The differences between mainstream physics and what I have in mind may be summarised under three headings. The first has to do with the ways in which the empirical facts themselves (as rationalised by the mathematical formulations to which these findings may be reduced) are further interpreted. Quite often, two or more explanations may be forthcoming which fit the facts equally well. A choice between them is therefore an elective one in no wise driven by the facts themselves. Properly regarded, this further step is a minimal exercise in metaphysics -no matter how much the intellectual may baulk at any such an appellation. As David Bohm has insisted, whether you like it or not, if you're into physics then you're into metaphysics. The only choice you have is whether or not you square up to what is afoot -what you are up to.
This matter of a choice between alternatives -or more generally of the kinds of explanations that come to be conceived and proposed- is very much a function of the broader weltanschauung within which the exercise of theoretical physics is being conducted. That which is firmly in place today is one of some form or other of positivism or secular physicalism. Theoretical physics will prosper in proportion as that weltanschauung in question be sound, appropriate and well conceived. I have sought to make the case that this firmly entrenched world view is anything but, on all of the grounds of ontology, metaphysics and just plain formal adequacy. In consequence, many of the ideas which have passed into general currency are unfortunate, misleading and counter-productive for the future prospects of the discipline. I give many specific examples within the pages of this website, and more especially in the PDF files which they complement. This world view served well enough in the classical era -physics' age of innocence, as we might call it, but twentieth century discoveries should have made it clear that it was high time that natural science reexamined the foundations upon which it stood. This, however, hasn't happened. Instead the vaulting ambition of the status quo has o'er reached itself, so that positivism has come to be touted as a complete and exhaustive representation of the larger Reality.
The second has to do with the refusal of modern physics to confront the bankruptsy of the artificial intelligence movement and of Neo-Darwinism as a sufficient explanation of evolution (not to mention the origin of life itself). This has led establishment science to make a prodigious and inevitably fruitless effort in its attempt to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the current -primarily inorganic- regimen to fill the bill. I do not evade this challenge but meet it head on in a concrete proposal, of the kind of extensions to the canon of the lex naturalis to remedy the omission. Furthermore these suggestions are open to empirical verification, at least in principle, so that this is more than an arm-chair exercise.
Finally, the philosophical overview of neutral monism that I am offering, cats physics into a completely different (and broader spectrum) light. This is hardly surprising, given the drastic character of its transplantation from the depleted soil of secular physicalism into tits rich, nutrient and fertile counterpart in the 'new world'. Here, at long last, it may hope to sink down authentic roots, whence it may take up a productive life once more. It may move towards the future unhindered gratuitous roadblocks and the exhausting digressions to which they lead. I offer many examples of the kind of future that may be in store for physics under these premises.
In summary of all of the above, it might be said that in my attempts to rediect the course of physics, I have been both pushed and pulled The causal shove has come from my initial survey of the state of modern physics -wherein I was surprised to discover so many gratuitous assumptions, implications and interpretations -not to mention its overriding Micawberish self image. So already, it was obvious that enough things were wrong to call for some kind of drastic rectification. The teleological pull (I make no apologies for the 'teleological') came form my own philosophical weltanschauung. This had been largely completed in advance of my foray into physics; what in fact I had done, in the course of this grounding exersice, was to make ready a space or domain within my schema of the larger Reality into which in my be drawn and embedded. An interface was already partly in place to accommodate the anticipated needs of the physical realm, when the time came for its installation.
I must also emphasise that my philosophical world vies is in no wise or form an extension or extrapolation or fine-tuning of what the intellectual currently has in mind. It is a completely new paradigm making a truly fresh start. Some such movement is an event whose time has comeThe times in which we live are propitious for the insights of neuroscience and many discoveries within the domain of modern mathematics -e.g. Mandelbrotian fractals, transfinite numbers, geommetric topology and Kurt Gödel's celebrated theorem that bears his name.
