30 December 2016

Order of thinking

Any physicist today will well understand and admit that it makes a great difference in which order certain pairs of observable-operators are applied to a (quantum) dynamic state. Such is famously the case with the two observables, position and momentum, whose operators do not commute. That is, their commutator is non-zero and in fact equal to the equally famous Planck constant multiplied by the imaginary number, i. The non-commutativity of these two operators is the same thing as quantum indeterminacy. No physicist bats an eye-lid today at this strange state of affairs on the sub-atomic level, and such quantum indeterminacy has been experimentally verified -- albeit from within a certain preconception of what motion is.

Heisenberg's formulation of quantum indeterminacy depends essentially on properties of matrix mathematics, and it is very easy to see that matrix multiplication is non-commutative. That is, it makes a difference, the order in which two matrices are multiplied, i.e. AB - BA in general is not equal to the zero matrix.
No mathematician and no physicist has trouble admitting this and, indeed, insists emphatically on the 'truth' of such non-commutativity which can easily be mathematically demonstrated through mathematical reasoning.

When it comes to the order in which fundamental elementary phenomena of physics, to wit, motion and time, are conceptualized, by contrast, thinking in physics becomes carefree and sloppy, and stubbornly and cunningly dumb. It simply takes for granted, on authority of the tradition starting with Aristotle, that motion is prior to time which is thus counted sequentially off motion. No consideration whatsoever is given to whether it could be the other way round, that is, that time in a certain precise sense has to be thought as prior to motion, i.e. as that which enables (not: causes) all motion,  and all movement and change, for that matter.

There is no conceivable scientific experiment that could possibly test whether time is prior to motion or vice versa, for it is an issue for thinking through the most elementary phenomena with which we humans are all intimately familiar. We simply have to reflect philosophically on our own experience of the world and how we understand it to come to a conclusion on this issue. This involves re-vising the tradition that has settled all too firmly and thoughtlessly in its rut: Time is 'self-evidently' taken to be counted off motion as clock-time, even though modern quantum physics is assiduously trying to 'eliminate' this real variable, t, by disguising it. To fulfil its ambitions of calculability, science remains necessarilty wedded to the conception of time as linearly sequential (note the hermeneutic as).

Modern science adamantly refuses to countenance any rethinking of its most elementary concepts for the most elementary physical phenomena of movement and time, and it does so because it fears having to recast itself, thus losing its own power in today's world. Nonetheless, a fundamental rethinking of the order of priority could liberate physics from its own, self-induced tunnel vision. Modern science remains unknowingly in thrall to the Aristotelean productive ontology of movement. In fact, modern science is entirely in denial about its own intimate dependency upon what Aristotle long ago cast as his ontology of movement in Book Theta of his Metaphysics. Modern scientists turn their noses up at Aristotle's thinking which, they pretend, has long since been superseded. This is merely pure scientific arrogance and ignorance.

It remains the task for a few rare, non-scientist, thinkers to broaden the horizon, showing that the mathematical mode of access to the world inaugurated in the 17th century by great scientists considering the motion of celestial bodies -- names such as Kepler, Galileo and Newton -- is not the ultimate mode of access to the world, despite its progressive infiltration into all areas of phenomena. In this way, the path would be cleared for conceiving more appropriately other kinds of movement in the world that cannot appropriately be grasped, and thus controlled, by mathematized thinking. This applies, above all, to the interplay that is the movement of society, which defies calculability (even when abused by statistical methods), but is open to being adequately conceptualized if we just open our eyes and learn to think simply, without diverting our gaze from the elementary phenomena themselves -- phenomena such as the distinction between who and what, which remain thoughtlessly taken for granted everywhere today -- in science and also in philosophy.

A tautophatic thinking is called for, that is, a thinking that thinks through the phenomena, saying them appropriately from themselves, and that hermeneutically in an appropriate, close-fitting interpretation. Tautophatic thinking is entirely different from modern scientific thinking, one of whose main features is to explain phenomena causally in terms of something else: the efficient cause or causes (e.g. a force, a force-field, etc.), thus losing sight of the simple phenomenon itself.

18 December 2016

Aristotle's "before and after" & quantum gravity

Aristotle's famous and fateful definition of time reads:
"Time is the number of movement with regard to before and after" 
(o( xro/noj      a)riqmo\j kinh/sewj kata\ to\ pro/teron kai\ u(/steron e)stin, Phys. IV xi 219b2; vgl. auch De Caelo I ix. 279a15)
This hermeneutic cast of time remained in force throughout Western history without question until Heidegger's thinking put it into question in 1927 with the publication of Being and Time. His treatise shows that this "arithmetic" clock-time is a "vulgar" derivative of an originary time which provides the answer to the question concerning the "meaning of being" (die Frage nach dem Sinn des Seins). This gives us something to chew on philosophically that has so far been neglected, not only in analytic philosophy, not only throughout modern science, but even in Heideggerian scholarship. I won't go into the details of this neglect here (cf. however A Question of Time).

