Critique of TSW Part 14a Theory of the Univironment

Blog 20140611

Bill adheres to his assumption of finity as he boosts systems philosophy in his review of Chapter 4 on the “Theory of the Univironment.”

I am ever so grateful to Bill Westmiller, whose comments are marked "BW: ". The quotes marked TSW are from "The Scientific Worldview" and my comments are marked "[GB: ".

BW: I have no problem with coined words, as long as they're necessary and true to their etymological roots. The problem with "Univironment" is that the root "environ" means to surround, envelope, or "put a circle around" the proximate space of a person, animal or plant. Therefore, to say "one" (uni-), "all", "united", or universal environment(s) is nearly an oxymoron. I'm not sure that it's an improvement over "universe", which encompasses all existing things, including all of their interactions.

[GB: Looks like you missed the point. I have been using “univironment” at least since 1984 and it has not given me any problems. It is true that “univironment” and “universe” are identical, with one exception: focus. The word “universe” has no focus whatsoever. It simply means “all that exists,” whereas “univironment” always refers to a particular xyz portion of the universe in relation to the rest of the universe.] 

TSW: "Between macrocosm and microcosm there is unity and interaction."

BW: Remember that "macro-" and "micro-" are subjective terms: relative to humans. Nature doesn't revolve around humans, though humans like to think it does. We are just one small "data point" in the universe. Humans are only "between" micro and macro because that's how humans define those terms. There is continuous "interaction" all along the spectrum of different sizes of objects, but the spectrum isn't "united" around us because we're in the middle.

[GB: Huh? We are data points? Don’t think so. We are xyz portions of the universe last time I checked. Remember that I redefine “microcosm” as an xyz portion of the universe and “macrocosm” as the rest of the universe outside a particular microcosm. That has everything to do with humans. In fact, even with the old definition, a microcosm was considered as an epitome or miniature of the universe. Small things exist within large things. We are not necessary to declare them so.]  

TSW:  "... the claim that the motions of a thing are determined equally by what is inside of it and by what is outside of it."

BW: I understand your point, with reservations. First of all, *events* are determined. The "motions of a thing" are the effects, determined by prior interactions (collisions). Once motion is acquired, it doesn't need to be sustained by persistent interaction: it is inertial and independent of the prior cause.

[GB: You are correct in the conventional sense, per the Second and First Laws of Motion. There is no need for persistent interaction to maintain inertia, but I am afraid that you have fallen into a trap prepared for you by systems philosophy and its solipsistic, microcosmic thinking. The inertial motion of the microcosm can only continue if the macrocosm does not contain anything massive enough to stop it. The presence of an amenable macrocosm is just as important as the motion of the microcosm.]    

BW: Second, while it is true that we "middling" objects are influenced by larger and smaller things, it is almost never the case that those influences are *equal*. If I'm hit by a meteor, the effects are not equal to the "influence" of mitochondria in my digestive tract. If I have Salmonella in my digestive tract, the effects are not equal to the "influence" of a meteor that might hit my body after death.

[GB: I think you missed quite a bit of yourself in that example. Some reduction! The proper analysis involves the primary characteristics of the microcosm and macrocosm. If you are large and the meteor small, the interaction between you and the meteor might be slight. I will let you describe the reverse situation. I don’t think it will have much to do with Salmonella.]

BW: So, the critical proposition in your statement is that internal and external influences are always equal. I don't think that's true.

[GB: Remember that the absence of something is just as important as the presence of something. You realize this when you travel down the highway in a lane that contains no obstacles that might be dangerous. The door is just as important as the wall. The “univironmental” concept encourages us to consider the outsides as well as the insides of things.]

TSW:  Samuelson: "All analysis involves abstraction."

BW: More accurately: all human knowledge requires abstraction. An abstraction is a label we put on discrete objects or unique events in reality, which isn't exactly the same as "idealism", which imagines that our label *creates* those objects or events. While it is true that our labels don't exist in reality (they are mental constructs), we can establish the reality of those objects or events by independent verification of our subjective conception.

TSW:  G. P. Conger was one of the most persistent advocates of the concept of the microcosm. For Conger, all objects were microcosms, epitomes of the universe as a whole.

BW: I'm not sure that's an accurate characterization. Conger was a philosophical historian who analyzed the influence of the two concepts (Microcosm/Macrocosm) in various philosophies. At best, he was a Realistic Monadologist, trying to find man's place in God's Great Scheme of Things.

[GB: Huh? Monadology is just the opposite, an idea more in tune with your Finite Particle Theory.]

TSW:  Bohm: "No given thing can have a complete autonomy in its mode of being since its basic characteristics must depend on its relationships with other things. The notion of a thing is thus seen to be an abstraction, in which it is conceptually separated from its infinite background and substructure."

BW: I think Bohm was a sociologist, stuck in a physicist's body. When he talks about "things" he almost always means "people". Since he was essentially a collectivist, individuals were petty parts of the whole, always dependent on social demands. He just abstracted that perception into a theory of the universe as an "idealized collective".

[GB: Huh? In that quote, Bohm was defending the univironmental concept as opposed to systems philosophy, which tends to neglect the “relationship with other things.” You need to reread Bohm. He hardly ever wrote about sociology. All his work was more general, not specific, except when he got into quantum mechanics, which was his specialty.]

TSW:  "The combination itself should have a dialectical balance."

BW: You seem to be demanding that reality conform with one useful method of human discourse. "Socrates favored truth as the highest value, proposing that it could be discovered through reason and logic in discussion: ergo, dialectic."

We can certainly pursue an *understanding* of truth through dialectics, but nature doesn't need to persuade anyone of what is or isn't true: there is no thesis, or antithesis, or synthesis; nature *has to do* everything it does, whether anyone agrees or not. That is determinism.

[GB: Remember that the dialectic simply amounts to the Sixth Assumption of Science, complementarity (All things are subject to divergence and convergence from other things). You are right that nature does not need to do any persuading, but it has no choice: microcosms either diverge or converge.]

BTW: My commentary on your propositions is just one step in a "dialectic" of discovering truth. I respect your desire to find truth and your intelligent arguments, but my objective is to apply reason and logic to your conclusions, to see if they conform with reality. I agree with nearly everything you write, so my comments are only picking out discrepancies. Perhaps my one-sided commentary will eventually lead to a real dialogue. I'll let you decide whether that's what you want.

TSW:  "The univironment is defined as that combination of the matter in motion within the microcosm and the matter in motion in the macrocosm that is responsible for the motions of the microcosm."

BW: Somewhat circular and myopic. Abbreviated: "the microcosm and the macrocosm are responsible for the microcosm." Then, what is "responsible for" (causes) the macrocosm? It's all matter in motion, irrespective of size (which is purely a relative comparison to the "middlecosm": humans).

[GB: Your question, “what is "responsible for" (causes) the macrocosm?” is only answered by the Eighth Assumption of Science, infinity (The universe is infinite, both in the microcosmic and macrocosmic directions). Each part of the infinite universe is “caused” by still other parts. Without infinity, the universe could not exist. Glad to see that you are moving toward the realization that scale is irrelevant. Too bad you felt it necessary to perform a solipsistic somersault with your invention of the totally useless “middlecosm.” Sounds like indeterminism to me.]

TSW:  Bohm (again!): "the basic reality is the totality of actually existing matter in the process of becoming."

BW: An incomplete sentence: "becoming" what? If it is becoming something other than the totality of existing matter, then it must be becoming something other than matter.

If he's simply saying that "things change", that's true: at every event (collision), one composition of matter changes into another (or effects its motion). But, it isn't true that all things are always changing. The 'L' key on my computer keyboard doesn't change into the 'M' key every time I press it. It's essential characteristics don't change, so it's not "becoming" anything else.

[GB: Holy smokes! Where have you been! Maybe you need a microscope, so you can see all those scratches and bacteria on your ‘L” key. Nothing is the same for two microseconds in a row. Each microcosm is always changing into something else. That is the nature of the universe. Many of the changes are extremely slow. After all, it took millions of years for us to evolve ever so slowly from our primate ancestors. Your demand that change must always be rapid is akin to the demand of creationists that we produce an instantaneous monkey-to-human transformation before they will believe in evolution (change).

BTW: I suspect that Bohm’s awkward phrasing, “totality of existing matter,” was his prescient way of stating the univironmental concept. Good for him!]

BW: More important, the fundamental concept of causality is that objects *only* change when they interact. Not all objects interact with all other objects. Granted, humans are primarily interested in *events*, rather than non-events, but an object doesn't cease to exist or change in the absence of actual material events. That's fundamental to determinism.

[GB: Remember the Second Assumption of Science, causality (All effects have an infinite number of material causes). All microcosms are bathed in an infinite sea of supermicrocosms, which are necessary for their existence. Like the plates that continually move about Earth, all microcosms constantly change at every instant. What you are expressing is the philosophy of classical materialism, based on its assumption of finite causality. Thus, your claim that “an object doesn't cease to exist or change in the absence of actual material events” requires the idealistic assumption that your object is surrounded by perfectly empty space. Not possible.]

Next: Univironment continued

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