• DanielP
    20
    Is balance the invisible hand guiding the universe?

    Here's some evidence of the power of balance in the natural world:
    Newton's laws of motion: every action has an equal and opposite reaction; matter cannot be created or destroyed
    Osmosis: a solute spreading equally out in a solution (I know there is a more technical definition of that)
    The cosmological principle: matter is spread relatively evenly out in all directions as far as our telescopes can see

    In the ethical world:
    Karma - good things happen to good people, and vice versa
    Aristotle's mean of virtues - virtue is a balance, or an average, between extremes
    Jesus's golden rule - treat your neighbor as yourself; in other words, your neighbor is equal to you

    In art:
    Symmetry is beautiful

    In infinity and eternity:
    This can't be proven, but say that the universe is infinite and eternal. (The size of the universe is monstrous, and we have not seen it all. We also know the Big Bang probably occurred, but common sense says that there was something before that. An infinite, eternal universe seems more probable than a finite universe; but can't prove it.) Let's roll with an infinite and eternal universe, or infinite spacetime, in physic's language. In infinite spacetime, every point in the universe is in the middle of universe, meaning every point is perfectly balanced. Also, if we are in eternity, then every moment of "now" is in the perfect middle, or balance, between infinite past and infinite future.

    So if balance seems like the guiding hand in the universe, is it something to believe in?
  • DanielP
    20
    Also, homeostasis in medicine is a great example of balance. Another one: our guts have around 7 trillion bacteria living in it. And massive variety of bacteria that help us derive nutrition from food, and "balance" each other out. C Diff is a bacteria that can dominate the other bacteria and prevent others flourishing. Basically, a balanced gut with a wide variety of bacteria is the norm, and when we get unhealthy or imbalanced, certain bacteria dominate at the expense of others.
  • 3017amen
    965


    Very inspiring and insightful post(s).

    I'll add one to Poetic's listing:

    27. Consciousness/subconsciousness

    Questions; much like the numerous examples of balance, for example, good bacteria v. bad bacteria, what if we only had good and no bad? What if we only had bad but no good? And finally, and maybe more mysterious, what if we just had consciousness and no subconsciousness, and are they truly opposite's?

    No more multitasking LoL
  • DanielP
    20


    Interesting question on consciousness and subconsciousness, I haven't thought much about them. What's your perspective on them?
    On the good vs bad bacteria, I think with such a big universe balancing out, I think there are many bacteria that are many different shades of good and bad to us, depending on the situation, and also depending on how they interact with our environment. We have more bacterial cells in our intestines than total cells in our human bodies usually, so we could almost view the bacteria as using us as hosts to propagate themselves on planet earth.
  • DanielP
    20


    Did you reach any conclusion or conclusions from your post on balance and opposites?
  • Banno
    6.6k
    An unstable system will change - that's what being unstable is.

    If, as it wobbles around, the system finds a state in which it is stable, it will stop and stay there.

    We see balance because it lasts longer than imbalance.

    It's not because of some magic had by balance.
  • PoeticUniverse
    781
    Did you reach any conclusion or conclusions from your post on balance and opposites?DanielP

    Not anything is stable, for everything leaks, I guess, or else a perfect zero-sum would have put existence out of business.
  • 3017amen
    965
    Interesting question on consciousness and subconsciousness, I haven't thought much about them. What's your perspective on them?DanielP

    Consciousness is irrational or illogical or otherwise beyond rational explanation... . It's like saying red and not red at the same time (LEM).

    I always use the typical example of driving a car while daydreaming and risking an accident. Part of your brain is consciously working out details of navigation, while the other part has you thinking about work or a relationship or solving a math problem or whatever else you're preoccupied with... .

    Cognitive science says your consciousness is driving and your subconsciousness is daydreaming. Or is it the other way around?

    So we have an unresolved paradox of sorts...or brute mystery. Our conscious existence appears beyond explaination. But so is cosmology, metaphysics, phenomenology, and the concept of God.

    Could it be plausible that in another world, our logic would be totally different? For example, would the metaphysical a priori language of mathematics be totally different (ToE)?

    In any case we're apparently barred from ultimate knowledge about our existence. Yet as you suggest, there appears to be a metaphysical will in nature. Self-aware Beings who realize through abstract thinking, which in itself transcends Darwinion survival value, that there exists balance-homeostasis in our world.
  • 180 Proof
    448
    An unstable system will change - that's what being unstable is.

    If, as it wobbles around, the system finds a state in which it is stable, it will stop and stay there.

    We see balance because it lasts longer than imbalance.

    It's not because of some magic had by balance.
    Banno

    Buzzkill.
  • DanielP
    20

    Very nice. Do you think one reason that consciousness appears to be irrational is that the universe cannot be defined solely by logic, and requires or other tools to describe it?


