Encountering the Theory
Arthur M. Young tells the Story of how he encountered the Theory of Process (excerpted and paraphrased from Nested Time by Joan Schleicher).
In 1925, I was in school at Princeton, devoting myself to my newfound interest in math. I asked to have instruction in relativity, and was fortunate in that Oswald Veblen, one of America’s outstanding mathematicians, consented to give me a course. My text was Eddington’s Mathematical Theory of Relativity. Shortly before I graduated, my younger brother died tragically. The next years, 1927 and 1928, were the most difficult of my life, as I struggled to cope with the event. But during this period of self-examination, I began working on what I called my theory of structure, which was to be a comprehensive theory of the universe.
In October 1927, I came across a book named Universe, by Scudder Klyce (1921). It appeared to be similar to the book I intended to write. Before reading it, I scribbled inside its front cover a brief statement of my plans for a unifying theory of structure:
“My purpose is to give a formal description of Life, including the universe of matter, the universe of thought (idea), and an analytical method that would enable all known truths to be stated, and other truths to be predicted. To do this, it is necessary to make a study of everything the human race does, thinks, wants, etc., both from the scientific, or outside, point of view and from the point of view of one who participates, one who is a human being. It is also necessary to invent a nonspatial mathematics which will be capable of solving all problems of any kind (as is hinted at in my notes ‘Logic 1, 2, and 3’). The logic I use is thoroughly common sense, but must nevertheless be built up. Its important feature is that it has nothing to do with space, or rather the sense of space, from which the old Euclidean, Newtonian logic evolves. Structure is the theory that I will apply in the analysis of all fields-art, life, science, philosophy.”
Sometime later, my idea changed as I realized that no theory of structure could encompass the true nature of time, for it must recognize radical “discontinuities”-which is what I experienced with the death of my brother. I decided that only a theory of time structure would work, and I began to call it “process.” I do not recall how long it took me to recognize that “discontinuity” is inexplicable in terms of the space-time continuum as formulated in relativity.
After graduating from college, I began to explore various ideas for inventions—I made machinery to create abstract movies, built airplane propellers using rotary drums instead of blades, and envisioned a flying machine that could reach Mars. I also thought about other inventions to work on-3D movies, color photography, television-and I had even begun construction on a device to record sound magnetically on a steel wire. I applied for a patent on an invention I’d made, a “sealing wax pencil,” which was like a large fountain pen.
But the idea that most impressed me came from reading a book I found in the Library of Congress. It was Flettner’s The Story of the Rotor, which described the history of this invention. That night I had a dream image of a helicopter made after this fashion, with little men at the ends of the blades, periodically slowing and speeding up the small propellers to make the helicopter move horizontally. I was so inspired by this dream that I decided to make the helicopter my goal. At the Patent Office, I discovered that there had been many attempts at helicopters, but none successful. The likelihood that making a helicopter would take a long time did not deter me; in fact, it would be an advantage. If it took me a long while, I’d have time to catch up with the competition.
I told myself I would allow “ten to fifteen years” for the project, and then return to my theory of process. I thought of it like a problem in a physics book. Some problems have their answers in the back of the book, so you can check up on yourself. The same was true for the problem of the helicopter. I would be able to evaluate my solution. If it worked, I was right; if it didn’t, I was wrong. Philosophy had no such check. I had better prove myself adequate with what could be verified before venturing into areas that couldn’t.
Sixteen years later, in 1944, my efforts at invention concluded with the emergence of my helicopter, the Bell Model 47, as a viable entity-there were public demonstration flights, an article in Look magazine, and finally the underslung rotor, which corrected what I felt to be the only remaining flaw in the machine. In other words, I had achieved success. This affected me in a manner that is hard to describe. To say I felt high and dry, or as if my horse had been shot out from under me, doesn’t quite get it. In reaction, I dug up my old papers from 1927 to 1928, when I wrote “unconscious” poems and made notes on the theory of process. I copied these papers into a new notebook, and about a year later I began the writings that form the basis for my book The Bell Notes.
