New Paradigm for Mankind: Leibniz, the Human Mind & what that means for Education, October 21, 2015
Tune in at 5 PM Eastern for a live show with the LPAC Science Team as they discuss Leibniz, the human mind, and what this implies for a real human education.
Leibniz on Vis Viva: https://youtu.be/a8iaN8X2IdQ
Vernadsky Anthology: http://bit.ly/vernadsky-150
BENJAMIN DENISTON: Hi, welcome to LaRouchePAC's weekly New Paradigm for Mankind. I'm Benjamin Deniston hosting today, joined with my colleagues from the Basement, Megan, Liona, and Jason. Today is Wednesday, October 21st, and Jason has a presentation for us today. And I just want to take a couple seconds real quick just to situate the discussion we're having today.
It's now just over one week since the Democratic Party's first 1st Presidential debates, and we've already seen a major explosion of activity in response to that. As viewers of our website probably are aware, and if you're not aware, you should get Mr. LaRouche's response to the debate right away. But he, right from the outset, called this out for what it was, a farce, a joke. What occurred in these debates did not rise to the level of what's needed for the United States right now from a Presidential administration to save this country. And LaRouche had the guts and the insight just to call it for what it was right away. And since then we've seen, we know from our own activity, an explosive response indicating there's a major ferment in the country for this type of change. And what you need are people who are going to stand up and speak the truth to the reality of the situation. And that's how we can activate this potential to get a real shift in this country that we need, not going along with these farcical debates, and people trying to win the election by seeing who can kiss Obama's ass the most times in some number of seconds, or something, whatever we saw on last Tuesday.
Obviously, the other explosive development that underscores exactly what Mr. LaRouche has been saying, and the real need for this type of shift we're talking about, is the release of these Drone Papers. Now we have more documentation than ever. This was known that we've had this targeted assassination, targeted murder, program, flying around the world, with Obama running the show, taking out people at his will. And now we've had an immense release of documentation showing, in more detail than we've ever had before, just how sick and murderous this program is under Obama. So, if you needed another point of resonance just to show exactly what the hell's gone wrong with this country these past two administrations, Bush and then Obama, have completely taken us towards a path of destruction. So it's only with the type of orientation that Mr. LaRouche is talking about, calling out the fascists, the traitors, for what they are, like Obama, that we can get the real kind of policies we need to turn this country around.
So this has been really an explosive week already just since this last debate, just in the response. We've gotten the level of the ferment in the country, so we're ripe to move this situation forward.
To get into the discussion today, I would just reference people, if they haven't seen, they should certainly watch the Policy Committee Discussion with Mr. LaRouche on Monday. And pay close attention, if you haven't seen it already, to what he had said, in terms of what it is we're fighting for at this point in history. In the discussion he made a very profound and clear intervention into the dialogue, emphasizing that what we need right now is not only a recovery program, but we need a new conception of what is mankind as a creative force on this planet. What is it that makes mankind unique, and what type of government, what type of leadership, do you need, that would actually rise to the level of fulfilling that, of satisfying and carrying forward this unique creative potential, that only mankind has? And if we don't make the fight for that issue, we're not rising to the level that history demands of us right now. That's where we're at in history right now—the need to get the world to shift to that type of level.
And as I'm sure many of our viewers are aware, that's a major subject of this show, our weekly discussions, where we focus on Mr. LaRouche's emphasis on the fundamental scientific nature of human creativity, and the critical issue of real science as a pinnacle expression of mankind's unique capabilities and the need to bring this insight into human creativity forth again, and have this be a guiding principle for where we need to go into the future.
So, with that short introduction, I think Jason has some remarks for us on science and human creativity.
JASON ROSS: Yeah, thanks, Ben. The importance of science and understanding what science is for humanity, I'd say at this point, is really twofold. One is the importance of making more scientific discoveries, so that we can do more things: developing fusion power, health improvements, I mean there's a lot of discoveries that need to be made, that we need to benefit from.
The other aspect, and the one that I really want to focus on, is how it provides us a better idea for what a basis should be for human relations. How should people relate to each other? How should cultures or nations relate to each other? On what basis can we come together and discuss, and what is it that makes us human, a human world?
So the way to do that, I'm going to use some insights from Gottfried Leibniz, who was really an amazing man, the founder of physical economy. He lived from 1646 to 1716. I'm going to use some insights from him to make some points about what it is to be human, by first setting up some of the problems about how science is presented today, both pop-science, and then also in academic science.
Where to start on that? You could start with education where the discovery process of the past is left out. We get the final discoveries. Students are taught to take tests, rather than to discover new things, and there's little room in that for actual creativity, within the bounds of the official curriculum. You could look at popular representations of science, most of which should make you cringe. But even at their best, even when they don't make horrendous gaffes, they're not providing an insight into how these discoveries really got made. The same problem with education, it's too pat and often it's just misleading. And it certainly does not do a good job, or even try to, at present, distinguish what makes our ability to make these discoveries different from what could be done by a computer.
