Philosophy of Science or Scientific Philosophy?
Sailesh Ranjan Bhattacharyya
The present paper is an attempt to explore a possible reply to the query inserted in the very title. Here I shall make a parochial use of the term "Science" to mean the physical or Natural Science, and present only the précis of the whole thing for the sake of brevity.
The world is a big zero. The Earth and all other planets move round the Sun, satellites move round the planets, the negativity charged * electrons move round the positively charged nucleus to constitute an atom ; even each of the elementary particles in the nucleus (nucleons) has a spin of its own, like the Earth; the orbits may however, be circular, elliptical, angular or the like. Whatever be the type or form of the orbit, the circumference described by any body moving round its centre (nucleus) can never come to an end. Man is therefore apt to consider the universe to be eternally present.
The living cell has a nucleus; two human beings of opposite sexes constitute a unit, i.e., a family in which any one of them normally acts as the nucleus; because the society may be Patriarchal or Matriarchal; each such family, again, serves as the nucleus of a larger family, the largest being the human society as a whole; and 'a society' in 'The Society' found in every habitable part of the globe is governed by a person or a group of persons that 'the society' centres round. The same thing in a specific form is noticed to hold good of the Animal Kingdom. And interaction in each case, be it mechanical, automatic, spontaneous or conscious, serves as the connecting force that propels the course of the Universal Charge or Motion, and maintains the world order. Change is at once constructive and destructive; and this is much palpable in the living world. Every living being right from its inception is normally found to undergo a series of constructive changes resulting in its growth and development up to a certain stage of life; and under normal conditions it can sufficiently replenish the loss of energy due to constant interactions of itself and Environment during its formative period. Once it reaches the optimum point of growth, the series of constructive changes is replaced by that of the destructive ones; it starts proceeding towards natural decay because of its growing incapability to replenish its loss; the course of change continues, till it passes away leaving behind the elementary constituents in some form or other. Even the rise and fall of changing socio-political systems of administration, economic principles, social laws and customs, fashions, culture and civilisation, are also found to centre round the prevailing social set-up. The Universe can thus be sketched as a well knit Unit changing in a cyclic order. Once again we say The World is a big zero and is eternally present. The so called "Time" constituted by the man-made fragments from instants to centuries, including 'Past', 'Present' and 'Future' connote nothing more than the 'Span' between the beginning and the end of any mundane process.(1)
Now what is meant by Scientific Philosophy? Scientific Philosophy virtually means Atomist Philosophy initially formulated by the Jainas And the Vaisesikas of the East, and the Greek atomists, Democritus, Leucippus and their followers. We cannot but admit that we owe the notion of 'atom', however elementary to the aforesaid pioneers who could at least think of, venture to have recourse to, 'atoms' for giving an account for the genesis of the Universe. Matter is divisible, thay say, into parts which again can be analysed into smaller parts, and the process of analysis continues, till we have 'no-further-divisible' minutest particles, i.e., atoms which are as such uncreated, eternal and original, as also the innumerable, ultimate constituents of the Universe of things and beings.
Ancient atomists do, however, differ among themselves in some respects. For the Jainas, atoms are qualitatively homogenous and quantitatively uniform; and they are active; they can by themselves compose worldly things. The Vaisesikas speak only for the qualitative difference of atoms, and consider them inactive; but the Greek atomists, especially Democritus, opine that atoms are of various sizes and weights, and are therefore quantitatively different from each other. For Democritus, as for the Jainas, atoms are active. Democritus holds that according to the laws of weight and motion, the atoms accidentally combine themselves into worldly things without any end in view.
