yoga-link.se

yoga-link.se

About the blog

This blog is about both scientific, societal/political, and yoga-related issues - individually and considered as different aspects of the same problem/solution. A longer description is found in the first blog entry, and all old posts are found in a structured way here. The blog is an extension of my main home pages yoga-link.se and isbgroup.eu. Twitter: @gunnarcedersund

Youtube-video corresponding to third blog post: even meaningful?

towards an integral worldviewPosted by yoga-link.se Mar 14, 2013 22:00
Here is now a youtube-video corresponding to my latest post in the worldview series: answering the question "Doesn't the existence of physical laws imply a materialistic and deterministic worldview?" Please enjoy :)



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Registered to my first conference on quantum dynamics fundamenta!

towards an integral worldviewPosted by yoga-link.se Mar 14, 2013 21:50
Now I have just registered to my first conference on quantum mechanics fundamenta!! As you might know, this is a field I have been interested in since long before I did my M.Sc. in theoretical physics, i.e. for well over 15 years. The reason for this high interest is that this research field so tightly couples to worldview questions and philosophy - i.e. with the things I am talking about in this category: "Towards an integral worldview".

I have applied to both attend and to present a talk with the title:
"Different interpretations of quantum mechanics have different implications for free will"

If I have understood one of my colleagues and co-organisors of this workshop correctly, this is an event that most of the world-elite in this research field attends, so it will be really really exciting (and a little bit scary ;) to see what they will say about what I will present. I myself think that what I have to say is a completely logical conclusion of the current state-of-affairs, but it is still inherently a bit explosive stuff, since it deals with physical laws and free will. But, again if I understand my colleague correctly, this is an event that is attended by everythying from physicists and mathematicians, to philosophers and even historians - and I have good hopes that this at the very least will lead to some quite insightful feedback!

I will be able to explain more in detail what the presentation is about when I have come a little bit further in the explanations here - for now it is enough to say that this registration is a small step for mankind, but that it is a big conceptual step in my own carreer! I am now saying to the world that this is something I am doing as a researcher as well!

To be continued...! smiley

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Is this even a meaningful endeavor?

towards an integral worldviewPosted by yoga-link.se Mar 12, 2013 17:20


Tom Bombadil is one of my favourite characters in the Tolkien mythology. He is a powerful being who mainly is concerned with the Nature around him: he can command trees and other things with his voice, he is married to Goldberry, the Daughter of the River – and not even Sauron’s ring seemed to have any effect on him. However, at the point of the events in the Fellowship of the ring, he had restricted his kingdom to lie within certain boundaries. These are boundaries which he himself has specified, and even though he seems almost infinitely powerful within these boundaries, he doesn’t really concern himself with what goes on outside of these boundaries. As we will see in this blog post, this is very analogous to the discipline of physics, which also is extremely powerful within its own domain, but which does not really concern itself with the ongoings outside of these domains.

Tom Bombadil was unfortunately left out of the movie series by Peter Jackman, so here is instead an image from the Lord of the rings wiki: a screen shot from lord of the rings online; added by user Gradivus.

Doesn’t the existence of physical laws lead to deterministic materialism?

This blog post is the second in a series of three that is here to lay a first version of a foundation from which all the other constructions will take off. In the previous blog post, we made a historical view of how the current situation appeared, and concluded that the first climax, around 1750-1800, led to the logical question: “Given the physical laws, and God of the Gaps as an unnecessary hypothesis - are we not obliged to construct a materialistic and deterministic worldview?” This question is certainly a valid one, and it needs to be dealt with properly. There are several reasons why the answer to the question is no – the physical laws discovered by physics does not necessitate a materialistic and deterministic worldview – and we will here have a look at two of these reasons: i) that the current understanding of these laws does not imply determinism, neither in principle nor in practice, and ii) that physics operates within certain boundaries that restricts its study object, but that a worldview should study reality in its entirety.


