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The Aristotelian Soul, Atomism, Quantum Immortality, and God (Part 2)

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0



           A naturalistic form seems to be in line (depending on one’s interpretation) with Aristotle’s prime mover, as described in his book “Metaphysics.” On page 341 Aristotle states, “Now we must observe that neither the matter nor the form comes to be – i.e. the proximate matter and form. For everything that changes is something and is changed by something and into something. That by which it is changed is the primary mover; that which is changed, the matter, that into which it is changed, the form” (Ackrill, 1987)). While atoms and other sub-atomic substances may be prone to change, one can, at least theoretically, imagine a single atomic particle igniting a chain of events that led to the creation of the universe as we know it. This unchangeable first-cause appears to manifest itself as matter (though in the smallest form), yet because there is nothing it is like to be this first-particle, and from this god-particle all other things come; this must be the most primal form.

            All conceptions of Forms stem from a single universal action. There would exist no Form of tableness if tables never existed, and no tables would have ever existed if material never existed to create them, and so on until one reaches the first-cause which allowed for the potentiality of all other Forms to come into existence. The essence of all things is dependent on the existence of a first-cause which set into motion all other potentialities. It would appear that Forms were once formless, and ancient notions of them are either complex tautologies hinging on an individual’s subjective understanding of what constitutes a Form; or merely cognitive staples which allow conscious beings to recognize objects in the environment and associate one thing with another thing based on similar qualities and properties.

           As one examines the nature of the systematic unveiling of the universe (whether it is a Big Bang, merely the initial movement of a first-atomic particle, or the motion of a divine creator), one is left to wonder how many alternative ways the cosmos could have come to be or not be. Quantum mechanics lays the theoretical groundwork for considering such complex questions. However, it is important to note that “Quantum mechanics is not in the business of exact predictions, rather it deals in probabilities when describing the position or momentum of a given particle at a certain time. This inexactness is not because the theory is incomplete, but because those qualities of a particle are inherently unpredictable with any precision; or to put it another way, because there seems to be some degree of randomness at play in the universe” (Bellows, 2005). This quality is important to note about the universe as further thought experiments and theories related to the universe are developed.  In keeping with the theme of this paper, an examination of quantum suicide and immortality is required to analyze a potential certainty (or uncertainty) of forms, souls, and god(s).

           Quantum suicide is a theoretical thought experiment that follows the “Many-Worlds” hypothesis of quantum physics. The theory is that quantum suicide would lead to quantum immortality due to a constant universal divergence every time a suicide victim’s gun trigger is pulled. There is a simultaneous occurrence of death in one universe, and two parallel universes in which the individual infinitely is pulling the trigger, experiencing the emptiness of death, yet still surviving in parallel universes (Haley, 2008). The importance of this thought experiment lies in the fact that the universe is one of potentialities, as opposed to a limited, one-dimensional construct. On a broader philosophical scale, a notable opposing concept is fate.

            According to Cicero from "On divination" he states, “By ‘fate’, I mean what the Greeks call heimarmenê – an ordering and sequence of causes, since it is the connection of cause to cause which out of itself produces anything. … Consequently nothing has happened which was not going to be, and likewise nothing is going to be of which nature does not contain causes working to bring that very thing about. This makes it intelligible that fate should be, not the ‘fate’ of superstition, but that of physics, an everlasting cause of things – why past things happened, why present things are now happening, and why future things will be" (Seddon, 2004). As exemplified by this quote, philosophy of fate, and by extension other similar concepts such as predestination and causal determinism, is a very linear and virtually unalterable sequence of chained events. While Cicero was of the belief that this sequence of events was brought about by nature, other ideologies hold that there are supernatural powers (deities, divine creators, etc.) that are responsible for all occurrences. The inescapability from one’s destiny in a linear system such as this is where the differences between fate and an open, nonlinear system, as proposed in the quantum suicide thought experience, are greatest.

           Returning to the theoretical concepts provided in the quantum suicide experiment, it is important to acknowledge that the divergence of space and time is what leads to the idea that all abstract concepts and material certainties may continue (or cease) to exist in alternative, parallel universes; though these qualities may cease to exist (or cease to be accepted/followed/etc.) in our universe. The idea proposed is that when a man is engaged in the experiment, so are all of his cognitions. In scenarios where he dies, so does his cognitive component. In alternative scenarios where he survives the experiment, so do his cognitions. The importance of this quality is if this experiment was to occur on a larger scale. If all individuals on the planet were constantly diverging in and out of parallel universes, then so also do notions of god, Forms, fate, and various other philosophical ideas.

          Now, if the quantum suicide experiment is considered with other issues on the hypothetical table; the potential effects can be devastating to our individual opinions. For example, if the belief (or non-belief) in god is the determining factor that causes a quantum divergence (rather than death or life), it could be said that individuals will constantly be diverging into multiple parallel universes where they either continue believing in god, or continue without a belief in god. If one considers religious zealotry and the first atomic particle, it is as worthy of worship as any other deities that have been created, or seemingly existed infinitely; though in retrospect their worship is folly if they may continuously exist in one universe and never once existed in another. The very conception of god (or some alternative concept with similar qualities) is one that may only hinge on the temporal moment where one may live in awareness of such an entity, and in a moment of disbelief diverge into another parallel universe where this deity has never existed (though, it must be replaced by some other explanation); yet simultaneously also branch into another where the god once doubted is now resolute and undeniable, at least for a time, until another series of events leads to a moment of doubt and denial.

            The “quantum immortal” then would be a substance that is manifested through physical means, yet maintains simulated incorporeal qualities, which delude conscious beings into false, hallucinogenic beliefs. Atoms and sub-atomic particles could fill this role, in that physical processes bring them about; yet they can be viewed as the first-cause of the universe, making an atom inadvertently a creator. Though an atom is a physical construct, human nature would in time lead to an idolization and glorification of this physical quality to a degree where it would be perceived as beyond the physical realm, wherein the incorporeal qualities attributed to the atom are manufactured by human consciousness. In order to be immortal, the first atom must constantly be revitalized in parallel universes upon decomposition.

            It is undeniable that many concepts considered throughout this article are merely meant to be a thought experiment. However, they are of importance as one continues to philosophize and consider both ancient philosophical theories, as well as modern and future endeavors into the realm of knowledge and understanding. Frequently, the general populace appears to fall victim to a sheepish mentality, which creates stagnation in the field of thought and knowledge. For millennia individuals have clung fervently to religious doctrine and folk psychological ideals frequently with minimal questioning. In the least, ancient philosophers deserve respect for their opinions and ideas; and by extension modern philosophy must consistently build on their concepts and other ideas so as to pursue the ultimate goal of knowledge.



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