The most fundamental form of matter

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Asparagus on January 6th, 2018, 2:15 pm 

The concept of matter has evolved over the millennia. For Aristotle, it was relative. Cheese is made of milk. Milk is the matter of cheese. Milk in turn is made of a cow's food. Matter is always one pole of a relationship, never a thing unto itself. Moving forward in time, the Neoplatonic conception (inherited by us through Christianity) sees matter as absolute privation. Like Aristotle's matter, it's formless, but considered in isolation.

Our recent thread on the Argument from Illusion could have headed in the direction of considering this fixture of thought: the formless, but it didn't.

I imagine this issue will always remain in the shadows for scientists: as just the end of the line in terms of what questions we can sensibly ask. For philosophy, the questions roll on. :)
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Forest_Dump on January 7th, 2018, 11:09 am 

I certainly agree that our understanding of matter (and pretty much everything else about the world). And of course we like to build our undertanding of reality based on that mix between our previous interpretations of old knowledge and our digestion of new knowledge as we receive it which is always filtered to various degrees. (I get my perspective from the agency theories of people like Giddens and Bourdieu.) Personally I would like to see how philosophies of science and knowledge as well as education change as our newest understandings of Higgs-Boson (and pardon my lack of a full grasp), etc., slowly filter in. I know I still have difficulty leaving behind the belief in particles like atoms, electrons, etc., and thinking only of waves. There is that cognitive dissonance there.
User avatar
Forest_Dump
Resident Member
 
Posts: 8785
Joined: 31 Mar 2005
Location: Great Lakes Region
dandelion liked this post


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Asparagus on January 7th, 2018, 8:30 pm 

Forest_Dump » January 7th, 2018, 11:09 am wrote:I certainly agree that our understanding of matter (and pretty much everything else about the world). And of course we like to build our undertanding of reality based on that mix between our previous interpretations of old knowledge and our digestion of new knowledge as we receive it which is always filtered to various degrees. (I get my perspective from the agency theories of people like Giddens and Bourdieu.) Personally I would like to see how philosophies of science and knowledge as well as education change as our newest understandings of Higgs-Boson (and pardon my lack of a full grasp), etc., slowly filter in. I know I still have difficulty leaving behind the belief in particles like atoms, electrons, etc., and thinking only of waves. There is that cognitive dissonance there.
I think there's a rift between physicists and the rest of the population. I sometimes wonder if it's a permanent rift, which would mean that physics is doomed. What would "digestion" of particle physics look like?

I'm not familiar with Giddens and Bourdieu. Any recommendations for reading?
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby NikAnra21 on January 8th, 2018, 1:51 am 

Good day.

Correct me if i'm wrong:

I think the concept of matter itself has evolved hitherto from the time of Aristotle. As far as I know, modern definition of science limits matter to that which occupies space and has mass. But it is also in light of our new understanding that light per se has no mass. Can we consider it as matter then? Would the old paradigm consider it? If so, how would we be able to integrate both paradigms into a synthetic whole?
NikAnra21
Forum Neophyte
 
Posts: 1
Joined: 08 Jan 2018


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Forest_Dump on January 8th, 2018, 9:14 am 

Asparagus wrote:I think there's a rift between physicists and the rest of the population.


This isn't really a new thing. Many have always had difficulty wrapping their heads around ideas like the earth revolving around a not-so-special star, relativity, etc. INHO, sometimes it just takes a long time for ideas to filter into our rationalizations.

NikAnra21 wrote:But it is also in light of our new understanding that light per se has no mass. Can we consider it as matter then? Would the old paradigm consider it? If so, how would we be able to integrate both paradigms into a synthetic whole?


I know I long had (have?) difficulties reconciling ideas like photons having properties like both particles and waves and that seems to me to be part of the problem - reconciling two metaphors that have properties that conflict. I think it will take someone very talented to reconcile these ideas into the minds of people.

Asparagus wrote:I'm not familiar with Giddens and Bourdieu. Any recommendations for reading?


Social theorists of the late 20th century. Brought out ideas of "habitus" and "structuration". Can be very tough reads (good thinkers aren't always good communicators and vice versa). But one basic idea is that no one has perfect knowledge but everyone just interprets what they can and want to the best of their limited abilities on the basis of previous ideas, their own agendas, etc. Some of the more worthwile post-modernism, if you will. The core of whay I tend to characterize as agency theory humans as actors an agents and society as the whole of the parts and therefore no such thing as a static culture, etc. (The idea of a "culture" is too much metaphysical.)
User avatar
Forest_Dump
Resident Member
 
Posts: 8785
Joined: 31 Mar 2005
Location: Great Lakes Region


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Asparagus on January 8th, 2018, 11:16 am 

NikAnra21 » January 8th, 2018, 1:51 am wrote:Good day.

Correct me if i'm wrong:

I think the concept of matter itself has evolved hitherto from the time of Aristotle. As far as I know, modern definition of science limits matter to that which occupies space and has mass. But it is also in light of our new understanding that light per se has no mass. Can we consider it as matter then? Would the old paradigm consider it? If so, how would we be able to integrate both paradigms into a synthetic whole?

