Being all deep and stuff: The Nature of Things

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Friday, May 28, 2010

Philolaus states that: “It is necessary that things that are be all either limiters or unlimiteds, or both limiters and unlimiteds; but they could not always be unlimiteds only.” Looking at various examples in nature brings his proposition into question: Any living being has a finite life span and any cosmic object such as a star will cease being a star once the nuclear fission reactions stop. The conclusion must then be drawn that all things are limiters. However, organisms (limiters) can reproduce and create other organisms in the same way that a dead star can condense into a blackhole and then reignite into other stars in a Big Bang-like fashion. In this way, the species and stars can recreate themselves in an unlimited fashion. This reproduction of the objects does not mean that they are also unlimited. The future generations of a living objects or stars are markedly different. The basic elemental composition has remained constant, but the different arrangement results in different physiologies and personalities in the case of living beings and different nuclear fission processes in the case of stars.

On an unrelated note, Pythagoras said that numbers are essential for understanding the universe. In addition to the numerical ratios discussed that relate to harmonious sounds, Pythagoras was likely aware of the number 1.618, the so called golden ratio, that is prevalent in nature and relates to the human conception of ascetic beauty.

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