Philosophy is fun

So lately I’ve been ploughing my way through an introduction to Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto. It’s an introduction to the philosophy and beliefs that informed the Manifesto, with Marx’s adoption and then rejection of earlier ideas by philosophers like Hegel. Eventually when I’m finished with that I’ll get to read the Manifesto itself, which may or may not be the satisfying pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We’ll see.

What I’ve been enjoying about it is that reading philosophy is kind of like food for the mind – well, sort of. It’s not a great simile, because philosophy is satisfying and sustaining even if you don’t really like (or fully understand!) the views you’re reading. For instance, for my taste a lot of philosophy is far too concerned with religion for my tastes; religion is very orthogonal to my particular world outlook, I’m far more interested in political economy, for instance, and these two issues just weren’t orthogonal for writers of that era.

Even so though, it’s mentally nourished me in that it’s made me realise that we each bring our particular baggage with us – we interpret the world around us entirely in terms of what we know. Marx and his contemporaries lived in an era (and location) of (Protestant) Christian domination, and their world-view is unavoidably slanted by their immersion in that environment. Personally, my world view is contaminated by my training, and my knowledge – I’m a physical scientist right down to the bones of me.

So I find some of the ideas of “spirit” and “essence” and “being” utterly alienating in the work – their attempts to understand Man will always seem to me to be fundamentally flawed. I understand Man as being nothing more than a complicated assemblage of physical, chemical and biological components, working in accordance with natural laws: Conservation of Energy, Conservation of Mass, Causality, Evolution, etc. and that we are best understood as being essentially a complex and chaotic system that can be best understood through scientific and statistical methods. There’s no need for some awkward dualist notion of a separate “Mind” or “Soul” that’s in some way external from the body, what appears to be a mind is just the internal perception of a chaotic electrochemical process. What frees us from rigid determinism is not some inherent freedom of a “Soul” from natural law, but just plain old quantum uncertainty – you can’t perfectly predict the future because you can’t know the initial conditions.

That’s my bias, and it’s what gives me dissatisfaction with Marx.

For all his claims to being “scientific” there’s no robust theory, no testable predictions, just blind philosophical assertions. Certainly no mathematics!

Anyways, like I said, I haven’t actually gotten into the meat of the Manifesto yet; maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Either way, it’s an refreshing just to get mentally engaged with such things.

18 thoughts on “Philosophy is fun

  1. Concerning the existence of a soul, its amazing how many people believe that there is some semantic ability we possess that cannot be emulated materialy. People will happily accept metaphors that show how computer programs will never truly “understand” things in the way we do, without even realising they must posit some supernatural explanationas to why we cannot be replicated.

