3 — Physical Chemistry: Stages of Development

October 18, 2017 — Building on the concept of the productive powers of labor, we cover the most important shifts in technological level, which, over historical time, have brought about new eras of human history. These incommensurable improvements, based on new knowledge, demand new vocabularies.


  1. Name a specific branch of industry or a particular manufactured product that interests you. It has to be one that has existed in some form for at least 30 years. (Computers are fine, but not smartphones, please.)

  2. Research the industry or product and briefly describe two significant changes in the production process. What enabled the use of those new processes?


Reading for next class:

Read the first five pages on the website Non-Quantitative Change, up through and including “Cantor: The Uncountable Continuum, Part 2.” This includes the video on Cantor. (The video on Riemann’s habilitation dissertation can be saved for the following week.)

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  • Jason Ross
    commented 2017-10-24 13:05:52 -0400
    Hi Christoph,
    Yes, it makes sense that in a more productive society, fewer hours of work per week would be sufficient for providing the necessities of life. Investing that extra time in useful education / skill-development and cultural / scientific pursuits would absolutely make sense, and be the right kind of cultural outlook. I’m not sure how the “mandatory” part would work… But in a growing and optimistic culture with greater opportunities, I think people will somewhat naturally move towards such types of self-development to take advantage of new possibilities.
  • Christoph Mohs
    commented 2017-10-24 08:56:17 -0400
    Related to one of the questions from Houston, Tx, on automation, I was reminded to my schooldays in the 1980s, when the labor unions still campaigned for lesser workhours per week; nowadays people are afraid of too few jobs for the labor force over all…
    Wouldn’t it be good, if the productivity of the economy grew so far, that it would be enough to work for 20 hrs. a week and spend some of the gained freetime for constant (mandatory) education programs?
  • Jason Ross
    commented 2017-10-20 10:32:58 -0400
    Hi Gregory,
    I don’t think the law of identity eliminates radical skepticism about existence. In my experience, people hold such views for emotional, rather than logical reasons. Working through free will as a concept has worked well for me in changing people’s minds on the topic.
    On the topic of identifying contradictions, I really suggest examining Nicolaus of Cusa’s approach towards contradictions (in his De Docta Ignorantia), as applied by Kepler to the orbits of the planets. Here’s a video I made on this topic, under the concept of “metaphor”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPT21P4rEYQ
  • Jason Ross
    commented 2017-10-20 10:23:05 -0400
  • Gregory Unger
    commented 2017-10-18 21:26:48 -0400
    Isn’t the logical law of identity (A=A) itself a principle, which we can prove by asking whether it were possible for existence not to exist? That is, is Being is necessary given that absolute nothingness is logically incoherent. It seems to me that people are fundamentally shaky in their worldviews because they don’t have a firm grasp of the principle of identity, they don’t believe that existence must exist, and this puts a crack in their thinking that leads to radical scepsis. How can we deny the principle of identity if it alone allows us to identify contradictions in our thinking and so progress in our creativity?
  • Gregory Unger
    commented 2017-10-18 20:22:03 -0400
    Isn’t a type of tool also a principle? Principle of screw, of incline plane, of hammer, of fusion reactor?
  • Jason Ross
    commented 2017-10-18 19:51:42 -0400
    Hi Kevin,
    Yes, I think that is a typo. Perhaps someone converted from W to kW twice. The average solar radiation striking the earth is about 200 W/m^2, which would be 0.2 kW/m^2.
  • Jason Ross
    followed this page 2017-10-18 19:49:17 -0400
  • Benjamin Deniston
    followed this page 2017-10-18 19:43:30 -0400
  • Ruth Baird
    commented 2017-10-17 16:48:23 -0400
    In Jason’s Ross’ talk “Gifts of Prometheus”, he said something about Fukushima, that there wasn’t a problem with the reactor, but rather it was the earthquake and resulting tsunami that was the problem. Well, if you choose to build a nuclear reactor in a fault zone, isn’t that what you can expect? Yes, an earthquake and resulting tsunami destroyed the Fukushima reactor but we still to this day have radioactive “stuff” flowing into the Pacific Ocean. Is this the kind of thing we really want?
  • Ruth Baird
    commented 2017-10-13 18:35:51 -0400
    What role does the exploration of the oceans have in Larouche’s science driver for the new economy? I know you talk about space exploration, but couldn’t we also have ocean exploration? Think of the jobs, technological and economic advancement we could have.
  • Kevin Kelso
    commented 2017-10-13 17:12:43 -0400
    On Page 34 of ’So You Wish…" where it says 0.0002 next to solar, is that a typo? Should it be 0.2? Can you explain where that figure comes from? Thanks


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