Category Archives: Physics

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

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

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.

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.

Postscript from “A thought experiment…”

While I am not a Christian, I find ages of accumulated wisdom in many religious traditions which must be wrested out from the noise which history has encased within these traditions. While I certainly do not ascribe to the effectively cliche metaphysical positions which have dominated these traditions, I do find the historic play of metaphysics can embody allegorical dramas which has the possibility to bring a kind of clarity from the dust bins of dystopic ages past.

One of the more interesting and intentionally playful metaphysical musing was given to us by Friedrich Nietzsche most notably in his work, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”. Within the backdrop of classic, Newtonian physics, Nietzsche reasons that since space and mater is limited and time is eternal all combinations of matter will eventually be repeated exactly as it was before. Effectively, this means every human life will always come again only to repeat itself in the exact same way for an infinite amount of time. Zarathustra called this the ‘Great Nausea”. By this he meant that it sickened human spirit to think such a metaphysical thought. However, Zarathustra’s insight was that this nausea held the possibility for affirming life as the ‘eternal recurrence of the same’. He thought this was the sign of an ascendant life as opposed to the decadent, sickened life of despair and the utter pitifulness of those who are forever condemned to take their extreme vengeance on life. In the case of Zarathustra, we can clearly see a kind of allegorical play with Metaphysics which can illustrate the philosophical underpinnings of Nietzsche’s thought. In this way, I would propose another metaphysics in a contrary direction as Nietzsche’s concern which has a more updated take on physics.

With the advent of relativity and quantum mechanics absolute time and space are no more. While physicists hate singularities and infinities, they are compelled at the current time to labor under these mathematical obscurities. Certainly, calculus is the mathematics of infinities and the peculiar formalities in which physics currently shows its dilemma (e.g., as converging and diverging infinite series, peculiarities of zero, etc.). What is more, physics has discovered that most of the universe is pervaded by an absolute mystery called dark matter and dark energy. We find that the fundamental building blocks of all mater is held together by quarks which pop in and out of existence, more like flavors of reality than reality itself. We are told that nothing can be smaller than a Planck size or the distance light travels in a perfect vacuum. A Planck is the absolute smallest possible unit of measurement which can have meaning (approximately 1.6 X 10 -35 m). And yet we are told that black holes can reduce the mass of a sun, billions of times larger than our sun, down to a singularity. What is more, we also have the peculiar dilemma which has yet to be disproven that intrigues many physicists that black holes may really be the other side of a ‘big bang’. So, even though we know meaning can only be thought in terms of Planck size we effectively are saying that universes can be created from what we think is a finite amount of matter in a huge sun. Universes have much more matter than one huge black hole. Our universe has many supermassive and known ultra-massive black holes in addition to all the other mass in our universe. So, if a black hole can create a universe with extreme orders of magnitudes more mass than the mass of its collapsed star – even more so, according to Einstein’s physics, the infinite mass of a singularity, we have a huge amount of mass in the new universe which can have no meaning according to the notion of a Planck size. What shows itself here is that our idea of meaning is more convention than ‘meaning’. Furthermore, to suggest as some physicists do that there may be infinite universes, makes Nietzsche’s metaphysics outdated and a bit moldy. That is why I would like to propose a counter metaphysics which has more affinity with the present.

Instead of a finite amount of matter given over to the infinite amount of time producing eternal recurrence of the same. Perhaps the singularity of Heraclitus’ river which can never be stepped in twice is more apropos. Nothing is ever repeated in exactly the same way. There can by rhymes but not repetitions. If the metaphysical notion of the soul has a rhyme, may it be in the notion of a one without another which nevertheless cannot remain in absolute obscurity but must affirm an Other, the other. A singularity cannot remain shrouded in absolute meaninglessness but must rise again to affirm the other, not the same which is fundamentally meaningless. Instead of the assertion of power and might, of absolute Spirit, perhaps the weakest confounds the strongest. The weakest not condemned to utter despair and vengeance but opened upon the possibility of others. The decision that spirit cannot remain in absolute certitude of itself but must Decide that others, that other, is built into the cry of despair and emptiness. Instead of perpetual and eternal vengeance we have the ‘meek inheriting the earth’. Why? Because they cannot stand in the allusion of grandeur, of mastery and self-subsistence, ‘self-substance’ which makes no sense. The other is not the multiplication of the same, it is the opening onto the ‘tree of life’, that which makes possible any such erroneous notion as the same. Meaning as convention fails to be what it aspires to, what it asserts itself as. Only in the Decision of choice, Ethics, can obscurity rouse itself from its eternal slumbers in welcoming the Other, the stranger, the he and the she.

Whimsically, can I also suggest that in order to rise from the dead as the God, mythically spoken of in the last post (“A thought experiment…”), could it be that every obscure singularity must through many universes and worlds ultimately become a ‘Jesus’ and die for the world, the Other, eternal Agape?

All life and death and elsewise must forever be in its singularity, its moment which can never be altered. Even more I, as a rhyme of singularity, must ultimately take upon myself the sins of the world, missing the mark, such that I become sin meaning that I am Responsible and held to account for the suffering of the Other…just saying…

The Impossible Possibility of Paradox – Part Two

Chaos Theory is:

“When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.”1

In the Part One discussion we discussed the function 1/X. We saw cases in the function of infinity as X goes to plus and minus infinity. We also saw the case where X = 0 and the result is indeterminate. All the points except zero demonstrate a continuous, nonlinear function. That is, all real numbers in the graph is a smooth curve with no breaks or discontinuities except at zero. At X= 0 the function is discontinuous. This function simply demonstrates how we can get a degree of closure even when we entertain the notions of infinity and indeterminacy. Both infinity and indeterminacy tell us that even in the most banal circumstances such as the function 1/X we have a degree of certainty while at the same time entertaining notions where we can’t get absolute closure. Even more, these odd notions tell us that even such banal certainties are ruptured through and through with exteriorities which cannot remain in themselves but indicate an other which mathematics has no answer. In this part of the discussion we will explore further the complications which can only indicate the limits of our logic and the value of the questions these limits pose.2 The last footnote of my recent post On Origin ask this question:

Does chaos theory in contemporary science relate to radical otherness? If so, how? What about the implications of quantum theory and Schrödinger’s cat in the box? Does the uncertainty principle and the apparent malleability of what ‘is’ determined by observation have anything to do with radical alterity and the retreat from the face of the Other? More succinctly, do we face an ‘Other’, a radical alterity, even in the ‘it’ of physics?

This post will try to address this question and contrast its implications with what I consider to be a formidable philosopher whose influence has become a focal point and an anchor, both in its affirmation and negations, for the retreat from the face of the Other – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

For classic physics most notably represented by Newton, absolute time and absolute space is assumed. Underlying much of classic science and philosophy, causality is absolutely assumed. Causality is often associated with the billiard ball metaphor. When the cue ball hits other balls on the table, geometry and force absolutely determine the path of all the other balls. While causality may provide useful information in our everyday world, these notions have been antiquated by a much more precise understanding that spans phenomena from billiards to cosmological physics. Relativity supersedes Newtonian physics. Relativity is orders of magnitude more accurate even in the specific frame of reference which Newtonian physics works including billiard balls. However, relativity has some limitations. Relativity works extremely well on large scales but not on extremely small scales. For extremely small scales quantum mechanics is highly accurate. In special conditions, Einstein’s equations punched holes in the continuity of time-space. In a similar way that our mundane function of 1/X contains examples of infinity and indeterminacy, Einstein’s findings predicted such phenomenon as black holes and wormholes.

