In the Vernacular

(Open Message to the Physicists of the 'Third Culture')

Montréal, November 9, 1999

My father spoke of moonlit nights, walking on crystal-snow-covered frozen rivers in the deep forest, ... the eery sounds of howling wolves seemingly all around him, as he hiked cross-country, through the wilds and back to his uncle's farm.. For an eighteen year old born and raised in London, a bicycle-riding 'Old City' bank messenger who thirsted for something more, ... who borrowed the ocean liner fare from an uncle in northern Ontario to emigrate, ... he had found the 'something more' he had been looking for, ... as was obvious from his animation every time he shared his early 'new-world' adventures.

As I sit here in the heart of Montreal, ... I am no less aware of the deep value of feeling myself immersed in a reality which is not imposing upon me, but with which I am free to dance with and coevolve, ... a 'container' which opens you up to your own dreaminess instead of incessantly telling you what you must do.

But the world of my father's pre-emigration childhood and adolescence was also rich, the era of the first war, crouching and crawling across Hampstead park with a teenage friend in the middle of the night, ... dodging searchlights and sentries, ... intrigued at the prospects of getting a look into a temporary POW camp to see and hear captured German soldiers in the heart of London. And my own childhood, living on the Pacific coast, ... launching and poling log rafts silently out over the oily-black waters of a country bay, immersed in moonlight and the strange cries of birds and animals of the estuary, .. in the place where the thick fat salmon flashed and splashed on their way on up to the spawning ground.

What was it about youthful experience that the Kiowa writer Scott Momaday said in 'House Made of Dawn'?, ... "... and you just looked around at all the new and beautiful things. And after a while, the trader put some things out on the counter, sacks of flour and sugar, a slab of salt pork, some canned goods, and a little bag full of the hard red candy. And your grandfather took off one of his rings and gave it to the trader. It was a small green stone, set carelessly in thin silver. It was new and it wasn't worth very much, not all the trader gave for it, anyway. And the trader opened one of the cans, a big can of whole tomatoes, and your grandfather sprinkled sugar on the tomatoes and the two of you ate them right there and drank bottles of sweet red soda pop. And it was getting late and you rode home in the sunset and the whole land was cold and white. And that night your grandfather hammered the strips of silver and told you stories in the firelight. And you were little and right there in the center of everything, the sacred mountains, the snow-covered mountains and the hills, the gullies and the flats, the sundown and the night, everything --- where you were little, where you were and had to be."

'... in the center of everything, ... where you were and had to be.'

Is this essential and ineluctable immersion, ... this unique centering within the containing unity not 'us'?, .... 'who we are?', .... every bit as much as what we did and do and turn towards within this containing flow? Can we really detach our uniquely situated 'containment', our 'place' in the scheme of things, from our 'self'?, ... and why would we want to?

But we portray ourselves and others generally and categorically, ... as 'white' or 'Christian' or 'Russian' or 'American', and 'liberal' or 'conservative' and on television we caricature ourselves and our behavior according to these categories, ... someone else's idea of who 'we are' defined on the basis of culturally selected and generalized behaviors and attitudes, as if 'where we were and had to be' had no part in it all.

In the fifties, Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs and others rebelled against this narrow 'politico-cultural' view of things, ... a hollow, synthetic view which permeated society and brought us McCarthyism and other unpleasantries. They 'got naked' for all of us, and helped us get back in touch with, ... and articulate, ... the honest feeling of being in the center of our experience, ...this is the feeling of being 'On the Road', ... the taste of 'The Naked Lunch' and 'reality sandwiches'.

As a researcher into 'community as complex system' here in 1999, my explorations take me into the no-mans land between the richness of co-becoming associated with our behavioral movements inside of the sphere of 'where we have to be', ... and the stark world of science which seeks to understand the 'what is' of the world in generalized and categorized terms, .... in terms of the world being entirely 'out there in front of us', ... a resource to 'watch' and to play with or to 'control' and regulate.

But is the Kiowa child sitting by the fire with his grandfather 'controlling' the world, ... and is he 'looking out at it'? Or does his experience, which he allows to permeate his being and becoming, give to him the eyes of the container, ... does his abandonment to his centering endow him with the eyesight of the mysterious 'field' of physics which looks down upon him. Let's listen once again to how 'place', the containing continuum of space-time, enfolds the one who 'experiences' even as he 'looks out';

"It was dawn, The first light had been deep and vague in the mist, and then the sun flashed and a great yellow glare fell under the cloud. The road verged upon clusters of juniper and mesquite, and he could see the black angles and twists of wood beneath the hard white crust; there was a shine and glitter on the ice. He was running, running. He could see the horses in the fields and the crooked line of the river below. .... For a time the sun was whole beneath the cloud; then it rose into eclipse, and a dark and certain shadow came upon the land. And Abel was running. He was naked to the waste, and his arms and shoulders had been marked with burnt wood and ashes. The cold rain slanted down upon him and left his skin mottled and streaked. The road curved out and lay into the bank of rain beyond, and Abel was running. Against the winter sky and the long, light landscape of the valley at dawn, he seemed almost to be standing still, very little and alone."