Instead, here is a simple observation that apparently has not been made throughout the two-and-a-half millennia separating us from Aristotle: Aristotle's definition is viciously circular. The simplest things are hardest to see. To define time as the number of movement/change with regard to "before and after" presupposes that "before and after" — which themselves are temporal determinations — are already understood. The tradition has invariably focused on the number of movement, that is, on the clock, no matter whether this clock is taken to be a sun dial measuring the sun's regular return to the same longitude each day or the frequency of electronic transitions in a caesium 133 atom. The temporal "before and after" are tacitly presupposed.

As any philosopher worth his or her salt knows, philosophy's job is to unearth the tacit presuppositions on which any (philosophical) thinking is implicitly based, thus making them explicit, visible. This is how philosophy progresses, namely, by moving backwards into the tacit presuppositions. With Heidegger, philosophical thinking has moved backwards into the most elementary phenomena possible: being and time — phenomena that are taken for granted by everyone and every philosophy and every science, thus in their questionability invariably overlooked.

Without always already (a priori) understanding before and after, and the now in between them, we would not be human beings. Aristotle also famously said, and modern science agrees, that only that which is now exists all. All that is before was and is no longer. All that is after is not yet. For modern science what is 'now' are the sensuous data it collects with its detection instruments of all kinds and of all degrees of sophistication, right through to the Large Hadron Collider in CERN and the planned LISA laser interferometer in outer space for detecting the long-sought gravitational waves. 

Without presupposing before and after, it would be senseless, for instance, to talk of a Big Bang, of an expanding universe, or any other competing variant thereof. After all, ever since Aristotle, physics has been the science of ta\ kinou/mena , i.e. of that which can move/change.  Mathematized physics has long since laid claim to the title of the fundamental science on which all other sciences are based, from chemistry, biochemistry right through to neuroscience and the scientific quest for cracking the phenomenon of so-called consciousness, which seems — misguidedly — to be holy grail for today's science. 

One of the two most promising approaches to the long-sought-for theories of quantum gravity, along with string theory, is loop quantum gravity associated with the names Carlo Rovelli, Lee Smolin and Abhay Ashtekar . In his most enlightening 2004 book, Quantum Gravity Rovelli commendably provides many philosophical side-reflections, including on meanings of time. Apart from the first meaning, the "time of natural language" with its "existence of memory and expectations", all the other meanings of time listed up to the penultimate one — including "time-with-a present, ...  thermodynamical.... Newtonian ...special relativistic ... cosmological... proper... clock... parameter time" (p.60) — are one-dimensionally linear.

With the identification of 4D space-time with the gravitational field in loop quantum gravity, the former vanishes and along with it parametric time with respect to which all motion in the electromagnetic and gravitational fields is infinitesimally or discretely differentiated — in favour of a covariance in changed measurements in measuring instruments, including clocks. Time becomes just another measurement read off an experimental apparatus and thus surreptitiously remains counted clock-time. 

Rovelli calls this final meaning "no time", "the idea about time underlying every theory in which there is no fundamental notion of time at all" (ibid.). What this "underlying" "idea about time" is or could be Rovelli does not say. In truth, he merely hides the traditional conception of counted clock-time in the mathematics. 

Since Rovelli does not tell us anything about a deeper conception of time, let's provide the answer, which can come from a serious engagement with and critique of Heidegger's thinking. This "fundamental notion of time" is hidden in the "before and after" in Aristotle's definition, which he nowhere explicates  Before and after name two dimensions of ecstatic (Latin meaning literally out-standing) time to which, along with the now of the third dimension, the present, into which human existence stands out. Only through belonging to this three-dimensionally stretched time are we humans human beings who understand the world with our minds. Time and mind are identical in a hermeneutic cast as time-mind. 'Was' and 'will be' no longer name dimensions in which entities do not exist, but in which they presence and 'are' in two distinctive modes of absence. Absence is itself a mode of presence in which entities that purportedly 'are not' exist, that is. are — for the human mind. 

This 3D time is genuinely three-dimensional, that is, not one-dimensionally linear and thus confined to a notion of succession. Hence events occur to the human mind with maximum degrees of freedom in which the three temporal dimensions remain continually and 'simultaneously' open to mental leaps. Being mental and thus non-physical, such leaps are not subject to the relativistic absolute limit of the speed of light. 

