Kullanılacak excerptler için annex………………
nur ayeti: reconstruction 62f
alem egodur diyor i.v.z daki gibi
self in the light of relativity dar 398
The secrets eternal neither you know nor I
And answers to the riddle neither you know nor I
Behind the veil there is much talk about us, why
When the veil falls, neither you remain nor I.
Categoriler discreete mi olacak continuum mu
Sayılar işık şuur zaman d/c
Continuus olduğu zaman eg line discreet continuum dönüşüyor light foton ama devamlılık ve sonsuzluk sebebiyle dalga oluyor gibi uzaktaki cisimden o ışığın gözüme yansıması için sonsuz sayıda foton gerekir daire üzerindeki nokta sayısı gibi zaman ve duree gibi
Ve hatta cantordaki gibi sonsuz kere sonsuz sayıda e.g. daire ve CH
Sayılar aslında continuum olduğu ve 10luk discreet sembollerle ifada edildi için inconsistent olmuyor mu2li system sadace alfabe değirirmek continuum yani sonsuzu sonlu sayıda olmak zorunda olan discreet tabii satılara indirm işlemi paradoksların katnağı olamaz mı
Fisagorcuların sayıların ahengine inanması dicreete olanı biraz Cnt yapnış olur mu lambda daki mesla1248/3927
Tel boyunun taksimatı geometriden sayıların ihracı
ZAMAN CONTİNUUM olmak zorunda
Discreete olanın hüviyetin ve mahiyetin self identical discreet atomların araştırılması uzayın zamanın sebeplerin maddenin ve işığın dicreete reductionism ile anlaşılmak istenmesi
Müziğin continuum notaların perdelerin discreet olması gibi.bak waking life ama notalar yetmiyor
Göz kulak meselesi
Discreet olan continuum olani sayısı cinsi vasıfları ne kadar tarif ve tadad edilse de ifadeye yetmez
Individuum holism meselesi
Varlık birdir bölünemez. CNt/Varlık discreet yapılarin toplamıdır
Şuurun ve Zihnin matematiğin mantığın ve lisanın anlaşılma şartını reductionism ve materialism olarak görmesi
Individuum ve holism
Madde parçacıkların alanine kadar gidince discreeten wave ve yani continuuma dönüşüyor
Fisagora ilham olunan ne ahenk ve sayıların sebepliliği
Dicreete elementleri enerjini heyulayı atom ve yine eberjinin atomları pişirerek imal etmesine benzetiliyor
toprak çamur porselen gibi
tabii sayılar discreet ama kök2den beri durmadanyeni sayı çeşitleri icad etmek zorunda kaldık sonsuzu sonlu terimler ile ve nteticeyi discreet sebeple izah gayreti
sayılar C diye c. hipotezini eklemek matematiği ne kadar değiştirebilir mesela C H varlığı veya yokluğu niye ispatlanamıyor
numbers=causality=time =continuum ve
varlığın birliğine kadar gider
zaman mekan madde ışık causality ve zamanın discreete ifadeleri olur mu veya kendileri DSc olabilir mi
şuur maddi dünyayla ve kendi continuum ile muhatab oluyor ferdiyet individuality discreet olmak zorunda
uniformity ve CH
zaman kesikli ve farklı hızlarda olamaz. Dişarıda bir dünya ve discreet unsurlar individuliteler var ama ben devamlıyım şuurundan zaman ve dış dünya ve onların conception abstraction vasitasıyla anlaşılabileceğine inanç egonun kendi şuuru hakkındaki tecrübesinden dogma inançlar
göz ve dokunma ile madde ve ışığı kulak ve şuurun temadisi ile zaman idraki
varlık eşittir:sonlu sayıda discreet elemanın toplamı
varlık eiştir tek bir holistic bütünlük
self identity personal identity identity meselesi değil egonun asli hüviyet ve mahiyeti meselesi
mantık dil ve matematiğin discreet unsurlara yönelişi şuurun dış dünya tecrübesinin materyalism telkini ve dilin instituonalisminden mi çıkıyor şuurun kendi devamlılık ve duree yani zaman olduğu içi CH problem çıkar mı
dil mantık ve matematik innate olabilir mi olursa neden
farklı ve ayni
ben olmayan nesneler ve farklı benlikler var dışımda
benim varlığım zaman ve vücudüm içinde devamlı yanı C zaman var
yabancı tabiat güçlerinin hissettirdiği farklı varlık/varlıklar yani farklilik discrimination vardır
discriminative descriptive olarak farkli individualiteler vardır
individual olanları isimlendir tasnif et dil sayesinde hiyerarşi ve instituitşonlar inşa et
akşamki konuşmanın özeti
consc. Süzgeci, zihni süzgeç dil ve abstraction süzgeçleri
metafizk zihni construction ile realitenin anlaşılma ve tasviri cehdi SML ilim felsefe
egonun/ruhun yönlendirme ve damgası th.ribot dna ve yapı dahil her türlü önceden var olan irsi yönelim irsiyet yalnız dna da değil dil ve tkültürün teşkil ettiği atavistic cognition alet ve arşivinde de var
amma egonun instinction ve intuition kabiliyeti de var
identity den personal identity ye oradan personaliteye ve ruh kavramına geçiş on the soul Avicenna
kendi varlığından şüphe edemeyen şuur uyku rüya
annex: de broglieden:
Like all the other natural sciences, Physics advances by two
distinct roads. On the one hand it operates empirically, and thus
is enabled to discover and analyse a growing number of phenomena
in this instance, of physical facts; on the other hand it also operates
by theory, which allows it to collect and assemble the known
facts in one consistent system, and to predict new ones for the
guidance of experimental research. In this way the joint efforts
of experiment and theory, at any given time, provide the body of
knowledge which is the sum total of the Physics of the day.
At the beginning of the development of modern Science, it was
naturally enough the study of the physical phenomena which we
observe immediately around us that first drew the attention of
physicists. Thus the investigation of the equilibrium and the motion
of bodies led to the development of the branch of Physics today
an independent study known as mechanics. Similarly research
into the phenomena of sound led to acoustics, while optics was
created by collecting the phenomena of light and forming them
into one system.
The great task and the splendid achievement of nineteenth-
century Physics consisted in thus increasing the exactness and
range in every direction of our knowledge of the phenomena
taking place on the human scale. Not only did it continue to
develop mechanics, acoustics and optics the leading branches of
classical Science but it also created on every side new sciences
possessing innumerable aspects, such as thermodynamics and the
science of electricity.
The mastery of the vast sphere of facts covered by these various
branches of Physics has enabled both abstract students and tech
nical workers to draw thence a great number of practical applica
tions. The inventions ranging from the steam engine to wireless
telephony derived from the nineteenth-century advance of
A GENERAL SURVEY OF PRESENT-DAY PHYSICS 19
Physics, the benefits of which we enjoy today, are innumerable;
and these inventions play so important a part, directly or indirectly,
in the everyday life of each of us that it would be wholly super
fluous to enumerate them.
In this way, then, nineteenth-century Physics succeeded in
achieving the complete domination of the phenomena we observe
around us. No doubt research into these phenomena can still lead
to the knowledge of many further facts and to new applications;
yet it appears that in this sphere the essential work has now been
completed. And, in fact, during the last thirty or forty years the
attention of pioneers in Physics has been turning increasingly
towards more subtle phenomena, which could be neither discovered
nor analysed without an extremely refined experimental technique:
molecular, atomic and intra-atomic phenomena. The fact is that
in order to satisfy human curiosity it is not enough to know the
behaviour of material bodies taken as wholes, or in their mani
festations en masse, or to grasp the reactions between Light and
Matter when observed on the macroscopic scale: what is required
is to descend to individual details, to attempt the analysis of the
structure of both Matter and Light, and to specify the elementary
processes which in their totality constitute the macroscopic pheno
mena. It is a difficult inquiry, and for its success an extremely
delicate experimental technique is required, capable of discovering
and recording exceedingly subtle events, and of measuring exactly
magnitudes vastly smaller than those occurring in our everyday
experience. Still further, bold theories are required, based on the
highest branches of Mathematics and prepared to make use of
entirely novel similes and concepts. Hence we can infer the amount
of ingenuity, patience and talent needed for the formulation and
advancement of this atomic Physics.
On the experimental side, then, the progress made has been
characterized by a daily growing knowledge of the ultimate con
stituent entities of Matter and of the phenomena connected with
the existence of these ultimate constituent entities.
20 MATTER AND LIGHT
Chemistry had long assumed that material substances are com
posed of atoms; and the actual investigation of the properties of
material substances shows them to be divided into two classes:
compound substances, which can be reduced to simpler ones by
appropriate methods; and the simple substances themselves the
chemical elements which resist any attempt at such reduction.
In the next place, the study of the quantitative laws, in accordance
with which the simple substances combine to form compounds,
led chemists during last century to adopt the following hypothesis:
“A simple substance is supposed to be formed of small particles,
all identical with each other, called the atoms of this element;
compounds, on the other hand, are supposed to be formed of
molecules resulting from the combination of a number of the
atoms constituting the simple substances.” According to this hypo
thesis, therefore, a composite substance is broken up by reducing
it to the elements of which it is composed, which means that its
molecules are disintegrated and the atoms which they contain set
free. The number of these simple substances known today is 89,
but it is believed that their total number is 92 (or possibly 93).
All material substances, therefore, are regarded as constructed from
92 different kinds of atoms.
The Atomic Theory not only succeeded in introducing order
into Chemistry: it also extended into the domain of Physics. For
if material substances are composed of molecules and atoms, then
their physical properties must be capable of explanation in terms of
their atomic structure. The properties of the various gases, for
example, must be explicable on the assumption that a given gas
consists of an immense number of molecules or atoms in rapid
motion; the pressure of a gas on the wall of the containing vessel
will then be due to the impacts of the molecules against the wall,
while the temperature of the gas will be the measure of the average
of the motions of the molecules, which increase as the temperature
rises. During the second half of the nineteenth century, this view
of the structure of gases was developed under the name of the
Kinetic Theory of Gases, and it enables us to understand the
origin of the laws governing the behaviour of gases as discovered
A GENERAL SURVEY OF PRESENT-DAY PHYSICS 21
experimentally. For if the Atomic Theory is correct, then the pro
perties of solids and liquids must be capable of interpretation on the
assumption that, in the solid and the liquid states, the molecules
or atoms are much closer to each other than in the gaseous state.
Thus there is an interplay of considerable forces between atoms and
molecules in these states, and these should account for such charac
teristic properties of solids and liquids as incompressibility and
cohesion. The Atomic Theory of Matter, again, has been con
firmed by brilliant direct experiments such as those of Jean Perrin,
by means of which it has been possible to measure the weights of
different kinds of atoms and to find their number per cubic
Without entering further into the evolution of the Atomic
Theory I shall confine myself to recalling that in Physics, just as
in Chemistry, the theory which assumed that all substances consist
of molecules, which in turn consist of different combinations of
elementary atoms, proved very fruitful in practice and can hence
be fairly regarded as a useful statement of the actual facts. But
physicists did not rest content at this point. They wished further
to discover the structure of the atoms themselves, and to under
stand the differentiae subsisting between the atoms of the different
elements; and in this research they were aided by ‘our increasing
knowledge of electrical phenomena. When these phenomena first
began to be investigated it appeared expedient to treat, for example,
the electric current passing through a metallic wire as though it
were tantamount to the passing of an “electric fluid” through the
wire. But we know that there are two kinds of electricity positive
and negative. Hence it is natural to assume that there are two
fluids: the positive and the negative electrical fluid. These fluids,
again, can be imagined in two different ways: we may imagine that
they consist of a substance uniformly occupying the whole of the
space where the fluid is; or we may imagine that they consist of
clouds of little corpuscles each of which is a minute sphere of elec
tricity. Experiment, however, has decided in favour of the second
view, and some thirty years ago it showed that negative electricity
consists of minute corpuscles which are all identical, and have a
22 MATTER AND LIGHT
mass and an electric charge of extremely small dimensions, called
electrons. These have been successfully segregated from Matter in
bulk, and their behaviour when moving in empty space has been
observed; and it has been found that in fact they move in the way
in which small particles, electrically charged, ought to move in
accordance with the Laws of classical Mechanics; while by observing
their behaviour in the presence of electrical or magnetic fields it
has proved possible to measure both their charge and their mass
which, I repeat, are extremely small. The demonstration of the
corpuscular structure of positive electricity, on the other hand, is
less direct; nevertheless physicists have come to the conclusion that
positive electricity, too, is subdivided into corpuscles which are
identical with each other, today known as protons. 1
The proton has a mass which, though still extremely small, is
nearly 2,000 times greater than that of the electron, a fact indicative
of a curious asymmetry between positive and negative electricity.
