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The Survival Principle (Article)

Uri Milstein

Here I offer two quotations, three hundred years apart: "Everything aspires to preserve its being, to be nothing but its essence in actuality." Baruch Spinoza said that.[1] Then there's this: "At the foundation of all existing things resides such a simple, beautiful[2] and persuasive idea, that when we finally grasp it, whether in a decade, a hundred years or even a thousand years from now, we will say: ?How could we possibly have thought otherwise? How could we be so foolish for so long?" That was John Wheeler[3].

Reality has Purpose

Observation[4] of fundamental reality isn't limited to matter – as defined by conventional science – or to fundamental particles; nor is it limited to fundamental forces in four–dimensional space–time, or even to mechanistic explanations in the Cartesian–Newtonian mold.[5] These have been the paradigms of science for the last 300 years, and not only in physics.

What we're talking about is the negation of mind–body dualism, the physicalization of consciousness, something even Newton and Einstein shied away from ? they wouldn't dare to trespass on God's dominion. Given that consciousness is purposive, and given that the observer and his consciousness, with all its interactions, become a factor in the observational field of the universe, we aim to return teleological explanations, which Descartes banished from the conversation in the 17th century (via his model of the mechanical clock), to their proper place in scientific discourse.[6] If matter and its force fields lack purpose, then consciousness has it in spades: it requires purpose ? modes, tactics and strategies –– in order to ensure the survival of the body in competition with others. Further: if consciousness, consisting of information fibers, is itself a dimension of reality, then reality has purpose ? and not only biological purpose.

Given all the above, I will formulate a hypothesis about the fundamental fiber of the universe ? the solid base of the recipe of the Universe.[7] We start with the fact that observation per se, with its teleological nature, is part of the universe's interaction system.

The invitation to look upon consciousness as active, not merely a passive participant in the world, is nothing new. It is implanted in our infrastructure as cognitive beings, in something that appears anti–teleological[8]. Much of this is part of our Western orientation. But a consciousness aware of reality and of itself, is implicitly also aware of reality's teleological constituents.

The Genealogy of Observation ?

Judaism, the fountain of our Western religious narrative, is founded on the assumption of a super–consciousness[9] existing in space, giving birth and order to the world.[10] In the 6th century BC, the Greeks carved the postulate of consciousness on the entrance gate to the temple of Apollo, god of reason and science: "Know thyself." Plato ? the founding ancestor of Western culture ? adopted the primacy of consciousness, giving it a rationalistic interpretation, determining that its highest expression is mathematics (especially geometry). Thus Plato had given full force to the Pythagorean conception that reality is number, where number = idea = consciousness = concept.[11] For the last 2400 years, this notion has provided tremendous impulse for the development of Western science, whereas no mathematics has yet to emerge that could be applied to non–mechanistic and teleological phenomena. Plato limited consciousness' active function to the creation of mathematical entities and logical models, which he called forms[12] –– a limitation imposed on science up to the present time.

Plato's pupil, Aristotle, defined an empirical paradigm to reestablish experience as the basis of scientific investigation. Plato's mathematical–idealistic paradigm had undervalued the world of experience and empirical inquiry. But these two counterpoised models were merged in one via Archimedes, who added the method of experimentation to Aristotle's method of experience.[13] This marriage of paradigms was successful enough to result in new technologies, including military technologies –– the engine of further technological development (in our civilization) vis a vis agriculture and urban settlement. The military was a leading engine in the development of technologies because it combines two fundamental principles of reality ? cooperation and competition ? both of which lead inexorably to the survival principle.

With Archimedes, the short period of autonomous philosophic investigation which characterized the Greek Poleis gave way to the era of collective and coordinated study, especially for military needs. The result: the establishment controlled knowledge (continuing in the tradition of the Babylonian and Egyptian empires), aiming solely at its own self–preservation. Observation was nationalized and directed for combat purposes. The scientific era had begun, giving theoretical depth to technological means, but the establishment had an inherent interest in forbidding the study of consciousness, since such study could easily expose its own failures.

The assassination of Archimedes by a Roman soldier symbolizes the conquest of the West by the militaristic–imperialistic paradigm. In the (militaristic) era of Pax Romana that followed, intellectual resources were dedicated to the cultivation of military power. Roman efficiency pushed aside the leisurely study of the Greek academies. The Romans had no intention of destroying science, but they harnessed it to their own imperialistic designs. Thus began the era of applied science, the secret ingredient of Western power, lasting to the middle of the present decade. Like Hobbes' Leviathan, the militaristic paradigm has reigned supreme and swallowed up everything in its wake. As this militarism moves closer to inevitable collapse, so too will the whole system collapse. It was the same with the passing of Roman super–power into the middle ages.

The ruins of militarism gave rise to its antithesis: the Christian paradigm, which dominated the West for a thousand years. The intellectuals of this era were engaged by church authorities in perpetual devotion to the divine creator of the universe. Thus, while Christian wars were primitive, Christian Scholasticism was highly developed. The era of Christian tranquility came to an end with the Mongol threat in the 13th century, whereupon Roger Bacon, the English philosopher and natural scientist, advised Pope Clement IV to allow the study of physics and chemistry in the interest of Christendom.

Bacon himself had discovered the chemical formula of gunpowder, by analyzing bits of it brought back from China. Archimedes's science was resurrected. The mechanical clock was invented during the same century. The impulse of such an accurate machine became an irresistible metaphor in itself, shaping the scientific world view between the 17th and 20th centuries. The Middle Ages had come to an end.

The 14th century saw intellectuals beginning to revisit Archimedes's interpretation of the mechanistic paradigm. This paradigm, culminating in the 17th century, pushed consciousness from the core of inquiry away to its margins; scientists had no way of coming up with a mechanics of mind. The virulent turn of the modern era away from the medieval paradigm only intensified this intellectual vice. The scientists of the modern era mostly served at the behest of their military empires –– Britain, France, Germany, Russia, then the Soviet Union and the United States. Enabling efficient government control, developing nuclear weapons, observing their enemies from space, et cetera ? these were now the altars on which the scientist would lay his gifts. The great achievements of Newton and his progeny, the advancements in technology leading to the industrial revolution, all made possible the European conquest of the globe. These were the fruits of the mechanistic paradigm.

The two great wars of the 20th century ? with their climax in the nuclear evisceration of two Japanese cities, and the annihilation of European Jews in the gas chambers ? evoked a humanistic reprisal. The time was now ripe to repudiate the mechanistic paradigm and merge the study of consciousness with science. The active involvement of consciousness had been discovered in quantum mechanics. Now the whole field of consciousness became interesting to leading physicists, like Max Planck (1847– 1958)[14], Erwin Schrodinger (1861–1987)[15], Wolfgang Pauli (1900–1958)[16], Eugene Wigner (1901–1995)[17], Brandon Carter[18] and others. It was time to uncover the code of the universe.

The Genealogy of Survival

The code offered herein rests on an indisputable observation[19]: the universe, along with everything it contains, exists in a threatening environment. Everything, in order to exist, must survive; to exist is to survive. Therefore, the fundamental code of all natural forces is: the neutralization of threats. In the 17th century, this selfsame code was identified by Newton as "Inertia" and developed into a full–fledged socio–political theory by Thomas Hobbes. In the 19th century, Von Clausewitz used it to interpret war and human history; Darwin ? the whole animal world. In the 20th century, Albert Einstein carried it further to his "Equivalence Principle," interpreting space and time.

In the 17th century, Spinoza gave precise expression to the survival insight when he wrote: "Everything aspires to preserve its being, to be nothing but its essence in actuality." Galileo expressed it with his own concept of inertia. Isaac Newton fixed this insight within a cosmic frame of reference, in three laws of motion and the law of gravity, which I will restate thus: everything that exists threatens according to its mass, and everything that exists neutralizes threats according to the same mass.