We hear touted all the time what computers are able to do now, and it is wonderful to have increasing automation in a variety of fields. A driver-less car? Sounds great, I'd love to have one. Are computers going to do everything that we can do? And what is it that makes discovery different from everything a computer can do? Who knows? That doesn't get touched on.
But I want to look at a couple of aspects of actual practiced science today, and pick out the fields of evolution and of neurobiology. So on evolution, let's take, I don't mean to pick on him in particular, but as a good target, look at Dawkins, who's got some notoriety. He wrote the book, Selfish Gene. He wrote the books about why he hates the concept of God. And he's a very strong defender today of what we would call the Darwinian view of evolution, which as explained, where it changes — mostly random changes in DNA, but also other changes, still without a purpose — end up causing changes in organisms from one generation to the next. Some of these changes confer a selective advantage, and those are the ones that end up having more kids, or kill the other organisms, and do all the mating, or eat more food; those are the organisms that then end up creating the next generations preferentially. So natural selection, slight improvements locally, are what create the evolution that we see over the long scale of hundreds of millions of years in the succession of evolutionary stages.
So what do we make of that? Let's look at two aspects of it. One is about the origin of life itself, and the other is, let's take it all the way forward, to the development, the emergence, of human consciousness as an active force on this planet. So as far as we know, there's a certain age before which we haven't found any evidence of life existing on the planet. People hypothesize that life was created on the planet. So people like Oparin, an enemy of Vernadsky's, said that if you put some fake lightning and some chemicals together and try to recreate the Hadean Age of the Earth, before there was life, if you just sort of bumble things around, eventually you'll create life, or at least some organic molecules. Now you can do that and you might make some molecules. No one's ever made life that way.
And to take two issues that Vernadsky has with this approach: One, we've never known of just an organism; we've always known of only a biosphere. So explaining the origin of life requires more than creating an amino acid or something. How does the biosphere get created? Is it from the beginning of one organism? Well, we haven't ever seen that. He points that out.
The other aspect of it is something about life, that distinguishes it from physical and chemical processes, something that had been discovered by Pasteur in the 1800s: chirality. So chirality is the name, it means handedness, basically. Some molecules are of forms where the same atoms put together in the same sequence — a bunch of atoms put together in a certain sequence, is called a molecule — where that molecule could exist in two forms, where they are mirror images of each other, like your two hands. If you talked about which bones and tendons that connected to each other, and you wrote them all down, you wouldn't know if you're describing your left hand or your right hand. But they're different. In life they're very different. We find proteins are of one handedness, and carbohydrates or sugars are of a different handedness. Different handednesses of the same molecule smell different to us, have different effects on us as medicines, for example in the famous case with birth defects from thalidomide.
So how could that ever get created? That's another question to look at. Where did the preference for one hand come from? That's another one, where there's physical or chemical hypotheses to explain it. Nothing that compelling yet. No specific idea why do we have the predominances that we do. Is it chance? Could it be different elsewhere? If there's life on Mars, is it shaped differently? That'd be great to know. Is there something intrinsic about the handedness of life? We just don't know right now.
But that's something that's inexplicable at present from chemical or physical factors. Living processes create one of the two hands, but not the other, or treat them differently, and no purely chemical process does that. And it takes very unusual physical processes to make a distinction.
But Let's ask, what else is there to this story in evolution? Vernadsky added more to the story. Vladimir Vernadsky was, if you've been watching our shows, the somewhat famous Russian-Ukrainian biogeochemist who did everything. He developed the concepts of the biosphere and the noösphere, where the noösphere is the shaping of the biosphere of the Earth and its surroundings by our minds, by noësis. Vernadsky said, well look, there's more to evolution than this. If we watch what evolution has done, we'll notice a couple of things. One is that the flow of biological compounds, energy, the chemical migrations associated with life. This increases over evolutionary time. Life is becoming more and more active.
And secondly, that among organisms, those that contribute towards this process are the ones that evolution has created and developed. They're the ones that exist in increasing numbers. So these biogeochemical principles of evolution that he noted, do those arise from a concept of natural selection itself? No. Unless you operate on faith. Let me read a short quote from Dawkins about his faith on this. He says, "The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity. Even if the evidence did not favor it, it would still be the best theory available."
So what do people do, when you take a reductionist approach? We say we've got a complex process. We have a faith, a certainty, that we could explain it based on the parts that make it up, once we discover what all those parts are, and how they interact. Eventually we'll get there. We're not there yet, but have faith. That's what Dawkins says. That's what Oparin says. Now we haven't done it. Right? We haven't explained all of evolution this way. We haven't created life from physical or chemical means. These are open questions.
