Putting Soul into Science
Towards a New Science
1. How a threshold appears to have been crossed
The striking results of twentieth century science, described in chapter 3 of this book, radically changed the way scientists think about the world. We have seen in the last chapter how such results can be understood by the presence of conscious beings possessing the soul abilities of knowledge, happiness and the ability to act. Therefore, in spite of the basic assumptions made at the birth of modern science, it would appear that soul cannot be completely eliminated from science. This means that the world of physics can be thought of as being a kind of illusion, or to use an eastern expression, "maya", hiding the existence of soul. In particular the path of physics whose development was determined by its basic assumptions led to certain logical results in quantum physics and the discovery of the strange phenomena associated with it. As we saw in Chapter 4, these phenomena can be at least partially explained by the presence of conscious beings who resist each other and for whom happiness cannot be greater than a constant of physics. Such beings appear to belong to an amoral world of "sub-nature". Other scientific results appear to be understandable by the simultaneous presence of quite different sorts of conscious beings in chaotic systems and even in the world of pure ideas. Reasons for also believing in the presence of a divine Trinity behind beings of different kinds were also given at the end of chapter 4. However, the author of this book does not claim to have rigorously "proven" these statements; what can be said at least is that they help us to understand many aspects of the world, including the inner experiences of human beings, as well as having a certain intrinsic logic.
In our approach we use to a large extent human inner experiences as a guide to understand nature. A human being has consciousness, soul abilities and many sorts of experience, which cannot be reduced to the concepts of physics based on space and the space-like aspects of time. It is not supposed here that other beings are like humans, which would be an extremely dubious assumption to make, but that human inner experience reflects fundamental properties of the world.
We may at this point recall the debates described in chapter 1, about whether science is only social relations. It is now possible for us to give a more precise reply than given in that chapter. According to what has been said in this book, the social relations are with other beings, that is with beings who may be other humans, as well as with those of nature, of sub-nature or in the world of pure ideas. Our relations with other humans and the type of society we live in will clearly influence our relations with other kinds of beings and so influence our science and technology. Therefore we cannot dissociate science and its history from other aspects of human society and history. Some of those other aspects will also be examined in this chapter.
If we look at the discoveries described in chapter 3, it appears that around the beginning of the twentieth century, science crossed a kind of "threshold" into realms of experience which are very different from those of the normal physical world of everyday life. The descent into worlds of sub-nature was especially noteworthy; if such worlds are understood properly, it appears that they can teach us many basic lessons. It may be possible to view this realm of sub-nature, or Ahriman, as possessing certain special, even spiritual, characteristics. This means that it would have been difficult to learn such lessons if science had not been concerned with sub-nature. However, what has been said in this book indicates that to learn them we must not mistake sub-nature for a kind of divine world.The nature of the threshold becomes clearer if we look at certain dates:
Experiment of Michelson and Morley: 1887
Discovery of radioactivity by Bequerel: 1896
Properties of electron determined by Thomson: 1897
Planck's quantum theory: 1900
Einstein's theory of the photo-electric effect: 1905
Einstein's theory of special relativity: 1905
Rutherford's model of the atom: 1911
Bohr's model of the atom: 1913
Einstein's general theory of relativity: 1915
De Broglie proposes matter waves: 1923
Schrödinger's wave mechanics: 1926
Heisenberg's indeterminacy principle: 1927
Gödel's theorem: 1931
Realization of importance of chaos: the 60's
It may be relevant to compare these dates with certain traditions concerning the spiritual evolution of mankind, according to which great changes had to occur around the beginning of the twentieth century. For instance, according to a statement made in the late nineteenth century by Blavatsky, the principal founder of the Theosophical Society, in her book "The Secret Doctrine", mankind was about to enter a new cycle in its development. In this connection there is an Indian tradition about different sorts of >ages or "Yugas". The four yugas are Krita Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga and may correspond at least to some extent to the four ages (golden, silver, bronze and iron) of the ancient Greek poet Hesiod. According to such Indian traditions, mankind entered "Kali Yuga", an age of conflicts and darkness, in 3002 BC; certain teachers state that it would last about 5000 years. Rudolf Steiner said that it ended in 1899 and that following its end, mankind would progressively acquire a higher form of the spiritual abilities which had been previously lost. The French student of traditional Indian teachings Alain Daniélou in "Le Destin du Monde d'après la Tradition Shivaite" (Espaces Libres, Albin Michel 1992) states that Kali Yuga ended in 1939, but that it is being followed by a "dusk" of Kali Yuga", which would end in 2442 with the almost total destruction of mankind as it exists at present. However, to be fair, there is some disagreement about the length of Kali Yuga; in his article "Quelques Réflexions sur les Cycles de l'Histoire Humaine" in the French journal "Troisième Millénaire" (page 52 of no. 41) Jean--Louis Siemens states that according to the traditional "Mânavadharma Shâstra" (the laws of Manu), Kali Yuga should last 432,000 years, which means that 427,000 years of Kali Yuga still remain to be experienced!
