Article 1: System philosophy of cosmology & science
A Summary by George Luke
1. Critical summary of quantum cosmology
2. Methodology and justification
3. Existence of physical world – the system model.
4. Matter, space and time — The cosmological puzzles finally solved.
5. Do we need intelligent design argument?
6. Truth of science.
NOTE : My important original ideas are marked by [*].
1. Critical summary of quantum cosmology
The physical world has a structure with four stages or levels. From an evolutionary perspective, these stages can be compared to the four levels of a tree such as roots, branches, sub-branches and leaves which occur in chronological order. So they represent successively the main periods of cosmology as explained in chapter 13.
Table – The Structure of Physical World and quantum cosmology. [*]
Visible level I
First level Substances made of atoms (inanimate substances and bodies of living organisms) – the field of classical science
Invisible level II
Second level Subatomic particles and basic forces – the area of quantum mechanics
Third level Quantum cosmology-I : Elementary particles of standard model (quantum field theory)
Fourth level Quantum cosmology-2 : Mysterious entities (superstrings, Big Bang, membranes, multiverse, dark matter and dark energy)
The key points of quantum cosmology are given below.
Multiverse exists eternally consisting of infinite number of pocket universes, each having 9 or above spatial dimensions. The pocket universes are made of membranes and superstrings. Our present universe originated from a particular pocket universe through a process called compactification, whereby three dimensional space was generated by hiding the extra dimensions. This process continued throughout the history of our universe resulting in its expansion. The correct meaning of big bang is the beginning of compactification.
During the first 10-35 second after big bang, the universe was extremely small – its diameter became only about 10-17 centimetre. This is the stage of quantum gravity in which matter and energy were unified to form a plasma. Hence, it is the stage of perfect symmetry between matter and energy (gravity and anti-gravity).
By the process of symmetry-breaking, a wonderful event called inflation occurred. The entire universe became a sort of vacuum in which only the unified standard forces existed since the effect of gravity was not manifested.
Further symmetry-breaking caused the formation of Higg’s field and virtual particle field. The interaction between these opposite fields, during the period from 10-4 second to 1 second, produced various kinds of elementary particles of standard model.
The period from 1 second to 10 second witnessed the formation of the four subatomic particles and four basic forces – this is the realm of quantum mechanics.
The abundant formation of light nuclei, i.e. hydrogen and helium, happened during the period from 10 second to 3 lakh years after big bang.
The synthesis of higher atoms followed by the formation of galaxies and stars happened during the period from 3 lakh years to 910 crore years.
In the stage from 910 crore years to 1370 crore years (present), earth was formed and evolved to populate with living beings.
The glaring drawbacks of the doctrines in contemporary cosmology are spelled out as following: [*]
1. All aspects of visible physical world can be explained by the behaviour of atoms which are composed of four subatomic particles and four basic forces. When physicists analyse the constitution of subatomic particles and forces, they enter into the realm of standard model and mysterious entities. These deeper levels are mathematical models which cannot be verified experimentally. It will be explained later that the standard model particles are verified only by indirect experimental methods and its efficacy is doubtful. Hence, physicists do not have conclusive knowledge about the structure of physical world.
2. The difficult puzzle is with regard to the earliest stage of physical world termed as quantum gravity. It represents the state of baby universe up to the age of 10-35 second after big bang; in this period the diameter of universe grew from zero to about 10-17 centimetre only. This subject involves the search for an explanation of big bang including the question as to what existed before the origin. In this context, cosmologists have formulated a plethora of models about the prehistory of quantum gravity such as superstrings, big bang, membranes, multiverse, dark matter and dark energy. This area appears like scientific fiction.
3. Through common sense we compare the original stage of our universe to a seed which grows to become a tree with multitude of branches and leaves; the seed is a unifying principle with maximum symmetry. But the mysterious models of quantum cosmology advanced pluralism about the most fundamental aspects of world – it is against the principle of symmetry and unification.
4. The various models of mysterious entities are not mutually supporting. For example, the description of dark matter and dark energy does not connect with superstring-membrane theories. Moreover, the hugely expensive experiments – LHC and satellite missions – are motivated by concerned scientists’ love of prestige, power and money.
5. While the bizarre and imaginary models have not succeeded in solving the cosmological riddle, the experimental pursuit has adverse impact on the goal of economic justice since the scarce resources are diverted for the wasteful research establishments. Also, there are worrisome implications on environmental matters. It can be emphasized that the experiments related to mysterious entities of quantum cosmology must be assessed using the norms of ethics.
2. Methodology and justification
For understanding why the pluralism of quantum cosmological theories is inadmissible, we have to examine the epistemology of such doctrines through critical perspective.
