Touching (the Flow)

I’m bumbling  bee not its sting

Flight of the gull not its wing

Not noun or thing-y at all

‘Cos I’m the bounce of a ball

Hop of a bird and its call

The verb, I am is to be

Container containing set free

Strong brown god striving to sea

For reading click here … touching the flow

All is not as it seems. Physics and Philosophy are pointing us to integration rather than differentiation. To wholeness rather than fragmentation.

The Nobel prize physicist David Bohm proposed that language is reshaped to focus on verbs, rather than nouns (subjects & objects). He calls this a “rheomode”, reflecting a reality of flow, of movement. He also picks up the insight of existential philosopher Martin Buber that we are the sum of our relationships – each to each.

And it’s relationship of waves not matter. In recent work Milo Wolff has shown that when thought of as intersecting standing waves, then reality can be described by simple equations. It is no longer necessary to invent a veritable zoo of exotic particles – and “dark” matter and energy. Wolff’s work is not new, but based on work by Maxwell, Schrodinger and Einstein.

Our watchwords, or better – watching words – and focus is shifting..

From nouns – to verbs..From quanta – to waves..From individuals – to connections..From fragmentation – to wholeness

.. or as Teilhard de Chardin would say – to the Omega Point – where humanity awakens to the reality of the whole, love.

Joy beyond angst?

It is politically correct to assume a materialistic existence built on a series of microscopic random events unfolding in intransitive time. We live in the ship of our ego, afloat on an ocean of materialism. No wonder we are full of loneliness and fear.

Sigmund Freud observed that the more you avoid a fear, or abyss, the unhealthier you become. All of the mechanisms of dealing with unconscious pain (projection, avoidance, repression etc) simply lead at best to neurosis, at worst to psychosis.

The big fear, the monster lurking in the deeps is existential angst. The terror of nothingness inside the tiny baby inside each of us. How, then, to deal with that? It’s worth tackling, since our insecurity is rooted right there. The more secure a person is, then the more listening, creative, compassionate, generous, talented and capable of joy they are. Insecurity spawns withdrawal, narcissism, unhappiness and disconnection. So that horizons contract to world as prison.

How then does security arise?  Where do we find an ability to live in confidence? (Con Fides; with trust)? Some simply have faith. Probably they were securely attached as children. What about the rest of us?

Science is uncovering deep meaning at the most fundamental level. Experiments on matter at the most microscopic levels shows that existence is an infinite series of possibilities, potential – until observed. It is the act of observation that, in effect, crystallises out this particular existence from the cloud of possibilities. What then is this act of becoming, of creation that we are engaged upon together? . Surely there must be an “observer” to create this particular reality. Sure enough, our species are the most efficient engines of observation, whether through science or the arts. We each of us spend our life in observation (or as some would call it – witness, some knowledge). Interestingly our gathering of knowledge is escalating in a geometric progression. (Are we approaching Teilhard de Chardin’s “Omega Point”?)

It appears to me our purpose as humans is to be just this – engines of observation crystallising out existence; and we do this together. That puts the onus on us collectively. It is OUR task to work for “good effect” – rather than trying to live with our eyes tight closed against the fear that we float on a sea of random meaninglessness.

…and then comfort comes; and connection and joy. Atman replaces ego, and angst evaporates. Until we forget and have to realise it all over again.

Dixi et salvavi animam meam

(I spoke and thus saved my soul)

Wolgang Pauli in a letter to a fellow physicist, on pressure to comply with the atheistic positivism of his god-father Max Born:

“Many physicists and historians have of course advised me to break the connection between my Kepler essay and C.G. Jung… I am indifferent to the astral cult of Jung’s circle, but that, i.e., this dream symbolism, makes an impact! The book itself is a fateful “synchronicity” and must remain one. I am sure that defiance would have unhappy consquences as far as I am concerned. Dixi et salvavi animam meam!”

 

Wolgang Pauli, Nobel prize for discovery of the exclusion principle, discoverer of the neutrino and father of supersymmetry.

What Wolfgang Pauli Believed

Pauli was – with Bohr, Planck, Heinsenberg, Dirac et al – a pioneer of quantum mechanics and Nobel Prize winner for Physics for discovery of the exclusion principle. He could equally have won the prize for his discovery of the Neutrino or of PCT Symmetry.

