Feynman Renormalized

In quantum field theory, the statistical mechanics of fundamental fields, and the theory of self-similar geometric structures, renormalization is a collection of techniques used to correct computations which otherwise blow up infinitely. Feynman was one of the pioneers of renormalization, and got the Nobel Prize for it.

That work was definitively made possible by a (philosophical) understanding of the “infinite” processes at hand, so Feynman was just not an “accidental philosopher”. Feynman made brutal, but amusing remarks about the uselessness of (some) philosophers in fundamental physics, something which made connoisseurs such as yours truly smile (I knew Feynman, he was complimentary, and kind, not at all putting philosophy down, differently from some recordings out there. Feynman accepted questioning the foundations maximally. His son became a philosophy major.)

The World Is Not As Simple As That, Nor Should It Be So Rough

The World Is Not As Simple As That, Nor Should It Be So Rough

I agree with the mood behind Feynman’s uttering, the spirit of what he wanted to say. However, the context of Feynman’s remarks needs to be… renormalized. (This is an example where the mood behind a precise theory in physics, namely Quantum Field Theory, can be carried over to bring the perspective of a new method to philosophy.)

As a physicist, I admire Feynman who wrote great lectures on physics, and is mostly famous for “Feynman Diagrams” a splendid, and perhaps deep way (Feynman himself was not too sure), to denote terms in the sort of power series expansion one has to consider in Quantum Field Theories.

Feynman’s statement  depends upon what one means by “government“, the type of government one is talking about. For clarity, I will consider that “government” here SHOULD mean “Direct Democracy“, the most perfect form of democracy, what democracy really means, where the People (Demos) exert Power (Kratos). That means, in particular, that We the People rules and legislates.

Feynman, who contributed to the Manhattan Project (the making of nuclear bombs crowned, for want of a better concept, with Hiroshima and Nagasaki) seems to naturally expect the sort of fascist war government he took part in.

If one expects something too much, to the point of forgetting about possible alternatives, or how grotesque and cruel that thing is, one condones it. Feynman expects government to be tyrannical. But tyranny is not ethologically human: it’s not natural, just natural in case of war. Feynman should have realized that the government he knew was not the one we should have looking forward.

Revolution begs for distanciation. Lack of distanciation is how too much tolerance can become a crime.

Thus Feynman’s statement was to some extent self-referential, and self-condemning. Indeed, in the government Feynman was used to, there was an abyss between government and citizens. Feynman witnessed the McCarthyism witch hunt (when his own career was fully launched; Feynman saw his Manhattan project superior, Robert Oppenheimer, go down in flames, just because Oppenheimer was “not trusted”).

In Direct Democracy, a government by the citizens, for the citizens, the distinction between government and citizens disappear. Abusive “representatives” (such as Richard Nixon,a Congressman, and Senator MacCarthy) altogether disappear, as We the People represents itself.

By expecting such aa abysmal distinction, between government and citizens, Feynman seems to expect that government will have to be, forever, the sort of government he played a role in. That government Feynman was involved in was a dictatorship of some sort, out there, and up there.

Government, in the most general sense, includes the legislative, judicial, and police processes and even the army, and the laws they built, enforce, and which created them. As such, the government is deeply involved in finding out what is true, and which philosophies are valid, and which are not, supported by a rather rigorous view of history.

So Feynman’s statement should be not just be reinterpreted as a warning to the citizenry to govern with an open mind. It also indicates a sort of naivety, a sort of Manichean view of the world out of physics.

Unfortunately, just as Quantum Field Theories themselves, our interpretation of the real world is self-referential, and non-linear. Our view of reality is constantly renormalized (in a way similar to what Quantum Field Theories do). We cannot separate government from truth, and especially not perfect government. And when truth is found, it has to be enforced.

No government nowadays tolerate a religion conducive to human sacrifices (wait…) Because it was found such religions were not optimal, in the context of more advanced socio-economies guided by more evolved philosophies. And that is so much the truth, it’s legislated that way, all over.

The more powerful we humans become, the more perfect our government has to be. Thus, the more We the Citizens have to be perfect. Thus, the keener we will have to be to find the truth, and impose it, when lives, or the future, are at stake.

Truth is obtained by debate, and by making mistakes. So the fact that “We The People” can err should not be condemned: after all, dictatorships and oligarchies (what we have) also err. Erring, if done in good faith, is part of the learning process. Tyrannies, oligarchies, plutocracies are, by definition, not in good faith: as they feel that the few should overlord the many, they are by definition vicious and idiotic.

So the Slovenian People, consulted in a referendum, just rejected same-sex marriage.  The vote was 63.4% against. Interestingly, the Slovenian Parliament had passed such a law, but a rather sad group appealed to the Slovenian top court, forcing the referendum. In Europe, Britain, France and Spain recognize same-sex marriages. But this is all part of the learning process: propose, reject, debate, accept. Better let the Slovenian gay inside come out of the closet willingly, after reflection. Instead of staying stuck inside in Putin’s all too warm loudly anti-homosexual embrace.

Truth, and the lack thereof, are not an innocent bystanders. If lies are allowed to grow too big, just one citizen, in a future soon to be, could condemn the “human race”.

Some truths, or lack thereof, cannot just be considered matters of state. A Cult of Death cannot be authorized as a legal religion, for example.

In Direct Democracy, truth will not just have to be a way of life, but the only way to have government, and that includes imposing it on We The People. This is exactly the main effect of the Climate Conference, COP 21, which happened in Paris. All the nations of the world united with one voice, one truth, and declared:”Earth, We have a problem!

We have to redefine “normal”. The best renormalization of society implies much more truth than ever before.

Earth is our home, but a home is something small, thus fragile.  A home cannot be inhabited by violent, potentially lethal lies.

Patrice Ayme’

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20 Responses to “Feynman Renormalized”

  1. Chris Snuggs Says:

    ‘If one expects something too much, to the point of forgetting about alternatives, or how grotesque and cruel that thing is, one condones it.’
    Chris Snuggs: HABIT. Sometimes one sees things that totally shock. However, if they don’t go away, the next time one sees them they may shock a bit less. In the end, one accommodates oneself to almost everything; the most perverse and cruel action can become “normal” for the society/group/community/tribe one is living in.

    This of course applies in particular to people who abandon their critical faculties and follow some sort of cult which tells them how to be a human: ISLAM being the best example.

    A civilised human tries to see each thing as if new so as better to evaluate it on its own merits, and not according to political correctness, the familiarity of habit or political /religious creed.

    HABIT can of course be a good thing. If I were put to live on a rubbish dump I would suffer badly at first, but I would get used to it eventually, as kids in South America no doubt have to. Witho8ut habit, life for some people would be intolerable, and suicide the only solution. Being able to put p with the intolerable enables us to survive – up to a point. Like almost EVERYTHING else, habit can be abused.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Indeed. One can get used to anything. People, after all, get used to dying. In one of the world richest areas, I saw, along train tracks, a white, Anglo guy build a kind of miniature Versailles made of cardboard. His palace, no doubt. That’s where he lives. (I wonder how he does with the rain, that area floods,) A few miles away lives a young plutocrat “worth” 45 billion dollars (see who I mean…)

      I was mostly thinking to these intellectuals, who, as even the iconoclast Feynman did, develop tunnel vision, through habit, about the big things.


  2. indravaruna Says:


    The ZOG has tighten their control in France, Gaullism is dead,


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Not the Zog of Albania, I guess, but the Zionist Occupation Government, an antisemitic conspiracy theory about Jews dominating governments.
      Well, The Economist ran an article on Hitler and today’s Germans. I sent a comment not particularly speaking of France at all, and got back francophobic (the French did it) replies. So Francophobia is certainly a program which runs in many minds.

      Gaullism was always dead, because it rested on a crime and a treachery: giving Algeria to the FNL. The present Islamist wave is a result. Please observe that, among people claiming a Judaic or Islamist nature in France, the quotient is 1 to 9, in favor of the latter. France is indeed manipulated, but the greatest manipulation is neither from Jews or Muslims, it’s from the class which does not pay taxes, while filthy rich.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks for the article, which is actually interesting. It reflects things I have talked about forever. It is sure that, in a world of quickly ascending plutocracy, a Zionist disguise can help in this day and age. That’s not fundamentally different from what happened in the Middle Ages: the “Jews” (many of them “Jews” by choice, or the choice of their ancestors) could lend money to Christians, and Christians needed money (although the Republic of Firenze started its own system of bonds to pay for its army, and thus existence). So many “Jewish” structures have experience with centuries if not millennia of Ponzi schemes (which is all what lending more than one owns is).

      In the minds of the leaders of the West, Israel is useful in many ways. Some of these ways have to do with supremacy, the latter, paradoxically being the Nazis’ great obsession. Notice that I did not quite say that the Nazis were failed Jews, and the Jews successful Nazis, but sustainability is a matter of having the mix just right…


  3. tom Says:

    Feynman was a great physicist and a great human being. However all these things that we take for granted such as democracy require a certain level of human evolution, as among other things the ‘Arab Spring’ demonstrated. They are not ‘natural’. And indeed if the human race has a claim to greatness, it is precisely that it was able, at least at times, to overcome its humble constituents and do unnatural things, such as honesty, monogamy, democracy, foresaking self-interest and, at times, even self-sacrifice.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      There were many Arab Springs. Arab Spring in Arabia, should it happen someday, is not Arab Spring in Tunisia (where it’s real), or Morocco (where it is happening in a stealthy, plutocratic fashion), or Algeria (where the military dictatorship set up by De Gaulle in 1962 is still in command).

      Feynman was not great in all respect: like Einstein, he was an ambitious thief: he stole John Bell’s work, presenting it as his. (Unfortunately for Feynman, Bell became very famous, so the theft is clear for all to see. Stealing from celebrities is not a good idea.)

      This being said, I love Feynman, and especially his lectures on physics.

      Democracy is natural in one sense:
      Democracy aspires to re-create correct human ethology in a setting, the vast multitude, which it is not made for. Correct human ethology: no boss but love, and the love of debate.

      But to achieve this is a most difficult art. Indeed, all our world is artificial, even in the humanities, as you point out.


  4. Chris Snuggs Says:

    ‘Earth is our home, but a home is something small, thus fragile. A home cannot be inhabited by violent, potentially lethal lies.’

    Chris Snuggs: Many if not most things are only fully appreciated when they are gone – and then it is too late. So it is with the ecology of our planet. The last human will one day be lying on a rock gasping for breath and wondering why his slow agonising death is happening to him. All the culprits will be long dead.

    The greatest sin of Homo Sapiens is the destruction of the ecosystem for totally innocent animals, including sea creatures choked by plastic. The question has to be asked: Doea Man deserve to survive? Any species on the planet apart from Man (and possibly dogs) would almost certainly say “No”.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Patrice Ayme: Indeed, Chris. Killing the biosphere is the ultimate crime, indeed, and we are possibly engaging in it. Average people cannot do much to prevent it… Although they could change attitude.

      Living like an ecological saint brings rather contempt from the 19% I have observed in the USA: I literally came across rather young (Californian) people of various races (from blonde bimbos doctors to Indian-American lawyer) who were astounded and revolted that one would live in an apartment instead of a mansion… They were shocked. Then they want to have nothing to do with you. And it has happened many times. This is the dominant mentality in the leading country among the most dominant classes.


      • John Rogers Says:

        Yeah, mansion sickness.
        One of the happiest days of my life was (after my divorce) moving on to apartment living where my only obligation is locking the door on my way out v. painting, landscaping, supervising household help, dealing with vendors, repairmen, etc. and the thousand ills that accompany property ownership and management. Don’t miss it.


        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Personally always lived in apartment, except at my mom’s or when I lived in the Sahara with the scorpions and Ivory Coast, with the snake in the hut, and the occasional bivy, a mile above the glacier…
          I have indeed helped (a lot) with my mom’s house, working on waterproofing and the roof… And it’s not a mansion…
          What astounds me, in that, in California, people sincerely looked at me with horror, when they realized I was not living in a mansion.

          They literally told me that someone of my status (I guess!) should be living, like them, in a mansion! This has happened again and again, even very recently. Even though, recently, apps multimillionaires have given up on the mansion habit, and prefer to live in a city, like San Francisco…)

          The different mentality in San Francisco, or New York, no doubt comes from the fact more people live in apartments (especially New York; SF is more like townhouses…)


  5. Robin Indeededo Says:

    sic semper referenda!
    most else “…is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.”


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      This is a rather abstruse comment! “Sic semper referenda” means so it is always with public consultation, [I studied Latin 6 years] and the full quote from MacBeth Act V scene 5 is:
      LIFE’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

      That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

      And then is heard no more. It is a tale

      Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

      Signifying nothing.

      Well Shakespeare is entitled to his opinion, but the arrogance of all philosophers, and all those who honor humanity, is precisely that life signifies something. The Nazis agreed with Shakespeare though, so they were destroyed. Should Shakespeare be destroyed? At least in part?


      • Robin Indeededo Says:

        apologies for (at best) abstrusity. My translation was “Thus always referendums” for which my intention was, as with statistics, anything can be proven.
        As for Shakespeare, well, he pretty much stands alone – a man who invented 27% of our language (a man from the future? or Bacon?).
        The Nazis agreed with motorized vehicles, jet engines and rockets, and the low-priced family sedan – should we negate these as a consequence? I think the absurdity of such a statement is obvious.
        It is the ACTIONS, not the form, which produce results of good or evil.
        So on the eve of yet another disastrous day of tragedies, to read: “The more powerful we humans become, the more perfect our government has to be. Thus, the more We the Citizens have to be perfect. Thus, the keener we will have to be to find the truth, and impose it, when lives, or the future, are at stake.” made my blood curdle.
        Yet another clarion call to humanity composed of rhetoric, but absent of meaningful content.
        Powerful humans? Have we changed from ancient Greece and become more powerful? Nations have built ever more horrific “seige weapons”, but does this make people powerful? A perfect government is only possible in the absence of citizens.
        Thus: “…full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.”


        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Robin: Thanks for the explanations. As usual on comments on comments, I focus on differences. Shakespeare could not have created 27% of English, considering the later has more than 85% in common with French (and the connection was made centuries, if not a millennium and a half, before The Bard. The 855 comes from common old French/Latin/Greek, and more comes from common Germanic roots (through Anglo-Saxons and Franks).

          As it turns out, I was going to put out an essay along these lines today, in light of Middle East happenings.

          There are no perfect planes. But they are made good enough to fly reasonable safely and effectively. nothing else is required of civilization, and that has got to mean something, lest we all want “showers” from Nazis.

          Total moral relativism is the absolutism known as nihilism.

          May I suggest that tragedies have content, and being discontented by them enough to provide with meaningful remedy, a source of higher contentment?

          Nazis did not really introduce new technology: the French “2 chevaux” was cheaper (and hidden from the Nazis; so were other French inventions, the radial tire… and the nuclear bomb program, launched by the French in 1938), the jet engine was also developed by the British simultaneously, rockets were already used in war eight centuries ago (and much more effectively than the Nazis ever did). Actually, the Nazis were technology killers… The allies had better radar, computers, and all sorts of EFFECTIVE tech. I am very much of a technophile, BTW.


  6. israel socratus Says:

    Dirac’s renormalization:
    ”Renormalization is just a stop-gap procedure. There must be some fundamental change in our ideas, probably a change just as fundamental as the passage from Bohr’s orbit theory to quantum mechanics. When you get a number turning out to be infinite which ought to be finite, you should admit that there is something wrong with your equations, and not hope that you can get a good theory just by doctoring up that number.”
    / Dirac /


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks for the quote, Israel Socratus! Your next comment should appear right away, only the first is “moderated” (in theory)…
      I think that renormalization, as it presently exists, makes sense… although a sense we don’t get fully yet.

      Philosophically (I’m a philosopher), it makes more sense if one believes “virtual particles” are somehow real… something which normal theoretical physicists disagree with, because they are just computing, they say… However a computation which works says there is something real there; for example the epicycles theory worked, to some extent, because it’s Fourier analysis, meaning the movement of planets are actually CYCLICAL (in sun centric theory), and not just wandering (as in geocentric theory).

      Now if virtual particles are somehow quantum fields fluctuation which start to appear and then disappear, renormalization acquires a real aspect…

      But of course the “equations” are as good as the experiments they abstract. Gravity, for example was never directly tested at the galactic level (and only recently at short distance). That the equation of gravity doesn’t work at that scale is the entire idea of MOND (invented in… Israel).

      In my own SQPR, all equations break down at some distance from Quantum Force (so to speak)…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. secularrum Says:

    No contradiction.


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