Vernadsky’s Thoughts on LaRouche’s Second Triad

In 2014 Lyndon LaRouche outlined a new conceptual insight into the development of modern science over the past millennium, identifying two multi-personality, multi-generational processes of scientific revolution: one, successful, and, a second, still wanting completion.[1]  Within LaRouche’s circles, these came to be referred to as the “two triads” of scientific revolution—each consisting of an investigation of (1) a minimum expression, (2) a maximum expression, and (3) a unifying resolution. 

This wasn’t presented as a history lesson.

Today, science is still shackled by the failure to resolve the second of these two triads (a process initiated over a century ago). Both Lyndon LaRouche (looking back from the future) and the Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky (operating from inside the process) saw the immense potential of a profound, and needed, further revolution in scientific thought following the work of Planck and Einstein—a revolution affecting mankind’s own self-conception of his place in the universe, as much as his views of science in a stricter sense. 

As clearly understood by both, key to this revolution is a proper understanding of the study of life.  The following insights from LaRouche (1922-2019) and Vernadsky (1863-1945) are critical for today’s defenders of true science. 

 

LaRouche’s Triads Thesis 

In his March 19, 2014 paper, “The Satan Still Operating from Inside Bertrand Russell’s Corpse,” LaRouche summarized the first triad, 

“… the triad of scientists whose work is to be traced from roots of discovery made in the Golden Renaissance, in order of appearance, by the great scientists: (1) Filippo Brunelleschi, for physics in the small; (2) Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, for the physics of the very large; and, (3) the discovery of the resolving of the underlying, universal physical principle [of the Solar System] by Johannes Kepler. All competent physical science since that triadic achievement, itself, had been rooted in its already given foundations, and has been implicitly defined for all competent practice of science, since, by the triad of that Brunelleschi-Cusa-Kepler principle…” 

Although this first triad is not the main subject of the present dispatch, a brief summary is useful.  Why these three (Brunelleschi, Cusa, Kepler) in particular?

The best insight this author has into the significance of these three specific individuals pertains to their contributions to breaking down the attempts to conform scientific investigations to a Euclidean geometric framework—more specifically, to a conceptual framework deriving from a visual sense perceptual interpretation of reality, with characteristics of action axiomatically pre-defined by that framework. 

Regarding Brunelleschi’s (1377-1446) contribution with respect to the small, LaRouche often highlighted the significance of Brunelleschi’s design of the dome atop the Florence Cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore)—a truly amazing accomplishment, especially for the time and conditions (completed in 1436, with no scaffolding used during construction).  In assessing this remarkable achievement, LaRouche stressed that the successful construction of the dome required an insight into the superiority of physical curves, such as the catenary (surpassing a Euclidean geometric approach).[2]  For real world scientific applications—with respect to physical action, curvature, in the small—Brunelleschi demonstrated the superiority of a physical geometric approach. 

With respect to the large, we can look to Nicholas of Cusa’s (1401-1464) insights into astronomy and the cosmos.  Before the required physical observations were even available, Cusa argued for the impossibility of perfectly circular orbits of the planets, and the impossibility of points of uniform motion, also reflecting a recognition of the failure of simple sense perceptual geometric notions for defining scientific investigations of the physical universe.[3] 

Over a century later, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) fully refuted an astronomy premised upon the simple geometrical / sense perceptual notions of circular orbits, equants, and geocentrism, initiating an entirely new era—the beginning of modern science—of studies of physical (rather than simple geometrical) change per se, and of universal physical principles.[4] 

Note that this is my attempted summary of the unifying issue underlying LaRouche’s first triad.  While not to be taken as expressing the totality of LaRouche’s views on the subject, I’m confident that LaRouche would agree with the basic points. 

 

The Second Triad 

With this perspective on the creation of modern physical science—characterized by the breakdown of sense perceptual notions, in favor of unique characteristics of action, change, only discoverable by the human mind—LaRouche looked to a still incomplete, second scientific revolution—a second triad—defined by the revolutionary work of, 

“... (1) Max Planck (echoing the role of Brunelleschi [with respect to the small)], (2) Albert Einstein (the large), and, then, the approximation of a still wanted third, completing statement[—a proffered, but not yet attained principle, comparable in effect to the precedent of Kepler’s unique achievement—with] respect to the treatment of the principle of life-per-se by the (3) accomplishments of V.I. Vernadsky. Kepler’s role was, thus echoed, in goodly useful approximations, but without completion, by the implications of the universal scientific figure of Vernadsky, implications which require a more exact conclusion.” [5]

In a March 19th, 2014 discussion with the Basement, LaRouche further underscored Vernadsky’s work on life as the key reference point for the still-needed completion of this second scientific revolution, 

“That is what the definition of physical principle should mean, and this is what it meant for what Planck and Einstein did. Same thing, minimum-maximum space. Plank did the minimal space, as an experiment, Einstein did the maximal corresponding problem. And the problem is that we don't have a solution that satisfies that specification. The best we have is the approximation of life, by Vernadsky, which defines a whole completely new space.”

