Parallel universes and corporeal nature

Two parts: first part: a translation of a passage by Blessed Raymond Lull,
               second part: comments and further references.

The first part
Article 83, on Astronomy, in the 100 Forms of Ars Brevis by Blessed Raymond Lull :

Astronomy is an art with which astrologers can know the virtues and movements that heaven effectively rules in things below,  and the topic of this art is heaven, signified by the letter D. And  if there is any doubt or question regarding heaven the question can be answered by referring to the third subject, or heaven, in accordance with the explanations given. And this must be done without altering the things said there about heaven.
 For instance, if we ask,  whether there is any other heaven apart from the heaven of this world? The answer is negative according to the definition of concordance. For if there were some other heaven, then both heavens would equally have a corporeal essence and figure, without having any subject common to both. And this would imply a contradiction, which is impossible. No species can exist without a genus, and there could neither be any distance or any closeness between the two worlds, as shown in these two figures - one called A and the other B - which would stand at a distance from one another through their upper and lower parts, but not through their middle parts, as is apparent in the two lines: now there are two long lines, and one short line. Further, voidness woud now be the subject of the long lines and of the short line; and thus there would be both distance and closeness  in a void subject, which is impossible. And at this point the intellect deems that no other heaven can exist, because the said impossibility cannot result if the definition of concordance is to remain intact.
 However, I say that it is possible for another heaven to exist, because God's power is infinite. And if there were such a thing,  distance and closeness would remain disposed in the state of  potentiality, without any actual existence outside the said heavens, as they would have no subject  or  locus because there would  be nothing but void between the said heavens. And at this point, the intellect wonders: if the Sun is not hot in itself, for what reason does it heat the air? But then it considers that the Sun causes heat through its presence, as it causes darkness by its absence, so that day and night can exist.

 Article 83 of the 100 forms of Ars Brevis: Questions about astronomy

What is astronomy? Is astronomy dependent on geometry? Is there any other eighth sphere,  any other universe, or some other starry sky? As the Sun is not hot, how does it heat air? Many more questions can be put regarding astronomy and their solutions are implicit in the third subject, which is heaven. For instance, supposing there is another eighth sphere, would the distance, or closeness between the two exist in potentiality, or in actuality?

Here ends the first part, which is an excerpt from Ars Brevis.

Part two: Comments

The  term "parallel universes", since the word "universe" implies oneness, and not plurality, is paradoxical. If there were two or more corporeal or physical universes, then they would all have to consist of four simple elements, and this universal principle would be common to them all, so that they would really form one single universe. To understand what is meant by the four elements, we must retrieve the original meaning of the term "element", to distinguish it from its modern version.

In modern terms, an atom is something that cannot be further divided into parts without losing the substantial identity of the "element".  For instance, an atom of oxygen cannot be divided any further and still be identified as oxygen. Subatomic particles are constituent parts of atoms of so-called "elements" that are not elements in the sense of being the simplest basic constituent factors of the physical world. The application of the term "elements" to the substances listed in the periodic table, does not convey the meaning of ultimate physical simplicity found in the four elements of fire, water air and earth.

 There cannot be any more or less than four corporeal elements, making up the two parallel and interacting polarities that are a minimal prerequisite for any corporeal movement of generation and corruption within space and time, and for constituting any corporeal or physical universe..

To understand the basic argument behind the four element system, here is an excerpt
from Blessed Raymond's Principles of Philosophy, on the conditions of the four elements
Translated from the Latin version in Salzinger's Mainz Edition, volume One.

"The first condition of the elements is that there be four of them.
With less than four elements, composition would proceed only through difference and concordance or only through concordance and contrariety, or only through difference and contrariety.  Furthermore, there would just be either generation or corruption, not both.  If this were true, natural order would be destroyed all the way from the heavenly spheres to the rational soul.
If there were more than four elements, something superfluous would exist in nature since generation and corruption only require :
* that fire be different from earth and in concordance with it as fire receives dryness from earth, and likewise with air to which fire gives heat, and that fire be contrary to water;
* and that air be different from fire and in concordance with it as air receives heat from fire, and likewise with water to which air gives moisture and that air be contrary to earth, which is dry.
And the same order is followed by water and earth in accordance with their qualities.
Four elements provide for perfect movement in the green and red triangles and if there were more than four elements there would be something superfluous in nature whereby the prime cause and nature would be out of touch in the figures of the virtues, of predestination and of truth and falsehood as the prime cause would not operate perfectly in nature which is an impossibility demonstrating that there are only four elements."
(End of excerpt)

These four elements, as they are simple and not compound, are neither atoms nor molecules. The elements have both essential and existential entity. Essential fire, air, earth and water are not per se hot, moist cold and dry although each of these qualities is proper to one specific element, and appropriated by one other element. (See the Desired Philosophy Tree, Question Six, and the Book on Chaos) The qualities of heat, coldness, moisture and dryness are accidental qualities and instruments through which the four essences can interact and enter into composition.

The planets and the luminaries that move the elements below  constitute a quintessence which is not strictly speaking a fifth element, although in loose parlance it is sometimes referred to as such. Thus none of the heavenly bodies is essentially cold or hot etc., but only so with accidental reference to the elemental qualities on which it has a preferential influence. The Sun is not essentially hot, nor is the Moon essentially cold, nor Saturn essentially dry, etc. although they are associated with these qualities because they influence some elements more than others.

 Similarly, the five xing of Taoist philosophy (wood, fire, soil, metal and water) are not elements,  but five forms of accidental movement of four elementary essences, which are signified by the four xiang : formed by yin and yang lines combining two by two.

_____     __  __     _____     __ __
_____     _____     __  __     __ __

As there cannot be any more or less than four corporeal essences constituting a physical world, so the above figure of parallel universes is enclosed in a square, to signify the corporeity common to both worlds.

For more details on the corporeal essence and existence of the four elements, see the fragment from Blessed Raymond's Book on Chaos, and the sixth Question or Rule regarding Quality in the Desired Philosophy Tree, as well as the chapters of the Book on the Seven Planets which you can view at this site.

Back to site contents