Sunday, December 31, 2017

LIFE

Life is not an empirical phenomenon.  Life is whatever you experience at each moment.  That experience cannot be measured or observed.  All life is whatever that living being experiences at each moment, and that includes whatever phylum, whatever kingdom, whatever class or species of organism that being is filtering its life through.  An organism is the means by which consciousness has an opportunity to experience the world in a particular way.  Each organism provides a different experience.  Each organism of the same species provides a similar enough experience so that the beings that are attached to these same species' organisms  have the sense that they understand each other and do not experience their lives in total isolation.  Each organism of the same species is also different enough from each other so that the beings that occupy each of these different organisms has the capacity to surprise each other so that they do not experience their lives in total boredom.  Variation within a species also provides more survivability in the face of environmental threats. This is another benefit of variation, but certainly not the only one and not, necessarily, the most important one.

Science's insistence on studying purely what is observable, means that science can never study life, but only the apparatus, the organisms, that beings use to be able to experience their lives in  particular ways.  The being that occupies an organism is not what is observed, but the observer.  Science does not acknowledge this being so that within the organism there is no one that science recognizes who is enjoying the amazingly complex equipment whose workings scientists so elaborately describe.

Darwinian evolution is an attempt to describe life simply as material organisms and the awesome complexity of life due merely to an endlessly long and fantastically improbable series of molecular accidents.  From this perspective, consciousness, the ability to experience things, which is the very definition of life, is something that accidentally emerged by molecular mutation and stayed around  because it yielded a survival advantage over non-conscious life.  But non-conscious life is death.  Non-conscious life is an organism which is no longer the vehicle for anyone's experience, in other words, a corpse.  If evolution has anything to do with survival of the fittest, then that assumes that there is some entity that prefers surviving over not surviving.  The material world has no preferences. The only entity that prefers one state over another is a conscious entity, therefore, consciousness must be part of the definition of life from its inception.

When you say something is red, I can agree with you, but I have no way of knowing that the experience that you call 'red' is in any way similar to the experience that I am having when I call something 'red.'  We can agree on many terms to label the size and length and weight and color and emotional quality of our experience, but what any of these things actually means to each of us is beyond our knowing.  The only thing of which I can be sure is the self.  Everything I experience, I experience from the perspective of a unitary consciousness, which is me.  I am the non-physical bowl, the context, of my own experience; as you are the context of your own experience.

Desires are part of the milieu of consciousness.  All living things experience the world through the filter of an organism and each organism needs various things from its environment in order to survive and for their progeny to survive.  Although living beings need things from their environment in order to survive and propogate, they are not often consciously concerned with their survival.  They are concerned, however, with a series of desires whose fulfillment insures their survival for the longest possible time.  These desires include the desire to eat and the desire to eat specific foods which just happen to be the nutritionally best foods, or the best foods among whatever is available in their environment, to insure their survival.  The same with thirst, which is the desire for water.  The same with fatigue, which is the desire for rest.  The same with the experience of heat, which is the desire for coolness, and the experience of cold which is the desire for warmth.  The same with the experience of pain, which is the desire for that experience to end, and the experience of pleasure which is the desire to seek out and prolong that experience.  And it is the same with sexual desire, whose satisfaction unwittingly results in the production of progeny and the survival of one's species.

And each species is born with a particular set of desires that are perfectly suited to that species.  A male hippopotamus in heat, will trot past the most alluring human females to get to the watering hole where the real action awaits him in the form of a female hippopotamus, which will assure the production of progeny in a way that wasting time with Scarlett Johansson would not.  The dung beetle will march right through the kitchen past the smells of baking pies and roasting meats to go directly to the septic tank, drawn there by the truly alluring scent of human waste,  which just happens to be the most nutritionally perfect food for the dung beetle.

And each species has a way of organizing their experience, whether it is with the help of a brain or not, into which things are attractive and which are repellent, which are safe and which are dangerous, which are familiar and which are foreign, and who are kin and who are friends and who are enemies.

From the perspective of life as a way of experiencing the world, we understand that we inherit not just an observable brain and organism but a set of species specific desires and species specific ways of defining the things and the other organisms that we encounter in our environment.  These desires and definitions are not a product of the genome and the brain, but rather, it is the genome and the brain which are organized to deliver a consistent and hopefully satisfying way of experiencing the world.

This is a way of looking at the universe as starting with consciousness.  This may seem fanciful to those of a materialist bent, but how would materialists imagine the origin of the universe?  Our imaginations are limited by the boundaries of time and space.  To go beyond those boundaries stretches all of us, no matter what our perspective is.  Do you think things began with an explosion, a Big Bang?  Yet what is it that was exploding?  Was it forces and not matter?  What was the origin, then, of those forces, and the precisely calibrated laws and ratios of forces that allowed a physical universe to materialize?  There are only two possibilities.  Either you postulate that there was nothing, as in literally nothing, no time, no space, no matter, nothing, and then, suddenly there was something, and something that was perfectly calibrated and designed to engender a physical universe (in fact that would have to be at least two somethings, since nothing could be engendered by one thing in isolation, it would have to be one thing reacting to at least one other thing), which seems, at least to me, to be utterly impossible; or there was something that is not a thing that has no beginning (and no end) which is consciousness, and the material world is an expression of that consciousness.  This is a much more satisfying explanation to me, because I realize that I am, in essence, of that very same stuff, consciousness; and I realize that, although my surroundings and my thoughts and my feelings and my body has changed many, many times in my lifetime, I still remain, in essence, the identical, unchangeable consciousness that I was when I first began.  I also realize that everything around me that is constructed by humans, is a manifestation of the conscious will and desires of humans.  The subtle creates the gross.  So I live in a world that is based in consciousness and is driven by will and intention.  I do not deny my most essential reality, consciousness, and I do not think of my 'self' and my ability to observe and experience the world as the product of a molecular accident, but as the very reason that I and the world around me exists.


The comment lamp is lit.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

AUTOMATION

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!  This has been Trump's rallying cry and to that end he has promised to bring jobs back to Americans through protectionist immigration policies and tariffs,  and lowering tax rates and environmental restrictions on American manufacturers. The Democrats, on the other hand, believe that modernizing our infrastructure and transforming our energy manufacture from fossil fuels into renewable and ecologically friendly sources, will heal both the planet and the job market.  The main reason that so many jobs are disappearing, however, is none of the above, and is not being addressed by either party.  This is automation.  If one person can now, by operating and maintaining automated and high tech equipment, produce twenty times what a person could produce forty years ago using earlier technologies, then it is inevitable that there will be far fewer jobs.  If we phrase the problem as "automation is stealing our jobs," then that is a problem for which there is no solution.  Manufacturer's offered the opportunity to produce more product with less labor will always take that option and we have no legal way to restrain them from doing so.

Suppose, however, that we rephrase 'the problem'  in an entirely different way.  Regarding consumer technology, as opposed to manufacturing technology, we don't say that the vacuum cleaner, the dishwasher and the washing machine "stole" our ability to make a full time job out of house cleaning.  We say that these items "liberated" us from the drudgery of housework.  In fact, as the maintenance of our homes and our health have required less physical exertion, we have, in most cases, picked up the slack by exercising more and  doing physicallly challenging leisure activities, but activities  of our own choosing and at our own convenience.

