Potentialism & Quantum Cosmology


September 15, 2014

Potentialism & Quantum Cosmology


Potentialism & Quantum Cosmology

Birnbaum proposes an original concept as the missing key to understanding the cosmic drama. He proposes his signature concept that Potential is the eternal cosmic dynamic. More precisely, Birnbaum proposes that Quest for Potential∞ (infinitely iterating) is the eternal cosmic dynamic.

Iconoclasts David Birnbaum & Seth Lloyd

David Birnbaum
(Manhattan-based Conceptual Theorist; b. 1950)

David Birnbaum’s three-part treatise – Summa Metaphysica I, II and III (Ktav, 1988; New Paradigm Matrix, 2005; and New Paradigm Matrix, 2014, respectively) ushered in the age of Potentialism (see SummaMetaphysica.com). Potentialism has proved-to-be a game-changing paradigm for cosmology that has – and still is – shaking the core of cosmological thought since its introduction in 1988.
Per the Birnbaum website –

“The catalyst/igniter/driver of the cosmic order: Quest for Potential (Q4P):

Birnbaum proposes an original concept as the missing key to understanding the cosmic drama. He proposes his signature concept that Potential is the eternal cosmic dynamic. More precisely, Birnbaum proposes that Quest for Potential (infinitely iterating) is the eternal cosmic dynamic. This dynamic works its way forward over the billions of eons towards first igniting our universe and eventually – down the road – catalyzing the emergence of higher-level consciousness human beings within it.

The core theme of David Birnbaum’s works is that one elegant dynamic and one elegant dynamic, alone (Quest for Potential) both instigates and drives the entire cosmic order. According to the conceptual theorist “Potentialism proposes that there is, indeed, a protagonist to the cosmic order, but that the protagonist is a ‘quest’ and not a ‘classic entity.’ The universe quests for its maximal potential. The core dynamic Quest for Potential strives with purpose and direction towards ever-greater and higher potential. At the ‘beginning of time,’ eternal Quest for Potential harnessed the eternal portion of the eternal equations of Physics-Mathematics to ignite our universe via the Big Bang. Note that the works of MIT quantum physicist Seth Lloyd (2006) dovetail with the Summa Metaphysica series (1988, 2005, 2014).

This same symbiotic dynamic – Quest for Potential in league with Physics-Math – then acted as a catalyst for the route tracking-forwards to high level humans in the 21st Century – tracking forward from the Big Bang thru the emergence of the Elements, primordial star systems, myriad galaxies, supernovas, the sun, our solar system, life, photosynthesis, DNA, organisms, sexual reproduction, multi-cellular life, the Cambrian Explosion, amphibians, forests, reptiles, mammals, dinosaurs, birds, flowers, evolution, hominids, homo sapiens, and ever-increasing consciousness/emotion – and, indeed, for all the key dynamics which have evolved in the universe.”

Birnbaum develops his proposal over his 3-book treatise, but the guts of the theory is simple enough: Potential drives the cosmic order.”

Thus, there is one central drive that governs all of creation and cosmic evolution: Quest for Potential driving towards the horizon of the extraordinary. In symbolic terms, the formula would be Q4P→ E+. This is a symbolic, mathematical representation of the drive between the Infinite Quest for Potential (shorthand: Q4P) and its end-goal – Extraordinariation (shorthand: E+).

Birnbaum then deploys another of his coined terms – Complexification (shorthand notation: C+) – to denote the intermediate path of the universe. Per Birnbaum, Complexification, the handmaiden of Q4P – is the intermediate cosmic drive towards greater complexity/sophistication/richness/integration/diversity/wondrousness. [Seth Lloyd of MIT will later deploy the leaner term ‘complexity,’ a subset of Birnbaum’s C+, as his key driver (see PotentialismTheory.com/ParadigmChallenge/)].

According to Potentialism, Q4P is the force which ‘aids & abets’ all things in the universe to achieve higher and higher levels of Complexification; in turn, Extraordinariation at the end of the equation supplies an end goal/horizon for this Potential.

Seth Lloyd,
(Boston-based physics professor; b. 1960)


Seth Lloyd is a professor of mechanical engineering (in quantum physics) at MIT; he is a self-professed “quantum mechanic.” As of September 2014 he directs MIT’s Center for Extreme Quantum Information Theory (google  xQIT at MIT). Lloyd – in his seminal 2006 work Programming the Universe (Vintage/Random House) – contends that the universe is one big quantum computer seeking ever and ever greater complexity.
[Birnbaum is de facto allied closely with Lloyd; however  Birnbaum views the universe as very significantly more organic than Lloyd does (or at least significantly more organic than Lloyd articulates); meaning, Birnbaum views the cosmic order as more parallel to a supra-human brain which learns and extrapolates than to Lloyd’s super-computer model.]