In any case, we do not need to rely on ancient teachings to see that mankind has crossed a threshold. As we saw in chapter 1, science plays an essential role in the modern world. In addition, the scientific discoveries of the twentieth century are not the only signs of such an event. Modern technology, which is often based on present-day physics, enables people to have "sham" spiritual experience. Artificial images are produced on screens such as those of the cinema, television and computers, using (except for the cinema) electronics which require the use of twentieth century physics of the very small. Systems of virtual reality are much more powerful because they enable people to have different kinds of artificially produced sense impressions simultaneously, produced so as to correspond to the results of computer calculations. There are many practical applications of virtual reality. It is possible, for instance, taking only one of a multitude of examples, to simulate perceptions of a house which is not yet built, so as to see what living in it would really be like. Such experiences of disconnection from the normal perceptions of the body are parodies of spiritual experiences following meditation, which are also associated with disconnection from body perceptions. Indeed the dangers resulting from such disconnection are not completely dissimilar. In particular care should be taken that mental health is not harmed. Present methods of producing virtual reality are still rather primitive; far more refined approaches, perhaps through the production of perceptions by direct action on the nervous system, can be envisaged. One way of understanding such developments would be to think of them as an attempt to render true spiritual experiences impossible, bearing in mind the birth of new spiritual abilities at the present time announced by various teachings, such as those of Rudolf Steiner.
Though rather beyond the scope of this book, a brief look at twentieth century history seems also to suggest the crossing of a threshold. This history has involved many tragedies, though that is not the most original feature of the twentieth century. It is true that great massacres happened in the past, during the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century, for example. The arrival of Europeans in America was in many ways a disaster for the people already living there. However, in addition to its tragedies, the twentieth century has seen attempts to create large scale organized societies of a kind which never existed before in the physical world. Communism, in spite of its claims to be scientific, was to a certain extent based on utopian ideas. The book "Utopia" (from the Greek meaning nowhere) about an imaginary perfect Communist society, was written by Thomas More in the early sixteenth century. The society described in the book has certain totalitarian characteristics, such as the impossibility for the inhabitants of Utopia to have privacy. Thomas More was a very religious and moral man. According to Rudolf Steiner in a lecture given on May 2, 1916, More was, through his meditations, able to have spiritual experiences in his sleep which people normally do not have, but which he was unable to communicate consciously. A description of these experiences was related in "Utopia"; therefore, we can think of the utopian ideas of Communism as being an attempt to transplant spiritual experiences into the physical world of everyday life, in spite of the extreme materialism consciously believed in by Communists. Following the industrial revolution and the sufferings of working people due to it, a form of utopia seemed to be very attractive to large numbers of people. Utopias are, however, out of place in the physical world and it was only possible to attempt forms of Utopia in it using extreme violence. Spiritual experiences obtained in such a way are illegitimate. The violence and repression which reached a peak under Stalin replaced the ideals; rotten societies were produced, most of which had collapsed before the time of writing of this book.
The dangers of wrong sorts of spiritual development were mentioned at the end of chapter 2 in connection with the discussion about time. According to Rudolf Steiner, someone who wishes to have spiritual experiences must cross a kind of "abyss". Some of the tragic events of the twentieth century can therefore be viewed as connected with the dangers associated with wrong approaches to the spiritual and the presence of such an abyss.
2. How might it be possible to study the phenomena of nature from physics to biology in a new way?
In this book, soul content has been looked for in partly unpredictable phenomena and in finding certain features belonging to them, corresponding to the soul aspects of knowledge, happiness and the ability to act of various conscious beings. What should be emphasized at this point is that even if a phenomenon has three aspects, this does not by itself prove the presence of consciousness with a soul content. Soul content may, however, at least be indicated if something partly unpredictable is present and if a connection can be found between each of the three aspects of the phenomenon and one of the soul aspects of knowledge, happiness and the ability to act. These conditions are not always satisfied, so claims sometimes made in anthroposophical circles for a relation between all sorts of phenomena having three aspects on the one hand, and the human abilities of thinking, feeling and willing on the other, are often not easy to justify.
However, we can expect that real indications of soul aspects belonging to conscious beings may be found in many situations and phenomena, not studied in this book. Such indications need to be looked for and investigated in detail, using the inner experiences of human beings as a guide. Indeed the direct study of inner experience and perceptions (such as our study of time) can teach us a lot. Let us in this connection recall Goethe's study of colours, described in chapter 2. The physics of the very small needs to be investigated in much more detail than done here.
Furthermore, it should be emphasized that this book has examined time rather than space. This is because of the fact that time can be more directly related to soul qualities. It should however be possible to see soul aspects in space also, at least because various forms of spatial separation can be thought of as isolating the fields of activity of different beings from each other. There are also ways of looking at space that are different than those generally practiced in physics and which have particularly interested people seeking another type of science based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, that is, in the framework of Anthroposophy. To briefly summarize this type of approach, it must be pointed out that certain sorts of geometry exist in which distances are not directly considered, but rather special properties derived from distance. Properties called "cross ratios" are unchanged if the distances and angles are transformed in various precise ways. This is the case with Projective Geometry, which has a very important feature - that points and planes (flat surfaces) are equivalent; each property of a plane is accompanied by a corresponding property of a point. Thinking about projective geometry can for this reason help to free us from the idea that space must be always thought of as made up of points; it can equally be thought of as being made up of planes. Projective geometry is described in "Projective geometry" by Lawrence Edwards (Rudolf Steiner Institute 1985). Geometries exist which are "between" the geometry of distance as experienced normally by people in everyday life, that is, "Euclidean" geometry and projective geometry. There also exists a geometry of what is called "counter space" studied by George Adams and Louis Locher-Ernst, which is, in a way, "opposite" to Euclidean geometry and its use of distance, the role of points in normally perceived geometry being replaced by that of planes. Finally there also exist geometries with properties between those of the last mentioned type of geometry and those of projective geometry.
If we try to relate these geometrical considerations to physics and to other sciences, we can firstly note that the relation between points and planes reminds us of the roles of particles and waves in quantum physics. A particle is a kind of "expanded point", while the surfaces of waves in three dimensional space can become almost plane. Georg Unger in "Forming concepts in physics" (Parker Courtney Press, Chestnut Ridge, New York, 1995), hints of a possible application of the simultaneous use of point-like and plane-like models to quantum physics. Using such means, the soul characteristics of this world may be describable geometrically. Nick Thomas, in an article "Rethinking physics" ("Newsletter Articles Supplement" no. 2 of the science group of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, p. 1, 1996) and
more recently in the book "Science between space and counterspace. Exploring the significance of negative space" (Temple Lodge Publishing, London, 1999) goes further, in describing a detailed attempt to refound physics based on these geometrical concepts. He mentions a relation between counter-space (as well as of the geometries with properties between those of the geometry of counter-space and those of projective geometry) and what is called the "etheric" in Anthroposophy. The etheric is especially connected with life. Rudolf Steiner described four "ethers", 3 of which Nick Thomas considers as being described by one of those types of geometry. There is, according to Nick Thomas, a similar relation between Euclidean geometry and the geometries between it and projective geometry and the solid, liquid and gaseous states of matter. In addition, objects in physics simultaneously fill both the ordinary space of Euclid and counter-space, which have contradictory properties, leading to strain in one space followed by stress and finally to a force. He is able to derive certain laws of physics using this approach. It remains to be seen how successful Nick Thomas will be in the future in rethinking the whole of physics in this way.
