The Mystery of Existence. Paradigm, essence, existence, creation (18/4/21)

Introduction

 When considering the existence of the universe and our own existence which, as the cosmological history shows, looks to not matter at all in the existence of the universe, we may wonder how and from what all of this come?

The usual representation of the big bang theory invokes a creation which occurred mysteriously!

This is a hypothesis bound to a theory but the only established fact, is the existence of our mind, and therefore of ourselves, which implies in turn that of the universe, as we are part of it.

It is therefore from this established fact that our analysis must be exerted and not per anthropomorphic examples inspired by our life experience, based on our perception of space and time, as conceived, in this context, as immediate concepts of our mind.

The difficulty arises from the fact that general relativity, the theory ruling the modern cosmology, states that only spacetime, for which our understanding has no experience because its manifestation on our scale is imperceptible, has a physical meaning.

Let us recall that, however, as early as in 1907, Minkowski underlined that in special relativity, space as well as time have no physical reality and are reduced to being only shadows of spacetime[1] which is the only physical reality! [2] 

Elements of Plato’s philosophy: Essentialism

Essence is prior to existence.

Plato defines the essences or ideas which are the intelligible eternal and perfect forms, archetypes, and models of sensitive things which are represented by phenomena in our physical world as their unstable and imperfect images.

The phenomenology of physical entities and the related laws of nature makes sense and are ruled by the ideas.

The allegory of the cave Plato illustrates his arguments by describing a situation where prisoners in a cave only see the shadows, on the wall of this cave, of the outside world.

Can they imagine that these are just shadows of something more complex (ideas) and can they reconstruct them from the shadows or are they have no other choice that to consider those shadows as reality?

If a prisoner claims these shadows are the only reality in existence, is it possible to prove that he is wrong?

In this description, the cave represents the physical world where we live and the shadows are the phenomena that we see. The outside world is the perfect world of ideas.

Paradigm.

The paradigm is what exemplifies a rule and can therefore serve as a model. With Plato, it has a pedagogical meaning: the paradigm is the “easy” object on which one is encouraged to train before exerting his sagacity on an object which look like to it but which is more “difficult”.

G. Bachelard [3] illustrates this by emphasizing that thought is essentially inductive, it reads the complex in the simple, the law in the example.

Existentialism

The notion of existence in philosophy experienced a fundamental boom thanks to Kierkegaard in the 19th century and then, in the 20th century, with Merleau-Ponty and Sartre, depending on where, unlike Plato, existence is prior to essence.

Existence cannot be deduced, it is observed, it is experienced: Sartre: “To exist is simply to be here. The existing ones appear, let themselves be met, but we can never deduce them”. The essence, then, is built in existence.

The success of the Big Bang model, assuming a creation of the universe, proved that claiming that “only the existence of the universe makes sense” is a breaking through hypothesis, not usually accepted.

A creation, in physics, is a singularity and as well as for our mind because one may wonder how something can emerge from nothing? Remember that the quantum vacuum is not nothing. An eternal universe does not solve the solution either, because eternity, which does not allow a point to be unambiguously located, is not also a physical concept.

Theories making the Big Bang emerge from something existing before are only postponing the problem of the existence of what was existing before [4].

All these hypotheses are based on an external vision of our universe and an external time and space in which it would be located. In fact, in relativity, time and space do not exist, because only spacetime, resulting from Einstein’s equation, exists.

As we have developed in the book, the spacetime defined by general relativity needs nothing other than itself to exist and is able to infer all the phenomenology that we see within the universe where we are and of which we are a part.

Existentialism then appears to be the most appropriate philosophy to describe our relationship with this universe.

Paradigm for a creation

The arguments, previously developed about our existence involving that of the universe, [5] were aimed to propose an objective overview of a physical situation.

However, they do not discard a frustration because they do not address the problem of the origin of this existence. The concept of “creation” likely involves metaphysical arguments. Notwithstanding with this difficulty, let us consider a paradigm involving our own existence.

The purpose of the arguments developed previously about our existence involving that of the universe [1] is to make an objective state of a physical situation. However, they leave in our mind a feeling of dissatisfaction or even frustration because they do not address the problem of what we call “the origin of this existence”. This, usually called “creation” cannot ignore a part of metaphysics. Notwithstanding with this difficulty, let us consider the following arguments. First, let’s start by clarifying the concept of “creation”.

What is the usual definition of a creation?

