Comments on Souls, Matterless Motion, and Free Will by Daniel Jencka

Blog 20150603

Being swamped with wonderful comments and questions, I decided to respond in this week’s Blog. I will put my responses in brackets:

Daniel Jencka has left a new comment on your post "The Soul of Regressive Physics":

Hello Glenn,

Just came across your blog, and downloaded your "10 Assumptions..." , so have just begun learning what you think and why, and have no idea yet what you mean by matter. So far as having a soul in the sense of something related to our identity that is there before and after our biological existence, it could certainly be made from "matter" of some kind, even though many refer to it as "immaterial." 

[GB: Daniel, remember that the jist of that Blog was that the concept of “matterless motion” was holding back progressive thinking in physics. There is no logical reason for anything more than chemical elements to have existed prior or after our existence per the Sixth Assumption of Science, complementarity (All things are subject to divergence and convergence from other things). Each of us is a unique, infinitely complicated combination that possesses the kind of matter in motion that exhibits consciousness. There is no evidence for a soul, whether considered as matter or as matterless motion. That concept is simply the product of hubris and wishful thinking.]

Hello Glenn,

Thanks for your response. I have spent a couple hours over the past day reading your blog posts and the TAS [TTAOS] article for the NPA, and am getting a good idea of your approach to science and cosmology.

I am already in agreement with most of the 10 assumptions, but not with Materialism as you state it, and also can't make sense of microcosmic infinity.

[GB: I have used two different forms of the First Assumption of Science: The simplest defines materialism as the assumption that “The external world exists after the observer does not.” The opposing assumption is immaterialism, which in its purest and most general form was espoused by Bishop Berkeley who thought that the chair he was sitting in disappeared when he left the room. It is now espoused by the likes of Deepak Chopra, who believes that the existence of the universe is a consequence of consciousness. A more sophisticated form of materialism is this: "The universe displays only two basic phenomena: matter and the motion of matter.” This is much more complicated because it depends on the definitions used for matter and motion, as you imply.

I suspect that your inability to “make sense of microcosmic infinity” is also akin to the inability of most folks to make sense of macrocosmic infinity. In both cases we are faced with similar choices: Either the universe had no beginning and is infinite and, or it had a beginning, is finite, and exploded out of nothing. Take your pick. Our problem with the microcosm is the same. How can there be an end to the subdivision? Would there be a solid partless part there?]

My reservation about materialism is that we do not know what matter is. We know that everything we make contact with involves some kind of "stuff" and that it is always instantiated in some kind of structure, and that it is moving and capable of interaction with other things.

[GB: At PSI, we define matter as “that which contains other matter, ad infinitum.” Any other definition, could only be temporary, yielding to yet another discovery of a still smaller particle. Indeterminists will be endlessly searching for the “god particle,” that would fulfill their dreams of finity. Ironically, “to know what matter is” requires a definition, which begs us “to make finite that which actually is infinite.”]

I also am familiar with arguments for a universal aether, and think it is a more reasonable concept than curved space, big bangs, and all that.

One could propose that matter is ultimately all built up from some irreducible substance, as has been tried historically, but as you point out, how can something elemental with no parts or structure have any causal capacity? Like energy or time without matter, one then resorts to Idealistic, bodiless propensity fields, charge-less potentials, actual chance, etc

So I get why the TAS [TTAOS] concepts are what you have assembled as a constellation, and why you posit an infinite regress of actual material entities. My concern is that the desire to make the 10 assumptions consupponible (what a word) may lead/force one to select from the only presently logical concepts for those assumptive slots, whereas future knowledge may furnish better solutions. To me it seems preferable to let some things float rather than positing an infinite regress of actual entities. If scientists of the 20th century weren't so driven to answer big questions quickly, might they not have given more time to arrive at less crazy theories?

[GB: Daniel, it is not possible for us “to let some things float” in philosophy. The “float” that you propose inevitably would be founded on traditional indeterministic assumptions that exist as unconscious presuppositions. For instance, the “unless” in Newton’s First Law of Motion ostensibly does not choose between finity and infinity.  In actuality, that agnostic position assumes finity, while the word “until,” which we use in neomechanics overtly assumes infinity. Imagine what would have happened if Newton had eschewed that particular “float,” rejecting the finity that was handed down to him through his religious tradition. The crazy theories are founded on finity. The BBT is unthinkable without it. While the regressive physicists were letting “things float,” they actually were using indeterministic assumptions.]

