17/5/17 to 28/5/17– bounced from Ch 10.
And the first bounce on my way back is to renounce science – tremendous. One of my things with Pirsig is that he appears to have too much faith in science but perhaps that is Phaedrus. Using Phaedrus to attack science is nice although to be fair part of this is an attack he agreed with.
In my view science always needs to be viewed historically to give a proper context concerning knowledge per se. Here is a scientific axiom that ought not to be controversial, science is all knowledge – the two terms ought to be interchangeable. Back in the day Francis Bacon dichotomised knowledge into that which could be proved and that which could be observed but was not subject to rational proof, it is my understanding he did this to help classifying knowledge. Putting it simply but not exactly knowledge could be split into science and religion. What was science was subjected to rational proof, and religion was that which is observable – empirical knowledge. Over the years knowledge has gradually become restricted to scientific knowledge, and religious knowledge is not now considered as knowledge – faith or sometimes more like superstition rather than knowledge. Scientific method does not examine religion even though it can be observed empirically. This is something HHDL discusses when he talks of meditation as having an observable structure that can be repeated – one of the tenets of scientific method.
Now all of this is context, and I want to get to what he discussed - hypotheses. Pirsig came up with a flippant law “The number of rational hypotheses that can explain any given phenomenon is infinite.” Placing this in the context of what he wrote he was describing where hypotheses came from, coming up with one there were always more. When discussing science especially in the context of the Bacon dichotomy I have always claimed that there needs to be two approaches to knowledge, that which is rational and provable and that which is empirical and observable but cannot be proved by scientific method. This is usually answered by those who subscribe to reason only as science will have all the answers – not just yet, in other words what I consider to be religious knowledge is either not considered as knowledge or is knowledge that has not yet been rationalised. Yet Phaedrus is suggesting scientific method has infinite hypotheses ie phenomena can never be fully explained. This is also good from a holistic position and Dedekind cuts, the whole can never be the sum of all the parts as each whole has infinite parts. I parallel this with the question answered by Dedekind cuts - “how many numbers are there between 0 and 1?”
So holistically there are now two indicators that science cannot fully explain everything, sum of parts and infinite hypotheses. And that is without the consideration that there is empirical knowledge that can be observed but is not explained by rational science. As Pirsig says “If all hypotheses cannot be tested, then the results of any experiment are inconclusive and the entire scientific method falls short of its goal of establishing proven knowledge.” Now I think this Pirsig statement is a biggy, as big if not bigger than all the stuff about Church of Reason. Science in the form we now practise it cannot fulfil its objective of explaining everything ie science is fundamentally flawed. This understanding did not send Phaedrus crazy so maybe that is why it is not focussed. But it is a biggy. With all the flock of the Church of Reason who are around, telling them that there are arguments that say science cannot explain everything is quite huge. A biggy! To me a significant biggy.
Prior to discussing infinite hypotheses he asked “where do hypotheses come from?” He suggested that coming from nature was too simplistic, but it is not if nature is Gaia. Nature and Gaia are terms I am very clear about but my usage is not what is generally accepted for either; I tend to use Gaia in a special way, and call this Nature with a capital n. So the accepted definition (James Lovelock) of nature (and gaia) might be what comes under the subject of ecology – it is physical. There is the totality of the physical earth with plants and animals living on it, and there is man separate living on gaia. For me this is not a good definition. There is one life on One Planet – Unity. I am part of the lifeforce that includes all life on earth, and is only one lifeforce – Unity – integrated together; I call this Gaia. This is in line with James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis (see wiki) but I take it further. His hypothesis “proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet.” But is man considered separate – separate man living on Gaia; I think separation is the way it is seen. For me this is not the Unity that is spoken of in some Eastern approaches. These Eastern approaches speak of Unity (Gaia) as an integrated life including what separation calls “all life on earth”. This would be one consciousness of which human consciousnesses are all part, one totality of Gaia containing different but not separate lifeforms of humanity, animals, plants etc.
With this understanding of Gaia hypotheses coming from nature follows as there is no separation, hypotheses are part of consciousness, part of Gaia, part of Nature, those creating hypotheses just have to be open to this lack of separation; Pirsig described this openness as infinite hypotheses, once one came others automatically followed as part of the learning experiment. In a way because of my “hypothesis” about Gaia and Nature, the question of whether hypotheses come from nature is almost a tautology. There is only Gaia so hypotheses come from her. Hypotheses are a creative part of science, it is like the insight of problem-solving. With a clear mind a hypothesis would arise like an insight because we are part of Gaia. “The act of formally writing everything down precisely and clearly seemed to suggest them [BZ hypotheses].” This is also interesting when I think about my writing (blog) as putting the flesh on the bones after a meditation insight, or like creative writing – Wai Zandtao does not know what is happening in the stories until he writes it.