This realm in which self and container are seen as a unity, ... coresonating and coevolving together, ... is the very essence of 'community' as complex system'. How then does one bridge from this space-time containing view of community to the scientific view, ... the scientific view which is actively seeking to explain all manner of complex systems, social, evolutionary and other. One can scarcely move forward on community issues without reconciling the program with our stewards of rationality; i.e. without interfacing with science, with physics, ... with those who fill the textbooks on 'how the world works', whose ideas underpin, or are the standard reference for the structuring and regulation of the world which contains one's grandchildren, ... structure and regulation which is now implicitly 'training' them for the future.

Is there not a message on these dual ways to perceive the world in the following passage from Ivan Illich's essay on the decline of 'Vernacular Values', ... dual perceptual approaches which are reflected in language? Illich goes back to the root meaning of 'vernacular' which refers not just to language but to all things which emerge from out of the interior of one's own home or 'container'. Illich says;

"Mother tongue is taught increasingly, not by paid agents, but by unpaid parents. These latter deprive their own children of the last opportunity to listen to adults who have something to say to each other. This was brought home to me clearly, some time ago, while back in New York City in an area that a few decades earlier I had known quite well, the South Bronx. I went there at the request of a young college teacher, married to a colleague. This man wanted my signature on a petition for compensatory pre-kindergarten language training for the inhabitants of a partially burnt-out, high-rise slum. Twice already, quite decidedly and yet with deep embarrassment, I had refused. To overcome my resistance against this expansion of educational services, he took me on visits to brown, white, black, mostly single-parent so-called households. I saw dozens of children dashing through uninhabitable cement corridors, exposed all day to blaring television and radio in English, Spanish and even Yiddish. They seemed equally lost in language and landscape. As my friend pressed for my signature, I tried to argue for the protection of these children against further castration and inclusion in the educational sphere. We talked at cross-purposes, unable to meet. And then, in the evening, at dinner in my friend's home, I suddenly understood why. This man, whom I viewed with awe because he had chosen to live in this hell, had ceased to be a parent and had become a total teacher. In front of their own children this couple stood in loco magistri. Their children had to grow up without parents, because these two adults, in every word they addressed to their two sons and one daughter, were "educating" them - they were at dinner constantly conscious that they were modeling the speech of their children, and asked me to do the same.

For the professional parent who engenders children as a professional lover, who volunteers his semi-professional counselling skills for neighborhood organizations, the distinction between his unpaid contribution to the managed society and what could be, in contrast, the recovery of vernacular domains, remains meaningless. He is fit prey for a new type of growth-oriented ideology - the planning and organization of an expanding shadow economy, the last frontier of arrogance which homo economicus faces."


Illich is describing a real-life scenario when parents and children have abandoned a tuning-in to the harmonic aspects of their containing environment as a ('relativistic') reference base and are lost in non-relativistic 'Goedellian' space, ... trying to reference to an innately incomplete rule set.

It is a well-established scientific fact that 'cultural adjustments' require several generations to achieve (roughly four in human culture), not only in people, but also in animals and, one could argue, in less complex entities in nature. In examining this multi-generational-cycle in the animal domain, for example;

"It was (and still is in England) illegal to sell off a complete hirsel [large mixed flock of sheep] from any mountain, because it takes several generations of sheep to learn their individual 'sheepwalk', and some of the older, experienced sheep must be left to guide the newcomers, who would otherwise starve. The small narrow sheep trails through heather (that can easily mislead walkers) are definite sheep roadways to and from their special grazing grounds, resting places, and dormitories."

What is it which is happening over the course of the multiple generations, in the case of the Kiowa grandfather, grandchild, in the case of the ghetto parents, in the case of the sheep, ... in terms of physics?

* * *

1. Relativity suggests that space-time is a finite curved-space continuum, which involves a simultaneous reciprocal-complementary geometric relationship between each constituent of the containing space-time and the overall 'shape' or configuration of the ensemble of constituents which constitute it. An insight-giving model is the game of pool where the ensemble of balls moves as if over the surface of a finite curved solid and the 'shape' of the self-referential configuration equates to 'reciprocal disposition'.

2. Conservation of energy, in association with '1.', implies a 'co-evolution' of 'field' with 'matter', thus there is good reason to suppose that matter and humans in particular, have a potential means by which to 'sense' themselves to be participants in the co-evolving geometry of reciprocal disposition. Denis Gabor's work on communications, information theory and holography shows that the information needed to describe this implicit relationship involves a 'complex signal' (real plus imaginary components) which is capable of providing space-time phase information which can be accumulated to form interference patterns.

3. Observations of 'community as complex system' suggest that individuals are indeed capable of an awareness of immersed participation in the evolving reciprocal disposition; i.e. an awareness of being involved in a coevolutionary process with the containing environment. Native stories and myth abound with this 'strand in the web of life' notion and 'The House Made of Dawn' citation above illustrates very well, the multigenerational sharing which 'opens up' the child's mind to tune in to natural, relativistic, space-time phase relationships and to build the sense of immersion in a simultaneous whole-and-part unity, while the story told by Ivan Illich points out how each generation can also obliterate such natural tuning-in by continually seeking to impose, ... as a non-relativistic reference foundation, ... incomplete systems of 'should be' based rules and regulations. (The formation of crystals could also be examined in this same light, with 'whole-and-part harmony', ... the 'depth extent' of the crystal, ... being determined by the degree of multi-generational (in terms of nesting levels) sharing in the formation process).

* * *

While there is plenty of support in the basic findings of science (relativity and quantum mechanics) for this type of hypothesis, ... and nothing apparent in science to stand in the way of it, to what 'authority' in physics does one go to dialogue on such issues?

Perhaps the place to go is to the 'third culture', as defined in John Brockman's 'The Third Culture: Beyond The Scientific Revolution (Simon & Schuster, 1995)' --- "... a book that is not an anthology, nor an overview, but an oral history of a living document of a dynamical emergent system, a celebration of the ideas of third culture thinkers who are defining the interesting and important questions of our times. In The Third Culture they communicate their thoughts to the public and to one another. It is an exhibition of this new community of intellectuals in action."

.... hmmm, how should one interpret the statement; '... they communicate their thoughts to the public and to one another', ... that this is a closed system where informational inputs from the outside are already subject to an automated selection or deselection on the basis of the theories evolving inside of the cultural shell?'

Who are these people, anyway?

"The third culture consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are. ... including;

Paul Davies, Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Niles Eldredge, J. Doyne Farmer, Murray Gell-Mann, Brian Goodwin, Stephen Jay Gould, Alan Guth, W. Daniel Hillis, Nicholas Humphrey, Steve Jones, Stuart Kauffman, Christopher Langton, Lynn Margulis, Marvin Minsky, Roger Penrose, Steven Pinker, Martin Rees, Roger Schank, Lee Smolin, Francisco Varela, George C. Williams.

Now it's the physicists who appear to be the most appropriate to address such dual perception inquiry issues; e.g. .. Murray Gell-Mann, Paul Davies and Lee Smolin, ... since physics is the place where concepts of space-time and relativity are stewarded, ... and the perceptual issues, as so emotively presented in 'House Made of Dawn' are clearly about our experiencing of space-time, and how our containing environment relates to us and our view of it, ... or should I say 'views' of it, since there seems to be two views, ... one in which space-time is a common container which immerses us in reciprocal embrace, ...with us 'in the center of everything', ... 'where we must be', ... and another, the view which sees our containing environment as an external 'resource' where we 'reverse-engineer' who we are, in the detached terms of our efforts to 'control' the reality-as-resource 'out there'.

Thus it seems appropriate to put this question of 'two views' of space-time to Murray Gell-Mann, Paul Davies and Lee Smolin, ... to determine whether, in their stewardship of ... "rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, [and] redefining who and what we are", they see value in commenting on, or otherwise addressing these notions. As Ivan Illich suggests, the ramifications of whether we perceive our containing environment as a 'commons' or as a 'resource' are significant; i.e. "... a transformation of the environment from a commons to a productive resource constitutes the most fundamental form of environmental degradation."

A question to consider heres is; .... 'Is this 'degradation' what happens when/as we shift from the immersed reciprocal- participant view to the scientific view?' Is this what happens to "the long, light landscape of the valley at dawn" when we reformulate it according to scientific theory, ... that we transform it into so many acres of material resource describable by the equations of physics, ... a 'commodity'?

Where Illich speaks of 'the decline of vernacular values', he clarifies that;

"Vernacular comes from an Indo-Germanic root that implies "rootedness" and "abode." Vernaculum as a Latin word was used for whatever was homebred, homespun, homegrown, homemade, as opposed to what was obtained in formal exchange. The child of one's slave and of one's wife, the donkey born of one's own beast, were vernacular beings, as was the staple that came from the garden or the commons. If Karl Polanyi had adverted to this fact, he might have used the term in the meaning accepted by the ancient Romans: sustenance derived from reciprocity patterns imbedded in every aspect of life, as distinguished from sustenance that comes from exchange or from vertical distribution."

... 'sustenance derived from reciprocity patterns imbedded in every aspect of life' is definitely 'getting warm' with respect to the view from 'House Made of Dawn', and as Illich suggests, ... we seem to be missing some vocabulary here;

"Vernacular came into English in the one restricted sense to which Varro had confined its meaning. Just now, I would like to resuscitate some of its old breath. We need a simple, straightforward word to designate the activities of people when they are not motivated by thoughts of exchange, a word that denotes autonomous, non-market related actions through which people satisfy everyday needs - the actions that by their very nature escape bureaucratic control, satisfying needs to which, in the very process, they give specific shape. Vernacular seems a good old word for this purpose, ... "

Perhaps science is 'bringing us home' to the 'vernacular', ... to the immersed 'commons' or 'reciprocal sustenance' view given by our experience as contrasted to the 'resource' view of our voyeur scientific perspective given by knowledge. Perhaps the 'final theory' is going to achieve this for us?