Moreover, the mind is not on the 'subjective' side of time-mind, and time is not on the 'objective' side. If time were solely objective, it would be 'in itself', an sich, separate from mind like a Kantian Ding an sich. If time were merely subjective, as it is in Kant's transcendental ego, it would be merely 'for us', für uns. In truth, time-mind is an-und-für-sich, neither inside (in so-called consciousness) nor outside (in the so-called external world), but pre-spatially no-where in an identity of time and mind, of Zeit und Geist, in a way consonant with Hegel's identity of subject-object in the Idea, which is likewise an-und-für-sich.

Since all modern, mathematized physics, including the most advanced theories of quantum gravity, is duty-bound to make predictions, thus calculating motion, it must remain unquestionably committed to a notion of linear, successive, 1D time, even when it deals in quantum-mechanical "transition probabilities". Hence the three-dimensionality of time-mind must be truncated for the sake of mastering movement calculatingly. Modern science remains in denial regarding its deep-seated tunnel vision. Why? Because its essence (Wesensbestimmung) is the will to calculating, effective power over movement and change of every conceivable kind

Hence it comes as no surprise that all the modern sciences, starting with physics, and through to the social sciences of economics, psychology, sociology, etc. are all positivist, i.e. based on empirically observable 'facts' to the exclusion of any purported 'transcendent' dimension. Aided and abetted by analytic philosophy, scientific thinking firmly keeps the lid on the ontological difference and denounces any attempt to re-open it. However, modern science and analytic philosophy come too late in closing the lid, because all human being implicitly understands three-dimensional time by virtue of always already understanding 'before' and 'after' and 'now'. None of these dimensions is a being, but is to be found by descending into the ontological difference between being and beings first discovered by Greek philosophy, and then even further into this 3D-time itself AS the clearing that enables beings of all kinds to presence and absence AS what and who they are for our hermeneutically imbued human minds. This explicit uncovering of the open clearing of 3D-time is the task of thinking for our age. Its fourth dimension resides in human being's standing-out (ex-sisting) into this temporal clearing and therefore can be called mind. Mind and time belong intimately together.

On the other side of the divide, so-called Continental philosophy is impotent in the face of the positivist onslaught because — with the rare exceptions of those few who to date have taken Heidegger's world-shattering message of Being AND Time seriously — it is just as clueless about the ontological difference as are science and analytic philosophy.  Continental philosophy has a penchant for merely literary gestures and an aversion against mathematics and mathematized science, and also against conceptual thinking. Thus it is merely an opposed rhetorical position, appealing to those with similar prejudiced proclivities, without providing true insight into the originary time underlying the ontological difference. It is this insight into the temporal clearing that poses the genuine historical challenge to positivist science and its allied, subservient analytic philosophy.

Further reading: A Question of Time and 'The End of Science and the Beginning of Wisdom'.

28 November 2016

Question of being in relativistic space-time

If Einsteinian relativity physics is to be taken seriously -- and it is within the scientific community-establishment taken unquestionably so, because science's only criterion of truth is experimental verification -- then this physics confronts us with weird consequences.

I've already addressed one of them in my recent post on mental acts.

What about the question of being posed within relativistic space-time? For simplicity, I'll consider here only the flat Minkowskian space-time of special relativity, but similar thoughts apply
mutatis mutandis to general relativity with its curved Riemannian space-time. Note that each observer-subject in relativity physics has its own reference frame, that is, its own space-time manifold.

In relativity physics there is no longer any 3D-Euclidean space (Where specified as (x,y,z)) with an add-on 1D-temporal line (When specified as t) to count/measure time absolutely within the 3D-space. This was the situation in Newtonian mechanics, for time was its own dimension and hence absolute, a single clock for the entire universe. In relativity, time becomes relative to the absolute movement of light (or, more, generally, electromagnetic radiation) as received by an observer-subject, thus spatialized and tied to the three spatial dimensions, so that the relativistic physicist now speaks only of 4D-events in space-time (x,y,z,t). The 'distance' between space-time events is now neither purely spatial as measured Euclideanly as
d^2 = x^2+y^2+z^2, 

the square of the distance is the 'Pythagorean' sum of the squares of the 3 dimensionals,
nor is it purely temporal as measured by
 i.e. a time-interval given by the formula, the square of the temporal distance is the square of t.

How, then, is 'distance' between events measured in flat relativistic space-time? It is measured by the so-called 'metric' on the Minkowskian space-time manifold as defined by the space-time distance formula:
x^2+y^2+z^2) - t^2 = d^2 - t^2,
that is in words, the
squared space-time distance between events is the difference between squared spatial distance and the squared temporal interval ('distance'). This is weird enough, but it's the way mathematical relativity physics proceeds. In general relativity, the metric on the space-time manifold just gets (much) more complicated and harder to handle in the (tensor-differential) equations.

