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Time, Consciousness and Modern Physics

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  • ted.wrinch
    This title is taken from the page of a website of a book. I found the book whilst doing another round of research on the underpinning of of the epistemology of
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 1 10:45 AM
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      This title is taken from the page of a website of a book. I found the book whilst doing another round of research on the underpinning of of the epistemology of physical science by the notion of primary qualities. The author of the webpage, an independent thinker, draws some interesting conclusions from what happens when one gets beyond the epistemological problems that were created by Galileo's pragmatic division of the world into primary and secondary qualities. I've been familiar with the author's line of thought for over two decades now - since I read Steiner and Barfield - but I think some such conclusions will need to be drawn by science before it can make progress lifting itself out of its current objectivising rut. They have a particularly important effect in relation to unifying our fragmented senses of inner and outer (clock) time. I hoped to include a few telling excerpts from the page but it's too damn good for that and so I've included the whole thing (sorry, Mr German-Norwegian South American Werner Thurau).

      "The message from Quantum Mechanics is very clear: man and nature are intimately connected in mutual participation.  Man's presence is in fact indispensable when it comes to the existence of natural phenomena and there is no way to interpret quantum theory without encountering consciousness.  All this runs counter to our ordinary experience of the world, which is still that of Galileo and Newton.  We still see the world as existing "out there", quite separate from us and with a separate history of its own.  This separate history goes back to the beginning of the planet, when it was formed between four and five billion years ago.  At a very late period in this history man appeared and took his place in the unfolding drama, but there is no evidence that this appearance in its early stages caused any changes in the drama of nature.  It is only in the last few hundred years, as far as we know, that man has become powerful enough to disturb the processes and the balance of nature.  This disturbance is caused by what he does not by what he is.

      This view of the relationship between man and nature can no longer be defended by science.  If man is now considered to participate in natural processes, even to the extent of causing their existence, the whole past history of the earth before the advent of man must come under new scrutiny.  Evolutionary theory requires very long periods of time for changes to take place, such as adapting the bodies of aquatic animals to life on land. The processes involve millions of largely undisturbed years, where very small, incremental changes can gradually add up to major changes in the evolutionary ladder of being. That is the view of traditional science, based on classical Newtonian physics.  If this is now no longer valid and we must take man into consideration when it comes to natural processes, we will have to look at how man has perceived earth's history from his own point of view.  It is true that man cannot look very far into the past of the planet, but the little he can see does not indicate vast stretches of time where very little happens and the evolutionary process is allowed to operate undisturbed.  What man has any knowledge of regarding the past of the earth indicates great drama and upheaval in a very short period of time, speaking in terms of evolutionary time.
       
      It seems that even the few thousand years that we can look at of the earth's history are filled with sudden changes and catastrophes.  The mammoths that were dug out of the frozen tundra of Siberia were so well preserved that their last meal, which they were in the process of eating when they were struck down, was seen to consist of semi-tropical herbs and grasses.  To instantly deep-freeze a very large animal, covered with thick fur, so that there is still identifiable meat on the bones some 10,000 years later, would require a process of nature which can only be guessed at, perhaps a sudden reversal of the poles.  Whatever it was, it was very sudden and catastrophic.  The same can be said of the universal legends of the Flood: whatever it was and whenever it really took place, it was something very sudden and catastrophic.  The latest ice age, apparently one of several in our recent past, represents another sudden change in climate, flora and fauna.
       
      The times involved in all these happenings is also very short, compared to what the evolutionary processes require.  There were several early cultures that studied the stars and felt that there was some connection between human fate and history and the cyclic movements they could perceive in the heavens.  The longest of these cycles was the time it took for the equinox to move westward along the ecliptic through the entire zodiac circle of fixed stars, a process known as the precession of the equinoxes because it moved in a direction opposite that of the sun.  This time is approximately 26,000 years, known as a Great or Platonic Year, a very time long indeed in human historical terms but a mere blink of the evolutionary time needed to make significant changes in animals. 
       
