Another powerful image is the Ceramic Model of the universe, in which we think of it as so many forms of one or more substances, as pots are forms of clay, and as God is said to have created Adam from the dust. This has been an especially troublesome image, bewildering philosophers and scientists for centuries with such idiotic questions as: “How does form (or energy) influence matter?” “What is matter?” “What happens to form (the soul) when it leaves matter (the body)?” “How is it that ‘mere’ matter has come to be arranged in orderly forms?” “What is the relationship between mind and body?” Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way, like the problem of cause and effect. Make a spurious division of one process into two, forget that you have done it, and then puzzle for centuries as to how the two get together. So with “form” and “matter.” Because no one ever discovered a piece of formless matter, or an immaterial form, it should have been obvious that there was something wrong with the Ceramic Model. The world is no more formed out of matter than trees are “made” of wood. The world is neither form nor matter, for these are two clumsy terms for the same process, known vaguely as “the world” or “existence.” Yet the illusion that every form consists of, or is made of, some kind of basic “stuff” is deeply embedded in our common sense. We have quite forgotten that both “matter” and “meter” are alike derived from the Sanskrit root matr-, “to measure,” and that the “material” world means no more than the world as measured or measurable—by such abstract images as nets or matrices, inches, seconds, grams, and decibels. The term “material” is often used as a synonym for the word “physical,” from the Greek physis (nature), and the original Indo-European bheu (to become). There is nothing in the words to suggest that the material or physical world is made of any kind of stuff according to the Ceramic Model, which must henceforth be called the Crackpot Model.

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