Ultimate Reality and Meaning, 25 (2): 127-147, 2002 June
The Fundamental Principles of the Universe and the Origin of Physical Laws
H-1525 Budapest, P. O. Box 67, Hungary
In this essay the ontological structure of reality is explored. The question of reducibility of biology to physics is considered in the context of their ultimate principles. It is shown that biology is an ontologically autonomous science and is based on its own, independent ultimate principle that is independent from that of physics. In the next step it is shown that self-consciousness represents a separate realm with its own, ontologically autonomous, ultimate principle. Understanding that reality is based on ultimate principles, a new possibility arises to interpret the origin of physical laws.
Keywords: ontological structure of reality – reality and first principles – action principle – life principle – autonomy of biology from physics – impossibility of ontological reductionism
Exploring the ontological structure of reality is a primary task of philosophy. Unfortunately, philosophy in the last thousand years seems to be largely awkward, suffering from fundamental self-inconsistencies, and so the fundamental ontological structure of reality is evaluated differently by different philosophies. Nevertheless, the discrepancies of different philosophies on the basic ontological categories seem to be not disparately unbridgeable. Moreover, modern science may offer a significant assistance by its more systematic approach especially since it seems that we have one science instead of many, which is a significant difference to the case of philosophy. Now since science is based on ontological presuppositions (Bunge, 1967, 291), a unique task may be specified: evaluating the ontological foundations of science. If the consideration leads to the result that the ontology of science is correct, we can find the ontological structure of reality what we need. Now if the consideration leads to another result, telling that the scientific ontology needs some improvements, in making these corrections we may arrive to a better understanding of the ontological structure of reality.
2. The concept of “ultimate reality”
It is advisable to formulate the basic concepts exactly. I regard that the ontological structure of reality is build up from some “ultimate reality”. In this work I use the following definition for the ultimate realities:
Definition 1: an existent is regarded as an ultimate reality, if it is autonomous and universal. A reality is regarded as autonomous, if it is not reducible to other realities. A reality is regarded as universal, if it extends to the whole Universe, if it is possible to show that its existence is not limited in space and time.
2.1 A historical account on the candidates for ultimate realities
What kind of factors may be regarded as ultimate realities? This question accompanies the whole development of thinking of mankind. The nature of the ultimate realities is related to the structure of the world, to the question that the world has one or many substances, layers, levels, and to the basic categories of sciences. The basic realities play a key role in every philosophical system and at the foundation of science. Therefore, it is important to present a short overview of the most important existents regarded by some as realities.
In the Chaldean Magic (Lenormant, 1999, 114) the first realities are the primal principles: “ILU, the First Principle, the universal and mysterious source of all things, which is manifested in the trinity of ANU, the god of Time and and the World; HEA, the intelligence, which animated matter; and BEL, the demiurgus and ruler of the organized universe”. In the ancient Hungarian world-system the basic categories were the first principle of the Universe, E’LET (the life-principle), and ILLAT (the principle of plant life), A’LLAT (the principle of animal life) and E’RTELEM (the principle of human life, reason). Later on, ancient Greeks preserved the more ancient notion of primal principles in the concept of “archi”. Chrysippus, the Stoic (possibly influenced by Scythian and Chaldean teachers) expressed the fundamental realities as: exis (the principle driving existence), physis (the principle driving plant life), psyche (the principle driving animal life), and nous (the principle driving human reason) (Zeller, 1865, 178; Erdmann, 1896, 174). In the Chinese universism (Glasenapp, 1975, 141) the sky-earth-man, moral-spiritual-physical, natural-historical-national categories are the fundamental ones. In the Rig Veda the spirit-life-matter, sky-living beings-earth divisions are made (Glasenapp, 1975). The Egyptian history of Creation (Eliade, 1976, 81) starts with the appearance of the earth (matter), light (energy), life and consciousness. The Indian Sankhya-system regards the universal principle of Spirit and Matter as fundamental (Kunzmann et al., 1991, 19). In the Western culture Thomas Aquinas applies three fundamental categories: that of God, spirit and matter; the material reality shows again a threefold structure of animal, plant and mineral kingdoms. Wolff (1730), after Goclenius (1613) and Micraelius (1652) who were the first using the term ontology, regarded that the three main class of existents are the psychic, cosmic and theos; this division was held also by Kant.
Nicolai Hartmann in his ontology (1949/1955, Section III) describes reality as building up from four levels: the cosmos, the organic realm, the realm of the soul and consciousness, and the spiritual-social world. In this world man is a material, organic, soulful and spiritual being exisitng in three basic forms of individual, nation and history. Mario Bunge (1980, 45) found that the totality of concrete entities may be grouped into five genera – “we may depict (on Fig. 2.1) the structure of reality as a pyramid: physical things – (bio)chemical systems – psycho(bio)systems – social systems – technical systems”. Medawar (1974) and, following him, Peacocke (1986, 17) divides the world into four levels as studied by physics, chemistry, biology, and ecology/sociology. “By 1993 Peacock had foliated the hierarchy into two dimensions: vertically it consists in four levels of increasing complexity (the physical world, living organisms, the behavior of living organisms, and human culture) while horizontally it depicts systems ordered by part-to-whole hierarchies of structural and/or functional organization (eg., in biology: macromolecules, organelles, cells, organs, individual organisms, populations, ecosystems). Peacocke’s analysis undoubtedly reflects the broad consensus of the scientific community” (Russell, 2000).
A certain confusion is observable in evaluating the structure of reality by the different authors. I think that one of the main reasons of this confusion is that the criteria on the basic building elements of reality, the ultimate realities are not formulated unambiguously. At the same time, one can observe remarkable agreements in the different categorisations, too. Moreover, the basic categorisation of sciences seems to follow closely the above found ultimate realities. Divisions like mathematics-astronomy-physics-biology-psychology-sociology or philosophy-natural science – social science show close similarities in structuring the world. Transparently, the main fundamental categories of existence are: material(physical) – biological (alive) – social – technical, physical-spiritual-moral, earthly-human-godlike (heavenly), natural-historical-national-individual. Now what counts as ultimate reality should be judged on the basis of systematic and thorough scientific investigations, by my proposal on the basis of our Definition 1. Therefore, to make the first step, we should consider the old and still unsolved question: is biology reducible to physics?
2.2. The relation of the metaphysical presuppositions of science with the reducibility question
Regarding that this first topic of our essay touches philosophy as well as science, especially the metaphysical presuppositions of science, we at first turn to science to see its position on the ontological structure of reality. Bunge (1967, Sect. 5.9) remarks that “philosophy is a part of the scaffolding employed in the construction of the finished scientific buildings…scientific research does presuppose and control certain important philosophical hypotheses”. Now let us revise shortly what are the most outstanding presuppositions of science by Bunge (1967, 291ff). We touch here only the first two of them. Firstly, he mentions “realism”, the “philosophical hypotheses that there is anything that exist independently from the cognitive subject”. Realism is based on the notion of factual truth, the hypothesis of the reality of facts, the “outer” nature of the facts, the separability of object of research from the inquiring subject. Moreover, the fifth element of “realism” as given by Bunge (1967, 291ff) is that “natural science, in contrast with prescientific views such as animism and anthropomorphism, does not account for nature in terms of typically human attributes, as it should if nature somehow depended on the subject. Thus, we do not account for the behavior of the object in terms of our own expectations or other subjective variables but, on the contrary, base our rational expectations on the objectively ascertainable properties of the object as known to us.” I have to note here that animism is not necessarily anti-scientific. On the contrary, William McDougall, a professor of psychology in Harvard University, wrote a whole book attempting to prove with the methods and aims of all empirical science that from all the thought systems of mankind it is just animism which is the closest to reality and that the conception of soul is indispensable to science (McDougall, 1920).
Now I think that this fifth element of the requirements of realism by Bunge needs more detailed ontological elaboration. If we accept the scientific ontology based on the classification of sciences as physics-biology-psychology/sociology (since I regard that man is a social being in her/his most basic foundation), how should we mean the term “objective”? In the context of “natural” sciences, in contrast with animism and anthropomorphism, the term “objectivity” indicates that we should ignore the ontological levels belonging to human existence. Now if we should also ignore the existence of any animating “psyche” and “spirit” that make the organisms animated, i.e. alive, together with consciousness, or nous, regarded as distinguishing ontological characteristics of human beings, what remains, is the mere inanimate matter. In this way Bunge’s realism seem to be a special, materialist one, since it is based on a “realism” requiring the ignorance of any other ontological levels. I found this requirement unnecessary, oversimplifying, and scientifically not valid.
Let us have another look to this point. The second outstanding philosophical hypothesis of scientific research by Bunge is pluralism: the multilevel structure of reality. “A second, related presupposition is that the higher levels are rooted in the lower ones, both historically and contemporaneously: that is, the higher levels are not autonomous but depend for their existence on the subsistence of the lower levels, and they have emerged in the course of time from the lower in a number of evolutionary processes. This rooting of the higher in the lower is the objective basis of the possibility of partially explaining the higher in terms of the lower and conversely…the principle of methodological reductionism is not to be confused with ontological reductionism or the denial of levels” (Bunge, 1967, 294). Unfortunately, Bunge did not specify the exact meaning of the terms he applied like “autonomous” and “ontological”. Anyhow, his stance expresses a non-reductive physicalism. In his concept, reality as a whole has a material, physical nature. Biology, relevant in a level of the material world, has some kind of autonomy, like chemistry has, but this autonomy has mostly a practical and not of principal significance. If materialist “realism” requires “desanimation” and “desanthropomorphism”, life is not based on its own ultimate principle but on physics. Bunge (1980, 217) expresses his view that “one can maintain that the mind is not a thing composed of lower level things – but a collection of functions or activities of certain neural systems that individual neurons presumably do not possess. And so emergentist (or systemic) materialism – unlike eliminative materialism – is seen to be compatible with overall pluralism.” Now the question is that what does Bunge mean on the term “ontological level” or ‘genera’. In the approach outlined here, Bunge’s ontological pyramid, although consists of five sub-levels, represents only one ontological level, and is pluralistic only within this one ontological level of emergentist materialism allowing materialistic sub-levels. Therefore, regarding ultimate realities as the basic constituents of the ontological structure of reality as a whole, we should evaluate the methodological reductionism of emergentist materialism as an ontological reductionism. Materialism is considered in this approach, as usual, as being a monism, and not a pluralism. Therefore, the claim of Bunge of ontological pluralism within the framework of materialist monism seems to us as controversial. Nevertheless, we will here work out a more detailed picture of physics and ontology. Before making it, we acknowledge about some of the main proponents of present-day science in ontological affairs.
The ontological reduction of biology to physics is one of the oldest and most significant problems of science and philosophy. Today, many eminent scientists expressed their opinions favouring physicalism. For example, Feynman stated that “today we cannot see if Schrödinger equation contains frogs, composers, and morality, or not” (Feynman, 1964, 12). The views prevailing at today’s universities and in handbooks on physics, as well as such influential best-sellers as Stephen Hawking’s The Brief History of Time,express the brute and dangerously antihuman materialistic view that human beings are mere material objects the behaviour of which will be exactly calculated by the soon coming Grand Unified Theory of physics. “Yet if there really is a complete unified theory, it would also presumably determine our actions” (Hawking, 1996, 13). Penrose (1989, 578) formulates his view in the following way: “…as I am suggesting, the phenomenon of consciousness depends upon this putative CQG (Correct Quantum Gravity theory)”. Moreover, physicalism seems to be dominating not only within physicists. As Bertalanffy (1969, 64) remarked, Williams (1966) articulated the common belief among biologists, expressed both in current teaching and in research, as “the theory of selection is based on the assumption that the laws of physical science plus natural selection can furnish a complete explanation for any biological phenomenon, and that these principles can explain adaptation in general and in abstract and any particular example of an adaptation”. Jacques Monod declares: “Anything can be reduced to simple, obvious, mechanical interactions. The cell is a machine; the animal is a machine; man is a machine” (Monod 1970/1974, ix). As Daniel Stoljar (2001) formulated: „Physicalism is the thesis that everything is physical, or as contemporary philosophers sometimes put it, that everything supervenes on the physical…Of course, physicalists don’t deny that the world might contain many items that at first glance don’t seem physical — items of a biological, or psychological, or moral, or social nature. But they insist nevertheless that at the end of the day such items are wholly physical.” But if living organisms, the psychic phenomena, moral and social processes have wholly physical nature, this would mean that the laws of physics would govern live, psychic phenomena, moral decisions and social activity. Harvard Genetics Professor Richard Lewontin, a Marxist expressed his attitude in the followings (Johnson, 1997): “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute…” In How the Mind Works, MIT professor Harold Pinker argues that the fundamental premise of ethics has been disproved by science. “Ethical theory,” he writes, “requires idealisations like free, sentient, rational, equivalent agents whose behaviour is uncaused.” Yet, “the world, as seen by science, does not really have uncaused events.” In other words, “moral reasoning assumes the existence of things that science tells us are unreal” (Pearcey, 2000). These formulations demonstrate that in practice scientific materialism is a monist view ignoring completely the autonomy of any other ontological levels.
2.3. Anti-reductionist arguments
On the contrary, many people argued in favour of autonomy of biology, most of them I did not find convincing. But there are some people (Bauer, 1935; Polanyi, 1967) who recognised that the decisive point is the regulative mechanism of biology on the boundary conditions of physics. Augros and Stanciu (1987, 31) takes the stance “All the properties of the organisms we have discussed so far – its astonishing unity, its capacity to build its own parts, its increasing differentiation through time, its power of self-repair and self-regeneration, its ability to transform other materials into itself, and its incessant activity – all these not only distinguish the living being from the machine but also demonstrate its uniqueness amid the whole of nature…The organism is sui generis, is a class by itself”. “For these features we have no analogue in inorganic systems…mechanistic modes of explanation are in principle unsuitable for dealing with certain features of the organic; and it is just these features which make up the essential peculiarities of the organisms” (Bertalanffy, 1962, 108). Pattee (1961) noted that “We find in none of the present theories of replication and protein synthesis any interpretation of the origin of the genetic text which is being replicated, translated and expressed in functional proteins, nor do they lead to any understanding of the relation between particular linear sequences or distributions of subunits in nucleic acid and proteins, and the specific structural and functional properties which are assumed to result entirely from these linear sequences”. Bertalanffy (1969, 68-69) remarks that “According to Pattee (1961), the order of biological macromolecules is not adequately explained as an accumulation of genetic restrictions via selection, but replication presupposes well-ordered rather than random sequences. Thus there are principles of “self-organisation” at various levels which require no genetic control. Immanent laws run through the gammut of biological organizations.”
For our understanding the question of the reducibility of biology to physics I found one of the most informative the approach worked out by Polanyi (1967). He called attention to the fact that “machines seem obviously irreducible…They do not come into being by physical-chemical equilibration, but are shaped by man. They are shaped and designed for a specific purpose…Only the principles underlying the operations of the watch in telling the time could specify your invention of the watch effectively, and these cannot be expressed in terms of physical-chemical variables…Nothing is said about the content of a book by its physical-chemical topography. All objects conveying information are irreducible to the terms of physics- and chemistry…The laws of inanimate nature operate in a machine under the control of operational principles that constitute (or determine) its boundaries. Such a system is clearly under a dual control…Any chemical or physical study of living things that is irrelevant to the working of the organism is no part of biology, just as the chemical and physical studies of a machine must bear on the way the machine works, if it is to serve engineering…Biological principles are seen then to control the boundary conditions within which the forces of physics and chemistry carry on the business of life. This dual action of a system is said to work by the principle of boundary control…such shaping of boundaries may be said to go beyond a mere “fixing of boundaries” and establishes a “controlling principle”…it puts the system under the control of a non-physical-chemical principle by a profoundly informative intervention…he question is whether or not the logical range of random mutations includes the formation of novel principles not definable in terms of physics and chemistry. It seems very unlikely that it does include it”. It is clear that the dual nature of machines and organisms mean that the biological principle governs the behaviour of the organism and so the principles of physics and chemistry. Therefore, they necessarily represent a higher ontological level than physics does and they are not reducible to physics.
