Posted by: Sk | February 17, 2009

6 Absolute concepts: time and space

It’s strange how contradictory empiricists are. Insisting heavily on the fact that only that which arrives through senses can be known, going so far so as to say ‘you better don’t talk about what you don’t know’ (Wittgenstein, tractatus), which would not be that bad, either, if it had not restricting premisses already determining what you can know or not, they are the first to talk about irreversible absolute referents and concepts swimming between earth and heavens whose attachment to senses is more than difficult.

Physics, for example, leans its main results on the absolute referent of space for many hundreds of years (Newton). After, it leans on another absolute referent, which will be light (Einstein), saying finally, that differences in results do just imply that for earthy phenomena, applies the first referent, and for cosmic phenomena, the second.

But what is an absolute referent, and what has an absolute referent to do with senses?

A referent is a parameter which is used as guide line and determines the nature of all the others. Thus, in newtonian physics, movement, speed, even time are submitted in their nature to the concept of space. It’s though obvious that not one of those concepts is empirical. Have you ever seen space? Or time? Pure movement? If you have, please write a comment …

Even more difficult is the attribution of the concept of ‘absolute’ to any other concept related to senses. Although even the concept of ‘absolute’ is ambiguous in its given definitions, you may globally say that it implies a complete identity in universal validity. “There is an indefinite space inside of which all things happen.” (Newton) Should be true = corresponding to reality. How does he know? On which observations does he base this, you may say, principle in definition?

Abstract concepts are always difficult to deal with and allow horrible mistakes.

Be empiricist as refering your observations to sensorial experience. What do you observe? There is nothing appearing to senses that is not at the same time, inside of some relationship to time and some to space. No phenomenon whatsoever appears only in space or only in time. Which means that in nature both are together and thus they’re transmitted by senses.

It becomes very quickly obvious that the human has a mental ability which allows to separate a form from its matter, although senses do always bring impressions inside of units where both are irreversibly together. This very ability is the foundation of the separation of time and space inside of the human mind. The problem appearing is obvious: what comes of senses is of such nature so as to make things appear in units. Human mind shows the ability of separating both aspects (were it form and matter, were it time and space). The first thing, in order to understand a natural phenomenon is to establish the accurate relationship between what comes through senses and the derived product as resulting from analysis: separation through different forms.

Is this so, than it becomes obvious that Newton is wrong. There is no space inside of which everything happens. There is a ‘time/space’ reality containing whatever happens. Reality can be considered through the angle of time and/or space depending on what we’re studying. If you are interested in structuring space, as in architecture, you will consider reality through the angle of space, and interested in cubes and weights, you little care about movements (or only as related to the first). If you want to determine the relationship of forces and movements, you will consider  reality through the angle of time, in abstraction of cubes and weights (or relating those to the first), as it allows to establish measures of speed and other.

You should though always know that you’re considering reality through a perspective as deriving from a mental ability, and that you’re not saying things ‘as they’re’ but as they result from some mind operation. If science has established functions of deviation while working with instruments (to say: the instrument is distorting reality through its very presence) it has until now not considered the fact that the first instrument he’s using in order to distort reality is his very mental ability, and distortion depending mainly on the accuracy of his definitions and acceptable adequation to reality.

Let us continue being empirical. What I state, is that my very empirical eyes see a limited space all around containing a whole lot of things, of which some move and some not. Strangely, even using most developped lenses and glasses, my eyes continue seeing some limit somewhere, as it can’t stress this ability so far so as to seize the indefinite. Indefinite is thus not a very empirical concept as it is not perceivable through senses.

I thus have to close my eyes (St Augustin) and state, to my greatest surprise, that my mind, in this exercise of introspection, can’t put limits to the notion of space. It’s true that I don’t see anything, but by conceiving ’space’ and as I try putting barriers somewhere and walls and limits, there are none, if I want to be honest. Dont say, but it is true, science maintains that empirical truth is such because it can be shared with others, but science does not consider that a human may by horribly lying, and say: I see green when I see red, whatever you maintain (yes, I’m horribly stubborn while maintaining lies). In fact, science presumes a healthy human being with some more or less healthy moral dispositions who may name things correctly (so many presumptions for so little truth). If it does though presume so many things for what is of outer senses, why should he not presume it may be the case for what is not of senses. Be honest. Now close your eyes. Do you see any limits to space?

Strangely, our little brain inside of a heavy bone structure does contain the indefinite as concept, while our eyes, stretching their ability towards vast spaces, do only reach the limited apprehension of borders. How strange. May I though conclude from the very fact that my brain has such ‘fantasy’ that the universe is contained inside of an indefinite whole? Not a priori. What is the factual relationship between my indefinite space and my empirical impressions? Probably none.

