Published with kind permission. This article is a summary. The complete text can be accessed at the Author’s website.
A physicist’s testimony on physics, modern & post-modern physics
Having been functioning in this field for some twelve years and hence given the possibility to observe much of its internal workings, in this our treatise Sherds of Physis Shattered, we wish to expose some typical conceptual features of physics, the queen of modern sciences, and as such obviously one of the most prominent shapers of the modern world and Weltanschauung.
Our goal is to present a multi-lateral criticism of physics, one which by its very nature through physics pertains to the whole of modern science. We adopt the methodology that as the paper proceeds, we continuously descend to more and more particular perspectives. Hence, while the character of the paper is a polemical, somewhat pamphlet-like scientific counter-propaganda, this methodology allows us to expose the painful narrowness of the modern scientific mentality, its inherently anti-intellectual and anti-spiritual nature, and the self-destruction – self-demolition of science as it is realised in the post-modern era.
The first and highest level of our criticism is formulated from the perspective of traditional metaphysics and aims at the very premises of physics. An objective survey of these premises exposes how absurd it is for modern sciences to claim to be the peak of intellect, and modern scientific knowledge to be the knowledge par excellence. Our strict definition of a physical theory runs as follows:
Physical theory is a mathematical model for empirically observable phenomena, stemming always from the strictly materialistic level of reality, set up in an inductive way by invoking certain working hypotheses. That is, it is a mathematical procedure or mechanism which takes the parameters of the phenomenon as input, and as output yields a set of measurable quantities related to the phenomenon. This set of quantities is to be regarded as a physical result, so these are ultimately numbers which can be compared with the ones read by the experimenter from the display of some measurement device.
From the first two attributes of physical theories, the empirical-materialistic origin, it immediately follows that physics and hence modern sciences can neither prove nor refute the existence of other, that is, non-empirical – non-material realities (including for example the subtle and the supra-formal domains of Manifestation). Their existence or possibility of existence stands strictly outside its horizon: it is unable to touch them. Hence, such conceptions that with the help of physics (maybe in the future, as a result of further development), questions pertaining for instance to the existence of God can be answered, are gross blasphemy; similar to concepts which consider physics the research into the “thoughts of God”.
From the second attribute, the inductive origin of physical theories, it follows that it will never be able to say a single definite word even about things belonging to its own order. It can make only strictly positive statements, so for example it cannot disprove either that the aforementioned realities of a different order may exhibit influence on the materialistic plane as well.
Our strict definition of the operation of physics contains two more attributes which immediately dispel any illusion that a Weltanschauung can be built on modern science:
- The theories are based on working hypotheses, which ever remain as such because the theories are deemed proven by collections of empirical facts, but facts cannot prove anything, solely the existence of the given facts (Guénon).
- A Weltanschauung is qualitative, but physics operates with mere quantities. Quantity can never become quality because the two are immediate determinations of pure Substance and Essence, the two poles of Manifestation. Hence, quantity and quality are ultimately separated inside the premises of Manifestation.
For many so-called philosophers of science, it will appear astonishing that in such a narrow sense we have defined physical results, merely as the set of explicitly computed physical quantities, definitely excluding from the notion all the hocus-pocus surrounding these, that is, the very things which either on scientific fora or through scientific propaganda the so-called scientists communicate as results, and they are most proud of. The fact is, however, that everything that goes beyond the mere quantities—the mental pictures of the so-called physical processes for example—allows for interpretations from alternative viewpoints as well. These alternative interpretations are a priori just as legitimate as the scientistic interpretations, even though they be totally alien to this latter viewpoint. Hence, even according to today’s “democratic” paradigm—or meta-narrative considered universally applicable, scientism should not monopolise the right of interpretation, as this paradigm could appear as some “parliament of viewpoints” concept in this domain. The full truth is, however—and that is why we said previously that at this point our outlook is the traditional metaphysical one—that the presence or absence of real principles establishes a hierarchy among the viewpoints, and since scientism lacks any such principle, the corresponding viewpoint must be placed to the bottom of this hierarchy, while traditional metaphysics which is defined as the very repository of these Principles, to the summit of the hierarchy. The only type of results therefore, which is truly inalienable from physics, is the physical quantities as computed results.
Never entirely leaving our initial high perspective, in a relative way we pass to the perspective first of a philosopher- and then a historian of science.
From the philosopher-of-science perspective, we expose a very significant and preposterous feature of physics, which is completely lost to outsiders as it is tendentiously suppressed by scientific propaganda: Even inside its narrow domain of legitimate operation, physical theories are non-exact. We identify three levels on which this characteristic is manifested:
- The genesis of physical theories is heuristic.
- The mathematical formulation of the theories is undefined.
- The theories are unsolvable.
In the present summary we will comment only on this third point: Problems which are both physically relevant and exactly solvable are extremely scarce. For other problems, beyond the fundamental hypotheses of the theory, one needs to draw in additional hypotheses, further restricting the original domain of validity of the theory, and hence arrive at a method—a so-called approximate theory—in which the given problem becomes solvable. This entails the difficulty that due to the increased number and undefinedness of the hypotheses, the domain of validity of the hence-derived theories can be quite difficult to determine. As a physicist it is a common experience how many mistakes and much confusion may arise from the application of diverse—sometimes mutually exclusive—approximate theories, in cases when the approximation is rigourously not valid; and in fact we will say that an important aspect of the activity of the physicist is to flounder about on this swamp. Can this be the knowledge par excellence of man?!