Attila Grandpierre is a professional physicist and astrophysicist as well as an historian and an accomplished musician, having been the leader and lead singer of several bands starting in the 70s and until the present day. Currently he is the founder, frontman and lead singer of the shaman-punk band Vágtázó Csodaszarvas (Galloping Wonder Stag). During the 80s he and his then band Vágtázó Halottkémek (Galloping Coroners) reached world-wide acclaim as the “best shaman-punk band” ever. Grandpierre is the lead singer of yet another band called Vágtázó Életerő (Galloping Vitality), in which most of the old members of the Vágtázó Halottkémek band are reunited. The music is deeply rooted in the ancient Magyar and Eurasian folk music tradition, using many traditional Magyar folk instruments.
He is currently a visiting professor at the Center of Excellence in Applied, Computational and Fundamental Science at Chapman University, California, USA.
Attila Grandpierre is a well-known and active figure in Hungary as a researcher of the ancient Magyar tradition, history, myth and spirituality.
Click to view his current academic Curriculum Vitae.
Published in Ultimate Reality and Meaning, 25 (2): 127-147, 2002 June.
In this essay the ontological structure of reality is explored. The question of reducibility of biology to physics is considered in the context of their ultimate principles. It is shown that biology is an ontologically autonomous science and is based on its own, independent ultimate principle that is independent from that of physics. In the next step it is shown that self-consciousness represents a separate realm with its own, ontologically autonomous, ultimate principle. Understanding that reality is based on ultimate principles, a new possibility arises to interpret the origin of physical laws.
Exploring the ontological structure of reality is a primary task of philosophy. Unfortunately, philosophy in the last thousand years seems to be largely awkward, suffering from fundamental self-inconsistencies, and so the fundamental ontological structure of reality is evaluated differently by different philosophies. Nevertheless, the discrepancies of different philosophies on the basic ontological categories seem to be not disparately unbridgeable. Moreover, modern science may offer a significant assistance by its more systematic approach especially since it seems that we have one science instead of many, which is a significant difference to the case of philosophy. Now since science is based on ontological presuppositions (Bunge, 1967, 291), a unique task may be specified: evaluating the ontological foundations of science. If the consideration leads to the result that the ontology of science is correct, we can find the ontological structure of reality what we need. Now if the consideration leads to another result, telling that the scientific ontology needs some improvements, in making these corrections we may arrive to a better understanding of the ontological structure of reality.
2. The concept of “ultimate reality”
It is advisable to formulate the basic concepts exactly. I regard that the ontological structure of reality is built up from some “ultimate reality”. In this work I use the following definition for the ultimate realities:
Definition 1: an existent is regarded as an ultimate reality, if it is autonomous and universal. A reality is regarded as autonomous, if it is not reducible to other realities. A reality is regarded as universal, if it extends to the whole Universe, if it is possible to show that its existence is not limited in space and time.
2.1 A historical account on the candidates for ultimate realities
What kind of factors may be regarded as ultimate realities? This question accompanies the whole development of thinking of mankind. The nature of the ultimate realities is related to the structure of the world, to the question that the world has one or many substances, layers, levels, and to the basic categories of sciences. The basic realities play a key role in every philosophical system and at the foundation of science. Therefore, it is important to present a short overview of the most important existents regarded by some as realities.
In the Chaldean Magic (Lenormant, 1999, 114) the first realities are the primal principles: “ILU, the First Principle, the universal and mysterious source of all things, which is manifested in the trinity of ANU, the god of Time and and the World; HEA, the intelligence, which animated matter; and BEL, the demiurgus and ruler of the organized universe”. In the ancient Hungarian world-system the basic categories were the first principle of the Universe, ÉLET (the life-principle), and ILLAT (the principle of plant life), ÁLLAT (the principle of animal life) and ÉRTELEM (the principle of human life, reason). Later on, ancient Greeks preserved the more ancient notion of primal principles in the concept of “archi”. Chrysippus, the Stoic (possibly influenced by Scythian and Chaldean teachers) expressed the fundamental realities as: exis (the principle driving existence), physis (the principle driving plant life), psyche (the principle driving animal life), and nous (the principle driving human reason) (Zeller, 1865, 178; Erdmann, 1896, 174). In the Chinese universism (Glasenapp, 1975, 141) the sky-earth-man, moral-spiritual-physical, natural-historical-national categories are the fundamental ones. In the Rig Veda the spirit-life-matter, sky-living beings-earth divisions are made (Glasenapp, 1975). The Egyptian history of Creation (Eliade, 1976, 81) starts with the appearance of the earth (matter), light (energy), life and consciousness. The Indian Sankhya-system regards the universal principle of Spirit and Matter as fundamental (Kunzmann et al., 1991, 19). In the Western culture Thomas Aquinas applies three fundamental categories: that of God, spirit and matter; the material reality shows again a threefold structure of animal, plant and mineral kingdoms. Wolff (1730), after Goclenius (1613) and Micraelius (1652) who were the first using the term ontology, regarded that the three main class of existents are the psychic, cosmic and theos; this division was held also by Kant.
Nicolai Hartmann in his ontology (1949/1955, Section III) describes reality as building up from four levels: the cosmos, the organic realm, the realm of the soul and consciousness, and the spiritual-social world. In this world man is a material, organic, soulful and spiritual being exisitng in three basic forms of individual, nation and history. Mario Bunge (1980, 45) found that the totality of concrete entities may be grouped into five genera – “we may depict (on Fig. 2.1) the structure of reality as a pyramid: physical things – (bio)chemical systems – psycho(bio)systems – social systems – technical systems”. Medawar (1974) and, following him, Peacocke (1986, 17) divides the world into four levels as studied by physics, chemistry, biology, and ecology/sociology. “By 1993 Peacock had foliated the hierarchy into two dimensions: vertically it consists in four levels of increasing complexity (the physical world, living organisms, the behavior of living organisms, and human culture) while horizontally it depicts systems ordered by part-to-whole hierarchies of structural and/or functional organization (eg., in biology: macromolecules, organelles, cells, organs, individual organisms, populations, ecosystems). Peacocke’s analysis undoubtedly reflects the broad consensus of the scientific community” (Russell, 2000).
A certain confusion is observable in evaluating the structure of reality by the different authors. I think that one of the main reasons of this confusion is that the criteria on the basic building elements of reality, the ultimate realities are not formulated unambiguously. At the same time, one can observe remarkable agreements in the different categorisations, too. Moreover, the basic categorisation of sciences seems to follow closely the above found ultimate realities. Divisions like mathematics-astronomy-physics-biology-psychology-sociology or philosophy-natural science – social science show close similarities in structuring the world. Transparently, the main fundamental categories of existence are: material(physical) – biological (alive) – social – technical, physical-spiritual-moral, earthly-human-godlike (heavenly), natural-historical-national-individual. Now what counts as ultimate reality should be judged on the basis of systematic and thorough scientific investigations, by my proposal on the basis of our Definition 1. Therefore, to make the first step, we should consider the old and still unsolved question: is biology reducible to physics?