Saturday, April 29, 2017

In struggles we can very well come together and aid each other

Hegel's philosophy is hardly obscure. The vast literature on Hegel that exists and continues to rapidly expand, especially in recent times, speaks to the richness and relevance of his thought to current issues in philosophy and science. I admit Hegel is subtle but is certainly obscure to those who follow the predominant mode of analytical thinking that characterizes modern science and philosophy.  Hegel calls such thinking abstract understanding. There are, however, more rational and concrete ways of thinking, and to follow Hegel's thought means to learn that.

Dr. Rappaport claims that a cut or boundary is a sign which is identical to the observer or person for whom the sign has a significance. This appears to be true for him on the basis of his KB logic. I counter his argument by stating that if this is true on the basis of his logic then it destroys the meaning of sign and its interpreter, implying therefore his logic is defective.

Later in his email he mentions singularity as an example of a sign that is an identity. Supposedly he means that it therefore includes within it the person or observer who refers to that sign as a singularity. In my reply I may have misunderstood this and thought he was developing a process out of the singularity into the following items he lists [see his original email below]. I am awaiting his reply on that issue.

Regarding Peirce's quote, I agree with you that he was not questioning the existence of a sign as an object, but claiming that a sign can be considered to be such for an interpreter only. Signs exist only for persons for whom they have a significance. It is generally acknowledged that Saussure further clarifies this. Whether or not objects exist in general without a subjective observer is another question. To assume that to be the case is based on a rational conception of permanence that cannot be based on pure empirical experience or consciousness, since it makes a claim about the possibility of existence without being observed or in consciousness. 

The arguments put forth on this list regarding the fundamentality of consciousness represent a misconception as they are based on reflective understanding rather than reason. Hopefully they may come to consider and understand the arguments against that view as presented in my email and article that explains Self and Reason as being beyond consciousness [see Beyond the Modern Monolith of Consciousness]

Thank you for your interest and inquiry.
B Madhava Puri, Ph. D.
Apr 28, 2017
BHAKTI VEDANTA INSTITUTE – of Spiritual Culture & Science

priyedarshi jetli Apr 29, 2017
Fair enough. I have not followed the discussion so your comments in that context are something I should not comment upon. 

As for Hegel, it is not that I am ignorant of Hegel. I took a course on Hegel and was totally taken up by his Phenomenology of the Spirit. But when I tried to read it again, years later, I find it obscure. As a student of philosophy I am not so interested in popularity of philosophers but on trying to understand the primary works of the philosophers. This is what I do with Plato as well. 

What you keep calling logic, is really some type of ontology and not logic with my understanding of what 'logic' is. Logic is mainly about inferences. It does not have much to do with duality as we have multivalued and fuzzy logics as well. But what remains common and what Hegel uses is inferences. 

You say "Hegel calls such thinking abstract understanding." By such thinking you mean analytic philosophy and science. Do you mean to say that Hegel is concerned with concrete reality. To me there could be nothing more abstract than Hegel's absolute. Is he nominalist as opposed to realism in philosophy and science which accepts the existence of universals like the number two? The only thing I understand in Hegel is the thesis-antithesis-synthesis account which he took from Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Othewise he and other German Idealists distorted Kant and took him in a direction he would never have turned.


Dr Shilpi Saxena Apr 29, 2017
Respected Priyedarshi Ji

Your email content is reflecting two gross ways for understanding, one is mainly for Objective approach and other is Subjective.

From a purely professional level Science would not progress if it will not approached with specialization. But we need objective approach only for our livelihood but after achieving our professional positions like Professor and Scientist we also need wholistic approach and this approach is not exclusive. What way we can do real good to our true being is also a part of real scientific study. Analytical (Objective) study and theoretical (Subjective) study both should go together then only we could understand the whole reality.

How science can be wholistic if it excludes the study of Scientist (soul) and souls of all souls (Supreme God)? And as far as I know this is also the main purpose of ‘Science and Scientist-2017’ Conference:

We as finite being cannot understand and represent the Whole that accommodate everything in it. Only Absolute can Harmonize everything. Therefore, we have to change our concept from self-centered exploitation to the God-centered dedication. One process is to find the root and next process to water the root (Srimad Bhagavad-Gita 5.4).

I am planning to submit a paper for this conference and would like to present the same if accepted. Hope that you and other list members of this group can also join this event and we can have some fruitful dialogue at Kathmandu during the conference.

