Friday, August 31, 2012

Speculative Physics according to Friedrich WJ Schelling

These notes are my attempts at making sense of how the notion of speculation and physics are played out in 18th century Europe, through an actual attempt to address the concept in Schelling'S work that partially approximates the constructs of science today. More on how I intend to transfer what he does here to our understanding of modern quantum theory later, probably in the outline of my talk.

Introduction to the Outlines of a System of Natural Philosophy: or, On the Idea of Speculative Physics and the Internal Organization of a System of this Science
Transcendental philosophy subordinates the Real to the Ideal, while Natural Philosophy explain the Ideal by the Real. Two sciences as one science

Is also a critique of the dynamical system of Kant
The possibilities of speculative physics lie in:
1. Having sufficient knowledge of an object's working principles. That it is impossible for us to know nature the way an inventor knows the inner-workings of his machine. As nature operates through a series of concatenated events, unless one is able to isolate the operations of nature into definite conditions that Schelling refers to as an experiment. Experiment is a production of phenomena.

2.Self-produced knowing is a pure knowing à priori. Experiment is considered to be self-construction of a phenomena. However, much in the science of Nature that are known à priori are, phenomena of electricity, magnetism and light. Knowledge followed from known laws. All that is known about natural science is known à priori. Experiment can never transcend the forces of nature. Phenomena as correlated into one and necessary law. Sum of phenomena is not a merely that of the world but of nature, which means that the produce is also productive. Nature will appear as universal duplicity of principles whereby Nature is maintained in continual activity while prevented from exhausting itself in its productive mode. All theoretical hypothesis has to be brought to confirmation through empirical results. Natural phenomena is deduced from empirical proofs and through these proofs, science is constructed. However the condition is speculative. Schelling argues that if natural sciences can have its principles deduced à priori, then it may mean that it can dispense with experience, and spin all its principles out of itself, an affirmation so absurd as to cause the objections to deserve pity. Whole of our knowledge consists of data of experience The distinction between what constitutes as à priori versus à posteriori data, has nothing to do with the data but a distinction made through our desire to distinguish based on our own knowledge. However, the historical aspect of its experience has an à priori design that allows one inner access to Nature. Insight into this internal necessity becomes more complete as we reflect on there being no system that is not part of the organic whole, and this organic whole is all connected to each other.  If Nature is à priori, then it must deal with that is evident and certain, rather than hypothetical. Every natural phenomenon has intermediaries (intermediate links) that connects its parts to the last conditions of Nature even though the intermediate links are of unknown substance to us. Speculative physics show the need of these intermediary links. However, with each new discovery made, the unknowability of the intermediary links increase. Schelling insists on the necessity of separating hypothesis from the fragments of knowledge that is known.

On a system of speculative physics generally
Schelling here references his Outlines of a System of Natural Philosophy:
1. The misunderstanding of what natural philosophy is by linking it to transcendental deductions. Natural philosophy as a science that is peculiar to itself.
2. The tendency for scientists to revert to original frameworks of representation as soon as they found that they did not quite understand new theories proposed, will revert back to the original framework from which they were operating from. Schelling also critiques Kant's idea  of matter as being reducible to the occupation of space. He states the incompatibility between observable phenomena and the philosophical framework (science?) from which qualitative (he uses the term dynamical here) characteristics are explicated. So it would seem also here that the electric and magnetic properties provide qualitative descriptors, while at the same time, are viewed as part of the changes in matter relating to the fundamental forces, depending on the mutual actions of the forces. So these properties are only partial manifestations relating to changes in the limits of their principles (this seems to be an ongoing refrain for Schelling). And these properties do not contain the necessary depth and manifoldness to explain the natural phenomena. Certain qualities that one may observe, such as density, are only of superficial character and part of a set of externalities. The proof asserting what qualities are important versus what is not cannot be demonstrated until the principles of explanations are sufficiently exhausted...a gap is filled up between dynamical philosophy and empirical attainments, even in the more simpler examples.

