Matter and motion are abstractions

Blog 20160203 Matter and motion are abstractions

George Coyne and Glenn Borchardt

In its entry on “matter” Wikipedia states: “..., matter does not have a universal definition, nor is it a fundamental concept in physics today. Matter is also used loosely as a general term for the substance that makes up all observable physical objects.    
For well over a century physicists have been searching for this “substance” called “matter”—the ultimate tiniest particle. But this will never be found because matter is not composed of particles just as vegetables are not composed of carrots, potatoes, or spinach etc. It is more accurate to state that the category called “vegetables” includes those items but the category as an entity itself has no actual existence. Thus, that category is an abstraction, a mental construct, whereas only particular members of that category can actually exist. It is impossible to eat a mental construct, only specific vegetables, such as cauliflower or carrots, can be eaten.

Seeing that “vegetables” is simply an abstraction, it would be absurd and foolish to attempt to discover what this abstraction is composed of. Because matter is also an abstraction, it is equally ridiculous to seek its “building blocks.” With this knowledge, it is possible to successfully delve further into understanding the universe.

Realizing that only individual things that exist can be subdivided, and knowing that matter does not exist because it is merely a conceptual category, it is clear that matter cannot actually be subdivided. Only specific examples of matter can be subdivided.

What has actual existence are particular microcosms. One may ask “What are microcosms composed of?” The only rational answer is that they contain smaller submicrocosms and that these contain subsubmicrocosms ad infinitum. Per the Ninth Assumption of Science, relativism (All things have characteristics that make them similar to all other things as well as characteristics that make them dissimilar to all other things) and its required infinity, no two of the submicrocosms are identical. So we cannot say that any particular type of them is the ultimate tiniest submicrocosm that does not contain an even smaller submicrocosm.

In addition, there is no ultimate macrocosm than can be labeled “the universe.” Every macrocosm is a microcosm in a still larger macrocosm ad infinitum. Any conceptualization that we generate for this infinity will never be complete or truly representative of “infinity” because all concepts by definition are limited, and what is being referred to in this article is not limited in any sense.

Comprehending how the universe functions also requires understanding that every microcosm and the macrocosm that surrounds it are in continual motion. Without motion, there would be no microcosm or macrocosm. Motion, too, is an abstraction. There are only specific motions pertaining to specific microcosms. It is extremely important to never forget that although these specific motions can be measured, these motions are not a measurement because they occur independent of measurement. Because time is motion[1], time also is an abstraction and may be used as a substitute for motion. No matter what we call that abstraction, we find that we can only observe and measure specific examples of it. Furthermore, “motion” or “time” is relative. Universal time is the motion of all things with respect to all other things in the infinite universe. Because it is impossible to measure universal time, we must settle for individual measurements of the motions of specific microcosms. These all must be done with respect to the motions of still other specific microcosms. By convention, we compare those specific motions with the motion of Earth's rotation on its axis or the motion of the microwave signals generated by atomic clocks when electrons in atoms change energy levels.

[1] http://thescientificworldview.blogspot.com/2011/11/time-is-motion.html


Westmiller said...

GB: "It is impossible to eat a mental construct, only specific vegetables, such as cauliflower or carrots, can be eaten."

This does not strike me as a useful distinction. Granted, "vegetable" is a mental abstraction, but so are "cauliflower" or "carrot". You're not eating carrots, you're eating a specific instance of a plant which has the abstract characteristics of the physical objects we call "carrots".

GB: "Because matter is also an abstraction, it is equally ridiculous to seek its 'building blocks' ... knowing that matter does not exist ... it is clear that matter cannot actually be subdivided."

All words are abstractions, but that doesn't mean the things they denote do not exist. The definition of any particular word may be correct or incorrect, but words are the only means humans have to communicate ideas about object categories. We can't even talk about eating a carrot if we have no idea what the word "carrot" means. It would be nonsensical to say we are eating a piece of carrot if we have no idea what the word "piece" means. As long as we understand the correct meaning of the words "vegetable" and "carrot" and "piece", we have no problem in subdividing them into their proper categories.

GB: "... One may ask 'What are microcosms composed of?' The only rational answer is that they contain smaller submicrocosms and that these contain subsubmicrocosms ad infinitum."

That isn't a rational answer, it's an evasion. What are carrots composed of? Responding "smaller pieces of carrot" is redundant. They are composed of specific organic molecules. What are the molecules composed of? Atoms. What are atoms composed of? Protons, neutrons, and electrons.

The point is that we *constantly* subdivide general categories of physical objects into smaller components which have unique identities. The fact that we don't yet know the precise components of each distinct sub-category does not mean that they do not - much less cannot - exist.

Yes, we absolutely do need to discover the unique caracteristics of each category that we discuss. We need to compose a proper definition of the label we use. There is a difference between physical objects and their motion. We just need to discover and properly articulate the unique characteristics of each.

George Coyne said...

Bill I appreciate your taking the time and effort to share your thoughts in responding to this blog.

