• Possibility
    416
    I still believe everything is made out of just empty space. However contradictory it is.

    New question. Is empty space the same as nothing?

    Empty is the same as nothing in most senses but space implies a size, a dimension. Or maybe the question is wrong.
    Razorback kitten

    Empty space cannot be truly empty, just as nothing is not a complete lack of existence, if we’re talking about what IS if no ‘thing’ can be said to exist without it.

    The way I see it, what exists is potentiality, because without it, nothing CAN exist. Does that make sense?
  • JosephS
    74
    I find I can best describe it as the interaction of potentiality.Possibility

    I very much like this response, perhaps because it appeals to me intellectually.

    Are there any authors that you would recommend that have put meat on the bones of this? I'm talking about something accessible to a non-researcher.
  • Possibility
    416
    I’ve been looking for some time now, to no avail. At best, I’ve been able to observe a convergence towards it - from Aristotle’s misguided dismissal of potential as ‘nothing’, through to Carlo Rovelli’s perspective of the universe in physics as ‘interrelated events’. Almost every area of philosophical, theoretical physics and theological speculation appears to point to it, like the gravitational field points to dark matter.

    All the current gaps and contradictions in our understanding - the origin of the universe, quantum mechanics, abiogenesis, consciousness, the question of ‘God’ - all seem to dissolve for me in light of the interaction of potentiality as the underlying ‘substance’ of the universe, the fundamental ground of all being. But that’s a lot of ground to cover.

    I get the sense that we’re all teetering on the edge of a colossal paradigm shift. This is why I’m here: to find ways to support the theory and familiarise myself with the most suitable discourse, without sounding crazy. In my own research on this, I’ve realised that there are far too many more intelligent and knowledgeable people and teams out there who are a hair’s breadth away from discovering this in their own fields of research for me think my philosophical ramblings can achieve anything except perhaps to nudge them over the lip, or point out connections or collaborations they maybe hadn’t considered yet.
  • PoeticUniverse
    317
    All the current gaps and contradictions in our understanding - the origin of the universe, quantum mechanics, abiogenesis, consciousness, the question of ‘God’ - all seem to dissolve for me in light of the interaction of potentiality as the underlying ‘substance’ of the universe, the fundamental ground of all being.Possibility

    Well put; I'll third that notion.

    Beyond Local Reality
    Time, space, stuff, change, and form are real-ized from
    Fundamental Possibility,
    Becoming the penultimate reality,
    One possible from the probabilities.

    Quantum Superposition is Real
    Our reality comes not from nothing,
    But exists always as possibility,
    One that amounts to something workable,
    Among all in superposition.

    The First Impossibility
    No form of a penultimate realness
    Could exist alone before the rest, since
    Everything is quantum-known-all-at-once;
    For what could make the choice among many?

    The Second Impossibility
    Nor comes it from an absolute nothing,
    Since there can be no such ‘thing’ at all,
    So, since either way is impossible,
    Fundamental Possibility IS.

    The Unbelievable Truth
    This ultimate basis of reality,
    Though not much like our local reality,
    Is hinted at by quantum physics—
    It forms reality real as can be!

    The Verifiable Truth
    So how else could it be, for particles
    Do appear and disappear from nowhere,
    Going from here to there, with no between,
    Manifesting from no-where to now-here.
  • BrianW
    847
    What's any energy, regardless of perspective, made of?Razorback kitten

    I think that's the one thing we can't reconcile. Perspective is an ever-present factor in everything we know and when we try to escape it, we can't seem to come up with anything definitive. Even conceptual stuff are tied in with perspective. So, I think the best we can have is a concept that kind of connects or represents as many factors as possible but, even then, whether someone can see that inter-connectivity or not depends on their perspective.
  • JosephS
    74


    Thank you for this perspective. I have not read Rovelli. I will look him up.
  • Razorback kitten
    53
    The way I see it, what exists is potentiality, because without it, nothing CAN exist. Does that make sense?Possibility

    Yes but what difference does it make? It's just a more complicated way of pushing the buck. I could say space is the only thing which exists because without it, nothing could. Or energy, time...
  • Possibility
    416
    Yes but what difference does it make? It's just a more complicated way of pushing the buck. I could say space is the only thing which exists because without it, nothing could. Or energy, time...Razorback kitten

    I understand potentiality to be ‘the capacity to develop, achieve and succeed that is not yet realised’. This is what we access whenever we interact with the universe, and that it is only when we are aware of potential that we can realise it.

