June 15, 2015

Debate between Einstein and Bergson most pregnant

Was the Magna Carta really about *civil liberties*?
From Magna Carta to Maritain, the West has undergone catharsis for Democracy and Human Rights.

I’m thoroughly enjoying Jimena Canales social, scientific, and philosophical history of the Einstein-Bergson debate in The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate that Changed Our Understanding of Time. There are quite a few pages on Whitehead’s alternative rendering of relativity theory. Earlier today, Justin commented under my essay on Whitehead’s cosmological scheme titled Physics of the World-Soul. 
First, let me say that reading your essay has been my first foray into Whitehead’s thought aside from passing mention of him in various books I’ve read over the years.

Thanks for your response. I realized when I was posting that you had written that essay several years ago, and I figured that you had refined your position since then; I just did not see another essay addressing the issue. And your posts today are much clearer than the mentioned section of your essay and do show such development…
I suppose that when people make their careers and life work out of forming opinions on various topics, it is probably quite unusual for these opinions or conclusions to remain rigidly unchanged throughout their entire duration. I think it is true though that Einstein’s relativity theory became so widely accepted within the mainstream scientific community because it did offer a framework whereby many scientists were able to make confirmable and repeatable predictions about physical phenomena. But I don’t think that anyone ever considers any theory to be an eternally and completely unquestionable fact applicable to all instances. But the fact that some theories can be reliably physically demonstrated must certainly be shocking in a way to their propagators and cause them to wonder about the connections of the creative imagination to deep aspects of reality. I think it is an ongoing dialogue amongst mathematicians about whether mathematics is ‘invented’ or ‘discovered.’ Anyway, isn’t it always necessary to start from (or at some point resort to) some kind of unproven or unprovable presupposition(s) in order to theorize over anything at all? And nobody comes up with their complete work all by themselves out of a vacuum. Everyone who does any kind of work is always indebted to countless others who have gone before them or alongside them. As Ecclesiastes says: “There is nothing new under the sun.”
I’m not familiar with Smolin’s work on physical constants, but I do agree that physical ‘constants’ do likely change over the vast sweeps of the cosmic creative processes.
I also cannot claim to be an expert in the subject, but if you are interested in the mathematics of relativity, there is a good book called _Einstein’s Theory: A Rigorous Introduction for the Mathematically Untrained_ co-authored by physicist Oyvind Gron and eco-philosopher Arne Naess (!). It starts from the basic concept of vectors and builds logically through each pertinent math concept carefully, step by step, without assuming any prior knowledge.
I am not saying that Einstein, or anyone, is beyond critique; it just seemed to me that certain assumptions germane to this critique on Einstein as it appeared in that section of your paper were not legitimate given that Einstein had addressed those assumptions in a way contrary to what was presented.

The article linked here seems to exhibit the same misconception about what Einstein was saying— i.e. that there was some kind of misplaced concreteness to his conception of space-time that dissociated it from the actual occasions of objects or events, or that there is only one universally valid coordinate system. Both of these things are contrarily explicitly refuted in Einstein’s own writing.

Justin, let’s step back for a second from critique to examine what these very different thinkers tried to construct. What do you see the major difference to be between Bergson and Einstein? Or between Whitehead and Einstein?
Or is it that you think Bergson and Whitehead were entirely mistaken about Einstein’s interpretation of relativity? That, in fact, he saw things exactly as they did in regard to space, time, and experience?

Einstein is a great contributor in the physical road to the end of time, the creation of of timeless description of the world. Julian Barbour continued on that road. Bergson began his philosophical journey with the realization that the time of physics is timeless. He was in the tradition of Heraclitus and nowadays Lee Smolin is one of the proponent of a physics that is not platonic and tried to eliminate time but that make everything changing.

  • I find the debate between Einstein and Bergson (and Einstein and Whitehead–which is a somewhat different sort of debate) among the most pregnant sites for philosophical inquiry that the last century has provided us with.

Re: “chaotic heteronomy” — By this I mean that the depths of reality do not necessarily obey the clear and distinct laws that mathematicians use to describe them. That is, these chaotic depths have norms other than those of the highly trained mathematical mind.

I said I am not here to debate; that is because with intelligent people it is called exchange of ideas. (This is probably the concluding part from my side, so pardon me for being long winded, a bit casual, and frighteningly candid, in this write up. You are free to keep it personal and not publish).
Yes, I agree that zero, once learnt, is very easy to make use of — even 3 year olds can do it. Let us replace "zero" with "iPhone", and see.
iPhone is also very easy to use, and the kids are in fact master users of it. This doesn't mean that iPhone is a simple invention. It is perhaps the most complex invention of humankind till date.
Logic works on the surface: but below the surface, emotions and creativity are involved. And all true geniuses operate from even below that, from the AdhyAtmic depths. For that to happen, cultural depth is required; IQ only measures the surface width, that is Logic, but in the end we find that only those nations become the most innovative that possess depth commensurate with the width.
The laws of Science are universal, do not change from one country to another, or from one university to the other university. Yet, we find that successful products in the same category differ greatly among the brands of the different producer countries. The modern equivalence of "Horse" are the Fighter Aircrafts: and we indeed observe a great variety from brand to brand.
So, this is the core competency of the RV: it's got the DEPTH.
That is why any sincere researcher of RV, if he is half certain that zero had origins in India and he knows the significance of the idea of identity, will start by looking if RV has got it somewhere in the depths. (it has)
Nations that are producing brands are good not only at plain logic but also the arts. Take the examples of the newcomers, Japan, S.Korea, etc; one can even predict the next kid on the block.
"What good simple praising of devatas can do?"
"What kind of competency is in THAT?"
Well, devatas are not the same as in the notion of Abrahamic God, though the problem is today it is extremely difficult to avoid that perspective because of its overwhelming dominance.
Devatas are an "Agent based understanding" of Reality surrounding us.
Studying the Western scholarship on Indic traditions, I found that there are two types of Indologies:
1) Worked by their Humanities departments, expounding AIT in one form or the other (and peer pressure is such this continues on). This may be negative, but ultimately has some hidden strategic advantages too: controlling people and managing their expectations all around the globe. For example, what good it will possibly do to the Pakistanis by telling them about their glorious past? It will only make them even more restless, and worse. As the (negative) saying goes, "people deserve what they get".
2) Worked by their Science & Tech guys. The NASA paper on "Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence" is well known, but what is not so well known is that since then a lot of acceptance was gained into the Agent based worldview of the world, which is now mainstream. This is "real Indology".
All this while our own people are bereft of food, education and basic dignity. But there have been one-off, the beggars, who were real bhaktas and attained deepest realisations into their chosen ishTa devatas, and attained the very same highest bliss that true geniuses achieve anywhere else.
Our universities were destroyed (we'll never know what they were teaching there, but without coming to the competency level we will not succeed either in creating neo Nalandas with mere brick and walls).
But Dharma survived by becoming thinly distributed all over the common peoples of Bharata. PurANa-s are the democratic records, the masterpieces, of such "beggar-bhakta-s". We kept Dharma safe and Dharma kept us safe.
But this all will be meaningless if we fail to become producers again. The biggest obstruction are the very people who claim to represent Hinduism spiritually or politically.

Recollections of a Freudian:

Sri Aurobindo demands for a legitimate understanding and practice of his teaching. DB

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