Thursday, November 5, 2015

SURT notes I.2.1 p.46

I love the erudite blasting of string theory and the multiverse hypotheses:
Rather than acknowledging such underdetermination as a limit or a failure of insight, it has tried to turn a detriment into a benefit by describing the former as the latter.
 String theory is almost totally untestable:
The large preponderance of equations, or of their admissible parameters, refer to circumstances that we have never found and may never, even in principle, find.
A temptation is to equate mathematical space of theories with physically possible space and then with actually realized space:
The distinctions between the mathematically conceivable and the physically possible, and then between the physically possible and the physically actual, are attenuated or even effaced [by believing the MWI or multiverse hypotheses].
A difficult to test theory is very different from an impossible to test theory. [The same is true with cenceptions of God. Evolved Gods are testable, at least in pieces, or at least through emulation.]

String theory is derailing science because it is not observable or testable (it isn't really one theory, and inherently includes theoretically unobservable components):
Any assumptions that threaten to derail science from this course [proceeding based on observation], by weakening the disciplines that chasten and guide it, deserve to be reconsidered.
Whether laws are deterministic or statistical, the laws as currently formulated (and assumed in most models) are still unchanging.

You can't get outside the universe (what I typically call the cosmos). If it affects the universe, it is part of the universe by definition. If it doesn't affect the universe, it is irrelevant. [A God who is outside of nature is irrelevant. If God affects nature, God is part of the cosmos. If not, it's irrelevant.]

The world isn't timeless, but time is timeless. We and god will end, unless we evolve.
No sooner do we begin to subvert the distinction between initial conditions and laws applicable to particular configuration spaces, by generalizing the terrain of its application to the whole of the universe, than we are forced to question the idea of timeless laws governing a world the elementary structure of which is also timeless.
Evolutionary mechanisms change with both environment and the tools of the evolving beings to respond to the environment: bacteria follow different rules than yeast than sexual reproducers. Contextual truth is the pattern in biology, history, social science, geology. Is cosmology the exception to this? [Is theology?]

Entropy holds time real in ways quantum mechanics doesn't. Quantum mechanics fails to model reality in this regard [it is time agnostic].

The microscopic can only be understood in light of the macroscopic--history and thermodynamics.

Unifying all the current laws isn't enough. You need to explain their history, too.
And the elusive final unification of theory is a fool's errand if we advance it only by putting ideas that analyze how the forces and phenomena of nature work in place of theories that explain how they came to be what they are.
Physics can survive without timeless, transcendent laws. How deep into physics does evolution extend? [How deep into theology?]

Strong reductionism fails because the cosmos has a history that can't be reduced.

Some things are easily explained by law. Other processes require more, path dependent, historical information to effectively explain them.

Most things are very stable, especially in cosmology, but none are immutable. Even atoms can change, and even subatomic particles.

Evolution is only derivatively biological. It comes from cosmology.
The principle of the mutability of types is thus not confined to life and to the life sciences. It is a general feature of what I earlier called the first state of nature (the second in order of time [the cooled down universe]). In this state, nature is differentiated but no aspect of its differentiation, expressed in a set of types or natural kinds, is essential or eternal. The principle of the mutability of types is only derivatively a biological principle. It is in the first instance a cosmological principle. It requires us to import into cosmology some of the ways of thinking that we associate with natural history.
It contradicts the project of classical ontology, which sought to provide an account of the abiding varieties of being. It conflicts as well with any practice of science that treats a permanent structure of being as one of its presuppositions.
Differences between things co-evolve.

Reality is context dependent.
Not only does the universe lack a stable and permanent repertory of natural kinds but the way in which the natural kinds differ from one another is also subject to change. If nature in its first and normal state presents itself as a structured and differentiable manifold, the character of its divisions is as impermanent as their content.
Laws are regularities. More general laws express further reaching regularities. Current laws emerged with current phenomena. They didn't exist before, but they are compatible with earlier laws.

Not only is moral law contextual, physical law is contextual.
To represent these regularities as part of the eternal and timeless framework of the universe is a philosophical move with no operational meaning or justification. [Ouch!]
. . . change changes discontinuously and repeatedly.
The methods of change change, too.
The methods of change, which we express as explanatory laws, shift with the appearance of life. They change again with the emergence of multicellular organisms. And then again with sexual reproduction and the Mendelian mechanisms. They change with the emergence of consciousness and its equipment by language. These are not just changes in the kinds of beings--in this instance, living beings--that exist. They are also changes in the way in which phenomena change as well as in the distinctions between them. . . .
Co-evolution of phenomena and laws can be applied to the universe without fallacy, but it introduces the meta-law conundrum [that meta-laws evolve, too?].

[In tearing down the walls between the living and non-living, many biologists have thought they were introducing determinist philosophy into biology. Instead they were taking away from physics and opening the door to a broader understanding of agency and of life. Agency is constrained choice.]

Unpredictable life:
. . . the biosphere . . . has so many [distinctive features] that its emergence in unpredictable and unaccountable on the basis of the laws of nature prior to the beginnings of life.
[What does purpose even mean? Intention? Conscious intention? Is purpose emergent, like consciousness? Are there hierarchies of purpose, like hierarchies of agency? Why can organisms "literally have no purpose but act as if it were purpose dirven"?]

Biology doesn't solve cosmological problems, but shows they can be examined fruitfully without timeless laws. But some big problems have to be worked out first.