      Is there simply a huge disconnect between human cultural evolution and human biological evuolution in terms of time?  Human technology might be said to have started when someone found out that copper could be alloyed with tin to give bronze, about 6,000 BCE.  Technology advanced to the point of being able to destroy the world in 1945, less than 8,000 years later.  What are 8,000 years in biological evoluionary time? Did the human brain perhaps evolve more than anything else in these 8,000 years?  In that case, what happened to this same brain during the vastly longer Stone Age that preceded the Bronze Age?  But perhaps there is something else going on.  Our own human tally of orally transmitted and written records, legends and race memories makes no mention of ever more primitive societies in remote pre-history.  On the contrary, from Plato's Dialogues to the histories of Berosus and Alexander Polyhistor, such records are full of ancient, very advanced civilizations and races, as well as various cataclysms going back in time beyond Atlantis to the destruction of a great continent in the Pacific Ocean. But is would be very surprising if all these human legends and histories of higher civilizations and violent upheavals go back more than a single Great Year of 26,000 years.  In terms of human culture, that is a very long time indeed.  Whatever "really" happened in all those years, we can relate to the stories coming out of our prehistory, we feel some kinship, however remote, with Atlanteans and others beyond written records. 

      The same cannot be said about what science tells us.  Hundreds of thousands of years, or even millions and tens of millions, are lengths of time we can do nothing with.  What happened "really" during all these freezing wastes of time? Yes, we can speculate that a giant meteor, landing near the Yucatan peninsula, finished off the dinosaurs.  But that was 65 million years ago! Our legends and prehistorical musings have more than one cataclysm within 26,000 years and huge changes in humanity's culture in less than 8,000 years. If the latest physics now tells us that the traditional scientific picture of an independently evolving nature cannot translate into an account of what really happened historically speaking, the question of time becomes important.  Geological records must of course be accepted, but at the moment geological times and evolutionary times are on one scale and our cultural time is on another scale completely.  We have always assumed that the geological and evolutionary time clock must be the right one because it was scientific, whereas our memories and legends were not.  What we are now being told is that this history of the world, quite independent of mankind, is not a true picture of what actually happened, so that the time frame, associated with this picture, must also be newly suspect.
       
      Our measurement of time depends on assumptions of invariability of certain natural processes, like the rate of radioactive decay and some microscopic vibrations.  We assume that, because measurements of these processes give us very accurate time intervals today, that they have always done so in exactly the same way.  We also assume that the land, the sea, the rocks, the air and so on that exist in our world today were fundamentally the same about 3.8 billion years ago, when our planet first cooled down enough to start supporting some very primitive life forms in the ancient seas of that remote epoch.  It seems that there might be some fundamental flaw in this entire picture of our ancient earth history, that any events before the presence of man might not be so easy to visualize as we had thought.

      Physics now tells us that what we perceive through our senses is a highly subjective appearance and not an independent, objective reality. Such appearances, on a large scale, obey the classical laws of physics.  On a microscopic scale, they elude us to the extent that some physicists deny the reality of their existence.  It looks as though we must now start also to rethink some conventional positions relating to the evolutionary history of the earth.  If we could get into one of those Wellsian time machines and go backwards in time, we now know that we cannot expect to see the changing earth unfold before us, like watching it on film, where we are quite separate from the picture.  We know that we participate in this picture at every turn.  So what would we see, especially when we pass the point when man first made his appearance on earth?  What would the dinosaurs "really" have looked like then, when they inhabited the earth, not as we now reconstruct them from their fossil bones?  Such records changed together with everything else on earth from what they were 65 million years ago to what they are now.  Today they form part of our present-day set of appearances, perceived with our present-day senses and interpreted by our present-day consciousness.  All that was missing 65 million years ago.  Something supported the dinosaurs and the rest of that world then, long before the existence of man, so that their entire world was objective to man, that is it did not depend on man's existence.  That objectivity must clearly still exist today.  The Southern Seas existed before Captain Cook was the first man to see them, or so we must suppose if we think rationally.  But this objectivity is missing in science today.  It certainly does not appear in quantum mechanics.  Perhaps the time has come to take another look at this traditional Platonic principle."
       

      http://www.galileoshadow.com/?p=100

      Something like this kind of approach to time is necessary to make sense of Steiner's cosmology, which otherwise appears too recent - Atlantis being only something like a little over 12,000 years ago - to be reconcilable with the external evidence of the physical record.