When we consider the confusion that is sub-atomic physics then perhaps this discussion might have a more practical bent. For a long time Newton’s laws were completely adequate, and atoms and molecules tended to fit in with those laws. When science went sub-atomic the Newtonian paradigm struggled as measurement was difficult. Fritjov Capra, in Tao of Physics and Turning Point, noted that sub-atomic functions could be considered particle or wave depending on the status of the observer. In trying to hold to the Newtonian paradigm all kinds of theories are coming up – all far too complex for me (see books by Hagelin and my blog about him), and more they sound a little deluded except that science adheres to them so they have community credibility. There never seems a totality of explanation. As science begins to measure more deeply it postulates new particles with new properties, and then measuring further new particles with properties. I suppose this fits in with scientific method but then there is stuff that cannot be explained and in comes probabilities and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. It becomes complex to understand, and that difficulty gives it credibility within the scientific community; if it is hard it is science. But I never got into all of these scientific explanations of sub-atomic physics then because at the time of reading those books it struck me that chi/energy much more sensibly explained function on a sub-atomic level. As Capra indicated especially in Turning Point science had its Newtonian paradigm, and was going to continue with its paradigm sub-atomically. In my reading at the time, and my understanding now, there was an existing explanation for all that understanding but because it was more “religious” science didn’t want to know. Accepting the existence of this energy as chi or prana and then explaining its function and properties would have been, for me, a much more profitable avenue for science to have taken.
“Until it is tested a hypothesis is not truth”. I don’t like the word truth in this context, for me truth is universal and timeless and as such is much more than scientific method. What might be understood as scientific truth is a hypothesis at a particular moment in time that gets ratified by scientific methodology. Pirsig quoted Einstein “Evolution has shown that at any given moment out of all conceivable constructions a single one has always proved itself absolutely superior to the rest,” and Pirsig focussed on “at any given moment”. “Did Einstein really mean to state that truth was a function of time?” If truth is timeless and permanent and if scientific truth depends on the moment then scientific truth is not permanent. If we consider the Buddhist characteristic of anicca then because all is changing so are the scientific hypotheses that the methodology calls “scientific truth” after ratification. Therefore scientific truth is not permanent. “Some scientific truths seemed to last for centuries, others for less than a year. Scientific truth was not dogma, good for eternity, but a temporal quantitative entity that could be studied like anything else.” Pirsig in Ch10.
“But there it was, the whole history of science, a clear story of continuously new and changing explanations of old facts.” This needs to be measured against anicca, what is the relationship between anicca and “old facts”? And “old facts” also need to be considered in terms of Dedekind cuts. An atom is a solid as opposed to a length but the approach is valid. Old facts discussed the atom almost as a fundamental unit, yet we have gone sub-atomic and it is now infinite. The facts of the atom as they were understood don’t appear to have changed (nucleus containing protons and neutrons with electrons orbiting). It is my understanding that this description has not been refuted by sub-atomic physics, it is just that it does not explain everything because science is now able to investigate within the atom. Can science ever fully explain the atom because there will always be spaces within spaces within spaces …. inside the atom? This is equivalent to “how many numbers are there between 0 and 1?” Mathematically the answer to such a question is termed uncountable and is infinite. Whilst the volume is finite, there are infinite spaces inside if we are able to develop technology to investigate further. Scientific understanding of the atom is based on the limitation of the measuring technology, and will therefore always change. Does that mean the “old facts” have changed? That is not a good question. Has that atom changed because we understand it more? Effectively yes, arguably no. It is not the “old fact” of the atom that needs to be considered in these situations but “scientific understanding of the atom”. And understanding is always changing – anicca. “Scientific truth was not dogma, good for eternity, but a temporal quantitative entity that could be studied like anything else.” But truth does not change, the truth that scientific understanding is always changing is always true. Anicca is always true. Can scientific understanding ever reach the end? No as in the case of the atom each space is infinite. Science cannot explain all and that brings us to consideration of this:-
“Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified and intelligible picture of the world. He then tries to some extent to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, and thus to overcome it -.He makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life in order to find in this way the peace and serenity which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience -.The supreme task-is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach them -.” Pirsig quoting Einstein in Ch10 p.227/893.