We call creation something that appears, suddenly, where there was nothing before! We see that if we apply this definition to the universe, this definition refers to a space (place where creation appears) and to a time (the time when this creation takes place). This supposes a background made of a pre-existing space and a pre-existing time of reference, which would implicitly be eternal, because otherwise it would be necessary to explain their creations as well. On the one hand it is a Newtonian approach, where time and space are independent, and on the other hand this approach is rather shaky. One of the elements (the background) is infinite (eternal) and the other has, at least, a beginning and possibly an end.

But above all, this approach is incorrect, because what we must consider is not a space and a time, but it is a spacetime, which is a fundamentally a different concept, of which our concepts of space and time are only “shadows”, as Minkowski declared, likely, by referring to the allegory of Plato’s cave. The spacetime is “more” than its shadows and cannot therefore be defined by them![6]

Therefore, the question is, does is make sense to use the concept of “creation” with the definition we have defined (a concept supported by an independent space and an independent time).

The answer is likely “no”. The conceptual tools associated with the concept of “creation” that we currently use are inadequate for analyzing this problem. We should investigate other ways, other paradigms. An attempt for a new paradigm is proposed in the next paragraphs.

Before our conception we do not exist. But our birth, which can be seen as the creation of a new being, does not come from nothing. The ingredients of what will become our body were already existing on Earth. Whether we are a smart combination of these ingredients, operated by our DNA, it is a transformation and not an “ex nihilo” creation as, even though from raw matter emerged more sophisticated matter [7], matter generated matter!

But Asides, our mind which makes us to feel to be a unique individual human, independent and above all our consciousness which make aware of all of this, seems to emerge “ex nihilo”, because it is a property of a different nature than matter: consciousness [ 8] cannot be interpreted by a strictly materialist approach.

Therefore, per our definition of the paradigm, the example of the consciousness may be used as a model for a paradigm for improving our understanding on what should be our origin and that, correlated, of the universe.

Another problem to overcome.

The example of our galaxy (the Milky Way) illustrates an additional problem. It is difficult to totally describe something from inside! If the shape and content of our neighboring galaxies appear to us clearly in our telescopes, it is not the case for our galaxy (we see a white trail on the sky). We know that the stars that we see in the sky are their projection onto the surface of a celestial sphere and we locate by angular coordinates. The distance of objects is not directly accessible to us. It is by using the physical properties of celestial objects and some parameters, (brightness, size, ..) that we know, and that we associate to the laws of physics, that we get it

Thus for the Milky Way, where we are in an “arm”, it is through statistical over-densities in stars (which we attribute to our galaxy)  on the celestial sphere that we estimate its shape and dimensions. .

The exercise is quite tricky, as evidenced by the many changes in results, over time.

Since we are in the same situation, (inside), regarding our quest for our existence and that of the universe, these methods could inspire us in our quest. It is certainly from inside that we must therefore build our paradigm!

To be, endless, continued….


[1] No doubt that he was inspired by Plato’s allegory of the cave.

[2] This is also true in general relativity.

[3] In his book « the new scientific spirit »

[4]  A humoristic illustration of this kind of argument is provided by the story of the man who had a leek in its ear on weekdays and a banana on Sunday.

[5] Setting human before the universe, is on purpose. It is because we think the universe that we develop these theories. As already indicated, not considering the one who thinks the universe in his description can only lead to an incorrect analysis.

[6] If it is difficult for our mind to imagine a hyperbolic, 4-dimensional spacetime, as defined in general relativity, its rigorous mathematical description indicates to us that it is totally “autonomous” and self-describing. By this we mean that he does not need anything other than himself to exist and be described. It does not need to be included in something else to exist, so all the mathematical tools used for its description are “internal”. For instance, one can define the curvature of a two-dimensional spherical surface by equations which only include only two-dimensional parameters on the surface (Gaussian curvature-intrinsic curvature) instead of being defined by the radius of the tri-dimensional sphere in tri-dimensional space (extrinsic curvature). The two formulations describe the same geometry for the surface, but in different ways.

The physical counterpart is that its phenomenology must depend only on properties internal to this space-time.

[6] The increase in complexity can be explained by the laws of physics. The structure of the atoms with their electrons allows a huge number of combinatory configurations of them. The Darwinism process will allow to select those which are the more efficient in the Earth’s context.

[7] This has always been felt, empirically, by humans. Generically, it was called soul, a concept that was remarkably successful. The pharaohs would have been the first to benefit from it, (a divine character was attached to it). But for some political reasons, they “generously” granted it, very gradually and selectively, to other social categories.