But Steven Weinberg, Nobel physicist, has spoken to that 'non-possibility', in his book 'Dreams of a Final Theory';

"Of course a final theory would not end scientific research, not even pure scientific research, nor even pure research in physics. Wonderful phenomena, from turbulence to thought, will still need explanation whatever fixed theory is discovered. The discovery of a final theory in physics will be final in only one sense --- it will bring to an end a certain sort of science, the ancient search for those principles that cannot be explained in terms of deeper principles."

If the final theory is constrained to 'principles' about the world being seen as a resource, ...while 'thought', ... by which we experience our participation within and as a part of our containing environment, ... is 'left for some future investigation', things do not look too hopeful on the physics front with respect to explaining what 'everybody knows' as Leonard Cohen puts it, but which continues to be excluded by science and physics in particularl; i.e. that we cannot exclude ourselves from our view of the world 'out there'.

Physics, and physicists, ... the stewards of space-time, ... as a discipline which has a fundamental influence on the underlying basics of social regulatory schema, would appear to be blocking the re-embrace of our own experience, ... blocking the re-embrace of our own common-sense thought by which we see ourselves as a reciprocal part of a common, containing space-time continuum, ... the space-time unified, relativistic view of Einstein.

As the quantum physicist David Peat says; "The point is, however, that this equality or interdependence of space and time was already present in all the world's language. Rather than coming to the revelation that time and space must be unified they have never really been linguistically separated! According to this general idea, what may appear to be novel in physics and mathematics is essentially the explicit unfolding of something that is already implicit within the structuring of human thought ..."

Physics seems to waiting on Godot, ... for someone to bring along the final unified equations of that which we have always known, so that we can accept and incorporate it into our 'approved' perception and inquiry and socio-political regulatory schema.

While the waters of dysfunction are up to neck level and still climbing, ... what have the physicists been working on? Davies has been working on 'The Mind of God', ... Smolin on "A Theory of the Whole Universe" and Gell-Mann, "Plectics", ... as one might expect from our scientific traditions, the appearance is of one of waiting for the homerun ball.

Meanwhile, Gell-Mann has put his finger on the problem of the independent transdisciplinary 'top-down bootstrapper' who, meanwhile, would be happy with a short bunt if it could move the "community as complex system" runners around the bases and garner some relief from social dissonance and dysfunction. Gell-Mann says;

"Nevertheless, people doing transdisciplinary work have a lot of problems finding suitable employment, especially in academic life. The reason isn't merely prejudice but also the fact that all the mechanisms for judging excellence are set up in the narrow traditional disciplines. Peer reviewed journals, academic departments, Ph.D. exams, professional societies, and so on, are typically organized along disciplinary lines. Of course, there are always phonies who cower on the boundaries between fields, so people aren't altogether unjustified in being wary of transdisciplinary work. Clearly, we need effective mechanisms for judging it. . . . Take Darwin, for example: would Caltech have hired Darwin? Probably not. He had only vague ideas about some of the mechanisms underlying biological evolution. He had no way of knowing about genetics, and he lived before the discovery of mutations. Nevertheless, he did work out, from the top down, the notion of natural selection and the magnificent idea of the relationship of all living things."

As one 'instance' of a transdisciplinary researcher, I can say that I'm not interested in academic life and I haven't been cowering in any interdisciplinary cracks, ... for one reason, because I do not have the pre-requisite for cowering which is that someone must first listen to what I have to say, in order to refute it. So perhaps Murray Gell-Man underestimates the transdisciplinary worker problem, ... the sign may well say, 'will transdisciplinary workers please use the rear entrance, .... but when one goes around to knock on the door, ... either there is no door, or no-one there to answer it.

And the 'catch-22' is that even if a voice comes on the intercom, ... speaking from experience is unlikely to get one as far as the opening buzzer, since its only the stark language of science which is accepted, ...language from which the rich vernacular of space-time immersion has already been purged prior to receipt by the conscious mind. As John Henry Newman said (1801 - 1890), in speaking to this problem of 'scientific' apprehension and the associated loss of experiential 'vernacular';

"We apprehend spontaneously, even before we set about apprehending, that man is like man, yet unlike; and unlike a horse, a tree, a mountain, or a monument, yet in some, though not the same respects, like each of them. And in consequence, as I have said, we are ever grouping and discriminating, measuring and sounding, framing cross classes and cross divisions, and thereby rising from particulars to generals, that is from images to notions. In processes of this kind we regard things, not as they are in themselves, but mainly as they stand in relation to each other. We look at nothing simply for its own sake; we cannot look at any one thing without keeping our eyes on a multitude of other things besides. "Man" is no longer what he really is, an individual presented to us by our senses, but as we read him in the light of those comparisons and contrasts which we have made him suggest to us. He is attenuated into an aspect, or relegated to his place in a classification. Thus his appellation is made to suggest, not the real being which he is in this or that specimen of himself, but a definition. If I might use a harsh metaphor, I should say he is made the logarithm of his true self, and in that shape is worked with the ease and satisfaction of logarithms.

