Jim A.

The "Grand Unification" Theory

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I am not a physicist.

However, in physics, over the last few decades, there has been talk of a search for a "Grand Unification Theory" that could "explain" the Universe; in other words, a very simple theory that would make clear the very nature of the Universe: what it is, exactly; where it came from; and how it works. (As I recall, Stephen Hawking is one of the physicists who are "searching".)

Well, we as Objectivists already know what it is--it is, as Nathanael Branden once put it in an article in The Objectivist Newsletter, the "totality" of everything that exists. But where it "came" from, and "how" it works--hasn't that already been identified?

Didn't Aristotle identify it, over two thousand years ago? Isn't the "Grand Unification Theory" actually the Law of Identity? Wouldn't that naturally be the idea that unifies--and, therefore, explains--everything?

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I am not a physicist.

However, in physics, over the last few decades, there has been talk of a search for a "Grand Unification Theory" that could "explain" the Universe; in other words, a very simple theory that would make clear the very nature of the Universe: what it is, exactly; where it came from; and how it works. (As I recall, Stephen Hawking is one of the physicists who are "searching".)

Well, we as Objectivists already know what it is--it is, as Nathanael Branden once put it in an article in The Objectivist Newsletter, the "totality" of everything that exists. But where it "came" from, and "how" it works--hasn't that already been identified?

Didn't Aristotle identify it, over two thousand years ago? Isn't the "Grand Unification Theory" actually the Law of Identity? Wouldn't that naturally be the idea that unifies--and, therefore, explains--everything?

No, because one does not deduce reality from the Law of Identity or any philosophic prinicple. The fact that you know something is, doesn't tell you what it is or how it will interact with other entities or why it interacts in that manner. That is for the specialized sciences to determine.

Also, the quest of a Unification Theory (as a scientific theory) has been around since at least Einstein's day, if not longer.

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what it is, exactly; where it came from; and how it works.

Branden only dealt with the second question, pointing out that it is based on the error of not accepting the absolutism of existence. "Existence exists, and only existence exists." The other two are open questions to be answered by the special sciences--that is, other sciences than philosophy.

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Didn't Aristotle identify it, over two thousand years ago? Isn't the "Grand Unification Theory" actually the Law of Identity? Wouldn't that naturally be the idea that unifies--and, therefore, explains--everything?

The law of identity is a crucial axiomatic starting point, but as an extremely high level philosophic principle it doesn't provide any of the details needed to concretely grasp the laws of nature. That is the task of science, properly guided by the law of identity and logical corollaries. Without scientific theories to drive engineering, we'd still be in the existential state of the ancient Greeks, without industrial civilization.

Unification theories are an attempt to provide a specific, detailed analysis of the laws of nature that apply to all of existence. In the context of science, they could be seen as a sort of scientific philosophy - the most all reaching ideas which explain and unify our specific observations of the universe.

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Also, the quest of a Unification Theory (as a scientific theory) has been around since at least Einstein's day, if not longer.

Newton unified terrestrial gravitation and the gravitation that moved celestial bodies.

Faraday and Maxwell unified the electrical force and the magnetic force.

More recently the electromagnetic force and the weak force have been unified.

The holdouts are the strong nuclear force and gravitation.

Bob Kolker

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what it is, exactly; where it came from; and how it works.

Branden only dealt with the second question, pointing out that it is based on the error of not accepting the absolutism of existence. "Existence exists, and only existence exists." The other two are open questions to be answered by the special sciences--that is, other sciences than philosophy.

I would add to my own comment here that even the first question seems wrongheaded: one could only say "what it [the universe] is" in terms of what we already know to exist. But a definition must exclude the concept being defined.

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