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Schopenhauer on atomism

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  • C G
    I am reading a book by Julian Young about the history of philosophy entitled, The Death of God and the Meaning of Life :
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 24 4:31 AM
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      I am reading a book by Julian Young about the history of philosophy entitled, "The Death of God and the Meaning of Life":

      http://www.amazon.com/The-Death-God-Meaning-Life/dp/0415307902/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334851495&sr=8-1

      Young writes a clear, lucid account of what the history of philosophy has to say about, or contribute to, our understanding of "spirit" in the context of this world and a future "true world". The first part of Young's book looks at "true world" views, such as those proffered by Plato or Christianity. I was surprised by the continuation of such "true world" outlooks even in modern philosophers such as Kant, Schopenhauer and Hegel. Even early Nietzsche, which I'd not clued into before. The book is well written and I recommend it if you are interested in such discussions.

      Anyway, almost as an aside, Young throws out a tidbit about Schopenhauer's rejection of the (then) early model of atomism. Young writes,

      "Schopenhauer's argument, in a nutshell, is this. The ultimate entities of scientific theory must possess causal powers (gravity,
      resistance, and so on) in order to be able to explain anything at all. But since atomism holds that any power is grounded in atomic structure it is committed to an infinite regress of ever more fundamental structures of entities and can never, therefore, consistently
      claim to provide an account of ultimate nature. What follows is that we must abandon the attempt to ground every power in structure and accept powers (`forces') as themselves the ultimate constituents of reality."

      I thought this worth bringing forward to this list because, in discussions of Schopenhauer's philosophy, his view of "forces" is not typically referred to. I assume this is similar to our brushing aside of so many early discussions about the senses, and how we perceive reality (e.g, discussions by John Locke and David Hume). Yet "force" is important in the context of Schopenhauer's major treatise, "The World as Will and Representation", because (to me) he viewed the external world as a manifestation of will (he calls it "representation") -- and he says that "will" is the only "force" that we can truly identify with. Therefore, he reasons, the world is will. Sounds like a sacred landscape philosophy to me!

      This hit me strongly. I see such a view as either a modern re-telling of one of Zeno's paradoxes or a major modern philosopher's "quantum" way of interpreting the world around us. You will recall the pre-Socratic philosphers' view that the world is fire (e.g., Heraclitus), water (e.g., Thales), or atoms (e.g., Democritus). In this context, I can't see how "force" is any different from "fire". So should we throw Schopenhauer's view in the dustbin with the pre-Socratics? Not so fast. While the atomic model of the structure of matter has come a long way since his time, it seems to me that we are getting further away from a purely atomic view of things. Discrete quanta seem to act as waves, or vice versa, in modern quantum physics. And I am sure I am far behind on my reading of the stuff of matter! The sacredlandscaper in me thinks our theoretical physicists are now grounding reality in perception, are they not? I am thinking here specifically of the effects of an observer on that being observed. Perception is not just passive, it can also be a dynamic...a going forth and a return. My two cents, at any rate.

      I am curious about Schopenhauer's view of forces and will continue looking into this.

      Cheers,

      Chris
    • danw@netmastersinc.com
      Here is a quote from wikipedia on the higgs boson Particle physicists believe matter to be made from fundamental particles whose interactions are mediated by
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 26 12:30 AM
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        Here is a quote from wikipedia on the higgs boson

        Particle physicists believe matter to be made from fundamental particles
        whose interactions are mediated by exchange particles known as force
        carriers. At the start of the 1960s a number of these particles had been
        discovered or proposed, along with theories suggesting how they relate to
        each other. However these theories were known to be incomplete. One
        omission was that they could not explain the origins of mass as a property
        of matter.

        I think physics has been grappling with Schopenhauer's infinite regress in
        particles. With force fields and particles as the basic ideas in physics
        they are moving to the intermediate: particles as force carriers plus they
        are trying to understand how forces create mass, the actual substantive
        reality of particles. I suppose the Higgs boson is called the God
        particle because it accounts for the creation of what we think of as the
        hard matter of the universe.

        When the 4 fundamental forces have been unified and there is only one
        force that creates matter in a way that is understood, will this one force
        be recognized as the the Will of the Divine Consciousness, the primal fire
        of the pre-socratics?

        My own intuition is that the next big revolution in physics will be in the
        area of the recognition of the causative power of information and
        consciousness.

        Dan




        > I am reading a book by Julian Young about the history of philosophy
        > entitled, "The Death of God and the Meaning of Life":
        >
        > http://www.amazon.com/The-Death-God-Meaning-Life/dp/0415307902/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334851495&sr=8-1
        >
        > Young writes a clear, lucid account of what the history of philosophy has
        > to say about, or contribute to, our understanding of "spirit" in the
        > context of this world and a future "true world". The first part of Young's
        > book looks at "true world" views, such as those proffered by Plato or
        > Christianity. I was surprised by the continuation of such "true world"
        > outlooks even in modern philosophers such as Kant, Schopenhauer and Hegel.
        > Even early Nietzsche, which I'd not clued into before. The book is well
        > written and I recommend it if you are interested in such discussions.
        >
        > Anyway, almost as an aside, Young throws out a tidbit about Schopenhauer's
        > rejection of the (then) early model of atomism. Young writes,
        >
        > "Schopenhauer's argument, in a nutshell, is this. The ultimate entities of
        > scientific theory must possess causal powers (gravity,
        > resistance, and so on) in order to be able to explain anything at all. But
        > since atomism holds that any power is grounded in atomic structure it is
        > committed to an infinite regress of ever more fundamental structures of
        > entities and can never, therefore, consistently
        > claim to provide an account of ultimate nature. What follows is that we
        > must abandon the attempt to ground every power in structure and accept
        > powers (`forces') as themselves the ultimate constituents of reality."
        >
        > I thought this worth bringing forward to this list because, in discussions
        > of Schopenhauer's philosophy, his view of "forces" is not typically
        > referred to. I assume this is similar to our brushing aside of so many
        > early discussions about the senses, and how we perceive reality (e.g,
        > discussions by John Locke and David Hume). Yet "force" is important in the
        > context of Schopenhauer's major treatise, "The World as Will and
        > Representation", because (to me) he viewed the external world as a
        > manifestation of will (he calls it "representation") -- and he says that
        > "will" is the only "force" that we can truly identify with. Therefore, he
        > reasons, the world is will. Sounds like a sacred landscape philosophy to
        > me!
        >
        > This hit me strongly. I see such a view as either a modern re-telling of
        > one of Zeno's paradoxes or a major modern philosopher's "quantum" way of
        > interpreting the world around us. You will recall the pre-Socratic
        > philosphers' view that the world is fire (e.g., Heraclitus), water (e.g.,
        > Thales), or atoms (e.g., Democritus). In this context, I can't see how
        > "force" is any different from "fire". So should we throw Schopenhauer's
        > view in the dustbin with the pre-Socratics? Not so fast. While the atomic
        > model of the structure of matter has come a long way since his time, it
        > seems to me that we are getting further away from a purely atomic view of
        > things. Discrete quanta seem to act as waves, or vice versa, in modern
        > quantum physics. And I am sure I am far behind on my reading of the stuff
        > of matter! The sacredlandscaper in me thinks our theoretical physicists
        > are now grounding reality in perception, are they not? I am thinking here
        > specifically of the effects of an observer on that being observed.
        > Perception is not just passive, it can also be a dynamic...a going forth
        > and a return. My two cents, at any rate.
        >
        > I am curious about Schopenhauer's view of forces and will continue looking
        > into this.
        >
        > Cheers,
        >
        > Chris
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
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