Infinity or Determinism?

Dear Glenn,

After a prolonged absence, I opened Vagabond’s Communication Page (May June issue) www.vagabondpages.com/may09/communication.html, and what caught my attention was the title “Determinism” which was the subject line of your email and I don’t see the connection with the topic. Is this a mistake? -- because “Infinity” would be a more appropriate title than Determinism. Please let me know.

I have always been fascinated by the idea of infinite universe, infinite big and infinite small. As my mind and senses operate in 3-4 dimensions I will ignore right now the infinite dimensions which have beautiful mathematical formulas but seem to me abstractions, like abstract paintings. So, from the platform of my own dimension, putting aside other dimensions like, for instance, “string theory”, I have the following question which can or cannot be answered, in my view, it cannot: If I have no problem with an infinitely big universe because it is not space that is lacking, how may the universe be reduced to infinity? Where can matter remain matter in practically no space and, how can matter be something other than matter? For our 3-4 dimensional mind, matter and space are inseparable. If you have some comments I would gladly publish them if you don’t mind.

Thank you very much




Thanks so much for your interesting questions. I was struck by your philosophical bent and just thought you might be interested in The Scientific Worldview (TSW). So few people seem to have the background and nonprejudicial mind necessary for understanding the philosophy of univironmental determinism (the proposition that whatever happens to a portion of the universe is determined equally by the matter in motion within and without). This philosophy assumes micro and macro infinity, and with it, an assumption of causality derived from Bohm (1957). I have labeled Bohm’s view as “infinite universal causality.” It states that there are an infinite number of causes for any effect. In science, we are lucky to determine the primary causes, labeling the remaining causes as unknown. This is why there is a plus or minus in every real measurement. Classical mechanics and what is commonly referred to as “determinism” used finite universal causality, based on the assumption that there were a finite number of causes for a particular effect. With it, Laplace’s Demon was erroneously assumed able to postdict the past and predict the future with perfect accuracy and precision. Classical mechanics also contained the (usually hidden) presupposition that the universe was microcosmically and macrocosmically finite.

I share your suspicions about mathematics. My view is as follows:

Reality involves a Euclidean universe that consists of matter in motion. Matter exists, that is, it has xyz dimensions and location with respect to other material objects. Matter always contains other matter within it, ad infinitum. That is, there are no partless parts, as was erroneously assumed by the atomists. Motion is what matter does. Motion is not “part” of the universe.

Ideality involves our ideas about matter and the motion of matter. We use the ideality of math to provide imperfect predictions regarding the motions of matter in the real world. But unlike those overcome with idealism, we must continually remind ourselves that the world is real and that our ideas are not. Thus we may have the idea of perfectly empty space and the idea of perfectly solid matter, but neither could possibly exist. All real things lie on the continuum between those two ideas. Space always contains “matter” and matter always contains “space.” Therefore we agree that space is matter. In TSW I also assume that time is the motion of matter. Time is not a thing. Unlike material objects, I cannot put time in my back pocket (even though it would be nice).

The concept of 4-dimensional spacetime is just that, a concept, an idea. Spacetime cannot exist. Only space (xyz) can exist. I can see my desk occupying a particular xyz space and I can imagine it occupying a similar space tomorrow, but that does not make spacetime material. The concept of spacetime may be useful, but like other matter-motion terms (TSW, p. 53-63) it is neither matter nor motion. This is where the Big Bang and string theorists have traded reality for ideality. These folks actually believe that more than 3 dimensions are possible, in fact, it is a job requirement. Moreover, they will not agree that the universe presents us with only two phenomena: 1) matter and 2) the motion of matter. A “modern physicist” seldom will know what time is.

I urge you to read TSW or some of the papers abstracted from it. Pdfs and links are available on the PSI website. My blog http://thescientificworldview.blogspot.com/2007/06/welcome-to-scientific-worldview.html contains numerous questions that I have answered from the univironmental point of view.


Bohm, David, 1957, Causality and chance in modern physics: New York, Harper and Brothers, 170 p.

Links to these are at www.scientificphilosophy.com:

Borchardt, Glenn, 2004, Ten assumptions of science and the demise of 'cosmogony': Proceedings of the Natural Philosophy Alliance, v. 1, no. 1, p. 3-6.

Borchardt, Glenn, 2004, The ten assumptions of science and the demise of cosmogony [abs.], in Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Southwestern and Rocky Mountain Division, Metropolitan State College of Denver and the Colorado-Wyoming Academy of Sciences, 79th Annual Meeting of AAAS-SWARM, p. 22-23.