Lloyd sees the universe through the lens of a computer scientist. He likens matter and energy to bits of information in a universal computer. To Lloyd, the purpose of this celestial computer is to compute,   self-iterating as it advances forward towards ever-greater complexity.

[Birnbaum himself holds a BSc in Computer Science (CCNY Enginering ’72); he, as well, believes that the cosmos as a whole iterates-forward ongoing; however, as Birnbaum believes that the cosmic order is organic and multi-dimensional – and driven by Infinite Quest for Potential – he might be more comfortable with the terminology that – the quantum dimension of Quest for Potential iterates the cosmic order ever-forward. As Birnbaum notes, it is hard to argue with the proposition that an infinite and life-generating and sustaining dynamic – Infinite Quest for Potential – has an infinite divine aspect to it; thus pegging the dynamic as (simply) a super-computer simply does not really do it justice.]
Lloyd proposes the first computations were to create simple forms such as particles – and to establish the laws of physics.
[Birnbaum believes that the (potential) core Laws of Physics are inherently eternal.]

Per Lloyd, later, as the computations grew in complexity, the universe-quantum-super-computer would deliver intelligence, life, consciousness, language, society and culture.

[Birnbaum believes that his richer Complexification (C+ ) dynamic conceptually delivers  these same dynamics – intelligence, life, consciousness, language, society and culture – more elegantly than Lloyd’s (more plain vanilla) ‘complexity’ dynamic; however, clearly the two theorists  are in-consonance; meaning, that there is clearly much more that unites the two theorists, than divides them; remember, whether drive-for-complexity or drive-for-Complexification, there is most definitely a ‘drive’ or ‘direction’ to the cosmic unfolding; and the two theorists (both proposing cosmic drive/direction) are outnumbered perhaps 1,000:1 by politically-correct Randomness/Atheist  proponents advocating the  total absence of any drive/direction to the cosmic order. Notwithstanding the phalanx they face, Birnbaum and Lloyd are (quite) confident that the ‘power of an idea whose time has come’ will sweep-away the incumbent crowd.]

Information v. Potential:
Lloyd focuses very heavily on ‘information.’ Lloyd articulates that all these universal developments are owed to the universe’s intrinsic ability to process information. Information, per Lloyd, is the key.
Note that the concept that ‘information is key’ is au courant – and politically super-correct – in elite American academic physics circles contemporaneously.

Lloyd states (2006) that “Life, language, human beings, society, culture – all owe their existence to the intrinsic ability of matter and energy to process information. The computational ability of the universe explains one of the great mysteries of nature: how complex systems such as living creatures can arise from fundamentally simple physical laws.”
[For Birnbaum, information is just that, information, to be used as raw material by Complexification operating on Potential (with Potential being the ultimate key here) So, per Birnbaum/Potentialism ‘information’ is in-the-mix, but is not the ‘key driver’ per se;  rather, Potential is the center stage ‘key driver.’
(mechanistic) bits  v. (organic) savvy:
For Lloyd, the entire universe is governed by a quantum mathematical ‘program.’ By its nature, this computer has grown steadily in complexity. To understand why, you need to reference Lloyd’s computer paradigm. Lloyd likens particles to bits in a computer. A program can only be as complex as the computer it runs on. Given the constraints of the speed of light and time since the Big Bang, Lloyd contends that there are a finite amount of particles which can interact with one another. So, as time proceeds, that number of particles grows and the ‘computer’ is capable of more complex processing. As the universe grows, Lloyd predicts the complexity of it will continue to grow exponentially.


[Birnbaum sees matters nuanced as follows: As the universe reaches ever-higher levels of Complexification, the cumulative Cosmic Consciousness – which is interlocked with Infinite Quest for Potential – has ever more power/savvy to iterate to ever-higher levels; To Binbaum, the key issues is  ‘critical mass of savvy’ as opposed to ‘critical mass of  bits’; Again, the two theorists are in consonance, but view the universe through different lenses: Birnbaum’s Potentialism/Organic-Universe lens v. Lloyd’s Information/Mechanistic-Universe lens.]

