Madrilene Interview ( 6 ): World as potentiality – an extraordinary methodological challenge
It can be stated that tertium states preface the fuzziness ( fuzzy logic ) , which introduces a continuity of intermediary states ( non – A ) between the two extremes ( A and anti – A ), for example “ an ocean of gray ” between white and black. The change is fundamental : from now on there is no more ” just subject ” or ” just object “, not ” just real ” or ” just possible ” , not “just wave” or ” just particle”, not ” just good ” or ” just bad “…
M. – Why “world as potentiality”? In the “Beyond Descartes” book recently published at Amazon.com, you preferred to give as a contemporary alternative to the Cartesian metaphor “world as machine” – world as an organism, expression due to Whitehead, which even Bohm seemed to adopt when he suggested that actual physics is more likely a quantum organism than quantum mechanics.
F. – The two models – potential and organismic – are not mutually exclusive but rather exhibit important overlapping areas. My impression is that the passing from potential to real (actual) comes with more ample methodological implications than the one from machine to organism (not to omit that any organism is, within some limits, a machine, be it a mechanical or biochemical one). Just as I will show in the following the categories couple actual / potential is in any case more relevant for physics and physicists. For example from the beginning we can delimit in an operational manner the existence of two worlds and correlatively two distinct, even though inseparable, physics – a world / physics of the actual that I will designate from now on by “A” (this world is practically identical with the Newtonian world or in Bohmian terms with “unfolded order”). On the other side there is a potential world / physics which will be designated by “P”. Referring to this P world C. Noica made this memorable statement: “Today we live in possible”.
M. – Which is in your opinion the right relation between “possible” and “potential” categories?
F. – The potentiality represents “concrete possibility”, clipping from possible two extremely important sub-systems – real possibility and virtual possibility. In the above mentioned statement Noica rather aimed the concrete possibility, therefore potentiality. In regards to the rapport between the two worlds A and P (each of them possessing not only its own specific physics but equally some distinct channels to transfer information), I wish to emphasize:
i. the P horizon, contrary to what the modern science admitted, it is the fundamental horizon, taking into account that the actual depends on potential equally as genesis / evolution and as returning to P (potentialization).
ii. According to contemporary methodology between P and A there is a quasi-continue transition (in both directions), mentioning that none of the actuals / reals is brought to the terminus point, the potential states being always present in a variable proportion within the set of actualized states, imprinting the real systems beside the just mentioned continuity some intrinsic instability.
To note: the traditional / Darwinian model of natural selection / evolution is limited twice:
- as an A /actualized only approach ( the most relevant examples being the European Fr. Jacob’s ” The Possible and the Actual” and its American , more recent and more elaborated, counterpart – ” The Touchstone of Life ” signed by Werner R. Loewenstein), with no operational reference to fundamental actual / potential interface, and
- as exclusively extrinsic / causal ( system / environment ) approach – interaction only, ignoring what I called the ” P-natural selection” centered on the design ( Entwurf in Heideggerian terms ) involving the control exerted by the Whole in two complementary modalities – the intrinsic one ( through existentialia / das Er-eignis ) conferring authenticity to the living being, as well as a non-classical extrinsic one , through synchronization, resonance and coherence ( see the chapter ” Attunement and Distant Healing ” in my book ). Obviously, for most A- authors / researchers my last addendum seems improper, superfluous or even …mystical , because they inertly promote a positivist / reductionist attitude toward potentiality which leads to awkward deduction/ genesis of P-information ( spirit, mind ) from …matter and / or energy. Let me remind you ( including to the Jacob- Loewenstein distinguished team ) the P- standpoint due to a celebrated biologist – George WALD ( Nobel Prize ) : ” Mind,rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always…the source and condition of physical reality.” -cf. Dr. Larry DOSSEY .
