Music of the Spheres

Metaphysical Musings

Location: United States

I am a student of science and metaphysics and a practicing trial lawyer.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Time and Space are Real in Themselves


I. The Nature of Reality

The primary question presented here is whether reality consists ultimately of the materially objective, the non-materially objective, the subjective, or some combination of these? This is the most fundamental question facing mankind, yet it is one all too easily over-elaborated. Sometimes, the simplest explanations are the best.

Matter is that which occupies space. That is, all material things are geometric objects. Presumably, that which is claimed to be non-material does not occupy space. We should, therefore, ask if such an entity can move. A thing that moves passes from one location in space to another. That which has only location without occupying space is called a point.[1] However, a point cannot exist independently of space, because a thing cannot exist as location and nothing else. For example, if I ask a woodsman to remove the top of a tree, but I tell him I want no part of the tree that is not the top, he could never satisfy me. No matter how small the piece he provides, it will always include some part of the tree that is not the top, for a spatial point can only exist as part of the spatial intervals it determines. It cannot exist by itself.

A similar statement may be made regarding time. However, time differs from space in that it is not possible to “occupy time,” for the reason that time has but one dimension. Time is rectilinear—extensive but not expansive. Further, time extends in only one direction, the future. Memory allows us to contemplate intervals from the past but does not allow us to reverse time and actually re-live them. We may speak of points in time, just as we may speak of points in space.[2] For example, noon is a point in time. As a point, the duration of noon is naught, for a point in the temporal line, like a point in any other line, has no extension. One may well ask, if noon has no duration, in what sense does it exist? The answer, of course, is that noon can only exist as the origin or terminus of intervals extending before and after it. Like the top of a tree, noon cannot exist independently. The same may be said of the temporal point we call Now, which is the demarcation between the potential and the actual.

If a spatial point cannot exist independently, a non-material being cannot be a spatial point. As a consequence, such a being can have no location in space and therefore cannot possibly move. However, can a non-material being exist only in time without occupying space? That is, can it exist purely as a temporal extension? This asks if time can exist without space. It requires little reflection to realize that if a thing has no location in space and cannot move, it exists in a realm where nothing ever happens. To say that “nothing ever happens” is really to say that time is excluded. Therefore, there is no time without space.[3]

One might be tempted to introduce the concept of thought to refute this statement, for we experience thought as something purely temporal. It seems to us that one thought may precede or follow another but may not lie to the left or to the right of another. However, is thought really non-material or is this experience a kind of illusion? Medical studies and even ordinary experience have disclosed that thought originates in the brain. Surgical practice has revealed that thought is associated with physical interactions in the brain. When these interactions are interrupted, thought is interrupted. Therefore—although we cannot declare it as a logical certainty--we are fully justified in presuming that the brain produces thought. If this is so, it must be that what we experience as thought is objectively spatio-temporal.[4] Here, I must hasten to point out that what we call energy is really material, since it occupies space. Indeed, energy is simply a reference to motion or change itself. To put it another way, energy requires both time and space, and thought is a kind of energy. From this we are justified in believing that a thing that does not occupy space cannot think.

To say that a thing does not occupy space and does not move or think is simply to say that it is nothing at all. Non-material beings of any sort may thus be properly excluded from reality.[5]

We are now faced with a more formidable question: is the material world only a creation of the mind? One must admit at the outset that, if this were the case, time and space could not exist as objective realities and would be no more than idiosyncrasies of human thought. They would possess a kind of truth within the framework of the human condition, but not real truth. Only in this sense, could time and space be considered a priori in such a context. In fact, this idea that the material world exists only in the mind finds its origin in the notion that time and space are freely created by the mind in order to make sense of a world that would be completely incomprehensible if experienced as it really is. This view, however, overlooks the fact that the mind (really the brain) is not concerned with sensibility as an end in itself but rather with its own survival and that of the body that it occupies[6]. Indeed, the brain could have evolved by natural selection for no other reason. Of course, if time and space are not real in themselves, there is no beginning, no end, no birth, no life or death. I would submit that no one really believes that death is illusory, for everyone struggles to survive.

