iSoul In the beginning is reality

Variationism vs. progressivism

Broadly speaking, there are two different paradigms concerning the history of the material world. One paradigm is that the material world has always been roughly the same as it is now. An ancient version of this said everything would eventually return to the same state. This cyclic version is rare now. What became more common is the idea that things change within limits. Call this variationism, because it says that everything is a variation of what came before.

The other paradigm is that the material world was very different from what it is now; whether that is seen as better before or better now. The idea of a former golden age was common in ancient times but has almost disappeared. The more common idea is that the world was once primitive and has become complex, which is seen as better. Call this progressivism, because it says that everything progressed from something different to what it is now.

There are metaphysical and theological implications of these two paradigms. Aristotle said that the world is eternal since an origin couldn’t be determined. That is compatible with variationism since an eternal world must always be a variation on what it was in the past. Many today would say there are eternal laws of nature that have operated on the natural world over time to generate the world of today. That is compatible with progressivism since it says everything is always progressing to something different.

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Space, time, and physical units

Space and time are usually confused with length and duration. That is, the physical units of measure that are typically used with space and time are confused with the pure abstractions of space and time.

Let’s call space and time without physical units abstract space and time. Call space and time with physical units concrete space and time. The distinction is between the use of physical measures, which are after all conventions, and abstractions of space and time, which do not use physical measures. Note that an abstract metric for space or time is also an abstraction, not a physical measure.

There are two kinds of concrete space and time, corresponding to the two kinds of physical units of space and time: length and duration. That is, abstract space may be measured by units of length or duration; abstract time may be measured by units of duration or length.

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Spaces of length and duration

Quantities (called magnitudes) combined with direction are called vectors. Quantities not combined with direction are called scalars. A space is a geometry or topology that contains vectors (which may or may not equal a vector space or Euclidean space as defined in mathematics).

The kind of a space depends on the units of the magnitude. If direction is combined with distance, the result is a distance space, which is 3D space. If direction is combined with duration, the result is a duration space, which is 3D time. Direction may be combined with other quantities, such as speed in a velocity space or pace in a legerity space.

Position vectors are directed from an origin or destination point to a point position. A metric may be defined between positions: distance for distance space and distime for distime space.

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Entropy here and hereafter

While the quantity of energy remains the same (the first law of thermodynamics), the quality of energy deteriorates gradually over time (the second law of thermodynamics). That is, energy tends to become less usable over time.

This is expressed with the concept of entropy, which is a measure of energy usability within a closed or isolated system (the universe, for example). As usable energy decreases and unusable energy increases, entropy increases.

Since the minimum entropy is zero, one conclusion is that the universe must have had a beginning with zero or very low entropy, like a clock that was wound up and continues to wind down. But some say that any increase in entropy is bad, which shows the imperfection of the physical universe.

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Reduced mass and vass

Here we take the reduced mass and show the parallel reduced vass.

In physics, the reduced mass is the “effective” inertial mass appearing in the two-body problem of Newtonian mechanics. It is a quantity which allows the two-body problem to be solved as if it were a one-body problem.

Given two object bodies, one with mass m1 and the other with mass m2, the equivalent one-body problem, with the position of one body with respect to the other as the unknown, is that of a single body of mass:

where the force on this mass is given by the force between the two bodies. This is half of the harmonic mean of the two masses.

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Three kinds of racism

I believe there is only one race – the human race. Distinctions between people that use the word “race” are really about something else. I think there are three main ways that people use the word “race” and consequently may act in discriminatory ways toward people they believe are of other races.

(1) Racism of ancestry. This is the oldest kind of racism. It is a racism of “blood”. The one-drop rule says that “one drop” of blood from (sub-Sahara) Africa makes a person a member of the Negro or black race. The appearance of the person does not matter. Their culture or mannerisms do not matter. Only their ancestry matters.

This is the purest racism, which is built on feelings and ideas about racial purity, inherited character, and immutable destiny. There is nothing a person of a deprecated race can do to earn the respect or approval of someone who has this kind of racism.

