The book, published this year, authored by philosopher Roberto Mangabeira Unger and world-class physicist Lee Smolin, entitled --
The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time.
-- is an important one. Indeed, from the F.E.D. viewpoint, this book, together with the earlier and ‘relatedly’-themed, 2013 book, authored by Smolin alone --
Time Reborn -- From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe.
-- constitute perhaps the most important texts on the “natural sciences” -- and on science in general -- that have been published, certainly in my lifetime to-date.
In these two books, a core component of the ideological, anti-scientific metaphysics that has plagued, and partially vitiated, the progress of modern science, ever since its inception, and a related metaphysics crippling modern mathematics, are the objects of a thoroughgoing scientific and philosophical critique.
These metaphysical and mystifying ideologies, that have infected modern science and modern mathematics from the start, have archaic sources in the philosophical ideologies of the ancient Mediterranean human ‘phenome’.
Specifically, the ancient ideologies of Parmenides and Plato represent key roots of those archaic sources. These ideological roots manifest modernly as the attempts, in modern science, to deny the reality of time, of [natural] history. In modern mathematics, they manifest in claims that mathematical objects exist, eternally, in some kind of aphysical, immutable “transcendental” realm, which none of the human senses, but only the “eye” of the human mind, can perceive. Thus, per this contra-empirical presumption, mathematics is not invented & constructed by humans, but is, rather, discovered, through mental perception of this purportedly “objective”, yet aphysical, “transcendental” realm.
Within the Foundation, these roots of the ideology infecting modern science and modern mathematics are often referenced, collectively, by phrases like “The Parmenidean Paradigm”, “The Parmenidean psychohistorical trauma”, “The Parmenidean Overhang”, and “The Parmenidean Hangover”.
Unger and Smolin argue that even the “laws” of Nature are not outside of time, but are within time, subject to time [or ‘object to time’ -- ‘objects of time’, and, therefore, “subject to change”] -- that the “laws” of evolution themselves also [meta-]evolve!
Unfortunately, in both of these books, their critique arrests itself within this very locus. Their books remain trapped within an abstract, external concept of time, and within a mystified, fetishized, reified, subject/object inverted notion of “laws” of nature.
The term “laws” as applied to ‘exo-human nature’ is an unfortunate analogy to the laws formed by human societies, within human Nature -- within the zone of nature where humans produce and create new kinds of cosmological objects, new ‘cosmo-ontology’.
This ideological metaphor of “[natural] laws” hails from another, more proximate domain of human ideology -- from past-to-present socio-political ideologies surrounding the human-social “laws” decreed by feudal kings, or, more recently, enacted by bourgeois, “representative-democratic” legislatures.
But, for science, ‘exo-human nature’ has no demonstrable God-king, decreeing “laws” for that nature, and no Legislature either. Yes, empirically, humanity has recently observed many recurrent patterns of action in ‘exo-human nature’, which feature an at least ‘temporal-fractal self-similarity’, if not exact repetition, of the states of nature.
But there are no police, in ‘exo-human nature’, enforcing those patterns of action, nor are these patterns ever observed to be “violated” in the sense that humans regularly violate humans-enacted statutes.
Unger’s and Smolin’s discourses are riddled with statements asserting that the “laws” of nature “govern” the physical phenomena that we observe. This is where a pernicious, unconscious, or semi-conscious, cognitively-adverse form of fetishism, mystification, and subject/object inversion works its ideological mischief.
¿If by “laws” of nature, we mean the propositions, and/or the equations, in scientists’ minds, and/or printed on the pages of scientific texts, that describe the patterns of action of the phenomena of ‘exo-human nature’, of the actual, physical agents of action, in ‘exo-human nature’, then by what agency could such pools of dry ink on pages of paper reach out and enforce themselves, so ‘exceptionlessly’, upon the cosmos?
¿How can the content of a text “govern” or “rule” the recurring actions of the rest of the cosmos, or even of the physical medium in which it locally subsists?
Such assertions of “governance”, when analyzed closely, seem to be claiming magic, a power of unspoken, merely written, incantation, thus not upholding empirical science at all!
