If you were to summarize the progress of physics in one word, two thousand years of physics since the time of the Greeks, into just one word, that one word would be unification… I find it impossible to believe that nature could create a universe that is schizoid, that has two mathematics, two physical principles, two assumptions governing the very small [Quantum Mechanics] and the very big [General Relativity]… they really are polar opposites in almost every single sense of the word, yet how can nature unify them into a cosmic unity. Many of the giants of physics have tried; they have all failed because of mathematical inconsistency.-Michio Kaku, see video above
Could the ultimate “unification” of physics be the mystical realization that it is all ultimately One, the uni-verse itself, this “one song,” but this is perhaps a transcendent Singularity which must manifest itself in opposing dualities such as our theories of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics?
Perhaps the One Reality of Nature cannot be known intellectually otherwise, perhaps it cannot manifest or express itself or be observed in reality except through such polarities or opposites that we observe in nature, such as those observations which have yielded these two seemingly contradictory theories in physics.
Nature doesn’t have to unify these into a cosmic unity. We are trying to work backwards, to go from duality to unity, from the manifestation to its source, but that’s not how Nature itself works. The cosmic unity that is Nature is manifesting its singular nature outwards through duality, emanating itself through the means of these opposites, through polarities, through dialectics, through contrasts, through juxtapositions, through difference. It is the way we become aware of Nature as it incarnates or becomes actualized in experience. Mormons might recognize this concept in the scripture, “It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11, see the whole chapter).
I suggest that we can never openly discover, conceptually think, or theoretically articulate the underlying unity of nature, this Singularity, this One, this Holy (Wholly) One, this God, unless we go deep into the source of all our experience, consciousness itself. This is perhaps the coincidentia oppositorum, the unity of opposites, this dialectical monism, that mystics have spoken of for millennia. It is all One, but it manifests as two, through opposites, binaries, contradictions, paradoxes, polarities, and a multiplicity and diversity of things in between. The plurality of this One Nature cannot be expressed otherwise.
I think it may even be encapsulated in the Christian concept of the Trinity, the Father and Son representing the dualities of Reality, with the Spirit negotiating the interaction, interplay, interconnection between the two. The Father is absolute, infinite, indivisible, unmanifest, immortal, atemporal, invisible, while the Son is the relative, finite, divisible, manifest, mortal, temporal, visible incarnation of the Father. The Spirit is the medium, that energy, that field through which the Father incarnates itself as the Son in all embodied formed things, and through which the Son recognizes the Father, the All in All.
If we go back to those Greeks that Kaku mentioned who began physics, one of the earliest pre-Socratic philosophers Heraclitus noted the dualistic nature of Nature:
By cosmic rule, as day yields night, so winter summer, war peace, plenty famine. All things change. Fire penetrates the lump of myrrh, until the joining bodies die and rise again in smoke called incense… Men do not know how that which is drawn in different directions harmonizes with itself. The harmonious structure of the world depends upon opposite tension like that of the bow and the lyre.-Heraclitus
Such dialectical monism can also be found in much of Taoism, as is expressed in the yin and yang symbol, also known as Taijitu, representing Taiji, the “great pole” or “supreme ultimate,” which has both monist and dualist qualities. Taiji is also spelled T’ai chi, and is the name we use in the West for Taijiquan, the martial art.
Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity are both accepted as scientific fact even though they’re mutually exclusive. Albert Einstein spent the second half of his life searching for a unifying truth that would reconcile the two.-Roy H. Williams
The giants of physics have perhaps failed to unify these polar opposite theories because the very big and the very small are perhaps not supposed to unify in the realm of our observed experience. We observe the very big and the very small as themselves polar opposites, which perhaps rely on polar opposite principles, insofar as we can become intellectually aware of them and articulate them in our theories and mathematics. Perhaps the mathematics refuses to be consistent in these two polar realms because mathematics is a conceptual formulation of our own external observations of patterns in Nature, of our own sensory experiences of those patterns, which is necessarily dualistic.
Humanity has struggled for ages to know the Ultimate, to know God, the One, to know Reality as it really is, to understand our origins, our source, our ultimate nature, to unify it all into a cohesive framework, to comprehend reality, the universe, the cosmos, nature, and thus to know ourselves. One of the greatest aphorisms of wisdom is “know thyself,” which great thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson have interpreted to mean to know the God in yourself.
As St. Augustine discovered, as surely as many others, the ultimate nature of reality cannot ever be discovered outside of ourselves. We have to go to the root of our experience, which is consciousness itself, if we are to know it. We must engage in contemplative practices and means such as meditation, and prayerful introspection, if we are to know the One. No amount of inquiry or investigation “out there” will reveal this unity, this Singularity, as it really is. When we look “out there” we are only reifying dualism, our subject becoming aware of its dualistic objects of experience. So looking “out there” will never reveal the One.
That doesn’t mean we should stop our outward sciences, our investigations in physics, our explorations of nature. On the contrary, in so doing we are coming to know better the incarnate nature of Reality, this Singularity, this uni-verse, as it manifests itself in nature, and as we are able to cooperate in that manifestation. But no amount of study of that incarnate outward form will reveal the ultimate absolute unified essence of Reality itself.
I suggest that the “theory of everything” will always be the mystical realization of the oneness of everything, which includes the Self, and is the Self. That is the unifying Truth, and we are That.
We have found that where science has progressed the farthest, the mind has but regained from nature that which the mind has put into nature. We have found a strange footprint on the shores of the unknown. We have devised profound theories, one after another, to account for its origins. At last, we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the footprint. And lo! It is our own.-Sir Arthur Eddington
2 thoughts on “The Mystical Impasse in the Unification of Dualistic Physics”
The theory of General Relativity was developed by Albert Einstein. I like this quotation by him:
“…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”
Physicists Heisenberg, Schroedinger, de Broglie, Jeans, Planck, Pauli, and Eddington were supporters of mysticism. A good reference is “Quantum Questions / Mystical Writings of the World’s Greatest Physicists,” edited by Ken Wilber (Shambhala 1984, 2001)
I love that Einstein quote too. And I’m actually currently reading Wilber’s anthology. It is quite good.