Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Objects vs. Concepts

There is a fundamental irrationality found in Modern Physics which is a massive misunderstanding of the difference between concepts and objects.  Missing this leads one down the road of an absurd Platonic Realism where conceptual ideas exist in reality and have effects on real physical objects.

 I don't doubt that Relativity's equations are practical and applicable in reality. What I doubt is the ultimate understanding of what it is that the equations describe.  I would liken it to chemical knowledge before the atomic explanation of chemistry.  We may have known that certain objects changed at certain temperatures and we knew that mixing one thing with another would produce whatever desired result, ect.- but we had no idea what physical mechanisms actually determined the process.

The basic difference between objects and concepts is something that confuses people of all fields of study, so I thought it would be helpful to take the time to explicate this distinction fully before picking apart specific physical theories.

The difference is very simple: objects are individual things with a shape of it's own.  Concepts are relationships between two or more objects.  If something is an object then we would be able to identify it by pointing to it and uttering it's name. If something is an object we can draw it.  If an object exists then in addition to shape it has location.
Concepts have no shape of their own since they merely describe the way two or more objects relate to one another. They cannot exist.

Here's a basic example. Objectively, air exists. Something exists if it has a physical presence. Shape an location.  Air is an object with a shape and a location.  Conceptually, the wind is a motion of air  This concept of wind is solely the result of the motion of air particles.  With this the difference becomes clear.  "Air" refers to the physical structure of the object, "wind" is a concept which distinguishes a particular motion of air (EDIT: I changed the previous example because it was confusing more than anything).

To clear up some confusion about whether or not concepts are "real" or not.  It depends on how you define real! Here's a distinction I'd like to make:

Concepts can either be rational or irrational, objects can either exist or not. 

Concepts as objects, the fundamental flaw of Modern Physics

TO clarify! These concepts may be true for all I know! I just wanted to point out that the concepts are NOT the objects.  The MAP is not the TERRITORY.  Yet physics are treating fields, points, waves, ect (the map) as real objects (the territory.)

Here are some of the most common mathematical concepts that are treated as physical objects in modern physics.

-Space: Quite simply, the distance between two or more objects.  The only rational way to define space is conceptually, space has NO shape.  It is not a physical object itself any more than justice or love.
Correct Example: "The space between my chair and the table is about 12 inches."
Incorrect Example: "The space around the Earth is bent or warped."

-Time: I have already defined this (and dimensions) in another article.
Correct Example: "What time would you like to meet for lunch tomorrow?"
Incorrect Example: "If you take the right path around an object you can travel backwards through time!" -Neil DeGrasse Tyson

-Waves:  A "disturbance or oscillation". Oscillating is to
"move or swing back and forth at a regular speed: "a pendulum oscillates about its lowest point".
Clearly, a wave or oscillation is a concept based in motion.  It is not an object with a shape of it's own, but just a description of how particular physical objects move. This ties in with the next big confusion called energy.
Correct Example: The boat was smashed with wave after wave of water.
Incorrect Example: A wave of nothing travels from the sun, through no medium at all, and reaches the Earth to heat and light it.

the capacity for vigorous activity.
Capacity is yet another concept which will always and forever be a relationship.  In this case, the relationship describes the activity, or motion of an object.  So energy is merely describing how the object is moving.  Motion or activity is a behavior of objects and energy is our description of that behavior.
Correct Example: Heat energy is measured as how fast a given object's atoms are vibrating.
Incorrect Example: "Pure energy" exists without a physical structure.

  In mathematics, the word field describes an area of an object that is being measured by some standard.  The "field of view" one has on the ground is much less than the "field of view" one can see from the top of a tall tower.  A "magnetic field" is the area in which you'll feel a push or pull from toward or away from the magnet.  Field is another conceptual term referring not to objects but how those objects are related.
Correct Example: "The field of spread of a shotgun is bigger than a watermelon from 10ft away."
Incorrect Example: "The magnetic field around a powerful magnet can attract from a few feet away."

By stating that any of the above concepts of fields, waves, energy, ect. "exists" alone and aren't just descriptions of physical objects is like saying a family exists without individual people or that a forest exists with no trees.

Is light an object or a concept?

All five of the example concepts I gave you above refer to actions, yet physicists are convinced they are objects!  According to wikipedia,
"Electromagnetic radiation (EM radiation or EMR) is a form of energy emitted and absorbed by charged particles, which exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space."  
Oh so, EMR is the form of an activity?  Activity of what?  The behavior is wave-like, but what is behaving?  Physical actions are always caused by physical objects.  This is called the Law of Causality, which stands as a self-evident axiom.  If a concept is valid, then the question is indubitably begged: "What physical object does the concept relate to?"  If the answer is "nothing" then the concept is false.

