There are two major scientific theories which remarkably model the universe: at the largest scales, general relativity, and at the smallest scales, quantum theory.
The problem is that both of them can’t be absolutely true. They both have weaknesses, cases where they fail.
And so far they have not been unified either. The attempt to unify these two theories into a single theory have all failed, what is sometimes called a “theory of everything,” or “quantum gravity.”
I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to unify these theories into a more complete comprehensive scientific theory. We may make progress in developing each theory, and offering ideas of how the two theories might better fit together, but I don’t think we’ll ever have a final definite solution which explains everything, at least not in the traditional sense.
Why? I think our models of the universe are a reflection of the dualities of reality itself in our everyday perceptions. I suggest that dialectical monism is a philosophy which perhaps is a good framework for what the ultimate reality is really like. Dialectical monism posits that reality is ultimately a unified whole, which necessarily manifests itself in dualities. In other words, the most Real fundamental nature of reality is an essential unity, a Monad, but this One expresses itself in complementary polarities, dualities, binaries, oppositions, contradictions, etc., such as day and night, light and dark, up and down, left and right, on and off, 0 and 1, true and false, hot and cold, large and small, etc.
It seems that these two theories model reality at two ends of the spectrum of reality, at two polarities, at the very large and very small, and I think these theories are themselves manifestations of the duality of how reality manifests itself. I’ll repeat that: our theories themselves are a manifestation of the duality of manifest reality. I don’t think that is a coincidence that we have two different theories that model these two polarities, the large and the small. And I think that is what they are modeling. They are not modeling reality as a whole, but only the two extreme ends of it.
How would we come to approach or realize the One, the Real, the Monad, the Singularity, the Whole, the All, the Everything? I suggest we need to go beyond the way reality expresses itself in our everyday perceptions, in these dualities, in our senses, in our minds, in our finite mental experience and concepts. It seems to me that we need to transcend the manifestation of reality, this dualistic expression, this emanation, this incarnation, this classical approach to investigating nature by looking at the external world, and how it manifests “out there.”
I just heard physicist Max Tegmark remark (on a PBS Space Time livestream) that if we are to come to a “theory of everything,” it seems like we must incorporate what the nature of the observer is, and what consciousness is. And I agree. If we ignore this thing we call our self, our finite point of view, our human mind, we probably won’t ever find it. If we don’t know what this thing is, this lens, through which we are observing the world, then we won’t come to know what the world ultimately is. How could we, if we don’t realize what the lens itself is?
Intriguingly, both general relativity and quantum theory seem to point to us, this relativistic finite observer that is our self. In relativity, the finite relative perspective (the reference frame) has a critical role, and in quantum theory, the finite measuring observer has a critical role. This is perhaps a hint, an indicator, a clue, of the next place we should investigate, which is consciousness, and the nature of mind. And not in a detached third-person investigation of the psyche, necessarily, but through personal self-inquiry. Who am I?
It is perhaps no accident that some of the greatest scientists and philosophers in history were also mystics, such as Einstein, Newton, Bohm, Bruno, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Planck, Pauli, perhaps Sagan, Plato, Parmenides, Pythagoras, Teilhard de Chardin, Dyson, etc. I suggest they were so successful in their science/philosophy because of their mysticism, not in spite of it. Perhaps we should take mysticism more seriously today, not New Age pseudoscience and the magic of crystals, but real classical mysticism, i.e. looking deeply inward.
Einstein, the demigod of modern science, himself said, “The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science.” More recently Carl Sagan said, “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” An aphorism derived from the temple of Apollo at Delphi, “Know thyself, and thou shalt know the universe and God.” Until we know ourself, or perhaps better, our Self, I suggest we won’t know the universe or God. On the other hand, when we “know” our Self, we “know” the universe and God. We “know” the One, the Whole, the All, the Singularity.
I discussed this all at least once previously here, in case you want to see that too. What are your thoughts or non-thoughts?
2 thoughts on “Can we unify General Relativity and Quantum Theory through Classical Mysticism?”
Our true Self, which some call soul, is deeper than our individual, ego self. It is that which unifies us with the essence of all of existence. To realize it we have discard our ego and abandon our individuality. Easier said than done.
Yes, well said. We have to transcend the duality of the ego in order to realize the unity of the true Self or Soul, the Ultimate Reality.