Internal organization of the system of speculative physics
- Distinction between the speculative and the empirical. Between empiricism and theory is such a divide that there is no third feature for uniting them - experimental science becomes a non-thought. Pure empiricism is not conceived as real science, but is history. Physics as a collection of account of what happens under natural and artificial circumstances.
- Science as a form of productivity as set out in the philosophy of nature. Individual being, as a conditioned, can be thought of only as the particular limitation of productive activity. Being is thought in its unlimitedness. Science may not be able to rise higher than that of being, with 'permanence' being a continuous and uniform reproduction.
- Nature as mere product is object, while Nature as productivity becomes subject.
-In Nature, ideas and actions are contemporary and one.
-When nature is object, it is being; when it is subject, it is productivity.
-Ideal infinity is the the empirical one, and it is also part of the infinite becoming, an exhibition of an intellectual and ideal becoming.
-Time as not being producible by composition. In the orginal evolution, the agent of retardation is nothing but the original reflection, such as the necessity to continuously reflect upon every organic phase of our acting.
-Intuition and reflection are seen as constituting opposing ends of each other: the infinite series (such as in mathematics) is continuous for the productive intuition, interrupted and composite for the reflection. Intuition and reflection provide different basis for evaluating productive activity. E.g. for the intuition, the action of gravity takes place with perfect continuity, while for reflection, it takes place in fits and starts. Then there is the laws of mechanics which are only properly laws for reflection by being the object of productive intuition. Schelling considers atoms of time on which gravitation act as fictitious notions of mechanics whereby the moment of solicitation (interaction) is small so that infinite rapidity is not produced in finite time. And the infinite series in mathematics can only be represented as advancing in fits and starts.
-In all productivity alone, there is absolute continuity, a statement of importance in the consideration of the whole of Nature, as the law of Nature does not speak of leaps but rather of a continuity in its form, confined to the original productivity of nature. However, in the standpoint of reflection, all things appear disconnected and discontinuous. Schelling exerts that both standpoints of nature, reflection and intuitive, are necessarily correct. Dynamical physics are considered as occupying a standpoint of intuition and atomistic physics of reflection.

General Principles
1. Idea of becoming as something gradual, but an absolute productivity, exhibiting itself empirically as a becoming with infinite rapidity while resulting in nothing new for intuition.
2. That evolution in nature should take place with finite rapidity, and become an object of intuition, unthinkable without the original limitation on productivity.
3 If Nature be absolute productivity, then the grounds of limitation is beyond it. Nature as originally only productivity means that nothing can be determined in this productivity since all determination becomes a negation, which means that products can never be attained. For the product to be reached, productivity has to go from being undetermined to determined. If the ground of productivity lies outside of Nature, Nature then is not absolute productivity.
4. Nature must be an object unto itself. The change from pure subject into a self-object is unthinkable without an original sundering in Nature. The principle of physical explanation can only have as its objective the reduction of all antitheses as it appears in Nature to the original antithesis in the heart of Nature but does not itself appear. Why are not all things mutually object and subject ad infinitum, and at once product and productive.
5.The positive tendency in the original productive of Nature can be opposed by another retarding production that is not contradictory, merely opposite of one another. There is no passivity in Nature at which limits it is again positive.
6.In order to arrive at a product, these opposite tendencies must concur, therefore equal: there is no subsistence of product thinkable without a conitnual process of reproduction. The product is thought as being annihilated at every step. and reproduced anew at every step. The subsistence of the product is not seen, but its continuous renewal.
7.If the subsistence of product is a continual process of being reproduced, then all persistence also is an object in nature. Product begins as a mere point that is raised to a full sphere.
8.This seeming product cannot be reproduced at all level or productivity will exhaust itself. It can also not be a finite product, with a tendency to infinite development. Nature is an assemblage of individual objects, not a primal product. The magnitude which evolves itself in an infinite series is infinite at every point of the evolution, with one original point of retardation to evolution that is thought. Every such point is marked for us by its product, but at every point of the evolution is marked for us by a product, but at every point of the evolution, nature is infinite in every product, and lies in each the germ of a universe. The original retardation in the productivity of nature explains how evolution takes place with infinitely small rapidity..
9. The product evolves ad infinitum, and nothing can happened which is not already a product, that might not divide into new factors, each of these having its factors. Nothing pursued in nature can ever come up as being something simple.
10. Evolution does not stop at anything that was a product but only that which is purely productive, and which might not divide up into new factors. A final, which is no longer a substrate but the cause of all substrate, no longer a product but absolutely productive.
11. Nature bears the character of the unconditioned, which although itself is not in space has still the principle of all occupation of space. That which occupies space, cannot be matter since matter is the occupied space itself. Only that which is in space, not being itself. It is self-evident that no positive external intuition of that which is not in space. What is in in space is mechanically and chemically destructible. That which is not destructible in both sense is said to lie outside of space. But it is the final ground of quality that has anything of this nature. If one is extinguished by another, it can only happen  in a third product, C, for the maintenance of which A and B, must continue to act.. But the indestructible is thinkable only as pure intensity, the cause of all substrate, which is also the principle of divisibility ad infinitum. What is purely productive without being a product is in the final ground of quality. Quality is determinate whereas productivity is indeterminate.. It appears in them most originally retarded. There are in them simple actions that are ideal for the explanation of quality. The qualities are also entelechies that cannot be shown as they do not exist; we have not therefore explain anything more than is asserted. The proof that original productivities must be considered as grounds of the explanation of all quality is:
    •    Affirmation that nothing that is in space or which is mechanically simple, require demonstration. What is in reality, simple, cannot be thought as in space but as outside of space. But outside of space, only pure intensity is thought. The idea of pure intensity is expressed by the idea of action. The product of action is not simple but the action is itself abstracted from the product, and must be simple in order for the product to be divisible ad infinitum. Even if the parts are near vanishing,  the intensity must remain. This pure intensity, even in infinite divisibility, sustains the substrate. If, therefore, the assertion that affirms something simple as the basis of the explanation of quality is atomistic, then one's philosophy is atomistic. But if it places the simple in something that is only productive without being a product, it is dynamical atomistic
    •    if we admit absolute division of nature into its factors, the last thing that remains over, must be something, which absolutely defies all division that is simple. But the simple can only be considered as dynamical, and as such, it is not in space at all. Its intuition is only possible through its product. Measure is also only given through its product. To pure thought, it is the mere origin of the product as the point is only the origin of the line, therefore, pure entelechy. What is known, only through its product, is known empirically. If, therefore, every original quality, as quality, must be thought  as pure intensity and pure action, then qualities generally are the absolutely empirical in our knowledge of nature.  The question in reference to the ground of quality posits the evolution of nature as completed, by positing that which is merely thought through being only answerable by ideal grounds of  explanation. This stands in opposition to the standpoint of reflection of the product, with genuine dynamics being on the standpoint of intuition. For quality, for as far as it is relative, has a real ground of explanation and determination.
    •    There is no question of quality for inasmuch as it shows itself to be part of a dynamical process.  For quality, as far as it is relative, contains a ground for explanation and determination, quality is determined by its opposites, where an antithesis is replaced continuously by a higher antithesis, and so on into infinity, so that if universal organization would dissolve itself, all matter would sink back into dynamical inactivity, which is an absolute defect of quality.
    •    The limitation of the dynamical process takes place by no force other than that through which evolution is absolutely and universally limited, and this negative element is the only one in things that is indivisible, and mastered by nothing. The absolute relativity of all quality may be shown from the electric relation of bodie, as what is positive with one may be negative with another.
    •    Quality does not exist except that which the bodies are able to show mutually in relation to each other, and all quantity is something in virtue which the body, so to speak,  is raised above itself.
    •    All hitherto attempted construction of quality is reduced to two attempts; to express qualities by figures, and hence, for each original quality, to assume a particular figure in Nature; or to express quality by analytical formulae.
Dynamical system
    1.    denies the absolute evolution of nature, and passes from Nature as synthesis to Nature as evolution; the former passes from the standpoint of intuition to that of reflection.
    2.    passes from standpoint of intuition to that of reflection.
    3.    checks evolution and explains cohesion by continuity of evolution
Atomistic system
    1.    passes from the evolution, as the original, to Nature as synthesis.
    2.    passes from stand-point to that of intuition.
    3.    cause of composition of Nature and explains it by force of cohesion whereby no continuity is ever introduced into it.

Point of origin is ideal. Absolute synthesis is as purely ideal as absolute analysis. The Real occurs only in Nature as product but Nature is not product, whether as involution or evolution. Product is what is contained between two extremes.The first problem deals with the construction of products
Analysis can onle be tested as correct by the fact that we passes through it again to the synthesis.

What these two systems share
1. They are both set out from something purely ideal so long as the product is not constructed.: it is only in the direction by which they accomplish this that they are opposed.
2. Both have the same value, with one forming the test of the other.
3. What is concealed in productive nature must be reflected as product in Nature as Nature. Hence the atomistic system is a continuos reflection of the dynamical system. It is the productivity dualized in itself that gives the product.

