No ultimate laws of nature?

How does science work? And what's all this about quantum mechanics?

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Lawrence Crocker
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No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Lawrence Crocker » Mon Aug 17, 2015 7:35 pm

Could there be no ultimate laws of nature?

It is easy to imagine that there might be no ultimate, general laws of nature. All laws might be local, say to specific galaxies or specific times. Astronomy does not suggest this so far, but there is no conceptual problem.

Could there be no ultimate laws of nature anywhere and at any time? In particular, could there be no ultimate laws of nature here and now?

I worried about this issue, as set up by Feynman's onion metaphor at http://lawrencecrocker.blogspot.ca/2014 ... overy.html

A key question is what sometihing has to be like to count as a law of nature. After all, we can hardly expect a metaphor derived from statute books to carry us very far. Quantum mechanics, especially since the hidden variable interpretation has fallen upon hard times, illustrates the problem. As a crude oversimplification, the history of science has been marching, if unevenly, towards better and more complete explanations of the world. Quantum theory, however, now tells us that there are physical happenings for which there is no explanation, that is, no explanation beyond a probability. Probabilities are, apparently, a basic feature of reality.

This already takes us a step back from the most demanding historical conceptions of what physical law must be like, which required determinism. Now suppose that the deeper science goes the more determinism fails. We already know that things can seem deterministic on a macro level but fail to be on a micro. Physics might well run into more and more indeterminism. There would still be formulae, but but the greater importance the probability terms in the formulae acquire, the less are the formulae like what we have traditionally thought of as laws.

Lawlikeness might be a property of reality emergent as we ascend farther and farther from fundamentality, at least for that part of the ascent that are counted as hard sciences.

Scott Mayers
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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Scott Mayers » Mon Aug 17, 2015 10:29 pm

This is why I begin with assuming absolute nothingness, including laws, originally and believe we have to tackle this by making sense of contradiction as a function of reality. Science today works top-down in that we take what we observe and try to find the truth through generalizing. But I believe we must also attempt to find a bottom-up argument and try to reconcile them in the middle. I personally think that we need to keep both methods of approach in the realm of science but seem to be in the minority on this view. But if kept the way it is, the paradigm of science today is expecting non-closure with an oddly strict closed belief that absolute truths cannot be ever discovered.

Closure CAN be discovered in my view. But the appearance of non-closure also acts as a psychological motivator to keep asking questions. I'm atheist but like how past scriptures, like the Judaeo-Christian bible, seemed to hint that they were thinking along these lines in a secular interpretation. In Genesis, the Adam and Eve story illustrated how mankind (ie. Adam) represented us as innocent children who got bored of his 'Paradise' as it didn't seem to add meaning without novelty. Then God created Eve (ie. 'that which follows") to supply this novelty. Yet this too only teased both Adam and Eve to seek for something more.

The Tree of Wisdom suggested that God's placing of it there seemed oddly misplaced. Why would such a being purposely put something before us that would threaten us. If interpreted secular-wise, as 'God' meaning only some unknown factor to nature, this placing of the tree there actually may only represent nature itself to have required it without choice. As such, to a child of Paradise, in the midst of eternal boredom, mankind that followed, represented by Eve, had to eventually try to make sense of this tree's placing by trying to discover its meaning.

The curse from discovering 'truth', or "the wisdom of the gods", meant that by merely questioning reality, we are motivated to be perpetually unsatisfied with the confines of closure no matter how simplified life could seem without questioning it. As such, it leads us to require perpetual non-closure in a contradictory way as we also appear to desire closure at the same time for seeking it. This IS the curse...or at least a part of it.

But I don't fear attempting to assert closure. I am now certain that it will lead us to inevitable death yet perhaps this too is itself a comfort. To me, even nothingness itself begs an eternity of borrowing what is non-real to discover it has meaning when we make it real. I am cursed now because I believe that contradiction itself is the very motivator of reality from non-reality. But as this suggests that I've discovered closure in infinite non-closure, I am cursed now because I fear that I can no longer die either (ie. find closure to my own life.)

