Why New Science of Life-itself is Now Possible
Why New Science of Life-itself is Now Possible
Remember that in Newton’s time there was only philosophy. In his use of mathematics, which he invented, he introduced a new form of inquiry that became known as science to differentiate it from philosophy. However natural philosophy persisted. In the early part of the twentieth century, catalogs of laboratory instruments referred to them as “philosophical instruments”.
Meanwhile physics produced such impressive results that folks wanted to be scientists. There were many disciplines that were not ready for a transition to science such as psychology. They were doing quite well as philosophical inquiry. Nevertheless, guesses were made as to what gave science its power. For example science was quantitative. How could they be quantitative in a discipline such as psychology? I have answered it many times; when you don’t know what you are doing, but need numbers, do statistics.
Today there are many fake sciences based on statistics. Given what is now being discovered about life, statistics are invalid, misleading, and produce tragic errors when applied to individuals. I believe people today are being turned off on science as a result. Our claim that we are developing a science of life and a science of value must be rather annoying; more damned intellectuals trying to control the world. Thus I think it extremely important that we present in detail what we mean by science.
What is science?
Great breakthroughs in physics occur after the required mathematics becomes known. Seeing the history of physics reveals this amazing fact. I cite here two examples
- parallel postulate. If two lines are parallel they will never meet even if extended to infinity. From the very beginning there seemed to be problems with the postulate. I think most practical people would think it too obvious to waste time thinking about it.
In 1840 mathematicians realized that they could test the postulate by denying it and proceeding to develop geometry. The test was to see if they would ultimately derive an inconsistency. They proceeded and derived new geometries; curved geometries. They were convinced that the real geometry of the world was Euclidean, but the curved geometries were interesting so they continued to develop them. Of course in curved geometry what is locally parallel can converge at a distance.
- Early in the 20th century Einstein was able to develop relativity because there was Riemannian geometry: a curved geometry. Otherwise he could not have expressed his insights.
- Maxwell, in 1860, reduced what was known about the interactions of electricity and magnetism to four differential equations. He noticed that they were wave equations. Could it be that there are electromagnetic waves? There was no experiential evidence but Maxwell went looking for them; and found them. There are octaves of electromagnetic waves accounting for radio waves, x-rays, cell phones, light waves and photons carrying energy from the sun to us.
- In 1928, P.A.M. Dirac made a change to Schrödinger’s quantum wave equations. The result led to the discovery of zero point energy, which fills all space. This is a very exciting area of research. It promises to change all our notions of reality in ways that are very important to understanding life itself.
But my favorite example is the square root of –1. I am not sure when this first appeared. It was in the far distant past. It is my favorite since it results from mathematical esthetics. Given a system of algebraic equations including X2-1 = 0, the solution is obvious. X = 1 or X= -1. However change it to X2+1 = 0 and we have a problem. Now X is equal to the square root of –1. There was no known number to satisfy that condition. However, mathematicians made up a number. They called it i. This led to numbers with two parts, X + iY. X was called the real part; iY was called the imaginary part. Such numbers were called complex numbers. In the past some people objected to the teaching of imaginary numbers. It was alleged to be a waste of time. Now we know that such imaginary numbers play a very important role in some very real and practical disciplines, such as electronic circuit theory. More, this imaginary number plays a starring role in quantum equations. Quantum equations typically employ complex numbers
No amount of empirical inquiry can reveal breakthroughs; Wikipedia not withstanding. Science is a combination of two forms of inquiry; inquiry searching for effective physical acts and inquiry search for effective mental acts.
Based on the theory of autopoiesis, it is suggested that our theories of perception have to be reversed. Perception does not begin in input senses to be decoded in the brain to models or representations of the external reality. Indeed, it appears living organisms have no information inputs or outputs. When I first read this I thought it outrageous nonsense. I listen to someone talk and believe they gave me information. But they really did not.
We believe that computers have inputs and outputs but they really don’t; we program computers for input by placing very narrow structures on the form of what is entered combined with very specific rules for interpreting the entry. If the rules are violated an error message or nonsense will result. Living organisms have to program themselves to function in their ecological niche. They do this by trial acts we call acts of inquiry. Then they test for effectiveness. An act is effective if it achieves what the organism intended. Successful acts become part of the organism’s cognitive domain.
Now I realize there are actually two inquiries going on, one for effective physical acts and one for effective mental acts. Both are based on doing. They are normal growth processes. When ready they come together.
A classic example for more effective thought is the replacement of Roman numerals by Arabic numerals.