What are some consequences of this conception of distance between space-time events? One is that there is zero
space-time distance between events if and only if the square of their spatial distance is equal to the square of their temporal distance, that is:

0=(x^2+y^2+z^2) - t^2 = d^2 - t^2,
which implies
d^2 = t^2,
so that
d = +/- t,
or in words: the spatial distance is equal to plus or minus the temporal interval-distance.

Let's take a simple example, the Sun in our Earth's solar system. The Sun's distance from Earth is approx. 150 million km, and it takes light approx. 8 minutes to reach the Earth over this spatial distance.

What does it mean for an observer-subject on Earth for the Sun to 'be'? For science it is axiomatic that only that 'is' which can be registered as a signal received sensuously in the here-and-now. Only that which is here-and-now 'is', i.e. exists, for modern science. How does the Sun exist in the observer-subject's here-and-now? Answer: Only if the space-time distance between sun-events and observer-events is zero.
What does that mean?
Events always have the form
(x,y,z,t), i.e. (where,when) in space-time.
The Sun's
(where,when) has zero space-time distance from the observer's (where,when) if and only if the metric gives zero, that is, the square of the spatial distance 
150^2 km^2 = 8^2 sec.^2.
But this means that for you as observer the Sun only exists in your here-now at either plus eight minutes in your future or at minus eight minutes in your past within your very own Minkowskian reference frame! For you, the Sun only ever will be or was, but never 'is' at your present moment. The eight minutes represent the time it takes for you to receive a light-signal from the Sun, or for you to send a light-signal to the Sun.

If you take the Moon rather than the Sun, the former has an average spatial distance of approx. 384,000 km. from the Earth Since light travels at approx. 300,000 km/s, the Moon is a bit more than one light-second away spatially. Relativistically speaking, the Moon only exists for you observing it on Earth at plus one second in your future or minus one second in your past.

And the Sun and the Moon exist 'simultaneously' for you, the observant receiver of light signals, only separated by roughly plus or minus eight minutes!

You can only ever observe those events whose space-time distance from you is zero or negative:

(x^2+y^2+z^2) - t^2 = d^2 - t^2 <= 0

All those events with positive
space-time distance from you:

(x^2+y^2+z^2) - t^2 = d^2 - t^2 > 0

are outside your Minkowskian light-cone, hence cannot reach you, nor you reach them, in your space-time and therefore do not exist for you, never have and never will.

For you as observer-subject, your space-time, here-and-now 'event simultaneity' is an infinite superposition of spatial spheres whose ever-increasing squared spatial distances match your ever-increasing squared times of time future and time past.

Hence relativistic space-time 'simultaneity' is weirder than physicists care to think.
Since in relativity theory, the subject is cast exclusively AS a receiver (or sender) of e-m (or gravitational) signal-information, how can an active mental act by the observer be conceived at all? Only as sending a signal?

Apropos: Today's smug & arrogant mathematico-scientific elite is hell-bent, for instance, on furthering the reach of both relativity theory and quantum mechanics into the human mind (a unified theory of quantum gravity is still sadly lacking). Hence, for example, the famous Sir Roger Penrose is working on a theory of consciousness with a quantum-mechanical core (cf. my recent link to The Life Scientific on BBC4). When you think you're actively thinking, in physical 'reality' you're only surfing on underlying quantum-mechanical 'processes'. You're deluded.

One could pose the question as to whether the flat or curved relativistic space-time of modern mathematical physics is at all existentially liveable for us human beings. Or does it represent a brutal, unliveable truncation of the existential world solely for the sake of gaining mathematically calculable access to it with the aim of mastering and controlling all physical movement/change?

It goes without saying that today's scientists dismiss such questioning out of hand as 'unscientific', 'poetic', mere 'philosophical speculation', 'ridiculous', &c. I have plenty of hard empirical evidence of this evasion. Instead of a genuine, open-minded 'search for truth', I experience savage defence of the status quo.

27 November 2016

Mental acts in relativity theory

Let's do a genuine thought experiment to ponder mental acts in relativity theory a little more closely, throwing some doubt upon the relativistic axiom (experimentally evidenced) that nothing physical can travel faster than the speed of light.:Is the mind physical? Is time itself physical, as physics unquestioningly postulates? :

Think of the sun. How long did it take you to do so? If this mental act were, scientifically speaking, in reality a physical act, then it should take at least 16 minutes to do so. Why? Because your mental act requires first sending a mental signal to the sun, which takes 8 minutes at the speed of light, and then another 8 minutes for your mind to receive a signal back from the sun confirming that it is really there.

Ah, you say, that's a fallacy, because when you think of the sun, you only have to think as far as the little representation of the sun
stored in your brain. So the signal only has to speed a little way via the ganglions of your nerves at around 1 to 100 m/s to retrieve your very own little memory-stored representation of the sun. 

The next question is obvious and remains unanswered: What is the relationship between the representation of the sun purportedly in your brain and the sun out there in space at the centre of our solar system? 

It must get terribly cluttered up there in the attic that is your brain. If you think of the sun you saw yesterday, how do you manage to go back in time to retrieve its representation? Or does your mental-physical act retrieve the same old multi-purpose representation of the sun that merely has been given a time-stamp?

And when you think of your brain, are you really thinking of your brain, or only of a little representation of your brain stored in your brain? According to modern-day science and its corresponding hegemonic subjectivist metaphysics (the tacit, suppressed foundation of analytic philosophy), you have only representations of the external world stored somehow inside consciousness which itself is conceived as located 
somehow physically in your brain.

Modern science perseveres today in trying to grapple with the problem of consciousness by presupposing that mental acts are 'basically' physical. To put it mildly, this is questionable.

26 November 2016

Relativistic cosmology

Further to my last post on relativistic signals/messages: 

i) Interesting in connection with the cosmological theory of the expanding universe (based on empirical observations of the remote universe through radio telescopes) is that it is spherical only in the sense of expanding from any point concentrically at uniform (or uniformly accelerating or uniformly decelerating?) velocity and isotropically (without any preferred direction). Thus there is no limit to this 'sphere'; it is _apeiron_, open.

ii) This mathematico-empirical cosmology is ontogenetic through and through, thus conforming with the favourite mode of explanation, whether scientific, historiographical, geistesgeschichtlich, mythological or whatever, to wit, explaining what is today from what was before, temporally prior, from origins, Herkunft. For this mode of explanation the linear time-line is essential, no matter whether this time-line is straight or bent around into a circle (cyclical).  That other, philosophical mode of thinking according to which 'prior' is to be conceived not temporally, but according to the order of thinking through from the most elementary and abstract to the more and more concrete that thus has many more presuppositions, is forgotten or explicitly repudiated as 'unscientific'. This ontological way of thinking that respects the order of concepts from the most elementary with the least presuppositions is foreign not only to modern mathematico-empirical science, but to modern ways of thinking as a whole. People want to hear stories; narrative is easy to consume; it is the stuff of movies.

iii) The homology between Plato's Timaios and modern science is curious. You can drop Plato's creator god in Timaios without losing the basic cosmological conception whose elements crop up in modern scientific cosmology, e.g. that time (_chronos_) came about together with the sky (_ouranos_ synonymous with _pan_, the universe) with its moving celestial bodies from which time is counted. Or the elementary 'fair', symmetrical geometrical, triangularly constructed shapes of cube (Earth),
icosa-  (Water), octo- (Air), tetrahedron (Fire), which interestingly correlate with the four modern-scientific states of matter: solid, liquid, gas, plasma, respectively.

iv) Whereas Plato encapsulates his universe spherically in a psyche, i.e. in the principle of life, modern relativity cosmology encloses, or rather, sections, the ever-expanding universe into time-cones in 4D space-time emanating from each observer-subject. The relative future for each observer is cut by the cone of the photons that will be able to reach it at the speed of light at a later point in linear time.
The relative past for each observer is cut by the cone of the photons that can reach it at the absolute speed of light from an earlier point of time. Only within this (Minkowski) time-cone do space-time events 'exist' for each observer-subject in the sense that at some present point of time, photons (or gravitons) can be registered as 'information' by the observer's receiver-apparatus. Points in space-time outside the observer's time-cone can never reach it (they haven't enough time=light-metres to reach it). The limit to which the observer can look back into its time-cone is given by the sensitivity of its receiver-apparatus (radio telescope, gravitational interferometer); improvement in sensitivity of apparatuses is the key to uncovering the past by recovering the photons and gravitons it sent out long ago. Scientists are therefore keen on getting billions of funding to build more sensitive apparatus such as LISA.

v) Speculative cosmology in the philosophical sense is not ontogenetic. 'Speculatio' is the Latin rendering of Greek _theoria_, whose root in both Latin and Greek is 'to see'. Such speculative seeing is not reliant on the empirical receipt of photonic or gravitonic messages at the speed of light in the present, but on thinking backward, not in linear time, but to the most elementary conceivable presuppositions. Modern science with its absolute faith in empirical scientific method must be absolutely hostile to speculation in this sense. Nonetheless, _theoria_ in its philosophical sense is unconcerned with looking backward into the time-cone, constructing theoretical models of a Big Bang, a steady-state or a cyclically pulsating universe, or whatever, but is concerned with the simplest, most elementary preconditions for our 'seeing', understanding the world at all, without any superadded fanciful speculations. The work performed by philosophical thinking is therefore deconstructive in the sense of unearthing, disassembling, removing and disposing of the tacit presuppositions underpinning previous philosophies, including especially the subjectivist metaphysics upon which all modern (natural and social) scientific thinking is tacitly based. Thinking gets simpler and simpler, gaining a wider vista by stepping back from dogmatically held, unquestioned presuppositions.


