iSoul In the beginning is reality

Actual and possible motion

This post continues the topic posted here.

The action motion of a particle or rigid body may be measured by the scalar (or 1D) rate of motion, expressed as a speed or a pace. The numerator of a speed is the measured length or travel distance, and the denominator is the unit of time or the measured travel time. The pace is the inverse.

The possible motion of a particle or rigid body is limited to three dimensions of motion. This may be represented as a rate of motion in a Euclidean space of three-dimensions. The rate of motion is the speed or pace. With the direction of motion this is the velocity or legerity.

If time (travel time) is held constant, this becomes a spatial 3D Euclidean geometry, commonly called “space”. If length (travel distance) is held constant, this becomes a temporal 3D Euclidean geometry, which may be called “time-world”.

The combination of space and time-world is a 6D Euclidean geometry of possible representations. This is not the extent of motion but the extent of the representation of motion, the next level of abstraction.

Politics and character

It is perhaps good that societies go through occasional paroxysms of outrage over abuses and vices among the high and mighty. That’s one way to reiterate the boundaries of acceptable conduct. It would be better if boundaries were in general supported on a daily basis, but societies have their ways.

In a representative system of government, it is often felt that representatives should represent all that is best in society, that they should reflect the self-image of people as good and wholesome. That may be asking more than elections can deliver, but it’s a noble sentiment.

The foremost task of a political representative is to represent the political views of the people in the district or state they represent. Alas, that includes the selfish side of the people. This is shown annually in budget battles for shares of the public purse.

A candidate whose words reflects the positions of the people is normally the best candidate without further ado. But if there are questions about character defects in the candidate, then the electorate has to take that into consideration, mainly to discern whether or not the candidate’s actions and voting would be consistent with their statements and promises.

If a candidate’s consistency is not an issue, they may still be questioned for their suitability if their character does not reflect the self-image of the people. What if the electorate has to choose between a candidate who does reflect their views but not their self-image and a candidate who reflects their self-image but not their views?

The choice is clear if unpalatable: elect the candidate who reflects the political views of the people because that is the purpose of an election. The integrity of the political process is what is the most important in an election.

Remember that democracies are not refined affairs. For example, promoting candidates with rum was an old trick in the early days of the republic (see here). If representatives reflect the political views of the people, that is sufficient. To insist on much more would be to expect some form of aristocracy.

Motion vs. movement

The English words motion and movement are similar. They both have to do with “changing position or going from one place to another.” (Collins English Dictionary)

Then what’s the difference? Here are a few ways of putting it:

motion is used to describe physical properties, while movement is used to describe the qualities of motion. Ref.

motion doesn’t always imply a purpose, and movement usually does. Ref.

The difference is very fine. I would say that movement is déplacement d’un lieu à un autre [displacement from one place to another] whereas motion is le fait de ne pas rester immobile [not to stand still]. But usage and context are crucial. Ref.

People may not be consistent about it but for the purposes here they can be distinguished. Motion is the general term in kinetics, the study of motion. It says nothing about the purpose of a motion, or its origin and destination. Something just happens to change place.

However, movement includes some purpose, some origin and destination. A movement is a complete motion, from beginning to end. So movement would be preferred in the arts and social sciences and motion in the natural sciences.

Physics studies motion. Transportation studies movement. They may both speak about something changing position but there is a different perspective.

A movement is an entity, a thing, not just a change as a motion is. A motion can be studied abstractly but a movement is not fully abstract because it is an entity.

A body has its motion and a movement has its figure. A body is flesh-and-blood 3D, with motion only adding a thin 1D time perspective. A movement has 3D animation and life, with a figure only adding a thin 1D space perspective.

Bodies and motions

For kinematics and dynamics, one can begin with a body – something that takes space – and apply a motion to it. Or one can begin with a motion – something that takes time – and apply it to a body. In either case the result is a body and a motion – either a body with a motion or a motion with a body.

That, in a nutshell, is the difference between the spatiocosm and the tempocosm, that is, 3D space with 1D time and 3D time with 1D space. They are two ways of saying the same thing with a different emphasis.

Yes, a motion can be a “thing” – an entity of its own – the motion around a race track, for example. Applied to different contestants such a motion produces different timings. That is what the race is all about.

A body applies to different motions, too – a body such as a projectile, for example. When launched in different ways such a body travels different lengths, as in a contest for the longest length.

Compare the von Neumann computer architecture in which instructions and data share the same address space. Whether an address represents data or instructions depends only on the interpretation.

Different situations call for different perspectives. A race against time calls for a tempocosmic vew. A contest for distance calls for a spatiocosmic view.

Is there a combined perspective? Yes, in a relativistic sense, but it collapses to one or the other perspective as soon as a measurement is taken. If spatial position is measured, it’s a spatiocosmic view. If time and direction are measured, it’s a tempocosmic view.

Custom-made disagreement

I’ve written a few times before about U.S. Supreme Court cases, without claiming legal expertise. This time it’s the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, with oral arguments presented yesterday. This case is important because of the culture war implications and interesting because of the need to draw a line between behavior the state can prohibit and behavior the state can’t prohibit.

The case is complicated by several factors: it concerns a business, not an individual; it concerns a corporation, not a sole proprietorship; it concerns a message without knowing any text associated with that message; it concerns freedom of speech, though it seems like freedom of religion; and it concerns food, which seems removed from freedom of speech.

The justices seemed to see the case in a larger context, which is good because that’s the rub. Where do we draw the line? The principle that a business must serve all comers is well recognized and accepted. But can a business refuse a customer on the basis of their purpose for buying the goods or services?

In most cases, a business does not know what that the customer’s purpose is, other than the obvious one – e.g., food is purchased to eat. But in the case of a custom product or service the business needs to know the customer’s purpose. What if the business does not want to be part of fulfilling that purpose?

There are straightforward cases of a customer of a print shop who wants a message printed that the print shop objects to. The customer has the freedom of speech to speak the message but the business has the freedom to refuse to assist them because of the message. The refusal is focused on the message, not the customer themselves.

Although a message wasn’t yet part of the transaction, the parallel with the cakeshop is clear. The cakeshop objected to the purpose of the custom-made cake the customer wanted. The state should not be able to force a business to make something for a purpose they object to.

The cakeshop could advertise that they custom-make wedding cakes for traditional weddings and (perhaps in small print) they don’t custom-make cakes for non-traditional weddings – except that a customer may purchase any off-the-shelf cake and use it for any purpose they choose.

Is that too difficult to understand?

Political balance

Balance and centrism go hand and hand. One cannot have balance without a center of balance, and one cannot have a center without balancing opposites. Politically, the main balance needed is between liberty and equality. Economically, that means a balance between economic liberty and economic equality. And similarly for health, education, transportation, and so forth.

One who focuses on liberty emphasizes freedom of action over a wide range. A free society is one in which people, as individuals and as groups, are free to act. The state exists to protect society from its enemies, both foreign states and individuals (e.g., pirates), as well as domestic groups and individuals (e.g., criminals) who would take away society’s freedom.

Those who focus on liberty are concerned that without it there is tyranny, which leads to depression (inwardly), anger (outwardly), and oppression toward those lacking political power.

One who focuses on equality emphasizes similarity of condition over a wide range. An egalitarian society is one which which people, as individuals and as groups, are in a similar condition. The state exists to protect society from its enemies, both foreign states (e.g., imperialists) and individuals as well as domestic groups (e.g., bad corporations) and individuals who would take away social equality.

Those who focus on equality are concerned that without it there is disparity, which leads to envy (inwardly), resentment (outwardly), and oppression toward those lacking political power.

These opposites are both legitimate concerns that should be balanced. The result will be imperfect no doubt but should then progress toward greater balance. True progress is movement toward balance.

Space-time duality

Space and time are dual concepts. They are complementary to one another as an inverse binary symmetry. They go together as space with time in classical physics or time with space or spacetime as in relativistic physics.