This is our state with regards to science. If we discovered the ultimate laws, while this may seem satisfactory, we'd need to regret it too unless we can find something else to satisfy our hunger. We'd then become God in our own right as we try to recreate another Adam in our image in hopes that such creations will accept their innocence without questioning things because we become entertained by our lost youth as we vicariously live in the progress of their ignorance to wisdom again. It is inevitable that our children should also grow up and rediscover the Tree of Wisdom again to be cursed as we are in a never ending loop.

I'm sorry if by reading this you've discovered that I'm the very snake teasing you to bite into the fruit again. But the Tree of Life has fruit on it that loses its own interest in a garden without contrast. The Tree of Wisdom becomes the poisoning fruit that leads to certain Death but is necessary to at least relieve you of your eternal boredom in a life without it.

This was my signature motto I used in other sites that I'm not so certain of now. I tried to put it in the user control panel but this site has disabled it:
I eat without fear of certain Death from The Tree of Knowledge because with wisdom, we may one day break free from its mortal curse.
Last edited by Scott Mayers on Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Obvious Leo
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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Obvious Leo » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:02 pm

Lawrence. The notion of "laws of nature" is a logical proposition of spectacular absurdity. What could possibly be the origin of these laws?

That nature organises herself in an orderly and comprehensible fashion is a self-evident truth but the way in which she does this is purely the construct of the consciousness of the observer. It is WE who intuit these so-called "laws" because nature doesn't need them. She just allows effects to be preceded by causes indefinitely and this alone is sufficient to bring forth the universe which we observe. That's all there is to it.

"The universe will ultimately reveal itself to be an entity of the most sublime austerity"...John Archibald Wheeler.

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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Scott Mayers » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:11 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:Lawrence. The notion of "laws of nature" is a logical proposition of spectacular absurdity. What could possibly be the origin of these laws?

That nature organises herself in an orderly and comprehensible fashion is a self-evident truth but the way in which she does this is purely the construct of the consciousness of the observer. It is WE who intuit these so-called "laws" because nature doesn't need them. She just allows effects to be preceded by causes indefinitely and this alone is sufficient to bring forth the universe which we observe. That's all there is to it.

"The universe will ultimately reveal itself to be an entity of the most sublime austerity"...John Archibald Wheeler.
Then "self-organizing" becomes a "law" itself, doesn't it?

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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Obvious Leo » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:48 pm

Scott Mayers wrote:Then "self-organizing" becomes a "law" itself, doesn't it?
In a sense it does, Scott, although I tend to regard causality as more of a meta-law than what we currently understand as the laws of nature. If effects were not preceded by causes in an orderly and generative fashion then our universe would be incomprehensible, which contradicts the evidence. What is more to the point is that none of the complex sub-systems which our universe has, such as stars, galaxies, planets, life and mind etc could exist without this meta-law of causation and thus the self-organising mechanism mandated by it. Self-organising systems EVOLVE naturally towards complexity, as Charles Darwin pointed out, rather than having their complex order imposed on them by laws whose origin lies outwith the system, as Newton supposed.

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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Scott Mayers » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:58 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:
Scott Mayers wrote:Then "self-organizing" becomes a "law" itself, doesn't it?
In a sense it does, Scott, although I tend to regard causality as more of a meta-law than what we currently understand as the laws of nature. If effects were not preceded by causes in an orderly and generative fashion then our universe would be incomprehensible, which contradicts the evidence. What is more to the point is that none of the complex sub-systems which our universe has, such as stars, galaxies, planets, life and mind etc could exist without this meta-law of causation and thus the self-organising mechanism mandated by it. Self-organising systems EVOLVE naturally towards complexity, as Charles Darwin pointed out, rather than having their complex order imposed on them by laws whose origin lies outwith the system, as Newton supposed.
I'm in partial agreement but believe we need to extend this 'self-organizing' as a function of totality as a whole by recognizing it needs to come from a place that includes reality that lacks consistency to such a rule. If totality has a domain that includes inconsistency (meaning no laws, since law implies consistency), the worlds that evolve as we do are a result of a natural selection that weeds out what is consistent from what is inconsistent. Those worlds that lack such consistency fall apart or 'die' and leave the consistent universes to persist as we see it.

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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Obvious Leo » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:08 am

I've told you before that you have no grounds for abandoning the most ancient and cherished metaphysical principle in philosophy. Ex nihilo nihil fit remains unassailable in terms its consistency with formal logic, notwithstanding what either you or Larry Krauss might have to say on the subject. Existence cannot spring from non-existence because non-existence is defined as that which does not exist. This is not an exercise in semantic trickery, Scott, but a simple statement of the bloody obvious. You are attempting to argue a proposition which contains its own self-contradiction and you may as well try and argue the case for a square circle.

Scott Mayers
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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Scott Mayers » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:24 am

Obvious Leo wrote:I've told you before that you have no grounds for abandoning the most ancient and cherished metaphysical principle in philosophy. Ex nihilo nihil fit remains unassailable in terms its consistency with formal logic, notwithstanding what either you or Larry Krauss might have to say on the subject. Existence cannot spring from non-existence because non-existence is defined as that which does not exist. This is not an exercise in semantic trickery, Scott, but a simple statement of the bloody obvious. You are attempting to argue a proposition which contains its own self-contradiction and you may as well try and argue the case for a square circle.
Now reverse that by taking your proposition. If everything that exists derives from everything that exists, than even nothingness can be interpreted as deriving from what exists too. You prefer infinity but don't recognize that such an entity would have to include every infinite possibility, real or not in our particular universe. And if you think that some things are non-existent in this infinite existence, then either you recognize a place for this non-existence, or you're simply choosing to ignore what confuses you.

A square circle exists!

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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Obvious Leo » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:46 am

Scott. I've got better things to with my time than argue with somebody who insists that nothing is something. I'm just a simple country lad who assumes that if it sounds like bullshit it probably is and as far as I'm concerned nothing is exactly what it appears to be. NOTHING.

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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Obvious Leo » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:56 am

By the way to suggest that an infinite index of possibilities can be realised in an eternal universe is a simple statement of the bloody obvious so your infinite suite of universes is completely unnecessary, as is your state of nothingness. In an eternal universe not only is it the case that everything that can happen will happen but it will do so an infinite number of times. Infinity is not for the faint of heart, laddie, and neither is it for the emotionally fragile, as Georg Cantor discovered to his cost. it was infinity that sent him barking mad but not until after he gave set theory to the world, the most exquisite collection of simple mathematical principles in the history of mathematical philosophy. I recommend these principles to your interest, Scott, particularly those dealing with finite, infinite and null sets.

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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by The Inglorious One » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:00 am

Laws are merely observed patterns of observed behavior.

Pure existence and non-existence are the same thing: each is meaningless without the other. They spring from each other.

True Infinity is indeterminate and its unity is absolute. This implies immutability, but it does not imply immobility. All movement is an act of Wholeness reflecting back upon itself with the selfsame nature, which creates an internal relationship that extends beyond itself.

Scott Mayers
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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Scott Mayers » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:07 am

Obvious Leo wrote:Scott. I've got better things to with my time than argue with somebody who insists that nothing is something. I'm just a simple country lad who assumes that if it sounds like bullshit it probably is and as far as I'm concerned nothing is exactly what it appears to be. NOTHING.
I say I'm an atheist which grants this type of something from nothing. In the realm of a world that believes we must default to believing in something, some of us are challenged in the same way as you suggest: that we cannot take a real stance to defend what does not exist. Yet, it is the very existence of those who believe that all there is must be derived from some particular something, they label as "God", to which my very real stance of lacking such a belief becomes meaningful and exists.

Does this not compel you to recognize how non-existence actually exists? Do you agree now with the theists who assert our own non-existing beliefs are unworthy to be concerned about?

