Pre-Historic Particles

Modern science begins in abstraction. Take Newton’s Laws, an object that is in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. But there is no object that is not acted on by outside forces. How then can we describe such an object? Only as a mental construct.

This abstraction is not a bad thing in and of itself. Indeed, it’s quite useful, as the success of modern science attests (though we note that this success is mediated, for when we speak of the triumphs of modern science, we really mean the triumphs of science as it is translated into actuality via modern engineering). Yet, we err when we mistake the abstraction for the thing from which it is abstracted. Yes, that ball would move through space indefinitely were I to throw it in a realm where no other things exist, but that realm does not exist. Yes, I can render planetary motion as an equation, but a planet is not an equation.

Ultimately, this abstracted picture leads to a world of mere particles, as Barfield calls them. Note, the particles are themselves abstractions denuded of the qualities, secondary qualities in the Enlightenment parlance, that makes things things in the first place. These secondary qualities are displaced into the mind. Thus, the existence of any thing, that is not a mere particle, is dependent on the collective representation of human minds.

If this picture is true, then descriptions of pre-history are fables. They tell the story of what happened, as if our collective representations existed before we existed, but how could they? This is left unexplained. The consequence of stripping the physical world of the content of these representations, deprives us of our ability to speak of it.

What’s more, it presumes these representations have a static character. That the representations of today are identical to the representations of yesterday, but we have ample evidence that this is not the case, witness ancient literature. Thus, they tell a myth about the world not only as if the collective representations of mankind existed before mankind itself, but as if the collective representations of modern, “scientifically”-minded men existed before modernity.

There is and, given the scientific world-picture, can be no justification for this presumption.

One response to “Pre-Historic Particles”

  1. […] the scientists’ story is a myth is made clear by Barfield. He would point out that, if the world-picture of modern physics is true, the only thing that is […]

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