Tuesday, June 17, 2014


jcs-online:  Was Re: Some possible basic principles of a QM based on Plato and Leibniz


Thanks for adding your helpful perspective and observations.   If you know of a good, simple, online reference summarizing and/referencing the principles and physicists you are referring to,  I'd appreciate hearing about it.  Otherwise, perhaps that would be a productive branch for you, Roger, and others to follow-up with if that's what leads you to think that Leibniz's thinking is the foundational cat's meow of consciousness research rather than someone else other others. 

My perspective, when we drift back to prognostic about the earlier days of the 1600's is that the educational principle which Jon Amos Comenius sought (see header  at  magnetictetrahedra dot com), called out for the then as yet undiscovered, underlying principle of structured~duality.  Descartes' instance: cube/subject-object,  did become popular and set the tone for developments for the initial 350+ year phase of the scientific method.
Entering the second phase here in the early 21st century, though,    does call for some structural adjustments, error correction and/or paradigmatic transition.   It's been enough for me during the last 30 years  to merely echo and point out that Descartes' instance is a good enough initial approximation but it generally misses the tetrahedral structure of the natural world.  And that miss is pretty fundamental.  It sounds like, Jo, you are saying that parallel developments in physics to "anomalies", particularly in the internally nested non-classical realms have been or seem to be supported by Leibniz-like attributes or apparent precedences.   Considering the principles of "both and more",  and "one world -- many descriptions", or to look straight into nested fields within nested fields, that would make sense, wouldn't it?
I don't think, however, that a simple switch or elevation  from Descartes to Leibniz properly fills the bill.  It might make nice for the kind of retrofitted simplifications  we see in textbooks, but the facts are that Descartes put forth one helpful instance and Leibniz put forth another helpful instance.  Both are important and viewing both within the developing context is rather necessary to flesh out the more robust, more unified view into which we are transitioning.  
The misplaced debate, chit-chat and name-calling about physicalists and mentalists, is another case in point in the favor of the emerging underlying structured~duality.    Readers MAY be able to capture the drift here simply by considering these as two categories of structure: a physical structure and a mental structure.  Getting uppity or prejudiced about one form of  nested structure versus another form of nested structure (or particularly, of  various forms of nested structured~duality)  is just downright myopic.  Yes, I suppose all of these comparisons may better be seen as battles of sets of dueling mirror neurons  -- of habituated clumps of nested structured~dualities, but again, the important point is  the underlying foundation is nested structure.   What is the basis for one claiming green-painted nested structure is more fundamental than red-painted structure other than personal predilection? Or claiming physical structure versus mental structure, WHATEVER those two interrelated distinctions may actually mean?   The Leibnizian instance differs from the Cartesian instance, however, both are instances.  It is important and helpful to keep those facts  and other facts and features in focus.  
The entire initial phase is provisional.  As significant as Leinbiz is, he is not, and there is not actually an accurate, simplistic one-person dead-poet textbook fix.
Best regards,
Ralph Frost

With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.  Isaiah 12:3
---In, wrote :

Dear Ralph,
You ask why one would want to give Leibniz the credit for modern ideas. One answer I think is that many physicists are happy to do that. Leibniz gets so many principles right that physicists are either only just now getting to grips with or have not yet even done so. For instance Leibniz says reality must be nested - in fact infinitely nested, with monads all the way down. If anything I think he goes over the top, but modern physics certainly has these nested levels of asymmetries and their modes. Leibniz is also about the only physicist to explicitly require an all pervasive duality - of perception and dynamics. And this duality is based in the dynamic structure in space and time. So Leibniz gets nested structured -duality, even if he misapplies it a bit because he belongs to an organised religion with a dogma.

I fully agree that the recent innovators deserve their credit but it is mostly in terms of working out quantitative mathematical detail. And I see two main reasons for keeping Leibniz in mind. Firstly, many people still talk about the puzzles of quantum physics and look for interpretations that might resolve these 'puzzles'. Leibniz's approach makes these puzzles vanish because he explains why the fundamental indivisible level of reality cannot behave like the visible world seems to. As Douglas Bilodeau (physicist) said in his article in JCS in around 1996, a dynamist approach is a 'road map out of our ontological difficulties' (or something close to that). I am pretty sure that this means that a lot of people who are interested in physics have not actually got as far as Leibniz in understanding the basics - they are not beyond him but still catching up with him.

The second point is that Leibniz builds the duality of experience and dynamics into his metaphysics. Modern physics is totally dependent on observers but these are outside the theory - they are palmed off to neuropsychologists to deal with. Leibniz reminds us that they need to be where the theory starts. We now have Rovelli trying to get close to that but Leibniz is still way ahead, recognising many of the complexities you run into. For Leibniz physics and consciousness studies were the same thing. That I would thought was a promising basis for our discussions.

In another field Picasso famously said on viewing some cave paintings newly discovered in France 'we have learnt nothing'. Someone was there before. In physics that often seems to be Leibniz and I think we should celebrate that (even if Roger muddles him up with Malebranche!).


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