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Ilya Startsev

Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins: Something from nothing?

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Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins consider their sciences as legitimate grounds to philosophize, and they have some evidence to back up their claims. Even though the following video discussion has some arbitrary statements, I would still like to know your thoughts on it.

 

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Ilya Startsev said: Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins consider their sciences as legitimate grounds to philosophize,

 

Ayn Rand wrote in "The Art of Nonfiction":

First, you need to grasp that there is no such thing as Objectivism or any other philosophy. Philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of reality. "Fundamental" refers to a principle or truth which is present in a vast number of concretes. To say something is fundamental means that many other truths depend on it. To say philosophy studies the fundamentals of reality means it studies those facts present in, and those principles applicable to, everything that exists.

 

What facts are being toted here that are present in, or which principles are being identified as being applicable to, everything that exists?

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Ilya Startsev said: Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins consider their sciences as legitimate grounds to philosophize,

 

Ayn Rand wrote in "The Art of Nonfiction":

First, you need to grasp that there is no such thing as Objectivism or any other philosophy. Philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of reality. "Fundamental" refers to a principle or truth which is present in a vast number of concretes. To say something is fundamental means that many other truths depend on it. To say philosophy studies the fundamentals of reality means it studies those facts present in, and those principles applicable to, everything that exists.

 

What facts are being toted here that are present in, or which principles are being identified as being applicable to, everything that exists?

I will start from the negative: we know that humans did not exist eternally but had an actual beginning in evolution because to think otherwise is ludicrous. In other words, as Lawrence Krauss said and Richard Dawkins seconded him, "life [became] from non-life" (10:00). And, concerning the factual astrophysical data that the Universe had a beginning and is not eternal, Lawrence Krauss said: "85 years ago the Universe was static and eternal as far as scientists were concerned . . . but we have discovered that the Universe had a beginning" (44:15). This process of originally becoming of something from not itself is fundamental to all of existence.

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Knowing something is not a matter of Krauss makes a motion, Dawkins seconds it, it is thus adopted as knowledge by the "committee of they."

To state "we know" something leaves open the question: "How do we know?"

 

What facts are being toted here that are present in, or which principles are being identified as being applicable to, everything that exists?

Edited by dream_weaver

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Knowing something is not a matter of Krauss makes a motion, Dawkins seconds it, it is thus adopted as knowledge by the "committee of they."

To state "we know" something leaves open the question: "How do we know?"

 

What facts are being toted here that are present in, or which principles are being identified as being applicable to, everything that exists?

Well, for the statement "something from nothing," Krauss relies on the evidence of cosmic microwave background (that the Universe had a beginning) and dark energy (for an explanation of how the Universe began). For the statement "life from non-life," Dawkins would support it with the fossil record evidence and the theory of evolution to explain how it all connects.

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I already accept the fact that time is an aspect of existence, i.e.,  that time is in the universe, that universe is not in time. What difference does what I know or what you want to believe make to you? What incentive is there to wade through hundreds of links here? (The two encyclopedia entrees you posit for Krauss contain 45 and 34 links respectively, not counting any subsequent links that are likely to arise.) As was posted elsewhere on this forum "t's great that Krauss is discovering the properties of matterless space. But he's not talking about nothing because nothing is nonsense."

 

I already update a thread here with links to articles that relate to abiogenesis. I am not opposed to either the notion that life has always been an integral part of existence, or, should science be able to demonstrate it, inanimate matter being combined via some process and become animate.

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I already accept the fact that time is an aspect of existence, i.e.,  that time is in the universe, that universe is not in time. What difference does what I know or what you want to believe make to you? What incentive is there to wade through hundreds of links here? (The two encyclopedia entrees you posit for Krauss contain 45 and 34 links respectively, not counting any subsequent links that are likely to arise.) As was posted elsewhere on this forum "t's great that Krauss is discovering the properties of matterless space. But he's not talking about nothing because nothing is nonsense."

 

I already update a thread here with links to articles that relate to abiogenesis. I am not opposed to either the notion that life has always been an integral part of existence, or, should science be able to demonstrate it, inanimate matter being combined via some process and become animate.

