A Hard Core of Truth Seekers? 


I would like to think of myself as one of these.  I was a Sputnik 'baby' to the world of physics.  My father had been impressed by Donald Menzel's involvement in the Manhattan Project, and his astronomy books were read to me at an early age.  Sputnik and Manhattan Project sound more like power than truth, but power and truth are more than tangentially related.  Recall the coda of the Lord's prayer, for instance.  Truth may be more a matter of what you know, and power of who you know, but these lines are often conflated.  A nuclear weapon may convey the notion of 'fear of God' even to a materialist.  And what of God do we fear more, the power or the truth? 

I would naturally look to my former colleagues in physics, and particularly among those who have evinced an interest in the mind, as potential comrades in the seeking of truth.  An interest in the mind has come late to the physics community, and it remains muted.  It has never been able to get a handle on the mind, slippery beast that it is.  The closest thing to a handle is the quantum, yet the possible quantum-mind connection shows no sign of fruition.  

In David Chalmers' list of online papers I recognize the names of several physicists in the Consciousness and physics and Metaphysics of consciousness sections.  I have had just a few communications with Henry Stapp over the years, and that is about it.  These are professionals interested in a decidedly fringe and speculative area.  Frankly they have to be careful to maintain their professional status.  The sorts of speculations in which I engage would be several orders beyond what might be tolerated by their colleagues.  Public association with the likes of me or my ideas would be problematic at the least. 

About the only way I can envision engaging such folks would be by the creation of a sufficiently public discussion that they could comment upon it from a professional distance, rather than appearing to be personally involved. 

A point to be taken here is that professionalism is, at best, conducive only to those truths that might fall within its historically defined purview.  Thomas Kuhn recognized this as a potential inhibition on truth seeking some time ago.  In science, as in most endeavors, revolutions come from out of the blue.  They are never the result of 'normal' scientific research. 

Kuhn's followers viewing this history from a postmodern perspective suggest that any number of intellectual revolutions need not add up to the truth.   It could be an endless circling, or there could be no objective reality to begin with.  

As I have stated before, the scholarly mind-matter debate has made waves and rocked a few boats, but seems now to be bogged down.  The physicists are in a better position than most to recognize the cosmic implications of a foundational approach to the mind.  But even the most astute of them have difficulty seeing it as being much more than an intellectual puzzle.  They don't see any need to dial 911.  That's our job.  I hope I have dialed correctly. 

[later the same day...]  

From a search on "intellectual revolution" let me recommend the following Bonus chapter on nutty quantum theories by John McCrone.  Quoting from Christof Koch, "...the physicists expect to find the secret of consciousness in some grand, fundamental twist on the laws of nature. In keeping with the great breakthroughs in the basic sciences, they believe the answer should have a deep and beautiful simplicity."  But this could be permitted only to come from within the mathematical framework of theoretical physics.  Anything that might transcend that framework has no purchase with the physics profession.  It would be allowing the tail, mind, to wag the dog, physics.  The physicists have been doing the wagging for a long time, and they don't wish to get wagged, thank you very much!  


On the Web: 

<-- Prev      Next -->

Topical Index