25 November 2016

Relativistic messages, signals, information

Been reading Bernhard Schutz's A First Course in General Relativity.
Here a few thoughts stimulated by this book.

Apologies in advance for your having to think this through.

It is a (tacit or explicit) axiom of modern physics that only sensuous
data received in the present exist; "sensuous" here includes all that an observer-subject can sense with the aid of apparatuses such as microscopes, vibrating membranes in microphones, telescopes, radio-telescopes, gravitational interferometers, etc. etc.

For relativity physics, all observations are relative to the observer-subject in its respective reference frame receiving signals in the form of electromagnetic (including, in particular, the visible colour spectrum) or gravitational waves, which all move at the absolute speed of light, c = 300,000 km/s, either in a straight line (special relativity) or on a curved line (general relativity). The motion of such waves is the absolute motion. All scientific observation is relative to and solely dependent upon receiving such e-m and gravitational waves. The angels of modern physics are photons and gravitons which, at their specific, differentiated frequencies, carry information. Gravitation itself is equivalent to the curvature of four-dimensional space-time in co-ordinates (x. y, z, t). The specific way in which these four co-ordinates are related to each other in the metric of the Riemann tensor, R, determines whether the space-time in question is either flat or curved. If R=0 everywhere, the space-time is flat.

For modern physics, it is solely by virtue of the e-m and gravitational signals an observer-subject receives that the observer can 'see' or 'hear' the universe. Such signals bear energy, i.e. are pure potential and actual motion, that is registered by the recipient medium, such as the eye's retina, AS difference, i.e. information. Because these signals only reach an observer at the speed of light, looking out into the universe is looking back in linear time, t, which, in relativity theory, for convenience, is not measured in seconds, but in metres, that is, the metres travelled by light in a given time interval. By convention and for ease of mathematical manipulation, the speed of light c is set equal to 1. Hence modern physics both mathematizes and spatializes time entirely.

First it was optical telescopes, starting with Galileo's, that enabled scientists to see further out into the universe than the naked eye is capable of. The light signals carried the information necessary to see better. Optical telescopes got better and better, with larger and larger lenses and ever improved resolutions allowing ever finer differentiation to be seen in the light-messages. Starting after WWII, telescopes receiving radio, gamma rays, x-rays, etc. entered the fray, enabling e-m radiation also outside the visible, optical spectrum to be received and hence 'seen'. These radiation signals (spectrometry) allowed completely new phenomena in the sky to be observed for the first time, which in turn greatly modified the theoretical models (i.e. equations) developed to understand the information-signals received. Phenomena such as black holes, quasars, pulsars,  neutron stars were now 'visible' for the scientific observer-subject via the signal data received and their often very laborious analysis, which has become a major branch of modern physics.

E-m radiation received from the sky is itself subject to disturbance by other e-m radiation from other sources. The further the e-m radiation has travelled to the observer, the more it has been corrupted by this noise from having to pass through and by other matter with its own e-m radiation. It cannot get through so-called 'decoupled' plasma-matter at all, which supposedly predominated in the young universe. By using multiple observers and analyzing very large amounts of data ('messages'), the noise can be filtered out to get to the underlying 'core' message. Everything depends, of course, on the sensitivity of the receiver-apparatuses. The signals received carry energy which activates the sensors in the receiver apparatus with a certain amplitude. The more sensitive the apparatus (e.g. radio telescope), the further the observer can 'see' or 'hear' into the universe.

Gravitational waves were detected directly for the very first time in 2015 by the LIGO interferometers in the U.S. These waves are extremely hard to detect, for their energy is low, which means low amplitude which has to be sorted out from the various sources of noise (extraneous information), principally seismic noise from vibrations at low frequencies, thermal noise from heat sources
at middle frequencies, shot noise from quantum effects at higher frequencies. On the other hand, gravitational waves are not affected by the intervening matter like e-m radiation is, enabling better 'hearing' further back in linear time. With the advance from the Earth-based LIGO interferometers to the space-based LISA interferometers within the next couple of years, cosmologists hope the improved sensitivity to be able to detect the less-noisy gravitational signals coming from further back in the universe's linear time. Thus they hope to 'hear' the young universe, to 'see' its highly energetic state with its relativistic velocities close to the speed of light. Such relativistic velocities cannot be achieved on Earth even with the most powerful particle accelerators (the Large Hadron Collider at CERN). Do the equations worked out by physicists to capture the motion of matter continue to hold up for the very young, compact universe with its highly energetic (high-temperature) matter moving close to the absolute speed of light? The cosmologists are still waiting from the differentiating message from long ago.