In 1945 the atom bomb served as an additional outer prod to this side of my nature. The possibility of the bomb was not new to me. It had been speculated on for years, and it was well known that there was tremendous energy locked in the atom. But the use of it to annihilate an entire city was a different matter; it dwarfed all ordinary activities and made them seem like a childish game. To be sure, I’d invested my career in the helicopter, and a lot of people now depended on it for their livelihoods. But if the atom bomb now defined our reality, then philosophy and the search for the principles of existence must take precedence.
Soon after the commercial license for the helicopter was issued in March 1946, I went to the Library of Congress, just as I had done in 1928, to seek out new challenges. Looking through the stacks in the section on metaphysics, I stumbled upon Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled, Manly P. Hall’s Encyclopedic Outline and other books on the esoteric. I delved eagerly into this new world of ideas. During this period I was also painting abstract pictures, and practicing yoga and meditation, all in an effort to grapple with the “unconscious.” Then came the bolt from the blue. I had a precognitive dream-a dream of something that happened in actuality two days later. I had begun reading J.W. Dunne’s An Experiment with Time, in which he tells about his experiments with future dreams. But what made the real impact was when it happened to me.
A few years later, I “went back to school.” I took up the study of astrology and attended classes taught by Marc Edmund Jones, and then I met MBM, May Benzenberg Mayer, and enlisted in her classes at the Source Teachings Society. I owe a great deal to MBM for her interpretations of symbols which became essential to the development of my theory of process. Her concept of the virgin birth alone was enough to change my attitude toward religion. As she pointed out, a virgin birth is a birth without a father. A father is a prior cause, as in the expression, “The wish is father to the deed.” So a birth without a father is a birth without a prior cause-it is “first cause.” Translating symbols further, the birth of Christ, which is a virgin birth, symbolizes the rebirth of the divine spark in man. This rebirth is not brought about by any outside cause, nor by any compulsion or necessity; it descends, as Shakespeare said of the spirit of mercy, “as the gentle rain from heaven.” One could also see the virgin birth as an awakening of what has been there all along. I have made much of this point in my theory, in the idea of the arc and the turn, and have applied it to all life. For example, the seed falls to the ground, and in due season draws on its own inner resources to put forth a sprout reaching toward the light, from which it draws energy for growth.
My work with MBM was but one of many unusual experiences I pursued during what I now call my “Gee Whiz” period. I sought out authentic demonstrations of paranormal phenomena, not so much as to believe in them, but to have my mind stretched. I doubt that one’s initial belief system, which is largely based on habit and tends to be compulsive, is fitted to stand in judgment of everything that comes along. Every new thing is unbelievable at first, and it is better to use belief or faith for its true function, that of supporting decisions made on the basis of evidence, and postpone judgment when such evidence is lacking.
After immersing myself in this education into the incredible, I knew that science was attending to only a portion of reality, and for the most part, omitting man and the central mystery: what is consciousness? I decided to set up the Foundation for the Study of Consciousness whose work would be to bring the focus back upon man, since all the scientific excursions into the vast reaches of the universe and the infinitesimally small nuclear realm are but reflections in a human mind, and subject to the distortions of the lens of our own consciousness. Initially, my goal was to encourage other people to develop a general theory of consciousness, with different minds contributing. I envisioned it to be an overall theory, not too complex, which would permit the adoption of new tenets toward a science of what I then called the nonphysical, but now name the projective realms of Nature.
After a few years of operations, the Foundation concluded that the so-called disciplines of the modern scientist are a handicap, not an advantage, in paranormal research. As for the goal of producing an overall theory of consciousness, two important concepts had emerged from my own independent studies. First, it was becoming clear that the common denominator, and indeed the essential ingredient in such disciplines as radionics, healing, psychometry, or dowsing was something we called the “operator factor.” Its two essential properties were nonobjectivity and uniqueness (non-repeatability.) Second, I had found within the boundaries of known science all that was needed to fabricate a framework of far-reaching philosophical ideas. This rich storehouse is hidden in the subject of mathematics, whose implications are often overlooked. In fact, much of the growth of modern science has stemmed from the application to physical problems of theories already worked out in mathematics. The theory of relativity is a case in point.