Modern Phenomenalism (Mophism)
The principle of logical positivism – the view that scientific method is the process of giving meaning to theoretical terms – cannot be applied in the case of standard model. The status of mystical entities is further away from the verification principle. Such models can be aptly described as scientific fiction. In this situation, a new methodology using experiments and observations has been formulated to discover the basic particles. We term it as Modern Phenomenalism, which is abbreviated as Mophism. It is the argument that mathematical functions denote the phenomena of quantum cosmology. [*]
We know that postmodern models of quantum cosmology are different types of mathematical functions. Though mophism considers them as phenomenally existing objects, the problem of skepticism still remains. George Berkeley and David Hume put forward empiricism based on content view. Mophism is its translation into process view. When we say, with the help of experiments conducted indirectly, that the fundamental objects exist phenomenally, it is difficult to overcome the objections of skepticism. Further note that there is a contradiction in the usage physical reality which implies that basic phenomena of science are real. This terminology reflects the vested interests of scientists as well as their dislike for philosophy. [*]
The justification theory used for quantum cosmological theories is scientific realism. It amounts to holding that the basic levels of physical world exist really in an axiomatic manner. We have stated above that the mysterios entities have been discovered by means of the methodology called mophism. They are said to exist by the combined strength of mathematical formulae and experimental observations. This argument can be called as Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE). According to this argument it is necessary to accept that basic entities in the invisible world exist in order to explain the phenomena in visible world in the best way. Such inferences in content view are accepted based on practical purposes. Moreover it is the ultimate testimony about the success of science. But IBE has the serious defects like problem of induction – it also leads to skepticism. However, the issues raised by skepticism cannot be wished away. If the fundamental constituents of matter are subjective creations of our mind, then the physical world would be an illusion. We want to find a new philosophical doctrine for justifying the scientific theories so as to expose the nature of its truth.
3. Existence of physical world – the system model
Our philosophical enquiry here aims to develop a theory of justification for physical science by overcoming the ambiguities and dichotomies in scientific cosmology. For achieving a breakthrough in this pursuit we must make use of the two principles, namely, principle of symmetry and principle of system [*]. This principle is best illustrated in the growth of a tree. Through abstract reasoning we can hold that the original seed has perfect symmetry. The first event of symmetry-breaking happens at the time of the germination of the seed to become a plant. And this process is repeated when the plant grows in the successive stages to reach the size of tree with many branches and leaves. This principle can be logically applied for deliberating upon the origin and evolution of physical world. Theoretical physicists including Albert Einstein and his successors have struggled to develop a theory about quantum gravity that can synthesize the opposite aspects of gravity and standard force – such a theory is grandiosely named as the Theory Of Everything (TOE). But it remains only as a dream since the required principle for synthesizing matter and energy is elusive to the concerned researchers. Against this background, we can propose the method of System Philosophy as the solution for understanding the basic stages of cosmology.
Physical world as a system [*]
The most intractable questions about big bang theory is: what did exist before as the cause of Big Bang? It is necessary to discard the standard version that the entire mass of present universe, which is estimated at 1050 tons, was concentrated at the singularity point and it got scattered subsequent to the big explosion. In the scientific parlance, the term ‘present universe’ stands for our physical world in four dimensions of space-time. As a sequel to the discussion on Superstring theory and M-theory given in last chapter, we can freshly interpret Big Bang by introducing the idea of past universe. Accordingly, we propose that the past universe existed with 10 or more dimensions. The Big Bang is the event of compactification happened to a part of past universe by which the four dimensional present universe emerged [*]. Compactification is the process of hiding the extra dimensions in order to reduce into four-dimensional space-time.
In this line of argument, Big Bang is the singularity point representing the beginning of the process of compactification, which continued throughout the history of present universe. It is instructive to say that the singularity point can be compared to a seed lying in the field of past universe. Then Big Bang is similar to the event of the germination of the seed to become a plant. Note that the growth of plant to become tree happens by drawing resources like water and manure from the land. Similarly, the matter and energy belonging to present universe is obtained by the transformation of the factors of past universe. This view can explain the expansion of our universe during the past 1370 crores years.
As suggested above, the present universe (physical world in four-dimensional space-time) has originated from a past universe having ten or more dimensions. Leaning on the example of land and tree, the existence of physical world depends vitally on that of past universe. So our philosophical investigation moves to speaking about the existence of past universe. The idea of system can be adopted fruitfully in this context. The term universe (A) refers to the total of past universe (B) and present universe (C). That is, we have the equation, A = B + C. In this situation we must show that the universe (A) is a system with X and Y coordinates. [*]
In order to conceive universe as a system with X and Y coordinates, we have to firstly deliberate upon the existence of past universe. For this purpose, the recent discovery of dark matter (DM) and dark energy (DE) is extremely useful. As explained in previous chapter, DM and DE are opposite entities; DM is responsible for the formation of ordinary matter of our universe, while DE represents the antigravity force causing its expansion. Before the event of big bang, that is in the negative part of time, we have the equation A = B because C = 0. In other words, before big bang, past universe is 100% of universe.