The charge of the proton, on the other hand, is equal to that of the
electron in absolute value, but of course bears an opposite sign,
being positive and not negative.
Electrons and protons, then, have extremely small mass. This
mass, however, is not equal to zero, and a really vast number of
protons and electrons may make up a fairly considerable total
mass. Hence it is tempting to assume that all material substances
whose essential characteristics consist in the fact that they possess
weight and inertia, in other words, that they have mass consist
in the last analysis exclusively of vast numbers of protons and
electrons. On this view the atoms of the elements, which are the
ultimate fabric of which material substances are composed, should
themselves consist of electrons and protons; and the 92 kinds of
different atoms, already referred to, of which the 92 elements are
composed, should be 92 different combinations of electrons and pro
tons. The idea that atoms consist of protons and electrons was next
formulated in more exact terms as the result of the experiments
of the great British physicist, Lord Rutherford, and of the theoretic
work of the Danish scientist, Niels Bohr. The atom of a simple
1 But. cf. further pp. 75 fF.
A GENERAL SURVEY OF PRESENT-DAY PHYSICS 23
substance was thus shown to consist of a central nucleus, having a
positive charge equal to a whole number N times as great as the
charge of the proton, and of N electrons gravitating around the
nucleus. The entire system, therefore, is electrically neutral, and the
nucleus itself is doubtless formed of protons and electrons in the
way which we shall see in greater detail below. 1 Almost the entire
mass of the atom is concentrated in the nucleus, for the latter
contains protons, and these in turn are very much heavier than
electrons. The Hydrogen atom is the simplest of the atoms, and
consists of a nucleus formed by a single proton around which a
single electron revolves. The atom of one element is differentiated
from that of another by the number N of positive elementary
charges which the nucleus carries. Simple substances can thus be
arranged in a series according to the ascending value of the number
N, beginning with Hydrogen (N = i) and ending with Uranium
(N = 92). It has been found that this way of classifying substances
agrees ‘with that which had been inferred from the value of their
atomic weights and from their chemical properties, an arrangement
known as MendelejefFs classification, after the name of the Russian
chemist who first proposed it.
I cannot here explain in detail why the idea that the atom is a
kind of miniature solar system, with the nucleus for sun and the
electrons for planets, has met with so much favour from physi
cists. I will only say that it has provided an interpretation, not only
of the chemical properties of simple substances, but also of several
of their physical properties, such as the light rays which they can
emit in certain circumstances, for example when incandescent.
One point, however, must be noted. In order to achieve a satis
factory formulation of the theory that the atom is equivalent to a
kind of solar system, Bohr Tiad to import a foreign idea, borrowed
from the Quantum Theory previously worked out by Planck* I
said above that in the experiments in which we are able to follow
the motion of an electron, the latter behaves like a small corpuscle
of very slight mass, and that its motion can be predicted by applying
the Laws of classical Mechanics, Let us consider, however, the
i cf. pp. 75 ff –
24 MATTER AND LIGHT
motion of an electron along a particularly short trajectory. We
cannot follow this motion by actual observation; but Bohr has
done so in imagination, in order to calculate the characteristic
properties of the atom when treated, as he treats it, as a planetary
system. Planck, indeed, was himself the first to find that this motion
cannot conform exactly to the laws of classical Mechanics. For
among the totality of movements which classical Mechanics regards
as possible, those which the electron can in fact execute form only
a fraction: and this latter privileged group have been called
“quantized.” Bohr therefore, in his theory of the parallelism between
the atom and the solar system, has been forced to incorporate
Planck’s idea and has found that, in fact, the planet-electrons can
only have quantized motion; and it is this fact which, in a measure,
has provided the key to all the properties of the atoms.
Let us now sum up. Investigation of the properties of material
substances has led physicists to treat Matter as consisting solely of
small corpuscles, called electrons and pro tons. 1 Various combinations
of these corpuscles constitute the atoms of the 92 simple substances
which form the raw material of the molecules from which com
pounds are built up. Such was the conclusion reached some 20 years
ago; but we shall shortly see that conditions have since become far
less simple; for the moment, however, we must leave the subject
of Matter and turn to that of Light.
When Light reaches us from the sun or the stars it comes to
the eye after a journey across vast spaces void of Matter, It follows
from this that Light can cross empty space without difficulty,
wherein it differs for example from sound, since it is not bound up
with any motion of Matter. Hence a description of the physical
world would remain incomplete unless we were to add to Matter
another reality independent of it. This entity is Light.
Now what is Light ? What is its structure ?
The ancient philosophers, and many scientists until the beginning
of last century, maintained that Light consisted of minute corpuscles
in a state of rapid motion; and the fact that Light travels in straight
1 cf. previous Note.
A GENERAL SURVEY OF PRESENT-DAY PHYSICS 25
lines under ordinary conditions, and its reflection in a mirror, are
explained at once by this hypothesis.
But the corpuscular Theory of Light was abandoned entirely,
about a century ago, in consequence of the work of the English
physicist Young and, even more, of the research of a brilliant French
scientist, Augustin Fresnel. Actually, Young and Fresnel discovered
a whole set of luminous phenomena those of interference and
of diffraction which could not be accounted for at all on the
corpuscular Theory, while the adoption of another concept the
Wave Theory of Light accounts both for the classical pheno
mena of motion in a straight line, of reflection and refraction,
and also for the phenomena of interference and diffraction.
Fresnel’s demonstration of all this was an admirable one.
The Wave Theory of Light which had previously been adopted
by the Dutch scientist Christian Huyghens and other far-sighted
thinkers holds that the propagation of Light should be compared
to that of a wave in an elastic medium, like the ripples which
travel on the surface of a sheet of water when a stone is thrown in.
And since Light moves in empty space, Fresnel assumed the
existence of a particularly subtle medium the Ether supposed
to penetrate all material substances, to fill empty space and to act
as vehicle for the light- waves.
Let me now explain the way in which a wave is to be imagined.
When a wave moves freely it may be compared to a succession of
ripples in water, their crests being separated by a constant distance
known as the wave-length. The entire group of these ripples moves
in the direction of propagation with a certain velocity: that
at which the wave advances. For light-waves in empty space this
velocity has been shown by experiments, made after Fresnel’s
death, to be 300,000 kilometres per second. 1 The different waves
with their crests and troughs pass a given point in space in suc
cession/ and at this point, whatever magnitude it is that is travelling
in the form of waves must pass through a periodic variation, the
period itself being obviously equal to the time elapsing between
the passing of two consecutive crests.
1 More precisely, 299,764^ 15 km. per sec.’ Science Progress, XXXII, 716.
z6 MATTER AND LIGHT
The three magnitudes the velocity, length and frequency of
the wave are not independent of each other, the frequency
being obviously equal to the velocity divided by the wave-length.
We have seen how a wave advances in a region where there is
nothing to interfere with its propagation. But conditions are
different when the wave meets with an obstacle in the course of its
journey; for example if it meets with a surface which stops or
reflects it, or again if it has to pass through an aperture in a screen,
or if it meets particles of matter which diffract it. In such a case the
wave will be deformed and turned back on itself, with the result
that instead of a simple wave we shall have a multiplicity of simple,
but superimposed, waves; and then the resulting type of vibration,
at any given point, depends on the way in which the simple super
imposed waves tend to reinforce or to enfeeble each other. If there
is an additive effect as between the various simple waves, or if they
are in phase, as it is called, then the resulting vibration will be one
of great intensity; while if their phases are in opposition, the
resulting vibration will be weak or even non-existent. To sum up,
the existence of obstacles interfering with the propagation of a
wave brings about a complicated distribution of the various
intensities of vibration, the distribution depending in the main
on the wave-length of the wave which meets with the obstacle
is question. Of this type are the phenomena of interference and
If now we adopt the idea that Light consists of waves, we are
led to expect that if there is an obstacle in the free path of a
beam of light, then phenomena of interference and diffraction will
occur; and Young, followed by Fresnel, showed that under these
conditions Light does in fact present phenomena of interference or
diffraction; while Fresnel proved, still further, that the Wave
Hieory of Light affords an adequate explanation of all the observed
phenomena in all their -details. From that moment, and throughout
fife resi of last century, the pure Wave Theory of Light was accepted
These exist^ of course, various kinds of light, each corresponding
$ some definite “colour.” The white light radiated, for example,
A GENERAL SURVEY OF PRESENT-DAY PHYSICS 27
by an incandescent body like the filament of an electric lamp, is
formed by the superposition of a continuous sequence of simple
forms of light whose colours pass by imperceptible gradations
from violet to red, thus forming the spectrum. Hence the Wave
Theory of Light is naturally led to associate with each kind
with each component of the spectrum one given wave-length;
in other words, one given wave-length corresponds with each
colour. Since the interference phenomena depend on the wave
length, they enable us to measure the wave-lengths corresponding
to the various colours of the spectrum; and it has proved possible
in this way to ascertain that the wave-length varies progressively
and continuously from the violet end of the spectrum, where it
has the value of 4/io,oooths of a millimetre, to the red end, where it
We have seen, then, that some thirty years ago, no doubts were
entertained but that Light, and other kinds of rays, were pure
wave phenomena. Since then, however, phenomena due to radia
tion hitherto unknown have been discovered; and these phenomena
apparently can be explained only by a corpuscular theory. The
most important of these is the photo-electric effect: when (that is
to say) a piece of matter, of metal for example, is illuminated, it
is often observed to expel electrons in rapid motion; and observa
tion of this phenomenon has shown that the velocity of the expelled
electrons depends solely on the wave-length of the rays falling on
the substance,’ and on the properties of this. But it depends
in no way on the intensity of these incident rays: what does
solely depend On this intensity is the number of electrons
expelled. Further, the energy of the electrons expelled varies
inversely with the length of the wave which falls on the substance
in question. Consideration of this phenomenon led Einstein to
grasp the fact that its explanation demanded a return, at least to some
extent, to the theory of the corpuscular structure of radiation.
He assumed therefore that rays are composed of corpuscles, the
energy of which varies inversely with the wave-length, and has
z8 MATTER AND LIGHT
shown that the laws of the photo-electric effect follow easily once
this hypothesis is adopted.
At this stage, however, physicists were in a state of no small
difficulty. For, on the one hand, they had the group of diffraction
and interference phenomena, which show that Light consists of
waves; while on the other hand, there were the photo-electric
effect and other more recently discovered phenomena, showing
thff Light consists of corpuscles of photons, as they are now
The only way of escaping from this difficulty, then, is to assume
that the wave aspect of Light, and its corpuscular aspect, are as it
were two different aspects of the same underlying reality. Thus
whenever a ray exchanges energy with Matter, the exchange can be
described on the assumption that a photon is absorbed (or emitted)
by Matter; on the other hand, if we wish to describe the motion
en masse of light-corpuscles in space, then we must fall back on the
assumption that propagation of waves is taking place. An elabora
tion of this idea leads to the further assumption that the density of
the cloud of corpuscles, which is associated with a light-wave, is
at any given point proportional to the intensity of this wave. In
this way, therefore, a sort of synthesis of the two ancient rival
theories is reached, so that we are enabled to explain interference
phenomena as well as the photo-electric effect; but the capital
interest of this synthesis consists of the fact that it shows us that,
in the world of Nature, waves and corpuscles are closely inter
connected at any rate in the case of Light, And if this inter
connection exists, may one not assume that it exists also for
Matter? For the entire work of physicists had thus far tended to
reduce Matter to a stage where it was no more than a vast collection
of corpuscles. But if a photon cannot be separated from the wave
which is bound up with it, then surely in the same way we are
bound to assume that corpuscles of Matter are in their turn, too,
universally associated with a wave. And this, in fact, is the chief
question with which today we have to deal.