During a psychometry experiment with Frederick Marion, an idea was born that promised to lead toward a science including life and consciousness. It was the nuclear idea that we had been seeking all along. Marion was struggling to express the meaning of the symbol for the square root of minus one, ?-1, when he finally said, “This is what goes up when it is heavy.”
I realized that this was true of weight–the heavier an object is, the more it “goes down” (due to gravitation), but at the same time its weight “goes up.” What is weight? It is a measurement that conveys a rational meaning about the actual physical object that has the weight. Suddenly the pieces of the puzzle came together for me. I remembered that the mathematicians Gauss and Argand had shown that the square root of minus one could be graphically rendered as a right angle. Viewing this fact in the light of Marion’s interpretation, I saw that it was theoretically possible to conceive of the relation between a material object and its measurement as a right angle. This was a remarkable moment. For the first time, I saw a scientific formalism that could embrace and integrate the physical world of objects with its observer or operator, and thus provide a way to resolve the mind-body problem.
In the following weeks, as I contemplated the idea, I recognized that this was not the first time I had encountered orthogonality as a basic principle. It had been fundamental in my helicopter work. A helicopter obtains its vertical lift through the rotor which rotates in a horizontal plane. But in order for a helicopter to move horizontally, the path plane of its rotor tip must be tilted in the direction of the movement. To achieve the tilt, the angle of the blades to the wind must be changed. The maximum change of blade angle must anticipate the desired change of rotor angle by 90 degrees, a right angle. In other words, a maximum displacement (tilt) of the blade (or rotor) is a result of steering the blades into a new path, and occurs one-fourth of a cycle later. Thus, the way a helicopter functions is a demonstration of the orthogonality of control (the third derivative in calculus) and acceleration (the second derivative).
The discovery led me to study the tools and findings of science, or rather I should say to restudy them. I went back into science to “read between the lines.” Having found the nonphysical, nonobjective factor in mathematics, I was next able to uncover it in many areas of science.
In 1954, I recorded an insight in my notebook that later grew into another essential feature of my theory of process. I proposed thinking of the self as having components which are related to the powers represented by the planets in astrology-the cellular or vegetative organism being related to Jupiter, the animating or animal self to Mars and Venus, and consciousness to Mercury, and so on.
Although I did not acknowledge its contribution in all my books, I derived many ideas for the theory of process from astrology. The division of the circle of the zodiac into twelve signs and 360 degrees contributed to my search for the mathematics of “meaning” by correlation to angle. By exploring number intensively, I attempted to define the qualities associated with divisions of the whole, such as fourness and threeness. Most interesting of all was twoness, which turned out not to be the pairs of opposites one would expect (which are actually fourfolds). The only true dichotomy is rotation, clockwise or counterclockwise. I experimented with calculus and the cycle of action. By including the third derivative-familiar to me through my work with the helicopter-I constructed my geometry of meaning. By late 1954, I was able to portray it in a kind of “Rosetta Stone” correlating the meaning of the signs of the zodiac with the measure formulae of physics.
At the same time that these mathematical studies were under way, I was also practicing MBM’s advice and studying ancient mythology for comparison to scientific findings. Through her clear interpretation of myth, enigmas in science such as the origin of life were explained. She noted that cosmological myths often portray the “fall” of a hero or god, then a death and rebirth, followed by an “ascent”-during which what is lost in the fall is regained. For example, in Egyptian myth, Osiris is slain by his enemy Set and dismembered. Isis, mate of Osiris, gathers all his body parts except the phallus. Miraculously, she conceives by this corpse and gives birth to Horus, who later conquers Set. MBM explained that this is a virgin birth and symbolizes “first cause”; in a sense, it is yourself having your own rebirth. This insight provided me with the key to discovering the “turn” in the arc of the theory of process.
Many of the myths I studied talked about seven stages of creation. I had a hard time accepting that the number seven had any special significance until early 1956 when Harry Smith (an artist and scholar who was helping me with myth) reminded me about the torus. The topology of the torus, or donut shape, requires seven hues in order to color a map on its surface in such a way that no two adjacent areas have the same color. This was a very important confirmation for sevenness. In effect, I had been given permission from mathematics to hypothesize seven stages in the theory of process.