Even back in the 6th century BC, Heraclitus of Ephesus, the pioneer of dynamic thinking, determined that "War is the mother of all things." In other words: neutralization of threats is the mother of all things. Heraclitus used the metaphor of fire, which neutralizes and extinguishes, always renewing itself in the process. Ergo, "Everything is Fire." He held that fire expresses the fundamental symmetry in the universe: simultaneously threatens and neutralizes threats, subsisting in constant flow: ergo, "everything flows" ("Pantha Rei"). This was the first philosophical formulation of Einstein's equivalence principle ? inertia–gravity ? the constant flow of threats and their neutralization.

Plato concluded from Heraclitus' doctrine that constant threat neutralization would undermine the proper functioning of the State. He aimed to neutralize the internal war of all against all, to consolidate the Heraclitean fire–system by means of cognitive tools: fixed insights ? Forms. In Plato's Republic, we find the unfounded assumption that the good is equivalent to the form of the forms ? an idea that Carl Popper blamed for the rise of Hitler and Stalin. Indeed, though he may have been the prince of all philosophers, this argument represented Plato's greatest failure, a failure which originated in the static cosmological paradigm of the Greeks. The Greeks never understood the meaning of motion and change, as Zeno's antinomies[20] amply testify. While Judaism assumed one constant ? God ? to which everything relates, Plato assumed a constant for each event ? a form ? and thus detached himself from reality. The Heraclitean intuition had to wait another 300 years to be fully exploited in Archimedes' dynamics.

In his Physics, Aristotle compared the notion of inertia to Heraclitus' conception. Aristotle taught his students that "there is an opinion that no one can say why a body that was brought to movement will rest somewhere. For why must it rest here and not there? So a body can be either in a state of rest or movement ad infinitum, unless it is disturbed by something more powerful than itself"[21]. Aristotle rejected this approach entirely, claiming that in the absence of external force, the body cannot move itself if it resides in its natural place.

There was a deeper reason for Aristotle's resistance to the inertia principle: The Aristotelian world was positivistic[22], therefore finite. The same went for his mathematics and physics. The difficulty of confronting the notion of "infinity" challenges common sense, i.e., the frame of reference of personal experience. Contra Plato, who saw Geometry as the incarnation of pure reason and the fundament of knowledge, Aristotle dichotomized Euclidian Geometry, with its problematic but acknowledged idea of infinity, and the ancient physics which rejected it. What is remarkable is that the inertial approach, rejected by Aristotle, is given such healthy form in his lectures, almost approaching the terms of Newton's First Law. Aristotle failed to merge mathetmatics and physics because he lacked the right mathematical tools.

The tools followed only a hundred years later, with Archimedes' method of integration and exhaustion[23]. And indeed, after Archimedes a return to the Herclitean intuition is apparent, viz., everything exhibits an internal tendency to continue its state ad infinitum. Infinity is impossible, seemingly, because equipoital forces of resistance pit entities against one another; according to Mach, however, resistance and neutralization themselves aspire to infinity, meaning that infinity is indeed realized, here and now, in the positivistic–Aristotelian world.

The concept of inertia can also be found in the writings of the Greek mathematician and astronomer Hipparchus of Rhodes (2nd century BC)[24]. The 6th century Alexandrian scientist and philosopher John Philoponos, who performed the same experiments Galileo would eternalize a thousand years later, also developed the idea that the body carries with it a moving force, or some tendency for movement (incorporeal motive energeia) ? even after it parts from the external body which initially imparts that force ? without the force of an additional body, as Aristotle believed. This tendency for motion was subsequently named ?impetus'.[25]

The Moslem physician, philosopher and scientist Ibn Sina, active during the 10th and 11th centuries in Persia, followed in Philoponos' path. He wrote about an inherent attribute of bodies which he termed ?inclination'. According to Ibn Sina, the projected body acquires this attribute from its projector, and retains the selfsame attribute in its course of motion. "When we observe reality we can confirm the opinion of those who think that the body in motion receives inclination from the mover. Inclination is what is sensed when we attempt to stop a body in motion ? we sense a force of resistance, which undoubtedly exists in the body."[26]

About 300 years after Ibn Sina, the anti–Aristotelian and pre–Newtonian trend received prominent expression in the West in the works of Jean Buridan (1300–1370), the dean of the University of Paris. For the first time, the idea of impetus was expressed in quantitative magnitude, proportional to the quantity and velocity of matter (similar to what we call momentum). This quantitative magnitude is responsible for the body's motion. Buridan thought that motion would continue forever without various delaying factors[27]. In contrast, we say that delay is eternal, which implies that eternity doesn't exist in the realm of motion ? where many keep looking for it ? but only in the realm of survival.

