Saturday, March 15, 2008

Physics and Philosophy - Thoughts on the Implications of Quantum Mechanics, and Other Matters #9iii

9. On Causality:
iii. The tendency to see everything in terms of causes and effects was reinforced by pre-20th Century science, especially the formulation of Newtonian mechanics. The resulting belief of strict causation was described by the mathematician Pierre-Simon de Laplace as follows:
“An intelligence knowing, at a given instant of time, all forces acting in nature, as well as the momentary position of all things of which the universe consists, would be able to comprehend the motion of the largest bodies of the world and those of the lightest atoms in one single formula, provided his intellect was sufficiently powerful to subject all data to analysis; to him nothing would be uncertain, both past and future would be present in his eyes.”
This doctrine, sometimes called strict causality, advances the belief and idea of an all-knowing and all-seeing being, or in other words, God. As human beings are part of the universe, and therefore part of the grand equation, such philosophy also pretty much rejects any question concerning freewill. Although stated differently, these beliefs had previously manifested religiously in the form of such sects as the Calvinists and Puritans.[9] Classical physics strengthened these notions by adding a rational basis for determinism. Modern physics is another matter.

[9] Note the common thread of capitalism among the adherents from either age.


Nok said...

Sorry for my english (I'm french).
What is your one point of vue about freewill? Have you ever read Sartre ? The problem of determinism is that it can easily bring to passivity because it's often confused with fatality.

SRL said...

Bonjour. You're English is better than my French. Thanks for reading.

Anyway, freewill is an interesting concept. I think that it exists, but limited (at least to most). One way or another, we tend to be products of our environment. Most of my other writing has this theme to some extent. I agree that determinism creates passive acceptance of the world, thus its use to various elites as a means to justify their ends.

I have not read very much Sartre. What do you recommend that translates well into English.