Einstein was responsible for pioneering quantum mechanics when he discovered that light had both the characteristics of a particle and a wave. After all he had already demonstrated that energy and matter, like the particle and the wave, were two different states of the same thing – Emc2 (i.e., think of water as liquid or ice where heat, or the lack thereof, determines the state…for matter and energy the speed of light determines the state). However, when quantum mechanics theorized the phenomenon of entanglement, Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance”. Entanglement happens where one particle influences its twin, irrelevant of the distance between them, instantly (i.e., faster than the speed of light). Einstein’s theory of relativity could not allow anything faster than the speed of light. He thought that everything from the very large to the very small must propagate through fields setup by space-time distortions. The physicists of his day also started discussing the ‘uncertainty principle’ and ‘waves of probability’ which he vehemently disagreed. His lifelong search for a ‘unified field theory’ which would unite electromagnetism (and the strong and weak nuclear forces) and gravity suggests that continuity was paramount for him. In addition, he is famously quoted as disparaging the quantum mechanics of his day suggesting the “God does not place dice with the universe”. However, when the universe plays dice with itself, we call that ‘Chaos Theory’. Chaos as discontinuous and probabilistic, just as the budding of quantum mechanics in is day, was a philosophy Einstein might not have held in high regard. Interesting enough it was Albert Einstein that stated, “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

Chaotic systems permeate our everyday world. Weather, turbulent water, health sciences, road traffic, sociology, physics, environmental science, computer science, engineering, economics, biology, ecology, the stock market, our brain states, philosophy and temperature are examples of chaotic systems. Almost everything in nature is a chaotic system. Chaos theory is famous for the ‘butterfly effect’ introduced by one of the founders of chaos theory, Edward Lorenz. The butterfly effect informs us that the exact path and time of a tornado may have been started by the flapping of a butterfly’s wings weeks earlier on the other side of the planet. When initial conditions can be specified to a high degree, Newtonian physics works great on a highly restricted system. As initial conditions become more critical, like the real world, chaotic systems become more prominent in relativity and quantum mechanics. Two black holes orbiting each other exhibit a highly chaotic system. There is even a branch of physics called Quantum Chaos3. Mathematically, chaotic systems are always fractals. Fractals occur when real number math (fractions) feedback into the initial conditions of a system. Fractals are the result of simple patterns being repeated infinitely by positive feedback with ever changing initial conditions. Chaotic systems are not random, but they can predict the relative probability of randomness. Chaotic systems are always non-linear and deterministic. Chaos theory is deterministic in that it surmises that if the exact initial conditions of a chaotic system is known, the exact effect of the system could be known. However, chaotic systems also state that the complexity of a chaotic system makes knowing the exact initial conditions a practical impossibility. In effect, determinism is an ideal of a chaotic system which can never be proven only assumed. As the mathematics of chaotic systems, fractals, tell us, the infinite variation of input conditions provided by positive feedback of the system make practical determinism impossible. Additionally, uncertainty increases over time in a chaotic system. In practice, chaos theory always has a degree of indeterminacy. Additionally, the assumption of cause and effect is inherent in determinism but also remains as an ideal of chaos theory not a practical reality of chaos theory. It is highly likely that quantum mechanics influences chaotic systems. Quantum mechanics is proven to be indeterministic. This is due to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle which shows that fundamental properties of a particle cannot simultaneously be known like the position and momentum of the particle. Since quantum mechanics certainly plays a role in chaotic systems, we can draw the conclusion that chaos theory is indeterminate in practice. Therefore, chaos theory highlights relative degrees of indeterminacy and infinity while producing useful results in the output of chaotic systems.

Chaos theory is a scientific principle describing the unpredictability of systems. Most fully explored and recognized during the mid-to-late 1980s, its premise is that systems sometimes reside in chaos, generating energy but without any predictability or direction. These complex systems may be weather patterns, ecosystems, water flows, anatomical functions, or organizations. While these system’s chaotic behavior may appear random at first, chaotic systems can be defined by a mathematical formula, and they are not without order or finite boundaries. This theory, in relation to organizational behavior, was somewhat discounted during the 1990s, giving way to the very similar complexity theory.4

The reasons chaotic systems can tend towards more chaos over time or fundamental transformation is due to the ‘strange attractor’. Researchers Briggs and Peat tell us:

Evidently familiar order and chaotic order are laminated like bands of intermittency. Wandering into certain bands, a system is extruded and bent back on itself as it iterates, dragged toward disintegration, transformation, and chaos. Inside other bands, systems cycle dynamically, maintaining their shapes for long periods of time. But eventually all orderly systems will feel the wild, seductive pull of the strange chaotic attractor.5

When a strange attractor encounters another chaotic system, it pulls the chaotic system toward a wildly different result. The strange attractor essentially changes a chaotic system. Thus, butterfly wing turbulence can cause a tornado on the other side of the earth weeks later. The strange attractor transforms the chaotic system into something other than what it could be from its own intrinsic properties. The chaotic system’s self-identity is fundamentally altered by the stranger, the Other.

For Newton, time and space were pre-conditioned by Descartes mind-body split. These notions originated in a particular Latin reading of Aristotle. ‘Body’ was substance in this reading. Over time substance took on the characteristic of mechanism. The universe was thought as a machine. Causality was an important underpinning of a lifeless machine. The universe operated obliviously to mind. Just as the ancient Greeks thought the earth was the center of the universe, mechanical causality taught us the we were immersed in a sea of dead ‘things’. The radical other of Newton was alien and followed its own mechanical rules absolutely. In philosophy we would say that a certain, already understood ontology of the universe (a historic-linguistic understanding of the being of the universe), guided even our possibilities for how we could think of everything not us, not mind. This ontological setting guided science and philosophy for centuries. Even the greatest thinker of German Idealism, Hegel (18th-19th century philosopher) was guided by the notion of mind and object where object was simply thought as an idea of mind. From this discussion, what have we seen about the direction of science since Newton?

Einstein has taught us that the universe is not oblivious to body. Time and space are permeable to an incredibly sensitive degree to the mass and speed of everything from galaxies, our bodies and anything with mass. Each one of us is enveloped in our own time and space given by existence [see On Origin]. If our body does our mind as Nietzsche thought, we find that the metaphor of chaos is closer to life than mechanism. We find on the smallest quantum level that indeterminacy, uncertainty and rupture determine ontology not absolutes (such as time and space). We are not immersed in a sea of ‘things’ but participate in intimate cooperation with a ‘what’ we still do not have the language and history to inform our outdated ontologies, our understanding of what we can only name as ‘Being’ harkening back to a once upon a time which no longer exists. We know that infinity was our historic clue that we covered over with certainties and determinacy. Yet, even as Descartes would tell us the thought of infinity overflows itself, it does not remain in itself, it ruptures even the ‘is’. As far back as Hesiod, we have the trace that the force of our misunderstanding had to covered over.