In this regard, a very important consideration must be borne in mind. If time and space are not real, nothing can be alive, for life itself is spatio-temporal—that is, energetic and mechanistic. Therefore, one may properly ask, how can we create time and space in our consciousness if we cannot be alive without space and time in the first place? One may answer that the self does not belong to the realm of space and time, that the body is imagined and death illusory. However, this explanation is unsatisfactory, because, even if thought could be divorced from the body and thus rendered non-spatial, it still could not possibly exist without time. In other words, a thinking non-material entity would have to be purely temporal, but, as we have already observed, time cannot exist independently of space.

Of course, it cannot be denied that the brain creates unique experiences from sensory information. Receiving inputs from organs sensitive to various aspects of the environment, the brain synthesizes the unique experiences of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, as well as the sensations of hot and cold. It is meaningless to say that these sensory experiences do not depict the world “as it really is.” The actual presence of a thing in time and space can only be determined by sensitivity to some aspect of its existence. The brain cannot instantaneously understand every conceivable aspect of a thing it perceives—nor does it need to. For purposes of survival, it is enough to locate what is perceived and to gauge its temporal progression. The brain is also sensitive to energy in the form of heat, for the body requires an energetic environment of a certain kind in order to survive.

The fly with its multi-segmented eyes sees a far different world from the one seen through our eyes. What exactly he sees we cannot hope to understand, but we do know that both our sensory experiences and those of the fly are joined by common metrical principles and by a common appreciation of energy. When we try to swat the fly, he dashes off just in time. He moves from the cold night air to the light and warmth of a glowing lantern, just as we seek comfort in home and hearth.

The bat is largely insensitive to light[7] but experiences a sensation induced by sensitivity to its own reflected sounds. If the bat could talk, he could not explain this sensation any more than we could explain to a blind man what it means to see. Both experiences are unique. The fact remains, however, that the bat’s sensation, whatever it may be, succeeds in preserving his life by locating insects spatially and temporally so that he may devour them.

The fly and the bat, like us, feel the pulse of the World, its spaces, its objects and its energy. These are all real. One may say that reality is music or that it is mathematics. Both statements are true in their own way. The World is the interaction of space and time. It is spatial in the sense that, at any instant of time, it consists of entities with both location and expanse. It is temporal in the sense that these entities are transitory.

Another question remains. We are all aware that our survival, as well as that of other animals, depends, to a great extent, upon the appreciation of another fundamental notion. I refer to causation. The fly somehow knows what the result will be if he remains motionless when we try to swat him, just as we know what will happen to us if we do not move from the path of a speeding train. The question is: from this kind of experience can we be assured of the truth of the general statement, “all things have a cause?” This brings into focus the fact that there are two kinds of knowledge—that derived from logical necessity and that derived from experience. The question has been variously placed in either category or somewhere in between. What has not been recognized is the inherent ambiguity of the question itself.

What do we mean when we say, “all things?” Do we mean every individual thing that comprises the whole or reality, or do we mean reality taken as a whole—the World, the Universe? The fact that the World is uncaused is easily demonstrated logically.

We start with two possibilities: either causation is valid or it is not. If it is not, the World will be uncaused, simply because, in that case, nothing will have a cause. On the other hand, if causation is valid, the following argument applies.

When we speak of the Universe or the World, we must mean the totality of existence—in other words Everything. Plainly stated, Everything itself cannot have been caused, simply because, by definition, nothing lies outside of it to cause it. Its very all-inclusiveness insures that it must have always existed. Further, it must follow that if anything at all exists, Everything must exist, since there will always be a totality of anything that exists. This may be One, Infinity or anything in between. If Everything is finite, nothing lies outside of it. If it is infinite, the very concept of Nothing is disallowed. In either case, Everything—the Universe, the World—must be uncaused and everlasting. From this it follows that anything that exists must have always existed in one form or another. This means that although there may be any number of individual things in the World, the underlying physical reality that constitutes all such things cannot be increased or decreased. Therefore, happening or change, with respect to individual things, means only the transitions from one form of matter to another. Mass, energy, mass/energy, waves, fields, subatomic particles, strings, etc. are all matter, in the sense that they are spatio-temporal concepts.[8]