When the sun's rays hit the Earth, one vibrating object is warming and lighting a object at a distance.  Since logic demands that physical actions must be caused by physical processes, this description must be seen as incomplete.  It is irrational to say that "waves moving through space" since "wave" is a logical subset of motion (motion is moving?) and "space" is a concept through which objects may not move.  Objects can only move toward, away from, through, around other objects.  Not concepts.  Clearly, a fully explanatory notion of light is currently being denied.

Is space synonymous with 'bendy stuff?'

Space also cannot "bend" if we are using the word consistently (i.e. scientifically).  Only objects can be bent- like the bands the artist drew in these pictures.  If something in the area around earth is being bent, which must be the case according to these measurements, then what is it? What is it's physical structure?  Scientists currently don't have an answer but they assert that it is indeed "space itself" or "the fabric of time". However, time cannot be bent or "moved through" because time is already a concept of motion.  It is not fabric, an object.  This proves the concept of "time travel" to be irrational.  It also shows that General Relativity and Special Relativity are incomplete explanations, and not physical theories even in the slightest.  They merely deal with how the object appears when we measure it at particular times and is not a consistent and scientific inquiry into the nature of things.  Treating concepts or your measurements as things will lead you down a road to absurdity.  It is commonplace now for scientists to speak of time travel.  Everything from gravity to backwards time travel is attributed to "spacetime bending".

It is also true that only objects can pull. I can pull on you from a distance but only with a physical medium like a rope or a hook.  However, gravity is not even considered in such terms.  Basically, physicists throw up their arms and proclaim, "They just attract, damnit!" and thus abandon scientific inquiry.

What is the physical medium connecting the earth and I which causes the pull between us?
What is the physical mechanism underlying this structure?

The fact is that the physical structure described by the concepts above still have not been made intelligible.  The knowledge is out there but current scientists have been stunted by irrational non-answers and I hope one day the errors can be widely understood so that real answers are sought out.

In fact, they have been explored a bit by Bill Gaede at youstupidrelativist.com and a physicist by the name of Lewis Little who also asserts the irrationality of "nonlocal causes" as he puts it. Each of these scientists are great to check out and they deserve more attention. It seems rationality still has a pulse in science.

This article is part of a Series questioning modern physics:
1. Has Physics Become Irrational?
2. Objects vs Concepts
3. Time
4. Specific Quantum Strangeness (Soon to come)


  1. I question your calling space/time and energy concepts. A "meter" is an arbitrary measure of space and is a concept. However space is very real and is not nothing. The same with energy. This action of measuring allows knowledge of the universe (science). However, there will always be the measurement problem (meters are an arbitrary standard and the act of measuring is never truly "objective"), and the temptation to treat these concepts as real things rather than useful representations. Secondly, just because the physics at an atomic scale is not truly conceivable in terms of human sized/scale interactions (classical physics), doesn't mean that the phenomena are purely conceptual. We can't really visualize the subatomic world because it does really appear or behave or relate to anything around the 1 meter scale. That doesn't mean it's purely conceptual. It does mean though that it is irrational as compared to the logic and causality of normal everyday human interaction.

  2. Space is not nothing? Then what is it? What shape is it?

    Like I said, concepts can be true or false- objects either exist or not. If something exists then it has a shape, so if atoms exist we should be able to visualize their shape and structure.

    Knowing the shape and structure of an object is the only way to know how it will behave, physically.

    1. I think it is better that we distinguish among what is in our mind, what is outside our mind independent of our mind, and what is both in our mind and also outside our mind.

      Now something that is both in our mind and outside is for example an apple, it is a concept in our mind and it is an object outside, so that even if there were no mind the apple still exists outside or mind.

      We might have a concept in our mind but we do not know of any object outside that corresponds to the concept in our mind, for example, a centaur; in which case it is a fiction in our mind, but that does not mean we cannot talk about it and entertain ourselves talking about it.

      How do concepts get into our mind?

      From experience of objects outside our mind, from our imagination, from our dreams, from out intelligent thinking on logic and facts, etc.

      So, when we do have a concept in our mind but we do not have any experience of having encountered any object corresponding to it in the reality outside our mind, then we can consider it as a fiction in our mind, or we can think of contriving it or inventing it so that an object corresponding to the concept in our mind comes into existence outside our mind.

      The important distinction then is between concepts in our mind and objects in the reality outside our mind.

      A concept in our mind can correspond to an object we have encountered outside our mind, or we have not encountered any object corresponding to the concept in the reality world outside our mind -- in which case we can still in our mind consider it whether it is at all possible to exist if an agent exists which can bring about its existence -- that agent can be man or God.

      What is an invalid concept? It is what cannot at all be possible even with God, for example, a cube-noncube block of ice; you will notice that an invalid concept is one which contains directly contradictory features within itself.