As I have discussed in On Origin, Hesiod’s chaos cannot even yet think itself to be neutrality, the ‘it’. The anonymous was not as easy to come by in Hesiod’s day. Only with the subsequent weight of a history yet to come after Hesiod, can the rupture take on the neutrality of anonymity. The post On Origin attempts to think through some of the ways the ancient Greeks might have tried to cover over Hesiod’s chaos. It also inquisitively tries to find a placeholder in chaos for what Levinas would tell us is the face of the Other. It seems to me a face of a ‘he’, a ‘she’ and even an ‘it’ does not draw on the history and language which misunderstands chaos as night, void, horror, anonymity, Idea…the ‘otherizing’ of the Other, etc. but can only evoke in proximity to the Other, to an infinite transcendence which faces us, the absolute primacy of Ethics. The universe of the ‘same’ as the other is not a flight from fear but a response to awe and wonder. Not until the absolute, un-determinate, chaos has a face can Ethics take the place the ancient Greeks intuited but relegated to the logos and physics (phusis) as neutered. In the radical rupture of the Other we do not ‘see’, we feel a past which we never knew, a time and space which was never ours. We can only wonder if there was an excess which we never accounted for, saw, or understood when she spoke to us, when he faced us – when it was a place or time that lingered long afterwards. And, instead of letting the retreat to the once ‘said’, the memory understood, the place and time resolved by mere extension and ticks we can choose to place Ethics in the fore as the only remnant of the infinity we never knew but glanced in proximity from an Other not us, not me, not mine…a ‘not’ which can remain indeterminate but cannot be ignored.

Addendum:

Here are the question I would pose to Hegelians:

How is it possible that an “Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences” would omit the sciences since Newton’s absolute time and space? How can we suggest that science implies absolute time and space, absolute causality and absolute self-determination? If anything, the sciences since Hegel tell us that the universe is permeable on the most intimate and personal scale. Our very existence as bodies with mass and movement shapes and forms a very personal time and space uniquely ours. The universe intimately dances with us to the point of creating own unique ‘time-space bubble’ [see On Origin]. Not only that, but there are others, strange attractors, which interrupt the chaotic systems of body-doing-mind. How is it possible that Hegel’s Logic would not formally account for the essential, un-mediate-able, idea of uncertainty, indeterminacy and essential rupture of self-determinacy by the Other which is not me, whose temporality is not my time, whose spatiality is not my space? Is it with the skepticism of nothingness?6 Is the evocation of the Other “nothingness”? Does the Idea reduce the Other to “nothingness”? Don’t the sciences counter the ‘Absolute skepticism’ and ‘nothingness’ of the infinite Other thought by Hegel’s Idea? Perhaps ‘nothingness’ is the final solution for anything other than Hegelianism. How does infinity and chaos relate to the hierarchy of the ‘higher standpoint’, the self-identity of the object and absolute knowing? For Hegel, isn’t Being thought in the same ontology as that of an object to Idea? For Hegel isn’t Being ‘pure knowing’ which is ‘pure indeterminateness and emptiness’ and merely thought of as the opposite of ‘pure nothing’ which is ‘complete emptiness, the absence of all determination and content’. Hegel tells us that Being and nothing are identical. The mere thought that Being and nothing are opposites gives rise to becoming but how can ‘thinking’ think the thought of opposites in ‘pure indeterminateness and emptiness’ in the absence of content? What is ‘pure knowing’ without content? Might we think that at the very beginning of the “Logic” thinking has the same invisible inflections bending inward as the thought of a ‘thing’. Isn’t the thought without determinations or content an unspecified filler which functions as the thought of a ‘thing’. As such, don’t we recreate the dilemma of Descartes? Ah, but the Hegelians will surely protest that the ‘Logic’ is actually a circle and there is no starting point or end, but rather a totality. If so, is the starting point irrelevant? Why would Hegel disingenuously start the “Logic” with the ‘thought’ of Being and nothing while telling us the first stage has no content and no determinations but, apparently has the thought that Being and nothing are opposites? Are we to overlook this apparent contradiction for what will come later in the “Logic”? Doesn’t Being ultimately answer to the Idea, the Begriff as the ‘object’ of Begriff? For Hegel, certainly we can’t suggest that the idea of chaos participates at the highest level of absolute knowing as the truth of every mode of consciousness? Can the Hegelian Idea un-fixate its Medusa-like gaze to give the proximity of Ethics an Other which is not an object of Being but an infinitely strange attractor which Idea cannot subsume within itself? What relevance shall we give to the idea which holds itself off, which gives itself its own essential limitation on the possibility that it may not be absolute but self-delusion which has an ultimate, world historical reason, for effacing and fleeing from what it can never ‘know’ but only encounter in the ‘he’, the ‘she’…and the ‘it’ which science informs us is not the ‘it’ we thought as ‘was’. The question is not ‘to be or not to be’ or even ‘why is there something rather than nothing’ but why is there ‘Other rather than nothing’?

Here are my unedited answers:

Thinking for Hegel is existential.7 Thinking is only allowed to think from the structure of his dialectic. Hegelianism is the autopsy of Idea in the region of the absolute. Hegelians seem to have almost have a gym-rat type vibrato about thinking the Thought. What are the building blocks of Hegelianism in the Thought of the Absolute? First, Hegel takes on the mantle of Totality driven by the Absolute – the science of his day. Certainly, the dialectic of Hegel assumes structure – hierarchical structure. Hegel’s claim to the circularity of his hierarchy does not undo the hierarchy but indemnifies it from temporality. In this way, he positions his structure as constitutional, as immortal, the ‘definition’ of human. Determinism is paramount for Hegel. Even the indeterminate must take a back seat to the Idea even at the first movement of the Logic (Being-Nothing previously mentioned). Any exterior to his definitive and determinative structure is relegated to ‘nothingness’ as Hesiod’s chaos was dispensed with the nothing of ‘night’ and ‘void’. Determinism is undergirded by the absolutism of cause and effect, the billiard ball approach, from the science of his day. Absolutism requires certainty. A machine must be capable of reverse engineering. Hegel has disclosed the structure of the human machine. The mechanical metaphor reigns supreme in Newtonian physics. One thing Hegel shares with current science is the assumption of progress. The move of Spirit will eventually unearth the mind of God which will be Hegel’s “Logic”. However, the difference in an absolutist structure and the relativity of uncertainty is the loss of discovery. Hegel has precluded any possibility for essential progress. Sure, work can be done ad infinitum to flesh out his superstructure but the System as ‘almost complete’ is meant with ‘almost’ meaning the perpetual fleshing out of his Idea. We should also notice that Hegel’s structure includes the existential (existentiell). As in Heidegger’s Ontic-Ontological structure, we have Hegel’s idea-Idea. All thinking and thoughts must forever suckle at the Idea. In this dynamic we have uncovered the power structure. Hegel’s master-slave paradigm is the dynamics of power relations. In thinking strictly and totally within the machismo-ridden structure of the Logic we have the master, Hegel, and the slave, his career driven philosophers. Hegel’s devotees are in servitude to the strict demand of obedience to the Logic lest they incur the penalty of falling into nothingness, the heresy of the strict confines of the Logic. Is it inconceivable that the slave could ever claim the right to freedom and cast off the yoke of Logic? Hegel even goes so far as to try to convince us that his Logic cannot be criticized. Since the Logic is absolute in its determinations anyone who criticizes it must be themselves deluded and thus irrelevant. All of this has the effect of isolating the Hegelian academics from any exterior which might try to update ‘The Science’ beyond Newton. The last assumption of Hegel’s super structure is denial of the other. Science is often criticized by philosophers as coming too late with too many assumptions. As such it is relegated to the ‘technician’ level of philosophical science. Hegel’s Logic is built upon the dogma that there is no exterior to the Logic. At least the philosophically deprecated sciences have the foundation of an other which is not understood. In servitude to Hegel the slave cannot admit any exterior. His economy is an absolutely restricted economy dictated by the master and his servitude to the abstraction of his existence. The master-slave dynamic can either break down or the slave can become yet another master with, according to Hegel, the added benefit of concrete existence from having been the slave. However, after a while, wouldn’t the slave forget his ‘authenticity’ and find himself equally abstracted from his existence as is to be expected from the master according to Hegel. The slave can never really escape the master-slave dilemma except in the freedom of abstraction. Thus, exteriority is forever denied. I guess it comes down to an Ethical decision. We can decide to take up the mantle of apostacy and decide that there is exteriority which cannot be subsumed into the totality of the same and thereby, discover an Ethics which is not altruistically derived from duty or Logic. When the radical rupture of the face of the Other is exterior to me, to the ‘said’ of language, Ethics is choice over necessity to the ontological or ‘Logic’al idea even as subjectivity is substitution from infinite responsibly.