M. – How could we specify the transition from modern to contemporary physics using the already mentioned categories?
F. – World / physics A can be accurately characterized by (excessive) preference for realism and locality, the most… authorized representative being Albert Einstein (to note that virtually all his methodological failures took place not on A realm but only when he tried – and did it for decades ! – to apply the type A methodology to the P horizon). Symmetrically, the P world / physics are defined by potentialism and nonlocality. Two worlds, two physics, two distinct methodologies and two distinct truths. In my debatable opinion the most interesting exponents of P physics are (in alphabetical order): (Arnold / Kolmogorov), Aspect, Deutsch / Everett, (Dossey), d’Espagnat, Gisin, Hiley / Bohm, Horne, ( Penrose, Shimony, Zeilinger, Zeh and Zurek (the parentheses denote physicists by adoption, Penrose: fifty / fifty ).
Their promotion leader, prematurely departed at just 62 years old, was by far J.S. Bell. According to my own personal opinion again, the researchers belonging to this generation (including some from the above mentioned group) have spent special methodological resources oriented more toward the demonstration / legitimation of nonlocality (with formidable performances !) leaving somehow in subsidiary the potentialism promotion, having as an effect a certain lagging in conceptual development envisaging the nature / essence of some processes such as: measurement, entanglement, potentialization, genuine genesis – all involving the actual / potential interface.
M. – In the motto of this article it has been emphasized the prevalence of continuum in comparison with discrete within contemporary physics. At the same time it is asserted that our universe is moving from nonlocality to locality / localization. There is some inconsistency between the two evolutions?
F. – Not at all: the evolution of the universe and epistemic progress are different processes, not separated nor solidary. However it needs to be underlined the methodological ascendant of the continuum, respectively of wavy / vibrational processes in contemporary scientific knowledge: in “Beyond Descartes – from Separability to Inseparability ” I have shown that presently we are in full crisis of the discrete, thus being normal that particle – central concept in modern science – to lose some ground against wave (respectively, fields of vibrational energy). H. – D. Zeh goes even further asserting that since actual quantum mechanics no longer demands the existence of discontinuities in time (quantum jumps), space (particles), nor even in space -time (quantum events), one can conclude that the quantum mechanics itself lost its quantum character, the just apparent discontinuities above mentioned can be objectively described with the help of decoherence – itself a continuous process.
M. – What happens? This discrete (understood mainly as particle) crisis and correlatively the consideration of discontinuities just some apparent entities seem to promote the idea that the only necessary and sufficient category for contemporary knowledge should be continuum. I think this has gone too far: for me, the discrete crisis means just the passing of discontinuity into subsidiary (toward continuum), and not its exclusion.
F. – There is not a question of eliminating discontinuity from contemporary epistemology / ontology. I remind here the ( very ) pertinent question formulated by Parker Palmer in the following, integrative terms : ” We think the world apart. What will it be like to think the world together? ” Thus, it can be reproached to professor Zeh at most a tendency toward some abstractization of a P (potentiality) type. A tendency of opposite direction – abstractization of A (actualization) type – was exhibited by Einstein when, on the basis of his pertinent explanation of photoelectric effect, he aimed to exclude continuity, asserting that the light wave/ electromagnetic field in general, would actually be a (permanent) superposition of quantum oscillators, in other words a sum of discontinuities. To note that in contrast to old / traditional quantum mechanics centered (via N. Bohr) on the law of excluded middle ( ” everything is either A or not- A ” ) or , simpler , on Aristotelian / Cartesian antinomic logic: either / or, the new quantum mechanics is based on a very different logic (both / and) promoting not exclusion but rather the inseparability / harmonization of complementary entities: subject / object, potential / actual, continuum / discrete, etc. My preferred solution to this temptation toward any type of abstractization is suggested ( generally ) by Bohm, Palmer Parker , and especially by the both / and logic: in original quantum ensemble we have potentially both states – “wave” and “particle” as ” aP ” states ( though Bohm, in its ” Wholeness and the Implicate Order “, p.163 , considers the two quantum states as ” mutually incompatible potentialities “) their actualization ( aP → Ap ) being specifically accomplished depending on the type of decoherence involved: “wave – decoherence” or “particle-decoherence”; the wave actualization leads to particle potentialization but in no way to its exclusion (according to Cartesian either / or logic); the same solution ” both / and ” may contribute to a correct interpretation of the Young (two slits) experiment: 9 out of 10 of current interpretations ( including Young’s ! ) are inaccurate ( abstract, unilateral ) pushing on the real /wavy aspect and / or on the exclusion type of logic ” either / or “.