The 17th century saw the West's final liberation from the guardianship of Aristotle –– including Aristotle's repudiation of the physical survival principle. The process had begun, as we said, with Roger Bacon in the 13th century. In the 16th century, Copernicus dealt the final blow to the physics of common sense when he showed that Plato was right, that astronomical truth, rather than consisting in what our senses perceive and lend to reason, actually goes against our senses. Copernicus based his method on "Occam's razor": mathematical economy and simplicity[28]. >And though he astonished Christendom with his heliocentric claim, he still lacked physical proof. That was left to Galileo, who formulated the principle of inertia and relative motion. Bodies continue to move independently, and this movement, within an inertial frame of reference, isn't perceived by the senses because of our own internal frame of reference.

Copernicus' excommunication only lent prestige to his claims, and Kepler, working in parallel, formulated the mathematical rules of planetary motion. Together they formed the impetus for the Copernican revolution, a consolidation founded on the principle of the conservation of motion. The father of dynamics, Heraclitus, said that everything is motion; our modern dynamic sciences echo that claim: all motion is conserved. The inertial principle engaged most of the scientists and philosophers of the early modern era, and it continues to engage us today, at the dawn of the 21st century. Descartes, whose dictum cogito ergo sum ("I doubt, therefore I am") is the battle cry of modern science, determined, as the first law of nature, that everything preserves its state: that which moves will continue to move. Spinoza laid this principle at the center of his philosophy, while Newton noted that he'd learned the inertial principle from Galileo.

Newton defined the first law of motion thus: all bodies either continue a state of rest or maintain their motion in a straight line –– unless induced to change by another force. Newton taught that inertia is an inherent force in an object's mass (vis insita), that inertia (vis inertia) always tends to preserve its course. The code of the universe, then, consists in the following: survival organizes and activates every other principle in reality; therefore, survival is the teleological principle underlying every realm ? the micro and macro, the inorganic and the organic; the inanimate, the vegetative and the fauna; in information of any kind, i.e., religion, culture, science, ideology, et cetera.

In other words, the super–cause of all occurrences is the fundamental need of every being to neutralize forces/threats in order to survive, in the context of an ever threatening environment. The same explanation underlies the inertial tendencies of human society and its products ? the need to persevere by neutralizing threats. Ergo: I survive (by neutralizing threats), therefore I exist. This claim is both informative and rational, both simple and universal, and as such it confronts successfully the conditions for any account of reality. There is something of a diabolical fixation in this dynamic worldview, which common sense can neither easily accept nor fully dismiss, as it lives somewhere in the nether of the mind for eternity. The first two give systematic expression to this "diabolical" stream was Heraclitus, on account of which he was called the "obscure" by his generation. Plato identified this tendency, and dedicated his intellectual life to fighting a hopeless war against it (which goes to show that Plato didn't understand reality, even when he stepped outside the cave.) The founders of the great religions ? Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and Karl Marx –– made the same mistake. Machiavelli, Hobbs and Hegel strived to restrain the fixation, while Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud, the proponents of Quantum theory and the postmodernists surrendered to it. What did they surrender to? The worldview of the war of all against all, both creating order and destroying it. On this view, peace is merely another military expedient, destined to collapse. Even our own system of thought, according to which fundamental particles are always "fighting" each other, is one more move in this war dynamic; our system of thought is an expression of a subconscious desire to confront the threat on our conscious mind.

Assuming that this principle is burnt into physical reality itself, I'll try to answer the question of how everything else derives from it. I will try to show that this principle is the simple, beautiful and persuasive idea foreseen by John Wheeler.

The recipe is based on the hypothesis that survival is the super–information superstring[29], hereafter referred to as SIS[30], which weaves every physical event in one fiber of super–information: Threat–neutralization[31]. This super–fundamental super–information doesn't exist in a spatial dimension, but in a higher dimension. For the first time, then, we arrive at a notion of super–space, which creates a fundamental super–force in the universe: survival, which persists in every interaction. This super–force gives rise to the four fundamental forces known in nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. These four forces underlie every physical event, consisting of the SIS code of threat neutralization. SIS, therefore, is the cornerstone of the theory, which explicates that information is a basic element of physics.

Such is the basis for Survival Theory (S–Theory), which stands as a Theory of Everything ? as it points to the source of all four fundamental forces, thus uniting Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics while including the observer in the equation of threat–neutralizing (where the observer is also a threat). SIS has a dual–nature: it is double–faced ? both contradicting threats and while acting as a threat.

The dual nature of SIS creates a super–elemental symmetry, unbreakable in the breadth of existence, subsisting through every imaginable permutation. This superstring, whose vibrations are responsible for the diversification in nature, compresses regularities ? threats and their contradictions. For the simplest systems, only the original fiber is activated; for more complex systems –– especially in organic ones ? accounting for simple and complex threats, contradicting strategies and tactics are activated. In the human system ? the most complex one ? information fibers chains are activated, all derived from the initial information fiber, to the point that the connection between the threats and the means activated for their contradiction isn't clear from the perspective of common sense. The dynamic process ? from simplicity to complexity, from collapse to recurrence ? is determined by dialectic mutual relations of threat neutralization.

Our universe's fundamental equivalence is: to exist is to threaten threats. Thus, a relationship of equivalence prevails between every member of the set of existents and every member of the set of threats. In other words, threat neutralization is a threat on that which is considered a threat. There is therefore a fundamental reciprocal symmetry in the universe: threat <––> contrary threat, where time can be expressed as the range of threat.

Implicit here is the reduction of everything to the concept "survival". Assuming that holds, and assuming the universe had a beginning in time (as was mathematically proven by Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking in 1970, on the basis of general relativity, with their formulation of "singularity"), this genesis consisted of SIS, not the big bang (a result). This big bang happened when an SIS fiber was cut in the exploding mass, as a result of a failure in the contradiction of inner threats on the system. This hypothesis is basically meaningless (even nonsense) within the contemporary paradigm, but is nonetheless a simple and beautiful explanation in paradigm offered here.

In conclusion:

  • If threats define time, then time preceded the big bang, and consisted of internal threats
  • If time had a beginning, it wasn't the big bang; rather, it began when information converted into mass/energy
  • Philosophers were mistaken when they used information to formulate their ontology, and physicists were mistaken when they limited themselves to the study of mass and energy.
  • We have to turn our attention to the ontology of information and the physics of information. If we assume that threats don't apply to information, we can derive the following conclusions:
  • Time does not apply to information.
  • Time is eternal.
  • Information doesn't exist within the four dimensions of the universe, but in a higher dimension

A principal idea, and a theory derived therefrom, don't suffice for an understanding of existing systems. That would require an immense quantity of new information, which no one can predict in advance. Such new information, containing the mark of SIS, is responsible for the diversification of reality.


[1] Ethics Part 3 sentence 7. In the introduction to the Hebrew translation, Yirmiahu Yovel claims that the Ethics "established Modernism in philosophy."

[2] The demand for beauty in the structure of the
universe is common to many thinkers.  Copernicus
criticized Ptolemy's approach in his book "About the
Heavenly Spheres" from the esthetic assumption that
God had created flawless heavenly bodies.  Kepler used
the same precise claim in his book "The Universe's
Secret". In 1956 Paul Dirk, the Nobel Laureate
physicist said: "A physical law must have the virtue
of mathematical beauty". (Cited in Yan Stewart and
Martin Globitzki's book "Terrible Symmetry – Is God a
Geometrian?" Zmora, Bitan
publishers, 2001).

[3] An American physicist. In the late thirties, Wheeler (together with his teacher, the Danish physicist Nils Bohr) developed a theory on splitting the atom, which was used to develop the atom bomb.

He belonged to a group of physicists who researched the phenomenon of gravitational collapse. Wheeler gave it its popular name "Black Hole".