With regards
Dr Shilpi Saxena, MRSC, Ph.D, FICCE 

Edwards, Jonathan Apr 29, 2017
Dear Whit,
I think the idea that laws have to exist before the Big Bang is a category mistake. It is a confusion of cause with reason (Leibniz’s term for law). Causes occur in space and time but reasons do not. They are the necessities or probabilities of causes occurring when they do. There would be no meaning to a reason ‘existing before’ the Big Bang. Positing reasons bears no relation to positing an agent God. Looking for an external source of reasons inevitably leads to infinite regress.

I am also doubtful about a universe existing but being unknown being a ‘meaningless' concept. One has to remember that ‘meaning’ and ‘knowledge of’ are very complex relations that involve a co-variance between certain patterns of signs generated within a complex system like a brain and ‘referent’ dynamic patterns in a distal environment. Prior to the emergence of life there would be no knowledge or meaning but that is not to say that there would not be experience or what Leibniz calls perception and what one might include in the most general definition of consciousness. I agree that where there is no perception there is no meaningful existence. But knowledge is a very subtle and probably self-contradictory concept in certain respects.

I agree that there is an anthropic argument that we must live in a universe that allows the emergence of ‘knowledge' because we ‘know’ (however shaky that concept may be) about it. But a long time back nothing did know about the universe that we still enjoy.


Dear Jonathan,

OK let us not use the word 'reductionism", if you don't like it. But is the journey of Physics from the macro level to molecular, atomic, nucleus, protons, neutrons, quarks, electronic one and in different flavors does not amount to a long sequence of understanding the smaller to smaller level mechanism, from one level to still a lower deeper level. And who knows that quarks and electrons are an end itself? Similarly, understanding the forces of nature from macro-Newtonian one to intermolecular, inter -atomic, internuclear and electronic, gluonic intranuclear one is another example in Physics for understanding the working of nature from one level down the other level.The hypothesis of dark energy and dark matter to account for the motion of galaxies and clusters is another example of going from one level of mechanism to another mechanism. If in future, some empirical evidence pours in for the existence of dark matter/dark energy, further questions may arise for the genesis of dark energy /matter. No doubt, this may lead to an infinite or very long regress but how we are sure that nature is limited to the extent we know up to the date or nature is not infinite or comprises a long chain of layered structure?

To state that there is epistemic evidence that beyond quantum level there are no mechanisms amounts to a recognition that quantum reality is the end of ontology and reality in itself. Only about a hundred years ago, quantum level stopped till atoms. Nothing was known about electrons, protons, neutrons and quarks.Even within 100 years,  string theories in Planckian and sub-Planckian regime have come out. This is another issue that as on date there is no way out to verify such theories either due to limitations of technology or these theories itself could be wrong. So to work an assumption that quantum level is the end in itself appears to me to as trivialization of the whole issue.

Then there is no evidence that reality of nature as found thru Physics is an end to itself nevertheless the fact that Physics is an excellent tool to understand the reality up to the ends discovered by it, in quite cogent intellectual terms as well as it provides empirical evidence for the same. However, while emphasizing the importance of Physics in terms of providing framework for intellectual understanding and of empirical evidence, we should not ignore the fact that intellectual comprehension and empirical evidence may not be the final tools for ascertaining more deeper layers or ultimate layer of nature or reality

By your exchange of emails with you, I have clarified on one aspect that a wave is random excitation of a field by a quantum of action as randomly distributed. Even if I may set aside the issues of the ontology, nature, and genesis of the quantum of action and  field, still  I find it difficult grasp intuitively many aspects of  a wave by the random excitation of a field by the quantum of action as elaborated below: 

A quantum of action is a distinct indivisible dynamic event. Since it is distinct,  at one moment of time, it will appear at one point in space. Next moment it will appear at another point of space though in a random manner. Moment of time and point in space could go down to Planck's scale. But time to shift for the quantum of action from one to another point in space can't go 'down to Planck's scale since information can't travel at speeds more than the speed of light. Random excitation of a field due to the quantum of action, perceived as a wave, spread out at the rate of speed of light C. So within 1 sec, a  quantum of action should randomly  appear at  all the points of space within a volumetric  area covered by a distance of 3,00,000 Km and that too when quantum of action can't propagate at more than C.? If it could not be, how effect of  a wave is equally perceptible  in all its totality at all points of space at one moment of time within a volume as limited by C. For example, the message, which I am sending to you can be detected equally in all its totality at all the points of space within a volumetric area of space as defined by the speed of light.

