Is there Room for Metaphysics in Modern Sciences, Second Edition
آیا در علوم جدید جایی برای متافیزیک وجود دارد، ویرایش دوم
Preface to the second edition of May 24, 2018
This article was first published on August 30, 2012 in Persian on Faradid blog (1) of the VOA web site (2). Regarding the connection between what is called metaphysical discussions and the biological existence, Kant does not see metaphysical discussions more than what he has reviewed in his Critique of Pure Reason, he believes the reason for the survival of these discussions is the continuation of the biological existence of humans. The question is, if the human is no longer biological, will these discussions end? In a paper entitled "Two Paths beyond Singularity" (3), referring to the topic of Synthetic and Analytic propositions in Kant's philosophy, I wrote that after Singularity, biological intelligence would still have superiority over Artificial Intelligence in relation to Synthetic propositions, but four years later in August 2016, with the announcement of IBM scientists (4) it became clear that I was wrong in that discussion and Ray Kurzweil was right, and as a result, there is no doubt the non-biological intelligence will have superiority sooner than previously expected, which is decisive for the subject under discussion in this article (5). The last point in this article is Seth Lloyd's discussion (6). In the opinion of this author, Seth Lloyd has raised the most interesting philosophical debates over the past two decades, although he is not a philosopher and is a professor of mechanical engineering at the MIT. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to discuss the views of Seth Lloyd in details and what I have presented of his ideas in this article is very brief.
A few years ago in an article entitled "Metaphysics and Religion" (7), the relationship between these two arenas of thought was discussed. About 35 years ago, the philosophical attitude of scientists and philosophers of science in the twentieth century was reviewed in details (8). Today, nearly two decades into the twenty-first century, can it be said that such ideas still exist in the debates of new science?
Let's begin by looking at Kant's book entitled Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics written before the beginning of the nineteenth century, in 1783, which was the origin of the conflicts of science, philosophy, and religion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Kant begins this book with the admiration of Hume's courage in questioning causality. It is interesting that causality is not a religious subject, and its place in the history of science, especially with the consolidation of Newtonian physics at that time, was eminent, a period that discussions of quantum physics still had not appeared on the scene of science, ideas that were raised more than a century later. Even Kant's goal of presenting his discussions is not due to any partiality towards subjective idealism, as he explicitly rejects the views of Bishop Berkeley in this book. As a result, the question is why Hume's discussion of causation is so important for Kant?
I should note that Kant explicitly defines mathematics as synthetic propositions. And defines space and time as "apriori" concepts that enable us to apply mathematics to a world outside the mind. Today, centuries after Kant, one cannot talk about new science without mathematics, and even instead of speaking, it is the computers that, with the use of mathematics, process many of what cannot even be expressed in speech.
Kant's purpose is not to say that Hume's definition of cause-effect relationship as the highest degree of association is correct. Kant by starting this discussion of Hume, wants to show that many of the concepts accepted in human thought, which are not even specific to religion, are a kind of barrier to the growth of thought, and by entering into the discussion of *synthetic* and *analytic* propositions and by putting mathematics in the first category shows that experimental sciences with a new look can be more effective. In other words, such seemingly heretic thoughts in science not only are not harmful, they can expand and deepen our human knowledge. Of course, today, after what Karl Popper has done in the philosophy of science and the quantum physics scientists have achieved in the context of Uncertainty Principle, there is no longer a problem in understanding this attempt of Kant's breaking with tradition in the late eighteenth century, when it has been proven now that Albert Einstein also was wrong thinking "God does not play with dice."
By the end of his book Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, Kant concludes there can be no science under the heading of metaphysics, and the topics discussed in the metaphysical discourse are nothing more than what he had addressed in the Critique of Pure Reason, a kind of reasoning and arguments that seem to be necessary as long as our existence as human beings is biological. Today, this conclusion of Kant is also true when we are still living a biological existence and many of our debates on subjects such as afterlife, are due to our biological limitations on this planet, and for thousands of years were not particular to religions, and secular discourse on these topics also resembles religious deliberations.
Daniel Bell, in the last years of his life, in a debate about religion and the realm of scared for human beings, resembled this form of thinking to a consolation for a man of old age like himself at that time. In this way, perhaps, what Buddha said about metaphysical discussions more than two thousand years ago, today, may be referred to as "what-with-expression-cannot-be-posed." Buddha in his discussion of life after death, talks about "mind body" which although similar to the soul in Greek philosophy, but his emphasis is on the fragility of the human body and the "mind body" intended by Buddha is not separate from the human body. New debates in this field were discussed in details five years ago in an interview entitled "Futurism and the End of Death" (9).
Let's return to Hume's rejection of causality. Is it possible, after three centuries of this discourse to claim that science has thrown away these abstract notions and made them worthless? It does not seem to be the case. Several years ago, Seth Lloyd one of the founders and makers of quantum computers at MIT in the United States, put forward a theory that sees the entire world as a quantum computer, saying that quantum computers are successful because they can constrain the realities that already exist in the universe. Seth Lloyd even describes important events in the history of the world, such as the Big Bang, the formation of DNA and gender differentiation, and the invention of writing in history, as the same kind of containment in the processing of information that exists in the universe itself. Using quantum physics and uncertainty principle, information stored in quantum bit can be both zero and one at the same time, that is, two different operations can be done concurrently, in other words, i.e. real parallel processing is made possible in these computers. This is what, according to Seth Lloyd, does not fit with common sense (10), but *is* the reality. In fact, the existence of this parallel processing on quantum computers means that contrary to Einstein's belief, God is playing with dice!
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,
May 24, 2018
1. Faradid Blog
2. آيا در علوم جديد جايی برای متافيزيک وجود دارد؟
3. دو راه در فراسوی نقطه انفصالی
Two Paths beyond Singularity
4. IBM scientists emulate neurons with phase-change technology
5. Kurzweil was Right again
بازهم حق با کرزوایل بود
6. Seth Lloyd
7. Metaphysics and Religion
متافیزیک و مذهب
8. Philosophy of Science in 20th Century-Third Edition
فلسفه علم در قرن بیستم-ویرایش سوم
9. Interview about Futurism and End of Death
مصاحبه ای درباره آینده نگری و پایان مرگ
10. Kurzweil and Problem of Common Sense
ری کرزوایل و مسأله عقل سلیم