Further confirmation of the number seven came during the summer of 1956 while I read Sinnet’s The Mahatma Letters. Written in 1884, the book was difficult to understand and seemed to go very deep. I could feel that these were superior beings talking, not so much because of their wisdom as because of their directness and honesty. The Letters say that there are seven stages of evolution and named three as the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. There is also one kingdom beyond the animal and this was the human. In addition, three kingdoms precede the mineral, but the Letters could not say what these three were because science had not yet discovered them. In 1884, the details about atoms were not known, although their existence had been postulated. Science had no idea yet of nuclear particles.
With the help of my more modern science, I was able to fill in six of the seven stages. I realized that the mineral kingdom would be molecules; atoms would be the kingdom below molecules, and protons and electrons would be below atoms. But there was still one stage that science did not identify and which I called subnuclear. Only later did I realize that it was light.
In 1957, I made my first attempt to portray the theory of process in the shape of an arc. I had the topology of the torus to authorize the seven stages described by the myths and dictated by The Mahatma Letters. The circularity in the torus form suggested that the turn (the virgin birth of myth), could be taken figuratively, and because of my research with Marion I knew that it would be best expressed by a right angle. Again following MBM’s advice, I tried to gain insight into the meaning of the seven stages through myth-this time, by characterizing the stages of process using the myths associated with the planets by name, beginning with Pluto at the first stage.
Pluto is the most distant planet from the sun. In myth, Pluto pulls Proserpine down into the lower world. This story signifies the first descent of the monad into manifestation, or in terms of the theory of process, “purposive action.” The second most distant planet is Neptune, who is the god of the sea and carries a trident. The astrological glyph for Neptune looks like a trident and also the Greek letter, psi, as in psyche, the soul. The second stage of process concerns the boundless deeps, ceaseless motion, and emotion.
The third stage of process correlates with Uranus, the third most distant planet. Uranus is the sky god, connoting “space” in which things are separate. In astrology, Uranus concerns self-determination or the ego. Next is the planet Saturn with its rings, representing fixed boundaries and the fourth stage of process, where we find the deterministic laws governing physical objects.
Saturn in Greek myth is called Cronus, who receives a warning that one of his children will overthrow him, so he swallows each one after it is born. His wife Rhea wraps a stone in swaddling clothes and feeds it to Cronus in place of their newborn son, Zeus/Jupiter. Rhea’s ruse enables Zeus to escape, and ultimately he becomes king. Thus Zeus, the planet Jupiter in astrology, is the power of self-reproduction and growth which escapes the laws and makes life possible.
In my theory, Jupiter/Zeus represents the fifth stage and the plant kingdom, in the sense that plants not only reverse entropy by storing energy, but also transcend time (Cronos) by producing seeds to perpetuate the life of the species. Zeus’s escape is a form of the virgin birth. In recognizing the law, one is enabled to use the law, as Rhea did when she gave the stone to Cronus. I have always felt that this is what the inventor does; he recognizes the law, and applies it in new ways. Without laws, an invention wouldn’t work.
Next in orbital position are Mars (the red planet, the warrior), and Venus (the cloud-veiled planet, the goddess of love). Together they represent the sixth stage of process in their combined dynamic of action and satisfaction, and also the animal kingdom and the principle of “mobility.” Finally there is Mercury, closest planet to the sun. In myth, he carries the messages of the gods, and symbolizes the seventh stage in the arc of process.
I drew the arc using these seven distinct stages, each stage having the meaning of the corresponding planet. I represented the directionality of the arc by an arrow, indicating that process is set in motion by intention or purpose. Each stage develops a new power, as represented by the powers of the planets, and the powers are cumulative-that is, each stage retains the powers developed in the preceding stages. At this first attempt, I was able to fill in kingdoms of nature for all the stages except the first one. When I arranged the seven stages of process along the V-shaped arc, with the fourth at the turn, I realized that the stages naturally lined up on four levels.