Why can't we look at automation as a means of 'liberating' people from the drudgery of manufacturing work?  The reason is because the economic system that we live in only remunerates us when we are working and allows us to starve, or keeps us at a bare subsistence level, when we are not.  Also, our sense of self-respect, our place in the social hierarchy, as it is currently organized, is determined by whether or not we have a job and the status of that job.

If one person using the most modern equipment, can produce twenty times what one person could produce forty years ago, that means that that one person is producing much, much more profit for the owners of that equipment.  You would think then, that that one person should be paid, in comparable dollars, many times what his predecessor was paid.  In fact, the opposite is the case.  Since, in our system, wages are set by supply and demand, if there are now many fewer jobs, then potential employees become desperate to work and will accept much lower pay, in comparable dollars, than their forebears did forty years ago.  So, while profits soar as the productivity per worker sky rockets, wages are reduced as the population grows but job opportunities decrease.

As automation continues to expand, and it will expand exponentially, it will become, under the current system, injurious not just to labor, but to capital as well.  If unemployment soars, and the number of jobs, both those of subsistence wages and decent wages, plummets, then who will be left to purchase the goods that capital is manufacturing?  The Great Recession was blamed on the writing of bad mortgages, but why were they written?  Because there weren't enough people out there that could afford to buy homes, so rather than having the whole housing market collapse, they kept it going, for a while, by extending mortgages to people that couldn't afford them.  Bad mortgages were the result, not the cause, of the Great Recession.  The cause was that wages were not keeping up with worker productivity.  The short term corporate profits were huge, but soon, there just weren't enough people who could afford corporate products; and this was in spite of a ubiquitous marketing system that was continually and brazenly telling people that they were lacking, that they could not achieve real happiness, comfort or a sense of self-respect, unless they ran out and purchased A,B,C and D; and hired the services of W, X, Y and Z.

It is this ubiquitous noise of the marketing sector that tells us that an economy is in its death throes.  In a healthy economy, where there is a much more equitable income distribution, there would be a powerful demand for goods and services coming from the bottom and the middle of the economic ladder.  Manufacturing would increase to meet that already existing demand.  This makes expansion much less of a crap shoot and does not necessitate the need for aggressive advertising campaigns to convince people that they need some frivolous new product, or the need to distinguish one product from the rest of the field when the reality is that this one product does not differ from its brethren in anything but the most trivial ways.

Interestingly,  the conservative position insists on more freedom, more power and less restrictions for the manufacturer.  If a market economy is made of three parts, capital, labor and consumers, then the oddly named  'free-market' philosophy is really the belief in the hegemony of capital over labor and consumers.  The problem with it is that manufacturers tend to be, with some notable exceptions, extremely short sighted.  They choose short term profits over the long term health of their companies.  They sacrifice what could be the life time dedication of their employees and the endless loyalty of their customers over short term efforts to jack up profits by frequent and random firings which creates mistrust in the entire work force,  continual relocations to take advantage of some ephemeral cost savings, and the reduction of costs regardless of any corresponding reduction in product quality or consumer satisfaction and safety.

To know that the left is 'on their side' does not create much good effect at the polling places unless that 'sympathy' is accompanied by specific plans and programs that actually make sense and sound like they would work.  Neither side addresses the truly axis-shift adjustments in our economy that automation will soon require.  I will suggest some short term fixes for the automation "problem" and some long term fixes.  Both of these may seem startling, or 'pie in the sky.'  Yet the situation that we have become inured to, where corporations that own the most powerful, most efficient manufacturing equipment are making obscene profits while the bulk of people live under the the nagging fear that they will not be able to find a job and will be thrown on the mercy of our ever collapsing safety net, is absurd and the cause of so much unnecessary  pain and distress.  This is the same lurking fear that makes the education of our children a desperately anxious scramble for job placement rather than the joyous exploration of curiosity and the blossoming of innate talents that it should be.

First, manufacturing workers should be paid a wage that reflects the amount of profit that their labor is creating for the manufacturer. and that wage should never be less than half the profit that each individual worker is creating.  If that means that a person can now make in forty hours twenty times what their colleague could make twenty years earlier, then it is time to divide that job into two twenty hour jobs, or four ten hour jobs.  The company would still be making huge profits, and now there are four families that not only have the means to afford whatever the company is manufacturing, but have the leisure time to enjoy it.  It becomes good for the society as a whole, now enjoying full employment, and the manufacturer, now enjoying a huge spike in demand for his products.

While this approach would guarantee us full employment and a healthy economy with a solid foundation for many years, a point of even further growth in automation will be reached so that even these part-time, yet full pay jobs will become obsolete.  At some point, I would think that all young people, say from their late teens to mid twenties, should be required to contribute four years of government service.  Some of this may be in the armed forces, but the bulk of it could be in manufacturing, agriculture, health,  infrastructure, etc.  Each man and woman, having completed their four year service, would then be entitled to a monthly stipend for the rest of their lives which should be adequate to provide  a basic, comfortable life, not only for them but for the support of their children through their time of service.  Any one who would like to pursue some kind of career beyond the four year requirement is encouraged to do so.  For instance it would be possible to continue in whatever field you served for another four years which would train you to be an instructor or a researcher in that field.  This training would be paid for by a portion of your stipend from your initial four years, and would entitle you, upon completion, to a second stipend.

What about the motivation for improving technology still further?  Doesn't that have to be economically incentivized?  We could use the same model we do with new pharmaceuticals.  If there is a new drug break through, the drug company is allowed to set the prices and have exclusive manufacturing rights to that product for a set number of years, usually seven years I believe.  After that, other companies are allowed to make generics and the price plummets.  We could do something similar with innovations to manufacturing technology that increase worker productivity.  There are the inventors of the new technology, the owners of the new technology and the workers whose productivity is enhanced by the new technology.  For say seven years, the increased profits from the new technology would be split three ways, between the inventors, the owners and the labor that is using the new technology.  After seven years the inventors are considered remunerated, and the increased profits are shared by owners and labor.  And the benefits to labor could be remunerated by either higher wages or fewer hours.  This way inventors, owners and labor are all incentivized and excited about the prospect of improved technology.  

Whole industries of hand crafts, entertainment, food preparation, therapy, massage, healing arts, media, writing, etc., industries that depend on the unique talents of their workers and not solely on the operation of high tech equipment,  would proceed apace and could be run either for monetary profit or for barter.  This would be a parallel economy to the manufacturing one, and it could be very free wheeling, because it would not be taxable until it reached a certain size and a certain level of mechanization.  All taxes are produced by the machine based manufacturing sector.  And since the great bulk of the labor is provided to the manufacturing sector by cadres of young people who are paid for by government stipend, what manufacturers would normally pay to labor, they would pay in taxes.  These taxes would support payment of stipends and  the election of officials who would oversee the economy as a whole.  

What would happen to competition under this system?  It would continue in a healthy, less ruthless manner, without the possibility of 'ruin' hanging over the heads of the participants.  The interesting thing about competition is that everyone touts it, everyone sings the praises of competition, except for one group, the people that are actually competing.  These people hate competition.  They don't want to compete.  Competing is just a stop gap until they are able to do what they really want, which is to annihilate the competition.  They want dominance, not competition.  And to that end, they will use the spoils of every initial victory to reinvest in advantages that make it ever more difficult for competitors that don't have such  spoils to compete with them.  This is how dynasties are formed.  Competition can only be guaranteed over the long run if it is regulated.  Otherwise, you will get the emergence of the most ruthless, most sociopathic leader who has amassed unstoppable power.  The only way that change can be effected in that situation is through brute force.

