Posts Tagged ‘time’

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained The Problem

April 25, 2010

The Problem

Part 1 of 4 posts

Sometimes thoughts and ideas arise out of thin air and that’s what happened the other day when I got the idea to blog about Quantum Strangeness, and how it becomes less strange when viewed through the prism of what I call the structure of existence. So, welcome to my theory of everything (TOE).

Life is lived in terms of a series of events: appointments, muscle aches, down time, paychecks, road trips, shopping, phone calls, work, work, etc., etc. My TOE, however, is suggesting a more meaningful universe. You see, in the same way that the constancy of light’s velocity moved Einstein to think “outside the box,” (actually he imagined the constancy of the velocity of light since in 1905 that phenomenon had not yet been confirmed)leading him to deduce the required relationship between an observer’s reference frame and the predictability of events, so too, in my thinking about quantum phenomena, existential phenomenology, and religion’s aesthetic traditions, I was lead to think “outside the physical event.” What could possibly exist outside a physical event you ask? That something is logic, and, in my case, that something is structured in such a way as to account for our experience of temporality, rationality, and predictable events; furthermore, that structure is a lot easier to understand than Einstein’s theories. Logically speaking, the structure I am suggesting is the simplest possible structure imaginable, and yet it is flexible enough to contain the whole of the space-time continuum (Einstein, 1915). This structure exists on three levels, the two higher levels preserving the integrity of the bottom level. It’s not as if this structured existence will change the way science gets done, but, in the overall scheme of things, the reality explained by science is not as emotionally gratifying (or encompassing) as the reality suggested by this structure.

My theory, as with most structuralism, has two components, a diachronic timeline of events (think evolution here), and the frozen in time structural aspect of experience (think logic and mathematics here). Because the universe, in my theory, takes place in the space that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the “space of logical implication,” the universe is comprehensible. Whoops, I’ve put the cart before the horse, so to speak, so I now digress to a brief discussion of the strangeness of quantum phenomena.

At the quantum level, the universe looks and behaves differently from the way we typically perceive it. At the level of the very small, we loose track of independently existing things. For some physicists, it becomes difficult to think of the universe as a collection of objects because it’s more like a complicated web of relations, a web of relations existing between the various parts of a unified whole. An elementary particle, under certain conditions, is no more than a set of relationships that reach outward to other things. What’s happening in physics today is a far cry from what happened in the past, and its telling us new and exciting things about the universe, and maybe even about ourselves! This new vision of reality is inclusive, as opposed to exclusive. When humanity is brought into the mix with everything else, a whole new ballgame arises. The center of balance shifts, and overtime, possibilities open, even if in the short run, the rules remain the same. Humanity will be in for immense benefits if this new vision catches on. Here’s a little bit of the history behind this strange new science.

It all started with Max Planck’s black body radiation experiments at the turn of the century. He discovered that radiation or light propagates in discrete packets. Those packets are called the quantum of action. The energy in a quantum of action varies, but its discreteness does not, and that discreteness is known as Planck’s constant. Particles in classical physics evolve in a continuous manner, and in three dimensions of space, but in atomic physics that just doesn’t seem to be the case. With the discovery of the quantum of action, there was a merging of the dynamic state of the elements under study with their localization. The particles’ independence dissolved, as it became impossible to simultaneously determine position and momentum, an impossibility for which the uncertainty relations of Heisenberg became the precise expression. After the uncertainty principle, Cartesian space and time co-ordinates ceased to be applicable, and physicists were forced into learning new rules for a new game. In fact, all the conjugate variables of analytical mechanics–energy, time, momentum, position, had to be dealt with as approximations; they had to be dealt with in terms of statistical analysis. Ultimately, with the loss of space and time localization, physicists were forced to abandon their concept of a deterministic physical universe and, because of that, Einstein spent the rest of his life (after publishing his major accomplishments) trying to put “determinism” back into the universe.

