As Times Change, So Do the Contents of Concepts
We are examining the effects of Einstein’s theory of relativity on our consciousness, social life, and human relationships, on the basis of the concepts of physics and using the foundation of physics. More specifically, we are trying to identify the change, if any, that the human consciousness would undergo. Our goal is not to learn more about the science of physics, but to explore its implications for philosophy.
This is not about the philosophy of science because philosophy of science mostly involves thinking methods; it involves thinking about what these methods are, how they emerge, and how they change. If this is not about the philosophy of science, then what is it about? When questioning our consciousness, we utilize classical disciplines, that is to say disciplines such as rationalism, positivism, and empiricism that remain relevant in all ages. However, all these philosophical disciplines have mostly been products of a logical process in history; they are disciplines that have emerged in the world of concepts or ideas. In our contemporary age, the relationship of these concepts to objects provided philosophy with a new form and a new narrative. In a sense, we started to build bridges between the realm of objective reality and the realm of consciousness, across that duality or chasm, and the science of physics has probably been the most reliable foundation for this. Concepts and ideas developed by the science of physics started to be used in philosophy as well. When it comes to theory, we are talking about a worldview turned into a discipline –it could be scientific, artistic, or ideological, meant to shape attitudes– regardless of which one is used, we are talking about a set of concepts or a system of concepts. In Turkish, I use the word dizge for system. Without delving too deep into its definition, let me make this point, as a reminder, to underline the concept: A “system” refers to an organic whole in which parts do not negate one another, are separate from but related to one another, and form inter-connections. A “directory” [dizin in Turkish], on the other hand, refers to a rational division into sets, which can exclude one another but do not have defined relationships, and do not constitute an organic whole. I am underlining this distinction because most theories are systematic.
In this context, using a similar approach, the concept of fact is today used to refer to both objects and subjects. When we hear the word “reality,” we mostly think of factual reality. In the past, in the empirical period, the word reality referred to the presence of an objective reality that stood independent of the subject and that the subject could sense. At the time, when this idea was considered to be scientific or viewed as a materialist idea, when people claimed “Everything is matter, made of matter, material, and independent of consciousness,” people were missing something. They failed to realize that when it came to a consciousness-based definition of something that is independent of consciousness, it would be impossible to attain knowledge of their existence independent of consciousness. Immanuel Kant was the first person to notice this problem.
Kant’s Distinction between Phenomena and Noumena
Immanuel Kant said that the relationship between objects and consciousness was a “phenomenon”, a fact, and it was our only source for generating knowledge. According to Kant, phenomena do not provide us with the relationships between objects, they only provide appearances; therefore, identifying the relationships among objects would be a practical contribution that we can make by entering their world, through experiment and observation and through an activity of the consciousness, which is also part of our phenomenon, or fact. In other words, we cannot know about the objective world behind facts. This field that we have no knowledge of is called noumenon. This means we have two universes; phenomena and noumena. Noumena refers to objects in themselves, ding an sich. When human consciousness is involved, when it is für sich, it becomes phenomena.
What Kant is trying to say is this: We can perceive and conceive only on the basis of the appearances of objects, by bringing our impressions of them together with the mental categories that constitute consciousness; this is the field that we can know. We can never know what does not reach us through the appearances of objects, what remains within the objects. Kant thus established that this was the limit of consciousness. In Critique de la Raison Pure or Critique of Pure Reason, he wanted to show us the limits of our knowledge and thus of our consciousness. Indeed, this is what “enlightenment” is! Therefore, in this investigation of the theory of objective relativity, we will focus on the concept of “enlightenment”, and examine how we can develop a perspective on enlightenment on the basis of knowledge of physics and philosophical opinions, and what this means for us.