Myth, science, philosophy, and almost any serious effort to describe cosmology, are replete with groups of four. The American Indians have their gods of the four directions; even before the Greeks there were the four elements; Aristotle had his four causes. In psychology, Jung identified the four functions. In topology, there is the four-color problem for a plane surface. I had already discovered that the principle of fourness could always be represented as two independent dichotomies at right angles to one another. Thus black and white, plus and minus, north and south are opposites; if we add them together, the result is zero. Opposites cancel one another; those at right angles are complementary; and their combination, as in length and width, produces an area.
I made use of these basic facts to describe the four levels. The assignment of meaning to the levels is crucial. Each level must accommodate many instances, so the distinction between levels is of paramount importance. I even found that the levels constitute different logical types in philosophy. The stages on the right- and left-hand branches of the arc at the same level have properties in common. To avoid the difficulties that can arise with colloquial uses of terms such as “spirit” or “mind,” I prefered to define the levels in terms of constraints. Thus:
- Level I, Purpose, is defined as free of any constraint: having 3 degrees of freedom, and 0 degrees of constraint.
- Level II, Substance, is subject to the constraint of time (one dimension), and so it has 2 degrees of freedom, and 1 degree of constraint.
- Level III, Form, is subject to the constraint of space (two dimensions), and so it has 1 degree of freedom, and 2 degrees of constraint.
- Level IV, Combination, is subject to the constraints of time and space (three dimensions), and so it has 0 degrees of freedom, and 3 degrees of constraint.
Another way of defining the levels is by the use of two dichotomies-particular versus general, and projective versus objective. Thus:
- Level I is projective and particular (the purpose, intention).
- Level II is projective and general (belief, prejudice, value).
- Level III is objective and general (concepts, classifications, words).
- Level IV is objective and particular (actual objects: my glasses, this chair).
The four levels are a visible scaffold on which the invisible temple of life is erected. The divine constructs a physical and objective vehicle which it uses to perfect or express itself, much as our desire to communicate constructs language to convey thought. The levels represent both the steps going down-the descent of the divine spark into matter (the prerequisite for the turn or Virgin Birth), and the steps going up-the ascent back to freedom.
In the late 1950s, I read an article by my mentor at Princeton, Oswald Veblen, that provided an important sanction for sevenness. Co-authored with J. W. Young, “A Mathematical Science” is a contribution to set theory, and consists of a set of seven postulates. Only four postulates are required for Euclidean geometry. Veblen’s postulates include the six required for projective geometry, the geometry of perspective, to which one more is added. The seventh postulate is, “No class shall contain more than three elements.”
This article by Veblen and Young was very important to me because it provided more theoretical reasons why seven was uniquely suitable to a cosmology. By using their “committee” approach, I was also able to elaborate on the dynamics among the powers or principles represented by the stages of process, and show how they are expressed in three distinct kinds of evolution. This idea was another revelation afforded by the theory of process.
Although I had the concepts of “potential” and “first cause” to characterize the first stage of the arc of process, I struggled for some time before I could find how it figured among the kingdoms of nature. Part of the problem may have been that quantum physics was not in the curriculum when I was at Princeton. Only later, when I studied the subject on my own, did I discover the most vital component for the theory of process in the quantum of action. I realized that it was possible to see h in a new role-as the measure of uncertainty.
In the case of an electron, h is very small but still sufficient to prevent accurate knowledge of its future. But what happens if we try to predict the photon? We need not shine light upon it, since it is light. The only way we can be aware of the photon is to absorb it, either on a photographic plate or on our own retina. Once we do this, the photon no longer exists. We located where it was, but it has no future to predict! This is, in a sense, complete unpredictability. As Max Planck said, the photon equals h.
To repeat, the act of observation annihilates the photon; thus, the photon is totally unpredictable, uncertain. And this is the definition of first cause-that which has no antecedents, and has no cause. I would go so far as to say that the photon and the act of observing it are of the same order. The light of nature and the light of consciousness are comparable.
I was able to complete the theory’s arc of evolutionary process when I recognized that something that is not matter creates matter, and what is not matter is the quantum of action, or light, equivalent to spirit. The myths say: “In the beginning was light.” In the 1920s, physics seemed to be coming to the same conclusion but more recently the true meaning of the photon is being overlooked. Regarded as just another particle, the photon is scarcely mentioned in modern college textbooks.