It is plain what a different sense language will bear in this system of intellectual notions from what it has when it is the representative of things: and such a use of it is not only the very foundation of all science, but may be, and is, carried out in literature and in the ordinary intercourse of man with man. And thus it comes to pass that individual propositions about the concrete almost cease to be, and are diluted or starved into abstract notions. The events of history and the characters who figure in it lose their individuality. States and governments, society and its component parts, cities, nations, even the physical face of the country, things past, and things contemporary, all that fulness of meaning which I have described as accruing to language from experience, now that experience is absent, necessarily becomes to the multitude of men nothing but a heap of notions, little more intelligible than the beauties of a prospect to the short-sighted, or the music of a great master to a listener who has no ear."

At any rate, it seems necessary to knock on the door rather than making negative anticipatory predictions, so I will send this essay off to Messieurs Gell-Mann and Smolin forthwith, to see if there is any response. (if so, I will append the response to this posted version of this essay/note).

Since Paul Davies appears to be 'referencing' to a strictly causal underpinning for life, according to his following statement; "The origin of life remains one of the great scientific mysteries.... The problem is to understand how this threshold could have been crossed by ordinary physical and chemical processes without the help of some supernatural agency.", ... and since this removes the enabling alternative, implicit in this essay and suggested by Maturana-Varela and many others, whole cultures included, that the universe IS life, ... I shall defer copying Davies at this time (I am also having trouble finding his email address.).

Since the 'vernacular' used to this point is not likely to present an impression which opens a door into the realm of physics, I will fold this note about the axis represented by this next statement, invert the two halves and, while posting it on my web page as it appears here, send it to Gell-Mann and Smolin with the upper and lower portions 'flipped'; i.e. so that it starts off 'To the Physicists of the 'Third Culture'.'


~Those who have related to the language used to this point in the discussion, may have more difficulty relating to the language used in the following half of this essay.~


To the Physicists of the 'Third Culture'

Murray Gell-Mann, Lee Smolin and Paul Davies (email address unavailable)


I have browsed some of your discussions on the web, but was unable to find an 'entry point' for the subject matter in this letter, under which it might find its way to your attention. While I did find a niche or two referencing 'transciplinary phonies who cower on the boundaries between fields', ... I suspected that the entries made in such categories might not receive any serious attention, ... and while I looked for a category such as 'Physicists open to fundamental critique of their disciplinary approach', ... there does not appear to be any, hence my attempt at direct correspondence with you.

My request, or suggestion, is that you might sponsor a web archive of historical papers, essays and comments, which address instances where transdisciplinary researchers and/or scientists in fields other than physics come across what they perceive are deficiencies in the evolutionary history and/or modern approach of physics. I am also copying the Journal *Complexity* (Casti, Morowitz et al) to determine if there would be any interest in inviting articles or commentaries on such a topic.

Many people, .... who are waiting for some resolution from y'all on important issues of space-time, ... which have been promised, but which are still outstanding from the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics, are desirous of finding some way to accelerate your deliberations or break the deadlock, which continues to bottle-neck their own transdisciplinary or non-physics based researches. That is, while the movement of physics towards a 'field' orientation, coupled with relativity (finite curved space and reciprocal disposition effects) and conservation of energy together suggest that space and matter 'coevolve' as has been held true by many ancient cultures, by Celts, aboriginals, native north americans, buddhists etc., and by many modern observations of 'community as complex system', ... we seem to be held up from using these physics supported 'new views of space-time', while waiting for the final 'equations'.

As you are aware, there are precedents where 'mental models' in physics have been 'approved for use' in advance of their formalization in the form of 'a final theory' or equations, ....for example in the case of Faraday, whose 'field-over-matter' principles in electromagnetism were approved in advance of Maxwell's development of the equations, and similarly in the case of Einstein's theory of relativity, where his mental models preceded his own equations. Also in the case of Charles Darwin, whose mentally-modelled evolutionary principles, ... have still not been fitted with agreed equations, another item doubtless tied up with the dreams of a final unified theory.

Critiques on the manner in which physics is proceeding in their stewardship of space-time concepts are numerous. For example, the late French biologist and independent (discipline-eschewing) researcher, Henri Laborit, remarked in an interview in Le Nouvel Observateur [1] that physicists don't understand how their own mental tools of inquiry function, yet blithely proceed to explain all manner of things, not knowing how 'they came up with these ideas'. Laborit suggested that we must remain '... a bit circumspect in listening to people who affirm, whatever it may be, without understanding their own tools of perception and inquiry. This practice of ignoring the tools of inquiry in the inquiry seems to persist in physics in spite of it being called to the attention of physicists by Heisenberg, Schroedinger and others. That is, since scientific knowledge is embedded in our experience (Heisenberg), we need to understand the process of experience-knowledge coevolution, and also, ... we cannot continue to have the observer sit outside the phenomena he is studying and expect to understand that phenomena, quantum physics is telling us 'there is no outside' for the observer to sit in.

Another example in the 'complaints department' arises in connection with the work of Denis Gabor, professor of electrical engineering at Imperial College, London who discovered holography and had to wait twenty three years for recognition from the physics community (from 1948, or earlier when he discovered the principles of holography to his Nobel Prize in 1971). Is it possible that this same type of 'blind spot' or 'slow processing' problem, with respect to contributions to physics coming from 'outsiders', is still persisting in physics?

