In this book, for the first time in world scientific literature, the category of “force” is presented as an attribute of matter alongside motion, space, and time. This enabled the author to develop a different approach to solving the problem of the Big Bang, give a new formulation of the border between life and the inorganic world, and offer his own interpretation in the disputes on the mind-body problem. The category of “ontological force” formulated by the author has allowed him to develop a new definition of the concept of progress, which creates a methodological basis for fruitful research in the fields of the social sciences and international relations.
This book is intended for instructors and students of philosophy and the natural sciences, as well as for all those interested in the problems of the universe, life, and man.
I assure you,
dear reader, that it wasn't my own desire that drove me to start working on
this book, which took me almost three years to write. In that time, I could
have published several books on topics more familiar to me: foreign policy and
international relations. The responsibility for my long silence rests with a
woman (the French got it right: "cherchez la femme"), and this woman is my
wife. For around 15 years, she has been insisting that I finally write a book
about "force" that will explain everything.
It was some 25 years ago that I pondered the Communist Party's formula, which
was well known in the Soviet times -- that the balance of powers in the world is
shifting in favor of the forces of peace, progress, and socialism -- and I asked
a naive question of my science boss: what exactly is this "force"? He replied
that that is something every schoolboy knows. Then, I asked him to explain the
difference between force and power and how they might be measured. I cannot
reproduce his answer here in acceptable language; essentially, he told me where
to go and to stop wasting time on foolishness. "You're not a German, after all,
to dig into concepts and categories," he added unexpectedly.
Having received no answers to my seemingly simple questions, I decided to
devote some of my spare time (in those years, I was researching Japan and
China) to "foolishness" -- that is, investigating the literature on force. To my
surprise, I discovered a perfect chaos on this subject in the minds of the
political scientists and scholars of international relations whose works I
managed to read (about 100 monographs in all). It became clear to me that this
topic was not as simple as it seemed initially. Moreover, several theoreticians
have advised their readers to avoid the tangled topic of force, since it is not
something one can hope to escape. I decided to leave the topic alone and
continued researching the problems of international relations in the Far East.
However, no matter what I was working on, the problem of force kept cropping up
and demanding a scientific explanation.
Some people might ask why on Earth I was doing this. After all, many authors
write about politics and international relations using the word "force" all the
time (e. g., center of force, politics of force, etc.) without bothering with
the question of what it means. It is something that is, in any case, supposed
to be obvious to everyone. It is true that these people write in this fashion.
However, their writings have nothing to do with science -- they are mere
political fiction. Even a number of official documents fall into this class,
for example, the so-called conceptions of foreign policy or national security
of modern Russia. I have labored more than once to demonstrate the illiteracy
of these authors and their documents. When fiction is made the basis of actual
foreign policy, the resulting course of action inevitably results in failure,
as the foreign policy of the Soviet Union in its last years and today's Russia
Be that as it may, the moment came when I began to define for myself the
category of force in foreign policy and international relations, which
immediately simplified for me the task of predicting the activities of this or
that state in the world arena. But these were all definitions of force as a
reflection of something more fundamental that I was unable to discern on the
ontological level. Therefore, my definitions were incomplete, or, rather, they
did not grasp the essence of force in its entirety. In spite of this, I
continued to avoid delving too deeply into understanding force, being mindful
of warnings from scholars who had already been burned by tackling this
category. However, under pressure from my wife, I decided to come to grips with
this problem after all.
Since I knew already that theorists neither in the area of political science
nor in that of international relations would be of any help to me in this
endeavor, I decided as a start to browse through the philosophical literature,
beginning with the ancient Greeks. I had to find out how this category was
understood in the parlance of philosophers. Then, I planned to determine in
what form and through which phenomena force manifests itself in the inorganic
(the sphere of cosmogony and physics) and in the organic world. Quite
unexpectedly, I found myself in the thick of issues in natural philosophy at
the heart of scientific battles whose existence I had never suspected.
When I started work on the chapter on "consciousness and thought," in a book by
Ernst Haeckel I came across the name of the German physiologist Emil
Dubois-Reymond, who said the following in his famous speech "On the Limits of
Cognition of Nature" (1880): "Regarding the puzzles of what matter and force
are, and in what fashion they can think, he (the scientist -- A.B.) must make
once and for all a much more difficult confession, expressed in the verdict
'ignorabimus' (we won't learn)."
In this speech, he spelled out the seven major puzzles of the world:
1) the essence of matter and force;
2) the origin of motion;
3) the origin of life;
4) the purposefulness of nature;
5) the emergence of senses and consciousness;
6) the emergence of thought, and that of speech, which is closely tied to it;
7) the problem of freedom of will.
In Dubois-Reymond's opinion, four of these puzzles are completely transcendent
and unsolvable -- numbers 1, 2, 5, and 7. Three others, though difficult, are
solvable -- numbers 3, 4, and 6. Haeckel, though, when he was addressing these
puzzles, declared that "We, as yet, do not know."
Despite Haeckel's optimism, I found myself in a slight panic, since in this
present work I had become entangled in different ways in the thickets of all
these puzzles (the last one of which I was planning to address in my next
book). If I had only come across this book of world puzzles before I started my
research, I would most likely have refrained from beginning my own book. Then I
remembered the English philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill, who wrote
(if I remember correctly) in his The Principles of Political Economy (1848)
that, if a capitalist had studied his book, he would likely never have started
up a business. It appears that many achievements come about only because their
authors do not know in advance of the difficulties ahead. I guess that Napoleon
was right after all when he declared that the important thing is to get engaged
in battle, and then let the chips fall where they may.
When in my ignorance I became involved in this battle for the recognition of
force in philosophy -- force in the inorganic and organic worlds, and in the
realm of psychology as well -- I discovered the most savage arguments between
different schools and trends about these very puzzle-problems, and I was
obliged to develop my own position on these matters and, occasionally, offer my
I will talk of this in more detail in the Introduction. At the moment, I would
like to draw your attention to the following:
Ordinarily I do not discuss my works with anyone until they are published. I am
repulsed by the practice of specialists working on the same topics talking
ideas over among themselves. I have horrible memories of how it was done in the
Soviet Union (and I suppose that the practice is still alive in that land to
this day), when your idea was first discussed in your "sector" and then in your
department of the Institute, so as to receive approval for publication "with
note duly taken of criticisms." Since all books without exception underwent
this procedure, upon publication they appeared practically the same,
irrespective of who the author was. Can you imagine Aristotle "taking due note"
of criticisms by Plato; Leibniz, of those by Newton; Hegel, of those by
Schelling; or Marx -- of those of the above-mentioned Mill? If it had been done
this way, none of them would have become what they were; their works would have
been faceless, in compliance with the views dominant at that time, i. e.,
without a hint of new ideas.
However, in writing this book I was forced to forget my rule, since I was
straying outside my "turf." Even though I had of necessity read many books on
physics, biology, and psychology, I still did not feel sufficiently confident
in these areas. For this reason, I was obliged to subject the sections on
physics and biology to the scrutiny of specialists: the cosmonaut Yuri Baturin,
one of whose areas of expertise is cosmology, and Georgy Lyubarsky, a biologist
and leading expert at the Zoological Museum of Moscow State University.
Their comments proved to be extremely valuable to me: not only did they help me
correct some of my terminological mistakes, but they also assisted me in
formulating my thoughts on various problems somewhat differently. Mr. Baturin,
among other things, compelled me to read a great deal of additional literature,
including works about information entropy. I would like to express my sincerest
gratitude to all of them. Should professionals find any incongruities in the
parts of my book dealing with physics or biology, it will be only because I
inserted them after my esteemed reviewers had finished looking at the text.
Let me add that many of Mr. Lyubarsky's criticisms proved useful to me, and I
complied with them gratefully. At the same time, I left untouched many things
that had my well-disposed reviewer perplexed. Specifically, I am referring here
to Chapter III (The Origin of the Organic World:) Georgy Yurievich many times
brought up the names of several Soviet (or Russian) biologists I had failed to
mention, while offering a detailed analysis of the works of several Western
biologists whose views Mr. Lyubarsky considers "trivial" or "unscientific" --
and why did I have to "promote" Karl Popper, while there are other interesting
philosophers? I expect that similar questions or "befuddlements" may occur to
many Russian readers "hurt" by the insufficient attention given to Russian
scientists. Even though I perceive such reactions to be just, they may lose
ground when one considers certain circumstances that are unfamiliar to Russian
readers' perceptions. (The explanation of this may be of interest to the
Western reader as well.)
The issue is that, even though the original text was written in Russian (my
native language), I am not a Russian scholar, but rather a representative of
the Western scientific community; therefore, my book is geared first and
foremost toward the Western reader. To Western readers, even those in the
sphere of science, Russian names, with very few exceptions, say little. This,
by the way, is a criticism I level against Western science in this book.
Wherever it is useful (or sometimes just for the sake of mentioning them), I
try to insert or refer to this or that Russian name.
In addition, although some Western scientists may express views that are, in
Lyubarsky's opinion, "unscientific," these views are nonetheless widely
discussed in the scientific literature; in other words, they constitute a kind
of background for certain problems. Of course there are other philosophers
besides Popper, but he is for many a great authority on the subject of
determining the boundaries of science, as is attested to by frequent references
to his works rather than, say, the works of Deborin, Mitin, or Kedrov
This applies to biology, too. Of the ten Russian biologists mentioned by
Lyubarsky -- who are, perhaps, major figures -- not one is to be found in the
bibliographies of the modern Western works that I used in my monograph. They
are absent even in the bibliography of Stephen J.Gould's Structure of the
Evolution Theory -- a major tome of 1433 pages. This does not at all mean that
Russian scientists are at a lower level than their Western counterparts. It is
just that Russian science is limited by national boundaries, while Western
science encompasses the entire world and sets the tone for the progress of
science and technology.
Moreover, my choice of this or that scientist was determined not by his
contribution to science (I then would have had to write an entirely different
book), but rather by the degree of connection between his views and the
problems analyzed in this book. Among contemporary Russian scientists, the
problems tackled in this book are practically not discussed at all.
And there is one more thing to consider: I live in the West, so I have limited
access to Russian sources. Moreover, those Russian scientific magazines that
are represented online only offer the titles of their articles, but not the
At this point, I wish to draw the reader's attention to the following fact:
several select parts of my work have been posted on my website. I needed to
gauge the degree of my text's accessibility for the regular reader. I received
a number of emails in response that contained complaints about excessive
quotation and "abuse" of certain scientific terms. I was advised in the first
case to put others' ideas into my own words, and in the second to replace
technical terms with "normal words."
In this connection I want to warn the reader right away that this book is not a
popular essay that can be browsed in the subway or when having a cup of tea.
This is a scientific analysis of an extremely difficult problem that has been
discussed by scientists for over 2,000 years. Moreover, regardless of the
results I arrived at in solving the problem of force, what is important here is
the process that was used to arrive at them -- the process of achieving the
stated goal, what Hegel called "the result together with its realization." The
perception of this realization requires mental effort, including understanding
my predecessors' original texts, rather than simplified interpretations of
them. I quote different authors rather than recount their ideas precisely
because the idea itself is often not as important as the road taken to get to
it, i. e., the logic of thought and the manner of presentation. It is only then
that the reader himself starts to think -- and to understand. When reading, say,
a textbook on philosophy, a person receives information that is quickly
forgotten. But the reader who studies the original -- say, Aristotle's
Metaphysics or Hegel's Science of Logic -- learns to think. It is no accident
that many Russian thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries "underwent" Hegel;
let it suffice to name Belinsky, Hertzen, Chernyshevsky, Pisemsky, Bakunin,
Plekhanov, and Lenin. Curiously, those who failed to train their brains on the
works of "the objective idealist" Hegel remained either second-rate politicians
or theologians of no note who had no influence on their country's development.
It is for this reason that I often intentionally overdo it with quotes from,
say, Leibniz, Kant, or Hegel: I want the reader to use his brains.
As for special terms, their use is unavoidable in principle, since each science
has its own specific lexicon. Just in case, I put together a small glossary of
terms. Perhaps I failed to include some terms there, but please bear in mind
that this book is not intended for the uneducated reader who consumes
bestsellers by Danielle Steele or some corresponding Russian hack. My reader is
a thinking person who reflects on questions such as what life is, what its
meaning is, and why the universe exists.
In this book, I offer my answers to these questions. As always, they are not
identical to the answers provided by most of the scientists mentioned in this
book, and certainly to those of many others who remained outside my research.
Thus I invite criticism of my views and ideas, but preferably in writing only
(in the mass media or on my website), rather than in backroom talks.
To sum things up: in this book I offer a definition of force as an ontological
category, then examine its manifestation in the inorganic world within the
framework of the idea of the Big Bang, and then use my understanding of force
in the organic world to determine the boundary between life and nonlife. I also
use it to offer a solution to the mind-body problem (i. e., what consciousness
and thought are), which led me to a new formulation of the concept of progress.
This being done, I consider the natural-philosophy part of my analysis of force
to be complete. The next part will be dedicated to the analysis of force in
social relations (draft title: Society: Force and Progress). The last part will
deal with defining the concept of force in international relations.
Finally, a few more words about my wife, without whose persuasion this book
would never have been written. In fact, this is true of my previous books too,
as well as, I suspect, the books to come. Valentina has the unique ability to
deprive me of rest. Before I even finish a work, she starts demanding that I
write another one. She creates unique conditions for my creative work: on the
one hand, she does not require from me any involvement in household work and
breadwinning; on the other hand, she provides the necessary technical
functions, such as editing, proofreading, formatting, information searches, and
computer upgrades. Valentina is herself a creative person -- an artist and a
poet who paints paintings in the Chinese style and writes poems to accompany
them in Russian and in English. The works of Wang Liushi (her nom de plume)
have received recognition not just in Russia, but in China itself.
It is to Valentina that I dedicate this book on force; it may not explain
everything the way she told me to, but at least it explains the force of my
love for her. And that in itself is a lot.
In conclusion, I would like to thank my Canadian translator, Pavel Sorokina, a
unique human being possessing multifaceted knowledge in many areas of science
and art. He has been the first of my translators to be able to adequately
translate texts in four scholarly and scientific disciplines (philosophy,
astrophysics, biology, and psychology) while preserving the author's style.
Moreover, the peculiarities of meaning and turns of phrase in the Russian
language are not always clear to the English reader. The editor of this work,
the American Christopher Doss, has reworked the text into a form in which it
would be understandable to one of his cocitizens, and I am truly grateful to
him for his thorough work.