As we saw in chapter 3, chaotic systems are described by the geometry of fractals. It may, in fact, be possible to relate the sorts of chaos in living organisms to the types of geometries just mentioned. Counter space can indeed be defined in an infinite number of ways with respect to the space of Euclid, because each point of Euclidean space can be defined as being infinitely far away in a particular geometry of counter space. It is for this reason that the different possible geometries of counter space, when considered together, may show fractal properties, with infinite structure at each point of Euclidean space. We can now mention the work of George Adams and Olive Wicher on plants, described in "The living plant and the science of physical and ethereal spaces" (Goethean Science Foundation, Clent, Stourbridge, Worcestershire, England 1949). They found that many aspects of the forms of plants could be understood by the geometry of counter space with its infinitely distant point. As they indicate, many such points may be present for the same plant. We might think of the counter space description of a plant as corresponding to the wave-like aspect of phenomena in quantum physics, while what in a plant is best described by Euclidean geometry would then correspond to the particle-like aspects of quantum physics.
Geometrical studies have also been performed by Lawrence Edwards as described in "The field of form" (Floris books 1982). He studies what are called "path curves", which are defined by certain transformations of structures permitted by projective geometry. He finds that various shapes of living organisms, including plants and the heart, can be well described using path curves. It may be possible to relate this kind of work to our preceding considerations about the geometry of chaos present in living organisms, but it remains to be seen whether such connections can be made.
Other sorts of future of research can be indicated if we bear in mind that chaotic systems are sensitive to minute effects, some of which might appear at first sight to lead to completely unexpected and even "crazy" phenomena from the point of view of present-day physics. For instance, Lawrence Edwards finds that plant shapes are influenced by the positions of the planets; if confirmed, such a result would appear to be quite difficult to explain by normal physical forces. Researches have also been undertaken in anthroposophical circles to detect effects of the etheric in certain experimental situations, such as that of substances coming from living organisms by the crystallization of copper chloride (see "Sensitive Crystallization Processes. A Demonstration of Formative Forces in the Blood" by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Anthroposophic Press, Spring Valley, New York, 1975). A solution of copper chloride to which a small quantity of that substance has been added, evaporates, leading to the formation of crystals, having in each particular situation a characteristic pattern. Chaos appears in fact to be present in crystallization; its possible role in this kind of experiment needs elucidation.
Some of the phenomena studied in psychic research might be due to similar effects, when they are real and not due to cheating by those involved in trying to convince others of the existence of such phenomena, such as in the phenomenon called "psychokinesis". In psychokinesis the mind is supposed to act directly on matter outside the body in a "non-physical" way. The possibility of such action appears in fact to be not completely unreasonable, in view of our discussion in section 2 of the last chapter on how a human being might be able to control his or her own body when chaotic effects occur.
The author of this book has in a somewhat similar approach looked for "crazy" astronomical facts, which should not occur according to present ideas about the cosmos. Such facts, if significant, would be dependent on observations being made from the earth, which is the home of Man and would therefore suggest that Man has a certain significance in the cosmos. The existence of certain facts of this kind is actually indicated, including, for instance, relations between the positions of certain bright stars in the sky as seen from the earth. The position of Sirius, the brightest star for the human eye, is near 90º (88.73º) from the third brightest, a Centauri, which, according to astronomical methods of distance determination, appears to have about half the distance of Sirius. When studied with telescopes, a Centauri is seen to be actually a system of three very close stars, which are the nearest stars to the solar system. Similar relationships exist between the positions in the sky of observed novae which are bright as seen from the earth, these being among the objects which I study in my normal astrophysical work. Novae typically brighten rapidly by a factor of more than 10 0000, before fading usually much more slowly to a brightness close to the brightness before the outburst. An attempt was even made by me to predict the sky position of future novae, which has not been successful till now.