There is a common theme running through these two stories, and I suspect there's many more stories more in the same vein, and that is that both Laborit and Gabor saw 'field' as being in a primacy over matter, as did Kepler, Faraday and Einstein, ... a space-time outlook which radically effects how one's 'tools of inquiry' play into the inquiry, and which has not been embraced by the physics community 'at large' but seems to sit off over in a corner as a curiousity while the business of physics goes on pretty much as usual, ... looking for the 'homerun' ball.

In Gabor's 1946 'Theory of Communications' in the JIEE, he showed how, for information theory to be quantum physics 'compliant', the information signal had to be complex. That is, to represent information as coming from 'the eyes of the field' rather than from a particular fixed base (perspective), one needed the capability to handle 'space-time phase'. This was likely the 'trigger' which put him on a path of inquiry which led to the discovery of holographic principles.

This same point, ... the need to put 'field' in a primacy over 'matter', to consider nature in such a manner that the tools of inquiry are included in the inquiry, would appear to be equivalent to Heraclitus' point, ... that nature was at its base a 'field of flow' or 'simultaneous unity and plurality', rather than 'material structure' or a 'sequential unity and plurality' as was embraced by Aristotle (and the modern western world including mainstream physics).

Putting 'field-flow' in the primacy over 'material-structure' gives rise to a 'reciprocal-complementarity' between dipolar opposites (as in female-male coupling), while, by contrast, starting off from 'material structure' as is common in physics today, ... gives rise to a 'reciprocal-antagonism' between dipolar opposites (as in the opposite poles of a material bar magnet or between two oppositely charged particles). The option used to reconcile this 'two-and-the-one conjunctio oppositorum' makes a fundamental difference to one's interpretation of phenomena, .. the former 'reciprocal-complementarity' providing a whole new topography of perception within which.the latter 'reciprocal antagonism' is contained (i.e. in which it 'nests') as a subsidiary feature.

These nested domains of perception and inquiry have been discussed in some depth by Erich Jantsch in his book 'Design for Evolution', ... however, they are largely ignored in mainstream physics today, ... inquiry into why they are ignored being another topic which would make interesting reading for the 'complaints against physics' archive.

In my own independent research into 'community as complex system', ... which can scarcely be approached without including the perception and inquiry tools of the constituents in the inquiry, ... there is abundant data to support the 'simultaneous unity and plurality' model, ... and indeed this model is insisted upon by relativistic curved space-time, as emulated in the game of pool, where the 'containing ensemble' interferes with its own constituents because of 'spherical' wrap-around; i.e. 'reciprocal disposition' effects, .. and the 'material-causal-dynamics' or 'shots' aspect now represents a subsidiary feature which is nested within the larger topography of 'shape' (configurational shape), ... the 'shape' of opportunity which 'space-gates' (opens up or closes down) the selection of which causal dynamics can come to pass. Thus, there is a saying in pool that 'shape is everything'.

The existence of an opportunity-purpose topography is a general principle which falls out of the relativistic, field-in-the-primacy-over-matter geometry option, and this topography is manifest in nature in all social systems, yet it cannot be seen from the pure material-structural view (from a 'shot focus'), ... but instead emanates from the view where the 'flow-field' being in the primacy, contains the material-structural view as a subsidiary feature. The field view, being expressed in space-time context rather than material-structure coordinates, yields a geometry which is akin to 'female-male coupling' (interpenetration), or 'opportunity-purpose' coupling, and where the shape of opportunity opens up relative to purpose (a 'simultaneous' or 'reciprocally-defining' geometry), causal-dynamics can occur.

In the game of pool and in social systems, ... the skilled players 'manage shape' (the 'shape' of opportunity relative to purpose, on a first priority basis, and their material-causal results are seen in terms of a subsidiary byproduct. Thus, approaching 'the way the world works' (Heraclitus) with field in the primacy over matter yields a reciprocal-complementary geometry on the first level, rather than a reciprocal-antagonistic geometry as in the matter -in-the-primacy case. While the pursuit of improvements in 'order' in the material case give rise to only two 'basic' social systems options; i.e. 'war' (direct opposition) and 'ethnic cleansing' (segregation of opposites), ... the 'field in the primacy' model gives rise to those two options PLUS an 'ecological' option (female-male coupling or opportunity-purpose interpenetration).

Philosophical historians [3] speak of a 'dropping of the ball' by Aristotle, in neglecting to justify his choice of 'sequential unity and plurality' which associates with material structure in the primacy, in the face of Anaximander's and Heraclitus's 'simultaneous unity and plurality' (which corresponds to relativistic flow and curved space-time).

The importance of this oversight emerges in the form of Goedel's theorem, which shows us the incompleteness of tangible systems of logical/mathematical propositions, and which clearly screams out; 'all purely material structural descriptions are innately incomplete'. This is because one must also, and at the same time, consider the space which contains the material structure, since by relativity theory, 'space is a participant in physical phenomena' (Einstein), and it is a participant through these 'reciprocal disposition' effects which make curved-space-time self-referential. In other words, relativity is screaming out, ... 'there is a reciprocity between the space-time container and its material constituents' [4] and you can't speak about one or the other at different times, ... you must speak of a 'simultaneous unity and plurality'.

