Sunday, June 24, 2007

On first cause

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1. On First Cause
2. First steps: The General Principle of Equivalence
3. Building a sturdy ontology.
4. The cataclysm that attends the General Principle of Equivalence
5. On the structure available to possible worlds.

6. Boundary conditions of the world - the Cartesian view.
7. On denoting and the laws of thought.
8. Something for nothing, and why this is not absurd.

1. Introduction: why is there something rather than nothing?

The first question that should rightly be asked, according to Leibniz, is 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' This is the biggest question, and has been asked since the beginning of scientific and mathematical thought. Even the Ancients asked this question. And, it would seem you too are asking this question and probably getting a heap of unhelpful answers. You will have read various other works on the matter and found one or more of the following proposed answers:
  • The non-answer:
    This is not a question that can be answered by humans for we cannot know the world as it is in itself. This is the philosopher's answer, based on Kant's work, and follows from Hume's work; or
  • The boggle-with-science non-answer:
    The universe began with a vast explosion that generated space and time and created all matter and energy in the universe. Of course, while this may be true, this is not an explanation (don't be fooled) it is only a description. Most of us freeze at the maths involved and so take it on faith. I know this maths - it is cool, but it is still just a tool of description, as is physics. Describing an electron in terms of quantum mechanics for example, is just a description. It says no more than 'an electron has certain properties'. It does not explain why these properties are the way they are. While physics is extremely useful, and likely 'mostly right' this does not make the above an explanation, so it is not an answer.
  • The shifting the answer one more step away non-answer:
    This is also included in the physics answers: that observed phenomena are 'explained' by forces of nature, and these are explained by something (say quantum mechanics or relativity), that are explained by something (say string theory) ... a potentially infinite regress. One might include recourse to God under this bullet point because God is something, so one might ask why is there a God and not just nothing. I am not making any claims for or against God here. You will have to make that call after I have explained first cause to you and you properly understand it. There are many other shifting methods available, from spiritual concepts to claims that the world is implied by the Laws of Thought (ie logic). But one must first show why the Laws of Thought exist, even as conditions of the world (I'll touch on these elsewhere, or you can look it up in Wikipedia or some other source).
In contrast, I can give you the answers, proven beyond Cartesian doubt (the most stringent of skeptical positions that one can have). But before you proceed, I want you to understand that gaining this knowledge comes with a price:
  • You will have to think deeply about the world, and come to a higher, more skeptical level of understanding about the way the world actually is, and your perspective of it, and your position in it.
  • You must promise yourself not to shy away from unexpected or unwanted conclusions. You are now bound by 'skeptical commitment', which is that if you have found a proposition that can only be true, you cannot simply bat it away because some less well-founded, but appealing concept presents (such as the world as it appears to be to us).
  • In compensation, I can say that the end view is a more beautiful world than the world you presently inhabit, because you will see it with a better perspective, as an expression of a simple, necessarily existent condition: a principle of equivalence. This is the most mature world view, and manifests as a sudden recognition of the beauty of nature and occasional epiphany such as why the numbers we find exemplified in the physical universe happen to be as they are (say 'e') and not some other number.
The second biggest question is 'Given that there is something, why is it the way it is and not some other way?' The answer to the second question is in some ways more amazing than the first. The answer to both can be traced to the same root. That is, if there is a truly first cause then all things must find their origin in it. That is, the world and all its well-founded descriptions - physics, mathematics, philosophy - all must show how they justify a place in our thinking by showing that they follow as an implication or expression of first cause.

There may be many questions that immediately come to mind. Here are some:
  1. How can there be a first cause? Doesn't it require that it have a cause? Doesn't the idea come as an infinite regress? Didn't Kant and Hume, and bunch of other people say this can't be done?
  2. If there is a first cause, how can I know that it, and not some other, is the first cause?
  3. Isn't this promising something for nothing?
  4. What about God? Isn't he first cause?
There are probably many other questions. I cannot answer all at once. Rather, I want to show you first cause and why it is first cause and why the proposition that I use to model it is a justified truth worthy of belief (I provide the justified truth, the belief is not my prerogative). Then the first two questions just go away. The third question is an odd one to ask. Given that both are just terms that refer to some possible state of affairs, why should one find a possible transition from nothing to something (or the reverse) any more odious than a transition from one state of something (the universe, say) to another state of something. Both are states of being. But this is a deep matter to which I will return when the ground has been plowed.

