"...Nothing but atoms and the void"
David Kolb, March-April 2018

By convention sweet and bitter, By convention hot and cold, By convention color, but in reality atoms and the void.
"Nothing but" ?? "Explanatory primacy" ??
How to get from basic entities with very few qualities to our rich rhythmical live alert world?
Greek atoms: shape and filling space, chance encounters
As science moves on, atoms acquire more properties, forces and fields, on to quantum fields and the Standard Model
We still imagine atoms as hard little items bouncing around.
Partly this is difficult math, but also a philosophical intuition: Parmenides, basic reality must be totally positive and full.
Once atoms have more ways of interacting and combining, chance encounters can bring forth new forms and behaviors.
Evolution is a result, not a unified process or single cause. It can explain the way atoms build out our rich manifest ordinary world.
The problem of consciousness, how it changed between the Greeks and us. Whether there is a "hard problem", two options, and the possibility of panpsychism.
The problem of time: manifest time vs the block universe, two options, and the possibility of new physics.
Time, the future, open possibilities, and daily life: a message from Immanuel Kant.
Relying on science, confidence, the pessimistic meta-induction, belief and faith, holding beliefs.

References for atoms and quanta

References for The Hard Problem of Consciousness

References on Time and Physics

Arthur C Clarke's Three laws

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

A large file containing an assembled copy of the slides from the sessions.