The accompanying figure contrasts the two paradigms, that of the Positivism currently in force, and the alternative one of Neutral Monism that I am offering. Take a closer look
They could hardly be more different; the one comes close to be the inverse of the other -turned inside out, as it were. Take a look at the left-hand image first, symbolizing the status quo. Everything is captive to the lex naturalis of science "philosophy" survives only as the eviscerated and emasculated :"Philosophy of Science". Consciousness survives only under sufferance; strictly speaking it has no legitimate place in the world view at all -at any rate on its own terms, as these are normally understood and accepted. It has been reduced to nothing more than a non-efficacious epiphenomenon of protoplasm when suitably organised, as in brains; this way of doing things at least preserves the autonomy of physics. The virus has been contained, though not eliminated.
,Now glance at its neighbour, on the right. Dominant over all else is the realm of Transcendence, the source from which the whole of existence -mental and physical- takes its origin. Within existence itself, The realm of Agency and Consciousness is shown as dominant over the physical realm, supplying the substratum of its incarnation. I have shown it thus because of its over-reaching ontological ascendancy over the material realm. One single human outranks and surpasses the whole cosmic extent of stars and galaxies; further, it is even possible that its formal content is equivalently dominant. The physical, inorganic realm hogs most of the vast cosmic space -at least at the present moment, but my Weltanschauung (as does that of some others) suggests that we are but at the beginning of a process in which the living realm becomes increasingly dominant.
The persistence of the Positivist Weltanschauung is damaging in two ways. First, it is responsible for fifty percent of the problems of modern physics. But more seriously is its impact upon the vitality of the culture at large. Its 'vaulting ambition hath o'er leaped itself'; its depredations have a great deal to do with the alienation and spiritual malaise that disfigure our times..
Here are the physicists to whom I'm most indebted, as I went about the task of reconstruction and redirection. All of them were wise as well as clever, and of none was this more true than of Schrödinger, who nestled his physics within a larger philosophical overview. He was a prince among men, someone I wish I had known personally. In particular he was a monist, and it is this lead of his that I have sought to follow. I don't know what he would have made of the outcome, but I'm sure at least, that he would have understood and approved of what it is I have been trying to do.
I would like to record a special note of indebtedness to Dr Joseph Gerver, a professor of mathematics at Rutgers university. Joe is one of those rare, truly civilized human beings who is able to bring an open mind and give a fair hearing to someone whose views are, at times, the very antithesis of their own. He was someone prepared to hold a discourse. Thanks to Joe, what has ensued has been a dialogue rather than a debate, in which the concern has been what's right rather than who's right. His criticisms have forced me to clarify my own views, and to give up some ground, here and there. He also caught me out in a huge blunder -as the reader will discover in chapter three that addresses Relativity. It took him over ten years to finally convince me that I was wrong, and I'm so thankful that he persisted.
I am pleased to acknowledge a grant from the Nawierol Foundation; the funds turned up just when they were needed
I must also acknowledge the continuing forbearance and support of my long-suffering family. Many of the hours were of stolen time; they rightfully belonged to them.
Be assured that this is a living site. Corrections will be made, refinements added and links established to other domains of my philosophical overview, and also to other websites addressing themselves to similar issues. In particular, the present revision almost triples the size of the site as last revised in May 2003; its scope has been both broadened and deepened
I also hope to enjoy the benefits of your own observations reservations and comments, so I have included some 'feedback' machinery with this end in view.
To proceed further, choose from one of the following alternatives:
An expanded version of what you've just read [Recommended]
To an extended Image Gallery, where you will find all of the many images and diagrams within its chapters -plus all of those from the other pages of this website.
To a Comprehensive Site Overview
Directly to summaries of any of the six chapters
Number of visitors to this site: Created by Stephen Harrison, December 31 2002 Early August 2003 Site in Process of Revision; it will Remain on View Previous Revision July 29 2003
Copyright © by Stephen Harrison 2003. All Rights reserved