Florence's museum of science proudly displays Galileo's relics, i.e. his finger bones. This practice might seem a bit bizarre to those of us born in the Western Hemisphere. Yet the veneration of relics and relic-like objects, e.g. memorabilia, paintings, and ruins, is a ubiquitous cross-cultural phenomenon that extends to a wide range of human behavior.
The veneration of relics and relic-like objects such as Galileo’s bones implies the existence of a collective life force. The existence of a life force implies the existence of intention, attention and mental energy. The Material Paradigm, i.e. all phenomena have a material explanation, provides little, if any, explanatory power regarding life force, intention, attention, and mental energy. This impotence before these widespread phenomena indicates the need for a new scientific paradigm – a fresh Math/Data Matrix that expands the dialogue to include Attention and mental energy. Lehman’s Theory of Attention fulfills these requirements.
The Catholic Church convicted Galileo of heresy for arguing that the earth circled the sun rather than vice versa. The controversy surrounding Galileo did not end with his death in 1642. Nearly a century later in 1737, Italian Freemasons performed a bizarre ritual that paralleled the sainthood process of the Catholic Church. They extracted relics from his skeleton, i.e. three digits, a molar and a vertebra. The Masons then reburied his body in a Catholic Church in Florence that is known for reconciling Catholicism with secular humanism, which includes Science. At present, Galileo’s relics are prominently displayed in Florence’s science museum.
Relics of Galileo, a man of Science? Seems as unlikely a mix as Catholicism and Freemasonry. The educated might imagine that Galileo would be rolling over in his grave if he knew that his body had been subjected to this ‘superstitious ritual’ and that his body parts were on prominent display in a museum named after him. But is this really true? After all Galileo was a believer, an Italian Catholic who was dismayed by his conviction for heresy. And how ‘superstitious’ is this ritual? Is it really that strange? To pose some answers, let us first consider the nature of a relic.
What is a relic? Webster’s Dictionary defines a relic in a variety of ways. Following is the definition that is relevant to our investigation. “Relic: an object venerated by the faithful for its association with a saint or other venerated person.”
In this context, Italian Catholics collect and honor the relics of saints. Bones, clothes, and anything else connected with the esteemed individual might be saved. They then place these material objects in reliquaries, which are located in a prominent place in their home, a church, or, in Galileo’s case, a museum.
Orthodox Christians, Hindus and Buddhists engage in similar practices. They collect artifacts, e.g. clothes, bones and teeth, associated with their holy men. Hindus frequently take this process a step further. They place these relics in stone monuments called stupas. The relics are buried at the very center of these monuments to presumably last forever. Buddhist stupas have a similar function with a major exception. Rather than relics, these pyramid-like structures enshrine documents that contain the Buddha’s teachings. Modifying this practice in yet another way, the architects of Borobudur in Java placed nothing at the center of this magnificent monument. This was their way of venerating emptiness, the ultimate Buddhist goal.
Glass reliquaries containing the bones of saints are very foreign to those of us living in the Western Hemisphere, no matter which religion. An enormous ocean separates Latin American Catholics from the Papacy, the center that confers sainthood. Protestants have no saints as intermediaries between them and God. Some, if not many, might even think that this practice of conferring significance to a special individual’s body parts is gross or superstitious, a ‘relic’ of primitive times.
Yet humans, no matter which culture, tend to collect and even venerate objects that are associated with memories and significant personages. These physical objects have many similarities with relics. There are a variety of ways in which this veneration occurs.
Most cultures, from the Neanderthal through until modern times, venerate the physical remnants of the dead, whether children, parents or ancestors. Ashes from the cremation of loved ones are saved in a significant location. Many visit graveyards where the bones of significant personages are buried. There is even a feeling of violation if the remains are dug up, disturbed, or thrown away. Many Native Americans attempt to preserve graveyards as sacred sites.
