|A NEW ONTOLOGY
A new theory of matter, time, space, and their interrelationship
by Geoffrey Read
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“Even major modifications of present physical theories would not transform them into the desired new theory, as quite different and novel ideas are required … the need is for a whole revolution of thought, which can be carried through only by nonconformists”
Werner Heisenberg (1)
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The Fatal Trap
A previous paper (The Fatal Trap, Ontology, 14.12.2003) was devoted to exposing a certain monstrous blunder in physical thinking fatal to our understanding of the universe. This Fatal Trap first entered systematic thought in the form of Greek atomism. A basic ontological problem which exercised a compulsive fascination for Greek philosophy was that of the relationship between permanence and change. The Greeks sensed, rightly, that the solution of this problem must bring them a giant step nearer to comprehending the world as a Cosmos or rationally ordered system. They conceived all the changes of the physical world as falling into two great classes: intrinsic and spatial. The first where the very substance of the body seems to change as, say, when food converts to flesh and faeces, and the second, where all that change are the spatial relations existing between bodies. Again, rightly, they saw that a coherent theory must needs bring into rational relation these two kinds of change. One proffered solution to these problems -- a solution by no means universally accepted - was the atomic theory.
The essence of this was that all perceptible bodies are composed of innumerable, intrinsically unchanging, ultimately small, imperceptible bodies -- the atoms -- of which there exist only a comparatively small number of kinds; and that the vast variety of bodies arises from the virtually infinite number of spatial arrangements which these different types of atom, in different proportions, can enter into. This theory, maintaining that all intrinsic changes were ultimately spatial changes, besides being supported by numerous physical phenomena, obviously possessed great explanatory power, seeming, on the surface, to solve all the problems relating to permanence and change. Unfortunately, for all atomism’s unquestionable explanatory power, its underlying assumptions that the ultimate units of matter (physical substance) are intrinsically unchanging, and that there exists some quasi-substantial extensive medium (space) in which these unchanging particles are situated and through which they move (all physical changes, in fact, being reducible to such motions), leaves us with a number of intrinsically insoluble problems. To believe in the truth of these two basic assumptions is to have fallen into the Fatal Trap. It may also be worthy of note that, taken together, they constitute the root conception of materialism.
Largely because of its amenability to mathematical development, atomism was revived at the commencement of the modern era, and incorporated, as a cornerstone, into the theoretical foundations of Newtonian physics. In conjunction with another Greek revival -- element theory -- it enjoyed for some two centuries an immense success in the detailed unravelling of the structure of the physical world. In our own day, when the radical ontological shortcomings of this classical era have been empirically exposed and officially rejected, it none the less persists, perhaps even more insidiously for being obscured beneath a smoke screen of sophisticated mathematics. Indeed, its exclusive domination of the scientific mind is such that all attempt to construct a coherent physical theory has been abandoned, it being now officially accepted that theoretical coherence is attainable only in the form of systems of measure-number equations (formalisms), with physical theories relegated to the status of mere conceptual models whose purpose is heuristic rather than explanatory.
Having, in our previous paper, shown up the Fatal Trap for the monstrous ontological blunder that it is, we attempt in this paper to outline the form which an ontology must take if it is to be both internally coherent and capable of coherently incorporating our empirical knowledge (2). In effect, this means selecting the other, precisely opposite, solution to the problem of the relationship between permanence and change: that, ultimately, all spatial change must be explained in terms of intrinsic change. We might also describe our aim as the satisfactory resolution of two sets of fundamental problems wholly refractory to fatally trapped orthodoxy. Firstly, bringing into coherent relation the basic concepts of physical thinking: namely, matter, charge, time, space, force, and motion. Secondly, showing how life, mind, and spirit emerge as logical consequences of a physical world thus rationally conceived. The empirical evidence overwhelmingly establishes that mind has evolved out of life, which in turn has emerged out of what is ordinarily regarded as non-living nature. But, immured in the Fatal Trap, orthodoxy is unable to give a remotely acceptable account of how this has occurred. As Professor Robert Rosen observed:
“At present, even in these days of ‘molecular biology’ there is still not one single inferential chain which leads from anything important in physics to anything important in biology; despite decades of concerted effort by some very clever people biology forces physics to transform itself, perhaps, ultimately out of all recognition.” (3)
But, obviously, we cannot hope to solve this second set of problems unless and until we have solved those relating to the physical world out of which life has indisputably arisen. We therefore begin with these, but with the caveat that in this short paper we are attempting to do no more than outline a rationally coherent conception of the physical world, and its biological, mental, and spiritual implications. Even if, working within these limitations, we cannot realistically expect to convince the reader of the truth of this conception, we at least hope to convince him that it is worth serious investigation.
THE PHYSICAL WORLD
A Note on Reductionism
The first clue to the nature of this new ontology is provided, somewhat paradoxically, by the very theory that we are rejecting as false. If orthodox atomic theory is radically false, how is one to account for the great and unquestionable explanatory successes of the mechanistic materialism grounded on it? Very simply: because, along with its many profound untruths, mechanistic materialism incorporates a no less profound truth. This fundamental truth is the quintessentially rational notion that complex entities are associations of simpler entities, which, in turn, consist of associations of yet simpler, and so on right down to the ultimately simple. It is in its conception of these simple entities that mechanism goes wildly wrong. Our theory, then, while wholly reductionist, utterly rejects that naively realistic, wretchedly bungled version of reductionism known as the scientific world-view.
Matter as Process
One of the few genuine advances in understanding achieved by ‘the new physics’ is the realisation that substance and change are interfused more closely than the classical era ever suspected. And, indeed, to the ontologically alert mind, what the advance of empirical knowledge has been revealing ever more plainly is that physical substance is not a stuff but a process of some kind. But owing to the fatal mechanistic mind-set of the physicist, all the abundant evidence for the periodic nature of matter has simply been misconstrued either as unintelligible waves (of what?) or the vibrations of intrinsically unchanging particles. A first obvious step in the direction of intelligibility is to infer that the ultimate elements of the physical world are organised into a process primarily through those kinds of interrelationship we term temporal and spatial. As the ontologically oriented physicist David Bohm once succinctly, if somewhat loosely, put it:
“I say the actual process which takes place is fundamental and space and time are the means of describing the order in this process.” (4)
Owing, however, to the practical man’s naively obsessive bodies-in-space conception that we are calling the Fatal Trap -- and of which the scientific world-view is the systematically elaborated consummation -- these two kinds of interrelationship have been abstracted and reified as the independently existing absolutes, time and space, thereby degrading the substantial elements of the process to featureless, unintelligible bits of ‘matter’. It is therefore hardly surprising that these three altogether fictitious disjecta membra -- that is, matter, time, and space -- resulting from so crude a dismemberment of the physical process, have defied all attempts to bring them into intelligible relation: not only with each other, but also with the life and mind that empirical science has indisputably shown to have emerged from the physical.
The Temporal Grounding of Space
For the fatally trapped physicist, all changes reduce to motions of intrinsically unchanging ultimate particles through the indefinitely extensive medium, space. Now we, having demoted both ‘space’ and ‘time’ from real entities to mere abstractions for spatial relations and temporal relations, have no recourse but to promote material particles from featureless specks of stuff to processes in whose changes, individual or collective, these relations must inhere. We are, in fact, postulating that spatially ultimate ‘particles’ are, in reality, sequences of non-spatial changes of some kind. (5) From this we can already dimly perceive how matter, space, and time are to be rationally synthesised. Each ‘particle’ must be a particular sequence of changes. Now, to talk of time elapsing when no changes have occurred, or, alternatively, to talk of changes occurring when no time has elapsed, is to talk nonsense. Hence, we conceive that each ‘particulate’ sequential change is a unit defining the passage of one instant of time: that is, that each is an elementary instant event.
