I’ve always thought that science would take longer than forever to incorporate that immeasurable and beyond reductionism side to reality that the Tao Te Ching speaks so well to.
There are signs that it may come sooner than forever. Hooray! See Out of the Fabric: Are space and time fundamental?
Of course, that won’t really change anything. After all, most folks have an even harder time with ‘taoist views’ than with scientific ones. At least with science there is something on which to hold on.
I was particularly struck by these quotes from this article (below). For scientists to even suggest that time is an emergent property is welcome and quite unexpected. I don’t suppose it should be however. We are still as the ‘toddler’ stage of our species evolution, with many more millennia ahead to figure it all out—or perhaps, return to review where some have already traveled.
Seiberg, though, believes time and space will both go down the cosmic drain together. “My personal prejudice is that these objections and questions are not obstacles to emergent time,” Seiberg writes. “Instead, they should be viewed as challenges and perhaps even clues to the answers.”
More intriguingly, he observes, space and time’s ultimate status in nature may have something to say about the practice of science. Much of modern science is based on the concept of reductionism — explaining large-scale phenomena from laws operating at smaller scales. That notion will eventually break down if there’s a smallest scale below which space no longer exists.
“Therefore, once we understand how spacetime emerges, we could still look for more basic fundamental laws, but these laws will not operate at shorter distances,” he writes. “This follows from the simple fact that the notion of ‘shorter distances’ will no longer make sense. This might mean the end of standard reductionism.” And the beginning of a new view of not only space and time, but of science itself.
Mass-energy and space-time are the something’s of existence. They are the bottom line of what is perceptible to human senses though our biology. However, this is possible in only a very narrow sensory range. The tools of science allow us to perceive more: ultra sound, infra red, nuclear decay, galaxies and molecules. These something’s along with any future something’s newer theories and tools of science uncover are nevertheless still something as referred to the Tao Te Ching. For example:
With a wave of your mind’s wand, wipe away all the something’s both conceivable and inconceivable, and what are you left with? Nothing! In the end, nothing is the constant way. Conversely, any something that can be named is not the constant way. To understand the true nature of nothing is only possible in the most Shadowy and indistinct way. Chapter 70 refers to this in a way…
Our biology prevents a closer, clearer view. Nothing is mysterious, which is odd grammatically. I should put it like this: Mysterious is Nothing. Though in another language’s grammar, perhaps Japanese, that would sound equally odd. Words fail, which is why Nothing fails to receive the wider respect and admiration that it deserves. Back to chapter 70, to paraphrase this time: Therefore nothing, while clad in homespun, conceals within itself a priceless piece of jade.
Clearly, I’ve got to title this post, In Praise of Nothing.