Category Archives: Theoretical Physics

The Abstract and Concrete Components of Science (Brief Item #89)

[9/22/2020] (Bernard Lonergan, Albert Einstein) Because insights arise with reference to the concrete, mathematicians need pen and paper, teachers need blackboards, pupils have to perform experiments for themselves, doctors have to see patients, trouble-shooters have to travel to the spot, people with a mechanical bent take things apart to see how they work.  But because the significance and relevance of insight goes beyond any concrete problem or application, men formulate abstract sciences with their numbers and symbols, their technical terms and formulae, their definitions, postulates, and deductions.  Thus, by its very nature, insight is the mediator, the hinge, the pivot.  It is insight into the concrete world of sense and imagination.  Yet what is known by insight, what insight adds to sensible and imagined presentations, finds its adequate expression only in the abstract and recondite formulations of the sciences. [CWL 3, 6/30] [#89] (Click here for previous “Single Paragraphs” or “Brief Items”)

A McShane Sampler Relevant to Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics

Philip McShane had a strong background in mathematics and theoretical physics; thus he was able to understand the scientific significance of Bernard Lonergan’s macroeconomic field theory in an Einsteinian context.

First we display, in brief, key excerpts, many of which contain analogies from physics and chemistry, relevant to the science of Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics; then we show the same excerpts more fully within lengthier quotes. Continue reading

Theoretical Breakthroughs of Euclid, Newton, Hilbert, Einstein, and Lonergan

To help the reader gain an appreciation of Lonergan’s achievement of Modern Macroeconomic Field Theory we will, in each section, print leading excerpts, then highlight the key concepts of those excerpts. We will comment on the historically-significant advances in geometry of Euclid and Hilbert, in physics of Newton and Einstein, and in macroeconomics of Lonergan.

  • Euclid’s great achievement was his rigorous deduction of geometry.
  • Hilbert’s great achievement was his employment of implicit definition to reorder Euclid’s geometry.
  • Newton’s two great achievements were unifying the isolated insights of Galileo and Kepler into a unified system of mechanics and his invention of the calculus.
  • One of the great achievements of Einstein was the invention of the field theories of Special Relativity, General Relativity, and Gravitation.
  • One of Lonergan’s several great achievements was his systematization of macroeconomic phenomena in his Modern Macroeconomic Field Theory. He combined the technique of implicit definition introduced by Hilbert and the concept of a field theory developed by Faraday and Einstein; and he developed an explanatory macroeconomics, which is general, invariant, and relevant in any instance. (Continue reading)

The Wise Person Puts Questions In Their Right Order

In any analysis there is a right order of questions; and to violate this order is to invite misunderstanding, myth, and disaster.  To indicate the wisdom in Lonergan’s analysis, we present excerpts, mainly from his CWL 12,  which mandate clearly, for himself and for us, that one’s method and one’s heuristic necessitate putting questions in their right order.  The precepts apply whether one is doing physics, economics, philosophy or theology. Continue reading

Field Theory in Physics and Macroeconomics

We hope to inspire serious graduate students of economics a) to seek and achieve an understanding of “Macroeconomic Field Theory,” b) to verify empirically Lonergan’s field relations,  and c) to use the explanatory field relations as the basis of influential scholarly papers.

We trace developments

  • in physics from Newtonian mechanics to modern field theory, and
  • in economics from Walrasian supply-demand economics to purely relational, Modern Macroeconomic Field Theory.

Key ideas include a) abstraction and implicit definition as the basis and ground of invariance in both physics and macroeconomics, b) the concept of a purely relational field, c) immanent intelligibility and formal causality, and d) the canons of parsimony and of complete explanation. We highlight some key ideas: (continue reading)

Two Summaries in Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics

.I.   Summary of the Analysis:  Heuristic, Observations, and Discoveries

.II.  Summary of the Argument (verbatim from CWL 15, 5-6)

.III. Supplement to the Summaries

(Continue Reading)

Why Economists Don’t Flock to Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics

Economists don’t have the methodological and conceptual toolkit needed for appreciation of FMD’s scientific and historical significance.