We can ask the following to question the definition of phenomenon, or fact: When it comes to the appearances of objects, the appearances that we naturally see –whatever the limits of our phenomena or consciousness, wherever that boundary is located– when we intervene in that object through an experiment, when we cross that boundary, do we enter ding an sich? Let me make this simple. I look at an object, and perceive the object; then, at another time, I look at the object in a different way. Upon encountering a different fact, I look at the object one more time if I can, and make an observation. Then, we say something like this: “Observation is repeated perception.” What we call observation –the observation that we use in science– is nothing but repeated perception. So, if misperception is possible, and it is possible, would our observations be affected by these misperceptions? Of course they would. This is why we need “repeated perception.” Observation has to consist of repeated perception so that we can minimize misperceptions and avoid being misled by our senses. Therefore, when we say “observation”, we mean perceiving natural data as they are, without any intervention. What happens when we look at that object by altering its natural structure? What do we call that? We call it an “experiment”. An experiment is repeated observation of an object by using tools and equipment, changing its status and relationships. Experiment is a process that creates data for observation. Saying “We generate knowledge on the basis of experiment” in fact defines a process that serves observation. When we use an experiment to observe objects in nature –this also applies to objects of culture– by transforming them and testing them under new relationships, we may obtain the following: Other qualities or features of the object may appear in this new relationship. In that case, our observation could contain more data and be more reliable. Whether we reach, by so doing, the object “in itself” is a philosophical question. Kant’s definition of phenomenon tells us that this field we reach and what we make visible through alterations are still phenomena, not noumena. If we could peer deeper into the object –for example, look at the object under a microscope– it would still not be noumena, we would simply be extending the boundaries of phenomena; this is because we always obtain appearances and cannot go beyond appearances.
Then, we should ask this question: How far can we take our knowledge through experiment and observation to make it complete, in terms of methodology, not epistemology? When we ask this question, maybe a definition by Engels can help. Others had said this before Engels, but I am using his name because he made this point in a philosophical context. According to Engels, the entire universe, everything that exists, is a collection of relationships. This sounds like a simple sentence, but it has quite a conceptual depth in philosophy. To make it easier to understand, I compare it to the pattern of a sweater; a motif consisting of loops. What is a motif? What is it made of? The raw material is yarn. It both exists and doesn’t exist; it is a phenomenon. When we pull on the yard, the motif unravels and turns into yarn. Then, we bring it together in a form. We get another motif! There is an entity there. There really is an entity. In scientific terms, we say “This entity has a length of this, width of that, weight of this; it has this color and these qualities.” Then, I pull on the yarn, and where did it go? There is no such thing. I have come back to the subject. With Immanuel Kant, or even since Aristotle, we thought objects had real, unchanging substances; we thought every object had an eternal and timeless reality in itself, and we tried to access it. When we think of the universe as a collection of relationships, and develop an understanding that the theory of relativity is, first and foremost, a collection of relationships at the philosophical level, before being about physics, then we realize that what stands before us is not concrete and immutable realities of this type. What stands before us is a network of relationships; relationships concentrated or turned into a motif – it is not virtual, of course, they are given a form because of their own source or reality. The yarn, then, is the content of that form, right? Therefore, we have a unity of content and form, and to us, that unity appears to be an objective reality. On the one hand, this is a phenomenon –when you say phenomenon, it starts with appearances and goes all the way to phenomenon, I am now saying this to talk about the appearance or the position of that object– on the other hand, we have this whole collection of relationships.
Hegel thought about how to make a point disappear. When you pull on the yarn of the sweater, and say “let me make this disappear,” the sweater disappears. It does not, in fact, disappear; it transforms into something else. It turns into a ball of yarn, or a different, chaotic design. Hegel then realizes that we cannot make anything in this universe disappear; and that if we really wanted to make something disappear, we would need to make the entire universe disappear. They are all intimately related to one another, and the existence of one is the cause of the other’s existence. We have mutual causality. However, this was not the way we thought since Democritus. We divided atom, which Democritus had described as the smallest part of any object. Now, some people speculate, saying “He said ‘the smallest indivisible part’. His atoms were the small particles that we cannot see today.” Based on Aristotle, Democritus said the following about that essence: “the smallest part of an object that carries the characteristics of the object”. We broke that. What did we do? We exploded the atom around 1945. We changed that smallest part so that it no longer carries the characteristics of the object; we have unwound the ball of yarn. Democritus made good use of his consciousness for objectivity, up to a point, but after that point, we entered Kant’s field of noumenon. What brought this about was the mental structure of the theory of relativity. This was only possible using that mental structure.