 

1) Since "time is an aspect of existence," so is space. An aspect is, like a property, inseparable from its object and cannot be identified concretely without the object. But if "time is in the universe," time sounds like a tangible entity, not an aspect. And if "universe is not in time", then the Universe is outside of time and space, which means that the Universe does not exist.

2) Human life is a life. Has human life "always been an integral part of existence"?

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Space, too, is an aspect of existence. It would be equally correct to state that space is in the universe, that the universe is not in space.

Both time and space are relational terms as I understand them They refer to relationships observed in existence. (For you to state that the universe does not exist begs the question of "to what (if not the universe) are you referring to?"

 

As to human life always having been an integral part of existence, I don't know, and philosophy is not the science that would address it.

 

This still leaves two unanswered questions in your court.

What facts are being toted here that are present in, or which principles are being identified as being applicable to, everything that exists?

What difference does what I know or what you want to believe make to you?

Edited by dream_weaver

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Space, too, is an aspect of existence. It would be equally correct to state that space is in the universe, that the universe is not in space.

Both time and space are relational terms as I understand them They refer to relationships observed in existence. (For you to state that the universe does not exist begs the question of "to what (if not the universe) are you referring to?"

 

As to human life always having been an integral part of existence, I don't know, and philosophy is not the science that would address it.

 

This still leaves two unanswered questions in your court.

What facts are being toted here that are present in, or which principles are being identified as being applicable to, everything that exists?

What difference does what I know or what you want to believe make to you?

The Universe exists as referring to that which does not exist. Absolute spacetime does not exist. The Universe exists in that which does not exist. For example, physical vacuum that is composed of dark matter and energy. If there were no spacetime (like physical vacuum), there would be no distances between objects we perceive. How can we perceive objects unless we can see empty space where they exist (empty space between them and the locations where they are stationed)? The only time nothing becomes meaningless is when you say "nothing is nothing." In truth, nothing is not nothing; nothing is either everything (and therefore something) or not something (and therefore something).

 

You see, you keep jumping between philosophy (metaphysics) and science (epistemology). When I show you the facts of science, you say either that there is too much to read and don't see any incentive in that, or you say that it's the subject of philosophy to comprehend existence (and so you return to the "obvious"). I have shown you many facts and so had the gentlemen in the video. What else do you need? You simply need to realize that you want to learn new knowledge, but you don't want to realize that. Scientific knowledge makes a big difference, unless you are a subjectivist, and the belief in spaceless eternal yet finite existence is just a belief. And to me it makes a difference when someone with potential believes in something that is false. Otherwise, I would see no point in discussing anything with them.

 

Some beliefs can be corrected by science, and if you truly love science, you would change your beliefs that do not fit scientific thinking. You said that you do not know whether human life has always been an integral part of existence. Let's look at the question the other way: at the beginning of the Universe, was there already pre-formed human life? What was first: human life or particles of matter? Or was there existence first and matter and life followed? How do you think?

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Here are a few dots to connect.

 

This is an Objectivism philosophy forum.

 

Philosophy, according to Objectivism, consists of 5 branches: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and aesthetics.

 

The sciences are specialized studies, such as: philosophy, physics, biology, abiogenesis, mathematics, etc.

 

The scientific method is an approach to science to help prevent (note: it does not eliminate the possibility of) coming to an incorrect conclusion.

 

Rand's theory of concepts is an approach toward forming valid concepts. In conjunction with Aristotle's discovery and identification of logic, provide the means of checking knowledge via the art of non-contradictory identification, regardless of where it originated.

 

 

Here is an analogy to consider.
2 + 2 = 4 is a simple fact that arise from the nature of reality and the relationship of a group of members with one of the members taken as a unit as well as a number of other established standards and procedural approaches.

 

Someone provides you with a 2 hour video discussion that the participants agree that 2 + 2 ≠ 4 and that thinking otherwise would be ludicrous.

 

If someone comes up to you and says, well, 65 years ago, most people thought 2 + 2 = 4, but now we have reason to suspect that 2 + 2 ≠ 4 and by the way here's the "evidence".

 

If the premises that led the participants of that conversation rest on a mixture of valid premises and arbitrary assertions, or rely on imprecise usage of terminology, why would anything other than faulty reasoning lead to the conclusion that  2 + 2 ≠ 4?