Coming to the existence of past universe (B) we can now postulate that it is a system composed of dark matter and dark energy, being the opposite components which together make a whole. As per system philosophy, the past universe is depicted by X-Y coordinate system; where X represents DM and Y represent DE. The four quadrants of the diagram consist of the mysterious cosmological entities such as membranes and multiverses proposed by M-theory. In other words, the DM-DE system exists as the unifying principle for the entities which are imagined to inhabit the past universe. See diagram 1.
DM and DE do not have separate existence, In contrast, it is enlightening to note that the notion of DM-DE system confirms the phenomenal existence of past universe, without involving the drift to realism. [*]
In the above paragraph, we have defined past universe as DM-DE system with four quadrants. However, when we consider the origin and development of present universe, it is expedient to say that there is a pocket universe in the third quadrant from which the present universe emerges. Hereafter, the term past universe refers strictly to this particular pocket universe. [*]
After the event of Big Bang, DM and DE are being converted into matter and energy respectively as required for the expansion of present universe, i.e., our physical world. With the advancement of time the physical world expanded so that today it accounts for just four percent of the content of universe. Specifically B = 96% and C = 4%. It may be added that the total matter-energy content of present universe is 1050 tons.
Here it is possible to divide the straight line of time into two parts, negative and positive. The time in the present universe is conventionally taken as positive, while the time of past pocket universe is considered as negative. The arrow of time is always in the direction from left to right — that is, time moves from minus infinity to plus infinity. [*] This approach conforms to our common sense and it will avoid the nagging confusion about time expressed in various books of popular science. Then, past universe (B) and present universe (C) can be arranged successively according to the straight line of time so that the event of big bang is represented by the point zero. That is, the negative part of time belongs to B while the positive time belongs to C. Now we assert that the universe is a system of X-Y coordinates where -X represents DM, -Y represents DE, +X represents matter and +Y represents energy. Hence, the past universe appears in third quadrant and the present universe (physical world) belongs to the first quadrant. [*] The X-Y coordinate system is called the System Model of Universe according to the content view; then the point (0, 0) is the singularity point of big bang. See diagram 2.
It may be emphasized that our present universe (physical world) is a system of matter and energy because it is the positive part of universe as an X-Y system. The foregoing technical method of depicting universe and dividing it into two parts – past and present – ingeniously solves the problem of existence. Further, the physical world exists with two levels (the visible world of atoms and the invisible world of subatomic phenomena), each of which are combinations of matter and energy. Then we can interpret past universe as the unobservable world constituted by dark matter and dark energy taking ten or more dimensions. In contrast, the present universe is the observable/observed world constituted by matter and energy in four dimensions of space-time. Note that we can observe only things existing in three dimensional space together with one dimensional time.
In this context, it is possible to provide the coherent definition of big bang. Of course, contrary to the popular myth, big bang does not mean any explosion. We have to invoke here the notion of compactification pertaining to membrane theory in order to get the definition: big bang is the beginning of the process of compactification by which the extra dimensions of past universe are hidden resulting in the four dimensions of space-time. That is, big bang is the event when our present universe took birth in the field of past universe.
Now we may reconsider the analogy of land and tree for conceiving the existence of past universe causing the development of our physical world. Alternatively, the tree may be replaced by a small circle; then concentric cycles represent the expansion as per Hubble’s theory. The following diagrams 3 and 4 illustrate these two ways of conceptualizing past and present universes.[*] The picture of expanding balloon must be modified by putting it inside a large circle denoting the past universe. So there is enough space for the expansion of our present universe. The System Model of Universe convincingly solves the issues of ontology and justification in our knowledge about physical world.
If physical world is a phenomenon, then what is its reality?
When we ordinarily say that our physical world originated through big bang, we assume that big bang actually happened. It is the position of scientific realism which must be refuted. Instead, big bang is the origin (s = 0, t = 0) of our physical world that exists as per X-Y model presented above. This is the scientific way of conceiving the phenomenal universe; it is not real. If we adopt scientific realism here, then we have to admit the real existence of mind also. It will lead to the issue of body-mind dualism. For tiding over this issue, we must start by asserting that there is nonphysical purpose in physical world – this purpose belongs to mind. The notion of purpose in inanimate world including galaxies, stars and planets will be explained later when we take up the issue of intelligent design argument. The matter-mind system is the reality of inanimate world. [*] In this situation, the scientific view of physical world is the materialist reduction of body-mind system. It may be reiterated that physical world of matter-energy is the construction of our scientific mind; it is phenomenal. The next chapter will elaborate this ontological doctrine.