  2. COMPREHENSIVE VIEW OF SCIENCE OF RELIGION (THEOLOGY)
    I have written following two papers which may lead to the realization for a higher theory of everything:
    (i) Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator,
    (1st Int. Conf. on Revival of Traditional Yoga, Lonavla Yoga Institute, Lonavla, January, 2006)
    (ii) In Scientific Terminology, Source of Gravitational Wave is God
    (2nd World Congress on Vedic Science, BHU, Varanasi, Feb 2007)
    I have presented these two papers at the two different International Conferences. I am now submitting some views for being considered for Unified Field Theory
    From Scriptures: (Prem Patra by His Holiness Huzur Maharaj)
    The Current which manifested in the beginning of the creation is the Current of Sabda (Sound) and of Chaitanya (Consciousness). From whom that Current issued forth is known as Soami (Supreme Being). This Current, by turning back can merge again in the Holy Feet of Supreme Being. The entire creation manifested from this current and is sustained with its energy and when the Current of the Holy Feet is withdrawn, the creation ceases to exist.This Current of the Holy Feet is the Reservoir of all energy, tastes and pleasures, knowledge, skill, shapes, forces and light etc. etc. and of the entire creation, is also the Creator of all of them.
    From Science:
    Gravitation Force is the cause of manifestation of the creation (birth of planets, stars), its sustenance and when it is withdrawn towards centre or source the entire creation ceases to exist. Photons have originated from gravitons. In black holes photons merge into gravitons. In Black Holes, Gravitational Force is so high that it does not allow even light to escape. What does it mean then? It simply means that the gravitational force at black-holes attracts light towards it with much greater velocity than the speed of light. In fact, all forces including electromagnetic force, material force (strong and weak nuclear force) all merge into gravitational force in black-holes and becomes one force there and when the creational process starts again from a Black-Hole all the forces appear (manifest) again and descends downwards to create billions of stars, planets, satellite, asteroids and various life forms.
    Hence it can be assumed that the Current of Chaitanya (Consciousness) and Gravitational Wave are the two names of the same Supreme Essence (Seed) which has brought forth the entire creation.
    All cosmological researches should be conducted keeping in view of the following philosophical facts:
    It has been stated in Bible (John I-1) “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,”
    Mohammedans hold that God uttered ‘Kun’ (i.e. ‘Came into being’) and the creation came into being (Holy Quran, Sur. Bakr (II.117).
    In Chhandogya Upanishad it is written “Tadaikshat bahu syam prajayeyeti” (VI-2-iii) i.e. “It thought (desired) Would that I were many! Let me procreate myself!” The Aitareya Upanishad says,”Sa ikshat ‘lokannusrija’ iti (I-1-i) i.e. “He bethought himself (desired) – ‘Let me create worlds’, etc. etc.
    It is written in Chapter VII of Srimad Bhagavadgita : Sri Bhagwan said, “Arjun, now listen how with the mind attached to Me and practicing Yoga with absolute dependence on Me, you will know Me in entirety and without any shadow of doubt” (1). I shall unfold to you in its entirety this wisdom alongwith the Knowledge of the qualified aspect of God, having known which nothing else remains yet to be known in this world (2). Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason and also ego; these constitute My nature eightfold divided. This indeed is My lower (material) nature : the other than this, by which the whole universe is sustained, know it to be My higher nature in the form of Jiva, O Arjuna. (4-5). Arjuna, know that all beings have evolved from this twofold Prakriti, and that I am the source of the entire creation, and into Me again it disappears.(6)
    The Radhasoami Religion also tells that, the ‘Word’ mentioned above is in fact Current of Sound or Current of Consciousness or Prime Current of Spirituality which was issued forth from its Source, or Creator or God. This Current has later on produced light and other forces. The scientists are discussing these days about dark energy which constitute about 96% of the entire universe which is not known to us. Only 4% part of the universe is known to us by all scientific means. In fact this 96% invisible portion of the universe is the vast expanse of spirituality which can be designated as field of gravitational waves in scientific terms. Visible portion of the universe (4%) consists of consciousness (gravitational force), mental force (electromagnetic waves) and material force (strong and weak nuclear force).
    Body = Nuclear Force (weak as well as strong)
    Mind = Electromagnetic Force.
    Consciousness = Gravitation Force.
    According to Radhasoami Religion the whole Universe can be sub-divided into three grand divisions viz.
    1. Region of Pure Spirituality
    2. Region of Subtle Maya
    3. Region of Gross Maya
    Nuclear forces dominate Region of Gross Maya (Gross Material Region), Electro-magnetic forces dominate Region of Subtle Maya (Subtle Material Region) and Gravitational Force dominates Pure Spiritual Region.
    This is the only Truth which can be verified scientifically and can be termed as ‘higher theory for everything’. This also supports the statement of Sir Sahabji Maharaj that ‘the goal of science – Truth; the goal of philosophy – Ultimate Reality; and the goal of religion – God’ are the three names of same supreme essence.
    Many things are common between Current of Consciousness and Gravitational Wave.
    1. Current of consciousness can not be seen by any means and gravitational wave can also not be seen.
    2. Current of consciousness is the weakest force on earth. Its strength goes on increasing on higher regions. Gravitational force is also very weak on earth and strong on Sun and even more stronger on black holes.
    3 Tendency of both current of consciousness and gravitational waves are towards their source or centre.
    4. Current of consciousness and gravitational force are both regarded as the creater of all the celestial and terrestrial bodies of the whole universe. They are also sustainer of these and when they turn back towards their source or centre the whole universe will collapse.
    Hence it can be assumed that the source of current of consciousness and gravitational wave is the same i.e. God or ultimate creator.
    This theory is based on scientific deduction. In scientific terms it can be said that the ‘gravitons’ are the elementaryparticle which was issued forth in the beginning of the creation accompanying with sound ‘Radha’

  3. This isn't a forum for you to post about whatever happens to cross your mind – it's a place for discussion around what I've written, so ordinarily this kind of drivel would be deleted, but for today only I'm just gonna take it apart and point out how retarded it is.

