Later this October, I will be presenting at the 2do Congreso Latinoamericano de Filosofía Científica, at Universidad de Chile, in Santiago. An English abstract of the presentation (which will be in Spanish) is below. As the talk is completed, I hope to provide portions for those interested to read.
The Relevance of Neo-Aristotelian Formal Causality
to the Meta-Law Dilemma in Cosmology
In The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time, Roberto Unger and Lee Smolin have proposed a new agenda for cosmology. They rely on three postulates: the uniqueness of the universe, the reality of time, and the limited applicability of mathematics in physics. They use these postulates to highlight two fundamental problems in cosmology: the cosmological dilemma and the meta-laws dilemma. The former dilemma results from the overextension of mathematics (the “Newtonian paradigm”) to provide an ontological key to understanding the cosmos. In short, a timeless mathematics—whose laws operate in a space devoid of change and which by definition apply only to subsystems or parts of a whole—are insufficient to explain the cosmos as a changing whole. The lesson they draw from this dilemma is that a framework is needed that is time-bound. The latter dilemma arises due to their ontological commitments, which are Heraclitean in nature. They maintain that time is the fundamental entity in the universe. Since the landscape of possible laws cannot be governed by timeless meta-laws, an irrationality at the basis of science seems unavoidable. This paper evaluates Unger and Smolin’s Heraclitean and Leibnizian postulates in light of a renewed neo-Aristotelian ontology and epistemology of formal causality. The critique advances on three fronts. First, I attempt to explain how the temporal realism of Unger and Smolin encounters irremediable difficulties vis-à-vis the grounds of intelligibility for change. Second, I aim to show how their own position of mathematical selectivism is in accord with neo-Aristotelian epistemology. Third, I propose that the analogy of being contains the resources to develop the post-Newtonian paradigm for which Unger and Smolin, albeit unbeknownst to themselves, are looking.
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This presentation is part of my postdoctoral research project.
FONDECYT – POSTDOCTORADO – Proj. No. 3170446.