A different example of an astronomical fact related to the earth is the weak electromagnetic radiation coming from all directions of the sky, whose existence was mentioned towards the end of section 2 of chapter 3 (devoted to relativity). It was stated there that a first deviation from "isotropy" (equal amounts of radiation coming from all directions), is usually interpreted as produced by an absolute motion of the solar system with respect to this radiation. The velocity of this motion, which has been measured as being 369.5 km/s from observations with the COBE satellite, can be simply related to two other basic velocities. The first is the speed of
light of 299 790 km/s, which plays a fundamental role in relativity. The other velocity is what might be considered as being the speed of the "most basic" motion of the earth, which unlike other motions is not defined with respect to any other single astronomical body, that is, the speed of its rotation at the equator, equal to 0.46510 km/s. Now the ratio of the speed of light to the absolute speed of the solar system with respect to the radiation coming from all directions in the sky, is very close to the ratio of this absolute speed to the speed of the earth's rotation at the equator. In fact, the reader can verify that if one of these ratios is divided by the other, a value very close to 1 is obtained: 1.0213.
Objections can be raised, however, against such a search for "crazy" astronomical facts. If one plays with a large enough quantity of different numbers, one will eventually find apparent relationships between some of the numbers, simply because of the laws of probability. There is always a certain probability of two numbers being almost the same, without any other special connection existing between them. It is difficult to eliminate such a possibility for the types of relationships mentioned. In addition, if one looks at the positions of those stars in the sky which appear to be the brightest for the human eye as seen from the earth, one must remember that these positions are not fixed, but slowly change with time, making the significance of anything based on the present positions doubtful, unless the present time is considered to be specially significant. The sky seen in a few thousand years will be different, perhaps with other relationships between the positions of the brightest stars. We can therefore say that the situation concerning the significance of this type of astronomical relationship is somewhat uncertain and it is not clear to me to what extent I can conclusively prove something in this way. However, it might not be useless to continue looking for similar simple striking types of relationships which, like some of those already found, are obtainable without too much playing with numbers. Many significant facts may exist which not been searched for till now, because they would have been considered to be completely impossible.
3. New possibilities in sciences concerned with human beings and
finding a better structure for society
The generally accepted "scientific" methods of studying human behaviour can appear very doubtful to a physical scientist like myself. Much seems to be based on statistics, without it being very clear what fundamental phenomena are really responsible for the various statistical results obtained. In addition, I sometimes wonder whether people working in such fields do not often do much more than invent complicated words, so as to dazzle the non-specialist. The approach of this book, based on the presence of different sorts of beings possessing knowledge, happiness and ability to act, may help to overcome such problems. Human beings do not only, according to this point of view, possess these three abilities, but are in addition influenced both as individuals and in groups by other human beings and by various kinds of non-human beings. In any case, it is clear that much research needs to be done in these fields in order to make such ideas more precise and find out how they can be applied.
One aspect of the social sciences can be linked with suggestions made by Rudolf Steiner about how to produce a more healthy society. These suggestions are found in particular in "Towards Social Renewal" (Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1975). He advocates a threefold structure for a society based on a separation of cultural life from that aspect of society connected with the rights of each human (including laws and how they are decided on and enforced), as well as a separation of these two aspects of society from a third aspect of society connected with the economy. Culture is concerned with mental and spiritual life or more generally with the natural endowments of each human being. The rights of each human being belong to the world of human relations, while economic life is concerned with what is produced from nature. Rudolf Steiner states that the motto coming from the French revolution - Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - should apply separately to each of these three aspects of society. Freedom is what should rule the cultural life, equality that of rights, while fraternity should rule in the economy. In this way democracy is important in the life of rights, while solidarity between all human beings is important in the economy.
If we examine the three aspects of society, we can see that cultural life is related to what is sought by each individual in his or her "researches", which can be for instance in art and religious experience and even in practicing a hobby or succeeding in sport as well as a form of research in a field of science. Culture is in this way connected with kinds of "knowledge" of each of the members of a society. The aspect connected with rights involves how to make a society happy in its human relations, while the economy is concerned with the way a society acts particularly in its relations with nature.