    So it’s not quite the same as saying that nothing could exist without space, for instance.
  • Razorback kitten
    53
    In my own research on this, I’ve realised that there are far too many more intelligent and knowledgeable people and teams out there who are a hair’s breadth away from discovering this in their own fields of research for me think my philosophical ramblings can achieve anything except perhaps to nudge them over the lip, or point out connections or collaborations they maybe hadn’t considered yet.Possibility

    What influence would considering matter as potential have on the future?

    You said this way of thinking allows the gaps in our understanding to dissolve away (for you). So how?
  • Possibility
    416
    What influence would considering matter as potential have on the future?

    You said this way of thinking allows the gaps in our understanding to dissolve away (for you). So how?
    Razorback kitten

    I will clarify, first of all, that I’m talking about matter as energy, which is a manifestation of the interaction of potentiality. When we say ‘matter as potential’, the tendency is to still see potentiality as a physical ‘object’ or event, which it isn’t. Personally, I find it easier to think of potentiality as a concept. I hope that makes sense, for now.

    As for dissolving gaps, I’ll try to explain the first big paradigm shift for me, because it relates closely to what I mean by concept: the question of ‘God’. This was a big one for me because I was raised Catholic. And I apologise to anyone who feels this derails the thread.

    I realised that Aristotle’s (and later Aquinas’) understanding of God as ‘pure actuality’ was not based solely on reason, but on a bias towards substance: that something is more valuable than nothing. He saw matter as a passive receptacle, a receptive substratum of form - effectively nothing in itself. But this ‘nothing’ is what the universe must have started with, if we recognise what physics is now telling us.

    Rovelli: “For a long time, we have tried to understand the world in terms of some primary substance. Perhaps physics, more than any other discipline, has pursued this primary substance. But the more we have studied it, the less the world seems comprehensible in terms of something that is. It seems to be a lot more intelligible in terms of relations between events.”

    So it seemed to me that Aristotle has effectively convinced us to overlook the possibility that the concept we call ‘God’ IS potentiality. This shift in thinking turns much of religion on its head, but what I saw was what I understood about ‘God’ more than anything else I was taught: that God is love. And if you’ve ever genuinely understood what it is to love someone, then you’d understand that love in action IS realising potential. It became very clear to me that ‘God’ was not some supreme being with all power, influence and control, but was instead this concept we call potentiality, the underlying source of all being, which (following David Bentley Hart’s properties of God):

    - is not temporal;
    - is not composite or ‘dissoluble into parts on which it is dependent’;
    - is not ‘a being among beings’ or ‘dependent upon some larger sphere of actuality’;
    - is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient;
    - is logically necessary; and
    - is personal: ‘knows, loves and relates’ to us all.
  • Razorback kitten
    53
    Yeah, I don't buy it. Also I can't see any paradigm shift in this direction. It's just fancy spiritualism.
  • Possibility
    416
    Yeah, I don't buy it. Also I can't see any paradigm shift in this direction. It's just fancy spiritualism.Razorback kitten

    I don’t subscribe to spiritualism, and I’m not sure where you read that here. Perhaps it was the G-word that prompted you to close your mind all of a sudden? You won’t see much of anything that way, let alone any paradigm shift. Too bad.
  • leo
    573
    Given that we don’t really know what energy IS (only what it does)Possibility

    The concept of energy is problematic when we say that it causes things, or that it is what matter is made of.

    If I launch a ball upwards and it decelerates, why do I have to say that it decelerates because its kinetic energy is converted into potential energy, why can't I simply say that I observe it decelerates and I model that through the concept of gravitational acceleration, or through the mathematical concepts of kinetic and potential energy? Energy there appears simply as a concept, a tool of thought, a model of motion or of change, not a cause of motion or of change.

    Then if we say that energy is what matter is made of, and we can't say what energy is, then what does it mean to say that matter is made of energy? If we say that energy is the ability to do work, what does it mean to say that matter is made of an ability?

    In my view it's only confusing to say that energy causes anything or that it constitutes matter, it gives an illusion of explanation while committing the fallacy of reification.


    People like to mention E=mc² as evidence that matter and energy are interchangeable, or that matter is made of energy, or that matter and energy are the same thing, but before making such claims one ought to understand precisely what that equation means and in what context it was formulated, I'm gonna try to explain as succinctly as possible.

    First of all the concept of mass m, mass is not defined in isolation, it is a relative property, if we say that some thing has a mass 10 times greater than some other thing, it means that in some experiments the first thing accelerates 10 times less than the other thing, so mass is a measure of how hard it is to accelerate a thing.

    E refers to the energy of a photon. They say a photon has energy because it has the ability to cause change, to accelerate electrons, but there again energy is not the cause of that ability, it is a model of that ability, it doesn't say anything more to say that a photon has energy than to say it has the ability to move some other things. The energy of a photon is a measure of its ability to accelerate things.

