Rebooting the Philosophy of Physics (Smolin and Cortes)

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Rebooting the Philosophy of Physics (Smolin and Cortes)

Postby Marshall on November 7th, 2013, 9:26 pm 

This essay is argued in regular English reasoning, no equations. It proposes a radical fresh start for Phil of Phys.

The title is "Temporal Naturalism" but it actually covers a broad range of topics. It's not just concerned with Time.

The essay was posted recently, around 1 November 2013. Some of us might find it pretty readable and interesting.

To get it, all you need to do is google "temporal naturalism"---it is the top google hit.
Or you can use the link:
http://arxiv.org/abs/1310.8539
Marshall
 


Re: Rebooting the Philosophy of Physics (Smolin and Cortes)

Postby DragonFly on November 7th, 2013, 11:19 pm 

…if we believe that no hidden variables theory determines the precise outcomes of measurements on quantum systems for which quantum mechanics only gives probabilistic predictions,then we believe there are phenomena that are not law governed at all. Indeed if we follow Conway and Kochen[31] then quantum phenomena are in a well defined sense free[23]. Or, if we believe the standard big bang cosmology expressed in the context of classical general relativity then we implicitly believe that no law picks the initial conditions of the universe. Or to put it another way, no law governs which solution to the equations of general relativity is somehow uniquely blessed with describing the actual history of the universe. — Smolin

To me, this is expressing that the fundamental is causeless, such as with the beginning materialization at the Big Bang, but, also, as I have noted, this fundamental causlessness may extend to, relate to, or be much the same as QM’s bottom, although comparatively ‘small time’ in that QM materialization doesn’t produce a Bang size event.

It is philosophically logical that the causeless would not have a law of direction or any specific direction, there being no point for such laws to be imparted, leading one to infer that all possible eventualities are present. There is, though, one large ongoing and continuing Effect of the beginning, which is our reality.
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Re: Rebooting the Philosophy of Physics (Smolin and Cortes)

Postby DragonFly on November 7th, 2013, 11:26 pm 

Another thing that some, but not all naturalists believe is that everything that exists in the natural world can be completely described by the language of physics. There are varieties of positions held with respect to emergence and reduction; but it is quite reasonable to believe that matter is made out of elementary particles which obey general laws, but that complex systems made out of many atoms can have emergent properties not expressible in or derivable from the properties of elementary particles. — Smolin

Yet the emergent properties do not occur unless the elementary particles and everything else are/is there. Note the “everything else”, for this refers to the whole. What happens would seem to be of the whole, not just of the particle part.
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Re: Rebooting the Philosophy of Physics (Smolin and Cortes)

Postby Marshall on November 7th, 2013, 11:38 pm 

Hi DF, how about giving us a page reference each time you quote? Context is so important!

I know that in your second quote L.S. is describing a position he does NOT take.
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Re: Rebooting the Philosophy of Physics (Smolin and Cortes)

Postby DragonFly on November 8th, 2013, 1:39 am 

Marshall wrote:Hi DF, how about giving us a page reference each time you quote? Context is so important!

I know that in your second quote L.S. is describing a position he does NOT take.


True, L.S. is for unknown variables going into QM, even for such systems evolving to do more of what they came to before. My mention is for his consideration to resolve.

Page 7:

Leibniz’s principles underlie the philosophy of relationalism, which claims that at least some physical quantities, particularly space and time, are defined only by the network of relationships that weave physical reality into a whole. However I am not a relational purist, i.e. someone who believes all physical quantities are relationally defined. There can be intrinsic qualities as well and among these, I will argue below, are energy and momentum. Another class of intrinsic qualities I will discuss are qualia.

Here, then, above, is a mention to the “whole” that I wished for, although he is not a purist.


I also note the depth of what is intrinsic, which is that it is immutable, unbreakable (into more parts), perhaps then also unmake able (since no parts), and absolutely fundamental. Qualia, he goes on to say, appear to be internal, as well, meaning that they are not from physics. “Let us reserve the term internal for a property of an event or a particle that plays no role in the laws of physics.” (page 24)

So, L.S. seems to be in accord with David Chalmers' view of conscious awareness (which I’d say means qualia), as qualia being another form of the same physical information processing done by the brain, indicating that the ability of information to take two forms is fundamental, albeit that the mental always correlates to the physical and whose state is initiated by the physical (naturalistic monism) but seemingly not reducible to it.