This common practice of venerating something physical from past times is not confined to death rituals. On trivial levels, we collect souvenirs from trips or ticket stubs from performances as a remembrance of special, and normally positive, events in our own lives. More significantly, humans are obsessed with visiting the ruins of civilizations that are long gone.
Humans seem to be the only species that have this urge to preserve material objects as memorials to that which has past. Birds discard or ignore their nests once their usefulness has past. Utility also determines preservation of hives for bees as ants as well. Relics and relic-like objects are useless, except as a memento.
Why this obsession with something that has no more utility? Temple ruins, such as Angkor Wat, and public ruins, such as the Coliseum in Rome, are peak manifestations of another time – when the Khmer or Roman civilization was at the height of their glory. We imagine the hustle and bustle of crowds assembling around powerful historical personages. Is this desire to be in close proximity to relics or walk through ruins merely because it stimulates our imagination? Does this explain why Galileo’s finger bones are on display in a science museum? Or could there be another factor at play?
Let us consider another type of relic from the past that sometimes commands hundreds of millions of dollars at art auctions – paintings. You might argue that these art objects command astromical prices because they have intrinsic value, e.g. a painting by Picasso is gorgeous. If intrinsic beauty is the only reason for the value, then why aren’t imitations as valuable? Why are imitations, not matter how well executed, unacceptable to the prosperous collector?
There are many instances where art forgery is so compelling that it fools museum experts. Sometimes scholars even debate whether the painting is real or a forgery. Obviously the intrinsic beauty of the forged painting must be at a similar level to those executed by the famous artist, else it would not be able to trick experts and collectors.
Yet forgery is not a trivial matter. Wealthy patrons of the arts might love a painting, even proudly boast to guests that it is a Van Gogh or a Rembrandt. However if experts determine that it is indeed a forgery, then those that perpetrated the deception, including the talented forger, are liable for prosecution, which might include fines and even jail time. Further the previously esteemed work of art, although its intrinsic value is unchanged, plummets in value. Virtually no one challenges the punishment for the supposed crime of producing a beautiful painting signed with another name. Nor does anyone believe that this exquisite forgery should be valued anywhere near that of an authentic, certified painting by for instance Basquiat.
This sense that a reproduction, no matter how accurate, no matter how compelling, is not as valuable as the original applies to all the relics we have mentioned. Objects must be physically connected with the saint, painter, or culture to have real value. To be considered an authentic relic, a saint must have either touched, worn, or be part of his/her body, e.g. teeth, etc. Reproductions created in another time or place, no matter how realistic, are considered to be cheap fakes, ‘not worth the material they are created with’.
If the replica is exact, why is it so important that it is ‘real’? If it isn’t quality, what is the factor that differentiates real from fake? What is the common thread that binds each of these circumstances, e.g. relics, ruins, and paintings, together?
Let us employ the word ‘numinosity’ to refer to the special quality that an object acquires due to its intimate proximity to a saint, creator, or culture. For instance, Galileo’s finger bones and teeth possess what could be said to be his unique numinosity. Many revere any physical object that contains Galileo’s numinosity, e.g. his notebooks, any special memorabilia, and, in this case, his bones. In contrast, replicas, no matter how accurate, do not have this same numinosity.
How did these objects attain this numinosity? The only real difference between reproductions and the real thing is physical proximity to the living individual or culture. For instance, Galileo’s relics were either part of his body or something he touched while he was alive. Put another way, Galileo’s relics are associated with his life force. From this perspective, it seems that life force confers numinosity to objects.
Could life force be the feature that relics and relic-like objects have in common? Ruins are a remnant of the life force of the culture that created them. Picasso’s life force is infused into his paintings and his collectibles, e.g. pencil drawings, sketches et al. This intimate connection imparts value. A saint’s relics, whether Catholic, Buddhist or Hindu, only have real significance if they were associated with the individual’s life force in some way. In the context of this article, the bones in Florence’s science museum are esteemed because they were the fingers that Galileo employed to infuse his life force into his science and inventions. In contrast, replicas are not esteemed because they were never physically connected to the individual’s life force.
Relics are frequently worshipped as a way of tapping into the saint’s power. The power (spiritual or temporal) of the material object (the relic) is associated with the individual’s life force; a replica does not have this same power. It is as if the saint’s life force imparts the relic with potency. For instance, when the Crusaders possessed what they believed to be the true Cross of Christ, they were invincible in battle – frequently winning despite the odds being stacked against them. When they lost possession of this sacred relic, they also lost the battle.
What is this mysterious life force that confers numinosity to relics and relic-like objects, e.g. original paintings, ticket stubs, ruins and bones? On the most basic level, the life force is organizational. This mysterious force is continually assembling molecules to sustain the integrity of living systems, at whatever level of the hierarchy. This is true of all levels of life’s hierarchy: single cell or multi-cellular organisms, no matter how complex. Each biological system has a life force that organizes the environment for survival.
The life force must organize molecules, cells and cellular systems in order to maintain the integrity of living systems. But does the life force only organize for survival? For instance, how do we explain the life force that Galileo manifested through his fingers to perform his experiments? His investigations and writings, especially when young and very old, had virtually nothing to do with furthering his existence as a multi-cellular organism.
While it is difficult to argue that Galileo’s creative output was merely for his personal survival, most would agree that his productivity furthered our collective survival. In what ways? Galileo’s contributions to the human race were both scientific, i.e. processes, discoveries and inventions, and ideational, i.e. challenging authority with empirical evidence.
Some might provide evidence indicating that 21st century humans are not really happier than hunter-gatherers. Hence, they argue, Science has not really improved our lot. However, virtually no one would dispute the notion that Galileo’s scientific achievements advanced our technological potentials.
Technology, both its transmission and advancement, has been a distinctive and significant feature of our human species from the beginning until the present, i.e. from the lithic technology of homo habilis to the electronic technology of modern homo sapiens. Other species, such as some primates, pass on limited forms of technology, but not to the same extent. I think it is safe to say that our species is obsessed with technology and that Galileo was a star contributor.
We can appreciate that many humans honor the numinosity associated with the life force of famous people like Galileo and ancient cultures like Rome. But why?
Let us consider why we are motivated to issue our life force. Obviously single-celled creatures like amoeba issue their life force to simply survive. Some type of collective life force must flow through multi-cellular organisms, like bugs and humans, to facilitate the survival of the organism as a unit. Is it possible that there is a similar type of collective life force that acts to further the survival and improvement of disembodied groups of multi-cellular organisms like humans, bees or termites.
Is it this collective life force that is at work to both motivate Galileo and generate the appreciation for both his achievements and his numinous remains? Organizing molecules for survival certainly does not explain this phenomenon. Let us delve deeper.
Galileo intentionally exerted his life force in order to manipulate his environment. His intentional manipulations have definitely advanced human technology, as he provided significant foundations for Science. Because of these distinct and positive contributions to humankind’s technological evolution, many humans, especially Italians, attribute significance to Galileo’s numinous bones. Why? His individual life force flowed through these physical bones in order to achieve his accomplishments that furthered the collective life force of the species.
It seems that a major motivation for Galileo (his life force) and indeed most scientists and engineers is to further, not merely their individual organism, but rather the collective life force of our human species. Only convoluted arguments can be made in support of the notion that these creative urges and ambitions are only driven by individual survival. Further, it seems that other human beings honor these same individuals and collect their relics and relic-like objects because of their perceived contributions to the collective, not individual, cause.
The relics of saints and holy men are held to be sacred for a similar reason. These individuals and their relics are presumably venerated because they made a significant contribution to the emotional wellbeing of many people, thereby furthering and enhancing the collective survival. The same reasoning holds true for political and artistic figures and the physical artifacts associated with them. Those that benefited from their political or aesthetic contributions honor birth and death dates and collect memorabilia (relic-like objects).