    Like the quote. Maybe the cosmos is on a sliding scale between imbalance and balance. Do you think it is? And if so, where on the sliding scale would the whole cosmos appear to be?
  • 3017amen
    965
    Do you think one reason that consciousness appears to be irrational is that the universe cannot be defined solely by logic, and requires or other tools to describe it?DanielP

    I think that's a great question. Sort of an all inclusive type of question that could lead one into many areas or directions. Gee, where to start.

    1. My first thought is two-fold: the Kantian thing-in-themselves viz the nature of conscious existence. Then the a priori metaphysical language of mathematics having its limitations in describing the natural world-albeit pretty amazing thus far in theoretical physics.

    2. The parallel is that both concepts are a priori.

    3. As far as other tools, it would be worth looking into the technical aspects of our ability to discover truly novel ideas in propositional logic via Kant's Modalities: Possibility / Impossibility Existence / Non-existence Necessity / Contingency.

    "Kant's Categories are a list of that which can be said of every object, they are related only to human language. In making a verbal statement about an object, a speaker makes a judgment. A general object, that is, every object, has attributes that are contained in Kant's list of Categories. In a judgment, or verbal statement, the Categories are the predicates that can be asserted of every object and all objects."

    A good read here would be The Mind of God by theoretical physicist Paul Davies.

    In short, I believe we have a problem with knowing objects themselves, as well as a problem with knowing the nature of our consciousness and how it works. So we have a problem with the perceiver us, along with the object in question. In other words, we can't escape the metaphysical components that rear their philosophical head's in the phenomenological world of perception/existence.

    Can experience itself, be the tool that discovers and uncovers existential mystery? Or are we back to intuitional/metaphysical theories about our existence...can we use both to infer possibility?

    Right now, in words, the closest we come to that answer is the synthetic a priori. That would be one answer to your question about intellectual tools... .
  • 3017amen
    965
    In the ethical world:
    Karma - good things happen to good people, and vice versa
    Aristotle's mean of virtues - virtue is a balance, or an average, between extremes
    Jesus's golden rule - treat your neighbor as yourself; in other words, your neighbor is equal to you
    DanielP

    Your above quote is yet again another direction or discipline one could explore. In ethics [how to live a life of happiness], I think it's important.

    Real quick, politically and religiously, and in a general sense, I'm what you would call a moderate. I make a conscious effort not to dichotomize life's experience. Easier said than done I know, but as you suggest, balance has its virtues. Aristotle, Maslow and many other's have advocated such. The new term is generally called hybrid. Whether it is social norms, laws, politics, food consumption, music, vehicles, computer devices, on and on, striking a magical balance indeed has its virtues. Many things in life that work well are combining the virtues of two opposites into a hybrid. Obviously, in some ways, that is nothing new under the sun.

    Are there exceptions to some of this of course... .

    Once again, in short, I too believe in Balance. PoeticU and other's here have suggested same. Thank you for the reminder.
  • 180 Proof
    448
    Maybe the cosmos is on a sliding scale between imbalance and balance. Do you think it is?DanielP

    Yeah. Entropy. :point:

    And if so, where on the sliding scale would the whole cosmos appear to be? — DanielP

    :chin: ummm ... c13.8 billion years on from the cosmos @ planck radius & Minmum entropy (or X-hundreds of billions(?) of years away from Maximum entropy (i.e. thermodynamic equilibrium) aka "balance" - or so 21st century theoretical cosmologists extrapolate / speculate).
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    Great post! Welcome to Daoism/Taoism. :)
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    Not anything is stable, for everything leaks, I guess, or else a perfect zero-sum would have put existence out of business.PoeticUniverse

    Is there no balancing point between perfect stability and extreme instability? Low Entropy Abstract and physical structures for example?
  • Gnomon
    300
    Is balance the invisible hand guiding the universe?DanielP
    If not, it should be for philosophers. My personal philosophy is based on the BothAnd Principle. Which is : My coinage for the holistic principle of Complementarity, as illustrated in the Yin/Yang symbol. Opposing or contrasting concepts are always part of a greater whole. Conflicts between parts can be reconciled or harmonized by putting them into the context of a whole system.
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page10.html
  • DanielP
    20

    What is synthetic a priori?
  • DanielP
    20

    What are the major tenets of Daoism/Taoism and how does balance fit in there?
  • DanielP
    20

    I agree, I view the world as an infinite version of Yin/Yang, with infinite faces all bound together by balancing with each other.

    How did you come up with your BothAnd principle?
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    Great question! How familiar are you with the Tao te ching? Chapter 42 goes into Yin and Yang or Dark and Bright.

    So long as you avoid and reject the gender role stuff, Taoism has aged pretty well. The core of Taoism is to reject hatred and intolerance of human differences and live with balance, harmony, perspective, and compassion.