I think light was considered to be a property of objects (as opposed to a thing in its own right.) Maybe that started changing when the science of optics came along and more officially changed when Einstein asked why iron glows when it gets hot. ?
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Asparagus on January 8th, 2018, 11:24 am 

Forest_Dump wrote:
This isn't really a new thing. Many have always had difficulty wrapping their heads around ideas like the earth revolving around a not-so-special star, relativity, etc. INHO, sometimes it just takes a long time for ideas to filter into our rationalizations.

True. One of the ways the idea of a spherical earth caught on in Europe was Dante's Inferno, which depicts Virgil and Dante arriving at the center of the earth and then continuing onward in the same direction. Dante finds that they aren't going down anymore, but upward. It's science fiction.


Forest_Dump wrote:
Social theorists of the late 20th century. Brought out ideas of "habitus" and "structuration". Can be very tough reads (good thinkers aren't always good communicators and vice versa). But one basic idea is that no one has perfect knowledge but everyone just interprets what they can and want to the best of their limited abilities on the basis of previous ideas, their own agendas, etc. Some of the more worthwile post-modernism, if you will. The core of whay I tend to characterize as agency theory humans as actors an agents and society as the whole of the parts and therefore no such thing as a static culture, etc. (The idea of a "culture" is too much metaphysical.)

The grand narratives come from looking at societies as if they're huge people. Real mass events are probably a fusion of a multitude of agendas. But the narratives filter into people's thoughts and identities, so maybe become influential?
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Forest_Dump on January 8th, 2018, 9:06 pm 

In giving this some thought, (perhaps ironically) a suitable metaphor for the post-modernist ideas of Giddens and Bordieu (and agency theory) might be in the ideas of Dawkins (e.g., the Greatest Show of Earth) and Dennett on the concept of species. Just as there is no static "chicken", merely a momentary but always changing sum of the genetics of all the individuals who are constantly changing, so too there is no discrete or concrete single "science", etc., but merely a constant evolution. So, the concepts of matter have been chaning through time with lots of variation brought by individual writers and thinkers, winnowed out to varying degrees by the natural selection brought by new data and experiments. Frequently the change may have been relatively gradual but punctuated by periods of more rapid change, typically hallmarked by individuals like Galileo, Newton, Einstein, etc., but not really absolute or instantaneous, taking time to percolate through the population. Equating the ideas about matter from the time of Aristotle, then, might be like equating Homo erectus with modern humans or Eohippus with the modern horse. There may not be sharp, clearly defined boundaries such as we might like and there may be some continuities that inform of the ancestry but, at the same time, seen from a grander scale, we would not or should not, confuse the extremes and overlook that there has been evolution through time. I am sure I could extend the metaphor by looking at the contingencies leading to the evolution of certain ideas in certain directions, why certain types of experiments and thus data were pursued while considering the (stochastic?) natures of certain kinds of social political forces leading to some kinds of experiments being possible in some times and places, etc., ut I am not sure how necessary that would be.
User avatar
Forest_Dump
Resident Member
 
Posts: 8785
Joined: 31 Mar 2005
Location: Great Lakes Region
Asparaguswolfhnd liked this post


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby wolfhnd on January 8th, 2018, 10:31 pm 

Nice to see you are alive and well Forest
User avatar
wolfhnd
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4698
Joined: 21 Jun 2005
Blog: View Blog (3)


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Forest_Dump on January 8th, 2018, 11:58 pm 

wolfhnd wrote:Nice to see you are alive and well Forest


Just very busy. Finished final edits on a paper on the weekend and off to the Hudson's Bay coast tomorrow (might even see polar bears). Luckily we are in a bit of a warm spell.
User avatar
Forest_Dump
Resident Member
 
Posts: 8785
Joined: 31 Mar 2005
Location: Great Lakes Region


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby mitchellmckain on January 9th, 2018, 12:12 am 

Asparagus » January 6th, 2018, 1:15 pm wrote:Like Aristotle's matter, it's formless, but considered in isolation.

The nearest thing in modern science to Aristotle's idea of matter is the physics concept of energy. Except that energy goes even farther than Aristotle had thought about to be the substance of not only things but also of action (like movement).
User avatar
mitchellmckain
Active Member
 
Posts: 1327
Joined: 27 Oct 2016


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Asparagus on January 9th, 2018, 3:10 pm 

Forest_Dump wrote: Equating the ideas about matter from the time of Aristotle, then, might be like equating Homo erectus with modern humans or Eohippus with the modern horse. There may not be sharp, clearly defined boundaries such as we might like and there may be some continuities that inform of the ancestry but, at the same time, seen from a grander scale, we would not or should not, confuse the extremes and overlook that there has been evolution through time.

Up to a point that's true. Aristotle invented a fair amount of what we think of as science, but I think Aristotle's intellectual reach was beyond that of the average modern scientist. For instance, how many scientists could critique the logical foundations of set theory? Aristotle could have.

Forest_Dump wrote: I am sure I could extend the metaphor by looking at the contingencies leading to the evolution of certain ideas in certain directions, why certain types of experiments and thus data were pursued while considering the (stochastic?) natures of certain kinds of social political forces leading to some kinds of experiments being possible in some times and places, etc., ut I am not sure how necessary that would be.