Time will then have to be accounted for in terms of what it is that orders these instant changes into a sequence: most probably some kind of hierarchy of ontological dependence. It is these instant sequential events, then, that are our ultimate simple entities. Every complex entity must be ultimately explicable as a natural association of them: a number of simple events unified by their very natures. In asserting that an ultimate particle is, in reality, a sequence of elementary events, we are effectively stating that this true theory, no less than the false mechanistic theory, is postulating elementary spatial units. And this goes far to explain why a theory so wildly false as mechanism should still have achieved some major explanatory successes. But, of course, if we talk of ‘space’ in this theory, it can only be as a shorthand for ‘spatial relations’: some kind of general relationship between the sequences. This can only take the form of an exquisitely precise temporal coordination of events within systems of sequences: a co-ordination which requires that all sequences have arisen, by a process of bifurcation, from a common origin. It is, then, in the form of precise temporal co-ordinations among spatially elementary event sequences, rather than as coordinated motions of intrinsically unchanging elementary bodies through space, that this new ontology requires us to envisage the course of the physical world.
That the physical world is really organised fundamentally by temporal relations – that spatial relationships are ultimately to be explained in terms of temporal – is strongly suggested by one basic feature of contemporary physics: the constancy of ‘the velocity of light’. Now, the orthodox, mechanistic, fatally trapped physicist, sees light, and indeed every kind of electromagnetic radiation, as some kind of ‘wave’ or non-material (!) particle (photon) travelling through space at a universally fixed rate. But, as Burniston Brown observed:
“The reason why the ‘velocity of light’ plays such an important part in modern physics is that it is not the velocity of anything.” (6)
What we call the speed of light (c) is no more than a universal constant inter-converting units of length or distance (the root attribute of spatial relationship) and units of time. That is, r = ct. So that the distance (r) between any two bodies is, in effect, a duration: the time (t = t2 - t1) elapsing between the emission (t1) of a light signal from one body and its reception (t2) by the other. We already employ this precise quantitative relation between distance and duration in one of our measure units for stellar distances: the light year. And, indeed, many unsophisticated communities have, very practically, expressed the distance of a place in terms of the time it takes to get there; just as we do when we say something like, “It’s only half an hour by car” or, “She lives a couple of minutes down the road from me”. And, if we so wished, we could universalise this, expressing every distance between two points as the time it takes light to make the journey between them -- say, the length of a cricket pitch as 6•710 x 10-8 light seconds. Distance, then, in this new ontology, is always the time lapse between emission of a ‘light signal’ and its reception; which can only mean the time elapsing between an event (cause) on one temporal sequence and its effect upon another. Moreover, it is not only ‘light’ (strictly, electromagnetic radiation) that vitally implicates the distance/time conversion factor, c. It is now generally accepted that the action of one body on another is not transmitted instantaneously, but only after a lapse of time equal to the distance between the bodies divided by c. This strongly implies that what we think of as electromagnetic radiation is also no more than force-at-a-distance, its special features deriving solely from the particular natures of source and receiver.
We are claiming, then, that ‘space’ is an abstraction for a system of distance constraints, where distance is ultimately causal time lapse between one temporal sequence and another. Now, the only conceivable form that an intrinsic effect of one event sequence upon another could take is that of going to determine the instant events comprising that other. But there is nothing to be gained by proceeding further with this line of thought until we possess a much more precise conception of the nature of, and the relations between, the elementary events of which a physical sequence is composed.
The Qualification Sequence
I call these elementary event sequences -- what phenomenal physics would refer to as elementary particles -- qualification sequences. One entity is qualified by another when its absolute or intrinsic nature is modified in some way by its contextual relation with that other. Qualification is basic to all the arts, perhaps nowhere more obviously than music, where any note of a melody sounds differently according to the context provided by the notes preceding it. On the level of everyday practical thinking it is natural to see qualification as dependent upon place in a temporal series. However, I am contending that ultimate ontological analysis reveals that what we call ‘time’, or more precisely the temporal process, is, in reality, a qualification process. In short, that temporal order is an order of ontological dependency grounded upon qualification; the real state of affairs being not that B is qualified by A because it follows it, but that B follows A because it is qualified by it. It is order of qualification that gives the arrow of time its direction. We could thus have a situation where there are a certain number of differences provided by the absolute natures of our elementary events, but with this number greatly multiplied by their context of qualification. In schematic terms a single intrinsic X becomes a plurality, X1 X2 X3 X4 … Xn … of differently qualified X’s, these differences arising from different places in a qualification process.
It is easy to see that, in theory at least, an indefinite number of such qualified entities could arise from only two absolutely different entities (absolutes). But here, the difficulty arises that two absolutes must surely have something in common if they are to qualify one another -- as, say, in the case of two musical notes, whose different pitches arise from the different speeds at which otherwise similar constituent events sequentially succeed each other. And, at this absolute level of analysis, we are postulating that the events of our qualification sequences are qualified simple entities. How, then, can two simple entities (simples) possess something in common in order that they may qualify one another, and thereby generate a qualification process? Only if one of these simples derives its nature solely from the other: in other words that it is the absence of that other. As Plato, explicitly or implicitly, said: absence is not nullity, by the fact that its very nature entails by implication the something that it is the absence of. (We have only to think of darkness or silence here). So that we are postulating the existence of a single basic Absolute, which, following an age-old tradition, we call the One. In the terminology of qualification we can express ‘absence of the One’ as ‘Nullity qualified by the One’; in effect, treating Nullity as a second Absolute. Denoting the One (or Ultimate) by X, and Nullity by 0, we can say that the universe begins as X, and that the first instant of time is defined by the addition of X→0 (Nullity qualified by the Ultimate). The second instant of time is defined by the addition of both X→ 0→X and X→ 0→0. This calls for comment. The second 0 of the X→0→0 sequence differs from the first by being qualified by a more remote X, and so weakened as a contrast. In more structural terms: simultaneously with the addition of each new instant present, each existing simple declines further from the present by one instant. Thus, the second 0 in comparison with the first is qualified by a less compresent X. The third instant of time is defined by the addition of the four qualifications:
and so on.
So that, in general we can say that the nth instant of time is defined by the addition of 2 n-1 qualifications.
The Ultimate One
We turn now to defining the primordial source, our ultimate One. Hegel, who also postulated such a simple source, thought of it as "pure being" -- being qua being … being as such. He rightly saw that the source must be defined in terms of something common to all experience, something of which every experience is a particular instance. But his definition is unsatisfactory because he failed to define 'being', leaving it as an empty abstraction. With our precise theory of the structure of entities we are in a position to improve upon this. Two components of the basic problem are obvious enough. We cannot define the One in terms of anything ontologically prior, since, by the very nature of the case, there is nothing ontologically prior. Also, for our definition to be meaningful, we must define the One in experiential terms. But since all experience necessarily derives from the One, it might seem that any such definition must involve circularity. However, though all experiences derive from the One, in a sense they still are the One, since they are no more than dynamic forms, or patterned processes, of the One and its Negation -- which latter, as we have seen, is purely privative, owing its existence solely to the One. So that, in effect, the One is the sole substance of the Universe. The universe, which arises by a process of necessary implication, can therefore legitimately be viewed as the fully realised One -- the realisation of all that the One contains in potential. Hence, the whole universal process is one of self-realisation; or rather, since the One is the sole existent -- self-realisation as such. The One is therefore the least realised state of this self-realisatory process: the state of mere self-identity -- self-identity as such. The One has no other nature than this -- how could it when what we know empirically as the nature of something is always some particular presence/absence pattern of the One?