Most scientists today might identify the work of Einstein, Planck, and their collaborators as a successful process.  So, what’s the unresolved aspect? What process wasn’t completed during this revolutionary period of rapid scientific change?  

Vladimir Vernadsky certainly had some excellent insights into LaRouche’s assessment. 

 

An Insider’s Perspective

Vernadsky’s 1930 “The Study of Life and the New Physics” provides a comprehensive assessment of the profound potential and significance of this second scientific revolution (to my knowledge, LaRouche was not familiar with this specific paper by Vernadsky at the time he presented his two triads thesis).[6]  Vernadsky situates this revolutionary period by emphasizing the devastating effects the preceding Newtonian, reductionist view had on science over centuries—identifying the significance of the transformative discoveries centering around Planck and Einstein from the standpoint of the importance of the resulting breakdown of the reductionist Newtonian ideology.  

Regarding the problematic dominance of the Newtonian view, Vernadsky said, 

“Faced with the impossibility of actually scientifically reducing phenomena of life to physico-chemical phenomena, taking as a basis the picture of the Cosmos of recent times, [scientists] brought about a great movement in the scientific environment and that of educated men, which proclaimed that sooner or later it would be done, without radically changing the founding principles which were considered as unshakeable.

It was estimated that intelligence, consciousness, the most elevated properties of life, should be able to be reduced, along with all the other physiological processes, to physico-chemical processes which are a part of the structure of the Cosmos [according to Newton]. It was thought that all philosophical, artistic and religious manifestations of human consciousness would be included in Newton’s scientific framework of the Universe without exception.” [Section 3, p. 8]

As restated later, 

“[This Newtonian view was] clearly expressed by Laplace in his acceptance of the possibility of encompassing the Universe in a unique formula whose solution allows for the calculation of the motions of the planets, the development of thought, the motion of reeds, and the change of state of spiral nebulae.” [Section 8, p. 25]

Vernadsky emphasized the failure of this ideological viewpoint, 

“In reality, the explanation of life given by the models of the dominant conception of the scientific universe has not made progress in the course of recent centuries. The same abyss stands between living matter and non-living, abiotic matter, as during the time of Newton.

The models and the constructions of physico-chemical systems of the Cosmos of Newton have not, up to this point, succeeded in scientifically explaining consciousness, intelligence, and logical thought.” [Section 3, p. 11]

With the work of Einstein, Plack and their collaborators, Vernadsky clearly saw this false Newtonian view of the “scientific picture of the cosmos” (as he called it) breaking down,

“This state of affairs has begun to change suddenly in the past decade following a new first-order event—the radical change of the physical sciences, in part, astronomical. Space, time, matter and energy are clearly distinguished for the naturalist of the year 1929, from the space, time, matter and energy of the naturalist of 1900.” [Section 7, p. 21]

And he continues a few paragraphs later, 

What is essential is the complete change in our notions of space, time, energy, gravitation, and matter. The force of universal gravitation, acting instantaneously upon every considerable distance, has disappeared without a trace from our thoughts. Space and time are inseparable, and to understand physical phenomena we are forced to geometrically employ space of not three, but of four dimensions. The boundary separating energy from matter fades. Energy is propagated in strictly determined jumps—quanta.” [Section 8, p. 22]

Concluding his summary of the changes taking place in science at the time, 

“Certainly all the new acquisitions and this boldness will not remain stable in science; they imply that the old Newtonian representation of the Universe had created a crack, its scientific certitude shaken and an infinite and ever-growing throng of new representations made due to this crack have created an opening allowing for a sudden burst all the more rapidly… 

The scientific picture of the Universe based on universal gravitation and on the possibility of scientifically expressing all ambient motion of particles by reversible processes, by a rigorous determinism calculated in advance, this picture changes and does not correspond to facts… The order of Nature is other than had been believed. To reduce the entire environment to what had been conceived, was found, in the final analysis, to be too simplified and approximate.” [Section 8, p. 28]

 

What did Vernadsky Think About LaRouche’s Assessment?

