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The Quest for the Nature of Light

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Light, heat & life... and the incredible role of fire

(2nd edition - July 2010) by A.O. Kime
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In trying to quantify the nature of light beyond its mechanical properties, that is, to determine its overriding and godly aspects, but without symbols - academic symbols which could represent it and other spiritual phenomena such as ‘life’ - makes it awkward for the mathematical theorist. At least that’s true for those of us outside the ever-present academic circles of conventionalism. We aren't 'assigners' of any official capacity.

Of more significance, and troubling, the lack of academic symbols makes it appear science doesn’t believe these metaphysical matters a reality. Perhaps though, it’s just an indication science believes their use in equations will never happen… that is, of any value. Well, we shall see.

Although conceivably there isn’t any department of science responsible for assigning symbols, new discoveries don’t happen often enough - being more likely a process of the various fields adopting symbols once commonly accepted - it’s nonetheless a sign of either neglecting these realities or no progress.

While spiritual realities often seem beyond the scope of mathematical equations, if ever to try there is a need to assign them symbols. Since light seems intertwined with ‘existence’ in some phenomenal way, heretofore undiscovered, it demands representation. Likewise ‘life‘ needs a symbol, since it does, for all practical purposes, represent existence. For reasons soon explained, fire also desperately needs a symbol.

Official or not, premature or not, to begin filling the voids, perhaps ‘Ʋ’ for ’vita’ (the Latin term for life) would be apropos. And, to disentangle itself from the symbol which merely represents its speed (c = celeritas, meaning swiftness in Latin), a symbol representing the underlying nature of light itself is needed. After all, it is beyond being merely "one aspect of electromagnetism" (the tendered mechanical explanation). Perhaps 'Ŀ' for the Latin ‘lumen’… meaning “light” or “light of day“. Amazingly, as if the foretelling of an actual connection, or perhaps derived from some ancient belief, typically insightful, one description is “the light of life”.

For fire, ignored for 2,000 years, perhaps 'Ĩ' for the Latin 'ignis'.

However, before presenting a daring new hypothesis concerning light, heat, fire and even life itself, a little more about symbols in order to drive home some points.

The speed of light takes a back seat

While symbols such as ‘E’ (energy), ‘m’ (mass) and ’c’ (speed of light) represent a few of the scientifically established phenomenal-type realities (being mathematically reconcilable), but in just representing the mechanical aspects our knowledge is still falling short. The ‘greater whys’ in respect to their ultimate nature are missing - not to mention many of the particulars - such as why 186,000 thousand miles a second is the particular speed in which light travels. Why is it not a bit faster, a bit slower?

Meanwhile, as these 'established realities' sit on a pedestal in the opinion of science, which would include any truth to ‘light waves’ or ‘light particles’, they are no more real than life itself. Incredibly, the reality of life is not represented by any scientific symbol. Although it’s unlikely the scientific community would subscribe to the idea of assigning a symbol to represent ‘life’, perhaps the following will explain the scientific reasoning.

While a search revealed no such symbol existed, but in order to be certain and out of curiosity as to the scientific response - to discover their reasons why not - I recently emailed the following question to the ‘physics department’ at the University of Arizona:

"I was wondering if there is a professionally-recognized letter or symbol a physicist might use (if so inclined) which represents the phenomenon of 'life' for use in equations. I can't seem to find one. Since life is as much a reality as E (energy) or M (mass), there should be something available regardless the current lack of understanding (helpful if ever to be scientifically addressed).”

Expecting this question to be answered by a professor, or at least by a ‘seasoned equal’, it was instead assigned to a student to answer… beneath that of a professor apparently. Assuming it represents the scientific point-of-view, this was the student’s response:

“Well, the concept of "life" isn't a fundamental thing like energy or mass. Life isn't a fundamental part of the universe -- it's an incredibly complicated arrangement of those fundamental pieces. As physics is the science of the most basic bits of the universe, there's no need for a symbol for "life" just as there's no need for "toaster oven". Both a toaster oven and a living cell are just different arrangements of protons, neutrons, electrons, and so on, and it is those things with which physics is concerned. How exactly they get put together to make a living thing isn't a question for physics -- perhaps you should ask the biologists?”