_________________

1 Lorenz, Edward Norton (1972). “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” Address at the 139th Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sheraton Park Hotel, Boston, Mass., December 29, 1972.

2 In the previous discussion there is a graph which maps out in two dimensions the function 1/X where X varies from minus infinity to plus infinity. We can see from the graph that at the ‘zeros’ of minus infinity and plus infinity the function goes to zero. Note that while the limit of X at both infinities is zero, the function never reaches either zero as infinity is an ‘ideal’ of real numbers not anything which we could call ‘real’. Also, note that as X approaches zero from either zero the graph of 1/X approaches negative infinity to the left of zero and positive infinity to the right of zero. Likewise, in this case, as X approaches zero the result of the function goes to infinity of either side of zero. In either case, the fraction part of these real numbers needs ever arrive at its destination of zero. The approach to plus and minus infinity at zero we call ‘poles’ [See Pole–zero plot for more details]. However, at zero the result of 1/X is called undefined. What this means is the vertical line of the function on the graph at zero does not exist. We have a boundary condition at zero where the function makes no sense [Division by zero]. There is no number that satisfies the result 0 1/0. For example, if you have 1/1 you could think of it as dividing 1 cookie into 1 part which would be the whole cookie. However, in the case of 1/0, the divisor makes no sense if you want to divide one cookie into zero parts. The result of 1/0 cannot result in a number because the question posed by the function makes no sense. The function 1/0 exemplifies what I will call indeterminate or a singularity [See Singularity (mathematics) for more details]. The math makes no sense at zero for the function 1/X. For all X in our function except the point at zero, this is what mathematics calls a continuous function. In relativity, gravity is a continuous field. So, what does this mean for the purpose of this discussion?

What I am trying to flush out of this example is that we have a mathematical ideal which gives us some closure (recall the part 1 discussion about closure) around the function 1/X. We have concrete definition about the ideal behavior of 1/X. We can know much about the function’s behavior around the poles of zero. However, at the boundary condition of zero our ideal mathematical language makes no sense. The ideal language we are using breaks down, almost imperceptivity at an infinitesimally small point where X=0. We could say that the negative of the side where X is less than zero is the right side of the graph because -1 times (1/X) where X is always negative will always be positive like the graph where X > 0. Thus, the negative corresponds to a positive term, i.e., the right side of the graph. In fact, the negative of X< 0 OR X> 0 is simply a restatement of X> 0 OR X< 0 respectively. The negative is an absolutely necessary condition to satisfy the essential requirement of the function. Without the negative the function could not be posited. In this sense, X< 0 and X> 0 are absolute, dialectical opposites. They are absolute as they mirror each other in their opposition, their negation. At the same time, they also categorically define the function on both sides of X = 0. In effect, we have set up an absolute opposition between thesis and its absolute other, the negative, antithesis, and lifted them up as both inclusive and exclusive of each other without reserve…in a hermitically sealed closed relationship. What we have done is asserted a positive term or function X> 0 OR X< 0 and its negative X< 0 OR X> 0 respectively, literally what it is and what it is not. This is a multiplicative inverse or reciprocal relationship. The result of this operation is to deny, by definition, any possible exterior. Since this mathematical example is a very isolated situation by design, I do not want to generalize it as example of all Hegelian dialectics and thereby try to indict Hegel. I have come to see that the triadic (thesis-antithesis-synthesis) is an over simplification of Hegel’s project. However, I do want to pose this very isolated question, is it possible to think the negations discussed above as a specific and formal case of one type of a determinate negation (bestimmte)?

What can we make of the boundary condition of X = 0? We could take advantage of undefined, the absolute rupture at zero, by suggesting the 1/0 = 1 but then, according to division’s inverse property 0 X 1 would have to equal one – a contradiction. Basically, any possible number or relationship can be posited in the boundary condition. At the boundary of zero we could say that the boundary contracts or joins all other values of X OR we could say that the boundary condition alienates or separates all other values of X. Since this mathematical example is a very isolated situation by design, I do not want to generalize it as example of all Hegelian dialectics and thereby try to indict Hegel. However, I do want to pose this very isolated question, is it possible to think the negations discussed above as thesis and antithesis and the boundary condition as a synthesis, what Hegel called aufheben or sublation? Is it possible that the necessity of the dialectic drives the function 1/X?

“Malabou argues, ‘Dialectical sublation proceeds through a movement whereby, at one and the same time, it contracts and alienates the material on which it acts’. The Aufhebung is not simply the one that brings together the one and the multiple, but also the multiple that holds apart the one and the multiple; it is the identity of non-identity and identity and the non-identity of identity and non-identity. In Jameson’s words, ‘dialectics are dialectical’.” Aufhebung and Negativity: A Hegelianism without Transcendence, Ryan Krahn, University of Guelph

If so, the aufheben becomes a restricted economy which ‘contracts’ (combines) and alienates (excludes). By restricted economy I mean sets up all possible conditions under which anything can be said, thought, asserted or denied of the function 1/X. When the boundary is thought as aufheben there is no possible exit from the dialectic. Of course, we could say that the boundary is indeterminate. We could say that the boundary is a rupture, a radical alterity, with regard to the whole system of mathematics. Would these assertions be an escape altogether from the dialectic we have constructed? If we assume that mathematics is the only possible field where any possible objection can occur, then these objections are meaningless. If the notion of rationality as the only possible field is substituted for mathematics, then these questions can only be answered in the restricted economy we have set up. We have set up an absolute, closed system, which can never exceed itself. There can be no radical rupture. The effect of this is to close out all other possibilities in a restricted economy thus absolutely removing the possibility that the boundary is indeterminate. It is an absolute denial of all possibilities for a radical other. However, the denial is not in the asserted boundary condition but in the repetition of the thesis in the antithesis. The other was already made impossible by the repetition not from anything surreptitiously brought in at the boundary, the synthesis. This movement is what we now call totalization.

