|4 Jun 2006 @ 13:55, by Beto Hoisel|
In this beggining of a new millenium, the scientific community faces a deep and painful CLASH OF PARADIGMS - in the epistemological renewal of thought under process. To know what's happening is crucial to understand what's going on.
THE RESURGENCE OF THE SAGES
Born together in the Greek Antiquity, Western Science and philosophy were interdependent for several centuries and constantly under the backing of the prevailing religion.
When proclaiming its independence, from the seventeenth century on, science has fragmented in specializations whose interests soon concentrated on specific problems of those branches. But, if on one side this brought unprecedented successes in many different fields, it also left without solution the widest subjects, those that demand the integration of many themes and objects of study. Such problems cannot be resolved under more perfected observations or for the improvement of new and better instruments.
Specialization is a face of the reductionism that marked the development of science in the last three centuries and contributed in a decisive way to the expansion of the empiric knowledge, for the refinement of technology and all it has created to facilitate man's life on the Earth, in spite of its dark side of destruction and death.
However, in this new millennium, specialization, indispensable to the progress of technology, started to become a serious hindrance for the further development of science – in its broader sense of natural philosophy – because the investigations of many leading fields of the human knowledge such as cosmology, physics, biology, the computer science, psychology and even mathematics, have been showing that a multidisciplinary understanding of their objects is obligatory to generate more daring insights in each one of those areas.
In the most recent scientific research developments we are amazed to observe how theoretical and experimental physics, in their formulas and laboratories, have been forcing the recognition of the researcher's subjectivity to assure legitimacy and sense to the results of their investigations and findings.
We have seen cosmology’s encounter with man's soul in the boundaries of the universe, when it takes refuge in the Anthropic Principle that re-enthrones the human spirit in the center of wholeness, as it verifies that among the infinite theoretically possible universes only this one we live in is suitable to life.
For more unlikely this seems to be, only this universe, with its constants so finely adjusted, is capable to shelter galaxies, stars, life and intelligence. It is man's spirit that paradoxically returns to the center of totality in a surprising way, regaining the privileged place that always belonged to him of right, usurped that had been for some few centuries of transitorily necessary alienation.
We see the science of computation producing the colorful marvel of the fractals, mathematical entities of literally inexhaustible wealth and unexpected beauty, derived of the singular properties of the imaginary numbers. In the shapes and rhythms of fractals seem to gather the most sophisticated technique and an extraordinary plastic wealth that frequently suggest something mystic in the configurations that appear in the monitors, triggered from simple iterations in mathematical equations. We have been seeing in the fractals and their most recent developments a theme that deserves deep philosophical considerations, for there the computer science yields the unexpected aesthetic quality of compositions that were not conceived as shapes by their creators – that just manipulated equations, not forms – generating something mystical, privately concealed in the mysterious realm inhabited by the mathematical entities.
In this beginning of millennium, we must adapt to world visions where the logical categories we inherited from the Greeks no more will be appropriate for the understanding of the cosmic/individual wholeness, the all-embracing objective/subjective universe.
Observing with exemption and rigor the new face of that thing we use to call reality, we see that even the fundamental dualities that spontaneously we used to adopt for the rational discovery process of the world will have to be reviewed or abandoned.
As a consequence of the evolution of the knowledge, that now disembarks in the virgin beaches of the new post-quantum paradigm, notions of subject and object (and, therefore, of subjective and objective), of shape and background, real and imaginary, will become categories relegated to the condition of auxiliary resources of thinking, obsolete manners of considering the phenomena, vices of older generations.
From now on, the distinction among science, the arts, philosophy and religious mythology should be looked at with a lot of reservations, in the limits of a reductionist methodological concession, just adapted to strictly pragmatic purposes seeking empiric results, without superior accuracy for an effective understanding of what happens in the intimacy of the things and the phenomena.
To what everything indicates, we are testifying the ascension for a position of undisputable hegemony in the community of science of those men – surely the most outstanding of our time – that never feared to be qualified as sympathizers of a mystic/unitarian vision of the individual, of the world and of wholeness.
Those men, responsible as they were for some of the most seminal advancements of science, always recognized and respected the depth of the most authentic mystic insights without, however, giving up their condition of scientists of the most noble ancestry, rigorous in their methods and criteria, but without letting to be seduced for the positivist mermaid.
They are men that, having overcome the foolish and selfish self-centeredness, completed their individuation process (as to Jung’s) and moved forward deeply in the sense of accomplishing the synthesis of the individual with the universal. They understood that these two faces, in their true essence, mirror each other and are contained inside a perceptual integration without discernible borders.
Scientists like Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli, Erwin Schrödinger, C.G. Jung, James Jeans, Eddington, Peter Medawar, John Wheeler, Lyall Watson, Erich Jantsch, David Bohm and many others overcame the limitations of the own ego, conquering this way the right to look behind the appearances and to decipher their own version of the cosmic truth. In his book Mein Weltbild (My World Vision), Einstein declares literally that "in agreement with a single rule I determine a man's authentic value: In what measure and with what purpose he was freed from his ego?".
Many others, however, cling to an illusory and egocentric auto-image that nothing has to do with the true individuation that can be unfolded starting from the integration of the individual being. For these, the conquest of knowledge is more tortuous and more liable to find dead ends, camouflaged of great truths that time overcomes and throws into the basket of used papers of the history of the science.
It seems certain that the standard conceptions of the most including science – physics, cosmology, psychology – no more will resist in admitting the evident verification that science and mysticism have a common final objective: To understand the being's unity, manifested in the always surprising kaleidoscope of multiplicity, inexhaustible as a fractal of fantastic proportions.