There is a limit to the predictability: both in principle and in practice

Let us first take the in principle aspect. This aspect has to do with quantum mechanics, and means that there is a fundamental limit to how well-determined a prediction can be, which does not have to do with our computational or measurement abilities, but with the way the physical universe is structured, according to our current understanding. As you may be aware of, there are several interpretations of the equations underlying quantum mechanics, and we will need to go in to those in more detail in later posts. For now, however, it is enough to just get a flair of the basic properties of the most well-known interpretation, which is known as the Copenhagen interpretation. According to this interpretation, an object – e.g. an electron – is actually not a small piece of material as we normally think of physical objects (e.g. like a small little football) but a probability wave. Such a probability wave describes the likelihood that the object is to be found at different locations, and also the probability that it is to have any other property of interest, such as energy, momentum, etc. This means that the particle is not in a single well-determined position, which we can determine uniquely, but everywhere. In other words, we can only determine its position at a specific time-point, and after this measurement the position will become gradually more and more undetermined again – according to the physical laws. There is also another feature of quantum mechanics that puts a fundamental limit to how well a system can be determined, and that feature is known as Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. According to this principle, if you determine one aspect of an object really really well (e.g. the position), that determination means that some other aspect of the same object (e.g. the momentum) automatically becomes more undetermined. The above properties taken together mean that the assertion made around 1750 – that if you could fully determine a system at one point in time, you could, at least in principle, calculate all future aspects of that system – no longer is valid, if one considers the latest understanding of physics. It was valid a valid argument according to the then prevailing understanding of physics, Newtonian mechanics, but our scientific understanding has evolved since then. Note that this is one of the several important things that has happened in this direction science the early 20th century, which was mentioned in the previous historical review.

Let us now move on to the in practice aspect. The reason why it is important to consider this aspect too is that quantum effects normally only are considered for really small objects (the largest object that has displayed quantum effects experimentally to date is a 60-carbon molecule). When larger objects are considered, quantum mechanics becomes increasingly more and more equivalent to Newtonian mechanics. Therefore, one could at this point in the story argue that we still could deterministically calculate what all future events will be like for all aspects of the world that we concern ourselves with: the macroscopic events. However, there is then another aspect that comes into action, and that is the mathematical phenomenon known as chaos.Image of the Lorenz attractor. It is taken from here (Wikipedia, CC, attribution generic), but the results can easily be reproduced by anyone knowing how to use e.g. Matlab or Mathematica.

The feature of chaos that we need to understand right now is its sensitivity to initial position uncertainties. The popular science image of this is that the difference between whether a butterfly flags its wings in Tokyo or not determines whether or not there a week later will be a tornado in New York. Here I want to take the chance to refine and improve upon that butterfly image a bit, since it easily leads to a misunderstanding of what chaos actually means. To do this, consider the image above, of the Lorenz attractor, which is one of the most well-studied systems that displays chaos. The image contains two different simulations, depicted in blue and yellow, and the only difference between the two simulations is that the place where the simulation starts (at the cone to the left in each simulation) differs by a small amount. This difference in where the two simulations starts is much smaller than can be seen by eye, but after some time in the simulation, the two simulations are clearly different: they have ended up in different places (the second cone), and, as can be seen, they have also taken different paths to get there. In other words, in a chaotic system, even very very small differences in starting positions will grow over time, and eventually these differences will become so big that the initial conditions doesn’t matter: one can no longer say where in the chaotic region the systems started – or, equivalently, no matter how well-determined the initial conditions are, one can in practice never predict all of the system’s future. However, with this said, I want to again return to the butterfly example. As can be seen in the image of the Lorenz attractor, the position becomes more and more undetermined, and the distance between the two simulated positions for each given time points grows – but only up to a certain level. The two simulations are different, but still they lie within the same region in space. This region is known as the chaotic attractor, and the simulations will – once they have gotten to this region – never leave it again. In other words, there is a degree of uncertainty of where the simulation will be (where in the attractor it will be) but the uncertainty also has a limit (it doesn’t leave the attractor). For this reason, the butterfly example is perhaps not the best illustration of a chaotic system: the example relies on the additional assumption that both the case of a tornado and not a tornado lie within the same chaotic attractor as the butterfly's flagging of its wings; such a model has, to my knowledge not been constructed. However, chaos does appear in living systems, which has been demonstrated in the latest decades by some of my Danish colleagues, both experimentally and theoretically.

Let us now sum up this first aspect of the reasons why materialistic determinism not is a necessary consequence of the physical laws. First, the results within quantum mechanics mean that there is an upper limit to how well-determined a system can become: there is an inherent randomness in all processes. Second, no matter how small uncertainties one starts with, these will – in the chaotic attractors - grow over time, until the prediction of the system’s future is completely uncertain (up to the level of the attractor size). In other words, the latest results of physics show that what previously seemed like a sufficient condition – the existence of physical laws – no longer implies determinism: neither in principle nor in practice.