2.4. The ultimate principle of physics
For a more complete comprehension of the reducibility question, a further step towards enlightening the concept of ultimate reality becomes necessary. I think that the most easy to recognise the ultimately pluralistic nature of reality at the ultimate level. It seems that the discussions and considerations on the emergentist view and its ontological character may last for undetermined times if one does not apply for an analysis at the ultimate level. Actually, it is possible to grasp the most essential and actually ultimate, universal and autonomous element of materialism with the help of physics. The most general statement on what physics is based is the recognition that in the physical approach “all process tend towards the physical equilibrium”. All the equation of motions expresses the fact that in reality physical systems are driven towards the physical equilibrium. Closed physical systems move towards the physical equilibrium in the most efficient way, and reach it as soon as possible. The stone in free fall moves towards its physical equilibrium without any deviation. When the falling of the stone is not completely free, since aerodynamical drag and winds are in action, the stone will follow a path in which it will reach the physical equilibrium as soon as possible within its actual conditions. This recognition is expressed in the ultimate principle of physics, the action-principle or the principle of Least Action (Landau, Lifschitz 1959, 12). “A minimal requirement for respectability of a physical theory seems to be that it admit a variational principle” (Edelen, 1971, 17). The ultimate variational principle of physics, the action principle is at the apex of physics and summarises in an elegant form the laws of motion. Therefore, the action principle may be regarded as the ultimate basis of physics. Although not all part of physics is covered by the action principle, its most significant parts does. Moreover, the remaining cases do not challenge the general tendency that physical processes tend always towards physical equilibrium. It seems to be proper to refer to the general tendency of physical systems to be driven towards physical equilibrium through the context of the action principle. We may regard the action principle as being the ultimate principle of matter (and physics). We may use this recognition for formulating an exact notion of matter:
Definition 2: Material behaviour is shown only when a process follows the laws of physics and only the laws of physics. Material behaviour is ultimately determined by the action principle of physics.
3. The solution of the question: is biology reducible to physics?
3. 1. The life principle of Ervin Bauer and the question of reducibility
By my evaluation, the most thorough, systematic, insightful foundational work of theoretical biology, which is at the same time also explicitly articulated in mathematical formulations is that of Ervin Bauer (1920, 1935/1967). It is hard to evaluate the real significance of his work, and its marginal influence to the present-day science seems to be rooted largely in historical circumstances and in the ignorance of dominant materialism. Ervin Bauer was born (1890) and educated in Hungary. He has been working in the most productive period of his life (1925-1937) in Soviet Union, in Moscow and Leningrad. He became arrested and jailed in prison in 1937 and died as a victim of Stalin’s massacres in 1942 (Tokin, 1963/1965, 11-26).
In his main work “Theoretical Biology” (1935/1967) he formulated the key requirements of living systems. The first requirement is that “the living system is able to change in a constant environment, it has potential energies available to work”. His second requirement tells that a living system acts against the physical and chemical laws and modifies its inner conditions. His third, all-inclusive requirement of living systems tells that “The work made by the living system, within any environmental conditions, acts against the realisation of that equilibrium which would set up on the basis of the initial conditions of the system in the given environment by the physical and chemical laws” (Bauer, 1967, 44). This third requirement does not contradict to the laws of physics since the living system has some internal equipment, the use of which may modify the final state reached from the same initial state in the same environment. “The fundamental and general law of the living systems is the work made against the equilibrium, a work made on the constituents of the system itself” (ibid., 48).
Definition 3. Bauer formulates the universal law of biology in the following form: “The living and only the living systems are never in equilibrium, and, supported by their free energy reservoir, they are continuously invest work against the realisation of the equilibrium which should occur within the given outer conditions on the basis of the physical and chemical laws” (ibid., 51).
“One of the most spectacular and substantial difference between machines and living systems is that in the case of machines the source of the work is not related to any significant structural changes. The systemic forces of machines does work only if the constituents of the machine are taken into motion by energy sources which are outer to these constituents. The inner states of the constituents of a machine remain practically constant. The task of the constituents of a machine is to convert some kind of energy into work. In contrast, in the living systems the energy of the internal build-up, of the structure of the living matter is transformed into work. The energy of the food is not transformed into work, but to the maintenance and renewal of their internal structure and inner states. Therefore, the living systems are not power machines” (ibid., 64). The fundamental principle of biology acts against the changes which would set up in the system on the basis of the Le Chatelier-Braun principle (ibid., 59). The Bauer-principle recognises the problem of the forces acting at the internal boundary surfaces as the central problem of biology. “Modern physiology attributes all the potential differences to the characteristics of phase boundaries or the membranes, i.e. to the conditions prevailing at the internal boundary surfaces” (ibid., 85). The potential differences and the biological modification of the internal boundary conditions are in close relation with the molecular structure of the living matter. In the living state the living molecules show a characteristic elongation, a deformation which is related to electric polarisation and magnetism. The primary significance of bioelectromagnetism in the biological organisation is recognised as well: “if, due to the higher potential of the living matter, assimilation overcomes dissimilation, as it does in the embrional textures, breeding summits, the lattice structure is more deformed, shifted from the equilibrium and therefore such a locus obtains a positive charge. If some stimuli disturbs the processes of assimilation, and therefore also the maintenance of the inequilibrium structure and so the structural energy decreases, the structure becomes closer to the equilibrium and in such a locus a negative wave will develop. Now if the texture dies away, an equilibrium lattice structure will develop, and this place will have a negative charge in comparison to the living parts of the texture” (ibid., 87).
Now Definition 2 and 3 is very useful when evaluating the level of biology if it represents or not an autonomous ontological level irreducible to the physical principle. If new treats emerge on the development or complexification of a system, these emergent characteristics may still belong to the realm of physics. Emergent materialism is a monist ontology based on the belief that physical principles may trigger processes that determine the development of emergent processes, including the living processes, too. With the use of Definitions 1, 2 and 3 I show here that the concept of emergent materialism in the biological context is based on a false belief. The material behaviour (Definition 2) tends towards the physical equilibrium. The biological behaviour is governed by the life-principle (Definition 3) which acts just against the material behaviour. It can do this only by a proper modification of the boundary conditions of the physical laws. The biological modification of the (internal) boundary conditions of (living) organism is behind the realm of physics. The biological activity acts on the degrees of freedom that are not active in the material behaviour. Therefore, we found a gap between the realms of physics and biology. If the biological principle is active, because the conditions of its activity (a certain amount of complexity, suitable material structures, energies etc.) are present, it realises a thorough and systematic modification of internal boundary conditions of living organisms. In comparison, in an abstracted organism in which the biological principle is not active, the same internal boundary conditions would be not modified, and so the organism should fall towards physical equilibrium. In principle, it would be possible to fill the gap with processes in which the biological modification is not realised in a rate necessary to govern the physical processes. In practice, such intermediate processes are strongly localised in space and time, and the ontological gap is maintained by the continuous and separate actions of the physical and biological principles. This formulation offers us an unprecedented insight into the ultimate constituent of reality. Using the newly found formulation of the ultimate principle of matter, our Definition 1 may be formulated in a more exact manner:
Definition 1’: any existent is regarded as an “ultimate reality”, if it is based on a universal and ontologically irreducible ultimate principle.
Now if biology is based on an ultimate principle different and independent from the physical principle, this should mean that biology is not reducible to physics. If the principle of life did not exist as a separate and independent principle from physics, then the accidentally starting biological processes would, after a short period, quickly decline towards the state of equilibrium, towards physical “equilibrium death” (here we generalise the concept of “heat death” including not only thermodynamic equilibrium). But as long as biological laws are irreducible to physical ones, the tendency towards physical equilibrium due to the balancing tendencies of the different physico-chemical gradients cannot prevail, for they are overruled by the impulses arising from the principle of life. The main point is that the biological impulses has a nature which elicits, maintains, organise and cohere the processes which may otherwise set up only stochastically, transiently, unorganisedly and incoherently when physical principles are exclusive.
The essential novelty of the biological phenomenon therefore consists in following a different principle, which is able to govern the biological phenomena even when the physical principles keep their universal validity. Until a process leads to a result that is highly improbable by the laws of physics, it may be still a physical process. But when many such extremely improbable random process is elicited, and these extremely improbable events are co-ordinated in a way that together they follow a different ultimate principle which makes these processes a stable, long lifetime, lawful process, then we met with a substantial novelty which cannot be reduced to a lower level principle.
An analogy may serve to shed light to the way of how biology acts when compared to physics. It is like Aikido: while preserving the will of the attacker and modifying it using only the least possible energy, we get a result that is directly the opposite of the will of the attacking opponent. It is clear that the ever-conspicuous difference between living beings and seemingly inanimate entities lies in the ability of the former to be spontaneously active, to alter their inner physical conditions according to a higher organising principle in such a way that the physical laws will launch processes in them with an opposite direction to that of the “death direction” of the equilibrium which is valid for physical systems. This is the Aikido principle of life. A fighter practising the art of Aikido does not strive after defending himself by raw physical force, instead he uses his skill and intelligence to add a small power impulse, from the right position, to the impetus of his opponent’s attack, thus making the impetus of the attacker miss its mark. Instead of using his strength in trying to stop a hand coming at him, he makes its motion faster by applying some little technique: he pulls on it. Thus, applying little force, he is able to suddenly upset the balance of the attack, to change it, and with this to create a situation advantageous for him.
