Mechanics of Potentialism

May 15, 2014

Mechanics of Potentialism


The Pillars of David Birnbaum’s Summa Metaphysica:

Q4P and E+


By Mark Davis


Potentialism is a highly-sophisticated overarching metaphysics/cosmology designed by independent scholar David Birnbaum in his ground breaking, three-part Summa Metaphysica treatise (1988, 2005, 2014). The metaphysics endeavors to incorporate all known scientific data into an elegant and seamless thesis. No flaw has been discerned in the theory which was the subject of a focused 4-day international academic conference at Bard College.

Birnbaum is compelled to develop a new lexicon and new ‘tool kit’ to explicate his elegant and dramatically original theory. Potentialism Theory has been featured in over 30 articles in sundry journals in the 2013-2014 period alone to-date.. Over a dozen institutions of higher learning have assigned Summa Metaphysica as a Course Text.

Per Birnbaum, one dynamic is the ‘platform’ for the entire cosmic order – and that dynamic is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional Potential. To say that the dynamic is suis generis is, of course, an understatement.

In Birnbaum’s schema, two mirror-dynamics of Potential (Q4P and E+) resonate against each other. As well, the two dynamics possibly loop around each other in a closed loop. Note that a closed loop cosmology is, according to cosmologist Paul Davies, for one, the holy grail of cosmology.

The first dynamic is Q4P, which is shorthand notation for - Quest for Potential infinitely iterated ( see, The obverse side of the coin is E+, which is shorthand notation for Extraordinariation ( see ), the cosmic ‘end goal’ of maximum quest for Potential.

Note that along-the-way, as Q4P advances the cosmic order towards E+, there are periodic QJ (Quantum Jump) events, e.g. the Big Bang.   A QJ is a mini-Extraordinariation event. Note that QJ events do not unfold in a single linear track, but radiate outwards into multiple QJ events.

The intermediate stages between QJ events are called PA (Potential Array) states, as the panoply of Potential as a consequence of each QJ begin to be played-out.   Thus, simplified radically, one single Potential track would show a sequence Q4P > multiple PA >   multiple QJ   >   E+.

Thus our cosmos is a panoply of QJs radiating outwards, each in-turn with its own penumbra of PAs

( Potential Arrays), with the sum-total, work-in-progress penumbra defining the cosmic track towards E+. [On some level it replicates a multi-generational family radiating-outwards from the original ‘family founder’ couple. Each descendant-couple represents a QJ event, and each is surrounded by its own PA (Potential Array) of children, their emotions, their achievements, their relationships and on-and-on.]

In turn, all these dynamics – Q4P, PA, QJ and E+ - operate within CWP which is shorthand notation for Birnbaum’s hypothesized quantum Cosmic Womb of Potential. See also MIT’s Seth Lloyd:

Summa Metaphysica’s three volumes are subtitled respectively Religious Man; Spiritual Man; and Secular Man. The author looks at the same dynamic through three different lenses, and is fine with each of them. This piece will focus on the secular lens.  

Operating within the Cosmic Womb of Potential, Quest for Potential (Q4P) seeks-after (quests-after) Extraordinariation. Symbolically, CWP [ Q4P∞→E+]:   Potentialism rests squarely on this proposed metaphysical theorem. In this paper, we will explore the interrelationship of Q4P and E+ more fully.

Q4P∞→E+ is clearly a causal relationship.

The universe realizes moments of QJ (Quantum Jumps) – watershed, critical-mass moments where its complexity/sophistication increases not on incremental level, but rather, on a quantum level.

While simplified, this is a bird's eye view of Potentialism from a philosophical perspective. As the universe strives towards a more complex state of Potential, we witness, episodically, moments of QJ – or fundamental moments where the complexity/sophistication of the universe increases by a quantum level.

But, like most comprehensive cosmological theories, there are multiple lenses through which it can be viewed. One overarching principle in Potentialism is duality. This is hardly a new concept. It has been expressed in many philosophies, sciences and religions: energy vs. matter, yin vs. yang, positive vs. negative. So, we'll examine Potentialism though different filters to gain a better understanding of this cosmological opus.


Analog versus Digital

A common question to those new to Potentialism revolves around QJ events.   QJ events are of course mini-E+ events (or mini-Extraordinariation events). Of course these ( for example the Big Bang) are objectively not so “mini”.

These episodic ‘events’ tend to be dramatic in scope. An example would be when the universe transitioned between atomic complexity and molecular completely – a moment when the entire physiology of the universe underwent a fundamental change in complexity. However, Q4P is expressed as an omnipresent force of change. So, the question would be what is the relationship between Q4P and E+.

To understand this, one must look at Q4P as analogous to an analog force. By contrast, Extraordinariation is a digital force. By that, we mean Extraordinariation (whether so to speak “mini” like QJ events or max, like E+ ) is governed by quantum principles. There is no half-way point of an Extraordinariation event. It has either happened or it has not happened. By contrast, Q4P is most commonly viewed as an analog force. Q4P is a gradual build-up of the universe's need for self-expressed complexity.

An easy way to understand this interplay between Q4P and QJ/ E+ is by analogy. Think of complexity as a car. Q4P is the acceleration of the vehicle. If the car accelerates to, let us say, 60 MPH, the car will experience every speed in-between 0 and 60.   QJ events represent milestones along the way which can occur at particular minimum speeds. In our analogy, we would say atomic structure formation occurs at 20 MPH, while molecular formation occurs at 40 MPH. If our car is going 19 MPH, nothing will happen. We are building up “potential” towards our 20 MPH milestone, but until we reach it, the effects will not be visible.