I have not worked out all the details of such an economy, but have provided this rough sketch for your consideration.  What are the benefits?  Everyone would be included.  We don't have to compartmentalize ourselves so that we are able to enjoy the fruits of our labors and shut out all the suffering of the indigent, homeless and unemployed.  And this would be a much quieter economy, which is what an economy should be.  How trivial it is to spend our entire lives fretting over how much we are making, how much we have for retirement, why that one has so much more than we do, how this one is plotting to get at our savings, if we should buy this brand or that brand, what is the best way to invest, etc., etc.  And also listening to those ubiquitous infuriating commercials and solicitation phone calls, that always deliver a message whose subtext is, "you thought you were sitting contentedly in the privacy of your home, but you were not.  How could you possibly be content?  You don't have our product, and without our product you are incomplete, uncool, inadequate, or clearly deficient in some vague way."  Isn't it time we, as a society, grew up, and stopped worshipping all this idiotic junk, and idolizing these sociopaths who have, to the neglect of their families, of any real friendships and any spiritual life, ammassed obscene amounts of money at the expense of everyone else?

The best economy is a quiet economy.  Let each person take care of their needs with a minimum amount of attention and devote the great bulk of their time to activities which provide joy for themselves and others.


Your comments, please.





Sunday, November 26, 2017

GIVING THANKS

My family is not committed to any particular organized religion.  The one ritual that we do practice religiously is taking turns around the Thanksgiving table to express what it is that each of us are grateful for.  Although I can't vouch for the others,  I don't prepare what I am going to say. I have noticed that the things that I am grateful for have changed over the years.  I am not as engaged as I once was in the world in a way that I am concerned about the outcome of events.  Of course if I get sick and especially if a loved one gets sick, I hope and pray for their return to health.  And I celebrate the successes and empathize with the failures of these loved ones.  But for myself, my life has stabilized more and more over the years and the things that I am grateful for have less to do with how things  turn out as they have to do simply with my ability to observe and remember events as they are unfolding.  These abilities that I have gratitude for are not things that special luck or  talents or opportunities have brought me beyond the immensely lucky  opportunity to be born.  They are abilities that I share with every living being.

I am grateful for life itself.  What a remarkably wonderful thing life is.  I am able to experience things.  I do this at every moment.  I can see.  I can hear.  I can feel fresh air on my skin.  I can eat and drink and taste whatever it is that I am eating and drinking.  Like everyone else, I have intentions; there are things that I want to do.  But as I grow older, the things that I want to do are almost exclusively things that I am able to do, simply by intending them.  I am not invested in a set of desires that are in competition with other people's sets of desires.  If I want to go for a walk, miraculously, all the muscles that I need to constrict and relax in order for me to go for that walk automatically begin to constrict and relax the moment that I have that intention and they constrict and relax in precisely the sequence and timing that allows me not only to walk but to walk in the specific direction that I intend to walk in.  That is wondrous.  It is no less wondrous because I share that ability with every ambulatory creature on this planet.  I can instantaneosly direct my body in the direction that I want to direct it and to do precisely what it is that I want it to do.  And these activities are very precise : like typing this essay, or getting a glass of water or tying my shoes, activities that require remarkably precise cascades of firing neurons and contracting and expanding molecules within my musculature.

I am grateful for the sun, not as an object,  but as an experience.  I observe the light and experience the warmth that it brings every day.  I feel that on my body.  I observe how all my fellow creatures react to the arrival of light every day.  I see the energy that it produces.  The same with water.  I walk the same trail at least a few days every week, and I live in an area that has a rainy season.  Prior to that season, right now for instance, most of the plants along that trail are parched.  They wait with eager anticipation for the arrival of the rains and when the rains do arrive they swell and grow and turn radiant colors in their happiness.  This is a glory to behold and I am able to observe that any time I want, simply by directing my feet in that direction.

I can think.  You may not agree with the way that I think, which is fine; and you will never know all the ways in which I think as I will never know all the ways in which you think; which is also fine.  But I can still think, and I can think about the things that I want to think about, simply by focussing on whatever it is that I want to focus on.  Again, this ability is something that I share with all my fellow humans, and with, I believe, a lot, lot more creatures that are generally not thought of as 'thinking.' And again, it is no less glorious, no less wondrous, that I am able to do that because I share that ability with everyone else.  I may live in a nominally capitalist, competitive economy and I may live in a society that shares many beliefs about the inherently competitive nature of biology, but the things that I am grateful for are not things that I am in competition with you about.  And it does not diminish, one iota, the miraculous nature of these abilities because they are shared by countless living creatures.

Life itself is truly wondrous and miraculous.  If I wish for anything, I wish for more of my fellow creatures to stop wishing (at least once in a while) and really take stock of these wonderful abilities that we are each already able to do and experience.  A lot more happiness, a lot more mutual respect, a lot more peace and joy would be generated if we did.  Belated Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

INTENTIONS

The basic thrust of modern theoretical science is to provide a framework to explain how the world, both animate and  inanimate, came to be the way that we find it today without the intervention of any intelligence or guidance.  In other words, a random world without intention. This is not only the thrust of modern theoretical science, but it is the unspoken context within which many of us experience our lives.  And this random nature of our existence, that we are the result of countless trillions of random but fortuitous collisions ( fortuitous if we have any appreciation for our lives and the world around us)  between particles of matter interacting at the mercy of blind forces,  is something that we have accepted, not happily, but with resignation because, alas, scientists, people that know much more about the world than we do, have proven it to be so.  Or have they?

The randomness of life troubles us at very deep levels.  Many of us, for instance,  pore over the details of how our parents met; all the little specific details that brought our mothers and fathers to be in the same exact place and time.  Once our parents had discovered each other, it may be more plausible to think that "something just drew them to each other."  Or that, "they knew immediately that they were meant to be together," but did all the little specific details,  including ancestors coming to America at a certain moment in time, choosing a certain neighborhood to live in; our parents sharing the same interest or sharing the same particular schedule on a particular day, or sharing some common social connection, that brought them to the same place at the same time, so that that "pre-ordained" chemistry could be allowed to occur in the first place; could all of that, that whole litany of specific circumstances, could that possibly have been the result of anyone's intention?  And, if so, whose intention was it?

My parents met at a resort hotel where they were both attending a single's weekend.  Did my mother frequent such places?  Not at all.  In fact, this was the first time she had ever gone to a single's weekend.  Why did she feel compelled to attend on that particular weekend?  I don't really know how frequently my father went to such events, and he is no longer around to ask, but even if he did go a number of times previously, why this particular weekend?  Why this particular  hotel?  My mother went with a friend.  Did they just simply decide to go or did they consider going for a while, considering different hotels and different dates until finally honing in on this particular one?  My father, also, although he attended alone, must have certainly considered other weekends and other places.  If either of them had made any other decision, they most probably would never have met; my father being from New York City and my mother from Scranton, Pennsylvania.  The hotel just happened to be about half way between these two cities.

They met at a ping pong table.  My mother was playing with her friend.  My father asked if he could play the winner.  What if her friend had won?  What if my father had walked, that morning, over to the tennis courts rather than the ping pong tables?  What if my mother did not play ping pong?  Would I have ever been born? Or my sisters?  Or our children and grandchildren, and their future children and grandchildren?