The second argument: about boundaries

To understand this second argument, we need to dive a little bit more into how science actually operates. First we will explore the concept of postulates, and the boundaries that they imply. Then we will shortly examine some examples of what may lie outside the current boundaries, which will lead us to the left and right hand sides in Wilber’s four quadrants. We will then return to the postulates, and see how science moves from them to physical laws, to predictions and rejections, and we will thereby again arrive at the key insight that “science does not prove things, but all theories are not equal”.

A set of postulates is a relatively small set of initial assumptions that a whole theory is based upon. They could therefore be thought of as axioms, in a mathematical framework, but postulates also deal with the relationship between the theory and world. In physics, such postulates have been laid down at various occasions, and even though that process is not complete, the postulates typically contains some initial postulated equations, and statements of the character: the developed theory should be able to explain phenomena that are reproducible, measurable, interdependent of the observer, etc. These postulates are then what one uses to derive and develop all the remaining results, in a process that involves predictions and experimental tests that will be explained below.

The postulates thus specify the initial assumptions, and this also includes what will be studied. In other words, when the physical postulates say that they should study “measurable, reproducible, observer-independent things”, this is just like if one would say that “this attempt at a complete theory for biology should be able to describe all living objects”. This does not mean that there is not such a thing as non-living objects, and it certainly does not mean that the success of the theory proves that there isn’t such a thing as non-living objects. It merely says that non-living objects are – if they exists – not studied or covered within this theory of biology. In just the same way the postulates of physics does not say that there isn’t such a thing as non-measurable, non-reproducible or non-observer-dependent phenomena, and the success of physics does not prove that there are no such phenomena. The postulates merely says that if such phenomena does exist, they are not studied or described within the realms of physics – at least not by a theory of physics that is based upon those postulates.


Depiction of the 4 quadrants by Wilber, with a focus on the difference between the left and right hand sides

Let us now consider some phenomena that would lie outside of the above mentioned realms of physics, but that still are worthy of studying, and that certainly should be included in a worldview. To do this, let us consider the above depicted four quadrants of Wilber, and especially its right and left-hand sides. The right-hand side of these quadrants are concerned with physical objects, and physical phenomena, i.e. with physics or things that could be considered as physics. The left-hand side, on the other hand, is concerned with the inner subjective thought-experiences of our lives. Often these two sides are just that: two sides or aspects of a single phenomenon. Consider for instance such a mundane thing as observing an apple. This could be viewed from a physical perspective. The apple in itself could be measured with respect to its weight, color, etc. Also the process of observing could be viewed from a physical perspective: one could measure the brain activity in the person who is observing the apple. However, the inner experience of the person who is observing the apple is not captured, even by such brain activity measurements. In other words, in the brain scanner one sees the physical representation of which areas in the brain that is active: but one does not see an apple in the same way as the person who is observing the able is seeing it. This subjective experience of the person is something that belongs to the left-hand side of this phenomenon, and the brain-activity as measured using some technical devise belongs to the right-hand side of this same phenomenon. This means that the left-hand side aspect of this experience – or of any studied phenomenon for that matter – does not fall within the current realms of physics: it is data of a fundamentally different character.

The two phases of the experiment-analysis cycle: one of my standard slides when giving scientific lectures.

We are now ready for the last part in understanding this second argument: the boundary argument. I already said that the postulates contains some initial equations and assumptions about the object they are to describe. Just as with mathematical axioms, these initial statements can then be used to derive a large number of theorems, which are more complex statements that come as logical consequences of the initial postulates. In these theorems, which may be laws of physics, there will often be some unknown constants. To determine these constants, you need experimental data. We have now introduced the first two objects in the figure above: the experimental data, and the mechanistic explanations to these data (which e.g. may be a set of physical laws). In the first phase, Phase I, one uses the data to determine the values of the unknown constants (if there are any), and then sees whether the suggested laws can describe the experimental data. If the theoretical simulations and the experimental data are sufficiently close to each other, the model is kept, and moves on to Phase II, and if the agreement between simulations and data is too bad, the suggested theory is rejected. For the non-rejected statements, one looks for predictions, that may be tested in new experiments. In this way, Phase I may lead to the necessity of new theories, and Phase II leads to new experiments, and the above process is thus a cycle that goes on and on. The reason for this lies at the heart of what I am trying to convey here: science does not prove things, but all theories are not equally realistic. In other words, what one can say with a high certainty is that a theory has been rejected, but one can not say that a theory has been proven to be true; there may always come a new prediction that is wrong when tested experimentally. However, just because all predictions and affirmative statements in science are non-proven theories, this does not mean that all predictions and theories are equal: some of them may have been rejected, because there were experimental data that they couldn’t describe.