Because they have made an effort to amuse and distract us, we also honor and collect memorabilia from entertainers such as athletes and movie stars. For example only recently (1-20-19), 35 strands of Marilyn Monroe’s hair sold for over $16,000 to a collector. The hairdresser of this iconic movie actress claims that he had saved her relics in a glass case for over 60 years. People continue to value her entertainment contribution to the collective life force even though she died at the age of 36 in 1962.
On the more immediate level, this collective life force also motivates my Person to expend precious mental energy guiding his life force to write this article. His explicit intention is to further the collective understanding by dispelling misconceptions. Accompanying the urge to communicate to the greater community is the hope that future generations will honor him and his relics as they did Galileo. This widespread urge for fame is just the desire to be esteemed by the collective for personal achievements. The life force inspires both the cultural contributions and the urge for recognition, not just in this lifetime, but for the life of the culture or even species –everlasting fame.
It seems that a collective life force motivates special humans to further the species. Those perceptive individuals that recognize the benefit to the collective both honor the contributor and might even attempt to convince others to share in the veneration. In contrast, the collective culture rarely, if ever, honors those humans that were only motivated to serve their individual multi-cellular organism, e.g. those that only accumulate wealth, wisdom, or even health solely for their own benefit. Put simply, a significant factor in the motivations that drive our human species, as well a many other species seems to be the collective life force.
Although a life force seems to infuse and motivate our everyday world in countless ways, why does the scientific community avoid talking about it? It is as if they don’t believe it exists. Life force seems to be regarded as a superstitious category, along with ghosts or mental energy. Why don’t they believe that life force, although seemingly ubiquitous, is worthy of their attention? Why no scientific investigation?
There are a complex of reasons behind this omission. They are all tied to mindset. A prevalent paradigm, especially amongst members of the so-called exact sciences, is that all phenomena have a material explanation – the so-called Material Paradigm. This position certainly makes logical sense as an abundance of evidence definitely points in this direction.
Even though the collective life force seems to transcend the individual organisms that it consists of, it still appears to have a material basis. Indeed, this is true of the life force, whether of an individual cell, a collection of cells, or even a collection of organisms. The life force does not appear to exist independently of Matter. It is always associated with a physical Body of some sort. It seems safe to say that the life force is connected to a cell or a collection of cells. Without a cell, there is no life force.
Cells consist of atoms and molecules. It seems a reasonable assumption to make that cells with their life force would obey the laws of Matter. If so, this correspondence would be yet another affirmation of the notion that all phenomena have a material explanation. But is this true?
The life force has at least four features that seem to either violate or lie outside the Material Paradigm. The life force is both 1) organizational, i.e. anti-entropic, and 2) intentional. The life force also has both 3) a capacity for Attention, and 4) a reflexive monitor-adjust relationship with environmental data streams. Let us examine each feature in turn.
1) The Life Force is anti-entropic in that it actively organizes the environment to maintain the integrity of the organism, whether single-celled, multi-cellular or disembodied. In contrast, Inert Matter is entirely entropic in that material systems inevitably move to chaos. As an anti-entropic force, the Life Force violates the Material Paradigm.
2) The life force has a feature that differentiates it from exclusively physical forces, such as the force of gravity. Just as it is organizational, the life force is also intentional. It seems that it is possible to guide our life force with our mental energy.
Indeed much of our day is consumed with making decisions as how to spend our daily allotment of expendable life force, e.g. when to get up, what to eat, what to wear, what to do, and when to sleep. Although much of our life is on automatic, almost everyone believes and acts as if we can and must guide our life force to maximize our potentials. Again most of us act and believe as if we employ our mental energy to guide this life force. Presumably Galileo intentionally employed his mental energy to design his inventions, perform his experiments and write his books.