One can wildly speculate, of course! For example, that an elemental substance does in fact exist, but is pre-material until exposed to a true vacuum, at which point it is torn into little ragged shreds that are also then put into motion as part of the rending process, and then capable of forming basic, material structures, including the aether.

[GB: Daniel, that would be a violation of the Fourth Assumption of Science, inseparability (Just as there is no motion without matter, so there is no matter without motion). Calling an “elemental substance” “pre-material” is as contradictory as it is fanciful. All substances have xyz dimensions and thus are matter. It is much simpler to just assume with Aristotle that matter is infinitely subdividable, as we did in "Universal Cycle Theory."]

Now I admittedly just made that up, but then who knows what we will discover. And then there is the question of consciousness. I have not yet read your ideas on consciousness, but surely an experience is something apart from the motion of matter. That is in part why even non-religious thinkers have wondered whether we have souls or astral bodies or mental fields, or whatever. The experience of awareness and having thoughts and feelings is not comprehensibly or demonstrably material.

[GB: Sorry, but those “non-religious” folks are steeped in religious tradition even though they are unaware of that influence. Consciousness is the motion within the brain. True, thoughts and feelings are not matter, they are the motion of matter. Again, matter exists and has xyz dimensions, but motion does not exist and does not have xyz dimensions. Motion is what matter does.]

Anyway, I look forward to further exploring your ideas, which as I said are mostly not far from where I have landed myself, and thank you for the provocation of further thought. I look forward to your comments and explanations!


Daniel has left a new comment on your post "Freewill and Fatalism": 

I just read Coyne's piece on determinism. The thing I bring up every time a determinist claims that so and so is "true" or "works" or is "effective" or what evolution determined to be "necessary" or what people "like" or whatever state or logic or argument or measure or meaning one can call upon, if all these mental appraisals and reactions and imaginings and feelings are determined, then there are no choices and there is no reasoning. Only the determined inputs that inexorably lead to the mentally experienced outputs, and whatever bodily actions. No claims about anything being demonstrated by nature or logically necessary can possibly have any meaning, as all perceptions of what is successful or failed, persuasive or weak, better or worse, are determined.

[GB: You are getting close. In that line, I would add that we are “choice making machines.” That is, we are like infinitely complicated clocks performing their functions after having received the proper inputs. It can be no other way, because there are material causes for all effects. That awareness is beautiful in that it allows us to discover those causes and make the proper adjustments in response, whether that be in physics, chemistry, psychology, or any other discipline.]

Everything I just said would be determined, including my feelings about it, and the same for you when you read this and have whatever responses you happen to have. Determinism is incompatible with the idea of being informed, which is why a computer cannot be informed, because it is not conscious and is determined.

[GB: Sorry, but being informed is possible for any microcosm capable of storing information, which then becomes knowledge. Information is external; knowledge is internal. Knowledge changes the microcosm, making it capable of performing in new ways. We usually don’t think of computers as having consciousness, but that is bound to change as computers become more sophisticated, still being “determined” just like we are.]

Is dualism the only option? I don't think so, because the universe of consciousness and information and feelings can have its own ways that are not causal like billiard balls, but rather like beings who can play billiards for the fun of it. Being alive and conscious to a materialist determinist is necessarily a mechanistic affair, but that could be nothing more, for a determinist, than the only output from the inputs involved. Really not an argument at all in any meaningful sense, but satisfying to those for whom it has been determined to be so.

[GB: Daniel, perhaps you should consider the Second Assumption of Science, causality (All effects have an infinite number of material causes) to help you understand what determination is. As mentioned in TTAOS, this is consupponible with the Third Assumption of Science, uncertainty (It is impossible to know everything about anything, but it is possible to know more about anything), which also should help you understand the infinity of complications you are thinking about. Most folks think of determinism in the classical way, which used finite causality. This was simplistic and did not consider the necessary infinite character of the universe. It certainly would not be consupponible with the correct interpretation of uncertainty as given above.]

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