Summing up – and what about the second climax?

With these insights at place, we are now ready to sum up, and to put all of this together. First, we have seen that the updated view of what physics actually says implies that the laws of physics does not necessitate determinism. Second, the other side of the coin, materialism, also does not follow as a logical and necessary conclusion from the existence of physical laws, and the reason for that is the second argument: the boundary arguments. Just because physics has defined itself as the study of measurable, reproducible, things, this does not mean that other things does not exist, it only means that e.g. non-measurable things – e.g. inner experiences and thoughts as seen by the observer – not are a part of physics. Third, such subjective experiences are, nevertheless, an important part of our lives: in fact, they are the only things that we as humans experience. Therefore, such subjective experiences – our inner universe – must certainly be dealt with by any complete description of how our world functions. A worldview must therefore, by necessity, be such a complete description, which takes all aspects of our lives into account. In fact, we do not have a choice: we are all of us making decisions about how science and physics relate to our own personal experiences, and materialism is only one of the choices that is compatible with science. Fourth, as I will argue in more detail in future posts, it would actually be possible to expand the sound principles of science to include data also from the left-hand side in Wilber’s four quadrants. Such a science is what Wilber calls broad science. Since such broad science would explain more data than traditional science, which Wilber calls narrow science, it would be a superior theory. Therefore, although we still haven’t seen any details of how broad science, or a more complete worldview would look, we have now concluded that looking for one would be a meaningful endeavor, and that it seems like the updated logical conclusion of looking at the science/worldview relation no longer reads “the necessity of materialistic determinism”, but “narrow science trumps narrow religion (religion that e.g. like in some of the fights on evolution stands in opposition to science), but broad science would trump narrow science – because it would be able to explain more data

Further reading – and the scientific accuracy/controversy of these statements

Just as in the first blog post, I will try to end all sub-sequent posts by links to more detailed reading, and with some comments of the scientific accuracy in what I say – including some estimate of the level of controversiality in my statements. First, regarding more reading, almost all of the statements in this blog post have been made before, e.g. in the essay that I pointed to earlier (which is written in a more formal manner, with much more links to literature), in the book by Ian G. Barbour, and – where already indicated – in some texts by Wilber. Second, regarding the first argument, which builds on the understandings within quantum mechanics and chaos theory, I have myself studied both these theories at a high level – basically to the point of doing research myself therein – and I do not believe that there are any controversial statements regarding what the actual physics says. Nevertheless, there may exist physicists who disagree with me regarding my claims that those results means that determinism no longer is a necessary conclusion, and I will myself refine this statement in future posts, when we come into discussions on free will. Similarly, regarding the basic description of how science works, they describe a relatively standard view of science that goes back to people like Popper. Again, however, this does not mean that all scientists would agree with me regarding the importance and soundness of attempting to include data from the left-hand side in Wilber’s quadrants. But if all people already agreed with everything I had to say here, this would be a pretty meaningless endeavor.



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Youtube-video corresponding to second video: looking back

towards an integral worldviewPosted by yoga-link.se Mar 08, 2013 05:03
is available here:

I should say that this version is not the same as the one that was originally uploaded on youtube. It is the same material, but with a new voice-over.

I could also add that I am really looking forward to having more of these videos out. There are so many good things to say, which I now cannot really say yet, because they will either sound really new agey and fluffy, or perhaps will not even be understandable - but that once more of these videos are out, will be easy to say in a meaningful fashion.

But...as always: the journey is where the pleasure is! So let us enjoy this journey together. Next blog post and video in this series will be about whether it at all is possible/meaningful/sound to do such a project as this one. A big topic!

Finally, tomorrow I am going to Uruguay, where I will stay for about a week!

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Let's start our developments by looking back

towards an integral worldviewPosted by yoga-link.se Mar 05, 2013 23:42

So...let’s now embark on this journey - towards an integral worldview!

And, I think the best way to start is, as in so many other cases, by first looking a little bit back. Let’s do like in the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge, in the fairy tale by Charles Dickens: let’s listen to the Ghost of Christmases Past, and understand how we actually got to the situation where we are now.

Illustration by John Leech, from the original publishing of the book. For another blog post on this story, go here.


From complete integration to full-blown materialism – the first climax

Let us first recall that this current sub-division we have between the various parts of our knowledge-system, and between these parts and the entire worldview, has not always been the case. On the contrary, in the old Antique developments, there was basically only one scientific discipline – called philosophy – and it included all relevant aspects that we consider here, both regarding the outer and the inner worlds. All of these aspects were viewed as things that naturally goes together, and that cannot be understood in a good way if considered separately.