As for God, well. If there is a God, he instructs me to live by the truth, for otherwise I am living a falsehood. If I find an absolute truth (ie can't be false) and that leads me to find that there is a God, well and good. If the same reasoning shows there is no God, then God must step aside for fear of breaking his own rules about truth.

The world in a nutshell.

Eugene Wigner (1960), one of the twentieth centuries smartest mathematical physicists asked
How do we know that, if we made a theory which focuses its attention on phenomena we disregard and disregards some of the phenomena now commanding our attention, that we could not build another theory which has little in common with the present one but which, nevertheless, explains just as many phenomena as the present theory?
How would one know which phenomena should receive preference? Does any phenomenon deserve priority of importance over any other? Simply, no. In the phenomena of everyday experience there is no hint of the subtle results that forced a radical rethink of our scientific theories that led to Special and General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics. So if we are not justified to elevate any particular phenomenon, how can we conceive of any phenomenon as a preferred place to start. In particular, all physical phenomena are subject to doubt, for we cannot exactly measure them, neither can we be sure that we are not mistaken. Consider the work of Descartes if you doubt me here, for I will be building my case from his method of doubt. If you are prepared to trust my word on what he said, then we can proceed.

Loosely speaking, I will show that there are two things about which one can be absolutely certain: that one exists, and that what is, has what it has. These may seem fairly obvious, but I aim to show that these are concepts (properly formalized) that are transcendent of doubt. Removing the possibility to rationally doubt these concepts has several very serious consequences to the implications of these propositions. The first provides us with a place to stand and consider the world. The second, though seemingly no more than a global tautology (a proposition like 'A bachelor is an unmarried man') but this global tautology implies directly that there is a condition of the world that applies for all worlds, and also implies that all possible worlds have a unique origin. This origin is a 'thing' that has unknowable and irrelevant properties beyond having abstract identity and an abstract boundary (explained later).

I will then show that this first state is not stable because the boundary itself has a boundary (just as every meaning has a limit of meaning), but iteratively. First there is one boundary, then two, then three, and so forth. As the boundaries evolve, so too the interactions between them, all based on the principle that brought them to be in the first place (the General Principle of Equivalence). Taken together this implies the generation of structure. The structure exhibits many of the important mathematical characteristics we find in the universe, such as 0, 1, i, e, and Pi. We will also find that the structure is pervaded with an inherent uncertainty that cuts off irrational numbers, but retains a complete system with no gaps between points. This concept I have not seen anywhere else, I had difficulty understanding it myself when first it arose. I have studied this kind of structure through my post-graduate years. If you are a mathematician, physicist or philosopher, you might find this quite entertaining.

I will then show that there are many different perspectives that may be brought upon this system, all of which are equivalent under the General Principle of Equivalence (which is the final arbiter). This means that the system has interpretations in 1, 2, and higher spacetime dimensions (and possibly other kinds of dimensions that are not included for the present). In the 3space-1time interpretation early indications are that this is the right kind of conditions for life, for the structure contains structures that are closely associated with our beloved quantum physics.

The fundamental purpose of this blog is to elicit support for this world-view. I believe with just a little more work, all the bothers associated with quantum mechanics and our empiricist limitations simply fall away.

Now you are ready to consider the next step. Click on 'The General Principle of Equivalence'.


Inyuki said...

Hi. Thank you for posting this entry. It happened that I want to primarily research the same subject (the first cause) in the future. Looking forward to seeing the updates of your blog.


centroyd said...

Thanks Inyuki
If you want to work in this area you will find that at present there is a very high level of skepticism among academia. I am presently rewriting my thesis. When it is complete, and accepted, you might like to look at it. Keep in touch. I will add new material as time passes. I am beginning with the 'just folks' approach for the present, but eventually I will start to post the harder, highly formalized treatment.