iSoul In the beginning is reality

Causes and functions

This post continues other posts (see here and here) on the relevance of Aristotle’s four causal factors.

Call the higher causes the final and formal causes, and the lower causes the efficient (mechanistic) and material causes. Aristotle argued that the upper causes are more important. Early scientists argued that we couldn’t know them regarding nature and so should only look for efficient and material causes.

There are some parallels between the four causes and the psychologist Carl Jung’s four functions: sensing, intuition, feeling, and thinking (especially as modified by Myers and Briggs):

function groups: judging perception
upper causes: final || feeling formal || intuition
lower causes: efficient || thinking material || sensing

As a realist Aristotle focused on the perceptual functions with the formal and material causes in his hylemorphic philosophy (a combination of matter and form). Anti-realists focus on the judging functions with the final and efficient causes.

Modern science focuses on the efficient cause (the mechanism) and the material cause (perhaps it should be called “hyledynamic”). Intelligent design (ID) advocates are trying to bring formal causes into science. They tend to focus on information theory and so the formal and efficient causes (perhaps it should be called “dynamorphic”).

The lower causes are synchronic, spatial causes expressed in theories, and are most appropriate for the natural sciences. The higher causes are diachronic, temporal causes expressed in narratives, and are most appropriate for the social sciences and history.

Is Trump sly?

Good soldier Schweik was a character invented by Czech author Jaroslav Hašek in the 1920s:

Through (possibly feigned) idiocy or incompetence [Schweik] repeatedly manages to frustrate military authority and expose its stupidity in a form of passive resistance: the reader is left unclear, however, as to whether [he] is genuinely incompetent, or acting quite deliberately with dumb insolence.

The character of Schweik became famous in Eastern Europe during the Cold War because he was seen as an example of the oppressed undermining their oppressors. But the question was, Is Schweik sly?

Now that Donald Trump’s unusual approach to politics (to say the least) won him the nomination, election, and inauguration as President of the U.S., people are wondering whether or not his approach is a matter of insolence or strategy. Is Trump sly?

The answer is unquestionably, Yes. Here are some reasons why:

(1) George Lakoff is a cognitive linguist who has written and talked much about political speech. He is a progressive and an opponent of Trump, but he considers him an effective speaker (and tried to get the Clinton campaign to take note).

Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants… George Lakoff, Understanding Trump, July 23, 2016.

Without knowing it, many Democrats, progressives and members of the news media help Donald Trump every day. The way they help him is simple: they spread his message.

Think about it: every time Trump issues a mean tweet or utters a shocking statement, millions of people begin to obsess over his words. Reporters make it the top headline. Cable TV panels talk about it for hours. Horrified Democrats and progressives share the stories online, making sure to repeat the nastiest statements in order to refute them. While this response is understandable, it works in favor of Trump.

When you repeat Trump, you help Trump. You do this by spreading his message wide and far.

Nobody knows this better than Trump. Trump, as a media master, knows how to frame a debate. When he picks a fight, he does so deliberately. He tweets or says outrageous things, knowing they will be repeated millions and millions of times. When the news media and Democrats repeat Trump’s frames, they are strengthening those frames by ensuring that tens of millions of Americans hear them repeated over and over again. George Lakoff, How to Help Trump, Dec. 15, 2016.

(2) Scott Adams is an author and creator of the Dilbert comic strip. In his blog he talks about Trump’s persuasion skills and systems thinking.

You’re probably seeing the best persuasion you will ever see from a new president. Instead of dribbling out one headline at a time, so the vultures and critics can focus their fire, Trump has flooded the playing field. You don’t know where to aim your outrage. He’s creating so many opportunities for disagreement that it’s mentally exhausting. Literally. He’s wearing down the critics, replacing their specific complaints with entire encyclopedias of complaints. And when Trump has created a hundred reasons to complain, do you know what impression will be left with the public?

He sure got a lot done.

Even if you don’t like it. Scott Adams, Outrage Dilution, Jan. 26, 2017.

If you see the world in terms of goals, you might think President Trump has failed at every important goal so far. …

But in any case, as I often say, goals are for losers. Systems are better. As I describe in my book, a good system is something you do every day that leads you to better outcomes, not specific objectives. For example, going to college is a good system even if you don’t know what job you might later want. Any time you learn something valuable, that’s a system. Networking with important people is a system. And so on.