That first sentence sounds very egotistical although it is definitely true of “man” in general – of science. On an individual level I feel understanding is so much different, and this difference very much depends on the level of maturity of the person. Maturity is a word I started to use more in "The Arico Chronicles, but its usage there very much applies in a “real life” context. Religions postulate a substantive Path. Once on this Path there are empirical observations of a common approach. Such observations are not observed methodically by science, and so is not recognised as truth or knowledge. Yet those on the Path feel a common experience. At the same time science has difficulty grasping the concept of Path because it has no way of measuring it, and Path does not fit into the ego of science. Scientists, the caretakers of knowledge, usually do not experience the Path because of their scientific ego and the way science directs them, and so when those on the Path might claim some form of knowledge science rejects the Path as non-measurable and therefore not knowledge.
In Arico I began using mature as a word that described increasing awareness once on the Path, and similarly postulated that an adult was a person who had started on the Path. Up until people have started on the Path their understanding is based on instinct and conditioning – adolescent awarenesses by nature. Moving beyond instinct and conditioning is the beginning of Path, and as one progresses along the Path the adult becomes more and more mature. Science has a conditioned role within the 1%-system now, this science is primarily geared towards technology that then leads to profits from technology. Research is funded by the 1%-system, and such research is not geared towards knowledge in general but science that can be turned into profit. This is far from the knowledge that Bacon dichotomised for the purpose of classification.
People on the Path with increasing maturity perceive the importance of Gaia, and they fit in with Gaia as much as possible, the Path is the Path of Nature. There is no fashioning, there is simply Nature and the Path is learning about Nature – not with any perspective, not fashioned in any way but simply learning. There is Nature, mature adults have a humility with regards to Nature, and work within unwritten laws of Nature continually following their Path of learning. Only Nature knows where this Path takes the mature, and such adults simply follow where Nature takes them. There is no fashioning or replacing Nature with a limited man-made cosmic plan. There is knowledge and infinity of knowledge, and a humble acceptance of an individual role within this.
However this is not the conditioned approach of most people, and this conditioned approach could be the one Einstein was describing. For most people their lives are conditioned. Nature makes provision for the immature to survive through instinct. But Nature expects that instinct to drop away, and the mature adult to follow the Path. However the ego clings to instinct because mature adults recognise the ego as a failing. In society this holding to ego is accepted behaviour, and it is behaviour that is passed on through the generations by conditioning. Each new child follows instinct as Nature intended but then as they grow older instead of that instinct falling away as they start on the Path of the adult, conditioning kicks in. What most people accept as normal behaviour is based on instinct and conditioning, and for adults beginning on the Path there is conflict between the Path and conditioning that often leaves the mature as outsiders. Ego conditions man to fashion a limited description of Nature, and lives within this limited view to overcome Nature. Whilst this sounds highly theoretical the conclusion is obviously observable. Humanity is slowly destroying the ecology. Humanity’s limited science has recognised climate change yet egos in power in the US have paid for “climate deniers” to further their profits.
Within this conditioned ego-cosmos life is measured by the materialism of instinct and profit, and we have a substitution for peace – fear, where limited materialism satisfies the grown adolescents. There is no peace in this compromise, there is only the fear and the conditioned agreement that a family with a nice house, a regular job and an education for their children is sufficient for life’s meaning. All of this conditioned agreement leads to increased profits for the 1% whilst the Path and maturity are eschewed from “normal” life. And sadly for most a life run by intuition, insight and creativity is lost. The “narrow whirlpool of personal experience” is the turbulent life that comes from the ego accepting a life governed by instinct and conditioning. There is the egoic science that feels the axiomatic laws can be used to deduce Nature yet there is a bone to truth in recognising that such axiom would be determined by intuition. For science to consider that its laws can explain Nature is a contemptible arrogance that sadly most subscribe to.
Notice throughout all of this there is no attempt at scientific rationalising, it is empirical observation. This is an observation of the Path that those on the Path will recognise, and those not on the Path will consider this speculation or arrogance. As observation of and the following of the Path are the only hopes for humanity it is a deep sadness that science fails to recognise the religious branch of science. And fails to use adapted scientific methodologies to empirically verify what is the Path and what is charlatanism.