New year's Resolutions tips and ideas

New year's Resolutions tips and ideas

Holistic Science, the road so far: turbolences and the wholeness of the universe

Written By: admin - Jan• 13•10
Oness of the universe and chaos
The basic oneness of the universe is now clear, thanks to science. After giving rise to many unified field theories (symmetry, gauge symmetry, and supersymmtery, gravity and supergravity, strings and superstrings etc.), suggesting that the constituents of matter are interconnected, interrelated and interdependent.
The basic phenomenon may be understood not in terms of any isolated entities, but only as integrated parts of the whole. For example, space-time and energy are seen to be inseparable aspects of a single reality, as are energy and matter, wave and particle. Without going into each theory, and not being competent to do so, one may yet say that the physical universe is proving to be a seamless texture of inseparable events and entities, organised in accordance with a universal principle that specifies itself in innumerable forms. These may then be deduced from it, once it has been discovered. Moreover, coherence, elegance, and symmetry, the criteria of beauty and truth sought by the mathematician and the theoretical physicist, seem now to be within the reach even of the experimentalist (Gandhi:1990).
New mathematical revelations have demonstrated in quite unexpected fashion that chaos is simply a superficial mask of the most intricate and entrancing forms of order and pattern, and that its occurrence in nature can be described mathematically. These revelations have been made in the course of new developments in the study of complex systems. In other words, the most important contribution of chaos, in seeking the whole, the overall structure, is to end the reductionist programme in science and make it holistic science. Physical sciences refer to certain well-known unifying theories in terms of processes that are mathematically describable by linear equations. But other, testimony to wholeness comes from the investigation of complex dynamic systems (or turbulence), which require for their description non-linear equations. This has given rise to a new department of science embracing mathematics, physics, and numerous fields — what has become known as the science of Chaos (Gleick:1987, Prigogine: 1980,1984).
The world picture implied in the theories outlined above is one of a single unbroken whole, governed by a principle of organisation universal to a self-generating system. It specifies itself in a scale, a series of forces and entities, ranging from the simplest to the most complex and opening the way to further development on a higher level of organic wholeness. Thus at the microlevel, there is a continuous scale of ‘complexification’ from space-time to those forms transitional between the inorganic and the organic. It is a dialectic scale of opposing, yet overlapping, specific forms, which differentially exemplify a single universal principle of order in continuously increasing degrees of complexity and integral wholeness. But this is only half the picture, which is paralleled by the other half — the macrocosm of the expanding universe, of stars and galaxies which apparently stands in contrast to the microcosmic level. But the two scales are complementary to each other, inseparable and indispensably linked to each other forming one systematically integrated totality. In its absence, there would be no planets like the earth, no life, no biosphere, and no observers. In short, the microscopic sequence from hydrogen atoms to macromolecules depends intimately upon the macrocosmic sequence of stellar evolution — ranging in scale from planets, stars, galaxies, galactic clusters, continuous right up to the final hypersphere. Space-time continuum itself is created by the pervasive activity of energy and its complimentary matter waves.
Obviously, this physical base is intrinsic and has indispensable characteristics to the existence and support of living beings, intelligent creatures capable of observation and reflection; thinkers able to ask questions about themselves and their environment, and so on. We are aware that we do exist here and now, and are apprised of this fact by our awareness. There is no astonishment to hear this necessary interconnectedness; it is not that because we exist and observe the universe that it exists, but because it is so that we observe it and we can exist (Bohm:1980). What is of significance, not philosophically or otherwise, that physicists are discovering principles determining the structure of the universe to be so finely tuned, and the relations between its parts so minutely adjusted to one another that the emergence of intelligent life is incompatible with any other possible arrangement of things and events. Were we to find that the universe could not have been other than it is, and that its being so inseparably bound up with the emergence and evolution of life forms, that would be of the most profound importance.
Oness of the observers and the observed
The recent enunciation by physicists of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle marks a new revolution in the scientific outlook (Harris:1991). The principle states that intelligent life, its existence and observation of its surrounding universe, is essentially involved in what it discovers. This principle has immense philosophical implications, says Harris, as he traces it continuously through physics, biology and psychology. In short, intelligent life is necessarily involved from the very beginning of physical reality and that the entire process of natural evolution comes to consciousness of itself in the human mind. This is what Lester Smith (1975) also stated in his book — as part of the theosophical society’s theme.
