It is not just atoms and the void

Suresh Emre
3 min readNov 14, 2020


drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (detail from Burlington House Cartoon, National Gallery of UK)

Sean Carroll is a cosmologist, physicist and author. He is a talented communicator. He wrote excellent books. I enjoy reading his books and his blog where he declares “in truth, only atoms and the void” which is a quote attributed to Democritus.

I don’t know what he means by the “void” but his declaration sounds like a physicalist statement. I keep reminding people that physicalism is a metaphysical position and certainly not a scientific position. If you don’t believe me you can check out the physicalism article at the SEP.

Dear physicalist friends, I will bore you with a classic example but please be patient. You will see that I am saying something interesting and something different.

Forget other mysteries. I’ll focus on the beauty. Do you think that beauty comes from atoms and the void? You would say “yes, of course!”

I will surprise you and agree with you. Beauty indeed comes from atoms and the void. But, beauty is not atoms or the void. Do you see my point?

I am NOT talking about an emergent property. I am not talking about the philosophy of emergence. I am claiming that beauty escapes the bondage of the physical. Instead of using the word “emergent” I am using the concept of escape.

Beauty is an aspect of Consciousness which is the ultimate reality — this is a metaphysical position too — (please read my philosophical summary to see what I mean by Consciousness).

The infinite potential of Consciousness cannot be confined. Confinement or bondage is just a play (Liila). Consciousness escapes the bondage of its own doing through the Cosmic Soul by transforming itself into Eternal Life. Another mechanism for the liberation of Consciousness is the reflection of the Cosmic Soul as individual souls.

  • Consciousness cannot be confined indefinitely.
  • Seeking freedom is one of the essential characteristics of Consciousness.
  • Confinement of Consciousness creates life.

Why does Consciousness allow itself to be confined and then escape bondage through Infinite Life? We don’t know why! It appears as a play, a drama perhaps, but that’s all we can say on the question of why. The physical universe plays an important role in the cosmic drama.

Absolute Being (Consciousness) is indescribable. Words are very limiting but in its attribute-free unmanifested state (Nirguna Brahma) Consciousness is endless, formless, limitless, dimensionless, unbounded, uncountable, innumerable, immeasurable and eternal. Nirguna Brahma is beyond the bounds of time, space and person. Nirguna Brahma does not come within the scope of measurement.

Consciousness in the form of Cosmos is trying to return to its attribute-free state. In this process (Eternal Life) all aspects of Consciousness including beauty will be be expressed.

Consciousness escapes confinement in myriad ways. Beauty is one of those myriad ways for the liberation of Consciousness.

Author’s articles on physics and philosophy:

Author’s articles at Medium



Suresh Emre