20 July, 2021

The Limits of Philosophy?

I have been a dedicated Marxist for most of my adult life, philosophically and politically, I think Karl Marx has come closer than anyone to Understanding something intrinisc and profound about Reality - and, though I still and justifiably celebrate the great achievements of Marx - they cannot yet but still also reflect the unavoidable weaknesses, always involved within the very first conception in any field. It would be a miracle if any such were ever initially and immediately wholly correct.

Though colossal in their scope, and sound in their premises, Marx’s contributions to Philosophy were then, and still are now, insufficient to be an all-embracing and wholly adequate Philosophy of Reality-as-is! For, they were based majorly upon the so far known and studied History of Mankind, and of course, it simply couldn’t have been based upon anything else, for only that History had sufficient extension to cover its many radical twists and turns!

And also, because only that History covered enough ground to reveal most of the necessary Actual Development, Changes and Anomalies, to alone be capable of highlighting both the usually slow tempos involved, while at particular irresolveable Crises, also clearly revealing the rapid Revolutionary Changes, unavoidable at such an incomparably faster rate - compared with the more pedestrian ones occurring the rest of the time.

It has taken 170 years since Marx’s initial revealing contribution, to totally reveal without any significant developments beyond those original bounds set by History itself alone.

And, these achievements have also NOT yet been extended, to any other important Disciplines in the same-and-necessary way as Marx has applied it to History and Economics.

My ongoing project in this journal, is to try and finish Marx’s work and apply his materialist philosophy to the Sciences. It is a big job.

Intellectual Disciplines in General, not only each have their own Independent Philosophies, but, in addition, ALL contain separate subsections each, in turn, with their own separately defined Philosophies. Mankind has regularly found it impossible to reveal a Single All-embracing Philosophy that might cover absolutely Everything! There are now literally thousands of Specialisms, each with their own defined Philosophy, to match the unavoidable splits in original single philosophies, demanded by failures in prior attempts at explaining the evident insurmountable anomalies!

What, of course, they always reflect, are the illegitimate Pluralist, and therefore necessarily artificially limited, supposed contexts! And, of course, despite Marxism’s extended range: its initial Form, too, would prove to be inadequate, as yet, in some important areas!

The whole means of explaining things needs a Comprehensive Review - starting with the more blatant and misleading assumptions of its supposed Logic! And, in Science, the whole basis, originally laid down in the Ancient Greek Intellectual Revolution - which lets face it was an extremely long time ago - needs upturning to the alternative Holistic Stance (though incomparably more developed and generally applicable than the original version of The Buddha!) For, the rejection of Plurality, must do a great deal more than only reject the Fixity of Natural Laws!

It must also reveal just how the changes happen naturally, primarily when distorted by the imposed simplifications of the assumed Context - to instead bring in Reality- as-is, achieved via multiple simultaneous and differing contributions - all having very different effects.

Now, stated just like that, merely seems to infer an impossible-to-solve constantly varying task. But that turns out to NOT be the case at all!

For, the contributions are all of different weights, thereby making the lesser ones swamped by the most dominant ones: and only becoming relevant as the balance of contributions changes significantly. Yet, the usual Mathematical Logic treatment of such switch-overs (with “if / then” type clauses, and consequent flips to a new state) were, and still are, never explanatory at all - merely signalling WHEN but never WHY, and delivering absolutely nothing beyond the purely Quantitative- triggered flip, and NO mecessary information about the current underlying and multiple changes to, in any way, reveal what happens next, and with what currently hidden consequences.

The causes for the current and following trajectories of changes are NEVER revealed!

But, in fact, there must be multiple simultaneous and affecting contrinutions constantly moving towards the next viewable change, but we have, at that point, no way of ever knowing anything about such events - before they accually occur!

Clearly, you either dramatically restrict, and then maintain Contexts, to allow them to be predictable, pluralistically, or alternatively you could “Give up Now, you’ll never do it!”

But, Reality-as-is, left to itself, can, and indeed will, in its own time, deliver the real result of everything acting together, though with no restrictions at all of the context, the actual variation of everything involved, though they will all happen, at the right time, but that will be unknown, outside of the experiencing context itself!

And, exactly when changes occur, would not be known before they do!

Yet experiencing such overall events will still give an approximate suggestion of what will happen the next time it is run naturally!

But, of course, such “suck-it-and-see” methods, would never suffice in Productions for Sale!