Let us then go to the early 16th century, and to the birth of modern science. At this point, the church had complete control of all allowed truths, both regarding spiritual things, and regarding worldly matters, and these two sides weren’t really distinguished. Part of this prevailing worldview was that the Earth was in the middle of the Universe, a fact that was based on some related statements in the Bible, which then was the ultimate source of knowledge. Into this picture enters now some scientists: Copernicus, Kepler, Galilei, Newton, etc. Of perhaps most interest right now is Galileo Galilei, since it was he that laid down many of the principles behind modern science. With quite some justification, he is often referred to as the father of modern science. Perhaps most importantly, what he introduced was the principle of experimental tests. The type of things he said was of the following character: “I have another idea of how the world works: that the Sun is in the middle. I think that we should find out who is right, by experimentally testing which of our two theories gives the best predictions. Let’s ask the Book of Nature, not the Book of the Bible” Noteworthy here is that, although he was widely condemned and punished by the church for his writings, he was – in fact – a quite religious man. He also had a relatively sound view of how to combine the two aspects of his belief: for matters regarding how the world works, go to the Book of Nature, and for matters that has to do with the upliftenment of the human spirits, go to the Bible. The two books come from the same author, so they cannot be in true conflict, he believed.

This religiousness, and this complete and non-problematic integration of the religious beliefs with his natural science investigations, also held for Isaac Newton. What is characteristic with him, is that he introduced physical laws, laws that are universal and works in the same way for small objects in everyday life as they do for the heavenly bodies in the sky. He could use these very simple laws to derive the old predictions of the previous scientists, and could thereby predict the stellar movements in a quite detailed fashion. There were, however, some things he could not explain, and these observed abnormalities and deviations he simply said were evidence of God’s intervention. Newton’s laws were then prevailing for several centuries, and the predictive power and the universality of these laws were starting to impress more and more people. So, when Laplace in the 18th century were able to find natural explanations for one after the other of the previously identified abnormalities – which had been used as evidences for the interventions and existence of God – this then logically led to the interesting question of whether there at all was a God? Was God just an unnecessary hypothesis, one that science could do equally well without. The idea of the completely deterministic and law-abiding universe was a fact, and was a theory that, once formulated, started to get a stronger and stronger foothold within peoples’ consciousness.


Galileo Galilei, the Father of Modern Science, who introduced many of the most important scientific principles that we go by also today. Picture from Wikipedia.


A temporary return to spirituality before the next big debate starts

After this peak during the enlightenment came the Romantic age. During this era, the spiritual side got a little re-boost, and people were starting to revere Nature, which often was referred to with a capital N. If the Book of Nature is the best and most reliable source of knowledge, let us revere it. At this point, it was still typically believed that even though physical laws existed, the human mind and its free will was not under their influence. Similarly, Man was with his mental capacities higher than the beasts, and that was the way God – who now was thought of often as the clock-maker, who at the beginning of time had set everything in motion – had intended it. In other words, religion had been forced to a big retreat, but a new balance had been restored.

With this in mind, it is not so strange that the theories of Darwin still were perceived as such a serious threat. If Man was not special, and if Nature hadn’t been designed by a God – if God also in biology turned out to be an unnecessary hypotheses – then the newly found balance was lost, and they would be forced to new retreats. Therefore, huge fights broke out, partially within the religious and academic societies, but most importantly between them. And, as always in fights, the other side is painted in the bleakest possible colors. In bitter fights, you define yourself not only in positive terms, but in negative terms. “I am nothing like them”. I think that this is one of the reasons for the, since then, quite hostile attitude that exists within science towards anything that could be viewed as non-physical or spiritual. Those are things that have to do with religion, and we – scientists – are nothing like those idiots. It would therefore be interesting to know if things would have played out differently if religion already from the onset had taken the viewpoint that already Galilei had: to embrace new scientific results as steps forward in the overall search for Truth. Perhaps then the divide might not be so big today, and perhaps then science would still deal with the big overall challenge of producing worldviews?


Illustration in the New York Times of the so-called Monkey trial, July 12, 1925.


