What Pierre Berrigan learned from reading Collingwood

PSI Blog 20200316 What Pierre Berrigan learned from reading Collingwood

[GB: Pierre Berrigan, translator for the French version of  Infinite Universe Theory learned his progressive physics from his uncle, Paul Marmet, the famous dissident physics professor who sacrificed his career on the alter of relativity and cosmogony. In this Blog we present his take on Collingwood, who was a major influence for The Ten Assumptions of Science, which is the foundation for all our work]:

What I learned from reading Collingwood

Pierre Berrigan

The term « metaphysics » has certainly been badly mistreated in the last few decades (centuries?), and has come to designate the lot of all types of weirdness, off-this-world and wacky ideas. As such, the entire discipline tends to be ridiculed and dismissed by scientists as useless and unintelligible nonsense, fruitless and endless arguing, akin to enquires about the afterlife, spiritism, extrasensory perception, numerology, astrology, the sex of angels and how many of them can fit on the top of a needle.

In my opinion, R.G. Collingwood did a pretty good job in straightening things out in « Essay on Metaphysics »[i], although one can wonder if science (or anyone, for that matter) even bothered to take note. If I have not totally wasted my time reading, what I retain is that metaphysics is the science that studies absolute presuppositions.

As defined by Collingwood, absolute presuppositions are concepts that:
1.  cannot be proven or disproven
2.  have one and only one opposite which is its negation, and which also cannot be proven or disproven
3.  about which no question can reasonably be asked
4.  can only be propounded
5.  in the case where more than one is propounded, are consupponible among a set of absolute presuppositions

Anyone who (still) views metaphysics as the arena of intellectual wanking is probably violating one or many of the above rules that define absolute presuppositions. Endless debates among otherwise intelligent people, that see no possible hope of outcome or settlement, is a good indication that maybe questions are being asked about some absolute presupposition, or that attempts are being made at proving or disproving some absolute presupposition.

Whether scientists like it or not, a set of absolute presuppositions underlie, orient and to some extent govern all science and how science is done. Whatever is their endeavour, enquiry or accomplishment, scientists, consciously or not, whether they will admit it or not, necessarily made a prior assumption of one or its opposite of each absolute presupposition that makes up the set of absolute presuppositions underlying their discipline.

Although I can in no way pretend to be a metaphysicist myself, what I did next is an attempt at a list of absolute presuppositions that specifically apply to physics, and more specifically to cosmology, which is the common subject of interest of ACG [GB: The local alternative cosmology group run by Marmet’s son Louis.] So, I came up with this preliminary list:

1.  Infinity. The universe is spatially and temporally infinite.
2. Conservation. Matter or energy cannot be created or destroyed.
3. Isotropy. On a sufficiently large spatial and temporal scale, the universe appears the same at all locations, in all directions, and at all times (cosmological principle).
4. Causality. All events have causes.
5. Rationality. There exists an intrinsic coherence, elegance and purpose in all of nature's processes and entities.

Examples of predictions from theories that are widely accepted as scientifically valid will show which metaphysical choices underlie modern physics:

 Age of the universe: thinking of the universe as having an « age » implies that the universe did not exist at some point in time. The concept of « age », when applied to the universe, is contrary to the absolute presupposition of « infinity » (temporal).

 Black Holes: objects surrounded by an « event horizon » singularity beyond which time and space interchange each other, that have no inside, and at the center of which exists a punctual mass of infinite density are absurdities. This is contrary to the « Rationality » absolute presupposition.

 Big Bang: according to the theory, the universe was denser in the distant past. This is contrary to the « Isotropy » absolute presupposition.

 Big Bang event: the theory posits that everything that exists in the universe suddenly appeared, forcibly, out of nowhere. This is contrary to the « Conservation » and the « Causality » absolute presuppositions.

 Quantum fluctuations: the occurrence of particle-antiparticle pairs spontaneously popping into existence and vanishing into the void is contrary to the « Conservation » and the « Causality » absolute presuppositions.

 Wave functions: the idea that cats can at the same time be dead and alive is an absurdity, and contravenes to the « Rationality » absolute presupposition.

There are more examples. But these are sufficient to conclude that the following absolute presuppositions were assumed by modern science:

Finity: the universe is both spatially and temporally finite. It has a beginning, therefore an age, and a size, i.e.: a spatial limit beyond which nothing exists, not even space, and a temporal limit before which time did not exist.

Non-conservation: matter/energy can spontaneously be created, and can be annihilated.

Anisotropy: the average density of the universe, on a very large scale, varies with time, and is not the same at all distances.

Acausality: some events may have no cause.

Absurdity: objects with absurd properties may exist and absurd events may happen in physical reality.

It is my humble opinion that there is cause to critically examine science's actual metaphysical choices, and ponder on whether or not these choices are commendable, and if the results and implications of said choices are desirable.

There is no getting around the fact that metaphysical choices (read: choice of absolute presuppositions) orient the way science is done. For example, astrophysicists are, as I write, looking for new star formation theories and alternate galaxy dynamics to explain the elderly galaxy XMM-2599, because of their prior assumption that durations superior to 13.8 billion years are not permitted. With the assumption of temporal infinity, XMM-2599 would not be a mystery: add 2 trillion years to the « age of the universe » and the existence of XMM-2599 is perfectly understandable. General relativity led to black holes; quantum mechanics led to alternate realities; supernovae brightness-distance relationships led to accelerated expansion of space and to dark energy; and so on. The mathematical prediction of absurdities or the empirical observation of unexplained phenomena should lead further research in the direction of realistic science, and not towards the easy way out of « new physics » that have no hope whatsoever of being ever falsified, such as dark energy, virtual particles, superior dimensions, stretching space, or alternate universes, as if any of these could ever be considered as physical realities.

Given these metaphysical choices, scientists nowadays act as if they had lost the ability to distinguish between the absurd and common sense, with blessings from the Copenhagen Interpretation. And as long as such a mentality prevails, physics, and science in general will keep losing credibility among the general public, now in an increasing struggle to make sense out of things that intrinsically do not (« What was before the Big Bang? »; « What does space expand into? »; « Could the Big Bang be the result of two universes colliding with each other? »). Such a trend can easily be taken to a logical and extremely dangerous outcome: if the rising popularity of the flat earth theory can be considered harmless, the antivaccine movement, on its part, has already made fatal victims. Believers want to believe. If faith in science is lost, the masses will turn to irrational beliefs in political or religious precepts, wherein history relates massacres by the millions in the name of imaginary authorities.

What we do here is more important than it seems!

[i] Collingwood, R.G., 1940, An Essay on Metaphysics: Oxford, Clarendon Press, 354 p.


Bligh said...

It is true that absolute knowledge does not exist and that metaphysics is used by humans in its stead. However, we are capable of making some reasonable hypotheses from evidence. SRT is correct WHEN limited to relativity between two different frames of reference. Each frame observes different "facts" relative to the other when the other is in a different velocity frame and/or direction of its velocity vector in space. GRT is not correct when considering space" and "time" to be variable. Reality suggests those are abstractions only and have little to do with different accelerations of various different masses.
Not all physicists accept the Copenhagen interpretation of QP. I recommend a read of "What is Real" by Adam Becker. For some clarity on QP theory. Also, my book (if it ever is published)whch covers all these subjects and adds a more modern hypothesis that underlies what we do know, and it is without the errors in public conceptions of SRT, GRT, BBT, and CC, aka AGW, while not claiming to be the final answer. There is none. Read David Hume.

Glenn Borchardt said...

From Bill Howell:

Thanks Glenn, that was a good article. My take on it's closing remark is to point out that superstition and irrationality appear to be an intrinsic sociological aspect of our species. Scientists are just people too and so they reflect these human traits just like everyone else. Science could be viewed in a 'social-evolutionary' way as the long march out of ignorance by a life-form with increasingly developing cognitive awareness (aka intelligence).

[GB: Welcome Bill, but the thanks should go to Pierre, who did a great job on it.]