With qualia being fundamental, it would seem that the universe "saw" a need for the physical to be visualized/realized mentally. Of course, a universe full of stuff which couldn't be seen would seem to be a waste, although apparently that's how it was for most of the time up to now.
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Re: Rebooting the Philosophy of Physics (Smolin and Cortes)

Postby DragonFly on November 8th, 2013, 2:32 am 

Page 22:

In the old way developed by Einstein, space are treated on an equal footing. Spatial temporal coordinates provide a background structure which is gauged away by imposing spacetime diffeomorphism invariance. Indeed, one of the things that is gauged away in this story is any distinction between space and time, because there are space-time diffeomorphisms that will turn any slicing of spacetime into a sequence of spaces into any other. This means there is no meaning to simultaneity.

Barbour has emphasized for years that there is a nagging flaw in the beauty of this story. This resides in the fact that there is a big piece of background structure that is preserved in general relativity which is an absolute scale for the size of objects. We must assume the existence of fixed scales of distance and time which can be compared with each other across the universe. In general relativity two clocks traveling different paths through space-time will not stay synchronized. But their sizes will be preserved, so it makes absolute sense to say whether two objects far from each other in space-time are the same size or not.

You can gauge away this background structure on top of the space-time difeomorphsim invariance of general relativity, but the result will not be general relativity9. The reason is that imposing another gauge invariance changes the number of physical degrees of freedom. But the amazing thing is you can get to general relativity by trading the relativity of time of that theory for a relativity of spatial scale, so that the number of gauge trans- formations, and hence the counting of physical degrees of freedom, are unchanged. The resulting theory is called shape dynamics[20].

Shape dynamics lacks the freedom to change the slicing of space-time into space and time. Consequently there is a preferred slicing, i.e. a preferred choice of time coordinate that has physical meaning. This means that there is now a physical meaning to the simultaneity of distant events. But physics on these fixed slices is invariant under local changes of distance scale.
— Smolin

Otherwise, if not for the shape dynamics considerations, the Planck size would be the bottom of an absolute size scale. I always wondered how to get around that.
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Re: Rebooting the Philosophy of Physics (Smolin and Cortes)

Postby DragonFly on November 8th, 2013, 3:34 am 

Page 31:

6.2 Cosmological natural selection

This hypothesis was described in detail in a 1992 paper[25] and my first book[27] as well as in [2, 1] and review papers[28], so I will be very brief here. The idea is to recognize that there is a landscape of physical theories analogies to the landscape of genotypes in population biology and mimic in a cosmological scenario the formal description of a population evolving on a fitness landscape. The key hypotheses begin by modifying Wheeler’s reprocessing scenario
• Universes reproduce by black hole singularities “bouncing”, giving rise to new re- gions of spacetime.
• At each bounce the parameters of the laws of physics mutate slightly. Consequently:
• A typical universe is most likely to come from a parent that had many progeny than few.
• If our universe is typical then it is likely that the laws that govern it haven been tuned to increase the number of black holes over the numbers produced by typical laws. This implies that the parameters of the standard model are near values that extermize the production of black holes locally in the parameter space. 
This explains many of the fine tunings of parameters of the standard model[25, 27]. This is because, to maximize a universe’s production of black holes
• Star formation requires plentiful carbon and oxygen. This explains the fine tunings of the electromagnetic and strong coupling constants as well as the proton, pion and electron masses in order to stabilize these elements,
• Supernovas require tuning of weak interactions. This explains the tuning of the weak interaction scale.
• Gravity must be very weak. This explains the large ratio of the Planck to the proton masses, which is part of the hierarchy problem. 
In addition it makes predictions for real observations that have been done in the years since. Two predictions made in 1992[25] are still standing, as is described in [28]. 
1. The heaviest stable neutron star must be less than twice the sun’s mass. 2. Inflation, if true, must be single field, single parameter.


In a word, this is GREAT. It explains fine tuning, which is probably still ongoing (someday, in some subsequent universe, things may go much quicker).

I am left to find out how the first universe was, although I am aided in knowing that its something had to be, since Not cannot be.

Looks like the “first star paradox”, of it needing previous star material like carbon and oxygen for its stellar ignition, is solved, the carbon and oxygen not coming from a previous star but from another way, as some effect of black holes happening and bearing offspring universes. Cripes, now I have to go way, way back.
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Re: Rebooting the Philosophy of Physics (Smolin and Cortes)

Postby DragonFly on November 9th, 2013, 6:36 pm 

Page 33:

7.1 Two speculative proposals regarding qualia

I would like finally to offer two speculative proposals regarding the physical correlates of qualia.
Panpsychism asserts that some physical events have qualia as intrinsic properties, some of which are neural correlates of human consciousness. But it does not need to assert that all physical events have qualia. Might there be a physical characteristic which distinguishes those physical events that have qualia?
According to the principle of precedence which I discussed above, there are then two kinds of events or states in nature: those for which there is precedence, which hence follow laws, and those without precedence, which evoke genuinely novel events. My speculative proposal the correlate of qualia are those events without precedence.