Let us assume, then, that corpuscles of Matter electrons, for
example are universally accompanied by a wave. Between the
A GENERAL SURVEY OF PRESENT-DAY PHYSICS 29
corpuscle and the wave there is an intimate lien; hence the motion
of the corpuscle, and that of the wave, are not independent of
each other, so that a connection can now be established between
the mechanical properties of the corpuscle its momentum and
its energy on the one hand, and the characteristic values
of the wave with which it is associated its length and the
velocity with which it travels on the other. Thus on the assump
tion of the interconnection between the photon and its associated
wave this parallelism can in fact be established: and this theory of
the interconnection between the corpuscles of Matter and their
associated waves is known today under the name of Wave Mechanics.
When the wave associated in this way with a corpuscle is
moving freely in a region whose dimensions are great as compared
with the length of the wave, the New Mechanics assigns to the
corpuscle associated with the wave the motion determined by
the laws of classical Mechanics. This applies particularly to the
motion of electrons which we can observe directly; and this explains
why observations of the large scale motions of electrons had led
to their being regarded as simple corpuscles. But there are certain
cases where the laws of classical Mechanics fail to describe the
motion of corpuscles. The first case is one where the propagation
of the associated wave is confined to a region in space having
dimensions of the same order as the wave-length; and this is the
case of the electrons within the atom. Here the wave associated
with an electron is forced to take the form of a stationary wave,
similar to the stationary elastic waves found in a cord fixed at each
end, or to the stationary electric waves which may be set up in
the antenna of a wireless installation. Now theory shows that these
stationary waves must have certain quite definite lengths, and that
in the associated electron certain equally definite energies corre
spond to these wave-lengths; still further, these definite states of
energy in turn correspond to the states of “quantized” motion
introduced into his theory by Bohr. This also furnishes an explana
tion for a fact which had hitherto remained extremely mysterious
the fact, namely, that quantized motion is the only type of which
the electron contained within the atom is capable.
3 o MATTER AND LIGHT
There is still another case where the electron cannot move in
accord with the classical laws of Mechanics namely where the
associated wave meets with obstacles in the course of its advance.
In such a case interference takes place, and the motion of the
corpuscles, in relation to the motion which classical Mechanics
would predict, is somewhat modified; so that to form an idea of
what must then occur we may follow the analogy with rays. Let us
assume, therefore, that we direct a ray of known wave-length on
to an apparatus designed to give rise to interference. Since we know
that the rays consist of photons, we can say that we are launching
a swarm of photons upon the apparatus; and in the region where
interference occurs, the photons are distributed in such a way that
they are concentrated at those points where the intensity of the
associated wave is greatest. Let us now suppose, still further, that
we direct on the same apparatus, not a ray, but a beam of electrons
having an associated wave of the same wave-length as in the pre
vious ray. In such a case the wave will interfere as before, since it
is the wave-length which controls interference phenomena. It
would then be natural to assume that the electrons will be con
centrated at the points of greatest intensity of the wave: in other
words, that in this second experiment the electrons will be spatially
distributed in the same way as that in which the photons were
distributed in the first. If then it can be shown that such is in fact
the case, the existence of the wave associated with the electrons
will also have been demonstrated, and it will thus be possible to
check the precision of the formulae of Wave Mechanics.
Now according to Wave Mechanics, a wave is associated with
electrons moving with velocities usually realized experimentally,
the length of the associated wave being of the same order as that
of X-rays, viz. i/io,ooo,oooth of a millimetre. In order, therefore,
to demonstrate electron-waves, we must try to produce by their
means interference phenomena analogous to those obtained with
X-rays; and phenomena of this type were in fact obtained first,
in 1927, by Davisson and Germer in the United States, and, later,
by a great number of experimenters, among whom may be men
tioned G. P. Thomson in England and Ponte in France. I shall
A GENERAL SURVEY OF PRESENT-DAY PHYSICS 31
not describe their experiments, but confine myself to saying that
they ended with the complete verification of the formulae of Wave
These brilliant experiments have thus proved that the electron
is not merely a simple corpuscle; in one sense it is at once a cor
puscle and a wave. The same conclusion as has been proved by
still more recent experiments applies to the proton. Thus we see
that Matter, as well as Light, consists of both waves and corpuscles;
a far greater structural resemblance than had ‘formerly been sus
pected is shown to exist between Light and Matter: and our con
ception of Nature has thus become the simpler, and also the loftier.
The nucleus of an atom having the atomic number N has, as we
saw above, a positive charge equal to N times that of the proton,
and in it practically the entire mass of the atom is concentrated.
It had long been believed that the nuclei of atoms consist of protons
and electrons, the number of protons exceeding that of the
electrons by N, and practically the entire mass being due to the
protons. This idea that the nucleus is of a complex nature was
more or less enforced by the interpretation of radioactivity, the
discovery of which was initiated by Henri Becquerel, and in essence
was the work of Pierre Curie and of his wife and collaborator
Marie Sklodovska, whose death was such a grievous blow to
French Science. The radioactive substances are heavy elements,
bearing the highest atomic numbers in the series of elements
from 83 to 92. They are characterized by a spontaneous instability,
that is by the fact that from time to time the nucleus of one of their
atoms explodes, at the same time changing into the nucleus of a
lighter atom. This transformation is accompanied by the expulsion
of electrons (jS-rays), of the light atoms of Helium (N = 2)
(a-rays) and by extremely penetrative rays of very high frequency
(y-rays). For physicists the discovery of these radioactive pheno
mena was of extreme interest, since it proved tp them that the
nuclei are in fact complex structures, and that a complex nucleus
in the process of disintegration gives rise to a simpler one thus
32 MATTER AND LIGHT
spontaneously realizing the transmutation of elements dreamed of
by the alchemists of the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, however,
radioactivity is a phenomenon on which we are unable to exert
any influence, and which consequently we can merely observe
without being able to modify the process. Some twenty years after
the discovery of radioactivity a great step forward was taken,
when Rutherford discovered artificial disintegration; for by
bombarding light atoms with a-particles which in turn are emitted
by radioactive substances it was proved possible to break up
these light atoms; and in this way simpler atoms are obtained a
genuine artificial transmutation. The quantities of Matter which
undergo this transmutation are naturally slight, yet it has at
present substantial practical importance; theoretically, on the
other hand, its interest is enormous, since it proves the unity of
Matter and affords further knowledge on the structure of the
This research into artificial transmutations has undergone con
siderable development in recent years, beginning in England,
where, under the leadership of Rutherford, the physicists Chadwick,
Cockcroft, Walton and Blackett have reached remarkable results,
and later in the United States, where Lawrence’s work may be
mentioned. In France, Paris now possesses two very important
centres where problems relating to nuclei are being pursued by
young investigators of great ability. First we have the Institut du
Radium, directed until her death by Madame Pierre Curie, and
where Madame Joliot, nde Curie, her husband Monsieur Joliot,
Pierre Auger, Rosenblum and others are at work. And then there
is the Laboratoire de recherches physiques sur les rayons X, founded
and directed by the author’s brother, where Jean Thibaud, J. J.
Trillat, Leprince-Ringuet and others are, or were, pursuing skilled
and fruitful studies.
I cannot here deal in any way with the details of the results- ob
tained; these have led to a kind of nuclear chemistry, in which the
transmutations are represented by means of equations strictly
analogous to those long used by chemists to represent ordinary
chemical reactions. I must, however, stress two fundamental dis-
A GENERAL SURVEY OF PRESENT-DAY PHYSICS 33
coveries made wholly unexpectedly in the course of these researches.
The first of these is the discovery of the neutron; Chadwick and the
Joliots independently discovered the presence, among the products
of the process of disintegration, of a kind of corpuscle hitherto
unknown. These corpuscles pass through Matter with great ease;
they appear to have no electric charge, but to have a mass approxi
mately equal to that of the proton. They are the neutrons, and there
appears to be no doubt that they play an important part in the
structure of the nuclei.
Within a year of the discovery of the neutron, in 1932, a fourth
class of corpuscle was discovered in its turn. While studying the
effects of the disintegration caused by cosmic rays, Anderson, and
also Blackett and Occhialini, independently demonstrated the
existence of positive electrons i.e. corpuscles having the same
mass as the electron and with an electric charge equal to that
of the electron, but bearing an opposite sign. These positive
electrons, which are a great deal rarer than the negative, appear
to play an important part in the phenomena connected with the
The upshot of these recent sensational discoveries was to leave
the position a good deal more complicated than it had ever been,
since we now know four different kinds of corpuscles electrons,
protons, positive electrons and neutrons. The question one asks
is whether they all are in fact elementary; and the answer is un
doubtedly in the negative. It would appear that one of the four
must be complex. It may be assumed, for example, that the proton,
the electron and the positive electron are the elementary units, in
which case the neutron consists of a proton to which is due almost
the entire mass of the neutron, and of an electron which neutralizes
the charge of the proton. Or again one may assume and this
appears to me the more attractive hypothesis that it is the neutron
and the two kinds of electron which are the elementary corpuscles,
in which case the proton would consist of a neutron and a positive
electron, and would cease to rank as a simple corpuscle. In any case
the discovery of the neutron and of the positive electron are valuable
additions to our knowledge of the atomic world.
34 MATTER AND LIGHT
A word may here be said about cosmic rays. A series of experi
ments undertaken during recent years, the most important of
which are those carried out by Millikan, has proved the existence
of extremely penetrative rays which appear to come from inter
planetary space. It has been found, too, that these rays have ex
tremely powerful effects on Matter and cause various kinds of
atomic disintegration. Research into cosmic rays is difficult, and as
yet little is known of their nature; but there is small doubt that
fcumerous interesting results will shortly be obtained in this
respect as well.
All too brief as this survey is, it will have shown that laboratory-
research during the last few years has led to results of the utmost
interest almost each day. But theoretical Physics, too, whose
function it is to provide a guiding light for experimental Physics,
has not remained idle.
In the history of theoretical Physics, then, during the last thirty
years, there are two great landmarks: the Theory of Relativity,
and the Quantum Theory, two doctrines of the widest scope; and
while the Theory of Relativity is less closely connected with the
advancement of atomic Physics, it is the more familiar to the man
in the street. Its origin lies in certain phenomena of the propagation
of Light which could not be explained by the older theories; but
by an intellectual effort which will always hold 3p'<Wftent place
in the annals of Science, Einstein removed the ^j^ty by the
introduction of entirely novel ideas on the natmre of Space and
Time and their interrelation. Hence the origin of that remarkable
Theory of Relativity, which later achieved an even more general
scope by providing us with an entirely new/conception of Gravita
tion. It is true that certain of the experimental verifications of the
Theory have been, and still remain, in (Hjoate; but it is quite certain
that it provides us with extremely novel and fertile points of view.
For it has shown how the removal of certain preconceived
ideas, adopted through habit rather than logic, made it possible
to overcome obstacles regarded as insuperable and thus to
A GENERAL SURVEY OF PRESENT-DAY PHYSICS 35
discover unexpected horizons; and for physicists the Theory of
Relativity has been a marvellous exercise in overcoming mental
Novum organum dan
- We have no sound notions either in logic or physics; substance, quality, action,
passion, and existence are not clear notions; much less weight, levity, density, tenuity,
moisture, dryness, generation, corruption, attraction, repulsion, element, matter, form,
and the like. They are all fantastical and ill-defined.
XVI. The notions of less abstract natures, as man, dog, dove, and the immediate
perceptions of sense, as heat, cold, white, black, do not deceive us materially, yet even
these are sometimes confused by the mutability of matter and the intermixture of
things. All the rest which men have hitherto employed are errors, and improperly
abstracted and deduced from things.
