David Birnbaum’s Potentialism Philosophy:
The (Sole) Close Causal Loop Metaphysics
By Mark Davis
Potentialism, as envisioned by iconoclast conceptual theorist David Birnbaum, has been heralded as the one true closed causal loop metaphysics. Potentialism is detailed in Birnbaum's Summa Metaphysica I, II and III (Ktav Publishing, 1988; New Paradigm Matrix, 2005; and New Paradigm Matrix, 2014, respectively). The treatise elucidates the overarching force of cosmic design. Encapsulated, the Birnbaum theory hypothesizes that one single dynamic – Quest for Potential (infinitely recursive) – ignited and drives-forth the entire cosmic order to this day. Its hypothesized goal is (Birnbaum’s coined term) Extraordinariation (see Extraordinariation.com).
In it, Birnbaum elucidates the inter-related dynamics of Quest for Potential (as ‘cosmic push’) and Extraordinariation (as ‘cosmic pull’). The cosmic loop can be expressed as:
Quest for Potential < loop > Extraordinariation
or using shorthand notation
Q4P < loop > E+
In Birnbaumian cosmology, the universe follows a clear destination: As the universe builds in Potential – the Potential for what it can and will be – it strives towards ever greater, infinite complexity towards a state of Extraordinariation. Evidence of this Infinite Quest for Potential can be seen in empirical observations of what Birnbaum refers to as Quantum Jumps (shorthand: QJ) – watershed moments where the universe can be seen to quantum step-up its inherent Complexity/Sophistication (see www.Glossary1000.com)
Birnbaum refers to these ‘QJ’ moments as quantum in nature, because they are clear expressions of undeniable step-up growth in Complexity: When the first atoms formed, when photons decoupled from matter, when the first molecules formed. These are undeniable truths in the galactic history which fundamentally changed the operations of physics itself (see ParadigmChallenge.com).
But what is specifically at issue here is the closed causal loop nature of Potentialism—the only metaphysics which – ever – to have managed to suffer and survive the arrows of all challengers. The Theory of Potential happens-to-be, as well, a ‘closed-loop metaphysics. Serious cosmologists have posited that the optimal metaphysics would indeed be a ‘closed loop’ metaphysic – as no external force is needed to actualize it.
To illuminate the closed causal nature of Potentialism, it is easiest to envision Potentialism as a spiral of cause and effect. Indeed, spiral forms are a central dynamic of Potentialism. The ‘spiral’ is apparent in both the trajectory of solar systems as well as in greater galactic structures. And, according to Potentialism, anything that is universally true, often has a physical manifestation in the physical universe itself.
Quest for Infinite Potential drives-forward towards Infinite Complexity/Sophistication – which-in turn seeks-after its own Potential.
Q4P∞ > E+ > Q4P∞ > E+ > Q4P∞ > E+ ad infinitum
(‘Cosmic push’) Quest for Potential advances towards (‘cosmic pull’) Extraordinariation. In-tandem this spiral causes the universe to seek after its own Potential - infinitely and inexorably.
The dynamic is often viewed by Potentialists themselves as a spiral, as one causes/energizes another, in an ongoing spiraling loop. This is the inherent closed causal loop we speak of. A true, closed causal loop should be both the instigator and result of itself.
Paul Davies, in the Goldilocks Enigma (Penguin Press, 2006), described such a closed causal loop:
“A fully satisfactory explanatory loop would have to yield a complete explanation for everything, laws included. It should also tell us why those laws are bio-friendly.” And, indeed our Theory of Potential loop does both (a) provide a universal explanation and (b) is bio-friendly because bio is a route via life to Extraordiariation.
To John Wheeler, a closed causal loop goes one step further. Wheeler introduced the participatory principle. Wheeler states that in a closed causal system, the universe needs not only to be self-creating, but it must also contain observers – in short, the universe must create its own awareness to fulfill its state of closed causality. Wheeler is recognized as a giant in Physics. He collaborated with the likes of Einstein, Neil Bohr and Richard Feynman. Wheeler’s Participatory Anthropic Principle, which states the need for the universe to have a conscious observer for its full existence, carries not insignificant weight in the scientific community.
Accepting Wheeler's challenge is Potentialism (see www.PotentialismTheory.com). In a Potentialist universe, the universe itself necessarily moves towards greater and greater complexity. And it necessarily incorporates the birth of conscious observation, as it is a necessary step towards the ever increasing Complexity/Sophistication of the cosmos.
It is no happenstance that Q4P∞ and E+ can sit on either side of the Potentialist cosmic equation. They are both, the beginning and end, the alpha and omega. To understand this fully, we must look at the nature of each (see www.SummaCoverage.com)
‘Cosmic push’ Potential is drawn forward by ‘cosmic pull’ Extraordinariation – which itself is an infinite multiplicity of Potentials seeking after Extraordinariation – which
a) ongoing instigates Quest for Potential; the two dynamics ratchet-off of each other; the greater the one, the greater the other, and
b) in a cosmos which has components of circularity in time, Extraordinariation possibly loops-around, and catches-a-ride on Quest for Potential to supercharge the in-tandem quest
– both components in an infinite ratcheting/looping. Sort of a Cosmic Particle Accelerator in a spiral loop; only here it is a Cosmic Potential Accelerator.
As one can readily see, en toto this fits the definition of a ‘closed causal system’ which Wheeler and Davies have both sought. The Potentialism system is both the result and cause of itself. While Wheeler and Davies were seeking a single element, what they really needed to look for was a single ‘concept’ or ‘dynamic’. And Potentialism clearly provides both ‘concept’ and ‘dynamic’: Potential is both the cause-of and the result-of the universe itself. Birnbaum's simple, elegant, innately intuitive core formula of cosmology is:
Q4P∞ → E+
Quest for Potential within Potential > is both ignited-by and seeks-after >
the infinite multiplicities of Potential (Extraordinariation)
– themselves questing after their in-tandem infinite potentials.
Thus, the (sole) closed causal loop.
The ‘initial’ spark? Not so simple at all. A cosmic veil cloaks this component. On some level, the very possibility of Extraordinariation ‘down-the-road’ retroactively sparks the process. But of course intuitively we now know, that both metaphysical PUSH (Q4P) and metaphysical PULL (E+) in-concert exerted sufficient (neo-sexual) ‘friction’ to produce the ‘initial spark.’ One can hypothesize simply that if there were no drive whatsoever inherent in cosmic realms to advance/complexify/potentialize, then we simply would have Nothing.