So above is the problem for the formation of a wave (excitation of a field) from distinctiveness to continuity or divisibility to indivisibility with the concept of a distinct quantum of action which defies my intuitive and intellectual understanding.
Vinod Sehgal 

priyedarshi jetli Apr 28, 2017
That is very definitive. Berkeley was a clever philosopher but on close examinations, even lesser minds than the lesser minds you refer to, meaning my mind  can see that all his arguments against materialism beg the question. Neither does he have any positive argument to establish idealism. If you find one in the Three Dialogues or in the Principles or anywhere else please explain it to a lesser mind like mine. In fact I am less than a lesser mind as I don't have a mind, only a brain, which some supporters of Berkeleian idealism believe only exists in the mind. Now that is surely LOL.

Debashis Banerji Apr 29, 2017
I follow these learnings with a student, learning about some life processes, dna on and so on, i feel that probably, a convenient way to understand natural processes as, evolution, is to learn from nature itself. Thus, typical darwinian thought proposes, evolution through selection of the fittest. However, if we see the way organelles work in a unicellular organism and how cells of organs work in an organism, we may arrive at a different understanding.
In organisms, various signals regulate the cell cycles of different organs, to ensure, survival and later reproduction of the organism. There is a beautiful social control...all cells survive to serve the whole and as per nature's design, get replaced by prer servers. So, in nature, the governing phenomenon seems to be survival of the 'earnest' and not the 'fittest'. In unicellular organisms we have organelles coexisting, in multicellular organisms we have organs coexisting, as also, in a climatic climax forest, different species coexisting. So, variations which promote optimal earnest coexistence probably helped in evolutionary changes. Actually survival of the fittest can be fatal. In humans, cells which disobey cell cycle signals, continue to divide and result into benign tumours and then after mteastasis lead to malignant tumours...cancer and death. !!!

Ádám Kun Apr 29, 2017
Dear Debashis Banerji,

Survival of the fittest does not mean, that it has to be cruel or destructive toward others.
In the examples of organelles and cells inside our body, it is the unicellular organism and the multicellular body which maximizes its fitness by controlling its organelles and constituent parts. Those part were individuals in the evolutionary past, but now they are part of a new whole, a new evolutionary unit (an eukaryotic cell or a multicellular body).
Certain organisms maximize their fitness by cooperating, or by being mutualist toward other organism. So in the end we see a lot of positive interaction in Nature. The phrase "struggle for existence" (by Darwin) might be better than the survival of the fittest (by Herbert Spencer), as in struggles we can very well come together and aid each other.

best wishes,
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ionians and Ironman

Siegfried Bleher Apr 19, 2017
Dear Jo,
Just a few questions and/or comments about your post.  
1) Normally I would consider the scale that separates quantum from classical to be the scale of the quantum of action, Planck’s constant, i.e. size of phase space volume, not coordinate space or configuration space size.  And, of course, the size of the volume does not put any restrictions on its shape.  
2) Uncertainty in quantum theory is not present in the completely deterministic time evolution of the Schroedinger equation, only when we force the Schroedinger equation to make a prediction as to which of the many classically describable observations will appear upon observation.  Hence the multiple interpretations—there is still a resistant disconnect between the two modes of description. 
3) Uncertainty born of discreteness in a space that is assumed continuous—does that uncertainty remain if we avoid the assumption of continuity?  B. J. Hiley and D. Bohm (and others) attempted to argue—with some success--that all of modern physics is derivable without assuming our world of finitely precise observations is embedded within Euclidean (R3) space or its curved cousins.  If that is true, then is uncertainty still necessary? 
4) Macroscopic objects that have ‘quantized’ modes, such as violin strings, are describable with (continuum) equations, but such equations are only valid to some maximum value of frequency determined ultimately by the finite quantum of action.  However the quantum of action does not determine the ‘quantized’ modes, which are classical things.  In this sense, it does seem that scale is relevant, but again it is not necessarily physical size, but rather size of action.  
5) Admittedly the physical quantity called ‘action’ that is at the heart of all classical physics, as well as quantum mechanics, in an even more fundamental sense than Newton’s concept of ‘force’ (c.f. variational principle; principle of least action) is not ‘observable’ or ‘envisageable’ as you say.  
To me the action is a dynamical ‘thing’ that stands outside of time, as it is only computable over an interval of time, whereas we only observe at a given moment in time.  Or, at least, our minds tag events as occurring at discrete moments in time.  So when we perform an observation, we project an entire or ‘whole’ action onto a thin slice in time, and we say there is uncertainty—the uncertainty arises in part because we leave out so much information carried by the wave function in an effort to measure something we can relate to.  
When we entertain the possibility of observing ‘actions’, wholes, outside the passage of time, then perhaps we will not see so much uncertainty?

