Morality Is Revealed To Be An Application Of The Principle Of Least Action.


Main idea: Not only is biology is a type of Quantum nanotechnology. So is morality.


In an interesting albeit challenging essay, Peter Railton asks in the New York Times: "Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys? Is the great show we make of morality just a civilized cover for our selfish opportunism? [NYT electronic edition, July 18, 2010].

Railton, a salaried philosopher from an American university, makes an analogy with philosopher Bertrand Russel’s ironical verdict about the American university:“Remarkable. As near Oxford as monkeys can make.”

Having thus humbly confessed to an important insight, to keep in mind, professor Railton quotes Immanuel Kant on his amazement for morality: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe … the starry heavens above and the moral law within.”

Railton then points out that studies on primates and the influence of genes on behavior have brought a less heavenly aura on the moral law: "Today many who look at morality through a Darwinian lens can’t help but find a charming naïveté in Kant’s thought. “Yes, remarkable. As near morality as monkeys can make.”"

Science has basically already established that monkeys have evolved, and are made, from the same laws which give rise to the heavens. However, the laws of heavens are now known to be much more complicated than they were in Kant’s time. Laws of heavens include powerful and mysterious, all encompassing Quantum Mechanics, which sits prominently at the controls of the hearts of suns and the planets.

Indeed, does anything escape physics? What of the mind? I hold that: The laws of heavens, and the laws of morality, are, ultimately, of the same nature.

Why? For several reasons pertaining to what the Greek called "physis" (nature). Some of these reasons have to do with the deepest ideas in the foundations of physics, some with quantum physics, some with evolution theory (both biological evolution theory and spiritual evolution theory, both having to do with power).

The word and concept of "morality" comes from the "mores", in other words the traditional ways, the customs, the manners, those which perdure, in Latin. [Coined by philosopher Cicero, translating straight from the Greek; see note 1].

What is traditional is what has long worked, in other words, what is sustainable. Morality, by definition, is what survives, and thus what allows to survive. How did it work so long indeed? By managing power for the best. By surviving better than the alternatives. And survival means power, again. The virus that kills overpowered its host.

Now physics is all about energy. Modern physics as we know it, is a vast application of the Principle of Least Action [note 2]. Power is energy divided by time, in its physical definition. The laws of physics are the laws of biology, ultimately, thus making natural selection all about power, in a vast, but nevertheless, strict physical sense.

It was obvious all along that the laws of natural selection are all about power. The one being eaten transmit power to the eater (literally, in the form of stored energy known as fat, carbohydrates, i.e., fuel). The one being terminated surrenders its power to the terminator.

The same goes with ideas: ideas are not so much about beauty (as Paul Dirac had it). More precisely ideas are about power, and the beauty is in the power. The Dirac equation is beautiful, because, in a few symbols abstracting amazing spaces and concepts, it represents so much power (the behavior of electrons, the prediction of anti-matter).

Ideas are subject to natural selection, and so are all moral systems. The best survive, the worst get terminated, and it is this struggle which defines the meaning of "good", "better", "bad", and "worse".

Nazism was a set of ideas which got terminated after a mighty struggle of natural selection, because, well they were so weak, being so wrong. That struggle had been started by France and Britain, because they were offended by Nazi morality (or lack thereof, more exactly). France and Britain turned out to be super predators in the realm of ideas, who devoured Nazism, and reproduced mightily; all of Europe now being a vast republic along the lines of the revolution of 1789 and the principles of the Enlightenment.

Empathy and altruism allow the group to survive better, so they, too, find their root in power management.

Quantum Mechanics makes possible biological miracles such as photosynthesis and vision, using effects so subtle, they can be described, but not under-stood (nothing stands under). Quantum Mechanics is God-like, because it has many of the attributes of the legendary God: omnipresence, omnipotence, action at a distance, tunneling through matter, multiple reality, presence without existence etc. No wonder Quantum Mechanics can reach the moral law.

Morality, ultimately is a set of neurological structures which reproduce by concert and concertation. They are transmitted, as all ideas by speech, and example. At any given time, morality is a set of mental structures (abstracted digitally in books). Thus, morality is actually a physical phenomenon, just as real, but more complex and delicate, as the moon. Thus even more admirable. The moral law within is animated by the same laws as the starry heavens above.