The East Started But Failed to Complete; the West Went Slow and Steady
Around 500 BC, at a time when this philosophy (Democritus) was popular, people in the Far East said the visible universe was a dream, and reality was beyond that dream. In Hindu thought, there is a symbol called Shiva. Shiva is described as a god. He is weird, he dances with his hands and feet –Shiva’s dance– and there is a wheel behind him. In Hindu thought, Shiva is behind the existence of this universe. Shiva has two powers; he both creates and destroys. This is very interesting. Shiva dances, and when you see the dancer, you cannot see the dance; when you see the dance, on the other hand, you cannot see the dancer. This is from Bhagavat Gita, from the ancient scripture, and when you compare it with the contemporary science of physics, you can see that it is much closer to contemporary physics then ancient Greek thought was. It describes Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. When you identify the location of an electron, you cannot measure its speed; on the other hand, when you measure its speed, you cannot identify its location. Goodness gracious! Could that be the dancer? He is the one who transforms or creates, he is also the one who destroys. Objects change by giving or taking electrons, we have a phenomenon called radiation… Of course, this eventually leads to the following question: How were they able to find it? How did they do it? I am not going to go into that. That would be the pathology of it, we are not interested in that; I am giving this example in order to underline the sort of conceptualization it provides us with in terms of consciousness and worldview. It should be interdisciplinary so that our consciousness can think outside the box.
Another expression of Shiva, in the Tao culture, is the Yin-Yang. It is an interesting symbol; it expresses an opposition at the foundation of the world of objective existence. There is an opposition; one part is black and one part is white. There is movement, and they contain one another. The dots on the opposite color are an internal bond, they represent being interconnected. We do not have two separate things, they are parts of the same whole. So we have an opposition, but there is an internal bond between parts; they contain and evolve into one another, and at the same time, constitute a whole. So, it is not simple. It is easy to say, but can we say the same thing about understanding? If they are opposites, how come they are together? If they are together, what makes them opposites? They are opposites, but as the symbol shows, their unity contains this opposition. You are of course aware that this symbol is a perfect description of the duality that we today call “dialectic”. The dialectic that Hegel and Marks used… The narrative in ancient Greece is, “There are fixed objects, they are the same all the way down to the smallest parts, and the smallest part is indivisible and is the building block of the entire universe”. This was how the universe was conceived in Ancient Greece, the world of people who scaled the highest summits of thought and philosophy. We then go to the Far East, and encounter a great surprise. “No, this is not the case,” they say. They say movement underlies all existence, and what creates that movement is opposition or contradiction; that movement is born of this contradiction. They stay together because these opposites have internal bonds with one another. We now call them “gluons”.
Let’s think about a simple model of atom, the Rutherford model. He designed a sun system, right? They later changed this design, but it is a nice design. You have the nucleus in the middle, the core of the atom, and then you have electrons around it, right? And they have orbits like the movement of planets around the Sun. We give them names on the basis of the number of their electrons, atomic weights, and atomic numbers. All of them, however, are derived from “one”, from hydrogen. In an atom, electrons are particles that have a negative charge, and positrons in the nucleus are particles with a positive charge. They have opposite charges. What does this opposition do? It creates attraction. What happens then? The electron and the positron collide. Think about holding something magnetic; it is supposed to attract the magnet, but they do not meet. Why not? Electrons, lovers want to go towards the center, towards the nucleus, but they are unable to do so. None of them can go beyond their own period, and they remain in their own fields. Why? Because they are spinning. What happens when they spin? They generate a centrifugal force, pushing themselves away from the center. The faster they turn, the stronger is the force, and the stronger the attraction of the nucleus. They have to stop at some point, and some equilibrium must emerge. This is why they say “There is no work under equilibrium” because attraction and repulsion are in balance and the net result is zero. There is movement but no work – a movement that generates no work. For example, the Moon orbits the Earth, but it does not make any work. The Earth attracts the Moon with gravity, and so does the Moon; we have mutual attraction, but it wants to go away because it is turning. When the two are in equilibrium, at the point of zero, the movement that we call “orbiting” continues.