The scientists, as much as the mystics, are aware of the ultimate unity of the universal totality; the first ones try to describe it by a theory, an equation, a mathematical formalism; the mystics look for to try it, to live this reality. But both are moved by the same interior pulse and – why not to say? – by the same faith.
With the overcoming of the prejudices that make some outstanding names among the science workers to irritate or feel offended when analogies are suggested between the objectives of their work and the mystics' experiences, we will see once more the surge of the classic image of the sage, the wise one, who is not limited into a logic/conceptual frame, because he or she knows that the wider and deep reach knowledge cannot be contained in the lineal structures of the discursive thought, nor in the quantitative formulas of mathematics, nor to be restricted to any exclusionist forms and approaches.
The classic character of the scientist/mystic, that we usually associate to Emanuel Swedenborg or Giordano Bruno – both looked with restrictions by the historians of the science for they don't frame in the scientist's model that don't let to be contaminated for superstition – in rigor should also include names as the one of Isaac Newton, René Descartes and many others that have been considered representative of the pure scientist, pillars where the contemporary science lean on.
Today, it is already recognized without shame what stayed carefully veiled during centuries for zealous biographers and editors of encyclopedias: That the practice of the alchemy occupied a large part of Sir Isaac Newton’s interests and that René Descartes belonged to secret societies of mystic character, that little or nothing had to do with the rationalism he developed for external use.
In the last decades of the twentieth century we attended, as a refreshing renewal encouragement, the resurgence of men of science that no more fear as threats to their reputation the accusations of mysticism in their proposals and in their practices. And this doesn't mean that those men have given up the rigidities of the scientific method, or have succumbed to the black "tide of the occultism", as feared Freud. On the contrary, what we see is a growing enlightening wave in all levels, the successive collapse of prejudices and logical limitations, the dilution of the barriers that blocked the knowledge, impeding the healthy flow of different approaches for the investigation of the major subjects of the spirit and the universe.
We have been attending the process of adherence of the more rigorous scientific knowledge with mystic insights of the largest seriousness and depth, as a result of the work of men of science that never feared their friends' of more restricted vision pressures, with their scoff laughter and the causticity of their irony. This, when they don't overflow until the aggressiveness, or open hostility, whenever the forbidden themes of the synchronistic phenomena and of the paranormal are approached, themes so thoroughly documented today that its rejection already brings a strong connotation of dishonesty – no more of who investigates them, but of who denies them.
The main obstacle the scientists must face and overcome, in this beginning of a new millennium, is the still hegemonic paradigm: Materialistic, Newtonian and Freudian a framing too narrow that cannot to embrace all objective-subjective wholeness in its entirety.
Stephen Hawking recently expressed his view that very little is missing to complete an all explaining "theory of everything", which would throw scientific research into the dull task of filling up the lacking details of the picture. Hawking didn't show to be aware that he repeats the same illusion of science one century ago, when it was supposed that everything which was to be known about the physical world was already discovered, "remaining only the detailing of minor aspects to be done".
This happened at the same time Lord John Rayleigh was calculating the spectrum of a black-body, discovering the annoying phenomenon called the ultraviolet catastrophe, which cracked from top to bottom the whole building of classic physics. Rash statements like these show the force of the standard paradigm in certain phases of the scientific development, capable to lead men of brilliant intelligence to state foolish ideas, somewhat obvious to those who are not committed to the paradigm enticements.
Under a benevolent view, a paradigm can be defined as a constellation of assumptions and beliefs, scales of values, techniques and concepts shared by the members of a certain scientific community in a moment of its history. In a more accurate description, a paradigm is the set of accepted proceedings, usual ways of thinking or vices of thought, of logic-metaphysical prejudices that limit the scientific development in a certain epoch. These hindrances confine the scientists of a community into a confined universe of study, with a previously established spectrum of acceptable truths and conclusions.
Thomas Kuhn has shown how paradigms establish a priori what can or cannot be accepted as true, in a certain epoch of the history of science. The bondage to a paradigm have leaded respectful researchers to reject entire segments of their own experiences, to deny evident results of experiments, or to neglect facts and possibilities which a less committed look or judgment wouldn't let to escape.
The adherence to a paradigm is essential to any responsible scientific undertaking. However, the risk is that a rigid commitment to its limitations block - as it usually does - the free interpretation of facts which cannot be understood within the field previously established as acceptable. Wholeness offers a multiplicity of diverse aspects to observation and understanding. So, what results of a non-critical acceptance of a paradigm is the jettisoning of entire continents of human experience as improper to scientific approach.
Another consequence of such unrestrained adoption of a paradigm is the establishment of specific forms of questioning nature, conditioning the answers they should yield. An important advice was made by Heisenberg when he remarked that in scientific experiments we do not see nature itself, but rather nature submitted to our peculiar way of inquiring it.
With respect to the specific subject of time curious things have been happening as a consequence of the constraints imposed by the standard paradigm. First, we notice a specific blindness in some of the most outstanding personalities of science to certain results of their own experiments. Hence, a repeated refusal to acknowledge obvious interpretations of facts emerging from experiments, if the case requires a basic reformulation of some aspects of the standard paradigm.
See, for instance, Albert Einstein's refusal to admit that time, being an imaginary value – as suggested in his special theory of relativity, and more clearly stated in Minkowsky's considerations – should be understood as something connected to the subjective world, something imaginary, which appears in the physical-spatial world as a projection of a geometric nature.
Albert "saw" that time has to be imaginary, but he didn't realize its subjective, non-physical character, so he could not develop the unfoldings of this remarkable finding. Through this particular point, which passed unnoticed as a consequence of the Newtonian-Cartesian materialistic paradigm, science could leap - just a century ago - over the metaphysical wall which averts physics of accepting the imaginary, the subjective, the spiritual, the vastness of our inner world that forces its presence in the recent paradoxical experiments of the quantum inquiries.