The Aikido principle of life is similar to the art of yachting. There, too, great changes can be achieved by investing small forces. As the yachtsman, standing on board the little ship, makes a minute move to shift his weight from one foot to the other, the ship sensitively changes its course. Shifting one’s weight requires little energy, yet its effect is amplified by the shift occurring in the balance of the hull. Control is not exerted on the direct surface physical level, but on the level of balance; it is achieved via altering balance in a favourable direction that against much larger forces, the effect of very small forces prevails. However, being able to alter balance in a favourable direction presupposes a profound (explicit or implicit) knowledge of contributing factors, also the attitude and ability to rise above direct physical relations, as well as the ability to independently bring about the desired change. If life is capable of maintaining another “equilibrium of life”, by a process the direction of which is contrary to the one pointing towards the physical equilibrium, then the precondition of life is the ability to survey, to analyse, and to spontaneously, independently and appropriately control all the relevant physical and biological states. Thus, indeed, life cannot be traced back to the general effect of the “death magnet” of physical equilibrium and mere blind chance that are the organisation factors available for physics. The principle of life has to be acknowledged as an ultimate principle which is at least as important as the basic physical principle, and which involves just the same extent of “objectivity” as the physical principle. If it is a basic feature of life that it is capable of displaying Aikido-effects, then life has to be essentially different from the inanimateness of physics, just as the principle of the behaviour of the self-defending Aikido disciple is different from the attacker’s one. Thus in the relationship of the laws of life and those of physics, two different parties are engaged in combat, and the domain of phenomena of two essentially different basic principles are connected. Practising the art of Aikido is possible only when someone recognise and learn the principle and practice of Aikido. Now regarding the origin of the principle of Aikido, it results from the study of the art of fight. Regarding the origin of the principle of biology, it cannot result from the physical laws by a physical principle, since the ultimate principle of physics acts just the contrary to the life principle. Therefore, the life principle shows up as an independent ultimate principle above the realm of physics.
3.1. The governance of organism and the reducibility of biology to physics
It is well known that the human body consists of ~1015 cells. Now in each cell regulative processes occur in a number around 105per second. Physical laws are active on our body and influence the activity of our cells, acting to produce energy dissipation and increase of disorder. Most of the chemical regulative reactions have a vital significance. Therefore, they should necessarily and inevitably occur in a highly coherent way in order to fulfil the vital needs of the organism (and to realise the conscious decisions). The regulation of the physico-chemical processes cannot occur on the basis of physics and chemistry, since it is just the physico-chemical processes that have to be submitted to a higher regulative principle in order to reach macroscopic coherency. Moreover, it would be impossible to realise such a detailed regulation of reactions having a practically cosmic multitude on a physical basis. For a physical regulative factor, all the 1020 reactions/sec of the cells should be observable simultaneously. Although the body may be transparent for electromagnetic (EM) fields, the behaviour of the global organismic EM fields seem to be fixed as belonging to the exclusive realm of physics. How is it possible that living organisms can act reasonably, and a thirsty horse can find the river without any confusion of the inner chemical reactions of her/his organism?
Let us introduce a simplifying picture and exemplify our stance on it. The organism is represented by a house, the cells by its rooms. Now the action of the life principle is on the doors and windows. The life principle is free to act on the doors and window since an energy reservoir in the cellar is connected to all the windows and doors. Now the molecular events of the air happening in the house are substantially determined by the movements of doors and windows. We became accustomed to the material terms and perceive mostly the presence of walls. Therefore, it may seem mysterious and incredible that the flow of air is determined not by the walls but by some additional, subtle factor regulating the workings of doors and windows. Nevertheless, we cannot reach by any kind of movements of any kind of outer walls the state in which there is always fresh air within the house. This means that life (fresh air) and biological action (regulation of the position of doors and windows) is not reducible to the positions of walls (physics). Actually, biological regulation is enormously more economic than any physical one.
Now how can we understand the nature of these “doors” and “windows” and the factor regulating their positions? I think their nature is related to the high complexity of living matter and to the ultimate principle of biology. The high complexity is needed to the appearance of unused degrees of freedom. Actually, every elementary particle or atom have (at least) 3 degrees of freedom, related to the 3 possible directions of their spatial translational motion. When two-atom molecules are formed, additional degrees of freedom are introduced, related to their rotational asymmetries. Two rotational degree of freedoms appear related to the possible orientations of the rotational axis. As more and more complex compounds appear, new, additional degrees of freedom show up. Already the increase of the number of constituents in itself increases the degrees of freedom. For example, the Sun has a practically infinite degree of freedom, since it consists of more than 1056 particles. Now the bullet in a pistol does not have any degree of freedom once the shot occurred. This situation is due to the constraints of the wall of the pistol. Mechanical constraints in the living cell do not extend to all degrees of freedom and therefore with the increase of the number and/or complexity of the compounds, the number of the unused, free degrees of freedom grows.
Unfortunately, the fact that with the growing of complexity the unused degrees of freedom grows enormously, seems to be not widely recognised. For example, in a critic of Polanyi’s non-physico-chemical organising principle Hull (1974, 139) objects: “The only candidate for Polanyi’s ordering principle that originated life is the bounding properties of the chemical elements”. This objection is completely invalid for molecules with a significant complexity. As a matter of fact, with the growing degree of complexity the bounding properties of the chemical elements leave more and more degrees of freedom unconstrained, especially when the molecules may be bound in all the three dimensions and many spatial variations become possible. Cyrus Levinthal pointed out at the end of the nineteen-sixties that even for a small protein molecule, consisting of only 100 amino acids, each having 4 different possible positions in the protein molecule, the number of the possible configurations is around 1060. Assuming that this protein molecule wants to reach a different state, e.g. one of the states with the minimum energy, it would need 1030 times the lifetime of the Universe if a physical mechanism play a role of “active information” oscillating with a frequency of 1013 Hz. But it was observed that protein molecules normally find other configurations within hours, sometimes within a millisecond. This contradiction is known as the Levinthal paradox. There is no known solution for this paradox (Callender et al., 1994). The proposal this work makes is that such unconstrained degrees of freedom do not need a physical mechanism to organise them since they may be coupled directly to the universal principle of life. Therefore, the life principle supplies the regulating agency in the form of “biological constraints” and the free opening-closing of doors and windows are related to the “biological degrees of freedom”. In this way, the material hardware of the house is represented by physics, and the infrastructure or software of the house is represented by the life principle. Now since the infrastructure or software is not determined by the hardware, the widely held view that biology should be reducible to physics should be revised.
3.2. A Possibly Useful Cosmic Criteria of life and The Sun as a Living Being
Bunge (1985, 4) remarked that: “Students of life become interested in a definition of the concept of life during their freshman year and at the end of their career. In between they are discouraged from trying to elucidate that concept and, in general, from getting involved in philosophical questions. They are encouraged instead to “get on with their business”, which supposedly is anything but trying to understand life…Here we need to recall only some of the properties deemed jointly necessary and sufficient for a thing to be alive. They are metabolism, multiplication, heredity, and variability.” In searching a general criterion of life that is not fixed to terrestrial life forms, I find the above life-criteria overspecialised. All the above-indicated properties of life are more symptoms of life instead of expressing the basic and necessary condition. I regard sensitivity as the real fundamental specification of life. Without sensitivity life would not be worthwhile to be lived. Sensitivity is based on our connections with our internal and outer sources of information. Without having access to any source of information life is not possible. Sensitivity also includes a specific relation to the incoming outer and inner information. This specific relation has to be manifested in an unequal attitude to the information, in dependence on the content of information. Many of the incoming information may be found irrelevant, and only some information may be important. Life in its essence is an activity related to a selection between “important” and “irrelevant” information, and more than that: it also includes an activity expressing the result of the processed information. It is possible to imagine an existent living in the world of information, whose “life” is generated by its “psychic” activity in which she/he selects and processes the selected information. Nevertheless, such an existence would be at most a psychic life, without actual, material life. If we want a real, manifested life, we need actions based on processed information. And, as usual, it is this last step of the life-chain that is the easiest to observe, measure and determine for an outer observer. This last step of manifestation needs a material organisational activity embodied in the bodily world, and certain amplification is a necessarily requisite of the life-process. A material organism has a kind of energetics, and its energetics has to be coupled to the processes occurring in the information level. Therefore, inevitably the material processes have to be governed towards the action corresponding to the processed information (“decisions”).
