T.J. Newton
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neoNewtonian Philosophy
T.J. Newton
This is a rough draft that contains errors!

Main Menu
Ancient Philosophy: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle
Descartes and the Legacies of Modernism
Modern Philosophy: Materialism and Physicalism
Quantum Physics: Background and Current Theories
neoNewtonian Metaphysics: Interpreting the Paradox
    Metaphysics and the Mind
    Figure 1: The Universe as a Paradox of Time
neoNewtonian Philosophy of Mind and Language
Political, Moral, and Economic Philosophy
    Table 1: Trends of Political, Moral, and Economic Philosophy
    Table 2: Political Philosophies
    Table 3: Moral Philosophies
    Table 4: Economic Philosophies
Conclusion: Journeying to Space

Introduction Main Menu

What do people mean when they say that something is metaphysical? In the public mind, metaphysics is often thought of in terms of a "metaphysical realm" that is separate from the physical reality we observe with our senses. God and the soul, for example, are generally thought to exist in this metaphysical realm. Some people say they don't believe in anything "metaphysical," and by this they mean they don't think there is a metaphysical realm. But people who don't think there is a metaphysical realm do in fact believe in something metaphysical. Typically, they believe in a theory of reality called materialism, which means that they believe only physical objects exist. Metaphysical simply means "theory of reality," not "metaphysical realm." Since materialism is a theory of reality, it is a metaphysical theory. Without a metaphysical theory, one would have to believe that nothing really exists, even physical objects.

Whether or not one accepts the idea of a metaphysical realm, most people accept that there are physical objects. This is called common sense realism. When one asserts that physical objects exist in a specific way that people can know about, it is called metaphysical realism. Of course, we would want to ask anyone who asserts that physical objects exist in a certain way, "How do you know that physical objects exist in such a way?" The justification they give is called an epistemology, which means "theory of knowledge." The relationship between epistemology and metaphysics is very complicated, and it will later receive a great deal of attention.

Metaphysical theories have enormous power because they help explain the world and resolve differences between people. Often, these differences are about social and moral issues. But how can a metaphysical theory about the nature of the world explain morality? One must include in their metaphysics a theory about how humans fit into the world. This typically involves a philosophy of mind based on whatever metaphysical proposal one makes. Social rules and morality are usually tied to one's philosophy of mind in one way or another.

Unfortunately, metaphysical theories have as much power to cause conflict as they do to help resolve differences. Sometimes, people encounter a problem in their life - social, personal, or professional - and they cannot solve the problem using any of the resources they have available. In some cases, people learn to deal with the problem in various ways. In other cases, there is a metaphysical theory, or part of a metaphysical theory, that provides a solution to the problem. But as the world grows and changes, theories are sometimes unable to provide answers to new problems. When that happens, some people despair, some people provoke conflict, and some people journey in search of better theories.

Should a good theory be whatever makes one happy? What if abusing other people's human rights makes someone happy? Wouldn't an objective theory be better? Wouldn't it be better to know about the world in a way that doesn't rely on someone's opinion? Some people say that an objective theory can be called the "truth." So, anyone journeying in search of a better metaphysical theory should search for the truth, right? But what happens if the entire world accepts a theory as true, and then new information is discovered that makes it false? What happens when a theory accepted as true causes people to suffer? What if another theory also claims to be true? Wouldn't that cause the kind of conflict we set out to avoid? If two or more theories appear to be true, then which one is objective? Is there such a thing as objectivity?

As we address these and other questions, it is important to remember where we started. We began with metaphysical realism - the idea that there is a physical world and that we can know about it. So we are faced with the task of understanding the physical world, understanding ourselves, and understanding our role in the universe and how we are a part of it. We are not faced with justifying the existence of the physical world and therefore objectivity. Metaphysical theories can come and go without really undermining the starting point of metaphysical realism. We know the world is there, and that we can know about it, we just have to keep adapting our explanations as new information becomes available. This is not an easy assertion to make, and it will be addressed in more detail.

Aside from addressing the problems of metaphysics, epistemology, and metaphysical realism, this paper is a journey in search of a better theory of reality. Initially, I'd hoped my journey would yield a genuine scientific hypothesis. I didn't understand the relationship between philosophy and science. As I broadened my search, I discovered elements of fun and fantasy in this journey, as well as opportunities for meaningful insight, but I nevertheless kept my proposals as scientific as possible. Most importantly, this paper shows there is hope for those who journey in search of truth. But it is a difficult search, and that is evident in the fact that this essay is incomplete and contains errors. It is a substantial improvement over earlier versions. I hope you enjoy it.

Ancient Philosophy: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle Main Menu

About the year 420 BCE (OCP 836), the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates attracted a great deal of attention by debating people's beliefs and exposing their prejudices (Annas 131). Many people, especially those in power, became so angered by Socrates that he was put on trial for "introducing new deities and corrupting the youth," and he was executed (Annas 131). Because Socrates "wrote nothing himself... we have... little hope of recovering what Socrates 'really' thought" (Annas 132). Accounts of Socrates' life come from different sources, and the sources often clash (Annas 132). Plato, a student of Socrates, provided one such written account of Socrates' thought (OCP 836).

Plato began with the Socratic idea that "we must be able to answer the question 'What is [a tree]?' before we can say anything else about [a tree]" (OCP 684). For example, just because one is accustomed to calling a tree "oak" does not mean the tree is "oak" - perhaps it is just a plant with certain characteristics that differentiate it from other plants. Some trees are short and thin, and some are tall and thick. But what of a bush? Is it a small tree? "This problem led Plato to suppose that there must be an unambiguous [form] of [a tree], not in this world, but in some other" (OCP 684). What makes each tree a tree is that it participates in a metaphysical realm where the "form of a tree" exists eternally and unchanged. Even more crudely, there is an invisible realm distinct from the physical world where "forms" reside that "make" each tree a tree. The word "'make' indicates a causal connection between [the form of a tree] and the [physical tree]" (Teloh 44), though it is best to think of this in terms of the tree "participating" in the form of a tree because the forms do not "manufacture" the tree. Some have criticized Plato because the forms seem "more real" than physical objects. With Plato's philosophy, the observation of the senses is less important than mental knowledge of forms (Casti 102).

In order for there to be knowledge and understanding, we humans must have access to this metaphysical realm of forms. But how? "Plato believes that we know the forms through mental vision..." (Teloh 102). "Hence, the mind must be drawn away from the senses if it is to apprehend ultimate reality" (OCM 629). According to Plato, the mind somehow has access to the metaphysical realm, or was once acquainted with it (OCP 684).

Plato's philosophy is much broader than what I have covered. For example, Plato's forms included properties like "large," "small," "happy," and "sad." And in Plato's Phaedo, mathematics served as an example of this unambiguous knowledge (Casti 102; OCP 684). Plato also had an extensive ethical and political philosophy, and what Plato called the "psyche" laid the (philosophical) foundation for the concept of an immortal soul. But my purpose in discussing Plato's philosophy is only to carry selected ideas forward into Aristotle's thought. So, I hope the reader will grant me the following summary of Plato for our purposes:

Physical objects participate in a metaphysical realm of forms. The forms are causally related to physical objects. The human psyche, or mind, somehow has access to this metaphysical realm so that humans may know the forms.

Plato was one of the first philosophers to move from common sense realism to metaphysical realism by outlining a comprehensive metaphysics. Consequently, metaphysical realism is often called Platonism, and the term "metaphysics" has come to refer to Plato's metaphysical realm. Of course, the term "metaphysics" only refers to a "theory of reality," and metaphysical realism does not necessarily entail a metaphysical realm of Platonic forms. Aristotle's metaphysics is different from Plato's because there is no metaphysical realm, but as we will see, it can still be called metaphysical realism. As a student of Plato, Aristotle's philosophy shows a Platonic influence, but it is actually very different. For one thing, Aristotle goes into much more depth about the structure of the universe and our place in it.

Aristotle's world is essentially intelligible. It is a world that is so ordered, structured, [and] saturated with purposefulness that it is meant to be understood in the sense that it is man's nature to inquire into the world's order and come to understand it (Lear 41).

One of the major differences between Plato's metaphysics and Aristotle's is that Aristotle does not propose a separate "metaphysical realm" of forms. For Aristotle, forms, or what he calls "essences," are integral parts of "substance." Substance is a combination of "matter" and "essence" (or "form"), and it is of matter and essence that physical objects are composed. But since trees are made of "matter," and because matter is itself a "primary substance" that has its own essence, the more complicated point is that substances can be incorporated into more complex substances. (Note that in Aristotle's time, "matter" was not thought of as atoms and molecules, but could be thought of as "elements" like earth, air, fire, and water, or anything that has the potential to be formed into something else.) To put all of this in very simple terms, forms do not exist in a separate metaphysical realm, but are a part of "substances," which are objects like trees. A tree is a tree because its essence is present in it, not because it participates in the essence (or form) of a tree (Lear 269-272).

So does the "essence of a tree" in any way cause physical trees, as was the case in Plato's scheme? Absolutely. The essence contributes to the structure of the physical object, and Aristotle describes this as the formal cause. Aristotle proposes four types of causes, but it is the formal cause and the efficient cause that are most important for our purposes here, though all four causes will be discussed along with the "first cause." The efficient cause is very closely related to our modern understanding of causality, though there is a dispute as to whether modern causality can be directly attributed to Aristotle, or rather if that attribution arises from a confusion during the Middle Ages about what Aristotle meant (Lear 29-33, 40).

To understand efficient cause, we might say that a tree has the potential to produce seeds, and the seeds have the potential to take root and grow another tree. This at first seems like the way we understand causality in the modern world, but Aristotle would argue that it is not the seed that causes the tree, but that the matter of the seed has the potential of a tree. It is not that the matter of a tree is stored in a little seed, but rather that the potential is "actualized" by the efficient cause, and the mature tree is brought about by the "formal cause" through the "essence." So, one way of looking at it is to say that the germination of the seed and its development into a tree is caused by its essence (Lear 29-33, 40). The efficient cause, then, is simply the process of change that is built into nature. Change is the actualizing of a potentiality.

"If change is the actualizing of a potentiality, then there must be some reason why the potentiality is actualized now rather than earlier or later" (Lear 61). According to Aristotle, change requires a changer to serve as the agent that initiates the change, because the beginning of the change cannot be found within the potentiality (Lear 61). For natural organisms like trees, there is a dispute about how to interpret Aristotle because he talks about "self changers" (which may include seeds), and he also describes God as the agent of change in terms of a "first mover" (or changer) of "heavenly bodies" (Lear 63; Graham xiii). But God must also be thought of as eternal and unchanged, since God cannot be changed (or moved) by something else.

If God cannot change, how can God cause change? Change must be thought of as being inspired by God, and this describes the final cause, which "motivates" objects with essences to change. In Aristotle's later philosophy, it becomes possible to trace all change to God (Lear 63), because God "thinks the essences" (Lear 301). Note that although God can be seen as a "first cause" of change, God is not the cause of the universe, since no moment can be seen as a "first moment" (Lear 82-83). The main idea here in terms of cause is that as the "first cause," God thinks the "essences" of objects, which are divinely "motivated" by the "final cause" to initiate the change brought about by the "efficient cause," and through the "formal cause" the "essences" contribute to the structure of "substance."

For Aristotle, nature entails motion [or change] of a certain sort... If that motion were to cease, there would be no natural world. Motion, then, is coextensive with nature and with the existence of the cosmos... and also with time itself... (Graham 37).

According to [Aristotle's] Physics VIII, all motions [or changes], even natural motions of the elements, require an external mover. If every motion does indeed presuppose an external mover, we must then seek a further cause, and then a further, until we reach a first mover... This ultimate cause can be identified with God... Thus physics and cosmology lead to theology... (Graham xv).

There is still the more complicated point that substances can be incorporated into more complex substances, and this point resurfaces as the material cause. The scheme just discussed might explain the cause of a tree, but if we were to ask about the cause of a piece of lumber, its substance is wood. Thus, the material cause of a piece of lumber is wood, which is caused by trees. To complicate things further, the lumber was caused by a lumberjack, who was caused by his essence, which was thought by God and motivated by the final cause.

So far, we have sketched Aristotle's philosophy about the structure of the universe. One of the important aspects of Aristotle's theory is that he believed the universe could be understood, and like Plato, he accomplished this through a philosophy of mind. For Plato, forms of objects existed in a separate metaphysical realm, and the mind "knows" the forms through a mental vision. But Aristotle did not suppose a separate metaphysical realm in which forms existed, but instead insisted that essences were present in physical objects. In order for the mind to understand the essences, the mind must be able to have access to them. To solve the problem, Aristotle supposed that the mind becomes the essences by thinking (Lear 120-131), or another way, that the forms are present in the knower. Since God thinks the essences, then by thinking we are coming to know God (in a very narrow sense). God's activity is to think himself (God is self-caused) (Lear 301-302), therefore the mind can think itself, which means that mind and thought are the same (Lear 120-131).

Though Aristotle's scheme does not specifically address the idea of God creating, or constituting, the universe, he comes incredibly close to saying it. This is true not only in Aristotle's conception of God as thought and thinker of essences, but also in his placement of God at the top of a "causal chain" (depending on how the final cause is interpreted) that initiates change and motion in the universe.

Aristotle also introduces the difficulty posed by a mind that can contemplate itself. Even though Aristotle's scheme is very different from Plato's, it can still be considered a type of metaphysical realism because the essences are not "manufactured" (or caused) by a human knower. Aristotle believed people come to know about the physical world by observing it with the senses (OCM 39). As a result, there is a debate about whether or not Aristotle fully accounted for the "independence" of an essence. If the mind must become an essence, or if an essence is somehow present in the knower, how can an essence be independent of the mind (OCP 56)? And if an essence is not independent of the mind, why are the senses needed?