Diego Lucio Rapoport Apr 19, 2017
Indeed, you have an understanding in terms of history and i have one which does and does not follow this history. With regards to inference i already told you -and apparently you skipped it though you told me that understood me- that you may have a system of several non-reflective negation operators and yet which are connected between themselves. For such a system, the double negation does not give you the identity but something else, generalising and extending the dialectical negation. 
Still you may have a Matrix Logic, as conceived by August Stern, closely related to the Klein Bottle logic, in which the logical operators are matrices; particularly important is the Hadamard two by two matrix (the Hadamard gate of quantum mechanics), which is none other than the representation of the Klein Bottle. It allows to express inference as quantum transitions and interchangeably at that. You may produce higher-order logics by taking the tensor products. it has quantum, fuzzy and Boolean logic as subcases.
Seems that the history of logic as you present it is missing some chapters.
I am sorry, but i am not an historian of logic but committed to extend it.

priyedarshi jetli Apr 19, 2017

This is rather ad hominem. You may not agree with Aristotle. However, Aristotle was a physicist and a biologist. Plato wasn't. Aristotle also invented formal logic which Plato was not able to do. Aristotle also attempted to formalize ontology and ethics. Only thing Aristotle wasn't was perhaps a mathematician, though he knew a lot of mathematics. 
Furthermore, as we understand the term 'materialism' today, Aristotle was not a materialist as he accepted the existence of a non material soul. That he gave a materialist explanation of the material world is what made him a scientist like scientists today. However, by positing a final cause and being critical of the Presocratics for not having discussed the formal cause, Aristotle (the Greek) definitely parted from the materialism of the Presocratics (Asians) who were only concerned with the material cause. 
So, if you are looking for the roots of materialism and want to condemn it and praise Plato for not being a materialist, then you have to go much further back to the Ionians to pin down materialism. For me, Plato, is important for a lot, of which his non-matierialism, if that can be attributed to him, is rather insignificant. The main contributions of Plato are to methodology which makes him the founder of philosophy to some extent.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hegel put himself outside the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition

NYIKOS, PETER Apr 16, 2017
Stephen, the way Bob interprets Hegel's concept of "infinite," I can only conclude that Hegel's concept has nothing to do with either any mathematical concept or any Judeo-Christian-Islamic  concept of "infinite". We mathematicians are very much used to infinite numbers, thanks to Cantor's great breakthrough in realizing that there is an infinity of distinct infinite numbers. For instance, Cantor explicitly proved that there are more points on a line than there are integers (whole numbers). And so the infinite number for the former is greater than that for the latter. 

Cantor even showed that for any infinite number, there is a greater one yet: because infinite numbers describe sets, and the collection of all subsets of any set has a greater number of members than the set itself has. 

Cantor himself thought God's infiniteness was even greater than that of any infinite number. Perhaps in this he was influenced by Anselm, who defined God as the most perfect conceivable entity. Yet, as far as I know, both of them believed that God created the universe and is distinct from his creation. This is the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic belief.  In denying this, Hegel put himself outside this tradition.

Peter Nyikos 
Professor, Dept. of Mathematics      
University of South Carolina 

" Hegel put himself outside this tradition."

A recent book, "Hegel's India" brings into focus his tryst with Indian philosophy giving rise to the speculation that many of his innovative notions were inspired by (or, borrowed from) it.

This, of course, is a fertile area of study. A review:

Tusar Nath Mohapatra

NYIKOS, PETER Apr 17, 2017
The main Western philosophical drive in the past century started with the revolt in psychology against the introspection of Wundt, towards the behaviorism of Watson and Skinner. This affected philosophy to where the dominant force in the Philosophy of Mind was what I call "third person realism," with a cynical connotation to "realism". The underlying fiction is that words have no meaning unless they are somehow about publicly available information. The epitome of this was an essay about dreams which denied any meaning to the word "dream" above and beyond the report of someone of something he called his dream.

Psychology is overcoming this Orwellian use of language, and philosophy seems to be following suit, but I'm afraid Western philosophy will have a hard time coming around all the way to the insight embodied in the Korean language.

Peter Nyikos
Professor of Mathematics
University of South Carolina

Robert Wallace, Apr 17, 2017
This is a very common way of sketching early Greek philosophy, but I think it’s misleading. It’s true that early Greek thinkers seem “mainly” to focus on a physical order of the cosmos. But there are always moral elements or suggestions in their thinking, as when Thales speaks of “soul” and Anaximander speaks of the infinite “controlling” the cosmos and of the opposites “paying penalty and retribution to each other.” In Pythagoras, Heraclitus, and Parmenides, moral and “physical” issues are much more manifestly intertwined and inseparable.

Thus when historians speak of the early Greek “natural philosophers” as anticipating our natural sciences, they are oversimplifying.

There is indeed a famous passage in which Plato has Socrates say that he turned away from speculation about the cosmos to thinking about ethics. And perhaps for a while he did. But Plato very quickly rejoined the two topics to each other, because he saw that Socrates’s concern about truth in ethics required an account of truth in general, which would have to apply to nature as well as to human affairs.

Plato then gives an explicit argument to show that reality as such is ultimately determined by the Good, and thus by (among other things) moral considerations, so that (if we assume that the “physical” is supposed to be “real”) your (I) and (II) are inseparable from each other.

So that you appropriately ask:

what is the real meaning of “Good” that is often used in the philosophy of Plato and why it is called “Good”.

What is the “Good”? Ah, that is the question alright!  Plato mentions two popular theories of the Good: that it is pleasure, and that it is knowledge. (505c)  He (through Socrates) comments that everyone admits that there are bad pleasures; and as for knowledge, its advocates go on to specify the important knowledge as knowledge of the good, so “knowledge” as such can’t be the good.

Here Plato has Socrates make one of his well-known disavowals of knowledge: “I’m afraid that I won’t be up to it…” (506d)! But he does not, like a skeptic, abandon the topic! Rather, his famous similes of the Sun, the Line, and the Cave are meant to suggest how we go about thinking about what is real in general and what the Good really is. Having finally left the Cave (of familiar theories of the real or the Good as “pleasure” or “knowledge” or whatever) behind him, the former cave-dweller will “be able to see the sun” (516b). Then he will have the answer to your question, “what is the real meaning of the Good”!

Plato concludes that “the power to learn is present in everyone’s soul,” but what’s needed is to “turn the whole soul until it is able to study that which is and the brightest thing that is, namely, the one we call the good” (518c). How to “turn” the soul in this way is the issue that the whole Republic addresses.

So we shouldn’t expect Plato to give us a cut-and-dried answer to your question, “what is the real meaning of Good?” He has had Socrates tell us that he doesn’t possess a cut-and-dried answer. The common answers (pleasure, knowledge) have been shown to be inadequate, and Plato has nothing so simple to offer in their place.

What he does offer us is a description of the whole process whereby we necessarily seek the Good. We criticize and “turn away” from common answers, and continue to explore the issue. And in the process we explore the whole of reality—including animals, plants, mathematics (510)—so as to determine what aspect of it makes it truly real.

But your second question, “Why is it called ‘Good,’” does have a simple, cut-and-dried answer. The Good is what everyone wants for themselves. “Nobody is satisfied to acquire things that are merely believed to be good … but everyone wants the things that really are good and disdains mere belief” about this subject (505d). This is why reality, and knowledge of reality, are so important for us. We may or may not care to know what the distance of the sun is from the earth. But everyone wants to know what’s really good, so as to be able to go after that, and not after some illusion.

And Plato’s broader point, as I said in previous emails, is that seeking knowledge of what’s really good is what distinguishes a “unified” and self-governing soul from a scattered soul which is governed by influences originating outside it. So that the pursuit of the Good (pursuit of knowledge of it, and thus of it) enables us to be more fully ourselves than we can otherwise be—and thus more real, as ourselves, than we would otherwise be. This is where the Good and the Real turn out to be intimately connected to each other. The Real order of the cosmos is moral as well as physical. The two are ultimately inseparable.

And this pursuit of the Good (and thus of Reality) takes us beyond not only our pre-existing opinions but also beyond what we call “ego” and Plato calls thumos. Because opinions and ego merely distract us from whatever Reality and the really Good may be.

Plato tells us that the part of the soul that seeks the Good is “more divine” (518e), and that the Good is “superior” even to being “in rank and power” (509b). So he invites us to see what he has described as a search not only for what’s really good (for us) but for the divine as such. Indeed, the two will be the same.