He is less known for his work on the philosophy of knowledge and for his work with Carl Jung on the links between physics and the psyche. They wrote papers together (in some of which Einstein participated) , which were only discovered and published in the 1970’s and also co-authored the book “The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche”.

In 1955 he gave a lecture at the University of Hamburg, “Science and Western Thought”, which he later described in analysis to Jung and to Niels Bohr. His interest throughout his life was to reconcile the “rational-critical” (Western Science) with the “mystical-irrational” (Eastern thought), to try to create a single framework of the physical and psychical.

“it is precisely by these means, that the scientist can more or less consciously tread a path of inner salvation. Slowly then develop inner images, fantasies or ideas, compensatory to the external situation”.

His belief in complementarity was fundamental; not just in physics but in general. For him and Jung the conscious and unconscious are mirrors of each other, and an understanding built solely out of one or the other is necessarily incomplete. (What Pauli sometimes referred to – witheringly – as “not even wrong”). This extended to his views on wider existence. He had an abiding interest in the views of Kepler and Newton – scientists working out of the alchemy tradition – “as above, so below” whose physical discoveries were incidental (to them) in their pursuit of the truth of God.

Pauli, with many great creative scientists, was a polymath. His scientific credentials are impeccable. His god-father was Ernst Mach and he was mentored by Arnold Sommerfeld. Albert Einstein proposed him for his Nobel Prize. He was a lifelong friend and collaborator of Bohr, Heisenberg and Dirac. All of his inquiring brought him to a concrete sense of the motive force and nature that lies beyond the physical or material world. He had a strong sense of humanity and humour, dealing gently with those of other or non-belief. For instance in response to Paul Dirac (who famously could not tolerate the religions and their politics) he quipped – “Well, I’d say that also our friend Dirac has got a religion and the first commandment of this religion is ‘God does not exist and Paul Dirac is his prophet'”.

Here he is on the nature of knowledge itself:

“the natural laws are of such a kind that every bit of knowledge gained from a measurement must be paid for by the loss of other, complementary items of knowledge.. the process of knowing is connected with the religious experience of transmutation undergone by him who acquires knowledge. This connection can only be comprehended through symbols which both imaginatively express the emotional aspect of the experience and stand in vital relationship to the sum total of contemporary knowledge and the actual process of cognition. Just because in our times the possibility of such symbolism has become an alien idea, it may be considered especially interesting to examine another age to which the concepts of what is now called classical scientific mechanics were foreign but which permits us to prove the existence of a symbol that had, simultaneously, a religious and a scientific function.”

Walter Heisenberg wrote of Pauli’s beliefs (in his book – “Across the Frontiers”)

“Pauli.. points out that even Kepler’s conversion to the Copernican theory, which marks the beginning of modern natural science, was decisively affected by certain primeval images or archetypes. He cites this passage from Kepler’s Mysterium Cosmographicum: “The image of the triune God is in the sphere, namely of the Father in the centre, of the Son in the outer surface and of the Holy Ghost in the uniformity of connection between point and intervening space or surroundings”.

Continuing to:

“Pauli considers, moreover, that Kepler’s symbol illustrates quite generally the attitude from which contemporary science has arisen. “From an inner centre, the mind seems to move outward in a sort of extraversion into the physical world, in which all happenings are assumed to be automatic, so that the spirit serenely encompasses this physical world , as it were, with its Ideas.” Thus the natural science of the modern era involves a Christian elaboration of the “lucid mysticism” of Plato, in which the unitary ground of spirit and matter is sought in the primeval images, and in which understanding has found its place in its various degrees and kinds, even to knowledge of the word of God.”

Emergence and Entropy

Science has been immensely successful in revealing the workings of the physical world. Understanding has come from dissection of systems, that is to say by reductionism. If you isolate small pieces fragments – smashing atoms, deconstructing ecosystems – then  you can test, experiment and apply mathematics.

Well and good, as far as it goes; but what of the understanding of complexity, where emergent properties arise from interactions – to form new entity? Society, ecosystems, intelligence, consciousness. Reductionism simply doesn’t help. Indeed it is becomes a little dangerous, because of false conclusions that it reaches about systems.

