There were lots of unusual articles I received this week, and when considered in connection to each other, they may add up to a high octane speculative "whopper doozie." Consider the following articles shared by P.S.J., and T.S.:
Consider just this statement in the third article:
Scientists have created the fastest spinning object ever made, taking them a big step closer to being able to measure the mysterious quantum forces at play inside 'nothingness'.
The record-breaking object in question is a tiny piece of silica, capable of whipping around billions of times per second - creating sufficient sensitivity that the team think they'll be able to use it to detect unfathomably small amounts of drag caused by the 'friction' within a vacuum.
Now, if rotational systems detecting a kind of "friction" or "drag effect" sounds a bit familiar, it should, for in essence it forms the conceptual basis of Georges Sagnac's 1913 rotating version of the Michelson-Morley experiment to detect an aether "drag" effect. But how can a nothing effect a something?
As the other articles aver, consciousness and the information it contains may have a kind of inertial mass effect. Now, while this may be news to physicists, it's not very big news to theologians or ancient philosophers. There are even terms for this effect in the literature, if one reads it in a certain way, and with an eye for the physics connection. It's called the "habit of will" and in some Greek theologians like St. Maximus the Confessor, the "gnomic will," the habits of will and choice that a person builds up over time and in a variety of circumstances and experience. Such a habit becomes or functions like a kind of psychological "inertial mass", a predisposition to respond to certain factors by choosing in a certain way, but one that can never be deterministic: the habit is there, and yet, an individual might respond completely differently than the habit indicates; the individual might change his mind and choose very differently than previous habit indicates. It's this notion, if one ponders it carefully, that lies behind the modern quest to build up databases of individuals, in order to compile statistical aggregates of predicted behavior, which is much easier to do with aggregates of individuals - or particles - than it is of any given individual (or particle).
But if so, if consciousness is all pervasive, and if human consciousness is all pervasive, as these articles suggest, then whose consciousness is it? Again, the idea and the question is not new to theologians or ancient philosophers, but in the hands of theologians, it's not a pan-psychism. It's a bit more subtle. The ancients had the conception that there were "seeds of the creative reason" in all things to various degrees, but that this was a break in kind with humans where it was present in quality, not mere quantity. We may, as Chesterton observes, share certain things in common with animals, yet, art - creativity - remains unique to man. But all things nevertheless display some of these "seeds of the creative reason." These seminal reasons, rationes seminales in the Latin, or logoi spermatikoi in the Greek, are, so to speak, reflections of the Logos, who in Christian thought is a person, and indeed, the second divine person of the Trinity. It's an unusual doctrine, in that it's another of those "both/and" cases so inimical to the "binary mind," which would have it that either one's person is subsumed and erased by that all-consuming Person at the heart of it all, or that that there is no transcending Person, but just little persons, who in their turn are but the accidental results of chemistry, and hence, personhood is merely a material illusion. It's this "both/and" view of Personhood including other personhoods that lies behind the statement in the book of Acts, "in whom we live and move and have our being." Or as Maximus put it, "the one Logos is the many logoi, and the many logoi are the one Logos."
Perhaps what's most intriguing about these developments, however, is not so much any specific connections they may have with ancient doctrines, but rather, with the fact that if these recent developments should be borne out, physics seems to be coming back to metaphysics after a long sojourn in the deserts of materialism and "method," that it should be coming back to life, and organism, rather than mechanism and materialism.
See you on the flip side...
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