[4] Observation –– in the classical Greek meaning of the term, means theory. Therefore, to observe is to think, to grasp and develop knowledge.

[5] Mechanistic explanations describe and analyze reality through quantitative methods. They relate to this reality as to a machine with clear components, mechanical mechanisms and a structure which can be described mathematically, and they study the interaction between forces and matter.

[6] There were still scientists in the 17th century who did not abandon the teleological explanation. The most prominent among them were the British physicist Robert Boil (1627–1691) and the mathematician and philosopher Wilhelm Gottfried Leibnitz (1716–1846), who developed differential and integral mathematics in parallel with Newton.

[7]> Similar to the hypothesis that observation stimulates quantum processes, but here applied to the quantum universe's superpositions, creating the classical universe.

[8] Teleology, or purpose, is one of Aristotle's four
causes.  "The table has the purpose of eating and
writing."

[9] "God's spirit", Genesis A, b.

[10] Newton and his generation believed in God ? a belief which supplied them with teleology. Newton himself was engaged in theology not less intensively than in physics. The 20th century's greatest physicist, Albert Einstein, talked repeatedly about the connection between God and the laws of physics. An example: "I want to know how God created. I am not interested in this phenomenon or another. I want to reach his consciousness' depth. All the rest are details".( Cited in: Mitchu Kaku, "About a Space" Hed Artzi, 1998).

[11] 2400 years after Plato, Albert Einstein acknowledged the connection between physics and mathematics when he remarked that pure mathematics might lead to the solution of physics' enigmas: "I am convinced that the pure mathematical construction enables us to discover the concepts and the laws connecting them, and thus is given to us the key to the understanding of nature? In a certain sense, therefore, I accept that it is true that pure thought can embrace reality, as the ancients dreamt". (Cited in Kaku, About a Space" Hed Artzi,1998).

[12] To be more precise, consciousness is mentioned in Ideas, but his theory of recollection was quickly abandoned in favor of the view that consciousness forms ideas.

[13] Archimedes formulated the basic law of hydrostatics: On a body in liquid an elevation force is acted upon, which equals the weight of the liquid rejected by the body.

[14] Max Planck said in 1931: "Science will never solve nature's enigma, as we ourselves are part of the enigma we attempt to solve."

[15] In 1944 he published the book "Life, What is it?" which opened the discussion regarding the connection between consciousness and quantum mechanics.

[16] "Behind reality lies a higher order, to which both the researcher's mind and the object of the research are subjected".

[17] "Man will never understand reality unless he takes consciousness itself into consideration."

[18] "According to physics' basic laws, the nature of our means of research must be itself be researched. Observation is one of these means."

[19] The code will be presented in the language of Einstein's "principle theory" of 1919

[20] Insoluble contradictions

[21] Aristotle "Physics"(642–1639)

[22] I.e., based solely on sense experience

[23] The method which preceded calculus, which Newton and Leibnitz developed independently in the 17th century.

[24] Hipparchus had a crucial influence on the astronomer Claudius Ptolomeus, who lived in Alexandria in the second century AD; his geocentric theory survived for 1400 years ? until the Copernican revolution. Crowe Michael, J. Theories of the World from Antiquity to the Copernican Revolution. New York, 1990.

[25] Wildberg, C. Impetus Theory and the Hermeneutics of Science in Simplicius and Philoponus 5,pp. 107–124, 1999.

[26] L. Goodman, Avicenna in Robert Wisnovsky (editor), Aspects of Avicenna, Markus Wiener, pub., London, 2002.

[27] Thijssen, J.M.M. H., and Jack Zupko (eds.) The metaphysical and Natural Philosophy of John Buridan, Brill, Leiden–Boston–Koln, (2001).

[28] William of Ockham, a 13th century English monk and one of the greatest scholastics, introduced the important principle in the methodology of theory building: the minimalist explanation. This principle is called "Occam's razor"

[29] Physics has begun using the analogy of a violin string, possessing an infinite quantity of vibration–states, in the superstring theory.

[30] Which gives rise to SOS

[31] Collapse of systems breach of symmetries, diseases, famine and destitution environment pollution, violence, wars, natural disasters, et cetera.

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