Reflections on Physicist Lawrence Krauss and the Consolations of Philosophy

Below is Lawrence Krauss from a recent interview in the Atlantic (Thanks to Jason/Immanent Transcendence for bringing this controversy to my attention):

Krauss: …Philosophy used to be a field that had content, but then “natural philosophy” became physics, and physics has only continued to make inroads. Every time there’s a leap in physics, it encroaches on these areas that philosophers have carefully sequestered away to themselves, and so then you have this natural resentment on the part of philosophers. This sense that somehow physicists, because they can’t spell the word “philosophy,” aren’t justified in talking about these things, or haven’t thought deeply about them—

Is that really a claim that you see often?

Krauss: It is. Philosophy is a field that, unfortunately, reminds me of that old Woody Allen joke, “those that can’t do, teach, and those that can’t teach, teach gym.” And the worst part of philosophy is the philosophy of science; the only people, as far as I can tell, that read work by philosophers of science are other philosophers of science. It has no impact on physics what so ever, and I doubt that other philosophers read it because it’s fairly technical. And so it’s really hard to understand what justifies it. And so I’d say that this tension occurs because people in philosophy feel threatened, and they have every right to feel threatened, because science progresses and philosophy doesn’t.

Krauss just published A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing. In it he attempts to explain cosmogenesis mechanistically using quantum field theory, with the larger goal of explaining away the need for spooky theological or philosophical questions about the creation of the universe, such as”why?” Like Weinberg and Hawking, he thinks physics can now do without philosophy, since all the important philosophical problems have already been solved (by science): Life evolved. Mind is in your skull. And now, if we take Richard Dawkins’ word for it, matter has been explained as a random by-product of the laws of quantum fields. Dawkins writes in the afterword of Krauss’ book:

“Even the last remaining trump card of the theologian, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?,’ shrivels up before your eyes as you read these pages. If ‘On the Origin of Species’ was biology’s deadliest blow to super­naturalism, we may come to see ‘A Universe From Nothing’ as the equivalent from cosmology. The title means exactly what it says. And what it says is ­devastating.”

Philosopher of science David Albert wrote this review in the New York Times last weekHere is the last paragraph:

“…it ought to be mentioned, quite apart from the question of whether anything Krauss says turns out to be true or false, that the whole business of approaching the struggle with religion as if it were a card game, or a horse race, or some kind of battle of wits, just feels all wrong — or it does, at any rate, to me. When I was growing up, where I was growing up, there was a critique of religion according to which religion was cruel, and a lie, and a mechanism of enslavement, and something full of loathing and contempt for every­thing essentially human. Maybe that was true and maybe it wasn’t, but it had to do with important things — it had to do, that is, with history, and with suffering, and with the hope of a better world — and it seems like a pity, and more than a pity, and worse than a pity, with all that in the back of one’s head, to think that all that gets offered to us now, by guys like these, in books like this, is the pale, small, silly, nerdy accusation that religion is, I don’t know, dumb.”

I have a lot of sympathy for Albert’s perspective here, though I’d not heard of him until now. After a quick google search, I’m feeling more inclined to check out his book on quantum physics and experience.  Here is Albert offering a Bergsonian/process take on the history of time in physics (top video).
As for Krauss, his disparaging comments regarding the discipline of philosophy were so off key that Dan Dennett forced him to offer an apology of sorts in Scientific American. I would have a hard time myself defending the academic discipline of philosophy as it has come to exist in today’s techno-scientifically driven universities. What I do feel a need to defend is the ancient conception of philosophy as a way of life. Given my immersion in Schelling lately, what really interests me in this whole controversy is the relationship between philosophy and physics. How is Schelling’s Naturphilosophie relevant here? How would Schelling respond to this comment in Krauss’ recent “apology” piece?:

“When it comes to the real operational issues that govern our understanding of physical reality, ontological definitions of classical philosophers are, in my opinion, sterile.  Moreover, arguments based on authority, be it Aristotle, or Leibniz, are irrelevant.  In science, there are no authorities, and appeal to quotes from brilliant scholars who lived before we knew the Earth orbited the Sun, or that space can be curved, or that dark matter or dark energy exist do not generally inform our current understanding of nature.  Empirical explorations ultimately change our understanding of which questions are important and fruitful and which are not.”

