.. My purpose therefore is, to try if I can discover what those principles are, which have introduced all that doubtfulness and uncertainty, those absurdities and contradictions into the several sects of philosophy; insomuch that the wisest men have thought our ignorance incurable, conceiving it to arise from the natural dullness and limitation of our faculties. (George Berkeley)
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence
than does knowledge: it is those who know little,
not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
(Charles Darwin, Introduction to The Descent of Man, 1871)
Hi Everyone (December, 2009)
This is a general introduction to this philosophy page and how this relates to our current society and its many problems. The main philosophy essay follows.
This philosophy page gets between 500 and 5,000 people visiting each day and ranks from 5 to 25 in the main search engines (Google, Bing) for 'philosophy'. I mention this because our world really does need some wisdom founded on physical reality, and history clearly shows that truth is the best and most powerful force for changing / improving our world. (And our world is in a lot more trouble than most of us realise I suspect.)
It is clear to me that there is a revolution coming in the foundations of our knowledge because we have solved the central problem of metaphysics, of what exists (space) that causes and connects the many things we experience (waves in space that form matter, the discrete and separate particle an illusion of our limited senses). Matter is large, a structure of space, and this truth about reality will change humanity, making us more aware of the world around us, providing us with cleaner machines and greater wisdom.
I have re-written this philosophy essay a number of times, trying to make it as short, simple and engaging as possible, while also explaining some fundamental truths about physical reality. I hope it entertains you while also making you more aware of this importance of philosophy. Of understanding the truth about our existence in the universe (physical reality) as the necessary foundations for wisdom in our thoughts and actions. I believe our future survival depends upon this.
As David Hume wrote (so elegantly!);
Accuracy is, in every case, advantageous to beauty, and just
reasoning to delicate sentiment. In vain would we exalt the one by depreciating
the other. ...
And though the philosopher may live remote from business, the genius of philosophy, if carefully cultivated by several, must gradually diffuse itself throughout the whole society, and bestow a similar correctness on every art and calling. The politician will acquire greater foresight and subtlety, in the subdividing and balancing of power; the lawyer more method and finer principles in his reasoning; and the general more regularity in his discipline, and more caution in his plans and operations. (David Hume, 1737)
The Bertrand Russell video on my YouTube Philosophy of Physics page relates to this - that we must be careful in how we think (meaning and use of language) if we are not to deceive ourselves.
If you find this essay interesting, please help promote
it on the internet. Philosophy (wisdom from truth and reality) is important
to our world, and current postmodern
philosophy is in disarray and contributes nothing but confusion (which
largely explains why humanity now faces so many problems).
If you can help get this page to #1 in philosophy, then the world will change to this knowledge - it is obviously correct and there are enough sensible people out there who will realise this.
PS - I have recently written a
letter to academic philosophers that anyone who enjoys philosophy will
find very interesting!
And we have a great collection of philosophy quotes that I encourage everyone to read (and think about!)
"The historian of science may be tempted to exclaim that when paradigms change, the world itself changes with them." (T. S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962)
"The task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what no body yet has thought about that which everyone sees. ... But life is short, and truth works far and lives long: let us speak the truth." (Arthur Schopenhauer, 1818)
Summary: The central problem of philosophy is most clearly
explained by David
Hume, the problem of causation and necessary connection. If we don't
know how the many things we commonly experience are connected together then
we do not know the source of truth. At a fundamental level (physics) this
problem of causal connection applies to how discrete and separate matter
particles interact with one another across the universe (space and time).
The solution is obvious. Don't describe an interconnected reality in terms of discrete and separate matter particles!
The obvious way to describe reality is the most simple way, that only one thing, space, exists, and matter is formed from waves in space. i.e. We simplify the metaphysical foundations of physics and philosophy from the motion of matter particles in space and time, to the wave motion of space that causes matter and time. i.e. From a metaphysics of space and time to a metaphysics of space and motion.
It then becomes obvious that an electron is a spherical standing wave in space. The wave center causes the particle effect, the spherical in and out waves interact with all other matter in the universe - which then solves this most profound problem of causation and necessary connexion. This really is simple and obvious - the essay below explains this, and if you find it hard to picture a spherical standing wave then have a look at the Wave Diagrams page.