Let’s think about the approximation we thought about with the ‘tendency towards closure’ and the ‘opens towards an unbridgeable tear’.As opposed to the hermetically sealed which can recognize no other, the ‘tendency towards’ is the empirical. The System is deduction while the ‘tendency towards’ is inductive. It is also the difference between certainty and contingency. In approximation, we discover qualities around infinity which provide a degree of closure. The yawning gap of chaos is smoothed over by the mathematics of infinity, calculus. The radical alterity of the Other is tamed by common sense. We form ideas about the Other. Levinas calls these plastic casts we throw over the face of the Other. We have theories with relative degrees of accuracy for prediction. We think of the Other as the ‘same’ as us as a desirable idea. We think of diversity as a collection of Other’s which is also desirable. When we think conventionally as the other being negative, ‘otherizing the other’, we think of the other as alien and evil. However, the alien and the evil are our idea of the other. The idea of the other is yet not the other even as the idea of Hesiod’s chaos never arrives at its destination. In all these cases we have applied ready-made inductions to level out and retreat from radical rupture…the infinity which looks at us in the face of the Other and in the very notion of infinity.

From Part One of this discussion, let’s recall the paradox. We have the notion of a mathematical point which is infinitesimally small. Therefore, a ‘real’ point is an impossibility. However, relativity physics tell us that a black hole results in a singularity. In addition, according to relativity, if we follow cosmic history back to the big bang, all the matter in the universe coincides into a singularity. It is as if we backed up into the other side of a black hole. A singularity is a radical rupture in time-space. It is also indeterminate. A singularity is in effect a division by zero [Division by zero]. Is the “Beginning of Time” a myth? [The Myth Of The Beginning Of Time, “The Myth of the Beginning of Time”, A Matter of Time, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, January 2012, Volume 306, Issue 1s] By ‘myth’ in this discussion we do not mean ‘not ‘true’ we simply mean impossible. The myth is the singularity of the black hole or the big bang that relativity would tell us. For Hesiod, the beginning starts with a myth and a paradox.

Let’s think of Hesiod’s myth as the story we tell ourselves like the story Einstein tells us in relativity (although they are obviously not the same). Let’s think of Hesiod’s chaos as the radical rupture we think in singularity. The story we tell ourselves is quite convincing. However, no matter how carefully we trace our steps back to the origin we find we are left with an indeterminate difference. The difference is demarcated by the myth and the rupture. In fact, might we think that the myth is a retreat from an impossible singularity, an alterity that tears at the nexus of the contradiction of paradox which cannot be true but is true. The myth must be mute with regard to the paradox. The muteness we call indeterminacy. Of course, in our time, physics has competing theories about how Einstein’s singularity can be eliminated. However, none of those theories have the extremely accurate predictability of relativity on a very large scale. They also have their own resurrections of paradox which is not the subject of this discussion. At the same time, quantum theory is highly accurate on a very small scale. To date, we have not found a proven way to unite the very large and the very small. In this discussion I will not attempt to deal with the vast paradox’s which quantum theory intriguingly brings to the fore. Of course, we can always simply ignore the rupture with eternal positivism for a future resolve of the large and the small, a myth that will finally be the “theory of everything” or as Hegel thought, the ‘System’. If the history of myth is any precedent, the promised myth will also arrive with its own tears in the fabric of, shall we suggest, ‘what is’. As Levinas reminds us,

“in thematizing we are synchronizing the terms, forming a system among them, using the verb to be, placing in being [the myth] all signification that allegedly signified beyond being [for the current discussion chaos]? Or must we reinvoke alternation and diachrony as the time of philosophy? … Philosophy is not separable from skepticism, which follows it like a shadow it drives off by refuting it, again at once on its footsteps. Does not the last word belong to philosophy?” [Emmanuel Levinas, Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1998) , 167, 168, 169. Also Cited by Richard A. Cohen in The Face of the Other, Ethics as First Philosophy: Two Types of Philosophy in the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas , Delivered as keynote address on August 1, 2013, at conference on “Culture and Philosophy as Ways of Life in Times of Global Change,” School of Philosophy, University of Athens, Athens, Greece, pg. 11]

The diachrony of the time of philosophy and history covers over its own ‘geological faults’. It tells us the System is almost complete. Chaos will be discarded, the paradox resolved, the Gordian knot untied. However, every new myth cannot seem to rid itself of the infinites which face us. Skepticism refuses without falling into the void it stares into. Skepticism is the last tragic stand of the hero which can no longer assert anything but its end. In this situation philosophy (and science) must forever drive off the shadow, the night, the void, nothingness to retreat from the abyss. The radical tears in Being and ‘is’ punctuated by death yet, still covers over the absolute intolerability of chaos. Hesiod’s chaos has no face. As such, it is the ‘horror’ of indeterminate-ability of the ‘there is’ which cannot be, the il y a.

“Being, as we noted, also is dark indeterminacy. Having suspended the binaries of de facto inside and outside as part of his own phenomenological bracketing, Levinas will approach this indeterminacy not as objectivity, but as something revealed through mood. Whether it is the dark indeterminacy that besets the insomniac self, or whether it is the rustling of nocturnal space, Being’s dark aspect horrifies us. “The things of the day world then do not in the night become the source of the ‘horror of darkness’ because our look cannot catch them in their ‘unforeseeable plots’; on the contrary, they get their fantastic character from this horror. Darkness…reduces them to undetermined, anonymous being, which they exude”. This anonymous being, also called the il y a [there is], does not ‘give’ the way Heidegger’s Being does. And it is not revealed through mere anxiety. Nevertheless, it is a beginning. Insomniac and in the throes of horror, the hypostasis falls asleep. Or again, it lights a light and reassembles its consciousness. It “sobers up.” Therein lays our first, constitutive escape from neutral Being. But the il y a gives the lie to the question: Why is there Being instead of simply nothing? Nothing, as pure absence, may be thinkable, but it is unimaginable. Indeterminate Being fills in all the gaps, all the temporal intervals, while consciousness arises from it in an act of self-originating concentration. This is the first sketch of Being as totality. The self-‘I’ dyad becomes a limited transcendence arising in the midst of the self’s encompassing horror. It hearkens to a call that comes not from neutral Being but from the Other. The stage is thus set for Totality and Infinity’s elaborate analyses of world, facticity, time as now-moment, transcendence in immanence, and transcendence toward future fecundity. These themes constitute the core of Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority.” Emmanuel Levinas

3 Quantum chaos

4 CHAOS THEORY

5 Turbulent Mirror: An illustrated Guide to Chaos Theory and the Science of Wholeness, Briggs and Peat, 1989, 76-77

6 “the skepticism which only ever sees pure nothingness in its result and abstracts from the fact that this nothingness is specifically the nothingness of that from which it results.”…”the skepticism that ends up with the bare abstraction of nothingness or emptiness cannot get any further from there, but must wait to see whether something new comes along and what it is, in order to throw it too into the same empty abyss.” Phenomenology of Spirit [Phänomenologie des Geistes], translated by A.V. Miller, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977, §79.