    1) You don't actually know what a field theory is, let alone a unifed field theory.

    2) Gravity makes large cosmic objects stick together, but in the grand scheme of things the electromagnetic and strong forces are much more important in keeping together the atom and the nucleus respectively. None of these forces is really responsible for creation in any real sense.

    3) “Photons have originated from gravitons.” No, photons are the gauge bosons of the electromagnetic field, they can be emitted by any particle that interacts electromagnetically, i.e. anything posessing electrical charge, like electrons, positrons, up quarks, etc.

    A graviton is a hypothetical boson of the gravitational field, although there's no theory that currently would describe such a thing, and certainly none have ever been detected.

    4) “the gravitational force at black-holes attracts light towards it with much greater velocity than the speed of light” This is a pretty meaningless statement. Attractions are forces, not velocity. Anyway, the correct description of what is occuring is that near the singularity at the core of the black hole, space-time is so distorted that all possible paths in space-time eventually meet the singularity, even light-like ones. So light travels at the same velocity as always, just on a path that leads to the singularity.

    5) “In fact, all forces including electromagnetic force, material force (strong and weak nuclear force) all merge into gravitational force in black-holes and becomes one force there” Wrong.

    6) “when the creational process starts again from a Black-Hole all the forces appear (manifest) again and descends downwards to create billions of stars, planets, satellite, asteroids and various life forms.” Black holes don't spontaneously turn into regular matter. At best, a low mass primordial black hole could spew out all its mass as Hawking radiation in a flurry of elementary particles, but that would hardly be enough mass to make “billions of stars”.

    7) “Hence it can be assumed that the Current of Chaitanya (Consciousness) and Gravitational Wave are the two names of the same Supreme Essence (Seed) which has brought forth the entire creation.” This is a pretty spurious conclusion.

    8) “All cosmological researches should be conducted keeping in view of the following philosophical facts:” Really? I thought they should just concentrate on observational evidence, not things made up by men thousands of years ago.

    9) “Mohammedans” Don't we call them Muslims these days?

    10) “The scientists are discussing these days about dark energy which constitute about 96% of the entire universe which is not known to us. Only 4% part of the universe is known to us by all scientific means.” I'm not exactly sure which means you thought were used to work out the 96% number, other than scientific ones. It's not a difficult idea! From the way the 4% we can see is moving, we can determine that there's something gravitationally attracting it that we can't see directly, and thereby determine the magnitude of the unseen mass.

    11) “In fact this 96% invisible portion of the universe is the vast expanse of spirituality which can be designated as field of gravitational waves in scientific terms.” What evidence is there for this so-called fact? You also don't have a field of waves, that's a meaningless statement. Waves propagate though a field, they aren't what the field is made of. There are much more plausible candidates for dark energy than gravitational waves!

    Man, I wish I had more time to keep going, but at this point it just gets even more ridiculous. The weird identifications of EM with “mental force” and the like…

    Oh, one more.

    12) “Current of consciousness can not be seen by any means and gravitational wave can also not be seen.” I guess the guys at the LIGO experiment are wasting their time trying to observe them, then.

    To round this off, your “theory” isn't based on scientific deduction. It isn't a theory, it isn't even a hypothesis. To be science, a hypothesis has to be falsifiable. There has to be some experiment which, if performed, could potentially contradict the hypothesis, and to be useful, the hypothesis would have to be capable of making some kind of observable prediction about the world.

    This does neither. It's filled with factual errors and unjustfied conjecture presented as fact, with no evidential basis what-so-ever. Science isn't entirely based on deduction, the bedrock is evidence.

    This is cargo cult science – the idea that if you appropriate the language of science, and “publish papers” like a scientist then the ideas within will contain scientific merit. They do not.

  4. Dear Mr. aiusepsi

    You did not justice to my comments and your contradictory views are not acceptable. The responses I am getting to my comments are overwhelming. I am very encouraged to receive these comments. However, I convey my thanks to you for responding to my post. It hardly matters that you don't agree with my views. I posting some more comments about conservation of mass and energy.