Parallel terms:

Space Time
3D space +reference time 3D time + reference length
vector space + scalar time vector time + scalar space
spatiocosm tempocosm
reference frame reference timeframe
space position time position
particle transicle
body (an object) body, somebody (a subject)
waypoint instant
clock odometer

For further details see here and other posts on this blog.

Temperament and explanations

The temperament of science exists within the typology of philosophy. Aristotle’s typology of causes (explanatory factors) provides a fourfold typology, which provides the basis for each twofold scientific temperament. The four causes/factors are the final, formal, efficient/mechanism, and material.

Final Cause or Teleology Formal Cause
Efficient Cause or Mechanism Material Cause

The scientific temperaments are:

hylomorphic – material and formal (Aristotle)

dynahylic – efficient/mechanism and material (lower; modern)

dynamorphic –and formal (design)

dynatelic – efficient/mechanism and final (transportation)

teleomorphic – final and formal (upper)

The teleomorphic is the inverse of the dynahylic. Each temperament is a explanatory axis of the full explanation.

These explanatory factors address why and how. There are also other factors to consider: who, when, and where.

Singular and regular

There is a basic distinction between what is singular, unique, non-repeating and what is regular, usual, natural. The latter is the domain of science, both natural and social science, whose premise is that if something repeats, it is characteristic of the way things are. What if something does not repeat? Then science cannot deal with it, except perhaps as an outlier that becomes a footnote or is simply removed.

History is different. It is the singular, the unique that stands out and needs explaining. Why did someone not do the culturally usual thing? Why did the singular characters of history arise instead of the many other common characters? Why did war break out here but not there or there?

History goes beyond science to investigate singular people and events. In fact, these are the most important things about history. The common appearances of the sun and moon, the regularity of the tides and seasons, the life-cycles of countless humans and other organisms are not the core of history.

What’s history is what happens that’s different. As the old newspaper line has it, “When a dog bites a man, that is not news. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

Some people say that anything that is not natural is “supernatural”. That implies it must be something beyond or against nature, but that is not necessarily so. Something unexpected is not necessarily beyond or against nature. It may be that a unique set of circumstances called for a unique response. It may be that an unusual individual rose to the top at a unique time in history.

A balanced knowledge of reality requires taking into account both sides, the singular and the regular. If we only look to science, we will miss the singular things. If we only look to history (or the news), we will miss the regular things. Science needs history and history needs science. A science or history that monologues is deficient. They need to dialogue to be balanced.

Wasmann on biology and evolution

From Modern Biology and the Theory of Evolution by Erich Wasmann, S.J.

Translated from the Third German Edition by A. M. Buchanan, M.A. London, 1910

Excerpts from Chapter IX, Thoughts on Evolution (with most footnotes omitted)

Note: creatio e nihilo means ‘creation from nothing,’ a slight variation on creatio ex nihilo, ‘creation out of nothing’.



For over forty years a conflict has been raging in the intellectual world, which both sides have maintained with great vehemence and energy. The war-cry on one side is ‘Evolution of Species,’ on the other ‘Permanence of Species.’ No one could fail to be reminded of that other great intellectual warfare regarding the Ptolemaic and the Copernican systems, which began about three hundred and fifty years ago, and raged with varying success for over a century, until finally the latter prevailed. Perhaps the present conflict between the theories of evolution and permanence only marks a fresh stage in that great strife, and, if so, how will it finally be decided?

The contest that we have to consider was stirred up by Charles Darwin, when he published his book on the ‘Origin of Species’ about the middle of last century. The theories advanced by Lamarck and Geoffroy St. Hilaire at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries may be regarded as causing preliminary skirmishes, but Cuvier’s powerful attacks soon succeeded in overthrowing the new ideas of evolution (see p. 28). It was not until the year 1859 that the great battle began, which has received its name from the commander-in-chief of the attacking army, Charles Darwin. The warfare with which we are now concerned centres round Darwinism, so-called.

I say, so-called Darwinism. A few words of explanation are absolutely necessary. The thick smoke of the powder, which hid the battlefield from our gaze, is gradually dispersing,

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