    In western philosophy, you might say this is recognising the need for balance and diversity within our moral ecology.

    I don't hold with everything Taoism has to offer but it is a core part of my practice of adaptive pragmatism and adaptive ethical pragmatism. Simply in that I define the good as that which is in balance. I suppose where I split with Taoism is that I'd pursue power if it meant I could provide more balance than others who currently hold power however I have to be very careful that this is in service to life and not my own ego. However, I shall not worry if I never attain it as it probably means it isnt part of the flow of the universe. I shall only seek it if the opportunites for seeking it, flow my way.
  • alcontali
    826
    matter cannot be created or destroyedDanielP

    The first law of thermodynamics doesn't actually specify that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but instead that the total amount of energy in a closed system cannot be created nor destroyed (though it can be changed from one form to another).

    Within its environmental range, matter will resist falling apart. If you manage to push it outside its stability range, matter does effectively disintegrate (and will change its energy form).

    In the context of the Big Bang, this invariant is a problem because the idea that all matter-energy was contained in the initial singularity leads to postulating an impossibly high density of matter-energy:

    In 1989 Hans Dehmelt attempted to modernize the idea of the primeval atom. In this hypothesis, Cosmonium would have been the heaviest form of matter at the beginning of the big bang.

    That kind of incredible density cannot be observed anywhere in the universe. Where can such "Cosmonium" be observed?

    Therefore, I rather believe that there was no such high-density primeval atom, while matter-energy is somehow -- still to be discovered -- a side effect of the expansion of the universe. The alternative simply does not add up.
  • TheMadFool
    4.3k
    The notion of balance seems either implicit or explicit, the difference between the two being the degree of their prominence in the zeitgeist of a people.

    The Buddha and Aristotle, both thinkers far ahead of their times, agree on the necessity of balance as a central feature in living. The former preached the now-famous middle path and the latter mentioned the golden mean. I hope I haven't strayed too far from the truth here.

    The advice for moderation and balance in life makes a whole lot of sense. After all, science has discovered that life can thrive only within a certain range of physical and chemical parameters. Too hot or too cold, no life. Too acidic or to alkaline, no life. This motif seems to be quite universal despite some life-forms thriving in extreme conditions.

    One wouldn't think it an error to then extrapolate the idea of balance to the universe itself. However, consider the generally accepted belief that the universe exploded into existence 13.8 billion years ago. I'm no astrophysicist but am I wrong to say that there had to be an imbalance for the Big Bang to occur? There must've been a force that made the scales tip in favor of the universe's birth.

    Also, notice that scientists say entropy is [/i]always[/i] increasing. This is clearly not balance. Of course an open system like the earth being energized by the sun has managed to produce life that can, for a limited amount of time, only delay the inevitable progression to greater disorder - death and decay.

    We could say that it's the difference, ergo imbalance not balance, in entropy between two states that provides an environment conducive to life - the intermediate stages (balance/Goldilocks zone) being favorable to life. It may seem that I've contradicted myself but the point is the so-called balance is only possible because of, what looks to me, an imbalance. At a fundamental level it's all about the flow of energy and that would be impossible without there being an imbalance.

    What now of Buddha's middle path and Aristotle's golden mean? What about how earth sits in the Goldilocks zone of our sun and allows life to evolve? Are these not indubitable evidence that balance is the a fundamental law of the universe? Yet we see that without disequilibrium there's no energy transfer and without energy transfer, no chemistry. No chemistry, no life.

    We can view this "contradiction" through the lens of rationality and human nature. Our rationality informs us that both balance and imbalance are necessary for life but our nature has a preference for balance.
  • 3017amen
    965
    What is synthetic a priori?DanielP

    Daniel, we have an a priori (innate/fixed) metaphysical sense of wonder that helps us discover stuff. It emanates from our consciousness; we can't control it. It's a fixed feature of our consciousness (conscious existence). And it's a priori, because it's unrelated to experience; it's existential in that it just is.

    In the context of your question about discovering secrets of the universe, when we speak logic in words only, we can utter judgements about that sense of wonderment through making assumptions about our existence here.

    Hence the judgement: every event must have a cause. That's an example of logic that physicists use to test theories that they might have about possible discoveries (hypothesis). To answer your question, technically that's also a Kantian synthetic a priori judgement that occurs naturally with our so-called sense of wonder that we have. You can research that if you will.

    It's synthetic because it's not of a pure logical nature, unlike mathematics ( a priori- an objective truth that doesn't change) or, likewise in the case of making judgments/statements about something different: all bachelor's are unmarried men. That's true because it's truth is derived from the meaning of the words themselves, not experience. It's objectively true, no matter what anyone says about it.