Cosmology itself rests on the observation that on the very, very large scale, beyond that of galaxies and even clusters of galaxies, the universe is homogeneous in every direction and also isotropic, i.e. it is moving  outward in all directions from any given observation-point at all, either accelearting or decelerating. These observations have led modern cosmology to postulate the expanding universe. From this postulation and the observation of the expansion velocity, assumed uniform, it's easy to calculate backwards to the time zero when the universe was just a dot.
This is the event of the Big Bang at around 14 billion years ago. As a dot, however, ultimately-small Planck dimensions are attained and quantum dynamics with quantum indeterminacy come into play. To date there is no unified theory of gravity (curved space-time) and quantum dynamics, not for want of trying. Einstein spent the later part of life in vain trying to formulate mathematically a unified quantum-gravity theory. What a bummer! Undaunted,  cosmologists aim nevertheless to get closer and closer to the Big Bang event by receiving especially relatively noiseless gravitational signals from further and further out, i.e. back in time.

Astoundingly, the universe for the modern cosmologist is an evenly expanding sphere from ANY observation point at all in the universe. This conception, remarkably enough, corresponds to Greek cosmological conceptions with their emphasis on circles and spheres when accounting for the observed motions in the sky and the structure of the cosmos.

But there is at least one major difference. In Timaios, Plato casts a cosmos consisting not merely of matter in motion, as modern physics does, but of "bodies" (_somaton_ Tim. 34b2) "encapsulated" (_periekalypsen_ 34b4) by the psyche (_psychae_). The psyche for the Greeks is the principle of life, i.e. of self-movement. All that is living is capable of, has the power of self-movement. The cosmic psyche embraces the bodies of the cosmos, endowing them with self-movement in the sky. The cosmic movement of bodies is governed by the psyche as its "despot and ruler" (_despotin kai arxousan_ 34c6).  Plato then differentiates this psychically encapsulated and governed cosmos by mixing unchangeable being and changeable becoming to form indivisible sameness (_tau'ton_35a4) and
divisible difference (_heteron_35a4). The realm of difference is then differentiated further into seven according to arithmetic proportions. The realm of the same is forced into a "circuit of the same and similar" (_tautou kai homoiou periphorai_ 36d1), the realm of difference is split into "seven unequal circles" (_hepta kuklous anisous_ 36d2).

The thoughtful part of the all-encapsulating psyche, _nous_ or mind, ensures that the cosmos is ordered according to arithmetically rational proportions. One does not have to wonder, then, that Werner Heisenberg, the famous German mathematical physicist who first developed the matrix formulation of quantum mechanics, along with the unsettling quantum indeterminacy for the movement of dynamic states, took a strong orientation in his work precisely from Plato's Timaios (cf. his autobiography, Der Teil und das Ganze).  In his mathematical quantum theory, Heisenberg followed above all principles of symmetry and simplicity, the main 'aesthetic' criteria in mathematics. And if you delve into Einsteinian general relativity theory, you'll also find that the challenging mathematical language he especially developed for it (tensor mathematics), which aims at maximizing compact brevity through symmetries built into the notation, reduces in the end to wondrously simple-looking equations.

In contrast to modern relativity physics, the cosmic psyche and its mind is not reliant on receiving messages from the absolute motion of electro-magnetic and gravitational radiation. Its _nous_ (reason) is all-encompassing, enabling it to 'see' the entire cosmos in its
arithmetic structure, as furthered developed in Timaios. Thus does the cosmos presence rationally for the mind.

11 November 2016

Zeitgeist - timemind


The End of Science and the Beginning of Wisdom

This time-clearing is not a space, for it is prespatial, it has no where; just as it must be kept firmly in mind that not all movement, such as the movement of the thinking mind, is spatial. Movement as movement of that which can move and that which can move itself is always already implicitly seen as embedded in this temporal three-dimensionality, whereby the before and after must be understood as kinds of absence, and the present itself as presence. Movement itself thus becomes a richly diverse play of presencing and absencing in the three-dimensional time-clearing which, in turn, can also be seen, that is, understood, by the temporally three-eyed, three-dimensional vision of the human mind. In this precise sense, the mind can be identified with time, that is, with the three-dimensional time-clearing; they are the same. This insight justifies giving the German word 'Zeitgeist', long since adopted in English, a new meaning as the belonging-together of Zeit (time) and Geist (mind)As human beings we inhabit the openness of timemind. Without this temporally three-eyed, three-dimensional mental vision, human beings would not be able to see movement and change as such at all. This 'primal state' is fundamentally overlooked and skipped over today everywhere. 