Patrice Ayme


Note 1: Cicero translated in Latin the word "Ethos", which figured prominently as a title to one of Aristotle’s treatises. "Ethos" itself means: nature, disposition, habit, custom, moral character. In any case "more" has very old Indo-European roots, and the mores are indeed what we can have more of. Thus morality contains the idea of sustainability, what one can have more of, the power that endures.

Note 2: High energy physics, Grand unified Theories, Super Strings are all about manipulating fancy "laplacians", expressions which contain an abstract description of energy. Laplace invented laplacians to deal with (Newtonian) mechanics more elegantly, and his formulation lent itself to generalization beyond the known mechanics, so now laplacians are written to guess what the mechanics could be. There is no laplacian for morality, or history… yet.

Note 3: German fascism was in no small part beaten up by French troops of African origins, demonstrating the inferiority of the Nazi doctrines of German racial superiority. During the second battle of the Marnes, in July 1918, a Senegalese division advanced for miles in the German lines. Neither the Senegalese, nor the Germans, made any prisoners. The Senegalese had found out that the Germans would kill them, if they could capture them, so they slit the throats of German prisoners and wounded too. This racial hatred would extent to World War Two: as Rommel’s 7th Panzer Division was stopped for days by French troops, until they ran out of ammunition, all the prisoners were executed (in part because of the presence of a lot of Africans among the French).

Note on Nietzsche: Weirdly, Nietzsche detested Darwin (it may have to do with Nietsche’s detestation of anti-Semites, which rested on idiotic racial theories, and badly digested evolution theory). All the theories above are transverse to Nietzsche’s, except in the sense that, fundamentally, power justifies morality. On that point, one can say that the preceding justifies Nietzsche’s obsession with power, to a great extent.


Tags: ,

13 Responses to “MORALITY AS PHYSICS”

  1. Dredd Says:

    Interesting take on mores.

    Roger Penrose has some interesting comments on quantum cognition too.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks, Dredd!
      Interesting quote from my friend Penrose, indeed. In truth, the contradiction between Quantum and Spacetime a la Einstein is absolute. Physicists have spent huge amount of brainwork to minimize it, and it works to some extent (Quantum Field theories). But, from a philosophical point of view, I am not afraid to grandly declare that my suggestion (alluded to in Heuristic Subquantal Universe ) is the only way out. Einstein Spacetime then becomes a first order approximation.
      Common physicists have taken for granted (it’s their re-ligion) some basic axioms, and never mind if they are obviously contradictory. Contradiction makes them look deeper (so they hope). That makes Quantum Field Theory quite a bit like Christianism that way.


  2. JRi Says:

    ..Digression osée sur la morale et la théorie des quanta!


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Je peux meme aller plus loin, au point ou j’en suis… Il a y des qualites emergentes, ces qualites qui sont telles que plus on en met, plus c’est different. Comme la mecanique quantique ressemble a Dieu, elle en mets davantage dans ce vaste edifice biologique qui culmine dans la morale humaine, devenant ainsi divine…

      Morality can be viewed as an emerging quality. Emerging qualities are such that more of them is different. Since Quantum Mechanics has already God-like properties, as it piles itself up in the biological pyramid which culminates with human morality, it reaches, and DEFINE THE DIVINE.


  3. Expanding_Void Says:

    I appreciate your words very greatly! I feel that this discussion is the proper formal way to inspire peace between scientific and religious thought, since it respectfully acknowledges the great Truths in both, and re-formulates them to be able to do work, in the physical sense.

    To extend the thought, it will also prove useful to argue that the universe is not only moral, but democratic!


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks a lot Expanding Void! Yes I do not think that there is much of a gap between many aspects of religion and science, where traditional thinking often feels there is.
      One thing I know is that morality and democracy are necessary to understand the universe.


