Author : Ronald Engert
Category : Science
How does reality work?
The importance of quantum physics for philosophy
At a transdisciplinary symposium of the Existential Consciousness Research Institute (ECR) in Kränzlin near Berlin, fifteen scientists from several countries met from 30.09.–02.10.2022 to discuss the phenomenon of coherence. Among others, quantum physicists, philosophers, psychologists and physicians were present. It turned out that coherence through all levels of life is a suitable category to better understand the connection between mind and matter. In the following contribution some aspects from quantum physics shall be put into relation with philosophical considerations about ontology and language.
The quantum physicist Giuseppe Vitiello reports that in the world of quantum physics the relations among particles are richer than we normally imagine in our usual understanding. Consider for example two particles, T1 and T2. T1 may act by means of a force on T2, and vice-versa, as we normally are used to think. However, in the quantum world, there might be also, or only, the correlation in phase between T1 and T2, without having a force working in-between them. That is they might share, under convenient conditions, a sort of syntony, like two musicians playing in tune in an orchestra. Physicists call entanglement such a sharing of phase by the T1 and T2 particles.
The so-called Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox refers indeed to such an entanglement phenomenon.
Suppose that an elementary particle decays into two photons. These „twin” photons then show the phenomenon of entanglement, i.e. they remain connected even over very large distances, and if the state of one photon is changed by an action of an observer, this instantaneously affects the state of the other photon. If the change would be transmitted by a messenger, it would travel faster than the speed of light. However, a speed faster than the speed of light is impossible. Einstein therefore called this quantum phenomenon „spooky action at a distance”. This connection cannot be described as transmitted by a messenger within Special Relativity physics. That is why quantum physics has terms like ›non-local‹ and ›non-causal‹ to describe these effects. Vitiello also pointed out that there are no isolated entities in quantum physics, because these suggest an ontological isolation, which, however, is not observed at this level of reality. Quantum- physically there are only open systems. For such reason, the approach which starts from fields would be necessary and also sufficient, because this is an approach including the entities, their environment and their reciprocal relation. Fields imply openness and not isolated entities. The entanglement phenomena have been experimentally tested in the quantum world, but not yet observed at the macroscopic level, i.e.
The laws of quantum physics refer only to the subatomic level. They do not apply to the macroscopic area, although there are macroscopic systems, like crystals, magnets, superconductors whose macroscopically observable properties cannot be explained without recourse to the underlying quantum dynamics, and for that reasons they are called macroscopic quantum systems. We notice that the behavior of these systems is macroscopic exactly because the value of the Planck constant h is not zero (which is a different phenomenon than the classical limit obtained in the limit of h going to zero). There are in fact scientists, like Vitiello, who deal with the question to what extent quantum effects could also be relevant to the macroscopic realm, for example in the correlation among the neurons in the brain or also between brains, i.e., between different living beings. Are there quantum theoretical indications for this?
These considerations are also interesting for philosophers, because they ask themselves how reality works. For example, what happens in the communication between living beings, or even more fundamental: What is a living being? According to this paradigm, might two people be correlated without exchange of messengers, like in the case of the twin photons? We usually think we need to use some means to interact, but are there other possibilities to be coherently correlated, without means, without forces? After all, what is actually the meaning of „culture”, or „cultural atmosphere” if not the sharing of a common thought correlating a community of people?
Limiting the relations among people to the ones mediated by forces, ignoring cultural traditions, common views, behaviors has lead and leads to unfortunate fights. In fact, the recipe adopted by ancient Romans aimed to the domination of other populations was „divide et impera”, namely split, break the community and the culture of people to dominate them. Unfortunately, it is a recipe largely adopted still today. In contrast, it should be considered that cultural coherence may arise between people or groups of people by developing resonance phenomena – phase correlation, as one would say using the quantum language expression. The importance of developing a shared cultural environment relies in the fact that each actor has its own oscillation, its own phase frequency, but there is always an in-between in these open systems. Metaphorically, this in-between could be thought as the segment between its two extreme points A and B, which describe the beginning and the end of this segment. The segment does not exist without its defining extreme points A and B, but in the same way A and B do not exist as extreme points without the segment.