4. Matter, space and time — the cosmological puzzles finally solved.
Firstly we are concerned with the questions: Is matter an illusion? Did matter originate from energy? Fritjof Capra, in his book The Tao of Physics (1982), provides a mystical interpretation for the notion of energy transforming into material particles. He tries to link the ontological issue of theoretical physics to mysticism, found in Indian philosophy of Vedanta as well as Chinese doctrine of Taoism. Note that quantum field theory (QFT) holds that the three standard forces where unified and gravitational force was not manifested at the time of 10-35 second after big bang; this is the stage of Grand Unified Theory. The mysterious event of inflation caused the GUT stage in which the universe consisted entirely of energy. Fritjof Capra interprets this energy field as void or nothingness, borrowing the metaphor from eastern mysticism. He adds that the void is a creative field of energy that caused the emergence of material particles. By a flight of spiritual imagination, Capra finds the similarity of void with the Indian notion of reality called Brahman. Here we can see an effort to explain the origin of physical world by resorting to the mystical view of cosmic reality- it has many philosophical drawbacks.
As an additional point of criticism, we can note that Fritjof Capra wrote his book in the heydays of quantum field theory which ignored the presence of matter or gravity. We have explained that the dual principle of matter and energy is applicable to GUT stage also, though the effect of matter was not manifested at that stage. The later advancements of new doctrines like quantum gravity and Higgs mechanism, which are placed before and after respectively of GUT, forcefully refutes Capra’s view that matter is an illusion. We must deliberate upon the existence of the opposites – matter and energy – by resorting to system philosophy of physical world.
Next we may consider the concerned points from the famous books of Stephen Hawking – A Brief History of Time (1995) and The Grand Design (2011). Hawking proposes the idea that the material world originated from the stage of quantum gravity in which the net energy was zero. We can modify this idea using the innovative principle that quantum gravity and its earlier stages are fictitious descriptions of the physical reality which actually is a system of matter and energy (space and time). [*] In this line of thought, matter and energy have complementary and constructive existence represented by X-axis and Y-axis respectively of coordinate system. Regarding the existence of physical world originated through big bang, matter and energy are the opposite forces which jointly produce the four levels namely, quantum gravity, standard model, stage of quantum mechanics and the visible world of atoms as well as higher substances.
What is matter? There are two separate ideas here. Firstly, the concept of matter does not have absolute and practical relevance in the said cosmological stages of standard model and mysterious entities. Secondly, considering the above features of subatomic level and visible level we adopt the practical notion of matter. Accordingly, the word matter refers to the individual atoms and the higher substances formed by them. In this situation, we observe matter and energy separately because of our conventional rules of thought. [*]
So we can agree that matter and energy are generic terms which have variable meanings as per the level of physical world concerned. Clearly, matter and energy are opposite parts of phenomenal systems which constitute the particular level of physical world. The system model of universe effectively unifies the levels of physical world. In our ordinary usage, matter refers to the atoms and higher substances [*]. This matter is constituted by subatomic particles and basic forces. On the basis of the layered view of physical world, we reach at the solution for the puzzle of matter.
Space and time: Here we have to avoid realism; space and time are theoretical entities; they are not objects since we do not get sensory experience from them. For our practical purpose, the term space and time refer to the visible world of atoms and higher substances [*]. The space occupied by an atom is extremely small. For example, the diameter of hydrogen atom is 10-13 centimeter only. In the case of subatomic particles and their constituents, physicists use mathematical models of space in order to describe their motion; these models need not create any confusion about our notion of space pertaining to visible world. In this situation, under the system philosophy of science, we can propose three notions of time – visible time, abstract time and quantum time.
Visible time pertains to the physical world of atoms and higher substances which follow the laws of classical physics. Here, space and time can be seen as separate and independent entities.
Abstract time represents our intuitive notion of time running from minus infinity to plus infinity. It is reasonable to think that time is like a straight line of infinite length. Then, we can practically treat the big bang event as representing the middle point zero. In other words, abstract time is the sum total of the negative time pertaining to past universe and the positive time of our universe. It may be reiterated here that the negative time runs from left to right because we can imagine about cause-effect relations in the stage of past universe also [*].