Schelling would probably dismiss Krauss as a prekantian dogmatist who takes objective nature for granted without accounting for the subjective conditions of its appearance. Philosophically, Krauss has made very little progress in this respect. He has left himself, his own subjectivity, not to mention that of nature, out of his world-equation. It seems he is the one living before the Copernican Revolution (Kant’s).
Krauss has framed things this way: science progresses, while philosophy doesn’t, because science is based upon experimental trial in the real physical world. Fair enough. But the aim of philosophy was never to solve scientific problems; of course it isn’t going to “progress” in that respect. Philosophy is the love of eternal wisdom, of what cannot progress because it never changes. Put another way by Socrates (one of those ancient dudes too dumb to know about “dark matter”), philosophy is learning to die. A philosopher’s “progress” in loving wisdom and learning to die can only be measured one life at a time, and only by the one who is doing the dying. Its a personal matter, a concern to be contemplated only in the depths of one’s soul. On the other hand, as Max Planck famously put it, “science progresses funeral by funeral”; which is to say that science progresses generation at a time as individual scientists refusing to give up their cherished but stale paradigms slowly die off. Science is an impersonal process of knowledge accumulation. That is indeed what makes it special and uniquely valuable. It takes the epistemic weaknesses of finite personalities mostly out of the picture. But science doesn’t make the personal (or interpersonal) pursuit of wisdom in the face of death any less important, and certainly can never replace it with some impersonal techno-scientific methodology. Of course, I wouldn’t want to exempt philosophy from inquiring into impersonal matters. The universe has not only a personal, but an impersonal aspect, so philosophy certainly must include it in its cosmologizing. What is more impersonal than death, after all? At least, its impersonal until it happens to a loved one. Or until it happens to me. I’m really just trying to offer a helpful way of thinking about the difference between philosophy and science. As I said already, philosophy (at least as the ancients understood it) is a way of life. Science is a profession, a specialized discipline. As such it deserves high praise for all its accomplishments. But it doesn’t tell us anything about the good life, about how love wisdom despite death.
All that said, I am very interested in what Krauss has to say in his rebuttal to Albert about how quantum field theorists conceive of “nothing.” Krauss writes:

If all possibilities—all universes with all laws—can arise dynamically, and if anything that is not forbidden must arise, then this implies that both nothing and something must both exist, and we will of necessity find ourselves amidst something.  A universe like ours is, in this context, guaranteed to arise dynamically, and we are here because we could not ask the question if our universe weren’t here.   It is in this sense that I argued that the seemingly profound question of why there is something rather than nothing might be actually no more profound than asking why some flowers are red or some are blue.    I was surprised that this very claim was turned around by the reviewer as if it somehow invalidated this possible physical resolution of the something versus nothing conundrum.

Instead, sticking firm to the classical ontological definition of nothing as “the absence of anything”—whatever this means—so essential to theological, and some subset of philosophical intransigence, strikes me as essentially sterile, backward, useless and annoying.   If “something” is a physical quantity, to be determined by experiment, then so is ‘nothing’.  It may be that even an eternal multiverse in which all universes and laws of nature arise dynamically will still leave open some ‘why’ questions, and therefore never fully satisfy theologians and some philosophers.   But focusing on that issue and ignoring the remarkable progress we can make toward answering perhaps the most miraculous aspect of the something from nothing question—understanding why there is ‘stuff’ and not empty space, why there is space at all, and how both stuff and space and even the forces we measure could arise from no stuff and no space—is, in my opinion, impotent, and useless.

Krauss’ rejection of Leibniz’s famous question, “why is there something, rather than nothing?” reminds me a lot of Meillassoux in After Finitude. In the end, though, Krauss’ universe is made up of “stuff” and “space.” I don’t think its inconsequential that he fails to mention time (be sure to watch Albert’s video linked above on time if you’ve read this far). It is the false spatialization of time that first sent physics astray from Naturphilosophy. Time is intensity, not extension. Krauss can’t help but picture the pre-big bang quantum vacuum of “no stuff and no space” as some kind of stuff in space. What if we temporalize the question of the nature of the physical universe, relating to it not as a given thing or set of things, but as an evolving community of life, a growing, changing, ensouled creature (ensouled, as in not just stuff in space)? All the sudden, the big bang is no longer an event which happened back then, 13.7 billion years ago. Creation is what the universe is still doing. Plato already intuited the fundamental presupposition of physical cosmology in Timaeus (Krauss’ formulation is but an obscure footnote): something (the limited) and nothing (the unlimited) have always already been mixed. This mixing constitutes the life of the universe as a moving image of eternity.