There is another realization that must be made. The amount of energy in the quantum of action is far too small, as several philosophers have noted, even to lift one’s little finger, too small even for a flea to lift its little finger. What is required is the “trigger effect”-the capacity, through an organic or mechanical device, for a very small energy to produce large results. A photon of light can open the supermarket door, or can be employed to blow up a city.
Our own bodies are a hierarchy of systems. The quantum of action does not lift one’s little finger -the muscles do that. However, the muscles are controlled by the nerves, and the nerves by chemical bonds, which in turn are controlled by photons. The body’s growth is governed by DNA, which itself is also triggered by chemical bonds, and the bonds by photons.
The greatest support for concepts in the theory concerning light came from Arthur Eddington. In his New Pathways in Science, he describes the fine structure constant as the ratio of the quantum of “particle action” to the quantum of “field action.” By field action he means the photon, or quantum of action. The fine structure constant has a value of 1/137. It was so named because there seemed to be some uncertainty about the precise energy of the electron. My interpretation is that this “probability fog” is the excess energy that remains when the action of the photon is condensed into mass in pair creation. I view this excess energy as the “self energy” of the electron; the photon itself is 100 percent uncertain. The self energy of the electron goes on to become the free energy of the atom, then the free energy of the molecule, and finally the monad that is responsible for life. Thus, the fine structure constant represents the carrying-on of first cause into materialization that eventually makes possible the turn.
I owe a number of my other ideas to Eddington too, including the measurement of uncertainty. According to him, 100 percent uncertainty would be a circle of 360 degrees, or 2π. Using this tactic, he was able to include uncertainty as a dimension in his mathematical calculations. In applying this work to my own theory, I found that what I call Level I-“outside of” space and time and not measurable in terms of extension (feet or seconds)-still has potential direction, which can be specified as an angle. I could then speak of the zeroth dimension as angle, orientation, or direction. Thanks to Eddington, I was provided with a method that could give purpose the formal recognition it deserves; it is direction, or angle.
Using his alternative view of dimension, Eddington developed a solution to the problem of how to unify relativity and quantum theory. He shows how to model all time (the history of the universe) and all space by including the uncertainty (multiplying by 2π) and fixing the scale by omitting it as a variable (multiplying by 3/4). Thus he transforms the sphere, 4/3 πR3, to the hypersphere, 2π2R3:
3/4 x 2π x 4/3 π/R3 = 2π2R3.
Where is time? It is accommodated in the extra 2? The uncertainty is what is common to both a quantum system and the molar universe! For me, it is also gratifying to find here another confirmation of the theory of process in that 2π2R3 is also the formula for the torus with infinitely small hole, which is the “shape” of the universe postulated by the theory.
By the late 1950s, the overall scheme of the theory was nearly complete. Then, I came across an old biology book that divided the animal kingdom into eight phyla. Studying it from the perspective of the theory of process, I realized that by combining starfish and mollusks into one category (having many organs, which are not arranged in hierarchical order), I would have seven “substages” of animals, each substage having attributes appropriate to that general stage of the theory. Thus, coelenterates were third substage because they were the first to have an organ, the stomach (coel = hollow; entera = entrails), and hence an identity, as compared to the sponges, which have no identity; you can cut a sponge in two and still have two living sponges. I found the same was true for the other kingdoms, although I was not able to fill in some substages, such as the molecules that grow, or those that move, until later.
Dividing the stages into seven substages made it possible to map out the kingdoms of nature in a “grid” format, with its vertical columns having the same key words as its horizontal rows. This 7 by 7 grid, next to sevenness itself, was the most important development for the theory, since the grid revealed voids in our knowledge and suggested discoveries science had not yet made. In addition, the grid was most helpful in expressing the ideas of the theory to others.