The only perfection is the World itself. By this I mean that its underlying constitution cannot be increased, not that it must possess every attribute found locally. For example, the fact that we are conscious does not mean that the world is a conscious entity. Any form that the World may take locally is imperfect because it is transitory. Abstract nouns are only idiosyncrasies of language when they intend perfection of local forms. One may further observe that what has been called the ontological proof of God’s existence is, in the final analysis, nothing more than an argument for the World’s perfection—that is, only a restatement of the conclusion that nothing can be greater than Everything.[9]

However, does the World possess a principle of integrity apart from the fact that it is the totality of existence? To put it another way: is the underlying physical reality, itself-as-a-whole, limitlessly variable or does it possess a constant underlying form? The World must be a geometric object, since there is no other meaning one may attach to material reality. If the World is continuously in unlimited transition, it ultimately has no essence and can be anything at all. In other words, it would have no principle of Being and would be pure Becoming. For anything to exist, it must exist as something (an entity of a definite character). If we say the World never was, never is and never will be anything in particular, we are making a statement of the absurd. A little reflection will reveal that, for the World to be what it is, it must retain a unique geometry even as it changes (a topology).[10] The sum of all physical objects taken at any instant of time may be regarded spatially as the actual topography of the World at that temporal point. Thus viewed, all universal topographies would be homeomorphic at any instant of time[11]. As we have already observed, however, points of time cannot exist independently, so that the history of the World can only be taken in temporal intervals within which spatial transformation is continuous. This is the meaning of saying the World is energetic or in continuous transition. The World is like a sheet of paper that can be folded, bent or spindled into innumerable shapes yet can always be returned to its original form. If we tear a hole in the paper, this no longer remains the case. However, nothing comparable to tearing a hole in the paper can happen to the World, for its underlying form is unchanging.

We may say, therefore, that the possible is that which is consistent with the topology of the World, and that which is inconsistent is impossible. To put it another way, there is a kind of World Geometry that establishes the limits of all happening. What are called laws of nature are only reflections of the truth of this statement. This does not mean, however, that all happening is pre-ordained; for there are innumerable happenings allowed, but not compelled, by the topology of the World. This means that happening is not necessarily bound up in cause and effect and that universal inevitability is not necessitated logically. Indeed, experience tells us that freedom abounds in the World. For example, if we jump off a chair, we are not free to fall to the ceiling; yet there is an enormous range of human activity consonant with the laws of gravitation.

That the World is uncaused may be regarded as logical or analytic truth. This simply means that it is a kind of tautology. It is like declaring that a married woman has a husband. Having a husband is included, by definition, in the expression, “wife,” just as being uncaused is included, by definition, in the expression, “Everything” (the World). The same statement may not be made of the individual things that comprise the World at any instant of time--what we have called geometric objects. Whether any such object is caused is purely a matter of experience. A bit of reflection will reveal that the notion of causation in this context is based entirely upon perceived predictability. It is no accident that predictability is the aspect of causation which is of use in the struggle for survival. In this arena, we must substitute what is certain with what is justified by experience. Nor can we rely upon the notion that all individual things must have a cause, for this is not compelled by logic. More importantly, experience itself does not justify the conclusion that all things are predictable.

It is useful to return to a consideration of the temporal point called “Now.” As we have already observed, this point, like any other point in time, has no duration and only serves to determine intervals before and after it. “Now,” however, is a point of a very special sort, for it constitutes both the terminus of the past and the origin of the future. One can hardly disagree that all events in the past are fully determined and immutable. This simply means that there is only one history of the world in the past. However, can we make the same statement about the future? In other words, does the course of time move into the future with some freedom through a range of allowable events or is its course unswervingly fixed by cause and effect? Is Now a crossroads or just an arbitrary location on the same unrelenting path?

Ordinary experience would indicate that, at every Now, there are a certain number of possible subsequent events. When that number is more than one, none of the events is predetermined. This, of course, does not mean that all such events are equally likely to occur. There exists a range of probabilities. Some possible events are more likely than others. It is only when the number of possible subsequent events is one, that the resulting occurrence can be said to be predetermined. Therefore, ordinary judgment holds that future events are not necessarily fully predictable but can, in some cases, only be estimated on the basis of probability. Because, according to this view, there is a range of free happening,[12] all things do not have fixed causes except when viewed in retrospect.

Historically, the opposition to this ordinary intuition originated in the 17th Century with Sir Isaac Newton and remained in vogue until the mid 20th Century. The astounding clarity and elegance of the laws of gravitation seemed to demonstrate that if one knew the position and velocity, at any point in time, of all material particles[13] in the universe, together with the mathematical laws describing their interactions, one could determine the subsequent history of the universe to a high degree of accuracy. This, of course, suggested that there was really no difference between the past and future; since, in this analysis, immutable causal forces operated ubiquitously throughout the universe and through all of time--past, present and future.

One might object to this conclusion by insisting that experience tells us that such things as the weather, and certainly human actions, cannot be predicted with the same precision as the movements of the celestial bodies. This, however, is usually answered by the argument that, because an event is unexpected or even surprising, does not mean that it was not compelled by a prior cause; our surprise, the argument goes, derives only from our ignorance of all the necessary antecedent conditions.

However, this last explanation only raises a more perplexing question--why do events move only from the past to the future? In other words, why is there an Arrow of Time? Mathematical equations--insofar as they purport to predict future events compelled by natural laws--are reversible, yet the events themselves are not. Because it cannot be explained by natural law, the Arrow of Time can only be an indication of the absence of law. To put it even more plainly, free action, even if limited, must be responsible for the Arrow of Time. If every Now were followed by only one possible event, nothing would be created, only incessantly recycled. When, in the current of time, there are both free and compelled events, the future becomes a new creation that can never return to what it was. Even causally-compelled events are irreversible, for they are moved past the present only because they are enmeshed in the fabric of the uncertain. Logic, therefore, supports the ordinary intuition of predictability.

I have taken pains to explain the principles of freedom and innovation, for a very good reason. Many who still cling to the deterministic view have taken the position that all human activity is preordained by biochemical factors just as positive as the laws of gravitation. Of course, if people did not have free will, they would not be responsible for their actions, and morality would be meaningless. However, because we have demonstrated that determinism is insupportable (and therefore free will allowed), we may now proceed with an inquiry into the meaning of good and evil.

II. The Nature of Morality

Man is a violent territorial primate of very high intelligence. Like the chimpanzee, he is subject to sexual passions throughout the year. Like the bonobo, his sexual activities are not necessarily directed to adults of the opposite sex.[14] He is subject to violent outbursts and irrational behavior yet is also capable of great art and deep philosophical thought. Indeed, he has dominated all other animals and has transformed the earth. Man is a bundle of contradictions. He is, at the same time, kind and cruel, productive and destructive, loving and hateful, selfish and generous, callous and empathic, gentle and barbarous, self-sacrificing and self-centered--while, through it all, maintaining some sense of right and wrong. One may well throw up his hands and declare that the formulation of a coherent ethics is impossible for such a perplexing creature. However, we may enjoy some success in this endeavor if we first inquire into the primal origins of the intuition of right and wrong.

It can hardly be denied that all morality derives from the fact that man is a social animal. But, what do we mean by society? To put it more precisely, what exactly is the consciousness of the group that renders it social? Clearly it is the sense of the Us, together with the concomitant sense of the Them. The Us is defined as those deserving of kindness, productivity, love, generosity, empathy, gentleness and self-sacrifice. The Them are those who must be regarded with suspicion as potential or actual threats. By definition, the Them deserve only cruelty, destruction, hate, selfishness, callousness and barbarism and must always be viewed in the light of self-interest, for they have no inherent value. If anyone thinks these are overstatements, he need only consider the sordid history of our species. For example, during the last world war, we so thoroughly dehumanized the Japanese that any form of cruelty was acceptable, including the incineration of hundreds of thousands of women and children. Similarly, the Japanese systematically terror-bombed civilian populations and perpetrated unspeakable atrocities upon prisoners of war and innocent civilians.