The idols of the market are the most troublesome of all, those namely which
have entwined themselves round the understanding from the associations of words
and names. For men imagine that their reason governs words, while, in fact, words
react upon the understanding; and this has rendered philosophy and the sciences
sophistical and inactive. Words are generally formed in a popular sense, and define
things by those broad lines which are most obvious to the vulgar mind; but when a
more acute understanding or more diligent observation is anxious to vary those lines,
and to adapt them more accurately to nature, words oppose it. Hence the great and
solemn disputes of learned men often terminate in controversies about words and
names, in regard to which it would be better (imitating the caution of mathematicians)
to proceed more advisedly in the first instance, and to bring such disputes to a regular
issue by definitions. Such definitions, however, cannot remedy the evil in natural and
material objects, because they consist themselves of words, and these words produce
others;23 so that we must necessarily have recourse to particular instances, and their
regular series and arrangement, as we shall mention when we come to the mode and
scheme of determining notions and axioms
Do proper names have senses? Frege  argues that they must have senses, for, he asks, how else can identity statements be other than trivially analytic? How, he asks, can a statement of the form a = b, if true, differ in cognitive value from a = a? His answer is that though ‘a’ and ‘b’ have the same reference they have or may have different senses, in which case the statement is true, though not analytically so. But this solution seems more appropriate where ‘a’ and ‘b’ are both non-synonymous definite descriptions, or where one is a definite description and one is a proper name, than where both are proper names. Consider, for example, statements made with the following sentences:
(a) ‘Tully = Tully’ is analytic.
(b) ‘Tully = Cicero’ synthetic?
If so, then each name must have a different sense, which seems at first sight most implausible, for we do not ordinarily think of proper names as having a sense at all in the way that predicates do; we do not, e.g. give definitions of proper names. But of course (b) gives us information not conveyed by (a). But is this information about words? The statement is not about words.
We are now in a position to explain how it is that ‘Aristotle’ has a reference but does not describe, and yet the statement ‘Aristotle never existed’ says more than that ‘Aristotle’ was never used to refer to any object. The statement asserts that a sufficient number of the conventional presuppositions, descriptive statements, of referring uses of ‘Aristotle’ are false. Precisely which statements are asserted to be false is not yet clear, for what precise conditions constitute the criteria for applying ‘Aristotle’ is not yet laid down by the language.
We can now resolve our paradox: does a proper name have a sense? If this asks whether or not proper names are used to describe or specify characteristics of objects, the answer is ‘no’. But if it asks whether or not proper names are logically connected with characteristics of the object to which they refer, the answer is ‘yes, in a loose sort of way’. (This shows in part the poverty of a rigid sense-reference, denotation-connotation approach to problems in the theory of meaning.)
We might clarify these points by comparing paradigmatic proper names with degenerate proper names like ‘The Bank of England’. For these latter, it seems the sense is given as straightforwardly as in a definite description; the presuppositions, as it were, rise to the surface. And a proper name may acquire a rigid descriptive use without having the verbal form of a description: God is just, omnipotent, omniscient, etc., by definition for believers. Of course the form may mislead us; the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, etc., but it was nonetheless the Holy Roman Empire. Again it may be conventional to name only girls ‘Martha’, but if I name my son ‘Martha’ I may mislead, but I do not lie.
Now reconsider our original identity, ‘Tully = Cicero’. A statement made using this sentence would, I suggest, be analytic for most people; the same descriptive presuppositions are associated with each name. But of course if the descriptive presuppositions were different it might be used to make a synthetic statement; it might even advance a historical discovery of the first importance.
John Searle begins his seminal paper “Proper Names” with the question: “Do proper names have senses?” (Searle 1958, 166). He sums up part of his reply towards the end of the paper: if the question “asks whether or not proper names are logically connected with characteristics of the object to which they refer the answer is ‘yes, in a loose sort of way’” (Searle 1958, 173). He briefly mentions at this point that the logical connections involve “descriptive presuppositions” (cf. Searle 1958, 173): various descriptions that capture characteristics of the object, uniquely identifying it; for example, the descriptive presuppositions for the name ‘Aristotle’ might include ‘the teacher of Alexander the 10s Zsófia Zvolenszky Great’, ‘the most famous pupil of Plato’, ‘the author of The Metaphysics’. These descriptions are supposed to express certain characteristics of Aristotle: his having been the one and only teacher of Alexander the Great, for example. 1 That such descriptions are featured in, of all things, presuppositions, is a widely ignored feature of Searle’s proposal, which I will argue is nonetheless crucial and innovative; indeed, it’s so central that I will refer to Searle’s proposal as the presuppositional view.
|• Denotation refers to the literal meaning of a word, the “dictionary definition.”¨ For example, if you look up the word snake in a dictionary, you will discover that one of its denotative meanings is “any of numerous scaly, legless, sometimes venomous reptiles i.e., having a long, tapering, cylindrical body and found in most tropical and temperate regions.”
• Connotation, on the other hand, refers to the associations that are connected to a certain word or the emotional suggestions related to that word. The connotative meanings of a word exist together with the denotative meanings. The connotations for the word snake could include evil or danger.
• As a starting point, it is well to clarify what Searle means by ‘analytic’, a notion with which he begins and ends his paper. According to him, “[a] statement is analytic just in case it is true in virtue of linguistic rules alone, without any recourse to empirical investigation” (Searle 1958, 166)
• … though proper names do not normally assert or specify any characteristics, their referring uses nonetheless presuppose that the object to which they purport to refer has certain characteristics. … Now what I am arguing is that the descriptive force of ‘This is Aristotle’ is to assert that a sufficient but so far unspecified number of these statements are true of this object. Therefore, referring uses of ‘Aristotle’ presuppose the existence of an object of whom a sufficient but so far unspecified number of these statements are true. To use a proper name referringly is to presuppose the truth of certain uniquely referring descriptive statements, but it is not ordinarily to assert these statements or even to indicate which exactly are presupposed. (Searle 1958, 170- 171, emphases added
Kripke includes the following caveat in his account of the reference-passing links in a causal-historical chain:
When the name is ‘passed from link to link’, the receiver of the name must, I think, intend when he learns it to use it with the same reference as the man from whom he heard it. If I hear the name ‘Napoleon’ and decide it would be a nice name for my pet aardvark, I do not satisfy this condition. (Kripke 1980: 96)
Kripke’s condition distinguishes reference-passing from what we might call “vehicle-passing” or etymological relation. It is the latter that Leigh Fermor chronicles in the following passage:
The Roman imperial mantle on Greek shoulders has led to a splendid confusion; for the word ‘Rum’, on Oriental tongues, referred not only to the Christian Byzantines – they are so styled in the Koran – but, for a century or two, to their conquered territory in Asia Minor; it designated the empire of the Seldjuk Turks in Anatolia with its capital at Konia (Iconium), reigned over by the ‘Sultans of Rum’. To tangle matters still further the word Romania was often used in the West, especially during the crusades, to specify the parts of the Eastern Empire which lay in Europe; the Turks extended ‘Rum’ into ‘Rumeli’, (‘land of the Rumis‘) to cover the same area. One still finds the confusing word ‘Rumelia’ on old maps. (In Greece, Rumeli now specifically applies to the great mountainous stretch of continental Greece running from the Adriatic to the Aegean, north of the Gulf of Corinth and south of Epirus and Thessaly.) (Leigh Fermor 1966, 98)
When the Turks applied the word ‘Rum’ to their conquered territory, they were influenced in their choice by a previous use of the same word to refer to the Byzantine Empire, but they did not intend to use the word in exactly the same way. Though not as dramatic as calling one’s pet aardvark ‘Napoleon‘, this is a case in which the intentional condition is not satisfied. It is conceivable that all true cases of a vehicle changing its reference are purposeful, and hence break the causal-historical chain by violating this condition.
The central problem in philosophy of mind is the mind-body problem: the problem of reconciling our science-based understandings of the causal structure of the physically described world, including our bodies and brains, with the apparent capacity of our conscious thoughts and efforts to cause our bodies to move in consciously intended ways.
- The Self
- The Self
- Factors of the “Self”
- Ideal and Practical Concepts
- Fallacious Criticisms of Selfhood
- What “Emptiness” Might Be
- The Self
According to our account, the ‘self’ is first noticed experientially, through a faculty of intuition. This same assumed faculty (of the self) is able to experience the self’s cognitions, volitions and affections (i.e. its ‘functions’), as well as the self itself. Neither the self nor its said immediate functions have any phenomenal characteristics, so they cannot be perceived. The fact that they cannot be perceived does not however imply that they do not exist; in their case, to repeat, another kind of experiential cognition is involved, that of ‘intuition.’ Cumulative experiences of self and its functions allow us to construct concepts of self, cognition, volition and valuation.
Additionally, we regard self and its functions as having mental and material effects. Imaginations and mental feelings, as well as bodily movements and sentiments, are considered (within our current world-view) as indirectly caused by the self, through its more immediate exercise of cognitive, volitional and emotional powers. What is caused by the self is not strictly speaking ‘part of’ the self, yet it still ‘belongs to’ the self in the sense of being its responsibility. This extended sense of self may be said to have phenomenal characteristics.
Moreover, apparently, the moment we but experience anything phenomenal, or think in abstract terms, or make choices or take action or feel emotions of any sort, a person as the grammatical subject seems logically required. That is, an ‘I’ doing these things seems to us implied. Every object appearing give rise to a parallel awareness of a Subject to whom it appears and a relation of consciousness between it and the object. Similarly, every act of volition or valuation, however devoid of phenomenal characteristics, arouses in us the conviction that an Agent (or author or actor) is involved. This is called ‘self-consciousness,’ but it is somewhat inaccurate to do so, because what is involved here is not only intuition of self, and eventual perceptual experiences, but also a logical insight, something abstract and conceptual.
We conceive the self, in its strict sense, as composed of a uniform substance that we label ‘spiritual’ (to distinguish it from matter and mind). We also conceive it as an entity that we call ‘soul,’ which underlies all events and changes relative to the self (i.e. its functions), constituting an abiding and unifying continuity.
Contrary to what some people presume and some philosophers (pro or con) suggest, to assume (whether intuitively or conceptually) a soul or spiritual entity underlying cognition, volition and valuation, does not logically necessitate that such entity be eternal. Constancy in the midst of variation does not imply that a soul has neither beginning nor end in time (or space). Just as a material or mental entity is conceived as something permanent relative to certain transient aspects of it, and yet as a whole transient relative to the universe, so in the case of a spiritual entity, it too may well have a limited world-line in space-time.
Intuition, perception and logical insight only necessitate the existence of one self – the Subject of these acts of consciousness. Solipsism remains conceivable. Our common belief that there are many souls like our own one in the world is a conceptual construct and hypothesis, which as such is perfectly legitimate and indeed helps to explain many experiences. Also not excluded is the belief that there is really only one big Soul (that perhaps pervades or transcends the universe of matter and mind), underlying the apparent small soul(s) – this is the belief of monotheism. That is, belief in a soul does not prejudge the issue of individuation. Just as material entities may, upon reflection, be considered as all mere ripples in a universal fabric, so possibly in the case of spiritual entities.
But such ripples might be permanent or transient. There is no logical necessity to assume that upon dying the soul lives on elsewhere (in a heaven or hell), or that it remains or is reborn on earth in some form, though such possibilities are not to be excluded offhand. The difficulty with any idea of transmigration is to experientially demonstrate some sort of transfer of spirit or energy (karmic reaction) from one incarnation to the next. To imagine some such transfer, to assert it to occur, is no proof. I cannot either think of any theory for which a ‘law of conservation of spirit’ might be a hypothetical necessity to explain certain empirical data.
Moreover, to posit the existence of a soul does not necessarily imply that this substance, anymore than the substance of imaginations, can exist outside and independently of the material substance. The spirit may be just an epiphenomenon of the peculiar cluster of matter which constitutes the biological entity of a living, animal, human body, coming into being when it is born (or a few months earlier) and ceasing to be when it dies.
(Notwithstanding, we may just as well posit that matter and mind are more complex arrangements of spiritual stuff, as claim that spirit and mind are finer forms of matter; ultimately, the distinctions may be verbal rather than substantial.)
The question as to where in relation to the body the soul is located, whether somewhere in the region of the brain or throughout the body, remains moot. Also, the soul might be extended in the space of matter or a mere point in it. But such issues are for most purposes irrelevant.
Many philosophical questions arise around the concept of self, and it is legitimate to try to answer them if possible. But one should not forget the central issue: who or what if anything is the Subject of consciousness? This question arises as soon as we are conscious, and cannot be bypassed by any sleight of hand.
As already mentioned, some Buddhist philosophers deny existence to the Subject, self, soul or spirit. Insofar as their argument is based on the impossibility of pinpointing perceptible qualities of the soul, it carries some conviction. In the West, David Hume presented a similar argument. But their attempt to explain away the common impression that we have a soul by making a distinction between relative/illusory existence and independent/real existence is confused.
Buddhist philosophers explain our belief that we have a self as an illusion to due the overlap of innumerable perceptual events (sensations and imaginations), called dharmas, which we mentally integrate together by projecting a self at their center. They have an ontological theory of ‘co-dependence’ or ‘interdependence,’ according to which not only the self but all assumed essences are mere projections arising in our minds, due to things having no existence by themselves (solitary and independent) but existing only in (causal and other) relations to all other things.
I want to here suggest in passing how the co-dependence theory itself may have erroneously arisen. Every theory has a kernel of truth, which gives it credence; the problem with some theories is that they have a husk of falsehood, which must be separated out. In the case of this theory, the error is a confusion between ontology and epistemology. I would agree that no item of knowledge is true independent of all others. Any appearance has by virtue of at all appearing (as an experience or as a claim in abstract discourse) a quantum of credibility. This basic minimum does not by itself definitively suffice to make that appearance ‘true.’ It merely grants the appearance consideration in the overall scheme of things. Only after each and every item has been confronted and weighed against all other items, may we terminally declare those that have passed all tests ‘true.’ Thus, the truth of anything is not only due to the initial drop of credibility in it, but to the final combined force of all drops of credibility in all available data.
Buddhist philosophers have, by imprecise thinking, turned this methodological fact into an idea that there is ‘real’ universal co-dependence. Moreover, their theory is that existents are apparent only because an infinity of ‘relations’ crisscross. These relations are claimed ‘empty’ of terms, i.e. they are relations relating ‘nothings’ to each other. It is not said what sort of existents these relations themselves are, and why they are exempt of being in turn mere products of yet other relations ad infinitum. It is not said how an infinity of zeros can add up to a non-zero. By way of contrast, note that in my epistemological version each item of appearance has an initial drop of ‘credibility,’ and the final product has a truth value that can be equated to the sum of all such initial quanta. It is not an interdependence of zeros.
As for consciousness, Buddhists regard it as directly accessible to itself, in high meditation at least. This is what they seem to intend by expressions like ‘no-mind,’ or consciousness ‘empty’ of any content, without object other than itself. They thus seem to posit the possibility of an instance of the relation of consciousness turned on itself (as against the ordinary view of ‘self-consciousness’ – which is ‘consciousness of consciousness of something other than consciousness’). This could be interpreted as a tacit admission by them of the possibility of intuition. Observe also, they often use the terms Subject, consciousness and mind interchangeably, which gives rise to confusions and errors.
It is worth noting in passing that terms like ‘no-mind’ or ‘emptiness’ are negative – and, as earlier pointed out, negation is a rational act. Nevertheless, it would be unfair to regard these concepts as based on ideational construction. Buddhists who use them claim them to refer to a positive experience. The negative names are only intended to stress that the content of such experience is incomparable to any other.
The phenomenological approach to the above issues is different. To begin with, it is sufficient to stress the doctrinal aspect of Subject and consciousness. Whether we grasp them intuitively, through perception or conceptually, what matters most is the role they play in our arrangement of knowledge, in our view of the world. If their assumption enables us to propose a consistent and repeatedly confirmed explanation of the appearance of phenomena, i.e. that they appear (somehow, we do not know just how) primarily through senses or using memory and imagination, to an entity with a mind and a body surrounded by a physical world, and so forth – then their worth and truth is inductively proved.
The concepts of Subject and consciousness are not loose, arbitrary inserts in the puzzle of knowledge, but interdependent items in a complex structure. They are part and parcel of the collection of concepts through which our experiences are made to seem intelligible, that is all. They need only be claimed to be hypotheses; we need not reject alternatives offhand, if any credible alternatives are proposed. Our security is based not on an anxious attachment to one more dogma, but on the track record of these concepts together with others like them in putting certain issues to rest.
The ‘self’ could be considered as phenomenal, in the sense that phenomena are perceived as modified (refracted or somewhat shifted) by some presumed presence, which is assumed to be the self of the perceiver. The self is thus phenomenal indirectly, by virtue of being ‘inferable’ from phenomena. This is normal inductive procedure: some empirical event stands out and is explained by some hypothesis or other, which is found coherent and thereafter repeatedly confirmed (unless or until specifically refuted by logic or experience).
To illustrate the thinking involved: If I look at the surface of a body of water and see that the general pattern of the waves is broken someplace, I mentally outline the area that seems affected (i.e. which has a different ripple pattern) and also propose some reason for the modification (e.g. rocks below the surface, a gust of wind, the passage of a boat, and so forth). Similarly, if I see a shadow, I assume something to be casting it (i.e. to be blocking the light); and according to the shape of the shadow, I estimate what that thing might be.
Buddhism seems to intend to interdict this thought process. It tells us not to infer anything behind the perceived ‘modification’ in the phenomenal field, but take it as is. For Buddhism, to speak of ‘modification’ is already an artificial isolation and thus a distortion of fact; it is a projection of ‘form’ onto content, implying extraneous activities of comparison and contrast. Moreover, to seek a ‘cause’ that explains the modification is merely to add another layer of projection to an already eclipsed empirical reality. This is true not only with regard to assuming things have underlying ‘essences’, but also regarding the assumption of a ‘self’ perceiving and inferring. Better, we are told, to look upon phenomenal events (the visible ripples or shadow, for instances) and see them as they are, rather than see them as indicative of other things and get lost looking for such phantasms.
This argument may seem to carry conviction, but it is not consistent. Being itself a conceptual discourse of the kind it criticizes, it throws doubt upon itself. We may well admit the interferences involved in conceptual thought (as in the functions of isolation, projection of outline, comparison and contrast, causal reasoning, hypothesizing), without thereby having to deny its validity when properly carried out. Indeed, this is the only consistent position.
Furthermore, my own position is that our own soul (or self) is not only inferred from the appearance of phenomena, but also directly ‘intuited’ – or at least inferred from intuitions. Certainly, the soul’s non-phenomenal functions (consciousness, volitions, preferences) have to be directly intuited, as they cannot be fully explained with reference to mental and material phenomena. Possibly, the soul is in turn inferred from these intuitions; or equally possibly, it is itself directly intuited. To my knowledge, Buddhism does not take this phenomenological thesis into consideration, nor of course refute it.
- Factors of the “Self”
With regard to the concept of self, we need to identify the various ways we develop belief in a self, i.e. the bases for such a concept in practice, i.e. what we rightly or wrongly identify ourselves with. The following are some examples to be expanded upon:
- a) We personally identify with sensations of and in the body, including touch and other sensations that present us with its extension and delimit its boundaries in relation to a perceived more “outside” world, as well as visceral physical sensations and sentiments. Thus, we feel and see and hear and smell and taste our “own” body, or parts thereof, and identify with the sum of these perceptions. This is due largely to the enormous ‘presence’ of the body in our experience, its insistent and loud manifestation. It demands so much of our attention that we become focused on it almost exclusively.
Consider how (most) people confuse themselves (to a large extent) with their sensual urges and emotions. If they feel hunger pangs, they rush for food. If they feel a sex urge, they either grab a mate or masturbate. If they feel like alcohol, tobacco or a drug, they readily indulge. In search of sensations they engage in endless chatter, or watch movies or listen to music. People commonly think that when they feel pride or self-pity, or love or hate for someone, they are in contact with their innermost being. We confuse every urge or sentimentality with ourselves, and therefore uncritically think that satisfying it is imperative to do ourselves good.
- b) We identify with our perceptions of the world beyond our “own” body, the “outside” world. Although these experiences are considered external to us and transient, they serve to define us personally in that they are a specific range of actualities within the larger field of possibilities. That is, we identify with our life story, our personal context and history, our particular environment and fate. We forget that we are fallible, and ignore the role chance plays in our lives.
We learn a lot about ourselves, not only by introspection while alone, but also by observing one’s behavior in relation to the external world, the challenges of nature and interactions with other people. We also learn about ourselves through observing other people’s behavior, and recognizing our own similar patterns of behavior in them.
- c) We identify with our memories and fantasies (including anticipations of the future, our ideals and plans, idle dreams, etc.) – our mental projections. We see our identities in terms of our specific past experiences and adventures, and our present desires and expectations for the future. Obviously, this aspect is not merely perceptual, but implies a conceptual framework, which generates certain thoughts and emotions. Even if these are gradually changing, we identify with their evolution and direction of change, as well as with their constant elements.
- d) We identify with our past and present beliefs and choices. This aspect relates to Consciousness and the Will, which format our distinctiveness and identity, as well as our insights, thoughts, behavior, whims, values, pursuits and emotions. Implied here is what I have called the intuition of self – i.e. self-knowledge in a serious sense. We also identify with our presumed future choices, that is to say what we expect or intend or are resolved or plan to do.
- e) Similarly, we identify with our verbal and pre-verbal discourse. As evident in meditation, not all thoughts are in fact generated by ourselves. We are passive recipients to many or most of them. They just pop up in our minds as non-stop mental noise, repetitive nonsense, compulsive chatter. But most of us usually assume possession of such internal events, regard ourselves as their authors, and therefore define our selves in relation to them.
- f) A very important self-identification is that with our mental image of oneself, be it largely realistic or fanciful. This includes memories and fantasies – in all the sense-modalities – of our facial and bodily features and expressions, character traits, voice and handwriting, and other aspects of personality, as well as of our thoughts and actions. The memories and fantasies are based on reflections in mirrors and pictures and other visual and auditory recordings of oneself, as well as direct perceptions of parts of one’s body and its movements and of one’s inner world.
This self-image is what we would most readily refer to if asked to point to one’s self. The important thing to note about it is that it is a construct, a mental projection – it is not to be confused with the self that cognizes, wills or values. It is an effect, not a cause. It has no power of cognition, volition or emotion, but is only an image that may influence the real self.
Egotism or self-love is having an exaggerated opinion of one’s own worth (beauty, intelligence, etc.). One of the main attributes or behavior-patterns of the “ego” (in the colloquial pejorative sense) is its stupid conceit.
- g) In formulating our personal identity, we are also influenced (positively or negatively) by how other people see us or imagine us. Their perceptions or conceptions about us may, of course, be true or false. We must also be aware of the distinction between: how we know them to see us or imagine us – and how we imagine that they do.
These issues are further complicated by the fact of social projection: we often try to project images socially, through our discourse and behavior, in attempts to influence our own and other people’s judgments about us. Thus, we may deliberately subconsciously edit our self-image for ourselves – modifying, withholding or adding information – till we lose track of realities concerning ourselves. And even when we do it just to confuse or mislead other people (in order to gain material or social benefits from them), we may end up ourselves losing track.
This factor plays an important part in social bonding and regulation, but it can also become tyrannical. So many people pass all their lives trying to influence other people into seeing them in a certain way, so as to gain their love, respect or admiration. And if they cannot in fact fit in to assumed social demands, they will pretend to fit in.
- h) As the Buddhists rightly point out, our ego also defines itself with reference to its alleged external “possessions”. “Who am I? – I am the one who owns this and that… I am the husband of this woman, the father of these children, the descendant of these ancestors, the owner of this house and these riches, the leader of a corporation, the recipient of a literary prize, the winner of a competition, etc.” Note well, included here are not only material possessions, but also possession of people in whatever sense (sexual conquest, political domination, etc.) and abstract possessions (I wrote this essay, etc.).
To some extent, this identification of “me” with “mine” is an expression of the earlier listed more internal factors: “This is my shadow, because I have this body,” “I own these things or people, because I have certain character traits and made certain choices, thus developing a certain biography,” we tell ourselves. But additionally, as Buddhists stress, it serves as territorial expansion for the ego, solidifying its existence, further anchoring it to the world.
Egoism or selfishness is looking after one’s own (assumed) interests, exclusively or predominantly. One of the main attributes or behavior-patterns of the “ego” (in the colloquial pejorative sense) is its arrogant grabbing, irrespective of who is harmed thereby. ‘Looking after Number One,’ as the saying goes.
- i) The fact that each of us may be referred to by a proper name (or pronouns that temporarily replace it) also, as Buddhism stresses, serves to impose and solidify in our minds the idea that we have a distinct self. Things referred to only by means of a common name (e.g. “a man”) have less identity for us.
