July 3, 2014
focus: Potentialism Theory by David Birnbaum
Does Quest for Potential∞ define the universe?
Summa Metaphysica's Potentialism Theory
Thursday, July 3, 2014
David Birnbaum is a private scholar in Manhattan and the author of an iconic philosophical treatise which challenges the existing academic/scientific macro view of the universe (see ExaminerPurpose.com). Birnbaum posits that everything in the universe is driven by one metaphysical dynamic. He labels the dynamic – Quest for Potential∞. As this is Birnbaum’s quite-original (and quite-powerful) concept, some explanation is in order.
As Birnbaum is hypothesizing a revolutionary concept, and inasmuch as this concept is as infinite and as all-embracing as one can get, it is not that simple to articulate. Birnbaum's Potentialism Theory hypothesizes that, just as a human quests for his or her own maximum realization of potential, so does the universe as a whole. This cosmic drive is, according to him, Quest for Potential. So how has this played-out?
According to Birnbaum’s Theory of Potential (see PotentialismTheory.com), “there is, indeed, a protagonist to the cosmic order, but that 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 equations of Physics-Mathematics to ignite our universe via the Big Bang. This same symbiotic dynamic – Quest for Potential in league with Physics-Math – then acted as a catalyst for life, evolution, sexuality, language, emotion, consciousness, and, indeed, for all the key dynamics which have evolved in the universe.”
Birnbaum's Potentialism Theory infinitely nests his concept of Quest for Potential. Meaning, the dynamic is a quest for potential within potential within potential. Schematically it would be portrayed as Quest for Potential (Potential (Potential ad infinitum. Meaning, dynamic components of the cosmic order seek the optimal line of nested potential. Thus the Big Bang itself was calibrated in such a fashion so as to produce not just billions of galaxies and stars (a denouement awesome in-and-of-itself) but as well, down-the-road – life, humanity and consciousness.
Meaning that Quest for Potential wants not just short term traction, and not just medium term potential, it seeks as well long term extraordinary manifestation of potential. Thus, when Birnbaum says Quest for Potential, he means Quest for Potential infinitely nested. It is this infinite ‘nesting’ which gives the concept its awesome power (see Philosophy1000.com).
Potentialism Theory: Shorthand notation
Birnbaum's Potentialism Theory employs a shorthand notation – Q4P∞ – for his Quest for Potential∞. (Since most keyboards do not have an infinity symbol superscript, Birnbaum and the world typically employ Q4P with or without the infinity superscript, but the intended meaning is always there – infinitely nested.)
The infinitely nested schematic would become Q4P (Q4P (Q4P. If we wanted to efficiently encapsule the entire cosmic order we could readily do so as follows: Q4P∞. The formula is truly the ultimate – and ultimately succinct – equation.
Nobel prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman’s famous aphorism is that when the elusive key to the cosmic code is eventually discerned, its equation would be elegant-enough and concise-enough to fit on a T-shirt. Indeed, Q4P∞ is about as concise and elegant as one can get.
The Math and Physics of Potentialism Theory
One of the greatest strengths of Q4P is its solid grounding in applied physics and mathematics. So many philosophical theories remain just that – purely philosophical in nature. However, the Q4P proposal is, as well, quite sound and elegant scientifically. Indeed, it shines when called to task in the face of hard science.
Birnbaum posits that within everything that exists is the Potential for what it can become. It is that Potentialization which drives things towards greater complexity/extraordinariness. Physics supports this by empirical observation most clearly on a quantum level. Q4P can be seen in the way sub-atomic particles hold-to and interact-with one another. Q4P can also be witnessed in the natural drive of atoms to bond with one another to make more complex molecules – such as hydrogen and oxygen naturally bonding to become water.
Certainly, such bonding can be explained through the laws of physics, but Q4P describes why the laws of physics need to be as they are. Thus, molecular bonding is an expression of Q4P at work. The bonding is the physical embodiment of simple matter striving to be more complex.
Likewise, mathematics is shown to explain and support why the Quest for Potential is inherent in the universe. Q4P is all about direction, purpose and pattern. It is the land of (Mandelbrot) mathematical patterns and fractals. While evolution may seem structure-less when viewed up close, from afar it is like looking at a fractal where the patterns emerge to show the intentional design.
The antiquated and artificially propped-up theory in academe is Randomness. It propounds the concept that the universe is completely random and without purpose. The Big Bang, the billions of galaxies and their billions of suns, as well as myriad life are all viewed as cosmic accidents, random happenstance. The problem with this theory is that it is clear to see that the universe is not random. Suns are defined by physics as round, and ruled by the physics of fusion. Planets tend to be created around suns. On a smaller scale, evolution for instance, isn't even truly random. Animals that fly always use wings. Creatures that move on land never develop wheels. While there are certainly permutations and even some uncertainty in how things might evolve, there is a pattern – acceptable boundaries under which evolution occurs.
Q4P Beyond Math and Physics
The Quest for Potential is called metaphysical for good reason. Metaphysics is sometimes confused with being not hard science. This is not necessarily the case. As shown previously, Q4P exists quite elegantly on a purely physical science and mathematical basis. It is metaphysical in nature because it goes beyond pure hard science. It so to speak envelops hard science.
When thinking of the metaphysical, it is easy to relegate it to the speculative – a study of the hypothetical. However, metaphysics also includes phenomena known to exist. The most important one for Q4P is consciousness. While physics cannot explain consciousness, there is no denying its existence. It cannot be explained by physics, or any other science, alone. It is possible to scientifically explore the functions of the brain. It produces electricity. It has identifiable chemical reactions. Certain parts of the brain regulate automatic bodily functions such as pulse, temperature and digestion. But consciousness cannot be quantified by physics or biology.
The problem with this limitation is that any theory of cosmology purely based in physics, will always fail to give a full universal theory of the nature of the universe. If the universe is everything, then consciousness is part of the universe. If a theory grounded solely in hard science attempts to explain the universe, it will necessarily be incomplete (see PotentialismTheory.com/ParadigmChallenge/).
This is not an issue for Q4P. In fact, the theory’s overarching fundamental design and purpose excels at incorporating the non-physical in its cosmological description. Not only does Q4P describe consciousness as a part of the continually evolving and growing universe, the development of consciousness is a logical outcome of Quest for Potential.
Therein lies one of the greatest strengths of Q4P. While special circumstances and exceptions to the rule to account for different types of situations is the norm with most cosmic theories, Q4P is 1000% consistent; it elegantly handles all evidence thrown at it. Q4P can be used to describe both the physical as well as the metaphysical. And that is why, in this new century, Potentialism and the Quest for Potential have taken root as the cornerstone of an evolving, and ever-greater understanding of the universe.
Birnbaum elucidates his Potentialism Theory via his iconic 3-part treatise Summa Metaphysica: Volume I: Religious Man (1988), Volume II: Spiritual Man (2005) and Volume III: Secular Man (2014). Over twenty journals have featured Birnbaum’s Summa Metaphysica and its Theory of Potential in over thirty-three focused articles the 2013-2014 period alone (see SummaCoverage.com). Bard College (Upstate NY) hosted a 3 ½ day international academic conference in April 2012 on Science & Religion with the treatise as its focus. Over a dozen colleges globally including UCLA, Brandeis and Hebrew University (Jerusalem) have assigned the landmark work as a Course Text (see David1000.com).