Another remark: taking into account that Bohm suggested that the term “mechanics” (in quantum mechanics) should be replaced with “organism”; that the “quantum” term has also became improper (since quantum is no longer at the center of this physical science), it may be concluded that now more than ever the new quantum mechanics needs a new dialectics.
M. – What could this dialectica nova bring to the field of contemporary quantum mechanics?
F. – Everything depends on the actual desire of the physicists to detach themselves from the traditional ideological ballast, from their notorious FAPP opportunism consisting of promoting, with an incontestable success, the prediction of quantum formalism, ignoring explanation: why is this happening this way and not another. Here are some of my own dialectical suggestions:
- Centering on potentiality: the decisive resignation from the classical realism and centering of existential concept not on real but rather on potential; of course, you can avoid the potentiality’s central role either by assuming ( as the modern science did ) the genesis deficiency ( no p → a ) or assuming ( as Everett did ) the genesis excess ( all p → a ) ; for instance David Deutsch, in The Fabric of Reality – a very interesting book, but..- consider our tangible universe as much as the shadow versions of the multiverse as a constellation of reals to which the potential / possible is just ” a memory fact “, conserving its spooky character attributed with great methodological candor by Albert Einstein. Right now , I think , we need a new, non – Cartesian, non-Everettian perspective considering any real as a Tertium ( A/P ) state, belonging to a dynamic existential continuum in which “ actual / real” formations (actually of Ap type) to harmoniously coexist with “P” formations ( actually of aP type ). In this context many conceptual inaccuracies can be filtered, for example: physical / mental dualism (the mental / spiritual however having a specific physical nature: aP); superluminal speeds of correlations propagation – aiming toward infinity – within the aP field become normal ones (without defying the theory of relativity which “competence” in the Ap field remains firmly established), while the speed of instantaneous propagation of “pure” potentialities (?) becomes inconsistent (just like reaching… the temperature of absolute zero), etc. Interestingly, the new perspective confers to the dreams, intuition and last but not least mathematics a physical -subtle status since both the symbols and the numbers ( the universal constants also) may be interpreted as functions of aP type. At this point a realist – skeptic might object: ” The numbers 2 and 4 in ‘ 2+2=4 ‘ arithmetical expression – physical entities? ” ( excuse me : consider the symbols ” + ” and ” = ” too !): how else could we explain the physical amazing discoveries /anticipations acquired by mathematical calculation? It’s time to put an end to the reductionism carried out by modern science which still continues – in an elaborated, peer reviewed manner – to identify the existent with the actual / real, psyche with consciousness, time with duration…If you think that it is too difficult to consider matter as an Ap entity and the mind / spirit ( and numbers too ) as an aP one , it’s only due to the intellectual / Cartesian cut ( either / or ) and I suggest to read / reread the following, healing quote, signed with about 50 years ago by Carl G. Jung ( Man and his symbols- 1964 , pp 94/95 ):
- “ Today, for instance we talk of ” matter” . We describe its physical properties (…) but the word ” matter” remains a dry , inhuman and purely intellectual concept, without any psychic significance for us. How different was the former image of matter – the Great Mother that could encompass and express the profound meaning of Mother Earth. In the same way, what was the spirit is now identified with intellect and thus ceases to be the Father of All …( this way) the immense emotional energy expressed in the image of ” our Father” vanishes into the sand of an intellectual desert.” ( p. 98 ):… ( As the modern man ) ” developed consciousness so his conscious mind lost contact with some of that primitive psychic energy”...Moreover, in “Memories, Dreams, Reflections ” – Vintage Books, New York ( 1989 ), Jung considers repeatedly the concept ” wholeness of nature ” / inseparability, underlying that the numbers and / or mythologems …” express the dynamics of certain subliminal processes” ( or aP type processes in my formulation ) ; p. 311: ” The properties of numbers are , simultaneously, properties of matter, for which reason certain equations can anticipate its behavior”, for instance ” Equations governing the turbulence of heated gases existed long before the problems of such gases had been precisely investigated.”
- Rethinking in-formation (spirit, time, finality): recognizing the primordial role of information – in comparison with matter and energy – in genesis and organization / functioning of the universe and correlatively promoting of the new status (physical, however not ergonic) of potentiality /probability waves, reduced by the A (actualist) physicists to simple mathematical fictions; this way making possible the universal transfer of the Form, according to David Bohm’s concept of active information. The extraordinary role attributed to physical selection / choice (predicted by Russian physicist N.A.Umov, 1900) in universal informational play, in articulation / inseparability of A and P horizons, and, last not least, in recognizing the subjectivity itself as an irreducible objective/ onto-logical datum of the universe / multiverse.
In the following I wish to briefly elaborate on the increasing role of information along a series of distinct but inseparable stages – description / control / genesis which unfortunately were often taken over isolated, or undervalued as major existential factors.
1. Communication as description of the real system states: the subject is rather passive in comparison with the object and “information” is reduced to a transfer of “objective data” being evidently subordinated to matter and energy. Maintaining the quantitative integrity of the message appears on the forefront, respectively the ratio signal / noise, redundance, etc. (this is the well-known Shannon / Weaver / Wiener moment; as remarkable guests: Clausius and Boltzmann as well as a notable absence … information).
2. Control – this time both the subject and information are no longer shadows but they are radically activated allowing us to assume that we are dealing with a new, active type of information / subject; in this new context the role of ergonic factors (matter / energy) becomes comparable if not equal to nonergonic factors (acausal correlations, probability / intentionality waves of aP type). The amplified role of information is manifested this time not as much in changing the physical states of the system but rather in altering their probabilities, the transition from communication / description to control being accompanied by an incontestable rising in the existential rank of the subject / consciousness and correlatively of the meaning / semiosis (see the section “Dasein in Broad Sense” on this site or in my book “Beyond Descartes”).
3. Genesis – constitutes the superior stage of the subject / information participation to reality,concomitantly marking the exponential increase of the form and meaning role in selection / evolution / genesis processes, the Bohmian concept of in-formation sparingly present in the 2nd stage (the control being, however,a particular case of in-formation) now becomes decisive, fundamental: form / meaning become effectively generative. Interestingly, the environment (this time including the subject / consciousness as a major environmental factor), transfers its instantaneous form to the wave function, its collapse may be smoothly interpreted as an informational process of a control / genesis essence: indeed the actualization as a physical / subtle process ( aP→Ap ) could be started by synchronization (an in-formational process equally active in the real and possible) using at its minimal level the probability / intentionality or more exactly potentiality waves, fact anticipated by some open, integrative minds such as George WALD, Henry MARGENAU, J.A. WHEELER and more recently Larry DOSSEY, likely their unconsciousness was resonant with the above mentioned information metamorphosis. Their unconventional ideas were expressed in some clear statements which naturally scandalized the modern world inertially obedient to Cartesianism: Mind…(is) the source and condition of physical reality.” Nothing mystical or paradoxical, just somehow…subtle.
Sir Quantum or Mr. “It from Bit” alias…
- Universal constants as cosmic sensors: firmer correlation between universal constants with quantum vacuum (“a field of all fields”) going as far as considering these constants as cosmic sensors of vacuum activity as a sui generis dynamic system. If the average annual variation (10 -15 , or so) of these constants suggested by astrophysics is confirmed then one can conclude that – independently of other methodological considerents, older or newer – we are able to measure (from within) the universe.
- The new ether: rethinking potentiality as the new ether (having the vacuum as a generator) which through its special feature of superconductivity (in rapport with potentiality /” probability” waves propagation) may explain both the universal and constant character of universal constants as well as the mystery of entanglement and / or acausal correlations propagation with faster than light /quasi infinite speed. Invariance toward geometrical distance may suggest a common or similar origin for both universal constants and entanglement. The Aspect – Gisin experiments are actually a type P version of the Michelson – Morley experiment (of A type) with the fundamental distinction that this time the outcome was a positive, confirmative one: the P ether does exist. So far these ( Aspect- Gisin ) experiments were rather punctually or at best regionally interpreted as some answers to the type A challenge called “ Einstein – Podolsky – Rosen ”. “Einstein’s ‘elements of reality’ do not exist”- if this conclusion literally expressed among others by Michael Horne, is all-in-all finished most likely we are going to encounter the new ether.