These ideas - the relationship of the mind to the physical world, the role of causality in the physical world, and the relationship between the mind and causality - will continue to dominate philosophy for the next two thousand years. And as we will see, each solution to these problems is in some way tied to Aristotle, right into the 21st century.

During the Middle Ages, modifications were made to Aristotle's theory that included the view that God was the Creator of the universe, as well as religious ideas about the body and the soul. Debate also continued about whether or not an essence is independent of the mind (OCP 546-547). René Descartes studied this modified interpretation of Aristotle during the Renaissance (Cottingham, Descartes 6, 197-202; OCM 36, 561-562).

Descartes and the Legacies of Modernism Main Menu

Descartes, who is sometimes called the father of modern philosophy, "commented bitterly on the philosophical orthodoxy of his time" (Cottingham, Rationalists 31). According to Descartes:

The majority of those aspiring to be philosophers in the last few centuries have blindly followed Aristotle... And those who have not followed Aristotle... have nevertheless been saturated with his opinions in their youth (since they are the only opinions taught in Schools) and this has so dominated their outlook that they have been unable to arrive at knowledge of true principles (AT IXB. 7; CSM I. 182 qtd. Cottingham, Rationalists 31).

Descartes significantly changed Aristotle's idea of "substance." He argued that there were two types of substances (three counting God, as we will see) (Cottingham, Rationalists 75). "Cartesian dualism" maintains that the two primary substances are physical (extended) and mental (thinking) (OCM 189). A "substance" is simply any "thing" which exists independently of other things (Cottingham, Rationalists 78-79). With Descartes, physical objects are composed of purely physical substance - "matter." Mental substance is completely non-physical (OCP 191). Since God creates both physical and mental substance, it is by way of God that the mind can come to know the "essences" of the physical world. As with Aristotle, essences remain properties of substance, but unlike Aristotle, essences do not cause substance (Cottingham, Rationalists 103, 151). God, according to Descartes, caused physical and mental substances to exist directly (not by way of an essence). So God, too, is a substance that causally establishes other substances, and as with Aristotle, God is self-caused. Here we see a new twist on Aristotle's efficient cause that originated with modifications to Aristotle dating from the Middle Ages (Cottingham, Rationalists 94).

As with Aristotle, thought is the essence of mind according to Descartes (Cottingham, Rationalists 103, 151). Not only can the mind contemplate itself, it is this contemplation that serves as evidence of the minds' existence (OCP 191-192). "In establishing his own existence, ...Descartes formed a conception of himself as a ...thinking thing" (Cottingham, Rationalists 78). It is worth noting that with the mind in a completely separate realm from physical objects, there is a Platonic influence in Descartes' philosophy, though physical objects do not participate in this realm through any sort of form.

Descartes couldn't have known all of the philosophical issues that would surface because of his philosophy. He shed new light on Aristotle and Plato for many philosophers, and in so doing, Descartes raised many philosophical issues that modern philosophy has not been able to successfully address. Descartes' philosophy included a concept that has come to be called Cartesian doubt, and it is a kind of skepticism that questions whether or not the physical world is really there. Skepticism had been around since the ancient Greeks, but for the Greeks, skepticism applied more to issues of ethics and morality than the physical world. Descartes questioned how one knows, for sure, that the physical world isn't all in one's mind. He concluded that the one thing that couldn't be doubted was the existence of his own mind, which his how he established himself as a "thinking thing." This is summed up in the phrase "I think therefore I am." But since Descartes also insisted that physical substances did in fact exist, he was faced with the metaphysical challenge of explaining how the mind and the physical world were related. He couldn't fall back on essences and final causes, so he was left with a dilemma. The attempt to solve this dilemma is the primary concern of Rationalist philosophy.

The challenges Descartes' philosophy faces are familiar to many people. In the present-day, it makes sense to ask through what mechanism a "mind" relates to the physical world. But in Descartes' time, an "essence" was as valid as any other argument. And there is also the challenge that maybe the world we describe with our senses can't be known epistemologically by the mind. Maybe all we can do is try to describe sense experience as best we can, never knowing if our senses accurately reflect the physical world, or if there is a physical world at all. This line of thought eventually gains the title phenomenalism (OCP 658). The idea that mathematics is the best way to describe sense experience is a "logical" choice when faced with phenomenalism, and that approach is eventually called logical positivism (OCP 507-508). But that gives rise to the question of "What is mathematics?" Does math exist in a Platonic realm? Is math a universal law (Casti 100-102)? And how do you know?

Asking, "How do you know?" after every metaphysical proposal is a new direction for epistemology. No longer can one answer "I know because of a particular metaphysical proposal." An epistemology is a theory of knowledge, and it typically operates within a theory of reality called metaphysics. One of the issues that will come up in epistemology is the fact that Descartes gave rise to confusion over the differences between epistemology and metaphysics. When one tries to epistemologically justify a metaphysical proposal, one is starting with Descartes' proposal of a "thinking thing." It is an attempt to justify everything as though the mind of an individual is all that anyone can be absolutely sure of. In the modern era, epistemology really means Descartes' metaphysics. This dogs modern philosophy, and often Descartes is criticized as the cause of an extreme individualism. After all, isn't the mind shaped by exposure to the physical world? Isn't who we are in some way shaped by who we interact with? If it is the case that we are shaped by events in the physical world, maybe there is no mind, and all we are is physical objects responding to other physical objects. The idea that there is no mind is known as physicalism (OCP 530-532, 679-681; OCM 487), and it is based on the assumption that there are only physical objects, which is known as materialism (OCP 530-532). But how do we know that there are only physical objects if there is no mind to do the knowing? And even if there is somehow a physical mind, different from the brain, how do we know there are physical objects if there is no way to be sure our senses accurately portray the physical world? The idea of the senses portraying the physical world, without an appeal to essences, goes by the name empiricism (OCP 226-229). With all of these problems, maybe we are hopelessly and eternally lost, and the best we can do is to use what works. That's called pragmatism (OCP 710-713), though the term has been historically applied to issues of morality.

Pragmatism is not at all like metaphysical realism. But if we learn from it that whatever answer we find shouldn't be considered "final," we will be able to adapt when new problems arise. In science, this has been called a paradigm (OCM 575-576), and some believe it undermines objectivity. But implicit in the idea of an "answer," even a changeable answer, is that there is an objective reality. The physical world is "really there," and we can know about it. That's metaphysical realism, and that's what started us off. We are faced with understanding the physical world, understanding ourselves, and understanding our role in the universe and how we are a part of it. But we are not faced with justifying its existence. I'll return to this topic later, because it carries with it a great number of social, ethical, and political issues. But for now, we must begin the journey into modern philosophy.

Modern Philosophy: Materialism and Physicalism Main Menu

Fortunately, all of the issues raised by Descartes did not surface at once. Modern philosophers began with the question of how the mind relates to the physical world. In describing the relationship of the mind to the physical world, empirical thinkers challenged the ideas of Descartes. John Locke began by suggesting that we "do not know the real essences of the substances of [physical objects], so ...all we can do is ...observe and list their properties, and form ...beliefs and opinions about them" (Woolhouse 93). As for the actual existence of "mind,"

[Locke] agrees 'with the more probable opinion ...[that] this consciousness is annexed to, and the affection of one identical immaterial [or nonphysical] substance,' but, expressing his general skepticism about the extent of our knowledge, he says we really do not know the truth of the matter. (Woolhouse 100).

The idea of comprehending the physical world through the senses is called empiricism, and the term is generally credited to Locke because he described empiricism without "essences" (though we will later need to discuss what Locke means by "consciousness"). Locke tended toward the possibility of "mind as immaterial substance," but even prior to Locke, Thomas Hobbes maintained that the mind is nothing but the brain - the mind is physical. According to Hobbes,

Objects outside of a perceiver generate motion, which is propagated through the sense-organs to the ...brain. [...] All we can find out 'by the appearances of effects of nature, which we know by sense [only], [are] some ways and means by which they may be...' Beginning with the phenomena of sense, and by the use of our explanatory framework, we form hypotheses about their causes. These hypotheses can be tested against further experience and experiment, but hypotheses they remain (Woolhouse 39-40).
By combining Locke's empiricism with Hobbes' materialistic (or purely physical) theory of mind, we can form a materialistic view of empiricism, though this will eventually lead to a host of problems because it combines an epistemology (a theory of knowledge) with a metaphysics (a theory of reality - here materialism). And we must still be able to describe causality without relying on "essences" or "substances." Recall that with Aristotle, the efficient cause functioned through "essences." This was modified during the Middle Ages, and Descartes further modified cause in terms of "substances" which functioned through God. It was Sir Isaac Newton who described causality so that it wasn't dependent on "essences" or "substances." This was demonstrated in his three laws of motion, which completely changed Aristotle and Descartes' theories of the universe (1).

In contrast to Plato, the one branch of knowledge that (possibly) could be called "untouched" by Aristotle is the mathematical sciences (OCM 38; OCP 533), though Aristotle made significant contributions to logic (OCP 53). This leaves a question: how did we come to know about math through empirical observation? In other words, how did we observe that 2+2 = 4 by looking at trees with our eyes (OCP 537)? Plato placed mathematics in the separate metaphysical realm of forms, but regardless of one's position on the issue, it can at least be said that math lies further from sense experience than trees (OCP 537). But if we view mathematics as existing as an "axiomatic" language, and if we possess sufficient mathematical language to express the laws of the physical universe, it is possible to conceive of the structure of the universe using a materialistic rather than an Aristotelian approach. By inventing calculus, Sir Isaac Newton made this idea plausible.

Since Newton's time, materialists have used many different interpretations of mathematics. Newton's views can be called "realism," in the sense that Newton believed that mathematics consisted of "objects" (2) (OCP 533). Some have characterized this view as "Platonism," though realism has nothing to do with Plato's metaphysics (Casti 102; OCP 536). Newton, for example, was an empiricist, and believed observation was needed to support mathematics (OCP 533). The alternatives to realism include formalism and logicism (Casti 100-102; OCP 536). Formalists view mathematics as a manipulation of symbols, and logicists view mathematics as a truth derived from universal laws (Casti 100-101). It is not clear to me, or other critics of formalism and logicism (Casti 102; OCP 535), that either is successful at differentiating from realism. Metaphysical realists can argue that there are still metaphysical assumptions about subject, object, and knowledge. Even among realists there are different interpretations of mathematics (OCP 536-537). As we proceed, the neoNewtonian view will be discussed, as well as some of the realist and logicist views held by the philosophers and scientists we will encounter. I think the best approach to take for now with regard to Newton's "axiomatic language" is some form of realism, such that mathematics is "true," and at the same time related to physics in such a way that requires empirical comparison. That seems to me a reasonable account of Newton's (and Newtonians') views, exclusive of Newton's own metaphysical treatment of mathematics (2).

Using a materialistic approach, it is possible for the material facts of the world to be transferred by the sense organs to our brains (OCM 561), where we can apply Newton's "axiomatic" mathematical language (OCP 618) and describe the laws of physics. We are left with "Newton's self-perpetuating machine" (OCM 561). And we are also left without a "subject" at all, and without a free will (3). We find ourselves (so to speak) in the era of physicalism (OCP 530-532, 679-681; OCM 487).

[E]very physical event must be explicable in purely physical terms, if it is explicable at all....[T]he existence of irreducibly mental occurrences [are] regard[ed] as accompanying and perhaps being causally dependent on physical events, but [do] not themselves [make] any causal intrusion into the physical world (OCM 487).

Hobbes had proposed that the mind was a physical object, and his materialistic conception of the mind replaced Descartes' notion of a mind separate from the physical world (Woolhouse 39-40). But Hobbes did not conclude that human behavior was shaped by physical events, even though such a conclusion actually fit better with his metaphysics (OCP 367-370). With physicalism, the brain was just a physical object shaped by events in the physical world, and behavior was seen in terms of physical objects interacting with other physical objects (OCM 74-75, 164-165, 490-491). A subject was not seen as intruding into the world, but as responding to the world. In many ways, this was a positive development because it meant that an individual's mind did not exist in isolation from society and the environment, as Descartes had supposed.

A free will became even more inconceivable as a result of Pierre-Simon Laplace's proposal that if it were possible to know all of the physical events that occurred at a given moment, then all of the subsequent events could be predicted mathematically (Hawking 104-108). The idea that the future was predictable became a defining characteristic of physicalism thereafter (OCP 194-197, 292-293).

But there is a problem with physicalism that physicalists refer to as "only a pseudo-problem ...that can be resolved with a proper linguistic approach" (OCM 164). Actually, the problem is very serious, and can hardly be called "pseudo." The roots of the problem can be found in Locke's unwillingness to completely abandon the idea of the mind as consisting of non-physical substance, and in Descartes and Plato's insistence that the mind cannot be physical. Aristotle addresses the problem when he ponders how the mind can contemplate itself, and concludes that in so doing the mind is contemplating God. The problem is so serious that it threatens the whole epistemological notion of empiricism and a knowable universe.

[Some philosophers] believe that when they look at a [rock] they construct an internal copy, called a sensation or perception, and that later, when they are reminded of a [rock], they reconstruct that copy, now called a mental image, and look at it again. [...] If seeing were simply constructing a copy of the thing seen, we should have to make another copy to see the copy, and another copy to see that. At some point we must 'see a [rock]' in some other sense. What that means is not well understood - by anyone (OCM 75).