    The synthetic a priori judgement is then a 'synthesis' of innate a priori intuition, and a posteriori perceptions/sense experience that we have. Some people just call them synthetic judgements.

    In summary, you have a priori objective truths/judgements: 2+2=4, or 'all bachelor's are unmarried men', which again are both a priori truth's. And then you also have a metaphysical sense of wonderment/intuition from consciousness that just is. When you combine the two ( a synthesis) you get something that's not of a pure logical nature (all events must have a cause).

    Back to your OP, one could argue then that in this context, 'belief in balance' in the form of words and logic, represents the synthetic a priori phenomenon.
  • Gnomon
    300
    How did you come up with your BothAnd principle?DanielP
    The BothAnd Principle emerged from my development of the Enformationism worldview. And that unconventional understanding of how the world as-a-whole works grew out of the 20th century revelations of Relativity and Quantum and Information Theories indicating that Mass (matter) is a form of Energy, and that Energy is a form of Information. Basically, metaphysical Information is both causative Energy and substantive Matter.

    Analogies to Taoism and YinYang came later, as a way to express the counter-intuitive concept of dualism within holism in simple symbols. The principle is also useful for making sense of the mystery of Subjective experience within an Objective world. As a matter of fact, the concept of Complementarity makes sense of a whole range of philosophical and scientific puzzles, that are usually approached in Either/Or terms.

    In the definitions linked below, a popup article about the BothAnd Philosophy is linked in red at bottom,


    BothAnd Principle : http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page10.html
  • Caldwell
    206
    So if balance seems like the guiding hand in the universe, is it something to believe in?DanielP

    From anthropomorphic point of view? I thought quantum mechanics had not used balance as a premise. The uncertainty principle certainly does not rely on balance.
    What do you think?
  • DanielP
    20

    Thank you for the explanation. I know of Kant but haven't read a lot of his work. When you say our sense of wonder is a priori, innate, and unrelated to experience, do you ever question that? Do you think that when we discover and explore things, two things are going on - we are curious and filled with wonder, and the universe is wanting us to discover things about it? If light did not bring us information about stars and galaxies far beyond us, we would not be asking questions about those stars and galaxies.
  • DanielP
    20

    Mark, I agree that the implications of balance in Western philosophy might lead to greater balance between us and other life on earth. If ever we needed more balance in the public sphere, now is the time. When you mention the flow of the universe, how would you describe it? I haven't read the Tao te Ching, what does that chapter say about Yin and Yang?
  • DanielP
    20

    Thank you for correcting me on the law of thermodynamics. I'm clearly not a physicist, but I enjoy trying to learn about that subject. Some physicists are trying to find a way around the infinitely dense point of the universe starting. So do you think the observable universe started with an infinitely dense point? What about before that, do you think there was something like the Big Bounce, or the membranes in a higher dimension that hit each other and cause Big Bangs every several billions of years?
  • DanielP
    20

    Thank you for the reply, very informative answer. That makes two of us non-astrophysicists talking about astrophysics.

    Perhaps a better way to think about balance than my earlier phrasing of believing in balance - is to say everything tends towards balance. So yes the Big Bang seems like a very imbalanced event. And there being no cause and nothing before it would be very imbalanced. Then I would agree, this is an imbalanced universe. But many people have come up with theories that posit causes for Big Bangs, and precedents. Take quantum loop theory (again, i'm not a astrophysicist, so bear with me) - basically space is filled with seething quantum energy that has local positives and negatives, and one gigantic negative could have set off a Big Bang. Another is the Big Bounce before a Big Bang - basically the universe is expanding until it starts to contract into an infinitely dense point, until another Big Bang occurs. Another is multiple membranes in a higher dimension oscillating and hitting each other causing a Big Bang. None of these are proven, but all seem to reflect a good degree a balance.

    With your good example of disequilibrium causing energy transfer, you make a good point that imbalances always exist. Possibly one way to view balance's role in this, is that things tend towards balance. When lightning strikes, it balances out electron imbalances between the ground and the cloud. Chemistry I know nothing about, but do chemical reactions tend towards balance?

    So you may ask, why if balance is the force guiding the universe towards equilibrium, then why do obvious disequilibriums exist? I think the universe is infinite, and different parts are always moving towards balance. Its infinite nature means it cannot stand still, and as different parts of this infinite spacetime co-mingle with each other, they create local imbalances, but are eventually overcome by the force of balance.
  • DanielP
    20

    Caldwell, it seems that uncertainty would be imbalanced. But is it possible that an uncertain world is more balanced than a certain world? A certain world has the deck stacked in favor of certain things, whereas the probabilistic, uncertain world of quantum mechanics means that the world is not skewed in a certain direction - all directions are possible, thus a balanced world.
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