Since philosophy is the art which teaches us how to live, and since children need to learn it as much as we do at other ages, why do we not instruct them in it? ... Oddly, things have now reached such a state that even among men of intelligence philosophy means something fantastical and vain, without value or usefulness, both in opinion and practice. (Michel de Montaigne)
I realise that philosophy in our postmodern world is seen as something fanciful and vain, just a lot of 'philosophical' nonsense that is irrelevant to daily life. And as the Montaigne quote above shows, this has been the case for centuries.
Yet philosophy is simply the study of truth as the necessary foundation
for acting wisely. e.g. It is unwise to dive into a pool of water unless
we know the truth about its depth. Likewise when we drive at night we use
our headlights so that we know the truth about where the road leads.
The point is obvious - that knowing the truth about things is central to acting wisely and preventing harm - and this applies to everything we do on a daily basis.
Given this importance of knowing the truth you would expect that philosophy
is the most important subject for humanity to understand - yet clearly this
is not the case. Why? Because over the past 2,500 years since philosophy
was first formalised no one has been able to work out the absolute truth
about things - which requires true knowledge of reality. We just have people's
opinions which invariable lead to conflict, confusion and harm.
So how can we work out what physical reality is, as the source of truth and wisdom? To begin we need to remove incorrect ideas that are leading us astray. This then leads us to the correct foundations for describing reality as the source of absolute truth. I will start with a nice experiment that you will hopefully relate to!
Esse est percipi (To be is to be perceived). ... All the choir of heaven and furniture of earth - in a word, all those bodies which compose the frame of the world - have not any subsistence without a mind. (George Berkeley)
Idealist philosophy believes that the mind exists, and that our sense of the external world (physical reality) is simply a construction of the mind. Given that all our knowledge is in fact a creation of the mind (imagination) it has been difficult to refute this - to get from our ideas of things to the real thing in itself (see Kant).
The experiment. Imagine an idealist philosopher in an
airplane at 30,000 feet. A ten second timer is activated that will eject
the 'philosopher' from the plane. They are wearing a parachute, but it is
not fastened. They must decide if they wish to fasten themselves to the
parachute or not.
This eliminates idealist philosophers / philosophy- they either fasten the parachute and thus acknowledge the truth of physical reality - or they do not and fall to their death!
This argument is a bit mischievous, but it does make two important points - that the physical laws of Nature apply equally to humans as they do to all other matter - and while it is easy to be an idealist when writing essays, we should always apply these ideas to physical reality (the ultimate determiner of truth!).
The absolute argument against idealism is Darwinian evolution. It is necessary that the physical reality of the earth and sun existed prior to our evolution, thus prior to our mind's evolution. There are many common traits of the human mind which confirm that we evolved as animals on the surface of the earth. E.g. We sleep, get hungry, seek pleasure, avoid pain, love others and lust for sexual reproduction. Idealism does not explain this - evolving as sexually reproducing animals on the surface of the earth does. Thus matter is a priori to mind. Popper's comments on idealism are pretty spot on;
Denying realism amounts to megalomania (the most widespread occupational disease of the professional philosopher). (Karl Popper, 1975)
Postmodern philosophy assumes that there is a physical reality but it is impossible for us to know it with our limited minds. It is basically a position of skeptical doubt and uncertainty. As Ernst Mach wrote;
piece of knowledge is never false or true - but only more or less biologically
and evolutionary useful. All dogmatic creeds are approximations: these approximations
form a humus from which better approximations grow. (Ernst Mach)
While this all sounds reasonable on the surface, with closer examinations we see that it leads us to the dogma of postmodernism that 'The only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths'. i.e. True knowledge of reality is impossible - we can only imagine things that do not exist, we cannot imagine things that really do exist! (Which is odd when you think about it.) Thus we see that the postmodern idea of no absolute truths is actually a contradiction, as Aristotle wrote 2,350 years ago;
Finally, if nothing can be truly asserted, even the following claim would be false, the claim that there is no true assertion. (Aristotle)
I recently read a philosophy joke that summarizes this problem of postmodern philosophy very well!
The First Law of Philosophy
For every philosopher, there exists an equal and opposite philosopher.
The Second Law of Philosophy
They're both wrong.
While I admit this does make me smile, the truth is that this confusion
and contradiction in philosophy (that all is opinion!) does great damage
to what is in fact a most beautiful and important subject.
This is not trivial as the problems of philosophy always manifest as problems for Humanity, and this largely explains why our modern world suffers such profound problems (the destruction of Nature and resultant change in the Earth's climate and ability to produce clean air, water, and food - which are clearly necessary for our future survival).