"At some point we must 'see a rock' in some other sense." If there is no subject to conceive of an object, how can anything be known? By whom is "the rock" being seen? This forms an epistemological paradox. In other words, if an internal "picture of a rock" is constructed in the brain, then the brain must construct a "mind's eye" to see the rock, then another "mind's eye" to see the mind's eye that is seeing the rock, and so on.

The problem is also referred to as the physicalist "view from nowhere." Physicalists answer that without a knowing subject, we are forced to rely on Newton's account of the physical universe as a geometric "absolute space" which exists eternally, and needs no beginning or end (Burgess & Rosen 100-101; OCP 168). Here we see a metaphysical explanation being used for an epistemological problem. This is the groundwork for the "view from nowhere," since Newtonians supposed that objects move around in a background space and cause sensations in the sense organs. Using this explanation, physicalists have generally been able to ignore the paradox posed by the "view from nowhere." We shall soon see that a metaphysical rather than an epistemological argument for the existence of a "subject" will become available.

Quantum Physics: Background and Current Theories Main Menu

The need for a subject did not come about because of the "view from nowhere." Indeed, it was not the epistemological paradox that necessitated the need for a subject. Instead, the need for a subject initially showed up in physicalism because of the results of certain experiments, which caused some to think that a subject was necessary in order for objects to exist at all. The idea wasn't new for philosophy, but it was unheard of in modern physics.

As physicists began to examine subatomic particles, which are the tiny particles that make up atoms, they ran into a problem. In order to examine a subatomic particle, an experiment has to be conducted that "disturbs" the state of the particle (Bell 142, 181-188; Hawking 42; Schrödinger 145-148; Smolin 36). The particle has to be passed through a magnetic field, fired at a detecting screen, or affected in some way by other subatomic particles (Bell 181-188; Hawking 42; Schrödinger 145-148; Smolin 36-38). So, in any given experiment, all of the attributes of a particle are changed in the process of conducting the experiment (Bell 181-188; Hawking 42; Schrödinger 145-148; Smolin 36). To complicate things further, only one of a particle's attributes can be observed in a particular experiment (Bell 142; Hawking 42; Schrödinger 145-148; Smolin 36). So, it is impossible to know all of the attributes of a subatomic particle at any given moment, since the observation of only one attribute changes all of the others. For example, if you wanted to know a particle's position, you could fire it at a detecting screen, but you wouldn't know which way it was "spinning" (Hawking 48-50), and you wouldn't know what happened to it after it hit the detecting screen. But this is only part of the problem.

In an experiment called the particle-slit experiment, a subatomic particle is fired at a detecting screen, and it is impossible to predict where the particle will hit the detecting screen. According to Newton's laws of motion, the particle should follow a precise path to the detecting screen (Schrödinger 131). But it doesn't. So, how can one think of a particle as an object if all of its attributes cannot be observed, and if what is known about those attributes defy prediction based on the laws of physics (Bell 142; Hawking 42; Schrödinger 145-148; Smolin 36)? If a tree is "there," on the surface of the Earth, there isn't a chance that it may be on a cloud. The tree's attributes are predictable, and the predictions can be checked by observing the tree. With particles, all that can be known is that there is a chance a particle can be observed "there" or "elsewhere." If that is the case, then when it is not observed, the particle isn't anywhere. It seems that particles are really "not there" (Bell 142; Schrödinger 131).

[W]hat is the use of ...a description ...[that] is not believed to describe observable facts or what nature is really like? Well, it is believed to give us information about observed facts and their mutual dependence (Schrödinger 145).

After enough experiments were conducted on subatomic particles, physicist Erwin Schrödinger came up with an equation that predicted what a particle's attributes might be (Bell 192, 201; Hawking 107-110). It is a probability calculation known simply as the "Schrödinger equation." In very basic terms, the equation says there is a 50% chance the particle's attributes will be A, and a 50% chance the particle's attribute will be B. If enough experiments are conducted on particles, and the results are always A or B, then the equation is not so hard to understand.

But the question still remained as to what caused a particle's attributes to be A or B. It seemed that prior to being observed, a particle existed only as a "possibility or potentiality" (Bell 142; Hawking 44-45, 80-83). It wasn't that we couldn't always observe a particle, but that a particle couldn't always be observed. There was only a chance that it was even "there!" This line of reasoning has come to be called the uncertainty principle, and physicist Werner Heisenberg first proposed it in the form of an equation (Hawking 43). The particle is only "there" insofar as there was an "event" in which a particle was observed (Schrödinger 121-122, 131, 144-145, 154, 168-171). Before and after the event, who knows? The uncertainty principle prevents one from thinking that a particle is actually "there," because there is a chance the particle is "elsewhere" (Bell 188-202; Hawking 80-86; Schrödinger 121-122, 131, 144-145). Since there is a chance the particle is "there" or "elsewhere," one cannot imagine that, before observation, the particle is anywhere (Schrödinger 131, 144-145). Thus, the particle was thought to be "not there." But why, then, are physical objects like rocks and trees "there," if the particles of which rocks and trees are composed are "not there?" Are there physical objects or not? This forms a metaphysical paradox (Bell 188; Schrödinger 164).

Indeed, even the particles are not really there (Bell 142). Paradox indeed (Bell 143)! [Bohr and Heisenberg] mean that the object has no existence independent of the observing subject (Schrödinger 154). [I]t is better to regard a particle not as a permanent entity, but as an instantaneous event (Schrödinger 131).

Physicist Niels Bohr believed that the best solution was pragmatism. The world simply had to be divided into two worlds: a world of physical objects, and a world of quantum "events" (Bell 188-190). In most cases, the quantum world could be confined to the subatomic particles fired from an electron gun. In this way, the particles in trees or rocks or human brains didn't have to be dealt with (Bell 188-190). While Bohr's "pragmatic" solution provided a relatively weak answer to the metaphysical paradox, it provided no answer at all to the epistemological paradox. As to how a physical object could be known in some other sense, a pragmatic approach would mean that any metaphysical proposal at all would do, and if that is the case, one could just as easily propose that the physical world is in the mind.

In fact, Bohr's proposal seems to suggest that it is possible to be pragmatic about physicalism to the extent that a mind may be proposed, and for that matter, a free will may be proposed also (Schrödinger 168-171). It would seem one would need a free will to decide what pragmatic choices to make. But what kind of a free will is this? It seems one can only "decide" how to interpret particles, and that seems rather crude (Schrödinger 168-171).

Heisenberg thought that the uncertainty principle showed that particles were "not there" unless they were observed, but one could not be sure precisely what the nature of the observer was (Bell 188; Schrödinger 164-171). If the brain is made of particles, and the eyes and the other senses, and the nerves that connect them, and the electrons that make up the electrical impulses in the nerve cells, then it is uncertain as to what an "observation" is in the first place (Bell 188; Schrödinger 164-171). For Heisenberg, uncertainty meant that objects were dependent on an observing subject, but the subject and the object were so intertwined that they could not be distinguished (Bell 188; Schrödinger 164-171). Thus, it was impossible to know all of the physical events that occur at a given moment, and it was therefore impossible to predict future events as Laplace had proposed (Bell 188; Hawking 129; Schrödinger 162). One could only offer a probability calculation using the Schrödinger equation. This was true even of human behavior, since the brain was also made of particles (Schrödinger 164-171). Heisenberg did not mean that there was a free will, only that the future could not be predicted. Heisenberg's proposal attempts to solve the metaphysical paradox by proposing that a particle is "not there" unless it is observed, but he leaves us with only "uncertainty" regarding the epistemological paradox. The metaphysical paradox is solved with an observing subject, but it is uncertain in what sense this subject observes. The epistemological paradox is just accepted, and if that is the case, how does one know anything about the physical world at all?

It is along these lines that physicist Pascual Jordan proposed that a subject must include a mind separate from the physical body. Jordan was not a pragmatist like Bohr, but he did not completely agree with Heisenberg, either. He thought that a particle was "there" whenever a subject observed it, but regarded this as evidence of the existence of a mind, not as evidence of uncertainty about the nature of the division between subject and object (Bell 142-143; Schrödinger 164-171). A mind would solve the epistemological paradox involving the need for a subject to know about the physical world in some other sense, but there are some simple metaphysical objections to Jordan's proposal.

The only 'observer' which is essential in orthodox practical quantum theory is the inanimate apparatus which amplifies microscopic events to macroscopic consequences. [...] [O]nce this apparatus is in place, and functioning untouched, it is a matter of complete indifference ...whether the experimenters stay around to watch or delegate such 'observing' to computers (Bell 170).

The first objection to Jordan's proposal is that once an experimenter used his or her mind to construct an experiment, the experimental apparatus could "observe" particles and record the results on a computer (Bell 170). No mind would be needed. Second, assuming there is a mind, it should not decide events in the physical world, or in any way compel objects in the physical world to "consider" that they are being observed (Schrödinger 164-171). Can one solve the metaphysical paradox in which particles are "there" and "not there" by saying that particles are "not there" when they are not observed? Does a tree disappear when no one is around? What happens to empiricism? Third, one must ask if the mind Jordan proposes has a free will confined to making observations of particles. What kind of a mind is this (Schrödinger 164-171)? In fact, Jordan offers no explanation of "where" the mind is, or how it interacts with the senses. So the metaphysical paradox remains: are particles "there" or "not there?"

Basing their philosophy on phenomenalism, which is the belief that physical objects cannot be known to exist beyond sense experience, some self-described logical positivists maintained that the best measure of reality is mathematical truth. It is a very small step from logical positivism to substantivalism, which is the belief that mathematical objects are physically real, such that mathematics creates physical reality (Bell 188, 193; Burgess & Rosen 100-101; Hawking 31, 59; OCP 507-508, 658, 705-706). While this is different from metaphysical realism, I am not sure it is actually that different from Platonism, except that there is no metaphysical realm - math is real. To a substantivalist, the fact that the Schrödinger equation yields two or more probabilities means that the universe divides into two or more universes for each result to exist in (Bell 188, 192-193; Hawking 79-90, 196-199). According to this view, called the many world interpretation, or MWI, there is one universe in which the particle has attribute A, and another universe in which the particle has attribute B. This interpretation originated with physicist H. Everett, and has been advocated by J.A. Wheeler, Richard Feynman, and Stephen Hawking (Bell 188, 192-193; Hawking 79-90, 196-199).

The MWI is sometimes put forward as the working out of the hypothesis: the [Schrödinger equation] is everything, there is nothing else (Bell 193).

Whether or not one accepts logical positivism or substantivalism, there are still problems with the MWI. One still must ask, what decides the universe we are in (Bell 192-193; Hawking 79-90)? Why did we observe a particle at A instead of B? Hawking, and other physicists that seriously consider the MWI, have used the anthropic principle to answer the question about why we are in a particular universe (Hawking 85-88; Smolin 197-201). The anthropic principle states that we are in this universe because we are here to observe it. But in what sense is this observation being made? If we are physical objects made of particles, who is making the observation? The epistemological paradox returns because the universe must be observed in some other sense in order for an "observer" to observe. If there is a mind, does it also divide? "How far down the atomic scale does the division go" (Bell 192-193)?

It is not clear even that the metaphysical paradox is addressed by the MWI. If one interprets the MWI to mean that a universe with particles exists because we are here to observe it, and we cannot conceive of a universe without particles, then is an observer necessary for all of the "worlds" to exist? This problem is partially addressed later, in other theories connected to the MWI.

Bohr, Heisenberg, Jordan, and Everett each offer differing interpretations of the uncertainty principle, but no matter which interpretation one adopts, the central debate is about the metaphysical paradox - whether an object is "there" or "not there." The dominating factor in each of the theories discussed up to this point is the idea that a particle is really "not there," and must be philosophically integrated with the physical world pragmatically, mentally, or mathematically. Because of the uncertainty principle, one cannot think in terms of a particle that is actually "there," because there is a chance the particle is "elsewhere." The Schrödinger equation shows that there is a chance the particle may be "there" or "elsewhere," so one cannot really conceive of a particle that is actually anywhere before an observation event. Thus, particles are thought to be "not there." The problem with this view is that if particles are "not there," then rocks and trees should not be "there" since they are made of particles. The result is a metaphysical paradox in which objects must be "there" and "not there."

Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity included the idea that a particle was an "event," but the kind of event in special relativity theory was different than the "observation event" of quantum theory (Bell 73-77; Hawking 6-9; Schrödinger 133; Smolin 23-25, 77-87). With special relativity, Einstein showed that space and time could be interpreted as the same entity. The faster objects moved from one point in space to another, the slower time passed for the object as measured by the non-moving observer (Bell 73-77; Hawking 6-9; Schrödinger 133; Smolin 23-25, 77-87). Thus, objects moved through "space-time," and the speed at which time passed for an object depended on how fast it was moving. So, time was relative to differences in the velocity between individual objects (Bell 73-77; Hawking 6-9; Schrödinger 133; Smolin 23-25, 77-87). An object could therefore be seen as an "event" because the attributes of the object depended on the measurement of time relative to the object. The object was only "there" insofar as an event occurred at some point in space-time (Bell 73-77; Hawking 6-9; Schrödinger 133; Smolin 23-25, 77-87).

But special relativity was different than quantum theory because although an object could be seen as an "event," the object was definitely "there." An "event" was not something that needed an observer, as seemed to be the case in quantum "observation events" (Bell 61, 73-77; Hawking 6-9, 14, 19-26; Schrödinger 131-133; Smolin 23-25, 77-87). There was no chance that the object could be "elsewhere." Relativity is more of a problem of epistemology than metaphysics - knowing about an object as opposed to the object's existence.