Movement underlies objective existence. This is an interconnected movement. They do something together, and there is a bond between them: attraction. There is a fact of running away and distortion that Shiva tries to break or end. All of this, together, create existence. In this sense, on the basis of Far Eastern philosophy, when someone asks “What is all that exists?” we reply “movement”. We can immediately give this reply. When did we start to say this in the Western world, in Western philosophy or science? It is very recent, after the 19th century. This is not to look down upon Western philosophy; it has its own, different processes of development. Far Eastern philosophy, which made this grand beginning, remained where it began. It started from a great place, but there was no process, it simply stopped. The West, on the other hand, started from a much more primitive level, but it had a process. It questioned and improved and made so much progress until now that when you utilize consciousness to that extent, your consciousness becomes “produced”. Here, however, there is no produced consciousness; there is an insight, and the consciousness is static. You memorize a definition and stop at that definition. Western thought, on the other hand, provides us with the products of a consciousness that takes slow steps, but develops at every step by trying all fields and negating itself in all those fields. In this sense, traces of Western thought may be more appropriate for understanding and improving consciousness.
What is Not Related is Not Defined
What is important in this entire conceptualization is this: No object exists on its own, everything exists in a relationship, and this is a relationship of mutual causality. When we speak of a relationship we are talking about mutual causality. It means this object is defined with this or that relationship, it cannot be defined without a relationship. When I need to define an object so that I can claim it “exists”, I have to establish its causes and causal relationships. The more I can establish the relationships of an object, the more I unwind the ball of yarn. Unwinding the yarn means making an analysis, analyzing, separating things from one another, and identifying their relationships.
“Analysis”, which is the goal of any investigation, means separation. What do we find when we separate things? We find a relationship! This is weird. We were trying to separate one thing from another, but the last piece of yarn has now snapped. This means that the most basic, the most essential relationship, what gets separated at the very end is the most foundational. This is where philosophy, concepts, and scientific theories are produced. When you recognize this, you get a better grasp of the significance of the theory of objective relativity.
The Theory of Objective Relativity is the Most Revolutionary Theory of Our Age
The theory of objective relativity; relationship, relativity. This most authoritative, most revolutionary of contemporary theories led to a reconsideration of psychology and art, and a review of social and political structures. This phenomenon, this great explosion that we call the theory of objective relativity was applied to physics by Einstein, to philosophy by Hegel, to social sciences and economics by Marx, and to psychology by Freud. When you think about it, science appears to come later, and philosophy earlier, right? I emphasize this not to make a point about simultaneous or consecutive events –such as one was influenced by the other, or one thought and the other did– but to show what it leads to when we unearth the relationship through analysis. What sort of a trajectory does philosophy follow when you do this in philosophy, what sorts of new groupings and productions does the science of physics come up with when you do this in physics – this is what I am interested in. I don’t really have preferences regarding which came first or which was more valuable. What matters here is the fact itself.