In this way, I find it promising to search for ultra-sensitive processes in the widely enriched processes of our material Cosmos. Recent astrophysical research raised the possibility that the Sun can have a living nature (see Grandpierre, 1996, 1997a, 1999a, 2000, 2002). The Sun shows the phenomenon of self-initiating activity characteristic to living beings, in the well-known phenomena of solar activity. The Sun is shown to be in an ultra-sensitive state in its basic activity phenomena, selectively amplifying some of its inner and outer perturbations. The astronomically very small effects of planetary tides to the Sun (and perhaps planetary electromagnetism) may play an important role in initiating explosionary processes in the solar core when the tidal waves interact with local magnetic fields. This interaction produces macroscopic heating in the form of local electric currents. The arising local heating in the solar core may lead to a positive feedback since the rate of nuclear reactions grows on a high power of temperature. The positive feedback leads to the acceleration of nuclear reactions, which produce more heat, which accelerates again the nuclear reactions until so hot bubbles are generated which will be accelerated towards the outer layers. When reaching the subphotospheric layers with relatively high velocities, they may produce atmospheric explosions known as solar flares. This recently found ultra-sensitivity of the solar activity is basically similar to the stimulus-response regarded as basic life criteria of earthly beings. The more so, since not only the outer influences of planets, but the local free energy content of the Sun is the one which determines which “stimulus” is to be amplified and how. Moreover, the nuclear resources act to extend the lifetime of the star-state of the Sun with a factor of million times. Therefore nuclear burning seems to play the role at the Sun similar what nutrition plays at the earthly organisms. The photospheric patterns of the Sun show the presence of a yet unknown ordering factor (Grandpierre, 1984; Saniga, 1992a,b, 1993, 1996). The Sun shows up as a sensibly open system to remote control organising its own activity and manifesting a deep order. These new results put the question of the nature of the Sun into a radically new perspective that is already accessible for the scientific inquiry. Following this train of thought, a brain-approach of the Universe has been developed recently (Grandpierre, 1999b).
3.3. The different natures of the physical and biological principles: elementary physical and elementary biological events
One has to realise that the innermost activity of our internal world is not easy to grasp by an outer consideration. Therefore, it seems to be reasonable to develop an approach to study the more outer levels at first: physics and biology, instead to start from psychology. Now we have the ultimate principle of physics and biology as well. How can we exemplify their meaning in the practice?
To make a step on this way, I propose the introduction of the concepts “elementary physical event” and “elementary biological event”. These events will be exemplified in the case of a cat. A child pulls this poor cat’s tail. This is the elementary “outer event”. Now we are curious to see if the cat behaves by the principle of physics or by the principle of biology (let us assume that we do not know in advance if the cat is alive or dead). By the laws of physics, the cat should be pulled in the direction of the child’s arm. The child exerted a small force, therefore the cat should be accelerated for a while, and later on decelerated by the frictional force. During her/his whole motion she/he should keep on moving in one direction (of the child’s arm). The elementary physical event consists of a net translation of the cat in the direction of the pull on a microscopic or a macroscopic scale.
Now the elementary biological event is something quite different. As the life principle expresses, the living cat should act differently, against the net translation in the direction of the pull. How can we imagine this elementary biological event? Should we think that it consists in a net translation in the opposite direction? Or should we think that the cat is more involved, and the elementary biological action will be the motion of her/his mouth and tooth towards the hand of the child? In this latter case, we can recognise that the cat has to make a turn. Her/his turn will occur in a circle, the radius of which will be the smaller depending on the force the cat may exert, on the frictional forces etc.
This exemplification points out that the life principle may be useful also in relation to the actual behaviour. Moreover, the life-principle may be the more useful if the results offered by physics are also included in the actual research. Therefore, the exploration of a new ontological level of life does not mean that we have to pay attention exclusively to the level of life, ignoring or regarding unscientific any research which lies behind the scope of our newly explored realm of existence, as one-sided materialism does. Actually, even in the case of consciousness research the method to consider the physical conditions of the different states of consciousness and variations within the states of consciousness is an inevitable and important approach (Grandpierre, 1997b).
3.4. The Four Causes and their relation to physics
The multi-levelled structure of reality may seem as a strange conception for anyone accustomed to the oversimplifying materialist monism. Because of the subtle nature of biological action (i.e. the modification of the internal boundary conditions which govern sensitively the physically realised action), one regard the physical causation as forming a closed system (Bunge, 1959). Nevertheless, physical causes actually do not form a closed realm of causality, and the universe is causally opened (Popper, 1982, 185). One may observe the causal openness (regarding physical causation) on the example of a jump into the air. Why did we jump into the air? Physically we jumped into the air because our bodily conditions and energy processes elicited the jump. Biologically we jumped into the air because our internal boundary conditions became modified and they governed the physical boundary conditions in a way that elicited the jump. Consciously, we jumped into the air because we felt a motive to do so. Self-consciously, we jumped into the air because we decided to do so, and this decision triggered the biological modifications that elicited the physical jump. We have three levels of processes and four levels of causes. There are “objects” which exist in the physical realm only. There are organisms that exist in both the physical and biological realm. And there are self-informing beings who are able to modify the “information” which they experience from their internal and outer sources. The fact that human beings have responsibility proves that conscious thought has the ability to determine our actions. The existence of free will is empirically proven by the existence and universal acceptance of responsibility. Therefore, in forming our decisions, we are not determined by the three ultimate levels of matter, life and consciousness. In order to close the circuit of causes, we are forced by Nature to create the personal range of information. Therefore, the idea that every event has a kind of cause (or, if we prefer, a kind of general determination) now leads us to a fourfold causal structure of the world, to the recognition of material, biological, conscious and self-conscious causes. The fourfold causal structure of the world may be in some relation to the Aristotelian Four Causes (Aristotle, 1966).
Already Polanyi (1967) recognised that DNA carries effective information through the modification of the internal boundary conditions of the living beings. Espinoza (1990, 182) proposed that the “final cause” of Aristotle is in action. He suggested that “the final cause does not act directly on matter. Efficient causes do…The matter aspiring to a definite end is not just any matter but, so to speak, a matter already invested with some kind of appropriate information (think of the development of an egg: its relatively formless matter becomes increasingly formed)”. Recently, Ulamowicz (1999) recognised that “formal and final agencies are capable of exerting top-down selection upon stochastic events below…There is a growing consensus that some form of positive feedback is responsible for much of the order and structure we perceive in living systems (e.g. Eigen 1971, Haken 1988, Kauffmann 1995, DeAngelis et al 1986)…as soon as chance and variation enter the scene, autocatalysis begins to exhibit some behaviors that are decidedly nonmechanical in nature…Ecosystems are ontically open: Indeterminacies, or “genetic events” can arise anytime, at any scale. Mechanical, or efficient causes usually originate at scales inferior to that of observation and propagate upwards; formal agencies appear at the focal level; and final causes arise at higher levels and propagate downward (Salthe 1985, Ulamowicz 1997)”. Although the determination of the causal levels are not given in a precise form (the mechanical/physical-biological-psychological/social/ecosystemic levels are not clearly indicated), the general notion that each ontic level has its own causal agency strengthens the connection what we found between the three-levelled ontological structure of the world and the fourfold nature of causation.
4. Further arguments against the monism of emergent materialism
In searching to-down forms of causation as well as mechanisms able to create order, it is frequently cited the phenomenon of Bénard convection (e.g. Peacock, 1986, 153). Nevertheless, as the mathematical analysis of Chandrasekhar (1961) has shown, the formation of regular cell-shaped convective elements at the surface of a fluid heated from below is in a direct connection with the boundary conditions. Formulating this recognition in other words, the boundary conditions may act as top-down ordering causes (and so play a role in maintaining the integrity of organisms). Moreover, the regular, macroscopic boundary conditions (constraints on the physical parameters at the horizontal planes at the bottom and the top of the fluid) are the causes of the macroscopic order manifested in the regular cell-structure of convective flows. In the absence of a macroscopic, regular boundary condition physics is unable to lead to macroscopic order. Therefore, since the internal boundary conditions are the ones on which the ultimate principle of biology exerts its influence, the life principle has to be the ultimate source of the order found in living systems.