In an unfathomably vast and complex universe, we seem to be random and trivial accidents in the huge flux of physical and social forces. The idea of personal destiny, of being born to fulfill a purpose, of arriving on this planet with anything but a body filled with extremely complicated physical equipment, seems self-delusional and to fly in the face of everything that we have 'learned' in the twentieth century.  If we have any sense of purpose, we think,  it probably grew out of the particular circumstances that we were exposed to after we were first born and especially out of the particular psychological dynamics between our mothers and fathers and their relationships to us, or we can say to ourselves and others a phrase that is currently enjoying great populariy, "It's in our DNA."

We do know that DNA is part of a wondrously complex system for manufacturing proteins.  DNA is that component of the system where the recipes for these proteins are stored.  Each of us is born with a slightly different set of protein recipes and we do know that some sequences of these recipes are associated with certain behaviors and desires as opposed to others.  For instance, organisms that contain the human genome are born with a craving for their mother's milk, seek out their mothers breast and already know how to suckle it.  Newborn koalas, or centipedes, or termites, or dung beetles, each with their own unique sets of DNA sequences are also born with cravings, but with very different cravings, and seek out very different looking mothers to satisfy those cravings.  Are these different inherent cravings caused by the different arrangements of DNA in each of these creatures, or are the different arrangements of DNA associated with these different cravings, and there may or may not be a causal relationship between them?  Is there a deeper cause, some kind of over arching intention that caused a being to be born with a particular sequence of DNA because that being or some other being wanted that being to experience an existence with a certain set of desires; those desires being satisfied through a certain organism with certain characteristics and certain ways of satisfying those desires?  Is the particular set of DNA sequences that an organism possesses, in other words, the particular set and sequence of manufacturing particular proteins in an organism, is this the root cause of the way an organism is, or are these particular proteins, the sequence in which they are manufactured and the system in which they are delivered, intentional?  Is this the DNA sequence that corresponds to  the kind of organism that we want to be; in the environment in which we want to experience the world, with a particular set of desires and particular biological ways of fulfilling those desires, that we somehow chose?  Do we live the life that we want to live, facing the challenges that we want to face, and possessing the biological equipment that we want to possess to meet those challenges?

So much is made, in Darwinian evolutionary theory of  random "mutations" resulting from reproduction errors, that cause, in combination with natural selection, all the DNA differences among organisms.  What if these DNA differences were not caused by random variations and natural selection, but the result of an intention to design a being with a particular set of desires capable of functioning in a particular environment?  And not just an external environment, but an internal mammalian or reptilian or avian environment?   In other words, is the particular DNA sequences that we have another random accident, or is DNA, also, part of some kind of intention, some kind of choice that we or some other being has made prior to us being born?

What is an intention?  An intention is a desire to somehow manipulate or even create something in the physical universe that provides an experience for ones self or for others that is preferable to the experience that is provided by the physical universe prior to this manipulation.  We want ice cream because we prefer the experience of eating ice cream over the experience of not eating it.  We want a sturdy house because we prefer the experience of the safety and security of a sturdy house  over the experience of the insecurity and exposure of  an unsturdy house.  We want to scratch our foot because we prefer the experience of itchlessness over the experience of itchiness.  We want world peace because we know enough about the discomfort of tension and the horrors of war to prefer the experience of calm and peace over the experience  of tension and war.

To have an intention, a preference for one experience over the other,  implies the capacity to experience.  Inorganic material, clearly, has no such capacity.  Inorganic material is passive.  It moves or doesn't move, changes form from liquid to solid to gas, combines with other substances or separates from those substances,  purely based upon the forces that impinge upon it.  It has no preference to be stationary or to move at light speed, to be in great heat or in great cold, to be part of a huge conglomeration of matter like a star or to be an isolated atom floating through the universe.  Having no capacity to experience, inorganic matter has no preferences at all.  All the behavior of inorganic matter can be explained in terms of the forces that impinge upon it.

There are three kinds of phenomena that cannot be predicted purely by the forces that impinge on them.  Among living organisms there is biological activity and there is behavior.  Both of these, biological activity and behavior, make sense in terms of forces, but the forces are generated, in both cases, by metabolism, by a system of gathering fuel and generating energy from that fuel, not to violate, but to overcome the natural forces that impinge upon the organism.  A corpse is an organism with no self generating metabolism, therefore, no activity, biological or behavioral, which overcomes the natural forces impinging on it.  Behavior is activity that is motivated by our preference to have a certain experience or to avoid a certain experience.  It implies the capacity of living beings to experience and to prefer one experience over the other.

The third category of phenomena that cannot be predicted purely by the forces that impinge on them are the activities of machines.  A machine is a way of  using a source of energy to accomplish an activity.  The activity that a machine accomplishes, if it works,  provides an experience that is preferable to the experience provided by the physical universe prior to the use of the machine.  This experience is preferable to the inventor of the machine, the builder of the machine and the user of the machine.  It is not preferable to the machine itself.  The machine itself, including our most sophisticated electronic machines and computers,  is not capable of having an experience, therefore not capable of prefering one experience over the other; therefore the machine, itself, really has no self; the self being the nexus of the capacity to experience and the nexus of a set of preferences for one experience over the other.

A lot of idiotic science fiction movies notwithstanding, machines and all the components of machines, have no capacity to experience.  They can do very complicated tasks, but they do so with no consciousness, no experience.  Now we have many sophisticated machines in our current environment that use electricity.  These machines are able to  match patterns of electrons, but they do not know that they are matching patterns of electrons.  They can switch to matching new patterns depending on which patterns had previously matched or not matched.  Again, however, they do not know they are matching patterns or switching patterns.  They know nothing.  Knowing is a conscious activity and machines are not conscious.  The machine, called Big Blue, that beat the great chess player Garry Kasparov and the machine, called Alpha Go,  that beat the great go player Lee Seedol, did not know that they were playing chess or playing go.  They did not know that they were in a competition.  They did not know that they were called Big Blue or Alpha Go.  Although they were referred to, affectionately, by their creators as 'she' or 'he' or even 'it,'  they were not really a he or a she or an it, in the sense that we usually use those pronouns.  If these pronouns are used in the case of computers or other machines that we are fond of, they do not refer to a unitary source of agency, intention and experience, that we usually think of when we say, "He went to work,' or "she  doesn't like to be bothered"or "they are very busy at school." We usually use these pronouns simply because the machine enables us to satisfy intentions that are important to us and we have affection for these machines because they do that.  These machines, of course, do not have any affection for us.

Because they have no capacity to experience, a machine does not seek out one experience over the other.  A self driving car, thankfully, does not go where "it" wants to go.  It takes you to where you want to go.  Your computer doesn't write the emails that it wants to write to the people that it wants to get in contact with.  It assists you in writing the emails that you want to write to the people that you want to get in contact with.  It searches for the information that you are interested in, not for the information that it is interested in.  It is purely and utterly the servant of your intentions, not its own intentions.

Our bodies are a conglomeration of organic machines that also, like inorganic machines, are the servants of our intentions.  Now there are, also, within our bodies innumberable microbial creatures and viruses that are pursuing their own intentions, some of which are congruent with our intentions and some of which are in conflict with our intentions.  And there may be cancer cells, which are behaving in their own interest, gathering fuel for their own growth and expansion at the expense of our continued growth and longevity.  But our actual bodies are designed, miraculously, to do whatever it is that we want to do, the moment we want to do it.  And we are born with a set of desires that align perfectly with the environment in which we find ourselves.  As I said earlier, we are born with a craving for our mother's milk, an attraction to our mother's breast which is the source of that milk, and the knowhow to suckle that breast.  All of this, of course, is wonderfully convenient, since we are born to a human mother that has the specific kind of breast with the specific kind of milk that we are craving and that we already know how to suckle.  If we, with human desires and preferences, were born to a centipede mother or a koala mother or a termite mother, we would be in very serious trouble trying to satisfy human desires in a centipede environment.  The same, of course, would be true of a newborn centipede, trying to satisfy its centipede desires in a human environment.