The modern scientist goes a step further and proves that atoms, however minute, are still further divisible; and that even the nucleus of an atom can be analysed into numerous elementary particles, i.e. nucleons. The term 'elementary' is continually being shifted from one particle to another, since such particles are being discovered every now and then. Matter is infinitely divisible indeed; so that atoms are not to be considered original. Atomists of antiquity have therefore been accused of upholding a pluralistic world-view which is not entertained in philosophy. Nevertheless, the Greek atomists can certainly claim the credit of making some prophetic statements about the nature of atoms:
Now the Natural Unity underlying Diversity has been found to be inversely reflected in our epistemological journey from the 'Poly' to the 'Mono', from the innumerable atoms to the Power of activity. We are therefore inclined to ask: if every atom is actually active, what is the Power like, that induces atoms to act and move?
It is high time that we should make an ardent effort for revival of the Atomist Philosophy and consider the above query from the stand point of modern Science. Details apart, we are required to have an intensely amplified look into the nucleus of an atom so as to search out the non-particular, non-composite, original, eternal Reality.
To start with an analysis of the 'nucleus'. The nucleus has been found to be divisible into numerous nucleons, viz., protons, neutrons, Pi-mesons, which are electrically positive, negative and neutral, K-mesons, Mu-mesons, neutrinos, & etc. Pi-mesons serve as the nuclear binding energy, i.e., the cementing force in the nucleus. The hydrogen-nucleus, the simplest of all nuclei, being made up of only one proton, faces no problem; but those having two or more mutually repelling protons obviously requires some mediators, i.e., neutrons (charge-0), brought forth by Pi-mesons, to settle their conflict. A proton under duress ejects Pi-plus-meson, i.e., leaves out its plus charge, and turns into a neutron; and a neutron by absorbing the ejected Pi-plus-meson becomes a proton. A neutron, again, ejects Pi-minus-meson and therewith turns into a proton, and a proton by absorbing it turns into a neutron. The pi-zero-meson, being neutral, may be ejected or absorbed by any nucleon irrespective of its charge. Thus the charged Pi-mesons are continually being tossed about from one nucleon to another, and it is by a rapid exchange of the charged Pi-mesons resulting in the transformation of a proton into a neutron and a neutron into a proton, that the equilibrium of a heavy nucleus is maintained. A neutron turns into a proton so quickly that it finds no time to disintegrate. The Pi-mesons thus serve as the cementing force in order that a stable, yet dynamic, system may be formed in the nucleus. This is what is meant by 'unstable equilibrium'.
"Here it is important to note that the meson forces, i.e., nuclear forces proper, act independently of the electrically charged nuclear particles, no matter whether the interaction holds between two protons, or between one proton and one neutron, or between two neutrons."(2) Scientists call this 'charge independence'. The role the Pi-mesons play in the intranuclear interactions is therefore of cardinal importance. The nucleons being thus cemented by the Pi-mesons, form the nuclear mass. (Mass is equal to the total quantity of matter contained in an object.) The weight of the nuclear mass being considerable, is considered the atomic weight which obviously varies from atom to atom a fact already envisaged by Democritus.
That even such a tightly packed nuclear mass can be broken up by the modern scientist, is now unknown to few. Nuclear Fission is nowadays a commonplace, as it causes emission of an enormous energy resulting in massive devastation we are deeply scared by. For giving an account for Fission we are required to have recourse to the mass-energy equation that we owe to the distinguished scientist, Albert Einstein, a contemporary of Rutherford. The equation is : E = mc2 . In his "Special Theory Relativity" published in 1905, Einstein proved that a nuclear mass contains a fabulous quantity of energy, a very small portion of which can be practically released by way of 'fission', and that the total quantity of energy in a heavy nuclear mass is equal to the mass multiplied by the square of velocity of light the constant multiplier. He also noticed that the total mass of a nucleus is grater than the sum of the masses of its bifurcated fragments; and that the difference of the mass, however small, is released in the form of tremendous energy.(3) Obviously, Einstein's theory disproves the law of Conservation of Matter or Mass, and instead establishes the law of Conservation or Energy. It should be mentioned here that each of the fragments of the bifurcated nuclear mass captures electrons so as to transform itself into a balanced atom. This is what is meant by 'inter-division' caused by the 'intra-division', i.e., fission of the nuclear mass. Just opposite to the fission-process is the process of 'fusion' by which two light-weight nuclei are fused into one heavier nucleus in the tremendous heat produced by the fission-originated 'angry nuclei'; this may also be called 'coalision' of nuclei. (Nuclear 'fission' and 'fusion' may be compared with the 'Intra-' and 'Inter-division', as also with 'fusion' of living cells, with factions and coalision of political parties or groups of people, closely associated with the individualistic and the socialistic dispositions in man, respectively). Each of the light-weight nuclei, in order to be fused, has to lose some amount of mass which is transformed into kinetic energy considerably more tremendous than that emitted by 'fission'. The loss of mass (mass defect) is indicative of emission of enormous energy in either case.
It is now amply clear that nothing short of nuclear energy can make possible nuclear 'fission' or 'fussion', and that the heavier the nuclear mass, the greater is the energy contained in it. We may mention meanwhile that the existence of 'faster-than-light' bizarre particles, viz., 'tachyons', was first predicted in 1958 by E.C.G Sudarshan, an Indian Scientist, and later proved more credible by Dr. Roger Clay and Dr. Philip Crouch at the Adelaide University in Australia.(4) If this be a fact, and 'tachyons' are found to have the properties of light, their velocity may well be used as the constant multiplier, and accordingly, the nuclear Energy may be proved to be greater than mc2 .
Here in lines the relativity of the significant Theory of Relativity propounded by the celebrated scientist, Albert Einstein. He modestly says: "It is customary to express the equivalence of mass and energy (though somewhat inexactly) by the formula E=mc2, in which c represents the velocity of light, above 186,000 miles per second".(5) Everything is then ultimately reducible to 'energy' contained in the nucleus. This 'energy' may well be considered ultimate, for it cannot be reduced to anything prior to it, since it is not a 'particle'.(6)Now it is important to point to the subtle distinction between 'energy' and 'power' in reference to the modern conception of Space. 'Power' has been defined as the rate of activity of a thing per unit time. ('Unit time' means an instant, an infinitesimal fraction of a second.) And everything acts by virtue of the 'energy' inherent in it. Thus 'power' is 'energy' potential in particles, however minute; and 'power' as such is therefore pure activity or motion.
That 'energy' is simply amenable to transformation, and is, as such alien to annihilation, has been confirmed by the Law of Conservation of Energy; and since 'energy' as the 'power' to act inherent in particles, is itself not a 'particle', that is to say, is 'non-particular', it is obviously indivisible, original, and eternal. It is ultimate, since nothing can be posited as prior to it. It is also capable of being proved 'infinite'; because it is not feasible to ascertain the total number of atoms, actual and possible. We can, as the modern scientists says, rather think of a region devoid of atoms, but we cannot think of a sphere destitute of activity or motion, i.e., pure, untransformed Energy awaiting transmission through particles. Naturally, 'possible atoms' can very well be spoken of. It is not, then, too much to say that atoms are innumerable; and consequently, the total quantity of Mass, as also that of Energy, stand beyond the bounds of all sorts of measurement, including Einstein's mass energy equation.
Scientists today have at least partially perceived Energy as such in the interstellar space; so they deny the presence of absolute vacuum. Nature abhors vacuum so goes the good old saying. Energy as the 'power' of activity is, then ever present anywhere and everywhere, and is therefore the sole author of all Change and Motion. Obviously, this non-finite Energy is all-pervasive; and this 'all-pervasiveness' of activity is Space which is no mere passive receptacle of concrete contents of the world, as it has traditionally been conceived. It is also to be noted here that if it would be feasible to convert the entire nuclear mass of a single atom into energy, the scientist could seldom say how much pervasive its chain reactions would be.
Now let us see how the 'non-particular' Power evolves the 'particulars'. Adequately equipped with the sufficiently fine and sophisticated apparatus, the modern scientist has made himself capable of bringing the phenomenon of transformation of 'energy' into 'mass' within the range of sense perception, just as he can practically extract 'energy' from a very little portion of a nuclear 'mass'. It has been found that the 'high-energy' particles coming from the interstellar space rush into the terrestrial atmosphere, and that they produce showers of cosmic rays, generally known as 'cosmic ray showers'. When the high speed electrons coming from the interstellar space pass close by the nuclei of atoms that form the atmosphere, they gradually lose their original energy which is emitted in the form of gamma radiation all along their tracks. And the gamma radiation by coming close to an atomic nucleus transforms itself into a pair of electrons of mutually opposite charges, positive and negative. This is known as the process of 'Pair-formation'. It is important to note that the atomic nuclei simply assist the process of 'mass-production of electron pairs' without themselves being affected thereby. The electron whose lost energy is emitted in the form of gamma radiation, is known as 'primary electron'; and the newly formed positive electron, also called 'positron', and the negative electron, rush along the path of the 'primary electron'. These electrons of mutually opposite charges, in turn, annihilate each other by the reverse process resulting in the release of an enormous energy due to loss of mass.
In view of the above, we may cogently conceive how the non-particular, non-finite Energy actually evolves the celestial bodies, heterogeneous, concrete elementary particles, nucleons, atoms, molecules, elements, things and living beings including DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) which is the nexus of the non-living and the living worlds, and is also the carrier and the transmitter of the characteristics of life down to its progeny. The Energy as such the Original Power thus goes on evolving more and more complex 'particular' structures together with novelty in each case, till Man appears on Earth with the maximum of structural complexity and novelty hitherto brought forth. "No wonder if Man is nowadays defined as the self-complete", relatively self complete of course, "autonomous Natural circuit in the chassis of the most complex physiological structure equipped with the most sophisticated apparatus including the Brain, that Nature has hitherto brought forth".(7)
The Original Power has now become Self-conscious, the entire process of Self-transformation is now lit up by Consciousness; and accordingly, Its spontaneous activities, i.e., the caused 'events', have been turned into free (voluntary) 'actions'; to be more specific, It is realising Itself through the self-conscious media, i.e., human organisms, and tends to ascertain what It has already done, and what more It is required to do in order that Its manifestation may be exhaustive.
The Original Power as the Activity as such is eternally pregnant with the Universe; and the Self-transformation involves both creation and destruction. The Power, i.e., Ultimate Reality, while creating destroys, and while destroying creates, things, just as H2O cannot produce one molecule of water, unless and until the ingredients cease to exist as gases. Ultimate Reality, the Supreme Regulator of all Change, thus steadily and silently moves in a cycle and maintains the balance at every step of Its manifestation, including Man and his Society; excess in any sphere is never tolerable; this confirms the modern conception of 'Pulsating Universe'. The Universe of harmonious changes, as though, is the emblem of the eternal Rhyme or the perennial Symphony with a rhythmic repetition of the first line The World is a Big Zero.
(1) Vide : Bhattacharyya, Sailesh Ranjan: An Enquiry Into The Fundamentals of Existentialism (EFE); FIRMA KLM (P) Ltd. Calcutta, 1979; p.p. 159-160.
(2) Op cit : p. 148;
(3) Einstein, Albert : Ideas And Opinions; tr. By Sonja Bargmann; Rupa & Co. Calcutta, 1989; pp. 339-340.
(4) Vide : "Particles Faster Than Light Detected" - The Statesman, 16 March, 1974; p. 4 (Col. - 1)
(5) Einstein : Ideas And Opinions : pp. 339-340.
(6) Bhattacharyya, S. R. : EFE : p. 151 & vide : pp. 152 ff.
(7) Bhattacharyya, Sailesh Ranjan : Some Reflections On The Philosophy Of Action; FIRMA KLM (P) Ltd., Calcutta, 1992; p. 151.