    The easier it is to accelerate a thing, the less that thing has the ability to accelerate other things, and reciprocally (that observation is what allows to define the concept of mass in the first place). So when some object emits a photon, that object loses a tiny bit of its ability to accelerate things, so it becomes a tiny bit easier to accelerate it. That's what E=mc² boils down to, that's even more or less how Einstein put it in his original paper: radiation conveys inertia between the emitting and absorbing bodies (radiation refers to photons).

    There is no need to reify energy as some substance that matter is made of, we can simply say that matter is made of things that have abilities, including at least the ability to move other things. When a photon is emitted by a body and absorbed by another, the first body loses some ability that the other gains, but the two emit and absorb photons constantly so it's more like they are constantly interacting. Also we don't have to interpret 'absorption' literally as if the body was absorbing a substance, if we want we can think that the photon is still moving inside the new body in some way.


    But the idea that matter is things that interact with one another through their abilities, seems a lot like what you are saying when you say that matter is the interactions of potentiality. I guess we could say that the universe is made of things, things that have abilities, or a potential, that gets actualized through their interaction.

    However I'm not sure it makes sense to say that what exists deep down is potentiality or ability, because those are concepts that we ascribe to things. But at the same time if the things we see are already the result of an interaction, then we're not seeing things with a potential, we're already seeing actualized potential, but that has to be the actualized potential of something else, which I guess you could call God or the cosmic consciousness or something.
  • Razorback kitten
    53
    Perhaps it was the G-word that prompted you to close your mind all of a sudden? You won’t see much of anything that way, let alone any paradigm shift. Too bad.Possibility

    The philosophical definition of spiritualism; the doctrine that the spirit exists as distinct from matter, or that spirit is the only reality.

    All you are doing is swapping spirit for potential so it sounds more scientific and less like woo woo. Sorry if I offend.
  • BrianW
    847
    The philosophical definition of spiritualism; the doctrine that the spirit exists as distinct from matter, or that spirit is the only reality.Razorback kitten

    Not quite.

    As one who subscribes to spirituality (without religion), I sincerely beg to differ on account that your over-simplification of spiritualism has excluded a key aspect of its identity. Spiritualism can define spirit as distinct from matter but, it always insists that matter and spirit are two sides of the same coin. And just as the heads and tails of a coin co-exist though are distinctly different, so are spirit and matter.

    Even in the domain of spiritual knowledge, spirit and matter are more complex in their interactions than a mere distinction in their definitions. In fact, they meet the same difficulties as consciousness and perception. For example:

    22. Matter is generally defined as being "that which has extension," "that which can make an impression upon our senses," "that which possesses impenetrability." Are these definitions correct? - From your point of view they are correct, because you can only define in accordance with what you know. But matter exists in states which are unknown to you. It may be, for instance, so ethereal and subtle as to make no impression upon your senses; and yet it is still matter, although it would not be such for you. — Allan Kardec - The Spirits' Book

    What definition can you give of matter? - Matter is the element which enchains spirit, the instrument which serves it, and upon which, at the same time, it exerts its action. (From this point of view it may be said that matter is the agent, the intermediary, through which, and upon which, spirit acts.) — Allan Kardec - The Spirits' Book

    23. What is spirit? - The intelligent principle of the universe. — Allan Kardec - The Spirits' Book


    And, from Emanuel Swedenborg's books, one also gathers that, residents of the various realms of the spirit world are as tangible and material to each other and their environment as human beings are with regard to physical stuff.

    As a hypothetical example, we could put it as, it is possible that what are ghosts to us may not be such to each other or to a different sphere of vibration (and I'm not saying that ghosts exist).
  • Razorback kitten
    53
    Intelligent principal of the universe ay. Guess I'm a little short of spirit.

    I give up.
  • PoeticUniverse
    317
    - is not composite or ‘dissoluble into parts on which it is dependent’;Possibility

    This one is troublesome for one who "knows, loves, and relates", for a system of mind and an emotional system would have parts (that would have to be more fundamental).

    I would rather turn the direction of looking for higher being completely around to the opposite: look to the future rather than to the past.
  • Possibility
    416
    This one is troublesome for one who "knows, loves, and relates", for a system of mind and an emotional system would have parts (that would have to be more fundamental).PoeticUniverse

    I had a feeling I would lose people here. As I said, I’m still finding ways to explain how everything is connected in my head. The idea of ‘love’ (agape) in relation to potentiality has nothing to do with emotion, and we cannot claim sufficient understanding of consciousness to be sure that a ‘system of mind’ that ‘knows’ (is aware of anything) from outside of time would even have parts, given that potentiality has no discernible form in spacetime.

