Classical Physics and its Determinism
SUMMARY: We have studied the way in which man's mind works upon the 'changing differentiated continuum of immediately apprehended experience' in an effort to force it into a pattern that will be meaningful and manipulatable. Individual 'percepts' are mentally combined to form 'concepts', the concepts are represented by symbols, and the symbols are organized into a symbolic world picture. This picture is what we will be referring to when we speak of 'reality'. Since it is dependent upon the nature of our experience, and our method of organizing percepts, it is not fixed for all time. It has changed in the past, and is very much in flux at the present time. The symbolic world picture, called a semiotic, is broken down for analysis into three interlocking parts: the set of assumed postulates which form the basis of the system--the pragmatic part, the logical elaboration of the postulates into individual theorems and statements--the syntax, and the correlation between elements of the syntax and particular perceptual events in experience--the semantic part. Our ordinary language and physics are two examples of such semiotics.
The 'proof' of any world picture can only lie in its continuing successful prediction of perceptual experiences. In each test it is always the entire theory that is subject to verification or refutation. Continued verification leads to our placing increasing reliance upon the theory, refutation (and it is essential that a good test place the theory in jeopardy) requires the modification of at least some part of the theory. However, in general, a predictive failure does not specify the particular part needing modification, only the need for some change.
This analysis is applied to 'causality'. We recognize that 'cause' is a relational type of concept far along towards the pure concept end of the percept-concept spectrum, and without any direct denotatum in experience. In consequence, when looking for 'cause', we must examine the semiotic used to represent experience symbolically, rather than go searching through the experiences themselves. A semiotic may be causal- deterministic or not. It happens, as we have seen, that our common
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Publication information: Book title: Free-Will and Determinism. Contributors: Allan M. Munn - Author. Publisher: University of Toronto Press. Place of publication: Toronto. Publication year: 1960. Page number: 60.
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