So, evolution does occur. The Earth isn't only a few thousand years old, but there's more to it then. It's not explained by the Darwin approach, alone.
Let's take a look at another phenomenon, that's a very shocking discontinuity over evolutionary time, and that's us, people. We're a shocking change over evolutionary time. And there have been some big shocks. If you were watching the planet, say, OK, life is living in the crust. It's in deep-sea ocean vents munching on sulfur. There's a very limited amount of life that could exist on the planet. There's only so much energy bubbling out of the Earth, these chemicals.
The development of photosynthesis? Wow. That just completely transformed everything. Now the Sun is the source of energy for life, and not just what comes out of the crust. That's a huge change. That's amazing! Oxygen's being created now. Something poisonous. Life had to change to deal with oxygen, which it can kill us, too, at high concentrations, at pressure.
Then you move along to get other shocking changes. You have the development of warm-blooded animals, well first animals, vertebrates, nervous systems, warm-bloodedness, an increasing ability for organisms to create their own environments independent of their surroundings. And then with us, we have the ability to create decisions and act in a way that's independent of our surroundings. Animals are trained. They're creatures of habit and instincts and training when we civilize them, domesticate them.
DENISTON: Hopefully, yeah.
ROSS: You never know. I think that some people ought to bring their pets, if they go visit their therapist. They might find some — I've certainly known some pets who represented some definite characteristics of their owners that you would have to be blind not to see sometimes. But anyway.
All right, so, we've got consciousness. How does this happen? Is this something that got built up in the pieces? Does it make sense that, these stupid science magazines every week, they'll talk about, we just discovered the evolutionary advantage of love. Or we just discovered why it's evolutionarily advantageous to have compassion. Because even if that person you help, even if you are not related to them, and your gene won't survive into the future, maybe your tribal group of which you've got a larger correspondence of genes, and outside tribal groups will be benefitted by your altruism towards your, etc. That's called science? Trying to figure out some way of explaining everything this way?
But let's take the mind itself, consciousness. Now, without a doubt, the brain has an impact on thoughts. There's no doubt about it. At least, definitely on thoughts' abilities to relate to the body. You find things, Alzheimer's patients typically have characteristic structures in the brain, that can be seen on scans. Neuro surgeons, etc., can identify that there are really things there; where you got a problem over here, it has this effect on people, strokes, for example. And then by this means, unfortunately, it's a science that really developed through injuries and illnesses, and brain problems. We've been able to piece together, now more recently with MRIs, the different aspects of the different components of the brain, and relationships to various aspects of body, and also characteristics of the mind. Types of memory, certain kinds of feelings in some respects. So there's a connection there, obviously.
People use drugs recreationally. It's not because it makes their feet feel fantastic. I mean these things act on the brain. They create a certain kind of feeling and that's what people are doing it for. Or non-recreationally. So, let's think about this.
Where is the room for free will? It hardly seems like an illusion. Every day we make decisions. We're never surprised that our arms just start doing things that we don't want them to do, typically, for most people, that doesn't happen: When we want to walk, our legs do as we tell them. When we decide what we want to do with ourselves, the body follows. We can choose to think about something, and we can start thinking about it, although we might get distracted. But overall, we've got the ability to determine what we're going to do. Where does that come from, if the brain is biological and chemical?
If we've got that faith that Dawkins and Oparin have, and others, this faith that one day we'll figure it all from those pieces, where are we in all those pieces? Where is the ability to do something of your choosing? If we are able to say, well, we know how synapses work, we know how neurotransmitters work, we know how a charge is conducted across the body of a nerve cell? Where is our ability to decide what we want to do? How can our thoughts impact something physical, sitting in our bodies, that cause our bodies to do what we want?
It obviously makes much more sense to start from free will, to say clearly this exists. We experience it every day. So a system of thought that wouldn't allow it just can't be right. But that's not how it goes, if you follow through on the reductionist outlook, by explaining everything from its pieces, really, free will either has to vanish; or it has to be explained as an epiphenomenon, as an emergent property: by combining enough of theses synapses together, the synapses are you. Maybe free will is a little bit of an illusion, but you don't know that it isn't; or perhaps, when you put these things together, thought actually takes place, as a system of these neural structures.
Well, let's take this apart by looking at a very specific aspect of free will. Some aspects of our free will don't seem to differentiate us that much from the animals, for example. There's instincts in training. You train mice, or they choose which button to push on to get some food, or something like that. It seems like they're making decisions. That's not that profound a sense of our free will. What about the free will of doing something that had never been done before, in the specifically human sense of making a discovery? Let's look at that kind of free will, and see if it can be accommodated by an idea of the world that's purely those pieces, acting in unison, or in concert.