To a scientific view, statements of the form “the laws of nature govern the phenomena of nature.” are obvious as agent/object inverted statements [as even Feuerbach knew!], as statements that need to be inverted again, re-inverted, “revolved -- “revolutionized” -- in order to be turned “right side up”, “rectified”, restored to truth, e.g.: “the phenomena of nature govern the laws of nature”.
Certainly, in an empirically-disciplined, i.e., in a scientific, praxis, the phenomena of nature, the patterns detected in those phenomena by human observers and experimenters, must, through the mediation of that very human observation and experiment, and through the further mediation of human ideation, analysis, reasoning, and ‘languaging’/description [including mathematical ‘languaging’/description], govern the human formulation of “laws” of nature, constraining those formulations to be predictively accurate; accurate to observation and experiment.
If, on the contrary, by “laws” of nature we mean the actual, physical processes that exhibit the patterns that our “laws of nature” mind-forms and propositions and equations merely describe, then the assertion that these “laws” govern those physical processes amounts to no more than asserting that these processes invariably exhibit those patterns, to our repeated, replicated observation and experiment.
Misled by the mystified, reified, subject/object inverted habits of thought, epidemic in the sciences today, surrounding “laws” of nature, Unger and Smolin, in rightly suggesting the mutability of the “laws of nature”, get sucked into a regress of “meta-laws”, with their ‘metan+1-laws’ “giving the law” to -- “governing” the changes of -- their ‘metan-laws’.
They thereby create, for themselves, a “conundrum of the meta-laws” which they fail to solve in their subject writings, and whose existence, in their minds, is only an artifact of the mystified, reified, agent/object inverted habits of thought about “laws” of ‘exo-human nature’ that they have inherited -- and still uncritically so -- from their scientific and philosophical upbringing, despite the depth of critical insight that they demonstrate, throughout their subject writings, regarding other aspects of the ideology that compromises modern science.
I have been planning, already for some time, to include a series of book reviews, of crucially blog-relevant books, in this blog.
Below, I have presented, for your information, not a full review of the two books cited above, but a ‘proto-review’ of them -- a fragment pertaining to the core of where their writings in these books still falls short of their own aim.
I hope to follow-up, next year, with (a) more thoroughgoing review(s) of these two, seminal works.
[Roberto Mangabeira Unger, Lee Smolin, The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time, Cambridge University Press [Cambridge: 2015], pp. 292-293] --
“...the laws of nature should not be understood to be outside time.”
Commentary [by M.D.]: The ongoing inter-action, and self-action, of ‘onto-«monads»’ -- of the actual, physical agents of action in nature -- at first gradually, then suddenly, changes their own patterns of action, by ‘evolutely’, cumulatively, conservatively changing their own ontology, the ontology of/as to which kinds of ‘onto-«monads»’ are present, and ‘auto-acting’ & ‘allo-acting’, in and as cosmological nature -- under the hypothesis that different kinds of actors act differently, at least in part -- in each new present epoch of the «kosmos», with epochs defined as bounded, precisely, by the irruption of new ‘cosmo-ontology’ within nature, from out of nature, from out of the prior epoch’s’ ontology, from out of the patterned ‘‘‘intra-actions’’’ and inter-actions of the various «arithmoi»/kinds of ‘onto-«monads»’ that constitute that prior ontology.
That is the only empirical, scientific content to assertions to the effect that the “laws” of nature may change/do change/are changing.
‘Onto-«monad»-ic extantcy’, and activity, gradually, then suddenly, change themselves.
Our propositions expressing “natural laws”, our “mathematical [meta-]models”, our equations of physics, etc., should be seen, not in any way as “governing” what transpires in nature, but rather -- if they indeed instance good empirical science -- as governed by those ‘transpirings’; as human descriptions of what transpires; as descriptions of the ‘qualo-quantitative’, ‘quanto-ontological’ changes that we humans observe in our [ largely uncontrolled] experiences-in-general, and in our [much more “controlled”, but still only partially “controlled”] experiment-experiences.
For more about F.E.D.’s immanent critique of the ideology in Modern Science, see --
Desiderata section, pages 15 to 17 in --