with two absolutely dichotomous realities – the large and the small. Some might even suggest phallic but let’s not go there. One avenue of investigation has not so much to do with energy as it has to do with space and time and how energy alone can account for it. With the Higgs Bosom we have completed our current idea of the Standard Model (quantum mechanics). Somehow the Higgs is thought to give mass to what otherwise would travel at the speed of light and be changeless and eternal in the ancient idea of phusis and ousia – the unmoved mover. It seems in physics what we are left with are pragmatic but artificially imposed narratives on referential frames which somehow can be transformed into quantum uncertainties and massless particles OR we must simply admit reality is schizophrenic.

Whatever space-time is seemingly has some inherent distance to ‘stuff’, ‘things’ and, really, anything we commonly think of as solid. Actually, ‘solid’ is a panacea we use from historic narrative to make us think we know something fundamental about the sea of reality we live and breathe and have our being in. It may be that in various levels of transformation we can no longer ascribe reality to the subject of an object but have to think of it as much more interactive and even question the fundamental distinction of idea and reality. This is not to suggest reality is whatever we think it is since what we commonly think seems to have a lot more to do with historic narrative and language than some ‘real’ X which we assume cannot be questioned with any seriousness. Space is not just an abstract notion of physics but may also be the place where we find an end to place as represented by the possibility of the impossibility of death as our ownmost in Heideggerian terms or homelessness, inability to be able, radical alterity in Levinas’ thinking.

What we are left with is what Hesiod tells us to start with, the void, the yawning gap. Rather than a ‘reality’ home, we are left with a question which can find no answer except in how we gracefully and ethically live in its shadow OR impose our feigned sense of power on illusions of grandeur which fade as mists in eternity. When we welcome the stranger, the unknown, we welcome ourselves, our plight with beauty which remains as questions of wonder and obligation. Our place-lessness coincides with a space and time which we cannot own, dominate, or have power over but invites us to decide indebtedness and desire for unfathomable other.

References

(n.d.). Retrieved from https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/21721/what-is-the-proof-that-the-universal-constants-g-hbar-ldots-are-real

 

Musings on Time and the Other

Generally unbeknownst to many, language and history have given us cliff notes versions of temporality. Assumptions given in this fashion can and does become absolutizing even, ‘self-evident’ and innate. Can we think perhaps, in some sense, apriori analytic judgements in Kant’s vernacular. They may even reproduce themselves in the lexicon of logic. However, as Einstein and Husserl demonstrated in great detail, time is not static. The sense of temporality as static, sensed presence or reality is what Husserl calls Präsenzzeit. It is a historical derivation we deem as common sense or ‘reality’. In everyday life we assume clock time is absolute. In this notion, physics and lived-life proceed from a universal, clock machine. Time is neatly divided in linear ‘now’ moments which uniformly proceed from a past to a present to a future. It turns out that in the early 20th century, this notion was uniformly dismissed as ‘real’ or accurate in physics and philosophy.

To start with, there is never a time which exists apart from our bodily sensation of time. The idealization of time as a uniform ‘reality’ is not a reality of physics but a reality of a specific history. This particular history can be traced all the way back to the classic Greek notion of nun or presence as the now moment which was a moving image of eternity. For the Greeks, eternity was not thought as we think of it as endless time but, curious enough, more like current physics which thinks the speed of light where nothing changes or as Aristotle tells us eternity never moves or changes as the unmoved mover (ὃ οὐ κινούμενον κινεῖ, or more colorfully: ho ou kinoúmenon kineî, literally ’that which moves without being moved’). An abstraction distorts and mis-represents reality as something which it is not. As lived experience no one has ever experienced time as an abstract notion of presence which is a moving image of the changeless; more widely thought as a linear now-moments in the idea of clock time (a historic, mechanical notion of the flux of time).

Furthermore, time is not uniform but widely stratified and layered in our experience of it. Our bodies have a dynamic stretch of temporality as we age, we become ill, have varying health conditions. Our experience of time also varies with mood such as anxiety or excitement. We tend to psychologize these notions away as some aberration of time in order to protect the sanctity of our historic idealization of temporality. We also may rationalize our idealization as ‘scientific’, but the fact is that this notion of time has to do with Newton and classic physics, absolute time and space, which finally met its end in Einstein. Did you know that you age more on top a mountain than in a valley because of the mass of the earth? Also, moving faster relative to another frame of reference causes you to age slower. Each one of us has an absolutely unique but measurable space-time bubble which enshrouds us our entire lifetime. We are also comingled with other temporalities such as geological, relativity of space-time in frames of perspective, and even biological in all the varying biology of our bodies – cells dying and being replaced, youth, middle age, old age all mark epochs in out biological time. We also experience the time of the other which intervenes and interrupts in our deliberations and moods – our temporalized affects. Have you ever experienced a disruption of your dismal mood when your friend showed up?

All of space-time is tossed by turbulent collisions of massive black holes resulting in cacophonous distortions of space-time, silently playing through being, our being, in spatial-temporal variations. Variations where awareness remains oblivious except for the proprioceptive stretch of time over epochs (movements) of lived-life. Since time and space are the same phenomenon, can we assume just as space can be traversed in many directions so can time? Worm holes in space would be ‘time machines’ which would alter space temporally to allow vast distances to be traveled in vastly shorter amounts of time. Nothing could ever be seen as entering a block hole as time would stop, from our perception, at the event horizon but not from the perspective of the object entering it. Physics tells us that at the accretion disk of a black hole time and space are so radically twisted that the chronology we expect from a past to a future, cause and effect, would be so radically jumbled such that time events would be more like an unassembled puzzle without what we would think as continuity. It would even be possible to leave a place before you entered it. Furthermore, at the singularity of a black hole, all motion and change would cease reminding us of Aristotle’s unmoved mover.

In Quantamagazine, Dan Falk tells us,

Einstein’s masterpiece, the general theory of relativity, and the Standard Model of particle physics. The laws that underlie these theories are time-symmetric — that is, the physics they describe is the same, regardless of whether the variable called “time” increases or decreases. Moreover, they say nothing at all about the point we call “now” — a special moment (or so it appears) for us, but seemingly undefined when we talk about the universe at large. The resulting timeless cosmos is sometimes called a “block universe” — a static block of space-time in which any flow of time, or passage through it, must presumably be a mental construct or other illusion. (Falk)

The standard acceptance of the block universe understands reality as static. Time as flowing through now-moments is a ‘metal construct’ or, for the purposes of this post, perhaps we can think of a shared historic narrative of a particularly occidental text taken as ‘reality’. The block universe are referential frames which have no implied priorities as that would imply a kind of mystic frame overlayed on vastly different temporal-spatial regionalities. In effect, the block universe denies any such thing as a ‘now’. It is deterministic and denies any absolute construction of cause and effect.

Of course, there are competing and contrarian proponents of such a deterministic reality. Entropy has been employed as a linear, deterministic temporalization to support a progression of time. One physicist I find interesting is George Ellis who advocates an evolving block universe (EBU). In such a scheme the boundary conditions of a block-universe can be thought as a surface where the “the indefiniteness of the future changes to the definiteness of the past”. So, the present can be thought as this surface boundary which expands the universe itself into an indeterminate future. So, while all the temporal cards can be shuffled in any temporal fashion the cards themselves can be increased by the uncertainty of quantum mechanics, specifically Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. In this way he attempts to unite quantum mechanics and relativity. Note that this whole debate has nothing to do with psychological perceptions or subjective perspectives but empirical observations on the nature of reality. This further exemplifies why the absolute space and time of Newton, the dualism of Kants noumena (thing-in-itself), and the startling ramifications of relativity can no longer be thought in abstract terms such as subject/object, mind/body, spirit/matter, and even nature/nurture. Those distinctions coinciding with physics in the 20th century naively deny philosophical confluences perhaps starting in Kant through Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and postmodern thinkers who make such implacable boundaries something other than self-evident.

The evolving spatial-temporal truths of radically, heterogenous philosophical realities in our era have little to do with the history of substance and things, whether in-themselves or not, but more to do with multifarious, intimately interactive, flows through and in us as music.

Gravitational waves from the big bang are still surging space-time, swelling with undulating crescendos to monster fortissimo receding into quiescent, glistening, pianissimo of space-time. Reality seems to engage us as song where both listener and listened dance together as emergent reciprocity which can not be one or the other but co-determined and determining in the dance of spirits. The voices of our musical dance have more to with what has largely been in lost in modern languages. However, ancient languages all over the world including ancient Greece had what linguists and, my friend Dr. Wendell, Kisner call the middle-voice.

Space and time are not static but widely stratified on many different levels. It is more like a silent symphony where there are many parts all playing simultaneously from which we draw a ‘whole of meaning’, as sense of uniformity in the movement of widely varying harmonies and melodies. The meaning we draw from the symphony makes it something other than pure random noise. We find ourselves drawn to the flow of its movements. Movements in a symphony have a stretch of quality not just tempo. It is wide ranging from ecstatic to depressing. We draw meaning from this incalculable variety. In the same way, time and space is the movement of meaning for living humans. We draw from its deep wells. These wells are called history and language. We did not create these wells. They are not merely subjective as if to imply they are extraneous or the product of an imagined hermetically sealed self we think as ‘I’. And, as Nietzsche, prophesied, be careful, “If you stare too long into the abyss, then it stares back at you.” The void can no longer remain cacophonous but bows to the determinations you bring to it and the ones it brings to you as moments which you create and are created by.

We should give place to our capacity for history and language as an incredible but widely varying diversity from which meaning and themes can be derived. These phenomena filter the radical alterities which we are into uniformities which separate musicality from mere noise or more precisely make impossible diversities into capabilities for actions and movements. However, the danger of this marvelous ability which we are is to think of them in terms of self-authorship, homogenous origin, absolute knowledge and thus: power.

Reality as such is a wonderous idea which overflows itself and, in this way, reminds us of minuets which long for more in their entrancements. We are not authors of reality. Reality is not homogenous. It has no home or origin in which it resides as eternity or God. It is without origin and in this sense chaotic. However, we draw meaning from what we name reality as we do from music. Language and history and have no single author. Their authors have long since passed into the uniformity of words and ideas. Even the Hebrew God tells us after the fall that “now man has become like one of US”.

Reality is historic shorthand for the absolute other as it pervades me and my assumed ownership of it. In this sense we are creators of the meaning we derive from it and what it endows with us. However, when we artificially try to impose universal meaning to reality, we position ourselves in opposition to it. Reality again and again wants to refresh us with its own refrain in our entrancement with it. Likewise, the other – our wife, a stranger, a child interrupts our linguistic monologue. We hear another song from the other which, with a still small voice, asks us to listen, to take note, to give place to another moment, another movement. When we move with what moves us, we dance with the gods and take leave of static abode which promises security but only delivers perpetual demise in reduction, stagnation and meaningless repetition and death. The muses invite us to sing in the symphonic voices of others which have no relation to animate and inanimate but a necromancy which our many deaths fail to author, own, or extinguish.

Further reading…

References

Aylesworth, G. (n.d.). Postmodernism. (E. N. Zalta, Ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2015 Edition). Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2015/entries/postmodernism/

DiSalle, R. (n.d.). Space and Time: Inertial Frames. (E. N. (ed.), Ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2020 Edition). Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2020/entries/spacetime-iframes/

Ellis, G. F. (2005). PHYSICS AND THE REAL WORLD. Physic Today. Retrieved from http://www.mth.uct.ac.za/sites/default/files/image_tool/images/32/Staff/Emeritus_Professors/Prof_George_Ellis/Overview/realworld.pdf

Falk, D. (n.d.). A Debate Over the Physics of Time. Quantamagazine. Retrieved from https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-debate-over-the-physics-of-time-20160719/

Hilgevoord, J. a. (n.d.). The Uncertainty Principle. (E. N. Zalta, Ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition). Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/qt-uncertainty/

 

Maslow, Law & Grace, Reactionary & Revolutionary

Figure 1 – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow captured a moment in human evolution which, in the Enlightenment tradition, summed up the need for meaning from an individual perspective. What is perhaps understated to some degree by his model is that the Latin idea of nātūra (nature) and the more radical Greek notion of φύσις, εως, ἡ (phusis, physics) was our tutor and guardian. The dance of environment and individual conspired together to bring us to the next stage of human evolution. Basic needs demanded and required, upon the pain of death, obedience. The height of individualism was addressing the need for human meaning and personal fulfillment. Just as human individuality, from the physics of space-time, essentially entails ‘from a past’, ‘in a present’, and ‘to a future’ so meaning is derived from origin, to presence, and toward telos, a goal or culmination. In Aristotelian terms,

In Metaphysics Α.1, Aristotle says that “everyone takes what is called ‘wisdom’ (sophia) to be concerned with the primary causes (aitia) and the starting-points (or principles, archai).” (Cohen, 2020)

Furthermore, Aristotle writes of dunamis (potentiality) and entelecheia (actuality) or energeia (activity),

Since Aristotle gives form priority over matter, we would expect him similarly to give actuality priority over potentiality. And that is exactly what we find (Θ.8, 1049b4–5). Aristotle distinguishes between priority in logos (account or definition), in time, and in substance. (1) Actuality is prior in logos since we must cite the actuality when we give an account of its corresponding potentiality. Thus, ‘visible’ means ‘capable of being seen’; ‘buildable’ means ‘capable of being built'(1049b14–16). (2) As regards temporal priority, by contrast, potentiality may well seem to be prior to actuality, since the wood precedes the table that is built from it, and the acorn precedes the oak that it grows into. Nevertheless, Aristotle finds that even temporally there is a sense in which actuality is prior to potentiality: “the active that is the same in form, though not in number [with a potentially existing thing], is prior [to it]” (1049b18–19). A particular acorn is, of course, temporally prior to the particular oak tree that it grows into, but it is preceded in time by the actual oak tree that produced it, with which it is identical in species. The seed (potential substance) must have been preceded by an adult (actual substance). So in this sense actuality is prior even in time. which it is identical in species. The seed (potential substance) must have been preceded by an adult (actual substance). So in this sense actuality is prior even in time[1]. (Cohen, 2020)

From Aristotle’s perspective human individuality is not self-identical but essentially interwoven in phusis. Actuality and potentiality are both fundamentally constituent of reality[2]. From the Latin world and Roman Christianity, the individual emerges predominately in the landscape of phusis. This brings us to law and grace.

The law, as what Christianity deems the ‘Old Testament’, was a tutor and guardian until grace, what Christianity deems the ‘New Testament’, would transform the individual in the same way Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs transformed needs. Needs in the fight for survival was unforgiving and ruthless to offenders. Transformations to psychological needs and to higher needs of self-fulfillment also resulted in a kind of reprieve from more basic needs. While Judaic laws required, upon pain of death in certain instances, obedience; grace writes the law in the heart. So, for grace the law is no longer fundamentally wed to phusis but becomes a kind of phusis unto itself in its transformation. This is how individuality emerges from phusis.

Underlying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the background of phusis. The individual finds meaning by moving from the law to grace, from mere survival to self-fulfillment, self-determination but cannot end in the laws of individuality but move on to the contextual, potentiality, which is determinate of the metaphysic of individuality. This movement is dependent upon fulfilling the earlier requirements of biological dependence on phusis. However, the individual has the potential to transform itself to a higher level of meaning and purpose than mere servitude to phusis and the truncation of contextuality into actuality.

Capitalism is the economic expression of individualism. Capitalism holds the stick of phusis but also raises the carrot of higher individual potentiality. However, it proposes not a grace of human individuality in which the individual attains a transformation of meaning but a domination of phusis. By conquering the slavery of mere survival, ideally, we can put phusis into the position of bondage and subjugation to affluent needlessness. In this then, we find the Error of the illusion of power and the reality of phusis. In Karl Marx’ terms the problem of capitalism is the creation of artificial needs, otherwise called marketing. We must have the next smart phone. In this sense, meaning is accomplished by the myth of Sisyphus. In cheating phusis Sisyphus was forever condemned to push a rock up a hill only to have it roll down once again. The promise of capitalism could never deliver us from phusis but could only forever require our aspirations which, for most, was doomed to fail. Even the most successful capitalist must give way to phusis in death. Furthermore, conquering phusis turns out to merely produce climate change and not the end of phusis but the end of humanity – eternal death of human.

This is how individualism has played itself out through history. However, another marginalized narrative has also held the potentiality of grace through cooperation with phusis. Cooperation does not spring forth from absolute individualism but from collectivity and responsibility. Human meaning is not obtained through the desperations of individualism but through the graces of maturity. Maturity recognizes our dependence upon phusis and each other. We no longer actualize the dynamics of power and subjugation built into the metaphysics of individualism but allow, make way, for the gift of the other; the other as phusis and as the he or she we face. When we give way to the other, we take responsibility for our obligation, our indebtedness to what we are not. We integrate and harmonize, make peace, with reality instead of a pitched battle with it. We no longer blame the other for our lack of power but take hold of our responsibility to the cry of the other. This does not take us back to manufactured needs of self-justification in the form of individual merit.