To clarify the distinction between that which is a category(mental construct) and real things that are being referred to within those categories I will be more precise by stating that in eating one specific apple one is not eating all of the over 7,000 varieties of apples contained in the apple category,only one particular apple such as an Akani apple.

As you know the label “Akani apple” is not the same thing as what it is pointing to because words are always mental constructs, whereas a thing such as an Akani apple exists independently from the construct that refers to it. The point of the blog was to stress the importance of not getting caught in thinking of a category such as “matter” as representing something capable of being subdivided. By definition categories are only abstractions and thus can not actually be divided in a material sense, only conceptually into more specific categories (eg:plant kingdom, fruit, apple).

I did not write that microcosms are “composed” of smaller microcosms,I used the words “contain smaller microcosms”. Atoms, protons and neutrons all refer to microcosms.The assumption that things must be composed of smaller things is the basis for the assumption that understanding the universe requires finding out what things are composed of. This results in the quest for the ultimate tiniest particle. If you take that approach, then how will you ever know that you have found the particle that is so absolutely fundamental that it is not composed of anything smaller. In using the regressive physics assumption that things are composed of smaller things,does it make sense that such an ultimate smallest particle is not composed of anything? I do not see any need to have an assumption that things must be composed of something. I have the view that microcosms are not “composed” of anything but they all contain smaller microcosms ad infinitum.

Within all these microcosms there are specific kinds of motion. To hold the belief that microcosms only exist as a consequence of being “composed” of some type of matter then there would be no need to include various types of motion in defining microcosms. But it is impossible for a microcosm to exist without having some type of motion associated with it.

Steven B. Bryant said...

Glenn and George,

Good post on abstraction! I'm happy to see you covering such an important topic. It goes hand-in-hand with another important concept called Types. Types prevent us from misusing abstractions to conclude things like: 5 dogs + 5 cats = 10. While it is true that 5 + 5 = 10, when we consider abstractions, rules associated with Types also apply and must be considered.

If your readers are interested in abstraction and/or Types, good starting places are computer science books on data structures or object oriented programming. These concepts and ideas apply to mathematics and physics, as much as they do to computer science.

Bligh said...

That matter does not exist is nonsense.
The universe which certainly exists is full of space and space is full of matter. Motion can not be proven in "Now" time, but humans can certainly perceive it as motion and time. We have memory which takes care of the "now" problem.
Just because Infinity can't be cut, doesn't mean that that particular things, which seem to be particular things to us, can't be useful concepts. Such as atoms, quarks etc.
The language gets confusing when trying to insist that abstract ideas are not real. Real, in what sense?
IF an individual has a brain state that equals an abstract idea, that is quite real.

George Coyne said...

Thanks Bligh for responding to the blog.

You state:“That matter does not exist is nonsense.”
Apparently I have not adequately communicated to you what I meant in the statement: “Thus, that category is an abstraction, a mental construct, whereas only particular members of that category can actually exist.” In applying this to the category “matter”,I am not denying that there are real things that exist,hut rather that the category of “matter” is simply a mental construct and therefore has no actual existence. Because there are no boundaries or mass that can be ascribed to matter, “matter” does not exist, even though what is contained within this category has boundaries and mass and therefore most certainly does exist.I realize that because almost everyone has been taught to think of matter as a “thing” itis not easy to understand that matter is merely a concept.Obviously if you define matter as a thing,it would have to exist,but when you reach the understanding that matter is an abstraction,it is abundantly clear that it is not correct to use the word “exists” when referring to this concept.

You write: “The universe which certainly exists is full of space and space is full of matter.” As I maintain that an infinite universe is an abstraction, the word "exists " does not properly apply to “universe”. because space is merely a measurement between objects, it is totally false to state that the universe is full of space.As measurements do not exist, the universe can not be full of a measurement called “space”. Since space does not exist,it is impossible for space to contain or be full of anything.

You state:”Motion can not be proven in "Now" time,but humans can certainly perceive it as motion and time.”
You are making a fundamental error in thinking by attempting to differentiate motion and time.In fact there is no difference because time is motion.As every particle or object is never at rest because it is related to the motion of all other particles, there is no “now” time in which there is no motion. “Time is motion” does not mean that motion is the same as the definition that most people and regressive physicists have for the word “time”. To use that definition for time and then to try to equate it with motion would be absurd.To understand what is meant by “time is motion” it is necessary to begin with an understanding of motion,and then use that definition for time.

You write:“IF an individual has a brain state that equals an abstract idea, that is quite real.”
Brain states are a particular kind of motion.Thus one can accurately state that brain states occur.Although a brain state associated with a particular idea occurs,it is not correct to then conclude that the idea itself occurs.Just as in any example of an occurrence,the occurrence of brain states is not the same as existing.As in the example of a running tiger, the tiger exists whereas the running is what the tiger is doing. It is completely absurd to think that “running” somehow has an existence.
The following blog discusses how consciousness is an occurrence just as running is an occurrence.