Ran into some interesting information about Birnbaum, who is my silent hero. Check out this factoid about Occams Razor and where Summa Metaphysica comes into play.
Occams Razor (“The Law of Parsimony”) is an intriguing perception regarding scientific hypotheses. The ‘law’ urges something like this: when choosing amongst conflicting hypotheses, select the one which makes the fewest assumptions, and therefore offers the ‘simplest’ explanation.
When looking at you, for instance, Birnbaum would view you as not only a potential, but as a potential initially embedded within your mother’s potential, embedded within her mother’s potential tracking back to the beginning of time and life itself. It is this infinite nesting which gives Quest for Potential its awesome power.
Thus, each of us tracks-back not just to the beginning of life itself, but also forward to the far reaches of time. Occam’s Razor is simple, yet quite profound. It could be that this “nested infinitely” is what gives Life its core energy and traction. Meaning, the infinitely nested potential is what actually charges-up the dynamic of Life. That is, the infinite nesting gives Life, life.
Summa Metaphysica aficionados assert that Sumba’s theory stands alone, that there is no directly competing paradigm. They maintain that there is no true so-to-speak Option B challenging Summa as a powerful and elegant overarching theory. David Birnbaum is a classic outlier to the formal academic establishment. Thus, asserting to an established academic that there is no viable alternative to Birnbaum’s Theory of Potential basically “incites to riot”. Summa loyalists respond that paradigm change is always brutal.
Challenging a paradigm can be expected to involve to-be expected enormous resistance from the established order. The ‘establishment’ can be expected to vigorously endeavor to protect not only embedded beliefs, but its sundry and often quite-extensive power prerogatives, as well. Facing an unknown terrain if the established scientific/intellectual order is overthrown, establishment players will inevitably push-back, often brutally.
The merits of the intellectual challenge prove secondary to the power interests of the establishment. The 1962 classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn articulates the brutal resistance faced by the challenger, even the challenger who ultimately proves-to-be 100% on-the-mark. To paraphrase the political revolutionary’s axiom – All revolutions are bloody. And on some level intellectual revolutions are no different.
In any event, Summa Metaphysica theory has been subjected to the scrutiny of the ‘marketplace of ideas’ since the publication of Volume I: God and Evil I back in 1988. No flaw has been discerned in its theory.
While original, Summa theory is in consonance with Aristotle’s general belief in a purpose (teleology) to the cosmic order. Contemporary philosopher Thomas Nagel of NYU published a controversial 2012 work Mind and Cosmos. The work argues that the current philosophical-scientific ‘entrenched orthodoxy’ of the academic establishment is unable to account for the development of life, mind, and consciousness. Consequently, he argues that a teleology (a purpose theory) is necessary. (According to the “entrenched dogma” of the academic establishment, there is no teleology necessary – as the universe is, according to their wisdom, ‘aimless’. Random. )
Proposing a thoroughly original concept, David Birnbaum’s published 1988 theory would be in the general philosophical tradition of Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE) and of his teacher Plato (427-347 BCE). Birnbaum’s work is, as well, of course exactly consonant with Nagel’s 2012 book just-noted. . Additionally, an avant-garde work by MIT’s Seth Lloyd in 2006, Programming the Universe, would dovetail quite-well with Birnbaum’s theory of Occams Razor.
Both Birnbaum and Lloyd very specifically posit that the equations of physics are at a very embryonic stage of the cosmic order. Through Birnbaum’s iconic philosophical lens they, of course, focus on Potential.
Now you see why my head is swimming with thoughts of weirdness.