      T.

      Ted Wrinch
    • ted.wrinch
      There are some interesting biographical details on Mr Thurau in an article in the Guardian a decade or so ago, written by his son-in-law. The article is on
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 1 2:21 PM
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        There are some interesting biographical details on Mr Thurau in an article in the Guardian a decade or so ago, written by his son-in-law. The article is on their trip back to Berlin, the first vista by Mr Thurau for 50 years and the first time for 20 he'd met his anglophobic brother, Heinz. He makes a few interesting comments on his memories of the Nazis from when he was a young boy, before his father took the family to England ahead of WW2:

        "Ask Werner whether a small boy would notice the Nazis and he responds: "I think I was aware of a surrounding atmosphere that became ever more stifling and pervasive. Of course, I could not identify it or compare it with anything else. It was just life as I knew it.

        Only later did I understand the cynical and institutionalised lying, the crude brutality and violence underlying everything, the arbitrariness and irrationality of events. It felt like living an unpleasant fairy tale where sudden, irrational, bad things could happen at any time, like smashing all the windows in the Jewish shops one night.

        I was quite old enough to be aware of some things. I knew there were concentration camps for people the regime did not like. There were all kinds of rumours about these places. The concierge of a block of flats near us was hauled off one day after getting drunk and sounding off about the authorities. The story was that the family received an urn with his ashes some weeks later. Whether it was true or not was less important than that it circulated so widely that a boy like me would hear about it."

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/1999/dec/29/features11.g21

        The descriptions of the regime as supporting " cynical and institutionalised lying", "crude brutality and violence" and the "arbitrariness and irrationality of events" says a lot about how some more aware people perceived the regime. One wonders, though, why more didn't perceive it in this way.

        Then he drops this into the conversation with his son-in-law:

        "Heinz turns up for school reunions at the Schiller Oberschule but has not been back to Britain for many years. Werner by contrast crosses the Atlantic when he can to go to gatherings of his old British schoolmates. He always says he was never bullied or attacked at school during the war despite being German. Maybe it helped that it was a Steiner School, Michael Hall, near East Grinstead. I asked Werner whether he ever thought of returning to help rebuild Germany after he graduated from London University as an engineer after the war. No, he said, as Heinz eyed him beadily. It never occurred to him. He had a job in London and then a chance to go to Mexico."

        He went to Michael Hall! He says his interest in the history and philosophy of science, that deeply informs his book, was inspired by the books on the topic his father kept around him. I wonder if the father was at all inspired by Steiner - there's no suggestion in the article, but one wonders. And Mr Thurau himself makes no reference to Steiner in his work.

        The article finishes in a sombre mood:

        "For Heinz, Berlin is the best place in the world. He can never get enough of it. But for me, this is a haunted place," said Werner as our train pulled out. "Hitler might be dead but his legacy has spread all over the world. Now men are capable of chopping their neighbours to pieces, all without seemingly feeling any remorse or pity. Too much of this goes back to the founding of the Third Reich. What moved me most were the ghosts and shadows of the past - people like me who lived through that time but, unlike me, were not able to escape.

        Somehow, I don't think Werner will ever go back to Berlin."

        T.

