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Quantum Mechanics & Chaos Theory: Anarchist Meditations on N. Herbert’s Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics

Scientific worldviews or “paradigms” can influence — or be influenced by — social reality. Clearly the Ptolemaic universe mirrors theocentric & monarchic structures. The Newtonian/Cartesian/mechanical universe mirrors rationalistic social assumptions, which in turn underlie nationalism, capitalism, communism, etc. As for Relativity Theory, it has only recently begun to reflect — or be reflected by — certain social realities. But these relations are still obscure, embedded in multinational conspiracies, the metaphysics of modern banking, international terrorism, & various newly emergent telecommunications-based technologies.

Which comes first, scientific paradigm or social structure? For our purpose it seems unnecessary to answer this question — and in any case, perhaps impossible. The relation between them is real, but acts in a manner infinitely more complex than mere cause-&-effect, or even warp-&-weft.

Quantum Mechanics (QM), considered as the source of such a paradigm, at first seems to lack any social ramifications or parallels, almost as if its very weirdness deprives it of all connnections with “everyday” life or social reality. However, a few authors (like F. Capra, or Science-Fictioneers like R. Rucker or R. Anton Wilson) have seen Quantum Theory both as a vindication of certain “oriental philosophies” & also as prophetic of certain social changes which might loosely & carelessly be lumped under the heading “Aquarian.”

The “mystical” systems evoked by our contemplation of Quantum facts tend to be non-dualist and non-theocentric, dynamic rather than static: Advaita Vedanta, Taoism, Tantra (both Hindu & Buddhist), alchemy, etc. Einstein, who opposed Quantum theory, believed in a God who refused to play dice with the universe, a basically Judeo-Protestant deity who sets up a cosmic speed limit for light. The Quantum enthusiasts, by contrast, prefer a dancing Shiva, a principle of cosmic play.

Perhaps “oriental wisdom” will provide a kind of focusing device, or set of metaphors, or myth, or poetics of QM, which will allow it to realize itself fully as a “paradigm” & discover its reflection on the level of society. But it does not follow that this paradigm will simply recapitulate the social complexes which gave rise to Taoism, Tantra or alchemy. There is no “Eternal Return” in the strict Nietzschean sense: each time the gyre comes round again it describes a new point in space/time.

Einstein accused Quantum Theory (QT) of restoring individual consciousness to the center of the universe, a position from which “Man” was toppled by “Science” 500 years ago. If QT can be accused of retrogression, however, it must be something like the anarchist P. Goodman’s “Stone Age Reaction” — a turning-back so extreme as to constitute a revolution.

Perhaps the development of QM and the rediscovery of “oriental wisdom” (with its occidental variations) stem from the same social causes, which have to do with information density, electronic technology, the ongoing collapse of Eurocentrism & its “Classical” philosophies, ideologies & physics. Perhaps the syncresis of QT & oriental wisdom will accelerate these changes, even help direct them.

Table of Paradigms

With Their Spritual, Political & Economic Parallels

Paleolithic — shamanic — non-authoritarian — hunter/gatherer

Neolithic — polytheistic — authoritarian — agricultural

Earth-centered Cosmos — theistic — monarchial/theocratic (hierarchical) — urban

Sun-centered Cosmos — monotheistic — divine right of kings — colonialism & imperialism

Mechanistic universe — deist or atheist — democracy, capitalism, communism — industrial/technological

Relativistic universe — Modernism — cybernocacy — post-industrial (electronic)

Quantum universe ...
Εμεις ξερουμε πως δεν ειναι ολοι Αναρχικοι. Μονο αυτοι ειναι οι σωστοι, οι προκαθορισμενοι για την Ουτοπια. Τι σημασια εχουν οι υπολοιποι; Οι υπολοιποι ειναι απλως η ανθρωποτητα. Πρεπει να υπερεχει κανεις της ανθρωποτητας μεσω της ρωμης, μεσω του υψους της ψυχης, μεσω της περιφρονησης.