By the end of the 19th century, pragmatic secular Science had finally asserted dominance
over idealistic academic Philosophy by getting reliable, real-world results from
its down-to-earth methods. Yet those fruitful methods were based on axioms that philosophers
of science called Materialism and Determinism. But as pioneering scientists began
to probe the bottom and top of reality---sub-atomic physics and Big Bang cosmology---the
truth of those unproven postulates was again called into question.
Quantum Mechanics is one of the most thoroughly "tested & proven" concepts in science,
but it also blurs the traditional definitions of Matter and Causation. For example,
sub-atomic "particles" don't act like macro-level particles, because they seem to
merge seamlessly into the “fabric” of space instead of remaining discrete dots of
matter. This ethereal fuzziness makes them unpredictable, and difficult to even imagine.
So the irksome question arose: is it really matter if you can't put your finger
on it? In practice, undetectable things are considered un-real. But in theory, such
mundane distinctions are unnecessary, because Ultimate Reality seems to logically
require some things we can’t detect, except by rational extrapolation: such as black
holes and dark matter.
In recent years, some quantum theorists have decided not to worry about the materiality
of those "probability clouds"*, and just treat them as idealized mathematical objects.
In mathematical science an abstract definition can be substituted for an empirical
piece of matter : an ideal particle is described as a dimensionless (hence undetectable)
point in space. Clearly, what an empirical scientist calls an “object” is different
from what a theoretical scientist refers to as an object: one is a tangible thing,
the other is the definition of a thing. *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron_cloud
So what’s the difference? A material object is made of stuff we can detect with our
senses and our instruments. But a mathematical object is made of “something” that
we can see only in our imagination. Mind objects are usually called ideas, hence
such things are Ideal. But are they real? Do they have real-world consequences? Can
we manipulate them in some way? Does it matter if they are immaterial? Should science
study only “hard” things, or are “soft” ideas about things legitimate subjects for
science? The answers to these questions may depend on your axiomatic beliefs.
Quantum theorists obviously consider the objects of their painstaking research to
be "real" in some sense. They even ask Empirical physicists to be on the lookout
for "theoretical objects", such as Neutrinos*, even though they are defined as next-to-nothing.
But some principles of Quantum Theory are even farther from mundane reality than
that. For example, particle decay (radioactivity) happens for no known reason on
a completely random schedule. Even worse, wave-function collapse (don't ask) seems
to be "caused" by the "virtual poke" of an observing mind. The list of paradoxes
and contradictions goes on and on, and yet QT as a whole has become accepted as an
essential component of the modern paradigm of scientific Reality. *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutrino
So if your curiosity gets the better of you, and you start to follow the rabbit down
the hole to Wonderland, be prepared to develop your own defenses against the perplexity
of paradox. Because, as Alice observed, "it just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser".
Quantum Theory began as a serious scientific investigation into physical reality.
But it opened Pandora's box, for religious and philosophical crackpots, when word
got out that sub-atomic physics was essentially the same thing as metaphysics. This
thesis will attempt to substantiate that controversial assertion, but not necessarily
the imaginative inferences drawn from it.
What’s the Matter With Materialism?
Faced with the material success of Quantum Theory, Materialists have been forced
to update their original rock-solid definition to fit the emerging evidence of a
fluffy-cloud subatomic realm. Ironically, ninety-nine percent of matter is empty
space, and the rest is composed of energy fields. After some initial grumbling,
they have adapted to the idea that the material world is essentially made of an insubstantial
substance. They now accept the scientific evidence that the matter we see is made
of sub-atomic particles, which in turn are made of invisible, non-particulate energy
waves. Before you insist that we can see or detect energy, please recall that electricity,
for example, is not energy per se, it's simply the physical consequence of energy
flowing from one material electron to another. We can’t see it or touch it, we must
infer it with our rational minds. The same energy that makes-up electrons also constitutes
neutrons and protons and photons. If we can accept the idea of invisible forces taking
material form as a reasonable concept, then why should we balk at the idea that physical
energy is actually a manifested form of meta-physical information? In that case,
there’s nothing wrong with Materialism, except that it is an outdated paradigm of
19th century science which doesn’t always fit with 21st century evidence. The following
thesis sections will present a brief overview of that cutting-edge evidence.
LANGUAGE OF NATURE And by understanding quantum information, they are understanding the substance of the universe---the very language of Nature. —- Charles Seife Decoding the Universe
QUANTUM CONSCIOUSNESS If the information in our heads is quantum information rather than classical information, then our minds take on a whole new dimension. . . . the quantum computer might be where our consciousness resides. —- Charles Seife Decoding the Universe
MATERIALISTIC DOCTRINE I am not saying that materialism is false. The materialistic doctrine works fine while we investigate the objects whose entropy state is quasi-unchangeable during the experiment. But when we investigate the consciousness-related phenomena we cannot neglect the change of the entropy state of the object of investigation. —- Serge Patlavskiy Karl Jaspers forum