        Ted Wrinch

        --- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com, "ted.wrinch" <ted.wrinch@...> wrote:
        >
        > This title is taken from the page of a website of a book. I found the book whilst doing another round of research on the underpinning of of the epistemology of physical science by the notion of primary qualities. The author of the webpage, an independent thinker, draws some interesting conclusions from what happens when one gets beyond the epistemological problems that were created by Galileo's pragmatic division of the world into primary and secondary qualities. I've been familiar with the author's line of thought for over two decades now - since I read Steiner and Barfield - but I think some such conclusions will need to be drawn by science before it can make progress lifting itself out of its current objectivising rut. They have a particularly important effect in relation to unifying our fragmented senses of inner and outer (clock) time. I hoped to include a few telling excerpts from the page but it's too damn good for that and so I've included the whole thing (sorry, Mr German-Norwegian South American Werner Thurau).
        >
        > "The message from Quantum Mechanics is very clear: man and nature are intimately connected in mutual participation.  Man's presence is in fact indispensable when it comes to the existence of natural phenomena and there is no way to interpret quantum theory without encountering consciousness.  All this runs counter to our ordinary experience of the world, which is still that of Galileo and Newton.  We still see the world as existing "out there", quite separate from us and with a separate history of its own.  This separate history goes back to the beginning of the planet, when it was formed between four and five billion years ago.  At a very late period in this history man appeared and took his place in the unfolding drama, but there is no evidence that this appearance in its early stages caused any changes in the drama of nature.  It is only in the last few hundred years, as far as we know, that man has become powerful enough to disturb the processes and the balance of nature.  This disturbance is caused by what he does not by what he is.
        >
        > This view of the relationship between man and nature can no longer be defended by science.  If man is now considered to participate in natural processes, even to the extent of causing their existence, the whole past history of the earth before the advent of man must come under new scrutiny.  Evolutionary theory requires very long periods of time for changes to take place, such as adapting the bodies of aquatic animals to life on land. The processes involve millions of largely undisturbed years, where very small, incremental changes can gradually add up to major changes in the evolutionary ladder of being. That is the view of traditional science, based on classical Newtonian physics.  If this is now no longer valid and we must take man into consideration when it comes to natural processes, we will have to look at how man has perceived earth's history from his own point of view.  It is true that man cannot look very far into the past of the planet, but the little he can see does not indicate vast stretches of time where very little happens and the evolutionary process is allowed to operate undisturbed.  What man has any knowledge of regarding the past of the earth indicates great drama and upheaval in a very short period of time, speaking in terms of evolutionary time.
        >  
        > It seems that even the few thousand years that we can look at of the earth's history are filled with sudden changes and catastrophes.  The mammoths that were dug out of the frozen tundra of Siberia were so well preserved that their last meal, which they were in the process of eating when they were struck down, was seen to consist of semi-tropical herbs and grasses.  To instantly deep-freeze a very large animal, covered with thick fur, so that there is still identifiable meat on the bones some 10,000 years later, would require a process of nature which can only be guessed at, perhaps a sudden reversal of the poles.  Whatever it was, it was very sudden and catastrophic.  The same can be said of the universal legends of the Flood: whatever it was and whenever it really took place, it was something very sudden and catastrophic.  The latest ice age, apparently one of several in our recent past, represents another sudden change in climate, flora and fauna.
        >  
        > The times involved in all these happenings is also very short, compared to what the evolutionary processes require.  There were several early cultures that studied the stars and felt that there was some connection between human fate and history and the cyclic movements they could perceive in the heavens.  The longest of these cycles was the time it took for the equinox to move westward along the ecliptic through the entire zodiac circle of fixed stars, a process known as the precession of the equinoxes because it moved in a direction opposite that of the sun.  This time is approximately 26,000 years, known as a Great or Platonic Year, a very time long indeed in human historical terms but a mere blink of the evolutionary time needed to make significant changes in animals. 
        >  