Quantum time is associated with the particle-wave duality in subatomic world; this is the notion of time included in the mathematical description of quantum mechanics. The highlight of such phenomena is that we cannot experience space and time separately; it is the consequence of particle-wave duality. The relative existence of space-time in quantum world perplexed theoretical physicists so much that many fantastic models are suggested for illustration. Time dilation, time warp and time travel are interesting descriptions of certain aspects of quantum time. It is a queer idea to imagine that subatomic particles travel backwards in time. Such fantasies can be dismissed as worthless because it does not agree with the concept of time adopted for our practical purposes. [*]
In the context of quantum cosmology, we can point out that the authors of theoretical physics have committed two kinds of mistakes as following. [*]
(1)They did not see the distinction between visible world and quantum world for conceiving the notions of space and time. Visible time and quantum time are different paradigms of knowledge about time; but the former only has validity in cosmological enquiries. (2) Additionally, they tried to relegate visible time in an effort to apply quantum time for interpreting the visible phenomena with which we are familiar every day. It was a quixotic venture involving fantastic ideas.
5. Do we need intelligent design argument?
The process of increasing complexity has resulted in the hierarchy of inanimate and living things. It can be treated as the evidence for purpose and creativity in universe. We cannot say that the universe is an arena of random events like the play of dice. The recognition of purpose in nature is the key to deliberate upon the why question related to cosmology. Cosmologists and scientists have discovered that the existence of physical world and its evolution depended on a number of cosmic coincidences, which are expressed by around 200 cosmological constants.
The belief in Intelligent Designer is an Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE), which is associated with scientific realism. Moreover it suffers from the problem of induction and also skepticism. Hence there are sound reasons for rejecting the Intelligent Designer Argument that is the empirical version of religious God. We know that the notion of God is traditionally used for answering the why question related to the purpose in universe. But the religious view of connecting God to physical world has many serious philosophical issues (recollect the drawbacks of metaphysical realism explained in second chapter). In this predicament, scientists chose to promote the empirical idea of Intelligent Designer, without knowing its epistemological drawbacks.
Having dismissed the intelligent design argument as a fallacy, we get a clear perspective to interpret Stephen Hawking’s references to God [*]. When he uses such expressions as mind of God and benevolent creator, he does not intend to bring the religious idea that God created the physical world and its laws. We can interpret that it was a metaphoric way of speaking about the fine tuning as well as anthropic principle. The implication is that the ultimate cause of physical laws and the evolutionary development is beyond the scope of science. As explained above, Stephen Hawking and other concerned cosmologists invoked the empirical idea about intelligent designer as a short cut to tide over the difficulties in explaining purpose in universe. However, they adhere to the materialist path, specifically the physical process view, for the factual doctrines of quantum cosmology.
Here we can solve the conundrum of God and Intelligent Designer by stating that the physical world exists like a factory designated as matter-energy system. It is only phenomenal existence. [*] The question of purpose is answered by the idea of matter-mind system as reality. This distinction between phenomenon and reality is crucial for completing our discussion about the system philosophy of science.
6. Truth of science. [*]
The concept of truth is the overarching principle in the entire corpus of philosophy of science. For a clear perspective on scientific truth, we must solve the outstanding issues pertaining to the ontology, methodology, source, and justification related to scientific propositions using the tenets of System Philosophy.
Ontology : The hitherto articulation of philosophy of science suffered from the conflicting doctrines of Deism, Materialism (Naturalism) and Process view, which are based on divergent worldviews. For reconciling these ontological doctrines we suggested that the existence of physical world must be conceived without resorting to metaphysical realism. The system model of universe introduced above achieves this objective. We will present in the next chapter the system philosophy about ultimate reality so that it will explain the hierarchical order of this nature leading to the evolution of human mind. Regarding the origin of scientific knowledge about physical world, we have to consider the aspect of scientific mind under the topic of source given below.
Methodology: We have already established that the methodology of science is TyHDTI scheme, which is the combination of theory (Ty), hypothesis (H), deduction (D), testing (T) and inductive inference (I). Then it is necessary to reconcile the dichotomy between deductive propositions (DP) and inductive propositions (IP) of science. The unsolved issue of methodology is to develop the principle for combining DP and IP in a meaningful manner. It essentially involves the reconciliation between rationalism and empiricism. For that purpose we must resort to the system philosophy of mind outlined as following.
Source: Human mind is a system formed by the dual aspects of brain and nervous system (BNS) and consciousness. Mind has many levels which are mainly classified into scientific mind, religious mind, artistic mind and philosophical mind. At present we are focusing on scientific mind which also is a system of BNS and consciousness as per X-Y model. It is like a factory for producing two classes of propositions denoted as DP and IP. The propositions under DP group together can be called as theory. Though DP and IP can be distinguished as two levels, they are interrelated for producing a system of meaning. This principle will be elaborated in a later chapter dealing with the system philosophy of knowledge. In this situation, DP and IP are complementary opposites which constitute a whole of knowledge as per the TyHDTI scheme.