It’s true that our knowledge, at the quantum level, is limited by statistical analysis, but it works, and it works well. That, according to Niles Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, was pretty important in itself. According to the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, the model attributed to Bohr and Heisenberg, it doesn’t matter what’s going on at the quantum level, what matters is that in all possible experimental situations we can, within certain limits, predict the outcomes. Understanding reality, according to the Copenhagen Interpretation, lies beyond the capabilities of rational thought. The laws governing individual events are, at the quantum level, completely discarded. Only mathematical laws governing aggregations apply. According to quantum mechanics, it is not possible, even in principle, to know enough about the present to make a complete prediction about the future. Even with the best possible measuring devices, it is still not possible. Overcoming all the history that’s still building in quantum mechanics is a daunting task for anyone. Einstein wasn’t the only physicist who disliked the theory. Many have tried to dislodge the Copenhagen interpretation. In every instance, however, the physical world has intervened and said, “Your questions are meaningless.” No physicist likes to hear that! When a wave behaves like a particle and a particle behaves like a wave, the concepts that used to define the physical world no longer apply. Nature now requires a marriage of ideas that in the past were designed to live apart. Neil’s Bohr just got tired of fighting the inevitable. That’s when he started seeing things in a complimentary light. He basically said that there are no waves out there. There are no particles running around, either. That strange animal that interacts with the experiments, the quantum of action, is all there is. Because Bohr believed that, he introduced the idea of complementarity. He considered the particle picture and the wave picture as two complementary descriptions of the same reality, each description being only partly correct and having a limited range of application. For Bohr, the entity “electron,”–just like the other elementary entities of physics—had two irreconcilable aspects, which must be invoked in order to explain, in turn, the properties of the entity. To give a full description of atomic reality, each picture is needed, and both descriptions are to be applied within the limitations given by the uncertainty principle. In fact, when the queen of England knighted Bohr for his work in physics, he was forced to pick a family coat of arms, and so he picked the Chinese symbol of Tai-chi. Because he believed that reality had to be visualized in both its complimentary and contradictory aspects, but not at the same time, he felt that, at least at the level of the quantum of action, the basic idea of Eastern mysticism’s yin/yang reality had been confirmed. But, there is more to quantum strangeness than yin/yang reality! There’s another level to this relationship of mutually exclusive opposites coming together in same reality and it’s called “observer-generated reality.”

The classical notions of space, time, causality,–objective reality, — break down at the quantum level. Remember there are no waves propagating. According to most physicists, the wave function is not quite a thing, it is more like an idea that occupies a strange middle ground between idea and reality, where all things are possible but none are actual. An electron is not a particle either, it is more like a process, always forming, always dissolving. It can’t be detected until it interacts with a measuring device and even if it does interact we don’t know if it interacts with the device per se, or if it interacts with the last link in the chain of events that define the experiment—the consciousness of the human observer. The physicist, Erwin Schrödinger, devised a thought experiment to illustrate that point.

You put a cat in a box with some poison gas. When the gas is released, the cat dies. The release of the gas is triggered by radiation decay that is totally random (cannot be predicted). In classical physics, the cat dies at the time of the decay, but in quantum mechanics the cat dies when the observation is made, when the last link in the chain of events that defines the experiment occurs. At the time of observation when the box is opened the wave function collapses and probability becomes actuality. Of course, common sense tells us that can’t be true, but that’s precisely the point, common sense breaks down at the quantum level, things are “different” at that level. So the question remains: Is it (or when is it) necessary to include human consciousness in our descriptions of the world? Or, put another way: What role does measurement play in an experiment? Does it provide a description of the world under study or does it actually create that world? Quantum Mechanics has a hard time answering questions like these. Maybe one day that situation will be better understood, but until that day comes, talk about “objectivity” is probably best left to the Buddhists. They don’t have a problem with “independent reality” because, for Buddhists, there isn’t any; everything is interdependent. The subjective world and the objective world are, for an enlightened Buddhist, just words referring to mutually conditioned relations woven into one fabric. Keeping the Buddha in mind, along with the strange universe described above, I want to begin my discussion of structured existence by revealing the shape of my TOE—it’s shaped like a V, yes, it looks like the letter v, but that’s just the beginning.

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The Principle Of Relativity Includes In Itself The Observing Intellect End Of Life Story Chapter 5

January 15, 2010

My conversation with the Devil continues to cite the connectivity problems that arise in the micro universe and then draws upon Relativity theory for confirmation of the necessary opposites that shape God’s footprint. In the discussion of temporality that follows—given the theory of God’s footprint—the message is that because unidirectional time is not found in space-time human beings are free to seek knowledge, make decisions and reverence the God of all possibilities!

God’s Physical Footprint Answers So Many Questions

Relativity Is A Theory Made To Order For A Consciousness That Is Independent Of Events

Future Time Nine Continued

“God’s footprint answers so many questions,” said MV, “fundamental questions, like, why are we here?”

“We’re here,” I replied, “because God is free.”

“Yes, of course,” responded MV, “but it’s in the details that we find answers to the really difficult questions and the more we focus on these details the more meaningful God’s footprint becomes. For instance, why are the parameters of the universe—the relative strengths of gravity and electromagnetism [so far, three dozen and counting (Laszlo, 2004)]—so fine-tuned to the existence and survival of life? Our connection to a friendly universe is just one of the ‘connectivity problems’ that must be dealt with. God’s footprint becomes more meaningful when the observation problems relating to the collapse of the wave function and/or the wave/particle dualities (Bohr’s complementarity theory) are considered. But the real connectivity stumper, and where God’s footprint also comes into play, is found in our participation in a quantum event that instantaneously connects us to an event theoretically on the other side of the universe. That connection presupposes a whole different kind of connection. It’s that kind of connection that David Bohm was referring to when he pointed out that in the two basic theories of physics-Relativity and quantum mechanics—there are “entirely contradictory concepts which have not been brought together; this is one of the problems that remain. They both agree, however, on the unbroken wholeness of the universe, although in different ways.’”

“Now I’m lost,” I said, “what does all that have to do with God’s footprint?”

“Remember, from a structural perspective, the footprint remains a closed system,” responded MV, “but, in terms of content, there’s more to the footprint than closure. The formulation rules of structure, affirmative ideal, transformation, wholeness, and self-regulation, permit the structuring process some degree of freedom, which, ultimately, works to transform the ‘micro world’s duality based structure/content form’ into a more ‘independent, structure content form,’ or the independent form of consciousness and events; and further, when this independent form of consciousness turns it’s lens back upon duality based structure/content, the limiting aspect of structure/content—complementarity—comes into focus.”

“Whatever you say,” I replied, “But what about Relativity? How can Relativity and the duality bound nature of the micro world be consistent?”

“You’re not listening,” said MV. “Relativity is a theory made to order for a consciousness that is independent of events. In fact, a consciousness that is independent of events is one of the underlying principles of Relativity. Indeed, the working concepts in Relativity, — determinism, locality, and continuity, are not only used to describe what Relativity takes to be the interdependent relationships that exist between observers, reference frames, and physical events, these concepts may also be used to describe, at least in part, the closed system structure of God’s footprint. That said, however, micro level structure is different from macro level structure, and there’s the rub. Remember, form is content for a higher form and content is form relative to some inferior content. When the observer penetrates duality based structure/content form, ~~b, the observer’s independent relationship with the event comes to an end. This consequence is the result of the closed system nature of God’s footprint.”

“I’m listening but I still don’t understand,” I replied. “Do you mean that Relativity explains physical phenomena in the macro world because the structure/content of b~b~bb permits self-consciousness to exist independent of the events, while, at the micro level Relativity does not explain physical phenomena because physical phenomena, at that level, is really an inferior form of the b~b~bb structure/content?”

“Precisely,” responded MV. “The concepts of indeterminism, non locality, and discontinuity are the concepts that best describe physical phenomena at the micro level of experience. And further, it is precisely those participation problems found in quantum physics, ‘the agencies of observation problems,’ which validate the existence of God’s footprint!”