When I say that the equipment that we are born with, that we call our bodies, is miraculous, I am not referring to the staggering molecular complexity of this equipment, which is wondrous but not miraculous.  I am referring to the way in which this equipment is put into motion.  The precise neurons allowing the precise cascades of sequences to deliver the behavior that we want to do to assist us in fulfilling our intentions is initiated instantly simply by us having that intention.  As I said, intention is part of our experience, and we, who we are, is that center of experience, intention and awareness, that is, in this life, connected to our bodies, but is not part of our bodies.  We are that non-physical center of awareness, intention and experience, and we initiate the manifestation of our intentions simply by having them.  This initiation of intention is a movement from the non-physical (us) to the physical: firing neurons and the cascades of molecular, and muscular activity that result.  I call it miraculous because if fits the definition of miraculous, that is: physical activity resulting from a non-physical cause.

Of course, the modern thinking is that it is the brain that has these intentions, that we are simply the passive responders to what our brains want us to do.  But if the brain is not a machine, if it is, itself, the center of intention and experience, where is that experiential center located?  When we look at the brain we see neurons with dendrite extensions that connect to other body cells and axons that connect to other neurons,  and electrical charges moving through those neurons and dendrites and axons.  In what part of the brain are these intentions and experiences located?  We can now map out different areas of the brain that are connected to different kinds of experiences; but the differences in those areas is location, not structure.  We find the same neurons, the same axons, the same dendrites, delivering, depending on location, our visual experiences, aural experiences, thoughts, memories, touches, and tastes.  Where is the consciousness that is translating these patterns of electrical charges into the actual experience that is the very moment to moment fabric (although a non-material fabric) of our lives?

We are not our bodies.  We are the non-physical center of our experience and intentions, and we attempt to realize those intentions  through the agency of our bodies.  Our bodies and, yes, our brains and our DNA, are those systems that allow us to experience the kind of life that we want to experience and the fulfillment or frustration of those intentions that we want to pursue.

What about biological processes? Those processes that exist beyond our purview, including those that exist without any intrusion of our consciousness, and those that are initiated by our conscious desires, are all of those activities, which are metabolically energized  activities, are all of them  intentional? Yes.  Their intention is to keep this entire organism functioning, so that we can experience this world from the perspective that our bodies and brains and DNA determine that we shall experience it, for as long as possible.  So, whose intention is it to allow us to have this particular experience of life on this planet for the longest possible time?  That would be the ultimate being, the being of whom we are all an aspect; that would be the Atman, Infinity, God, the Cosmic Consciousness, Allah, Hashem, the being that has been referred to by countless different names over the centuries, but always the same One being.

I asked a scientist once, a man who had been running a research lab at MIT for thirty years, "What is the difference between a firing neuron and the experience of a firing neuron?"  He said, "I don't think there is a difference."  Really?  Is there a difference between an apple and the experience of eating an apple?  Is there a difference between a CD and the experience of listening to a CD?  The materialist scientist's blindspot regarding their own experience, the entire plane of experience, could not be more clearly dramatized.  And all of modern scientific thinking and brain research rests on the totally unproven assumption that consciousness is the result of very complex electronics.  This may comport with the general assumption in our modern society that matter is the ultimate bases of the universe and that forces and experience and our conscious life spring from matter; but it is totally unproven and is the exact opposite of the much older mystic tradition that the subtle creates the gross; that matter is  the result of forces and that forces and the precise balances between forces are no more than ideas that spring from the Cosmic Consciousness and that allow us to have a material world in the first place.

We now know of many different areas of the brain which are dedicated to either thoughts, memories, visualizations, hearing, touch, heat sensations, etc.  Each of these areas are distinguished by nothing much more than their location.  The multitude of neurons in our brains allow us to make distinctions; the more neurons, the more distinctions.  We can distinguish near from far, round from square, dangerous from friendly, attractive from repellent, beautiful from ugly, and many, many distinctions between those, depending on how many neurons are devoted to that area of our experience.   Yet how can basically the same neurons, the same dendrites, the same axons, the same electrical current moving through all of these; how can this sameness be responsible for the inexhaustible richness and complexity of our moment to moment experience?  When I see a sunset, I see a sunset.  I don't see electrical patterns on my cerebral cortex, no matter how precise and complex that pattern is.  I see the sun.  Evidently scientists must first admit that there is a difference between electrical currents and consciousness.  Then, they might want to explain how such a difference could exist, and how there could be this instant translation from current to consciousness when we are considering  perception, and from consciousness to current when we are considering the translation of intention into action.

Creation, either the first creation of the physical universe or the first creation of life, began with intention.  This intention implies a being that has the capacity to experience and to prefer one experience over the other; in this case the preference that there be a physical universe rather than no physical universe and that there be life rather than no life.  A being has intention and preferences but no physicality.  A living being, like a human being or a dog being or a maple tree being, is attached to an organism, experiences this life and has preferences in this life through the medium of the physical body that it finds itself attached to.

Intention preceding creation from a non-physical being that has no beginning, that is increate, may be a mysterious way of looking at creation, but what would be a non-mysterious way of looking at creation?  Creation appears, in its essence, to be mysterious to a consciousness such as ours which is brain bound and organism bound to time and space.  If you disagree and say there was creation without intention,  then what are you left with?  That there was literally nothing, and then suddenly there was something; that physical matter or energy or force, just appeared and appeared with precisely the right amount of force and ratio of forces and velocities and energy for everything to fall in place and make an entire, synchronous, coherent and stable universe with just the exact right balance of attraction and repulsion to make this universe coherent and stable, those pockets of instability (which supporters of the 'electric universe' make so much of) being necessary to maintain the stability of the whole?

Or do we say that there was something,  some force field say, or some kind of radiation or some kind of conglomeration of particles that led to the Big Bang.  In that case the Big Bang was not really the origin of the physical universe.  Whatever you describe as preceding the Big Bang was the origin of the universe.  And if that origin was physical, did that origin have a beginning?  Do you see where I am going with this?  Something either has to be eternal, or something just popped into being from absolutely nothing: no atoms, no molecules, no forces, no energy fields, no particles at all.  There was literally and absolutely nothing and then, suddenly there was.  This to me is far more mysterious than to say that creation began with an intention; an intention that belonged to a being that had no beginning and that will have no end, and has no physicality. Why is this explanation more satisfactory than the other one?  Because I have discovered, as you can discover, that you are also a being that has the capacity to experience and a set of preferences and a desire to manipulate the physical universe in ways that satisfy those preferences; and that you are not your physical body, any part of your physical body, but you are the non-physical context within which you experience your physical body.  You are consciousness.