Further it may be added that the traditional dichotomy between the notions of rational mind and empirical mind is a fallacy caused by the application of Aristotle’s rules of thought. The correct view is to hold that the so called rational mind and empirical mind are two levels in the system of BNS and consciousness. As an extension of this line of thinking we can hold that the opposition between necessary truth of DP and contingent truth of IP must be reinterpreted when we consider the question of truth in science.
Justification: In the layered view of universe, the topic of justification is concerned with the separate and hierarchical existence of various levels which are broadly grouped into inanimate, biological and mental worlds. The chapters of this book are designed to solve the issues of existence in the context of the spectrum of theories of science – mainly cosmology, quantum mechanics, classical science, biology, neuroscience and psychology. The justification of cosmology is the existence of past universe as DM-DE system as illustrated in diagram 1 together with the system model of universe given as diagram 2.
Finally, it is expedient to address the question of truth in science because truth is the most troublesome aspect about scientific knowledge. Since scientific knowledge rests on the twin pillars of deduction and induction, we can assert that the truth of a scientific law is a combination of rationality and contingency. More technically, scientific truth is a system of rational truth of theory and contingent truth of inductive propositions. We suggest the phrase rational-contingent truth (RCT) to refer to the duality inherent in scientific truth. [*] The essential aspects of this notion of truth are presented below.
The RCT is possessed by scientific laws, if they are valid according to the principles of ontology, methodology, source, and justification. However it suffers from the problem of induction since future is uncertain in the case of experimental method. Additionally, the possibility of underdetermination worsens the ambiguity of scientific truth. We can hold that there is no absolute truth in science by virtue of the fact that scientific truth is of pragmatic or practical nature based on the success of methodology.
The explanatory power as well as predictive efficiency of scientific law mainly depends on the accuracy of theory. Corresponding to the deepening levels of physical world, there is a hierarchy of theories in the increasing order of generality; it accounts for the success of scientific enterprise. The pyramidal architecture of theories implies that the theories are internally consistent, and mutually supporting. Hence scientific theories as a whole form a system of rationality and contingency. The X-Y model can be gainfully used for depicting the levels of theories, in conformity with the system model of universe. Theory has the aspects of logic and other forms of rationality; and it is substantiated by the experimental data.
The theoretical structure of science ensures that its laws are reliable for practical purpose. For example, the theories of astrophysics hold good to the statement that sun will rise tomorrow. To put it simply, there is 99% certainty about the occurrence of tomorrow so that we can plan our activities. However, the scientific view does not rule out the rarest event of collapse of solar system.
The vital reason for the success of science is that the objects of nature exist as systems of body and mind; the physical world is the scientific reduction of such systems. The concerned theory of reality will be presented in next chapter. The natural laws are manifestations of ultimate reality which are converted into physical laws through scientific method. In other words, the phenomenal stability of physical laws is derived from the constitution of nature that appears as a system with mysterious features.
To sum up the above discussion, scientific truth (RCT) is defined here in terms of epistemological factors called methodology, source, and justification. Moreover it synthesizes the opposite aspects of coherence theory (necessary truth) and correspondence theory (contingent truth). The system model of truth is amenable to process view also by resorting to the idea that knowledge is a manufacturing process involving creativity; in this situation, it does not have the baggage of pragmatism or instrumentalism.
CONCLUSION: It is expedient to clarify further that the difference between the foregoing system model of universe and the religious interpretation of quantum cosmology. We are specifically focusing on the questions: How did physical world come into existence? What is the cause for the emergence of matter? Did matter come from energy? Is consciousness the unifying agency behind the appearance of pluralism pertaining to standard model particles and mysterious entities?
In recent decades the exponents of Vedanta – the main religious doctrine of Hinduism – have been influenced by the best-selling books of Fritjof Capra. Accordingly, they are eager to advance the arguments to show the parallels between Vedanta and quantum cosmology. For that purpose they consider the GUT stage of our universe, which is metaphorically called as vacuum, void or nothingness. Hence, the proponents of Vedanta interpret that the creative energy of GUT is the same as the cosmic consciousness called Brahman. In this manner, Brahman is regarded as the unifying principle behind the diverse particles of matter constituting the physical and biological world
The foregoing interpretation seeks to connect the religious reality to the scientific phenomenon of GUT. Obviously, it is similar to the mysticism adopted by Fritjof Capra. However, we have already deliberated upon the serious drawbacks of mysticism as well as metaphysical realism. It may be reiterated here that religion and science are two separate levels of knowledge generated by our mind; these two forms of knowledge have different justifications in accordance with the tenets of system philosophy. Hence, it is not possible coherently to explain scientific phenomena on the basis of religious doctrines. [*]
The system model of universe introduced in this chapter establishes that the universe (including past universe and present physical world) exists phenomenally as a system of matter and energy. This knowledge is produced by the mind of the author; so the realism is avoided here. In this manner the system philosophy of science is capable of addressing the issues about the epistemology and ontology of physical science. In the previous sections, we have solved the serious dilemmas of cosmology and allied branches of theoretical physics.
