Monday, October 12, 2015

SURT notes I.1.3 p.30

The Singular Universe, Roberto Unger 

Ch 1 p.30+

The two cosmological fallacies are closely connected. They reinforce each other. They make each other seem to be unavoidable conceptions--indispensable to the practice of scientific inquiry--rather than the contestable options that they in fact are.
Your certainties are disposable options.
The second cosmological fallacy limits our understanding of the variations of nature.
Artificial limit.
The first cosmological fallacy presupposes a view of the workings of nature that makes any other conception of how nature works seem to be incompatible with the requirements of science.
Another artificial limit. Hiding in the unknowable infinite instead of seeking deeper explanations. This is the same false hiding place of the theology of unknowable Gods.
The first cosmological fallacy commits a mistake of method, with empirical assumptions and implications. The second cosmological fallacy amounts to a mistake about the facts of the matter, with wide consequence for the practice of science. The matter that it mistakes is the most important in science: the nature and history of the universe.
. . . there is already more . . . in what science has discovered about the universe than our established natural philosophy . . . is willing to countenance.
There is more. As Unger says we need a science that can proceed without absolute, timeless laws to rely on, we need theology and salvation that can proceed without an omnipotent, transcendent God and infallible revelation. Mormonism has them if we Mormons will accept them.

If cause and effect is an illusion, it can be represented by timeless natural law (and thus math). If time is real, we have to work harder to explain the connection between math and nature.
Causal connections . . . form a real feature of nature.
Previous events actually matter for current events, not simply initial conditions and timeless laws. We can't simply decide that nature obeys laws. We have to measure what happens and only generalize as far as is justified. Laws will vary over time.

Relationships shape subsequent events in law-like ways, despite there being no eternal laws. Relationships govern the cosmos. Many are predictable.
The preceding contrasts show that the reality of causal connection is closely or internally related to the reality of time.
Time and causation are both real. This differs from the deterministic, block universe models of string theory.

Time and relationships are eternal. Laws exist because of regularities in relationships, not vice versa.
[The reality of laws], however, is a derivative reality by contrast to the primitive and fundamental reality of causal connections.
Laws are derivative from agency (that defines relationships) from the bottom to the top (since elementary particles have aency).
These [timebound] ideas do their work at the cost of attacking the foundations on which much of our thinking about causes and laws has wrongly come to rest.
Can't make an omelette . . . 

Emergent phenomena can be truly novel. Not just rare, novel, quantum entangled states that Smolin proposes searching for to prove the principle of precedence. I think this supports my view that human choice is incompletely predictable. It's mostly predictable because relationships behave in predictable ways, but when there are emerging problems with unprecedented solutions, there is incompletely predictable agency at play. Otherwise, we are observing predictable agency, but it's all agency.
Cosmology affirms its ambition to be the most comprehensive natural science when it understands itself as a historical science first, and as a structural science only second.
This strikes right at the core of arrogant, deterministic certainty.
. . . we allow a historical explanation to count as a causal account in cosmology and physics . . .
Historical explanations are real science, and emergent phenomena can't always be predicted.
. . . a state of affairs is the way it is because of the influence of an earlier state of affairs, not because it conforms to timeless and invariant regularities. We shall not always be able to account for the influence of the earlier on the later by invoking such regularities. . . . [we must] pay the price of a practice of historical explanation that is not subordinate to structural explanation.
Law is subordinate to cause, and that comes at a price.
Time . . . is not emergent.
Time goes all the way back.
. . . we have reason to resist accepting either that change of laws of nature is governed by higher-order laws or that it is not.
It's a false dichotomy to require a choice between nature governed by laws or lawless nature. Neither one is the best model, but something in between. I think he is saying that discarding the idea of transcendent law is not the same as saying that anything goes.

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