    According to Einstein Theory of Relativity, E=mc^2. According to this relationship of Energy and Mass
    1 kg mass of any matter is equivalent to 9 x 10^16 J of energy.

    Does it mean that,

    Mass of any matter is Condensed Form of Energy and Energy is Diffused Form of Mass of any matter ?

    A question may also arise what existed before the creation of the Universe Energy or Mass or both ?

  5. Philosophy is not fun, dear aiusepsi. Philosophy is rather arm-chair-thinking. We are free to say whatever comes to our mind constructively. Philosophy moves like this. However, it is funny to say to my comments, “This isn't a forum for you to post about whatever happens to cross your mind”
    One more comment on Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy:
    Based on E=mc^2, can it be said that mass is the ‘potential state’ of matter and energy is the ‘kinetic state’ of matter and just multiply mass with c^2 you will get huge amount of energy and divide energy by c^2 you get very small amount of mass OR some other factors/ mechanisms are essential for these conversions ?

  6. It's plenty fun. Some people like to play sport, I like to sit and think. I also do quite like some sports, but that's by-the-by.

    My point in saying that this isn't a forum for you to post about whatever happens to cross your mind is that this is essentially my house; I'm hospitable to guests, but while you're here you play by my rules. If you want to publicise your views that's fine, but you don't have an automatic right to do it under my roof.

    Incidentally, you're not quoting the full energy-mass relationship. In full, it is:

    E^2 = m^2c^4 + p^2c^2

    Which you can see reduces to E = mc^2 when p = 0, p being the momentum, which is also a quantity associated with movement.

    There has to be a physical mechanism for the conversion – e.g. a particle and an anti-particle can annihilate to form a pair of photons. Since photons have no rest mass, you can say that the mass has been converted into energy. Also, in various nuclear reactions it appears that mass turns into energy, this is a little complex as to why it occurs, it's to do with relativistic frame invariance.

    Anyways, here's my key objection to your way of thinking: physics is not philosophy. You cannot make conclusions about physics based on philosophical arguments, because you'll end up forming conclusions that are either irrelevant or entirely spurious.

    The process of physics is that you formulate a mathematical hypothesis of what's going on, and then you test it against experiment. This is how we know that E = mc^2 is correct. It's not the product of pure reason alone, it's a conclusion supported by experiment.

    Writings in religious texts and wooly identifications of gravitational waves with God do not constitute evidence.

    If you're interested in physics I suggest that you either enroll in a physics course at your local educational establishment, or pick up some books on the subject. Don't expect to be diving into unified theories straight away, though. I've been studying physics full time for three years and I still don't know that stuff.

  7. Whether E=mc^2 is the result of some empirical work done by Einstein or he put this formula intuitively. You have explained conversion of mass into energy. Whether it can be explained, using this formula, energy being converted into mass if we put this formula as m=E/c^2

  8. Yes, but this isn't exactly new science. Particles are created from energy routinely in particle accelerators or due to cosmic ray interactions in the upper atmosphere. This stuff is all described very accurately, to better than 1 part in a billion for some cases, by quantum field theory.

    I'm not sure what point you're trying to make

  9. Thank you Mr. aiusepsi for your very enlightening response to my queries. How much amount of energy is required for being converted into one unit of mass ? Has this been ever calculated?

  10. It's been calculated a lot. Mass/energy conversions are pretty
    everyday phenomena.

    The equation is E = mc^2. So the energy to create a kilogram of mass
    (although you would get half a kg of matter, and half antimatter) is
    c^2, 9*10^16 J. By way of comparison, that's about 10000 times the
    world's power consumption in a second.

    Creation of particles from energy is well established. This is how
    they're going to try to observe the Higgs at the LHC. Smash two
    protons together, and hopefully one of the particles created from the
    energy will be the Higgs.

    The reverse process, anihilation of matter and antimatter into energy
    is even more commonplace – it underpins the medical PET scanner, for
    instance.

  11. This is not the reply of my question. How much energy is required to get converted into one unit of mass? This is what I want to know. Whether this can be calculated by using formula m=E/c^2? Whether this is a valid equation? In LHC first proton will generate energy then energy will generate particle. This is a remote thing. Whether this will happen successfully or not who knows? I am immediately concerned with the work of Einstein only. Whether E=mc^2 and m=E/c^2 are valid equations or not? This what I want to know with convincing proof. If you are not able to reply these queries based on Einstein's theory of relativity then you should agree that Theory of Relativity was intuition of Einstein.