However, for completing this philosophical treatise about quantum cosmology we must consider the existence of human mind also; this necessitates the solution of the traditional problem of body-mind dualism. Additionally, when we link inanimate world with biological world, we must take into account of the fact that the origin and development of universe displays certain purpose and creativity. What kind of agency is behind the phenomenal hierarchy of nature leading to the evolution of human mind? This is the crucial question about the reality of universe. Next chapter discusses the system philosophy about ultimate reality so that it will explain the hierarchical order of this nature.
Selected Bibliography for chap 13, 14
1. Brian Green (2005), The Fabric of the Cosmos.
2. Fritjof Capra, The Tao of physics.
3. John Gribbin (2008), The Universe: A biography.
4. Lee Smolin (2008), The Trouble with Physics.
5. Michio Kaku and Jennifer Thompson (2007), Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe.
6. Paul Davies (1995), About Time – Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution.
7. Paul Davies (2007), Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe is Just Right for Life.
8. Stephen W. Hawking (1995), A Brief History of Time.
9. Stephen W. Hawking (2011), The Grand Design .
10. Robert John Russell, Nancey Murphy and C. J. Isham (Editors ) (1999), Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature : Scientific Perspectives of Divine Action.
Article 2 : What is consciousness?
Note: My important original points are marked by [*]
Base on the review of concerned books, we can admit that consciousness is the most perplexing entity in the entire field called philosophy of mind. In this inquiry we are primarily and importantly concerned with the existence of the matured form of human mind. The observable aspects of our mind consist of various mental states like emotions, desires and ideas. The characteristic property of all these mental states is consciousness. We can define consciousness as the essential property of a mental state so that the concerned person is aware of the occurrence of such mental state in first-person perspective (FPP). As such, consciousness refers to the ability of a person to know his or her own mental states. The word consciousness is normally used in third-person perspective (TPP). When a person becomes aware of a mental state in first-person perspective, the person is said to have self-consciousness about the mental state.
We have explained further that consciousness has three characteristics – nonphysical aspect, content and intentionality. Our problem here is to investigate how the diverse mental states acquire the wonderful property of consciousness. In this context, it is necessary to say that I can know about my mind and that of others in two ways. Firstly, I am aware of my mental states in first person perspective. That is, the self-awareness about mental states is my private affair. Secondly, I can observe in third person perspective some behaviours associated with my mental states based on which I can infer about some events happening in my mind. For example, I can observe that I am writing, walking or making particular bodily movements – such behaviours indicate the occurrence of mental states in my mind. Similarly, for knowing about the mental states of another person, the only method for me is to observe his or her behaviours.
Having described the key features of consciousness pertaining to mental states, we can present three types of confusions regarding this amazing subject.
First. There is an asymmetry between first-person and third-person perspectives for knowing the mental states. Though a person has direct access to his or her own mental states, it is not possible to know directly the mental states of another person. I can see some behaviours of another person so that I make the inference that he has pain. But I cannot be sure whether he is expressing pain genuinely; it is possible that he is mimicking pain. The ambiguous nature of third-person knowledge about mental states is treated as the problem of other minds. As an extreme way, it can be said that I do not know whether another person has mind at all.
Second. In the case of human mind, we have divided it into a lower part and an upper part which are conveniently called as unconscious mind and conscious mind respectively. It may be reiterated that the mental states are produced by the conscious mind. Here consciousness involves the use of language and grammar for expressing ideas and this property is called self-consciousness. If this property belongs exclusively to the upper part of mind, then there is certain difficulty in explaining the activity of the lower part or unconscious mind. The subjective experiences or feelings are produced in the unconscious mind without the use of language and also the processing of sensory impressions is carried out therein. These activities display purpose, creativity and freedom – these are the characteristics of consciousness essentially. In this situation, the sharp division into unconscious mind and conscious mind is not tenable. It is all the more problematic to explain how self-consciousness originated when the upper part of brain was developed through evolutionary process. Another puzzle is to explain the mutual interaction between upper and lower parts of brain.
Third. The conventional statement that nonhuman animals and lower beings have only unconscious mind is not actually correct. We can observe some aspects of self-consciousness in these organisms – they can recognize their food items, they try to escape from enemies and they have feelings and social behavior. But there is considerable uncertainty for talking about the self-consciousness of nonhuman organisms since they do not have developed form of language.
So we have to take up the issue of the existence of human mind so as to account for the various levels of consciousness. The question as to what is consciousness can be answered only by presenting comprehensive idea about mind. Though self-consciousness is a property possessed by human mind, it is our popular practice to treat mind and self-consciousness as synonymous words. So the question as to what is consciousness is treated to be the same as what is mind. Hence the problem as to what is the cause of consciousness is sought to be solved by showing the existence of mind.