The counter-acting trends: the system and integration trends

At this point in history, in the early 1900s, we are more or less at the point of division that has remained ever since. The Darwin debate is often said to have had its climax around 1925, with the so-called Monkey trial. In Europe, this trial was followed with some irony and distance, almost as if it was the final remains of a debate that was more or less over already, whereas in the U.S. the following was much more fierce. Amazingly, this debate is still ongoing in the U.S., e.g. regarding what must, can, and cannot be taught in school regarding evolution. The key thing is that religious people want evolution to be explained as just another theory. I hope that I through these texts can pervey to those for whom it is not clear already that all scientific claims are just theories, but that that does not mean that all theories are equally credible.

However, let us finally examine shortly some of the parallel trends that have occurred during the previous century within the science/spirituality interface, which also are what leads up to the worldview that will be outlined here. As explained already in the first video, much of these developments have to do with the developments within theoretical physics, i.e. within quantum mechanics and relativity theory. These theories lead to insights that are so far away from everyday experiences that they invariably leads to questions of a philosophical/worldview nature.

Also, some of these results are a reversal of the reductionism-trend that had been going on for the last 4 centuries. As described above, the first such separation was that of physics and astronomy from philosphy/religion, and this continued with the splitting off of chemistry, biology, biochemistry, etc, i.e. to create ever smaller and ever more specialized fields. Similarly, this reductionism also implied the belief that it was enough to understand each component, the smallest components, in isolation, and that once that was done, the rest was just logical consequences; no higher orders of organization exists as independent units of their own. This started to be challenged within quantum mechanics. In this, it was realized that really small particles behave in a quite different way from our normal big particles: they can be viewed as non-local, i.e. as existing virtually everywhere, but with different probabilities. Similarly, if these particles come together, e.g. as a proton and an electron does in a hydrogen atom, the connected atom is not just the sum of the two individual components, but something different (technically, because a coupling term appears). This and other similar results within theoretical physics can be seen as the start of the systems trend, saying that reductionism has a limit. This insight has then been followed in many other fields as well. One of these is systems biology, which is the field within which I am active, and which takes the view that a cell can not be understood by studying its constituent proteins isolated from the cell one-by-one, but that these proteins must be studied in their living context. But there are also other examples, including sociology, cultural history, systems theory, etc. Finally, these developments have also been paralleled in worldview developments. Already in the early developments, several of the foreground figures had quite philosophical, sometimes even spiritual, interpretations of the results. And this has then been further developed in other fields, which for instance include systems theology, which basically is a way to interpret Christianity which embraces and fully incorporates the latest results within modern science. But a more detailed discussion of these things will have to wait for future posts.


Essay and further reading

As I said already in the first blog post, it is my clear intent to try to merge this worldview development with mainstream science as much as possible, and to thereby create an almost continuous bridge from the really popular science summary view in the youtube videos, to these slightly more detailed blog posts, via more extensive text books, all the way in to ordinary scientific publications. Associated to this blog post, I therefore want to point to an essay that I wrote about 8-9 years ago, which deals with almost the exact same topic. In this, you will have a slightly more extensive description of the above historical processes, which also contains references to text books, papers, and other material for even further reading. This essay has not been published in a scientific journal, but it was approved as an essay in a course I took within the university. Finally, this essay also deals with much of the material that will be posted in the last two posts in this preparatory series: “Is this really a possible goal?”, and “Can one define God in a strict yet useful manner?”. After that foundation is laid, we will go in to a new series of 8-10 blogs with some really cool stuff! smiley

I therefore end this blog post in the same way as I begin the above essay: with a quote from Einstein.

What is our lives' meaning, what meaning is there at all for living
creatures? To be able to give an answer to these questions is to be
religious. You ask: Is there then any point in asking that question?
I answer: A person that does not consider his own, and his fellow
human being's life as meaningful, is not only unhappy, he is hardly
alive.

Albert Einstein, Mein Weltbild-1934

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Youtube-video corresponding to my first worldview blog post

towards an integral worldviewPosted by yoga-link.se Mar 04, 2013 04:44
Sooo...now I have as well created a video that summarizes in a simplified but also slightly different way what I said earlier today in the first blog post about my newest, and perhaps coolest, project as of yet: to outline my integral worldview, integrating a my scientific understandings with my yoga-insights. The video is available here and at the below embedded video.

Please enjoy! :)



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After 25 years of preparation, it is at last time to start outlining my worldview

towards an integral worldviewPosted by yoga-link.se Mar 03, 2013 21:02

This is a picture of one of my closest friends, Oskar Ganestål. He left his body yesterday evening, at the age of 46 (here is a facebook summary of our relationship). When sitting thinking about his life, and about what he probably is most proud of in terms of what he leaves behind, I realized that we only do some quite limited number of really important contributions in our lives. This made me realize that it is time at last to stop waiting, and that it at last is time to start on a project that I have prepared for for almost 25 years, both through my scientific and through my yoga careers. I will now, today, at last embark on the project that I think will be one of the most important things that I will do in my life. There is a time and a place for everything, and now it is time at last for this. Thank you Oskar for this inspiration! I look forward to many more inspirations to come as we move along in our ongoing dialogues and creations, in this new phase of our relationship.

