The fatal logic of a zeitgeist
Author: Dr. Lars Jaeger
Science freed us from many forms of suffering, but it also brings with it the loss of absolute certainties, since any knowledge can and must be questioned. Esotericism and spirituality are supposed to provide absolute statements that are firm and self-contained to compensate. Unfortunately, this also opens the door for simplifiers and populists. However, in light of current developments in biology and artificial intelligence, we need spirituality more urgently than ever to understand our role as human beings.
When it comes to deep knowledge or meaningful insights, successful life design, or even general wisdom, the natural sciences seem to have a rather difficult time in the public perception. Many people who are looking for deep knowledge, erudition, insight into the mysteries of the world, or even just joy of life, tend to browse through books on Eastern wisdom or Western esotericism rather than reading a textbook on physics or biology. They then rather read “The Tao of Physics” than “The Physics”. They rather deal with quantum philosophically founded spirituality or quantum healing than with the statements of quantum physics itself. Many people applaud (with good reason) when spiritual teachers formulate that the goal of a fulfilled life is to reduce human suffering, to find joy, and to grasp the nature of our spirit.
SCIENCE IN CRITISISM
At the same time, however, the remark that science has had similar goals since its inception – and has achieved far more significant things in the process – leads most contemporaries at best to a weary shrug. But often to opposition, even to accusations of ignorance in view of all the global problems that science has caused. Or he or she even is a disdainful materialist. One who now also wants to expose the sphere of highest intellectual knowledge to the coldness of scientific rationality.
Science often has a hard time in the political spectrum, too. Right-wing populist politicians in particular, such as the Zurich SVP politician Roger Köppel, have recognized that it is more profitable to rely on ideological belief systems than on scientific rationality. This, among other things, has led him to describe climate change as a “fashionable movement” of “drunks”.
THE LOSS OF THE ABSOLUTE
One has to wonder why science has such a hard time with many people today.
Has it perhaps become a victim of its own success? Do people take the successes of science for granted? Point the finger at it where it has not yet achieved perfect knowledge (and it has almost nowhere)? Thus, sometimes the scientific masterpiece of an incredibly fast development and production of a Corona vaccine is already taken for granted. It is bordering on indifference to the achievements of genetic and medical researchers. Perhaps one should imagine the excruciating pain of treating a tooth root infection that people suffered in the 13th century. With this it mightcome to a suitable appreciation of how much science has improved our lives.
And who today is still impressed by the “animal magnetism” with which, as late as the 18th century, the esoteric Franz Anton Mesmer, using simple electrical and magnetic phenomena, achieved astonishment and devotion among an immense crowd? Or just imagine that there were no vaccines against Covid-19 in sight yet. Considerations like these make us realize: In material and everyday life terms, scientific and technological progress shaped our world today like no other force. However in spiritual, intellectual and emotional terms, the power of science proposes something quite different.
With the loss of the comfort zone of absolute certainties.
THE HUMAN LONGING FOR CERTAINTY AND SECURITY
Most people are overwhelmed by a renunciation of absolute truths and of retreats into the substantial.
People like to rely on unambiguous truths. Clear spiritual foundations and immovable principles. What used to be God is today the absolute spirit, a substantial basic structure, are immovable laws of nature. Absolute certainties and last but not least always valid economic, social or historical laws. A nation with certain birthrights, a society in which “everyone has his place”. A fixed workplace for life and many other things. Where we lose such certainties, insecurity arises. This was no different in the 1920s and 1930s than it is today. Then spiritual, political, social, religious and philosophical simplifiers and populists fill the vacuum left by the loss of old certainties with their own untruths and lies.
Mechanisms of self-deception and self-lies, as powerful as they are familiar, are at work here. More than 200 years ago, Immanuel Kant already spoke of the “inner lie” and described it as “dishonesty toward oneself.” It is easier, as he writes, to “pretend to be blue in the face” than to admit the contradiction between one’s moral standards and one’s own thoughts and actions. Kant speaks here of the “rotten spot of our species.”
The fatal logic of a zeitgeist© Adobe Photostock
These become all the more important because the new powerful and breathtaking technologies could also fundamentally change humans themselves, their biology, identity and consciousness. In view of this, there will probably already be a moment in the not too distant future when the rules of the game of human life and coexistence could fundamentally change. Are we prepared for this?
Here we need a spirituality that does not stand against science, but alongside it.
For spirituality includes experiences or ideas that make us feel part of a greater whole. Therefore it can open up a deeper spiritual dimension of being human. It shows us the way to a more comprehensive, meaning-based understanding of our existence in this world. In doing so, it also encompasses values such as love, compassion, empathy, morality, intuition and meditative insights. And, last but not least, a question that the great physicist Richard Feynman formulated with such typical simplicity and clarity:
“What is the point of it all?”
About the author
Dr. Lars Jaeger (born 1969) is a Swiss-German entrepreneur, scientist, writer, financial theorist and alternative investment manager. He studied physics and philosophy at the University of Bonn in Germany and the École Polytechnique in Paris. He obtained a PhD in theoretical physics in studies at the Max Planck Institute. This has been in Dresden, where he also undertook post-doctoral studies. His latest book, “Sternstunden der Wissenschaft,” is published by Suedverlag. Blog: larsjaeger.ch
This article appeared originally on the German Homepage of Tattva Viveka: Wissenschaft in der Kritik, Esoterik und Okkultismus im Hoch