However, the sense of Us and Them need not be based on nationality alone. It may originate from such things as tribal loyalty, race, ethnicity, culture, language, religion, social class, political persuasion, or even membership in a street gang. This does not necessarily mean that diverse groups within a nation are constantly at each other’s throats. It does mean, however, that such groups, at the very least, regard each other with suspicion and prejudice, and that the possibility of violent confrontation is always present. When violence does erupt, common morality is forgotten and those regarded as Them are brutalized and murdered without the slightest regret. Recent events in Rwanda and the Balkans have made this all too clear.

It is interesting to note that this same bi-polar morality is found in other higher primates[15]. The behavior of chimpanzees is particularly instructive. They dwell in social groups ruled by a dominant male. Within the group, they are quite kind and considerate. If a mother dies, other adults may care for her children as their own. These animals spend hours carefully grooming one another. They aid and comfort the sick and mourn deeply if a member of the group dies. In other words, they are good to the Us. On the other hand, if a foreign chimp should wander into their territory, he is pounced upon savagely and then beaten and dismembered in the most appalling manner; for he is Them, who deserve only hatred and cruelty. Marauding bands of male chimpanzees have even been known to attack, maim and kill outsiders.[16]

However, the fundamental moral intuition does not consist only of norms of the Us and norms of the Them. Morality within a given group (Us) is actually of three different types: the morality of the powerful, the morality of the powerless (common morality) and religious morality.

It is notable that chimpanzee societal groups are ruled by a male of great strength and courage who dominates all other males and thereby gains sexual control of the females. He rises to this status by physical force and maintains it the same way. His primary responsibility is to provide security for the group. Similarly, history teaches that human societies have been largely ruled by a series of male autocrats—tribal leaders, kings, emperors, dictators and the like—who secured and maintained their power in the same manner.[17]

The values of the all-powerful leader are not those of the ordinary person. His ruthless morality may be stated plainly as: whatever preserves his power is right and all else is wrong. This attitude finds a kind of justification in natural selection. The strongest individuals are those most likely to survive. Females who mate with the most powerful males are more likely to produce survivable offspring. Further, a society ruled by a strong and ruthless leader is more likely to prevail over competing societies. However, as we shall see, this brand of ethics cannot claim primacy. Indeed, the tide of history has been against it, for it offends basic human sensibilities.

We have already largely described the morality of the powerless, for it is really the expression of the consciousness of the Us. It may be called common morality and is adequately described by the Golden Rule: treat others as you would have them treat you.[18] It too finds a justification in natural selection. Certainly, if the members of a social group did not help and support one another, the society itself would collapse from within. Love arose in this context. Because a man loves his wife and children, he will provide for them and defend them to the death. Because a woman loves her children she will nurture and protect them and will likewise aid and comfort her husband because she loves him in return. The same applies to all who love one another. Thus, love promotes the survival of the group and of the individuals who comprise it. One may say that love, as applied to the Us, was naturally selected the same as was hate, as applied to the Them.

It should be noticed that common morality has a very important feature. In a certain sense, it regards all within its sphere as equals. In this respect, it differs fundamentally from the morality of the powerful. An all-powerful ruler treats his subjects as he pleases and never bothers to consider if he would wish to be treated the same way himself. In other words, he considers himself vastly superior to those he rules and believes he is not subject to common morality. Indeed, he fancies himself subject to nothing and no one. Typically, in societies ruled by absolute monarchs, the ordinary people also regard their rulers as superior beings exempt from common morality. In many cases, monarchs professed to follow the general morality but completely disregarded it in practice.

Historically, absolute monarchy has declined in the face of popular uprisings demanding equality. Often, however, this institution has been replaced by dictatorships that are just as oppressive and morally offensive. It might seem, therefore, that democracy and socialism represent the flowering of common morality. As we shall see, however, this is not always the case.