However, the very most basic, and most general, of effects, could perhaps be predicted, but only if the causing Systems Relations, themselves were known, and included!

And, as has been established in recent papers in this series, these Systems Effects can surprisingly turn out to be very important indeed!

One recent development, which might signal a way forward, is due to physicist Eric Lerner. Equations- deriving directly from experimentally obtained data in the usual ways, has been abandoned, for cruder, but much more reliable “inter-variable” relationships, obtained over a very wide variety of detailed circumstances, which can be far more effectively relied upon, compared to the usual substitutions between fitted-up general Formulae, taken direct from Mathematics itself, which had been established there solely as a means of relating Pure and Unchanging Forms.

This paper is part of a series called Down the Infinite Rabbit Hole of Holist Complexity  - you can read the rest in the latest issue of SHAPE Journal (74)

Issue 74: The Infinite Rabbit Hole!


This edition continues philosopher Jim Schofield's recent attempts to define what a Holist approach to Science should be. This time around, the focus is on why it hasn't really been attempted before, and why, when we do try holistic methods in Science, we usually fall back on tried-and-tested Pluralist forms of research. 

The problem is complexity. The Natural World is incredibly dense, interconnected and with many hidden levels and systems processes. The straight-jacket of the Pluralist Scientific Method is the only way we have historically managed to control situations sufficiently to try and analyse and understand them. The problem is, that this gives us a very distorted, simplifed and ossified picture of what we're examining. We remove many hidden factors which might turn out to be be vital, and even more crucially, we remove the possibility for natural Qualitative Change to take place.

Art Director’s note: 

For this issue we have chosen the dark, dense paintings and sculptures of Anselm Kiefer for the illustration. We are always looking for abstract art which invokes change in some way, and the complexity of evolving reaity. With a keen interest in mathematics and science as well as mythology, Kiefer’s work deals with concepts such as the passage of time, cosmogney, chaos and death. His most recent exhibition Supertrings, Runes, the Norns, Gordian Knot, is influenced directly by studies such as String Theory - but not without a pleasing degree of skepticism. Of the work he says: 

“These advanced mathematicians are attempting to find a theory of everything, but each time they open a door, many other doors reveal themselves. It is all abstract mathematics, of course, so nothing is really yet proved. The more I read about it, the more I think they will never find the answer.” 

There is certainly abstraction and form in Kiefer’s work, but also a very messy materiality. He is interested in and influenced by science, but unlike many mathematicians and artists alike, he is not seduced by beauty, simplicity and perfection. He knows that this would be Idealism, and the Real world is much more labyrinthine and impenetrable than we like to think.

12 July, 2021

Weak Theory

The Weakness of Pragmatically Derived Theory

Since "time immemorial", Mankind has seen Theory as facilitating the effective Pragmatic Use of all that is discovered about Reality! After all, primitive Man would insist, "What else are such ideas for?"

But, of course, there are other reasons for Theories, but none of these were even concretely considered in the earliest of epochs of Mankind, where the more intangible questions were always allocated to Supernatural Causes. And, even the simplest relations between elements of Natural Phenomena, were only relateable, in any useful way, by always deliberately holding situations as still as possible, for absolutely anything, to be extractible at all! And, the definer of required situations was embodied in the usual tenet:

"If it works, it is right!"

So, the initial Pragmatically useful investigations, all concentrated upon the "already dead" or tightly, artificially controlled situations - otherwise NO relations were obtainable. But, crucially, there was NEVER a single such "Stability", encapsulating absolutely ALL such situations: indeed, almost every imposed Stability was different - depending upon what had to be revealed! So, all but the very simplest undertakings, were unavoidably composed of many, very different required Stabilities, determined by the series of separate steps necessary, to finally end up with the required product, via a whole series of different processes - each confined within its own ideal and maintained circumstances.

Now, this meant that literally nothing was ever attempted within naturally-occurring Reality-as-is, because totally different conditions would be essential for every single step in any intended production. Hence, the accumulated Knowledge was involving many different contexts - each using very different extracted Laws. So, nothing was actually revealed about Reality-as-is,  and as that was the only situation naturally Common to all relations actually occurring-together there, and NOT the separate ones, each of which are only true within their own special artificial context thereafter could, and always were, actually be algebraically related to one another to thereby Construct a supposedly "Valid Science"! So, as NO SUCH Science could be constructed by such means, we simply must give what we do actually construct a different name: we call it Technology!

