A counter example?

Consider the lowly ice cube.  Take it out of the freezer and it melts.  Nothing spooky about that.  No?

Let me concede, at least for the sake of this argument, that melting is a purely physical process, saying this as an immaterialist with my fingers necessarily crossed.  Meltability, however, is another thing.

We all know that ice cubes are meltable, but does the ice cube have to ‘know’ that?  No, but it has to be that.  The ice cube in the deepest freeze it just as meltable as the one on the hot stove.  This is a universal property of ice.  Melting is a quintessential physical process, but does that make meltability a physical property?  Indeed, am I challenging the logic of calling anything a physical property?  Yes, it is an oxymoron.  There is a relevant distinction between process and property.  They are equally real, but not equally physical, not at all.   Standby for the semantics?

Melting is reducible to molecular motions.  Meltability is not.  Meltability is irreducibly holistic.  It has purely relational aspects that extend well beyond the ice cube per se, but which finally can belong only to the cube itself.

Could not the meltability of the ice cube simply be denoted by the range of physical circumstances under which it would melt?  The problem is that a given ice cube need never exhibit a property in order to have it.  Properties are generally counter-factual.  That is the latency/potency of properties.  A property is actual without being factual.  There is simply no conceivable construction within physics that could capture this crucial distinction; a distinction that is crucial to every existing entity.

I am hereby suggesting a very simple basis for a variety of panpsychism.  Brutish matter cannot be totally brutish and still be knowable.  Knowability has to entail a minimal reciprocity.  That reciprocity lies in the inherent latency of all matter, not in the pineal gland nor any other physical place or process.  I am simply verbalizing what animists know intuitively.

The physicist will object that her being able to predict the melting of any ice above a given temperature is a perfectly valid proxy for the property of meltability.  But meltability is not about physicists and their predictions.  It is the permanent condition of every ice cube's existence.  The physicist will persist.  By inspecting the the lattice equations of the ice crystal she can clearly see whether and how the ice will melt in any given circumstance.  What more more can I ask for?  What is happening is that the physicist is substituting her trained imagination for the latency of the ice.  That is what she is trained to do, but in the process she is attempting to substitue her anima for that of the ice.  Physics then is a highly sophisticated form of animism.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, excepting our failure to see it for what it is.  Because we do not see the animism in the heart of science, we fail to see it in nature.  The scientists unwittingly sequester it unto themselves for the detriment of all.

Not until scientists attempt to explain their own anima do they get into serious trouble.  Then they begin to stumble over themselves looking for it in all the wrong places.


| Contents |

rev. 1/26/00