7 Thinking is Idea in time. Here is how that works out in Hegel. Space is the negation of Idea as Concept. Concept (Begriff) is not ‘seen’. It does not undergo contingencies. Concept itself has no time or space (external to itself) except in the ‘timeless’ dialectics in which space and time arises. However, the negation of Concept is space. The negation of space is the point. The point is time. Becoming as mentioned in the post is the ‘now’ moment (which oscillates between Being and nothing) where all points in space negate themselves into a single moment, the present. Hegel understands space as three dimensional as Newton also did. Since time negates space, it collapses space into a zero dimensional point. Human time is the negation of the anonymous point (which is nature’s time) and passes into ‘recollection’. Recollection refers to the past and the negation of the past is the future. The now is the in-between, the aufhebung. The time-self’s negation is Concept. This completes the circle where all dialectics are fulfilled in Concept. The dialectical oppositions and sublations are preserved in Concept. Concept is completion and determination. According to Hegelians, Concept is totally within itself, driven from its own dialectics without externality (not already accounted for in its dialectical movements). Thus, the critique of my post with regard to the indeterminate, chaos, uncertainty are reduced to dialectical movements and subsumed by the absolutism of the Newtonian science of Hegel’s own ‘Now’ moments. Understanding Hegel’s Theory on Time Note: It is interesting that Concept itself can be negated. I suppose Concept’s time-space-lessness opposes itself in the other of space opposing itself as time, etc.. In this particular case, Concept, itself has an other (dare we think as externality?) . A Hegelian would probably tell us that the ‘other’ of negation is not an external other but an other driven from within the Concept (in this case) as its depleted mode (in a sense). So, therefore, space is not other except in thought (as was the case with Being and nothing). Can Concept think itself? Wouldn’t that require time? Is this yet another case where thinking is merely assumed as was the case with Being as ‘pure knowing’ which is ‘pure indeterminateness and emptiness’ and ‘pure nothing’ which is ‘complete emptiness, the absence of all determination and content’ that already has the thought of their opposition.

The Impossible Possibility of Paradox – Part One

The fundamental experience which objective experience itself
presupposes is the experience of the Other. It is experience par
excellence. As the idea of the Infinite goes beyond Cartesian
thought, so is the Other out of proportion with the power and
freedom of the I.1

In this discussion I would like to use a rather mundane notion in physics and geometry to try to nuance out what I think is an important difference in common modes of our understanding and orientation to reality. I would like to bring out an equivocation which is a confusion that covers over an essential difference into an abstract habit of thinking. This habit is derived from a dominate, historically conditioned, leveling over of radical breaks in our notions of what ‘is’. The ancient Greeks did not have the modern ‘luxury’ of this imposed abstraction in reflecting on what ‘is’. More to the point, they had the notion of phusis2 which embodied the ancient, archaic notion of ‘growth’ also found in other ancient cultures. In this sense ‘growth’ ranged from what Heidegger phrased ‘what shows itself’ and in my estimation the radical rupture of alterity which imposes necessity from other than its showing. ‘Growth’ in this sense is encounter and exteriority. This approach will try to use some quite rudimentary assumptions in science to tease out these philosophical underpinnings.

In geometry there is the abstract notion of a point. The question which brings existential import to a point (i.e., what ‘is’ a point?), is non-sensical. A point does not exist. We may say that it is infinitesimally small. Perhaps we could say that it has no dimension, zero dimensional. A specific case of a point could be a singularity. From what physicists tell us about a black hole we must concede that it ‘is’ a point in its most extreme form. Physicists are very confident that black holes exist and that they result in a singularity, a radical tear in time-space, an infinitesimally small point. As such, the singularity is a mathematical impossibility. Philosophically, we would say that a black hole is a mathematical contradiction; it is necessarily false. However, let’s notice the shift we have just announced.

We started suggesting that a point is an abstract mathematical concept does not exist empirically; it has no dimension. Zero dimensionality is not conceivable. And yet, we seem to have empirical evidence that a point can exist in a black hole. We may defer this contradiction as a lack of knowledge to be resolved in an unknown, unforeseen, moment in the future. As such, we acknowledge that we must currently leave this matter as a paradox3. Such a point is an argument to ignorance and only defers the immediacy of an answer which now faces us in this discussion. The argument to ignorance does not provide resolution only gives permission to ignore a persistent question.

Let us note that we have attributed qualities to the ‘point’ as “infinitesimally small” and as highly certain that it empirically exists in a black hole. We cannot resolve these conflicting notions in the light of rationality. They must remain ‘infinitely’ recoiled in upon themselves without coming into the light as aufheben (i.e., without being “lifted up”, ” abolished”, “canceled”, “suspended”, or “sublated”). This infinite impossibility can only be preserved in its inability to be able to transcend or exceed itself. It remains as an obligation we cannot refuse in its stark, declarative unmediated, absolute self-contradicted specificity. However, we can ignore it altogether and the direct question it essentially poses to the ‘light’ of knowledge.

In this case ‘light’ is taken hold of by the Latin notion of ratio which was the interpretation of the ancient Greek word logos. Specifically for this treatise, in terms of Heraclitus’ refinement as ‘giving account’, as ‘justice’ and ‘recompense’. ‘Light’ in this sense is the field of sight where idea is nudged towards resolve, towards answer and accountability. Dialectic can only exist in this clearing, this region already ready for an answer. In this sense, idea remains in itself; it encloses itself as Truth. Sight lays hold of its object without referring to abstractions; it simply sees. Therefore, by ‘light’ I mean the Idea as remaining within itself. In analogous terms of physical science, such a notion as Idea remaining in itself might be referred to as an isolated system – no interaction with matter or energy outside of itself. In Hegelian terms we might even venture further that anything ‘outside’ of Idea is still Idea and therefore an absolute impossibility except as yet another idea. It forever must get re-appropriated into the isolation of its Truth.

Additionally, note here that falsity also remains in itself as a deprived mode of Truth often erroneously taken as an opposite. Falsity always resolves itself essentially in contradistinction to Truth. Truth can only assert itself in its privation, its lack as error and thus, remain in itself. For example, light is only known through darkness, good is only known through bad, etc.. Only by the essential ‘not’ can Truth make its eternal claim. Truth remains in logos as an essential condition for sight, for logic to assert its priority in its isolation. Specifically, this condition we refer to as being or ontology as the essential pillar of language, the copula which founds all possibilities of writing. Ontology in this case is what sifts and retains identity from Hesiod’s random chaos (χάος4), what must and can only show itself in the clearing of light.

The notion of singularity, as a mathematical point, cannot be seen or conceived and yet ‘is’. Therefore this notion cannot remain within itself. When taken as ‘sight’ a singularity can only be pushed away from itself such that sight cannot contain or make sense of its object. In distinction to Truth, that which remains in itself as the march of being, we have an absolute paradox which somehow still retains the yawning gap of Hesiod, χάος5. This essential difference should not be lost in the notion of negation. Negation resolves and levels off this difference by virtue of what it negates. It implies a positive term which then must necessarily be what is negated. The difference I am trying to bring out is that lack of a positive term to negate. This paradox, simultaneously ‘is’ and ‘is not’ perhaps gleamed in the ancient Greek notion of chaos. The paradox cannot be contained on the ‘not’ of negation without doing an injustice. We must open the isolation of this logocentric system which only must remain in itself. With this in mind, lets reflect on what we might think of as qualities of an idea which cannot remain within itself but necessarily points to an unseen, essentially undiscoverable, externality.

Of the idea of infinity, Renes Descartes writes:

Nor should I imagine that I do not perceive the infinite by a true idea, but only by the negation of the finite, just as I perceive repose and darkness by the negation of movement and of light; for, on the contrary, I see that there is manifestly more reality in infinite substance than in finite, and therefore that in some way I have in me the notion of the infinite earlier then the finite6

Descartes recognized that the idea of infinity is very different from other ideas. While at times he thought of infinity in terms of negation he also thought of infinity as “manifestly more” and in some way “earlier”. The idea of infinity cannot be shown in the light of the idea of an object like a chair for example. To tease this out further, the idea of infinity cannot rest in itself but can only point away from itself without pointing to a thing, a positive term. The idea overflows itself without resolve, without regard to what it ‘is’.