A brain scientist trying to explain to me where that center of consciousness may be located in the brain, shared with me that we have begun to discover a specific place where the brain attempts to make coherence out of incoherent thoughts.  Or is it, as I would suspect, the place in the brain where our attempts to find coherence from incoherence are recorded?  But whether we describe this person as being coherent with a perceptual and thought framework that she is comfortable with, or incoherent, with a perceptual and thought framework that is torturous to her, we are still describing two different conditions of the same person.  The context of consciousness is still there, it's just having two very different experiences.  So if consciousness is the context of our very deepest thoughts, if it even encompasses our very sense of coherence and incoherence, then what,  the brain scientist wanted to know,  is this context of consciousness that you talk of?  This context that we can neither see nor hear?  The context is you, you, you!  You are coherent or incoherent.  You are lucid or impaired.  Whatever the contents of your consciousness, whatever the strength or weaknesses of those contents, the good or evil of those contents, the coherence or incoherence of those contents, the context of those contents is still  you.  You are consciousness.  Not what you experience, but the experiencer.  Not what you desire, but the desirer.  Not what you observe, but the observer.  You are not a that, but a that which; that which experiences and desires.  You are consciousness and consciousness is you.



Once again, the comment lamp is lit.

Matt Chait



















Saturday, September 30, 2017

OLD SCHOOL

Deep in the middle of the ocean there is a gigantic school of fish, a veritable thalassic mega-university.  The student population is so large that it dwarfs that of UCLA, the University of Texas and NYU combined.  It is so old that the universities of Bologna, Oxford and Salamanca are mere upstarts in comparison.  At this venerable and mammoth institution there are only three professors: the Minister, the Marinologist and the Mystic.  Are these the same three professors who have been teaching at the university all through the millennia?  Probably not, but it's hard to say, because each of them teaches the identical things and in the identical manner that their predecessor taught.

When they first arrive at the University, the fishmen (they used to be called freshmen, then fresh fishmen, then fresh fish; but fishmen was finally settled on), these new arrivals study exclusively with the Minister. The Minister asks them to close their eyes and to imagine something so great, so powerful, so essential to their lives that they are utterly dependent on it.  The fishmen all try terribly hard to imagine such a thing, but then confess that they cannot.  The Minister at that point always cries, "Exactly so.  This thing is so much larger, so much more terrifying and so much more benevolent than we can imagine.  And we call this thing Water!"  "But how can we believe in 'Water' if we cannot imagine it?" cry the fishmen.  "Because you must!,"  cries the minister, "and woe to you who does not.  Because if you do not believe in Water a fate awaits you worse than you can imagine, and if you do believe in Water you will find your reward in a paradise that is also beyond your imagining."  Terrified, all the fishmen would shout in unison, "We believe!  We believe."  But underneath that belief there always lurked this nagging doubt.  "What if there really was no Water?  What if we believe only because we are afraid not to believe?"

After the passage of some time of alternating believing and doubting, each fish, still seeking some solid truth, finds its way back to the University.  These returning students now study with the second professor, the Marinologist.  The first thing the Marinologist asks them is to not close their eyes at all, but to keep them open, wide open.  He then leads them on a long journey of observation where they encounter arthropods, cnidarians, echinoderms, hemichordates, lophophorates, every possible form of sea vegetable and sea animal and every form of coral and rock and sand formation.  At the end of this long journey the Marinologist says, "We have now seen all there is to see.  So I ask you this: have any of you observed anything called Water?"  And the entire multitude of fish confess in unison that they had observed no such thing.  "Then do not let me hear you, ever again, refer to anything called Water.  It is a myth, a delusion, a superstition.  It is something that you learn when you are children, little fishmen, but now you are older and wiser.  You are adults and to be a knowledgeable and sophisticated adult you must give up these childish things."

Older and wiser, they return to their homes, but after a while nagging doubts resurface.  The minister had impressed upon them so powerfully, the need to believe in Water and the dreadful consequences of not doing so, that the thought occurs, "What if there really is Water and we just cannot see it?"  So after leading this wise and sophisticated life for some time, the doubts and insecurities that underlie that sophisticated veneer come to the fore and the fish find themselves returning to the University yet again.  This time they study with the third professor, the Mystic.

The Mystic says nothing.  Rather than lecture his students, he takes them to a very high underwater mountain.  The top of this mountain, which is a flat rock, protrudes at the moment of lowest tide, for a fraction of an inch above the water line.  Then, in another moment or two, when the tide starts to rise, the mountain top is, once again, submerged.  All the student fish follow the professor to the mountain top just before lowest tide.  There they all, for a few moments, endure a ghastly experience including the inability to breathe or swim, but merely to quiver in helpless fear and anxiety,  until the water returns, at which point every fish on that mountain top can now, for the first time, experience something that they can without doubt, refer to as 'Water.'  For the rest of their lives, these fish do not believe in Water, because they do not need to.  They know Water, because they have known 'no Water.'  Although they may not have all the information that the Marinologist has, they are, in an important way, wiser; because they have experienced this world from a wider and deeper perspective;  beyond the box within which the Marinologist, unwittingly,  views the world.  They also do not share the beliefs of the Minister.  They do not believe; they know.  And what they know they cannot observe, because water is not part of the observable content of their lives, but part of its unobservable context.  

When they return home, they return with knowledge.  They are not morally better than the Minister and his believers; but they are more secure and their gratitude for Water is never insincere.  They realize that life within Water is, already, the paradise that the Minister had promised.  Also, all the information that they received from the Marinologist is still with them.  They do not know more than the Marinologist, but they realize that Water is the context, not the content, of everything that they had observed under  his guidance.




Thanks for reading.  The comment lamp is lit!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

THE SUN

I went with my son to see the sun; more specifically, the total solar eclipse of the sun.  We drove 1800 miles in two days and watched the eclipse from a mountain top accessible only by a logging road, 17 miles outside of the town of Sweet Home, Oregon.  I really didn't know what to expect, but here is what I saw:

Through my 'eclipse' glasses the sun looked roughly as illuminated as the moon, except that this was an orange moon.  Everything else, besides that orange 'moon' was inky black.  Then a black sphere, starting in the north east portion of that moon, started eating away at it.  In the beginning it looked like the Apple logo.  Then it looked like a fat banana.  Then a crescent.  Then a tiny crescent sliver.  Then it disappeared.  While this was going on, I could see from around the sides of my little eclipse glasses, that we were moving quickly from day to night, including the growing sounds of crickets and cicadas.  But the real pay off, the thing that I wasn't really expecting, and which proved to be the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my entire life, was that when the sun was totally eclipsed and I could see nothing but blackness through my eclipse glasses, I could then look at the sun, or the eclipsed sun, with my naked eyes.  The moon was dark, but not completely dark.  It was illuminated by the reflection of those parts of the earth that were not being totally covered by the moon's shadow, so you could see the surface of the moon in amazing detail.  But surrounding that dark moon was the sun's corona.  Still pictures of the corona do not do it justice.  It is a mass of roiling, boiling, silver gasses spread out for millions of miles in all directions.  Suddenly I experienced, for the first time, the majesty and awesome power of the sun.  Not the gentle,  warming, comforting sun, that we are used to,  but a terrifyingly gigantic, smoking engine; an unfathomably powerful ancient generator that energizes every living thing on this planet and keeps the entire solar system and all of us in its orbit.  We are all falcons and suddenly we get to glimpse  the falconer; an immediate, visceral sense of the power of this universe and our total dependence on it.

If you saw it, you will know exactly what I mean.  If you didn't see it, make your plans NOW to see the next total eclipse, which will arrive on April 4, 2024.  The band of totality in the United States will spread from Texas to Maine.  This time, God willing, I will be flying, not driving.  Driving that distance in two days at my age was a stretch.  In seven years it will be an impossibility.

See you there!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

UNDERSTANDING THE QUANTUM, THE PARTICLE/WAVE DUALITY

The quantum is the world of tiny, very tiny, unfathomably tiny sub atomic particles that make up the fabric of our bodies and the world around us.  It is said that “if you think you understand the quantum, then you don’t.”  That the behavior of these particles is so bizarre, so weird in relation to the way that things behave in our familiar world of visible objects, that it is just impossible to make any sense of it. The point of this post is to do exactly that, to suggest to you a framework in which not only quantum phenomena, but also phenomena in our familiar visible world, phenomena in the astonomical world of gigantic objects hurtling through space at unfathomable speeds and even the personal world of our internal experience all make some kind of consistent, coherent sense.

In this post I wont be discussing all the weirdness of the quantum, just one important aspect of it; the particle/wave duality. To do that we’ll hone in on the experiment through which the particle/wave duality was first discovered, the double slit experiment. Now please really focus on this so you can appreciate how truly weird this is.

Here is an illustration of this experiment done with light. 





We normally think of light as a wave, and it is, but it has also been found to contain tiny particles, minute packets of energy, that we call photons. In this illustration, light is shone at this wall that contains two slits, and some of that light goes through the slits and photons hit this plate, which is a light sensitive photographic plate; so when a photon hits it, it makes a tiny white dot. As the photons build up a white pattern emerges.  If I cover up one of these slits, so the light can only go through the other slit, you would expect to get a band of white, directly in line from the lamp, through the open slit, to the plate. That is what you would expect and that is what you get.  And if I expose this other slit, you would expect to get two bands of light in the direct line from the lamp, through either of the two slits and onto the plate.  That is  what you would expect, but that is not what you get.  

What you get is this: 



a series of bands of light alternating with bands of darkness. This is called an interference pattern.  And it is made when two waves overlap.   Waves move in crests and troughs.  When a crest emerging from one slit overlaps a crest emerging from the other slit, they make one higher crest and when this higher crest reaches the plate, you get a solid white band.  Same with troughs. If troughs from each wave overlap each other, then you get a deeper trough and when it reaches the plate you get another solid white band.  But if a crest overlaps a trough, their energies  cancel each other out. In that area, no photons reach the plate and you get a dark band.    Light, dark, light dark, like that.

So when the light goes through one slit, the photons behave like perfectly respectable particles, continue in their straight trajectory and you get one band.  But when both slits are open, you get a wave of light emerging from each slit, not a particle. The  two waves merge and you get this interference pattern. Although please note that no matter how the light travels from the slits to the plate, either as a wave or a particle, when it collides with the plate, it always collides as a particle; always making a single dot of white and not a white wave. That is important and I’ll get back to it later.

So this is weird, but here is something weirder. If I set up a detection device at the slits,  so we know which slit the photon is passing through: the first one went through the right slit, the second one went through the left, etc., when we know that, then the interference pattern disappears, the light acts like well behaved particles and we get just the two bands directly in line with the slits. When we know which slit the photon is passing through, we get the two bands; when we don’t know, we get the interference pattern.  Now that is very weird.

Okay, weirder than that:  If I dim the light so much, and reduce the aperture of the lamp so much that only one photon is being released at a time, say at intervals of ten seconds, and both slits are open, a tiny white dot will appear on the plate every ten seconds and very gradually a pattern will emerge; but that pattern will not be the two band pattern, it will be the interference pattern.  What?  Hold on!   How can one photon, or one wave, interfere with itself, or interfere with another photon that will be making a wave, but hasn’t made a wave yet?  That is very, very weird.

Most weird of all:  It doesn’t work just with light,  but with electrons, protons, neutrons, whole atoms, even molecules consisting of several atoms.  When you shoot particles at two slits and you don’t know which slit the particles are passing through, you will get an interference pattern,  indicating the intermingling of two waves and not the separate trajectories of two particles.

The atom?  The atom?  So long thought of as completely indivisible and eternal, the bedrock foundation of the materialist point of view, and then once it was split in the twentieth century  only with the release of terrifying powers, enough to decimate whole cities and the release of deadly radiation that threatens all of civilization;  this same atom, does what? casually morphs into a fluid wave, maybe two waves, mingles, becomes a particle again?  There’s no explosion, no damage.  The laboratory is fine, the equipment is fine, the researcher is fine.  What’s going on?

Erwin Shrodinger, a prominent physicist, first thought that the wave was  an extended form of the particle.  If the particle were, say, an electron, the wave would be a stretched out electron.  In that case, researchers felt, they should be able to detect fractional electrons.  If the particle is stretched out, there should be a tenth of an electron here, a twentieth of it there, etc.  Yet no such fractions were ever detected. If you are in the business of detecting electrons,  you either detect nothing or you detect a whole electron, with the same mass, the same charge, the same spin as every other electron. 

I should note here that all the subatomic particles that we will be discussing have never been seen.  They are way, way too small for that.  They are detected, but not seen, by detecting a certain mass, a certain spin and a certain charge coming from a precise, discrete area.   

So if the wave is not an extended form of the particle, then what is it? There is no agreed upon understanding of what the wave is and no agreed upon explanation for the wave/particle duality. There are methods of calculating, and calculating very accurately,  the probabilities of where particles will be if they become waves and create interference patterns; basically, the brighter areas of the pattern would be the areas where a particle would be more likely to show up, and dimmer areas, less so.  But these are methods of calculating results, not explanations of how these results are achieved; not explaining in a satisfying way what a wave is, or why it  turns into a particle, if it does,  or why a particle turns into a wave,  if it does, or why in the world it is effected by whether or not we know which slit the particles are passing through.  

The field abounds with wild speculations:  The wave is a wave of probability.  It susses out, like a pathfinder,  all the places along the interference pattern where a particle could land, but doesn’t actually move the particle there, itself.  Then, how does the particle move from the slits to the plate?  Actually, it doesn’t. The particle disappears into another universe when it leaves the slits and reappears at the plate, shuttling back and forth between two universes.  Or, each particle lands at every possible landing site on the interference pattern, but in a different universe for each site.  Or, there is no wave.  The  particle simultaneously travels every possible path from the lamp through the slits to the plate, including getting there via the moon and the Andromeda galaxy and is effected by the forces it encounters on each of these journeys, until all other paths are cancelled out except the ones that will bring it to the interference pattern, with more paths leading to the brighter spots and fewer paths leading to the dimmer spots.  This one is called the ‘sum of paths’ approach and although it calculates the probable location of particles with great accuracy, it’s author, Richard Feynman, is the very man who said, “If you think you understand the quantum, then you don’t.”

Many prominent scientists have been pondering the particle/wave duality for  over a century; Neils Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck among them.  As brilliant as these men were, they were all looking at the world from a Western perspective which is really, now, the dominant modern perspective of both East and West.  And deeply, deeply ingrained in this perspective is the idea  that forces are connected to matter, and emanate from matter.  That matter, in the form of particles, is the foundational structure of our universe and that everything, including forces, planets, galaxies, even life, consciousness and love, somehow come out of the endless and countless and unguided interplay of these particles. 

If you went to school when I did, you learned that civilization and the accumulation of accurate knowledge began in Greece, not quite three thousand years ago, proceeded to Rome , continued from there through a few different European countries until some of those European people came to America at which point some of civilization and real learning spread here as well.  

About 2500 years ago Democritus, in Greece, had the idea that the world around us was not made of solid matter, that it was actually divided into tiny bits, way too small to be seen,  that he called atoms, from the Greek word atomos, which means indivisible.

Here is an illustration of Democritus’ conception of the atom: 




Monday, June 26, 2017

TWO ANOMALIES

Many galaxies in the universe are expanding much more slowly than expected; and many more galxies are expanding much more rapidly than expected.  To explain this anomaly, the conventional wisdom is that fully 95% of the mass/energy of the universe is either dark matter, which increases gravity, or dark energy, which decreases gravity; neither of which can be either seen or detected.  A related anomaly is that the length of the known universe is 95 billion light years, roughly 550 billion, trillion miles.  If Einstein is correct and the maximum speed that a wave or a particle can move is the speed of light, and if the Big Bang took place not quite fourteen billion years ago, then the maximum length of the universe should be something shy of twenty-eight billion light years.  If particles or matter were moving away from the site of the Big Bang at light speed, then no particle could have gone further than fourteen billion light years in any direction, so the length, or the diameter of that expansion would be twice that, but it is more than six times as long!  So either the measurements are wrong, Einstein is wrong, the age of the Big Bang is wrong, or we need another explanation.

This post is an attempt to explain both those anomalies.  The Western materialist assumption is that the ultimate foundation of the universe is some sort of particle.  Democritus thought it was the tiny atom.  Rutherford thought it was the much tinier electrons, protons and neutrons.  Standard Model physicists think it is the electron and the quark that are so small they consider them to be point particles (Speaking of anomalies, how could a particle be a point?  A point has no dimension.  The only place a point could exist is in our imagination.  If electrons and quarks were truly points, then how could they have mass, or spin, or be made of any material what so ever?)  And string theorists believe that the quark and the electron are not point particles, but have some tiny dimension and within that tiny dimension are vibrating loops of string, so tiny that if an atom were blown up to be the size of the known universe, one of these loops of string, blown up at the same ratio, would be the size of a small tree!)  However fantastically tiny these particles supposedly are, they each have replaced somewhat larger particles, previously considered indivisible, as the ultimate foundation of the universe,

The ancients believed that the foundation of the universe were two opposing forces that had the ability to interact and configure with each other; to form shapes and fields of mutual attraction and repulsion, and it was these shapes and the force fields of attraction and repulsion between them, that created the physical universe, or the illusion of the physical universe.  From this perspective, there are no particles.  Forces do not emanate from matter, rather matter, or the appearance of matter, emanates from the interaction of forces; and it is these forces that are truly foundational.  They are not composed of particles; rather the appearance of particles is the result of the interaction of forces.

These forces have been referred to variously as In and Yo, Shiva and Shakti, the Celestial and the Terrestrial, Baqa and Fana, Akira and Tirawa, Yin and Yang, Father Sky and Mother Earth, etc. And in the Old Testament they are referred to as Heaven and Earth.  The Old Testament begins with, "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth."  The earth, as in our planet, did not begin to be created until the second day and the heavens with the sun and stars were not created until the fourth day (or the fourth epoch, since they certainly could not have referred to a twenty-four hour day.)  So the Heaven and the Earth of that first sentence must be referring to two opposing forces, making that sentence identical with the following sentence, "Infinity bifurcates into Yin and Yang," which is the cosmological foundation of Taoism, an ancient Chinese religion.

I will be using the words yin and yang, but they are completely replaceable with any of the other pairs of forces that I just mentioned. You have probably heard of yin and yang, but most likely used in a modern way.  Some things are yin; some are yang; yin and yang are properties of things.  I will be using them in an ancient way, or a pre-industrial way.  Yin and yang are not properties of things; they are the things themselves.  Or, yin and yang in combination give the appearance of things.

Yin and yang, by themselves, are not things.  They exist but are not detectable, directly in the physical universe.  Yang is contractive.  Yin is expansive.  Yang pulls everything into the center.  Yin spreads everything out to the periphery.  The dimension of a thing is caused by the outward push of yin.  The contours, the boundaries of a thing are caused by the inward pull of yang.  Yin and yang do not so much attract each other as they entrap each other.  Yang is bound by yin everywhere in the universe.  The nucleus of the atom is bound by the expansive yin electron waves that surround it and push away from it, preventing it from contracting further into itself.  A star is bound by its orbiting planets that try to centrifugally expand away from the star, as the star centripetally prevents that outward expansion.  It is now considered that there is a black hole at the center of every galaxy.  The black hole, which is an enormous force of yang, is bound by the entire galaxy stars surrounding it and spiraling outward against the contractive force, the yang force, of the black hole.

You can discover the origin of an explosion by tracing back the lines of debris blown out from that explosion.  If the universe is, as physicists say, the debris of the Big Bang; and if the physical universe is, as physicists say,  like the surface of an expanding balloon; then the origin of that expansive explosion will not be found on the surface of the balloon, in the physical universe, but in the non-physical center of that balloon, which is the yang residue of the Big Bang.  You did think the Big Bang took place somewhere, didn't you?  Every black hole is surrounded by an event horizon, an area within which no matter can escape.  I would add that the event horizon is the area in which no matter can exist, since anything that crossed the event horizon would be very rapidly sucked into the center of it as the crushing, contractive force of the black hole squeezes molecules and atoms out of existence.  Physicists think there must be some tiny, super contractive particle that is left after all this crushing, but that is the result of their belief that particles, or matter, is the ultimate foundation of the universe.  The result of this crushing, from this perspective, is that matter disappears and the thing or the particle is broken down to its really fundamental parts which is yin and yang, the pure yang joining the black hole and making it even stronger and the yin leaving the black hole at infinite speed.

Did I say infinite speed?   Yes.  The speed of light is the fastest velocity that a thing or a wave can travel.  But pure yin is not a thing and is not a wave.  There is no mass, no yang energy, no thingness, to hold back its acceleration.  Everywhere in the universe, from the vast reaches of empty space to the interstices between atoms, wherever yin is not bound by yang, there is pure yin.  The moment yang is unbound, it is instantly surrounded by yin.  That is why you see all these momentary strange particles being discovered at CERN and other proton accelerators.  These collisions temporarily unbind yang, which is instantly surrounded by yin and a "new" particle is registered.

So the balloon that physicists refer to all the time, in a metaphoric way, "It's as if the physical universe is the surface of an expanding balloon,"  is an actual balloon, which is the event horizon of that central black hole, which is the yang residue of the Big Bang.  Those galaxies closest to the event horizon feel the pull of it most strongly and have little to no expansion.  those galaxies further away feel much less of a pull and expand much faster.  So...no dark matter, no dark energy, just the event horizon of a central black hole, which is the residue of the Big Bang, which had to have take place somewhere, and is an extension of the same model as atoms, solar systems, galaxies, and the whole universe, rather than a somewhat desperate, although now commonly accepted, way of explaining a huge anomaly.

Also, this event horizon balloon is not expanding.  The physical universe is expanding around it.  The diameter of the event horizon is roughly 67 billion light years.  The physical universe expanding almost fourteen billion light years in every direction off that surface, leaving a total universal diameter of 95 billion light years and growing.  How long did it take for that event horizon to establish itself, for the yin expansive force to get away from the yang force at the center?  No time!  Infinite speed comes in handy some times, doesn't it?  That was the Big Bang.  Sorry we missed it!

Any comments?  Let me hear from you!