...miracles are ceas'd;
And therefore we must needs
admit the means,
How things are perfected.
Shakespeare (King Henry V)
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 shows.
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 own solutions.
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 (Soviet-era philosophers).
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 texts.
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.