Perhaps this area of 'discussion of incompleteness' of mainstream physics is mixed in somehow with more general physics topics; i.e. in subcontext relative to the presentation of theory. In that case, what would be interesting and useful would be to have a specific archive consisting of hypertext links to the discussions on incompleteness in the presentation of general physics theory and hypothesis, including incompletenesses of the type suggested by Laborit, Gabor and Heraclitus.

It might also be useful to include commentaries, such as (quantum physicist) David Peat's, .... that there is a deeper reason behind physics ignoring its own incompletenesses. That is, perhaps Peat is hitting the mark [5] when he cites Piaget in observing that our facility with the type of topology represented by relativistic curved space-time is something we 'grow out of', ... and in order to even 'see it', ... we must 'get in touch with' the consciousness or 'pre-consciousness' of our childhood.

If you are amenable to the sponsoring of an archive on 'complaints against physics' which might serve to accelerate the general availability and usage of the new relativity and quantum mechanics based concepts of space-time, and, if you see this discussion in itself as meriting a place within it, please feel free to include it.

Thank you for your attention to this 'knock on the back door'.

Ted Lumley

[1] Bernard Werber interview with Henri Laborit, ... Source URL

LNO.-Croyez-vous à une convergence possible entre savants et mystiques.

H.Laborit.-Dans " Dieu ne joue pas aux dés ", j'évoque les travaux des grands physiciens qui ont trouvé un rapprochement entre les lois de la physique quantique et les lois de la mystique indienne. Le problème est que tout celà est le fruit de leur cerveau. Or ils ne savant même pas comment leur instrument de travail - leur cervelle - fonctionne. Les gens affirment des milliers de choses sans même comprendre comment ils ont fait pour les trouver. Cela fait 40 ans que j'étudie le cerveau, alors je reste un peu circonspect devant les personnes qui affirment quoi que ce soit sans même connaitre leur outil de base.

[2] Excerpt from from speech at awards ceremony for Nobel Prize in Physics 1971, twenty-three years after Gabor's discovery of the

Speech by professor ERIK INGELSTAM of the Royal Academy of Sciences

" . . . through successful experiments with light Gabor could show that the principle was correct. In three papers from 1948 to 1951 he attained an exact analysis of the method, and his equations, even today, contain all the necessary information. "

. . .Holography, as this area of science is called, made its break-through when the tool, which had so far been missing, became available, namely the laser as a light source. The first laser was successfully constructed in 1960, and the basic ideas were rewarded by the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics .

. . . You have the honour and pleasure to have founded the basic ideas of the holographic method. . . . Your activity as a writer on culture shows that you belong to the group of physicists and technologists who are concerned about the use or damage to which technical development can lead for mankind.

. . .The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences wishes to give you hearty congratulations, and I now ask you to receive the Nobel Prize in physics from the hand of His Majesty the King.

FromLes Prix Nobel 1971. Copyright © 1998 The Nobel Foundation Last updated by / July 15, 1998

[3] The following quote from 'The Presocratic Philosophers', Second Edition, G.S. Kirk, J. E. Raven and M. Schofield, Cambridge University Press, ... makes clear that the subtlety of the curved space-time view of the cosmos, which cannot be conveyed directly in our euclidian 'thing-oriented' language, ... may well have been lost 'in translation' between Heraclitus and Aristotle, ... just as Darwin's similar intent may be lost in the 'recasting' of passages from Darwin within the modern evolutionary computation framework. The omission shifts us from the domain of SIMULTANEOUS HARMONY also noted by Johannes Kepler in connection with the system of sun and planets and dropped out by Newton, to the domain of SEQUENTIAL TIME PERIODS, .. that is, the 'recasting' takes us from a curved, relativistic space-time continuum, to a rectangular (non-self-referential) non-relativistic disjoint view of independent things populating an inert and non-participating void, ... i.e. material existence out of the context of a unified whole-and-part harmony oriented space-time container.

"Plato ('Sophist' 242D, DK 22 A.10) clearly distinguished between Heraclitus' SIMULTANEOUS unity and plurality of the cosmos and Empedocles' separate PERIODS of Love and Strife. At the same time, they are mentioned together as both alike in believing in the unity and plurality of the cosmos; and Aristotle's coupling of the two might conceivably have been motivated by the Platonic comparison, the important distinction between them being overlooked. See also Guthrie, 'History of Greek Philosophy',HGP1, 455f, and 458, with further references, and D. WIggins, 'Heraclitus' conceptions of flux, etc.' in Language and Logos, ed. Scholfield and Nussbaum (Cambridge, 1982), 1ff."

[4] Einstein notes that in the finite curved space-time view of relativity, a SIMULTANEOUS 'reciprocal disposition' geometry emerges. This geometry governs the opportunities for which members of a material ensemble can engage in causal-dynamics with others; i.e. 'reciprocal disposition' sets up an 'opportunity landscape' wherein causal dynamics are a subsidiary feature. Einstein, Albert, 'Geometry and Experience', 1921 Presentation to the Prussian Academy of Sciences.

"Can we picture to ourselves a three-dimensional universe which is finite, yet unbounded?

The usual answer to this question is ``No,'' but that is not the right answer. The purpose of the following remarks is to show that the answer should be ``Yes.'' I want to show that without any extraordinary difficulty we can illustrate the theory of a finite universe by means of a mental image to which, with some practice, we shall soon grow accustomed.

First of all, an observation of epistemological nature. A geometrical-physical theory as such is incapable of being directly pictured, being merely a system of concepts. But these concepts serve the purpose of bringing a multiplicity of real or imaginary sensory experiences into connection in the mind. To 'visualise' a theory, or bring it home to one's mind, therefore means to give a representation to that abundance of experiences for which the theory supplies the schematic arrangement. In the present case we have to ask ourselves how we can represent that relation of solid bodies with respect to their reciprocal disposition (contact) which corresponds to the theory of a finite universe. There is really nothing new in what I have to say about this; but innumerable questions addressed to me prove that the requirements of those who thirst for knowledge of these matters have not yet been completely satisfied. So, will the initiated please pardon me, if part of what I shall bring forward has long been known? "

. . . "In this way, by using as stepping-stones the practice in thinking and visualisation which Euclidean geometry gives us, we have acquired a mental picture of spherical geometry. We may without difficulty impart more depth and vigour to these ideas by carrying out special imaginary constructions. Nor would it be difficult to represent the case of what is called elliptical geometry in an analogous manner. My only aim today has been to show that the human faculty of visualisation is by no means bound to capitulate to non-Euclidean geometry."

[5] F. David Peat, 'Mathematics and the Language of Nature', Mathematics and Sciences, edited by Ronald E. Mickens (Word Scientific, 1990)

"Physics, to me, has always been concerned with understanding the nature of the universe we live in; a way of celebrating and coming to terms with our existence in the material world, rather than a matter of discovering new technologies and accumulating more knowledge. It is in this light that I have criticized the role of mathematics in physics and have hinted at the way new language forms could be developed. Of course I acknowledge the great service that mathematics has done for physics, how it has lifted it from speculation to precision, and, of course, I recognize the great power and beauty of mathematics that is practiced for its own sake. But here, at the end of the 20th century we must not rest on our laurels, the whole aim of our enterprise is to penetrate ever deeper, to move towards a more fundamental understanding and a more complete celebration of the universe itself. In this undertaking in which prediction, calculation and control over the physical world also have a place but they do not become the whole goal of the scientific enterprise. It is for this reason that I am urging physicists to play closer attention to the mathematical language they use every day.

This whole question of the formal strategies employed by the brain is the province of cognitive psychology. One of the pioneers in that field was Jean Piaget. Piaget's particular approach was to suggest that the basis of our thought and action could be traced to the logic of the various physical transactions we had with the world during our first weeks, months and years. Piaget believed that these same logical operations are also present in mathematics and, in this respect, he had a very interesting point to make. It is well known, he pointed out, that mathematics can be arranged in a hierarchical structure of greater and greater depth. In the case of geometry, for example, the top, and most superficial, level is occupied by those semi-empirical rules for surveying and calculating shapes that were known to the Egyptians and Babylonians. Below that could be placed the more fundamental, axiomatic methods of the ancient Greeks. The history of geometry demonstrates the discovery of deeper and more general levels, Euclidian geometry gives way to non-Euclidian, beneath geometry is topology, and topology itself is founded on even more general and beautiful mathematics. The longer a particular topic has been studied, the deeper mathematicians are able to move towards its foundations.

But Piaget, pointed out, this historical evolution is a direct reversal of the actual development of concepts of space in the infant. To the young child, the distinction between intersecting and non-intersecting figures is more immediate than between, say, a triangle, square and circle. To the infant's developing mind, topology comes before geometry. In general, deeper and more fundamental logical operations are developed earlier than more specific rules and applications. The history of mathematics, which is generally taken as a process of moving towards deeper and more general levels of thought, could also be thought of as a process of excavation which attempts to uncover the earliest operations of thought in infancy. According to this argument, the very first operations exist at a pre-conscious level so that the more fundamental a logical operation happens to be, the earlier it was developed by the infant and the deeper it has become buried in the mind. Again, this suggests a reason why mathematics is so unreasonably effective, for the deeper it goes the more it becomes a formal expression of the ways in which with interact with, and learn about, the world.

But, it could be objected, if the history of mathematics and, to some extent, of theoretical physics, is simply that of uncovering, and formalizing, what we already know then how is it possible to create new ideas, like Einstein's relativity, that totally lie outside our experience? The point is, however, that this equality or interdependence of

space and time was already present in all the world's language. Rather than coming to the revelation that time and space must be unified then have never really been linguistically separated! According to this general idea, what may appear to be novel in physics and mathematics is essentially the explicit unfolding of something that is already implicit within the structuring of human thought--of course physics itself also makes use of empirical observations and predictions. For this reason, the intelligent use of mathematics as a language for physics will necessarily make sense.

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