Questions for Lloyd:

Why is there anything at all?
What actualized your cosmic quantum super-computer?
What gave it ‘traction’?
What drives it forward?
What gives it direction towards extraordinary complexity (for example, a Beethoven symphony) – as opposed to ‘plain vanilla’ complexity (for example, a million-cave mountain)?


Hint to Lloyd:

If you wrap Birnbaum’s Potentialism en toto around your cosmic quantum super-computer, the Potentialism metaphysics will seamlessly resolve all the key issues challenging your theory – and, in particular, the questions noted just-above.

Lloyd through the Lens of Birnbaum’s Potentialism

As a stand-alone theory, Lloyd’s cosmic quantum super-computer is overly mechanistic from a  Potentialist point-of-view; however, as a provider of the scientific mechanism for Birnbaum’s Complexification to do-its-thing, Lloyd’s cosmic quantum super-computer is perfect from a Potentialist point-of-view.
David Birnbaum, who spent two graduate years at Harvard, is a great admirer of Lloyd (‘across-the-river’ at MIT). Furthermore, Lloyd (2006) provides a scientific academic mechanism to implement Birnbaum’s (1988) conceptual and metaphysical cosmic Quest for Potential via Complexification.

To Potentialists, Lloyd is indeed the ultimate cosmic mechanic, indeed, a neo-genius quantum mechanic. From a Potentialist perspective, Lloyd sees a key part of the truth (the cosmic iteration mechanism) with great clarity and scientific finesse/rigor. While Lloyd’s vision of the cosmos may be extremely mechanistic, that particular piece of the cosmic puzzle – the mechanism – indeed requires an astute quantum mechanic; Meaning, Potentialism was missing the quantum-piece as a key component of the Complexification mechanism, even though Potentialism would view even this very quantum piece as  more organic than Lloyd does. Potentialism will ‘pocket’ the quantum piece of  Lloyd of MIT, while not ‘swallowing-whole’ the mechanistic aspect. See www.PotentialismTheory.com.

Lloyd’s 2006 work and Birnbaum’s predecessor 1988 and 2005 works – and later 2014 work – are nicely complementary. They fit together almost seamlessly. Both thought leaders agree wholeheartedly that the universe is steadily becoming more complex, building on each successive layer of complexity as a necessity for what comes after. Further, they agree that this complexity is the reason for life in general and human life in specific; they are in-consonance with the inexorable drive of the universe to create ever-greater complexity.

The key is that Potentialism wraps-around Lloyd’s cosmic quantum super-computer and gives a far more overarching, more organic, more conceptual and richer – eternal dynamic. But the two theories are nevertheless consonant. And, indeed, the two theories ‘team up’ quite elegantly. Indeed they must – to fend-off the flailing political gambits of the anachronistic (British-centered) Randomness/Atheist crew, still dangerous even whilst in their intellectual death throes.

Birnbaum delivers the ‘conceptual’ and macro structure; Lloyd delivers the ‘mechanism’ – from an academic scientific perspective. Of course, in-the-mix Lloyd also delivers his M.I.T. credentials. The Birnbaum-Lloyd Potentialism-Quantum Cosmos model quite dramatically – and with ‘authority’ – trumps the archaic Randomness/Atheist model of the prior century.

Beyond the Mechanistic

Potentialists give enormous credit to Lloyd for delineating/conceptualizing a universe-wide scientific iterating mechanism – the quantum. Potentialism (via Summa first two volumes 1988 and 2005) had simply in-advance taken Lloyd’s (later 2006) work further than Lloyd could go with its mechanistic definitions alone. Potentialism lays-out the grander metaphysical expanse of metaphysical and physical realms; in particular the key overarching drive (of Infinite Potential). Summa III (2014) would, in due course, of course embrace Lloyd’s key quantum mechanism component.

Lloyd’s cosmic quantum iteration is certainly an extraordinary major piece of the great cosmic puzzle; it recognizes the pattern and willful intent of the universe as it drives inexorably towards greater and greater levels of Complexification; Lloyd fills-in the key ‘missing piece’ in Potentialism (see www.SummaCoverage.com).

But we might point out – in the spirit of the computer model so central to Lloyd – that (Lloyd’s) great cosmic quantum computer must be fueled/juiced by something. So what is the great quantum cosmic computer’s power cord attached to? Potentialists would answer – (Birnbaum’s) core and overarching cosmic Infinite Quest for Potential. And what program is it running? Complexification (C+). And where does its internal computer-map lead? The plotting of the road to (Birnbaum’s) Extraordinariation (see. www.summametaphysica.com/extraordinariation/). Nice and neat.



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