Another Look at Kant’s Phenomena through This Understanding
We can say that Kant’s phenomenon is important for thinking about the production of knowledge, about the boundaries of knowledge production in the field between consciousness and object –even though designs about what we can and cannot know are static– and about subjects and objects and their relationships. According to Kant, noumena become visible, then pass through our senses and are perceived, following categories of time and space, and allow us to attain knowledge through mental use or when combined with mental categories. We cannot know noumena, we believe in them. He thus showed us the limits of metaphysics – by removing it from the field of our knowledge. If we can know what is within the realm of phenomena, what are noumena that are outside? They are metaphysics. Determining metaphysics, or drawing the boundaries between metaphysics and the science of physics. Kant was also a physicist. Together with Newton, they built the overlapping conceptual and theoretical structure of philosophy and physics. When he says we cannot know noumena, what he means by noumena are the objective essences of objects. We cannot know these objective essences. We can only know about their appearances. Here, we do not have the notion of existing in a relationship or grasping the existence of an object in the context of its relationships or inter-connections with other things. We have the category of relationship, but no understanding of how objects exist in relationships or inter-connections. This logic corresponds to what is called the “logic of identity”. This logic exists since Aristotle; there is the notion that an object can be itself only when it is identical to itself.
In other words, the atom of Democritus: The smallest part of an object carries all the characteristics of that object. Therefore, this object cannot be something else; when it becomes something else, it is not the same object anymore. In other words, one object can be compared to another object, and in this comparison, we can speak of an object “A” and an object “B”. “A” can never be “B”, and “B” can never be “A”. In relation to what? In relation to one another. There is relativity and comparison here; we are already searching for an internal connection in a logical context, but the conclusion reached in the end is that every object is identical to itself and cannot be anything else. This was the logic for the objective world, and it applied to consciousness as well. And when people say “I”, they understand an immutable substance. “I am who I am.” This was what Moses said; what the God of Moses said: “I am who I am.” The principle of identity. I cannot be something else; if I become something else, it is not “me” but something else. This is very understandable and easy to accept; it is something people logically accept in their daily lives as common sense. As you know, there are two wolves at the door of Aristotle’s Lyceum; one is a white wolf and the other is a black wolf. This shows an opposition; there is an opposition, but white is white and cannot be black and black is black and cannot be white; there is no third state. This is called “the law of excluded third”.
How Did Hegel Overcome the Dilemma?
Because I have seen, in his works, that Hegel examined the Far East very well, more specifically the idea of yin-yang in Tai Chi, and how movement and unity underlie objective existence –an idea that predated him by a lot– I argue that he made this connection, this relationship on this basis deriving from Heraclitus’ conceptualization. He does not reference these ideas from the Far East, but he does provide information about them in his works. Therefore, he knows about this connection or this relationship. Hegel says, “Nothing is identical to itself, and nothing is itself by itself.” This appears to be an illogical proposition: “Everything is contradictory in their essence, they contradict themselves and not something else.” This is a point that can provoke our thinking. All objects contradict themselves. They are contradictory in essence, which is the cause of their movement and motion, and this is what makes transformation, change, and relationship possible.
What we find here is this: If contradiction underlies objective reality, then contradiction is the cause of relationship. “An object can enter into external relationships because of the contradiction in the internal structure of its objective essence,” says Hegel. If this is the case, we have to talk about this philosophical approach before delving deeper into the theory of relativity. So, when we say “Relationship is foundational, and objects exist through their relationships,” we are also saying that objects are contradictory in their objective essences. Now, pay attention to how concepts are associated with one another. No concept has a meaning independent of others. When you say “relationship”, that relationship is something that cannot exist in reality without contradiction. Contradiction is a prerequisite for relationship. When we look at the issue from the perspective of mutual causality, the opposite is also true: there can be no contradiction without relationship. When we think about concepts, starting from this point, what is the most basic category? What is the most basic category for consciousness, for the phenomenon of consciousness to exist?
Let me first talk about what a category is. Category –ulam in Turkish– means finite classification. Not just classification, but finite classification. I sometimes notice that they use the term “classification” in the literature. No, it is “finite classification”, not classification – in order to acquire a philosophical definition, it has to be finite classification that cannot be transformed into one another. This is what category means: finite classification that cannot be transformed into one another. If we are talking about the quantity of an object –that is to say its weight, specific weight, measurement, width, length, etc.– we cannot be talking about its color or transparency, right? They are two separate categories; we cannot mention quality when talking about the category of quantity, and vice versa. They cannot be transformed into one another in the sense of being unable to use quality in place of quantity. To put it another way, we have the category of “time”. We say “What time?”; we ask a question to turn that object into knowledge. What time did that event happen? It happened at such-and-such time. Where did it happen? It happened at such-and-such place. Now, can you say “At such-and-such place” in response to the question “What time?” No. This is why they say “a finite category that cannot be transformed into one another”. Category refers to a self-consistent and defined proposition that cannot replace one another. This is what was used since Aristotle, it is what Kant used too, but this is a problem! We again encounter the principle of identity! There is implied identity here.