This defines the One in structural terms. How are we to define it in experiential terms? We should not in any sense that mattered be alive were our experience not affectively toned. What, in ontological terms, is this affective tone? The universal process is essentially constructive, complex entities being associations of simpler entities, and ultimately of the absolutely simple; entities so associated belonging together by their very natures. Such natural togetherness we call order. So that the process of self-realisation is characterised essentially by the emergence of ever richer and more varied order. It is constructive and holistic. Ultimately, greater life is greater order. This order we experience pleasurably. Negative affect always arises from the disruption or adulteration of order. The Greeks, that race of thinker aesthetes, were rightly convinced that there exists some profound structural link between order and pleasure: that link which my Oxford Dictionary acknowledges when it defines harmony as "an agreeable effect of apt arrangement of parts". Hence, we are claiming that in positive affect we, as part of the universe, are experiencing the universe’s essentially self-realisatory nature. So that, in experiential terms, we may say that the One, as the minimal state of self-realisation is minimal positive affect. Here, at the level of ultimate simplicity, the two basic attributes of experience – the structural and the self-realisatory - are identically fused. The One, as pure positive affect, is at once the self which is thus minimally realised, and the minimal realisation of that self.
Order and the Holistic Principle
The universe at the nth instant of time is composed of 2n-1 qualification sequences. But, of course, to believe that the universe consisted of merely a number of individual sequences would be to commit an ultimate ontological blunder. Far from being mutually isolated, sequences are naturally grouped or associated in unsurpassable numbers and degrees of complexity. Everywhere, the holistic principle -- that a true whole is something over and above a number of constituents -- holds good. Obviously, since a whole is constituted not by these constituents in a state of mutual isolation, but by these same constituents in states of interrelatedness. And interrelations abound: arising both from the sequences’ intrinsic natures, and from their positions in the universal process. We term any natural association an instance of order. Moreover, a natural whole is composed not just of all its constituents but of only those constituents. By consisting of these and these only, it is to that extent severed from the rest of the universe. We say that order is self-selective. On the one hand, then, we have this ultimate ontological schema of qualification sequences; on the other, our human experience and empirical knowledge. And our aim in this paper is to depict in broadest outline this knowledge and experience as part of a rationally coherent totality whose ultimate constituents are the simple events composing our qualification sequences. Achieving this will entail constant commuting between our ontological schema and our empirical knowledge.
Matter Time and Charge
As we suggested earlier (Fundamental Problems), to outline a rational conception of the physical world is essentially to bring into a single coherent scheme such basic concepts of physical thinking as matter, charge, time, space, force, and motion. Matter, of course, will simply be those qualification sequences which collectively compose that particular system of sequences we call the physical world -- and which we shall shortly be defining. The individual qualification sequences of this system will therefore be the ultimate particles of physics, which, for lack of any reliable evidence to the contrary, we assume to be positive and negative electrons. The temporal process – of which ‘time’ is a mere abstraction -- is just the qualification process. Each successive simple qualification defines a time lapse of one instant (or chronon if preferred). Since all sequences march in instant by instant step, time is absolute throughout the universe -- the nth instant having its representative on all the 2 to the power of n-1 sequences existing at that time. Moreover, we can already see what must, in general terms, be the ontological basis of charge: preponderance of presences or absences of the One on the individual sequences. Owing to the perfect symmetry of the situation, it is impossible to say which charge corresponds with which preponderance, but for convenience we will think of those physical sequences in which X’s preponderate as positrons, and those in which 0’s preponderate as negatrons -- reserving ‘electron’ for the generic term.
Bifurcation and Selection
The physical world must be a sub-section of the universal process, self-selected out of the totality through the exclusive collective possession of certain attributes. Now, empirically, we find that the number of sequences (quantity of matter) composing the physical world stays broadly the same: certainly in comparison with the universal process, each of whose sequences bifurcates at every instant. This therefore implies that at every instant on every (or almost every) physical sequence, only one continuation -- X or 0 -- is being physically included. At the same time, it would be natural to suppose that since the universe started as a single sequence, so did the physical world, and has hence grown, but at an immeasurably slower rate than the universal process. If it is still growing in number of sequences (electrons), this means that on one or more physical sequences (not, therefore, electrons) this X/0 selection rule does not apply -- constituting a special case to which we shall return later. But, in general, since such X or 0 instant selection determines the particular continuation of each physical sequence, it must determine, by that very fact, the course of the physical world. So that to bring to light the ontological grounds of such selection is to understand the laws of physical nature.
Periodicity and the Physical World
The physical world constitutes a single vast instance of order. More precisely, it comprises innumerable qualification sequences systematically interconnected. Such systematic relationships can only take the general form of coordinated changes among the individual sequences. Now, a qualification sequence can be viewed as an endless alternation of waning contrasts of presence and absence of the ultimate One. Every alternation occupies a certain number of consecutive instants -- that is, it is of a certain duration. Now, coordinated changes among sequences presupposes a basis of constancy of alternation in the individual sequences themselves. In a word, their X/0 alternations must be rhythmic or periodic. It is upon this basis of regular changes in the duration of presence/absence alternation of physical sequences that physical order is built.
We are saying, then, that at any time every physical sequence has a definite period of X/0 alternation. Now, empirically, we find that the charge of an electron (ultimate particle) remains at least broadly constant, whereas we are here suggesting that the period of an electron, as a consequence of selective influences from other electrons is frequently changing. And since we are also suggesting that charge is essentially preponderance of presence over absence for positrons, and absence over presence for negatrons, we may ontologically link these two conceptions in a precise way. We suggest that the duration of the preponderant or dominant absolute always, whatever the period of alternation, adheres as closely as possible to a certain ratio over that of the subordinate absolute. On grounds of simplicity, as well as systemic considerations which we cannot go into here, we suggest that this ratio is 2:1. Hence, if we say that in any one alternation the duration of the subordinate absolute is n instants, then that of the dominant absolute will be 2n, making an overall period of 3n instants. In reality, where all periods (not just those which are multiples of 3) are possible, things will be slightly more complex: writing presences first, we can say that all positrons will be of period 3n(±1) composed of 2n(±1), n; and all negatrons of period 3n(±1), composed of n, 2n(±1). For example, a (23,12) electron will be a positron of period 35 instants, comprising 23 consecutive qualified Ultimates alternating with 12 consecutive qualified Nullities; and a (21,42) electron will be a negatron of present period 63 instants, comprising 42 qualified Nullities alternating with 21 qualified Ultimates.
We are positing that every ultimate ‘particle’ (electron) conforms at all times to this general schema. Note that since n can take any integral value "e1, the longest period will be of indefinite, though, of course, finite duration, and the shortest period will be 2 instants, when positrons and negatrons will be indistinguishable and of zero charge.
Selection Force and Acceleration
If then, ultimately, all physical change can be reduced to changes of period of individual qualification sequences, we must now inquire as to the selective grounds on which such changes are based. The selections must be made by the physical world itself, it being precisely this which makes it a system. If any sequence were neither a selector nor thus selected, it would not be part of the physical world. We postulate, therefore, that at all times, every physical sequence is exerting a selective influence upon every other, so that the continuation of each is determined by all. But are these selective influences of one sequence upon another constant over time and the same for all pairs of sequences, or are they changing or unequal in some way? And if the latter, what brings about the changes or the inequalities? To obtain guidance in answering these and related questions, we turn to our empirically grounded knowledge of the physical world -- again emphasising our need to avoid the unsound.
The course of the physical world according to orthodoxy is essentially a matter of the the motions through space of myriads of material bodies -- larger bodies composed of smaller, down to the ultimate constituents. The motion of any body changes in magnitude or direction (that is, the body accelerates) solely through the influences exerted upon it by other bodies. These mysteriously transmitted influences to which every body is unceasingly subjected by every other body, are termed forces.
