Omne quod movetur as a principle of all physics

Physical determinism is an axiom since in looking at a fundamental particle we see its position, activity, and even existence as sufficiently explained by its previous causal history, that is, by antecedent physical causal factors. QM – even if we knew whether it was an theory with ontological status or a set of simplest recipes to get results, which we don’t – doesn’t change the fundamental axiom. All it does is make the antecedent physical factors tied to their results by probable and not binary values.

But to say that the position, activity and even existence of a fundamental physical object is determined in this way is to define the physical as what is actualized or moved by another. And so we link up again with the ancient-medieval idea that omne quod movetur ab alio movetur. Now it might seem that there is no overlap here, since the modern idea appeals to the causal history, that is, to what the medievals would have called an accidental causal series. This is not right. First, because every member in this causal series is seen as a manifestation of physical law  – and if this thing is to be of any physical value it has to be some sort of form immediately relating to the physical; second, because this accidental causal series is seen as relating to the causally closed system of the universe itself and so it is the universe itself which is seen as in motion. The causal series is therefore only accidental when considered locally, in the same way that, if there were a train with a thousand cars, there is only an accidental relationship between car 344 and 532, though this is only because the motion is properly of the whole train and not of any of its parts.

And so omne quod movetur is axiomatic and will always factor into our account of the physical. But this is to define the physical in relation to another. We are already comfortable seeing universe and law as other than the physical, although it certainly seems strange to speak of the universe as something other than the physical. If all we mean by “universe” is “all physical things”, then the universe ceases to be the “other” that the axiom demands. We could solve this problem by saying that the universe is something over and above the mere series of parts making it up, but this is to introduce a principle that makes the universe a true whole over and above its parts. But this is to introduce, by definition, a “world soul”. But this throws the door wide open to making the physical subordinate to other sorts of souls or whole makers, whether they are intrinsic or extrinsic to the physical. 

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