From my layman’s perspective, we seem to be in the midst of a scientific paradigm
shift from analysis to synthesis, from focusing on isolated parts to understanding
the whole system. In the sciences, and in western cultures, the undeniably successful
philosophical stance of analytical Reductionismhas been dominant throughout the
19th and 20th centuries. But many thinkers and cultural observers have noted that
the flourishing global world culture may have reached a tipping-point around the
beginning of the 21st century. A worldview typically identified with ancient Eastern
cultures has been working its way into the mainstream of modern Western societies,
and their sciences. That characteristic way of viewing the world as an integrated
organism rather than a loose aggregation of independent parts is commonly referred
to as synthetic Holism. It’s an old idea, but it came into the Western consciousness
primarily as a result of the New Age movement of the 1960s and 70s.
Mainstream scientists were at first opposed to some of the mystical and metaphysical
associations that came along with the basic concept of learning to deal with complex
things collectively rather than just individually. But views of our world from space,
where political borders are invisible, became a strong metaphor for the Earth as
a living organism. And the nascent sciences of Systematics, Cybernetics, Chaos/Complexity,
and Fuzzy Logic made a holistic methodology unavoidable for continued progress in
understanding the shadowy margins of Nature. These trends allowed some people to
speculate on such radical and controversial notions as the Gaia hypothesis and the
emergence of a Global Mind. But the more mundane Systems approach to science has
generally been accepted due to a record of practical results in cutting-edge technologies
and fruitful new theories.
According to philosopher William James, the question of ultimate continuous unity
or discrete plurality of reality is "the most central of all philosophic problems".
These opposing aspects are also included in Kant's fundamental categories of thought.
In human history this either/or dilemma is a watershed axiom similar to the Theism
or Atheism worldview. After millennia of debate though, it seems that a person's
resolution to the quandary may be strongly influenced by both his thought styles
and his cultural history. James loosely associated the Monistic (ultimate unity)
view with Rationalism and Eastern Mysticism, and the Pluralistic (multiple fragments)
view with Empiricism and Western Science. However James, the Western Pragmatist,
was ambivalent in his own opinion. And with good reason I believe.
The physical world directly accessible to our senses is clearly composed of a plurality
of things. And the observed phenomenon of Cause and Effect obviously requires that
one thing be distinguished from another. So it's only in the realm of human imagination
that the concept of Ultimate Unity and interconnectedness could even arise. Which
is why the issue seldom comes up in scientific investigations, but often arises in
philosophical and religious debates, or in mathematical proofs . In fact, an answer
to the question only becomes necessary as we approach Eternity and Infinity in our
For the purposes of this thesis, Ultimate Unity is a metaphysical premise instead
of a physical fact. William James saw that the monism/pluralism debate hinged on
the possibility of true novelty in the world, which is necessary both for a belief
in human Freewill, and for the practice of human Morality. That may be why the concept
of Holism appeals primarily to those with religious or mystical concerns. Yet, my
original concern with Information Theory was with the pragmatic applications of Science.
But it soon became evident that if the smallest elements of physicality, sub-atomic
"particles", eventually merge into an indistinguishable "fluid" where cause & effect
could communicate faster than the speed of light, then the traditional, particularistic
worldview of Science would have to change in order for our knowledge to progress
beyond the current resolution limits of our tools.
At the threshold in Quantum Mechanics where discrete particles become holistic waves
in space, our physical microscopes are of no further use. At the vanishing point
of the Big Bang singularity our biggest telescopes fade to black. Undaunted, scientists
did not hesitate to use the ancient metaphysical tool of Mathematics to push on beyond
the limitations of our physical senses, and the imaginary boundary between physics
and metaphysics. String Theory at the smallest scales of reality, and Multiverse
Cosmology at the largest scales are essentially mathematical exercises, with no possibility
of empirical evidence to support the metaphysical mind-models of mathematicians.
So how do we decide when they have got it right? Often the only reliable indicator
of truth is the simplicity and elegance and symmetry of the model.
Therefore, I have concluded that a simple, elegant, and symmetrical model of reality
must exemplify Integrity, Organization, and Proportion. Which means that, ultimately,
messy Reality must resolve fragmentation into Unity, randomness into Design, and
instability into Balance. In other words, Reality must reconcile with Ideality. That's
why I came to agree with the 17th century philosopher Spinoza that the world ultimately
consists of a single "substance", which he identified with God and Nature. With the
benefit of 21st century sciences, however, I can add a few more items to the list
of mundane names for that one divine substance : Mind, Information, Consciousness,
and so forth. But this thesis will focus primarily on one humble manifestation of
divinity that has recently become the subject of empirical, scientific investigation.
And I propose to call that emerging paradigm by the euphonious appellation, Enformationism.
INTEGRALISM Our understanding of how the world works has evolved from simple, linear 19th century Mechanisms to complex, non-linear 20th century Holism, which is now transforming into 21st century Integralism. —- gnomon