We could turn it upside down, and say the following too: “The weight of an object is not about the quality of that object.” Weight is weight. Weight cannot refer to anything other than weight. Weight is not related to anything other than weight. See, the principle of identity. Quality is quality, quantity is quantity, and time is time. If we were to apply categories of finite classification to knowledge, we would say “Time cannot be space, space cannot be time, and quantity cannot be quality.” The logic taught in schools is this Aristotelian logic. We still teach this logic. “So what?” you may say. “It is understandable.” Yes, it is very understandable, but it reflects the illusion that we could understand the existence of universe on the basis of the principle of identity. We are talking about an illusion.
If, on the other hand, our starting point were the proposition that nothing is identical to itself and everything is contradictory to itself, on the basis of the contradiction of Hegel’s dialectical method –which would later feature in physics too, only in a different format– we would have the following law: Accumulation of quantitative changes causes qualitative transformation. We have arrived at a law. In the first narrative, quantity and quality were like independent characters that could not be transformed into one another, whereas in the second narrative, they are forces that constitute and transform into one another and are not independent. As a simple example, we can talk about the boiling of water. When you boil the water, the increase in the heat of the water is a quantitative increase. Heat is a measurable quantity. You increase heat, and your thermometer shows it; it goes up and up, and under a given pressure –say at the sea level and on a proper surface– water evaporates when the temperature reaches 100 degrees. What happened? Its quality has changed. Accumulation of quantitative changes led to qualitative transformation. Let me give another, more fantastic example: the case of the pencil. Pencil contradicts with itself. How so? Its function is to draw. As it draws, it consumes itself, and slowly disappears; this is a contradiction. It turns, transforms into a writing or drawing. It contradicts itself, and this self-contradiction leads to transformation and production.
From Contradiction to Relation: Relatio, Religare, Relativity
Relation, relativity, interconnectedness, and the idea of universe as a collection of relationships can be tested in objective reality through physics. The Latin word for relation is relatio. When you look at the dictionary definition of relatio, you see that it refers to interest, connection, and relationship. It has all these three meanings. As you know, the prefix “re-” denotes repetition –we say reproduction or repeat, for example; it refers to repeating something, doing again, or doing one more time. So, the word relatio refers to something that is repeated. Starting from this point, I arrived at the word religare because I make connections. As I was researching the word relation, I encountered the Latin words ligare and religare. Ligare means connection, and religare means reconnecting. “Why is that important?” you may say. It is very important. It is followed by religio. You probably didn’t recognize the word. Let me say it in a more recognizable format: religion. Yes, religion. Religio, that is to say religion, is derived from religare, or reconnecting. Why should I reconnect? Don’t I already have a connection? Of course, these concepts are found in theology. Even when they are used in different disciplines, concepts have the same model or matrix. To make it interdisciplinary, I want to show connections in physics, in mysticism, in the world of religion, in philosophy, and in the world of art so that we get a good grasp of this thing called “connection” or “relation”.
“Relativity” is derived from relatio. I mostly use the term ilişkinlik (relatedness) in Turkish to refer to relativity, but sometimes it is not sufficient, so I also use the term bağıntılılık (connectedness). In literature, we have not yet agreed on how to translate this term “relativity” to Turkish. We do not have a consensus on concepts, and as a result, people who want to make use of the literature, be they academics or other researchers, find it difficult to understand one another. Open a physics encyclopedia or a work in this field, and you’ll see many Turkish terms like görelilik, görecelik, görececilik, ilişkinlik, or bağıntılılık, all different translations of relativity. Which one is it? They are derived in different ways. Now, let me talk about word derivations so that I can explain internal connections in some detail.