In 1961, I was ready to present seminars on the theory of process. I described it as “autogenesis” in the notice I gave to my first audience:
The theory of autogenesis takes as its necessary field of investigation the whole of natural phenomena and divides life forms into a number of kingdoms or stages, of which Aristotle’s division of animal, vegetable, and mineral comprise three. Other stages below the mineral (or in modern terms, the molecular) include the atomic, the nuclear, and the subnuclear and one above animal which includes man and possibly higher forms.
By careful examination of these stages it is possible to construct a theory of process, whose basic dynamic is cumulative and self-integrating, consisting of a finite number of distinct sequential steps, each one integrating the preceding steps until a formal culmination is reached. Complementing this inductive treatment, the deductive necessity of each sequence can be shown, and it becomes possible to apply the theory to examples of process as diverse as the evolution of molecules and of language. The recognition of the relation between corresponding steps of separate stages provides insight into otherwise incomprehensible aspects of physics, chemistry, and biology, and also points to an underlying pattern in the evolution of man.
To lay the basis for this theory it was first necessary to provide a tool to deal with aspects of reality that cannot be conceptually defined. This tool, called “the geometry of meaning,” makes possible the inclusion of the observer as well as the observed. By applying this tool, it has been possible to deal with realities previously avoided by science because there has been no language or “geometry” sufficiently precise for their exploration.
Today, in 1994, a deterministic worldview continues to dominate our civilization. The whole architecture of modern science is based on the assumption that the universe can be described by physical laws involving three variables-mass, length, and time. The powers of fear, love, hate, and consciousness do not fit into the equation. Nonobjective features of our experience were ruled out of consideration at the birth of determinist science in the 1600s. Ousted with them were all topics of religious belief and all metaphysical practices involving what we now call “paranormal phenomena.” After 400 years of repression, it is no wonder that the reality of such things is doubted by the public. I believe that our overall worldview must be expanded, our scientific paradigm adjusted, so we are prepared to understand and cope responsibly with all the mysteries of nature, not just the objective parts.
My theory of process is an effort to correct the one-sidedness of a science based only on what is physical and objective. How does the theory of process differ from science? How does a key differ from a lock? I would like to say that the theory unlocks the treasures that still remain hidden in the vaults of science.
One of these treasures is purpose. Purpose is just as important in cosmology as it is in life. Purpose gives initiative and direction; it guides and controls our living. It does the same for cosmogenesis. If we look for purpose in science we can find it in the quantum of action. As J. A. Wheeler declared: “It [the quantum] may someday turn out to be the fundamental building block of all that is, more basic even than the particles or fields of force or space and time themselves.” (See “Bohr, Einstein, and the Strange Lesson of the Quantum” in Mind in Nature, ed. Richard Q. Elvee, New York: Harper & Row, 1982.)
Another unrecognized tool for expanding the horizons of our scientific knowledge is found in calculus. The third derivative in calculus is that which changes acceleration, in the same sense that acceleration (the second derivative) changes velocity, and velocity (the first derivative) changes position. What changes acceleration, as I learned with the helicopter, is the decision of the operator to do so. Thus, the third derivative provides for the exercise of free choice, or control, in an otherwise deterministic system. We no longer need think of the laws of nature as preventing free will. Rather, it is possible to appreciate that determinism, the principle by which a cause produces an effect, is used by free will to fulfill its purposes.
Another contribution of the theory of process is its treatment of time. To science, time is an embarrassment; it cannot be defined or conceptualized. The formulas of physics apply equally to time going backwards or forwards. Despite the great discovery by science that the production of matter is accompanied by the production of antimatter (which goes backward in time), there is no meaningful interpretation of the phenomenon. To my knowledge there is no way yet in theoretical science to account for the direction of time, or its cumulative nature, or for the fact that we look to the future to attain our goals. In contrast, the theory of process recognizes the constraint of time to be the basis for the experiential difference between cause and effect. The theory also acknowledges the equally important function of inference, which is the reversal of time in imagination and reasoning. Exercising the power of inference is a component of the turn and subsequent evolution of life. Thus, the theory of process reveals the dynamics of both time and its inverse.
What is the main point of the theory-the reason it is different from modern science, and therefore able to make a contribution to contemporary thought? Its main point is that what is not objective in the universe is just as important as what is objective, if not more so.