Critique of TSW Part 12a: Interconnection

Bill’s idealism confronts reality when he reviews The Tenth Assumption of Science: Interconnection and catches another error.

I am ever so grateful to Bill Westmiller, whose comments are marked "BW: ". The quotes marked TSW are from "The Scientific Worldview[1]" and my comments are marked "[GB: ".

BW: This chapter is problematic, because the meanings of critical terms are vague or inconsistent. I've tried to be true to the context, which changes.

TSW:  "All things are interconnected; that is, between any two objects exist other objects that transmit matter and motion."

BW: Strange presumption, strongly implying a Block Universe: if there are only objects between objects, rather than space, then the entire universe is a singular object, which is perpetually immobile. Usually, such a proposition is a characteristic of an Eternalist Theory, based on a four-dimensional space-time:


... but your description doesn't have space ... and therefore can't have time. If that's the case, then you can't have TWO objects interacting, ever.

[GB: Sorry, but the assumption clearly states that whatever is between any two objects must be able to transmit matter and motion. Looks like you are having trouble with scale again. As a believer in Finite Particle Theory, you must imagine solid matter to be a possibility. As one who denies that possibility, I am a believer in WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), regardless of scale. Thus, for me, your so-called “finite particle” looks like the night sky—filled with all manner of submicrocosms, each separated by what appears to be empty space. That is the beauty of Infinite Universe Theory. You need to remember, once again, that perfectly solid matter and perfectly empty space are only idealizations. Neither could possibly exist, for they are only ideas. Reality is always something in between. In other words, at any scale, the area between any two microcosms will have two constituents: what we might call “solid matter” and what we might call “empty space.” The “solid matter” always contains “empty space” and the “empty space” always contains “solid matter”—at all scales. For instance, we may think the wall to be “solid matter” and the doorway to be “empty space.” But upon examination we always find that not to be true. The “empty space” of the doorway contains matter even though that matter provides little resistance to our passage. This is what we mean when we say that there is matter in motion between any two microcosms, ad infinitum. Regressive physicists have so much trouble with this because they assume just the opposite: finity and disconnection. They really do believe in the possibility of solid matter and empty space, even though there is no evidence for it. No wonder they are aether deniers, with all the paradoxes and contradictions that entails.]

TSW:  "The word universe portrays a fundamental property of existence: interconnection."

BW: Every definition I can find is a variant of "All existing matter and space". Etymologically, Latin; uni- (all) -verse ~ -versus (turned) ... into one. The other meanings are variants or subsets of all Westmiller Things (Borchardt material objects, plus any motion, attribute, or process).

So, the concept doesn't "portray" any property, beyond ontological existence. It doesn't require or preclude interaction among any particular things, much less a physical "connection" among all Borchardt Things.

[GB: Right Bill, “universe” means all turned into one, as in “united we stand” and “United States.” What is portrayed here is the interconnection between things, people, and states, not the disconnection. It is the USA, not the DSA (Disconnected States of America). Indeterminists often do not quite see it that way, favoring individualism over collectivism and dissimilarity over similarity among peoples. As cosmogonists they even hypothesize “parallel universes” and “multiverses” in tune with that mindset. You are right that “universe” only reaches out toward interconnection. While it comes close, it is really not a fundamental assumption, because, unlike interconnection it does not have an opposite. That is, unless you should get really wild and start to hypothesize things that are not “part of the universe.” Perhaps the uncaused causes of your “free will” would qualify.]     

TSW:  "After disconnecting the world conceptually (analysis), we put it back together again (synthesis)."

BW: The conceptual process isn't necessarily sequential and it is almost always "discriminating" (disconnecting) rather than compounding ("putting it back together"). It may be compounding in the sense of putting selected characteristics into a single word, but the *meaning* of the concept is always a process of identifying essential differentiating attributes.

For example, the definition of "horse" first establishes a category of being (animal) that is distinct from other things (Borchardt Things or Westmiller Things), then a distinct category of animal (mammal), then a distinct category of mammals (vegetarian), then a distinct category of vegetarian things that are solid-hoofed, domesticated, with a flowing mane and tail. There is no "synthesis" beyond assigning those characteristics to a single concept. A good definition ensures that the discriminating characteristics are, as a compound set, both unique and essential. You don't define "horse" as an object with legs ... which would be distinct from a stool ... even if legs are clearly a characteristic of horses.

[GB: As in the Sixth Assumption of Science, complementarity (All things are subject to divergence and convergence from other things), analysis and synthesis follow the same pattern. Nothing can be synthesized unless there are parts to bring together. One cannot have a new idea without first gathering the ingredients for that new idea. It makes no sense to overemphasize either analysis or synthesis. In detective work, legal work, and in other scientific endeavors we gather bits of evidence first and then put it together to provide the appropriate narrative. We may reverse the process to “take the story apart,” examining each bit of evidence, perhaps from an alternative viewpoint that may destroy the logic of the narrative provided.

Your horse example is a good example. We define a horse by gathering the bits of evidence necessary to list a sufficient number of the infinite number of characteristics that it has. We put these all together and voila! We have a horse. Note that the whole process of “defining” is made necessary by interconnection. Definition requires us to make finite that which is infinite. To define a particular horse as a horse, we must ignore many of the infinite number of characteristics that make each horse unique.]

TSW:  "The philosophical choice we need to make is not between an assumption of continuity and an assumption of discontinuity, but between a deterministic assumption that includes both of those ideas and an indeterministic assumption that does not."

BW: In order to have a deterministic cause, there has to be an effect (a distinct event). If there is no event, then discontinuity is true. If there is an event, then there is some cause. The cause doesn't have to be any continuous "connection", only a momentary interaction (usually a collision). Granted, some causes for some events are continuous (gravity), but that isn't required. It isn't "idealism" to observe no event, or an effect, that is the result of momentary interactions.

[GB: Sorry, but the absence of observable events is no proof of disconnection, or, as you say, discontinuity. With matter being infinitely subdividable, there are always collisions, such as those between aether-1 particles and aether-2 particles of which we will necessarily be unaware. What we do observe as a momentary interaction (i.e., a collision) necessarily occurs in a macrocosm containing a milieu of supermicrocosms. After all, that is why we have observed and assumed the Second Assumption of Science, causality (All effects have an infinite number of material causes). Also, there are no “continuous causes,” because all causes are produced by discrete collisions between microcosms. Gravitation, for instance, is produced by discrete impacts by aether-1 particles on what we call baryonic (ordinary) matter.[1] Whether or not one observes a particular event has nothing to do with idealism, although the belief that unseen events cannot occur definitely is.]

TSW:  "Outer space is a good example. How can both qualities, discontinuity and continuity, apply to what is commonly envisioned by the naïve realist as completely empty?"

BW: If we recognize that concepts are *entirely* differentiation, there's no problem in distinguishing the *separation* of objects (a Westmiller Thing) from the objects themselves (a Borchardt Thing). Asserting that there is "space" between the Earth and Moon simply says they are separated, not that the space is "completely empty" of all other, incidental, objects. Nor does it say that they are "completely isolated", since everyone knows that they are gravitationally connected and persistently exchange photons. You seem to be fabricating an inconsistency that doesn't exist: Borchardt Things separated by space doesn't require space to be empty.

[GB: Again, I am confused by your terminology about Westmiller and Borchardt things. I do not know about your things, but mine are called “microcosms,” implying that they are xyz portions of the universe that exist within the rest of the universe, which I call the “macrocosm.” I believe the quote was purely rhetorical. I am glad to see that you now believe that space cannot be perfectly empty.

TSW:  "As I see it, an 'element of spatial extent' can represent one of two possibilities: either it is something or it is nothing."

BW: It is a Westmiller Thing, not a Borchardt Thing; attributes are things; separation is an attribute of two objects (otherwise they would be one object). Totally independent of that attribute is the issue of whether the separation (space) also contains other Borchardt Things. It probably does, but they are irrelevant to the Separation Thing.

[GB: Sorry, but separation cannot be an attribute of both things. The fact that there is a distance between you and me is not an attribute of either one of us. It is an attribute of whatever separates us (Interstate 5, etc.). Glad to see that you agree that there is stuff between us, though I do not think some of it is irrelevant.]