Think of a colony of ants, each of which participates in a larger society – which has new (emergent) properties, indeed a separate life. The individual cells in our body have their own life – but this does not speak at all to the life of our whole being.

The Universe is by definition a single system – with no known external absolute values and where all is therefore self-defining and relative. Within this we pretty much accept the laws of thermodynamics and mechanics – two of which state that “entropy always increases” (the Universe becomes increasingly disordered) and “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” (we find time and again that forces balance).

I’ve always been struck by the apparent illogic of the first – since it certainly appears to me that the material world is increasingly ordered. I wonder if the clue is in emergent systems. Perhaps whilst the Universe at the simple level is becoming increasingly disordered – there is a balancing increase in order arising as complex emergent systems arise.

I don’t suppose that reductionism can answer this, or the key mathematical tools apply. I wonder if we need a new approach to our investigation of the physical world – to complement the traditional toolset?

Which reality shall we create?

So quantum physics shows that it is observation that crystallises out the particular universe we inhabit. The material is in the past. We are working as observation engines at the immaterial present creating reality.

Quite a responsibility.

Which reality should we create and inhabit?

Bertrand Russell’s.. “all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins”

or…

Charles Wesley’s .. “lost in wonder, love and praise”

Russell’s despair was born before the science which tells us..

that the choice is ours

After Linear Time: Anthropological Ruminations on the Afterlife

A review of “After Linear Time: Anthropological Ruminations on the Afterlife” an article by Phoebe Cottam UCL

At heart this essay questions the basis and nature of anthropology. This academic discipline is apparently caught up with a desire to be seen as a formal science – however “that anthropology is a science is a significant point of contention within the discipline”. Certainly within UCL there appears to a striving to prove anthropology’s objectivity. This is reflected in the seminar on discussion on “afterlife” which prompts this essay response. The seminar appears to have commenced with a demand to disavow any belief in afterlife and to consign any non-materialist beliefs to the “observed” and presumably inferior races and civilisations.

Cottam asserts that anthropology is a science – “firstly for its positioning within an ontology I call scientific, secondly for its commitment to objectivism”. The first half of this statement appears to be a statement of an axiom and the second to anchor the study of humans within objectivity.

The essay quotes Wallach and Schmidt (Repairing Plato’s Life Boat with Okham’s Razor) with their definition of scientific worldview comprising:

– The atomist hypothesis
– The mechanistic hypothesis
– The materialist hypothesis
– The time irreversibility hypothesis

The rest of the article questions the earlier assertion that anthropology is a science, essentially by attacking the latter time irreversibility hypothesis, which is a fundamental assumption of both mechanism and materialism. Anthropologists find many societies have a concept of co-existing linear and non-linear time , for instance “the two forms the Maya imposed on their past, historical time and cosmic time”. Essentially if existence transcends linear time then a fundamental tenet of the ontology of science is undermined. This leads to the essays’ eventual conclusion that there is a belief system operating within anthropology that wishes to suppress other beliefs – “we cannot presume an anthropological discussion of the afterlife to be apolitical”.

The essay might equally have made a significant evidence based challenge to each of the three other pillars of the scientific-materialist paradigm. However at heart it is pure logic that undermines any claim by anthropology to be a science. A study of man by man must always involve the subject with the object, and it has been proved within mathematics (Godel’s incompleteness theorem) and science (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle) that because of an infinity of self-referential feedback loops that all “knowledge” is unprovable and can ultimately be traced back to an original axiom or belief.

As Douglas Hofstadter puts it (Godel Escher Bach) “By the way, in passing, it is interesting to note that all results essentially dependent on the fusion of subject and object have been limitative results. In addition to the limitative Theorums [eg Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorum], there is Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which says that measuring one quantity renders impossible the simultaneous measurement of a related quantity. I don’t know why all these results are limitative. Make of it what you will.”

Faith is at the core of all, and we would do well to step outside the edifice of thought that it gives birth to, and openly acknowledge our intrinsic beliefs. Atheist materialists simply start from that as an axiom (see above for the 4 hypotheses underlying the scientific worldview). Their dishonesty is to pretend that the resultant logic chain somehow proves the initial premise. Other great religions at least simply state their belief as just that – belief.