Clockwork universe  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

(Redirected from Clockwork universe theory)
Jump to: navigation, search
 The Canard Digérateur, or Digesting Duck, was an automaton in the form of duck, created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739.   Voltaire wrote that "without [...] the duck of Vaucanson, you have nothing to remind you of the glory of France." ("Sans...le canard de Vaucanson vous n'auriez rien qui fit ressouvenir de la gloire de la France.") This is often misquoted as "Without the shitting duck, we would have nothing to remind us of the glory of France."
Enlarge
The Canard Digérateur, or Digesting Duck, was an automaton in the form of duck, created by Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739. Voltaire wrote that "without [...] the duck of Vaucanson, you have nothing to remind you of the glory of France." ("Sans...le canard de Vaucanson vous n'auriez rien qui fit ressouvenir de la gloire de la France.") This is often misquoted as "Without the shitting duck, we would have nothing to remind us of the glory of France."

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The clockwork universe theory compares the universe to a mechanical clock wound up by God, or initiated by the Big Bang. It continues ticking along, as a perfect machine, with its gears governed by the laws of physics, making every single aspect of the machine completely predictable. Before the emergence of chaos theory and quantum mechanics, many scientists believed that the Universe was completely deterministic in this way.

What sets this theory apart from others is the idea that God's only contribution to the universe was to set everything in motion, and from there the laws of science took hold and have governed every sequence of events since that time. This idea was very popular among deists during the Enlightenment, when scientists realized that Newton's laws of motion, including the law of universal gravitation, could explain the behaviour of the solar system.

Opposition

Suggested arguments against this theory include: the concept of free will; the second law of thermodynamics (the total entropy of any isolated thermodynamic system tends to increase over time, approaching a maximum value); and quantum physics with its mathematical description of unpredictable, random behaviour.

Isaac Newton has been recognized as a prominent opponent of the clockwork universe theory, though the theory has often been wrongly attributed to him. Edward B. Davis has acknowledged Newton's belief that the clockwork universe theory wrongly reduces God's role in the universe, as reflected in the writings of Newton-supporter Samuel Clarke. Responding to Gottfried Leibniz, a prominent supporter of the theory, in the Leibniz–Clarke correspondence, Clarke wrote:

"The Notion of the World's being a great Machine, going on without the Interposition of God, as a Clock continues to go without the Assistance of a Clockmaker; is the Notion of Materialism and Fate, and tends, (under pretence of making God a Supra-mundane Intelligence,) to exclude Providence and God's Government in reality out of the World."

World-machine

A similar concept goes back, to John of Sacrobosco's early 13th-century introduction to astronomy: On the Sphere of the World. In this widely popular medieval text, Sacrobosco spoke of the universe as the machina mundi, the machine of the world, suggesting that the reported eclipse of the Sun at the crucifixion of Jesus was a disturbance of the order of that machine.

This conception of the universe consisted of a huge, regulated and uniform machine that operated according to natural laws in absolute time, space, and motion. God was the master-builder, who created the perfect machine and let it run. God was the Prime Mover, who brought into being the world in its lawfulness, regularity, and beauty. This view of God as the creator, who stood aside from his work and didn’t get involved directly with humanity, was called Deism (which predates Newton) and was accepted by many who supported the “new philosophy”.

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Clockwork universe" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools