25 January, 2016

Explanation or Use?

What is to be Done: VII
The essential tasks for the Marxists of today

We have a bifurcation between Explanation & Use.

For literally centuries these were only used as a "team of horses" and clever scientists (like circus performers) learned to "switch horses" whenever necessary with remarkable agility. But the horses got bigger and more powerful and began to wilfully pull into their own ìfavouredî directions. The circus act became more and more difficult.

The Crisis in Physics

In the early 20th century, the long established, classical explanations in Physics began to fail drastically in certain sub atomic areas.. The age old problems of Descretness and Continuity, first intimated by Zeno again raised their contradictory heads and the physicists were stumped.

They then did a remarkable thing.

They abandoned Explanation completely as unreliable, and plumped for depending entirely on their mathematical equations. This gave them prediction, so they could do things with their formulae, AND as these were Pure Form alone, these could be manipulated in any way they liked. AND used in Formal Proofs as well. Even Absolute Truth was available when only Pure Form was involved. So all in all their decision made life much, much easier.

The only "minor" difficulty was that you had to know which formula to use where, but such people were used to juggling ñ they just did it now SOLELY within the realms of Ideality (for perfect forms) and Reality (for Use).

Mining Ideality?

But. Explanation was never a mere luxury. The bran-bin of Forms just got increasingly packed full of separate, unrelated alternatives.

Some co-ordinating narrative was STILL essential to guide our disembodied maths-manipulators through a still-there Real World. They couldnít admit defeat and return to Explanation in the old sense, so they turned inwards to their maths formulae and studied them instead. They looked for Unity within their extracted Pure Forms (for they believed that THERE only could be found the true Essence of the situation. And they started initially looking for identifiable sub-forms. The Truth was in their formulae!

And they found such sub forms in abundance, and taking their cue from Einstein, labelled each of these as if they represented physical entities or properties. Initially, they gave them shame-faced names such as charm and strangeness, but very soon these names became ìvery likeî the names of actual physical entities ñ such as , for example, particles and properties.

The scientists had learned to"mine" Ideality for new entities and properties for some conceptual glue!

The new Abstraction Processes involved in this are shown in the Modified Abstraction Diagram (shown below) in the overlap between Science and Ideality regions.

The essential role of Reality as the supreme arbiter in Science had been overthrown. This role was now to be taken over by Mathematics.

The maths-derived entities are correctly shown WITHIN Ideality in the modified diagram below. Where else could they be? And the pernicious amalgam of classical explanation with these new forms is shown by process XIII as below:

Man --- Maths Forms --- New Entities --- Analogistic Models --- Maths Forms

Now, this is ONLY a diagram!

A full analysis of what Modern Physicists have being doing does exist, but we have a more general objective here and must press on without too many detailed diversions.

To proceed, we MUST return to the basic philosophical assumptions about Reality which underlie the whole of Mankindís Thinking. We have NO choice! We must address his basic assumptions critically, and find out where he has ìgone wrongî

Reality Evolves!

I have already mentioned Holism and Plurality, and the difficulties associated with this dichotomous pair, but there is an even more profound assumption (connected to these for sure, but even more far reaching). It is connected with the question, "Is Reality the result of a summation of independent Parts - a Complexity - or does it actually EVOLVE?"

The normal answer to this question is always the former, whereas the evidence is mounting that the latter HAS to be the Truth. Reality must have a history. It must change with Time. Indeed it must evolve creating ever NEW forms and possibilities. Now, this is not merely an assertion of belief. The evidence is all around us. We have only to LOOK!

On a hundred fronts it is clear that Reality DOES have a history of Change and Development, in which New things emerge and its very Nature changes profoundly.

But as soon as we bring in Change in this way, all hell breaks loose philosophically
  • "If things change, why do they change?
  • "If things change, how can we alight upon the elements of Reality in order to understand it?"
  • "Is Reality totally self-moving, and actually creative in itself, or merely mechanistic?"
  • "Can we deal with Everything in Reality with Matter & Energy alone?"
 - and of course, an abundance of other similar questions.

This post is the seventh in a new blog series entitled "What is to be done?" on the crises in both Marxism and Science, and how a revolution is necessary in both. This body of work is now available as a Special Issue. Read it all here!

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