A morality based upon majority rule is not really common morality. The institution of slavery in the United States provides a clear example. The black slaves in America constituted a small minority of the population; so that, even if they had the right to vote (which, of course, they did not), the majority could still impose its will upon them. Indeed, until fairly recent times, a majority of the U.S. population would have voted to continue the oppression of the blacks. Abraham Lincoln correctly focused the issue as one of common morality, when he stated, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” This standard has been incorporated into American constitutional law as a concept of fundamental fairness impervious to the will of the majority.[19]

Socialism advocates the distribution of wealth according to need. Implicit in this, is another notion of morality that defines the good as that which provides the most happiness to the greatest number. However, one may well ask: If oppressing a small minority gives the most happiness the greatest number, would it be consonant with common morality? The answer is obvious; yet, the socialistic outlook raises an even more basic question: Does the moral notion of equality imply that all people are equally good and deserving? This, in turn, raises the idea of justice--an expression that simply means giving everyone his due. If all persons were equally good and deserving, the notion of justice would never arise and there would be no need for laws and government—that is, coercive institutions. In fact, if everyone were good, the concept of the good itself would be equally unnecessary and could not have arisen by differentiation (which, of course, is the only process of definition and understanding). In other words, we could have no understanding of good without an understanding evil, and vice versa.

When we say a good man is one who treats everyone as he would wish to be treated himself, this implies that there are some who do not behave in this way and are therefore evil. These are the people who consider only their own needs and desires and care nothing about others. Typically, people are evil not so much because of economic deprivation, social injustice or genetic defect but simply because they chose to devalue others. Fortunately, people of this sort cannot constitute an overwhelming majority; for, if they did, society would disintegrate. Nonetheless, the evil can constitute a substantial portion of the population.

If a person murders, rapes, robs, steals, or defrauds—that is, does not contribute to a society but victimizes it instead—what is his worth to the society? It is not true to say that he is worth nothing. The truth, rather, is that he is worth less than nothing--simply because, if he were removed, society would enjoy a net gain. Should one really be concerned whether or not such a person shares happiness with other members of the society? Clearly, justice does not require it. Therefore, socialism is unjust to the extent that it requires that the evil (particularly when they constitute a sizable part of the population) are entitled to share equally in happiness with the good—or, at least, common morality would so dictate.

It cannot be denied, however, that both democracy and socialism have made enormous contributions to mankind. Democratic governments are superior to autocratic regimes, because—at least, to a very significant degree—they distribute power among the general population. In this respect, democracies tend to foster general morality; for unless power is concentrated in the hands of a few, the morality of the powerful cannot thrive. Socialism seeks to eliminate poverty and economic exploitation and to provide for the helpless and infirm. In this respect, it is itself a profound expression of common morality. More importantly, socialistic governments tend to reduce the concentration of wealth in a dominant social class. Certainly to be very rich is to possess a kind of power. Persons of great wealth tend to use power to maintain or increase their own wealth, even though ordinary persons may suffer as a result. In other words, the very rich subscribe to the morality of the powerful. Therefore, the reduction of wealth to reasonable levels has the beneficial effect of attenuating these unconscionable inclinations and thereby encouraging common morality.

Because almost all religions, in one way or another, incorporate the Golden Rule[20] one may feel a strong inclination to conclude that religion (or, more particularly, a belief in a divine being or beings) is necessary for common morality. However, nothing could be further from the truth, for there is actually a fundamental dissonance between the two. That is to say, if any all-powerful supernatural being exists, he apparently does not consider himself subject to common morality. To put it even more bluntly, if there is a God, He must be, by the measure of common morality, quite nasty indeed. We live in a world where the innocent are punished and the guilty rewarded, where the unworthy scorn the meritorious, a world where natural disasters indiscriminately kill and maim, a world of incessant warfare with all the horror that it entails, a world where millions of innocents were systematically murdered simply because they were Jewish. If an all-powerful being causes these things, or even allows them when He is able to prevent them, he does not follow the Golden Rule, for He would not wish these things for Himself unless he were totally irrational. Therefore, common morality is purely human and not divine—that is, not specifically religious.

Religion seeks to construct a morality along the lines of: good is that which pleases God and evil that which displeases him. It justifies common morality on the basis that it is pleases the Almighty, not that it gives cohesion to society[21]. One may properly ask: if common morality is so pleasing to God, why does He not follow it Himself? The answer usually provided is that it pleases God for mankind to follow the Golden Rule, but He Himself follows some higher morality inaccessible to mere humans. However, this view is nothing more than a restatement of the morality of the powerful. As a king can do as he pleases, so God, as an even higher authority, can certainly do the same. In a very real sense, religion advances the notion of an incomprehensible morality of the all-powerful. Therefore, one may properly object that religious morality is not positive, because it depends entirely upon the wishes of one not bound by moral law—or by any law at all, for that matter.

