Considerations in a Universe of Quarks and Black Holes
A 10 session class and discussion with Alex Steinberg
This class will journey into quantum physics and 21st-century cosmology as background for a study of dialectics in natural science and philosophy. Readings include Engels’ Dialectics of Nature and excerpts from other philosophers and scientists writing since Engels. (The syllabus is below). We will explore themes from that classic text that are relevant for contemporary scientific thinking. Among questions we propose to address: Does quantum theory force us to abandon determinism? Did time exist before the Big Bang? Are the laws of nature eternal? Is there one universe or are there multiple parallel universes? What does it mean to call oneself a “materialist” when scientists use terms like “dark matter”? The goal of the class is a deep appreciation of dialectical thinking and how it helps us understand the real worlds in which we live and struggle.
ALEX STEINBERG is an independent scholar. He has has taught courses in the the philosophies of Marx, Hegel, Heidegger, and Nietzsche at alternative educational institutions such as New Space for Pluralistic Anti-Capitalist Education, the Brecht Forum, Marxist Education Project, and more. He has published papers on questions of philosophy and the natural sciences, including on Heidegger and Nazism, Marxism and Humanism, and Hegel’s Philosophy of History, and has presented at Left Forum, Historical Materialism Conference, and the First International Conference on Trotsky in Havana, Cuba.
all classes and events are sliding scale. We do not deny admission anyone who does not have the ability to pay. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for a link code to be able to participate.
Syllabus (week by week): Class 1: Dialectics – Fundamental features and its place in the history of philosophy, Class 2: Engels and the Dialectics of Nature, Class 3: The dialectical revolution in the Life Sciences. Class 4. The paradox of Schrodinger’s cat: The positivist solution of the Copenhagen interpretation. Class 5. The Many Worlds interpretation: From positivism to magical realism. Class 6. Resurgence of realism and dialectics in the work of the Marxist physicist David Bohm. Class 7. A brief survey of the conceptual revolution of relativity theory. Class 8. The Big Bang and the origin of the Universe. Class 9. The discovery of black holes and gravitational waves. Class 10. A Universe, a Multi-verse, Cyclical Universes and Cosmological Natural Selection