      You call an invalid concept an irrational concept, I suggest that the better term should be invalid concept, because an irrational concept is not necessarily composed of directly contradictory features, features which cannot co-exist in the object because one essential feature cancels out the other essential feature, for example, as I said already, a cube-noncube ice block.

      The important thing is to distinguish between concepts in the mind and objects in reality outside and concepts which have objects corresponding to them (concepts) in our mind, and all the possible combinations of concepts and objects.

      And the challenge is for man to examine what things really exist outside our mind, for example, space and time really exist outside our mind, they are not only concepts in our mind, and they are everywhere in everytime.

      But a centaur? It is possible for an agent like God to produce a centaur, and there might be a centaur somewhere or at sometime in the universe or in the totality of existence outside our mind although we have not encountered one in the reality that we have access to outside of fictions in our mind.


  3. Hey Mike, I see where you're going. I think you're onto something, but I'm also a laymen when it comes to these things, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

    I remember watching "A universe from nothing - Lawrence Krauss" and although I've forgotten most of the lecture, there was one thing that stood out for me near the end. I don't remember the exact phrasing, but it went something like "Nothing actually has weight". I nearly lost it. If it's "nothing" then it can't have weight, "it" must be something.

    Maybe he meant "what we commonly think of as nothing" but that's not what he said. Maybe he was referring to a thing called "space in a vacuum" - which we usually consider as nothing - that has weight. The only way I can conceive of space as having weight as if it's kind of like water to a fish, but we just haven't detected the edges. Water meets air, space meets... something, somewhere maybe? But I don't have the expertise or knowledge to figure out what space is or isn't.

    I think that you are correct, that concepts are relations and not things, and concepts do not exist, they are only correct or incorrect.

    I think that people use space in two different ways, the concept of distance, and (possibly) the "water" version of space. Scientists have a greater need to be clear about what they're talking about, which is why I found Krauss' explanation of "nothing" so frustrating.

  4. Exactly! Thank you very much for your thoughtful response. I am struggling with getting this idea across and you totally explained it better than I think I could.

    If this "nothing" has weight then it must actually be *something* with a physical structure. By accepting the concepts as objects, physics is reduced to irrational statements, like you said, "Nothing has weight." A statement like that in the right context after a long lecture might convince people who aren't really thinking about it, but with logical analysis it totally falls apart.

  5. Check out David Harriman, too. He is part of the Ayn Rand Institute.

    The Peace Revolution Podcast uploaded one of his lecture series recently that you should really check out. The lecture is called the Philosophic Corruption of Physics.


  6. Thanks, yeah I've seen that one, probably one of the best podcasts around. Peace Revolution is an amazing resource.

  7. Thank you for a very thought-provoking post. I've always had trouble with the phrase "curved space." The only way I could make any sense of it to myself was to think of what people were referring to as "space" in that context as distance on the 3-dimensional "surface" of a higher-dimensional (say 4-dimensional) object. Could living on the "surface" of such an object account for some of the effects attributed to "curved space?" I look forward to reading some of your other articles.

  8. Thanks DMS!
    I would say that 4d objects are inconceivable to me. If physical dimensions are extensions of an object in space then only 3 orthogonal directions can exist. Length, width, and height. A 4th physical dimension would require it to extend in some direction orthogonal to both length, width, and height which is impossible.

  9. Well don't feel alone Mike, even the greatest Rock Star of them all, Stephen Hawking says it is impossible to imagine:

    “An event is something that happens at a particular point in space and at a particular time. So one can specify it by four numbers or coordinates...one can use any three well-defined coordinates and any measure of time. In relativity, there is no real distinction between the space and time coordinates...It is often helpful to think of the four coordinates of an event as specifying its position in a four-dimensional space called space-time. It is impossible to imagine a four-dimensional space.” (p. 2x) A Brief History In TIme- Stephen Hawking

  10. ...At least you can rationally explain why spacetime is inconceivable!

  11. Great post! I agree whole heartily with you that people have confused the distinction between objects and concepts! I have recently realized that I was doing that as well! So called skeptics and critical thinkers alike are doing this, thus propagating irrational views on so many things. Atheist's are just as guilty as religionists in this area!

  12. Thanks Rick. Atheists are religionists!

    What we need are rational scientists, which is why I'm trying to start some sort of Science Club in my area to help kids and other interested individuals learn rationality without getting poisoned by the terrible ideas proliferated by mathematicians.

  13. I said this in a comment on another one of your pages, but I really think that some sort of organisation is a good idea. I would say that an umbrella organisation that suggests a TRULY rational approach would be good first step to help support more local projects like Science Clubs, etc.

    Lemme know what you think.