However, Vernadsky, like LaRouche later, did not think the scientific revolution was completed with the work of Planck, Einstein, and their collaborators.  Continuing to quote from his 1930 paper, 

“Space, time, matter and energy are clearly distinguished for the naturalist of the year 1929, from the space, time, matter and energy of the naturalist of 1900. They are not only different; it is obvious that they cannot serve the scientific construction of the Cosmos, even under the clearly changed form under which they are currently manifest. New ideas are penetrating physics which draw the required attention of physicists to the phenomena of life.”  [Section 7, p. 21]

And a bit later, 

“We are approaching a very rational epoch—and that of a radical change in our conception of the scientific Universe… This change will allow us to overcome the contradiction which exists between life and scientific creation on the one hand, and the scientifically constructed Cosmos on the other, a contradiction which is clearly apparent during the 16th–19th Centuries, the time of the creation and the development of the Newtonian Universe… The possibility of overcoming the contradiction while dwelling only within the boundaries of science, appears to be opening up to us today.” [Section 9, p. 31]

During a key transition point in his 1930 paper, Vernadsky summaries his thesis, 

“What is important, from the point of view of the scientific picture of the Universe, is that the investigation of life indicates such traits of the structure of the Cosmos, which in other phenomena studied by science are completely lacking or are very weakly or indistinctly expressed. In that way only the study of life changes the scientific picture of the Cosmos, formed without its contribution, and reveals new traits about it. It changes, essentially, the representation of space, time, energy, and other fundamental elements of the structure of the world.” [Section 11, p. 39] 

Despite his 1930 optimism about the future of mankind’s scientific picture of the cosmos (along with mankind’s position therein), the then-coming resolution Vernadsky foresaw—and LaRouche later identified—hasn’t yet come. 

 

The Way Forward 

During his March 19, 2014 LaRouchePAC New Paradigm for Mankind Weekly Report, LaRouche concluded his discussion, 

“If we're going to solve the problem of civilization currently, we have to recognize where we are.  And we go back to the 1890s, and look behind that, you find my dear friend [Bernhard Riemann (1826-1866)] who was an inspirer of this whole process, a great contributor to it; and you find, we’re still looking for someone to complete what Vernadsky did not finish.” 

Vernadsky’s “Study of Life and the New Physics” provides an excellent insight into the unfinished process of scientific revolution. Accepting the “impossibility of actually scientifically reducing phenomena of life to physico-chemical phenomena” opens an entirely new perspective: let the study of life inform our fundamental understanding of the scientific picture of the cosmos

Vernadsky’s emphasis on a continuing evolution of our basic notions of space, time, energy, and matter—taking new insights gained from a proper study of life—is highly relevant for today. 

Armed with these insights, part of the Basement’s mission is to look, afresh, to the as yet unexplained mysteries of stellar systems, galactic systems, and associated frontiers. 

Let’s conclude with one last insight from LaRouche, from his July 10, 2014 discussion with the Basement, 

“[Kepler solved a problem,] but does not solve the problem. The idea of the Solar System was not the concept of systems, and what you get with Vernadsky is the systems. We don’t get systems as such, with Vernadsky, but we get the implications of the systems. In other words you can project from Vernadsky—you can go to the idea of a general principle of systems. And that is what I wanted to concentrate on. In other words, it seems on the first pass—you say, ‘oh, how nice, Vernadsky has produced something which fits everything that is required for a new system.’ But you say, ‘wait a minute, this is not just a new system, it is a model for systems.’ This is the standard you use for trying to find new evidence which will tell you what the key is for the higher order of systems. [From the biosphere on the Earth, to the Solar System, to the Galaxy, and beyond.]” 

 

 --- Footnotes --- 

[1] LaRouchePAC New Paradigm for Mankind Weekly Report, March 19, 2014; “The Satan Still Operating from Inside Bertrand Russell’s Corpse,” March 28, 2014, EIR; “Since The Legacy of Brunelleschi & Cusa: From Kepler to Gottfried Leibniz!” June 4, 2015 (unpublished); LaRouche discussions with the Basement on February 24th, March 19th, and July 10, 2014 (unpublished). 

[2] For example, see “Brunelleschi and the Quantization of Space,” Lyndon LaRouche, 21st Century Science and Technology, July-August 1989. 

[3] De docta ignorantia, Nicholas of Cusa, 1440. 

[4] An equant is a point of uniform motion, used in the planetary orbital models of Claudius Ptolemy, Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and others.

[5] “The Satan Still Operating from Inside Bertrand Russell’s Corpse,” LaRouche, March 19, 2014.

[6] “The Study of Life and the New Physics Paperback,” June 20, 2015, by Vladimir I Vernadsky (Author), Meghan Rouillard (Translator). https://www.amazon.com/Study-Life-New-Physics/dp/1514637103 

 

Showing 2 reactions

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  • Brian O'Neill
    commented 2020-10-18 10:50:22 -0400
    One so-called classical concept, the field, seems left out from Vernadsky’s list of 1900 concepts. It seems some try to borrow that for life, with the morphogenic field.
    Ampere did not use “field”, it came from Faraday. Similarly Weber was quite different to Maxwell and his fields.
    Maybe “field” is about to get the same treatment space, time, matter, energy already got, with Morphogenic fields?
  • Benjamin Deniston
    published this page in Science 2020-08-01 13:28:00 -0400

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