The whole confusion appears because the nature of what is of form or matter is different of what is given as whole unit, and that we pass from one field to the other with too much easiness. I have a cigarette in my hands (empirical evidence in its natural apprehension and naming). I can represent in my mind (ability of representation) a cigarette. It’s more or less like the one I’m seeing, but I have already operated some abstraction on it. It appears all alone without hands, nor movement, nor even smoke. Now, I continue in my effort of abstraction, and separate a form (some cilindre) from a matter (paper and tobacco). If I’m very accurate, I’ll say: a rolled paper containing tobacco, which, if taken separately, will have some other form (little brins). It’s obvious that neither the cilindre does ever appear by itself to my eyes, neither a formless matter. They’re both the result of my effort of abstraction. It’s easy to state, that the form I’ve abstracted, fits into a determined ’space’. My peculiar matter without form, takes though a shape in time (although luckily for us, most matters are quite slow in their process of evolution, all do change in a certain way in time – easy to see in ‘leaves’, for example, that are very small, and then bigger, and first green and then brown, and then fall).

It’s none of our concern, why, although we state also quite easily that what appears to senses, seems to act in time through interrelationship (my cigarette with fire does disappear very quickly, it will though disappear under the effect of humidity and air and whatever a little later anyhow). Concepts are built up in a way, that they do not consider this evolution or process and just pin up a moment, we may call of definition, where the thing is considered in its ‘being’ without consideration of what will happen to it. (Except in definitions through finality, but finality is there not a process but a logical function : example = a cigarette is a rolled tobacco to smoke – to smoke is the finality.)

It’s almost obvious that the very fact of naming is such as a process of identification which allows communication. It does not seem to be, at first instance, an instrument in order to range phenomena in proper way, but just the most adequate tool to attribute a name to something I can recognize and transmit.

If we are to deal with language in order to range phenomena, it is obvious that we can’t omit this evidence. Distortion effect: although the definition has seized the nature of something in a somewhat paralized status, the thing can’t be understood if not inside of its moving matter time frame.

It’s true that it’s thousands of years the human privileges the spatial referent because it gives some kind of subjective feeling of security through its stable nature. That time is horribly difficult to think becomes obvious through the very fact that there must be at most 10 pages all in all written on the subject seriously ever since the human started to deal with the subject 3000 years ago until the end of the 19th.

In fact, only Kant manages some kind of ‘tour de force’, following St Augustin’s observations, attributing the very concept of time and space to what he calls ‘the forms of sensitivity’. He says that the human mind is structured in form and matter, too, like all other phenomena. And that, if the form of a thing is a cube or a circle or whatever, the form inside of which phenomena are ranged is ‘time’ and ’space’. Even if he does not go that far in his observations, it becomes obvious that this is why ‘time’ or ’space’ are indefinite inside of the human mind: forms have neither borders, nor limits, nor restrictions. But exactly: it’s a form. You can’t make out of it a ‘thing’, which would be a container, because it would loose its nature of form to become something which necessarily, to be, would have to be of some matter.

This is exactly what Newton does. In fact, following his definitions, you very quickly see yourself inside of some kind of cube or other of undetermined matter and in contradiction with the ‘indefinite’, as a cube can’t be indefinite.

How strange, isn’t it. Our representation allows to put a whole universe inside of it, it always leaving the horrible bad feeling that it is contained in something. Whatever we do, the ‘I’ sees the represented universe inside of something else, if we put ourselves as observers. If we put ourselves inside of the universe, we just see the limited representation of what our eyes reach. And there is all the problem. Can we actually talk about something without conceiving it is us who are talking about it from a certain perspective? Can we talk about an abstract, absolute something that ‘is’ without an ‘I’ perceiving it?

Contrary to what science maintains, it isn’t. Whatever we say, it is the product of a language, and a language is a specific ability of the human which structures itself inside of the organizing patterns of the human. This is why Kant finishes by admitting what he calls the ‘chose en soi’ (thing in itself), a something that would stay even without the human perception, which is a relative absurd, on the other hand, as a ‘thing’ is nothing but the result of the interaction of perception and never a ‘in itself’, but this is secondary, as Kant does seem already to imply that what is, is not but relative to a human perception.

Of course he forces a little bit his conclusions by assuming that human apprehension does contain not only an absolute equivalence to the perceived but that the forms it is contained in, are absolute. This is more than dubious. These conclusions do derive from a mistaken definition of form and matter, as already said before, and should not bother the rest.

If we consider that it is always an ‘I’ who is making observations on the universe, implying that he is naturally going to structure his observations inside of given forms of understanding and sensitivity, the problem of the universe holding space disappears at once. In fact, we’re obliged to start thinking instead of getting lost in universe holding brain cells.