The Self, ~bb, Generates The Salience Of Cognitive Objects

Future Time Nine Continued

“Ok, help me out here,” I replied. “Let’s walk through this, or better yet, let me take it from here. You correct me if I’m wrong. Going back to the basics; were talking about God’s freedom and the liberation of consciousness. It begins with a simple footprint; that is, the micro world’s duality based, ‘structure/content form,’ or ~~b. Consciousness, in this simple footprint, is caught between the two ‘nots,’– not this, not that. However, the footprint grows when the ‘two nots’ become, after a structural transformation, caught in the life/death struggle that we call life. In this higher structure/content form, God’s footprint expands, and consciousness becomes freer. But wait, it’s not over yet. Another structural transformation occurs and God’s footprint expands again thus liberating an even freer form of consciousness. In this new structure/content form, consciousness becomes independent of its surrounding environment and begins to think for itself–becomes self-consciousness. How am I doing?”

“Not bad,” said MV, “but we’re supposed to be taking this somewhere. It’s about the details; the implications, remember?”

“I’m getting there, be patient,” I replied, “in fact, I am there! It’s all starting to come back to me now. It’s right there in the transformation between the consciousness of struggle– life–and the higher consciousness of independent thought. When life consciousness transforms into self-consciousness temporality or ‘time of mind’ is birthed and from this new born the spirit of self-liberation follows. In fact, I included ‘time of mind’, the ~bb structure of b~b~bb, in my thesis. To get an acceptable thesis I had to write a paper explaining what my thesis was going to be about and I remember how difficult it was to talk about structure without talking about the structure of b~b~bb. Instead, I talked about the inner component of self that generates the salience of cognitive objects, or the ‘time of mind’ aspect of mind. Fortunately, my thesis was approved. Here’s a bit of the summation that I used to convince my professor to let me write my thesis:

[This argument will begin with a description of Descartes’ cogito (Flew, 1979), giving specific attention to the “identity inference” implied by this cogito. This inference is described by Anscombe (Ed. Cassam,1994, p152) as: “The thinking that thinks this thought–that is what is guaranteed by cogito”. I will then describe how the self (when the self is understood in terms of the triadic relationship, “me-self,” negation of the “me-self,” and, “I-self”) offers a different conceptual basis from which to derive the “identity inference” without attaching itself to Descartes’ excess baggage, or, as this baggage is described by Hermans, et al., (1993, p. 39), “the existence of a unitary, closed, highly centralized subject or self, as an entity in itself, having an existence ‘above’ or ‘outside’ the social environment.”

With the triadic self-concept in place, I will then proceed to describe why “a relativity to a basis,” according to Evans (Ed. Cassam, 1994, p. 196), “becomes a conditional attribute of the self-ascription of mental predicates,” and, why acquiring knowledge (accessing the truth or falsity of knowledge) invokes an act of self-reference where the subject is required to reflect on the credibility, or basis, of the knowledge in question.

From this model of a triadic concept of self I will be able to forcefully argue that much of what Mead (1934) and James (1890) described as the socially generated component parts of self are, in fact, an accurate description of self. However, I will also argue that, as a consequence of the conditional attribute of the self-ascription of mental predicates, a second, inner component of self is at work. It is this inner component of self that generates the salience of cognitive objects, and, in so far as this inner-self is capable of instantiating inner directed values, e.g., numbers, sets, multi-valued logics, this inner-self makes possible the hypothetical-deductive method of scientific explanation and prediction. It is relevant that the source of these inner values can be traced to the space that differentiates the self into a “neither this” (social), “nor that” (individual), circumstance, as opposed to Descartes’ “clear and distinct ideas.” Since the time of Descartes, these “clear and distinct ideas,” have been considered the source of these inner values and, hence the source of rational thought.]

“Just to get clear on one point,” said MV, “this ‘time of mind’ that you refer to, is that the same as the measured time of clocks?”

