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Episode · 1 year ago

Lecture 26 THE COSMIC STRIPTEASE

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This lecture argues against all forms of reductionism in favor of emergentism, where the creative potential of the universe manifests itself incrementally, in stages, with each stage creating the opportunity for the emergence of the next stage, which displays new properties that are contingent on those of the previous stage but are not reducible to them.

Meditation Time, Lecture, Twenty Six the cosmic striptease. For the sake of theoretical unity and parsimony, the attempted reduction of Special Sciences in social sciences, for example biology and psychology, to fundamental physics has enjoyed the main stage of scientific orthodoxy, however controversial it may be. Nowhere has the controversy been more intense than in the attempted reduction of psychology to neuroscience in the first instance, and ultimately to fundamental physics. Other social sciences have been targeted, like sociology and economics, to no avail. Why is the failure contingent on current scientific limitations, or is it inevitable regardless of progress in the future? That is,...

...will it eventually be overcome with a further advancement of fundamental physics, or is it to be expected indefinitely because the attempted reduction in question is by nature inappropriate to its object and unfeasible to begin with? How can consciousness, which is the foundation of experience and consequently of science itself, be relegated to the status of Epiphenomenon, as a derivative of matter that can virtually be ignored then again, what is matter? Who can say in all seriousness that they have seen or felt it, when in fact nothing is ever experienced but our perceptions in our field of consciousness, these perceptions can at best be regarded as a relatively faithful representation of the outer world mediated by our inner world. Furthermore,...

...when we describe this outer world as material, how can we not stop in our tracts with a feeling of strangeness, as its so called concreteness or tangibleness appears, on second thought, incredibly abstract and intangible? And yet we must forbear indulging our propensity for oversimplification, whether it be reductive materialism or reductive idealism, reality always resists either errency with relentless insistence. With time, we must concede the point. The outer world is not a mere offshoot of our inner world, as often evident by its contrary character that suggests a weighty otherness, just as our inner world is not a mere spinoff of the outer world, whose concrete manifestation is empirically void, without the former, in all its immateriality, hinged on materiality. In short, though reality is fundamentally one, it...

...is irreducibly twofold. It comprises a perceiving subject and a perceived object, which together constitute the subjective experience of things. Similarly, a coin is a single piece of currency, but it presents two distinct faces, head and tail. To help seal our anti reductionist contention, let us make a leap of imagination. A board a special ship that affords time travel and provides an artificial and autonomous biosphere in which we can live safely, regardless of circumstances. We return to the beginning of the universe, some fourteen billion years ago. All that existed then was a chaotic plasma, a dense and gaseous mixture of supercharged particles subjected to extreme high temperature after the Big Bang. The problem is the unexpected side effect of this extra ordinary voyage is irreversible Amnesia, leaving us nearly as...

...ignorant as a newborn child, were it not for the peculiar fact that we are still fluent in our native language and proficient at handling our special ship. Our curiosity is inexhaustible, in our faculties prodigious thanks to sophisticated techniques of bioengineering, we proceed forthwith to observe and strive to understand the nature of our new and alien surroundings, equipped with the most advanced tools of inquiry. Suddenly, while getting reacquainted with our image in a mirror, a puzzling epiphany overtakes us in the form of a conundrum. How can we make sense of our existence in the context of this universal waste land, where a sweltering mess of agitated little nothings prevail in an expanse of emptiness, to wit? Against all odds, by what miracle did we come to be, and when and where?...

Haunted by this unanswered question, we go about our business and later go to sleep. Upon Waking Up, an inkling POPs into our mind, bringing some meaning to offset our puzzlement. Could it be that the universe is akin to an exotic dancer who is mastered the art of sustaining our interest by revealing only incrementally, and very slowly at that, with cantalizing poses her toothsome nudity, to put it in less metaphorical terms? Could it be that the creative principle at the core of everything never manifests the full scope of its creative potential all at once and once for all? Quite the contrary, it manifests this potential in stages, evolutionarily, with each stage introducing a new opportunity for the emergence of the next stage, and so on and so forth, until humanity not only becomes possible but very likely, as vaguely anticipated. Space expands by force...

...of the initial explosion, with the result that everything cools and low and behold a critical phase. Transition takes place. The little nothing's become little, some things of ordinary matter which displayed discernible patterns of motion. They lay the groundwork for the formation of increasingly complex bodies, inert or living, over billions of years of evolution, until the welcome advent of humanity, well from our perspective at least,.

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