It's a philosophical commonplace that we can't describe the world without
describing it. There is no independent objective reality. My point is that
you don't need QM for this "profound" insight and, more importantly, that
there is nothing in QM itself to support it. QM is neutral on that issue.
Your "After QM, we are forced to recognize" is precisely what I have shown
to be wrong.
If Ulrich has shown anything at all, why is he afraid to debate me???
[Dan Smith, cont.]
In response to your message, Nilanjan, I would like to sound a quiet note of
I am reminded of Ken Wilber's 'Quantum Questions' (1984). In his turn,
Wilber is also advising caution vis a vis the upsurge in 'quantum mysticism'
that followed Capra's 'The Tao of Physics' (1975).
Wilber's point is that although it is an outstanding historical fact that
the pioneers of quantum physics evidenced profound mystical views and
insights, their mysticism, per se, was only indirectly related to their new
The following quotes show that the founders of quantum theory were opposed
to the kind of bifurcation Wilber makes in the book you reference (he has
apparently lightened up on his view very recently). It is true that Wilber
does not throw out the bifurcated portion of knowledge and experience, as do
the positivists, but the founders would be opposed to his bifurcation on the
same principle. Ulrich Mohrhoff in fact is relying almost entirely on
positivist arguments, which he mistakenly thinks to be in accord with the
Copenhagen Interpretation. The following quotes prove him wrong.
"Positivism makes the mistake of refusing to see the overall connection, and
of wanting to deliberately keep this in the dark. At any rate it does not
encourage anyone to reflect on this matter." (Werner Heisenberg, "Der Teil
und das Ganze", p. 294)
Says Armin Hermann on page 108 of his book "Werner Heisenberg, 1901-1976":
"Positivism was Heisenberg's greatest philosophical opponent."
Further quotes from "Physics and Beyond" (the English version of "Der Teil
und das Ganze"), by Werner Heisenberg:
Bohr, p. 205: "Some time ago there was a meeting of philosophers, most of
them positivists, here in Copenhagen, during which members of the Vienna
Circle played a prominent part. I was asked to address them on the
interpretation of quantum theory. After my lecture, no one raised any
objections or asked any embarrassing questions, but I must say this very
fact proved a terrible disappointment to me. For those who are not shocked
when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood
it. Probably I spoke so badly that no one knew what I was talking about."
Pauli, p. 206: "The fault need not necessarily have been yours. It is part
and parcel of the positivist creed that facts must be taken for granted,
sight unseen, so to speak. As far as I remember, Wittgenstein says: 'The
world is everything that is the case.' 'The world is the totality of facts,
not of things.' Now if you start from that premise, you are bound to
welcome any theory representative of the 'case.' The positivists have
gathered that quantum mechanics describes atomic phenomena correctly, and so
they have no cause form complaint. What else we have had to add -
complementarity, interference of probabilities, uncertainty relations,
separation of subject and object, etc. - strikes them as just so many
embellishments, mere relapses into prescientific thought, bits of idle
chatter that do not have to be taken seriously. Perhaps this attitude is
logically defensible, but, if it is, I for one can no longer tell what we
mean when we say we have understood nature."
Heisenberg, p. 208: "Positivist insistence on conceptual clarity is, of
course, something I fully endorse, but their prohibition of any discussion
of the wider issues, simply because we lack clear-cut enough concepts in
this realm, does not seem very useful to me - this same ban would prevent
our understanding of quantum theory."
Bohr, p. 209: "This sort of restriction on language doesn't seem very
useful to me either. You all know Schiller's poem, 'The Sentences of
Confucius,' which contains these memorable lines: 'The full mind is alone
the clear, and truth dwells in the deeps.' The full mind, in our case, is
not only an abundance of experience but an abundance of concepts by means of
which we can speak about our problems and about phenomena in general. Only
by using a whole variety of concepts when discussing the strange
relationship between the formal laws of quantum theory and the observed
phenomena, by lighting this relationship up from all sides and bringing out
its apparent contradictions, can we hope to effect that change in our
thought processes which is a *sine qua non* of any true understanding of
Heisenberg, p. 213: "The positivists have a simple solution: the world
must be divided into that which we can say clearly and the rest, which we
had better pass over in silence. But can anyone conceive of a more
pointless philosophy, seeing that what we can say clearly amounts to next to
nothing? If we omitted all that is unclear, we would probably be left with
completely uninteresting and trivial tautologies."
Heisenberg, p. 216: "Unfortunately, modern positivism mistakenly shuts its
eyes to the wider reality, wants to keep it deliberately in the dark. I may
be exaggerating, but, at the very best, positivism does not encourage people
to reflect on this subject."
[Dan Smith, cont.]
I am quite sympathetic with Wilber's view that the domain of the spirit is
so overwhelming that it would be a decided disservice to the spirit to
attempt to bind it too closely to the vehicle of physics, and it would also
not find much support amongst the quantum pioneers.
