Some Laws of Natural Philosophy and Sir Isaac Newton (1687) PART 2
December 07, 2015
‘Do not Allow what is Good and True to be Spoken of ill’ – St Paul – Romans
Another approach to opening the mind to the utter incomprehensibility of existence and being – for this is what I am trying to convey to you who read this - is to have a discussion about colour. Philosophers accept in general that seeing a colour is our vision picking up a primary sense datum. By this they mean that human perception of a colour, like, say, red, or blue, is irreducible to smaller and component parts – that we just see blue, or red, and our eyes on their own cannot get beyond seeing redness or blueness to see further, which the study of optics has done, into what constitutes redness or blueness.
Optics has gradated colours as being various wavelengths of light etc, but the actual visual experience of seeing blueness or seeing redness is not comprehensible other than to say as a fact: I see something blue, or I see something red.
To ask a question philosophically – but not to bring in science with its discipline of optics – ‘why do the colours of the rainbow when mixed together display to us as being ‘white’ light?’ – is a real conundrum. Natural historians might try to answer by saying that our eyes evolved to perceive this mix of colours as ‘white’ light? Yet it does seem to us an objective fact that ‘white’ light is wholly transparent whilst coloured light is always in part less so. Is this due to the way our eyes and minds configure what we call ‘white’ light? Or is this utter transparency in the very nature things; ‘white’ light being an objective phenomenon and not a subjective phenomenon?
Were it just so – an objective phenomenon – we might ask ourselves why and how is this mighty co-incidence just so? Why could not the rainbow colours when mixed together have produced say, green, or yellow light to our eyes instead?
And further, are colours in fact constructs of our minds? If there were no life forms to perceive colour would colour still exist? How might we have evolved so as to be able to distinguish light waves of various frequencies as colours? What was the driving force behind the ‘creation of colour’ by our minds? It is hard to perceive mentally where the first rung of such an evolutionary ladder to full spectrum sight might be placed? Is it all just so?
Other questions – these concerning the Newtonian laws of motion – come into focus. I do accept that Newton’s Laws are somewhat superseded by Einstein’s and Quantum Physics; only, are they merely outdated or do they apply objectively as local rules at our human magnitude, and thus Einstein’s Laws apply objectively at much larger magnitudes? In other words, are there two discrete solutions at two discrete magnitudes?
The local mechanics of orbiting bodies, say, the earth round the sun, and the moon round the earth; they are also by coincidence just so. Their simplicity (once consciously observed) and utter elegance, is once again astounding. That these laws, which work at the level of human magnitude operate day to day, should display such equilibrium, so that a state of semi-permanent (set against the time span of a human life) system of orbits and acting forces sustaining such orbits, have become possible, seems to me to be close to magical.
That the forces being applied which are concerned with orbits and orbiting should be so arranged so as to play off one another so effectively and so exactly as to produce this particular solution to an existential requirement for life to have emerged – as we know it – is there anything one can say?
Of course and without doubt the answer is in The Big Picture – in the holistic picture – that everything is just so for life on earth to exist because life on earth is integral to this Big Picture, and is a part of it like a grain of sand is part of a beach. Thus if we concede that earth and life are necessary to and integrated within the larger being of things, at the least at our levels of magnitude, then how far might this integrity and necessity for our existence here extend?
Does it extend to the sub-atomic levels of magnitude and also to the cosmic levels of magnitude? Does this necessity for our existence diminish in its levels of intensity for holistic interdependency - on things being ‘just so’ - at these upper and lower levels of magnitude, which are so far removed from our own? Or is this intensity instead a constant like the speed of light is thought to be? So that wherever one is in the cosmos, and at whatever time, and at whichever level of magnitude, the intensity of necessity and integrity has to be the same overall, for us and for life and earth to exist as it does and so be ‘just so’? Or else are we merely hanging like a bubble temporarily buoyed up in a cloud of appropriate circumstance which entropically just tapers away gradually into a nothingness? Alternatively we might be in a kind of hermetically sealed atmosphere, one which maintains itself robustly using foundationals which are spread equanimously throughout its vast extents?
An experiment to ‘prove’ one way or another this conundrum might be to have an ability at a magnitude other than human to insert a ‘polar bear sneeze’ and to wait to record – if we had a clue what might arise - any attributable ‘hippo catching a cold’ as a response?
Regarding hermetically-sealed items, the author Ved Mehta wrote a chapter about we humans and our sensory reliance on sense data; by which we interpret the world to ourselves in our minds. He called his chapter: ‘The Fly in the Fly Bottle’. We are each, as it were, in such a bottle. Our sense organs form the transparent glass surround of the bottle itself, and the sense data our senses receive through this glass surround, which enter in from beyond it, are the best contact we get with whatever might lie on the other side of the glass. Our point of observation being ever within the bottle, it is always and forever removed, disassociated, from our obtaining direct contact with what lies beyond the glass. This thought construct concerning the fly-bottle tries to illustrate that without we cannot know reality – not even using the instruments of science - nor even posit a reality of any kind which might be commensurate with what our sensory impressions of sense data tell us.
There is a good possibility of there being sense data, arising from any presumed form of reality, which humans do not access. There are animals and plants which have senses better than or different to humans’. Certainly, supposing we lived comfortably at sub atomic or cosmic levels of magnitude, our senses would have to be different to those we now have and use. The scientist would say to live thus is impossible but I am not a scientist and I have read that there is a purported entity of which it has been said that: ‘all things are possible’.
Please don’t walk away from me for bringing in God like that. You accepted Shakespeare and Hamlet and any God that might be postulated would have to be better than Shakespeare?
So I am arguing that things are not as they seem; that the nature of things is possibly plural and ultimately unfathomable, at least as perceivable by a living human imagination.
If you are still with me and are still up for more discussion let me put in here a word about the ancient Hebrews and their apparent cursory dismissal of secondary causes in their scripture writings.
Secondary causes are those like ‘The sun rises on the horizon every day because the earth revolves on its own axis fully every 24 hours, thus shielding and exposing a hemisphere of earth while is in constant rotation orbiting the sun’
The Hebrews might have had some inking of something that at the least substituted for this sort of detail of explanation of diurnal life. But in their scriptures they tend often to go for what are termed primary causes as (ultimate) explanations. This is why you get grandeurs and sweeps like ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth’ etc because here was an ultimate explanation of being which satisfied their need for understanding.
(As we have seen, to posit that something exists beyond the sense data we receive is acceptable but not finally knowable; but even likely; and God in this context is a valid thing to posit as a possible solution)