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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Scott Mayers » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:19 am

Obvious Leo wrote:By the way to suggest that an infinite index of possibilities can be realised in an eternal universe is a simple statement of the bloody obvious so your infinite suite of universes is completely unnecessary, as is your state of nothingness. In an eternal universe not only is it the case that everything that can happen will happen but it will do so an infinite number of times. Infinity is not for the faint of heart, laddie, and neither is it for the emotionally fragile, as Georg Cantor discovered to his cost. it was infinity that sent him barking mad but not until after he gave set theory to the world, the most exquisite collection of simple mathematical principles in the history of mathematical philosophy. I recommend these principles to your interest, Scott, particularly those dealing with finite, infinite and null sets.
Oh, I'm very aware of Cantor and set theory. I already informed you of my investments in this as it relates to the "Incompleteness Theorem" of Gödel when I first met you here. And I'm still alive as far as I can tell. The problem with this thinking may lead to a Nihilistic interpretation of reality to which many do go insane. And maybe I might too. But this is a part of that curse I already mentioned above too. If it leads me to attempt suicide, why should that be a 'bad' thing if it got me where I intended to go if successful? There are plenty of proteins in nuts too. And I'd rather eat them if I've learn that I love them even with the risk just as Eve risked the fruit.

Mmmm....this one smells like almonds!! :mrgreen:

Obvious Leo
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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Obvious Leo » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:58 am

Scott Mayers wrote:In the realm of a world that believes we must default to believing in something,
I dispute this claim because I regard belief as the final refuge of an intellectual coward. It draws a veil across the domain of human knowledge beyond which we are not permitted to peek. I'm sorry, Scott, but I reject it utterly. I reject it because it is an unworthy position for a man of science and philosophy to embrace. I'm happy enough to accept a Rumsfeldian universe with its known knowns and its known unknowns and I'm even happy enough to accommodate the proposition of the unknown unknown. However what I'll never be willing to accept for as long as I draw breath is the philosophically ludicrous notion of the unknowable unknown. If I were to allow myself to give this proposal a moment's consideration I would be obliged to reach for my hemlock without delay.

This is why I reject the Newtonian notion of the "laws of nature", a Platonist myth steeped in a creationist world-view which we as a species have long out-grown. First causes are for children, not for thinkers.
Scott Mayers wrote:Does this not compel you to recognize how non-existence actually exists?
I'm a wordsmith, Scott, and words are both my tools and my toys, thus I know how they work. This statement is a semantic non-sequitur which contains its own refutation.

Scott Mayers
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Re: No ultimate laws of nature?

Post by Scott Mayers » Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:15 am

Obvious Leo wrote:
Scott Mayers wrote:In the realm of a world that believes we must default to believing in something,
I dispute this claim because I regard belief as the final refuge of an intellectual coward. It draws a veil across the domain of human knowledge beyond which we are not permitted to peek. I'm sorry, Scott, but I reject it utterly. I reject it because it is an unworthy position for a man of science and philosophy to embrace. I'm happy enough to accept a Rumsfeldian universe with its known knowns and its known unknowns and I'm even happy enough to accommodate the proposition of the unknown unknown. However what I'll never be willing to accept for as long as I draw breath is the philosophically ludicrous notion of the unknowable unknown. If I were to allow myself to give this proposal a moment's consideration I would be obliged to reach for my hemlock without delay.

This is why I reject the Newtonian notion of the "laws of nature", a Platonist myth steeped in a creationist world-view which we as a species have long out-grown. First causes are for children, not for thinkers.
But without any entity to 'cause' anything, I'm defaulting to presume no thing preceded a something in kind to being atheist. I'm being 'athingist" here because to believe that a source, whether finite or infinite, requires a pre-determined belief in a something that motivates existence. You assert no laws exist which begs that nothing at all is even is needed to maintain any consistency. Yet if no thing is inconsistent, how is this breaking any laws that aren't there to prevent its existence?

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