No. 118 (essentialsaltes) wrote,
No. 118

What do Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn & Chuck Colson have in common?

They both went to prison, and they both won the Templeton Prize for "exceptional contribution[s] to affirming life's spiritual dimension". The foundation jiggers the prize amount to ensure that it's always more than the Nobel. Suck it, scientists.

Anyway, this year's Templeton winner is Bernard d'Espagnat, helping to keep packing the winners with physicists (7 of the previous 10 winners were physicists). Perhaps it's an English language bias, but I don't know d'Espagnat, but the prize citation offers some info, which suggests that the main bone he threw out that attracted the attention of the foundation is a sort of 'spiritualism of the gaps'. Quantum Mechanics draws a veil of ignorance over certain kinds of physical information, therefore there is a fundamental really real reality that we perceive only through a glass darkly, therefore we can use guides like art, philosophy and theology to explore the real.
This is simultaneously right and wrong. We all know that science cannot answer all questions. Science will never make a justice-ometer or a beauty-ometer. So it's a good thing we have philosophy and art to discuss these matters. At the same time, I think it's absurd to imagine that if we could see the really real reality(*) that is screened from our view by QM, we would find little justice-ons and beauty-ons colliding and generating the empirical universe. D'Espagnat doesn't quite say that explicitly, and he would probably deny it, but that's the picture that emerges when he squishes together the ideas that QM prevents us from measuring certain things, and that there are 'other ways of knowing'.
I think the money-quote from d'Espagnat is “Science and only science yields true knowledge. On the other hand, concerning the ground of things, science has no such privilege.” On the topics for which science can be used, science is the only path to true knowledge [a bit stronger than even I'd phrase it]. But for the things where you can't use science, we are reduced(?) to less-certain tools.
The poopoo quote is "higher forms of spirituality are fully compatible with what seems to emerge from contemporary physics." This takes us two steps below The Tao of Physics or The Dancing Wu Li Masters. It sounds profound, but it's a pretty empty statement. Chess and Nazism are fully compatible with what seems to emerge from contemporary physics.

Okay, as a reward(?), guess the author from a page of text.

(*) As a more or less unreconstructed Copenhagen Interpretation kinda guy, I have my doubts whether there actually is any there there behind the limitations of QM.
Tags: book, money, religion, science

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