Best, Bob W
To view this discussion on the web visit

Barry Urie Apr 17, 2017
Hi Bob,
    Thanks for getting back to me. I am not an academic, I am well educated and well read. I was added to the list by a Dr. in India with whom I share an interest in a 'science of information'.
     Concerning your statement and question:  "As far as I know, it does not speak in terms of “emergence.” Did the course recognize this fact—that scientists are quite unsure how to deal with such events as the emergence of life and the emergence of consciousness?
 They glossed over emergence of life by saying various theories (deep sea vents etc.) abound and offer reference material including links to The Natural History Museum which in turn offer more resources, then leaves it up to the individual to satisfy themselves. They never address consciousness directly, they say awareness has its foundation in the 'Self Organizing Force of Nature'. What I got from the course is a scientific explaination of the 'Philosophy of Wholeness' and the patterns and cycles of nature.
      Indeed why should we believe there is value in living in harmony with nature? What's the alternative, living in Donald Trump's world? I have no judgement to make on what is good, I do however feel that value lies in selfishness. I do not mean greed, greed is wanting more than ones needs to the detriment of others. Selfishness is doing what is in the best interests of the self, for example I want to eat the healthiest most nutriscious food I can. I am no different from others selves who want the same things. I am a self becoming aware of a larger self who is greater than the sum of the selves.
Best Regards,

Friday, April 14, 2017

Hegel is wrong about Leibniz

Only because physics eliminates (either through a simplifying assumption or by metaphysical positioning) consciousness and person, since a long time.

Plato's approach is the only approach which does not eliminate consciousness, soul, persons, and can explain why we believe (wrongly) in a physical universe which would be fundamental.  It explains physics where physicists take it for granted.

Now, imo, Leibniz is a coming back to Plato, or to a form of neoplatonism. But he is a complex author, and he seems to have change his mind often on the subject, a bit like Wittgenstein.

OK. Neuro-philosophers are expert in hiding the mind-body problem, and my work shows them inconsistent as they use both materialism and mechanism, but this does not work (and that's the main root of the difficulty of the mind-body problem, our blind belief in primary matter).
Note that Leibniz almost discover the universal languages and machines. theoretical computer science can help to reread ancient philosophers. In fact when a machine looks inward, she develops a discourse close to the neopythagorean and the neoplatonist (themselves quite influenced by Indian and Chinese philosophy (directly and indirectly).

[I also tend to agree that there is not much on this on the chat forums. What I think people miss is that there is good reason to follow Leibniz in thinking that the deeper issues of value and subjectivity should be analysable in terms with precise truth conditions and mathematical regularity just like other aspects of physics, if only we can overcome ascertainment problems that currently beset the field.]

I agree. The separation between science and theology makes science inexact and theology inhuman.
Only bad faith fears reason. Only bad reason fears faith.

Bruno Marchal Apr 13, 2017

Edwards, Jonathan Apr 13, 2017
Dear Stan,
I think you are stuck in pre 1980 quantum physics. Things have moved on to general forms of field theory that are entirely local, although the locality is defined in a different way. It is often said that the Aspect experiments confirm that quantum physics has to discard either realism or locality. But that is fine because quantum physics had to discard the sort of realism, or old fashioned common sense as you put it, that this entails from the outset. Leibniz explains why descriptions of individual dynamic units have to violate the common sense model. The problem with all traditional models of QM is that they try to sneak common sense back in somewhere. They are all wrong. The only interpretation is ‘no interpretation’ in terms of intuitive realism. (Logic is fine, that is quite a different matter. Leibniz got the right answer using rigorous logic alone.)

The current undergraduate text in condensed matter physics (maybe five years old now) points out that QFT is entirely local because the mathematics only relates field values for the mode of excitation to the potential values with the same spacetime co-ordinates. No faster than light communication is needed. The upshot is a set of look up tables (called a wave equation) for the probabilities of causal connections occurring between sets of points in spacetime. Absolutely nothing is implied about anything travelling through slits or anything common sensical like that. 

An interesting aspect of what Leibniz tells us has only recently become clear to me. That is that von Neumann’s idea of a wave progressing linearly and then collapsing is ontologically incoherent. The reason is that the mode of excitation under study has no identity until it is measured. So there is no possibility of it starting off not knowing where it is going. As Leibniz predicts, all indivisible dynamic units have their point of destination decided from birth - which if you like is pretty much what the Aspect result shows so neatly. It is just that we have to discard a common sense view of time. So von Neumann, Bohm, Everett, Zurek, GRW, Penrose and Hameroff, and all the others have got the wrong end of the stick. 

Best wishes


Edwards, Jonathan Apr 13, 2017
Dear Robert,

I am not sure I am prepared to quite down your route of argument in relation to Good but at least I think Good is something that needs some very careful consideration and explanation. You might well be interested in Colin Morrison’s ‘The Blind Mindmaker’ which tries to explain human experience, with a very important place for value and God. Colin and I are arguing about the physics but I like his general approach.