The wholeness of the universe is indicated by the intricate and intimate interdependence of physical and biological facts ( e.g., the integral unity of the biosphere), which is widely acknowledged today. New evidence of holism also has been disclosed by the study of turbulence and the development of fractal geometry. A contemporary concept of the universe therefore requires a logico-metaphysical theory of wholes. Harris has also thrown light on the argument for God from the fact of the design, which indicates philosophical implications also of current scientific work.
What is important in current scientific thinking is that there is an intelligent observer watching the universe — the scientist. The reason simply is that so far scientists had considered themselves outside the painting; that their observations impinged on the physical world without interfering with it — that it was an automation that ran according to its own intrinsic laws, without relation to observers. This is the inheritance passed down from the Copernican revolution at the time of the Renaissance and its consolidation in the Newtonian system of celestial and terrestrial mechanics. Ancient or traditional thinkers considered the universe to contain human beings, and the cosmos to be a living organism with an all-pervasive soul — the human souls being individual participants. 
It is well to remember that one cannot by any conceivable means transcend one’s own perceptual and intellectual capacities. This suggests a subjectivism for which there is no remedy, and we cannot know true knowledge even of the physical world. But this leads to an epistemological disaster, and solipsism is all too imminent. Solipsism is however contradictory, for it asserts the existence of a self alone. But this has meaning only through a distinction from an other. In splendid isolation, therefore, no self can exist — not even God who would be neither infinite nor omnipotent without his creation of the universe.
If Quantum theory and Relativity undermined the classical dichotomy, it was because they involved the observer inextricably with what was observed. There is no absolute frame of reference, and the observer was a fundamental factor, affecting every measurement whether of space or of time. But observers are human beings, and human beings are animals organisms, evolved from other species under influence of environmental pressures. This is to say that the conditions of human evolution are contained in the physical world, the nature of which is known to us only through human observation itself. Science now talks of the wholeness of the universe, in which human and all other life is included, dependent on the fundamental physical constants of nature. This interrelatedness has resulted in the pronouncement of the Anthropic Principle in which the unity of the universe is a basic feature — this wholeness (Harris: Ibid).
From modern to contemporary thinking: holistic science
Modern thinking removed the earth and man from the centre of the universe which was now a machine, no doubt created by God but free of any divine nature, that worked independently of the human mind. Mind and body, Descartes decided, belonged to two separate substances, which had nothing in common except their creator, God. In these circumstances it would indeed have been surprising if human being found the physical world to be such as to provide the conditions necessary for the existence within it of minds. Of intelligent observers — their existence and consciousness — were thus an impenetrable mystery unable to explain their own awareness. These were the metaphysical presuppositions of science in the seventeenth and succeeding centuries. Of course, in the mid-nineteenth century, Darwin’s theory of evolution changed all this, since human beings were now considered to have evolved from non-human beings or non-living matter. A bridge between matter and mind began to be conceived albeit still in terms of chance variation and natural selection.
But it was only in the twentieth century that a revolution in physics has changed all this. The universe is no longer conceived as a machine. Life can now be more easily understood as a development continuous with the non-living. The world so observed provides the conditions for the emergence of intelligent beings. Were there no Intelligence in the universe, there would be neither observers nor scientists to pronounce their theories nor any who might question their validity. In short, we exist because the universe is the way we observe it to be, and we could not observe it otherwise. What we observe is conditioned not only by the fact of our existence, but also by the nature and capacities of our perceptive and intellectual faculties. Thus, observations reveal our own nature, more about the authors than about the subject-matter. This is selective effect, even in scientific matters that needs to be kept in mind, i.e., the limitations of the apparatus — human or otherwise.

Based on “Holistic Science and Consciousness”, written by S. C. Malik for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

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