This analog-to-digital analogy may seem far fetched, but it is objectively proven as a norm in the real scientific world. This is not conjecture, it is fact. Take atomic structure, for instance. Specifically, electron orbitals. It is fact that when we apply energy to an atom, in an analog fashion, electron orbits do not respond in an analog fashion. Instead, electrons treat the addition of energy in a quantum fashion. Energy builds up the potential of an electron until a threshold is met; then abruptly, with no in-between phases, an electron moves from a tighter orbit to a wider orbit. This happens all at once. There are no in-between phases and the electron does not gradually move out to another orbit. It merely caches its potential until it is time to realize itself at a different state of energy.

Alternately, this interplay between analog Q4P and quantum QJ can be expressed as a series by:

Δ(Q4P)x, Δ(Q4P)y,... Δ(Q4P)z = QJ+x, QJ+y,... QJz

Where Δ(Q4P)x = x2 - x1 ;

and x2 = threshold of QJx and x2 being threshold of QJx-1 , or the previous level of Q-J

and x2 = threshold of QJx and x1 being threshold of QJx-1 , or the previous level of Q-J

and QJx represents x level of Extraordinariation.

The series logically follows to:

Δ(Q4P)z = QJz

Where QJz = QJ

Note: QJ equals a hypothetical state called E+ (or Extraordinariation). This state is predicted by Potentialism, though its exact nature is, by necessity and definition, unknown and unknowable – and by Birnbaum’s theory not quite attainable. While this can seem counter-intuitive, it is a predictive value common in formal calculus where equations infinitely approach an infinite value.

This is the foundation of the QJ march towards Extraordinariation. Q4P builds Potential until it reaches a critical number and is expressed via QJ enroute towards elusive Extraordinariation.

When looking at scales of the universe, we see this pattern naturally occurs on the micro and macro scales as well. One need look no further than the interplay of Newtonian and quantum physics. Quantum physics is ruled by digital mathematics, on/off, a binary model. By comparison, Newtonian physics is ruled by a geometry dominated by waves, curves and analog mathematics.


A Balanced Equation  

Potentialism can also be described in purely mathematical terms. We've described Potentialism in philosophical and physics terms. Now let's look at it from a purely mathematical perspective. In its most basic form, we have:

Q∞(4P)∞ > E+

Q∞(4P)∞ = the Infinite Quest for Infinite Potential. If this seems redundant, it is not. This nested infinite drive is crucial to Potentialism.

As illustration, let us look at an individual. A person has infinite decisions they might make. These decisions are represented by the person's Potential. Yet, that person, can themselves, create life. That life has its own decision points – and the infinite Potentials which might radiate from those decision points. Hence, the individual’s infinite potential is nested within their parents’ infinite potential. This clearly can be followed out ad infinitum.

E+ = Extraordinariation. On the other end of the equation, we have Extraordinariation. Extraordinariation is an infinitely realized state of cumulative QJs ( Quantum Jumps). What that state actually looks like, Potentialism cannot answer.

Extraordinariation lives just over the outer bounds of the future of the cosmos. We can only imperfectly describe this state in words. However, it is expressible mathematically. As Extraordinariation is an infinite expression of QJ, themselves a product of Q4P, by means of substitution, we can say:

Q∞(4P)∞ > QJ** > E+  

Likewise, we can see it in word format

The Infinite Quest for Infinite Potential > leads to infinite Quantum Jumps > radiating-outwards > Infinite Extraordinariation.


Extraordinariation Results: Balancing an Equation 3 Ways?

On one level, Extraordinariation and Q4P can be seen as mirror images of one another. While necessarily expressed in analog and quantum formats, Q4P and E+ meet in a tangible and physical expression, at each level of Quantum Jump events. We must remember though, that when E+ takes a quantum step up to balance against increasing Q4P, there is also a resultant product – Complexity/Sophistication.

This would seem antithetical. How can a balanced equation also have a product? The key is the nature of Complexity/Sophistication. Complexity/Sophistication is neither matter nor energy. From a physics perspective, no rules are broken. In fact, from a physics perspective, more rules are created. This is the very nature of Complexity/Sophistication.

Let us take, for example, the formation of molecules – at the very primitive end after the Big Bang would be the simple paired hydrogen molecules occurring during the Dark Ages of our universe’s origin, about 100 million years after the Big Bang. When the Q4P of the universe had built a significant degree of Potential, it achieved a Quantum Jump state, like the coming together of the male and female, Q4P and E+ met at a mini-Extraordinariation Event to give birth to a new level Complexity/Sophistication.

This Complexity/Sophistication certainly had a physical effect on the universe. But the Complexity/Sophistication itself was not a thing or a force, it was a rule for how atoms could come together to create more and more complex forms.

So we can see that when enough Potential has accumulated (Q4P) to reach a Quantum Jump, a particular intermediate level of Extraordinariation (E+), there is a concurrent Complexity/Sophistication event. While not a physical sum itself, a Complexity/Sophistication event provides new, more complex rules under which the universe operates.


A Growing Universe of Infinite Complexity/Sophistication

We can already see how the interrelationship between Q4P and E+ can be expressed in different ways mathematically and as a universal phenomena. To most cosmologists, this would be a cause for concern. But we see even this concept is grounded in the complexity of our perceptible universe. One need look no further than the interplay of Newtonian and Quantum physics. Before addressing how something behaves, we must ask what scale we're viewing it on. Likewise, when speaking of a photon, is it a wave or a particle? Again, we find that it depends on what manner we are speaking of it in.

What is important to the Potentialist is that this universal theory (of Potential) can be applied in different ways to view a universe which is growing towards an infinite complexity/sophistication, to some perhaps not even fathomable ending where the universe grasps for its ultimate Extraordinariation.


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