27 November, 2017

New Special Issue: The Last Rites of Copenhagen

The writing is on the the wall for the Copenhagen Interpretation

The Chicken or the Egg?

Paul Outerbridge

What came first...

The Chicken or the Egg? 

Or in this more profound case:

The Phenomenon or the Equation?

It is difficult to pose this question, both simply and correctly at the same time, so I must apologize for the way I have posed it in the title of this paper. Clearly, the phenomenon is real, and happens in concrete Reality, but the Equation is a formal abstraction, supposedly, somehow, taken from that happening.

So, in the way I have posed it, the answer is obvious - the phenomenon must have come first!

But, I'm afraid there are a veritable thicket of assumptions unavoidably built into the past intellectual development of Science, which were essential to both its precursors and its subsequent historical development, and, thereafter, its attempted use and understanding by a species (Mankind) equipped initially only with Pragmatism - "If it works, it is right!", and absolutely nothing else! "Why?", didn't really come up: the world was simply the way that it was, and for the whole prior history of his species, Man just found bits of it that he could effectively use.

For about 180 thousand years, that aspect of his culture was almost exclusively about ever better ways of knapping (chipping) flint scraps to facilitate their use as tools. And, though the species was exactly the same as it is now, how it has increasingly dealt with its world has changed radically, due mainly to what we call Abstractions, and the means by which they were extracted from Reality, and then used to Man's advantage. But, even so, it was still never easy - even the knapping and shaping of natural pieces of rock proceeded at a deadly-slow pace, with most of the developments being in the ever better selection of the material to be knapped or hammered into better shapes for use.

Our hunter/gatherer ancestors took 90% of their whole history as a distinct species to progress to processes beyond those based solely upon Pragmatism. That crucial turning point is now termed the Neolithic Revolution - still, surprisingly, based upon stone tools, but involving a major change in the Means of Life. Seeds from food plants were kept and planted in prepared ground, and food animals were captured and tended, not only for meat, but also for milk, and even wool and hides. People stopped being wanderers and lived together in hamlets and even villages. Language developed apace and new skills such as pottery and weaving enriched the quality of life.

But, how-and-why did such a radical transformation actually occur? Why did people begin to think in different ways? What was added to Pragmatism to enable the wholly-new to emerge on all sides? And, most important of all, what made all these things happen, and make the changes even possible?

It had to be, initially at least, outwith the thinking of people: it had to be due to circumstances outside of their thinking that made the living-together of people into much larger concentrations even possible - physical conditions that allowed them to stay in one place, and in much larger numbers. That enabling situation was initially to do with truly great rivers, which regularly flooded to replenish the fertility of the land, and even natural captures of such flooding in lakes, the outlets of which could be, pragmatically, built-up with rocks and soil to prevent its usually inevitable escape.

Around such rivers the resident populations grew and vastly increased, and much increased social contact precipitated the vital development of Language, and a pooling of learned techniques. Indeed, Inherited abilities were greatly added to by a developed Language, and the vast increase in teaching from one generation and able individuals to the next. 

No longer was it just the genetic inheritance that was involved in solving problems. For, in addition, increased verbal interactions led to a pooling of experiences, and the great increase in naming and categorising sets of similar things: the first two stages in Abstraction developed apace, and any special experiences could be shared and discussed with a much increased community of people.

There certainly isn't the time here to comprehensively establish what is involved in Abstraction, but this has been exhaustively studied and the following diagram does indicate the major processes and productions that have been achieved over time.

The Processes and Productions of Abstraction by Jim Schofield

This diagram was developed in establishing the various phases achieved in Abstraction, particularly with respect to Science and Mathematics, so its clear indication of how mathematical Abstraction leads to Ideality is also very useful here too. 

For Ideality is both a reflected-and-limited version of Reality, capable of containing only Pure Forms alone, and hence, while being much more limited than concrete Reality, also contains, via abstract speculation, a great deal more than can actually exist within Reality.

So, returning to "the Phenomenon and the Equation", we see exactly what is involved in the question asked!