  4. unsalvageable Says:

    There is a morality in physics. Even sub-atomic physics, appearing shortly after the Big Bang. It began with the collisions that DID NOT mutually annihilate. Just a few simple principles, but they Scaled UP, like Conway’s Game of Life, into what is undeniably complexity and “goodness”. They’ve been there all along, scaling up over and over, long before Mankind ever arrived. That’s why the universe keeps improving (though it sometimes takes detours) and no time is better than now. I’d like to talk more, but I’m not sure anyone is here. . . . I’ll drop my e-mail in the box. Thank you.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hello Unsalvageable! Be reassured; there are creatures out there, reading and thinking! Well, at least we agree that there is a morality intrinsic to physics, in some sense… although my sense, and your sense, are indubitably different…
      The “Big Bang”, by the way, is a theory of relatively low importance and plausibility…


  5. Efrain Says:

    Je vous félicite pour votre site , bonne chance
    pour la suite , et merci pour votre partage.


  6. gangawolves Says:

    Why is the concept that morality is governed by the same laws as the physical world more likely true than not?

    In nature, don’t we often see systems built on components governed by one set of rules, although the resulting system operates on a different set of rules? For example, Newtonian physics vs. quantum mechanics. Newtonian physics are a set of rules that correctly work on one domain. Same goes for QP, but it’s a different set of rules operating on a different domain. (Hence, no unified theory, right?) The domain of Newtonian physics supersedes the domain of quantum physics, and yet is built on it.

    The statement that morality is governed by the same laws as the physical world is kind of like a unified field theory. It would require a universe that regardless of the ‘space’, applied the same rules. Do we have reason to believe that’s how our universe works?

    Interestingly, according to this theory, we’d never want to have a unified universe if we didn’t have one, right? Such a universe (unified) is so appealing to the human mind. I’d love it to be so. But, what proof do we have?

    Yes, atoms always try to seek the lowest possible energy level. It seems humans do this, too. But, why should we suspect that there is a unified cause for both?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hello Gangawolves, and welcome! Your comments should now post directly (no moderation, excpet if there are links).
      Your remarks are cogent.
      They are both pertinent to physics and philosophy.
      Nobody knows how one transitions from Quantum Physics to Classical Mechanics (CM = a better expression than Newtonian mechanics, because most of it was not found by Newton. Buridan, his student Oresmes, Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo, other scientists, and many gunners established much of Newtonian physics before Newton…)
      QP to CM is the main problem of the Quantum Computer…

      The question of the arrow of time, of entropy of the isolated particle, and of hidden (nonlocal!) variables are all tied in.

      My hunch in physics is that when Quantum Physics is under-stood by a deeper theory, Classical Mechanics will turn out to be false, as we have it now, on a macro level (this already the case with so-called Electromagnetism and General Relativity: Lorentz-Poincare’ local time theory says time slows in a high gravitational field; as observed).

      From my point of view, optimal morality of X is the software which maximizes survivability of X (X = individual, family, tribe, polis, civilization, etc.). This is a problem in nature: survival of the fittest morality.

      This is a problem in intelligence than, and why democracies, which are more clever, find better moral systems than any other regime…


      • pshakkottai Says:

        “The utilitarian ethic too relates to time beliefs. As I have already discussed
this elsewhere I will only recapitulate some points. The capitalist ethic as-
        sumes that the future can be rationally calculated. This is a fundamental as- sumption, intertwined with the notion of deferred consumption: children study now, and sacri ce their desire to play, just so that they can earn more later. If rational calculation of the future were not possible, or practicable, this would be a very foolish thing to do. With ontically broken time (or occasionalism, or providential intervention), it is not possible to calculate the future. So, the capitalist ethic requires a belief in a world which evolves in an orderly way ac- cording to some laws (instituted by some god, as opined by Aquinas, and as made known to ordinary mortals by his scienti c prophets like Newton). “ from

        Click to access Harmony-principle-pew.pdf

        You will like this article (17 pages ) that says physics has much to say about ethics and religion!


        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Thanks Partha!
          I believe humans are fundamentally rational: they like logics, nearly above anything else, and the proof is their love of logical games (including games of… chance)
          Physics explains that the universe is logical… just as humans are! The universe is made in our image!

          Liked by 1 person

What do you think? Please join the debate! The simplest questions are often the deepest!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: