the Approaching Bottleneck
The progress of science will advance to the point where the problem becomes not what are the laws, but why these laws?
- Charles Sanders Pierce, scientist, statistician, philosopher
There exists a reality condensed into an ideal that has been projected through time into a dream which now casts its shadow onto this page. A reality of nature glimpsed by Pythagoras, which demanded epistemological unification. An ideal he rendered into the metaphysical worldview The Music of the Spheres. A worldview claiming that the interweaving interactions between the epistemological disciplines suggest a deeper dynamic symmetry fundamental not only to the process of understanding reality, but to the true nature of realitly itself. A symmetry where mathematics, the arts, and the sciences are but mere reflecting facets of a boundless stone. Echoes projecting from the dawn of science into my dreams ignite a fire within. A fire to seek out this reality and bring it to light. A fire to cast shadows of inquiry below for others to collect.
Today we draw ever closer to the time when we will need to utilize the tenets of Pythagorean ideology as a practical guide for directing the future course of epistemology. Just as Siddhartha Gautama sensed impermanence as the basis of reality, and as Pythagoras intuited that the nature of the universe was somehow bound to the musical principles that make strings vibrate, so too have the frontier experimental and theoretical physicists confirmed that we live in a vibrational universe of flux. Whether it is with strings that vibrate at the Planck scale upon compactified knotted higher dimensional Calabi-Yao manifolds, or spacetime itself that vibrates as loops (Loop Quantum Gravity) or Simplices (Causal Dynamical Triangulations) from the energy of the vacuum, we have returned full-circle to the notion that our reality is one of vibration, our universe an instrument producing impossible music.
Within 20 years, theoretical physicists feel confident that unification of the 4 forces of the universe will be solved. black holes and big bang, inflation, dark matter As we venture closer and closer to GUT or grand unified theory...examples M theory (the encapsulation of all string theory variations), Loop Quantum Gravity, Causal Dynamical Triangulations (CDT), and Causal Sets, some estimate as early as the mid 2020’s. filling in the gaps of our understanding of the universe we need to consider that given the possibility that we will understand all the basic principles that make the machine work, we are left with the question neglected by the scientific method, the ‘why’ of it all.
Unsurprisingly, due to it's seemingly boundless success of the scientific method, there has been little skeptical literature about it's state since the 1960's when Feyerabend and Lakatos, and most notably Thomas Kuhn, rejected the idea that there exists a single method that applies to all science and could account for its progress...The structure of Scientific Revolutions...paradigms. Mid-2oth century philosophers have bitten at its flanks in debates over realism vs antirealism, anthropic bias, debates over the nature of science to encapsulate universal laws or merely patchy stitching of finite precepts. however, in the nitty-gritty of day to day practice, the current practice of the scientific method, honed by Newton, and employed with little practical alteration since addresses the how, what, when, and where of things, but seldom the ‘why’.
The wave of this paradigm has crested and we artists, philosophers and creatives of all forms will be called upon to join the fold to establish a new methodology, one equally inclusive of logic and intuition, of x and y, of a and b, of the empirical and the mystical...? This new paradigm born of necessity will give spark a revolution in the sciences, reexamining the new, overturning the old, and in the chaotic aftermath, a rebirth. The shift in thinking will force a transformation in our perspectives and suggest new ways of approaching the how, what, where, when, and why.
To nest the Arts, along with other neglected disciplines of discovery, in their rightful place within the episemological pantheon would constitute an expansion far beyond the parameters of a Kuhnian paradigm-shift of the scientific method. If embraced, this concept of radical inclusivity, which peppers the fringes of history in various forms (eg. Music of the Spheres, et al), has the power to transform or even overturn the method and the world which has grown so dependent on it. A progression from a scientific method to a holistic phenomenological method would amount to a phase-change on the scale of the progression of polytheism to monotheism. Note: if a paradigm-shift is a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline, then a phase-change is a fundamental change to all scientific disciplines.
In 1330 BCE during Egypt's 18th Dynasty, a sickly teenage boy by the name of Amonhotep IV, Pharoah of the lands of the Nile , renounces his namesake Amon-Ra along with the entire pantheon of Egyptian gods and goddesses. Against the wishes of the entire priesthood and people of Thebes, he raises Aten, the sun-disc, who rejoices as Light on the horizon, deity clandestinely worshipped by his father, to supremacy above all others. A synthesis and reimagining of more ancient, unpopular gods, neither male nor female, Aten becaome the being from which all creation was thought to emanate and exist within.
Amonhotep IV changes his name to Akhenaten to formalize the sea-change and in so doing, introduces a new Techne for divining the natural order, collapsing the many godheads and unifying their myriad powers under one omnipotent, omnipresent banner of the sun, whose beams of light are portrayed as arms, touching all.
The revolutionary king with a revolutionary worldview did not birth a revolution however. At least not immediately. 17 years into his reign, he passed away under mysterious circumstances. Atenism fell to cult status and later dissolved. His transformative cultural, spiritual and technological contributions to the empire were all but buried by Horemheb and later successors. While the proto-monotheism/henotheism/monolartism (interpretations vary) reign of Aten was a brief hiccup in the Egyptian polytheistic timeline, Akhenaten is considered today by many scholars to be the forebearer, even the pioneer of the semetic (Judaic, Chriastian, Islamic) monotheisms.
In the digital age, research proliferates to a wider and more general base. Collaboration also seems to grow, but this may prove illusory. Hyperspecialization runs rampant across the scientific fields. As we plumb deeper into the fabric of reality, the answers beget more questions, which demand greater and greater resources. And while collaboration expands globally in response to this, so too does entrenchment and isolation into field specialization. This recruitment into micro-disciplines gives me pause and concern. Assuming the current scientific approach can make it to the point where the general ‘what’s’ are resolved, how on earth can a scientific community bent on reductionist practices, and reductionist phenomenological approaches, ever hope to tackle the ‘why’?