We're going to get it one specific discovery, Leibniz's discovery of vis viva, in a little bit. But I wanted to start with the most general notion of discovery using the concept from LaRouche of metaphor; where he says, this is the touchstone of understanding what discovery is, metaphor. The process whereby two or more different types of senses, or extended senses through not just using the senses of our body, where two or more senses are put together in a way that creates a concept that couldn't be derived from anything in the past. It's fundamentally opposed to mathematics, especially to logic. It's something that's specifically human. So, to give an example of it, and we come to this example a lot, because it is such a prime example; and it's the birth of modern science. It is, — you guessed it! Kepler.
So, Kepler's discovery of gravitation, of the Solar System as a system, this was an application of metaphor. So before Kepler, preceding astronomers had attempted to understand the motions of the planets as dots in the sky, the stars that moved from night to night, by combining motions of circles, upon circles, upon circles, upon circles; depending on the astronomer, the number of circles might differ for what planet it was. And by putting all these circles together, you'd have a model for the planet. You'd calculate where you'd expect to see it, and you'd look and you'd see, is Mars right next to the hip-bone of Leo, or whatever star, you'd predicted it'd be next to. And that was it. Circles were used because in the heavens, there could be nothing more perfect than the circle. The heavens are so perfect, unlike the filthy Earth down here — that's Aristotle's view which stuck around for quite a long time.
What Kepler did, he said, look. First he proved that this mathematical approach couldn't succeed. To make a long story short, he outdid them in what they were trying to do. He made the perfect circle model, or the perfect circle-circle-circle model. He did it, he made a model for Mars with it, it seemed really great; but there was an irreducible, unavoidable, unremovable error of 8 minutes. A minute is 1/60th of a degree. Some portion of a degree of error where Mars would be. There's no way to remove it. There was no way of putting those circles together, that you could do any better than a minimum error of 8 minutes.
So Kepler says what, this proves to you guys that your approach is wrong. You're trying to just match what we see. You're not asking why they're moving. You've just got these circles. Why are they moving? Why are they moving that way? Why are they at those distances? Are you trying to answer any of that? No, you're not. He showed that their approach would never work. He also says, you could always add more circles, and keep reducing the error. So he said, even if your model matches what you observe, that is not proof that you're right. The error might just be too small to observe at this point. I mean if you added a hundred circles, you could match things really well. Does that mean that that's how the planets really move? Of course not.
So what Kepler did instead, was, he created something totally different. He had a physical principle of gravitation, that the Sun caused the planets to move. It wasn't just sitting in the central seat watching them as a bystander. He had a physical hypothesis. Not only was it not based on mathematics, it couldn't even be expressed in mathematics. The Kepler problem. If you try to express Kepler's principle as, where will a planet be on a certain day, you can't even solve the math for it exactly. So, it was non-mathematical. His approach was anti-mathematical: It was physical. It was metaphorical. Even though today we wouldn't accept his physical hypotheses, the specific ones that he was playing with, and he wasn't quite certain about them, we'd definitely see this as a foundation of modern science; where curve fitting is gone, and the discovery of principles corresponding to thoughts in the mind becomes a standard for understanding the world around us.
And it's no surprise, sometimes people today act astonished, that believing religious people in the past were able to discover great things, as though Kepler's belief in God should have disqualified him from figuring anything out, because it's this terrible delusion that just enslaves people, and kills people, etc. Some of this atheism stuff gets pretty intense, but it's quite the contrary for Kepler. He viewed human beings as made in the image of God. He said that there's a correspondence between the way our minds work and the way the Universe is composed, such that we'll actually be able to understand it, such that we can ask why. Right? It's possible to say, but why is it acting that way, instead of some other way?
And that's not true of every cultural tradition, the idea that that's even a legitimate question. That's certainly not a universal thing. Some would say, you can't know, maybe you could model it, but why it's happening? Who knows? God knows that. We don't know that. So, keep that in mind.
Now, let's ask, could a computer have done what Kepler did? Let's ask in a general way, can a computer make a discovery? So, here's the thing, and this requires looking at what happened in 1900 briefly, again, something we've discussed on these shows a few times. As a bare summary of it, and this goes earlier, but just from 1900: In 1900 at a conference of mathematicians, David Hilbert laid out the problem, said, hey guys, is it possible for us to explain all of mathematics, — arithmetic, I'll start with, by logic? And maybe we could explain physics, or chemistry, that way too. Let's find out. Is mathematics just a branch of logic?
Now what does logic mean? Logic is a technique for arriving at conclusions from assumptions that you believe are true. What are all the legitimate conclusions you can reach from them? So logic is about rules for deriving new theorems, as the terminology goes, from your past ones. Start with your axioms. Start with assumptions. Start with your beliefs. What follows from them, logically? That's logic. Now things that follow logically, are included in what you already know. Have discoveries, great discoveries, been embedded in what was already thought in the past? It wouldn't be much of a discovery, if you could derive it from what was already known in the past. They don't happen that way.
So just to move forward on that a bit, Bertrand Russell, who really hated humanity; I mean, LaRouche has called him the most evil man of the 20th century; and he's got some touch competition — you might look at some other evil men in the 20th century. So this is quite a statement, to say that Russell is the most evil of them. But he had a very all-encompassing goal, and he worked in many fields! He worked in politics. He wanted to nuke the Soviet Union, when we had the bomb, and they didn't. He wanted to destroy science. He worked very hard on the math project to try to do what Hilbert said, to try to turn all of arithmetic into logic. He invented some new tricks, that he pulled up from out of his sleeve to make his system secure from several paradoxes that he knew about. So he went out of his way to make sure that none of these paradoxes could hurt him, that he could make math logical — until Kurt Gödel proved it was wrong.
Kurt Gödel proved that Russell's dream was impossible. Now, really, he'd already known it was impossible, but Gödel proved it. He proved that what Hilbert and Russell were trying to do was a dead end, that there were important concepts, or thoughts, that would not be derivable from the past. This is basically what Gödel showed; that, in other words, there is always more to know, that can't be derived from what happened in the past; even just in arithmetic, he showed this was true. There's non-trivial, new important things that you couldn't have gotten from the past, that you can't have a system of logic that's both comprehensive, embracing all possible true things, and free of contradictions. Not possible. And it can't prove of itself, that it knows everything.
So, really, that should have been the end of it; that should have been the end of the idea of artificial intelligence, which should never have gotten off the ground. That really should have been the end of it. It wasn't. What instead happened was that people then said, well, the mind is also subject to this. Yes, maybe we are able to do new things. Maybe we do have free will. Consciousness is an emergent process out of these synapses and neurons and things, and whatever a computer can do, that's what we're able to do. But nothing else, nothing more. To admit that there is something more the mind could do, would mean that that build-up of the mind from its components, was wrong. And that they couldn't accept. Because on faith, we're building everything from its pieces.
Let me review what we've talked about so far, and then bring in our friend Leibniz. We've touched on the topic of evolution, of the faith that's expressed by those who say that there is nothing different beyond pieces, changing, and developing, and combining to represent something higher. We discussed free will, and the impossibility of a purely physical brain, if free will exists. By physical, I mean, obeying laws of physics that could be determined from physical processes, not looking at cognitive ones — not that our brains aren't physical. Obviously they're physical; they're not not physical. Right? They're there.
And then we looked at free will with the specific application of discovery — that application of free will. Is it possible to explain from components, the creation of a discovery of thought, that revolutionizes the vocabulary by which thoughts are considered, and which doesn't follow from the past? And the answer, as proved very completely by Gödel is: No, that's not possible.
So, I want to bring in now Leibniz, and see how this man from several centuries ago (again he lived 1646 to 1716), what can he add to this discussion? He was one of these, a polymath, that's what they call them. He did everything. He was involved in science, industry, he had his own projects on mining and power transmission, physical power transmission, statecraft, efforts to reunite the churches, and outreach to China, with the idea of embracing the Eurasian continent by the best ideas in the culture of Europe and of China; and saying that these were not mutually exclusive concepts, that there was a cultural tradition in China that wasn't totally different from Europe's, which is the approach that some missionaries, or people pushing them, wanted to have. That China's uncivilizable, they're just barbarians, they shouldn't really be treated as humans. Leibniz did not agree with that.
As a young man, he realized that he disagreed with Aristotle, who said that the mind was really a blank slate, on which the pen of experience would write, and that's what would fill out our minds.
Leibniz said, no way. There are concepts that are born in the mind, that are not generated from inductive experience from the senses. We develop concepts in our mind, that don't come from — so induction is the idea that we observe something of a certain type (of course, even considering things of a certain type is an act of the mind), but we observe these things and we figure out what's common to these observations; we use induction to create a general concept of the observations.
Leibniz said, that's not all there is. Yeah, we use our senses, sure, but that doesn't explain everything. There's concepts that just come from the mind itself, that have a valid power in science, in understanding the world around us. He said that these reflect, again, that the Creator of the Universe is reflected in the mind of the individual, in his view, that human beings are made in the image of God. It's really impossible to avoid that kind of language when talking about these people.
At this point, I wanted to, I'm realizing that time's not going to allow it, but it's in the video description, talk about one of Leibniz's specific discoveries of vis viva. I'll just say something short about it now, and you can watch the full video later. [http://archive.larouchepac.com/visviva] Leibniz, in looking at how motion occurred, at dynamics, moving bodies, and then the power of them, and looking at mechanics — this is an important field of science — he said that there was something very wrong with Descartes and with Newton's view of this. And Descartes said that matter is extension and it's motion. What is stuff? It takes up space, and it moves, in an absolute space. What Leibniz ended up showing, was that the power of a moving body wasn't in anything that you could observe about it; it wasn't its speed. But that you actually had to take its speed squared, and that that represented its power. Now, in summary form, that sounds kind of mathematical, I admit. So I urge people to watch the video, to get the full story behind this.