Trump seems to be a systems thinker. I doubt he knew he would jump from real estate developer, to author, to reality TV star, to president. At least not in that order. Instead, he systematically accumulated money, persuasion skills, and personal connections until he had lots of options. Being president was one of them. Scott Adams, How to Evaluate a President, Feb. 16, 2017.

(3) Trump acts in accord with the idea that the press is the opposition by trolling the press and putting out red herrings to get them off the track.

Now that he is president, reporters assigned to Mr. Trump are in a tough position. They have to pay close attention to what the White House says, but they know the White House may give them garbage and dare them to spend an entire working day trying to verify or debunk it.  Barton Swaim, Wall St. Journal, Jan. 23, 2017.

(4) Trump’s background and inclination includes the “positive thinking” and speaking of Norman Vincent Peale and Paula White. His negotiating tactics include hyperbole:

In Art of the Deal Donald Trump calls one of his rhetorical tools “truthful hyperbole.” He both defends and praises it as “an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.” As a promoter, Trump made extensive use of this technique. Trump & Truthful Hyberbole, Mike LaBossiere on December 4, 2015.

Yes, Trump is sly.

Beyond Occam’s razor

This continues a previous post on Occam’s razor, which it was pointed out is a principle that is arbitrary and biased. With what should it be replaced?

Every science has at least two schools of thought. These reflect well-known tendencies to ascribe more significance to one of two contrary explanatory factors. For example, there are lumpers and splitters in every classification endeavor. In every historical science there are those who emphasize continuous change and those who emphasize discontinuous change. Social sciences have their nature-nurture poles.

From a larger perspective, there is the importance of subjective vs. objective methods. Which comes first, facts or theories? That is, do scientists discover facts and develop theories to explain them or do they construct theories and seek facts that follow from them? Is the “view from nowhere” better than a self-aware view from somewhere? Are final and formal causes (explanatory factors) more important than efficient (mechanistic) and material ones? Is the spiritual more important than the physical?

It should be clear by now that these extremes are all partly true but too extreme. The truth is somewhere in the middle or in a combination of the extremes. Instead of expecting one side to win and the other side to lose, we should allow them both equally. Let them compete. Let them compromise. Let them jointly come up with something that is acceptable to both.

There are a few examples of friendly competition. The corpuscular theory of light developed by Isaac Newton and the wave theory of light developed by Christiaan Huygens competed for years. The quantum mechanical solution is to accept both. Atomic theory developed by John Dalton competed with the known natural kinds of substance. The periodic table solution joins both in a combination of common atoms and distinct chemical elements.

There are a few examples of monopolistic science in which one side sought to marginalize and ban the other side completely. Since the late 19th century those espousing gradualist theories of historical science have worked to banish their one-time colleagues who promote the importance of discontinuous change and difference. The control of educational positions, funding, and prestige have enabled much one-sided and weak science to persist. Science is the loser in these wars.

Each science needs to work out the compromises and combinations that are best for it. A genuine pluralism is possible and should be sought earnestly. The replacement for Occam’s razor is a razor that allows multiple criteria, minimizing both quantities and qualities without sacrificing accuracy.

Physics for people

People have purpose and goals but natural science excludes final causes. People plan and design but natural science excludes formal causes. In that case call the science of formal and final (be)causes “hypernatural science”. These higher causes are not against nature (unlike supernatural) but are not inherent to nature (and so hypernatural).

A physics for people includes formal and final causes. Physical motion by people or under the control of people is movement designed with a purpose, movement with an origin, a route, and a destination. Such movement is usually from place to place over a route, so that the spatial characteristics are chosen first. What remains is the temporal aspect which depends on the means and conditions of movement.

In short, movement is usually for transportation: there is a destination and a planned route. Timed movement, as for exercise, is motion without a destination, which is less common. Though even much exercise and game-playing has a place or target as a goal. Racing has a place goal par excellence.

Direction in space-time is measured from an origin, whereas direction in time-space is measured toward a destination. Extent of motion in space-time is measured spatially given the length of time, whereas extent of movement in time-space is measured temporally given the length of space. The difference is between the people-oriented view of movement given routes and destinations vs. the object-oriented view of motion given time and capability.

Given an origin, a route, and a destination the rate of progress is the pace, the elapsed time per unit distance. A zero rate is instantaneous, which is impossible. An infinite rate is motionless, which is no movement. Actual rates are finite. The pace of light is apparently the minimum pace. The other variables of lenticity, retardation, and so on are defined from here.

As the physics of space-time works best for natural motion, so the physics of time-space works for hypernatural movement.

Cherchez les hommes

Cherchez la femme is a French expression from the 1854 novel The Mohicans of Paris by Alexandre Dumas, which means “no matter what the problem may be, a woman is often the cause. Look for the mistress, the jealous wife, the angry lover… there is a woman at the root of each problem.” The alternative cherchez de l’argent (look for the money) is something detectives, journalists, and Marxists are prone to do.

A different approach is better when trying to find or explain social and political change: cherchez les hommes, look for the men. The power, prestige, and influence is where the men are because men much more than women seek power, prestige, and influence. And that also leads to power, prestige, and influence following men.

Steven Goldberg wrote two books, The Inevitability of Patriarchy (1973) and Why Men Rule (1993) with the central argument that:

Specifiable hereditary psychophysiological differences between males and females engender in males a more-easily-released tendency for dominance behavior. This is observed by a society’s population and is incorporated in all aspects of socialization that mediate the psychophysiological and the institutional. As a result all societies, without exception, exhibit patriarchy, male status attainment, and male dominance.

The fact that men rule is true whether anyone likes it or not (and many don’t like it). Why it should be true is another matter. The point I’m making is that this fact enables us to find and explain some social and political changes.

Cherchez les hommes means look where men are leaving and where they are going because power, prestige, and influence are headed away from where they are leaving and toward where they are going. Where are men leaving? Men are leaving universities.

Women accounted for 55 percent of undergraduates enrolled at four-year colleges in the United States as of fall 2014, according to the most recent data available from the federal education department.

It’s not a new phenomenon. Women have outnumbered men on college campuses in the US by a widening margin since the late 1970s, and the gap will continue to grow in coming years, according to some projections. Boston Globe, March 28, 2016.

“Women in the UK are now 35% more likely than men to go to university and the gap is widening every year.” BBC News, May 12, 2016.

Men are leaving universities so we conclude that universities are losing power, prestige, and influence in contemporary society. Men are less welcome and less interested in today’s egalitarian universities. Egalitarianism may have served men well in the past, but no longer.

Where are men going? In the U.S. there are more men than women in the Western U.S. The cities with the largest gender gap are high tech centers such as Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Austin, and Seattle. In the 2016 presidential election, the gender gap helped the winning candidate (see here and here).

This shows that high tech is gaining and universities are losing power, prestige, and influence. Politics continues to be dominated by men, though a different kind of man than before, younger, more western, and less tied to tradition.

Non-uniform motion

Following the previous post on uniform motion, this post covers non-uniform motion in space and time.

A simple way to get non-uniform motion is to join two uniform motions in different directions; the change in direction means the joint motion is non-uniform. Another way to get non-uniform motion is to accelerate at a constant rate. Another way is to change from one uniform rate to another uniform rate.

The point of this post is that whereas space and time were interchangeable for uniform motion, for non-uniform motion space and time are not interchangeable. Spatial and temporal measures of non-uniform motion are not proportionate. Non-uniform motion requires that space and time be considered separately, and this includes all components and directions.

I previously gave an example of two uniform motions in different directions, here. What follows is an example of two uniform circular motions.

Consider an old-fashioned turntable for records (aka vinyl). Say a mark on it moves at 33 1/3 rpm (5/9 rps) for two and a half revolutions. Then the mark moves five and a quarter revolutions at 45 rpm (3/4 rps). The time taken is thus (9/5)(5/2) = 4.5 sec plus (4/3)(21/4) = 7.0 sec, which totals 11.5 sec. The final spatial angle is one half of a revolution or 180°. The temporal angle is (7.0/60)(360) = 42°, with the second hand of a circular clock as the standard circular motion.

Another standard of circular motion is the daily cycle of the sun’s position relative to the earth. This is divided into 24 hours of 15 degrees each. Say someone turns a post in the ground for 20 minutes at a rate of four revolution per hour. Then they get help and turn the post for five minutes at a rate of 10 revolutions per hour. What are the spatial and temporal angles of the post at the end? The spatial angle is (4/60)(20) = (4/3) rev plus (10/60)(5) = (5/6), which totals 13/6 of a revolution. The sun will have taken 20+5 = 25 minutes, which is (25/60)(15) = 6.25 degrees.