While ‘life’ may not be a question for physics today, it should be. Although there is nothing to put one’s finger on just yet, maybe not for centuries, the ‘metaphysical senses’ of empirical thinking suggest a connection between life and the most basic of realities beyond that of our physical needs. Perhaps though, it is premature to catapult physics into the realm of metaphysics… turn physicists into metaphysicians.

The ultimate nature of light

It seems odd the ultimate nature of ‘light’ is also being ignored, unaddressed scientifically, amidst the fact sunlight is necessary for life and that the sun serves no other purpose… therefore some ’connection’ (with the sun) would seem to exist beyond our obvious physical dependence. Apparently, it hasn’t drawn any mathematical attention at all… as if ’c’ and ‘Ʋ’ (proposed symbol) cannot be reconciled. Well, no wonder, ‘c’ only represents the speed of light, not light itself. Furthermore, there is no symbol for life.

Of course, going unrealized is that equations concerning ‘ultimate nature’ must include ‘ultimate purpose’ as the common denominator. Yet, to ever demonstrate this scientifically, or other corporeal-incorporeal relationships, symbols are needed.

On the other hand, symbols are, or can be, invented when the need arises such as a discovery of a new element or being the result of an equation. For example, if x plus y equaled something never before known, or even if it is largely conjecture, as E=mc² once was until proven, it is the prerogative of the author of that equation to assign the result a symbol (a letter). Who could say no? Whatever the case, whether truth or conjecture, the newly assigned symbol brings attention to the matter… and why we need them.

Aristotle's theory of light

While perhaps it is not within the human capacity to reconcile light and life - to scientifically demonstrate a connection - time presents opportunities. Seemingly far beyond the average mentality, as if an instance to only occasionally occur, it was Einstein who first theorized that the speed of light (squared) had a relationship with energy and mass. It was a phenomenal observation. Yet, the questions relating to the underlying nature of phenomena such as light and life have still gone unanswered.

However, a few times the human intellect came close. According to Philoponus’ interpretation of Aristotle’s theory of light (external website), Aristotle was surely on track in believing light to be incorporeal. In viewing it as incorporeal, in every sense of the word, is what will lead somewhere. It's also the reason electricity is not fully grasped... because it's incorporeal. Although a different matter, so too was Plotinus on track concerning divine intelligence… but that’s because these men weren’t hung up on the surface details like the scientists of today.

At any rate, even though that which constitutes ‘life’ may never be mathematically reconciled - although probably better if it never happens - it should still be regarded as a scientific reality. In other words, without an assigned symbol, it’s as if life doesn’t exist. Of course, to assign a symbol without a value is to admit having no knowledge… it’s professionally degrading.

While it is uncertain whether some mathematical equation concerning the speed of light applied differently will end up being another breakthrough - or one concerning a more complete understanding of gravitational forces - success demands re-contemplating the basic nature of things. The lack of progress says philosophy should be called upon once again to provide science with something to work with. Straight-line thinking (like Darwinism) is a common inhibitor within the scientific community and why, for metaphysics, they need help.

Some would say, however, that philosophy is dead... but its just temporally stymied.

Fire, the great initiator of light and heat

Even though these type stones were turned-over centuries ago, and contemplated in countless ways since, we can’t assume nothing was there. The lack of knowledge about metaphysical matters indicates there must have been profoundness overlooked. For example, has something been missed about the basic nature of fire? Possessing the life-sustaining qualities of both heat and light, without which life could not exist, should say we haven‘t looked into its essence deep enough. As if the 'initiator', albeit of divine design, we owe everything to fire.

From a much broader perspective (metaphysical), thus beyond the willing reach of science so far, might fire have some relationship with life… perhaps even deserving to be called ‘lifelike‘? Of course, from a technical standpoint it wouldn‘t but what about from a metaphysical standpoint… ethereally? Although without the consistency of body as one would normally expect, and without any recognizable ‘will‘ of its own, fire is about consumption. Likewise, living beings consume. While this commonality may only hint at a possible relationship, albeit grossly insufficient as stand-alone proof, it is nonetheless bizarre to think we’d have anything in common with fire whatsoever. Yet, as you shall soon see, there seems to loom a greater commonality.

To ever fill this embarrassing void of knowledge concerning the greater scheme, embarrassing because we’ve allowed religions and science to lead us astray, it will be by such daring divergence from which to give 'real progress' a chance and civilization a worthwhile existence. As it has been, escapes the whole picture when one worships only tenets and details. While it is obvious to everyone that heat and light are necessary for life, sadly this is often looked upon as being no more than a biological need. In effect, a ‘mechanical necessity‘.

Since nobody knows what the phenomenon of life really is, or how it is created (the spark of life), or how it can be described, all along it’s been just a vague idea of what it entails. Until we know precisely, fire should remain in the running as somehow related. After all, with the parameters unknown the notion can’t be ruled out. We can’t even rule out fire is ‘alive‘.

Incorporeal nature of fire, light and heat

Democritus saw a relationship too in believing ‘the human soul consists of globular atoms of fire’. In another account, he called it ‘a sort of fire’ or ‘hot substance’. It is obvious he was in the same ballpark in sensing the great role of fire but in a more intimate way (by concerning the soul).

While life can be characterized as incorporeal, but if the soul ‘consists of fire’ in some unknown and bizarre way, this would equate to fire also being ‘incorporeal’. Likewise in Aristotle’s view, light was incorporeal. If metaphysically true, then life, light and heat are all incorporeal… with fire being the central figure. It's an important point. Actually, it doesn't matter whether Democritus was right or not, it takes no special talent to see fire as being somehow incorporeal...with light and heat being the easiest. It's just that it isn't commonly viewed as such.

While the foregoing may seem inadequate arguments, keep in mind the difficulty in expressing ethereal relationships. Imagine trying to relate anything sensory such as the sound of a saxophone or smell of a rose. For all theorists, it's been the problem. Largely because of this, metaphysical hypotheses which could have led somewhere are always set aside by science in favor of following the mechanical trail because you can see where you're going.

Since light and heat are the effects of fire, of life-giving properties, should give fire great status in the scheme of things. On this point, nobody should argue. This would equate to playing a fundamental role… seemingly that of an 'initiator'. Although such an initiator can only be found within the metaphysical arena, being either God himself or his instrument, fire would be unique for ‘spiritual phenomena’ since it is commonly utilized and its properties intimately known. Nonetheless, so central is fire in the scheme of things, it must be 'life-related'.

Actually, since life would be the 'effect' from a metaphysical standpoint, whereas fire is the cause (the instrument of the conditions), one could say fire exists on a higher plane. While fire is a fundamental instrument, and the most ancient of all things, logic would say the result of a mission (life) has to hold importance as well. One is a divine tool, the other creation. But… isn’t fire just the result (effect) of combustion and not a cause? Well, again, in the current scientific sense it is but in the metaphysical realm it can only be a cause.

Is fire alive or not?

While on the surface seemingly a preposterous notion that fire is somehow ‘alive’, having no truth whatsoever, but we can’t ignore the fact it is active (very animated), mobile and must consume to exist just like all living creatures. In this respect it would be entirely unique if it is, in fact, lifeless. Aside from living creatures and fire, all else on earth is effectively stationary, lifeless and thus exhibiting lifelessness.

Of course, collectively ‘all else on earth’ would comprise the concept of 'Gaia' which equates to a ‘living earth‘. Finally freed from its centuries-old ‘myth’ status, this ancient Greek concept (Gaia being the Supreme Goddess in Greek mythology) has recently grown into an ecological hypothesis and theory… but that’s a different subject.

The effects of atmospheric and geological forces (non-volcanic) are a different matter from fire also… they don’t, in the strict sense, ‘consume’ anything. Nor do they display any real 'animation'. Although a substance in the process of biodegrading could be considered a ‘consuming activity’, which would include chemical reactions in general, they too belong in a different category because of the uniqueness of fire. After all, fire is the only natural thing that emits both heat and light… both necessary for life itself. Without fire, there would be nothing… which brings up the sun.

Although the sun is commonly explained away as simply nuclear fusion doing its thing, it’s still fire… of life giving properties. Yet, whether occurring on earth or upon the sun, fire commands little respect nor attracts much in-depth curiosity. Can we be so sure fire is not similar to life in some manner? Especially due to it’s role, our dependency? Or, might this only apply to the sun (or any star)? After all, domestic fires can be created by man.

Still troubling however, and apt to upset the applecart, is that such in-depth knowledge of fire would be atypical for spirit world phenomena. To explain this, perhaps it’s a dimensional (size) thing… a lighted match being of little spiritual influence whereas the grandness of the sun a different matter? Perhaps it's why humans have always had an affinity for largeness as the ancient pyramids can testify. Man seems to sense a spiritual significance... with awe being the tell-tell sign. As if there is 'power' associated, creation is largely about stupendousness.

Fire, the instrument of light and heat... a heavenly matter

Greek mythology, being far more credible than commonly believed, would explain our atypical knowledge of fire however… and it should draw attention why fire was even mentioned. As the story goes, albeit to a degree a parable, Zeus tortured Prometheus for stealing fire from heaven and giving it to man. If fire was considered less than something phenomenal in those days, the ancient Greeks of classical times wouldn’t have eluded to it as having spiritual origins.

In trying to discredit early Greek writings, it is more than just ‘myth’ as the hierarchy of the Catholic Church once profusely claimed… and who were responsible for labeling it ‘mythology’. Instead, the nine darling muse, another ancient Greek concept, are testimony to its metaphysical insightfulness. The reason the ancient Greeks expressed their tales analogically, similar to parables, was for the same reason the Bible utilized parables. This is due to semantics (lack of)... and thus explains any unclearness within this article.

The chameleons of the incorporeal

Although science has thoroughly explained fire, combustion in general and how it occurs, we mustn’t let mechanical explanations be our guide. They are only surface explanations… shallow. Knowing how things work within nature (the mechanics) doesn’t ‘explain away’ the totality… certainly not the underlying magnificence. This purposeful magnificence, of course, is what continually escapes the scientific mind.

Aside from the particular speed of light surely saying something profound, yet gone unanswered, light’s everlasting nature should give rise to questions as well. After all, starlight is effectively immortal. Why does distance and time have no effect when, for all else, it does?

Of the many questions however, some are surrounded by a stronger scent. That which creates and sustains such an essential environment, one of light and heat, must surely be lifelike itself… in some yet unrecognized way. While the full story may never be known, perhaps, at least, some connection between fire and life can be demonstrated. Success will make clearer the differences between the corporeal and incorporeal… a matter more complicated than meets the eye.

At some point, an equation tying light, heat and life into a single package will become a reality. While fire will stand alone on one side of the equal (=) sign, assigning values to the essence of the rest will be the tricky part. Beyond one (1), what numbers could there possibly be for the ethereal? As in computer language, maybe zero?

This website has articles on practically every metaphysical subject... see the list in our Metaphysical wonders & inkwell philosophy webpage. Inspired by the muse they are original, enlightening and endearing.

However, since the speed of light is an incorporeal action, as well as time, although man's concept of the latter is only good for relative matters, and since numbers can be established for actions (forces), these two will factor in. First though, we need to get the right handle on time... but we can't do that until we discover all ethereal matters are interrelated.

A.O. Kime

Matrix of Mnemosyne... the place of smoke signals from the spirit world

Last modified: 03/05/16