The bourgeoisie labor in self-adoring-adorning will imputing their metaphysic of failed individualism upon the proletariat. They absolve themselves of responsibility to the higher call of action in care. Democracy is based in a call higher than the metaphysics of individualism can understand. It places political responsibility on the individual to respond to the call of collectivity and the other. By the ‘other’ I mean phusis and the he or she. As long as we lapse into individualism, we absolve ourselves of the phenomenological reality of language.

Language is not private and individual. Language is not something we manufacture for the purpose of creating artificial needs which enrich its producers. Language is an archeology, an origin which we did not create, which preceded us from those we never knew. It is not merely a tool but a history-scape which informs us before we become cognitively aware of it. Self-realization cannot happen without others who have long since receded into language’s background. Even as eyes and ears are filters which let us make sense of the world, language functions as filters we call ‘reality’ in which ‘I’ as an individual never created or became the origin of. In this way, we are ‘individuals’. We name ourselves and bestow on ourselves the title of identity as if we were some kind of self-unification. Insanity is what we call those who have a private language and found identity upon it.

Democracy requires a perspective and a horizon in which each individual has place. ‘Place’ here is not a badge of individual merit. It is bestowed from how we actually are. We are bound and indebted to the other, to phusis, to any such thing which we call reality. While this can be denied in favor of autocracy, whether individual or political, it is ultimately self-defeating as it vaults the individual to heights which can only be maintained by the very opposite phenomenon it employs to create its artificial, virtual reality. It uses language to deny how language is, how it emerges from an exteriority which cannot be solipsistic. The eternal recurrence of the same in linguistic filters are fabricated to protect and destroy the myth of power. The endless repetition of simulacra and re-simulation are doomed from within because they cannot hear the still small voice of phusis. They can only result in the rise and demise of civilization and our environment. This is where reactionary and revolution find relevance.

Reactionary is a throw back to a fabricated past the never was. It is the wild west of individualism. There never was a John Wayne of individualism. It was created, manufactured, re-produced to protect the few violently. However, there is no evil genius here. Rather, it is a result of a linguistic history which advocates against itself. The heroic defies reality in favor of its own phantasma of who it is. It creates a past in which it is its own origin. It is self-caused. It is the creator of heroic and horror-ic values. It is the law in the garb of self-identity.

The Judaic law was given by God not man, but the new version of the law is the created simulacra of man, of a history which wishes to be but cannot be. Reactionaryism can only produce the reality of Sisyphus, an eternal recurrence of the same, reproduction of something that never was. It is wish-fulfillment which attempts to renew itself in itself and by itself. Revolution welcomes the new but all to often fails in the linguistic sanctums of power.

Revolution, as the new which never was, looks toward a future which has never been but is all too often doomed by its self-sufficiency in the phantasms of language which pull it back into the gravitational orbit of self-identity. Just as the revolutionary idea of democracy has lapsed in the United States back into the reactionary simulations of authoritarianism, revolution cannot succeed if it utilizes tools from our linguistic past which were devised to protect the illusion of power. What we need is to re-think language in terms of phusis. Our situatedness in history and phusis is not as masters of power but fundamentally dependent upon that which is not-me. Revolution can only find a higher transformation when it lets the ghost of power and absolute individualism fall into the dust bin of failed, phantasmas of a past that can never be. We must find an ethics which is participatory and essential to the responsibility towards the other. As human we are all part of a pluralistic, heterogenous reality-scape which offers many abodes that can never be commensurate.

Those that revel in power and self-identity have fashioned for themselves a simulacra, a golden calf, which can only be repeated in reactionary violence. The cry of the other, the suffering of the other. The relegation of oppression and self-absorbed denial of who we are and not who we imagine the ‘they’ are is the revolution which will usher in a transformation with ourselves and our environment. Transformation from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Individual Needs must give up the ghost of labor which can only toil in eternal repetition of the same. This is not a new hierarchy. This is an acceptance of responsibility and obligation to the other, to phusis. We cannot arise at the expense of the other and our environment. We must have the grace of making place for the other. We must allow the content of phusis and the real needs of the other to call us to responsibility. The individual does not disappear in collectivity as drop of water in the ocean. This is another illusion built on the mirage of individualism. Responsibility places us as situatedness to that that which we cannot efface and calls us to actualize our responsibility to that call. In this untapped potential for what it means to be human we find cooperation and concern for what we cannot erect a phantasma of. It is founded in a language and history which we cannot have power over but can recognize our absolute limitation in the face of radical alterity which requires our responsibility not our violence in its defacement.

References

Cohen, S. M. (2020). “Aristotle’s Metaphysics”. (E. N. (ed.), Ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2020 Edition). Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-metaphysics/

[1] Interesting to note that Aristotle’s notion of actuality and potentiality seems to me to have some reverberations in modern chaos theory. Chaos theory does not deny order or actuality. Instead, it tells us that order is a co-determination of chaos. Order and chaos are not diametrically opposed as subject and object. They have an essential relationship. The universe is structured as self-organizing as fractals. Fractals have the unique capacity to be both ordered and chaotic infinitely. There appears to no limit to the patterns they can make in the same way as each snowflake is absolutely unique. This is what is called self-organizing. In the chaos theory the universe is self-organizing. There is no limit to the nature of how it organizes. A butterfly’s wings can spark a tsunami on the other side of the world. This makes the outcome essentially unpredictable. Likewise, actuality or energy emerges from potentiality as limitless patterns emerge from fractals. Actuality emerges as particular forms just as language emerges as particular histories, invocations of reality and absolutes. The are uniquely particular and ordered but their origins are not in the absolute of their actuality, of their content, or the mystery we call reality, but in the absolutely unpredictable outcomes of potentiality. Additionally, they are intimately the subject of absolute unpredictable, chaotic changes. Therefore, cause and effect are not a reality but an observation of a commonality, a particular fractal pattern, which emerges in language and history.

[2] I use the word ‘reality’ here on the context of its philosophical history which I cited in my previous post, Maslow, Law & Grace, Reactionary & Revolutionary. Reality is not the simplicity of an object related to a subject as philosophy starting in the 19th century has argued culminating around the same time that Einstein’s theory of relativity was taking off at the beginning of the 20th century. Reality is a chaotic and ordered process of language and its other. It is not self-evident except in supposed, assumed and metaphysical histories. It is interactive and chaotically potential in its actual forms. One simple example is the relativity of space-time. As an individual human we have mass. Since we have mass, we create small but not insignificant distortions of space-time around us. Additionally, time runs faster on the top of a mountain than in a valley (gravitational time dilation). Each individual is wrapped from birth to death in their space-time continuum. Additionally, this space-time continuum has stretch and minute variations which directly correspond to relative masses and speed called frames of reference. It is wrong to think of time and space as static, universal and absolute. Similarly, it is wrong to think of individuality as absolute as it is determined by the other of history, language, phusis, and the he and she. All of this is dynamic and chaotic, its capacity for predictability. Closing down individuality into an absolute is death. As Heidegger tells us, “Death is the possibility of the absolute impossibility of Dasein (human being or more precisely the ‘there’ of being).” The impossibility of individuality emerges in language and history as an absolute impossibility or as Heidegger calls it the “they-self”. The they as a self is immediately contradictory and unsustainable as it is a self-contradiction. Similarly, absolute individuality cloaks it contextual histories which are relegated to its margins. This does not negate the form of the individual but places it in relative context with it’s ‘not’ as a pattern in fractals does not deny it’s infinite, unpredictable, and chaotic patterns but emerges from them. However, the not is not a negation but an affirmation of an absolutely ‘other’, even as death is a possibility in its absolute impossibility. The fear of death is actually the fear of life since no one will ever experience death as Epicurus tells us,

“Why should I fear death?

If I am, then death is not.

If Death is, then I am not.

Why should I fear that which can only exist when I do not?

Long time men lay oppressed with slavish fear.

Religious tyranny did domineer.

At length the mighty one of Greece

Began to assent the liberty of man.”

What is Reality?

I have had several conversations recently which I think bring up this interesting question. My background in a lifetime of interest in philosophy and physics has sometimes caused me to over-assume that others are aware to some degree of how 19th century metaphysics of mechanics is still very dominate in most folks thinking. The metaphysics of mechanics assume an absolute time and space dominated by Cartesian metaphysics in which Renes’ Descartes writing in the 17th century declares, “I think, therefore I am”. At the very beginning of the Scientific Revolution, time and space was thought through the metaphor of a machine. This was no ‘spooky action at a distance’ but with Newton there soon would be ‘action at a distance’ with gravity and later with electromagnetism. The notion of aether had been around for a very long time before Newton but Newton would attribute gravity to a Christian God. Therefore, it was reasonable that shortly before the birth of Newton, Descartes in keeping with Latin Christianity would think of reality as subject and object. The subject was the domain of aether, God, mind, spirit, etc. and the object was matter, substance, body, just dead stuff. This metaphysic of absolute dualism would make the Mechanical Revolution of the 18th and 19th century possible. I use metaphysic from the Latin as the Christianized transformation from Aristotle’s works on ‘first philosophy’ or being as such. This metaphysic became ‘reality’. It became a largely unquestioned assumption which underscores more the impact and vast significance of history as human than any such thing as the ‘real’.

In the 19th century Hegel’s dialectic shattered with great genius and logic this dominate metaphysic. His impact was so devastating that reactions to Hegel spun off Karl Marx and communism (long before the Russian Revolution). Marx vigorously opposed the bourgeois Hegel in favor of material dialecticism. Hegel also spun off the British Empiricists and Adam Smith which became the foundation of capitalism. What was so devastating about Hegel’s observations? Hegel pointed out clearly that the dominate metaphysic of his day was an abstraction. It was not a matter denying the ‘reality’ of Cartesian dualism but of showing how it was an abstraction. Kant tells us,

For human reason, impelled by its own need rather than moved by the mere vanity of gaining a lot of knowledge, proceeds irresistibly to such questions as cannot be answered by any experiential use of reason and any principles taken from such use. And thus all human beings, once their reason has expanded to [the point where it can] speculate, actually have always had in them, and always will have in them, some metaphysics.

—Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

Isaac Topete writes,

Kant posits a two-fold constitution of knowledge by the two faculties of understanding and sensibility, and thereby, rejects the hypothesis of an intuitive understanding. With these two stances in mind, Hegel—within the Science of Logic—is critical of Kant insofar as he sees these above positions by Kant as detrimental to the project of idealism. Detrimental in the sense that Hegel thinks that Kant’s position is self-contradictory to the extent that concepts exist only in relation to appearance (i.e. illusory being) and, hence, concepts do not have any actual ‘truth’ to them insofar as they only apply haphazardly. So, from the perspective of Hegel, for Kant, concepts are derivative and hold no actual traction beyond that which appears. This, therefore, leads to Hegel’s attempt to critique and overcome these Kantian assumptions within the Science of Logic. (Topete)

Kant distinguished concepts from the ‘thing in itself’ or noumenon as opposed to phenomenon or manifestations – concepts. So, Kant was still to some extent working from Cartesian metaphysics. However, even Kant was already thinking clearly about the absolute abstractions of concepts and their inability to sustain any such thing as ‘reality’ without essentially being a metaphysic. Hegel shows through rigorous and extensive writings that Kant’s dualism resulting in the ‘thing in itself’ could not stand as Kant intended but even Kant’s unstated dualism was itself merely Concept. Hegel thinks Kant is still a victim of abstraction in that he could not break with some notion of reality which maintained the opposition of noumenon and phenomenon. This was the beginning of the end for Cartesian dualism over one hundred and fifty years ago.

Philosophy after Hegel broke into two main divisions: Continental and Analytic Philosophy. Continental meaning mainland Europe and Analytic meaning chiefly United States. However Analytic Philosophy grew out of the British Empiricist’s reaction to Hegel and the German Idealists. Both strains of philosophy have also traversed to widely varying degrees away from the mechanics of Cartesian reality.

Continental philosophy eloquently shows the break from the classical world to the modern world beginning with Existentialism and into phenomenology. Existentialism was focused on the matter of existing in a daily world and how to live without the metaphysics which made the classical world possible. Phenomenology was contemporaneous in the early 20th century with Einstein and Relativity. While not directly affecting each other they had some interesting parallels. Phenomenology started in earnest when Edmund Husserl began by focusing not on abstractions of metaphysics but how phenomenon shows itself from intentionality. As human we always encounter the world with intention which is not passive but active in determining what shows itself. His student Martin Heidegger also working from Husserl discusses two examples of how this works. Heidegger asks how do we experience spatiality? Do we encounter it as linear extension, as feet or inches from objects?

Actually, linear extension is an abstraction. It is a grid we impose on the world. Even Einstein tells us space is not linear but relative to time and frames of perspective. ‘Long’ and ‘short’ change relative to the speed of light. For Heidegger, we have lived-space. We bring close and distance ourselves from regions of contoured spatiality. While the glasses on our face may be much closer to us in linear extension our lived space is what our intentions are occupying in interests beyond and through our glasses. When we are in a class room there is a space between the teacher and the students which we experience as different regions where possibilities are delineated in advance. Lived space is not devoid of everything except dead extension. It is alive and has various qualities which inform us about ourselves, others and the world and how we act in various regionalities. Additionally, lived-time is not linear now moments. Lived time has a stretch of duration from a past through a present to a future. When we are happy ‘time flies’ and when we are bored or depressed time slows to a halt. Lived-time is a stretch of qualities and not just dead time. In terms of Einstein, time is relative to us, our frame of reference. Continental philosophy goes on to show how time and space are concretized by qualities of our experience of them.

Continental philosophy moved on in the mid to latter 20th century to structuralism and poststructuralism, modernism and post-modernism. These movement encompassed vast areas beyond philosophy including architecture, art, feminism, etc. These movements laid a foundation for a critique of abstractions from the classical and modern world and showed how their influences became occasions for violence and domination both to ourselves and our environment. Derrida showed through deconstruction how dominate, historic narratives must necessarily include their own antithesis and undoing. Fanaticism and terrorism result from their inevitable collapse. Furthermore, any form of structuralism is doomed to carry the seeds of its own demise. Derrida even goes so far as to say that “deconstruction deconstructs itself”. A case and point here is the interesting turns we find in Analytic Philosophy.

Analytic philosophy got its impetus from getting back to the senses in British Empiricism and not German Idealism. However, it quickly became entangled in linguistics, semantic and syntax. Once it emerged from the logic of language it took on the philosophy of language in a much more evasive role.

Those who use the term “philosophy of language” typically use it to refer to work within the field of Anglo-American analytical philosophy and its roots in German and Austrian philosophy of the early twentieth century. Many philosophers outside this tradition have views on the nature and use of language, and the border between “analytical” and “continental” philosophy is becoming more porous with time, but most who speak of this field are appealing to a specific set of traditions, canonical authors and methods. (PhiIn)

I am not as familiar with the Analytic tradition but I understand that sense perception has become inseparable from language games, context, intentions, intersubjectivity and histories. Rudolf Carnap even went so far as to substitute intention for sense. Contextuality is not something added on to reality but constituent of reality. The ‘Pittsburg Hegelians’ have even taken Analytic Philosophy back to Hegel in some important respects. Writing of Wilfred Sellars (an important advocate of the Pittsburg Hegelians) Willem A. deVries writes,

For both Hegel and Sellars, the sociality of thought entails also its historicity. We always operate with a less than ultimately satisfactory conceptual framework that is fated to be replaced by something more satisfactory, whether on the basis of conceptual or empirical considerations… Sellars denies both that there are ‘atoms’ of knowledge or meaning independent of their relation to other ‘pieces’ of knowledge or meaning, and that they are structured in a neat hierarchy rather than an interlocking (social) network. The determinate content of a thought or utterance is fixed by its position in the space of implications and employments available to the community in its language or conceptual framework. This kind of holism is congenial to Hegelian modes of thinking… Hegel is an epistemological realist: he rejects the idea that we do not (or are not even able to) know things as they are in themselves. Yet neither Hegel nor Sellars wants to reject altogether the distinction between phenomenal reality and things as they are in themselves. Sellars calls the distinction between the phenomenal and the real the distinction between the manifest and the scientific images of man in the world.

Hegel provides for numerous phenomenal realities related in ways that require a phenomenology to understand. It is not the distinction between phenomenon and reality itself that Hegel and Sellars attack, but the notion that it is absolute, establishing an unbridgeable divide.

McDowell, however, is concerned to defend our ‘openness to the layout of reality’ and seems not to take seriously the idea that we might have systematically false beliefs about the nature of things… The strategy, boiled down, is this: Kant’s critical philosophy is formulated in terms of basic dualisms, apriori/aposteriori, analytic/synthetic, receptivity/spontaneity, even empirical science/philosophy. Hegel insists that trapped in these dualisms Kant cannot satisfactorily explain human cognition or action. The gaps imposed by the assumed dualisms never get properly bridged. (deVries)

DeVries goes on to state that Sellars rejects the standard static interpretation given by Hegel in Hegel’s absolutisms. The important point here is that even the arch-typical school of sense empiricism has re-discovered, perhaps in some novel ways, the radical and complete loss of metaphysical ground which dominated the West from the Roman Empire to the 19th century.

Physics tells us of the absolute (if you will) relativity of ‘objects’ in which size and even temporal existence is contingent. In quantum mechanics it appears that even the notion of a particle is simply relative concentrations of energetic field densities more like micro and macro waves and currents in the ocean. Subatomic ‘particles’ with no mass (infinitesimal forces popping in and out of existence) energize these densities to create mass, gravity and their relative temporalities. This tells us that a ‘particle’ as a solid piece of matter is an abstraction which we have told ourselves through history based more on a quasi-scientific/theological notion of Newton’s absolute time and space. Newton told us gravity as action at a distance was God.

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle even tells us that there are aspects of phenomena which are impossible to reconcile (position and momentum of the wave-particle). This hits at the very heart of logic as built upon the principle of non-contradiction.

Schrödinger’s cat in the box thought experiment tells us the cat in the box can both be alive and dead at the same time. This is really an observation about the mathematics of superposition which is the basis of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics tells us about infinite possibilities which are actualized, made real, by observation. The immediate reaction of many including myself years ago was, ‘Are we saying that everything is subjective?’ This jump to subjectivity was the only possibility given to us by our metaphysics when confronted with this observation.

Einstein referred to entanglement as ‘spooky action at a distance’. Most quantum fields have a property called spin. These fields become constituents of many particles such as an electron. One characteristic of spin is called up and down. This is really how a magnetic field effects the orientation of the field. When particles such as an electron become entangled with each other they form a pair that can be separated by billions of light years and a magnetic field on one electron will instantly change the orientation of the other electron no matter what the distance between the two electrons. This seems to violate Einstein’s basic postulate which tells us nothing in the universe can move faster than the speed of light. This appears to violate a fundamental law of physics concerning locality. Einstein thought perhaps there were hidden variables which could explain this problem. One possibility could be that the universe is composed of more dimensions than four, three dimensions of space and one of time. Locality is intuitively thought as the ‘me’, the ‘I’ of ‘I think, therefore I am’. History has taught us that we are all absolute individuals. We have a certain sacred and protected domain which endows us with sacred, unalienable and unquestionable ‘rights’. We typically downplay the absolute of individuality with the equal and opposite other half of rights which is responsibility.

The notion of a multi-dimensional universe has contributed to many-worlds theory (which goes all the way back to the Greeks). String theory and parallel universes coupled with Schrödinger’s observation tell us that possibilities may be more than reality fictions but fundamentally comprise the ‘stuff’ of reality. What we thought as dead stuff, substance, may have much more to it that could make the boundaries of what is thought as living and dead a more complex problem.

Dark energy is thought to comprise 73% of all mass and energy in the universe. Additionally, dark matter is thought to comprise another 23% of the universe. The leaves 4% to comprise everything we see such as planets, stars and people. And, we really have no clue what it is. We know it must exist because we see its effects like wind in the trees. Dark matter and dark energy may solve a problem which resulted in perhaps Einstein’s greatest blunder, the cosmological constant. In short, Einstein inserted this ‘x’ factor into his equations to make relativity of time and space work with gravity. This made the universe static and kept the universe from flying apart. However, many subsequent discoveries have leads us to the dark halls of dark energy and matter as the reason why the universe does not fly apart. Without the gravitational effects of dark matter and energy we would have to accept the almost theological explanation of Einstein’s ‘x’ factor. The mystery of what dark matter and energy tell us is to buckle up, we really know very little about reality.

What is the real? It is neither subjective nor objective but those tired old metaphysics should tell us more about who we are that what reality is. We have inherited ‘filters’ which help us make sense of the world in language and history. Language and history are as much a part of our anatomy as our heart is. The ‘real’ is not some absolute, everlasting reality apart from us to which we are enslaved but essential to us in an ‘essentially’ indeterminate way. Philosophy and physics have come together to show us that our ability to abstract not only is the ‘real’ but somehow indeterminately determinate of what gets taken up as ‘real’.

To speak of the ‘real’ in this way is not to deny the ‘real’ but to put the ‘real’ in a more nuanced and less abstract way than historic embodiments which grossly oversimplify and distort ‘isness’. These distortions lead to the worst of human behavior as they champion the heroic ‘defender of the faith’ at any horrific cost. The threats to reality are manufactured inherent in ‘reality’ not imputed from the unrepentant. We do not really know to what extent our forceful expectations of ‘reality’ force the reality we ultimately find. It may be that the worlds we create become our tomb and not the occasion for an ‘other’, infinitely removed from our metaphysical prisons.

Creation did not happen from our reality but from a reality we never knew. Language was not our invention after birth but in some indeterminate and historic fashion constitutes who we are, what ‘reality’ is or isn’t. It constitutes a past that never was our personal past but somehow participates intimately in our moments and after-moments of creation, of birth. To think of ourselves as an absolute individual is perhaps the momentous sin of ‘reality’ which ignores the grace which makes us possible. We owe a debt to creation, the moment of birth, that gives gifts and makes possible language and meaning. It is up to us as to how we embody these gifts with wistful arrogance or humble gratitude. The other, the he or the she, is not diminished or captured by our petty judgements of them. They are as much the miracle of who we are as language, as ‘reality, as the indeterminate infinity which we choose together and apart. The possibility of ethics is a choice, perhaps the only choice we can make. Over one hundred and fifty years we have traversed from ‘I think, therefore I am’ to ‘We think, therefore we are’. We can welcome this transformation or die fighting it but who is to say if we meet our apocryphal demise, another unaccounted, unrecognized moment of creation will not create infinites of ‘realities’ which once again ask for gratitude, grace and ethical desire for what we know not.

Works Cited

(n.d.). Philosophy of Language. Retrieved from https://iep.utm.edu/lang-phi/

deVries, W. A. (n.d.). Hegel’s Revival in Analytic Philosophy. Retrieved from https://mypages.unh.edu/sites/default/files/wad/files/devries_hegels_revival_in_analytic_philosophy.pdf

Topete, I. (n.d.). Idealism from Kant to Hegel. Retrieved from https://www.csustan.edu/sites/default/files/groups/University%20Honors%20Program/Journals/isaac_topete.pdf

Urgent!

Please edit this email for your personal beliefs and send it out to our President, Representatives and Senators!

To: President Biden, Representative Jason Crow, Senator John Hickenlooper, Senator Michael Bennet

From: Mark Dreher

Subject: Please Evacuate Any Afghanistan People Who Want to Leave Now!

Dear Sirs,

I have always been opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am in total agreement with President Biden, but we must do more to end this nightmare. My brothers, and subsequently my family were victims of the Vietnam War. I know the decades of horrors and nightmares that survivors of these wars have to live night and day. I am asking you to please get any and all Afghanis who want to leave their country and come to our country – get them out now, whatever it takes! We need to negotiate with the Taliban to provide safe passage out of their country to the United States. The Taliban must agree with this evacuation no matter what – period! We cannot allow human tragedy of this scale to go any further. We may need to do more than keep the airport open. We may need to get safe passage with trucks to any other neighboring country. We need to completely dismantle the visa process until we can safely process these people. This must be done now no matter what it takes to stop mass human tragedy AND to salvage our humanitarian ethos. Please do not let this end in a hellish, unimaginable nightmare. We can and must do this now!

Mark Dreher

Thoughts on the Afterlife and Other Tales

Part of the beauty of life is not knowing. ‘Knowing’ has a tendency for reduction. It can dampen basic questions of existence. It can provide an answer, at least a contingent answer. It has the allure of solace, comfort, and security. While it does dampen the angst of existence, it also dampens the intensity of passions; of beauty, wonder and awe. It also squelches creativity. Creativity is the catalyst which made science and our present lived-world possible. In religion, the lack of distance from God undermines the passion of the Holy. It gives ready-made answers in lieu of faith. God talks to devotees in regular and daily conversation which they all too happy to tell us about. Whatever happened to the passion of faith was a problem Kierkegaard brought to our attention. Kierkegaard tells us that we do not need faith to believe that 1 + 1 = 2. We have no real stake in the daily and absolute knowledge of a God we know and understand with absolute certainty. That is not faith but the mechanical garbs of science without the objectivity of facts and instead, the subjective experience of knowledge which has become an unfalsifiable fact, which is intolerant of doubt. What we have in this case is the inception of extremism that can solipsistically know no other. What this really brings to the surface is a uniquely historic, 19th century, worldview in which absolute time and space came into fruition with the Industrial Revolution. This is why religious modernity and capitalism have become cozy bedfellows and why anything such as a ‘Trump’ was made possible in the vestibules of faith. All the resentment in religious, reaction to enlightenment is,

“Wokeism makes you lose, ruins your mind, and ruins you as a person”

which Trump tells us is why the US soccer team lost. Enlightenment as the result of unbridled positivism in an empirical reality of objective science has in religious modernity become a battle cry for God-Enlightenment. Science is no longer needed; education has become a vehicle for radical “Wokeism” in which one knows all especially about “two Corinthians”.

The path of religion in post modernity is riddled with extremism, danger and desperation. Kierkegaardian passion of faith has been replaced with social media’s fanaticism to indoctrinate and dominate more and more adherents to ‘Sleepism’. Anti-enlightenment is the new battle cry of those who will not settle for anything less than total and absolute submission to the social, economic, political, moral theory of everything which grows as a cancer in the rapidly evolving dogma of religious groupthink. Religion has been replaced with Mephistopheles’ ‘hell of a deal’ when you accept Jesus Christ as you Lord and Savior. You are welcomed into the on-line group where you all become one in everything you always wanted to know about; everything with rapidly evolving answers of salvation, politics, morality, economics, “Wokeism” in general. In all this we see a radical conformism which consumes without cessation. Has this become the actualization of Nietzsche’s “last man”? What we see in ‘sleepism’ is lucid dreaming which can only end in nightmare. The looming problem of ‘sleepism’ that it robs us of what made religions a reality in the first place. Religion was not born of ready-made answers although, like manna from heaven which was miraculous edible substance, decays in institutionalism and even faster now with virtual reality. Could it be that ‘mana’ has been replaced with manna:

Mana is the spiritual life force energy or healing power that permeates the universe, in the culture of the Melanesians and Polynesians. Anyone or anything can have mana. It is a cultivation or possession of energy and power, rather than being a source of power. It is an intentional force. (Wikipedia)

In the interest of provoking some whimsical and perhaps more fresh questioning on the topic of an afterlife, I would like to attempt a thought experiment.

We know that the universe has memory to an exquisite degree. Scientists call this information theory. Entropy is key to information theory as it is a predictor of more and less information. Physicists have traditionally shown that information is encoded in the most intricate and exquisite workings of the universe. Stephen Hawking went against this knowledge base in showing that information might be lost in the long death of a black hole which is called “Hawking radiation”. A long and intense battle with physicists Leonard Susskind and Gerald t’ Hooft ensued in 2008 and ended in the “Susskind quashes Hawking in quarrel over quantum quandary” with the holographic principle. The holographic principle shows that radiation receives quantum corrections which encodes information about the black hole’s interior and thus retains information. Later theories offer further alternatives to the loss of information in non-unitary time evolution. The point here is that the universe has an exquisite memory. Even if other universes exist with vastly different ‘laws of physics’ (coined and piggybacked in Latin Christianity as ‘natural laws’), information theory is still an absolute necessity as only the Hesiodic theory of chaos would be the absolute loss of information…more about this later. Information is also clearly exhibited in chromosomes and the evolution of species. Instinct is also another evident form of information theory.

If the universe has memory in the form of information, it is not hard to understand that information theory is the retention of memory. While I personally am 50/50 on the certain knowledge that an afterlife is possible, I do find that apart from religious concerns, it is not hard to make the uncertain leap from information theory to a thought that information could be retained in the form of memory in other realities. I think this not so much from a personal desire for any kind of ‘proof of an afterlife’ but more from a non-mechanical, 19th century, basis which finds truly astounding and quite unmoored observations in the recent century of Continental and Analytic philosophy trends. Even in the 19th century, in Hegel there is a foreshadowing of information theory in his notion of Concept. Metaphysics, a Latin term not ancient Greek, is a tradition which counters what philosophy and science is telling us about what we [metaphysically] ‘think’ as reality. The question of objectivity and subjectivity are both brought into fundamental question. This Cartesian dilemma which encapsulates much of modernity in historic certainty has truly been overcome in recent trends in philosophy and physics. We see this most clearly in Phenomenology, Structures and History of Language and physics starting in the early 20th century in Einstein’s Relativity Principle. What all this is telling us is that what we think we know is more about who we are and less about reality.

I would not be surprised in the least if there was an ‘afterlife’ which retained the intimate information of what we think as ‘my life’ or ‘our history’. Knowledge does not have to be Blanchot’s unescapable impossibility of death or Sartre’s horror of No-Exit. Neither does it have to be absolute extinction into the impossibility of nothingness. Knowledge itself may be a clue, a bread crumb, to a retention intrinsic to the universe. In Hegelian terms perhaps the universe itself is a retreat from what he deems ‘Absolute Concept’. The larger point for the purposes of this post is to attempt to unmoor ourselves from the supposed history we think as reality and point to a confluence of fundamental inquiries which do not ‘add’ to our current understanding of reality but actually and radically transform our ‘sleepism’ into a ‘wokeism’ which cannot be escaped except into deeper sleep. In sleep we find the brain escapes into non-sense. Perhaps the brain’s cure of too much apparent sense is to counter with a truth of its own; to what may point to an other, a radical other from all our Platonic Forms which history has made static and a kind of living death. Levinas called this static-sation, totalization. Totalization has been saturated through and through with the notion of being, what philosophers call ontology (the study of being). Totalization reduces absolutely. It denies the face in Levinas’ terms. The face absolutely counters the concretization in which sleep-fully determines who and what the other is. Truly totalization is Blanchot’s death of language, Satres No-Exit, and Levinas’ “there-is” in which the ‘I’ entombs itself as if to find relief from the radical alterity of the other. We have devised intricate, historic, linguistic escapisms to give us certainty or apparent certainty in the face of radical otherness. Our dreams tells us that our waking life is fundamentally contradictory and inadequate. Hesiod tells us that chaos or more precisely the ‘yawning gap’ is the face of the-an-other which we tirelessly want to retreat from. We have fashioned for ourselves an oasis in the chaos which we think is dry land but firmly rooted in sub-atomic particles popping in and out of existence in which the vastness a subatomic space implies infinitely more space than matter (if there really is such a thing) – gap, is the root of our realities and incessant daydreams. Perhaps waking up is discovering what we do not know, what inspires creativity and wonder, is vastly more meaningful than what we think we know. All the while an other, the other, which requires ethics, decision, to counter the incredible smallness of our certainties; to actively hold open the beauty of infinities which we behold every day in waking sleep.

A Response to “THE INDIGENIZATION OF ACADEMIA AND ONTOLOGICAL RESPECT”

In the article cited above in the title (Kisner, 2020), Kisner effectively articulates the fundamental problems with ontology (οντολογία). Ontology is derived from the ancient Greek notions of ὤν (ṓn, “on”), present participle of εἰμί (eimí, “being, existing, essence”) + λόγος (lógos, “account”). As Kisner points out early in the essay, the notion of ontology does not need to be interpreted through the history of the ancient Greek notion of being and logos but can simply have a more broad appeal as a methodological way of organizing; “a framework for defining the domain that consists of a set of concepts, characteristics and relationships”1 which could be ascribed under the rubric of sociology, computer science, and even nursing. However, in all these fields a certain Occidental orientation to knowledge (gnósis: a knowing, knowledge) which has already been designated from a particular epochē assigns an orientation to the ‘how’ of what shows itself (e.g., as being). It brings with it a pre-understanding of temporality as presence (and present-at-hand) in Heidegger’s critique of technology as standing reserve. It also takes in René Descartes’ hermetic sealing of the subject as an ‘I’ that thinks and is essentially separate from substance (active/passive voice). This orientation brings into presence knowledge as a system of ‘correct’ statements organizing and making possible any such thing as science. Kisner goes on to bring out the ‘colonialization’ which is inherent in ontology as such. His thesis is that it is almost impossible or very difficult to even separate the notion of ‘indigenous’ from this history. Furthermore, it forcefully places an essential condition on how ‘indigenous’ can let itself appear and further does violence to any possibility which might exceed the pre-canned approach to exactly what could be hidden by the notion of ‘indigenous’.

In my reading, Kisner is trying to bring out the totalization which pre-conditions even our grammatical structures of active and passive voice and has lost sight of middle voice(s) both culturally and historically. We have even seen this in the suppressed notion of the ‘other’. Many people these days have talked negatively about the ‘othering’ of people. In this case ‘othering’ means already understanding the other as the same as my idea of the other. Here the ‘other’ has been degraded into a notion of what I already think the other ‘is’. It is hard to see how this conception of the ‘other’ is true to the notion of the ‘other’. Since, this notion already contains the meaning of what the other is/means, I think it violates any originary or perhaps pre-originary intent of any possible excess to the idea of the other mistakenly taking it as the same as, for example, my idea of the other. This seems to me to be a case of failing to apprehend what the word ‘other’ could be pointing us toward. If the other is thought through the forceful, pre-apprehension Kisner warns us of in the ‘indigenous’ peoples, we have extinguished even the possibility for the ‘other’ to mean anything other. Kisner recommends an ‘ontological respect’ which he seems to think can escape the ‘re’ of ‘respect’ as reenactment, redo, remember, etc. and chooses patience over “all mouth and no ears”. It also indicates perhaps a more genuine orientation to ontology as the possibility for hearing a voice, an other, which has not been overwhelmed by the tidal history of ontology in the West.

If there is this possibility let’s think about how it might be articulated. Could it be that ontology as an organizational structure which to some extent determines, explains, makes possible orientation and significance can be thought as an economy? This notion of ontology makes possible reward and punishment. It accounts for what may be apparent but lacking any necessary connection to the particular phenomenon it claims as its own. If this is the case, it brings with it totems and taboo, punishments and rewards. One thing feminism has taught us is that such indigenous traditions as widow burning and foot binding interrupt the tendency for patience. The need to act sometimes distinct from the patience of allowing the otherness of the other to show itself may require an intervention albeit not with the same violence as the predatory act. We have also seen from Marx’s critique of capitalism a need for action, whether we agree or not with his recommendations, to counter the inherent monarchism submerged in the abstraction of capital. These issues bring up a complexity to the popular notions of cultural relativism.

Even now in the United States we are wrestling culturally with the covid-19 virus and how those who refuse to get vaccinated are detrimentally impacting others both by facilitating the spreading of the virus and its genetic derivatives. Wearing a mask has become political and, in a sense, a demand from the far-right for cultural relativism. They articulate it as their ‘rights’, as if God or country requires this of us all even if it is detrimental to society as a whole. We are faced with the individual and how society can hold the absolute ‘truth’ of the individual over such concerns as a greater good. Even the ‘facts’ of a greater good are incessantly denied in favor of alternate facts. We are being haunted by preconceptions of subjectivity and individual sanctity which long preceded any of us. It is as if cultural ghosts are finally coming back to haunt us. Is the appropriate response patience for anti-vaccers no matter what their impact is on other people?

What I am trying to bring out here is that in some senses we cannot afford patience. Perhaps sometimes patience kills. I believe women have suffered way to long from male ‘patience’. My wife tells me if men had hot flashes it would have been cured long ago. The bigger picture here is that an economy, any economy, places a demand on us. In my opinion, this demand comes from a more primal source – the need to act, to make meaning and significance of lived-circumstance. We cannot wait for exteriority and otherness to speak across the gap of multiplicity in all situations. What is more, we tend to, for lack of better words, ‘spiritualize’ our quest to live and put off the insecurity of death and mortality. Economics gives us the promise of freedom and the threat of imprisonment or poverty. It practically communicates a system of articulations which go unquestioned and simply demand the need to act under its rubric. In this context, the capitalist is the Übermensch which determines his financial freedom by sheer willing it thus. Absolute transactionalism reduces the world to a known as everyone is equally dispensable, dependent on the power of the individual to usurp his supernatural powers. We have evolved into a comic of ourselves in which the super-hero and the villain have some sort of inherent, undetermined agreement that organizes and determines all the possibilities we call reality. We have evolved into a reality show of ourselves.

The value in what Kisner tells us and I find in Levinas’ understanding of the other and in the ‘chaos’ of the earliest Greek thinkers is that we have an urgent need to allow ourselves a break in the historic monologue we, and others, have inherited and have become victims of. We need to do the work of going beyond what we ‘know’ as apparent to see if we can truly allow an other voice to interrupt our homogeneity (even marriage is a good teacher of this if we let it). At the same time, we need to act from values and serious considerations of how force and violence defaces and undermines the ‘otherness’ of the other. If we can even hear the voice of the other, it is a ‘still small voice’ which does no harm and takes responsibility for our actions and the actions of others. We need to stop, listen, and disengage to actively promote the ‘not’ of who we think we are and the ‘not’ of the ‘kn-ot’ which yet again wants to reassert our assumptions of how the other could possibly ‘be’. Those who are hell bent on beating-their-chest-individual-transactionalism may become President of the United States, but the result will only be alternate facts, the right to kill and maim as the will of a demi-god and its patriots, and the demise of any semblance of Constitution ending in sheer hatred and violence as the last fetal, destitute act of terrorism.

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1 https://www.techopedia.com/definition/591/computer-ontology [accessed Dec. 4, 2019]

Kisner, W. (2020). The Indigenization of Academia and Ontological Respect. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 16(1), 349–391. Retrieved from https://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/view/795

On Death

Death is not something that happens at the end of life. As Blanchot mentions in the quote at the end of my recent post,

As long as I live, I am a mortal man, but when I die, by ceasing to be man I also cease to be mortal, I am no longer capable of dying, and my impending death horrifies me because I see it as it is: no longer death, but the impossibility of dying…. I have no relationship with it, it is that toward which I cannot go, for in it I do not die, I have fallen from the power to die. In it they die; they do not cease, and they do not finish dying ― Maurice Blanchot, Literature and the Right to Death.

The only way I experience death is through life. Death is strictly a phenomenon of life. The fear of death is a fear of life as life and death are inseparable. The death of my son in 2017 is not ‘his’ death. He is not experiencing death as he is not mortal any longer; not living. Chris is not human now. He was a beautiful, young, and amazing human but now his humanity is in my heart, my memory, my pain. This is where he dwells now in me and those who knew and loved him. The pain of death is the pain of living. It is not optional but essential. The question remains, how shall we live in the essence of death?

Death is a zenith. It is where life disappears into the infinity of horizon. It is not the horror of hell or bliss of heaven. It is the gate of the infinite. Mortality cannot pass through its gate. The absolute fluidity of this universe breaks upon the shores of death in which there is no return. Does death start where it began as if some universal law of physics requires it to do so?

What we know of physics is that there is a vast multitude of possible and actual physics. The laws of physics in our current universe are themselves a zenith of time and place. The ‘laws’ are an invention of circumstance. According to physicists, they were radically different at the beginning. If not for slightly more matter than antimatter after the ‘big bang’ or the ‘big bounce’ we would not be here at all. As to the question of what’s ‘outside’ the universe we are told two things: 1) Outside is a conventional notion we have derived from this time, this space, this circumstance and says nothing about this mythical notion of an outside to the universe, 2) If there are other universes, they have radically different physics. They would have absolutely no necessity placed on them to mimic our space/time physics in this singular moment of our circumstance.

So, this tells us that even this moment we call ‘life’ is itself a zenith caught on the brink of infinity. We stare infinity in the face every moment of our existence and found or are found by language as history to pacify our delusions of security as we draw in the breath of ‘I’. We forget the boundless ocean of eternity we stand on the shores of. We rationalize and sanctify and flee in the face of this awe and beauty and wonder which is the essence which can no longer be thought as ‘essence’. There is no ground beneath our feet only instantaneous, massless ‘particles’ better thought as infinitesimal force fields which pop in and out of existence and declare, “I am”. What we need in the face of eternity is perspective not absolute determinations.

We breath ‘we’ in this eternity of temporality. Sure, we have individual bodies which are really a communion of organism, cells, molecules, atoms, infinitesimals popping in and out of existence but somehow organizing themselves as an illusion of a whole, a body, my body. We communicate with language which we did not invent but in some undeciphered way acquired from a history we never knew or experienced. ‘Understanding’ is not a something but an acquisition of a ‘not me’, a gift given without merit or even existence as ‘mine’. We think ‘me’ from ‘we’. The ‘me’ that protests, that complains, that judges is a construction of the ‘we’ of language which speaks and has spoken and will speak with and without me, my existence. In all our languages we face plurality of other languages. Not just human but also animal languages, plant languages (actual science behind this). Existence is language. It is communication. It is the physics of interaction. It is the boundary conditions. It is the face. The face is not just a ‘presentation’, a presence. It is an absence of infinity which cannot present itself except as the boundary conditions of this moment, this interaction, this ‘idea’ of reality.

‘Idea’ informs us of notions which give reason, promise meaning, promotes sense and sensible. We even have the notion of ‘absolute’ which finds no home in infinity except as ‘idea’. What is more, ‘idea’ is what Hegel believes is all that faces us. There is no exterior ‘thing’ out there. The ‘thing’ is the idea. There is never a ‘thing’ without an idea. So, in Hegel’s estimation idea ‘is’ infinity and finite, it is ‘isness’. The face of which I spoke is the idea of face, nothing more, nothing less. For Hegel, the ‘notion’ exceeds other notions as being and nothingness and finds place as ‘Concept’. Concept is the embodiment of place, of divine, of me and us, of face. The other and the same cannot remain as they are but must be taken up by the necessity of self-consciousness. There is no self as a notion without an other as a counter notion. The same and the other are the necessity of a self, a me. Even the notion of space and time is a requirement of particularity. We must be a ‘we’ by necessity of Concept not by some exteriority which makes it so. For Hegel this does not do violence to the other as another person for example but requires us to look further into exactly what we are talking about and referring to; to fundamentally question the very fabric of isness and how Concept becomes the necessity of isness.

This leads us to choice. There is no way in my estimation to prove Hegel wrong. He may well be correct that Concept is essentially ‘is’. For Hegel this does not end in some kind of essential narcissism but in a foundation from any such thing as narcissism. Hegel is not bestowing sainthood on individualism and such notions as chest-beating ‘capitalism’. He is certainly providing a foundation for their existence, for existence itself, but not some modern right-wing notion of ultra-conservatism. In any case, there is a question Hegel poses which must be faced, a choice must be made.

I started this post with the notion of infinity. In due course, we have found that infinity and finitude may have and certainly, in some yet undetermined sense, has a basis in Concept but is that the end of the story (or perhaps another beginning)? Even if Hegel is correct, is there an ethical necessity placed on us to face the other, to face my son without Hegel’s face? Are we to abandon ourselves to the necessity of Concept and if so, how does that effect my orientation to the other, to the infinity of the face, to the requirement of my son’s life and living death which I must endure? Even more, what of the suffering of the other? How shall I face this lifetime of suffering which I must endure, my suffering and the suffering of the other? Should I find some kind of solace in the absolute fact of ‘Concept’? Should I think infinity as a necessary condition of finitude? Have I violated something other than my own biases and misunderstandings of Concept? Isn’t ethics just another requirement of Concept, of self-consciousness?

This is where choice determines eternity. I have no basis external to the requirements of self-consciousness for choosing an exteriority which cannot be thought only or more precisely determined by thought. I can choose to found self on Concept and call that ‘isness’. I probably have more reason to do so than not in Hegelian terms. I see many folks who use Hegel (and less intellectual achievements) as a kind of license to justify whatever they want to do to whomever they want to do it to. Perhaps, Hegel’s philosophy is not ready for mere mortals or vice versa. However, I do have to live in the face of the absolute, unsubstantiated abyss of existence. I have to wake up every day with my death, the death of my son, the death of innocence from bigotry, greed, injustice and I have to face it on an ongoing basis without any justification for why it must be so from Concept. In all this I must act and I must make choices not because I am that Concept but because I suffer and I am with those that suffer. My choice is to be self-determined or, without necessity, to heed the cry of the other.

To conclude, I would like to add a bit of speculation, highly speculative. We see in nature and physics (whether it is pure Concept or not) a return to regularity, order, instinct; to repetition in some degree. We did not proceed from Concept to birth but from nothingness (certainly with regard to consciousness) to birth. Somehow, I and we popped into existence. Is there a regularity in ‘popping into existence’? Perhaps, we don’t know. However, one thing we do know is that we did become but from what? We can call this Concept and satisfy the need for origin. However, I prefer to leave that to what Hesiod referred to as chaos (really the yawning gap). There is a gap of not knowing which we can choose to reserve. There is also the observation that phusis or physics, biology, ‘isness’ might like to repeat itself. We are gift standing from infinite abyss facing eternity with language and consciousness that is not our own. Who is to say that that gift cannot find repetition, increasing wisdom and another moment when what I did, how I acted in the face of the other; who is to say it is not the foundation for something I know not what…choose wisely.

Language: Universals and Particulars

We all seem to ‘understand’ language and the ‘literal’ use of language and the ‘figurative’ use of language. Perhaps this is the problem – we all ‘seem’ to understand. Let’s see if we can get some clarity on this pre-understanding we all to seem to have.

The ‘literal’ use of language thinks “let’s go up the stream”. The figurative use of language is like “she is always so up”. From the literal standpoint ‘up’ points to a particular direction “up the stream not down the stream”. From a figurative standpoint ‘up’ means something like an elevated, more desirable mood. From the literal notion we have designated a particular which always implies two things: the universal set of all conditions in which ‘up’ is always the same as x = up and always not the same as x down. From the figurative standpoint ‘up’ is a metaphor, a simile, a kind of reflection of the universal case but not the same as. Notice how we use the conjunction as to equate both universals and particulars and shades of meanings or combinations of meanings which can no longer be called universals and particulars OR
simple nonsense because they employ multiple meanings which separately can have different contexts but together convey a concrete meaning which is different in some undiscernible degree from the universal/particular context.

The question among philosophers of language and aesthetics is which modality of language is superior or are they both valid in different ways or is one really subsumed by the other or can we just ignore one and acknowledge only the other or is it neither and they both do not mean anything as they are fundamentally indeterminate and unable to stand alone? With this in mind let’s see if we can flesh these notions out in a simplistic formulaic fashion:

up is not-down (in the gravitational field of earth)

up is down (in the vacuum of space)

Notice how the previous apparent universal case only makes sense by assuming one particular case.

up is both down and not-down (in the gravitational field of earth and the vacuum of space)

Notice how the contradiction of the universal case makes sense now given two particular cases.

up is beyond words (in the universal which encompasses all particulars)

Words, meaning and language must mean something beyond themselves.

up is beyond words and down (in the universal which encompasses all particulars and universal binary oppositions)

Since the universal by definition cannot be both true and not true it must point to some inability of language where meaning and nonsense have a kind of symbiotic relationship.

up is beyond words and not-down (in the universal which encompasses all particulars and universal binary oppositions and binary universals and binary universals where one term is negated)

Since the universal by definition cannot be both true and not true it must point to some inability of language where meaning and nonsense have a kind of symbiotic relationship AND where one particular case can be maintained on a universal level.

up is beyond words and both down and not-down (in the universal which encompasses all particulars and universal binary oppositions and binary universals and binary universals where both terms are negated)

Since the universal by definition cannot be both true and not true it must point to some inability of language where meaning and nonsense have a kind of symbiotic relationship AND where one particular case can be maintained on an absolute contradictory universal level.

Notice that we can never seem to find a case where all particular cases are congruent with the universal case. However, we can just completely dismiss the universal case as total nonsense. We can even find a way to maintain a blatant contradiction over the universal case. So how can we get around this dilemma?

Well, we can have a tautology. A tautology is always true no matter what by definition. This is the case of A = A. Philosophers call this an identity. It will always be true no matter what the particular conditions because we declare it thus. Deductive logic can be a tautology. Here is how:

All men are mortal

Socrates is a man

therefore, Socrates is mortal

or

A = B

C = B

A == C

In this mathematical formula we can now declare that we have found the universal, but have we? Well, when we use the symbolic form of A, B, and C we drop out the particular cases of the words and substitute, reduce or ignore the particulars of man, Socrates and mortal. In so doing we have found a way to sustain the universal for all particular cases. So, in a way we have transformed the particularities of man, Socrates and mortal to mean the same thing as a symbol.

A symbol is something which stands for something else. However, in a strict universal sense we can define a symbol as something which stands for something else without specifying exactly what it stands for. Now we can chain symbols and equalities together to start and end in the same place as we did above. What we have really done is to ignore any particular cases for which they mean something and simply restated or repeated ourselves as if we found something significant. In this way we have discovered the joy of a tautology.

Now we can link particular cases together in commonly understood, by certain cultural, historical, ethnic, gender, etc., notions and endow them with the universal quality of a tautology. Isn’t this really a magician’s trick of hand? Deductive logic can communicate true conclusions if its premises have found a certain amount of conditional, particular restrictions which unite them in the terms of the conclusion. However, the appeal to the particular case of the premises and the truth-contingency of the conclusion makes this a case of inductive logic.

Inductive logic can communicate certain conditionally ‘real’ things which culminates in, for instance, science. But science strips itself of the joy of tautology and calls their endeavor inductive logic. Inductive logic finds certain empirical conditions under which prediction is made possible. When these conditions are duplicated, we can expect to see a certain outcome which can be repeated by anyone (we will not get into the notion of degrees of error in this post OR the possibility of some completely different explanation which may have less room for error – think absolute time and space and relativity). However, we can see with inductive logic we actually have the possibility of finding a completely different way to arrive at a predictability without being locked into the ‘truth’ of a tautology.

I would submit that in this brief analysis there may be a way to completely discredit Hegel…or not.

I want to thank Jainism for this…

  1. o is P.
  2. o is not-P.
  3. o is both P and not-P.
  4. o is beyond words.
  5. o is beyond words and P.
  6. o is beyond words and not-P.
  7. o is beyond words and both P and not-P.

See The Literal-Nonliteral Distinction in Classical Indian Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

(Keating, 2021)

References

Keating, M. (2021). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: The Literal-Nonliteral Distinction in Classical Indian Philosophy. (E. N. Zalta, Ed.) Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.