The temporal angle is the angle of a synchronous circular motion at the standard rate.

Uniform motion

Uniform linear motion is the motion of a body at a constant linear rate. Uniform circular motion is the motion of a body at a constant angular rate. In both of these cases the spatial extent of motion and the temporal extent of motion are in a constant proportion.

Because of this constant proportion, from knowledge of the proportion and either the spatial extent or the temporal extent, one can determine the other. Moreover, one may specify a spatial extent by specifying a temporal extent or vice versa, given the constant proportion. Space and time are basically the same for uniform motion.

Since the speed of light is constant, it allows a standard conversion between space and time, as previously noted here. This does not change the nature of measurements of spatial and temporal extent.

What I’d like to point out here is that conversion between space and time can be done for circular motion, too, by using a standard uniform circular motion. The most obvious circular motion to use is the uniform circular motion of a circular clock with hands.

A standard uniform circular motion allows spatial angles and temporal angles to be basically the same. The protractor measure of the position of a uniform circular motion and the circular clock measure of the time of the same uniform circular motion are equivalent.

Because of this, spatial and temporal angles have not been distinguished. But just as linear motion has both a length (distance) and a time (duration), so angular motion has both a spatial angle and a temporal angle. The existence of uniform motion does not change that in either case.

One may specify a distance by specifying a time at a constant rate of linear motion. Inversely, one may specify a time by specifying a distance at a constant rate of linear motion. Similarly, one may specify a spatial angle by specifying a time at a constant rate of circular motion. Inversely, one may specify a temporal angle by specifying a spatial angle at a constant rate of circular motion.

Circular motion involves multiple dimensions of time or space. Whether the time or the space have multiple dimensions depends on which one is considered the dependent variable. That in turn depends on whether a length (distance) or a time (duration) are taken as the independent variable.

For non-uniform motion the time and space measures are not proportional, and their difference should be obvious. That is known for linear measures; it is true for angular measures as well.

Two ways to symmetry

There are two ways in which the length (distance) and the time (duration) of a motion are symmetric. The better-known way is the use of a conversion factor, notably the speed of light, which is the same for all inertial observers. All lengths can be turned into time intervals or all time intervals can be turned into lengths. But this does not change the character of the original measurements, which always remain either lengths or time intervals. So this is an optional and artificial symmetry between space and time.

The other way is to note that the extent of a motion can be measured in two ways: as a spatial extent (distance) or as a temporal extent (duration). Either of them may be chosen as the independent variable, with the other as the dependent variable, making a symmetry between the two. This is an inevitable and natural symmetry between space and time.

A simple example shows the difference: Consider a running track that is 400 meters long. The winning time on a race is 50 seconds. The winning rate may be expressed as 400 m / 50 s = 8 m/s or as 50 s / 400 m = 0.125 s/m = 125 s/km. In the former case the time is the independent variable and in the latter case the length is the independent variable. People are more familiar with speed, in which the independent variable is time, but with the fixed length of a race, the length is actually given first and so would be the independent variable.

Compare this with converting the length, 400 m, into a time interval, dividing it by c, the speed of light, which is 299 792 458 m/s: The result is 1.334… × 10-6. Or compare the time interval, 50 s, converted to a length, multiplying it by c: The result is 14 989 622 900 m. These extreme numbers may have a place in theoretical calculations (notably, the invariant interval of relativity) but have little meaning beyond that.

The direction of motion can also be measured in two ways: as an angle (spatially) or as a turn (temporally). The spatial angle is measured with something like a protractor, and the temporal angle is measured with a standard rotation such as one of the hands of a circular clock. As with measuring the extent, the two ways are measuring the same motion but they are measuring different aspects of it.

Pluralism in science

I previously wrote about pluralism here.

Science is usually considered monist in various ways: there is one scientific truth, one scientific reality, one scientific method. This leads to having one scientific theory for each subject, if at all possible.

The single scientific method is the easiest to critique: each branch of science has its own methods, and the attempts to articulate a single method for all sciences have failed. One commentator finds the opposite extreme more accurate (the “anything goes” of Feyerabend).

Science is also divided about reality between idealists and materialists, just as philosophers are. At one moment the materialists have the upper hand and there’s only matter, no mind, no spirit, nothing else. At another moment matter disappears in a blaze of equations and theoretical particles, which are considered the true reality.