Modern physics categorises these under three general heads: gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear. We shall concentrate on the electromagnetic, since, for reasons which will shortly be given, we conceive the other two as being special cases of this. Moreover, it is now universally accepted that the magnetic component of electromagnetic force is no more than a modification, resulting from the motions of the interacting bodies, of the basic Coulombic force. This Coulombic force is operative between all bodies at all times. So far as our ultimate particles are concerned, it is one of repulsion between like charges and attraction between unlike, acting in the direction of the line joining the two bodies. And the strength of its effect varies inversely as the square of the distance (r units) apart of source and recipient. That is, impressed force, the cause of acceleration, or equally, the induced acceleration itself, is proportional to 1/r².
Certain correspondences between this empirically derived, and our rationally derived conception immediately suggest themselves. But there is one fundamental and obvious difference between the two conceptions: whereas orthodoxy has only one set of changes -- the motions of the particles through space -- to account for, we have, in addition, their intrinsic changes. The correlation of these two sets of changes -- extrinsic and intrinsic -- is the pivotal conception upon which our whole physical theory turns.
What fatally trapped phenomenal physics conceives as forces, are then, in noumenal reality, selective influences. So that the share which each sequence has in selecting the continuation of any other is inversely proportional to the square of its distance from that other. Thus, as distances constantly change, so does selective influence. But change in X/0 selection must change the sequence period; so that, in effect, selection is period selection. Now, impressed force changes the magnitude or direction or both of the particle on which it operates. We will, for the present, concentrate entirely on magnitude, leaving directon till later. Change of velocity is acceleration. We are claiming that intrinsic change, conceived as change of period, is precisely correlated with extrinsic change conceived as change of absolute speed -- the magnitude component of velocity. So that intrinsic/extrinsic correlation becomes correlation of sequence period with its absolute speed; more precisely, that absolute sequence speed (v) is inversely proportional to number of instants (N) in one period -- that is, v is proportional to 1/N.
Correlation of Extrinsic and Intrinsic Change
Now, as we suggested earlier, distance, in this noumenal conception, is no other than duration: the time elapsing between an instant (t1) on one period and that (t2) on which it exerts a selective effect on some other. In symbols: r = ct, where r = distance, c = the ‘speed of light’ and t = t2-t1 . We contend then, that, through this relationship of causal time lapse, any sequence B will be, at any time, t instants distant from any sequence A. But in such a distance-defining role, we refer to an instant as a point (or hodon if preferred). So that a point is our ultimate unit of distance, and r points = t instants. Hence, in this noumenal conception, c (=r/t) is a speed of 1 point per instant. All absolute speeds, including, of course, those of sequences, will be c/n, where n is any integral number; that is, all sequences must move at all times with an absolute speed of v = c/n. And we have only to attach a physical meaning to n to possess our basic intrinsic/extrinsic correlation for all sequences. Now, we already, in effect, possess this meaning. We stated above that v is proportional to 1/N, or v = k/N, where, since N is a pure number, k must have the dimensions of a speed. We therefore have only to equate k with c, to obtain v = c/N , thereby asserting that at all times every sequence moves at an absolute speed of c/N points per instant. So that n = N, the number of instants in one period. Since c = 1 point per instant, this amounts to asserting that every sequence moves at all times at an absolute speed of 1 point every N instants, or 1 point per period. Thus, in our two examples above, the positron of period 35 instants has an absolute speed of c/35, and is hence moving at a rate of 1 point every 35 instants; and our negatron of period 63 instants, with an absolute speed of c/63, moves by 1 point every 63 instants. Note that the fastest absolute speed at which any sequence can move is c/2, or 1 point every 2 instants.
The ‘velocity of light’ c, is 2•998 x 1010 cm.s-1 in c.g.s. units, and 1 point instant -1in absolute units. If 1 point =ρ cm. and 1 instant = τsec., c = ρ/τ cm.s-1, and it is natural to ask whether there exists any reliable way of determining the values of ρand τ. For reasons that we cannot go into here, there are strong grounds for believing that the well-known formula me x c² = e²/re is sound, provided that we give a suitable interpretation to re, the so-called “classical radius of the electron”. Now, of course, in our noumenal conception, the qualification sequences -- identified by us as the real electrons -- do not occupy space, for the simple reason that there is no space to occupy. We therefore interpret re , the ‘radius’ of an ultimate ‘particle’, as our ultimate unit of distance, r. Now, in the above formula, we know by direct measurement the value of c. And there exists no good reason for doubting the value of the electron charge e, as found experimentally by refinements of Milikan’s oil-drop experiment. Finally, me, the mass of the electron, can easily be calculated from Avagadro’s number, the atomic weight of hydrogen, and the hydrogen/electron mass ratio, for all of which there is reliable empirical confirmation. Putting the c.g.s. values of these constants into the above formula yields a value for re of 2•818 x 10-13 cm. Putting ρ= 2•818 x 10-13 cm. into c = ρ/τ, yields the value, τ = 9•4 00 x 10-24 s.
Force and Acceleration
Force is merely the name science gives to the cause of acceleration -- that is, to the cause of change of velocity. And since absolute speed = c/period, it follows that attractive and repulsive forces, in changing the speeds of the sequences on which they act, are changing their periods. So that selective effect is what phenomenal physics knows as force. It is a summation of a summation of accelerations that determines the change of period of an electron: firstly, at each instant of the existing period, a vector summation of the accelerations (each of magnitude 1/r<²> points per instant per instant), exerted on the electron by all the other electrons in the physical world; secondly, a vector summation of all these instant resultants. Notice that if these attractions and repulsions cancel out, so that effectively no force is acting, there is no change of period, and so no change of absolute speed. (Neither, since effectively no force is acting, will there be any change of direction). This is the noumenal explanation of inertia.
I am claiming that these attractions and repulsions are the only physical forces operating in the physical world. This, therefore implies that I consider gravitational and nuclear forces to be Coulombic forces operating under special conditions. Gravitation, I submit, is a slight attraction between neutral atoms, due to a marked asymmetry between the equal numbers of positrons and negatrons that each contains. All the positrons, as components of neutrons and protons, are in the nucleus, whereas a few of the negatrons exist singly or in pairs outside the nucleus. The overall charge is zero since a proton is merely a neutron that has lost an electron, and the numbers of nuclear protons and ambient negatrons are equal. But this imbalance in situation between positrons and negatrons means that in relation to other neutral atoms, although numbers of attractions and repulsions are equal, their distribution as between nuclear-nuclear, nuclear-ambient, and ambient-ambient are different. It would be a strange thing if these imbalances of situation between equal numbers of positive and negative atomic electrons did not lead to a slight imbalance of attractions and repulsions between neutral atoms. And the empirical evidence shows that there is, in fact, an exceedingly minute difference in favour of attraction -- of the order of 10-37 of the magnitude of the Coulombic force between two electrons. Note that considerations of basic symmetry would lead us to expect the existence of “anti-atoms” -- atoms whose arrangement of charges constitute a precise inverse of those of “our” atoms. Gravitation would operate among these anti-atoms exactly as it does among our atoms; but between atoms and anti-atoms there would be an exceedingly minute gravitational repulsion -- thus giving rise to a general tendency for matter and “anti-matter” to separate out.