Another important implication of special relativity is that it wasn't clear that relativistic events could be causally connected. Events occurring at separate times relative to one another could be causally independent, and that simply interfered with Laplace's idea about predicting the future (Bell 61, 73-77; Hawking 6-9, 14, 19-26; Schrödinger 131-133; Smolin 23-25, 77-87).

Unlike the special theory of relativity, the general theory of relativity made it possible to connect events that occurred in different relative times. According to general relativity, objects were causally related to one another because of gravity. An object's mass curved space-time, and this effect explained gravity in a new way (Bell 61; Hawking 14, 19-26; Smolin 23-25, 77-87). The easiest way to understand gravity according to relativity theory is to picture a bowling ball on a waterbed. The ball will "curve" the soft surface of the waterbed because the ball's mass pushes down on the bed. Place a marble on the curved area of the waterbed and it will roll into the bowling ball. Of course, this analogy isn't perfect because the surface of the bed is two-dimensional, and space-time is four-dimensional (3 dimensions of space, and 1 of time).

But general relativity meant that objects could accelerate towards one another, and an accelerated observer would be unable to know the attributes of objects in different relative times. There was no way for an observer to make an observation from a point that was "absolutely still." It seemed impossible to say that an object was "there," because space-time was constantly changing (Hawking 43-54; Smolin 23-25, 77-87). An object was an "event" because its attributes were relative to its speed and acceleration, which were caused by the "pull" of other objects. From the "frame of reference" of any object, an observed object's attributes were different, so even the existence of objects was relative to one's frame of reference (Hawking 43-54; Smolin 23-25, 77-87). Yet, one still could not doubt that an object was "there," at least in its own relative time, and there was no chance the object could be "elsewhere." Something had to be "there" to curve space-time (Hawking 43-54; Schrödinger 144-145; Smolin 23-25, 77-87). And like special relativity, "events" in general relativity did not depend on an observer.

For many physicists, general relativity was attractive because all of the events in the universe could be connected together, and Laplace's idea about predicting the future seemed realizable. This was especially true in light of the fact that the universe could expand and contract as a result of the mass of objects curving space-time (Hawking 21-25, 36, 43-54, 78, 95). But why hadn't the mass of all the objects in the universe caused it to contract into a single point (Hawking 21-25, 36, 43-54, 78, 95)? Perhaps it started as a single point, and was accelerating apart because of a "big bang." Eventually, experiments indicated that the idea had merit (Hawking 21-25, 36, 43-54, 78, 95). Laplace's dream could be fulfilled if the initial conditions of the universe, the conditions at the "beginning" or "event horizon," could be discovered. All of the other events could be traced back to the event horizon, so it would be possible to calculate everything that would happen, at least theoretically (Hawking 21-25, 36, 43-54, 78, 95). Needless to say, this is very different from Newton's static, absolute space that had no beginning or end, and Einstein was uncomfortable with the idea (Hawking 23, 49).

We are now working... [on] ...a complete unified theory that will describe everything that happens in the universe. This unified theory will enable us to calculate how the universe will develop (Hawking 80). We will have... [a] world [that] is safe and predictable, and nothing unexpected will happen (Hawking 129). We should be able to predict the future (Hawking 104).

But there was still a problem because the behavior of particles didn't seem to be connected to general relativity at all. In general relativity, all events are related to other events in time, and objects are only "there" relative to a particular frame of reference. Quantum theory, at least according to some interpretations, needed an observer for an object to be "there," and the Schrödinger equation seemed unconnected with the events in the universe described by general relativity because an object could be "elsewhere" (Hawking 43-55; Smolin 114-115, 138-139, 159).

In fact, the Schrödinger equation allowed for the possibility that objects could have infinite gravity, although only small fluctuations could be observed. But if the possibility was there, the universe should have curled into a single point long ago (Hawking 43-55; Smolin 114-115, 138-139, 159). One solution was called supergravity. With supergravity, particles with positive energy (bosons - photons, gluons, etc.) were thought to balance out the problem of energy fluctuations in negative-energy particles (fermions - neutrinos, photinos (photon neutrinos), etc.) (Hawking 43-55). Supergravity may turn out to be right, but the fact that particles are thought to be "there" rather than "not there" still doesn't fit with quantum theory (Hawking 43-55; Smolin 114-115, 138-139, 159). Supergravity does not address the problem of an observer, and restricts interactions between particles to the speed of light, which is required by general relativity. We will see later that general relativity cannot describe all quantum behavior (Bell 40-44, 52-62, 139-158; Hawking 43-55; Schrödinger 144-155; Smolin 114-115, 138-139, 159).

This led some to think that it was possible to see general relativity in terms of objects other than particles. Particles could be interpreted as a consequence of these other objects. It was possible to represent the Schrödinger equation as a one-dimensional "string," so that ripples in the string represented particles (Hawking 43-55). A string was an object that could represent particles in a way that could be connected to general relativity, and it didn't need an observer (Hawking 43-55; Smolin 114-115, 138-139). But although a string could represent particles in terms of general relativity, the string itself was not relative. A string did not depend on the relativity of time. Its properties were absolute. It would bend space-time in a way that couldn't be expressed in terms of general relativity (Hawking 43-55; Smolin 114-115, 138-139, 159).

The geometry of space and time is usually presumed to be fixed forever; all that happens is that some strings move against a background space-time which is absolutely fixed. But this is wrong, because it replicates the basic mistake of Newtonian physics in treating space and time as a fixed and unchanging background against which things move and interact....[T]he right thing to do is to treat the whole system ...as a single dynamical entity... This is how [Einstein's] general relativity ...work[s] (Smolin 159).

Eventually, physicists realized that the objects described by the Schrödinger equation would have to be exempt from the rules of general relativity. Instead of thinking of a string as an object within a "single dynamical entity," perhaps the string projected objects into a "single dynamical entity." Thus, the particles that seemed to be "there" and "not there" were coming and going because of the string (Hawking 43-55; Smolin 114-115, 138-139, 159). This "string" requires a substantivalistic interpretation of mathematics, because the string was thought to "contain" the Schrödinger equation. But if the string were not part of a single dynamical entity, and a single dynamical entity described the universe and all of the events that occurred, where was the string and what was its causal relationship to the universe? And what did this "projection" entail?

It was thought that strings might belong to a class of objects called "membranes," or "branes," which instead of existing as objects in physical reality, project physical reality as a hologram (Hawking 54, 82, 124-129, 184-195; Smolin 189-190, 213). A hologram is "not there" in the same way that a physical object is, so a string wouldn't need to be an "object."

In short, [this is] the ultimate realization that the world is a network of relationships. Those relationships are revealed by this new principle to involve nothing but information. [...] In the end, perhaps the universe is nothing but the flow of information. (Smolin 178).

So, "where" is this brane (Hawking 64-65, 196-199; Smolin 178)? To explain the "location" of a brane, one can simply add more dimensions to space-time for the brane to exist in (Hawking 64-65, 196-199; Smolin 178). These dimensions would not include the "single dynamical entity," which is only 4 dimensions (3 dimensions of space and 1 of time).

A problem with this theory is that if time and space are part of the same entity called "space-time," and space-time is physical reality, then in what sense are the events that occur in physical reality caused by a brane? If physicalists believe that physical events are caused by preceding physical events, and that these events occur in space-time, then how does this brane "have time" to project holograms if the events in physical reality are causally connected through time? It may be that branes exist in imaginary time (Hawking 59-63, 86). For example, a mere second may have passed in real time, but in imaginary time that second could have taken an hour or even an eternity - plenty of time for a brane to project a hologram. Without imaginary time, it wouldn't be clear that the brane "projected" the hologram, because the hologram would be able to cause the brane to project it. Thus, imaginary time is necessary for causality if one is to imagine that branes project physical objects as holograms.

[T]he universe need have no beginning or end in imaginary time (Hawking 83). The history of the universe in real time determines its history in imaginary time... (Hawking 82). The universe must have a history... in [real] time (Hawking 82). The beginning of the universe in imaginary time can [just] be a regular point in [real] space-time (Hawking 63).

However, strings, branes, and holograms share the same problem as the MWI. The anthropic principle is relied upon to explain why there appear to be physical objects like rocks and trees in a background space. It is mathematically possible for a brane to project a universe completely unlike our own, and one must ask why this is not the case, since no other evidence can be found except that we are here to observe this universe. Some have even combined branes with the MWI based on this principle, so that there is one universe with "multiple histories" projected by the brane (Hawking 80-93; Smolin 47-48, 197-199). According to the anthropic principle, we are in a particular history because we are here to observe it. Some have taken this to mean that each subject produces a different universe (Smolin 47-48, 197-199).

But no matter how it is conceived, the anthropic principle relies on a subject, of some type (2), to observe the universe in some other sense. So, at least from a physicalist point of view, one is left with the epistemological paradox. It also seems the metaphysical paradox still needs to be solved, because although a subject isn't needed for objects to occur as an "observation event," the entire universe and all of the objects in it still need an observer. So one must ask, is the universe "not there" if no one is observing it? The anthropic principle has just shifted the problem.

One would feel happier about the anthropic principle, of course, if one could show that ...the universe that we inhabit did not have to be chosen (2) with great care (Hawking 86).

One of the important lessons learned from strings is that, somehow, a special object is needed as part of a "single dynamical entity." The first and most obvious requirement is that the objects described by quantum theory must be free from the causal relationships described by general relativity. But that is saying a lot.

neoNewtonian Metaphysics: Interpreting the Paradox Main Menu

If the objects described by quantum theory were seen as part of the universe described by general relativity, it would mean that the objects would not be causally linked to the events in space-time. Because the particles in quantum theory are "not there" to begin with, and are able to "come and go" according to the Schrödinger equation, the particles would have to be seen as a paradox of time, since they would not be able to bend space-time (Bell 52, 61, 73-77, 121, 128-129, 141-143, 171-179, 191-202; Hawking 14; Smolin 52-53, 114-115, 138-139, 159). General relativity includes the idea that all objects move through space-time as causal events, and the maximum speed at which events can be causally connected is the speed of light (Hawking 14). So the idea that the particles described by quantum theory do not causally interact with the objects of general relativity is truly a paradox of time, since these objects would be able to interact with each other in the absence of time. This section explains how such objects might exist, and because they must exist in a paradox of time, I've named these objects paradoxical objects. Later, we will see how paradoxical objects interact with physical particles, including bosons and fermions if supergravity turns out to be right.

As luck would have it, the paradox of time formed by the quantum interaction of particles was the subject of an experiment proposed by Einstein. This experiment is called the Einstein-Podolski-Rosen thought experiment, or EPR. In this experiment, Einstein considers two particles in a relationship in which their spins are opposite (Bell 81-92, 139-143). No matter how far apart the particles are from each other, their spins must still be opposite. So, if an observer detected the spin of one particle, the observer would also know that the spin of the other particle would be opposite (Bell 81-92, 139-143). If a particle is a single "event," and the spin of the particle cannot be predicted with certainty, then when one particle's spin is observed, the other particle would have to participate in the same "event." Somehow, the particle that was observed would have to send information to the other particle about its spin, and this would have to occur instantly, during the same "event" (Bell 81-92, 139-143). Thus, information would have to move "faster than light." This would mean that an event was caused in the absence of time. In the absence of time, ideas about causality and predicting the future, even in terms of probability, become very hard to imagine (Bell 81-92, 139-143; Smolin 52-53). "Non-local causality" refers to the idea of an event being caused in the absence of time, or "faster than light."

When Bohr considered the EPR paradox, he dismissed the problem because imagined that once the observation of one particle was made, the observation would disturb the particle to the extent that it would no longer be in a relationship with the other particle (Bell 155-156). Others have said that since only one attribute can be observed at a time, there is no way the other particle could anticipate which attribute the observer will measure (Hawking 124; Smolin 85).

...Einstein was confused. The Einstein-Podolski-Rosen thought experiment does not show that one is able to send information faster than light. [...] One cannot choose [how] one's own particle will be measured... (Hawking 124).

While I imagine such a conclusion was influenced by Jordan, it completely ignores Bohm. Physicist D. Bohm conceived of the EPR experiment differently, so that the two particles hit separate detecting screens at the same time. If non-local causality were possible, one particle should hit its detecting screen at A, and the other particle should hit its detecting screen at B (Bell 139-143). It would be impossible to predict which particle would hit at A or B, but they should hit at opposite positions. This experiment avoids the need for an observer to measure the spin of only one of the particles (Bell 139-143). Physicist John S. Bell expressed Bohm's theory mathematically, and physicist Alain Aspect actually conducted the experiment and proved that it worked. Since Aspect's experiment, a number of other experimenters have shown that it is possible to send information faster than light between two or more particles (Albert & Galchen 32-39).

One of the problems with the interpretation of these experiments in terms of quantum theory is that they rely on particles that are "there," at least in the sense that the particles "oscillate" between A and B by some unknown means. The particles are "somewhere." The actual attributes of the particles are still uncertain, but particles are not just a potentiality. And they don't need an observer. Since the Schrödinger equation predicts that particles can be "there" or "elsewhere," this would mean particles would be capable of making a "quantum leap" (Bell 191-202). A particle's attributes could change instantly, including a particle's location, without passing through a field or, in the case of location, without "following a path" from A to B (Schrödinger 131). Some have used the term "superposition" to refer to a quantum leap, imagining that a particle can be in two positions, or states, during a single event in linear (real) time. But it is better to think of a particle as making a "quantum leap" in the absence of real time, since a particle can only be observed in one position in real time. The particle has to be somewhere.