    Potentiality relating to itself is the essence of this idea of ‘interaction of potentiality’. This capacity of inter-relatability is absolute but far from fully actualised - actuality requiring interaction occurring in spacetime, which necessitates all the ‘parts’ to be aware, connected and collaborating. As Rovelli says: “A physical system manifests itself only by interaction with another.”

    So I agree that in our search for a higher being we must look to the future, rather than the past. With no discernible form in spacetime, I don’t see potentiality as being at all.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    Given that we don’t really know what energy IS (only what it does),Possibility

    There's no reason to believe that it's something other than the "doing" you're referring to. But the incoherence of doing sans something doing isn't linguistic, it's ontological.
  • Possibility
    416
    The concept of energy is problematic when we say that it causes things, or that it is what matter is made of.leo

    I agree with you on the problem of causation, and I haven’t mentioned casuality at this stage for that reason. It certainly doesn’t help to say that energy causes things.

    As for what matter is made of, I agree that this is also problematic, and I did attempt to express that with my reply “I find I can best describe it as...” - but I see now that was way too subtle.

    If I launch a ball upwards and it decelerates, why do I have to say that it decelerates because its kinetic energy is converted into potential energy, why can't I simply say that I observe it decelerates and I model that through the concept of gravitational acceleration, or through the mathematical concepts of kinetic and potential energy? Energy there appears simply as a concept, a tool of thought, a model of motion or of change, not a cause of motion or of change.

    Then if we say that energy is what matter is made of, and we can't say what energy is, then what does it mean to say that matter is made of energy? If we say that energy is the ability to do work, what does it mean to say that matter is made of an ability?
    leo

    This is one part I’m still trying to find a way to explain: how this concept of energy, as ‘the capacity to do work’, shifts to and from potentially and actually doing work. But I don’t have the physics or math background to conceive or critique any formula for the connection.

    The concept of ‘potential energy’, to me, refers to a connection between dimensions, which I see as closely related to awareness - to the yes/no questions of integrating information. Because all inanimate matter is fixed in terms of how it can or can’t receive information or interact, the relationship between potential and active energy states is largely predictable. In relation to energy events (eg. Chemical reactions, movement, etc), the yes/no answers have the potential to change relative to time. I see this ‘awareness’ of time occurring within an energy event as a connection to this fourth dimension.

    In relation to living matter, the answers can be different relative to the perceived value of information changes from interacting events over time. This I see as a connection to a fifth dimension, one in which creatures are aware of experiences in relation to events, and it’s here that an awareness of potential energy originates. Potential energy points to our capacity to experience energy - to be aware of it and seek to quantify it - even when it isn’t actually doing work. We can’t measure it until it acts, but we can value it, recognise its potential and ‘set up’ inanimate matter predisposed to interact in a way that enables the doing of work.
  • Possibility
    416
    There's no reason to believe that it's something other than the "doing" you're referring to. But the incoherence of doing sans something doing isn't linguistic, it's ontological.Terrapin Station

    I think I get what you’re saying, but the way I see it, any state of being is finite in time. The doing refers to an event that loses its status as an entity once it’s measured. Energy measured is a difference in relational 3D information states over time, just as a photon measured becomes a moving particle. Even a life measured becomes a series of relational 3D information states over time. So yes, a doing or being that can’t be measured in relation to time doesn’t cohere.

    When I talk about potentiality, I’m talking about what we experience or value without any evidence of it being. Like the potential we value when we interact with a young child, or when we experience love at first sight. When we value it, we are motivated to make arrangements which will enable that potential to be realised in time.
  • leo
    573
    This is one part I’m still trying to find a way to explain: how this concept of energy, as ‘the capacity to do work’, shifts to and from potentially and actually doing work. But I don’t have the physics or math background to conceive or critique any formula for the connection.Possibility

    Don't worry about the physics or maths, they don't explain that either.

    Basically the concept of energy stems from assuming that there are laws that dictate change and that these laws are constant through time.

    As a basic example, assume there is the law that objects accelerate towards the Earth at the rate of 9.8 m/s² (for instance if you drop something from the top of a cliff, its velocity would increase by 9.8 m/s every second, neglecting air friction).

    So if you drop the object at time t=0, its velocity as a function of time is v = 9.8*t (until it crashes on the ground).