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In my life, I have done many things, but I have only had a few long-term dreams and goals. In other words, many of the things I have done, even things that have lasted for several years, have typically just been partial sub-goals to one of these few overall ambitions. Today I have decided that the time has come at last to start to manifest one of these overall goals: to develop and describe, in detail, a leading-edge worldview that combines the state-of-the-art understanding within science with the deepest and most profound understandings within yoga, in a way that helps us evolve as persons and as a society. Now, as an introduction to this effort, I will just start with a blog post explaining why I think that this is so important, how I have prepared for this, and a little bit more details of what this actually will entail.


Picture from my first blog post, where I outlined the vision for this blog: to help stimulate the development of our societal triad: science, worldview and society.

Why is this so important?

So, what I want to do is to outline a worldview – how can that be important!? Well, to start with, our worldviews are important, because they are, almost by definition, the underlying processes that guides and determines all things that we do. In other words, if you want to change what you do in a certain situation – change how you think about that situation. And in the same way, if you want to help stimulate the evolution of a society, help stimulate the evolution of its worldview.

At this point, I also want to add that the particular worldview that I will develop is something that will integrate many things that currently are opposing each other. For instance, many of the troubles that we have in our society are due to religion, and this in itself is due to the fact that people within different faiths do not have the tools and concepts to understand and relate to each other in a compassionate fashion. In particular people with a materialistic worldview have a hard time understanding people who don’t, and especially for this latter situation, I think that I will bring some pieces to the table that will be helpful to some. Regarding this, I also have the feeling that many people somehow are trapped in a feeling that it is scientifically proven that materialism is the only available worldview, and who therefore are afraid of, or perhaps even attacking, their own or other peoples’ spiritual urges. This also leads to corresponding conflicts within different factions and goals within our society. I hope that some of the things I will outline here will bring peace to some of these conflicts, both within and between people. Ultimately, I think and hope that such a peace will help us to bring a more sensible agenda to our society – where goals having to do with economic growth will be considered secondary, and where things having to do with our psychological and spiritual growths will be considered primary. Such a change can only happen if we publically stop thinking that these latter goals are meaningless mumbo-jumbo, and that stopping can – I think – only happen if we make peace between science and spirituality. For all these reasons, I think that it is utterly important that we develop a worldview that encompasses science and spirituality in a harmoniously co-existing and co-evolving whole.

At home in the universe, a book by Stuart Kauffman, made me realize that I needed to explore the emerging field of systems biology, apart from theoretical physics, to produce a really credible and leading-edge worldview. Picture from Amazon.


How have I prepared for this, and how does this relate to other efforts?

As I mentioned above, this thing I am about to embark on now is one of the few long-term goals I have had in my life, and I have in a way prepared for it since I was 10 years old, when I first started to explore yoga (via a book that my father brought home by chance). That book led me to start a yoga practice, and it also led me to explore eastern philosophies, and to create the first bases for my current worldview. For some time, this eastern-inspired worldview co-existed with the purely materialistic worldview that I had gotten “by osmosis” from my surroundings, and during this time I tried to explain all things that happened to me in both worldviews. However, after a while, I realized that explanations became so much more awkward and extreme/unrealistic in the purely materialistic worldview that I gradually dropped this habit. This dropping was also caused by the fact that I after a while started to realize that the purely materialistic worldview is not the only one consistent with a state-of-the-art scientific understanding, but that there are many options of how to expand the partial insights and hardcore pieces to the puzzle that are produced within science into a complete worldview – and that several such worldviews can be constructed that are more or less identical with the one I had. (here, however, I must stress that there also are many worldviews and statements that are inconsistent with a scientific state-of-the-art understanding) I also realized that physics was at the heart of this, since therein our scientific understanding of the world has reached its highest level, and since it is from physics that many of the strangest and – for me – most important pieces to the puzzle originates. Therefore, I realized that I needed to study physics, to be able to understand these pieces fully, and to be able to explain these things – these different possible interpretations of the state-of-the-art understandings within physics – in a way that went beyond typical new age mumblings to statements made with the authority of somebody who has actually understood these things. Understood these things as good as anybody has understood them. Therefore, I took a master in theoretical physics, and now – in the last years – I have actually also started to go back to the research frontier within theoretical physics (more on this later). However, apart from this research in physics, I also realized that I needed to dive into a corresponding state-of-the-art understanding of systems theory, and its applications to biology: biology in general, but ultimately also to psychology. This latter task, systems biology, I have spent the last 10 years of my life to, and now I have also launched a Ph.D. student who is doing systems biology of human psychology. I have also realized that I have needed to first establish myself as a scientist, before I can start to embark on these more fringe and in some peoples’ eyes suspicious activities. Nevertheless, since all of these things now are starting to come together, I at last feel that I am ready to start writing putting all of them together, in a public place. The final push was, as I wrote above, the death of my friend yesterday.