Phase Relations at the Quantum Level
We have seen that both positrons and negatrons are composed of alternating sequence segments of qualified presences and absences of the ultimate One; the difference between them being essentially that in the positron the number of successive presences is twice that of successive absences, and the precise converse for the negatron. This means that instant causal connections may be either between similars (repulsion) or between opposites (attractions), attractions therefore tending to preponderate between oppositely charged sequences, and repulsions between similarly charged. But this is only an overall tendency. Between any two sequences, even if their periods remain constant, the ratio of attractive to repulsive instants will change greatly simply because the effect instant for any given causal instant will change with distance apart. As a simple example, consider one period of a positron (P) and a negatron (N) each of period 3 instants. Then, according to their distance apart, one of essentially three possible cause/effect outcomes is possible:
P … N
X … 0 = Attraction
X … 0 = Attraction
0 … X = Attraction
Overall attraction (3 - O)
P … N
X … X = Repulsion
X … 0 = Attraction
0 … 0 = Repulsion
Overall repulsion (2 - 1)
P … N
X … 0 = Attraction
X … X = Repulsion
0 … 0 = Repulsion
Overall repulsion (2 - 1)
Total overall attraction: (5 - 4)
So that in the simplest case, where two sequences are moving at the same absolute speed c/N, N phases between them are possible, some of which will be congruent phases (a preponderance of attractions between oppositely charged, and repulsions between similarly charged particles), and some, contrary phases (a preponderance of repulsions between oppositely charged, and attractions between similarly charged particles). With greater numbers of particles operating over greater distances such phase relations tend to average out, resulting in total overall congruent phase relations (of ratio 5:4) between bodies, as the so-called correspondence theory of quantum physics in effect acknowledges. But in what is known as the quantum domain (and this includes the realm of ‘nuclear forces’), broadly defined by Coulombic attractions and repulsions between comparatively few ‘particles’ at comparatively small distances apart, contrary phase relations between individual, or small groups of electrons play a major structural role.
In fact, it would be hard to exaggerate the importance of this for (i) nuclear, (ii) atomic, and (iii) molecular structure. We must be content here with indicating one instance of outstanding importance for each of these. (i) The number of different combinations of phase relations between comparatively small numbers of positrons and negatrons (always depending on their individual distances apart) which make for stable or semi-stable groupings, must be very large, thereby accounting for the wide variety of sub-atomic “particles”. (ii) For an ambient negatron near a positive nucleus there will exist alternating zones of attraction and repulsion. At half the interfaces between these zones, motion towards the nucleus will result in repulsion, and movement away from it, attraction. Hence, spaced out around the atomic nucleus, there exist sharply defined regions of stability, about which negatrons will oscillate. This accounts, among other things, for why the negatron does not fall into the positive nucleus -- with the implication that Bohr’s planetary model, with its necessary requirement of enormous speeds to keep the planetary electrons in orbit, is wholly fictitious. (iii) This conception accounts also for that most important mode of chemical combination, the pair bonding of negatrons. Were it not for the existence of contrary phases, when like particles attract, such bonding would be a pure absurdity. But with these accounting for up to half the possible phases, a simple natural and ubiquitous mode of atomic linkage is provided. Here, again, electrons will oscillate about sharply defined regions of stability.
Atomic Structure and the Absolute Speed of the Earth
There is another interesting point about the noumenal atom simple enough to be made here. I need hardly say that ‘the special theory of relativity’ -- in reality, no more than the arbitrary conferring of a self-contradictory physical interpretation upon an elementary algebraic truism known as a Voigt transformation -- has no place in this noumenal conception. All velocities are absolute. Now, we have just seen that atomic structure depends upon the forces acting between its constituent electrons, and that these are affected, among other things, by the periods of the electrons, which in turn vary in inverse ratio to their absolute speeds. But although, for electrons in Earthly atoms, these absolute speeds will depend principally on the forces exerted upon them by nearby electrons, they will also depend, if to a much lesser degree, upon the larger background motions in which they must partake as constituents of planet Earth – principally, the speed of rotation of the Earth about its own axis, the speed of its revolution round the Sun, and the absolute speed of the Solar System (most reliably measured as around c/1000). Hence, our pivotal conception of the dependency of period upon absolute speed implies that the physical world’s large scale and small-scale phenomena are bound together in a more intimate way than orthodoxy suspects.
Space as a System of Distances
As we noted earlier, when a force acts on a body it changes the magnitude and/or the direction of that body’s motion. But, broadly speaking, in so doing, it changes the distance and/or direction of that body, not only from itself, the source of action, but from every other physical body in the universe, quite irrespective of any forces that these might also be exerting. Thus, in kicking the ball, a footballer changes the position (distance and/or direction) of the ball not only from himself and all the other players on the field, but from everyone else on Earth, and ultimately from every body in the physical universe -- altogether irrespective of the fact that no one but himself was the direct cause of this particular spatial change. It is clear from this that every physical body must exist within a system of distance/directional constraints or interdependencies embracing the whole physical world. The simplest abstract form in which this spatial system has been envisaged is that which is centred on a point at the origin of three axes, or mutually orthogonal straight lines. Every possible physical position or location in this system is then uniquely defined by three numbers, positive or negative, each of which gives its distance from one of the axes. Each location being thus uniquely fixed in the spatial system, its distance, and, by necessary implication, direction, from every other location is likewise fixed. As bodies move, they move, by definition, from location to location, so that their distances and (hence) directions from every other location -- and hence from any bodies that happen to be at these locations -- change accordingly. This straightforward common-sense conception is dismissed by mathematical (but not physical) sophisticates principally on the ground that it incorporates “the fallacy of simple location”. However, I would contend that, in the light of our present noumenal physical conception, it is capable of an ontological interpretation which is not particularly simple, nor in any way fallacious. In this short paper I can do no more than outline the mode of concretisation of this abstract spatial schema.
The root conception of the whole schema is the straight line. And, at bottom, this is no more than a series of points constituting a spatial analogue of a qualification sequence conceived merely as a succession of instants. We have already seen that distance between two sequences is no other than time lapse between causal instant on one sequence and effect instant on the other; and that our units of distance (points) are just the spatial manifestation of our units of time (instants). Hence, if we say that two locations are n points apart, all we mean is that an instant event of a sequence at one location acts selectively on an instant event of a sequence at the other, after a lapse of n instants. And between them there will be n-1 locations such that each of these will be r points from one location and n-r from the other, with r taking all integral values from 1 to n-1. The straight line is thus the locus of such a series of locations, with n a number indefinitely large. It will be obvious that a straight line entails all manner of distance constraints between its constituent locations -- even as a qualification sequence entails all manner of temporal constraints between its constituent instants, abstractly considered.
Now, there is nothing to prevent any location on this straight line being also a location on another straight line such that the two lines are symmetrical or reciprocally identical in all respects. We call two such lines mutually orthogonal. But, since this common location is arbitrary, and the two lines reciprocally identical, every location on both of these lines might equally have been selected. In this way a plane or grid of two sets of mutually orthogonal lines is generated, each intersection defining a location. Similarly, there is nothing to prevent any such intersection being a location on a third mutually orthogonal line, each of the trio being reciprocally identical to either of the other two. And from this is generated a lattice of locations, with each location defining the intersection of three mutually orthogonal lines. But this process of generating locations can proceed no further, since, as can easily be proved, a hypothetical fourth mutually orthogonal line cannot exist since it necessarily contradicts a property of the plane: namely, that at any location on any line of a plane, only one other line orthogonal to this line can exist. So that with three mutually orthogonal lines at every location, ‘space is saturated’. The n-dimensional constructions of the mathematicians are a purely formal extrapolation from these abstracted physical attributes. They possess no physical significance whatever.