I’m giving names. I’m structuring these names inside of categories. I make abstractions. Some other names are resulting of these abstractions. Strangely, there are some things I say that can be understood by others and some not. Intelligibility (the fact of being understood) seems to depend on some structures I share with some and not with others.

It is possible to conclude from this very fact, that the human mind does make prevail some logic on perception or even representation. Why? Because nothing is to the human without a proper name. The logic through which names are given and ordered does determine the way it will finish by ranging phenomena as arriving through senses. In fact, no saying is possible without the principle of identity in its refraction (non contradiction, third excluded) and no naming without it. What is apprehended through senses is seized in units that are ordered in a certain way. This way is called a logic which keeps the patterns of intelligibility. If you say: I go home while going to school, you make a logical mistake that allows saying you’re just saying ‘nonsense’. What is intelligible or understandable follows a certain number of pattern that Kant calls the ‘forms of understanding’. Thought is organized inside of some forms that do warrant for its intelligibility. If we get out of these forms, we enter the realm of the absurd.

Of course the formal absurd has some kind of intelligibility also (symbolic), but then it does not talk about reality of outer senses anymore but of subjective apprehension implying the psychic realm, which speaks another language.

And there we are. If the outer world is intelligible and only through some formal patterns, then it can be induced that the ruling principle of the outer world is the same than the one allowing its structuring inside of a certain number of patterns. (Third excluded). A is seizable in a. Consequently the principle of A and a are the same. Demonstration through third excluded: if B is seizable in b, and A is not seizable in b, what is seizable in b or a is depending on the same principle.

Not that you can’t say, too, that the human as parts of the universe is intrinsically of the same nature, so that his structures of understanding can’t be but in a certain way derived from his very nature, which is the same in principle than the one of all nature, but this is a derived conclusion of evidence and not of demonstration.

If mistakes are made, it is thus because we don’t make the needed differentiations in concept or the right logical operations and not because the universe may not be said properly.

It implies though that necessarily the principle of identity is inherent to nature, were it in refraction. In order to identify something it must be identifiable, and to be identifiable it must contain a something that allows it to be identified. That the identification is in status of ‘difference’ (the thing does not appear the same way as thing and as concept) means that the principle of identity appears in refraction (in derivation). The one, in theological terms means ‘God is immanent’ the second ‘is emmanent’ and also that, as appearing in refraction, the second is a derivation of the first, which means, in theological terms ‘a creation’.

Is this so, clearly appears that even admitting a Big Bang, you have to presume an intelligible principle ruling over some explosion. Just follow the observations: throw a bomb somewhere. What happens? It distroys, which can be associated to a loss of intelligibility (given ordered forms disappear). Provoke some other explosion or natural disaster. What happens? The level of intelligibility is lowered, whatever you do. Have you ever seen an explosion which has as consequence an ordered whole with happily turning around stars and the possibility of having plants and trees and animals be born of the whole? It does not exist. Worse: the result of such an explosion is ‘intelligible’, can be understood, has an order, shows equivalences in structuring with a possibly arising mind. How?

If you have some ordered explosion, for example while making some building explose in rational ways, still being an explosion it shows features of order, but this can only be the result of a mind that has evaluated the strength of the explosive and related it to the nature of what is to explode.

It is impossible, from a rational point of view (would stand in contradiction with general observations) not to presume some intelligence as being at the origin of an intelligible whole. Which does not mean you can’t presume some original explosion from the point of view of temporal organization.

This does not stand in contradiction with what is written in scriptures, for example. Scriptures are using a spatial organization frame. They say: an intelligence (God) generates or creates a differentiation (light/darkness, day/night, earth/sea, etc), implying that in the process of generation of the universe there were phases of differentiation, which is the same science says. It’s an evidence that first there was implosing matter (void), this differentiates itself in energy (light wearing items) and matter (light absorbing items), this further in the possibility of turning movements through poles of attraction (day and night), etc. From a scientifical point of view, as God can’t be considered, it is of need to presume that a ‘a’ energy which is associable to the seizing principle of identity, is inherent to the implosive energy and refracts itself inside of the universe. Otherwise it would not appear later in a human, for example, nor in things as seizable through it.

How peaceful. Were it only because I don’t have the feeling anymore of being a splitter dancing inside of a chaotically moving towards nothing universe, I would believe it. (Esthetical argument, as derived from Plato’s demonstrations, if beauty is the same than truth, this is true because it is beautiful …)

Random notes: give a name to an energy associable to intelligence. Intelligence 1: ordered distruction with parameters. Intelligence 2: implosion with ordered reconstruction (in some parallel image: you have a computer attacked by a virus. You implose the system in order to avoid general damage on mechanical system. And you formate.) 3: implosion with ordered construction. Now, introduce the factor 1/2/3 into a physicians formula. The universe resulting is much more beautiful than the one we’re living inside now

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