        > Is there simply a huge disconnect between human cultural evolution and human biological evuolution in terms of time?  Human technology might be said to have started when someone found out that copper could be alloyed with tin to give bronze, about 6,000 BCE.  Technology advanced to the point of being able to destroy the world in 1945, less than 8,000 years later.  What are 8,000 years in biological evoluionary time? Did the human brain perhaps evolve more than anything else in these 8,000 years?  In that case, what happened to this same brain during the vastly longer Stone Age that preceded the Bronze Age?  But perhaps there is something else going on.  Our own human tally of orally transmitted and written records, legends and race memories makes no mention of ever more primitive societies in remote pre-history.  On the contrary, from Plato's Dialogues to the histories of Berosus and Alexander Polyhistor, such records are full of ancient, very advanced civilizations and races, as well as various cataclysms going back in time beyond Atlantis to the destruction of a great continent in the Pacific Ocean. But is would be very surprising if all these human legends and histories of higher civilizations and violent upheavals go back more than a single Great Year of 26,000 years.  In terms of human culture, that is a very long time indeed.  Whatever "really" happened in all those years, we can relate to the stories coming out of our prehistory, we feel some kinship, however remote, with Atlanteans and others beyond written records. 
        >
        > The same cannot be said about what science tells us.  Hundreds of thousands of years, or even millions and tens of millions, are lengths of time we can do nothing with.  What happened "really" during all these freezing wastes of time? Yes, we can speculate that a giant meteor, landing near the Yucatan peninsula, finished off the dinosaurs.  But that was 65 million years ago! Our legends and prehistorical musings have more than one cataclysm within 26,000 years and huge changes in humanity's culture in less than 8,000 years. If the latest physics now tells us that the traditional scientific picture of an independently evolving nature cannot translate into an account of what really happened historically speaking, the question of time becomes important.  Geological records must of course be accepted, but at the moment geological times and evolutionary times are on one scale and our cultural time is on another scale completely.  We have always assumed that the geological and evolutionary time clock must be the right one because it was scientific, whereas our memories and legends were not.  What we are now being told is that this history of the world, quite independent of mankind, is not a true picture of what actually happened, so that the time frame, associated with this picture, must also be newly suspect.
        >  
        > Our measurement of time depends on assumptions of invariability of certain natural processes, like the rate of radioactive decay and some microscopic vibrations.  We assume that, because measurements of these processes give us very accurate time intervals today, that they have always done so in exactly the same way.  We also assume that the land, the sea, the rocks, the air and so on that exist in our world today were fundamentally the same about 3.8 billion years ago, when our planet first cooled down enough to start supporting some very primitive life forms in the ancient seas of that remote epoch.  It seems that there might be some fundamental flaw in this entire picture of our ancient earth history, that any events before the presence of man might not be so easy to visualize as we had thought.
        >
        > Physics now tells us that what we perceive through our senses is a highly subjective appearance and not an independent, objective reality. Such appearances, on a large scale, obey the classical laws of physics.  On a microscopic scale, they elude us to the extent that some physicists deny the reality of their existence.  It looks as though we must now start also to rethink some conventional positions relating to the evolutionary history of the earth.  If we could get into one of those Wellsian time machines and go backwards in time, we now know that we cannot expect to see the changing earth unfold before us, like watching it on film, where we are quite separate from the picture.  We know that we participate in this picture at every turn.  So what would we see, especially when we pass the point when man first made his appearance on earth?  What would the dinosaurs "really" have looked like then, when they inhabited the earth, not as we now reconstruct them from their fossil bones?  Such records changed together with everything else on earth from what they were 65 million years ago to what they are now.  Today they form part of our present-day set of appearances, perceived with our present-day senses and interpreted by our present-day consciousness.  All that was missing 65 million years ago.  Something supported the dinosaurs and the rest of that world then, long before the existence of man, so that their entire world was objective to man, that is it did not depend on man's existence.  That objectivity must clearly still exist today.  The Southern Seas existed before Captain Cook was the first man to see them, or so we must suppose if we think rationally.  But this objectivity is missing in science today.  It certainly does not appear in quantum mechanics.  Perhaps the time has come to take another look at this traditional Platonic principle."
        >  
        >
        > http://www.galileoshadow.com/?p=100
        >
        > Something like this kind of approach to time is necessary to make sense of Steiner's cosmology, which otherwise appears too recent - Atlantis being only something like a little over 12,000 years ago - to be reconcilable with the external evidence of the physical record.
        >
        > T.
        >
        > Ted Wrinch
        >
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