In contrast, physical forces operate automatically, i.e. without intention. This fact is the basis of our modern technology. After scientists discover the nature of these forces, engineers invent devices that can channel their energy. Because of this mechanistic feature, our machines and computers have a definite reliability that we depend upon. Because we can choose what we are going to do, Life is notoriously unreliable, as witnessed by the daily fluctuations of the stock market.
3) Awareness or Attention is associated with life force and mental energy. Living systems require Attention as an interface with environmental Information in order to make decisions. Exclusively material systems are not aware of their environment. Put another way, engineers are able to make incredibly predictions about material behavior without taking Attention into account.
4) The very existence of Attention implies reflexivity between organism and environment, i.e. a monitor and adjust relationship with sensory data streams. Life intentionally monitors (focuses Attention upon) environmental data streams in order to maximize the possibility of fulfilling potentials, including survival. This process includes information evaluation and decision-making, both of which have a reflexive component. The information derived from sensory data streams must be compared with personal context and then a probabilistic choice is made based upon another comparison with personal context.
Rather than an interactive relationship with the environment, Matter has a reactive relationship. Rather than attending to data streams and making decisions, atoms merely respond to stimuli. While living systems monitor and adjust to Information, material systems have an automatic stimulus-response relationship˙with Information.
Due to these major discrepancies between Matter and Life, those who believe that all phenomena have a material explanation would rather ignore the life force altogether. Yet how could even a single cell organize and replace inert molecules for survival without a life force? It is certainly difficult to imagine how the random collisions of billions upon billions of atoms and molecules could successfully ensure the exact replication of certain types of bacteria for billions of years.
It is hard to imagine how cells could join and hold together as an organism against all odds without some kind of organizing force. How could a collection of organisms, , e.g. a swarm of bees, a wolf pack, or a nation of humans,behave as a unit without a collective life force?
If anyone doubts the existence, stability or staying power of these disembodied collections of organisms, one only need consider that most countries in the world today are older than their oldest human. Even older are religious organizations, whose age is frequently measured in millennia, not centuries, e.g. Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism. The same process holds true for the individual cells that make up our body. We, the multi-cellular organism, outlive most of our cells.
Why is the advancement and survival of the collective group a significant motivator for the individual members of many species especially ours – homo sapiens? Why do individuals honor those who have furthered their collective family, tribe, nation or species, including venerating of even worshipping their relics or relic-like objects? What is the physical reason behind the prominent display of Galileo’s finger bones in Florence’s Museum of Science? What type of explanation does Newtonian Mechanics or even Subatomic Physics provide for this ubiquitous, cross-species obsession with the collective life force? It is evident that while wildly successful in the Material Realm, the Material Paradigm leaves many questions unanswered in the Living Realm.
It is certainly possible that some genius at some time will discover a material explanation for the collective life force that acts to ensure the survival of both multi-cellular organisms and disembodied groups of organisms. However at the present time, the Math/Matter Matrix, which has been so successful at characterizing the behavior of atoms and molecules, has been an abysmal flop at explaining the collective life force that regularly and consistently motivates our behavior. Indeed those who are committed to a materialist explanation for everything are like the proverbial ostrich that sticks his head in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist. Rather than admit ignorance before the Mystery, i.e. something that can’t be encompassed by their convenient constructs, many material scientists arrogantly assert that life force is an imaginary construct.
Why haven’t Physicists been able to come up with an explanation for life force that fits within the Material Paradigm? Could it be that this mysterious phenomenon, i.e. the collective life force, requires another type of explanation? Since the materialists have yet to come up with a cogent explanation for our life force, could the answer lie outside the old paradigm? Perhaps it is time for a fresh perspective – a new paradigm.
Rather than a single Material Realm, is it possible that Life has a non-material component with its own unique set of mathematical laws, constructs and relationships? Could there be multiple realms of existence? Is it possible that the interaction between these separate realms of existence generates our universe?
Why hasn’t the material approach to science been able to incorporate Attention or mental energy into their mathematical systems? Could it be that the mathematics of Matter doesn’t apply to Attention or mental energy? Could it be that Attention requires a different type of mathematics?
Material Mathematics is based in Regular Equations. As they obey traditional set theory, Regular Equations are ideally suited to characterize the either-or relationships associated with Matter. However, Regular Equations, by definition, cannot be reflexive. Could this innate feature, i.e. lack of reflexivity, be the reason why Material Mathematics is helpless before many significant features of Living Behavior?
To clarify, let us reexamine Galileo, the star of this article, from this perspective. Galileo intentionally ‘monitored’ his experiments. He then ‘adjusted’ his conclusions to fit the results. In this reflexive relationship with environmental Information, Galileo employed Attention, Intention, and mental energy to guide his life force. Galileo’s exceptional life force furthered the collective species. Due to his achievements, the collective venerates Galileo and his relics.
Due its lack of mathematical reflexivity, the material paradigm is unable to provide a mathematical foundation for Attention, life force, mental energy et al. Lacking the appropriate mathematical system, this outdated paradigm is neither able to provide a cogent explanation, nor determine the rules that shape living behavior. This lack of explanatory power for so many living phenomena indicates the need for a new paradigm.
Could this new paradigm envision a Universe consisting of multiple realms with differing mathematical systems? Is it possible that Life’s innate reflexivity requires a reflexive mathematics? Could Attention and mental energy be better characterized by a mathematics that enables an open monitor and adjust relationship with environmental information? Just as mathematics reveals the laws that govern material behavior, is it possible that a mathematical language also reveals the relationship between Attention and Information?
Could this mathematical language provide the foundation for a Realm of Attention that is unique to Life? Could the interaction between the Realm of Attention and the Material Realm generate the Living Realm? Could this Living Realm encompass mental energy, life force, intention and attention?
Lehman’s Theory of Attention suggests that the answers to all these questions are the same – Yes. This theory provides a Math/Data matrix that encompasses many features of Living Behavior, including Attention and mental energy. The Mathematics of Attention is based in Reflexive, rather than Regular, Equations. While Regular Equations specialize in the mechanistic stimulus response behavior of exclusively material systems, Reflexive Equations are ideally suited to characterize Life’s monitor-adjust relationship with sensory data streams that is associated with living choice.
Further there are many patterns of correspondence between the reflexive mathematics of Attention and empirical evidence from multiple disciplines. As such, the theory also integrates interdisciplinary findings into one neat little package. Put another way, the Theory of Attention provides an abundance of explanatory power regarding Living Behavior.
Following are some articles written in support of the Theory of Attention.
1. Mind, Body & Choice: A Fresh Perspective illustrates how the materialist paradigm is unable to encompass our common sense perspective on choice. Due to this deficiency, living behavior require a new paradigm.
2. Attention, Atomic & Subatomic: Interacting Realms of Existence? This article develops the Interacting Realms paradigm. This fresh paradigm states that we exist in three interacting realms of existence rather a single material realm. Each realm of existence is based upon a different type of mathematics. We develop the notion that the Realm of Attention is exclusive to Life.
3. Matter's Regular Equations vs. Life's Disobedient Equations argues that the type of equations that are employed to accurately characterize the Material Realm are inadequate when it comes to Life's Realm of Attention. Because our capacity for choice has a reflexive (monitor-adjust) component, living behavior requires reflexive equations. Because reflexive equations don't adhere to traditional set theory, we deem them Disobedient.
4. The Pulse & Sustained Attention Experiences first establishes that the most pleasurable experiences for humans occur when uninterrupted sustained attention is involved, e.g. the Flow Experience, the Zone, or simply a good conversation. The materialist paradigm has nothing to reveal regarding this significant and ubiquitous feature of our existence. In contrast, the reflexive mathematics of the Realm of Attention generates a Pulse, which behaves in similar fashion to the Flow, et al.