Edited by dream_weaver

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I know that you hate Kant, but I am going to mention that he said that 2+2=4 is a purely conceptual (i.e., deductive) statement, whose nature is not expressly known to anyone who has not studied the laws of mathematics. In other words, for a child, 2, +, =, and 4 are different symbols, so 2 and 4 would not be related. The reason I am saying this is to see how 2+2=4 relates to actual reality. If you perceive reality consisting of discrete objects only, then this equation works. But only materialists (whether they are dualists like Descartes or Chomsky) perceive the world only consisting of particles and not involving any indiscrete items, such as energy.

 

We know of negative and positive energies of matter and antimatter and gravity (as in physical vacuum). Say, we have 2 units of positive energy (or matter) and 2 units of negative energy (or antimatter). These units are exactly equal in quantity but opposite in quality. If you only concentrate on their mathematical quantity, you get 2+2=4, but if you perceive their interactions as they are in reality, you get 2+(-2)=0. Yet, by the first law of thermodynamics, energy cannot be destroyed. This means that the 0 is actually 4, but in a way that is not directly perceivable. Although I love Aristotle and even somewhat respect Kant, these individuals had no idea about the kinds of truths our science has approached in our day and age. By ignoring these truths and discoveries, you are begging for a complete psychological regress toward the primitive eras that are far behind us.

Edited by Ilya Startsev

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"By ignoring these truths and discoveries, you are begging for a complete psychological regress toward the primitive eras that are far behind us."

 

This is reminiscent of how ignoring the gods is going to bring about the suffering of the consequences of a fate with a destiny of an eternity in scheol.

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"By ignoring these truths and discoveries, you are begging for a complete psychological regress toward the primitive eras that are far behind us."

 

This is reminiscent of how ignoring the gods is going to bring about the suffering of the consequences of a fate with a destiny of an eternity in scheol.

Hmm, I never thought of enlightening and creative ideas as gods, but maybe you are right. They are the gods of our souls, for those of us who have them. And yes, having no souls for these "gods" would result in a robotic, limiting existence.

 

But since we are on such a spiritual topic, I might as well mention what I think is extremely interesting in the Objectivist concept of existence. If your concept of existence is true, then it is a spiritual concept. It is existence as an immortal God who has no beginning or end in time and existence as an immortal soul that has always been and always will be. Now, if you would argue for existence with such connotations, I will not oppose you. These ideas would become beyond and above science and cannot be contradicted by mortal thought alone.

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Do you think reasoning requires no physical justification?

Do you think everyone can be reasoned with?

Reasoning that reflects actual reality requires physical justification, but not everyone can be reasoned with. Some groups of people believe in ideas that have no physical basis and continue to believe in them, regardless of what anyone else says. To me, this is equivalent to believing in rhetoric that shapes those ideas in people's minds.

 

Let me give you an example. You probably know of this group of people known as the Chomskyan linguists. Their idea is that everyone is born with a neurobiological, linguistic apparatus that contains principles and parameters of the universal grammar (syntax, mostly). Now, Chomsky is probably one of the most popular philosophical linguists of the twentieth century, since he was able to persuade the majority of linguists to abandon the "tabula rasa" idea and convert to his thinking. They never found proof of this apparatus, but they still believe in the universal grammar and say that whether anyone finds this apparatus is meaningless. The far reaching consequences of Chomskyan thought are reflected in the idea that existence is actually infinite (and thus actually eternal, although they don't speak of the latter). In other words, they got everything completely wrong.

 

On the other hand, there is this amazing philosophy of Objectivism, the greatest philosophy since Aristotle. Rand's fiction serves as a persuasive basis for people to identify with Objectivism. Objectivists believe that existence is actually eternal and, somehow, limited. But, yes, existence is limited (or bounded)! Objectivists amaziningly got that part right! But their belief is half true. Now, I believe that Objectivists have potential to be totally correct, since they are mixing the correct with the incorrect. They are not evil like Kant, who mixed the correct with the incorrect, even though he had potential to be truly great. No, I believe that Objectivists can be great, but they are not listening to me.

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Why do you suppose you are not being listened to?

 

(As a rhetorical aside in response to:

Some groups of people believe in ideas that have no physical basis and continue to believe in them, regardless of what anyone else says.

Do you think physicists are exempt from this?)

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Why do you suppose you are not being listened to?

 

(As a rhetorical aside in response to:

Some groups of people believe in ideas that have no physical basis and continue to believe in them, regardless of what anyone else says.

Do you think physicists are exempt from this?)

Because it is a lot easier to ignore what I say.

 

(No one is exempt from this. I am worried that Lawrence Krauss is going to become a materialist like Richard Dawkins or Noam Chomsky. Krauss is in the idealist tradition of Einstein, but his direction is toward materialism, and quantum physics is a great corrupter of physicists. Quantum physicists are a great example of self-contradicting materialists. But there is a solution to quantum physics. All we need to do is to connect the physical evidence they gathered and connect it to a philosophical theory that makes better sense, and Krauss has all the potential to do so. Particles do not cease to exist. Once particles come into existence, they will always exist whether we perceive them or not.)

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I believe that Objectivists can be great, but they are not listening to me.

Why should they? A few posts above you wrote:

 

Say, we have 2 units of positive energy (or matter) and 2 units of negative energy (or antimatter)...

 

This is nonsense: antimatter does not have negative energy (or mass, btw). In general, "negative energy" is a highly speculative concept.

On the other hand, 2+2 is always equal to 4 (it is a theorem in arithmetic). Moreover, it is the science of physics which specifies when the addition is legitimate for physical quantities. It is never the case that "0 is actually 4, but in a way that is not directly perceivable".

I let you evaluate yourself the consequences on your argument of that blunder.

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Do you suppose that is the only reason you are not being listened to?

Or, why do you suppose what you are espousing might be easier to ignore than to address?

It is easy to ignore scientific facts and a lot harder to separate these facts from faulty theories or at least critique the theories. I don't know if it's the only reason. Maybe I am just bad at reading possible reactions of Objectivists, and then I expect something that just does not happen on these forums. Or maybe I am getting enough already but am greedy for more.

 

Why should they? A few posts above you wrote:

 

 

This is nonsense: antimatter does not have negative energy (or mass, btw). In general, "negative energy" is a highly speculative concept.

On the other hand, 2+2 is always equal to 4 (it is a theorem in arithmetic). Moreover, it is the science of physics which specifies when the addition is legitimate for physical quantities. It is never the case that "0 is actually 4, but in a way that is not directly perceivable".

I let you evaluate yourself the consequences on your argument of that blunder.

I thought it would be easier to see their annihilation in terms of energy. Technically, you see it in terms of opposite charges and other quantum numbers whose sum results in zero. What is produced is not the same particles of matter, but completely different particles. From mass we get energy, from electrons and positrons - gamma rays or photons. Either way you look at it, the quality is completely transformed, and so the simple arithmetic equation does not show what actually happens on the particle level. At the moment of annihilation, all you see is a flash and vacuum - no matter remains.

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The only safe policy is to avoid making statements, give analogies and examples from disciplines one does not master well enough. Particularly from exact sciences and especially from relativistic physics. But you continued to venture into this domain, and the results are… sad. For example:
 

I thought it would be easier to see their annihilation in terms of energy.

 

It is impossible to see it that way.
 

From mass we get energy, from electrons and positrons - gamma rays or photons.

 

No, we don't get energy from mass. Gamma rays/photons aren't energy, the have energy. Electrons and positrons aren't mass, they have mass (and energy).
 

… the quality is completely transformed, and so the simple arithmetic equation does not show what actually happens on the particle level.

 

This is foggy and neither proves nor illustrates anything. Particles of some kind are simply transformed into particles of another kind (or: field excitations/quanta of some kind of fields are transformed into excitations of another kind of fields). There are no valid quantitative arithmetic equations that brake down: total momentum and total energy are conserved, as well as quantities corresponding to internal symmetries.

So... Don't try to illustrate (or falsify) difficult concepts with even more difficult concepts, especially ones you are not well versed in. You should therefore re-think your (attempt to illustrate the) thesis that sometimes, in some contexts, 2 + 2 ≠ 4

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It is not so much ignoring scientific facts. It is harder to separate the facts from faulty theories.