In the light of these conclusions, it is not surprising that such things as the torture and murder of so-called witches and heretics, the slaughter of innocent non-believers, the spreading of religion by the sword, and even the unspeakable acts of terror and murder committed by latter-day religious fanatics, were all justified as the will of God. Similarly, human sacrifice, as practiced by the ancient Aztecs and Druids, was believed to be necessary to placate the gods. Thus, any atrocity is justifiable on the theory that it pleases a divine being. It is for this reason that religious morality, like the morality of the powerful, cannot claim primacy over common morality.

A very difficult question remains: Can common morality be compatible with the savage morality applied to the Them? In other words, how can the prime morality so deeply rooted in human sensibility condone the intuition of the outsider in all its cruelty? This is a crucial question facing all of mankind.

All of us sense, on some level, that these opposing moralities should not coexist. To feel otherwise would not be human. We have enjoyed considerable success in diminishing the morality of the powerful but have made little or no progress in eradicating the scourge of outsider hatred. Until we can convince ourselves that the Us includes all the peoples of the world regardless of their differences and that all are entitled to the protections of common morality, we cannot call ourselves moral beings and will, in the end, be forced to conclude that we are ruthless savages unworthy of our rational faculties.


[1] It should be noted that, in relativistic terms, location in either time or space is imperfect, because it depends on the state of motion of the observer. However, happening is still viewed as continuous. That is, every linear extension (spatial or temporal) is viewed as infinitely divisible. Thus, there remains, from the point of view of any observer, a perfect location at the intersections of coordinates. See, Relativity, The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein, Crown Publishers, 1961.

The problematic nature of continuity was pointed out more than two thousand years ago by Zeno of Elea. See, A History of Philosophy, Volume 1, Greece and Rome by Frederick Copleston, S.J., Doubleday, 1993. However, not until recent times has it been suggested that happening is not continuous. String Theory advances the startling idea that our world allows no reduction below a certain spatio-temporal expanse, which, in turn, encompasses a micro world containing its own dimensions with its own minimum allowable expanse. The reduction thus may continue to smaller and smaller worlds without ever devolving into the expansionless point of Euclid. Further, since our world may, in this analysis, be viewed as existing within the minimum allowable expanse of a larger world and that world within a still larger one, etc., the process may also be viewed as one of magnification. The interesting thing about this theory is that it makes quite imaginable any number of spatial dimensions and temporal extensions. See, The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene, Vantage Books, 2000.
However, since the whole scheme of String Theory is spatio-temporal, it does not affect my general conclusions. Further, it is doubtful that the existence of other worlds can be established either experimentally or as a matter of logical necessity. This theory should be distinguished from the Many Worlds Theory of Quantum Mechanics, which is far less sensible.

[2] We should observe here that relativity theory equates time with space. However, such a feat is possible only if one accepts the notion that time and space are not real in themselves but merely tools of thought. In such case, “space-time” would be only a more refined mental construct. If, on the other hand, time and space are regarded as real in themselves, time could not be equated with space, simply because nothing would happen without time as a unique reality. That is, all motion and change would be proscribed, and the world would be completely unenergetic. Obviously, if nothing actually happens except in the mind, relativity theory along with all of science would explain nothing; since, in that case, there would really be nothing to explain. Science would thus be reduced to a mental exercise disconnected from the world as it really is.

[3] This is not to say that space cannot exist without time, for it is not logically disallowed that matter can occupy space without changing. It is only experience that indicates the contrary.

[4] Of course, there is no such thing as “pure thought.” Obviously, one cannot think without thinking about something remembered from sensory experience, for it is memory that allows us to construct a history of our interactions with the world. This history is equivalent to consciousness and self-awareness.

[5] This conclusion excludes God only as a non-material entity. Although neither necessitated by logic nor demonstrable from experience, a material God, strictly speaking, is not logically excluded.

[6] Cf. Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics by Immanuel Kant, Prentice-Hall, 1997.

