The God Particle

Much in the air at the moment, the appellation ‘God particle’ descends from physicist Leon Lederman, who actually called it the ‘goddam particle’, though this was deemed too unruly by an editor. Hence The God Particle was selected as the more market-friendly title for his 1993 overview of particle physics.

The book includes discussion of the pre-Socratic philosopher Democritus, who Lederman refers to as his ‘hero’. Democritus coined the word atomos, or ‘not to be cut’. Indivisible atoms, though invisible, could be detected by their qualities and effects. The quality of flow attested to the smoothness of water atoms, while thorny fire burned the flesh and jagged earth atoms gripped each other, creating solid mass. Elsewhere, in a fragment which we shall now officially adopt as part of the mission for Desperado Philosophy, Democritus writes:


Scientists generally dislike the crowd pleasing ‘God particle’; they prefer ‘Higgs Boson’. The ‘Higgs’ bit refers to Peter Higgs, while ‘Boson’ derives from the name Satyendra Nath Bose, who had the ear of Albert Einstein regarding particle statistics, and who understood that often the most spectacular discoveries derive from the most elementary mistakes. Einstein, who exemplified the intrinsic humility of pure genius, instantly detected the presence of a kindred mind. Their two names are forever linked in the state of matter for dilute gas known as a Bose-Einstein condensate.


The search for definitive proof of the existence of the goddamn particle – that is, proof beyond shadows and footprints – brings a measure of comfort to the desperado philosopher, for it appears that further penetration into the mysteries of the infinite requires greater insight into the behavior of the infinitesimal, which is our natural stomping ground.

Might the decisive significance of the infinitesimal also apply to the study of conscience, and its most elemental neurobiology? Might we discover cognitive phenomena that are sub-synaptic, charged particulates that act as a sort of “drag” on human moral psychology, not dissimilar to the effect of a Higgs field?  If we wish to understand the worm of conscience, don’t we need to grasp the most indivisible nature of the darker soil, the soul-soil; a metaphysical God particle to counteract the ‘Lucifer Effect’, and which may confer upon the individual that which Democritus called ‘the reward of justice’?


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