In philosophy, concepts are derived from one another; the opposite is also possible, you can posit concepts, and it is called position. The word positivism also has the same root. If the concepts you use in philosophy are posited, not derived, then, the relationships between them would be an external or mechanical one, a result of simply being brought together. I put this object (plastic cup) next to that object (PET bottle). This means I am determining the position of this relative to that, in terms of cause-and-effect relationships, sharing the same ground, volume, and location. This is a posited concept of an object. If one were based on the other, then it would be derived, not positive. I am emphasizing this difference because relation is not only the most essential concept in the theory of objective relativity, it is also the most basic concept in philosophy. For example, how do you perceive this object (PET bottle)? I perceive it as something derived. Why? This is made of oil, and so is this (plastic cup and PET bottle). I look at the process, not the end result on display. When I look at the end results, everything appears to be posited, a product of position. When I look back at the process, however, I see that they share a past, their developments are related to one another. Then, I understand that at the present moment, they share a ground to which both are related. How can I go back to that? When I intervene in their processes by conducting experiments on them, when I realize the relationships among these phenomena, only then can I make progress toward knowing their reality as they are. When we move from our knowledge of appearances, from our knowledge of phenomena, to knowledge of how they have emerged in a process, we can learn about the reality of objects in themselves, and this was what Hegel saw. What is knowledge? There are certain limits that show an object as that object in the realm of phenomena: moments. The Turkish word for moment is kıpı. Other translations of the term include istasyon (station) and uğrak (a place you stop by). Uğrak is not bad because it refers to a momentary thing, but what sort of a moment are we talking about? Why do you call it “moment”? We have moments all the time. Think about a train station; a train is something that moves. It moves, comes to a halt and remains motionless for some period of time, and then it moves again. The instants that we are able to capture are moments too, similar to how the train has stopped; they show the existence of an object at that moment.
Knowing Means Knowing the Transformation of a Thing
According to Hegel, what we identify and perceive as this object is a moment; it is just a momentary appearance of something that moves. If this is the case, then, knowing “this” (cup, bottle) means knowing about the transformation of this thing from its previous quality to this quality. Knowing something means knowing its transformation. How strange! According to Kant, however, knowing something meant knowing its appearances. In Hegel, it means knowing its relationships. Even that is not enough. Because we know it is in motion, we have another category; knowing something means knowing its transformations or transitions from one state to another state. According to the interdisciplinary approach, if a consciousness uses the concepts of a single field to understand a topic, it becomes identical with the topic and fails to understand. Fish don’t know they are in water. Put them on a pan, and they will see what the world is like. As consciousness tries to get out of water, get out of its own conceptual prison and illusion and enter another conceptual world, it captures a moment of freedom. It then says “Okay! Eureka!”
When we use the Turkish word görelilik for “relativity”, we say “something is according to another,” talking about a logical ratio, a logical comparison, a logical connection. The theory of relativity, on the other hand, says objects are directly connected to one another through their internal relationships, in terms of existence, and this is not a logical ratio, comparison, or syllogism. Therefore, I am not in favor of using görelilik for relativity. However, this is the tendency in literature. The word ilişkinlik, on the other hand, contains ilişki (relation), which I believe is adequate and sufficient to express an objective reality, but relativity also has another aspect –because it denotes an inter-connection as well– that ilişkinlik cannot capture. Therefore, I am in favor of using two concepts, ilişkinlik (relatedness) and bağıntılılık (connectedness) interchangeably to translate “relativity” into Turkish.
For Enlightenment, We Must Update the Method of Logic We Use
So far, I have talked about two approaches to logic:
– The first is the understanding that objects are identical to themselves and are immutable, and we can only know them through their appearances.
– The second is that objects are contradictory in their essence, and they have to enter into relationships as a result.
This relationship, born out of contradiction, points to a structural inevitability for all existence in universe: Contradiction gives rise to movement, which shows that every object constantly changes and turns into something else. Process means movement and transformation. Looking at the issue from the perspective of laws of motion, if movement gives rise to changes and transformations, then it would be possible to speed them up or slow them down as well. If these stages of qualitative transformation exist, then it should be possible to influence them so that they take place at an earlier or later time. When you increase its contradiction or tension, it is called “dynamic”. This is what the term dynamic denotes. These concepts are derived from one another. When we say “dynamic”, it means there is a contradiction and we are increasing the tension of that contradiction. We can talk about the concept of dynamic in case of an increase in speed or movement. Therefore, every time a concept is derived from another, it forms a connection with its root, or rather an interconnection is established; hence the usage of the prefix “re”: religare–ligare. Weaving like a shuttle, threading the weft through the wart, a work is created or objective reality emerges. Relationship and shuttle. “Shuttle” is what makes the connection or creates the relationship, it is movement itself. We need to keep talking about this concept; I believe I have now made myself more clear in terms of underlining relationship.
I have talked about speeding up movement, but the proper concept to be used here is “quickening”, not “speeding up”. The theory says that as an object is speeded up, its mass and dimensions change; it undergoes a qualitative change and turns it into something else. In radiation, it is even said to go so far as reaching infinite mass, but it becomes impossible in case of movement effected from the outside. All of these narratives are important in terms of showing that internal relationship is a different objective reality in the context of external actions and reactions, and can help us develop a different consciousness. Newton said objects were related to one another through action and reaction. This is real, that kind of relationship exists, but Newton built his entire mechanics on this, and tried to explain universe on this basis.
The Physical, Chemical, and Organic Comprehension of Nature in Hegel
Hegel pointed out that this relationship of action and reaction applied to the physical world, but objects that did not change or transform one another did so in the chemical dimension of nature. According to Hegel, what he called “dialectic” corresponded to the chemical dimension of nature: The reality of influencing and changing one another is dialectic. Hegel’s system of thought does not stop at dialectic. Dialectic is shuttle; it is movement and interconnection. What for? For a synthesis, for a design. Hegel says this corresponds, in nature, to organic nature or to organism. As the final stage of three stages of nature, organism contains the previous two stages as well. “Action and reaction” correspond to physical nature, “dialectic” corresponds to chemical nature, and “organism” corresponds to speculative concept or organism in nature. Thinking about this in reverse, what would an organic nature (a human being) turn into if we were to disrupt its organism or internal relationships? Say you remove an eye from its place; you cut off its connections, you take it out of the system, and place it on the table. What would you have? You would have a biochemical bundle, but not an eye because it becomes an eye through its function within that system. “Then,” says Hegel, “organism is defined through function; others, however, are defined through their relationships and causality.”
I am talking about very important distinctions. If an object is in the physical nature, it is defined in the context of action and reaction; if it is in the chemical nature, however, it is defined in the context of mutual movement and mutual change. What about an organism? An organism is defined in the context of its function. This is how Hegel arrives at the conclusion that people can become human beings only through thinking, or through the products or functioning of their brains. This is the path he takes. He then returns and internalizes this: The fact of thought is the final function of consciousness in our entire physical existence, or finalis. Where is its causa? He arrives at the conclusion that, as causa finalis, “the function that we see in the end must be at the beginning of physical reality as well.” This is a very pleasant field in philosophy. When you go back to the beginning, you have this relationship: “relationship, contradiction, movement – process.” This is all that exists. What we call “consciousness”, on the other hand, is nothing but the unity of contradiction and relationship, its movement and transcendence. So, whatever happens in nature is reflected in consciousness. This is how concept works.
* Based on the recordings of a series of speeches given by Metin Bobaroğlu between January and June, 1999, in the Faculty of Fine Arts of Marmara University on “Einstein’s Theory of Objective Relativity.” Translated by Dr. Emre Eren Korkmaz, and revised by the editorial board.