Firstly, we should like to define the term "non-linear catalog" as any collection of variables or operators acting in a perceived concordance as parts of a larger system, yet fail to meet the criteria of linearity. That is to say, that these variables may not interact directly or successively, yet appear to influence or constitute the operation of a system.
We employ the analogy of a constellation to illustrate this non-linear relationship. While the stars in a constellation appear to be connected by illustrating a symbolic representation, in truth they are separated by vast distances of space and have no affect on each other. It is only in the mind of the observer that the connection exists between the parts of this system of representation. It is in this way that we suggest a system may comprised of parts which merely have the appearance of interaction, while we see in the underlying construction no actual evidence of causation or linear dynamic between one part to another.
We hold that with this concept we can critique the notion of universal, physical causality coming from a holistic systems standpoint. Whilst viewing the universe as a whole system, its intrinsic operation comes into question. Can its operation as a system be thoroughly understood? Do the notions of cause and effect hold up in such massive organization?
The main body of scientific evidence for causality is made up of two arguments; the existence of differential equations and the seemingly universal nature of the principle of entropy. Both are tied to the principle notion of the linear and forward-marching passage of time. Differential equations do not care which is the start or end, plug either in and it will solve for the other. Whereas science has departed from the quaint notion of non-relative time, it seems stuck with equations being determined mainly by human perception of time. Einstein noted that “The differential law is the only form which completely satisfies the modern physicist's demand for causality.”(1) It is unfortunate then, for the modern physicist, that the differential law can not truly conclude which event is the cause and which is the effect.
The theory of entropy runs into similar problems. Stephen Hawking himself divulges that entropy is either constantly increasing or decreasing, and that one can’t tell for sure which it really is. He states that “there are two possible ways a universe could start or end. One has low entropy the other high. The only consistent picture is one in which it is low at one end and high at the other hence temporal symmetry is broken.”(2) However, Hawking’s theories are based on the supposition that the visible universe encompasses the known universe. This is seemingly rational, but not based on any solid evidence. As Phil Gibbs points out, “It seems to be only an application of Occam's razor which justifies the assumption that space is homogenous on scales hundreds of orders of magnitude larger than the observable horizon . . . Occam's razor does not have a very good track record in cosmology.”(3)
In a universe that’s boundaries are not determined by the visible matter produced in the big bang, we thus can see no evidence that true causality exists. In a universe which is a finite, closed system determined by the big bang, we still find no true way of determining causes. Thus, we find ourselves logically forced to deny causality. What, then, are we left with? Simply put, a universe made up of effects; of only correlations. With this picture then, we see the formation of the non-linear catalog as the logical organization of the holistic universal system.
This is not to say, however, that we must be thrust back into the dark ages, where mice are generated from dirty barn rags. We hold that concrete experimentation is a viable way of organizing one’s surroundings into a workable description of the mechanizations one observes. Our contention, however, is that such a description cannot logically conclude any reasons for these mechanizations.
If the mechanics of items present in a non-linear catalog are constructed by the observers’ mental narratives, and the universe is a non-linear catalog, one might argue that this all but erases any true “reality” of the world outside of the individual. While philosophers are fond of making this claim, we do not necessarily hold this to be true. We merely claim that the dynamics of objects present in the universe can not be conclusively shown to demonstrate causality and that we must, for the time being, treat it as a non-linear catalog.
It is the assumption of most that human descriptions of our world are shaped by reality. However, it is becomes apparent that even if this assumption is as airtight as the fundamental laws of physics, the converse could also be true – that reality is shaped by human descriptions of it. Or perhaps it is as Charles Fort describes it, that “our whole existence is animation of the local by an ideal that is realizable only in the universal: That, if all exclusions are false, because always are included and excluded continuous: that if all seeming of existence perceptible to us is the product of exclusion, there is nothing that is perceptible to us that really is: that only the universal can really be.”(4)
We hold that the universe, as a holistic system, can not be explained through any local description. And, thus, it can not be truthfully, positively, described at all. Any attempt is merely like connecting the stars of a constellation to paint an image that appeals to us.
(1) Einstein, Albert. The Mechanics of Newton and their Influence on the Development
of Theoretical Physics Ideas and Opinions, New York: Three Rivers Press, p. 255.
(2),(3) Gibbs, Phil. The Cyclotron Notebook,
(4) Fort, Charles. The Book of the Damned, New York: New York, 1919, p. 8.