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17 thoughts on “Reflections on Physicist Lawrence Krauss and the Consolations of Philosophy

  1. Here, here!

    Krauss is just a vehement case of what I see all the time. One way I explain it to people is that philosophers are specialists in constructing theories, and in using the formal methods required when one has little or no empirical evidence. Since much of fundamental quantum physics, astrophysics, and cosmology also lacks sufficient evidence, they require philosophical thinking to theorize well … but many reject it. Seriously, I see it more as a cultural product than the result of reasoned decision.

  2. The deficiencies of the rational as outlined by Gebser are never more exemplified than in the “krausscience” attitude, especially when there are far more ethical examples for such generation of concepts; Bohm and Krishnamurti….Jung and Pauli…….etc

    http://www.pacifica.edu/gems/slattery/atomarchetype.pdf

    Science is maturing, evolving, but still lapses into the Peur (Hillman) in its narcissism against the Senex projection onto philosophy.

  3. Whoa! First of all, philosophy DOES progress. Where do you think physics came from? Physics itself is part of philosophy and philosophy part of physics! Logic, math, empiricism…all major advances by philosophy & co. Let’s not play right into Krauss’ hand here. Philosophy isn’t exactly some wino novelty discipline!

    Secondly, science is not “impersonal”. Nor is even mathematics. Mathematics and logic are intimate parts of our beings. What you really mean here is that science is about coherency, experiment, and consistency rather than hysterical bias based on runaway emotion and prejudice. VERY different from being ‘impersonal’. If science is so impersonal then how is it that persons invented it? Seems quite a paradox. Where exactly did they get it from, the Objective fairy in the night? Just being blunt to make a point here.

    In actual philosophy there is as much logic, respect for mathematics, and coherence as in physics and in some cases maybe even moreso. Without those you simply can’t reason at all.

    We can blame, ironically, a piss poor educational philosophy for producing myopic intellectuals like Krauss. The Dewey decimal system was probably the beginning of the end…this screwy idea that ‘subjects’ are somehow separate. It’s ridiculous, especially seeing as how most disciplines..including science itself..are openly synthetic! (eg math, experiment, theorization, semiology, etc). In a way I pity Krauss and other victims of this ingrown system of education. I think Krauss is probably subtly aware of his own condition and this is part of the reason why he is so hostile and perturbed. But then again maybe he’s just a dick.

    Krauss, the myopic intellect, is naturally allergic to that mysterious discipline which is the appropriate antidote to his myopia and surely reminds him of it – philosophy. It’s telling that he picks on the trite ancient arguments that even most philosophers today would agree are nonsensical(wasn’t it Kant initially famous for dismissing silly metaphysics?!)….mondo strawman! It would be like me equating physics with Aristotle’s blunders on the topic. And can you imagine how Krauss would react to such a mischaracterization….! It proves his profound ignorance of philosophy and thus his insolence in criticizing something he understands so poorly. Granted , academic philosophy is usually such garbage that maybe it has tainted the very word to Krauss, but still.

    Let’s not forget that more than anything philosophy is about approaching life meaningfully and morally – something science can inform(eg studying conditions for happiness and health) but can never guide entirely on its own.

    For a final couple notes – let’s not let one man’s insolence paint an entire profession. He should be treated as Krauss, not as some representative of all physics. And lastly, you know some serious BS occurred when Dan Dennett ends up on your side.

    • Billy,

      I’ve grown so tired of defending philosophy against obvious BS that I tend now only to do so when paid to do it, e.g., teaching courses.

    • Mr. Dumpling,

      Thanks for your comment and spirited defense of philosophy. And thanks for giving me the opportunity to further clarify my response to Krauss’ scientistic nihilism.

      I would not want to play into his hands, but nor would I want to pit philosophy against science in a race it cannot win. When Krauss refers to the “progress” of science, he means progress in “figuring out how things work.” Figuring out how things work, the mechanics of particulars, is not the business of philosophy. Philosophy is concerned with the Life of the Thing Itself (or better, with the Unthinged/Unbedingte). Physical/Natural science is the study of the network of finite products, and as such it progresses by continually over-turning its own concept-objects as a result of the advance of experimental technologies. “Advance” here refers to the ratcheted sophistication characteristic of the history of technology.

