Tag 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

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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/

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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

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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/

 

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…

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

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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.

Here’s a thought…

What if the universe thinks?

This may sound quite mad but,

what if thoughts and intelligence are not simply invented by us and trapped in our heads as a by-product of the culmination of evolution’s Homo sapiens but thoughts required the universe to be.

What if we did not invent thoughts but thoughts invented us by necessity?

Analogously, as frequencies (logical, ordered thoughts) and radiation noise (chaotic, random thoughts), thoughts as light is ‘transmitted’ from source to sink.

Perhaps, we do not have a clue as to what the ‘medium’ of thoughts could be just as we recently discovered dark matter and dark energy make up most of the universe and we do not have a clue as to what they are.

Perhaps, ‘gray matter’ is a receptor, a sink for a universe of transmitted, sourced, thoughts.

Is the universe the ‘mind of God’?

If so, we are trying to transmit and look for transmitted signals from aliens with radio waves?1 Wouldn’t this be quite comical? Higher intelligence, lower intelligence permeates the universe and here we are trying to send and receive smoke signals.

If thoughts are ‘real’ why do we have to think we invented them? Could they have been around from the beginning, the arche, or even before the beginning? Could they have required the universe to be?

Well, if you believe the ancient Greeks the arche, the origin, is chaos, the gap of indeterminate and determinate. The logos, pitifully transmitted as ‘word’, is a gathering, an ordering, of thoughts, determinate, determining, conceiving, ‘circumspecting’, which is bounded by disorder, chaos, the indeterminate, the apeiron. Logos is the form, the forming, which thinks. Humans are the animal that speaks, that has the forms of thought which culminates in speaking, communicating, transmitting ideas.

Or, if you believe Christianity, “In the beginning was the word.”2, the logos. The logos is the mind of God. The universe is the actual ‘gray matter’ of God. Jesus was the perfect ‘receptor’ of the thoughts of God. We are receptors too and can ‘heed’ the word of God.

Need I say for Hegel there is the Concept, the Begriff, the Idea.

We can receive thoughts and transmit them with speech but also in other ways. Ladies seem to have a keen receptor for picking up certain erogenous ideas from men. We can sense when someone is dangerous or, in this case, mad.

Even more, when cave men threw spears they received the idea of the ‘laws of motion’. True, their reception was bit crude and more refined reception was given by Newton but the ideas were there. Even animals can receive these precepts of their environment and respond accordingly. The physics, phusis, of the macro-universe is ordered and cohere while the bad boys of the quantum-universe dis-order, disrupt, fill all origins with noise.

From the beginning of ‘consciousness’ we perceived the lived stretch of time Heidegger discusses.3 When we are happy ‘time flies’. When we are bored time slows to an unbearable pace. Physically, Einstein more eloquently thought a time-space continuum, a ‘law’ of nature where space and time are two sides of the same coin so to speak. But we felt it, lived it, long before it found ‘scientific’ words.

As thought receptors, we can distort and truncate thoughts. We are capable of Error as Kierkegaard thought. We might call this ignorance or crude or bizarre or dangerous. We may historically fence off a canonical, approved domain, of logos we call sanity and expel insanity to the nether regions as Foucault may have suggested, symbiotically related. Are these de-ranged thoughts dangerous in themselves or simply the defect or ‘frequency limiting’, filtering, of the receptor? I suppose this could give credence to those that ‘hear voices’ or believe they had transmitters implanted in their heads; perhaps, these defective receivers cannot ‘own’ the thoughts they receive.

Could it be that we are not locked up in an existential aloneness but all our lives receiving and transmitting a small portion of an infinite universe of thoughts. We cling to some ideas as ‘us’ or ‘I’. We attach to some thoughts as mine-ness. We own them but perhaps they own us. Perhaps they require the universe to be to actuate them, to flesh them out, to give voice to them in ever more profound ways. What would the universe be without them? How would a universe even get perceived, understood, known, observed without an observer, a receptor and transmitter, source and sink of universal ‘math’, its order, its language, its Forms.

What of the idea of infinity? We truncate it, filter it, of necessity but it always exceeds our truncations as Descartes perceived. Infinity is the perception of the spectrum, the frequencies, of thoughts from crude to profound, highly ordered to chaotic. The background noise of the universe is noise in the receiver, the inability to ever make thought concrete even though it concretizes us, nature, phusis (physics). It is the meta-phusis, metaphysics, which allows being to be. Its absolute indeterminacy determines what ‘is’.

And here we are going around trying to talk or listen to aliens with radio waves. We live in sea of thought and we transmit radio waves to aliens like smoke signals or shadows cast on a cave wall, all the while thinking the shadows are the reality of the sun. This is quite comical in the preceding light. Perhaps what we are really looking for is others as unintelligent as ourselves. The universe is intelligent and the only ignorance lies in something we forget or neglect. Could it be that the universe looks upon us as ‘proof’ that there is unintelligent life in the universe?

 

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1 SETI

2 1 John 1:1

3 A Brief Introduction to Being and Time

With regard to a discussion on causality…

My initial post to a question about causality…

One thing that comes to mind is Schrödinger’s cat. Determinations are made by the act of observation that preclude certain results and determine causal outcomes. Could we think of the “box” as determining the result?…perhaps better to think of the observer as predisposing physics towards his expectations – quite a murky business in any case.

After the deserved critcism of being too “poppy” I expanded the explanation…

Yes, perhaps a bit “poppy” in my brief post but the mystery remains.  Speaking of the observable disorder in molecules Schrodinger writes, “But whether any particular molecule, supposing you could follow, its course, will be among those which have reacted or among those which are still untouched, he [the chemist] could not predict. That is a matter of pure chance. This is not a purely theoretical conjecture. It is not that we can never observe the fate of a single small group of atoms or even of a single atom. We can, occasionally. But whenever we do, we find complete irregularity, co-operating to produce regularity only on the average.”

 “What Is Life”, pdf page 27

http://whatislife.stanford.edu/LoCo_files/What-is-Life.pdf

It is a bit of a wishful leap to suggest that the phenomena that Schrodinger observed on the quantum scale has been “explained”.  His supposition was that order arises out of chaos (peros from aperion) not unlike the thoughts of Plato, I might add.

I would submit that the slit experiment can actually strengthen my rather anemic response.  When individual photons are emitted through two slits (or more) to the photographic film, the apparent simultaneity of the photon passing through both slits introduces an uncertainty that has yet to be explained.   While Schrodinger referred to this “mystery” as entanglement, Heisenberg addressed the wave particle duality in his “uncertainty principle”.  Subatomic particles incessantly pop in and out of existence in a way that disallows determinism and can only be explained statistically with essential and inherent uncertainty.

Forgive the indulgence but according to the Copenhagen Interpretation (not pop) if you never measure the x-spin (box, i.e., Schrodinger) of an electron, it will never jump to an eigenstate of x-spin and thus will have a 100% probability of y-spin (a contradictory state).  The conclusion is that observable results depend on whether the electron is in an indeterminate state or determinate but unknown state.  Indeterminate states are not just determinate states we have no knowledge of.  Physical objects actually behave differently depending on whether their states are unknown or indeterminate.

One need look no further than quantum entanglement, the spooky action at a distance that Einstein despised and tried to refute with his EPR paradox only to end up showing the non-classical characteristics of the measurement process.

A Couple Quotes:

Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.

Niels Bohr

I think that I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.

Richard Feynman

I don’t like it, and I’m sorry I ever had anything to do with it.

Erwin Schrödinger