Higher dimensional thinking, the end of paradox, and a clearer understanding of reality
October 26, 2014
The Inescapable Weirdness of Reality
April 5, 2014
Heisenberg, Godel, and Bell bound us to the unknowable forever.
Heisenberg started it, by showing that quantum indeterminism is not just a measurement limitation but a limitation to the nature of reality’s simultaneous realness itself, ie, that fundamental indeterminism is not just epistemological but ontological as well. He bound us to the unknowable and bound the universe to its own mystery.
Then Godel’s incomplete theorem showed us the irreducibility of mathematics to any finite set of axioms, binding our knowledge set to incompleteness and binding truth to infinity.
Then Bell’s theorem climbed on the shoulders of Heisenberg and gave the deterministic dream the finger, binding us to the mind-boggling weirdness of quantum mechanics and non-locality forever. Bell did to Einstein’s early hope for something like a hidden variable explanation for quantum mechanics, what Godel did to David Hilbert’s goal to axiomatize mathematics: identified it as an aspiration not grounded in the nature of how reality actually works.
All three created an insurmountable upper bound of the simultaneously knowable (even to universe itself) within the real.
Really acknowledging this necessarily creates an epistemological humility that requires us to approach the deep existential questions with more wonder than certainty.
It seems the taoists were right, that the ocean of reality can not be fit into the tea cup of conceptuality. Reality is fundamentally infinite (Godel) and reconciles mutually exclusive descriptions (particle wave duality) as mutually necessary, always and only co-existing.
Our sensory systems and brains, and correspondingly, minds and intuitions, evolved in the tiny bandwidth range of reality in the middle that admits a roughly classical description. Our conceptual apparatus did not evolve to be able process the mathematically identifiable descriptions of ranges of reality so far outside the bandwidths our senses have access to. Our intuitions are conditioned by experiences in this range of reality and can no more reconcile themselves with true indeterminism and non-locality than can our visual cortices picture the eleven mutually orthogonal vectors of superstring theory.
Even deeper, beyond our limits of knowability, universe itself doesn’t admit finite and simultaneously monological descriptions. The mystery is impenetrable. And what could be more wonderful?
A deterministic unfolding from initial causation….is as uninteresting an ontology as I can imagine.
And notice how all the terrible atrocities we have perpetuated upon each other require the kind of philosophical certainty that can override our empathetic impulse to not cause harm. The kind of existential humility that these insights require, does not lend itself well to the fervor required for crusades or genocide.
Whether through religious fundamentalism or scientific reductionism, there is often an impulse in us towards certainty...mistakenly associated with security...as cognitive creatures trying to understand our place in universe.
Realizing the fundamental unknowability of universe, our emotional sense of security and orientation is better fulfilled by making friends with the unknown than be seeking certainty where it doesn’t exist. Befriending the universe means befriending uncertainty.
As we heal and integrate our psychological shadows, we stop projecting unresolved wounds as fear into the unknown and instead start relating to it with with a sense of reverence, awe, and wonder. Fundamental uncertainty is the savior from a deterministic universe and the guarantee of truly unpredictable and marvelous adventure!