Quantum Kabbalistic Platonism & the sophistication of reality

(Also here)     The basic idea: Metaphysical/religious questions which we assume are meaningful (was the universe designed/created) may be in fact as meaningless as are classical-physics questions (“where exactly is the particle”/”which slit did the photon go through”) posed about physical reality at the quantum level.

Preface: Some consider thoughts as epiphenomena, and the content of thought as driven by material processes, as studied by neuroscience and socio-biological evolutionary theory etc. Those materialists who deny the very existence of ‘mind’ clearly don’t have one. To Cartesians,

descartes mind croppedDescartes’ diagram

the mental and physical realms are mysteriously in synch, and it would seem therefore that Cartesianism treats them as co-equal, but of course in that model there is a God keeping them in synch, and so for Cartesians it is clearly the divine realm which is fundamental; this view therefore not only dethrones the material from pre-eminence, but also relegates the mental realm to secondary status.

The model I speak of here is non-Cartesian in various respects: it does not pre-assume a God or creator, and the mental and physical realms are not co-equal. Rather, the mental realm is more fundamental than the physical, and what we experience in regard to morality, purpose, meaning, deep love, compassion etc, are not epiphenomenonal by-products of materialist evolutionary pressures but the very experiences are indications of a deeper level (of what we call the universe/reality/’life’) and the referents of the experiences they are essential aspects of that deeper level, or at least – as suggested by Plato – shadows of essential aspects. Nevertheless, our conclusions about what that reality is can be erroneous, just as when constructing three-dimensional objects from their shadows.

If the mental realm is more fundamental than the physical, the truth about the mental realm and about the referents to the thoughts/feelings in the mental realm (‘God’ ‘purpose’ ‘destiny’ ‘morality’ etc) is not less sophisticated than the most sophisticated aspect or theory/model of the physical universe that we have encountered. In analogy to what occurs according to quantum theory[1]: when we know certain things about our reality, and then build a metaphysical model which fills in the clearly-implied but necessarily-missing parts, we will be led to erroneous conclusions. Thus the (as-yet?-)unknown correct answers to the questions that are asked in metaphysics are (will turn out to be) not less counterintuitive or sophisticated/complex than the answers to questions about the physical universe as offered in modern physical theories. Or maybe the very notion of ‘the correct answer’ or ‘a true model’ are inappropriate in this context [2].

If so, then there might not even be real meaning to questions such as “is there an objective morality” “was the universe designed/created” “is there a God who knows of and cares about our actions” “did this prophet really receive a revelation” “is there a soul/an afterlife”. If one wishes to limit oneself to questions which have answers, then these might be the wrong types of question to ask. And models or beliefs which seem hazy or somewhat self-contradictory, and which build on that which truly guides human life at the deepest levels may be closer to the truth than ones constructed on rational thought, self-consistency and logic.[3]

Quantum Kabbalistic view: Biblically, there is a creator, humans are created in the image of the creator, and God produced humanity by breathing (the divine spirit/a living soul/the spirit of life) into (a clump of) earth. The human essence is therefore ‘the divine spirit’ – humans are actually God in this sense. The Kabbalistic fundamental explicating the deeper meaning of the Biblical passage “there is only God” (“eyn od milvado”) can be understood in some sense as implying that all of reality is like a dream in the mind of God; we are all characters in that dream – albeit who have seemingly been granted some degree of autonomous free will.

In the more minimalistic model I am outlining here though, it may not be a meaningful question even to ask ‘is there a creator’. However even without assuming that there is  a creator, one can say that similarly to the kabbalistic view outlined above, we are an integral aspect of reality, our inner development – character and perhaps ‘spiritual’ refinement – is also development of the sophistication of the universe. And so the ‘correct answer’ to ‘what is the nature of reality’ can be influenced by the very fact that we develop a concern for these types of questions, and moreso by our inner development itself; nevertheless at a deeper level the very question is not necessarily meaningful.

What we know that we don’t know should tell us something: I feel that it is significant that solipsism – and Russel’s solipsism of the moment – are consistent with all that we know. This I feel would tell us a lot about the nature of reality if we were sufficiently perspicacious. Ignoring a fact’s fundamentality by considering it as a curiosity alone leads to missed opportunity[4].