I still think Hegel is wrong about Leibniz. Leibniz clearly understood this consideration. He is not always entirely clear about his ontology, I think because he feels he has to make his language at least possibly intelligible to correspondents who mostly have not grasped his key insights. He makes interesting use of the term Être nécessaire in Monadology. That would translate as necessary being but might be better translated as existent necessity. Leibniz’s God is divorced from any token existence in time and space, being the totality of reasons. Reasons differ from causes in that they are not tied to any time or place. This becomes relevant to a debate about whether creation for Leibniz is tied to a time and place. There are places where it seems not to be. God is just the totality of necessity (which includes room for manoeuvre by monads) and that explains the entire history of the actual world. That means that God is not other than the physical world, because He is an entity of a different category. The physical world is entailed within God. God is not someTHING other than it. In a sense Hegel has fallen into the stuffiest trap and wanting all entities to have the same token status. I suspect this reflects a flaw in natural language that philosophers tend to miss if they are not as obsessional as Leibniz, in making sure the logic actually works for real in a non verbal dynamic analysis.

Dynamic for me is actually more general than what you suggest. It is just the real content of fundamental physics (or what was for Leibniz metaphysics), as opposed to the misconception that  physics deals with stuff. Leibniz explains why he chooses this word in the short paper Reflections on the Advancement of True Metaphysics of 1693.


Robert Wallace Apr 13, 2017
Hi Barry,

Sorry to take so long to respond to your question.

Could it not be said that which is in harmony with the SOFoN is of value and that which is in discord is of detriment?

Sure, you can “say” it.  :-)   Why should we believe it? 

Plato and his successors in philosophy start from Socrates’s critiques of various dogmatic pronouncements about what’s good. (“The Good is pleasure.” “The Good is knowledge.”) They want an answer that doesn’t just add to the list of competing pronouncements. 

I see that the “Journey of the Universe” course is based on Thomas Berry’s writing. Do you have a background in mainline biology? As far as I know, it does not speak in terms of “emergence.” Did the course recognize this fact—that scientists are quite unsure how to deal with such events as the emergence of life and the emergence of consciousness?

Best, Bob W

On Apr 11, 2017, at 11:49 PM, Barry Urie wrote:
Hi Bob,
I recently audited a MOOC from Yale called 'Journey of the Universe: The Unfolding of Life' - a new story to replace the old which no longer satisfies. They talk about emergence and evolution within the context of the 'Self Organizing Force of Nature' (SOFoN).
Could it not be said that which is in harmony with the SOFoN is of value and that which is in discord is of detriment?

Diego Lucio Rapoport Apr 13, 2017
My recent comments on regards of the primality of "consciousness" and mathematics raised by Deepak,  should be regarded in the terms expressed by B. M. Puri below.
Remarkably, in his thesis of the Bicameral Mind by the late Princeton Univ. professor, Julian Jaynes, is elaborated the social nature of "consciousness". However, the very elementary mirror neuron phenomenology indicates that the I comes with the experience of Other.

Savitri Era Learning Forum: By seeking what’s truly Good that a being can be unified

Savitri Era Learning Forum: Understanding the self in a social context

Marketime: No man can surpass his own time

Marketime: Narcissism reduces the exchange of information among team members

Feel Philosophy: Value and perfection are the goals at which the finite aims

What is American greatness now? What makes us exceptional? -@wellman4444 -

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Value and perfection are the goals at which the finite aims

Apr 11, 2017, at 3:15 AM, Edwards, Jonathan 
Dear Robert,
I see no problem in spelling out an alternative to stuffism. It is dynamism, as Leibniz said. I may not be a professional philosopher but I have spent much of the last fifteen years in philosophy full time. I agree that present day philosophy is totally muddled. Dynamism is all we ever needed but it goes against powerful intuitions. Berkeley is entertaining and made some sensible suggestions about learning about space from vision and touch but I am not sure he really added much. Kant for me is someone who missed the point of Leibniz (as people said at the time).

My comments about humans having a monopoly on value and meaning were a bit tongue in cheek but I think there are much deeper layers to the problem than people think. The idea that somehow ‘we' are doing better than crows or lemurs, or toads or photons seems to me to make unwarranted assumptions in terms of value - and also the identities of these ‘we’. Perhaps the human subject is a rather banal confined structure that parasitises much richer modes of existence. Rather than sampling the world in the raw it samples signs created for it by neural networks that merely co-vary with the wider world in a way that assists the parasitism. Consider the lilies of the field…

But I have to admit to playing a Devil’s advocate in part. Like Leibniz I see our level of knowledge as some high point in the world. But also like Leibniz I am keen to unearth the most egregious of our misinterpretations of what our unconscious brain processes provide.