  12. I did answer your question. The standard unit of mass is 1 kilogram, which can be converted into 9*10^16 joules of energy.

    That's calculated by just plugging m = 1 kg, c = 3*10^8 m/s into E = mc^2. It's a simple calculation. m = E / c^2 is equally as valid, it's just a rearrangement.

    There have been other particle accelerators in the past, too. The Nobel prize was won a few years back following the production and observation of the W and Z bosons at (from memory) the Tevatron. It also happens in energetic collisions due to cosmic rays.

    If you want a derivation of E = mc^2 I suggest you get a textbook on the subject from your local library. It is a little involved to get into here.

    There is no such thing as proof in physics, all you have is if your theory accurately predicts the outcome of experiments.

    Relativity is based on the postulate that the speed of light is the same to all inertial observers, and then he derived from that all the consequences, one of which is E = mc^2. This is all now very, very well supported by over a hundred years of observation of physical phenomena.

  13. So one thing is clear and I am convinced that the Theory of Relativity was a philosophical work of Einstein. This was the result of his intuition. It is a matter of chance that it proved correct (?) in later years. How he introduced c^2 in E=mc^2 as a conversion factor appears to be the result of his power of intuition. We can put our observation as-

    E=mc^2 ! Fact, Fiction or Fantacy of Einstein which revolutionized the whole thinking process ?

    Thank you dear aiusepsi once again for providing me an excellent opportunity of a very useful interaction

  14. Calling it an intuition is disingenuous. You make it sound like he pulled the entire structure from thin air.

    This is not the case at all. There were plenty of theoretical and experimental indications that the constancy of the speed of light is justified, like the Michelson-morely experiment and Lorentz invariance of the Maxwell equations.

    More importantly, relativity is a falsifiable scientific theory. It makes precise mathematical quantitative predictions about reality that can be tested. You can't say that about a work of philosophy.

    E=mc^2 is mathematiclly derived from the invariance of the speed of light. Just because you cannot understand how that is done does not justify calling it intuition – it is in fact a fairly surprising result.

    Incidentally I never understand why people fixate on relativity. Quantum mechanics is a lot stranger.

  15. Dear mr. aiusepsi

    I have seen a blog today by Maien on velocity, mass,gravity. He writes that mass is form of energy but not energy itself. I am also writing same ideas during the last fortnight. I am convinced that mass is the highest level of condensed state of energy and energy is highest level of subtle state of mass.

    It now appears that the discussion is becoming more interesting.

    One question may be raised, what is the difference between mass and matter? Either mass just represent some quantity of matter or more?

    Warm regards

    Anirudh

  16. E=mc^2 is called ‘Einstein’s energy-mass relation’. According to this relation, 1 kg mass of any matter is equivalent to 9×10^16J of energy. This is a huge amount of energy, equal to 2.5×10^10kWh. It is evident that the amount of energy is same irrespective of the matter taken, whether it is carbon, iron, copper or any other including radioactive elements. The amount of energy thus released does not depend on the atomic number, atomic weight, electronic configuration etc. It is the mass of the matter only based on which the amount of energy is calculated. It means that ‘mass’ is the connecting link between energy and matter.

  17. It is written in the Text-Books of Physics that if we give ∆E energy to some matter, then according to E=mc^2, its mass will increase by ∆m, where

    ∆m=∆E/c^2

    Since the value of c is very high, the increase in mass ∆m is very small. For example, if we heat a substance, then the heat-energy given to this substance will increase its mass. But this increase in mass is so small that we cannot measure it even by the most sensitive balance. Similarly, if we compress a spring, its mass will increase, but we cannot confirm this mass-increase by any experiment.

    Now the question is whether the change in mass as quoted in these two examples is reversible i.e. when the same substance of example one is cooled down, energy is produced equal to ∆m x c^2 (∆E=∆m x c^2) and in second example when we release the spring , energy is produced equal to ∆m x c^2 and initial mass is retained in both the cases ? Or the above changes are irreversible ?

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