Thursday, February 25, 2010

Physics and Sophistication

In my profile at right, I claimed that in my thinking, my concerns are both theoretical AND practical. Perhaps it's time for some practicality and watch faith in action.

What is more real, a gun or an idea? If a gun is so much more real, why do we often freak out when certain ideas of ours are somehow challenged- a freak out, which if you measured it by means of MRI and the like, would look exactly like one experienced, when someone points a loaded gun at you? Science, which is at heart physics, has made a comfortable world to live in. What I mean, is not only are we more comfortable in nature, in terms of houses, central heat, computers and etc., our worlds too, have become simpler as we've become accustomed to conceiving ourselves as objects in space bumping one another. Science has provided a framework in which guns and cameras are real, as well as assuring us, that the images a photographer captures on paper is not someone's soul...this is sophistication.

Yet, the most sophisticated organism to have ever existed, lives from something we call ideas- "things" which can't be seen directly by any means we would call empirical.

Physics, capital P, is a framework of understanding reality. It began with Newton and his laws of objects and motion, and the rest of science builds upon this mentality. Whether science is hard- chemistry, biology and physics (small p), or soft, psychology, sociology and economics- the mentality is built on the same logic of bodies interacting through law like motion with other bodies. This mentality easily makes sense of guns and bullets; this mentality has a difficult time making sense of ideas and meaning; this mentality is the ground of our shared world, which is our culture: which as world, doesn't exist like nature, where there, Physics can make perfect and accurate sense of things.

World is not nature: Most often, when you interact with people, do you do so on a basis that is World, or on a basis that is Nature? In world, ideas can be as real as guns because we're not just bodies acted on by forces; we are also bodies who share spaces with one another who respond to meaning. Remember how we talked about worlds needing world views to take the place of "a ground to walk on"? (Which in nature comes to us ready made?) This "soil" which we all must make and then use to form each of our individual ground, is comprised of stuff that is meaning-full to us. In this case, what kind of "Physics" do we have to understand the reality of Meaning, that will not just let meaning feel as real as any physical object, but let meaning be just as real on its own terms, instead of only being considered as something merely decorative to the physical?

I promised practical. Recount those times in your life when you've shared in the discussion of ideas. It could be a meeting at the office, on the street, in a church, at a coffee shop or a bar; maybe even at a "Tea Party." More likely than not, someone in such a meeting reacted like a stirred hornet's nest: this person just experienced a gun being pointed at him. He can no longer participate in the exploration of ideas, because the ideas from which he grounds himself are felt in jeopardy. All the fight and flight mechanisms that are there for us to employ in the face of threat are brought to bare in a conversation...where no guns are present.

So what is sophistication? And what can Physics even say about it?

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