And, the implication of choosing the Equation as primary, that is the purely formal aspect only of what is being addressed as primary, is a totally idealist standpoint, and not only leaves out the concrete precursors and causes involved, but as well as only including the formal reflections, also opens up the discussion to including all the purely speculative inclusions that Ideality illegitimate treats as equally viable factors within its aegis.

Yet without Abstraction Mankind would still be a hunter/gatherer: so what did this new cerebral process allow Mankind to do with its day-to-day experiences? It began to allow generalities to be recognised within those experiences!

They were never clearly evident due to the complex holist nature of Reality, but Mankind's Pragmatism had allowed an increased measure of control to be employed, and when this was used to "hold some aspect of Reality still" - to effectively simplify situations, man began to notice similarities in different situations, which he tried to extract.

It was, of course, a difficult thing to do, until he related whole sets of the similarities to invented, perfect versions - that we term Idealisation.

The first area, where this was most easily done, was in Shapes and Patterns, for the idealised shapes involved - Squares, Triangles and Circles, could be investigated in many quantifiable ways, and then effectively used in place of the less regular forms to which they were closest! In this fairly limited area, things moved on at an increasing pace to its initial culmination in what was termed Euclidian Geometry. 

But, it later gathered pace again into two apparently different areas. First it was extended sideways into reasoning and begat what came to be called Formal Logic.

And, second it was applied to patterns of quantitative measurements, by representing variables by letters as placeholders for the many values that they could take in the various versions of the same pattern, and thus the actual range of values became a relation between these letters - Algebra had been arrived at, and such algebraic patterns relating sets of numbers were called Equations!

Let us be absolutely clear what all this was doing to patterns in Reality! Initially, they were simply sets of numbers (measurements), but they could be changed without losing the underlying pattern common to a whole collection of cases. And a general algebraic equation would encapsulate the whole set.

Equations had letters called Variables for the measurements in the given pattern! And, they also had letters called Constants, which stayed the same in a given case, but varied between cases. Thus the general Equation represented all the related cases.

But, we never get the general form of the equation from measured data - yes, NEVER!

We get it from an idealised pattern, similar to our aimed-for pattern but significantly changed via simplification to make it easy to turn into an equation.

There you have it!

All equations are simplified and idealised constructions, which are similar to what we want, but have two significant disadvantages!

A: they are not accurate!

B: They certainly never determine actual behaviour!

Those who assume the opposite of these statements are Idealists not scientists! And they have taken over Science, I'm sad to say.

But, in addition there is still more to be revealed! Though physical explanations were rejected in Sub Atomic Physics, because what had been produced in that area was obviously wrong, the cause was a mistaken philosophic premise which was also made by the Equation worshippers too.

Both Physical Explanation and Formal Representation assumed the Principle of Plurality (as also did Formal Logic), and this totally undermined any chance of a complete, concise and comprehensive encapsulation of any phenomena or reasoned argument. For that Principle has the composing elements, in any complex result, as totally separate and always independant of one another. It means all phenomena are composed of separate and eternal Natural Laws, which simply add together, independantly of both one another and of their Context!

And, that is most certainly untrue: which is proved conclusively by the inability of such assumptiuons and means to ever explain real Qualitative Change and Transforming Developments!

And, the effect upon Sub Atomic Physics, with the now universally adopted Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory. has been to replace explanatory Theory with only mathematical, and hence, purely formal formulae as their only reliable(?) sources to "explain" what happens there.

And, clearly those claims are unfounded, What they use are illegitimately applied probabilistic means to predict what will happen next, that is a description and not an explanation.

And in spite of the loud claims of superlative accuracy, the only attempted explanations have required a whole raft of unfounded speculations, which they claim are also legitimate, because of the accuracy of the formal predictions.

I'm afraid those speculations and their claims are false!

Now, the reader may indeed sympathize with today's physicists as Physical Explanation certainly let them down, and current researches are damning their only alternative - but, that isn't true! Physical Explanations must be primary and never mere formal abstractions.

So, the correct approach must be to dump both the old pluralist, Idealist, Materialist and Pragmatist amalgam of Classical Physics, AND the also pluralist, Idealist, speculative and Pragmatic retreat of the Copenhagenists, to finally approach Theory via a

Holist, Dialectical and Materialist approach

...which has been shown to be the only way forward!