- Pure productivity passes originally into formlessness
- If productivity passes into formlessness, then, objectively considered, it is the absolute formless - the nearer to productivity, the nearer to formlessness.
-Productivity appears only as productivity when limits are set to it, i.e. electricity exists only at that point at which limits are given, and it is only a poverty of conception that looks for anything else in its phenomena beyong the phenomena of limited productivity. Light is considered the antithesis in the electric and the galvanic, and light which comes to use without our inducing presupposes that antithesis.
- it is only limited productivity that gives start to the product
- in nature, neither pure productivity nor pure product can ever be arrived at. The idea of the product, which is fixed, and of productivity, the free, are mutually opposed.
-the product will appear as in infinite metamorphosis, from fluid to solid, without reaching the required form. But it does not take place without a rule, and the rule will express itself as an internal relationship of forms.

The manifoldness of the forms which such product assumes in its metamorphosis is explained by the differences in the stages of development, so that parallel with every stage of development, goes a particular form. The atomic philosopher posits in nature certain fundamental forms, and everything which strives after form, and which does form itself has also its particular form.

There are also products that are brought into nature, but in these products productivity, as productivity, is held to be indistinguishable. Productivity has not yet absolutely passed over into product. The subsistence of the product is continual self-reproduction.

Nature as absolute identity in duplicity, here again we come upon an antithesis that must again take place within the other. The antithesis must be capable of being shown in the deduced product itself, if it is capable of being deduced at all.

Since the existence of a world, that is not productive is in the first instance merely postulated so as to explain the productive one whereby its conditions can only be laid down hypothetically.

So the most general problem of speculative physics are:
    1.    To reduce the construction of organic and inorganic products to a common expression. As the organic product is the product in the second-power.
    2.    for productivity to be fiyed at a point, limits must be set
    3.    the immediate effect of confined productivity is a change of contraction and expansion in matter already given
    4.    when the change stops, productivity passdes into product, but product never passes into productivity
    5.    if the three stages are distinguished in productivity, they must be distinguishable in organic nature throughout.
The fundamental principles of a universal theory of nature:
    •    Productivity must be limited
    •    Limitation cannot be established by the difference already existing so there must be an opposition arising in productivity itself.
    •    The antithesis is the dissolution of identity but nature is primarily identity.
    •    Identitiy produced out of difference is indifference.
    •    No identity in nature is absolute, but all is only indifference
    •    construction of matter is completed, but not the construction of specific difference in matter. All the matter of B, C in relation to A has a common difference that is not cancelled by A, and which cancels itself, in part, in B and C. What distinguishes B and C from A therefore is the difference which is not cancelled by A
    •    That the identity of mater is not absolute identity but only indifference can be proved from the possibility of cancelling the identity.
Stages of dynamica processes from difference to indifference
    •    First stage if marked by objects in which the reproduction and recancelling of the antithesis is an object of perception. Project is reproduced anew in every step, with the antithesis that cancels itself in it springing afresh.
    •    In the identity of the product, its duplictiy again appears, and the antithesis is divided up and distributed between different objects. At the second stage, one factor of the product had only relative preponderance and the third will attain an absolute one. Where there is equal difference, there is equal indifference.
    •     In first construction , the product is posited as an identity that resolves itself into an antithesis which is no longer an antithesis cleaving to products.
    •    The second construction of matter is the dynamical process. How many stages there are in the dynamical process, there are the same number in the original construction of matter.
So the whole project seems to revolve around reducing the construction of the organic and inorganic into a common expression.
In the organic nature, indifference can never be arrived at in the same way in which it is arrived at in the inorganic nature because life is about the continuous prevention of the attainment of indifference [a prevention of the absolute transition of productivity into product].
the inorganic product exists as a higher expression of the organic product, which means that the latter is only produced through the same source of higher power as the former.
Our system is related to the dynamical system through the process of expansion and attraction.

1 comment:

  1. After just finishing Schelling's "Introduction to the Outlines of a System of Natural Philosophy: or, On the Idea of Speculative Physics and the Internal Organization of a System of this Science" and Schelling's "System of Transcendental Idealism", I was searching for a 21st century viewpoint and came across this. Your blog post really helped me clarify what I just read.
    I would love to hear your thoughts on quantum theory in relation to this. Maybe it's somewhere here, but I couldn't find it.

    Rob Datum