Auf Deutsch aus 

Das Ende der Wissenschaft und der Anfang der Weisheit

Diese Zeitlichtung ist kein Raum, denn sie ist vorräumlich, genauso wie festzuhalten ist, daß nicht alle Bewegung — wie z.B. die Bewegung des denkenden Geists — räumlich ist. Die Bewegung als Bewegung von Bewegtem und Sichbewegendem wird immer schon implizit als in die zeitliche Dreidimensionalität eingebettet gesehen, wobei das Vorher und Nachher als Arten der Abwesenheit verstanden werden müssen und die Gegenwart als Anwesenheit. Die Bewegung selbst wird so zu einem vielfältigen Spiel der An- und Abwesung in der dreidimensionalen Zeitlichtung, die wiederum durch den zeitlich dreiäugigen, dreidimensionalen Blick vom Menschengeist auch gesehen, d.h. verstanden werden kann. In diesem Sinn kann der Geist mit der Zeit, d.h. mit der dreidimensionalen Zeitlichtung, identifiziert werden, sie sind das Selbe. Diese Einsicht rechtfertigt, dem Wort 'Zeitgeist' eine neue Bedeutung zu geben, und zwar als Zusammengehörigkeit von Zeit und Geist. Ohne dieses zeitlich dreiäugig-dreidimensionale geistige Sehvermögen könnte der Mensch die Bewegung/Veränderung als solche gar nicht sehen. Dieser 'Urzustand' wird heute überall grundsätzlich übersehen und übersprungen. 

Further reading: Click on one of the two links (English or Deutsch) above.

28 September 2016

Laurence Paul Hemming's ignorance

In his 2013 book, Heidegger and Marx. A Productive Dialogue over the Language of Humanism, Laurence Paul Hemming proclaims, "The only person to have attempted a full-scale synthesis of Heidegger's and Marx's thinking is Kostas Axelos." This assertion comes as some surprise considering not only my own extensive and intensive engagement with both Marx's and Heidegger's thinking over many decades,** but also the work of H.D. Kittsteiner in Germany, whose Mit Marx für Heidegger - Mit Heidegger für Marx was published in 2004 (cf. my critique of Kittsteiner).

The restriction of Hemming's book to considering, in the usual arbitrary scholarly fashion, only "the language of humanism" is a violent truncation of Marx's thinking, since the so-called "humanist Marx" is the young Marx of around 1844, when he wrote the Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts, the only text of Marx's with which Heidegger himself bothered to engage. Marx's mature thinking is not considered. Not only that, the rereading and reconstructing of Marx's uncompleted critique of political economy as the basis for a dialectical theory of the totality of the capitalist form of society, initiated in 1965 by Hans-Georg Backhaus in Frankfurt with his Dialektik der Wertform, first presented in an Adorno seminar, is not even mentioned. Quite an achievement in ignorance, although not uncommon. But it is precisely through a reassessment of the dialectics of the value-form and its consequences for thinking through the mode of sociation in capitalist society via reified value that Marx, by returning to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, offers his best for a social ontology of the modern world that serves as a corrective to Heidegger's one-eyed fixation on modern technology as the consummation of Greek te/xnh poihtikh/.

The terrain on which Heidegger and Marx are to fruitfully engage is not that of humanism, but the question concerning the multifaceted phenomenon of value (Gk. timh/), not only in its reified, capitalist form, but as the evaluating, estimating power interplay infusing all sharing of a social world. Not only tame and inconsequential Heidegger scholarship, but also politically and ideologically committed Marxism remain worlds away from any engagement with thinking through the primordially sociating phenomenon of value, and hence incapable of  bringing the phenomenon of social power to its adequate concept. Instead it is taken merely sociologically as an all-too-familiar, ontic given, without ever revealing its ontology as estimating power plays among whos.

** My book, Capital and Technology: Marx and Heidegger, first published in German in 2000 and available also in Chinese (transl. Li Yanjun), is only one part of my attempt to take both Heidegger's and Marx's thinking further, not through narrative scholarship that merely 'talks about', but through a demanding conceptual thinking-through of the phenomena themselves.

Further reading:

Social Ontology, along with Capital and Technology: Marx and Heidegger, both of which serve to deepen my criticism of Hemming's book for those willing and able to grapple with decisive philosophical questions. This demands the attempt to interpret the elementary phenomena at issue with closely fitting concepts.