The fact that all of science can tell us only about that which mind experiences as the material universe, but cannot tell us even that mind exists, tells us something about the greater fundamentality of mind over the material (as does the non-existence of time-passage in physical theory).  That a universe without consciousness is indistinguishable by a brain (ie but not by a mind) from one without consciousness, should tell us something fundamental about the brain/mind relationship. Similarly, the fact that free will cannot be understood by brain-logic, cannot be made sense of operationally, and yet is fundamental to discussions of morality – which in the proposed model is at the deeper ‘meta(physical)’ level – should tell us something about the relation of the material brain-level and that of the mind and meta-level.



[1] Quantum physics indicates how one cannot argue about the microscopic using models and ways of thinking based on the macroscopic, and how the fact that one has many dots on a graph outlining a very specific pattern does not at all imply that we can draw a line connecting dots to generate additional points of the pattern, eg two experimental results may seem to obviously imply a third ‘intermediate’ result ‘between them’, but the assumption that this third result is also real can be false. And when a result in necessarily-missing because basic physical considerations do not allow for their measurement under the circumstances, it is incorrect to think that one can nevertheless deduce the result using logic and by filling-in the missing part of the graph.[1]


[2] If there is more to reality than what physics offers, the sophistication of present-day theoretical models of the physical universe is a lower bound (so to speak) on the sophistication of that other aspect. For example: if the aspect is of the type addressed by metaphysics, then the correct answers to metaphysical questions may not be of the type offered so far, for example because the ‘either/or’ nature of the options is not appropriate, and maybe the correct answers will seem as paradoxical and counterintuitive as have the tenets of various modern physics theories. So one cannot expect that there will be answers to the questions: is there a god, is there an afterlife, if there meaning/purpose, etc, instead the questions will be seen to be the wrong ones, or meaningless.

There may never be a humanly-attainable ‘correct understanding’; any understanding we do attain will turn out to be not less sophisticated/counterintuitive than the correct way to think about physical systems, eg questions such as “was the universe created” will be seen to be like questions such as “did it go through this slit or that one” or “is the following sentence true: I am a lier” or “how much faster is light emitted from a source moving at .5c than light emitted from one much slower than it” or “what is happening now at the other end of the universe”(there is no way to define ‘now’ in that context) or “where does the universe end” “where is the electron right now while I am not measuring it” etc. In other words we will find that in wondering about metaphysics, religion etc we were asking the wrong questions, making assumptions we didn’t realize we made, employing concepts beyond their realm of validity etc, and that the ‘truth’ is far more sophisticated and complex than we imagined, and that even when we realize this, we will know as we know now about the physical universe, that we are perhaps just at the tip of the iceberg.


[3] In my opinion, fundamentalists and atheists have simplistic pictures of reality, hard-core materialists are missing the essence, new-agers have it right in that their worldview is not constrained by logic or even the need for an internally-logically-consistent view but what is missing is perhaps a substitution of ‘what I would like the universe to be like’ for ‘what the universe is actually like’, and a non-fit between their model of reality and what statistical analyses of phenomena indicates (they believe in much that has no statistically-supported basis). Metaphysical aspects of reality are hazy, and we tend to try to build models of it based on the few points on the graph which we are capable of discerning. However, this is a fraught endeavor.


[4] Einstein did not take sufficiently seriously his own discoveries about quantum theory and this led him to blind alleys for much of his later life, and his allegedly-self-characterised ‘greatest blunder’ (missing the prediction of the expansion of the universe and therefore of the big bang at its initial point, and therefore the overthrowing of the Aristotelian eternity of the universe) came about because he did not take sufficiently seriously the implications of  his own general relativity field equations. In turn, general relativity could perhaps have been constructed by Newton had he taken as seriously as did Einstein the equivalence principle (EP) – which he originated and understood very well. Newton’s EP describes something fascinating about nature that was not considered to be fundamental, and is ‘wasted’ in Newtonian theory, whereas when its implications were plumbed by Einstein it leads to the deep insights of general relativity.


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