Indeed, the construction of ANY Discipline by such a means, using the Rationality of Mathematics to do so, is always wholly and misleadingly illegitimate. For, Mathematics, as it was originally devised and developed by the Ancient Greeks, is only true in totally Pluralistic Situations, wherein all relations are Forever Fixed.

For, though that is always true within Mathematics, it is NOT so within Concrete Reality-as-is - for that does not just complicate things, but, in contrast, actually Evolves them: and consequently the Wholly New can-and-does occur, and it can never be predicted before that first occurrence.

So, the then universal use of Mathematical Rationality, in any area of Explanation, and in any area, where things can naturally develop into the Wholly New, and with the objective of extending Understanding, is woefully mistaken!

And the Problem is most certainly due to Principle of Plurality.

For, in about the 5th century BC, two directly opposing Tenets of Reasoning were devised in different parts of the then civilised World! Each one aimed at producing a different Rationality to allow features of a given Part of Reality to be soundly related to one another via Thought alone! But, the basic assumptions upon which they were based were diametrically Opposite to each other, and, if used effectively would lead to very different conclusions. They were, of course, based upon very different, if totally valid, aspects of Reality-as-is: but were each considered to be universally applicable to absolutely Everything!

Of course, they had to be based upon profound extractions from Reality, and sadly, Reality actually conforms in different circumstances to TWO Diametrically Opposite Principles, which are found to act only in very different circumstances.

The Principle of Plurality was discovered by the Greeks within Mathematics, and wholly developed only within that context where two things were wholly legitimately established for Mathematics.

First, was the realisation that Simplified Relational Abstractions - relating wholly non-concrete, but nevertheless wholly valid relations, between such Abstractions. Indeed, it was the realisation of these special kinds of Abstraction that initially enabled the Rational Construction of Euclidian Geometry, and thereafter Mathematics as a whole. And this was because these Abstractions limited the Rationality involved to always valid Totally Fixed Relations, and therefore also its consequent laws.

While the other approach developed in India by The Buddha, involved deriving The Principle of Holism, which, on the contrary, involved most elements being capable of constantly available variation (both quantitative and qualitative), and hence having literally NO Forever Fixed properties and consequent Laws!

The Buddha's sound basis was, of course, the observable Living World all around him. 

Now, you might think that the direction determined by The Buddha, would be the best option: but, in the short term, it certainly wasn't! For, a qualitatively-varying and developing World, is certainly closer to the General Truth of All of Reality, than the West's primary philosophical choice of assuming a Wholly Pluralist World: but actually that choice gave them a handle - it had also given them effective Technology, within multiple easily-controllable Contexts, while The Buddha's Holistic alternative, though it gave them Everything at Once - was far too complex to effectively control or use, while maintaining its essential Nature, and they didn't develop beyond mere Pragmatism, for millennia.

What was clearly needed to develop the absolutely-necessary Holist Stance, was the creation and then development of a Purely Holist Science, which has not only failed to appear in The Orient, but is also almost universally absent in the West too.

There was a window for such a Discipline to occur - out of the Dialectics of the Idealist Philosopher GWF Hegel, especially as his best follower, Karl Marx, began to apply a thorough-going-and-creative detailed Holist approach to the Developments in Social History, and particularly to The Capitalist Economics of his day. But, the crucial development of also applying a similar approach to The Sciences was NOT undertaken: for though the Tempos of Man-Made History were graspable by the then available Human Thinking, those of most aspects of Physical Reality were not.

Of course, even within Marx's lifetime, Charles Darwin did begin to tackle the question of The Origin of Species, with a distinctive measure of success, but all the rest of Science required a similar holistic treatment, and that was still not yet forthcoming!

The writer of this paper (as well as many others, published over the last period in SHAPE Journal and on this blog), is both a fully-qualified Physicist and Mathematician, yet increasingly he is a trenchant critic of much of Modern Sub Atomic Physics, as well as pretty well all of Current Cosmology. He has spent well over a decade criticising the current, linked approaches in both of these areas, and has, only then, undertaken the task of beginning to establish a consistently Holist approach in these areas, and is now literally developing Holist Science from scratch.

Many diverse contributions have been written, and many more are actually currently in process of being produced, and already planned, at least in outline! This current paper, along with a small number of others, is being produced as an informing Introduction to the whole undertaking, and will, hopefully, set readers in such a position as to contemplate the size and content of perhaps the most important questions for Science at this present time!