Let us examine the doctrines proposed hitherto for answering the above questions. The dichotomy between FPP and TPP with regard to the conception of consciousness has caused division of such doctrines into two branches namely rationalism and empiricism. (Recall the diagram showing the four world views about mind). Rationalism is further divided into idealism and mysticism corresponding to content view and process view respectively. Similarly, empiricism has two classes of doctrines, namely epiphenomenalism and computer model functionalism (CMF). We found that the doctrines belonging to the four blocks have failed in the articulation of consciousness.
The theories of idealism and mysticism are based on the notion of soul, under the assumption of metaphysical realism, for accounting the features of consciousness. It leads to the intractable problem of body-mind dualism. The confusion about consciousness (mind) arose in philosophy just because it is treated as nonphysical while body is taken as physical. On the other hand, the empiricist theories advocate that mental states are to be observed through external and physical behaviours of the person. Accordingly, there are two interpretations about mental state – respectively as an epiphenomenon and as an algorithm of the physical process happening in brain and other parts of nervous system (BNS). Contemporary research in philosophy of mind is concentrated in this empirical area; it entails the reduction of mental states into neuron networks observable in TPP. As noted earlier, epiphenomenalism and CMF both fail in explaining the nonphysical aspects of consciousness experienced in FPP.
From the foregoing critical review, it is evident that a sound theory about consciousness must reconcile the conflicting doctrines mentioned above. We have to adopt content view for articulating the existence of mind with the hierarchy of levels of consciousness. For that purpose, we propose the following tenets: [*]
• The FPP aspect of consciousness is to be considered in a secular manner without the influence of religious assumptions. At the same time, we want to avoid realism and synthesize the nonphysical and physical aspects of mental state. We have to define consciousness in a broad manner so as to encompass the spectrum of living beings. It must be admitted that attributing self-consciousness only to human beings is a linguistic practice we adopt.
• More over there is a need to integrate unconscious mind and conscious mind so as to agree with the findings of cognitive psychology. Hence, the division between unconscious mind and conscious mind may be renamed as the division between low conscious mind (LCM) and high conscious mind (HCM) respectively. However, as a custom, we will continue to call the HCM of human beings as self-consciousness.
These stipulations lead us to the path of system philosophy of mind [*]. The emerging vision about consciousness is presented here in a brief manner. Human mind exists as the system of matter and consciousness. Specifically, it is the system of matter3 (unorganized neural networks in brain) and consciousness3. So mind exists like a factory represented by X-Y coordinates; here X and Y are inputs identified as matter3 and consciousness3 respectively. This factory produces three level of outputs – organized neural networks (ONN), unconscious mind (UCM) and conscious mind (CM). These levels themselves are interconnected systems. We may this as the System Model of Human Mind. Renaming UCM and CM as LCM and HCM respectively, we can integrate the two levels of mind. So the drastic separation between UCM and CM is avoided. Thus we can divide mind into two subsystems – LCM and HCM. This shows that two levels of consciousness3 together with the corresponding levels of matter3 would produce the LCM and the HCM respectively. [*]
Mind, which is the totality of LCM and HCM, exists over and above ONN. But we have to consider LCM or HCM always in combination with particular segments of ONN. That is, each of the levels LCM and HCM has two complementary parts – a segment of ONN and a corresponding level of consciousness. There is no justification in holding that BNS is a physical object and it is separate from nonphysical consciousness. [*]
Further, we can give similar interpretation of the production of various mental states adopting the process view about mind. The system model is like an input-output system. The factory called mind produces various mental states as outputs so that they have the dual components of matter and consciousness. The various mental states can be represented by sublevels of LCM and HCM. Additionally, the above model is applicable to the case of nonhuman organisms which have BNS. They also have two levels of mind, LCM and HCM, each of which can be illustrated as X-Y systems. [*] But the HCM does not have self-consciousness as per our norm.
The essence of the foregoing exposition may be listed as follows. [*]
• We must consider consciousness at both reality level and phenomenal level. Talking about reality, mind exists as a system of matter (unorganized neural signals in BNS) and consciousness; it can be represented by X and Y coordinates. The X-Y model shows that mind is a factory producing various kinds of mental states. Matter and consciousness exist as complementary opposites of the reality of mind. The reality, as a production system, produces various levels of phenomenal mental states. The consciousness of a mental state is the phenomenal version of the consciousness pertaining to the reality of mind.
• Mind has two main levels – low conscious mind (LCM) and high conscious mind (HCM). Conventionally, we hold that, In the case of human beings, the HCM possesses self-consciousness involving the use of language and grammar for expressing ideas.