“No, it’s different, but it is embedded in the time of clocks,” I replied, “because it is an event. Einstein revolutionized space and time by merging the two in his space-time concept, but ‘time of mind’ is not included in space-time. However, space-time includes ‘time of mind’s negative condition.’ In fact, it is the negation of ‘time of mind’ which, on a structural level, closes God’s footprint, the footprint that now incorporates the independent form of consciousness and events.”

“Since you have already worked this subject over in your writing,” said MV, “I see no point in continuing this conversation. Instead, let’s take a look at your expanded explanation. I will say this, though, your particular sense of ‘time of mind’ may not be included in Einstein’s space-time, but the consciousness that is independent of events is one of the underlying principles of Relativity. This is not my belief; rather, it comes from no less of an authority than Hermann Minkowski, the first person to see the four-dimensional space-time continuum embedded in relativistic equations. According to Minkowski:

“The principle of relativity includes in itself the observing intellect, which is a circumstance of the greatest importance…this principle gives indications concerning things which take place in moving bodies, not only in relation to physical and chemical phenomena, but also in relation to phenomena of life, and therefore also to the quest of man. It is remarkable as an example of a thesis based on strictly scientific experiment in the purely physical domain, which bridges the gulf between two worlds generally considered to be of different nature.” (P.D. Ouspensky, Tertium Organum, 1982, p. 104)

Time And Problem Solving Are Interdependent

Science deals with time on three levels. There is the time, which following from Newton’s laws of motion, is used to predict the future of moving objects. It terms of our solar system, this is the time that allows for space travel. Reflecting on this time, the French mathematician Laplace declared that the existence of God was an unnecessary hypothesis. He realized that the initial conditions at the birth of the universe predetermined everything, thus everything becomes predictable, — both backwards and forwards. There is also the time encountered in thermodynamics and in the biological sciences—a unidirectional arrow of time. According to the second law of thermodynamics energy dissipates while entropy (disorder) increases, or, in other words, things decay. A third level of time is found in Relativity and in quantum mechanics. This time gets measured by the t-coordinate in an undifferentiated continuum, and, according to Denbigh, “if this coordinate is ‘taken for real’ as has been the tendency among many scientists and philosophers, the familiar distinction between past, present and future, so important in human affairs, comes to be regarded as a mere peculiarity of consciousness” (Kenneth Denbigh, Three Concepts of Time, 1981, p. 4).

In the above time examples, time and problem solving become co-dependent. This dependency is itself dependent, from the perspective of freedom’s dialectic, on the space of implication or ~bb. We are free to problem solve and act on our environment in a consistent and systematic manner. We acquired this freedom only after embedded consciousness, after a lengthy evolutionary journey, liberated consciousness’s implicative aspect in human consciousness.

The Unidirectional Flow Of Time Is About Conservation

Identifying The Absence Of The “Unidirectional Time” In The Negative Space Of Freed Embedded Consciousness, We Are Once Again Brought Back To The Realization That If It were Not For The Four-Dimensional Space Time Aspect Of Freed Consciousness, You And I Would Not Be Free In A World Of Our Own Experience, Making Decisions, Seeking Knowledge, And Paying Reverence To The God That Has Made All This Possible

Temporality Concluded

Discontinuity occurring in continuity, or ~bb, in freedoms dialectic, permits the dissociations that help build, one upon another, the fruits of civilization. But, on a more personal note, one can also fall victim to the culturally imposed conformity that acts to stifle intelligence and creativity. In this respect, the practice of dissociation breathes fresh air into the dull mental habits that suffocate creativity and imagination. Here’s what Douglas Hofstadter has to say about this kind of dissociation. He calls it “jumping out of the system”:

“One can certainly jump from a subsystem of one’s brain into a wider subsystem. One can step out of ruts on occasion. This is still due to the interaction of various subsystems of one’s brain, but it can feel very much like stepping entirely out of oneself…This drive to jump out of the system is a pervasive one, and lies behind all progress in art, music and other human endeavors” (Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, 1979, p. 25)

In much the same way as Hofstadter suggests, the necessary condition, in my opinion, that allowed Einstein to jump out of the system of absolute time (in his attempt to reconcile the results of the Michelson Morley experiment) is found in the implicative, unidirectional temporal nature of ~bb, — the same “time of mind” that identified reversible time and entropy. In fact, one has to look no further than the communication of meaningful sentences for evidence of the primary character of unidirectional time. Not only does ordinary experience support this claim, but so to does Relativity theory.