Yes and no. The quantum pioneers, like all true physicists, of which
Einstein was the prototype in this regard, believed that the subject matter
of *physics* was inspiring of the highest awe and sense of mystery, so they
would by no means agree with your profane attitude towards it. On the other
hand, physics is primarily about the known, as opposed to the much vaster
unknown. It is the attempt to bring more and more of the unknown into the
category of the known. The only limitation is our own experience. To the
degree that we in fact experience the higher reality and are able to
integrate that experience into our total personality, there is no reason
that we cannot describe it scientifically. Those who say otherwise either
do not have the genuine experience they think they do, or else they cannot
integrate it into their total personality. This is clearly undesirable and
not some sort of virtue. The fool is not recognized as a fool until he
opens his mouth. All those who have genuine spiritual experiences also are
eager to test the reality of those experiences by subjecting them to
[Dan Smith, cont.]
I see the quantum as mainly a pointer away from the classical, mechanical
paradigm. Physicists are gradually being persuaded to follow that pointer
into domains of the spirit that lie far beyond and are much more radical
than anything that might conceivably be contained within the proper boundary
of mere quantum physics. Quantum physics gives the spirit an 'inch'. But
we all know that the spirit is quite able to quickly conquer the whole
kingdom. Let's make sure here that it is the Spirit wagging the physical
quantum tail, and not the other way around. This is the obvious way to
avoid the quantum dualism that has been a trap for many of the quantum
White man speaks with forked tongue. On the one hand you say quantum leads
away from the classical, and on the other hand you say the quantum is just
the tail of the beast. If so, then the classical is the head! Your divide
and conquer tactics only divide and conquer your own understanding and
render you an idiot. You wind up with an indescribable spiritual dimension.
This is in essence the view of the positivists, except that you put more
value on the "ineffable", whereas they regard it as worthless. True
occultists regard your religious views as profane and the positivists as
flat out ignorant. You are approximately the Pharisees and Sadducees, with
whom Christ contended 2000 years ago.
I come from the Jewish tradition where the Old Testament teaches that the
spiritual world (where God's name is Adonai or JHVH) and the physical world
(where God's name is Elohim) are on an equal footing. There are even two
Genesis stories for the two faces of God. Spirit doesn't dominate.
I agree that genuine religion does not have a profane attitude toward
material reality, but on the other hand I think it does aspire to spiritual
mastery of it.
I strongly feel that your belittling of quantum physics is short-sighted.
Once Mutnick, Stapp, Smith, Weissmann and I (I don't know Meera) can come to
an agreement on the meaning of quantum physics (a difficult but not
impossible task) I think you will find a most amazing vehicle for Spirit.
The main problem I have with Stapp, and what is really an insurmountable
barrier, is his physicalism. I insist that the essence of quantum theory is
the separation of subject and object allowed by the juxtaposition of the
superseded classical description and the new quantum description of nature.
This then requires a metaphysical ontology, which includes many
interpenetrating worlds, not entirely reducible to the physical world. But
the extraordinary thing is that we do not thereby relinquish scientific
understanding of the higher worlds, because we already have it! For
instance, Maxwell's equations, without quantum modification, in fact
describe the meta-physical or *spiritual* or *subjective* light of Christ,
experienced quite tangibly by many. The occult brotherhood of Masters on
this planet is called the Great White Brotherhood, where White refers to
this White Light of the Christ, which is none other than the classical light
forsaken now by positivistic physics in its pseudo-sophistication.
Moreover, the spiritual or subjective light turns out to be absolutely
essential for an understanding of consciousness. The light is Christ and
consciousness is God. The light is the way to consciousness. Henry deals
with this by projecting it onto a physicalist quantum description, involving
coherent states, but that is a form of pseudo-sophistication based on a
conceptual confusion that obscures understanding rather than adding to it,
in exactly the manner that Heisenberg describes in his discussion of the
Concerning the importance of the separation of subject and object, I
reiterate the quote from Pauli:
Pauli, from "Physics and Beyond", p. 206: "The fault need not necessarily
have been yours. It is part and parcel of the positivist creed that facts
must be taken for granted, sight unseen, so to speak. As far as I remember,
Wittgenstein says: 'The world is everything that is the case.' 'The world
is the totality of facts, not of things.' Now if you start from that
premise, you are bound to welcome any theory representative of the 'case.'
The positivists have gathered that quantum mechanics describes atomic
phenomena correctly, and so they have no cause form complaint. What else we
have had to add - complementarity, interference of probabilities,
uncertainty relations, separation of subject and object, etc. - strikes them
as just so many embellishments, mere relapses into prescientific thought,
bits of idle chatter that do not have to be taken seriously. Perhaps this
attitude is logically defensible, but, if it is, I for one can no longer
tell what we mean when we say we have understood nature."
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