Intensive Magnitude and the Quantification of Qualities
The most colossal failure of early modern science was its inability to account mathematically for the variation of degree of qualities (such as heat and color) without denaturing this realm of our experience in the process. How do we recover the realm of qualitative experience without at the same time distorting or repudiating mathematics?
The quantification or configuration of qualities was one of the central problems of Medieval science. In the late Renaissance, Galileo finally succeeded in quantifying motion - which had traditionally been regarded as a quality - with an elegant application of the Euclidean doctrine of ratio and proportion. However, success in dealing with this one quality did not encourage either him or any of his contemporaries to subject the remaining qualities to a comparable fundamental investigation. Instead, the intensity or variation of degree associated with qualities such as heat or color, which had been the defining mark of quality for the Athenian philosophers, was labeled a subjective modification of the sense organs, and therefore no longer in the province of "objective" science. At the same time, scientists sought to reduce the objective causes of these sensory modifications to the one quality the early modern scientists had succeeded in quantifying--thus, heat came to be regarded as the kinetic motion of molecules, for instance, and in this way capable of scientific treatment.
The Athenian philosophers had originally conceptualized the variation in degree of qualities with the paradigm of a stretched string--hence their term the intensification and relaxation of qualitative forms. The early modern scientists were so successful in begging the question of the quantification of qualities, so clever at avoiding answering it in the terms in which it was originally posed, that we are now denied even the experience of quality in terms of stretch. On the one hand, we are hard put to give objectivity to the concept of intensive magnitude anywhere in the world of physics, despite the attempts of philosophers such as Kant to treat of matter itself as a dynamic intensification or filling of space as opposed to the mere extensive occupancy of a place; on the other hand, it is now hard for us to give exactitude to the variation of degree of our emotions and inner life. All the more so, within the present framework of modern science we cannot even begin to render intelligible such experiences as the unique quality of a moment or a place.
We wish to readdress the problem of the quantification of qualities in a manner that does not require us to subjectivize quality, but at the same time does not sacrifice the exactitude that can come only from mathematics.
Matrix Journal Article
In an article first published in the Matrix Journal (1990 Summer/Fall - Volume 1 Issue 1) titled Intensive Magnitude and the Space-Time Continuum, Robert Schmidt proposes a new distinction between intensive and extensive magnitude. After explicating it in the context of special relativity using devices drawn from chaos theory, he applies it to the question of mind/matter dualism within his own hypothesis of a temporal field as a model of consciousness.