A Logico-Linguistic Inquiry into the Foundations of Physics: Part 1

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Research Article

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Physical dimensions like “mass”, “length”, “charge”, represented by the symbols [M], [L], [Q], are not numbers, but used as numbers to perform dimensional analysis in particular, and to write the equations of physics in general, by the physicist. The law of excluded middle falls short of explaining the contradictory meanings of the same symbols. The statements like “m→ 0 ”, “r→ 0 ”, “q→ 0 ”, used by the physicist, are inconsistent on dimensional grounds because “m”, “r”, “q” represent quantities with physical dimensions of [M], [L], [Q] respectively and “0” represents just a number—devoid of physical dimension. Consequently, due to the involvement of the statement “lim q→, where q is the test charge” in the definition of electric field leads to either circular reasoning or a contradiction regarding the experimental verification of the smallest charge in the Millikan–Fletcher oil drop experiment. Considering such issues as problematic, by choice, I make an inquiry regarding the basic language in terms of which physics is written, with an aim of exploring how truthfully the verbal statements can be converted to the corresponding physico-mathematical expressions, where “physico-mathematical” signifies the involvement of physical dimensions. Such investigation necessitates an explanation by demonstration of “self inquiry”, “middle way”, “dependent origination”, “emptiness/relational existence”, which are certain terms that signify the basic tenets of Buddhism. In light of such demonstration I explain my view of “definition”; the relations among quantity, physical dimension and number; meaninglessness of “zero quantity” and the associated logico-linguistic fallacy; difference between unit and unity. Considering the importance of the notion of electric field in physics, I present a critical analysis of the definitions of electric field due to Maxwell and Jackson, along with the physico-mathematical conversions of the verbal statements. The analysis of Jackson’s definition points towards an expression of the electric field as an infinite series due to the associated “limiting process” of the test charge. However, it brings out the necessity of a postulate regarding the existence of charges, which nevertheless follows from the definition of quantity. Consequently, I explain the notion of undecidable charges that act as the middle way to resolve the contradiction regarding the Millikan–Fletcher oil drop experiment. In passing, I provide a logico-linguistic analysis, in physico-mathematical terms, of two verbal statements of Maxwell in relation to his definition of electric field, which suggests Maxwell’s conception of dependent origination of distance and charge (i.e. [L] ≡ [Q]) and that of emptiness in the context of relative vacuum (in contrast to modern absolute vacuum). This work is an appeal for the dissociation of the categorical disciplines of logic and physics and on the large, a fruitful merger of Eastern philosophy and Western science. Nevertheless, it remains open to how the reader relates to this work, which is the essence of emptiness.

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Open Access, Green

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