Explaining the necessity for this type of social structure in a different way than done by Rudolf Steiner, we may say that, at the present time, human beings have become more and more conscious of themselves as separate autonomous individuals with different desires and tend to resist each other to an increasing extent. In fact we may state that something like the Heisenberg indeterminacy principle is more and more true in human relationships, especially in western society. Each human and group of humans tends to resist and fight others, that is, to try to both limit the amount of knowledge and the ability to act of others, in order to not be overwhelmed by them and so to be able to satisfy his, her or its desires as much as possible. In this way, limits are placed on the total "knowledge" of a society and on its ability to act, so the society as a whole becomes "unhappy". A separation between what corresponds in a society to knowledge, what corresponds to the feeling of contentment in human relations and what corresponds to the ability to act, can help to remove reasons for conflicts and so help to at least partly overcome this "unhappiness". In particular it should be possible to overcome the present domination of most of the world by the economy, which among other things limits the rights of human beings and manipulates culture through the media. Let us in this connection think of the scandal of large numbers of extremely poor people living at the present time in very rich western countries.
We may note that it is not an accident that this tendency of individuals to fight others increased at a similar time to that when physics discovered the Heisenberg indeterminacy principle. Phenomena were studied which "resembled" present-day human behaviour.
The threefold social order is not a utopia, like Communism, as I
personally believed when I was younger, though it can at least partly lead to the realization of many social ideals. It cannot eliminate all conflicts, but can, if brought into being, improve things. However, it must be admitted that it is extremely difficult in the present world with, among other things, a global economy, even to start to realize a form of a threefold society; in fact much more work needs to be done than has be realized till now, before it can be seriously applied.
4. Closing Comments
I have in this book tried to show how it may be possible at least to start to bring soul and the existence of conscious beings into science. The presence of such beings may be indicated where indeterminacy occurs as well as in the presence of various kinds of "resistance". The soul experiences of such beings would then appear to be fundamental in understanding the nature of the Universe. If the approach expounded here is justified, much more work needs to be done to see how fruitful it is. Such fruitfulness rather than any sort of "proof", which would appear at first sight to be nearly impossible, will be able to indicate how good the approach is. In this way it may be considered as a guide to future scientific investigations and not just philosophical speculation.
In order to create a science that includes soul, it will be necessary to overcome what seems to me a kind of fear of abandoning basic assumptions. Furthermore, the world of the human soul and its inner experiences, as well as that of the possible perception by it of physically invisible beings, is also that of dreams and nightmares. Bringing this type of world into a science like physics can indeed be frightening for many people.
Another science should also lead to other technologies and to other sorts of human society, which are more "ecological". Such new technologies might for instance be based on the collaboration with certain beings acting in chaotic situations. In any case, realizing the importance of inner soul experiences should lead to people being less willing to treat each other as machines, as sometimes appears to be case in certain biological experiments connected with human reproduction. However, we should have no illusions: an awareness of being always surrounded by other conscious beings will not necessarily make human beings behave any better. History, including recent history, has shown how cruel people can be to other people, not to mention how cruel they can be to animals. In this situation people will not necessarily be less cruel to any other sort of visible and invisible being, whose existence they may become aware of, unless they become afraid of the effects of such cruelty.
Science as we now understand it is less than five centuries old; it is still in its infancy or at best in its adolescence. The future will be able to bring into being a much more mature science.
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© 2000 Michael Friedjung
Michael Friedjung was born in 1940 in England of Austrian refugee parents who had escaped from the Nazis. He was already deeply interested in science at eleven years of age, and uniting science and spirituality eventually became his aim. He studied astronomy, obtaining a Bsc in 1961 and his Phd in 1965. After short stays in South Africa and Canada, he went to France in 1967 on a post-doctoral fellowship and later was appointed to a permanent position at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in 1969, where he is now Research Director. After living with the contradictions between official science and spiritual teachings, he began to see solutions to at least some of the problems, which are described in this book.
E-mail: [email protected]
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An ominous Day-Craemer |
Favela Children-Craemer |
The Descent of Man?-Carline |
Alliance for Childhood-Cortes|
The Exchange-Smith |
Polish Tango-Lefcowitz |
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The Tiny Totem-Strauss |
The Expatriate-Smith |
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