However, it is more difficult to explain a paradoxical object that is somewhere in terms of general relativity. While in quantum theory the difficulty is in saying an object is "there," in general relativity an object has to be "there," even though we may not know about it. In general relativity, it is impossible to say where "there" is (Hawking 43-54; Smolin 23-25, 77-87). This is because the attributes of objects cannot be known in an absolute way. Attributes are relative to the frame of reference of the observer. This is related to why paradoxical objects are paradoxical - their attributes are not related to a frame of reference in time. They exist in the absence of time. It is worth noting that special relativity can be interpreted in a way in which paradoxical objects would not be paradoxical at all (Bell 73-77). However, so much is explained by general relativity in terms of the bending of space-time that, for now, these objects must be considered in terms of general relativity, which means they must be considered paradoxical objects.

The idea that a particle is "there," at least in the sense that it is "somewhere," is problematic because it would mean that an explanation is needed as to what causes particles to behave as they do (Bell 162, 171, 191-192). The Schrödinger equation can predict what the particles might do, but if the particles actually exist, then the Schrödinger equation alone cannot be the "mechanism" that controls the particles. Substantivalism won't work if we are to talk about particles that "exist" without needing to be created by mathematics. And depending on the extent to which this "mechanism" is predictable, Laplace's ideas about predicting the future may be further reduced.

So by what means do particles transmit information about their attributes faster than light? Physicist Louis de Broglie proposed that particles send information to each other by way of a "pilot-wave" (Bell 162, 171, 191-192). The pilot-wave picture advanced by de Broglie, Bohm, and Bell does offer a solution to the epistemological paradox. If particles are "there," and can send information about their properties to one another, then each object is already a subject. A particle "knows" the attributes of other particles by way of pilot-waves, so there is no need for an observer to observe the particles (Bell 40, 52, 61, 162, 171, 191-192). The particles do not need an observer and an observation event in order to exhibit particular attributes that would otherwise exist only as a probability expressed by the Schrödinger equation. The particles themselves work out what their attributes will be, and the Schrödinger equation merely predicts what we might observe according to the information expressed by the pilot-waves.

[M]ust this subject include a person[, as in a homo-sapien]? Or was there already some such subject object distinction before the appearance of life in the universe (Bell 40)?

Of course, the epistemological paradox is still a problem in the sense that we must have a way to observe the particles, and all of physical reality, in some other sense in order to know about the physical world. However, the fact that particles know about one another suggests that knowledge exists in some other sense, and I will show it is possible to extend these ideas to human knowledge and address the epistemological paradox.

The metaphysical paradox seems solved because the particles are no longer "there" and "not there," they are actually "there" in the sense that they are always "somewhere." So, physical objects like rocks and trees actually exist. However, the metaphysical paradox has just been shifted from particles to time. It is time, not objects, that seems to be "there" and "not there." So, the metaphysical paradox must still be addressed as a paradox of time (Bell 52, 61, 73-77, 121, 128-129, 141-143, 171-179, 191-202; Hawking 14; Smolin 52-53, 114-115, 138-139, 159).

Einstein did not think it was possible to send information faster than light, but he did think that the idea of pilot-waves was along "the right lines" (Bell 89-91, 143, 163). But if pilot-waves do send information faster than light, how can this be reconciled with a world in which causality is local. How can we imagine a world without time, such that events are caused in the absence of time (Bell 52, 61, 73-77, 121, 128-129, 141-143, 171-179, 191-202; Hawking 14; Smolin 52-53, 114-115, 138-139, 159)?

To understand how a paradox of time would work in a framework of metaphysical realism, it is helpful to begin as Bohr did, by comparing the physical reality of rocks and trees to a quantum reality in which time is relative. Bohr distinguished between these two worlds pragmatically, so that the distinction depended on the problem under consideration. But in a philosophical proposal involving metaphysical realism, these "two worlds" must objectively describe reality, and pragmatism must give way to an objective description of the "whole" universe.

Of course, Bohr was comparing the objects of relativity to the objects of quantum theory, and that is not at all what I am proposing. Recall that the objects of quantum theory exist as paradoxical objects within the "single dynamical entity" described by general relativity. The challenge is to describe the relationship between paradoxical objects and the physical objects we observe in a Newtonian absolute space with absolute time. But this is not what Einstein meant when he formulated general relativity. He changed the relationship between physics and geometry from the realist interpretation that Newtonians used. Instead of describing the empirical world mathematically, he mathematically described a world that could not be observed with the senses. This significantly contributed to logical positivism and substantivalism. But neoNewtonian philosophy is a form of metaphysical realism, which means that the physical world is "really there," and we can know about it.

Newton had conceived of space and time separately, and his use of modal (Euclidean) geometry described objects that moved around in an "absolute space." So, one could easily say, "At the time called 3pm, the physical objects were at a point in space" (Burgess & Rosen 100, 128). But Einstein conceived of space and time as a single entity called "space-time," and modal geometry could not be used. Instead temporal (relativistic) geometry was used to describe physical objects. One way of looking at temporal geometry is to say, "At the point in space-time called 3pm, there were objects" (Burgess & Rosen 100, 128). Thus, an object is an "event" that happened at 3pm. But there was no doubting the object existed in its own time without the need for an observer. The problem of knowing an object's attributes was strictly epistemological, not metaphysical. When quantum mechanics came along advancing the idea that events occurred in the absence of time, it meant that quantum events could not be described by general relativity. neoNewtonian philosophy advances the idea that it is time, not objects, that is "there" and "not there." Time is a metaphysical paradox solved with paradoxical objects - we've just made the paradox a discrete object.

[Mathematical] 'observables' must be made, somehow, out of [objects]. The theory of local [objects] should contain, and give precise meaning to, the [modal] algebra of local observables (Bell 52).

It is the absolute objects of absolute space that bend the space-time of a single dynamical entity, but this occurs by way of a paradoxical object. And it is a paradoxical object that can send information faster than light, not a physical particle. (If supergravity turns out to be right, both fermions and bosons would have to interact with paradoxical objects.) Though a paradoxical object is a physical object, the two are causally related in imaginary time. But this also means that both modal and temporal geometry will need to be used, and exactly how that will work cannot be discussed until the rest of the theory is explained.

So, we find ourselves in need of a model that factors paradoxical objects into every physical event. A physical object is also a paradoxical object, so all events that occur between physical objects in an absolute space must also occur between paradoxical objects in a dynamical entity. If every physical particle is also a paradoxical object in a relationship with all other paradoxical objects, then it would be reasonable to assume that when a physical event occurs between two physical objects, some event must also occur between the paradoxical objects corresponding to each particle. For example, does information about the spin, position, or momentum get exchanged every time physical objects interact? It can't be that our own observation causes this information to be exchanged, because even that would involve physical events in the body (Bell 142, 188, 191; Schrödinger 164-171). So, for every physical event, there must also be an event among paradoxical objects.

Consider an example using Newton's third law of motion in which a hammer hits a nail. Newton's third law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, in the example of a hammer hitting a nail, the hammer pushes the nail into the wall, and the nail pushes back on the hammer causing a small scratch on the surface of the hammer. Intuitively, the hammer pushing the nail is the action, and the nail scratching the hammer is the reaction, but this isn't necessarily the case. At the moment of "interaction," when the hammer and nail "push" on each other, it does not matter whether the force of the hammer or the force of the nail is considered the action or reaction. This is especially obvious when, for example, two particles are accelerated toward one another and "collide."

To factor in paradoxical objects, Newton's third law would be restated so that for every action, there is a paradoxical reaction. In the example of a hammer hitting a nail, the action is the hammer pushing on the nail, and the reaction is the paradoxical objects in the nail "pushing" on the paradoxical objects in the hammer. It is also possible to describe Bohm's EPR experiment (the EPRB), so that the magnet pulls on the particle, and the paradoxical object (corresponding to the particle) responds to the magnet. However, a given "interaction" must also be described in reverse. In the hammer and nail example, it is possible to imagine the action as the nail scratching the hammer, and the reaction as the hammer pushing the nail. In that case, the hammer striking the nail becomes the paradoxical event.

Let's "walk through" an interaction between two particles and factor in paradoxical objects (see Fig. 1). If we wanted to explain an event between two physical particles, we could say that physical particle 1 interacts with physical particle 2. This part of the interaction can be described by modal geometry. Although physical particle 2 is already paradoxical object 2, the paradox of time dictates a linear causal relationship in the presence of imaginary time. This is necessary because it is impossible for a paradoxical object to anticipate a physical event (as opposed to a paradoxical event), just as it is impossible for a hologram to anticipate its creation by a brane. Though paradoxical object 2 has the same attributes as physical particle 2, this relationship exists in the presence of imaginary time (and this will be used later to address the epistemological paradox). Paradoxical objects exist in a dynamical entity in the absence of linear time. So, the interaction between paradoxical object 2 and paradoxical object 1 (which corresponds to the equal and opposite reaction of physical particle 2 to physical particle 1) occurs in the absence of linear (real) time. This part of the interaction can be described (not created) by the Schrödinger equation using temporal geometry, and may be thought of as paradoxical object 2 "knowing" the attributes of paradoxical object 1. Paradoxical object 1 is already physical particle 1, but unlike relationships between physical particles and paradoxical objects, relationships between paradoxical objects and physical particles (in the "other direction") occur in the absence of imaginary time. (See Fig. 1)

Recall that in the example of the hammer and the nail, the scenario also had to be described in reverse. The same is true for the scenario I have just outlined. If we label physical particle 1 as A, physical particle 2 as B, paradoxical object 1 as a, and paradoxical object 2 as b, we would get (please pardon my shorthand): A>>B>>b>>a>>A : B>>A>>a>>b>>B. (See Fig. 1)

This system seems closed, but it isn't. a and b are paradoxical objects, and they are free to interact, in the absence of linear time, with any other paradoxical objects in the universe. Because all paradoxical objects are interconnected as a dynamical entity, they all interact with each other. There is no way to predict which paradoxical objects the two paradoxical objects in our scenario will interact with (though the Schrödinger equation can predict the final outcome should be a or b), thus they are "free" (in the sense that they are not "created" by physical objects and can interact with other paradoxical objects in the universe) and only they "know" what they will do. So, each paradoxical object is also a subject, though this concept is limited to information about other particles. We can define a paradoxical object very simply: it represents objectivity. It is possible to see objectivity as the metaphysical means by which we separate "subjects" and "objects" from a single dynamical entity.

Metaphysics and the Mind

So, if paradoxical objects are physical objects, then the physical brain can also be modeled as a set of paradoxical objects. There are, of course, some qualifications. If paradoxical objects are all interconnected, then wouldn't the mind be interconnected with the whole dynamical entity, and what would that mean? To address this problem, I need to propose a rule that has no observation to back it up, and at least try to keep things "scientific." While the mind is a set of paradoxical objects, there are no sense organs in the mind that would enable meaningful recognition of other paradoxical objects, so it is a dead-end question. The mind can only "know" the information in the physical brain (its physical system) in terms of the laws of physics that governed the physical interaction, because the paradoxical objects in the mind are physical objects in the brain.

The mind does have a "free will" (3) in the sense that it can act (in the absence of linear time) based on the information stored in the brain, and in the sense that the mind is not caused (or created) by the brain. Paradoxical objects are not created from physical objects. This avoids the more complicated problem of a mind causing physical reality. If an object can be labeled either physical or paradoxical depending on how an interaction is described, then paradoxical objects must be causally related to physical objects in imaginary time if the epistemological paradox is to be avoided. The reason is that the properties of a paradoxical object cannot be known at the same time as those same properties occur in a physical object, because then it would be possible to mentally control the properties of physical objects (See Fig. 1). That's scientifically impossible, and I at least want to keep this proposal as scientific as I can.

Because the causal relationship between a physical object and a paradoxical object occurs in the presence of imaginary time, the mind "emerges" from the brain. A "free will" (3) enables the mind to process information in the absence of real time, and the causal chain appears as though the physical brain responded to a stimulus in the same amount of linear time that it took for the mind to emerge from the brain. So, a free-willed subject can causally intrude into the physical world. We can choose a path of life, but only from among the paths we know about. The future is uncertain, but it will obey the laws of physics. It is possible to preserve causality and the laws of physics even if Laplace's ideas cannot be preserved. And we can know that physical objects exist, because there is a mind to know them in some other (paradoxical) sense (Bell 40, 191). The epistemological paradox is solved, at least as a philosophical proposal.