Borchardt, Glenn, 2004, The ten assumptions of science: Toward a new scientific worldview: Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, 125 p.

Borchardt, Glenn, 2007, Infinite universe theory: Proceedings of the Natural Philosophy Alliance, v. 4, no. 1, p. 20-23.

Borchardt, Glenn, 2007, The scientific worldview and the demise of cosmogony: Proceedings of the Natural Philosophy Alliance, v. 4, no. 1, p. 16-19.

Borchardt, Glenn, 2007, The Scientific Worldview: Beyond Newton and Einstein: Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, 411 p.


William Markiewicz said...

Glenn -- for most individuals, in particular the creative ones, "motion" is more important than "matter." Therefore the idea that motion is not "part of the universe" may sound confusing.
I stick to the idea that infinity of the universe goes both ways, infinite great and infinite small. This means that if there is no such thing as a primary particle, then at each stage of infinity there must be matter with its three dimensional universe and its motion. How could it be possible? If it is so, our mind has no way to grasp it. For me, this paradox makes it impossible to define matter. I believe it was the physicist Hilley who presumed that the wave precedes matter -- but wave of what?? If my memory is good, he became a spiritualist because he couldn't find any possibility of existence of primary matter. Could you follow speculation in this direction, or maybe you did it and I didn't grasp it properly, or maybe the whole concept of matter, of universe, is erroneous and we must look at it otherwise. But here, as the French say: "Je donne ma langue au chat."


Glenn Borchardt said...

Both matter and the motion of matter are equally important, as per the Fourth Assumption of Science, INSEPARABILITY (Just as there is no motion without matter, so there is no matter without motion). One must be careful to not overemphasize either of these phenomena. We both assume the Eighth Assumption of Science, INFINITY (The universe is infinite, both in the microcosmic and the macrocosmic direction). One can imagine each level, as you say it, to contain two things: objects and the space between them, ad infinitum. There is no reason for there to be an end to the number of objects and the spaces between them. This is why matter ultimately cannot be “defined,” as the atomists theorized. Of course, from time to time, scientists discover what many might consider to be the ultimate particle that cannot be subdivided. The Higgs particle, if shown to exist, will receive the same treatment, only to await the next even-larger cyclotron. At some point we won’t bother to pursue that path because of the great expense. We always will be required to choose between finity and infinity.

The main problem with a finite particle is this: all such particles would have no parts and no structure; each would be identical to all the others and incapable of evolution. That would not be the way to make a universe containing the infinite variety we see all about us. Such a particle would not be capable of the six main types of univironmental interactions (TSW, pp. 127-151). For example, the absorption of motion that occurs in all known reactions would be impossible, because any such microcosm would not contain submicrocosms capable of accepting the motion.

The real universe doesn’t care whether we can imagine its infinite character or not. I agree that switching from finity to INFINITY is a huge step, but with a bit of practice the so-called “paradox” disappears. Thus, as mentioned above, I can’t imagine a finite particle being of any use in explaining the phenomena of the universe. As you can see in TSW, like everyone else, I had to make a choice between finity and INFINITY. This was the key to understanding the universe. On the other hand, I am not surprised that anyone who could believe in matterless motion also would believe in spiritualism—they essentially are the same thing. Disappointment in the inability to find a finite particle amounts to a disappointment in classical mechanics, because both are founded on the indeterministic assumption of finity.

William Markiewicz said...

Glenn -- nobody can objectively deny that matter and the motion of matter are equally important, but subjectively, psychologically, for the creative individual, motion is more important, because motion is what he does, while he often neglects preoccupations which we metaphorically call 'material.' Of course, primary particles cannot exist, because primary to what? To the preceding void, or to the following crowd? We don't even know what matter is.

I have an impossible deadline, after accomplishing it, I hope to plunge into your links.

cheers William

Glenn Borchardt said...


One could also say that matter is what a person is. What you are is equally as important as what you do. In regard as to what matter is, maybe the Third Assumption of Science, UNCERTAINTY, will help: It is impossible to know everything about anything, but it is possible to know more about anything. Thus, we know pretty much about what matter is. For example, I know a lot about the computer before me, which is matter, but consistent with the Third Assumption, I will never know everything about it. This is consistent with INFINITY. Those who seek the ultimate, final answer to what matter is will never find it because the universe is infinite. Thus, the indeterministic opposite of the Third Assumption, certainty, is an errant mistress that has led many a philosopher astray.