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Re: Classical Stoicism and Cyclical Time

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  • charlesbricebroadway
    Dr. Garrett, I am no physicist, but it seems that there is a scientific explanation for these things. From the evidence so far, the universe was created from
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 1, 2002
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      Dr. Garrett,

      I am no physicist, but it seems that there is a scientific
      explanation for these things.

      From the evidence so far, the universe was created from the Big Bang.
      The primary evidence is the existence of radiation left over from the
      event. The other evidence is the movement of the bodies through space.

      The end of the universe has two possible ends. The first is that the
      universe will expand forever and practically dissolve into smaller
      and smaller bits. The other is that the expansion of the universe
      will slow due to gravity and eventually pull back in on itself.

      The first scenario undercuts a cyclical argument while the second
      scenario seems to support it. The way to determine which one is
      correct is to measure the expansion of the universe and then
      determine the mass of the universe. If the force of gravity is
      greater than the inertia, then we have a Big Crunch. If the inertia
      is greater than the gravity, then we have dispersion. The last
      article I read seems to indicate dispersion.

      I just find it interesting that physics can affect our mindset in
      this way. It seems that the Big Crunch is more "optimistic" because
      it implies a cyclical and orderly progression.

      I am out of my league in these matters. My understanding of physics
      is scant at best, but I find it to be a fascinating topic. I think
      there is a lot more left to be discovered and pondered, and the
      speculations are endless. Perhaps our scientists can enlighten us
      further.

      LWH,
      CBB

      --- In stoics@y..., Jan E Garrett <jangarrett@j...> wrote:
      > It is interesting to me where Keith's and Rick's debates about God
      and
      > the universe have ended up (temporarily). Keith seems to be
      defending a
      > distinction between a contingent universe and a necessary creator
      (that I
      > do not recognize as classical Stoicism, although Keith is one of
      our best
      > defenders of classical Stoicism on most points). Rick, on the other
      hand,
      > seems to have introduced the notion of cyclical time and the
      > self-sufficing universe, which is arguably closer in some respects
      to
      > classical Stoicism.
      >
      > My understanding of classical Greek physics is that many schools
      thought
      > of the visible kosmos, sometimes several visible kosmoi (world-
      orders),
      > coming into being out of and passing away back into the primordial
      source
      > (Anaximander's apeiron, the atomists infinite quantity of
      microscopic
      > atoms), in short a cyclical process. The Stoics were led, I think,
      to a
      > peculiar version of this by their view that the Logos or Zeus
      governs the
      > univese from within according to a perfect plan. Given the
      perfection of
      > his intelligence, and therefore of the plan (for which there is at
      best
      > inductive evidence according to a teleological argument based on
      > observation, though the classical Stoics were not always modest
      about
      > such arguments), He must plan literally everything and so there is
      no
      > room for a second, independent kosmos.
      >
      > And a certain discipline is imposed on creation given that Zeus is
      > conceived as a perfect artisan. What artisans make, when made well,
      are
      > never infinite spatiotemporally. Yet Zeus and his universe/body are
      > athanatos (immortal). Solution: Finite cycles that repeat exactly:
      the
      > one flows into the next with perfect determinism.
      >
      > Apart from the logical leaps in the teleological argument from
      apparent
      > fit of the parts relative to larger wholes, to the perfection of the
      > intelligence behind the whole, this account has seemed problematic
      to me
      > as a modern. For it is apparently contradictory to the second (?)
      > (entropic) law of thermodynamics: a closed system moves from greater
      > order to greater disorder--life itself is an expression of this one-
      way
      > process. Not just human life and the life of the terrestrial
      biosphere,
      > but also the lives (in the analogous sense) of stars and galaxies.
      >
      > The terrestrial biosphere could last for a long time (because we
      have
      > constant energy input from the sun, which makes the earth itself an
      open
      > system), but the universe as a whole (not having anything outside
      it) is
      > a closed system. Even if "our" universe, from a "recent" big bang,
      is
      > really part of the a mega-universe, and that is all there is, it
      would
      > still be a closed system and still, so far as I know, be subject to
      the
      > same entropic law. Thus, I am led to one of two conclusions: either
      the
      > existence of a high degree of order at the beginning of our
      universe (or
      > mega-universe) is a product of a cause of an altogether different
      order
      > (unnameable by me, certainly not anthropomorphic) or the whole
      apparently
      > temporal unfolding is an illusion, and the universe is eternally
      > necessary as in Spinoza's description of Deus sive Natura (God aka
      > Nature).
      >
      > All this speculation makes one intoxicated and one longs again for
      > Kantian sobriety. None of this can be *known* with anything like the
      > relative certainty we can have about things for which we have
      sensory
      > evidence.
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