Science is even divided about truth. Does the environment or genetics have the dominant influence? Is it nature or nurture that predominates? Is light a wave or a particle? Is quantum mechanics or relativity correct? The answer is that it’s both.

Moreover, science needs both sides of the truth. Biology requires both law and chance. How is the mix of law and chance determined? Is that by law or chance? Evolutionists often imply that chance determines the mix of law and chance but that ignores the extent of law. It’s law and chance all the way down. That is pluralism.

Pluralism is the acknowledgement that truth is many. It does not mean truth is individual or multitudinous. That would be equivalent to relativism. Pluralism acknowledges a small number of truth types, that is, truthful variations that are all on the same level. And these variations are not resolved on another level; they are a quality of truth itself.

Pluralism does acknowledge the unity of ultimate truth. The variations of truth are not so different as to be in complete opposition. Further, there is a complementarity about the variations of truth; they fit together. There are limits to pluralism but truth doesn’t always have a single answer.

Metaphors for time and space

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson have a chapter on time (Chapter 10) in their book Philosophy in the Flesh (Basic Books, 1999) that makes several points:

All of our understandings of time are relative to other concepts such as motion, space, and events. (p.137) Most of our understanding of time is a metaphorical version of our understanding of motion in space. (p.139)

They find that the metaphor systems for time either map time to space or to motion:

The Time Orientation Metaphor
The Location Of The Observer → The Present
The Space In Front Of The Observer → The Future
The Space Behind The Observer → The Past

The Moving Time Metaphor
Objects → Times
The Motion Of Objects → The “Passage” Of Time Past The Observer

The Time-Substance Variation
Substance → Time
Amount Of Substance → Duration Of Time
The Size Of The Amount → The Extent Of The Duration
Motion Of Substance Past The Observer → The “Passage” Of Time

The Moving Observer Metaphor
Locations On Observer’s Path Of Motion → Times
The Motion Of The Observer → The “Passage” Of Time
The Distance Moved By The Observer → The Amount Of Time “Passed”

The Time Is A Resource Metaphor
The Resource → Time
The User Of The Resource → The Agent (The User Of Time)
The Purpose That Requires The Resource → The Purpose That Requires Time
The Value Of The Resource → The Value Of The Time
The Value Of The Purpose → The Value Of The Purpose

Example of the latter: Time as money.

I have written before about how distance can be given in terms of duration, which seems to have been common in the ancient world (see here). It is possible, and seems to be the ancient preference, to map space to time and motion or action, turning around the metaphor systems above.

For example, etymologically east means toward the sunrise or morning and west means toward the sunset or evening. To go south is an American idiom to vanish or abscond, probably from mid-19th century notion of disappearing south to Mexico or Texas to escape pursuit or responsibility. To go west is a British idiom meaning to die or be killed, probably from thieves’ slang, in which to go west meant to go to Tyburn, hence to be hanged. There’s also the American idiom from Horace Greeley’s “go west, young man” in which the west (the western mountains and west coast of the U.S.) is the place where a young man might find a successful future. So the east (the east coast of the U.S. and further east toward Europe) has a sense of the past, where most Americans arrived from abroad and the main source of American culture.

The Bible in particular speaks of some places in terms of events associated with them: “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes) means in this world, which lies under the motion of the sun; the Promised Land is the area that God promised to Abraham (Genesis 50:24, etc.). Spiritual places are also spoken of this way: the “land of darkness and of the shadow of death” (Job 10:21); the outer darkness as the place where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12, etc.); heaven as the place where Jesus dwells (John 14:3 etc.).

Here are metaphor systems that use temporal space:

The Sun Orientation Metaphor
Toward The Sunrise → The Past
The Sun Overhead → The Present
Toward The Sunset → The Future

The Moving Person Metaphor
The Place Where Someone Was → The Past
The Place Where Someone Is → The Present
The Place Where Someone Will Be → The Future

Commuting is an example of the latter metaphor system. At work one may speak of the route of their morning commute and how their afternoon commute has a different route. At work is the here and now. It’s different at one’s residence: the workplace is the past or future depending on whether one is looking back at it to forward to it.

In 3D space + 1D time the metaphors for time are spatial since space is dominant, but in 1D space + 3D time the metaphors for space are temporal since time is dominant.