Calculus is the mathematics of infinity. It can describe infinities in terms of ‘limits’ as infinity approaches a limit. It can describe infinities as ‘converging’ and ‘diverging’. Let’s take the function, ‘1/x’, where x goes from minus infinity to plus infinity (see chart below). You can see on the chart that from -1 to minus infinity the solution reaches a limit of zero. From -1 to just below zero the solution goes to minus infinity. Likewise, from 1 to infinity the solution reaches a limit of zero. From 1 to just above zero the solution goes to infinity. At zero 1/X is undefined.

Therefore, while we have not gained any insight into the notion of infinity, we have described qualities around the, ever exceeding itself, notion of infinity in certain circumstances. Likewise, while we cannot resolve the previously discussed dilemma of the geometrical point as an impossible singularity, we can point out certain behavior around that impossibility. This behavior nevertheless does not undo the Gordian Knot except by leveling it over with negation or ignoring it altogether. This paradox then weaves itself in the field of light without ever being consumed by the light.

From henceforth, we shall we refer to specific reductions such as the function ‘1/x’, converging and diverging on a limit of ‘1’ as providing a degree of diachronic ‘closure’ to the odd idea of infinity; that is, standing alongside the rupture of the idea of infinity without overtaking it. In this type of behavior infinity taken up in history and easily lost in negation and ignore-ance. Likewise, the abstract and inconceivable idea of the point as infinitesimally small, embodied in the impossible contradiction of a black hole, supplements the idea with an existential empiricism that adds a degree of semblance as closure. These further qualifications bring relevance to an inherit excess to the idea of infinity without covering over the radical rupture of the idea. Likewise, we shall refer to qualities which refuse resolution (such as zero dimensional, infinitesimally small, etc.) as moving towards an un-addressable exteriority which opens towards an unbridgeable tear in the interiority of ideas or self-enclosed-ness.

This openness does not open towards a Heideggerian kind of clearing but rather imposes itself in its absolute impossibility which cannot be denied. Interesting enough Heidegger writes:

“Death is the possibility of the absolute impossibility of Dasein [human being, the ‘there’ of being]. Thus death reveals itself as that possibility which is one’s ownmost, which is non-relational, and which is not to be outstripped”.7

In my estimation for example, the absolute impossibility of a point which cannot exist and yet must as a singularity does not belong to Dasein or even Being but to what Levinas refers to as otherwise than Being. The rupture I have spoken of is radical tear which cannot be resolved either in Being or Hegel’s Idea. It cannot be taken hold of but must always remain out of reach, without mediation, without relating in any way to one’s ownmost (which brings into question how death can be related to “one’s ownmost AND non-relational).

The tendency to closure of paradox may provide conditional qualities around which we can, in a limited fashion, provide some resolution around a logical impossibility without abolishing the necessary impossibility it enshrouds. To some extent openness provides us a specificity in the bare name such as the word ‘infinity’ which can be pragmatically useful in service to such qualities previously discussed but ultimately fail in their inability to find any complete closure within themselves with their sheer imposing impossibility. The tear in the fabric of rationality is not overtaken by rationality. It is not snuffed out by the forceful wish of dialectic and aufheben. Nor is it tamed by the totality of Being. For the early Greeks it remained as,

Tell me all of this, you Muses who have your homes on Olympus, from the beginning [archê, ἀρχῆς], tell who first of them (the gods) came-to-be [genet’, γένετ᾽].
First of all Chaos came-to-be [genet’, γένετ᾽]8

…for Levinas and the gift of Judaism, the provocation of the Other.

 

_________________

1 From “Signature”, an essay in:
“DIFFICULT FREEDOM”
Essays on Judaism
Emmanuel Levinas
Translated by Sean Hand
English translation published 1990 by
The Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-4363
www.press.jhu.edu
Johns Hopkins Paperbacks edition, 1997
9 8 7 6 5 4 3

2 Ancient Greek

From φῠ́ω (phúō, “grow”) +‎ -σῐς (-sis).

Noun: φῠ́σῐς • (phúsis) f (genitive φῠ́σεως); third declension

See also φύσις in Liddell & Scott (1940) A Greek–English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press

3 paradox – a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true

4 Philosophy Series 4 – The Pre-Socratics – Hesiod

5 Philosophy Series 4 – The Pre-Socratics – Hesiod

6 Renes Descartes, “Meditations on First Philosophy”, Third Meditation

7 Martin Heidegger, “Being and Time”, 53: 307

8 Hesiod, Theogony

An Interlude to Anaximander

Philosophy Series Contents (to be updated with each new installment)

Philosophy Series 1 – Prelude to the Philosophy Series

Philosophy Series 2 – Introduction

Philosophy Series 3 – Appendix A, Part 1

Philosophy Series 4 – The Pre-Socratics – Hesiod

Philosophy Series 5 – A Detour of Time

Philosophy Series 6 – The Origin

Philosophy Series 7 – Eros

Philosophy Series 8 – Thales

Philosophy Series 9 – An Interlude to Anaximander

Philosophy Series 10 – On the Way to Anaximander: Language and Proximity

Philosophy Series 11 – Aristotle and Modernity: The Eternal and Science

Philosophy Series 12 – Levinas and the Problem of Metaphysics

Philosophy Series 13 – On Origin

————————————————
An Interlude to Anaximander

Someone must have already stated this elsewhere so for lack of citation let me reiterate, there are many academics but few scholars. Scholars attain a breadth of mastery that few academics ever realize. Analogously, most folks are philosophers in one way or another but few find concrete paths from philosophy to existentia, actual existence. This why philosophers in modernity from existentialists to post-existentialism has focused philosophy on the concrete fact of death. Of course, death, itself, also holds the possibility for abstraction. This is why Heidegger, for example, is swift to frame death in terms of “my death”. Death is not just an end but in non-negotiable ways “my end”. When limit is thought in terms of ‘mineness’, something passionate and irreplaceable comes to the fore. Religions are also able to harness this ‘something’ in concrete displays of passion and ‘faith’. For Kierkegaard, faith is the absolute passion of existence. While academic philosophers, spurred on by the quest for recognition and therefore, economic reward, are goaded by the continuing requirement for sustenance, they are also pricked by the constraints of their specific traditions. Their freedom must end in the horizon of other’s genius. Thus, the academic is born. However, existence persists and places on each the necessity of an existential answer. However, this ‘answer’ takes form, as religion, science, morality or polis/political, denial, it must be responded to, existence therefore evokes. Evocation has long fascinated the phantasma of human imagination as magic, sorcery, desire, wish-fulfillment and even love.