We can include here all the conventional aspects of our identity: our ID card, for instance. This relates to considerations of group membership: membership in a family (family name, birth certificate), a nation (naturalization certificate, passport), a social class (rich or poor, commoner or ruler, different educational levels and professions), a religious denomination, an organization or a club. All these factors add to our “identity” largely by mutual agreement, as does a name.
- j) The theoretical concept of self or soul is also projected onto one’s self – “I am this abstract entity”. Whether this concept is true or false is irrelevant here; what matters is that there is such a theoretical projection for most educated people, i.e. we do identify with the self conceived by religions, philosophies and psychologies.
For religion, the focus is on the enduring substance of the self (soul, spirituality) and on its moral responsibility and perfectibility (freedom of the will). The main feature of the philosophical self is that it is reflexive: it points back to the person who is conscious and willful, it is both Subject and Object, both Agent and Patient. Psychology is more focused on the existential intricacies of the self, some of which are indicated herein.
As colloquial use of these terms makes clear, the concept of ego is not identical with that of self. The ego is a creature of the self. When we feel insecure, we may seek to reassure ourselves by engaging in ‘ego-trips.’ This refers to comparative and competitive tendencies, such as domination, pursuit of admiration, or acquisitiveness. Power, fame and/or fortune gives us the impression of having an advantage over other people, and thus of being better able than them to cope with life. What we call our ego, then, is the petty side or product of ourselves. By giving this a name, we can distance ourselves from it, and discuss it and hopefully cure it. This field of psychology of course deserves (and gets) much study and elaboration.
The recurring term in the above treatment is “identify with” – just what does it mean and indicate? It refers to some sort of epistemic and psychological mechanism, through which each of us assumes for a while himself or herself to have a certain identity described in imagination and verbally.
With regard to the mechanism through which we identify with each of these aspects of selfhood, consider how after meeting an impressive person, or reading a book on ethics or a novel, or hearing a song or seeing a movie, one may be susceptible to identifying for a while with the person or personality-type or protagonist encountered. One may go so far as to virtually become one with this role model for a while – not by conscious artifice, role-play or imitation, but by a sort of “personality induction”.
One’s thoughts, attitudes and actions echo the model’s, and one may even experience that one’s body feels like his. The way the latter experience occurs is that one interprets one’s body sensations through the memory image one has of the model. More precisely, the touch sensations coming from one’s face or the rest of one’s body are mentally unified by means of that image (instead of one’s own). This integrative mechanism relates to the ‘correlation of modalities,’ and involves a visual projection (either internal or hallucinatory).
I posit two senses of “self” – (a) the real self, a natural entity with some continuity while existing, perhaps a spiritual epiphenomenon emerging within living matter of some complexity, which self is the Subject of consciousness and Agent of Will; and (b) the imagined self or ego, a constructed presumed description of the self, which has no consciousness or will, but is itself a product of them. The former is our factual identity, the latter is what we delusively identify with, by confusing it with knowledge of our identity.
Initially, the ego is constructed as a legitimate attempt to summarize information directly or indirectly produced by the real self. But the project gets out of hand, in view of its extreme complexity and the superhuman demands of objectivity and honesty involved. So in contrast to our identity – or more precisely, knowledge of our identity – we find ourselves facing a partly or largely fanciful construct, which does not entirely correspond to the original. This falsely projected identity influences the real self negatively, causing it to lose touch with itself. The ego thus involves some self-awareness, plus a lot of bull. It is a half-truth, which interferes with proper cognition, volition and valuation, and so presents us with epistemological, psychological, behavioral, emotional and social problems to be solved. The best solution is regular meditation, which allows us to gradually sort out the grain from the chaff, and return to a healthy and realistic self-knowledge.
Thus, we have two concepts of self, logically distinguished as follows.
- a) One concept is ideal, in that its object or content is the real self, the self as it really is however that be. This is a hypothetical, philosophical concept, because it points to something that we know somewhat but not really in detail; we need it to be able to say something about the assumed real self, so we have this separate, minimalist concept, which is by definition true, i.e. the receptacle of whatever happens to be true.
- b) The other concept is the practical one, wherein we readily build up our knowledge and imagination concerning the self. This one is by definition flawed, because all knowledge is somewhat flawed since we are fallible, and all the more so knowledge of the self, because of the subjectivities and psychological and social pressures involved in its formulation. The object or content of this concept is partly the real self (basic knowledge) and largely the imagined self (some true propositions, some false). For this reason, we distinctively name the referent “ego,” to stress that for most of us the concept is bound to be considerably untrue.
Thus, it is correct to say, as the Buddhists do, that the self, in the sense of ego, does not exist. For it is the object or content of a concept known to be partly untrue for most people (all except the “Enlightened”, if they exist). In a strict sense, then, there is no ego, the concept is empty, has no real referent – what it intends in practice does not in fact exist, but involves projections of the imagination and verbal constructions. Nevertheless, the self, in the minimalist sense, exists. The concept of it collects only our true and sure knowledge about the self, to the exclusion of any fanciful details.
The reader may have remarked that even while valiantly fighting the Buddhist doctrine of “no-self,” I remain intrigued and attracted by it. Especially since that philosophy seems to claim that it is only by throwing off the idea that we have a self that we can achieve enlightenment and liberation. I do not want to make the proverbial mistake of throwing out the baby with the bath water. One possible interpretation of this doctrine, that would explain it while retaining the concept of soul (which to me still seems unavoidable), would be that it is intended to counteract our above described tendency to identify with some of the factors of self.
When we identify with some theoretical or fantastic idea of the self, we are merely projecting a phenomenal self and saying “that’s me!” A projected image is confused with the one projecting it. This is very different from being aware of one’s real self through direct intuition of it. Thus, we are effectively told, “if you want to find yourself, don’t look for yourself in different concepts or images, but simply look into your soul. Rather than thinking of yourself or worse still thinking up a self for yourself, just be yourself and you will thus naturally get to know yourself.” Perhaps it is that simple.
The self-ego distinction can be illustrated with reference to Figure 2.
The innermost concentric circle (called soul, and including the functions of cognition, volition and valuation) symbolizes the self in the most accurate sense of the term. This is sometimes called the real or true self, or higher or deeper self, to variously signify its relative position.
The circles labeled mind and body (including their stated functions) together constitute the ego, or ‘self’ in an inaccurate sense of the term. This is sometimes called the illusory or false self, or lower or shallower self, to variously signify its relative position. (To be sure, more materialistic people identify especially with their body, whereas more mental people identify especially with their mind. But mind and body are inextricably intertwined, in their sensory, motor, emotional and intellectual functions.)
The important thing to realize is that soul (the self) is of a different substance (spirit) than mind or matter (the ego). The former is the core of one’s existence; the latter are mere outer shells. When we identify with the ego instead of soul, we lose touch with our actual position as observer, doer and feeler.
- Ideal and Practical Concepts
Now, the above insights concerning the concept of self can be generalized to all concepts. That is, the same logical analysis can be applied in relation to any predication. We have on the one hand an ideal concept of some established object, which by definition contains only truths, known or yet unknown, about the object. And on the other hand, we have the practical concept, which we know to be inductive, subject to change – development, correction and improvement – and therefore by definition to some knowable but unknown extent untrue. The ideal concept thus has a wholly real (though relatively bare) content, whereas the practical concept has a partly real and partly unreal (though much richer) content.
Strictly speaking, then, the practical concept intends a non-existent object, while the ideal concept allows us to intend the nevertheless existing object. We need both of them for our discourse; they are complementary. The ideal concept is one portion of the practical, which also includes more doubtful elements or aspects. Careful knowledge acquisition, which may be aided by meditation, consists in being at all times aware to the maximum extent of the epistemological status (true or false, or certain or uncertain to what degree) of each item of knowledge. That is, to know at any given time what part of each concept is the basic-ideal part and what remainder is the tentative-practical part. To remember at all times that knowledge is something always in flux, which it is our responsibility to evaluate repeatedly to remain in touch with reality.
Just as the Buddhists deny “selfhood” to people, they deny “essence” to all other things. For them, this is one and the same error; the former being just a special case of, or alternatively causing, the latter. Our explanation of their position would be that they are referring to what we have just called practical concepts: their contents are indeed unlikely to fully correspond to real essence or selfhood. As for ideal concepts, they are not “empty,” since their intention is by definition whatever happens to be real, whether or not it is known. Even in Buddhism, concepts like those of “mind ground” or “nirvana” must be admitted to be exceptions to the rule of emptiness, since they are effectively treated as the ultimate essence of things and people.
Notwithstanding, with a view to keeping an open mind in relation to this interesting Buddhist doctrine, we should at least experimentally attempt to construct a meditation and discourse gradually free from projections of self and the subject-predicate relation (predication).
For instance, in meditation, instead of thinking “I must become aware of my breath”, think “become aware of breath” (thus diverting attention away from self, though still with an injunction), then think “awareness of breath” (thus getting away from a sense of active willing, of intensifying awareness and directing it towards the breath), then think “breath” (thus removing the relation implied by “of”), then just be wordlessly aware of breath (a pure phenomenon).
Thus, without adhering to Nagarjuna’s fallacious discourse, gradually pursue wordless awareness, dropping the “I” (Subject), then instead of propositions (which use subjects and predicates) use only lone terms (verbalized concepts), then focus on the content of such terms (the event intended, without the word), then abandon the injunction to “think” of it and just experience such content inactively. All this merely goes back down the chain of conceptualization, and it is of course easier to learn not to go up it in the first place (at least not during such meditation).
- Fallacious Criticisms of Selfhood
Since writing Buddhist Illogic, I have been reviewing Buddhist arguments against selfhood more carefully, and I must say that – while they continue to inspire deeper awareness of philosophical issues in me – I increasingly find them unconvincing, especially with regard to logical standards.
Buddhists conceive of the self as a non-entity, an illusion produced by a set of surrounding circumstances (‘causes and conditions’), like a hole in the middle of a framework (of matter or mind or whatever). But I have so far come across no convincing detailed formulation of this curious (but interesting) thesis, no clear statement that would explain how a vacuity can seemingly have consciousness, will and values. Until such a theory is presented, I continue to accept self as an entity (call it soul) of some substance (spirit, say). Such a self is apparently individual, but might well at a deeper level turn out to be universal. The individuation of soul might be an illusion due to narrow vision, just as the individuation of material bodies seems to be.
Criticisms of the idea of self are no substitute for a positive statement. It is admittedly hard to publicly (versus introspectively) and indubitably demonstrate the existence of a soul, with personal powers of cognition, volition and affection. But this theory remains the most credible, in that the abstract categories it uses (entity, substance, property, causality) are already familiar and functional in other contexts. In contrast, the impersonal thesis remains mysterious, however open-minded we try to be. It may be useful for meditation purposes, but as a philosophical proposition it seems wanting.
Generally speaking, I observe that those who attempt to rationalize the Buddhist no-self thesis indulge in too-vague formulations, unjustified generalizations and other non sequiturs. A case in point is the work Lotus in a Stream by Hsing Yun, which I have recently reread. The quotations given below as examples are from this work.
“Not only are all things impermanent, but they are also all devoid of self-nature. Having no self-nature means that all things depend on other things for their existence. Not one of them is independent and able to exist without other things” (pp. 86-87).
Here, the imprecision of the term “existence” or “to exist” allows for misrepresentation. Western thought would readily admit that all (or perhaps most) things come to be and continue to be and cease to be and continue to not-be as a result of the arrival, presence, departure or absence of a variety of other things. But that is very different from saying that their being itself is dependent: for us, facts are facts, i.e. once a thing is a past or present fact, nothing can change that fact, it is not “dependent” on anything. Yet, I contend, Buddhists seem to be trying to deny this, and cause confusion by blurring the distinction between change over different time and place, and change within identical time and place.
“The meaning of the word ‘things’ in these statements is all phenomena, both formed and formless, all events, all mental acts, all laws, and anything else you can think of.”
Here, the suggestion is that impermanence concerns not only phenomena, which strictly speaking are material or mental objects of perception, but also abstract objects. The terms “formless” and “laws” and “anything you can think of” suggest this. But of course such a statement surreptitiously slips in something we would not readily grant, though we would easily admit that phenomena are impermanent. The whole point of a “law” is that it is a constant in the midst of change, something we conceive through our rational faculty as the common character of a multitude of changing phenomenal events. The principle of Impermanence is not supposed to apply to abstracts. Indeed, it is itself an abstract, considered not to be impermanent!