      Philosophy is an inquiry into the infinite Whole, a Whole whose infinity leave it unfinished, unborn, never entirely present. This lack of complete presence leads some (like Krauss) to perceive the invisible Whole merely in terms of its visible parts. The Whole is easy to miss, since it does not directly appear to everyday consciousness. Without the inclusion of nighttime consciousness (e.g., the abyssal awareness cultivated by Schelling), the universe is understood to be a meaningless rush of particulate matter (and by tragic proximity, of life and mind) through the cold, dead peripheries of empty space.

      Physical science can operate quite independently of philosophy. It is only when it attempts to transgress its techno-empirical horizons by making metaphysical, ontological, theological, and/or cosmological claims (like those made by Krauss) that philosophy must step in to restore coherence to our human self-understanding.

      Science is ultimately just as wrapped up in the personal dimension of reality as philosophy. But unwittingly metaphysical scientists like Krauss will attempt to conceal the relation between their personality and their atheistic/materialistic pronouncements, claiming that the latter is a result of experiment and logic untainted by the stain of subjectivity. The philosopher cannot claim as much, since the scope of their inquiry concerns the meaning of their own death, and that of their loved ones. Subjectivity is understood, not as a taint upon knowledge (whether of a humanistic or a scientific sort), but as its ground and precondition.

      I agree with you regarding the poor education in the history of science and philosophy usually provided to science majors. It leads at best to disciplinary myopia, at worst to myopic hubris.

  4. This might seem out of place here, Matthew Segal, but vwatching your latest video on youtube brought to mind a review written by a professor on the difference between ancient and modern mathematics and it’s consequence for ‘experience’ (in the kantian sense) . I sincerely believe you would enjoy the review, and it isn’t too long. Please let me know if you’re interested. I could even try to post the review here(?)

    Best Regards,

    M.Cow

    • “Experience in the Kantian sense” is a little bit lazy. A better way would be to point out that we seek an alternative engagement with the world that does not understands itself through formal mathematical knowledge and language. Put simply, a critique of modernity from the standpoint of experience, understood in itself through modern mathematics.

  5. The problem with using Quantum mechanics as a basis for objectification (referring to your invocation of Quantum field theory) is the abstraction of the photon in the double slit experiment. Quantum mechanics assumes that photons, as particles, move through the slits. Quantum physicists contrive explanations for why the light is acting as a wave, rather than tallying it as support for the original assumptions of the Michelson-Morley experiment. The nature of the photon’s genesis explains its behavior, but this issue is being ignored in Quatum mechanics. The “entanglement” and “superposition” phenomena are not properties of sub-atomic particles nor are they “Quantum Field” effects. Spin “Entanglement” and “Superposition” happen as the rest of the universe recreates the photon it its space-time continuum.

    • The genesis of the photon, or any particle, is precisely what is at issue here. Particles of whatever sort are always abstractions–”concept-objects” (a phrase I picked up from Wolfgang Smith in Science and Myth)–artificially isolated from their cosmogenic context. As I discussed in my comment above to Mr. Dumpling, material science studies the products/particles, while philosophy studies the productivity Itself.

      • One could refer to the nature of an object’s being as its “objectivity”. So one could say Objectivity Oriented Ontology, or perhaps Ontological Objectivity and risk being confused with Rand’s Objectivism.

        Regardless of how the terminology shakes out, this topic is central to establishing a firmer scientific groundwork. At the point where one has defined the objects, it becomes a logical science. It is there that our sciences inherit all of the strengths and weaknesses of their objective abstractions, in whatever proportion of their potential and actual productivity. Ironically, most scientists blind themselves to this fact. So unfortunately, there are still a lot of scientific minds stuck in the Newtonian-objective world. Save revoking their scientist card, not a lot you can do for those who will not examine new observations and their finer empirical and theoretical implications.

        One can use the errors in the Newtonian abstractions, known to the Quantum mechanical thinkers, as an examples to move them to consider new paradigms. But it takes a powerful mind to imagine the next steps. Too bad it’s not an option to dose them all with powerful psychedelics to invoke experiences of the finer points of the starry sky and the limitations of our present understandings. To the extent that there are commonalities in discrete visionary experiences these visions can be empirically validated. But using them instead to inspire the discovery of reproducible objective qualia, akin to the double-slit phenomena, can move science with its own theoretical gears.

        In the same way we throw spin-entanglement at the Newtonian squatters, hyper-time shadows and comet-CME hyper-symmetry will be thrown in the face of the Copernican Astronomer and Quantum Mechanic. Like the shadows on Venus magnified by Galileo’s telescope, the church can not make them go away. And because of the applications and implications of the new discoveries, Heisenberg and Copernicus will fall… far more quickly than they… rose.

        John Bryant
        Venus Transit 2012

        big changes are coming
        here they come
        here they come

        -Laurie Anderson from “Strange Angels”

      • One could refer to the nature of an object’s being as its “objectivity”. So one could say Objectivity Oriented Ontology, or perhaps Ontological Objectivity and risk being confused with Rand’s Objectivism.

        Regardless of how the terminology shakes out, this topic is central to establishing a firmer scientific groundwork. At the point where one has defined the objects, it becomes a logical science. It is there that our sciences inherit all of the strengths and weaknesses of their objective abstractions, in whatever proportion of their potential and actual productivity. Ironically, most scientists blind themselves to this fact. So unfortunately, there are still a lot of scientific minds stuck in the Newtonian-objective world. Save revoking their scientist card, not a lot you can do for those who will not examine new observations and their finer empirical and theoretical implications.

        One can use the errors in the Newtonian abstractions, known to the Quantum mechanical thinkers, as examples to move them to consider new paradigms. But it takes a powerful mind to imagine the next steps. Too bad it’s not an option to dose them all with powerful psychedelics to invoke experiences of the finer points of the starry sky and the limitations of our present understandings. To the extent that there are commonalities in discrete visionary experiences these visions can be empirically validated. But using them instead to inspire the discovery of reproducible objective qualia, akin to the double-slit phenomena, can move science with its own theoretical gears.

        In the same way we throw spin-entanglement at the Newtonian squatters, hyper-time shadows and comet-CME hyper-symmetry will be thrown in the face of the Copernican Astronomer and Quantum Mechanic. Like the shadows on Venus magnified by Galileo’s telescope, the church can not make them go away. And because of the applications and implications of the new discoveries, Heisenberg and Copernicus will fall… far more quickly than they… rose.

        John Bryant
        Venus Transit 2012

        big changes are coming
        here they come
        here they come

        -Laurie Anderson from “Strange Angels”

  6. Pingback: Maverick Philosopher: Why Something Rather Than Nothing? The Debate Goes On « Tracing Knowledge … Στα ίχνη της Γνώσης

  7. I don’t think it is accurate to say that Krauss “attempts to explain cosmogenesis mechanistically.” The overthrow of classical quantum field theory, such as Dirac’s hole theory, ensures that modern physics and cosmology appeals to physicalism, not mechanism. I get what you are saying, though.

    Mostly, I just wanted to comment on the fact that Krauss has made himself look silly in this affair. I am not sure what the actual impetus was for him maligning philosophers. I suspect that there was some kind of envy involved: most of the physicists I went to grad school with get very agitated when they can’t follow philosophical discussions I set forth, while chatting over beer, which can be a little humiliating, being that physics and mathematics are typically touted as the having the best minds in their fields. In such settings, among new associates from the sciences who haven’t met science-trained philosophers, I will hear something dismissive out of frustration, like “well that’s just philosophy.” It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think many physicists (or philosophers) know what philosophers of science, properly speaking, do: to the philosopher, much of the work looks like physics because it’s so technical and mathematical; to the physicist, it looks like philosophy because there appears to be no imminent use in the findings (and the rigor, argumentative style, and painstakingly-made distinctions tend to annoy them, too). Amit Hagar’s “The Complexity of Noise” is a good example. I guess it just bothers me that scientists think philosophy is ONLY Leibniz, and it bothers me for two very big reasons: 1) they can’t see the recurring and sustained utility and validity of arguments of old, and 2) like Descartes and Leibniz in their times, modern philosophers of science are up to date on contemporary science, especially the particular philosopher’s field. (General relativity is an appeal to Parmenides, for goodness sake, and most physicists don’t even know it!) My department, for instance, has numerous grad students (and faculty) with PhDs in a science, the rest being ABD or MSc. Lisa Lloyd is a great example: trained by van Fraasen, David Lewis, and so on at Princeton in philosophy, but spent a whole year and summers working at Harvard with S. J. Gould (in his lab, actually), Mayr, and so forth.

    From an intellectual standpoint, I think Krauss’ book is (or should be) embarrassing to the physics community, and I say that as someone who has spent more than a decade studying physics. Telling us not to ask “why” (and what one means by a word, e.g., “nothing”) at some arbitrary point is pathetic, and can only over lead to some kind of dogmatism. The inquiry-directing “why” establishes the first footstep toward understanding. It’s what initiates any individual’s desire to be a scientist. To my mind, Krauss wants what he knows (or thinks he knows) to be the end-all, and the political component therein is that he wants to be the one who knows it, the undisputed authority, when, in reality, that is just the hubris. I am studying with Allen Wood this semester, and he began picking on Krauss one day, just a little, because he said that the psychology of the medieval Scholastics is thoroughly in swing in Krauss and other scientistic types who think science has all the answers. If we knew and understood everything, that would be great (though all out of jobs), but we don’t, and I find it repugnant when someone of significant intelligence and narrow-mindedness as Krauss insists that we do (i.e., he does), disparaging all others that are much more honest with themselves, etc.

    • Milliern, I agree with you that taking quantum theory seriously requires overcoming the mechanical ontology. I don’t doubt that Krauss gets quantum theory and takes it seriously. He just doesn’t seem to be aware of or interested in ontology. What could ontology be but something philosophers do while reclining on their armchairs? Who needs it?, he says. All that matters is what physicists have measured and described. Well, if the descriptions of natural science are to remain coherent after quantum theory and the collapse of classical physics, its going to need to articulate a new ontology. Contemporary physics needs philosophy now more than ever before. Without a fundamental ontology, scientific cosmology becomes a fools errand, because to be truly scientific about the universe would first require that we had conceptually unified all the special sciences into one universal System of Science (even if we admit that this system must remain open, pragmatically experimental, subject to revision and re-assemblage–I’m pushing for a radically empirical Whiteheadian system not a dialectically rational Hegelian system). Without ontology, there isn’t even a way to articulate that physics is the most fundamental of the sciences (ahead of chemistry, biology, psychology, etc.), which I do believe is something Krauss wants to argue for (I’d argue otherwise, on ontological grounds!). If quantum events are real features of nature, then the schema of the mechanical ontology (i.e., simply located material bodies externally related in flat space-time and moving according to finite masses and force relations regulated by eternal laws) is no longer tenable. If quantum theory really describes how nature works, then mechanism/external relations cannot possibly provide an exhaustive account of the becoming of nature/physis. The proper analogy for physis/the physical becomes organism, not mechanism. If the universe is more like an organism than a machine, it isn’t simply made from scratch; it doesn’t simply come from nothing; rather, it is born from an organism in the prior generation. This is how I take Lee Smolin’s evolutionary cosmology…

      You might say my criticism of Krauss has nothing to do with physics, but only to do with ontology.

      • I think it is safe to say that any scientist sneaks in their own ontology (and metaphysics), regardless of the science. I think that’s one thing that gets a scientist, like Krauss, into a state of agitation, because philosophy is always somehow prior to what they are doing.

        Actually, quantum mechanics could be mechanical. My thesis advisor has been working on this. A central issue is how to interpret quantum mechanics. One could easily go backwards from the QFT of Oppenheimer and Blackett to something more like a model championed by either Bohm or Dirac, one roadblock accepted, if the interpretation is right. There’s a book coming out next year that makes a major push toward the mechanical view, called “Discrete or Continuous?: The Quest for a Fundamental Length in Modern Physics.” The books arguments are very compelling, but I don’t subscribe. Anyway, the point is your that a mechanical view is untenable is too strong. Personally, I think simple mechanistic views are antiquated, but folks in academia seem to love them.

        I can’t remember what Smolin says about time in relation to cosmogenesis and something like Kant’s first antinomy. His view of the extreme contingent nature of law changes between one universe and the next’s coming into being suggests that the organismic view is not what he has in mind. You are probably projecting a better idea onto Smolin’s work than he actually has in mind. I have some rather complicated thoughts on Smolin and what would make his ideas more consistent, and they require more length to expound upon and explicate here, but I will say that something like a feedback loop to supplement his theory of natural selection seems necessary, or something like Meillassoux’s radical contingency.

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