    If we call H the height of the cliff and h the height at which the object is during the fall (h decreases during the fall), we can infer that :

    v²/2 = 9.8*(H-h) (I can detail if you want)

    So during the whole fall, the quantity v²/2 + 9.8*h remains constant. So when the quantity 9.8*h decreases, the quantity v²/2 increases by the same amount. At the top of the cliff, v²/2 is 0 while the quantity 9.8*h is maximal, and at the bottom of the cliff v²/2 is maximal (right before the crash) while the quantity 9.8*h is 0.

    So if you define v²/2 as kinetic energy and 9.8*h as potential energy, you can say as a figure of speech that during the fall, the potential energy of the object is converted into kinetic energy, but there is no substance we see that gets actually converted, it's just a mathematical wordplay.

    Why did the object accelerate during the fall? Well we don't know, that's just what we observe, and we model that through a law, talking about energy doesn't explain anything, saying that there was a potential stored in the object that got released during the fall and made the object accelerate is just one abstract way of looking at it, but if you choose to reify that potential as something concrete that really got converted or actualized during the fall, maths and physics won't tell you anything about that (so don't spend years studying maths and physics in the hope that you will find such an explanation in there).

    That's not to say that you can't create a coherent view of the world by assuming that everything is "interaction of potentiality" (I have a vague intuition of what that might be but I think it's worth exploring), but don't believe that you will find in physics how the potential to do work gets actualized into doing work, just because physicists talk misleadingly of potential energy being converted into motion doesn't mean they are doing anything more than describing how things move, otherwise you will spend years chasing a chimera.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    I think I get what you’re saying, but the way I see it, any state of being is finite in time. The doing refers to an event that loses its status as an entity once it’s measured. Energy measured is a difference in relational 3D information states over time, just as a photon measured becomes a moving particle. Even a life measured becomes a series of relational 3D information states over time. So yes, a doing or being that can’t be measured in relation to time doesn’t cohere.Possibility

    ??

    The idea is much simpler than that. We can't have motion, and we can't have forces transferred, etc., without having SOMETHING that is moving, something that is applying and receiving forces, etc.
  • Possibility
    416
    Why did the object accelerate during the fall? Well we don't know, that's just what we observe, and we model that through a law, talking about energy doesn't explain anything, saying that there was a potential stored in the object that got released during the fall and made the object accelerate is just one abstract way of looking at it, but if you choose to reify that potential as something concrete that really got converted or actualized during the fall, maths and physics won't tell you anything about that (so don't spend years studying maths and physics in the hope that you will find such an explanation in there).leo

    First of all, potential cannot be something concrete - I’m confident of that much, at least. It’s a concept: a 5D experience that has no evidence or location in spacetime, and yet has value in that it interacts with objects that are open or receptive to the experience in such a way as to effect a spacetime event. I’m not so much looking for an existing explanation in maths and physics anymore as gaining an understanding of the discourse so that I can explain this theory in a way that invites consideration rather than laughter or quizzical expressions.

    Rovelli’s acknowledgement that physics currently makes more sense as a study of relations between 4D events rather than 3D things, and that time is not only finite and relative but possibly also granular is encouraging. It’s another step towards considering the concept of a five dimensional universe in which we interact with spacetime events in relation to value.
  • Possibility
    416
    The idea is much simpler than that. We can't have motion, and we can't have forces transferred, etc., without having SOMETHING that is moving, something that is applying and receiving forces, etc.Terrapin Station

    So, when you say ‘SOMETHING’ here, do you mean it must always be a physical, tangible something applying or receiving forces, or could it be a conceptual, abstract or subjective experience of ‘something’ that interacts with a physical something and in doing so effects an applied force?
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    So, when you say ‘SOMETHING’ here, do you mean it must always be a physical, tangible something applying or receiving forces, or could it be a conceptual, abstract or subjective experience of ‘something’ that interacts with a physical something and in doing so effects an applied force?Possibility

    I'm a physicalist, so on my view, concepts, subjective experience, etc. are physical processes.
  • PoeticUniverse
    317
    It's made of Rovelli's covariant quantum fields; simple, as we knew it had to be.
  • Possibility
    416
    I'm a physicalist, so on my view, concepts, subjective experience, etc. are physical processes.Terrapin Station

    So you would find it sufficient to explain concepts such as potential energy - a physical process, in your view - with an equation, as @leo has done above?
  • Terrapin Station
    11.7k
    So you would find it sufficient to explain concepts such as potential energyPossibility

    No. Concepts aren't potential anything, and they're not just energy. Nothing is just energy.

    Concepts are particular brain states, in particular individuals.
  • Razorback kitten
    53
    I don't like this 'potential' idea. Things have potential of course, but potential is not a thing. Matter cannot consist of the shear potential it holds. It's two steps back as far as I'm concerned.
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