“To say that nothing has a self-nature is to say that nothing has any attribute that endures over long periods of time. There is no ‘nature’ that always stays the same in anything anywhere. If the ‘nature’ of a thing cannot possibly stay the same, then how can it really be a nature? Eventually everything changes and therefore nothing can be said to have a ‘nature,’ much less a self-nature.”
Here, the author obscures the issue of how long a period of time is – or can be – involved. Even admitting that phenomena cannot possibly endure forever, it does not follow that they do not endure at all. Who then is to say that an attribute cannot last as long as the thing it is an attribute of lasts? They are both phenomena, therefore they are both impermanent – but nothing precludes them from enduring for the same amount of time. The empirical truth is: some attributes come and/or go within the life of a phenomenal thing, and some are equally extended in time. Also, rates of change vary; they are not all the same. The author is evidently trying to impose a vision of things that will comfort his extreme thesis.
We can, incidentally, conceive of different sorts of continuity of conjunctions of phenomena (see Figure 4). An essential attribute of a thing would coexist fully, like an underlying thread of equal time length. A weaker scenario of continuity would be a chaining of different events, such that the first shares some time with the second, which shares some with the third, and so forth, without the first and third, second and fourth and so on having time in common. In some cases, continuity may be completely illusory, in that events succeed each other contiguously in time without sharing any time.
Hsing Yun goes on arguing:
“the body… is a delusion caused by a brief congregation of the physical and mental components of existence Just as a house is made of many parts that create an appearance, so the body… When those parts are separated, no self-nature will be found anywhere.”
That a house or human body is an aggregate of many separable elements, does not prove that when these elements are together (in a certain appropriate way, of course) they do not collectively produce something new. The whole may be more than its constituent parts, because the whole is not just the sum of the parts but an effect of theirs. The bricks of a house do not just add up to a house, but together become a house when placed side by side in certain ways; if placed apart (or together in the wrong way) they do not constitute a house (but at best a pile of bricks). Similarly for the atoms forming a molecule, the molecules forming a living cell, the cells causing a human organism. At each level, there is a causal interplay of parts, which produces something new that is more than the parts, something we call the whole, with its own distinct attributes and properties.
It is thus quite legitimate to suppose that when matter comes together in a certain way we call a live human body, it produces a new thing called the self or soul or spirit, which thing we regard as the essence of being human because we attribute to it the powers of consciousness and volition that we evidently display (and which the constituent matter in us does not, as far as we can see, separately display). That this idea of self is a hypothesis may be readily admitted; but to anyone conscious of the inductive basis of most human knowledge that does not constitute a criticism (all science develops through hypotheses). The important point to note is that Buddhist commentators like this one give arguments that do not succeed in proving what they purport to prove.
Here are some more examples, relating to the notion of “emptiness”:
“Dependent origination means that everything is produced from conditions and that nothing has an independent existence of its own. Everything is connected to everything else and everything is conditioned by everything else. ‘Emptiness’ is the word used to describe the fact that nothing has an independent nature of its own” (p. 94).
Here, the reader should notice the vagueness of terms like “connection” or “conditioning”. They are here used without nuance, without remark that very many kinds and degrees of causal relation may be involved. The impression made on the reader is that everything is equally bound to everything else, however far or near in space and time. But that is not merely untrue – it is conceptually untenable! Concepts of causality arise with reference to a specific relation, which some things have with each other and some things lack with each other. If all things had the same causal relation to all other things, no concept of a causal relation would arise nor be needed. We can very loosely say that the cause of a cause of a thing is “causally related” to it, but causal logic teaches us that the cause of a cause of a thing is not always itself “a cause” of it in the strict sense. And even if it is, it may not be so in the same degree. It follows that Hsing Yun is here again misleading us.
“Emptiness does not mean nothingness… all things have being because they all do exist interdependently” (p.97).
Here, the image communicated to us is that each thing, although in itself empty of substance, acquires existence through its infinity of relations (dependencies) to all other things, each of which is itself empty of substance. We must ask, is this theoretical scenario credible? Does an infinity of zeros add up to a non-zero? What are those “relations” between “things”? Are they not also “things”? Are they not also empty, in which case what gives them existence? The concept of relation implies the pre-existence of things being related (terms); if all that exists are relations, is the concept still meaningful?
Furthermore, what does interdependence (a.k.a. co-dependence) mean, exactly? Is an embrace in mid-air between two or more people equivalent to a mutual support? If I cannot support myself, can I support you? The notion is unconscionable.
“Nothing is unchangeable or unchanging. All phenomena exist in succession. They are always changing, being born, and dying.”
Here, the author has simply dropped out the (previously acknowledged) and very relevant fact of enduring. To convince us that the world is nothing but flux, he mentions birth, change and death – but eclipses the fact of living, if only for a little while! The phrase “they are always” does not necessarily mean “each of them in every moment.”
“A cause (seed) becomes an effect (fruit), which itself contains the cause (seed) for another effect, and so on. The entire phenomenal world works just like this” (p. 98).
Here, we are hastily dragged into a doubtful generalization. The description of the cycle of life, with procreation from generation to generation, does not necessarily fit other causal successions. Causation in the world of inanimate matter obeys its own laws, like Newton’s Laws of Motion for example. There is nothing truly equivalent to reproduction in it, to my memory. To convince us, the author would have to be much more precise in his analogies. Philosophers have no literary license.
“If we were to break a body down into its constituent parts, the body would no longer exist as a body.”
So what? Is that meant to explain or prove “emptiness”? If you kill an animal and cut it up, of course you will not find the life in it, or the consciousness it had, or its “animal nature”. It does not follow that when the animal is alive and well, it lacks these things!
“The meanings of the words ‘above’ and ‘below’ depend on where we are. They do not have absolute meanings, It is like this with all words and all relationships between things” (p. 99).
Again, a hasty generalization – from specifically relative terms to all words. Every grammarian knows that relative terms are just one type of term among others. That the former exist does not imply that the latter have the same character or properties. Similarly, Hsing Yun argues that the relativity of a word like “brightness” (our characterization of the brightness of a light is subjective and variable) exemplifies the relativity of all terms. But here again, he is passing from an obvious case to all cases, although many qualifications are based on stricter, scientific measurement. Moreover, describing how a piece of cloth may have various uses, as a shirt or as a skirt, he argues:
“It is the same piece of cloth in all cases, but since it is used differently, we have different names for it. All words are like this; their meanings depend on how and where they are used.”
This is supposed to convince us that words are “false and wavering” and help us to better understand emptiness. But the truthfulness and accuracy of language are clearly not at stake here, so the implied negative conclusion is unwarranted. The proof is that we all understand precisely his description of the changing practical role of the piece of cloth. “Cloth can be used as shirt or as skirt” is a perfectly legitimate sentence involving the natural modality “can” and two predicates in disjunction for a single subject (A can be B or C). Of course, if one starts with the idea that language can only consist of sentences with two terms and one modality (A is B), then one will be confused by more complex situations. But if one’s understanding of human thought is more developed, one does not fall into foolish conclusions.
Lastly, Hsing Yun refers to “the relative natures of our perceptions” to justify the idea of emptiness. He describes two people watching a snowfall, one is a poet sitting in his warm house, the other a homeless man shivering outdoors. The first hopes the snow will continue to fall, so he can enjoy watching it; the second fears that if the snow continues to fall, he may freeze to death. The author concludes:
“Both are seeing the same scenery, but since their conditions are different they perceive it very differently.”
Thus, perceptions are “false” and emptiness “underlies” them. Here again, his interpretation of the situation is tendentious, designed to buttress his preconceived doctrines. To be precise, the two people correctly perceive the (more or less) same snowy scene; what differs is their evaluation of the biological consequences of what they are perceiving (or more precisely still, what they anticipate to further experience). There is no relativity of perception involved! We have two quite legitimate sentences, which are both probably true “I’ll enjoy further snow” and “I’ll be killed by further snow”. “I” being the poet in one case and the poor man in the other case, there is no contradiction between them.
By arguments like those we have analyzed, Hsing Yun arrives at the overall conclusion that:
“The universe can only exist because all phenomena are empty. If phenomena were not empty, nothing could change or come into being. Being and emptiness are two sides of the same thing” (p. 100).
But none of his premises or arguments permits us to infer or explicate such conclusion. It is a truism that if your cup is full, you cannot add to it; or if you have no room to move into, you cannot move. But this is not what the author is here talking about; the proposed thesis is of course much more radical, though still largely obscure. All we are offered are dogmatic statements, which repeat on and on what the Buddha is claimed to have said.
I am personally still quite willing to believe that the Buddha did say something enlightening about interdependence, impermanence, selflessness and emptiness, but the words used were apparently not very clear. I just hope that his difficulty was merely in finding the right words to express his insights, and that the reasoning behind those words was not as faulty as that I have encountered in the work of commentators so far!
Still, sentences like the following from the Flower Garland Sutra are deliciously pregnant with meaning, challenging us to keep digging:
“When wind moves through emptiness, nothing really moves.”
- What “Emptiness” Might Be
The following is an attempt to eclectically merge the Western and Indian idea of a ‘soul’ with aspects of the Buddhist idea that we are “empty” of any such substance. What might the ‘soul’ be, what its place in ‘the world’, what its ‘mechanics’? Can we interpret and clarify the notion of “emptiness” intellectually?
The Buddhist notion of “emptiness” (in its more extremist versions) is, as far as I am concerned to date, unconvincing. If anything is empty, it is the very concept of emptiness as used by them – for they never clearly define it or explain it. Philosophy cannot judge ideas that remain forever vague and Kafkaesque accusations. The onus is on the philosophers of emptiness to learn to express their ideas more verbally.
6.1 Imagine the soul as an entity in the manifold, of (say) spiritual substance, a very fine energy form somewhat distinct from the substances of the mental domain (that of imaginations) and of the material domain (that of physical phenomena, regarded as one’s body and the world beyond one’s body).
6.2 While solipsism is a logically acceptable proposition, equally conceivable is the notion that the soul may be one among many in a large population of souls scattered in the sea of existence, which includes also the coarser mental and material energies. These spiritual entities may well have common natures and behavior tendencies, and be able to impact on each other and become aware of each other.
Those many souls may conceivably be expressions of one and the same single Soul, and indeed mind and matter may also be expressions of that one Soul, which might perhaps be identified with (a rather Hindu viewpoint) or be a small emanation of (a more Jewish view) what we call God. Alternatively, the many souls may be interrelated more in the way of a network.
The latter view could be earmarked as more Buddhist, if we focus on its doctrine of “interdependence.” However, we can also consider Buddhism compatible with the idea of a collective or root Soul, if we focus on its doctrine of an “original, common ground of mind.” This refers to a mental ocean, whence all thoughts splash up momentarily (as seemingly evident in meditation). At first individual and psychological, this original substance is eventually regarded as universal and metaphysical, on the basis of a positivistic argument that since even material sensations are known only through mind, we can only suppose that everything is mind. Thus, not only ‘thoughts,’ but all ‘things’ are mere turbulences in this primordial magma. Even individual ‘selves’ are merely drops of this mental sea water that momentarily have the illusion of separateness and personal identity.
6.3 For each individual soul (as for the greater Soul as a whole), the mind, the body, and the world beyond, of more matter, mind and spirit energies, may all be just projected ‘images’ (a viewpoint close to Bishop Berkeley’s in the West or Yogachara philosophers in Buddhism). This is not an affirmation by me, I am merely trying to demystify this theory and take it into consideration, note well.
The term image, here, does not signify image of anything else. Such images are perhaps media of self-expression and discourse of the soul (or Soul). That is, the ‘world around me’ may be a language the soul creates and uses to express itself and communicate with itself (and with other eventual souls).
Granting there are objectively are many souls, we can observe that these souls have many (perhaps most) of their images in common. This raises an important question, often asked in relation to such Idealism. If our worlds (including the physical aspects) are personal imaginations, how come so much of their contents agree, and how is it that they seem to be subject to the same ‘laws of nature’?
