Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Buckminster Fuller Tells How People Are Different From Other Animals

Buckminster Fuller thought that people's purpose was to be problem solvers. (He also thought that this was what will save our sorry collective ass.)

I've transcribed a thousand words or so of Fuller's thinking from Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity  about this idea. What he's saying is that other creatures got photosynthesis, fur, wings, etc. We got mind.

He distinguishes between brain and mind, saying that brains interpret the senses, while minds discover the patterns in what we sense.

In this excerpt Fuller discusses the scientific path to Newton's description of the relationship between distance and attraction that we call gravity, paying detailed attention to Kepler's discovery of the surprising way that the planets' obits relate to each other. He uses gravitation to stand for all of the natural laws which only humans seem capable of learning.

Over half a century ago, when I embarked on my "experiment in individual initiative," I set before myself(as I have repeatedlt ever since then) one very large question: What is our function here in Universe?

My first answer to that question came from two three closely related observations:

1. That all known living organisms other than humans have some integral bodily equipment that gives them special operating capabilities in special environments.

2. That many creatures, including humans, have brains, and that brains are always and only sorting the information reported by the senses and integrating this information into system images and therewith coordinating nervous control responses or forming improved new system imagings. Brains are therefore always dealing with special case experience -- for example, "This one smells a little sweeter than that one." Brains must sleep periodically. Brains deal in beginnings and endings of special-case considerations. Brains are physical, temporal, and frequently terminaled.

3. Humans also have a faculty unidentified with any other creatures -- the faculty of mind. Minds are always and only concerned with the discovery of eternal constant interrelationships manifest in a myriad of special-case experiences of the brain, which interrelationships are not to be found in any one of the special-case system components considered separately.

One of the most important events of classical science involving the interrelationship findings by the human mind is demonstrated by the mathematician-astronomer Johannes Kepler, whose story I shall recount here.

Based on his accurate observations and measurements, Kepler found that all the planets of which he was aware (a) were of different sizes, (b) operated at different distances from the Sun, (c) orbited the Sun at different rates, and (d) traveled their respective orbits  at different rates. Kepler said that the planets, though apparently on the same team, seemed to be utterly disordered. He then said they did share one thing: the fact of all going around the same Sun. As a mathematician, he knew he could assign these planets something else in common. He also knew that given two known constants, one may discover other interrelationships within the team. Kepler then assigned a common constant to each and all the known planets -- exactly the same increment of calendar time.

Starting at the same moment of calendar time and finishing at the same monet of calendar time, Kepler observed and recorded the plants' concurrent orbital travel over a twenty-one day period. this gave him the data for graphing the slices-of-pie-shaped, triangular patterns formed by each of the starting and finishing radii of measured distance from the Sun to each planet at the start and finish of the twenty-one-day event. The arc of travel distance between the start and finish closed the radii ends to form triangular shapes. Kepler intuitively decided to calculate the area of each of them. Doing so, he found that they were not only similar areas but were elegantly, exactly the same size.

He surmised that the planets could not sweep out exactly the same cosmic area unless they were coordinating in some exact manner. Since the planest were not touching one another, they could not be coordinating like toothed gears. Far from touching, these massive bodies were rotating and orbiting millions of miles distant from one another.

Kepler was forced to conclude that there was an invisible, unsmellable, soundless, untouchable, intertensionally restraining force governing the planets' orbital motions.

The work and findings of Kepler's contemporary Galileo regarding the exact mathematical rate of acceleration of "falling bodies" led to Isaac Newton's discovering the mathematical expression of the gravitational laws of Universe. Newton found that the interattraction of any two celestial bodies always varies inversely with the second power of the arithmetical distances intervening. Thus, halve the distance, and increase the interattractiveness fourfold.

Here again we have the human mind discovering what the brain's sensing is utterly incapable of apprehending. The mind can, and does, from time to time discover the only mathematically expressible laws governing these nonsensorially discoverable macro-microcosmic interrelationships which always hold true in all special-case instances. When such initial discoveries are found to be exceptionless, they become known as "laws" -- hence, the generalized laws of science.

Exceptionlessness can be termed eternal. Human mind has discovered a meager  inventory of these only mathematically statable, eternal laws governing the physical design and operation of Universe. These laws have never been found to contradict one another. All have been found to be interaccomodative. All of them may be objectively employed in special-case technology.

Humans possessed of the family of generalized mathematical laws governing all the relevant, variable factors in aerodynamics are able to build a flying machine by which they can outfly the birds in speed and altitude. Humans can lend one another their "wings."

That humans alone of all known phenomena have access to the great design laws of Universe immediately implies that we must have been introduced into Universe for some very significant ultimate functioning.

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