Classical Theism, Philosophy, and Religion Forum

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?



5/06/2017 12:07 pm  #1


The Four Fundamental Forces

As I have walked thru the argument from cause, i.e., every effect has a cause apart from itself, my interlocutor brings up the fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetic, strong & weak).   He argues that, at least, 2 of those forces are "internal" to the atom and not something apart from it;  perhaps even all 4 forces are internal to the tiniest particle of matter.  If true, and I haven't conceded that yet, does that change anything in the cause-and-effect argument or in the argument from motion -- that we have an effect coming from a cause within?  Or do we ask "what caused the 4 forces"?

 

5/07/2017 3:12 am  #2


Re: The Four Fundamental Forces

I don't really see how the fundamental forces are relevant to the argument. No one is arguing that you can't have "an effect coming from a cause within". The argument requires that an effect cannot be the cause of itself, not that a cause cannot arise from within the thing that is affected. For someone who accepts the second way, there can happily be "self-movers" in the weak sense of things that affect themselves, just not in the strong sense of things that cause themselves to be.

 

5/07/2017 2:39 pm  #3


Re: The Four Fundamental Forces

That's on me then.  As I understood, causes must be from without. 

Alexander, if I said to you that the strong force (cause), which keeps protons and neutrons together (effect) in the nucleus of the atom, is "from within" the atom itself.  You would respond, "So what? The EFFECT of the protons & neutrons staying together is CAUSED by the strong force.  They are not kept together by themselves.  So the next question you can ask is ''WHAT is causing the strong force?'"

Is that essentially correct?

Last edited by joewaked (5/07/2017 5:46 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

5/08/2017 8:51 am  #4


Re: The Four Fundamental Forces

joewaked wrote:

Alexander, if I said to you that the strong force (cause), which keeps protons and neutrons together (effect) in the nucleus of the atom, is "from within" the atom itself. You would respond, "So what? The EFFECT of the protons & neutrons staying together is CAUSED by the strong force. They are not kept together by themselves. So the next question you can ask is ''WHAT is causing the strong force?'"

Is that essentially correct?

Well, I would be careful about how to phrase it, because we're talking as much about a specific bit of physics as general metaphysical principles. The nucleons may well be kept together by themselves in some sense. The crucial philosophical point, as I say, is that the effect is not the cause of itself - not that something can't be a cause of its own action or of some new feature of itself. Otherwise, free will (and living things, at least as understood by an Aristotelian) would clearly be impossible.

​In some sense it is true to say that the strong force is caused by the nucleons* (more accurately, the strong force couples to the constituent quarks, as well as the massless gluons which actually carry the strong force, but this physical detail isn't relevant to the point), and therefore that the nucleons are the cause of their own attraction to one another, but that attractive force is the effect here, and is clearly distinct from the nucleons themselves, as well as their initial proximity which allowed the short-range strong force to take effect. So we cannot use nucleons interacting via the strong force as an example of strict "self-movers" in a sense that would damage an Aristotelian argument.

*It is, at any rate, as true to say this as it is to say "charged objects are the cause of (produce) the EM force", which might turn out to be an inadequate way of putting it on further analysis, but is basically fine.

 

5/08/2017 10:55 am  #5


Re: The Four Fundamental Forces

Thank you for the detailed explanation!  Especially the analogy with the free will - very helpful.

I've been trying to read up on massless particles, such as gluons.  Really difficult to wrap my head around.  If such things like gluons (or light waves I suppose) are immaterial, does that have any impact on our A-T metaphysics?

     Thread Starter
 

5/08/2017 11:31 am  #6


Re: The Four Fundamental Forces

joewaked wrote:

I've been trying to read up on massless particles, such as gluons. Really difficult to wrap my head around. If such things like gluons (or light waves I suppose) are immaterial, does that have any impact on our A-T metaphysics?

I don't think "mass" is necessarily equivalent to "matter". I know it's easy to associate the two, because if something doesn't have mass it seems instinctively "unsubstantial", but the way mass is understood in physics is a very different idea to matter in A-T hylemorphism. For a physicist, to say something has mass is to say it has a rest energy. Meanwhile, something is material (in the A-T sense) if it is composite, if it can undergo substantial change, if it has extension in space (which seems to be true of anything that exists and moves in space, including photons and gluons).

So massless partices like photons and gluons strike me as clearly physical and material in a way Aquinas could have appreciated (though his physics is obviously outdated), even though they are massless. But I haven't ever explored the question of how A-T metaphysics would consider massless physical substances - it would be interesting to know if anyone has - so I'm sorry I can't answer your concern in any depth.

 

Board footera

 

Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum