From “Science and Humanism” (1951) Erwin Schroedinger (Physicist)
“The scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and … delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good and bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously.
…So, in brief, we do not belong to this material world that science constructs for us. We are not in it; we are outside…The reason why we believe that we are in it – that we are in the picture, is that our bodies are in the picture. Our bodies belong to it. Not only my own body, but those of my friends, my dog and cat and horse… This is my only means of communicating with them.
Science is reticent too when it is a question of the great Unity – the One of Parmenides – of which we all somehow form part, to which we belong. The most popular name for it in our time is God – with a capital “G”. Science is very usually, branded as being atheistic. After what we said, this is not astonishing. If its world-picture does not even contain blue, yellow, bitter, sweet – beauty, delight and sorrow – if personality is cut out of it by agreement, how should it contain the most sublime idea that presents itself to human mind?”
Reality is bound up with the present. This, according to Zen and as re-expressed by Eckhart Tolle – the Power of Now..
The present, now, is the door to reality and focus on the past and future distracts from the intensity of experience.
How does that square with Alfred North Whitehead’s theory of relativity – where reality is a process and certainly not an instant?
It seems to me that the integration of these two concepts through the interpretation of the present – Now – as momentary rather than instantaneous. By this I mean to include the immediate past and the immediate future into a lengthened and extended instant. I think (though I’m never certain when trying to understand Process and Reality) that this is what Whitehead refers to as prehension.
It seems then that consciousness requires some element of time, that which immediately surrounds the instant in which we exist. It is observation that crystallises out the particular reality which we choose. (Bohr, Born, Schrodinger – the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics). The experience of reality requires the flow of time – to allow the immediate past and future to give context to the instant that is now.
Consciousness can then be described as observation surfing on time, and the fragment of time that surrounds the instant creates the moment in which we exist. Hence – reality as momentum.