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Fundamental Physics.

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If you think that we may someday reach a fundamental level of understanding.

I think we never will.

Not because we lack the resources, which we may or may not, but because there is no level that is ever fundamental.

The most fundamental understanding we already have today.

Or at least *I* have it. And it’s exactly what I keep talking about.

In the most simple terms it’s like this: There’s a phenomenon. Why did it occur? Ah, it seems to be causally linked to these phenomena. But why did they occur? Well, they seem to occur within this causal pattern with even more subtle phenomena. But why do those phenomena occur? And so on, and so on, and so on.

You either follow a never ending network of causality between ever new phenomenal patterns or you encounter at some point phenomena that don’t seem to be causally connected to anything and just happen. Once you encounter those you can come to the conclusion that they do, indeed happen for no reason or that they are causally connected in ways that you cannot fathom. But even assuming the latter you’re only back to chasing an infinite causality along an infinite causal network.

Well, if you assume that some phenomena happen for no reason then you can stop asking questions about a phenomenon’s past. The question “why” means “for what reason,” and if you assume that there are none then there is no “why.” If you assume that even if you can’t find any reason for the moment there might still be one you’re still stuck with why the infinite network of cause and effect exists. It could be caused by something but that just means there’s an even bigger network into which the infinite network is embedded. What about the whole thing of all causal connections, no matter how big it is? Well, if it’s *all* causal connections that there are then it cannot have a causal connection to anything outside it any more. So the whole entirety of phenomena and causal patterns between them has no cause.

And that’s the only fundamental metaphysical law you can be sure of. Everything altogether can’t have a reason because there’s nothing else by definition.

What else do you suggest would be a fundamental understanding? So we’ve discovered the hot, dense state that the Universe used to be in and we call it the Big Bang. Well, why did the Big Bang happen? Apparently our matter was caused by initial imbalances in the energy distribution of the Universe in its initial stages. Well, why did those imbalances exist? Even if you explain them through even earlier imbalances you haven’t really answered anything. Either you can infinitely regress in your causality or you can postulate at some point that this is just the Universe the way it was for no reason.

It can be fun to dig ever deeper, looking to see what else will turn up. But don’t expect ever to hit bottom! Or, if you hit bottom, you’re left with explaining why there’s a bottom there. There’s never any final answer that way.

The only final answers there are are: The principle of cause and effect exists for no reason, everything altogether exists for no reason, therefore its particular shape has no ultimate reason other than internal consistency if cause and effect sticks to the laws we’ve figured out. And that’s the way it is, the way it was, and the way it always will be, no matter how primitive or how technologically advanced we are.

Physics is interesting. It provides us with a certain amount of control over our environment and a reasonably good life. So, by all means, let’s keep exploring! But don’t expect it to ever provide you with salvation from existentialist uncertainty! Cosmologists who claim they could explain it all any day now are bullshitting you and maybe even themselves.

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Written by ulrichschreglmann

April 18, 2010 at 4:08 am

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