Potency. The Force of Existence
Existence is very far from being a brute, objective fact. Existence is irreducibly bound up with other concepts such as presence, potentiality and possibility and is also irreducibly relational. The opposing view is that existence is definable just in terms of interacting particles moving in space. We have a choice between conceptual and physical existence.
We have good reason to suspect that physical reality is only an abstraction from a deeper conceptual reality. The universe is more conceptual than mechanical. It is a mental construct. The ground of reality is not space-time, but rather a cosmic mental potency of which we are the actualizers/realizers. This is the deeper unified reality toward which an objectifying physics strives in vain. This misconception of physics is most evident when it strives to make sense of our own minds.
Physics has a tenuous grip on reality. It deals in superficial detail with a very abstract model of existence. The technological successes of physics too easily blind us to its obvious shortcomings. We mistake the model for the reality.
I hasten to point out that phenomena in the quantum realm have led physicists to adopt the formalism of a probability space, called Hilbert space. This might be considered a step in the right direction, a step toward a more robust treatment of existence. This could be viewed as an attempt by physicists to construct a more intensional (sic) version of reality, in an attempt to bridge Descartes divide between the extensional and intentional.
Simply adding fields of higher internal dimension along with probabilistic measures and non-local interactions does not actually get us closer to anything intensional, much less intentional.
For an object just to exist, it has to maintain a state of potentiality. It has to maintain its essential properties, and this is not just a matter of epistemology. This is an ontological necessity. An acorn is not an acorn if is not also a potential oak. If we took a DNA sample from an acorn we could determine that it was an oak seed. We could say that if it were properly planted it would turn into an oak tree. Right there we have a ‘counterfactual’ statement. It is this innocuous step that poses the problem for physics.
The electric force is the gradient of the electric potential, which is the energy required to move an electron to a given point. No mystery there, or is there? Where does the epistemology end and the ontology begin? Perhaps even with Faraday we have inadvertently bridged the Cartesian divide to a more robust, intensional concept of existence. If the acorn were to fall it would hit Newton on the head with the force of its potential energy become kinetic, and then become an oak, maybe.
We do not fully describe the acorn’s existence without reference to its various potentialities. Physics and biology can explain transformations after the fact, but that is epistemology not ontology. I have to employ my imagination to understand the full ontic situation of the acorn. Physics can aid my imagination, but hardly supplant it. Physics alone is seriously lacking in the existential dimension. The factuals cannot capture the counterfactuals essential to existence. My not so modest but sustainable claim is that ultimately it is the cosmic mind that maintains the essential potency of existence. We exist in the cosmic Imaginarium.
The meaningful potency of reality is the essence of existence. Physics abstracts away from that essence and thereby abstracts itself away from reality, not toward it, as some folks would have us think.
- | Contents |