We see then how this three-dimensional lattice of locations derives as an abstract organisational framework from the time lapse existing between cause and selective effect on contemporaneous qualification sequences. It has, of course, no separate existence in itself, but exists only as a collective or systemic ordering principle governing the selective interactions of physical sequences as a whole. It is concretised in the changes taking place on every physical sequence. Finally, it is worth noting that an implication of this system of distances is that since all force between electrons falls off as the square of the distance, the product of the number of electrons at the same distance from a given electron, and the magnitude of the force this electron exerts on each of them is constant for an even distribution of electrons. (7)
Origin of the Physical World
We have now to determine how the physical world originated. We described earlier how, according to this ontological theory, the universe has arisen by a process of instant by instant X/0 bifurcation. We conceive that the physical world has also arisen by bifurcation, but necessarily, being but a minute selection from the totality, in a much more restricted way. Presences and absences of the One are perfectly balanced in the physical world, and we postulate that this world grows solely by instant bifurcations of a single root or stem sequence:
where the first X is the ultimate One. This stem sequence, besides generating all the sequences of the physical world, defines its spatial origin, but otherwise plays no part in its activities. Each physical sequence begins as either 0→0→X or X→X→0; that is, either as a negatron or a positron with period N=3. The first negatron takes root from the first instant of time (i.e. the first 0), and the first positron from the second instant. So that the stem sequence gives rise to a negatron or a positron at alternate instants. As we have seen, all physical sequences move at the rate of one point per period, so originally, these electrons move by one point every three instants -- that is, at a speed of c/3. As for directions: all physical sequences move originally along a spatial axis directly away from the origin. Since these movements create spatial relations, the first negatron has no spatial orientation, and the first positron moves in the diametrically opposite direction, as given by the distance -- and hence the force -- between the two electrons; the next pair do the same in a direction orthogonal, by the same criteria, to the first, and the third pair in a direction similarly orthogonal to them both. Each of the next six electrons repeats the process in the opposite direction to the corresponding member of the first six. This twelve-instant electron bifurcation cycle is then endlessly repeated.
Real and Ideal
Perhaps, in so summary an introduction to this new conception of the physical world, the only other point we need mention is what I term the accommodation of the ideal to the real. I am postulating that locations are defined solely by intersections between the orthogonal lines of our 3-dimensional grid. Now, the magnitude of the instant acceleration which a sequence at location A produces on another at location B is always inversely proportional to the square of the distance AB: that is, inversely proportional to (x2 - x1)² + (y2 - y1)² + (z2 - z1)², the sum of the squares of the distances, along the three spatial axes, between the coordinates of the two locations. Every such acceleration will possess a component along each of the three primary spatial directions. The resultant of all these at the end of each period will be three resultant mutually orthogonal components. Now, all our empirical data testifies that there are no preferred directions. The only way this can be reconciled with the sequences always being located at a grid intersection is to assume that they must, after the completion of a period, move by 1 point simultaneously in either 0, 1, 2, or 3 of the primary directions; that is, according to the magnitude and direction of the resultant, to a corner of one of the 8 adjacent unit ‘cubes’ -- in all, 27 different possibilities (8). Further, that each of the resultant’s three components must be added algebraically to its predecessors, so that distance -- ultimately, from the stem sequence along each of the three spatial axes -- is cumulative.
THE LIVING WORLD
Memory and Materialism
Having resolved our first set of problems – those concerning the fundamental nature of the physical world – we are now in a position to resolve our second: those relating to how the living world has evolved from the physical. The solutions to these all depend on a clear and correct understanding of a single fundamental ontological relationship: that between the present and the past. As materialist orthodoxy conceives it, the course of the physical world consists essentially of the coordinated motions of intrinsically unchanging particles through space. Any physical structure is a succession of causally determined configurations of such particles. So that, with the passage of time, the structure passes through the succession of configurations A - B - C - D -. As each particular configuration passes into its successor, the enduring particles take up new spatial locations, and the previous configuration therefore ceases to exist. It is clear that memory -- as against the mere repetition of a process -- is impossible in this conception.
No such disqualification applies to our physical conception. The addition of each new instant event of a qualification sequence in no way requires the ceasing to exist of its predecessors. On the contrary: it requires their continued existence to define its essentially contextual nature. In our noumenal conception, then, the past persists indefinitely, though fading steadily in compresence with successive present instants. But, though fading with the passage of time in relation to the present, past experience, in itself, persists unchanged. Now, if the only type of fundamental association -- I call it proximate association – were that based upon spatio-temporal proximity, to which type all those forms of order we have so far noted in our account of the physical world belong -- then the effect of this persistence of the past on the course of the world would be comparatively slight. But there exists a second type of association, no less fundamental than the proximate. I call this, sympathic association. It is grounded simply upon intrinsic identity. Two entities are sympathically associated to the degree that they are identically one. And it is this mode of similarity which associates experiences irrespective of their separation in time. Clearly, since the past persists intrinsically unchanged, such a mode of association is no less rational than the proximate. Of course, if the physical present is absolutely identical with the past, nothing new would emerge from their sympathic association. But when, while still both being instances of the same essential structure (9), past and present differ in inessential ways, this is far from being the case.
The unsurpassable variety and complexity of experience result from the limitless possibilities of association provided by the combination of these two basic modes of association. Expressed in the most highly simplified and generalised terms: two experiences arising at quite different times in the universal process are sympathically associated at the time of occurrence of the later, and this association becomes further associated proximately with other such sympathic associations occurring around this time. This larger association itself then becomes sympathically associated with such another occurring at a later time … and so on indefinitely.
In the physical world, solely as a consequence -- at least, initially -- of the action of physical forces, there arise localised regions of highly repetitive activity. Which is hardly surprising in view of the dominant place of periodicity in the structure of qualification sequences. Such regions we call sub-atomic particles, atoms, and molecules. Their constituent electrons move in all manner of cyclically coordinated ways. Because sequence period is inversely proportional to absolute speed, these regions of cyclically coordinated motions are at bottom, instances of rhythmic order -- of repetitive cycles of co-ordinatedly changing periods. This kind of order, ultimately based upon repetitive motion -- principally oscillation -- is different from that manifested by the physical world as a system. Now, any such specifically ordered cycle of changes associates sympathically with its past instances. But because it is born of, and belongs to, the system of the world -- that is, obeys its laws -- its constituents are frequently compelled to move in such ways as to disrupt such an instance of localised rhythmic order. That is, in such a case, the two kinds of order -- globally systemic and locally rhythmic -- are in conflict. All qualification sequences exist, so that, if not subjected to cosmic interference, the local rhythmic system, through sympathic association, would select its own continuation into the physical present. Such sympathic selection of physical continuation we term mnemic selection.
Now, this mnemic selection has arisen ultimately from physical selection, since it issues from rhythmic structures that have themselves arisen through the operation of physical law. So that, in such situations, there are really two modes of physical selection operating: a direct and an indirect. It is as if these localised regions of rhythmic order possessed a certain autonomy by virtue of constituting a further kind of order, superimposed upon the basic physical one. What, then, ensues when the sequence period selected by each of the two kinds of order to which the sequence belongs is different? Since all sequences exist, both selections exist; but since physical sequences, qua physical sequences, do not bifurcate, there can be only one physical continuation. This will be a resultant of the two modes of systemic selection -- the direct physical and the indirect physical (mnemic). It will, of course, be a resultant period, arising by means of a change to the existing period. So -- what change of period will be selected? If both mnemic and physical force are selecting the same period, then that selection is obviously the resultant period. If both selections are in the same sense -- that is, both an increase or both a decrease of period -- then the greater change is selected. If one is selecting an increase and the other a decrease of period, then the algebraic sum of these changes is selected. All unselected sequences exist, of course, no less than those selected, but they do not exist as part of the mnemo-physical system. Note that mnemic selection has no direct directional effect. But in variously changing the periods, and hence the speeds of the interacting electrons, it must be exerting an indirect one. Finally, by the very fact of accelerating the electrons, mnemic selection is, by definition, equally mnemic force.
What are being sympathically associated are experiences. But experiences are rhythmically ordered systems of qualification sequences. So that mnemic causation, as the manifestation in the physical present of sympathic association, is essentially systemic or holistic, and, as such, the creator and sustainer of localised order immeasurably in excess of anything that could result from physical forces acting alone. We call such order organic. In fundamental ontological terms all such instances of organic order are further manifestations of self-realisation of the One -- further actualisations of what is contained potentially within the One. As such they are pleasurable experiences. The whole tendency of mnemic causation is therefore to maintain this hedonically positive organic order against disruption (generally of negative hedonic tone) from forces arising from ordering principles of a different kind -- those of the physical world-system.