But there's something that's there besides the motion, there is a power to act that's in matter; there's something real beyond what the senses might induce. And here, I think, is a key concept for us today. Leibniz looked at two different kinds of cause in nature. And, this is using older language, but he said, there are efficient causes, moment to moment causes; and there are final causes, which is a cause about an intention, a goal, where things are heading towards. So, if you see your friend in the store, and they're holding a jug of milk, and you say, how did you get here? What's going on? The efficient cause would be that their legs moved them into the store, and then their arms picked the milk. The final cause would be that they wanted to buy some milk, because they have some cookies, or whatever.
Leibniz said that these aren't exclusive. He said, there's a "kingdom of power," as he called it, by which processes are understood by the moment-to-moment operations, by the efficient causes, and that can explain a lot. But there's also a "kingdom of wisdom," which explained, why are the efficient causes as they are? Why are the laws of nature the way they are, instead of another way? They can't tell you, not as that kind of efficient law, efficient principle, efficient cause. But he said, that this "kingdom of wisdom" explains why are the efficient causes the way they are; and very importantly, its basis lay in beauty, of goodness, or fitness—not just power.
So reductionism, starting from the bottom and growing up, that can never tell us why nature is the way it is, instead of a different way, or why our minds are able to understand it at all. That's a pretty big, that's almost miraculous, that we can actually understand how nature works. Did it have to be that way? And if it did have to be that way, what was the cause? What kind of cause would that be? What kind of cause would that be?
Some people today, they say, well, if there's a lot of Universes, in some of them life couldn't exist, and we're not in one of those, because it's survivor bias, statistically we're in the one that we're in, and there's a lot of other ones out there, somewhere. Not much of an understanding. If you don't conceive, if you throw away the mind as a cause, you're left with explanations like that.
Let me give one last example of Leibniz's thought, and then bring it back to the beginning, and that's about space and time. Leibniz had a correspondence with Samuel Clarke, who was an associate of Newton's. He was a translator of the most popular book on physics, written by an arch-Cartesian follower of Descartes, named Jacques Rohault. And in this debate, it became very quickly to a different concept of God. Samuel Clarke said: Look, God's omnipotent, He can do anything He wants. Leibniz said, well, things aren't good because God did them. God did them because they're good. Clarke said, well, that means God can't do whatever He wants. He has to be good? Well, what's the point of being God, if you have to be good? Sort of like a would-be dictator, you can see how the outlook of civil authority, their view of it reflects their views in this religious idea.
Well, Leibniz said, look, all qualities that allow of an infinite perfection, all of those are in God. Omnipotence, yes. Also, omniscience. God has to know everything, and be as wise as possible. There's no contradiction in infinite wisdom. So God couldn't do anything without a good reason. Otherwise he wouldn't be infinitely wise. You're only focusing on the power, Clarke, but God's also infinitely wise. That's got to show up.
Clarke said, no way. I'll give you proof. So in the tradition of Descartes and Newton, Clarke said that, look, there's infinite, there's an absolute space and time, like a big shoe-box that surrounds everything. He says, when God decided to create everything, he put it over here in the shoe-box. He could have put everything over here. We wouldn't know the difference. We'd only know how far away the things are that are near us, which would be the same if we're all over here, or all over here, makes no difference. That proves it. God did something without a good reason. That shows how powerful he is.
Leibniz said, no way. The problem was that you assume that that space and time existed on their own before God, and from that assumption required a choice in putting the Universe together, that didn't have a good reason for being that way. Leibniz said, therefore, the problem is that you believe in absolute space and time. They don't exist.
That's pretty phenomenal, because this was in the early 1700s, and here's Leibniz using a final cause proof to come to a conclusion about something very physical, space and time. And he was right! There is no absolute space. There is no absolute time. Laws of motion shouldn't differ if you're moving while you're watching them. This is a principle for Leibniz, and it's a principle of Einstein. Einstein's theory of relativity, built on what Leibniz had done, took that relativity of motion of Leibniz, the non-existence of absolute space, and Einstein created something that did away with space and time as separate things altogether, and created a space-time. Einstein's E=mc² eliminated the distinction between mass and energy. Now after Einstein, think about it. Space, time, mass, energy, none of these mean what they meant before. Over the period of two decades, these basic terms had their meanings transformed. So that kind of a change, that change in the language, means that you're definitely going to be saying things now, that you couldn't have said before. Right? It's a discovery. It's not expressible in what came before. It doesn't derive form what came before. It's fundamentally new, couldn't be done by a computer, couldn't be done by Bertrand Russell.
I want to wrap up then, going back to that opening concept about the importance of science for the fruits of science, which we need fusion power, and for its benefits in understanding humanity in relations among people. Look, we're all human beings. What does that mean? We're all human beings. We've got a shared inheritance of brilliant acts of discovery, of creation, scientific, cultural, musical, political, economic. If we understand that heritage, where it really came from, what it really is, if we hold onto that, and embrace that as our humanity, that we recognize to be the basis of our joint humanity, that's a real basis for relations among people and among national cultures.
So as Lyndon and Helga LaRouche had said repeatedly and recently, a unipolar world can't exist, but neither can a multipolar world, simply. Right? A new paradigm of human relations has to be forged, based on that ability, that's unique to us, not shared with any other form of life, or computers, to create a future that never could have existed yesterday. And on that basis, on the uniqueness of our minds, as being in coherence with the Universe as a whole, on that basis, we can really set a very firm foundation for what relations among nations, and among people, should be.
That's what I wanted to say.
LIONA FAN-CHIANG: Well, that sets a very high standard.
ROSS: [laughs] Yeah!
FAN-CHIANG: But the other thing is that it sets a higher standard that evolves, so you have a definition of what governs relations among nations, among human beings, among humans, and that definition is going to continue to change, based on a basic characteristic of humans, which is discovery.
Another thing I was thinking about, when you were making your presentation, is that Vernadsky has this discussion that basically says, life exists, cognition exists; and it is what you said, but sort of the inverted way, which is, these things exist, and so you can't say that they are not of this Universe. And so, if you are going to say that you have Universal laws, then you must encompass the laws that govern life and cognition. And, it's funny, because you said, the mind can't be totally encompassed by laws of physics, at least as it's taught today. But, it really is that the laws of physics just don't encompass the Universe, at this point.
DENISTON: I think this point you're bringing up about re-raising the importance of the issue of metaphor, I think is really a good reference point for getting at the importance of these concepts. And just to reference again back to Kepler as a good example of this: You take his Harmony of the World, you take Book 4, what he discusses in there, his explicit attack on Aristotle, like you were saying, this blank slate idea, that knowledge is just what's presented to the senses and then recorded by the senses and imprinted on you; that's what knowledge is, that's the basis of human action in the Universe. Then you reference Kepler's discovery: It was not just something you got from the senses. It was not something that you took in and observed, per se, but required this action of the mind, this creation of a metaphor. He was great, because he takes you through it, too. He writes his whole book recognizing, "well, if this guy's going to get this, I'm going to have to take them through how my mind went through the process of figuring this out."
So, if you went to school and you got Kepler's three laws, his three formulas, you got cheated. You should ask for a refund. It's a lot more fun to read his book and figure out how he thought about what he did; and how he just completely pedagogical, takes the reader, in that day and age, the way they thought through a process by which they can come to the ironies, the conflicts, which had forced them to come to a new conception. But then, when I was looking at this from the standpoint of Mr. LaRouche's work, I always think has an extra dimension to it too. Because Mr. LaRouche defines a metric for human progress, human economic advance: the increased ability of mankind to exist as a greater force in the Universe. And what enables us to do this? It's this unique capability, which you only find in this quality of metaphor. It's this unique capability demonstrated by Kepler of the mind generating something unique to its own ability to generate that new discovery, which is the thing that we see no evidence of animals expressing this capability. And it's that quality of process that is, as far as we can see, the substance of what allows mankind to fundamentally change the way he exists in the Universe; and exist in the Universe in a completely new way, really, as a function of something the mind generated. Not as of something you observed, not as something Aristotle wrote on his blank slate, but it was something that the mind did, that changed how mankind exists in the Universe.
As you were saying, what does that tell us about Einstein, I think I have the quote pretty much right, who had said at one point, the most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that it is comprehensible, that it's this quality that the mind has uniquely, that allows us to advance, that allows us to make scientific progress. That tells us about the Universe. That comes back on what we can say about what we know the Universe is; that it's that quality of generation of something that the mind can generate uniquely, through this type of process of metaphor, that you're referencing, that's what allows us to exist in a completely new way.
In that sense, some of these pop-science people promoting some of these reductionist views, — at this point, people who have just been brought up in this, and they don't really understand the fight anymore, — but this is really evil. It's an attempt to kill the actual creative spark that makes mankind unique. This is not just a difference in opinion. This is a direct attack on the idea that mankind has this unique creative principle, per se.
ROSS: Yeah, you end up looking at people in terms of their patterns of behavior, instead of their thoughts, for example.
DENISTON: Right. Behaviorist school and you've mentioned how long Aristotle's ideas stuck around, just imprisoning people for centuries in this crazy, and science didn't advance. Mankind didn't advance, for centuries, until you had the Renaissance. You just wasted entire generations upon generations, where people were denied the ability to make some type of actual creative contribution to the progress of society, because you had this crazy reductionist dogma imposed over the population. The 20th century has been the beginning of the new phase of that type of thing.
FAN-CHIANG: It wasn't an accident also that Russell attacked metaphor, explicitly, trying to say that valid language, especially a valid language in scientific writing, has to be direct; it has to be exact. It has to be without ambiguity.
ROSS: In that it's really not ever going to be new. [laughter]
FAN-CHIANG: And that it won't be new, and therefore, that it won't be science.
ROSS: Yeah. When you had said that it's an evolving basis for relations; or think about morality, sometimes, a question people might ask themselves or a friend, is morality absolute or is it relative? People, I think, look at that as a question in a wrong way. Absolute sounds like, is it already completed and written down? In other words, is it done? That's sort of implied in the absolute. The relative meaning, morality's relative, whatever, there's no actual universality to it. I mean the thing is, yeah, there's an absolute standard of morality, but it's not one that we know yet, and never will completely have known; that the basis for the substance of morality is one that we have to keep discovering, that we do more work on, as we learn more about what it is to be human. So, you think, what's the basis? Why shouldn't I treat people wrong? The Golden Rule, well, because I wouldn't like that to happen to me? Well, that's a good start. Treat people like you'd like to be treated. Well, you should, that's presuming you don't want to mistreat yourself. [laughter]
DENISTON: Excluding Dawkins.
ROSS: Well, yeah. But why does every human being on this planet deserve respect? Or what's the basis of their dignity? Do we all look the same, in the sense of we walk on two feet, and we don't have a whole lot of hair, and you can tell that we are all human beings? The fact that we're all one species, and that we can all reproduce with each other, and that's what makes us all human, by the definition of an animal species? We can reproduce and have fertile offspring? No! That's not why people are deserving of dignity and respect and a love for and urge to develop them. It's because of this ability that every person on this planet has the ability in their life to contribute something of enduring value. But how many people in history have done that, or have been in a position to do that? We're really in a position now to end, to really wipe out oligarchism. I mean, things are really coming to a head right now, with the complete collapse of the financial system totally, the incredible opportunity represented by the BRICS. And then the scandal, after scandal, after scandal and attack, after attack, that's all coming down on Obama right now, except at that Democratic debate, besides that butt-kissing ceremony you described. But in the real world, he's being slammed from every possible direction. It's a real opportunity to say, "hey, this has got to go, and instead, here's a real basis for relations among nations."
We have got to develop the world, because people deserve human rights, and you can enumerate them. People have a right to shelter? Yes. People should be able to eat enough? Yes, of course. People have clean water? Yes, we can all agree on that. Electricity? Yes. Why? What's the basis? And then what's that highest right, to know that when you die, you're not dead? In a real way, to be able to know "I did something; I was able in my life to do something that's going to have meaning beyond it." That's the really human thing that we have to give people. It requires all those others, — we need those other prerequisites. We should develop all of those. We've got to keep in mind where it's really got to go. Like among the UN Development Goals, saying, we're going to reduce poverty. We're going to get rid of this disease. We got rid of smallpox. It should be, immortality, in the real sense. That would be a fantastic UN Development Goal.
DENISTON: Yeah, right. I think that's a demand we're at right now. We have to realize, our existence as mankind, is what makes us a species, what makes us unique on this planet.
ROSS: We need meaning. We need to give meaning.
MEGAN BEETS: Also, the idea what you said about the fact that it's just been a very small percentage of all humans who have ever existed, who have acted this way. I think it's worth letting your imagination work, to envision what it might be like if the majority of humanity acted in the footsteps of genius. What would that mean? What would that do to the physical Universe? How rapidly would that start to transform the physical Universe in a certain unified direction? And it's really an incredible prospect, which is very much at our fingertips right now.
ROSS: Yeah. If it was normal for children to think, "oh, there goes little Einstein and little Marie Curie," and that that was typical, as opposed to unusual, or shocking — imagine.
BEETS: Right. And, of course, you'll always have great geniuses who trail blaze and drive that next revolution. But if the majority of the population could be brought to the standard, where they're living a life which has an impact after them, because they've actually changed the meaning of humanity in some way.
ROSS: And with that kind of culture, you could never have had Obama. Or Bush, or the list goes on.
FAN-CHIANG: Not as President
DENISTON: I think that probably defines an appropriate challenge for people to think about.
ROSS: And respond to in the comments section.
DENISTON: Right. So unless there is anything else, that was a very important contribution to the fight we're creating right now. And again, we're seeing an incredible amount of ferment and potential developing, and so we have to make sure we take it to this highest level. So, I'd like to thank Jason for doing that for us today, and we'll be back next week, and look forward to talking with you then.