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Distinguishing history and science

The post continues several posts on history and science such as here and here.

All histories are part of the humanities, which are separate from the sciences. There is no scientific history or historical science – that would be like a round square.

A purported scientific history or historical science is either science and not history or history and not science. A scientist who writes histories is to that extent an historian, not a scientist.

Histories are focused on significant dissimilarities, discontinuities, and particulars. Sciences are focused on significant similarities, continuities, and universals.

Histories are diachronic; sciences are synchronic. A history takes a region or subject and follows it over time. A science takes a period or object and explores it over space.

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Is Christianity a religion?

It’s not uncommon for evangelical Christians to say that Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship. Or to contrast works-based religion with faith-based Christianity, making that the difference between religion and non-religion.

But it’s a mistake to say that Christianity is not a religion. For one thing, that would mean religious freedom wouldn’t be important for Christians. But we dare not give up religious freedom. For another thing, it drops the question of which religion is true. And it promotes negativity about religion, which is bound to impact how people react to Christianity, too.

One problem is that the word religion is almost impossible to define since there is such a variety of religions. For example, not all religions are theistic. And where does irreligion fit in? Is atheism a religion? How about secularism as a way of life? There could be no end to what counts as religion.

The Oxford dictionary defines religion as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” Does that apply to Christians? Certainly it does. And it justifies the separation of the state from oversight of religion: a secular state has no competence or authority over what is beyond life in this world.

Christians would do better to adopt a positive attitude toward religion, since at least religion as defined includes “belief in and worship of” something or someone beyond us. That is a better place to begin than secularism, atheism, or irreligion. Christian apologetics could focus on making “the case for Christ” rather than having to convince materialists that transcendent reality exists.

Causes for subjects and objects

This continues posts such as the one here related to Aristotle’s four kinds of cause:

final cause formal cause
efficient cause material cause

A subject is a form with purposes. An object is a material with mechanisms. Objects exist in space-time. Subjects exist in time-space.

The upper causes apply to subjects, who have purposes and plans, destinations and routes. The lower causes apply to objects, which have mechanisms and materials, forces and masses. Though subjects can be considered as objects and objects as subjects.

why what
subjects: final cause formal cause
objects: efficient cause material cause

Dynamics is the study of why motion happens, whereas kinematics studies only what motion happens. Kinematics is the material for dynamics. The combination of kinematics and dynamics is called mechanics, but this implies that only objects are considered. If subjects are included, then an alternative term is needed, such as kinedynamics.

Mass and vass

In Isaac Newton’s Principia, Definition 1 states:

Quantity of matter is a measure of matter that arises from its density and volume jointly. (The Principia: The Authoritative Translation and Guide, Bernard Cohen, Anne Whitman, and Julia Budenz. University of California Press, 2016, p.403)

Today density is defined as mass per unit volume, which would make this definition circular. However, when Newton wrote, density was expressed as a relative quantity. (p.90) If we look at mass as the product of density and volume, a complementary measure arises: vass.

Density is a ratio, and ratios may be expressed as fractions in two ways: the ratio of nonzero quantities A:B is equivalent to either A/B or B/A. So instead of density as mass per unit volume we could just as well define its inverse, rarity, as volume per unit of mass. (See Max Jammer’s Concepts of Mass in Classical and Modern Physics, p.27.)

Then the rarity per unit of volume equals the vass, which is the inverse of mass. In SI units, that equates to (m³/kg) / m³ which equals 1/kg. Vass is from (in)v(erse) + (m)ass or vas(t) + (mas)s.

Mass is also defined as the ratio of force to acceleration, reflecting Newton’s second law. Force is the time rate of change of momentum. A complementary definition would be the space rate of change of fulmentum, which equals the vass.

Inertial mass is the resistance of an object to a change in its state of motion when a net force is applied. A complementary concept is the nonresistance of a subject to a change in its condition of movement when a net rush is applied.

If mass is the “quantity of matter,” what is vass the quantity of? Quantity of matter means how much of a material object there is. Vass answers how much of a material subject there is, which is measured inversely to the mass as subject and object are inverses.