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The Secret Self Aug 06

The Secret Self Aug 06

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Published by catalin
This is a book about an ancient mystery that has occupied philosophers (including a few scientists,
who, of course, are also philosophers in the strictest sense of the word) throughout recorded history.
The mystery concerns the validity of the concept of the self
This is a book about an ancient mystery that has occupied philosophers (including a few scientists,
who, of course, are also philosophers in the strictest sense of the word) throughout recorded history.
The mystery concerns the validity of the concept of the self

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Published by: catalin on Jul 09, 2010
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02/11/2013

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Superstring theory is not by any means the only area of ‘post quantum mechanical’ thinking in
subatomic physics. Another one that should be mentioned here, particularly because of its
philosophical implications, rejoices in the name of ‘bootstrap theory, and is associated especially
with the name of Geoffrey Chew. One of its ancestors is what is called ‘field theory, which
originated over a century ago in the work of Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell on the
transmission of electric charges. Bootstrap theory itself emerges from what is known as ‘S-matrix
theory’, which was suggested originally by Heisenberg as a way of describing the nature and
behaviour of hadrons. These energons – like all the others – can undergo transformations into one
or other of their force-carrying ‘relatives’, and the many possible changes open to each type of
energon can be expressed in matrix form and represented in S-matrix diagrams like the one shown
in Figure 4. The S-matrix diagram shows the most likely reaction probabilities for the hadron in the
circumstances concerned, there being no material ‘building blocks’ in S-matrix theory – only well-
defined patterns of energy flow (which are reminiscent of the ‘flow patterns’ of Taoism).

50

Another interesting point about S-matrix theory is that it implies that all energons, in spite of their
apparently rather unstable nature, must possess some internal structure (at least in their ‘particle
mode’) because otherwise they would not be perceptible to an observer.

Chew later developed his bootstrap theory on a much wider scale, to describe a Universe that
contains neither ‘fundamental particles’ nor fields – nor even laws! – but only interacting events
whose character develops from their interrelationships with one another rather than from any
external source (compare Einstein’s remark on page 108). This makes ‘bootstrapping’ seem
difficult to reconcile with Chew’s use of S-matrix theory to describe the behaviour of hadrons, but
as he also envisaged the extension of his theory to include human consciousness as an element of
reality, it seems to sit comfortably enough with our own views below (see pages 57 and 58).

Figure 4: An S-matrix Diagram (from The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra)

n

π-

K+

Σ-

p

One more theory that should be mentioned here was developed by David Bohm, who was also
responsible for an ‘electron spin’ variant of the EPR experiment. Bohm believed that the Universe
should be seen as a holistic entity, rather than as the sum of separate parts, and that there is a sense
in which every part contains the whole – rather as each part of a hologram can exhibit the whole
image. Bohm talked of the Universe having an ‘implicate order’ – of movements rather than
structures – and believed that further understanding of that concept might lead the way to a
reconciliation of quantum theory with relativity theory. Among the elements Bohm saw as
interdependent are mind and matter, and his thinking therefore shares with that of Chew the notion
that consciousness will have to be included in any comprehensive theory of the nature of reality.
We ourselves share a somewhat similar opinion, as we shall try to explain in Chapter 3.

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