Finally, some short comparisons of how the way I have tried to prepare myself goes beyond what other people have done before. First, there are quite a few medial people, who in various ways have reached a self-proclaimed level of enlightenment, and then simply explained how the world works. I am now thinking of people like Hicks/Abraham, Neale Donald Walsh, Martinus, Rudolph Steiner, Anandamurti, etc. Many of these people claim their frameworks as scientific, but neither of them they have used the scientific method, linked their insights with established scientific theories, or published their results in scientific journals. There are, however, another group of people who have gone much further in this scientific direction. The most important of these is, in my opinion, Ken Wilber, who have produced a rather comprehensive theoretical framework, and who also links a profound understanding of meditation and associated insights with a profound and up-to-date understanding of many of the branches within science. However, Wilber is not a scientist himself, and does not publish in scientific literature. He can therefore be ignored by the scientific community. Finally, there are of course a few scientists within science who also take a bigger perspective. Unfortunately, very few of those are active within the field of philosophy, which for some reason has abdicated from its search for the bigger over-arching quests and now only deals with nit-picky details (please enlighten me if you are aware of interesting exceptions!). There are, on the other hand a few theoreticians that are worth mentioning, e.g. physicists and mathematicians Roger Penrose, Stuart Kauffman, Norbert Wiener, etc. However, none of these have created frameworks that are particularly similar to what I intend to outline here, and this is because they typically are more less ignorant of psychological phenomena, meditation, and related issues.

Ken Wilber, one of the most important pre-cursors to what I will develop, since he is one of the few who both has a well-developed understanding for meditation and science, and since he is seeking to create, and argue for the importance of, a worldview that incorporates both these two things. Here he shows how one could do research on people that are advanced in meditation - a thing that I am very much planning for myself. I just need to train sufficiently many advanced students first!


So, what is it that I will do?

After this little introduction, I will now start to post various blog posts that will contain pieces to a puzzle that will become a more-or-less complete worldview. This will not be a final and non-evolving worldview, since that is not a feature of a scientific worldview. It will, however, be leading-edge (meaning that several of the things will not have been said before, elsewhere, and that several things will contain very recent understandings). Most importantly, the worldview here is being constructed to be internally consistent, and to cover the integration between all the main areas of life, which most notably includes both the inner and the outer worlds. Some of things I will say will be ordinary mainstream scientific results, and some will be outside. Some of the things that I describe here will be standard spiritual knowledge, some will be less widely known – and the latter certainly concerns ways to link these spiritual statements with a scientific framework. I will try to clearly specify what is what, and also to try to explain how the things that are not yet mainstream science, still does not imply a violation of the things that actually are said within science – how also these things lie within the allowed range of science-consistent worldviews.

Now in these early posts I will start by covering really basic things, but which will be necessary for all future developments. I will, e.g., deal with the question of how a combination of science and spirituality such as the one I propose here even can exist in principle, what a meaningful definition of the word God could be (and how the proposed definition still can be useful when reading spiritual texts). With these things in place, I will then use some 8-10 posts to step-by-step outline a mechanistic interpretation of the widely hyped principle called “the law of attraction”. This outlining will include several other important building-blocks, such as the relation between free will and physical laws, how the word vibration can be interpreted in a meaningful way, how thoughts relate to objects, how thoughts relate to each other, etc. With these things in place, there are many ways to move ahead, and this is decided a little bit less in detail.

Apart from these blog posts, I will probably also post short summaries as youtube-videos, and also collect all of these things in a more connected and detailed description in a book. The things that are possible to publish in scientific journals will of course also be published there. As time evolves, some of those publications will for sure also involve scientific studies on the effects of - and the mechanisms exploited by - yoga and meditation!

Are you excited? I know that I am!



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