Best wishes

Jo E

April 12, 2017
Hi Jo,

I share your sympathy with Leibniz, to whom I would add Plato (where most of this was first articulated), Aristotle, and Hegel. A major reason (I think) why Leibniz isn’t appreciated is the role of perfection and thus of value in his thinking. The stuffists (who include Kant, in his philosophy of nature) have persuaded many of us that value is merely subjective and plays no objective role in reality. So “perfection” would likewise be subjective, not real. 

In what sense is our world, as Leibniz maintains, the “best of all possible worlds”? To say that it has to be the best (because God chooses the best) and we simply can’t know how it is the best—the situation in which Leibniz seems to leave us—is not very satisfying. Why can’t we know or understand this? 

Plato in the Timaeus blames matter (“necessity”) for the world’s imperfection. Intellect (nous) is only partially successful in “persuading” matter to cooperate with it. Though the metaphor of “persuasion” is suggestive, the contrast between intellect and matter feels like another unexplained dualism. “Stuff” is still playing an independent and thus unexplained role. 

But in Republic book v Plato gives an account of what simultaneously “is and is not” (478d), which is his deeper explanation of the world’s imperfection. You and I as bodies “are” only partially. To some extent we determine ourselves, are “one” (443e), and thus “are”; in other respects we are “many” and (as “one”) “are not.” We are intimately familiar with this intermediate condition, in that we know what it’s like to be self-determining through thought, and we know what it’s like to fail to be self-determining and to allow ourselves to be governed by mere appetite or mere ego (what Plato calls “thumos,” the “spirited part”). So we know from our experience what it’s like to “be and not be.” Plato is suggesting that nature as a whole tends to be in this intermediate condition of both being and not being. This condition is the world’s imperfection. 

Hegel then explains how Plato’s “being” and “not being” (Hegel’s “being” and “nothing”) are, as such, indistinguishable. They have distinguishable content only within processes of “becoming” (coming into being and ceasing to be). There (probably) is your “dynamism,” which Hegel elaborates as the relation between the finite and the infinite, nature and Spirit, the world and the divine. The divine is no longer, as in Leibniz, a separate agent that “chooses” what world to create. Hegel points out that a separate being is, as such, finite, and therefore presumably not divine. Rather, the divine is the true reality (being) that the world sometimes achieves. This achievement is the process (the dynamism, the becoming) that Plato described as “persuasion.” 

Value and perfection are (as in Plato) the goals at which the finite (the soul) aims, in its effort to determine itself through thought and thus to really “be.” This is how value is crucial for being or reality. We are all intimately familiar with this role of value in our personal efforts to “be.” 

But our natural sciences abstract from all of this. They examine nature from the “outside,” as a set of mechanisms. In mechanism as such, there is no Oneness, no effort towards oneness, and thus no role for value.

You might reply that proper neuroscience does not or would not examine dynamism merely from the “outside.” That it would give value its proper place in the real world, as Leibniz tries to do. I will be happy when I see neuroscientists explaining this role of value in the real world to their lay audience. Having attended the Tucson Consciousness conference several times, I haven’t yet seen them do this. Nor do I see much reference to value or to the oneness that it makes possible in the discussions of this Sadhu Sanga group. Most of the discussions here ignore these issues. And thus they appear to concede the basic truth of “stuffism.” 

Best, Bob W
Robert Wallace

[Together with a bunch of scholarly articles, I’m the author of
Hegel’s Philosophy of Reality, Freedom and God (Cambridge University Press, 2005), which you can purchase from the publisher, from, etc. This is my account of G.W.F. Hegel’s philosophical mysticism. To sample it, you can download a chapter or more from my “Writings” page. My “Manifesto for Philosophical Mysticism,” on this site, gives an overview of what I think it’s all about. The page on “Internet Resources for Philosophical Mysticism, and Some of Its Opponents” is an essay on God and transcendence and what I think I’ve learned from Plato and Hegel about these subjects (with many links to other people’s sites). Other introductory discussions are in my blog, and in the sermon on Emerson and the chapter from my second book, The God of Love, Science, and Inner Freedom, both in Writings

For details of my academic activities, you can download my c.v. from the Writings page, below.]

[Sadhu Sanga] back to Thomas Nagel, "Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False" (2012)

Announcing my new book - 'Hegel's India: A Reinterpretation, with Texts' #OxfordUniversityPress #Hegel #Zizek -

Saturday morning on desire. First Hegel's India review, Pratap Bhanu Mehta in Indian Express! @pbmehta @IndianExpress

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

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