Because paradoxical objects exist in the absence of real time, any number of paradoxical objects can be considered a single object. So, all of the particles in a billiard ball in the physical world could be considered a single paradoxical object. The same would be true for particles in the brain. This does not mean that particular paradoxical objects in any way combine, because all paradoxical objects are already "combined" as a dynamical entity. But by considering particular groups of objects singly, it makes it easier, for example, to think about cognitive objects in the mind. This does involve the implementation of another rule that cannot be supported in any way other than to say it is logical, i.e. not a self-contradiction. We can't, for example, propose that physical rocks are really parts of physical trees and expect that the proposal will be empirically verifiable. That would be a fantasy. But it does make sense to consider the physical parts of a rock together since all the parts of a rock exist in the physical system called a "rock." So, although it cannot be empirically verified, it is possible to consider the group of paradoxical objects in a rock as a single object. This should not be confused with the fact that a paradoxical object is a physical object. In that relationship, a paradoxical object can be considered "as one" with a physical object in that direction. This does not mean that a paradoxical object can change the attributes of a physical object without an interaction involving another physical object, because a physical object is causally related to a paradoxical object (in that direction) in imaginary time. (See Fig. 1)

I hope I have explained the relationship between absolute space and a single dynamical entity well enough to return to the relationship between modal and temporal geometry, though I think Fig. 1 makes it easier to understand. Modal geometry can be described as the "satisfaction of pluperpotentiality" from the point of view of a paradoxical subject (Burgess & Rosen 180-181; Bell 191). What that means is that mathematics can be seen as a set of universal, mental axioms. Because the mind is part of the universe, this avoids some of the more complicated metaphysical problems usually associated with this view. Temporal geometry can be described as an "absolute axiom" from the point of view of a physical subject (Burgess & Rosen 100-101). What that means is that temporal geometry is simply interpreted as any mathematics is interpreted in a realist framework. Of course, the precise metaphysics of mathematics is open to interpretation, so long as it is realist. It is possible to interpret absolute axioms as true, though human knowledge of these axioms remains open to change and interpretation. Metaphysical realism is satisfied so long as there is a truth that is knowable. It is expected that humans will not have perfect knowledge of the truth, and that is the whole point of a paradigm.

Figure 1: The Universe as a Paradox of Time

neoNewtonian Philosophy of Mind and Language Main Menu

It is difficult to separate a philosophy of mind from the metaphysical framework that explains precisely how it is a mind exists. But while the previous section describes how a mind exists, this section attempts to describe the characteristics of a mind in a neoNewtonian framework. In order to sketch a neoNewtonian philosophy of mind, we need to define some terms, which have so far been used tentatively. Like my other proposals, these definitions attempt to keep this proposal in the realm of science, but they are for the most part my own definitions, though they are informed by research. A "subject" generally refers to a paradoxical object in a dynamical entity that has a causal relationship with other paradoxical objects (See Fig. 1), but the term "subject" is also used to refer to a human with a brain. A "mind" refers to the characteristics of a human subject that are influenced (or caused) by the brain, though the brain does not cause (or "manufacture") a subject (because we don't think of the physical brain as a metaphysical creator). "Consciousness" is a human subject's awareness of his or her ability to causally intrude into the physical world, though this awareness may come about through information stored in the brain (4). A "free will" refers to the ability to make reasoned decisions based on information in the brain, but is "un-caused" in the sense that a free-willed subject is not caused (or "manufactured") by local physical events. Because it is so specialized, a paradoxical object would satisfy the requirements of cognitive psychology, even though its existence still lacks sufficient empirical evidence.

[T]he operational concept of subjective meaning necessarily [involves] a functional, and therefore causal, impact of subjective phenomena in the dynamics of brain control. Conscious phenomena [are] interpreted to be dynamic emergent properties of brain activity (OCM 164).

The "dynamic property" of a "self" would "emerge" by way of a "paradoxical object." Emergence occurs in imaginary time, and as a result, the emergent mind reflects changes and differences in the physical and biological characteristics of the brain. Though the mind cannot contain or process information not stored in the brain, an emergent mind can causally intrude into the physical world, and the cognitive structure of the mind may or may not correspond to structures in the brain.

The structure of the brain can be observed, but to find out more about the structure of the mind, it is necessary to conduct experiments involving the use of spoken language. In such an experiment, one cannot use logical positivism as a theory of language since it dismisses issues of mind and meaning altogether (OCP 507). A better approach to language might be to assume that language evolved to describe individual needs socially (OCP 461). One can take either a structuralist approach to language, meaning that language evolved in the brain, or a functionalist approach, meaning that language evolved socially through interaction with the environment (OCM 426-427). The best approach may be some combination of these theories, but no matter what theory is used, language represents our biological relationship to the physical environment, and describes cognitive phenomena resulting from sense experience. Mathematics, however, must still be described as axiomatic.

One of the reasons it is so difficult to describe consciousness in non-human terms is that, if we are to have an epistemology in the absence of an "absolute space," we must see mathematical language as axiomatic (or as a satisfaction of pluperpotentiality), rather than evolutionary (or empirically derived through evolutionary processes), because we cannot have mathematical language, or the subjects that understand that language, metaphysically cause physical objects (the epistemological paradox again!). The reason is that if mathematics evolved in subjects, and if it is by way of mathematical language that a subject can describe the properties of physical objects objectively, then empiricism would be a subjective process unless mathematical language metaphysically caused physical objects (Some self-described "positivists" believe mathematics causes (or creates) objects, but not that math evolved in subjects). Of course, a given subject may learn about mathematical language (Branquinho 25-31). Learning about mathematics can, of course, affect the characteristics of a subject. Once again, this doesn't mean we can assume what we learn is "true," but we must insist that there is a metaphysically real truth that we can know about. In neoNewtonian philosophy, the exact formulation of mathematical realism is open to interpretation.

It is also worth noting that there may be some preliminary, "theoretically scientific" empirical evidence for the existence of paradoxical objects, though the evidence would, of course, have to be interpreted philosophically. In a controlled environment, one could empirically test for "metaphors" by asking people experimental questions. Aristotle viewed metaphors as linguistic tools for comparison, and today many people still use Aristotle's view of metaphors (OCM 478). But cognitive psychologists, as well as philosophers, have raised the question as to whether "metaphors involve a special process not normally involved in the comprehension of literal language" (OCM 479). According to the "comprehension view," people "interpret metaphors without even entertaining a meaning directly." But the problem with this view is that it does not answer the question "How" (OCM 479)? It is like saying that a direct meaning is indirect. This definition of a metaphor is a paradox! A linguistic test for metaphors would in turn provide linguistic evidence for the existence of a subject (in some other (paradoxical) sense), though this would require yet another layer of philosophical interpretation.

Political, Moral, and Economic Philosophy Main Menu

Paradoxes can take us far, but there are traditions in Western philosophy that must still be addressed. One such tradition refers to the role of God, since God has played a role in Western thought since before Socrates' time. Many present-day cosmological explanations of God are connected with Plato's metaphysics (OCP 65). Plato's metaphysics also includes a philosophy of mind, and it is very easy to confuse Plato's scheme with the neoNewtonian philosophy of mind, since both schemes involve a type of metaphysical realism (Burgess & Rosen 10). It may be that a Platonic scheme somehow functions separately from a neoNewtonian scheme, but Plato's metaphysics is not the same as paradoxical objects in a dynamical entity. And it may be that attempting to describe God as a cosmological object does not respect the spiritual nature of God (Phillips 144-160). Whatever one's beliefs, there is nothing in neoNewtonian philosophy that interferes with people's freedom to believe in the existence or non-existence of God.

As we consider the existence of God, we return to a topic raised at the beginning of this paper. Moral philosophy is usually connected to metaphysics, and that sometimes includes the philosophy of religion. Consequently, moral philosophy must be discussed in terms of the metaphysical theories that underlie it. But moral philosophy is also connected to political and economic philosophy. When we think about morality and the law, and when we think about the extent to which laws shape our economy, we must consider the connection between political, moral, and economic philosophy.

Much of present-day political, moral, and economic philosophy can in some way be related to the metaphysics of Descartes and his "isolated individual." Hobbes and Locke, for example, included in their political philosophies what it meant to be an "individual" in a political, moral, and economic context. Economists like Adam Smith borrowed from these theories when they formulated the early moral theories associated with capitalism. Capitalism, in particular, was in turn influenced by political and moral philosophies from the 16th century like Calvinism, as well as philosophies from the 19th century like Social Darwinism. Some of these philosophies were so influential that many people used economic philosophy to justify social abuses.

As a result of such abuses, philosophers like Karl Marx and Arthur Schopenhauer reexamined many of the questions in modern philosophy that were overlooked by philosophers like Hobbes and Locke. Some of these problems arose from issues in Descartes' philosophy not taken up by subsequent modern philosophers. Eventually, problems in modern philosophy lead to political, moral, and economic philosophies that questioned whether people should consider themselves "individuals" at all.

One of the legacies of Descartes is the idea of an isolated individual. In Descartes' philosophy, the mind was completely separate from the physical world, and the characteristics of the mind were the result of mental substance, not sense experience. And as we have seen, the idea of a mind that exists in some other sense is necessary if we are to have knowledge in the first place, though this does not necessarily involve a Platonic "metaphysical realm."

We have discussed that Hobbes' theory of mind was different from Descartes' because Hobbes advanced the idea that the mind was physical. According to Hobbes, the mind is nothing but the brain (Woolhouse 39-40). However, Hobbes did not conclude that the characteristics of behavior were shaped by sense experience (OCP 367-370). Although Hobbes thought that the mind was physical, he was still imagining a mind in some other sense (OCP 376-368). The idea of an isolated individual was especially evident in Hobbes' political philosophy, in which he theorized that individuals primarily serve their own self-interest (Cahn 384; OCP 368). Civilized society, Hobbes believed, was something that self-interested individuals agreed to in order to avoid social conflict (Cahn 384). Hobbes called this agreement among self-interested individuals a social contract (Cahn 384).

Hobbes did not recognize that to some extent, individuals and self-interest are shaped by societies (OCP 369). For Hobbes, the same laws of nature that gave rise to self-interested individuals shaped societies, since individuals formed societies to serve their self-interest in the first place (Cahn 398-399). Morality, then, could be thought of as a social extension of the natural laws that guided self-interested individuals (Avineri & de-Shalit 39-40). Therefore, morality was a feature of the natural environment, though it wasn't something that was shaped by society to the extent that morality could vary from society to society (Avineri & de-Shalit 39-40). In this sense, Hobbes' moral philosophy is a kind of moral realism, though not in the same way as Plato's moral philosophy in which morality was part of a metaphysical realm.

Hobbes believed that governments based on a social contract could be thought of as moral, since both morality and society were social extensions of self-interest (Avineri & de-Shalit 30-31; OCP 367-370). Likewise, it was in the self-interest of government leaders to make decisions that were moral (OCP 367-370). Hobbes thought that people would obey the state because it was moral to do so, and because unrest was not in their self-interest (OCP 367-370). Hobbes did not believe this enabled a government to shape the lives of individuals, since the lives of individuals were shaped by natural law (OCP 367-368). Later, this will be interpreted differently.

Locke took a more limited view of government than Hobbes, and took a different view of the social contract (Cahn 457-459). The differences between Locke and Hobbes can be traced to Locke's theory of mind, which recognized how sense experience shaped individual lives. Locke theorized that the mind began as a "blank slate" and that sense experience shaped the mind (Woolhouse 77-79). He also allowed for the possibility that the mind existed not only as a physical brain, but also in some other sense (Woolhouse 93, 100). The problem was that if the mind had no characteristics of its own as Descartes supposed, or was not shaped by natural law as Hobbes supposed, then morality would also vary according to individual experience (Cahn 458; Woolhouse 77-79). But Locke was a moral realist, and instead looked to metaphysical principles to define morality, which he believed could be revealed through reason (Cahn 457-459). Natural law, as Locke understood it, included metaphysical moral principles, not just self-interest (Cahn 457-459, 461-465). Locke's view of morality and natural law was closer to Plato's view of moral realism than was Hobbes' view of morality, in which Hobbes thought that morality was primarily a social extension of self-interest.

Locke's idea that the mind was initially "blank" formed the basis for his concept of freedom and equality. According to Locke, individuals began in a state of perfect freedom, and since everyone was totally blank, everyone was equal (Cahn 456-465). Reason afforded individuals the ability to discover natural laws and moral principles, one of which was self-preservation (self-interest) (Cahn 456-465). But unlike Hobbes, Locke thought that self-interested individuals formed societies for the purpose of self-preservation, not to avoid conflict, as Hobbes thought (Cahn 458). Locke's theory was simply that individuals had a better chance of surviving in a society than they did if they were completely on their own. But when individuals agreed to form a society, they gave up some of their freedoms. In a society, a self-interested individual born free would want to give up as little freedom as possible to the state, and would want to sacrifice as little as possible of their individuality, which originated from individual experiences. Consequently, Locke's conception of the social contract was one in which government was limited, so that an individual remained as free as possible (Cahn 458-459). Unlike Hobbes, Locke did not assume that state decisions would be moral, because morality was not an extension of self-interest; morality was part of the natural law. Any decision made by the state had the potential to limit individual freedom (Cahn 458-459).

Though Locke recognized that sense experience contributed to individual differences, he did not recognize the extent to which society and the state contributed to an individual's experiences. And as Kant pointed out later, different individuals apply reason in different ways, making it difficult to use reason to discover morality if morality is based on natural law (Avineri & de-Shalit 15; Cahn 732).

Hobbes and Locke conceived of self-interested individuals differently, but both philosophers had the idea that self-interested individuals agreed to form societies, and that an individual's characteristics were relatively unaffected by society. This tradition, which originated with a Cartesian "isolated individual," is called radical individualism.

The economist Adam Smith based his moral theory in part on the philosophies of Hobbes and Locke. He used his moral theory in conjunction with the economic theory of capitalism. Though capitalism had been around long before Smith's time, Smith was among the first to link capitalism to a metaphysical theory of individuals and society. As Smith understood capitalism, self-interested individuals entered into economic exchanges so that each individual attempted to maximize their own advantage (OCP 416; Skinner 132-136). According to Smith, such exchanges benefited both merchant and customer, because the merchant profited by as much as the customer was willing to pay, and the customer purchased for as low a price as the merchant was willing to offer (OCP 416). Thus, the merchant and customer benefited each other as well as themselves (OCP 416). Through such economic exchanges between self-interested individuals, Smith believed the benefit to society was maximized, as if guided by an "invisible hand" (OCP 416).

An obvious objection to Smith's philosophy is that it seems, at least at times, to be immoral. Self-interested economic exchange means that sometimes, the impoverished go hungry. If it were immoral for individuals to suffer, and morality was either part of a natural law or a feature of the natural environment arising from self-interest, then the state would need to step in and provide for the poor. Smith's answer was that morality was neither part of a natural law, nor a social extension of self-interest, but was instead something that appealed to a metaphysical characteristic of the mind called sympathy (OCP 829; Skinner 51-59). Sympathy was shaped by whatever society an individual was in, and was activated whenever an individual observed something that he or she identified as immoral (OCP 829; Skinner 51-59). Morality, then, was something that functioned according to social relationships, not part of the natural law or an extension of self-interest. Therefore, Smith's moral philosophy can be characterized as a kind of "naturalistic moral relativism." Morality was relative to a particular society, but self-interested individuals with the capacity for sympathy were part of the natural law (OCP 829; Skinner 51-59).

Because morality itself was not part of the natural law, Smith believed the state should not interfere with the economy, even to feed the poor, as the state had no philosophical basis for doing so (Skinner 132-136). This was called laissez-faire capitalism, though the term was not coined by Smith. Smith believed that under laissez-faire capitalism, economic conditions would improve on their own, because the poor might be motivated to seek better employment or work harder (Skinner 132-136). In addition, the poor could appeal to the sympathy of the wealthy, perhaps in exchange for services (Skinner 132-136). The fact that this may result in even more abusive conditions for the poor was largely ignored.

The reason abusive conditions were ignored was not entirely due to Smith's philosophy. Since the 16th century, even before Descartes, a religious movement known as Calvinism had been used to justify abusive treatment of the poor. Calvinists believed that moral superiority was reflected in one's economic success, so if someone was poor, it meant that they were morally inferior (OCP 115). These ideas remained strong because Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, and Smith never recognized that individual minds were influenced by social conditions, though Locke did recognize that individual differences could arise from different sense experiences. Still, Calvinists could continue to believe that the poor were poor because they were immoral.

In the 19th century, Social Darwinism began to function similarly to Calvinism. Social Darwinism was the idea that the poor were poor because they were genetically inferior (OCP 829). Again, the influence of social factors in shaping individual differences was not recognized. Social Darwinism fit especially well with Hobbes and Smith, because morality could be interpreted in terms of survival of the fittest, which was another way of saying that individuals were ruled by self-interest. There is certainly merit to the idea that survival is important to individuals, and self-interest cannot be ignored in any political, moral, or economic philosophy. But social factors cannot be ignored, either.

Conservatism was one movement in which social factors were recognized, though it did not result in better treatment of the poor. Edmund Burke was believed to be one of the early contributors to conservatism, though interpretations of Hobbes, Locke, and Smith also fit into conservative philosophy (OCP 110-111, 156-158). According to Burke, it was society that influenced differences and similarities between individuals, not just sense experience as Locke had thought (OCP 110-111, 156-158). So, it was the duty of the state to maintain the conventions of society so that the "bonds of loyalty" that held society together remained intact (OCP 110-111, 156-158). Burke did not accept the ideas of natural law and self-interest, instead believing that a "communal feeling" drew individuals toward one another (OCP 110-111, 156-158). That being the case, it isn't clear according to Burke that individuals have any rights at all aside from what is granted by the state. If an individual felt that his or her rights were violated, Burke's philosophy puts that individual in opposition to the state.

The idea of a social influence on individuals was similar to Smith's ideas about morality. If social conventions were necessary to hold society together, and if morality was a function of society as Smith had thought, then social conventions would also be necessary for morality to remain intact. Conservative ideas about maintaining social conventions were combined with Hobbes' ideas about self-interest, so that an individual served their self-interest within the boundaries of the social contract (OCP 156-158). But this combination has some problems, because the social contract was based on the idea that an individual had natural rights, and that morality stemmed from these rights. Burke's idea that social conventions had to be maintained was based on the idea that an individual had no natural rights, and Smith's idea was that morality was a function of society that stemmed from sympathy, not natural rights or self-interest. And social contracts, whether based on Locke's idea of protecting freedom or Hobbes' idea of preventing conflict, were not intended to grant the state power to prevent individuals from changing their social status, or to give the state the power to define what is moral for individuals.

In order to maintain social conventions, conservatives had to break with laissez-faire capitalism and allow the state to play a larger role in the economy. The poor had to remain poor if that was the environment in which their bonds of loyalty were formed, and the wealthy had to remain wealthy (OCP 110-111, 156-158). While such considerable state involvement in the economy can be called social capitalism, social capitalism is not always implemented according to conservative philosophy (OCP 830-831). With conservative philosophy, the state had to keep everyone in their place, economically or otherwise, and had to maintain the moral conventions under which a society's bonds of loyalty were formed (OCP 110-111, 156-158). The conditions of the poor were not improved at all, and freedom itself was not a right, but something defined by the state (OCP 110-111, 156-158).

Smith's moral philosophy can be called "naturalistic moral relativism" because morality is relative to a society, and because individuals make moral decisions based on a natural sense of sympathy. But it is possible to combine Smith's ideas with Burke's so that both individuals and morality are completely shaped by society, which would mean that "sympathy" could also be interpreted as a function of society. Arthur Schopenhauer thought that this meant that individuals were nothing but self-interested "will," and that morality and social conventions were just in place to restrain the "will" of some while strengthening the "will" of others (OCP 802-805). This radical moral relativism was later called a "will to power." Going even further, Schopenhauer and others thought that since individuals were shaped by society, there were no individuals at all, just a kind of metaphysical "will" or "power" (OCP 802-805). The whole concept of "freedom" was irrelevant according to Schopenhauer (OCP 802-805). Although Marx did not see this idea in the same way as Schopenhauer, we will see later that radical socialism includes the idea that individuality is completely a function of society.

Schopenhauer's ideas seemed especially relevant when compared to the ideas of Locke. Locke did not think that an individual was shaped by society at all, let alone completely shaped by society. But Locke did advocate the idea that a mind was shaped by sense experience, as well as the idea that morality could be arrived at through reason. Carried a little further, different social and environmental experiences could mean that different individuals employed reason in different ways, which could mean that morality could be completely relative. Of course, one could argue that an individual could make moral decisions based on moral ideals that were characteristic to all human minds. And that was exactly what Immanuel Kant did.

Although Kant recognized that individuals had different social and environmental experiences, he thought that moral decisions could be made according to metaphysical moral ideals characteristic to all human minds (Avineri & de-Shalit 15-17; Cahn 732-733). The one starting point all individuals had in common was freedom, which was something that simply went along with being a metaphysically real subject (Avineri & de-Shalit 15-17; Cahn 732-733). Moral ideals were derived from freedom, so making moral decisions was a matter of asking oneself what would happen if a morally questionable act were "universalized," so that everyone was permitted to perform the act. If the freedom of others was diminished, the act was immoral (Avineri & de-Shalit 15-17; Cahn 732-733).

Because moral ideals were universal, individuals couldn't really be thought of as Cartesian "radical individuals," though the influence of Descartes' ideas about a mind separate from the physical world was still present in Kant's philosophy. This approach to individuality is called liberalism (Avineri & de-Shalit 1, 15-17). According to Kant, societies in a social contract could allow the state to protect the freedom of disadvantaged individuals by taking a more active role in the lives of all individuals (Avineri & de-Shalit 15-17; Cahn 732-733).

Kant probably would have thought of himself as a moral realist, but since Kant admitted that individuals had different characteristics as a result of different social and environmental experiences, Kant's moral philosophy leads to the idea that morality might be reasoned erroneously. So although morality may be metaphysically real, it may be erroneously applied relative to social and individual differences.

John Rawls added to Kant's project the idea that in order to protect individual freedom from erroneously applied moral reasoning, an individual must recognize and correct errors in society, so that the freedom of everyone is protected (Avineri & de-Shalit 20-24; Cahn 1035-1037). This approach to morality can be called "rationalistic moral realism," since morality is real, but not always revealed accurately through reason. It is rational to expect that morality may require correction when it becomes apparent that freedom has been erroneously restricted.

According to Rawls, in order to correct injustices in a society, such as the restriction of the freedom of the poor, or discriminatory practices that restrict the freedom of minorities, the state may implement economic and social programs, funded with public money, to correct erroneously applied moral reasoning (Avineri & de-Shalit 20-24; Cahn 1035-1037).

This was a break with laissez-faire capitalism, but unlike social capitalism, the state did not control the free market in order to maintain social conventions and bonds of loyalty. Most philosophers agree that correcting social injustice through economic means has always been a characteristic of ordinary capitalism, and that true laissez-faire capitalism has never actually been practiced (OCP 158). But it was Rawls who was among the first to philosophically justify ordinary capitalism.

Although Rawls' conception of capitalism corrected restrictions on freedom due to erroneously applied moral reasoning, Rawls did not discuss how capitalism could be used to improve the initial social conditions that influence the minds of individuals. Instead, Rawls supposed that inequality arising from initial social conditions could be corrected through additional economic and social programs aimed at segments of society thought to be permanently disadvantaged (Cahn 1035-1037). There was also the problem that reason, even when one was confronted with social injustice, could still be erroneously applied, and that morality may still be relative to social and individual differences (Avineri & de-Shalit 20-24). And long before Rawls, philosophers began to question Kant's "metaphysical subject." Along with Hobbes' argument that the mind did not exist in some other sense, it was possible to rule out the idea of a metaphysical subject altogether. This not only meant that one could turn to the ideas of radical moral relativism, but that there may not be any individuals at all.

Karl Marx advanced a philosophy known as radical socialism in which individuals were completely shaped by society. His ideas were compatible with physicalism because as a "materialist" Marx did not believe that there was a mind that existed in some other sense, but only a physical brain affected by the physical and social environment (OCP 524). If individuals were completely shaped by society, the whole idea of an individual was merely a social convention - there really were no individuals according to Marx (OCP 524-528, 842). Of course, that also meant that freedom was a social convention.

If individuals were merely physical objects responding to social and environmental stimuli, there was no reason for Marx to accept that individuals would be self-interested if they were in an environment where their biological needs were fulfilled (OCP 120, 830-831). Later, Marxists who encountered Social Darwinism argued that self-interested (self-preserving) individuals were in an environment in which their biological needs were not meant (OCP 842). They had to work for food and shelter, so their self-interest was activated.

Marx blamed self-interest on capitalism, and he was spurred on by the abuses he saw exacted upon the workers in capitalist societies, although he may have been observing abuses that resulted from the social capitalism of conservatives (OCP 523-528, 830-831). Marx argued that it was in the self-interest of the "capitalists," who owned the means of production such as factories and farms, to pay the workers as little as possible (OCP 523-528, 830-831). As we have seen, however, self-interest is not the only factor guiding the philosophy of most capitalists, especially those who recognize abuse as immoral.

Nevertheless, abuse existed in Marx's time, and although conditions have been significantly improved since then, there is still work that must be done. To correct the problem of capitalists abusing workers, Marx thought that the conditions in which self-interest was activated needed to be changed, and for Marx that meant the abandonment of capitalism (OCP 523-528, 830-831). If the state owned the means of production, and everyone was a worker, then everyone would be equal, and the state could ensure that everyone's basic needs were meant (OCP 523-528, 830-831). This economic system is known as communism.

Since individuals were completely shaped by their social environment, needs and desires beyond the simplest biological needs would be non-existent in a communist society, because individuals could be shaped so that only the most basic needs were desired (OCP 842). This is why, for example, during the Berlin Airlift following WWII, communist East Germany (the DDR) objected to candy bars being dropped to children by planes en route to West Berlin. If East German children desired candy bars that were not provided by the communist state, they would be shaped by stimuli different from the rest of the population. Their self-interest may be activated by the new candy bar stimulus, and cause them to exploit other individuals in order to acquire more candy bars, or to desire social conditions different than those of East Germany, where candy bars were limited and of poorer quality.

The failure of radical socialism and communism lies in part in the fact that an individual's social and environmental experiences shape cognitive phenomena in an individual mind, which is capable of making free-willed decisions. Attempting to control the social environment cannot suppress individual differences, or the individuality that results from such differences. And although the mind is not merely self-interested, self-interest cannot be ignored, especially when it varies according to individual differences. But the failure of radical socialism and communism also lies in the fact that it leads to radical moral relativism. Self-interest must be checked by a moral system that recognizes individual freedom.

Schopenhauer pointed out that if individuality were viewed completely as a function of social conventions, then morality could be viewed as a function of society also, since morality described relationships between individuals (OCP 802-805). Assume that a mind really does exist and that radical socialism is wrong. If morality were viewed as relative according to society, and a society existed in which individuality was viewed as a function of society, then there would be nothing to morally prevent self-interested individuals who controlled society from devolving into a state described by Schopenhauer's self-interested "will." In such a society, the leadership would crave only to expand their own power, and to limit the power of the workers. And assuming the workers have a mind and a free will, they will rebel. This has happened in communist societies of the past, and it continues to happen in communist societies of the present.

But the problems get worse. Remember the epistemological paradox? Physicalists who believe that there is no mind are burdened by the fact that there is no one around to know about the physical world at all. In fact, even physical reality would depend on social conventions, which returns us to radical skepticism and phenomenalism instead of metaphysical realism. But since a mind does exist, individuals in power would not only decide how to shape individuals, but how to shape reality for the workers they control. The communist leadership could control politics, religion, science, technology, and all aspects of reality. This has also happened in communist societies of the past, and it continues to happen in communist societies of the present.