Again it is worth quoting Karl Popper.
In my opinion, the greatest scandal of philosophy is that, while all around us the world of nature perishes - and not the world of nature alone - philosophers continue to talk, sometimes cleverly and sometimes not, about the question of whether this world exists. They get involved in scholasticism, in linguistic puzzles such as, for example, whether or not there are differences between 'being' and 'existing'. (Popper, 1975)
To summarise. The central problem of postmodern Philosophy is to connect our incomplete senses of the world with the real world of what exists (Kant's thing in itself). The problem is that we do not see the causal connection between things, only the effects which are representations of the mind and thus deceptive. As David Hume elegantly explains;
must certainly be allowed, that nature has kept us at a great distance from
all her secrets, and has afforded us only the knowledge of a few superficial
qualities of objects; while she conceals from us those powers and principles
on which the influence of those objects entirely depends. ...
When we look about us towards external objects, and consider the operation of causes, we are never able, in a single instance, to discover any power or necessary connexion; any quality, which binds the effect to the cause, and renders the one an infallible consequence of the other. ... experience only teaches us, how one event constantly follows another; without instructing us in the secret connexion, which binds them together, and renders them inseparable. (David Hume, 1737)
So if we go back to our poor idealist philosopher free falling through space - we see the effects of this causal connection between the philosopher and the earth (the philosopher falls with an accelerating velocity), but we do not see the causal / necessary connection. We just give it a name, gravity, and then forget about it (though I am sure the falling philosopher is starting to take gravity more seriously - the necessary connection between their body and the earth!)
We now need to make one important clarification about truth - which will
then lead us to our solution.
One billion years ago the earth orbited the sun - thus there was a necessary connection between the earth and sun. Yet at that time, before our human evolution, there were no truths. Just physical reality abiding by its laws. This is very important to realise, as libraries full of books have been written about truth - yet it is really just a concept that we make up (humans like to create things!). In reality there is just necessary connection - this is the source of truth.
So for any statement you can always analyse it in terms of necessary connection. Here are two simple examples of logical and empirical 'truths' that found science.
Logical Truth: We can create necessary connections through
definitions / principles, e.g. 1+1 = 2 and 1+1+1= 3 thus 1+2 = 3 is true
because of the necessary connections we created. This relates to the axiomatic
foundations of mathematics and principles
in theoretical physics which are necessary foundations to deduce things
Logical truths are a priori (necessary, certain and universal - anyone would deduce the same results).
Empirical Truth: "The current time on my computer
is 5.30am" is true if there is a necessary connection between my eyes
and the light emitted from my computer showing this time.
Empirical truths are a posteriori (uncertain, dependent on senses which can deceive us).
Summary: To know the truth about things we need to know how they are necessarily connected. Thus to know the truth about physical reality we need to know how matter exists and moves about in space in a necessarily connected way. If we knew this then we would find that deductions from our theory of reality (logical truths) would match knowledge from our senses / experiments (empirical truths).
All arguments concerning existence are founded on the relation of cause and effect; that our knowledge of that relation is derived entirely from experience; and all our experimental conclusions proceed upon the supposition that the future will be conformable to the past. .... Without the influence of custom, we should be entirely ignorant of every matter of fact beyond what is immediately present to the memory and senses. (David Hume, 1737)
Popper's problem of induction is no different than Hume's problem of causation and necessary connection - they are the same problem because 'necessary connection' is the central problem of knowledge which applies to all the sciences - physics, philosophy, metaphysics, theology.
Popper claims that we can never prove something is true, we can only show
that it is false. So we could drop 10,000 idealist philosophers out of the
plane, one after another, yet we could never be certain that the next one
would fall to their death. To do so we have to assume the future is like
the past - and this is uncertain.
This is the current state of science / physics, which is founded on induction from empirical facts (uncertain) rather than logical deduction from principles which correctly describe reality (certain).
What most people do not realise though, is that this uncertainty is only the case while you do not know the necessary connection between cause and effect (postmodernism assumes this is a permanent limitation of science, thus we can never know reality / absolute truths). As Hume and Popper wrote;
Were the power or energy of any cause discoverable by the mind, we could foresee the effect, even without experience; and might, at first, pronounce with certainty concerning it, by mere dint of thought and reasoning. ... Now it seems evident that, if this conclusion were formed by reason, it would be as perfect at first, and upon one instance, as after ever so long a course of experience. (David Hume, 1737)
Hume is saying that once we know the causal connection between things,
we could deduce with certainty the effects, and they would always match
the effects we in fact see, i.e. logical truths = empirical truths.
And Popper acknowledged the truth of this. (It seems though that postmodern philosophy has forgotten this fact in their haste to say that we cannot know the absolute truth about physical reality).
There could easily be a little quarrel about the question which is the deeper problem; Hume's Problem of Causation, or what I have called the Problem of Induction. One could argue that if the problem of causation were positively solved - if we could show the existence of a necessary link between cause and effect - the problem of induction would also be solved, and positively. Thus one might say, the problem of causation is the deeper problem. (Karl Popper, 1975)
For example, we know that electrical charges repel one another, yet we have no 'ultimate explanation' of how they do it, even if we accept Maxwell's theory. We do not have any general theory of causality (at any rate not since the breakdown of Descartes' theory that all causality is push). (Popper, 1975)
This confusion is clearly evident in modern Physics, e.g. the particle / wave duality of both light and matter, the big bang origin of the universe from no space and time. However, we can now show that this confusion is simply due to errors in the foundations of physics relating to the discrete and separate particle conception of matter. i.e. If you try to explain reality in terms of many things (like many separate 'particles' moving around in space and time) then you still lack knowledge of how they are necessarily interconnected (so they add 'fields' or more 'particles' to connect them - but it is a naive way to solve the problem and it clearly cannot work).
The solution is to describe reality in terms of only one thing existing, as this will then explain the causal / necessary connection between the many things we experience. As Aristotle and Leibniz wrote;
(Aristotle, 340BC) The first philosophy (Metaphysics) is universal and is exclusively concerned with primary substance. ... And here we will have the science to study that which is just as that which is, both in its essence and in the properties which, just as a thing that is, it has. ... That among entities there must be some cause which moves and combines things. ... There must then be a principle of such a kind that its substance is activity.
(Gottfried Leibniz, 1646 - 1716) Reality cannot be found except in One single source, because of the interconnection of all things with one another. ... I do not conceive of any reality at all as without genuine unity. ... I maintain also that substances, whether material or immaterial, cannot be conceived in their bare essence without any activity, activity being of the essence of substance in general.
The solution is actually very simple and obvious once known (which is why philosophy is also known as the discovery of the obvious - because humans are blind to the obvious, as history shows). We simply had to ask one obvious question about science (Occam's razor)
(It is a significant fact that there is not another page on the internet that considers what the most simple science theory of reality is - which is strange given Occam's Razor / principle of simplicity is fundamental to science.)
With a little thought you will realise this is the same as asking what is the necessary connection between things - as there must be one thing that causes and connects the many things - and this is necessarily the most simple solution.
Of profound importance is the fact that there is only one solution (which is deduced). The Wave Structure of Matter in Space - where Space exists with the properties of a wave medium and matter is formed from spherical standing waves in space.
Note: We have a page of wave diagrams that will help you visualise the spherical standing wave structure of matter (WSM) in space. Basically, we only see the high wave amplitude wave-center and have been deluded into thinking matter was made of tiny little 'particles'. A very naive conception in hindsight - and quantum physics was telling us all along that waves were central to light and matter interactions!
From this foundation you can then show without any opinions that the theory
works, i.e. it correctly
deduces fundamentals of modern physics.
See: Quantum Physics, Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity, Cosmology.
And as Popper also wrote;
If a theory corresponds to the facts but does not cohere with some earlier knowledge, then this earlier knowledge should be discarded. (Popper, 1975)
Immanuel Kant is the most famous metaphysicist of western philosophy, and there is no doubt that his 'Critique of Pure Reason' is the most comprehensive analysis of Metaphysics since Aristotle's pioneering work which founded this subject. Thus no essay on philosophy would be complete without an explanation of Kant' synthetic a priori knowledge. The solution is simple and obvious once known.
Kant made one small and yet fundamental mistake. And this error led to
the belief that we could never know reality (the thing in itself), only
our ideas of reality which were necessarily incomplete.
Kant is correct that Space is a priori, or first necessary for us to have senses (which are a posteriori).
Natural science (physics) contains in itself synthetical judgments a priori, as principles. ... Space then is a necessary representation a priori, which serves for the foundation of all external intuitions. (Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 1781)
His error is to assume that Time is also a priori or necessary for us to sense the motion of matter 'particles' in Space. He writes;
There are two pure forms of sensible intuition, as principles of knowledge a priori, namely space and time. (Kant, 1781)
And from this he concludes that because Space and Time cannot be united, they must both be merely ideas. His error can be found in the following quote where he writes;
... even that of motion, which unites in itself both elements (Space and Time), presuppose something empirical. Motion, for example, presupposes the perception of something movable. But space considered in itself contains nothing movable; consequently motion must be something which is found in space only through experience - in other words, is an empirical datum. (Kant, 1781)
Please read this quote several times, for it contains an error that has had profound repercussions for humanity. The error? That 'space considered in itself contains nothing movable'. And this error then leads Kant to conclude that;
..in respect to the form of appearances, much may be said a priori, whilst of the thing in itself, which may lie at the foundation of these appearances, it is impossible to say anything. (Kant, 1781)
The solution to Kant's error is to realise that the exact opposite is true,
that Space considered in itself contains wave motions,
i.e. Space physically exists as a substance with the properties of a wave
medium and contains wave motions that form matter and cause the effect of
Kant's error is understandable in hindsight, because he followed Newton, and was conditioned into thinking that motion applied to matter 'particles' in space and time. Thus 'empty space' had no 'particles' - so motion could not exist in 'empty space'.
Once we replace the particle conception of matter in space and time with the wave structure of matter in space then we can easily see the error and how it is solved. Thus the two pure forms of sensible intuition, as principles of knowledge a priori, are namely Space and (wave) Motion. We must place in this a priori concept of Space the correct meaning - that Space is a wave-medium and contains within it a second thing, wave motions of space that form matter (i.e. synthetic a priori knowledge - we must correctly define the properties of space which is a creative act, a synthesis of space and its wave motions that form matter).
In ending, we now know why our Idealist philosophers fell to their death.
Because matter is a structure of the universe, necessarily interconnected
to all other matter around us by the spherical wave motions of Space that
cause the 'particle' effect of matter at the wave center.
Further study of physics then shows us that one property of space is that the waves travel more slowly where there is more matter waves (equivalent to higher energy density of space in Einstein's general relativity). This causes the philosopher's wave center 'particles' to re-position towards the earth (and this same causal connection of waves causes light to curve past the sun).
So now you know what gravity really is - because you know what physical reality is and thus how material things are necessarily connected in Space by their spherical in and out waves.
Please see links on the side of this page for the main articles which explain
and solve the central problems of postmodern Metaphysics, Physics and Philosophy
from the new foundation of the Wave Structure of Matter (WSM) in Space.
And the Philosophy Site Map lists all philosophy pages.
I hope that you enjoy browsing around! And I really hope you will think about this - it seems self evidently true to me, thus the most important knowledge that we shall ever discover. To finally understand what we really are as humans (amazingly large wave structures of the universe) as the true foundation for thinking and acting wisely in a world that is now in great need of wisdom from truth and reality.
PS - I should finish re-writing these main philosophy pages
by late 2009 (I have been reading philosophy, physics and metaphysics for
15 years now, so for me it is the end of a long journey to finally write
them all up!)
We are now listed as one of the Top Philosophy Websites on the Internet. We would love to get these pages in the top ten in Google search results so that people can see for themselves that there is actually a simple sensible solution to most problems of knowledge (which is very important to humanity). So if you find this interesting please add it to the social networking sites.
human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in
time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something
separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This
delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires
and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free
ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace
all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. ... The true
value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense
in which they have obtained liberation from the self. ...
We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein)
The notion that all these fragments is separately existent is evidently an illusion, and this illusion cannot do other than lead to endless conflict and confusion. Indeed, the attempt to live according to the notion that the fragments are really separate is, in essence, what has led to the growing series of extremely urgent crises that is confronting us today. Thus, as is now well known, this way of life has brought about pollution, destruction of the balance of nature, over-population, world-wide economic and political disorder and the creation of an overall environment that is neither physically nor mentally healthy for most of the people who live in it. Individually there has developed a widespread feeling of helplessness and despair, in the face of what seems to be an overwhelming mass of disparate social forces, going beyond the control and even the comprehension of the human beings who are caught up in it. (David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980)
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