According to Harriman in The Logical Leap, "Galileo was dismissive of Kepler's mysticism, and made the tragic mistake of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Galileo never understood Kepler's other side - the scientist - had revolutionized astronomy by discovering the causal laws of planetary motion." (paraphrased)

 

Stop trying to "read possible reactions of Objectivists". You wrote earlier that "you knew I hated Kant" (again, paraphrased). Later you cited "Objectivist are not evil, like Kant" (again, paraphrased).  

I have a copy of "Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals", by Kant. I haven't been able to bring myself to read it. It is, as yet, unintelligible to me. By the time I reached the end of the first long sentence I encountered, I had forgotten how it started, or what the myriad proliferation of seeming unrelated points where coming from and going to. It is true that Kant is identified as evil in Objectivist literature, but for me to say so, just because it is contained in Rand's works would not be an act of having grasped it for myself.

 

Edited: Added

Edited by dream_weaver

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AlexL, thank you for your explanations and clarifications. Yes, I am an aficionado (not an expert) in physics, so maybe you can explain to me more on this topic and correct me if I make any mistakes in my reasoning. Now, you said that "we don't get energy from mass", but was it your train of thought to say that we get A that has energy from A that has mass? So, the question becomes: What is A? You say that A is "total momentum and total energy . . . as well as quantities corresponding to internal symmetries." That seems like pure mathematics, but what is the reality at the moment of annihilation? Electrons have a mass of 9.1x10-31 kg, and so do positrons. But photons are massless and constitute pure energy. If we look at the structures of these particles, we would get quite a different picture than pure arithmetics tells us.

 

Electrons and positrons are called fermions because they have a half-integer spin. I would explain a fermion the same way I explain an object in my philosophy. An entity is called an object if it cannot contain itself and a similar entity in the same locus of spacetime. In simpler terms, you cannot place another fermion on a fermion and have them both coexist so at the same spacetime. On the other hand, photons are not fermions - they are bosons with a whole integer spin. A boson like a photon in my philosophy is considered a synthesis of context and object (i.e., wave). I guess the real (nonarithmetic) A that remains is its likeness of a particle, even though it is not a pure particle. Because photons exhibit natures of waves (they are massless), I will consider photon a context in counterdistinction to our objects (electrons/positrons). I explain bosons the same as contexts in my philosophy. An entity is called a context if it can contain any entity in the same locus of spacetime. So, for example, a photon can be contained in electrons or electron can be contained in a photon (as in toroidal topology), but no electron/positron can be contained in another electron/positron or vice versa. If it makes it easier, you may think of bosons as fragments of fields that can contain any elementary or composite particles, but the latter particles cannot coexist in the same exact loci of spacetime. This is a huge difference between the so-called particles. The difference is that at the spacetime of annihilation, objects become contexts.

 

Now, let's return to the topic of Objectivism that we started with Greg (by the way, also thank you, Greg, for your explanations about Kant and facts versus theories). Here are several positions that may help in delving deeper into our differences in understandings:

  1. Existence is the eternal but finite universe.
  2. Spacetime is an aspect of existence.
  3. Spacetime is in existence, but existence is not in spacetime.

I think I am starting to better understand from where you are coming. Consider these aspects/appearances that are also properties:

  1. Length is in a ruler, but a ruler is not in length.
  2. Color is in an orange, but an orange is not in color.
  3. Height is in a man, but a man is not in height.

Since an aspect depends on existence, but existence does not depend on its aspect, the aspect is under existence, not above it, and the two cannot be removed from each other. However, even though it seems straightforward, there is an issue with that. The issue is with contexts mixed with objects that are all considered to be the same as properties in Objectivism, such as in this New Buddha's post. But properties or aspects pertain to contexts and objects, yet in different ways. Both objects and contexts have their own spacetime aspects. And I think this is where confusion sets in. Connecting all of this to the previous discussion, fermions and bosons are considered to be particles, but they not the same kinds of particles, although they can transform into each another. I have always considered existence an object, but Objectivists consider existence the universe, and this makes it into a context, since you can place other objects or contexts in it. If existence were an object like a black hole, it would not contain other black holes or objects simultaneously and at the same location as itself. So, if I am correct in my interpretation of Objectivists, I view existence like a fermion while you view it like a boson (everything), yet you mix it with the conception of fermions (something).

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