Sense experience moves in one direction only. In perception and cognition we cannot unsee, unhear, unsmell, untouch, and unknow. According to freedom’s dialectic, rational discourse is a product of unidirectional time, but also, according to freedom’s dialectic, unidirectional time is embedded in its opposite condition. We may then ask, what is the opposite condition of unidirectional time? Fortunately, for confirmation of “time of mind’s opposite,” we need only look to the implications of Relativity theory. In the book, Ideas and Opinions, Einstein describes the significance of the four-dimensional space-time continuum with special emphasis placed on the fate of the now:

“The four-dimensional structure (Minkowski-space) is thought of as being the carrier of matter and of the field…Since there exist in this four-dimensional structure no longer any sections which represent “now” objectively, the concepts of happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended, but yet complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four-dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three—dimensional existence” (Einstein, Ideas And Opinions, 1954, p. 371).

And, agreeing with Einstein, Hermann Minkowski, the creator of the four-dimensional space/time continuum (he discovered the mathematical significance of relativistic equations) says this about “time of mind’s negative condition”:

“In the universe all is given: for it there is no past or future, it is—the eternal present; it has no limits either in space or in time. Changes take place in individualities and correspond to their displacement along the world ways in the four-dimensional, eternal and boundless manifold. In the domain of philosophic thought these ideas should produce a greater revolution than the displacement of the earth from the center of the universe by Copernicus” (P.D Ouspensky, Tertium Organum, 1982, p.105).

Identifying the absence of “unidirectional time” in the negative space of freed embedded consciousness, we are brought back to the realization that were it not for the conditional aspect of space-time, we would not be free to pursue agendas (for the most part agendas of our own choosing), make decisions, seek knowledge, achieve goals, and, reverence the Divinity that makes it all possible.

Meditation For The 21st Century

December 12, 2009

While I was deciding where I wanted to go with my Footprint story I stumbled across this meditation and decided very quickly that it was a good summary of my Footprint story. Except for posting on the web, this meditation represents the only other time I attempted to “tell my story” to others. I presented this meditation to the philosophy club at the university where I work. The student President of the club felt I should be compensated, so he passed me off as a visiting lecturer and I walked away with $100. I guess that makes me (or made me) a one time professional!God’s Civilizing Attribute

I have found that many of the paradoxes associated with thoughtdissolve when I consider the point of view that existence, in general, and identity, in particular, ensues from the expressive aspects of God not being God’s own non-being. The idea that God is free to not be God is unusual but not unique. In the journal, Deconstruction and Theology (1982, p. 89-90), Robert P. Scharlemann, in the article The Being of God When God is Not Being God, adds some commentary to this idea:

“The thesis I should like to propound here is that, in the theological tradition, the otherness of God has remained unthought and conceptually forgotten in exactly the same manner as has the question of the meaning of being. …What cannot be thought, in the tradition of this picture (the concept of finite being as ens creatum) is that the world is itself a moment in the being of God; what cannot be thought is that the world is the being of God when God is not being deity, or the being of God in the time of not being.”

I realize that many people find elitist the notion of a privileged-human-nature, but I disagree. When considered from the point of view of this meditation it is not that human beings are superior, rather, it is that human beings are born into a much larger and richer reservoir of potential freedom, and, I might add, that in this privileged space (if indeed privilege is the right word) advantage and responsibility are joined. Ian Barbour, in his book, Issues in Science and Religion (1966, p.29.) puts it this way:

“In the capacity for abstract thought and symbolic languagethere is a radical distinction between man and animal. Self-conscious awareness, critical self-reflection, and creative imagination are found nowhere else in nature. In memory of the past, anticipation of the future, and envisagement of ideal potentialities, he transcends his immediate environment. He is unique in his search for truth, concern for moral values, and acknowledgement of universal obligation –and above all, in his relationship to God.”

In a supportive environment, life propagates and grows more complex. The same holds true in a knowledge environment –the self-conscious environment of the human being.

When non-being occurs in being (~bb), the self-consciousness of being becomes, by implication, conscious of itself. When the negative condition of continuity gets experienced in the higher dimension of a factual event (b~b~bb), knowledge, in its propositional and signifier sense, gets liberated. Analytically speaking, this condition identifies the source of the principle of logical contradiction and thus denotes the original precondition for the evolutionary development of language and mathematics. Rene Descartes, was, as far as I can tell, the first person to isolate and consciously describe the experience of discontinuity occurring in continuity (~bb). Descartes’ methodological doubting brought him to recognize, in his “Cogito ergo sum”, the fundamental bottom line of human experience: I experience non-being therefore I am. But, Descartes’ cogito occurs in its own physical event environment (b~b), and here we discover the less than articulate evolutionary development of this cogito.

With every new dimension of non-being (~~b, ~bb, b~b~bb) comes a new beginning for the resurgence of complexity. In the human dimension (b~b~bb), this movement from simple to complex continues to take place, only now history and civilization evolve right along side biology and adaptation. In the initial stages of human history, Descartes’ cogito was hidden behind the participatory moments of human consciousness. Here the thread of human history–cultural evolution (to paraphrase Cassirer) — may be traced back to that point in time where man/woman ceased to passively accept their negative condition (physical environment), and, in setting themselves in opposition to it, began to create and form it. This act, the transformation of mere impressions into pure expression, began the human psyche’s progress, via the development of myth, ritual, art, language, music and science, toward the liberation of its own non-being.

At this point in the meditation, I would like to point out that there are many comprehensive philosophies that directly illuminate the human spirit’s capacity for liberation. Spinoza, Heidegger, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin are just a few names that spring to mind, but the person who I feel best represents my own position is Ernst Cassirer. In his three volume work, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, (1957), Cassirer’s thesis suggests that as man interacts with his environment through his desires, emotions and work he acquires the capacity, via symbolic representation, to objectify nature – the nature of his inner and outer reality. Objectification here is not meant as a thing to be apprehended but rather as a movement toward constancy, endurance and certainty. Accordingly, the self that we take to the library, the store, a music recital, or sometimes to the bar, must be understood as the ongoing product of human history, which, in turn, must be further understood, according to this meditation, as the being-of-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is in its pursuit to free itself from its own limiting conditions.

Our immediate experience of this process is temporality. In addition to establishing our “I”, — the awareness of being aware of our own non-being (implicative affirmative of the not-me-self), this liberation process also implies (as a consequence of the physical event b~b~bb) an environment of factual events. Here we not only experience ourselves as a degree of permanence in the midst of constant flux, we also experience the forward movement of an implied knowledge of our environment.

Knowledge expands as a consequence of time. We are born into a world of knowledge and knowing, but the throttle of this knowing process–the actualization of what is unique in human freedom, lies in our capacity to actualize our own non-being. Simply put, every time we ask a question we actualize in the question our own non-being. Whether we like it or not our knowledge expands, but when we ask questions we accelerate that expansion by detaching ourselves from being in our capacity as non-being in order to more fully appropriate the world around us. Our passive experience of time does not produce a great deal of knowledge, but because we bring the logical relationships implicit in God’s freedom to bear on an event, we are free to create judgments (and the values which arise from those judgments) concerning the significance and probable cause of an event. These judgments, concerning the nature of an event, are determined valid across a continuum that ranges from sensation divorced from theory, at one end, to sensation reinforced by the most advanced and respected scientific theory available.

There are no guarantees that the answers we propose in response to our questions will match up with corresponding events, yet scientists have a pretty good track record when it comes to the discovery and confirmation of these answers. In experience that is not accountable to scientific confirmation, however, we determine, via our judgments and emotions, appropriate behavior. It is at this level of preferred behavior, this level of “willed consciousness participation” (as it is called by Owen Barfield), that we encounter our potential for the highest order of expressed freedom.

When God’s freedom becomes aware of itself, something very remarkable happens. From our point of view, we see our past, present, and future possibilities, thus, we become free to actualize those possibilities. But, from the divine point of view, it’s simply an “awareness of presence.” For me, this is an emotionally charged consequence since it brings home the notion that God is, in a very real sense, all-knowing and all-present. But even more astonishing is that, via our intentions and concerns, we are responsible for the content of God’s “presence.” Here I am reminded of the words of Walt Whitman, where in his poem “Song To Myself,” he wrote: “Whoever degrades another degrades me. And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.” It follows that if just one person recognizes an act of injustice and becomes outraged, God becomes outraged. Suffice it to say, that if humanity would recognize its own conscience, then perhaps conditions would arise where a sensitive human being might be able to look out upon the social milieu without a shudder.

We begin our conduct with the recognition of desirable behavior, but putting this awareness into action takes on special significance. Just as the validity of a scientific hypothesis is authenticated when it is confirmed against experimental results, so, too, is behavior authenticated when it is made to conform to behavior that has previously been judged appropriate by the individual. In Goethe’s play “Faust,” which records Goethe’s own life-long spiritual development, Faust rebuffs Mephistopheles temptations with the words: “So realm and rule to me will fall—The glory’s naught, the deed is all.” Faust is acting on his supreme vision of a free land and a free people, and, in so doing, his authenticity—better know as character, honor and integrity—arises.

The question that needs to be answered here is, “How is the appropriateness of behavior determined?” Almost always, answers to this question suggest contrary examples, but in this case there is only one answer—that the behavior, which is determined appropriate, is the behavior that is judged appropriate by the individual. Simply put, behavior is a measure and a product of freedom. Herein we may appreciate the significance of those teachers and teachings that encourage students to think for themselves while stressing heightened awareness and social responsibility; and, since freedom is actualized at different levels by different people, it follows that, whenever possible, a responsible person will posture herself or himself as a student or a teacher whenever the opportunity arises. Recognizing the appropriate occasion to accommodate these postures comes with experience.

In the world of experience our thoughts and feelings are experienced as separate from the universe as a whole. That is as it should be for it follows from the nature of God’s freedom. It is precisely because of this limitation that we are able to seek and hopefully satisfy our needs and desires. In the world of non-being, where suffering, injustice, and cruelty occur, we sometimes feel compelled to look upon satisfaction and fulfillment as somebody’s idea of a joke, like some carrot, always out of reach, dangling in front of our noses; and further, we find ourselves, in one stage or another, of the ultimate indignity -our mortality. Without question, the price of freedom is high, but it follows from the nature of God’s freedom that in our suffering, God suffers. We share the price of freedom with God, but more importantly, in our rejoicing, God rejoices, and it is in this light that we, as active agents of transformation, may come to understand our responsibility to work toward a happier, healthier humanity. Ultimately, religion, science, law, art …all of civilization, must be understood as the expression of the freedom of God that works toward this transformation.

Certain aspects of the world cannot be changed, however. Our mortality, for instance, is a condition of God’s freedom and therefore must be experienced and endured. Yet it is in our mortality that we may come to discover an incredible comfort and release. Many of our desires are automatically fulfilled in the realization that we are one with God’s presence in the here and now. With this understanding we arrive at the heart of the experience that is poetically described by mystics and other spiritually evolved individuals. In the immediately grasped indeterminate, all-embracing oneness of God’s freedom lies the source of the knower and consequently the knower’s freedom. All intuitive sensitivity and religiously felt compassion flows from this all embracing oneness common to man’s nature and nature’s creatures, up through the many levels and dimensions of freedom until it finally becomes manifest in the human dimension as love, caring, happiness and reverence. The telling factor behind this whole process comes with the knowledge that the “I” of God and the “I” of you and me are one and the same (paraphrased from the teachings of Meister Eckhart).

For more information concerning how the above ideas were discovered see my last seven posts starting with the We Voice of Humanity post