Materialist Field Theory

The Materialist Field Theory


Ancient Greek philosophers veered away from the metaphysical and god-centered view of our ancient ancestors oby offering a materialist desription  of the origin and motions of the stars, moons, planets, and other celestial bodies based on the rigor of reason and philosophy. According to this view, everything in the Cosmos is made up of material elements, the equivalent of Aristotle’s “physis.”

But they differed as to what constituted the primal material particle. For Thales, the primary material of all things was water. Anaximenes considered air as the principle of life from which all things come from. Heraclitus saw fire as the beginning of all things, while Empedocles combined all the elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Aristotle contributed another element, aether (from a Greek word for “blazing”) as the special substance out of which the heavenly bodies are composed.

From this materialist perspective, Aristotle investigated the ultimate source and reality from which all things started. Nature, to him, consisted of simple elements that are capable of self-movement, thus, possessing the potential to bring about changes and transformation. He argued that the principal generator of these changes is really the soul, which he referred to as the entelechy. According to him, the soul is the real substance as well as the source of movement and the final cause that animates all cosmic elements. The Greek philosophers were careful in referring this soul to God. Instead, Plato postulated the existence of a Demiurge, a Divine Craftsman and Creator who constructed the Cosmos according to a prepared model based on the raw materials already available then (R. E. Krebs 2003).

It was Leucippus of Miletus and his disciple Democritus who were most influential in explaining the ultimate reality. These two philosophers introducedd the idea of atom and the void. They viewed atom as the smallest indivisible unit and the primordial building block of the Cosmos. They argued that in the beginning there was only atom (literally “not able to be cut”) and the void and that these two are inseparable. For them, the void simply means the pl space in which the atom moves. According to Leucippus and Democritus, in the beginning there were an infinite number of atoms, differing in size and shape. These atoms moved in the void where collisions between and among them took place; atoms of irregular shapes got entangled with one another, eventually forming groups of atoms. It was in this manner that the Cosmos was finally formed. As Leucippus explained (Danielson, 2000:23):

The worlds are formed when atoms fall into the void and are entangled with one another; and from their motion as they increase in bulk arises the substance of the stars. Creation is simply a necessary consequence of the contact and merger of atoms in the void of the contact and merger of atoms in the void, although may have been brought about by sheer luck and chance.

At first, simple elements were produced, but as the coalescence became more and more intense, simplicity gave way to complexity and what was once one became diverse. The famous Roman poet Lucretius utilized the alphabet as a metaphor to explain how the combination and permutation of only 26 letters in the English language can produce volumes of literature. Similarly, it was a mere handful of atoms that produced everything in the Cosmos.

In the view of the ancient Greek atomists, the void was necessary; the term void, however, was taken simply as an empty space or a place for the atoms to move around (Danielson, 2000:26, 29). For as Zeno (during the mid-5th century B.C.), declared “movement is impossible,” in the absence of an empty space (Danielson, 2000:25). Aristotle expressed this oneness of place and motion in his concept of “locomotion” (Danielson, 2000:37). For the Greek atomists, the void is the fabric of the Cosmos. Without it, life would not have appeared, and we would not have emerged and developed to what we are today.

Philosopher Gottfried Leibniz (1670) also echoed this ancient belief of unity at the level of the monads (equivalent to the Greek’s conception of atoms) and that reality can only be found in the One single source (see also Rodney Brooks, 2010):