New issue of the journal - The Last Rites of Copenhagen

Issue 55: The Solar Wind

This edition comprises of a loose collection of related papers marking the start of a nascent research area - how magentic fields extend across vast distances of supposedly ‘empty’ space and affect each other - the Sun affecting the Earth for example. 

I’m trying to find research papers which explain what I think might be happening with the charged particles originating in the upper atmosphere of the sun. I assume that although taken as a whole the solar wind would be electrically neutral. However, there are both positive and negatively charged plasmas. I believe that the positive particles may be of varying mass (that is nuclei with different numbers of protons and neutrons). If this is so then I would guess that the proportion of heavier elements decreases with increasing mass.

Obviously higher energy (plasma-based) charged particles would penetrate deeper through the earth’s magnetic field. Moving charged particles will create an associated magnetic field. Such magnetic fields would interfere with the earth’s magnetic field. Therefore, are we looking at a topology problem? That is, it’s the shape of the resulting magnetic field that would describe what is happening at the poles.

25 November, 2017

Krishnamurti and Science I

I: Social Contexts

The Indian spiritual philosopher Krishnamurti has had a series of four talks with a small group of eminent scientists available on YouTube for many years, and as I am both a scientist, a philosopher, and a Marxist, while also having been married for over 40 years to a committed Buddhist, who also admires Krishnamurti, it certainly behoves me, long before I consider any sort of critique of the content of these talks, to establish the evident social contexts: for they certainly seem to be crucial, for all the participants.

Krishnamurti's three scientists included a Sub Atomic Physicist, a Biologist and a Psychiatrist - all of international reputation, but for the whole of the first talk, all of them were at something of a loss to see what Krishnamurti was getting at, especially as the Master was seeing them, their professional contexts and intellectual grounds, as well as Mankind in general, as crucially flawed in their attitudes to Existence! But, without committing to any sort of critique, I was able to set some socially clear parameters in place, initially and substantially from my own origins, experience and professional and political career over almost 60 years, contrasted with the very different histories evident in all those present in this debate.

As the offspring of a working class uneducated and untrained couple in industrial Manchester, England, and the only one in my year at Elementary School to pass-my-scholarship, aged 11, and get to Grammar School, I, by the time I reached 18 years old had undergone two very different life experiences. 12 years in the Slums of Manchester - running the mean streets, then a move to a Council House, followed by 7 years away from the friends of my childhood, to spend all my time with clever kids from all over that big city. I coped and indeed succeeded academically (unknown during my sojourn in the prior West Gorton slum). But, it was a different world, and included many from a wide variety of privileged backgrounds, yet brought together in a levelling and testing environment of academic study. But, nevertheless, I warmed to learning so many new things, and became the best at Mathematics and Science in my year throughout my school career.

Unlike the social situations in Krishnamurti's discussion group, I was unavoidably contrasting the preoccupations of my childhood in West Gorton, with what I was learning, and succeeding in, at my Grammar School. And, funnily enough, even that turned out to be very different indeed, to the next phase of my experience at University. For, what I had learned in my Grammar School clashed dramatically with what I came to be taught in Physics at my University. For, if the Class Shock in my first transfer was significant, at University it was devastating! Not, as you might imagine, because of prejudice, but because of the Content which I was being taught!

From the first term I disagreed with my lecturers, some of which were considered world-class - for I had never come across Idealism as the cornerstone of Knowledge-and-Understanding before. But here, it was named "The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory", and was replacing the whole position I had been taught at School.

University of Leeds in the 1950s

Why was this?

You are never an idealist when you're a working class labourer, or even a working class pupil. It all had to be applicable and it had to make sense - your understanding just had to be enhanced, otherwise it was a silly thing to even entertain. My successes in Grammar School were because I was daily first understanding, and then using what I learnt, more and more! I succeeded not by remembering things, but by truly understanding and applying them. Yet, in the very first lectures at University, what was being taught WAS NOT applicable: Why?