In terms of the philosophical consideration on human beings, this means that human beings are not isolated entities that could exist on their own. The language between human beings would then be not solely an arbitrary means to transmit a piece of information. Rather, we are in a sense language and meanings. We become individualized entities (A or B) only by correlating to the other, that is, by showing ourselves to the outside and being perceived by the other. This individuality is dynamic and not static. It changes depending on the cultural frame in which we move. (Our absolute identity would then be given only in relation to the absolute relation to God). We do not just use language, but are language, if one grasps language in an extended understanding, in which also form, color and movement are regarded as language, as the philosopher Walter Benjamin elaborated in his theory of language.
According to him, language is not a means, but an immediacy, a kind of magic. The knowledge of the other one and the coherence with it is immediate. In quantum theoretical terms we say discrete, non-local, non-causal, not mechanistically describable. Philosophically we show ourselves in language, and without language we would not exist. But this also means that A and B must be different from each other, in order to get an in-between, a segment. If we were not different, there would be no in-between and we would need no language and no form. The whole phenomenon of life therefore results from the diversity of the individual beings and things. This diversity is irreducible. Language is not a mean but is existing like a field of immediacy. Interestingly, quantum-theoretically, phase correlation or coherence also implies deterministic chaos for trajectories over the set of coherent states accessible to the system. Therefore, not only is coherence or phase harmony an important component of aliveness, but so is the deterministic chaotic nature of paths and evolution through coherent states.#1 Philosophically this means that we do not only need coherence but chaos as well, in order to change a system.
Physically under convenient boundary conditions (of temperature, pressure, etc.), evolution through different dynamical regimes takes place. Philosophically this is a dialectical wave movement between unity and diversity, between coherence and change. Because everything is dynamic, coherence is able to restores itself. This is due to the fact that coherent states are the lowest energy states toward which the system naturally evolves. This natural emergence of coherence drives, for example, the formation of crystals, magnets, superconductors, in a process of condensation, namely of attraction or adhesion, of quanta in the lowest energy state.
In fact, the category of attraction is a most interesting and fruitful category that has been very often forgotten in our technology driven scientism, mostly aimed to the profit and interest of domination. Normally, science and technology are exclusively oriented to impose the principle of pressure, which makes mechanical effects possible. The effect of coherent attraction, however, could contribute to a new understanding of reality, which is much truer to life and can describe the needs of living beings much more accurately. Attraction is an immediate effect, since it emerges and lies in the being itself. It makes itself if you let it. With this view we could succeed in establishing a completely new paradigm, both in the humanities as well as in the natural sciences. Accordingly, we human beings are open systems that need the other to become themselves. We do not use material forces to affect others, but vibrate in the same phase to create coherence. The main drive is attraction, not pressure. This would be a domination-free paradigm that both honors individuals in their sovereignty and respects intersubjective process as indispensable to the constitution of reality. It would be a mindful, tender approach to the Other in the mood of affection and love.
The statements on quantum physics were revised and approved by Giuseppe Vitiello.
#1 Here the words „trajectory” and „evolution” refer to transitions of the system through different dynamical regimes. For example, the iced (solid) state of water is a dynamical regime different from the liquid state, and all the intermediate regimes between the iced (solid) and the liquid ones are also different dynamical regimes. The trajectory or evolution is meant to refer to the transitions from the solid state to the liquid one through the intermediate states. „Deterministic” means that in such a trajectory every step is univocally determined by the preceding one. The „chaotic” aspect refers to the fact that a very small variation in the initial condition (for example of temperature, pressure, etc.) of the trajectory may change the trajectory into another diverging one, thus through a different succession of dynamical regimes. These coherent states are ordered and pass through a chaotic phase to another ordered state.
The vision of the Institute for Existential Consciousness Research (ECR) is the intercultural integration of art, science and spirituality for understanding, supporting and accelerating a global transformation of consciousness. The ECR unites and connects scientists, researchers, thinkers, authors and pioneers from different disciplines. Questions around the research and development of consciousness are not only theoretical but focus concretely on the human being and being human in a constantly changing world. Website: www.ecr-inst.com
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