  • They don’t know what they don’t know.
    • They’re not methodologists and don’t know what constitutes good theory.
    • They never read CWL 3, pages 3-172 and 490-97 and, thus, they never studied the canons of empirical method, especially the Canon of Parsimony and the Canon of Complete Explanation; they have no idea of the deficiencies of their method.
  • Thus, they lack a purely scientific and explanatory heuristic.
    • They do not adequately distinguish description vs. explanation.
    • They do not know the type of answer they’re seeking, i.e. their known unknown.
    • They do not put questions in the right order to discover basic terms of scientific significance.
    • They are mired in muddy premises and disorienting assumptions.
    • They are unable to employ a scientific, dynamic heuristic adequate for analysis of a current, purely dynamic process.
    • They don’t understand what constitutes the normative system’s requirement for  concomitance, continuity, and equilibrium of flows.
  • They lack a background in theoretical physics. They don’t understand the principles and abstract laws of hydrodynamics, electric circuits, or field theory.  Nor do they understand adequately the idea of continuity and the conditions of equilibrium in macroeconomic dynamics.  They are unaware of analogies from physics applicable on the basis of isomorphism to the phenomena of Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics. (Continue reading.)

 

 

Prediction is Impossible in the General Case

In his book, FREEFALL (2009, Penguin Books), Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979), states that economics is a predictive science. Now, one must distinguish between predicting a) planetary motion in its scheme of recurrence, and b) this afternoon’s weather vs. next month’s weather, or this afternoon’s prices and quantities vs. next year’s prices and quantities, all subject to to conditions diverging in space and time.   Continue reading)

 

 

The IS-LM, AD-AS, and Phillips Curve Models

In this section, we are contrasting familiar textbook models of macrostatic equilibrium, with Lonergan’s explanatory theory of macrodynamic equilibrium.  We are contrasting a macrostatic toolkit with a purely relational field theory of macroeconomic dynamics. Lonergan discovered  a theory which is more fundamental than the traditional wisdom based upon human psychology and purported endogenous reactions to external forces.  His Functional Macroeconomic Dynamics is a set of relationships between n objects, a set of intelligible relations linking what is implicitly defined by the relations themselves, a set of relational forms wherein the form of any element is known through its relations to all other elements.  His field theory is a single explanatory unity; it is purely relational, completely general, and universally applicable to every configuration in any instance. (Continue reading)

 

 

The Emergence of Science

Lonergan, like Euclid, Newton, and Mendeleyev, moved through his field of inquiry to the level of system.

(Given the failure to implement the basic expansion,) the systematic requirement of a rate of losses will result in a series of contractions and liquidations. … [CWL 15, 155]

… a science emerges when thinking in a given field moves to the level of system. Prior to Euclid there were many geometrical theorems that had been established.  The most notable example is Pythagoras’ theorem on the hypotenuse of the right-angled triangle, which occurs at the end of  book 1 of Euclid’s Elements.  Euclid’s achievement was to bring together all these scattered theorems by setting up a unitary basis that would handle all of them and a great number of others as well. … Similarly, mechanics became a system with Newton.  Prior to Newton, Galileo’s law of the free fall and Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion were known.  But these were isolated laws.  Galileo’s prescription was that the system was to be a geometry’; so there was something functioning as a system.  But the system really emerged with Newton.  This is what gave Newton his tremendous influence upon the enlightenment.  He laid down a set of basic, definitions, and axioms, and proceeded to demonstrate and conclude from general principles and laws that had been established empirically by his predecessors.  Mechanics became a science in the full sense at that point where it became an organized system. … Again, a great deal of chemistry was known prior to Mendeleev. But his discovery of the periodic table selected a set of basic chemical elements and selected them in such a way that further additions could be made to the basic elements.  Since that time chemistry has been one single organized subject with a basic set of elements accounting for incredibly vast numbers of compounds.  In other words, there is a point in the history of any science when it comes of age, when it has a determinate systematic structure to which corresponds a determinate field. [CWL 14, Method, 1971, 241-42]

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