Nov 14, 2023
“Every event is novel, and no event causes any other event. Every event is free, causa sui, and sui generis. But the universe is also conservative…”
Remember the Alamo and Follow the Science – words to live by, memes that inspire generations!
We love science…and why shouldn’t we? I lived through all the painful and potentially lethal childhood diseases; today we have vaccines. I grew up without the “vast wasteland” (Newton Minow) known as ‘television’, and no video games. Quelle domage! How did I ever survive?
When I wanted to know something, I had to travel to something called a ‘library’ and search through its stacks. Then I learned to ‘Ask Google’ to assemble relevant research materials for me. Now I can just wake up my bot, Claude, and he will do my research for me. He’ll even write my report for me if I choose. So follow the science? You bet!
There is just one small glitch: not a single proposition in the ‘library of science’ is true! Or false, for that matter. Not one. Take calculus, for example. Without calculus, it is unlikely that any of the technological advances mentioned above would have occurred.
The world appears to be continuous along all four dimensions, but it isn’t. This is the nub of the famous paradox proposed by Parmenides’ pal, Zeno of Elea, a mere 2,500 years ago. Calculus can do what Zeno couldn’t; it lets us treat the discontinuous as if it were continuous.
It’s not true, of course! Discontinuity is still discontinuity, but calculus allows us to disregard that discontinuity and treat all phenomena as continuous. It’s a bit like geometry. As far as we know, there are no purely Euclidean universes. Yet, the postulates and theorems of Euclidean geometry have revealed much about the substructural order of the phenomenal world.
“Something there is that does not love a wall.” (Robert Frost) There are no straight lines! Yet by studying the properties of straight lines, we can learn about that which is not so straight. Euclidean geometry assumes a flat universe in which lines can be straight and angles can be sharp. We don’t live in such a universe, but we can learn about our universe by studying Euclid’s pseudo-verse. Same with calculus!
Same with science! Modern science studies with unimaginable depth and precision something that does not exist, i.e., a continuous world. Scientific Method (SM) allows us to probe the world with incredible precision. Anyone who made it through the 5th grade knows the details of SM by heart: Observe, question, hypothesize, experiment, and interpret. And if you were too cool for school, you know that anyway (without the labels) because you’ve lived…likewise many of your unstuffed animal friends.
The fundamental premise of SM is this: If you perform identical actions in an identical environment (e.g., laboratory), you will achieve identical results. SM is ‘AA certified’: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
So the non-thetic scientific method is a hardwired feature of epistemology in our biosphere. Perhaps it is a product of evolution (physical and/or cultural); it certainly confers ‘advantage’ on those able to use it. But the whole house of cards rests on a normally unnoticed and unstated foundation – the assumption that any event can ever be repeated.
In fact, every event is unique. It is a fundamental premise of ontology (Whitehead), the foundation on which all science must be built, that no two events can ever be the same. If they were, they would be one event, not two. ‘Same’ is a mathematical concept (‘equality’), not a physical reality. But there are no identical events, and therefore it is never possible to perform the same actions under the same circumstances.
The scientific method is logical and practical, and it yields amazingly useful insights, but its propositions are utterly vacuous, fruits of a forbidden tree. SM is a useful epistemology that rests on an invalid ontology! “This is what a unicorn would look like…if unicorns existed.”
Every event is novel, and no event causes any other event. Every event is free, causa sui, and sui generis. But the universe is also conservative….just conservative enough, as it turns out. If it were more conservative, we’d be in permanent gridlock; less conservative, chaos.
Consider Events A and B. Let’s assume that B is as similar to A as any event can be to any other event. They are separated by a ‘quantum of difference’ - what Jacques Derrida called ‘differance’. Where do we find this ‘B’? Next to A, obviously. Dah!
Neat trick! How’dya do it? Spacetime! Not a substructural feature of universe as we had long believed but rather a map of that universe. Spacetime is not the substructure of universe - it is a map, not a blueprint. Every map is the projection of a field according to a map-specific set of rules. One such map is spacetime, drawn so that every ‘B’ is adjacent to its ‘A’, of course.
Spacetime is Minecraft on steroids. We assemble virtual blocks to create multidimensional structures, environments, etc. It is this map that makes it possible for the scientific method to ‘work’, even though it rests on a fallacious ontology. So push our science to the max and take advantage of all the gorgeous fruit it produces, but beware: Do not confuse the fruit (phenomena) with the tree (noumenon), do not confuse the map with the territory!