One possible answer is to assume the many souls to be emanations of a central Soul (animal, human or Divine). In that case, it is no wonder that they share experiences and laws.
Alternatively, we could answer that like images just happen to be (or are by force of their nature and habits) repeatedly projected by the many souls. In this way, they seemingly share a world (in part, at least), even though it is an imaginary one. Having delusions in common, they have perceptions in common. They can thus interact in regular ways in a single apparent ‘natural environment,’ and develop collective knowledge, society, culture, technology, ethics, politics and history. Thus, we are not forced to assume one common, objective world. It may well be that each soul projects for itself certain images that other souls likewise project for themselves, and these projected images happen to be the same upon comparison.
6.4 Viewed as a ball of subtle energy, the soul can well have its own spiritual ‘mechanics’ – its outer and inner shapes and motions, the creases and stirrings within it and at the interface with the mental and material (and spiritual) energies around it, the mathematics of the waves which traverse it and its environment, like a creature floating in the midst of the sea.
Consciousness and will, here viewed as different powers of projection, are the ways the soul interacts with itself and its supposed surrounds.
These wave-motion capacities of the soul, are naturally subject to some ‘laws’ – although the individual soul has some considerable leeway, it is not free to operate just any way it pleases, but tends to remain under most circumstances in certain fixed or repeated patterns. These (spiritual, psychological) ‘laws’ are often shared with other souls; but each of them may also have distinct constraints or habits – which gives each its individuality. Such common and individual ‘laws’ are their real underlying natures, as distinct from the image of ‘nature’ they may project.
In the event that the plurality of souls is explained by a single great Soul, there is even less difficulty in understanding how they may be subject to common laws. On the other hand, the individualities of the fragmentary souls require explanation. Here, we must suppose either an intentional, voluntary relinquishment of power on the part of the great Soul (so that little souls have some ignorance and some freedom of action) or an involuntary sleep or weakness (which latter thesis is less acceptable if we identify the larger soul with God).
With regard to the great Soul as a whole, it may either be subject to limitations and forces in its consciousness and volition – or it may be independent of any such natural restrictions or determinations, totally open and free. Our concept of God opts for the latter version, of course – whence the characterizations of omniscient and omnipotent (and all-good, granting that evil is an aberration due to ignorance and impotence).
6.5 The motive and end result of theses like the above is ethical. They aim and serve to convince people that the individual soul can find liberation from the constraints or habits it is subject to, by realizing its unity with other individual souls. ‘Realizing’ here means transcending one’s individuality by becoming aware of, identifying oneself with and espousing the cause of, other entities of the same substance, or the collective or root Soul. Thus, enlightenment and liberation are one and the same. Ultimately, the individuals are to abandon individuation and merge with all existence, melting back into the original source.
This doctrine presupposes that the individual soul self-constructs, and constructs the world around, in the sense that it defines (and thus effectively divides) itself out from the totality. This illusion of individuation is the sum of its creativity and activity, and also its crucial error. The individual soul does not of course create the world (which is its source); but it produces the virtual world of its particular world-view, which is its own prison and the basis of all its suffering, its “samsara.”
Realizing the emptiness of self would be full awareness in practice that the limited self is an expression of the ignorance and stupidity that the limited self is locked into because of various beliefs and acts. Realizing the emptiness of other entities (material, mental and spiritual) around one, would be full awareness in practice that they are projections of the limited self, in the sense that such projection fragments a whole into parts. Ultimately, too, the soul is advised to realize that Soul, souls and their respective projections are one continuum.
Those who make the above-implied promises of enlightenment and liberation claim justification through personal meditative experiences or prophetic revelations. I have no such first-hand experience or authority, but here merely try to report and elucidate such doctrines, to check their conceivability and understand them. To me, no one making philosophical utterances can claim special privileges; all philosophers are equally required to present clear ideas and convincing arguments.
6.6 The way to such realization is through meditation, as well as altruistic and sane action.
In the framework of the above-mentioned Buddhist philosophy of “original ground” (also called “Buddha mind”), meditation may be viewed as an attempt to return to that profound, natural, eternal calm. Those who attain this level of awareness are said to be in “nirvana.” The illusion of (particular, individual) selfhood arises from disturbances, and ceases with their quieting. The doctrine that the illusory self is “empty,” means that we must not identify with any superficial flashes of material or mental excitement, but remain grounded in the Buddha mind.
For example, the Tibetan work The Summary of Philosophical Systems warns against the self being either differentiated from or identified with “the psycho-physical constituents.” I interpret this statement (deliberately ignoring its paradoxical intent) to mean that there is nothing more to the illusory self than these phenomenal manifestations, and therefore that they cannot be the real self. Dogmatic Buddhists provocatively insist that no real self exists, but moderates do seem to admit it as equivalent to the universal, original ground.
Buddhist philosophers generally admit of perception and conception, but ignore or deny direct self-awareness. Consistently enough, they reject any claim to a soul (spiritual substance), since they consider that we have no real experience thereof. For them, the “psycho-physical constituents” are all we ordinarily experience or think about, so that soul must be “empty” (of anything but these constituents) and illusory (since these are not enough to constitute a soul). But this theory does not specify or explain the type of consciousness involved in the Buddha mind, or through which “emptiness” is known!
Another way to view things is to admit that there are three sources of knowledge, the perceptual (which gives us material and mental phenomenal manifestations), the conceptual (which gives us abstracts), and thirdly the intuitive (which gives us self-knowledge, apperception of the self and its particular cognitions, volitions and valuations). Accordingly, we ought to acknowledge in addition to material and mental substances, a spiritual substance (of which souls are made, or the ultimate Soul). The latter mode of consciousness may explain not only our everyday intuitions of self, but perhaps also the higher levels of meditation.
What we ordinarily consider our “self” is, as we have seen earlier, an impression or concept, based on perception and conception, as well as on intuitive experience. In this perspective, so long as we are too absorbed in the perceptual and conceptual fields (physical sensations, imaginations, feelings and emotions, words and thoughts, etc.), we are confused and identify with an illusory self. To make contact with our real (individual, or eventually universal) self, we must concentrate more fully on the intuitive field. With patience, if we allow the more sensational and exciting presentations to pass away, we begin to become aware of the finer, spiritual aspects of experience. That is meditation.
(See also Appendix 2).
 The term ‘self’ might be defined (in a rather circular manner) as ‘other than everything else that is an object of consciousness.’ It of course refers to the same thing as ‘soul.’ The concept of soul refers to something very unitary, the ultimate Subject of cognition and Agent of valuation and volition. The concept of ego refers to a more superficial layer of the psyche, a complex of current and habitual attitudes and behaviors, bound together by certain ‘ruts’ of thinking. The former is relatively free and responsible; the latter functions under considerable compulsion. The ego is the passive expression of the soul’s history of experiences, thoughts and choices, whereas the soul is the active maker of that history. (See next section.)
 In Buddhist Illogic, I criticize this idea as based on dubious generalizations and infinities.
 In my not yet published work The Logic of Causation, I show how if everything is causally related to everything else (in the same sense of causation), then nothing is causally related to anything! For causation can only be distinguished out from the mass of appearances if some things have this relation while others do not. The notion of ‘everything causing everything’ is self-contradictory.
 That is, one instance of the cognitive relation has another instance of the relation as its term, which in turn has something other than an instance of the relation as its term.
 Of course, I do not mean that feelings are unrelated to the person experiencing them, but only that they may be more superficial than they seem, or have subconscious motives other than those pretended, and so forth. For example, apparent ‘love’ may turn out to be mere ‘infatuation,’ or be motivated by convention or duty, or even unadmitted hatred.
 This is stated to oppose the Buddhist idea that inconstancy implies that there is nothing to identify with. One may indeed identify with a changing set of things.
 Paradoxically, narcissists, vain persons who are wont to look excessively in mirrors, or seek to be photographed or filmed, are psychologically deeply insecure about their existence and identity. Big egos are really inflated balloons, fragile to a mere pinprick.
 This was identified by Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden as a widespread affliction. They called such people, whose thoughts, values and actions are neurotically dependent on other’s, “second-handers.” Conformism or eccentricity, fear of loss of face and pursuit of prestige, are some of the expressions of this problem.
 Factual, as well as merely conventional aspects, may also of course be involved. Thus, family, nation or religion is usually based on one’s natural parents; educational level or profession, on actual studies and practice; and so forth.
 I personally immediately block such fantasies when I become aware of them, though in my youth I would on occasion indulge in them. Many people are evidently unable, or more precisely unwilling or untrained, to control such personality induction, and end up floating hither and thither in borrowed identities.
 Following Western tradition rather than the more radical Buddhist thesis, for now at least.
 Just as, say, the concept of a “unicorn” has no real referent (though horses and horns are real enough, separately).
 For me the idea that there is no self has the same fascination as the conclusion of Einstein’s Relativity theory that there is no ‘ether.’ This concept of a substance in empty space, or of existence as such, was (I believe) originally suggested by Descartes. I personally find it difficult to grasp how the waves of field theory can be waves of nothing. Yet I am well aware that Einstein’s conclusion is unavoidable, given the constancy of the speed of light whatever the observer’s direction of motion. Conversely, if a no-ether is conceivable, why not a no-self?
 See my work Buddhist Illogic with regard to Nagarjuna’s arguments.
 See in particular chapters 7-9. (The author is a Chinese Buddhist monk, b. 1928.)
 For instance, is there a state of consciousness in which one experiences space-time as a static whole?
 This essay was initially written for the book Buddhist Illogic, but at the time I decided that it was not sufficiently exhaustive and consistent and did not belong there. I have since then improved it somewhat.
 Note that animists regard even plants and stones as spiritual.
 As I make clear elsewhere, I am not personally convinced by this extreme argument.
 It is not clear to me how these disturbances are supposed by this theory to arise in the beginning. But this issue is not limited to Buddhism: for philosophers in general, the question is how did the one become many; for physicists, it is what started the Big Bang; for monotheists, it is why did God suddenly decide to create the universe? A deeper question still is how did the existence arise in the first place, or in Buddhism, where did the original ground come from?
 See Guenther, p. 67.
 Having dealt with the fallacy of the tetralemma in my Buddhist Illogic.
 Looking at the history of Indian philosophy, one cannot but notice the one-upmanship involved in its development. The concept of samsara (which I believe was originally intended as one of totality, albeit a cyclical one) was trumped by that of nirvana (again a totality, though beyond cycles), which was then in turn surpassed by that of “neither samsara nor nirvana, nor both” (the Middle Way version). Similarly, the concept of no-self is intended to outdo that of universal Self.
How do we come to know objects as independet(distinct from our minds) and discreete(distinct from one another) entities? Atomic explanatio of democritus and pythagorean innateness
Socrates defends the idea by demonstrating that an uneducated child can use the pythagorean theorem if asked the right questions.
We do not learn, and what we call learning is only a process of recollection plato,meno
Descartes used wax to show that our senses relay only ides of properties abd not ideas of objects .after holding wax to a flame, we come to experience different sets of properties at different timesit is no longer the same shape,size or temperature as before.yet we still say it is wax_ even the same wax!
Eternal satasis of parmenides
The oldest religious traditions- shamanistic,polytheistic and monotheistic- generally agree that the soul grounds the identity of a given thing and contains in it the an organizing life principle for that entity. See soul. Since 40000 years
Academic scepticism:we know only logic and math we know very little about reality
All ı know is that ı do not know republic
He knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I nether konow nor think that I know apology : self referential he knows or does not know socratic paradox knowledge is innate meno
Scholastic Lecture centered pedagogy
Aristotle added the fifth element as aether
Empedocles seeking what is now often referred to as a Unified field theory
He attempted to identify the most basic ingredient or ingredients of the universe four roots
Atom as the foundation of universe
Protagoras claims of perception is relative to the perceiver relativism
Since then nothing is grasped apart from circumstences, each person must be trusted regarding those received in his own circumstences s empiricus adversus mathematicos VII, 62-63
İDOLİZİNG REASON EXİSTENTİAL nihilism
Time continuum zenos arrow russel says it is a very plain statement of a very elemantary fact is there discreete instants
Atoms make up everything there is
Nothing exists independently of the material or physical world .even the soul was thought to be composed of atoms materialim pluralism in math challenged the idea of platonic reality of mathematical forms