One day on the frontier when the ‘why’ rings out with booming immediacy, we will know we are on the cusp of a tremendous revolution which will either solidify or shatter our limits. Our ability to address the 'why' may very well prove to be one of the great bottlenecks of our civilization. To reconcile seemingly polar approaches to the understanding of truth will prove a true test of mankind’s collective wisdom. Pierce hints that we can only get so far deepening our coffers of knowledge before we hit the ‘wall’, the sobering realization that more knowing cannot be won without proportional wisdom to guide us through. The challenges eventually become so great, the answers so exponentially infrequent and hard-won that we will be forced to recruit the full resources of human intelligence.
And if our sluggish reaction to climate change is any hint about how we reckon as a species with a crisis of the greatest scale...we won't take action until we see the obstacle clearly on the horizon. For the sake of simplicity I use the metaphor of a wall; in reality, it will be more like a failing engine stuttering in fits and stops. Eventually, however, it will stop.
To consider this reality at the breaking point or stalling of the current scientific regime will be far too late. Preparations must be made, unifying proposals must swarm, fall, be recycled, and eventually evolve into suitable replacements or augmentations of the current system. All this leg-work must come incrementally, perhaps even chaotically in advance of the coming bottleneck if we are to hope for the forward momentum to persevere beyond the revolution into a coming renaissance. In short, we had better start setting the ground-work now. We must commit fully to the radical concept of interdisciplinary-inclusivity. Governments, corporations, and institutions need to invest beyond the novelties of artist-in-residences or the odd government, socio-economic, or scientific think-tanks which furnish a musician here, a philosopher there.
Behind each discipline there are only people. And people have messy views that do not fit neatly into strict confines as do fields of discipline. THis begs the question--why do we completelyreflect this reality in higher academia?each field of study draws innumerable connections to other fields. Consider the similiarities of mandalas and 8-fold super symmetry. However, cross-talk remains only a level where formally systematizing it remains a fringe ideology.
There is much reason to hope that we will naturally rise to meet the challenges of an epistemological phase change. We have been naturally growing into...growing popularity of the hyphenated major, ex of crazy major, the interdisciplinary museums exhibiting art, science, religion...
I am an artist and I am having these thoughts. Surely other minds are doing so as well. As the sciences become ever more popularized in our global culture, and other disciplines draw inspiration from its discoveries, we bring about a positive feedback loop, cyclically interweaving our perspectives into a robust dynamic whole. --> hyphenated majors... Whether an inclusive system will emerge to codify internal and external phenomena in 100 or 1000 years is anybody's guess.
What would radical inclusivity actually look like? How would it even work? Now imagine a new structure of phenomenological inquiry where creatives are recruited to riff, improvise, reinterpret, and reimagine manifold possibilities derived from first principles. Where mathematicians, scientists and thinkers, artists, and mystics work in tandem to define new systems and directions of truth-seeking. Whether the current steps defining the method (observation, questioning, hypothesizing, defining, testing, theorizing) are broadened to make room for the ontological, aesthetic, political, ethical, etc. truth seekers, or whether a multi-tiered approach where alternative methods are tailored to each discipline operate concurrently and sharing/distributing tasks laterally, vertically, or nodally to various stages of neighboring disciplines. Perhaps interdisciplinary clusters take form, coalesce meaningful data, and transcode their data to their neighbors. Perhaps vertical or heirarchy of specialists to generalists...
After a certain level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in aesthetics, plasticity, and form.
- Albert Einstein
Humanity’s kaleidoscopic framework for understanding reality is our greatest asset. If only we can learn to weave more divergent perspectives into a cohesive system, or network of systems through Hegelian dialectic or otherwise to serve a common goal, we will ensure our future.
The aim of radical inclusivity is not merely to uproot paradoxes or to callously fuse Appollonian and Dionysian, utilitarianism with transcendentalism, the logical with the sublime. Absolute consensus is a fallacy. What I am sketching is an integrated system for interdisciplinary communication of the highest order--a phase-change in the global gestalt. As a coordinate endeavor the project would prove far more demanding in scope and scale than any multi-generational engineering project for the sole reason that this undertaking would have to tear down and rebuild structures within the minds of men and women everywhere. Furthermore, it would lay its foundations upon the shifiting sands of the global socio-economic theater. Notions of Asimov's 'psycho-history' come to mind.
A coordinated effort may well prove a fools errands, but that may not be the point, Like other changes in empire such as Akhnaten's introduction of a proto-monotheistic belief system...let human nature handle the rest. Perhaps all that is required of us is the first call into the night, the dissemination of an idea the triggers a 'runaway' feedback loop, amplifying as the audience grows with time. which will hopefully bring about subtle paradigm shifts and incremental implementation. All that is needed to get the ball rolling.
we must be mindful that We must consider that our current failings to see our greater potential may simply be the result of our current conditioning, and even cognitive limitationsfailings. Perhaps the inherent contradictions of unified striving amidst incompatible world views is but a shallow interpretation of an even greater whole, merely facets of the infinite jewel
Not enough to break through to the clearing, but perhaps accounting for a tiny step in the continuum, and joining the growing recruits marching onward.
When the why no longer belongs to the purview?? Of the metaphysicians, Mystics, clergy,....
perhaps never unification, perhaps as the island of knowledge grows so too does its shores of questions. instead only denser networks of local theories.