In undertaking this philosophy series, I am continually facing the prospects of pure academia or existentialism. For me, philosophy dies in pure academia. Philosophy finds value and virtue in its fundamental evocation. Whenever philosophy becomes instantiated in ‘isness’ or perhaps as Levinas might sway us to, il ya, it can become obsession or insomniac. It loses a certain kind of weightiness, a certain kind of necessary ‘evocativeness’ is deferred. In the loss of limit, the bounds of ‘mineness’ can be displaced, and thus, the possibility for radical alterity. The ‘end’, this peras, was also noted by Anaximander and many before including Hesiod. Peras, simply translated as end or limit is only the beginning of its etymological intonations. The early Greeks as many archaic traditions recognized change, transition, mutation of form. The Ionians were fascinated with the notion that transitions were not magical apparitions, popping in and out of existence but had some substratum, some basis of mutability. Science and religion have been intrigued ever since. Anaximander, perceptively enough also echoing other archaic traditions thought of these limitations as intensified by re-occurrence of some sense of the same, the dissolution and reemergence of like forms. Iteration, when amplified infinitely by a notion of the same, persistence and unity through time, becomes a-peras (apeiron), the negation of limitation. It becomes intense, imposing, non-negotiable…existential as my being-towards-an-end which cannot grab hold of what this means. This inability to be able is cast without limit, without understanding in the midst of understanding. This type of overflowing itself could be thought as a beckoning of exteriority. This intensity thought in Greek terms is kairos. Kairos as the beckoning moment of answer, necessitates and requires, completion, finality, condensation, movement and action. As such, it is qualitative. It overflows itself as qualitative. In this moment, existence is borne and born.

The urgency and necessity of this evocation did not escape the keen observations of the Greeks. Nor has it yet escaped the gaze of science’s Orphic vision. Necessity is certainly embodied in biological evolution. Survival, as utmost, is dependent on successful adaptations. Could it be that habit as specific to an individual organism, the repetition of successfully completed iterations where ‘success’ is thought in terms of survival, of tarrying to the next iteration, can find some genetic bridge over successive generations of ritualistic practice into what we think as ‘instinct’. Can ‘instinct’ be ingested into DNA? Just as Nobel Prize winner Barbara Mcclintock found the cellular reflection of environment into itself as equally primordial to the cells’ internal structure, could it be that ‘adaptation’ is the innate struggle (polemus) of the internal and the external to come to stasis, to a temporal completion of ‘moment’ when neither impose its form on the other but mutually respond and co-habitat with the other. In genetic encoding then this moment becomes ‘physical’, ‘biological’ and ‘chemical’. It also becomes ‘physics’ as atomic or better sub-atomic.

In modern physics we have the notions of isolated, closed and open systems. Isolated systems can neither pass energy or matter. Closed systems can pass energy but not matter. Closed systems in classic mechanics would be considered an isolated system in thermodynamics. Isolated systems do not exist in actuality. Open systems can pass both energy and matter. In isolated physical systems we say that momentum is conserved. In an isolated system we can account for change, transition, mutation and thus energy is conserved. However, in an open systems we have a loss of accountability we call entropy that shows itself as error. The isolated system is thought yet again as the Hegelian dialectic of internal and external, the particular and the universal. The isolated system demonstrates a kind of respite, a cessation of strife, of the temporal tearing, incessant bubbling of sub-atomic particles, a transformation (aufhebung), where, what Hesiod termed, a ‘yawning gap’, chaos, subsides and the moment of archy, of origin, of birth, opens up genesis, genetics, genet’. This moment is a kind of equilateral-ism, congruency, a pause thought as stasis. Aristotle’s discussions of actuality (actualitas Latin, energeia Greek) or work as what persists and potential (potentia Latin, dunamis Greek) or possibility as what could be, find their stasis in motion or kinetic (kinesis) as the actuality of potentiality, as the persistence of possibility. Temporality and motion, known in Classic Greece, is conserved and preserved by persisting through time by limitation, by form. A temporal wholeness or completion as ousia, being, is evoked from apeiron, perhaps Hesiod’s ‘before the gods’ of chaos. Of necessity, this temporal pause to the incessant change of form, is first made possible by a terminus, a telos, a limit or boundary. The existential weight of evocation, the ‘must’ of action, cannot be ignored or denied without only re-affirming it. Any turning away is yet again a turning towards as the existential moment of existence must obey a call from without as a singularity, as a persisting form cast upon the void, the yawning gap.

The isolated system in physics is always a kind of existence creating moment. It is imposed by boundary and limit, arrangement and designation. However, closed systems, as the perfect triangle, are idealizations. Any isolated system in reality leak and absorb information in the larger context of an open system. Isolated systems in the real world are intrinsically and essentially effected by externality, they have entropy. Information cannot be completely recovered in an isolated system. Information must be truncated in the idealization of an isolated system. The loss is irretrievable in an isolated system context. Typically, the universe is thought in the motif of a closed system. A closed system universe could interact with other energies, perhaps from bubbling multi-verses or multi-dimensional factors but not with any ability to transfer mass. This then gives rise to a metaphysical question, is the notion of the absolute open, closed or isolated? Or, could it be that, the notion of the absolute is an iteration, a singularity, a tautology of a primordial limit in an isolated system context? Some might say this question, devoid of existential import, may as well ask how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

In modern physics, a singularity such as the infamous ‘black hole’ is a margin from the isolated system con-text. It is a parenthesis, a deferment until logos, understanding, can finally recover its enigma. Is information conserved or lost in a black hole? Has physics reached an absolute limit in a black hole? The black hole is a unity. It is not a solely a swarming buzz of sub-atomic particles popping in and out of existence. It is not a formless chaos. It is in stasis, driven by necessity to be, and yet it’s being is an absolute limit in a multitude of ways…more importantly, to understanding, the very possibility of understanding. Physics has in recent times brought to the fore more and more staggering limitations of itself with the ‘God Particle’, super-symmetry, multi-verses, higher order dimensions, dark matter and dark energy and brought with these, reflective questions of knowledge itself. Not that there is an alternative to knowledge but it has brought to the fore the necessity of knowledge and at the same time it’s absolute limit. Absolute limitation in physics mathematically become singularities. Singularities are nonsensical, Alice in Wonderland. While ‘bad science’ is thought to end in a proliferation of singularities, they cannot be ignored as they pose fundamental questions which defy ‘reality’, the light of, even the possibility of, knowledge and as such convey an unsettling existential angst.

Mass and energy are inextricably linked just as Aristotle’s thinking of actuality and potentiality are linked. Now with the proof of the Higgs Boson we have a particle ‘field’ whose origin appears in the first moments of the Big Bang which determines and necessitates mass. It transforms massless energy to relative degrees of stickiness, of clumping, of resistance, weightiness; mass. This boson imposes an ir-refusable limit to matter. Thus, the name ‘God Particle’.

The point of this divergence into modern phusis is to show that the import of ‘my death’ never achieves an ‘outside’. It can only converge in upon itself into a singularity. It cannot retain information without irretrievable loss. Even more so, we see this phenomena everywhere we look in phusis. This is the setting in essence of ancient Greek inquiry. The Greeks did not have the apathy of centuries of abstractions into being. They felt the import originally with other archaic cultures and the interruption of the raw gap, the chaos, not yet historically named but recognized in imposing enigma. They understood the transformations of forms as mutations of hot and cold, damp and dry, atom and void. They thought with resoluteness and determination the absolute connotations of limitation, of death, of knowledge. These differences could not easily rest in stasis as being and nothingness, self and other, as pure, self-determining Idea. These differences brought them to the abyss that looks back into our souls, beyond Dread to a gap, an otherness not captured by thought but intensified as the moment of dissolution and birth, of limit in which even light cannot penetrate or escape.1

Philosophy Series 10 – On the Way to Anaximander: Language and Proximity

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1 The next installment in this series will probably take some more time for research and thought as the topic of Anaximander brings with it enormous scholarly attention and far reaching possibilities for departure. There may be more preliminary discussions before I really start with the textual, philological and canonical discussion.