But while the basic effect of mnemic causation is to preserve organic order, this very preservation provides a firm foundation on which further, more complex organic order can arise. Building on the special relationship that exists between nucleic acids (the components of genes) and amino acids (the components of proteins), organisms, with rare exceptions, breed true. Now, whether or not any species of organism thrives, depends solely on its biological fitness to take advantage of its environment, a major part of which consists of other organisms. And greater experiential complexity can often offer such an advantage. Moreover, a more experientially complex organism so arising is itself part of the environment of many other organisms. And, as such, it may well confer biological advantage on an answering increase in complexity of one of these. Successful species exist on all levels of experiential complexity, so complexification is far from constituting the only road to biological success. Nevertheless, over the aeons, and the ever-present need for adaptation in the face of ceaseless climatic and topographical change, circumstances frequently arise when the more complex organism is biologically favoured. So that there exists a definite evolutionary bias towards the advent of more complex organisms.
THE EMERGENCE OF MIND
So far, we have noted three momentous experiential consequences of a ‘matter’ composed of qualification sequences rather than intrinsically unchanging bits of stuff. These are: the persistence of past experience, the sympathic association of this persisting past with the ongoing present, and mnemic causation, the selective effect which sympathic association exerts upon the course of the physical world, thereby giving rise to biological evolution. We come now to a fourth momentous experiential consequence: the gradual emergence, within living organisms, of paraphysical sequences. These give rise to that higher, increasingly mental, experiential evolution which, beginning to attain major biological significance in the mammals, culminates (biologically speaking, terminates) in human beings.
Properly to understand how paraphysical sequences arise requires a prior glance at certain broader features of the evolutionary context. We shall call the physical world together with all that grows out of it as a consequence of its persisting past, the Cosmos; and all the past experience with which any organism sympathically associates, and which is hence its source of mnemic causation, its psyche. So that the Cosmic context in which every organism exists consists of two great components: the physically present world of things and organisms, and the persisting past. In effect, this is equivalent to the organism’s environment as sensorily perceived, and its psychic contents as recalled by sympathic association. But the contents of its psyche are largely just past experiences of the environment. So that it is essentially in the form of an ever richer, more elaborately organised synthesis of these two -- present and past sensorimotor interaction with its environment -- through physical and mnemic causation, that experiential evolution of the psychophysical organism consists.
Now, the physical underpinning of experiential evolution consists essentially of the evolution of a nervous system, all other physical developments of the psychophysical organism being tributary to this. And, as is well known, the vertebrate bauplan alone provides the anatomical and physiological organisation necessary for the evolution of a nervous system sufficiently complex to make possible the evolution of higher levels of experience. Throughout the evolution of the vertebrate nervous system, new structural and functional features arise which make possible increasingly complex experience. Now, it is broadly true to say that at lower experiential levels -- roughly, infra-mammalian -- the evolutionary emphasis is on the complexification of the neural underpinning of the sense organs, musculature etc. involved in direct interaction with the environment. But that from then on, largely as a consequence of this very sensorimotor complexification, the emphasis of neural evolution gradually shifts to furthering an ever fuller involvement of past experience in the organism’s relations with its environment.
In broad terms, how this comes about is that, in order the better to coordinate all the organism’s neural activities, there evolves a centrally placed mass of nerve cells -- the brain -- which interposes itself between the afferent input and the efferent output. This is obviously also the most effective region to receive any mnemic contribution to behaviour. Now, growth of this central region gradually elevates its status from being a mere co-ordinator of stimulus and response, to the core substance of the organism. It receives the sensory input not only from the external, but also from the internal environment, as well as kinaesthetic information from the musculature, in the light of all of which plus the sympathically associated past, it is able to relay the psyche’s mnemic response to the behavioural organs: a response which is thus an expression of the whole organism as a psychophysical synthesis. As this comparatively stable region becomes an ever-larger part of the nervous system, it adds, by that very fact, a greater overall constancy to this system. Such an increase in constancy of neural activity, although brought about initially in the service of greater integration, has other such highly favourable biological consequences for the organism, centred on paraphysical sequences, that further highly stable, mnemically dominated regions of the central nervous system evolve for the primary function of increasing it.
Paraphysical Sequences and the Imagination
All qualification sequences exist. So that when a psychically selected sequence fails as a mnemic sequence -- as it very often does, particularly on the externally activated afferent side of the organism -- it is not destroyed (whatever that may mean). It is merely that it is not integrated with the organism, because of the latter’s fundamentally physical nature. Now, the increasing presence of the psyche, concomitant with the growth of the central nervous system, means that the psychical contribution to the psychophysical organism’s activities steadily gains ground at the expense of the physical. The two most important instances of this are, firstly, that the neural activity of the environmentally stimulated afferent system constitutes an ever diminishing proportion of the organism’s total neural activities, and secondly, that the greater overall constancy between the nervous system’s successive states increases their sympathic association.
As a consequence of this escalating presence of the psyche in the organism, the non-integration of physically rejected psychical sequences becomes decreasingly a matter of total rejection. They begin to be faintly experienced. It is these physically rejected, (hence non-mnemic) psychical sequences, which are nevertheless experienced in some sort by the organism, that are the paraphysical sequences. These sequences constitute the ideational or imaginative component of the psychophysical organism. By the very nature of their genesis the relation between these paraphysical sequences and the physically selected sequences is inevitably awkward and uneasy. We experience this as the conflict between imagination and perception. One great consequence of the growth of this ideational dimension is that the immediate past, so similar to the present and hence tending to persist as idea, effectually fuses with the perceptual present and thus significantly prolongs its duration. This greatly increases the complexity, and hence the variety of what are, in effect, the organism’s perceptions. Another, at least equally important consequence of the growth of imagination arises from the fact that, in a law-abiding and hence repetitive world, hindsight is effectively foresight. This greatly increases the organism’s ability to anticipate what is about to happen, and hence to avoid the painful and achieve the pleasurable -- which natural selection ensures is closely linked with survival -- thus conferring upon its possessor a major biological advantage. Paraphysical sequences must be present in, and thus confer some small degree of anticipation upon, and prolong, however slightly, the present for even the lowliest animals; but it is only at the level of the mammalian nervous system that their presence has heightened sufficiently for them to give a whole new dimension to experiential evolution.
So that, because of the immense survival advantage accruing both from an extended present, and the ability to anticipate, ideation grows despite its awkward and uncomfortable relationship with perception. This growth is aided by the evolution of certain neural structures and functions, whose more detailed nature we cannot go into here, which help to tone down, even if they cannot eliminate, the conflict inherent in this relationship. Note also that, because paraphysical sequences are not physical sequences, there is no reason why they should not bifurcate, qua paraphysical sequences, at any instant. But such bifurcation, though limitless in its potentiality, is normally severely restricted by survival considerations, which require that imagination should be employed chiefly in the service of perception.
Into the Noosphere
One of the evolving imagination’s most constructive developments is that of complex spatial perception. This is characterised essentially by the experience of an objectively existing world -- persisting irrespective of whether one happens to be perceiving it or not -- of solid enduring bodies (not excepting the experiencer himself) of various qualities and properties, situated and interacting within an all-embracing spatial medium (10). A further development that this evolution of a perceived world of interacting bodies greatly furthers is that of envisaging ever more complex courses of action in order to achieve ever more complexly structured goals. This goal-directed employment of ideation is essentially what we call thought or intelligence, and the persistence in such goal-directed courses of behaviour, what we know as will. The two chief barriers to the evolution of intelligence are: firstly, the difficulty of focusing on, and sustaining in consciousness, images that are, in themselves, comparatively uninteresting; secondly, the difficulty in attending to and manipulating quasi-simultaneously two or more images which have no intrinsic ground for being together in consciousness. Neocortical structures and functions evolve whose effect is significantly to lower these barriers. With these developments, which result in a large measure of liberation from the tyranny of the physical present, the psychophysical organism has crossed the threshold separating the biosphere from the noosphere -- in which imagination, intelligence and will are raised to an altogether higher order.
THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSION
Survival of Death
When the physical component of the psychophysical organism becomes effectively non-functional, what happens to the psychical component? Obviously, the relevant past -- the psyche -- remains in itself essentially unaffected, but what of its manifestation in the ongoing present? As the physical body dies, mnemic causation increasingly fails, with the consequence that the physical bond of integration with the paraphysical sequences progressively weakens. But paraphysical sequences originate as rejected mnemic sequences. So that, as the physical body becomes ever less part of a functioning psychophysical organism, and hence progressively detached from the psyche, the rejected mnemic sequences become paraphysical sequences. Thus, as the body dies, the psyche is progressively rebuilding its mnemic component in imagination, until it is wholly detached from the physical. Paraphysical sequences which are thus wholly detached from the physical, we call spiritual sequences, and the imaginatively reconstituted body, a spiritual body. So that it is in this spiritual form that the psyche is now manifesting in the universal present.
We have defined the psyche of a psychophysical organism as that part of past experience from which the mnemic sequences of that organism arise. As organisms increase in experiential complexity, they become progressively more individualised. But this does not mean that each organism’s psyche becomes wholly distinct from every other, but only increasingly so. Some sharing of experience persists, as telepathy, to go no further, bears ample witness. In the spirit world, where the absence of mutually exclusive physical bodies, and the far fuller control of the psyche over present experience are the norm, this interpersonal experience assumes once again a much greater role, but now, of course, as a desired and desirable end, and on an immeasurably more constructive plane than that of the passive, rudimentarily individualised, animal level. Such a direct and abundant access to the past, combined with a far fuller and more active participation in shared experience, has limitless implications for the further evolution of the psyche.
Any manifestation of the discarnate psyche in the present can only be in this form of spiritual sequences. And the interest and attraction that the spiritual life holds for the psyche depends primarily on its level of imaginative, intellectual, and moral development. And this, in effect, determines the length of time for which the discarnate psyche can generate sufficient interest in, or attraction to its situation to sustain an active mental existence, and not slowly subside, or retreat, into a passive dreamlike state. Now, the psyche of every physical or spiritual organism at the human level includes innumerable experiences of having incarnated in the past. And in the experience of the other, physical partner of every reincarnation -- the newly forming body into which a psyche in the spiritual state will be incarnating -- mnemic causation is necessarily always active, right from conception. Now this ante-natal mnemic causation is issuing from the collective psyche of that species. But this collective psyche is not something separate from the individual consciousnesses: it is just the more primitive, sympathically fused part of the psyche of all the members of that species, operating on that basic level of activity in which every member of the species participates. It is present in the psyche of every psychospiritual organism. But so long as that psyche is mentally active, any sympathic association of this past antenatal and/or perinatal experience with the experience of a present foetal organism remains in the unconscious. But as the discarnate psyche sinks further towards unconsciousness, sympathic association with these experiences of the foetal organism, begin to enter its consciousness. As they increasingly give rise to mnemic causation, the psyche is slowly taking over the nascent body, even as its spiritual experiences, ever less sympathically associated with this new situation, are subsiding further into unconsciousness. In this way the psyche reincarnates.
The dominant conviction of our intellectual elites is that rational thought leads us to a meaningless, materialistic world-view; whereas such spiritual conceptions as the immortality of the soul and reincarnation, can be adhered to only through an act of faith flying in the face of reason and the revelations of science. But as these two papers (11) have tried to make plain, it is not the experimental and observational facts of science that imply a materialistic, meaningless, and ultimately incomprehensible universe, but only the interpretation accorded these facts by minds trapped in irrational notions of matter, space, and time. When this Fatal Trap is demolished, and a rational conception of matter, space and time developed, all the factual data of science can clearly be seen as belonging to a fundamentally spiritual universe which is not only comprehensible, but profoundly meaningful in its human implications, thereby vindicating the essential truth at the core of all the great religions. So that bad ontology has succeeded in precisely inverting, in the eyes of conventional wisdom, the kind of world that is revealed by the application of reason to scientifically established fact. But we have only finally and irrevocably to divest our minds of this crude and shameful fantasy that the world is ultimately composed of minuscule ball bearings (howsoever fuzzily vibrating), to invest even our ordinary day-to-day human experience with an altogether deeper level of significance.
As was fully appreciated from its inception (12), the scientific venture, both in its technological and its philosophical aspects, possesses immense potential both for construction and destruction. We have just seen that the destructive philosophical side, so much in evidence hitherto, is not endemic to science, but is no more than a consequence of misinterpretation of the facts in the light of a false ontology. So, what effect will the philosophical realisation that, far from living in a meaningless universe, we are the avatars of a universal creative process, have upon our technology? From the knowledge that we are free agents in a creative universe, authentically creative ideals must surely arise, and find their concrete expression in a culture (let us call it Transcendental Humanism) dedicated to the wholehearted pursuit of excellence in art, philosophy (13), mysticism (14), scholarship, politics and (above all) interpersonal relationships. So that a constructive use of our technology is all that serves and promotes the realisation of this authentic culture; and a destructive use, all that thwarts or hampers such realisation. At bottom, technology (applied science) can never be more than a means; and the belief that the dissemination of ever more advanced technology is a worthwhile end in itself, and, in any case, historically inevitable, is just another shallow and confused manifestation of the materialistic mind-set. Whether, given the moral many-sidedness of human nature, third millennium man will succeed in subordinating technology to the service of higher, constructive ends, is, of course, an open question. What, I would contend, is not, is the destructive fate that awaits him if he fails.
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1. Verbal communication to André Mercier. Quoted: Foundations of Physics, 1 (1971), p.285.
2. I must emphasise that I include under ‘empirical knowledge’ only observational and experimental data, not those “facts” which though widely accepted as unassailable truths often reveal themselves on serious examination to be no more than inferences from erroneous theories.
3. Robert Rosen, in his contribution to Essays in Honour of David Bohm on his 70th Birthday. 1987.
4. David Bohm. In: Quantum Theory. A Discussion. Broadcast: The Third Programme, 1962.
5. So hard is it for theoretical physicists to transcend naïve realism that even those possessing enough philosophical sophistication to postulate the existence of hidden variables invariably saw these as incorporating spatial changes of some kind. Thus, de Broglie conceived them as some kind of internal vibrations of the ultimate particles; whilst Bohm conceived the explication of his underlying implicate order as taking the form of a holomovement.
6. Guy Burniston Brown, Retarded Action-at-a-Distance. (Cortney Publications, Luton, 1982, p.30).
7. The surface area of a sphere is 4π².
8. Made up of one 0, six 1’s, twelve 2’s, and eight 3’s.
9. In more technical language, both experiences are instances of the same concrete universal.
10. The evolutionary origin of the Fatal Trap!
11. A fuller treatment can be found in: Peter Hewitt, The Coherent Universe. An Introduction to Geoffrey Read’s New Fundamental Theory of Matter Life and Mind (Linden House, 2003).
12. See, for example, The Fatal Trap, Notes 5 & 6.
13. Science is included here in its role of providing raw material for scholarship and philosophy. It should be remembered that until the mid-nineteenth century, physics was known as natural philosophy -- a designation it should never have lost.
14. In which I comprehend religion.