The burden on those who understand that there is an individual mind is to show how this mind exists, which is what neoNewtonian philosophy does. neoNewtonian metaphysics has shown that there is both an individual mind capable of making free-willed decisions, as well as social and environmental factors that shape the mind, and provide the information from which individual minds draw moral conclusions.

Because morality typically involves an interaction between two or more individuals, social theories seem to hold the greatest potential for solving moral dilemmas. However, because there is an individual mind, neoNewtonian moral philosophy, like that of Kant, includes the idea of a metaphysically real subject. Unlike Smith, who proposed metaphysical structures in the mind like "sympathy," Kant began with the idea that a free-willed subject had a metaphysical right to freedom, and neoNewtonian philosophy is similar to Kant's in this respect. But Kant's moral theory continued with the idea of metaphysically real moral ideals called "universals," which means that Kant's is not a social theory.

The only "universal" in neoNewtonian moral philosophy is freedom, but that does not mean a resignation to social moral relativism. From the starting point of freedom, it is possible to philosophically decide moral issues based on the structure of the mind, as well as social factors. Laws, for example, would be a social factor (OCP 465-470, 473-474). neoNewtonian political philosophy begins with the idea that a social contract outlining the laws of a society needs to recognize that there are individuals with minds capable of making free-willed decisions, and respect an individual's right to freedom. However, morality is not just a matter of social convention, so there is no reason to use social capitalism as a means to repress the poor or sustain the wealthy in order to ensure that either group's bonds of loyalty and social morality remains intact. But capitalism can be used to improve the conditions of the poor, or anyone whose freedom is restricted by socio-economic forces. Typically, those who want to help the disadvantaged focus on economic and social programs aimed at segments of society thought to be permanently disadvantaged. While this is also necessary, more can be done to address the initial conditions that shape the minds of the disadvantaged, so that they will not be disadvantaged in the future. This is the basis of neoNewtonian capitalism.

In the US, social and economic programs are enacted through fiscal policy. The money used to pay for such programs comes from tax revenues collected by the government. In deciding how to collect the tax revenue used to pay for social programs, one of the issues involved is over how much revenue should come from corporate taxes, and how much should come from the incomes of wealthy individuals. There is no doubt that both corporations and wealthy individuals owe society a tax for the benefits provided by society. But investors ultimately pay excessive corporate taxes. On the other hand, significantly taxing the income of the wealthy does not affect their purchasing power, and there is a limited social cost. By avoiding the use of social capitalism to unfairly increase the political power of the wealthy, the initial conditions of the disadvantaged can be improved, and their opportunities for improvement can be increased.

Table 1 summarizes the political, moral, and economic philosophies that have been discussed. Each color band represents a philosophical trend. It is important to mention that the table describes philosophical trends, not individuals. There are varying shades and combinations of each theory.

Table 1: Trends of political, moral, and economic philosophy

Trends of Political, Moral, and Economic Philosophy
Political philosophy Moral philosophy Economic philosophy
Radical individualism
(ultra-liberalism, atomism)
Radical moral realism Laissez-faire capitalism
Liberalism "Rationalistic moral realism" Capitalism
neoNewtonian political philosophy neoNewtonian moral philosophy neoNewtonian capitalism
Conservatism "Naturalistic moral relativism" Social capitalism
Radical socialism Radical moral relativism Communism

Most people who describe themselves as ultra-liberals, liberals, conservatives, or socialists don't really subscribe to these theories in their pure form. However, there is something to be said for the trends. For example, some ultra-liberals are attracted to communism because they believe that if everyone has equal financial power, individuals will have more freedom. They often don't see that the socialist philosophy that underlies communism gets rid of individualism altogether, including individual freedom. In the same way, conservatives are often attracted to the idea of limited government involvement in the economy, which actually fits with ultra-liberalism and a kind of laissez-faire capitalism. But they often do not see that many of their proposals involve social capitalism. When money is drained from social programs in order to increase the financial and political power of the wealthy, or when access to public institutions like education is altered to give an advantage to the wealthy, it is social capitalism.

Tables 2-4 briefly sketch each trend summarized in Table 1. The color bands correspond with the color bands in Table 1. Again, it is important to remember that these tables describe philosophical trends, not individuals.

Table 2: Political Philosophies

Political Philosophies
Radical individualism ['ultra-liberalism' (political), 'atomism' (metaphysical)] - (Descartes) Hobbes, Locke: Self-interested individuals, influenced primarily by natural law, agree to form societies in which the state has a very limited role in the lives of individuals.
Liberalism - Kant, Rawls: Individuals with access to universal moral ideals agree to form societies in which the state may take an active role in the lives of all individuals, but only in order to protect the freedom of the disadvantaged.
neoNewtonian political philosophy - Individuals with a universal right to freedom agree to form societies in which the state may take on an active role in the lives of individuals to protect the freedom of the disadvantaged and improve the initial social conditions that brought about the abuses of freedom.
Conservatism - Burke, Smith, Hobbes: The state may take on a large role in individual lives to ensure that the "bonds of loyalty" that hold society together remain intact. An individual may serve their self-interest only within the conventions of society.
Radical socialism [socialism (political), physicalism (metaphysical)] - Marx: There are no individuals, only physical objects responding to social and environmental conditions. The state has complete control over the conventions of society.

Table 3: Moral philosophies

Moral Philosophies
Radical moral realism - Hobbes, Locke: Morality is derived from natural law. Natural law is based on a metaphysical source or principle discoverable through reason.
"Rationalistic moral realism" - Kant, Rawls: Morality is universal to all human minds, and freedom is a universal right of all humans. Reason can be used discover universals of human minds by reflecting on the freedom of a metaphysical subject.
neoNewtonian moral philosophy - Freedom is a universal right of all humans, and starting with the premise of freedom, moral issues can be decided philosophically based on the cognitive structure of the mind as well as social factors.
"Naturalistic moral relativism" - Smith, Burke: Humans use metaphysical moral characteristics of the mind to make moral decisions based on moral principles set by society.
Radical moral relativism - Schopenhauer, Marx: Morality, as well as the moral characteristics of humans, is completely dependent on society.

Table 4: Economic philosophies

Economic Philosophies
Laissez-faire capitalism - A free market economy in which the state cannot interfere with the market for any purpose, not even to correct abuses of freedom.
Capitalism - A free market economy in which the state can correct abuses of freedom by instituting social and economic programs.
neoNewtonian capitalism - A free market economy in which the state can correct abuses of freedom by instituting social and economic programs, as well as programs designed to change the initial social conditions that brought about the abuses of freedom.
Social capitalism - An economy in which control is shared between the free market and the state. The state may institute programs designed to control the balance of wealth, or alter the flow of goods and services.
Communism - A state controlled economy in which the state owns the means of production, controls all of the wealth, and controls the flow of goods and services.

Conclusion: Journeying to Space Main Menu

Shall we conclude that "paradoxical objects" can solve all of our problems? After all, neoNewtonian philosophy is very robust, and "paradoxical objects" have generated a great deal of answers. But tempting though it may be to think so, "paradoxical objects" cannot solve all of our problems, and they do not constitute a scientific metaphysics or a scientific hypothesis. It may be more appropriate to call the theory a "practical philosophical perspective," but I hesitate because that reduces the entire theory to serving as a function of perspective-based philosophy. neoNewtonian philosophy is a form of metaphysical realism, which means that the physical world is "really there," and that we can know about it. Based on empirical observation, it is reasonable to hypothesize that gravity or a mind exist. But it is more difficult to hypothesize that holograms or paradoxical objects exist, though more empirical evidence may become available.

When I began this project in 1996, I began a journey in search of what I hoped would be a genuine scientific proposal. Like most of the scientists and philosophers discussed in this paper, I hoped even back then that it was possible for humanity to reach a common understanding about certain issues. Since that time, I have realized that it is very difficult to get competing intellectuals to reach a common understanding about anything, and unlike those mentioned in this paper, it is not something they want to do. I had one professor who was unconvinced that 2+2=4. In light of the earlier discussion about mathematics, I can see how that conclusion isn't completely absurd, but I don't think that the opposite conclusion can be drawn either. I don't think that empirical observation, a cornerstone of metaphysical realism, can be subjugated to mathematical theorizing. Consequently, I have learned that a scientist must look for empirical evidence to support (or disprove) a proposal.

But I do not think it is impossible for humanity to reach a common understanding about certain issues, and I think neoNewtonian philosophy goes a long way toward that goal. This is especially true when one considers the fact that neoNewtonian philosophy simply combines previously existing ideas that needed to be connected and completed. The exciting work will be addressing new problems using a neoNewtonian approach, and I think that work has a great potential to move humanity toward a common understanding.

So, "Where do we go from here?" The point of this journey is to learn about ourselves, our relationship with the universe, and how we are a part of it. In order to continue our journey, we must explore the solar system. What is contained in the objects of Mars or on the moons of Jupiter that can help us understand life on Earth? There is no doubt that journeying to space will enable us to answer such fundamental questions, and that is a good reason to go, but there will also be opportunities for improving everyday life. Once we take the first steps toward exploring other worlds, we may discover that natural resources are abundant in our solar system, and we will be able to take advantage of opportunities to refine and process materials without worrying about certain pollutants. On Mars, in particular, some types of pollution may help raise temperatures and make the planet suitable for terraforming and colonization. There will also be new technologies developed for space exploration and colonization that will benefit everyone. In fact, innovations can be expected across a range of industries, not only because there will be new problems to solve, but because leaving the Earth will provide an opportunity to think about problems creatively, using new and unearthly ideas. In addition to the potential for innovation, there is the potential for preservation. Should a natural or man-made disaster significantly reduce the inhabitability of Earth, Mars would be an ideal place for human life to continue. But in order to successfully explore or colonize any planet, we must avoid the mistakes of the past by using the knowledge we already have. Knowledge can help move us toward a common understanding, which will foster the cooperation needed to make a journey to space successful.

In the 21st century, we will undoubtedly learn more about the universe and our place in it. By increasing awareness and knowledge, we can help move societies and individuals toward a common understanding. It is only through a common understanding that we will be able to reach space, and survive the journey of getting there.


1. It is important to mention that for Aristotle, an object's "natural" motion required a force (an efficient cause) to move it. This idea was crucial to Aristotle's theory of change, which was in turn crucial to his causal theory, which governed the rest of his philosophy of the physical universe. Newton (and Galileo) instead conceived of the law of inertia to "explain" unaccelerated motion, which held that an object could remain in motion or at rest in the absence of an outside force. For Aristotle, motion's "existence" had to be explained, while for Newton, the laws of motion meant that the "existence" of unaccelerated motion required no further explanation. By this time, as Descartes pointed out, Aristotle's entire philosophy was so entrenched that Newton's changes, though only a footnote here, were historically monumental.

2. At this point, it is interesting to note that Newton may have been trying to solve a deeper problem with the idea of an "absolute space." "Newton held that space is, and we live in, ...God's mind; we may thus appreciate the laws of the universe by thought and mathematics, though the eyes and the other senses are needed for transferring the facts of the world to our minds" (OCM 561).

3. The complete use of the term "free will" is explained throughout the text. A free will is "un-caused" in the sense that it is not caused (or "manufactured") by local physical events, but does not violate the laws of local conservation in the sense that decisions are made by a subject based on information stored in the brain as a result of environmental experience.

4. By "conscious subject" I mean "access-consciousness" (Branquinho 3). The reason is that this is the only way a person can be "self-aware" and causally intrude into the physical world.

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OCM: Gregory, Richard L. ed. (1998). The Oxford Companion to the mind. New York: Oxford University Press.

OCP: Honderich, Ted. ed. (1995). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Selected works cited

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Aristotle. Graham, Daniel W. trans. and commentary (1999). Physics book VIII. New York: Clarendon Press.

Avineri, Shlomo and Avner de-Shalit. eds. (1992). Communitarianism and individualism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Barone, David F., Maddux, James E., and Snyder, C.R. (1997). Social cognitive psychology: history and current domains. New York: Plenum Press.

Bell, J.S. (1987). Speakable and unspeakable in quantum mechanics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Branquinho, João. ed. (2001). The foundations of cognitive science. New York: Oxford University Press.

Burgess, John P. and Gideon Rosen. (1997). A subject with no object. New York: Clarendon Press, 1999.

Cahn, Steven M. ed. (2002). Classics of moral and political philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Casti, John L. (2001). Mathematical mountaintops. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cottingham, John. ed. (1998). Descartes. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cottingham, John. (1988). The rationalists. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gould, Stephen Jay. (1999). Rocks of ages: science and religion in the fullness of life. New York: Ballantine Publishing Group.

Gregory, Richard L. ed. (1998). The Oxford Companion to the mind. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hawking, Stephen W. (2001). The universe in a nutshell. New York: Bantam Books.

Honderich, Ted. ed. (1995). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kuhn, Thomas S. (1962). The structure of scientific revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Lear, Jonathan. (1988). Aristotle: the desire to understand. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Phillips, D.Z. (1996). Introducing Philosophy. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers.

Schrödinger, Erwin. (1951). Science and humanism. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Skinner, Andrew S. (1996). A system of social science: papers relating to Adam Smith. New York: Oxford University Press.

Smolin, Lee. (2000). Three roads to quantum gravity. New York: Basic Books, 2001.

Teloh, Henry. (1981). The development of Plato's metaphysics. University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Woolhouse, R.S. (1988). The empiricists. New York: Oxford University Press.

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