Apparently, the only really important argument in favour of emergent, ontological materialism could be based on the recognition of von Neumann (1966, 80) telling that self-reproducing automata may be built above a certain level of complexity. “There is thus this completely decisive property of complexity, that there exists a critical size below which the process of synthesis is degenerative, but above which the phenomenon of synthesis, if properly arranged, can become explosive, in other words, where syntheses of automata can proceed in such a manner that each automaton will produce other automata which are more complex and of higher potentialities than itself”. Now if an automaton could be built which can have a product of higher complexity and higher potentiality than itself, this would be a strong argument in favour of emergent materialism. But – as far as I see – the point is on the words: “if properly arranged”. The automaton can produce higher potentialities if the material within it is arranged with the help of its possible inner combinations. It is true that the number of the inner combinations of a highly complex system may be higher than the number of its material constituents. Actually, the number of possible combinations increases explosively with the growing number of the elements. Nevertheless, these possible combinations are mere potentialities of a kind, which can be useful only if they will be ordered somehow. From the explosively growing potential reservoir of possible combinations one get obtain a product of higher potentiality only if some agency is at work which realises the highly organised order to be attain in the product. Therefore, the argument implicitly assumes the presence of an organising factor that is responsible for the end product. Now the argument may be formulated in the following equivalent form: the automata may have a higher potentiality of product if it has a certain amount of complexity and if its inner states are organised by an agency having higher potentiality that that of the automata itself.
The falsification of the apparently strongest argument favouring emergent materialism is observably strengthening an ontological version of the “genetic principle”: life cannot be produced from mere inanimate matter, without the active role of the life principle. On the other hand, since the life principle is universal, and – having a principal nature – it exists beyond space and time, therefore it is able to create in all cases life from inanimate matter in all the cases when it finds suitable conditions. Therefore, the experiments on a laboratory creation of organic compounds actually do not represent valid arguments favouring any kind of materialist monism.
5. A proposed solution of the mind-body problem
5.1. On the freedom of our will
It is a fact that philosophers continue a long and apparently endless dispute on questions like the existence of free will. Approaching from the past to the present, it seems that more and more dominating is the view that human will is mechanically, or physically determined. Augros and Stanciu (1985, 10) wrote: “In fact, if one assumes a rigorous materialism, any influence of the mind or will on the brain must be denied. Material changes cause thought, not the reverse. Nineteenth century mathematician W. K. Clifford in a lecture on science puts it succinctly: “If anyone says that the will influences matter, the statement is not untrue, it is nonsense”. Richard Dawkins, in the Selfish Gene (1976, 21), proposes that man is not a cause but an effect, and that life and mind are merely the outcome of genes. Biologist E. H. Mercer (1981, 1) agrees: “Most scientists in practice behave as if they believed that only matters of convenience or convention separate physics from biology; or put it in another way, they act on a belief that there is really only one science” (physics).
The problem of free will may be exemplified in the followings. A mother with her child is at the pavement. She warns her child: beware the traffic before you step on the road! Trying to analyse this general practice of mothers, I could not escape the impression that the mother warns her child because she believes that the repeated warnings will elicit the attention of her child, with the result that the grown-up child will be able to cross the road safely. This belief is not problematic from the point of view of everyday practice and beliefs. Although this practice is implicitly based on the reality of free will which is able to exert material influence on the body, this is not problematic since it is a widespread view. Practically, a mother who do not warn her child and explains her practice on the basis of the illusory nature of free will, would count as abnormal and manifesting acutely dangerous behaviour. Apparently, the case seems to be different if it is viewed from the teacher’s desk of a physicist. The physicist could explain and defend his view against the common sense pointing out that free will is connected with the notion of an immaterial, ghostly mind, and immaterial ghosts cannot elicit material effects. History has shown that ghosts do not exist – he may add, too.
Now my point is that in vital affairs our everyday practice is better founded than the physicist’s argumentation. The physicist’s argument is false since implicitly he assumes the causal closure of physical causes. In the light of the everyday experience in vital affairs like crossing the roads, I can deduce that the causal closure of physical causes has to be a false view. Biological, and conscious, mental causes should be real agents and initiate material effects. The physical causes are open towards biological and mental agents. The many centuries debate on free will actually may be resolved.
The reality and material influence of an ultimately immaterial agent may be regarded as proven. Another proof is offered by the well-known empirical fact of responsibility. If our bodies would work governed only by objective, physical laws, than noone could be responsible for her/his deeds. But it is an empirical fact that all cultures are based on the concept of responsibility. Actually, a more strong evidence is also offered for us by the recognition that it would be impossible to build up an organised society without the notion of responsibility. Not only the criminals could reject their punishments, but every child could reject their bringing up. If a consequent control group could arrest every people who applies the notion of responsibility in her/his behaviour, no people would be allowed to go their working place and they should wait until their bodies raise them and carry them away. No people can expect salaries at the end of the weeks or months since their bosses cannot say: I know that you worked here therefore I decide to pay you your salary. This would be a ghost in action. Actually, noone could be allowed to move by our own will, and so we should not decide to go to the kitchen to eat something. Responsibility is a universal and fundamental fact of every human civilisation. But the concept of responsibility is based on the notion that our thoughts are responsible for our behaviour. Therefore, the universal fact of responsibility rejects rigorous materialism and physicalism, although – due to the freedom of will from its own reality– one cannot expect that the overly long dispute on the existence of free will will cease from now on. Such ideas of Marx’s as “it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness” may show up in a different light.
5.2. The freedom of our thoughts
It is a fundamental fact of (at least) the human life that we can think freely, we can think what we want. A closer scrutiny reveals that this freedom of thoughts on a short time-scale is practically constrained to the realm with which we are already familiar. We can think on birds, on mountains, on love, on sunshine – because we learned their notion. Nevertheless, this “constrained freedom” may be enlarged with a thorough, systematic study, with careful attention directed towards the immanent laws of our thoughts and our whole reality. Therefore, the constrained, local freedom of thought may turn into a global, universal freedom with the help of a universal, reliable knowledge. Popper (1994, 63) recognised that the products of human mind, especially the theories are real existents, because we can exert influence on our theories and our theories influence our factual behaviour. In this way, substantial knowledge is the ontological condition of the freedom of our consciousness.
5.3. On some cases demonstrating the material influences of consciousness
It may still seem that the material influence of consciousness could be something hazy, nebulous idea far away from our real everyday practical lives. Actually, it is not known any factual measurement or experiment in which the material influence of consciousness was measured. In this case, it would be advisable to refresh our thinking with a few new examples demonstrating the palpability of the mental effects on our bodies.
It is a widespread experience that we could willingly accelerate or decelerate the timing of falling into sleep. Now since such a macroshift in our bodily state is certainly related with significant changes in the energetics of our organism, we could deduce from the fact of willingly influence of falling into sleep that our mind is capable to exert real influence on our material energies moving our bodies. A more remarkable example may be when an addict smoker willingly stops smoking. Going into extremities, it is practically possible that even heroin addicts may willingly decide to stop the use of the drug, despite of the terrible sufferings of the organism experiencing definite and energetic material automatisms like spasms and cramps. Comparing the material influence of our consciousness to such bodily energetics as related to cramps, we may led to a recognition that consciousness is able to exert a finite and measurable influence on our own body.
I pointed out that the outer material effects of consciousness are physically measurable and they may be amplified in proportion to the second power of the number of participants (Grandpierre, 2001).
5.4. Some consequences of the free will and freedom of thought
The real material influences of consciousness, the freedom of thought and free will shows the independence of self-consciousness from its biological roots. Besides these facts, it is a general empirical observation that humans are attracted to develop and deepen our knowledge. Curiosity is a natural givenness and a basic drive of human activity in general.
We can conclude that above the ontological levels of physical matter and biological organisms one may recognise a third, independent, autonomous ontological level which is able to govern the biological and physical behaviour. Therefore, we accomplished the task of determining the ontological structure of the universe. I introduce the notation writing universe with capital letter (Universe) when life and mind are also included, while using the small letter (universe) to denote only the material universe, being coherent with the present-day materialistic notation. We found that the Universe has a three-levelled structure and determined that each of these three levels are ultimately determined and governed by their ultimate principles. These ultimate principles are universal, extend to the whole Universe, since their nature is principal, i.e. spiritual, and so they exist behind space and time. All the material forces, subtle biological modifications and more subtle influences of consciousness originate from the principal realm.