TSW:  "If an 'element of spatial extent' is something, then it must have matter within it ..."

BW: Not at all. Westmiller Things are not containers, they are relationships among Borchardt Things. Separation is not a material object that "contains" anything. It is not a constraint, it is an attribute. Of course, Westmiller Things also include Borchardt Things, but attributes themselves don't necessarily have attributes. (That was one of Einstein's logical errors: giving "separation" an attribute of "curved" in "space".)

[GB: Well, Bill, at least you are consistent. Sorry, that you think that your things are relationships. Real things are microcosms that have xyz dimensions and location with respect to other things. I normally refrain from thinking of microcosms as containers, although that would be better than thinking of them as relationships. You are a “container” for your various parts, not a relationship. Again, the separation between microcosms does indeed have attributes, which, in turn, do indeed have attributes, ad infinitum. The Einsteinism (right answer; wrong reason) with respect to “curved empty space” worked out, not because space was empty, but because it was not empty. This was especially noticeable wherever baryonic matter formed an atmosphere around a cosmic body, as it did around the Sun in the famous Eddington observation. The refraction of distant starlight was misinterpreted as evidence for curved empty space and/or the effect of gravitation on Einstein’s hypothetical light corpuscle.]

TSW:  "... the opposing indeterministic assumption that between any two objects there can exist solid, continuous matter or empty, discontinuous space."

BW: If there is solid, continuous matter between two objects, they aren't two objects. It might be one object with two or three different parts, but it can't be considered two distinct Borchardt Things. Yet, that seems to be what you're asserting is true: that "all things are interconnected"; physically linked or attached. If that is the case, there aren't two distinct objects anywhere in the universe. In that case, there can't be determinism, because there can be no cause and effect, because there can be no action between distinct objects.

[GB: Bill, please reread the quote. That is the indeterministic assumption. Where have I ever claimed that matter could be solid and continuous?]

BW: You do phrase it slightly differently in the prior case: "between any two objects exist other objects that transmit matter and motion." Nevertheless, the word "any" precludes the possibility of transmission from one object to the next, because there is always some smaller Borchardt Thing between them, to infinity. The statements you're contrasting seem to me absolutely the same: a Block Universe.

[GB: Huh? Perhaps you are thinking that, because there are things between things ad infinitum, that this is the same as solid matter. Not possible, because the subdivision of microcosms containing matter and space always yields small microcosms containing…you guessed it: matter and space, ad infinitum. The “Block Universe” filled with solid matter that you hypothesize (just like your finite particles) is only an idealization. It cannot exist.] 

BW: Beyond that, the second clause of the quote above says the opposing view proposes "empty, discontinuous space" between objects. This makes no sense. If space is completely empty, it is continuously empty, not "discontinuously empty", which is a self-contradictory phrase.

[GB: Sorry, the hypothesized “pure empty space” of the indeterminist has no properties whatsoever. Being nothing at all, you cannot ascribe any properties to it at all. You might call it a continuation of emptiness or a discontinuity. You are right that the term “discontinuous space” needs to be removed from the second edition.] 

Continued as 12b…

cotsw 024

[1] Borchardt, Glenn, and Puetz, Stephen J. , 2012, Neomechanical gravitation theory ( http://www.worldsci.org/pdf/abstracts/abstracts_6529.pdf ), in Volk, G., Proceedings of the Natural Philosophy Alliance, 19th Conference of the NPA, 25-28 July: Albuquerque, NM, Natural Philosophy Alliance, Mt. Airy, MD, v. 9, p. 53-58.


Glenn Borchardt said...


Here it is: "The existence of at least three electrons differing only in their mass is a tantalizing problem." (Weisskopf, 1979, p. 243)

Bill, sorry for the confusion. I believe that speculation was in a comment to one of my blogs. I have not figured out yet how to do superscripts in the comments section (help anyone?). That 1020 should have been 10^20 aether-1 particles (i.e., a billion times a hundred billion). That speculative analysis assumed that Planck’s constant, which is well established, could be used to calculate the “smallest quantity of motion,” which I assumed would be the collision provided by an aether-1 particle. Wikipedia has the associated Planck mass and length, which I used with the known average electron mass to calculate the aether-1 mass, minimum density, and number per electron.