It is commonplace to observer that habitual actions are unconscious in people. Maybe the same thing is true in nature. Maybe brains are systems where a lot of novel events take place?
Here is a second question raised by pan-psychism: If brains have states which are neural correlates of consciousness, but consciousness is a general intrinsic property of matter, then what physical properties correlate to qualia? Or, to put it differentially, in what way do the physical attributes of correlates of consciousness vary when the qualities of qualia vary?

Panpsychists argue that the elements of the physical world have structural properties and intrinsic and internal properties. By arguing that matter may have internal proper- ties not describable in terms needed to express the laws of physics, panpsychists reserve a place for qualia as intrinsic, non-dynamical properties of matter. I would propose to cut the pie up differently. I would hold that events have relational and intrinsic properties, but relational properties include only causal relations and spacetime intervals which are derivative from them. Under intrinsic properties I would include the dynamical quantities: energy and momenta, together with qualia. I would go further and relate energy and qualia. I would point out that the experienced qualities of qualia correlate with changes of energy. Colours are a measure of energy, as are tones.
— Smolin

Smolin has it that the universe is a process of unique events, and so those that go on to be similar show precedence, becoming then as laws, the precedence somehow even bolstering and making for the similarity to continue more than it would have otherwise. Consciousness, then, must deal with what is novel, and there is much of this going on in life, while the subconscious comes to deal with the habitual.

As for awareness/qualia, it seems that consciousness must be a brain process, for its initiation can be localized to the brain. Some kind of unified energy field may be the result of the brain process of consciousness, after various part of the ‘lower’ brain modules have assembled their respective parts in parallel.

An aside is that we seem chained to time and thus cannot get around it, so the “after” mentioned above seems to indicate that, while the brain perceives its own, lower doings, the qualia/awareness part is the result, making it much more of a witness than a doer, but, too, since the brain came up with it it becomes available for the future—as for the will have more to work with, adding to the willing of the will in its future, although what just got willed had but its information of that instant.
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Re: Rebooting the Philosophy of Physics (Smolin and Cortes)

Postby TheVat on March 12th, 2014, 12:51 pm 

Been wanting to post this time piece by Barbour somewhere, and this seems like the spot. It's about time...

http://arxiv.org/pdf/0903.3489v1.pdf

Very clear and accessible - some math, but nothing brutal - approach to the elimination of time from classical physics and GR. It build nicely from very simple classical measures of change.
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Re: Rebooting the Philosophy of Physics (Smolin and Cortes)

Postby Marshall on March 12th, 2014, 1:36 pm 

Yes! That's a beautiful paper. It epitomizes a straightforward classic relationalism. And it won first prize in what turned out to be a great essay contest, that year!
I remember a sense of revelation reading right after equation (2) at bottom of page 5---
"...Suppose the astronomers in the crow’s nest take ‘snapshots’ of the solar system in successive
configurations…"

They don't need a clock! They can DERIVE time simply from successive snapshots taken of the solar system and measuring the changing RELATIONS amongst the positions of the various orbs.

No need for an independent time variable. Also it's somehow amusing to think of the solar system having a tall mast projecting up from the sun, and the astronomers sitting up there in the crows nest looking down on the flat plane of the solar system. A little like a medieval manuscript illumination showing monks engaged in some activity. what they are studying is itself the only clock they need.

==============

D.F. Thanks for the extensive quotes from Smolin's book, and your reflections on them! I know we are going to be watching for this idea of time to develop. Personally I expect the promised Smolin and Unger book to come out within the next 12 months. But it may not make things much clearer (for me at least). I think it is going to be heavily Unger and philosophical. Maybe the first 2/3 by Unger and the last 1/3 by Smolin. I will be looking for Smolin to report progress of an *operational* nature, in simulating the spontaneous pattern formation by which physical laws might be evolving. And the search for some way to OBSERVE the emergence of law by the accumulation of PRECEDENT.

This work will, I expect, be hard and slow. But it has possibly profound METAPHYSICS importance. strenuous labor down at the very foundations of how we understand and describe the world. How we "think the world".

I do not expect that this "Smolin time" will correspond to the time on any body's watch or to the biological time of anyone's life. they are trying to glimpse a new and different PROCESS analogous to the astronomers in the crows nest observing the progress of the Solar System.

I should stop speculating for now, but anyway thanks Dragonfly for introducing some passages of the Time Reborn book "into the record".
Marshall
 



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