Chapter 4


There is one particular type of energy which needs special discussion, since it has all sorts of implications for the world which we perceive. This peculiar energy is called a field.

A field is a form of energy which simultaneously possesses an infinity of quantities, any one of which defines some definite aspect of the field.

It is very hard to describe a field "as it is," so to speak, but in a kind of rough-and-ready way, what I am talking about would be something like the gravitational field around a body, where the actual gravitational attraction toward that body gets weaker (i.e. has a different quantity) the farther out you get--or the radiation field of light coming from a light bulb, where the light gets dimmer (has a different quantity) the farther you are from the bulb.

Once again, we are in a kind of double-quantity situation: there is a quantity that depends on the "fieldness" of the field itself (in ordinary terms, how far away you are from the center), and then there is the "total energy" in the field in comparison with other fields of the same type. If you take the gravitational field, for instance, then the "falling off" of the strength of the field is the same for both the earth and the sun (in both cases the strength lessens as the square of the distance from the center of the object); but obviously, the actual effect the sun's field has on an object a million miles away from it is vastly different from the effect the much less massive earth has on an object a million miles away.

But let us ignore this difference in "total energy" for the moment, and concentrate on what is implied in the set of quantities that constitute the "fieldness" of the field. I said that at a given distance from the source, the field will have a given percentage of its total force, if it acts on something; implying, of course, that a given percentage of its total energy occurs at that distance from the source. And this in turn implies that the energy which is the field is "spread out" through the field in such a way that less and less of it is "there" farther and farther away from the "epicenter" of the field.

But this, as I said, is a kind of intuitive way of looking at the field, because it implies a sort of reality (space) into which the field "spreads." But if reality is activity, this space is one of those contradictions that is supposed to be "existing there" without doing anything; and so what is probably the case is that fields constitute the reality of the space "in which" they are supposed to be, rather than the other way round. After all, how would you know about space unless it acted on you? And how could it do that if it's just "sitting there"?

This is why contemporary physics has got itself into a number of conundrums: because it assumes that space (and its components, distance and position) are a "something" that can be measured, using rulers--without realizing that when you use a ruler you are using a system which has internal fields that establish the internal distances of the parts from each other; and so distance, far from being "primitive," turns out to be a very sophisticated combination of field-acts. And as Relativity and quantum physics have shown, you can't establish what the "real position" of something is "in space." What I am going to offer here is an interpretation of distance, position, and space that can solve the problems.

What I am saying, then, is that we should take the field as the reality (because we know it is an act), and take it as a reality that as a field has a set of quantities that correspond to the real numbers. If you pick out one of these quantities, this is what establishes your distance from the source of the field. In other words, the quantity of energy in the field isn't at this distance from it; the distance--as real--is nothing more than the quantity of the field's energy as a field. The distance is a characteristic of the field (its quantity) rather than being a "something" the field is "in."

But let me get this a little closer to actual physics by defining the following:

The potential of a field is one of the quantities of its energy.

In physics, the potential is defined as the work it would take to move a unit probe (an object which has one unit of its ability to be affected by the field in question) from infinitely far away "to the point in question." Well, work is how you find out what energy you have; and this device is a way of stating how much energy is in the field "at this point."

Actually, of course, all you are doing is picking out a quantity of the field's energy, and this defines the "point" which is the field's potential. Now the potential deals with a real field, and so the potential of the sun's gravitational field will be greater than the potential of the earth's gravitational field "at the same point," in proportion to how much stronger the total gravitational energy of the sun is than the earth. In order to get the potential of the field as a field, you would have to have a "unit source" of energy as well as a "unit probe"; and then, of course the potential would define the "point in the field" (or rather, the sphere--or other configuration--of identical quantity of energy).

This is a book of philosophy, not physics, and so it isn't my purpose to get into all the complications of this, even were I capable of it. Let me just note that the potentials of a magnetic field (which has a bipolar source) has a different configuration (a different shape) from that of, say, an electrical field. And, in fact, the internal fields inside objects have very complex configurations, as you can see from looking at the shape of a human body. What you are looking at is the way the internal fields "shape" the internal energy in such a way as to exclude other objects from the body.