[7] Although nocturnal bats (microchiroptera) rely principally on echolocation, they do possess a kind of limited vision. Diurnal bats, such as flying foxes (megachiroptera), have normal vision. See, Vision in Echolocating Bats by Johan Eklöf, Doctoral Thesis, Zoology Department, Götenborg University, 2003.

[8] The same would apply to so-called dark matter and dark energy. However, it is likely that the anomalies from which these concepts arise are only indications of the insufficiency of gravitational theory as currently formulated.

[9] See, A History of Philosophy, supra, Volume 2, Medieval Philosophy, Chapter 15, St. Anselm of Canterbury, pp.161-165.

[10] This is consistent with the notion of God as a perfect, all-encompassing being but inconsistent with the notion of God as a conscious being.

[11] By this, of course, I do not mean that all geometric objects in the world (local forms) are homeomorphic.

[12] In this sense, “free” means only “not bound by any natural law.”

[13] The expression, “material particle,” is this context, means a point describing the center of mass of any large material body. It does not mean a sub-atomic particle. Indeed, the deterministic paradigm does not hold true for sub-atomic particles. However, my conclusions do not depend upon the Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Mechanics.

[14] See, Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape by Frans de Waal, University of California Press, 1997 and Bonobo, Sex and Society by the same author, March 1995 issue of Scientific American, pp. 82-88.

[15] This is not to suggest, because man shares certain natural inclinations with lower animals, that morality is purely a matter of instinct. On the contrary, morality is real precisely because man can overcome these inclinations by acts of the will.

[16] See, Demonic Apes and the Origins of Human Violence by Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson, Houghton Mifflin, 1997.

[17] Id.

[18]The Golden Rule is a provisional intuition not a categorical imperative. Common morality requires only that one follow the spirit, not the letter, of the Rule. For example, one is not required to assault all masochists nor kill all suicidals, on the theory that one would want this for himself were he such a person. The Rule allows the qualified statement—“treat another mentally sound and rational person as you yourself would wish to be treated. This implies an intuitive recognition that a masochist would not wish to be assaulted nor a suicidal murdered if they were rational and of sound mind. If, on the other hand, a perfectly rational and sane person with a painful terminal illness wished to end his life but was too weak to do it himself, the Rule would allow another person to kill him.
Categorical imperatives, on the other hand, are logical fictions requiring unbending adherence. “Tell the truth" may be viewed as a categorical imperative. If so, such a command would require a truthful answer even if, for example, someone seeking to kill your friend asks you where the friend lives. The Golden Rule, on the other hand, will not take the point of view of one actively engaged in common immorality but will intuitively focus instead on the innocent victim. It asks, “What would I expect were I in my friend’s shoes?” Thus, the rule intuitively bypasses the wrongdoer. Similarly, if the commandment, “thou shalt not kill,” were a categorical imperative, one would never be permitted to kill, not even in self-defense.

[19] Of course, it is possible, in theory, that a very substantial majority could demand that the constitution be amended to abolish the Supreme Court and with it the rule of fundamental fairness. However, as a practical matter, such a thing is exceedingly unlikely.

[20]The following are some examples. Christianity: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.” Bible, New International Version, Matthew 6:12.
Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” Hillel the Elder, Talmud, Shabbat 31a.
: “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” Muhammad, The Farewell Sermon. “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” Sunnah.
Hinduism: “Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:15:17.
Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana-Varga 5:18.
Confucianism: “What you do not want others to do to you, do not do to others.” Analects of Confucius, Chapter 4.
Baha’i: “Wish not for others what you wish not for yourselves.” Baha’u’llah Aqdas 148.73.

[21] Typically, religions also impose arbitrary proscriptions not based on common morality. These include prohibitions of such things as dancing, gambling, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, eating pork, working on the Sabbath (or on Sunday), birth control and homosexual behavior.
Abortion, on the other hand, may implicate common morality if the fetus has developed to the point where it is conceivably a person. In such case, it can plausibly be argued that the mother is morally required to ask herself if she would wish to be killed, were she herself an unborn who had developed to that stage. However, this argument cannot reasonably obtain until the fetus is at least viable. Viability implies that the unborn child will not perish when removed from the womb and that an additional act of killing will be necessary to accomplish “a successful abortion.”


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