6. Suggestions for practical applications of the principal worldview
6.1. Lessons that may be obtained to enhance our conscious activities
It is interesting and also worthwhile to consider to what extent we human beings are taking part in our own vital functions. To what extent are we as conscious beings taking our proper part in the activity of our organism, of our intrinsic organisation, of our vital force, at our spiritual level? Are we doing our best to distance ourselves as far as possible from the dead state of the physical equilibrium in our mental realm? Are we using all our powers to increase our capability of living? Are we directing all our powers against those physical and chemical forces that affect us in a given situation? Do our lives move in the line of least resistance, like that of a stone thrown away? Can we consciously feel the attraction of our intrinsic vital force, and do we carry it on, reinforcing it by living a consciously conducted life? Do we really shape our lives in an independent, autonomous and spontaneously active way, in accordance with the attraction of the ultimate principles of our lives? We as living beings should thoroughly consider what possibilities we are given by revealing the ultimate, principal nature of our lives.
6.2. Some differences between populations 1, 2 and 3
Now that we obtained a picture of the ultimate principles, let us examine how the life principle may exert its influence for the different populations of the ultimate levels. Let us assume that physical objects populate only the physical level (Population 1, or P1), plants and animals populate the physical and the biological level (Population 2, or P2) and human beings populate all the three levels of physics, biology and self-consciousness (Population 3, or P3).
What is the main difference between the activity structure of a Population 2 and a Population 3 being? While the Population 3 beings perceive all the three ultimate principles, the Population 2 beings observe (mostly) only two ontological levels, a fact that makes a difference. In the P3 activity structure, between our P3 mental perception and our physical behaviour there are interim levels, among which – as shown by our inquiry – one of the essential ones is the regulating, controlling, amplifying, directing and guiding effect of the life principle. Thus, for P2 beings the perception of the physical principle is not mediated through an intermediate ontological level. Because for P2 beings this process is therefore without any transmission, the perception and expression of the life principle are made not indirect (as for P3 beings) but direct, and this suggests that the one that perceives and the one that is expressed are closely identical. For us, transmissive P3 beings, who have not only one, but three ultimate driving principles (and four realms of causes) with transmissions (couplings) between them, this closing identity may seem strange, sometimes even mechanical or automatic. We know that machines work exclusively on the basis of the physical principle, that is, without the transmission of another principle. Now we may return to deal with the question: how are elementary particles capable of perceiving the fundamental physical principle?
6.3. Matter or principle? Is materialism physical or spiritual?
Now we can return to the fundamental principle of materialism and “physicalism” (the physical world concept), namely to the principle of inert matter. This action principle made it possible to recognise the real connections of phenomena, and this principle made it possible to represent and describe the physical phenomena in a mathematical and logical form. There is a significant difference between talking of the atom with knowledge of the laws and principles of physics (and, generally, logic) in mind on the one hand, and talking of the atom without such knowledge in mind on the other. Without any comprehensive and inevitably spiritual organising factor, physics would have no laws, and nor would logic have any – thus we would be simply unable to conceive of something as sterile and abstract as the notion of the atom. Without a principal factor, materialistic nuclear physics would never get further than the sterile concept of the atom. Materialism, being “matter-principled”, is founded on corporeal/material and inevitably on principal/spiritual grounds at the same time. Materialism builds up on a material and a spiritual factor: on atoms and on physical laws. There are no atoms without physical laws, and this fundamental fact shows that there is no materialism without spiritualism. And this is not only empirical counter-argument, because sheer materiality, the concept suggested by materialism, is essentially a self-contradicting concept, denying its own generating factor, the principle behind which generates the concept itself. It is easy to see that a sheer materialistic view, one that would really deny all spirituality, would be like the perfect embodiment of closedness and readiness: it would be an eternally inert, inanimate world without laws and understanding. Therefore, we have to keep in mind that actually materialism essentially represents a kind of obscure spirituality, of a controversial kind that actually denies its own spiritual nature.
6.4. Are interactions material?
We can draw important new conclusions here. According to the materialistic view, apples fall on the ground because the Earth attracts them. But how is the Earth able to exert attractive force? By what device? Does it emit an attractive effect? If yes, what is the nature of that effect – is it material or spiritual? How can the attractive effect exert attraction? Does it let out some kind of matter from itself, for example gravitons in the case of gravitation? But if this would be so, the amount of gravitation of bodies should decrease after a time. Similarly, electric charges could not remain strictly static at a constant charge, they would have to emit electro-magnetic energy permanently, and thus the field of force of the charges would have to diminish. Even if one would acknowledge the fact of energy and mass emission from gravitational, electric etc. charges, one could speculate that they could get back the same amount of energy-mass from the quantum-vacuum field of the universe. Even in this case it would be necessary a principle which should regulate continuously all the charges of the universe in order that the energy-mass exchange input and output should be balanced. In this case, we again would reach a picture in which a principle regulates the mass and energy flows of the universe.
Now the “hard question” surfaces again: how can a spiritual principle exert a material effect? Taking another example: contemporary science regards the value of electric charges as a universal and unchangeable constant (although there are some theories about gravitation diminishing with time). If we disregard from the hypothetical universal balancing mechanism, then we have no other choice but to admit that the influences (be they electro-magnetic or gravitational) that bodies emit are not of a material nature, since all matter has energy and a corresponding amount of mass. Now since a new-born charge have a material influence, it should emit material influence therefore energy from itself, and so its charge should decrease which is not the case. From this thought-experiment we can conclude that here we are dealing with effects that can be described with mathematical exactness, but which are not exclusively material effects. In both of these cases, the question arises: where does the ability of matter to exert influences come from if its material substance remains constant? This is a question worth considering.
6.5. Clever matter?
How do atoms know the laws of physics? How does the wind know in which way to blow under any given circumstances? It knows this because the power arising from the differential pressure drives it towards areas where the pressure is lower. But why does matter migrate to places with a lower pressure? Because this is prescribed by the laws of physics. Eventually, this is caused by the principle of least action. But then again, how can a principle cause a physical effect? How can a spiritual factor like a principle be able to move matter? This is a question we should attempt to understand. And the ultimate questions of physics is: why are there physical laws at all, and how can any body follow the principle of least action? The answer to these questions is that light travels between two points on the shortest possible route, even if there is a mirror in its way somewhere along its course. But how is light able to select the shortest route? Yes, following the least action principle. When Feynman introduced the method of summing over the path-integrals, he pointed out that in order to be able to follow the principle of least action, light (or any other quantum process) must “virtually” go over all the possible routes, over all the possible histories, and then these add up to the “actual” shortest route. Feynman has put all this into a mathematical formula – but how is it possible that a lifeless and sterile atom can do all that? How can a perfectly abstract atom perceive a principle and behave according to it? Is then a principle such a spiritual factor that is capable of exerting physical effects? Such questions are not asked today since the dominant worldview of scientists is materialism. The typical physicist of our time adopted uncritically a “home-spun philosophy (which) goes by the name operationism. It holds that a symbol, such as an equation, has a physical meaning only to the extent to which it concerns some possible human operations. Which entails that the whole of physics is about operations, chiefly measurements and computations, rather than about nature” (Bunge 1973, 1). Materialism led to a general practice to give up the original aim of science exploring reality and to prefer instead serving the material concepts and constraints of our societies.
These questions raise the problem of the origins of physical laws in a Pythagorean context. In the contemporary materialist view, this problem cannot be accounted for on a scientific basis. But the materialist exclusion of the question of the origin of the physical laws from the scope of science is a refutation of the original aim of science: to understand nature. Science should not declare that it is a scientific taboo to examine the laws of those levels of Nature that are deeper than the physical level. If present-day science does so, we can be sure that that is an unscientific and anti-cognitive, occult attitude.
How can we examine the problem of the origin of physical laws while preserving the aim of science: to understand nature through valid and systematic knowledge?
6.6. The origin of physical laws
From where does the laws of physics arise? Eddington suggested in the frame of the present day scientific views that the maintenance of these laws are not supported by any factor behind these laws, therefore these laws are law-like only as an ultimately improbable chance event. The laws can be present from the beginnings of the Universe only by a chance coincidence of events – it is not possible to exclude the case when from the completely random collisions of atoms an illusion develops. It has to be clear, says Eddington, that from the fact that the stone falls down after hundred throwing does not necessitate absolutely that the stone will fall dawn after the 101st throwing up. And if it falls down at the end, it is only a mere result of chance again. Therefore, there are no physical laws in the Universe: the apparent lawfulness is a result of an extremely rare ultimate coincidence of random events. Therefore the materialist logic leads to the denial of physical laws which are established already and found reliable by the empirical facts.