In regard to the OP, what's fascinating me is a particular transition in perspective that took place between the 1st and 2nd Centuries in and around Rome. In a fairly short period of time, the view of the educated changed from physicalist, atheistic, naturalistic, to straight monistic idealism. I have some thoughts about how that happened, but they're a little half-baked at the moment.
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)
dandelion liked this post


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Asparagus on January 9th, 2018, 3:13 pm 

mitchellmckain » January 9th, 2018, 12:12 am wrote:
Asparagus » January 6th, 2018, 1:15 pm wrote:Like Aristotle's matter, it's formless, but considered in isolation.

The nearest thing in modern science to Aristotle's idea of matter is the physics concept of energy. Except that energy goes even farther than Aristotle had thought about to be the substance of not only things but also of action (like movement).

You're actually thinking more along the lines of a Neoplatonist here.
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby mitchellmckain on January 9th, 2018, 4:05 pm 

Asparagus » January 9th, 2018, 2:13 pm wrote:Like Aristotle's matter, it's formless, but considered in isolation.
mitchellmckain » January 9th, 2018, 12:12 am wrote:The nearest thing in modern science to Aristotle's idea of matter is the physics concept of energy. Except that energy goes even farther than Aristotle had thought about to be the substance of not only things but also of action (like movement).

You're actually thinking more along the lines of a Neoplatonist here.

Nonsense. And I wonder where you are getting such a bizarre idea. My thinking is along the lines of modern science only and I repudiate everything I have ever seen about Platonism or Neoplatonism. I want to see where you find anything in Neoplatonism which is anything like this understanding of modern science. Hell, as far as Aristotle goes, you said it yourself quoted above... Just compare this to modern science where energy is something that has many different forms including everything we see in the natural world. What modern science adds to this is a mathematical definition to the concept.

For example, Plotinus idea of "the one" is more closely associated with theological ideas of God as something containing no division, multiplicity, nor distinction. Energy by contrast is a quantitative thing and thus full of division, multiplicity and with its many different forms distinction also. Thus there is a huge difference between the Neoplatonist idea of a single underlying trancendent reality and Aristotle's material monistic idea of a single substance differentiated by different forms into the multiplicity of the natural world. It is the latter which matches the discoveries of science not the former.
User avatar
mitchellmckain
Active Member
 
Posts: 1327
Joined: 27 Oct 2016


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Asparagus on January 9th, 2018, 5:18 pm 

@Mitch
Your answer doesn't appear to be Aristotelian because it's more absolute than relative, but maybe I didn't understand what you meant.
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby dandelion on January 14th, 2018, 2:29 am 

Giddens is interesting here.

It is a nice thought that it could take art like Dante’s science fiction to aid digestion of such notions as fields, e.g., "Just as there is an electromagnetic field whose energy and momentum come in tiny bundles called photons, so there is an electron field whose energy and momentum and electric charge are found in the bundles we call electrons, and likewise for every species of elementary particles. The basic ingredients of nature are fields; particles are derivative phenomena.", S. Weinberg, Facing Up: Science and its Cultural Adversaries (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2001). Another speculation is field operator described interactions. Relative information along the lines of the paper Hyksos linked, by Wheeler, interests me,
http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=33989, more fundamental than time.

I’d also be interested to read any thoughts about changes in Imperial Rome, whenever.
dandelion
Member
 
Posts: 385
Joined: 02 May 2014
Asparagus liked this post


How do you delete a post?

Postby Asparagus on January 14th, 2018, 8:55 pm 

.
Last edited by Asparagus on January 14th, 2018, 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby Asparagus on January 14th, 2018, 8:55 pm 

@dandelion
If we take fields as fundamental, one might ask what fields are made of. They propagate waves, right? What's waving?

I guess I have something Nietzsche-esque in the back of my mind to explain the rise of neoplatonism. It may get shot down by the facts. I remember reading that the original Roman Christians were what we would call yuppies, searching for some deeper meaning unavailable in Roman naturalism. The answer probably is much more complicated.
Asparagus
Member
 
Posts: 259
Joined: 16 Dec 2017
Blog: View Blog (2)
dandelion liked this post


Re: The most fundamental form of matter

Postby dandelion on January 15th, 2018, 5:50 pm 

That is a really interesting take. Such a fascinating time, so many diverse influences available, yet one influence spread so much, so quickly, I think.

Even though you questioned fields I’d want to give an answer more broadly about what interests me more, but any attempt I’d make would be disorganised and convoluted and there is this I’ve just come across that is rather topical and recent, with notions that interest and have influenced, so I’ll link it instead.
https://arxiv.org/abs/1712.02894 e.g., “…an anti-foundationalist perspective where we give up the notion of primary substance carrying attributes, and recognize the mutual dependence of the concepts we use to describe the world”, and "The proper ontology for quantum mechanics is a sparse ontology of (relational) quantum events happening at interactions between physical systems".
dandelion
Member
 
Posts: 385
Joined: 02 May 2014



Return to Philosophy of Science

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests