Ontology, Ethics, Aesthetics, Dynamics, Space and Time of Chemical...

Ontology, ethics, aesthetics

The main goal of this chapter is to diversify the characteristics of chemistry, including in the context of ontology, ethics and aesthetics. As a result of studying the material in this chapter, the student must:


• four concepts of the dynamics of chemical reactions;

• ways to enrich the philosophy of chemistry with philosophical ideas;

• the difference between substantive and scientific ethics;

• the concept of the relationship between physics and chemistry;

be able to

• give a dynamic explanation of spatial and temporal effects;

• Identify the philosophical position of chemists and philosophers of chemistry;

• use the potential of the ethics of chemistry productively;


• the basic concepts of structural and dynamic chemistry;

• the main concepts of substantial and scientific ethics;

• the basic concepts of synergetics.

Keywords: potential surface, semantic science, visualization, truth, philosophical pluralism, scientific ethics, reductionism, synergetics.

Dynamics, space and time of chemical phenomena

In Chapter 12, all stages of conceptual transduction in chemical cognition were considered. This time, the focus will be on ontological interpretation of highly relevant chemical concepts, in particular, the concept of the reactivity of a substance. It should be noted that chemistry is to a certain extent similar to physics. It means that in its context the concepts of dynamics, space and time are of no less importance than in physics. Explaining this position, it is reasonable to turn to the formation of structural chemistry, i.e. chemical theory, within the framework of which the concept of structure gained considerable weight.

Scientific chemistry was constituted at the beginning of the XIX century. Only half a century later it was possible to develop the concept of the structure of the atomic-molecular system.

Historical excursion

The theory of chemical structure was developed in the 1850s and 1860s. FA Kekule, AS Cooper and AM Butlerov. They showed that chemical compounds do not consist of random clusters of atoms and functional groups, but are relatively stable systems that have an orderly, ie, invariant structure corresponding to the valence of the constituent atoms. The concept of a chemical structure could not be developed without the concept of valence, i.e. the ability of atoms of chemical elements to form a completely definite, and not any number of bonds, with atoms of other elements. The decisive innovation was that valence was recognized as an equally fundamental property of atoms, as was their mass.

The structure of the atomic-molecular system seems to be a familiar concept for chemists. Nevertheless, many ambiguities remain regarding him. It is quite rightly noted by Π. M. Zorky, "the concept of" structure "is very often used inaccurately, lightly and even not at all in essence. Both in the scientific and in the educational literature, it is often necessary to meet with gross errors in the descriptions of structures and the use of structural data. In fact, a structure is a complex multi-level concept, existing in the form of a series of very different approximations, and it is necessary to use it so that in each concrete case the essence and the degree of reliability of the implied model is clear. Caution Π. M. Zorky, that the structure is always a model and some approximation, that is, as the author seems to be, an approximation that ensures the success of conceptual transduction is certainly topical. But it does not eliminate the need to define the structure.

According to the author, the structure of the chemical system is its invariant aspect. There are many such aspects. It is widely believed that the chemical structure is a spatial image. But the spatial representation of the structure does not exhaust all its wealth. Along with the spatial representation of the structure should be considered, in particular, temporary and dynamic, including energy. Historically, it happened that initially the primary attention was paid to the spatial representation of the structure. In many respects this was determined by relatively simple experimental access to the spatial structure. Experimental study of the temporal structure is more difficult than the study of the spatial structure. Nevertheless, in the end, the structure appears as a fan of representations (remember the warning of M. Zorky, an excellent connoisseur of structural problems).

At this point it is reasonable to recall the additionality of the structural and atomic approaches (see paragraph 6.2). On the one hand, chemists, believing that chemical systems are composed of atoms, realize the atomic approach. On the other hand, they insist on the relevance of the structural approach. At the same time, in the opinion of the author, the difference in atomic and structural approaches does not pay proper attention. They do not cancel each other, but they do not coincide. Within the framework of the structural approach, the attributes of atoms become functions of the structure. Thus, in different carbon compounds, carbon atoms perform unequal functions. As for the two ways of treating chemical compounds - inside and out system (see paragraph 7.4) - then they are also relevant not only for physics, for chemistry.

The concept of chemical structure allowed us to re-evaluate the dynamics of chemical processes in a new way. On the one hand, the preservation of chemical systems was recorded. It was explained only after the creation in the 1920s. quantum mechanics. On the other hand, the very concept of structure suggested the possibility of its transformation in chemical reactions as a result of rupture of valence bonds. In chemistry, dynamics precedes kinetics in the same inexorable manner as in physics.

The thermodynamic work of the Englishman JW Gibbs, 1874-1878, was extremely topical for the development of chemical dynamics. He was the first to not only unify the first and second laws of thermodynamics, but also to give them a differential form through the apparatus of vector algebra. Having demonstrated an extraordinary deductive skill, he obtained the equation


where - the enthalpy change; Δ G is the change in the Gibbs energy; T is the absolute temperature; Δ S is the entropy change.

Only the Gibbs energy can be used to accomplish work related to the chemical reaction. And this means that the change in Gibbs energy makes it possible to judge the fundamental possibility of a spontaneous chemical reaction. It is possible if the inequality is fulfilled:


The studies of JW Gibbs were of current importance for strengthening the positions of the dynamic approach in chemistry. In chemistry, as in physics, energy is a dynamic factor that determines the course of processes, the conservation and transformation of chemical states.

The versatility of science

However, thermodynamic analysis to understand the dynamics of chemical processes is not enough, because they do not reveal the mechanism of phenomena. A dynamic approach always requires detail: what interacts with and how.

In this regard, worthy of mention, at least four approaches. According to the concept of collisions, molecules change their electronic shells, initiating further transformations. This concept is not popular these days, because it, in fact, little is reported about the mechanism of interactions.

In the concept of activated complexes, they are interpreted as intermediate transitional unstable states, characteristic of critical points of chemical reactions. In the 1970s. the concept of the activated complex by some researchers was recognized as the key for chemistry. In the theory under consideration, the emphasis is mainly on the critical phases of the reactions, and they are not considered in sufficient detail.

These shortcomings of the concepts of collision and activated complexes are largely overcome in the concept of the motion of the reacting system over the potential surface. As noted Η. F. Stepanov, "representations of potential surfaces, their singular points, in particular, minima, maxima and points of passes, as well as the peculiarities of the displacement of the representative point along the potential surface for a given total energy of the system serve as the basis for arguments about the mechanisms and dynamics of transformations and the basis for the estimation of kinematic characteristics. "

Each nuclear configuration corresponds to a point on the potential surface, i.e. some potential energy. The plane itself represents forces as negative gradients of potential energies. The reactivity of the interacting chemical systems is primarily determined by the difference in their potential energies. History is to some extent repeated. As in physics, in chemistry, the most important dynamic factors are potential energies and their changes, i.e. force. What kind of spatial or temporal structure will be the result of a chemical reaction is determined by these forces. Thus, spatial and temporal effects are determined by dynamic factors.

When passing to quantum phenomena, quantum-mechanical phenomena must be taken into account. In this case, the notion of a potential surface is not always applicable. It is necessary to take into account the probabilities, as well as the tunneling processes. But strategy - potential energy and forces are responsible for everything that happens with chemical systems - remains in force. Thus, the development of ideas about chemical processes over 200 years of the existence of scientific chemistry has steadily strengthened determinism in it.

It is not difficult to see that the four concepts of the dynamics of chemical reactions considered form a problem series that can be transformed into an appropriate interpretational system. The quantum theory of chemical interactions is the key to understanding the essence of collision concepts, activated complexes and motions over classical potential surfaces.

Finally, we turn to the problem of time. Chemists have never doubted the relevance of the phenomenon of time. The most visible is their orientation in the development of chemical kinetics, the age of which accounts for the research of Η. N. Beketova, K. M. Gulberg and P. Vahe, carried out in the 1860's. The determination of the rate of chemical reactions could not be carried out without resorting to the parameter of duration. But chemists were not able to give his dynamic interpretation. The reason is banal - there was no dynamic chemistry. Under these conditions, during the explanation of the mechanism of chemical reactions, the motion in time was replaced by the sum of the stationary states. All this is reminiscent of the state of affairs in classical cinema, where they speak of the "tsaitrafernom" approach (from it Zeit - time and raffen - collect), where the movie is collected from separate frames, each of which seems to stop the flow of time.

Only in the late XX century. chemists have managed in clear forms to move to a dynamic explanation of the time factor. Two successes contributed to this success. On the one hand, the above concept of the motion of a reacting system over a potential surface, on the other hand, monitoring atomic motions during chemical reactions, fixing durations of the order of 10-12 s (picoseconds). Modern laser technology makes it possible in chemical experiments to record durations of only a few femtoseconds (1fc = 10-15s) and a length of a hundredths of an angstrom ( m). Such an expansion of the chemical experiment into the microcosm attains quantum formations, in particular coherent ensembles of oscilla- tor molecules.

In concluding this section, we touch on the specificity of chemical interactions, as well as chemical space and time. Should the listed realities be identified with physical factors? Or do they have a kind of unphysical nature? If chemical phenomena do not differ from physical processes, then chemistry should be equated with physics. Professional chemists refuse such a step. If the chemical phenomena in question are peculiar, then one must point to their decisive difference from physical phenomena. But this, as far as the author knows, no one does.

The author turned to the question of the specifics of chemical phenomena and their difference from physical phenomena 30 years ago. Then, as now, the author believes that the peculiar paradox - chemistry is not identical, but still equal to physics - should not remain without discussion. It is necessary, without fear of errors, to put forward hypotheses that resolve this paradox. It's better to be mistaken than to keep silent.

According to the author, chemists deal with electromagnetic interactions, the quanta of which are photons. But they view these interactions in a different way than physicists, namely, only insofar as they preserve or transform chemical objects, i.e. atomic-molecular systems, associates and clusters. All those factors that are not responsible for these processes, physicists are ignored, they are uninteresting to them. Chemical separation separates them immediately from physicists. In their activities there is a specification that is unacceptable for physicists. Of course, chemists demonstrate their own extraordinary activity not self-will, but follow one of the elections of nature. Its originality indicates that it is legitimate to distinguish between chemical phenomena, including physical space and time, from physical phenomena.


1. A chemical structure is a collection of invariant aspects of chemical objects as systems.

2. A number of theories of chemical interaction include: concepts of collisions, activated complexes, the motion of a reacting system over a potential surface, the quantum theory of interactions.

3. Potential energy and forces are the most important dynamic chemical factors.

4. Chemical dynamics determines the properties of the spatial and temporal characteristics of chemical phenomena.

5. The development of chemistry attests to the strengthening of the positions of determinism in it.

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