I do not think that we can be satisfied with such a description which do not reach the causes and remains in the realm of phenomena only. We cannot live in a world consisting only of chance events. Such a conception would undermine the basis of our personal and communal life conduct. The term “chance” here expresses only that the cause of the phenomenon studied is not known. Therefore, chance cannot explain any phenomena since the term “explain” involves setting up a relation that explains the yet unknown with a known. So we do not think that the interpretation of the origin of physical laws as being the result of a mere chance would explain anything. Now the basic physical principle, the principle of least action is not attempted to be understood as itself being a phenomenon. On the contrary, emphasising the difference between the absolute validity of the physical laws and the awkwardness of human activity suggests that the automatic, mechanistic character of the prevalence of the physical laws implies that atoms could not have free will at all. But is it really true that in the atomic world every event goes on with an absolute necessity? We are far away from thinking it to be true in the realm of physics itself. Not only chaotic phenomena, but more evidently the phenomenon of life is developed with the assistance of atoms. Therefore if life is grown out from the atomic world, then the causal closure of physical causes is actually broken, and the atomic world had to be able to generate the biological laws. These biological laws are able to govern the physical laws within the conditions present in living organisms, which are also generated by the atomic world. Now we have to see that although for a physicist it would not seem necessary, since it does not follow from the laws of physics, in reality the atomic world has to be able to make free decisions, and it realises such free decisions during its activity when the proper conditions are reached. It is an empirical fact that the “decision” made by the atomic world is in favour of development of conditions necessary to life and life itself. And now we can consider the question: is it true that strictly consequent behaviour is possible only by machines?
To be able to answer this question it is necessary to find the proper context. This is needed since it is easy to state that atoms are not alive, since atoms cannot speak to us, and they do not have expert journals indexed by human reference periodicals to officially refute the claim of inanimateness. Moreover we know that Descartes claimed that not only atoms but animals are also inanimate. But we may realise now that there is an essential difference between machines and living organism, namely that organisms have inner motivations which may dominate over the outer conditions, which machines do not have. It is true that it is not easy to demonstrate from an inner motivation that it is truly inner. But the question is settled by the theoretical biology of Ervin Bauer who recognised that living beings follow a deeper organising principle than the inanimate objects. Therefore now it is possible to draw proper conjectures from the fact that the realm of animals is not so far away from us.
6.7. Atomic instincts
Apparently, the governing factor in human consciousness is aware self-consciousness. The self-conscious reason is free in the sense if it is able to decide within certain conditions by its own viewpoints. At the same time, self-consciousness is based on a consciousness-without-self-reflection. This consciousness without self-reflexivity, as nature shows us, possess reason and this is why animals act reasonably, grow and act coherently with their needs. Self-consciousness is only a late offspring of the reasonfull natural consciousness. So our actions are not only governed by self-consciousness, but also by this natural consciousness. We see in the animal kingdom that the behaviour of animals is largely governed by instincts, which appear as universal, almost inevitable motives that move the animals. When compared to humans, it is apparent that the behaviour of animals is governed in a larger extent and degree by instincts than behaviour of the humans. We may recognise that the effect of instincts in human behaviour is not realised with such a strict necessity than at the animals. Now we can observe that as we go away from the human world towards the animal kingdom and more in this direction, we may found that the instincts are stricter in the more primitive animals, and they may be still stricter at plants. When we continue and extend our considerations to the atomic world, the progressive rigidity of instincts seems to be continuing at the atomic world as well. It is reasonable to assume, that the instincts are more stiff in the atomic world, than in the kingdom of plants, animals and humans. This is apparently only a difference in degree, not in substance. Therefore, it seems to be plausible to conjecture that instincts should be the strongest and stiffest in the atomic world.
We reached a conjecture that the atoms are less independent from their own inner drives than humans. This conjecture may also be evaluated in a sense that the atoms show more consequent behaviour than people. Being more consequent, it is easier to describe their behaviour by mathematics. But this does not mean necessarily that they do not “think” and are not able to decide freely within certain conditions proper to them, since they already proved their freedom by developing life and consciousness where they are able to behave more freely. Doing this, they transcended the laws of physics and developed the realms of biology and psychology. The fact that it is possible to describe a phenomenon mathematically does not imply that the entity realising the phenomenon is dead. For example, it is possible to describe the motion of an animal rolling down of a hill, but this does not imply that the animal is dead.
Therefore, from the fact that the atoms are more consequent than people are, it is not valid to conjecture that atoms are inanimate objects. On the contrary, we can observe that the instincts are demonstrated the most directly and naturally in the behaviour of atoms, especially in a long baseline timeframe. This conjecture opens up a new perspective for the study of the general instincts of Nature. We obtained a solution of a riddle unsolved for thousand years. Both science and religion declared as insoluble or inconceivable the question of the origin of physical laws. Now we obtain an important insight to the nature of this riddle: the physical laws develop as a consequence of phenomena very similar to that of the human world: inner motivations, inner principles are their ultimate movers. Therefore, the origin of physical laws leads us to the inner world of Nature, untouched until now. This is the realm from where the laws of physics arise. In this way we obtained a context of interpretation which instead of separating physics from philosophy, connects them together, and doing this it expands the usual range of scientific investigation.
One may observe that materialism when attempting to cut down any spirituality from the universe, it cuts away itself from being able to understand the origin of physical laws. Atoms are able to follow the laws of physics since they perceive the world of their own instincts. Their bonds to their world are more rigid than that of humans to theirs. Expressing the difference with a metaphor, atoms are small skiffs driven by the flow of the river of their instincts. Man, in comparison, appears more like a sailing-boat, and bonded also to another principle, it is able to navigate with both drives: the drive of the flow below, and the drive of the wind above. This is why Man is able to proceed less rigidly and faster. But the wind is also the result of the free energy, the heat surplus of the atoms of the river. And the sail of the larger boats is also created by the atoms of the river by their own decisions in this metaphor.
Our considerations suggest that the hypothesis of identical particles of particle physics have to be tested experimentally, suggesting concrete experiments which could explore e.g. how the individual history of large amounts of radioactive materials do influence the radioactive decay of a radioactive element under intense regular laser impulses with strict frequencies occurring in strict periods (E. K. Grandpierre, 2000).
Our result is that the considerations of the origin of physical laws do not led us out from the range of science. On the contrary: our search for the origin of physical laws supplied us a scientific evidence that the range of science extends beyond strict and exclusive materialism, involving not only the sovereignty of biology, psychology and self-consciousness, but reaching as well until philosophy which has to be able to consider the ultimate meaning of the ultimate principles, the archi. Recognising the nature of these archi, we living beings and more or less humans will become able to realise our own deepest nature with clearer and brighter prominence.
In our research we found deep and meaningful connections between the basic principle of physics and the ultimate principles of the Universe, Nature, biological phenomena and reason. Therefore, the principle of least action is not necessarily an expression of sterile inanimateness. On the contrary, the principle of physics is related to the life principle of the universe, to the world of instincts behind the atomic world, in which the principles of physics, biology, psychology and self-consciousness arise from the same integrative ultimate principle. It is remarkable, that the ultimate principles of matter, life and consciousness, and the related Four Causes show close and essential similarity with the four archi of the ancient Greeks that apparently originated under the influence of Scythian-Chaldean-Parthian world-view. Our research sheds new light to the sciences of physics, biology, psychology and self-consciousness in close relation to the ultimate principles. These ultimate principles have a primary importance in our understanding the nature of Man and the Universe, together with the relations between Man and Nature, Man and Universe. The results offer new foundations for our understanding our own role in the Earth, in the Nature and in the Universe. Even the apparently inanimate world of physics shows up as being animate on long timescales and having a kind of pre-human consciousness in its basic organisation. This conjecture offers a way to understand when and how the biological laws may direct physical laws, and, moreover, offers a new perspective to study and understand under which conditions can self-consciousness govern the laws of psychology, biology and physics. This perspective offers for us, living beings and humans a possibility to strengthen our natural identity, and recognise the wide perspective arising from having access to the deepest ranges of our own human resources and realising the task for which human and individual life is created.
The author wishes to express his thanks to Dávid Galántai in preparing the translation of this text.
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