In the 19th century, hypothetical aether characteristics varied considerably. For instance, absolutists liked to think of the aether as being fixed, which was what the experiment by Michelson and Morley (1887) was supposed to test. This appears to have been a throwback to Newton’s “absolute space.” Even today, dissident physicists are still proposing that aether forms a kind of interconnected framework. Steven and I subscribe to neither of these speculations. We assume that all microcosms move with respect to all other microcosms (e.g., Fourth Assumption of Science, inseparability [Just as there is no motion without matter, so there is no matter without motion]).


Michelson, A.A., and Morley, E.W., 1887, On the relative motion of the earth and the luminiferous ether: American Journal of Science, v. 39, p. 333-345.

Weisskopf, V.F., 1979, Contemporary frontiers in physics: Science, v. 203, p. 240-244.

Glenn Borchardt said...

GB: "... whatever is between any two objects must be able to transmit matter and motion."

BW: So, you are not saying that there is no empty space between particles, only that there are enough sub-sub-micro-particles to "transmit" the effects of matter in motion?

[GB: Right, except that the transmission would be limited to only part of the infinite hierarchy. For instance, aether-1 particles form baryonic particles (ordinary matter). Transmission between baryonic particles is mainly via aether-1 particles (e.g., electromagnetic radiation). Infinite Universe Theory assumes that aether-1 particles form from still smaller aether-2 particles. However, we do not expect to observe aether-2 particles, and even if we did, there would come a point in the infinite microcosmic hierarchy when observation would be impossible.]

BW: Perhaps you can distinguish your concept of the aether medium from the luminiferous aether characterized by Robert Boyle and others:

"By this point the mechanical qualities of the aether had become more and more magical: it had to be a fluid in order to fill space, but one that was millions of times more rigid than steel in order to support the high frequencies of light waves. It also had to be massless and without viscosity, otherwise it would visibly affect the orbits of planets. Additionally it appeared it had to be completely transparent, non-dispersive, incompressible, and continuous at a very small scale."


[GB: Waves occur because no medium can transmit motion longitudinally with perfect precision. Aether particles are extremely small and extremely dense. Neomechanical collisions between these extremely dense aether particles must be highly efficient. That is, their absorption and emission of matter and the motion of matter must be tiny. That is why the cosmic redshift appears significant only at extremely great distances. However, like any kind of inertial motion, waves in a medium cannot gain motion over distance, they can only lose it. That is why the wavelengths of waves can only decrease over distance per the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The claim that aether is perfectly non-dispersive and perfectly incompressible is of a piece with Einstein’s equally idealistic claim that the speed of light is perfectly constant. Real waves in real media always become redshifted over distance. Drop a pebble into water and this is what you will see (Figure 5 in http://www-eaps.mit.edu/~rap/courses/12333_notes/dispersion.pdf ).

Boyle’s other “magical” properties are interpreted from an indeterministic point of view as well. In particular, his comments show the damage that the assumption of disconnection can do. No portion of the infinite universe is really “massless and without viscosity.” He expects aether to “visibly affect the orbits of planets” only because, as in the fixed aether concept, he views aether as being completely separate from those planets. That is not the case, as we showed when we discussed vortex theory in our latest book ("Universal Cycle Theory: Neomechanics of the Hierarchically Infinite Universe"). Aether tends to concentrate in the distal regions of any vortex, rotating around the axis, which normally is baryonic matter previously produced there from. In particular, all cosmic bodies are surrounded by entrained aether—it is what keeps their satellites in orbit.

Even though aether-1 particles are extremely dense, they are so tiny that the aether appears completely transparent, just like the air. It is certainly not idealistically “continuous at a very small scale." Otherwise, we could not see through it, and it would be impossible for us to exist.]

GB: [Perhaps the uncaused causes of your "free will" would qualify.]

BW: You know that I'm a "compatibilist": there are no uncaused effects.

[GB: Bill, see http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/what-is-compatibilism-really/ for the contradictions in that viewpoint.]