Teachers of Science in my school had to do everything - both explaining and demonstrating, and, crucially, even showing you how to do the same. That certainly wasn't the case in the new context. Theorists described but didn't explain, and "doing" was done by a very different group termed Technicians. Never ask your lecturer to show you "How" - find a technician! The two necessary functions were generally carried out by people from different Classes. All the physics lecturers were from a very different Class to myself. While the Technicians were more like me, and could tell you what you needed to know to get the required results. Sadly though, even they couldn't tell you "Why?"

In Higher Education, and then in the consequent professions, there had been a significant layering of the Sciences - Theory was for the superior class types, while technical implementation was for the workers!

Neither Krishnamurti, nor any of his group of debaters were from my Class: all were, most certainly, all from much more privileged layers of Society, and neither side of the arguments were Doers.

But, nevertheless, there was a Class Collision of a very different kind very clearly evident.

The position that Krishnamurti was struggling to communicate was totally untenable for the scientists he had assembled for this debate. Absolutely no work-imperative was evident in Krishnamurti's objectives, while the scientists were clearly so motivated, but in explaining things in their own scientific contexts.

Occupying himself with questions of existence, as Krishnamurti was doing, was, and always had been, as unavailable to his co-debaters, as they undoubtedly were to labourers in the Working Class. They could never be exclusively concerned with the nature of Existence: for that required a very much more privileged life than they could possibly experience. A life where everything was done for you, either by an extensive team of servants, or perhaps in a later "seeking stage" by a congregation of avid worshipers?

Having established the existential ground of the debaters in this series, an addressing of the content of their debates can now be addressed...

Part II coming soon.

In the meantime you can watch the seminar in question.

12 November, 2017

Art: The Articulation of Form

Bodies against time by Étienne-Jules Marey

With the wide acceptance of Form as the sole determinator of Content, on the one hand, contrasting with the alternative view, which makes all Causes as only due to Content-and-context, and, in addition, as the determinator of Form, on the other - we clearly have contradictory premises as to what is primary in determining the Nature of Reality.

The two positions boil down, in philosophical terms, to opposite stances, namely -

Form-first delivers to us Idealism, while
Content-first constitutes Materialism.

But, what Forms do we deal in, and under what system of rules do we use them? Rigorously, we have only the set of Perfect Forms - that is those initially observationally and pragmatically-established, and, thereafter, those rationally-developed via a Purely Formal System of Manipulations that we term Mathematics. But, is that, really, a viable means of revealing all of Reality?

It was, of course, the very-first coherent and consistent attempt, by the Ancient Greeks (circa 500 BC), but it was also a truly revolutionary move, for though literally NO Perfect Forms exist as such in Reality-as-is, the development was extremely significant for another key aspect of what was necessarily involved.

Let us, first, be crystal clear as to what these crucial Forms were.

The more obvious Forms were Squares, Circles and Triangles - but even more non-real entities were, what they, in turn, were composed of - namely "Lines of zero thickness" and "Dots of zero extension". What on earth was going on?

Josef Albers, 'Formulation Articulation I & II', 1972,

It came from, in fact, the already common practice of Simplification - employed in order to make things easier to consider, manipulate and construct into ever more comprehendable, complex systems. BUT, and this is very important, these "modifications" were of a very special type: they attempted to extract only the "truly key features" from real situations, and into pure embodiments of a kind of assumed to be driving-or-causing essence.

They were in fact Abstractions.

Now, Abstractions were not, even then, wholly new: they had been used for millennia to describe animals of the same species - characterised by common, easily-identified visual appearances, and attached-to each uniquely-named variety. But, what the Greeks did was significantly different! Their extractions were Perfect-Forms, not merely a commonly-applicable description. For, such were each individually considered as the unchanging essence of all things possessing that form, for though it NEVER occurred in Reality, as such, it could be used, effectively, for all occurring versions of that shape: it was indeed an Idealisation, as well as a simplification of what was being dealt with.

NOTE: Before going any further, we really must note both the advantages and disadvantages of all such Idealisations. For, as they were never enough to completely define any particular, real-world-thing, they, therefore, would definitely, at some point, fail in being "appropriate descriptions", once crucial aspects - omitted from any idealisation, came into determining prominance for some uninconsidered reason. But, on the other hand, such idealisations would be extremely useful, and could deliver reasonably accurate predictions, and even guide successful productions, whilever the idealised description remained "apt"!

So, in a particular sense, it was a very real advance, for though it was always an approximation of concretely-existing versions of this form, the general relations, extracted from manipulations with this Perfect Form, were indeed "just-as-true" of all such other concrete versions of it too! But, though all this was pragmatically validated, as was then usual, by, "If it works, it is right!", we have to ask what did actually determine that Form? Was it built-in from the outset by an all powerful creator? Or, were they the only possible shapes that things could take?

Clearly, Idealism is a construct and NOT a revelation of natural essence! So, if this is the case, the Materialist alternative must always be employed to attempt to answer the question "Why?". concerning the reasons for the particular Forms of entities. Yet, in addition, it also must be fully explained why the idealist route, nevertheless, still enabled effective predictions and productions to be achieved.

Now, all this has been fully addressed elsewhere in writings by this philosopher. So, those, requiring that, are directed to SHAPE Journal on the Internet, and its many issues concerned with The Philosophy of Mathematics.

But here, the priority, as the title of this post asserts, is the consideration of "Art is the Articulation of Form" as claimed by the Italian painter and sculptor, Amedeo Modigliani!

Head by Modigliani

If Art was fully-delivered just by Form as such, it would mean something very different to what Modigliani suggested, and as a sculptor, myself, I was immediately sure that he had got-it-right in his "definition". For, basic Perfect Forms, as found in Mathematics, simply cannot say much more than is conveyed within the particular shape's formal definition.

But, just how one form transforms into another can display a rich variety of varying alternative causes: while in music a particular rhythmic pattern and tonal sequence transforming into something different can contain the subtlest of emotional or even causal content.

Perhaps surprisingly, while Form as such was never capable of explaining anything, the articulations between different forms could remarkably reflect the transformation of causes delivering that transition.

That may not seem much, but, to arrive at such a conclusion, would be incorrect! For, Art is not an indulgence or a mere entertainment (as in "Strictly Come Dancing" for example)! For, many millennia it has been an alternative means of communication of things not adequately dealt with by other means.

In a sense it is the oldest-holist-attempt to deliver aspects of a changing Reality - indeed, the very opposite of pluralist forms and even explanations!

It can, at its best, capture Reality-in-transit, and perhaps this is because it subordinates Form to "Time"?

Forms are fixed patterns, often extractable only by stopping the flow of Time and taking a "snapshot" of the revealed (if momentary) pattern!

From Ghost Moments by Michael C Coldwell

NOTE: My son, Michael Conflux Coldwell, is a photographer and musician, and he addresses the seeming limitations of "the photograph" by choosing as subjects situations wherein significant, over-time changes are there in the frozen-yet-haunting content. And, in a recent exhibition delivered many such photographs, as well as a movie, accompanied by his own music and sounds, which dramatically converted photographs into suggestions or even repositories of change.

AM by Conflux Coldwell

Now, Art attempts to remedy any simplifications by building "time-perceptions" into the art-work: it is why Music is so transcendental, because it directly uses Time, itself, to express what it is attempting to communicate. But, even static, unchanging Works-of-Art, nevertheless attempt to enforce a trajectory of perception, as the observer is led-through the work over time.

As a sculptor myself, I, like Modigliani, attempt to deliver two time-based perceptions for my audiences: I deliver changes via the varying positions of observers as they move around the piece! But, I also communicate change, precisely as Amedeo describes it - as the articulation (or changing) of one form into another - via various sorts of micro trajectory across the surfaces of the piece.

As a young convert to Sculpture as an artform, it isn't surprising that my first serious piece was a re-creation of a Head by Modigliani, and my favourite sculptor very quickly became Henry Moore!

Oval with Points by Henry Moore

06 November, 2017

Michael Hudson on Junk Economics

Michael Hudson 

Interview with author and economist Michael Hudson, one of the world’s six economists who accurately predicted the 2007-2008 financial crisis. His new book, J is for Junk Economics, reveals how the mainstream economic vocabulary has been turned around in an Orwellian way to mean just the opposite of what words used to mean. Michael explains how the media and academia use well-crafted euphemisms to conceal how the economy really works, the economy under Obama vs. Trump, and what might be coming next.