Observation, Measurement, Science, (Un) Consciousness and Occultism (part 2)

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

Various Quotes from various sources - ancient to modern.

Obs.16.   “Scientists generally apply the scientific method, more or less intuitively, and can usually tell in practice whether they are following it properly or not. Nevertheless the question of proper method becomes ambiguous under certain circumstances.”
   “The reason why the intuitive application of the scientific method becomes ambiguous in borderline regions is basically that all the terms which appear in its rules, criteria, and directives depend for their clear meaning on what may be called a general framework of concepts, ideas, procedures, etc., which function together as a coherent whole. Against a background in which this general framework applies, one can consider specific problems which do not call the framework into question. Within this limited domain, it is clear how one is to go about finding the facts, setting up hypotheses, testing them, etc. But as we approach the edge of such a domain, these questions become less clear.” (p103-104)
   “In fact, it is frequently realised that half the battle is over when we know what are the right questions to ask. What must be emphasised here is that the form in which a question is put constitutes an implicit hypothesis about the object of the question; namely, that the object is such that this question has a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. (p105)
   The habit of thought by which one identifies all lawful relationships with predictability is capable of having an important limiting influence on the direction in which scientific research can develop. For it tends to blind us to the possibility that there may be real relationships in time having no fundamental connection with predictions. As a result, there may be a large range of facts that we simply do not look for, because there is no room in our general framework of thinking to express these facts.” (p110)
   “The notion that everything is, in principle, reducible to physics has in common with their various points of view the character of being an unproved assumption, which is capable of limiting our thinking in such a way that we are blinded to the possibility of whole new classes of fact and law. In other words, it is possible not only that the concepts arising in the physicists field of specialisation are not sufficient for a complete treatment of all aspects of Nature, but also, that these concepts may not even be completely adequate for relating all the facts that might arise in the physicist's own field. (p113)
   To sum up ..., we wish to call attention to the relationship between the methods of scientific research, and the content of scientific knowledge. The method must be tailored to the content; and if one loses sight of this, one is in danger of being artificially limited in a way that easily escapes conscious realisation. Method is determined in part by the effort to ask relevant questions in our researches; and it is essential to understand that the relevance of a question depends on the character of the material under investigation. Such questions help determine the forms of the facts that can be elicited in further researches. These questions are, in general, limited firstly by our concepts, laws, and hypotheses, and secondly, in a less obvious but equally important way, by our general habits of thought. Such habits can easily blind us to the need for altering our ways of thinking in accordance with the nature of the material under investigation as we penetrate into new domains.” p116 Bohm 1961

Obs.17.   “There are vast domains of knowledge, of which I speak in a moment, that exemplify, in various ways, that we are generally unable to tell what particulars we are aware of when attending to a coherent entity which they constitute. Thus, there are two kinds of knowing which invariably enter jointly into any act of knowing a comprehensive entity. There is (1) knowing a thing by attending to it, in the way we attend to an entity as a whole and (2) knowing a thing by relying on our awareness of it for the purpose of attending to an entity to which it contributes. The latter knowledge can be said to be tacit, so far as we cannot tell what the particulars are, on the awareness of which we rely for attending to the entity comprising them. ... We can tell what the things are which we know by attending to them focally, but we are uncertain, or entirely ignorant, of things that we know only by relying on our awareness of them for attending to something else, which is their meaning.” (p601) “Tacit knowing now appears as an act of indwelling by which we gain access to a new meaning.” (p606) “It is interesting to compare, with this in mind, the process of integration by which we arrive at tacit knowing, with a formal process of inference by which we might arrive at the same conclusion.” (p607) “And just as a keen eyesight enables one to discriminate objects that others cannot see, so does a gift of scientific discovery reveal natural laws in a scientific experience, which signifies nothing to others not so gifted. Those who insist on finding a formal procedure of induction, would reject the acknowledgement of such powers of discovery, as mystery mongering. Yet these powers are not more mysterious than our powers of perception but, of course, not any less mysterious, either.” (p609) “It follows from it that we can identify tangible manifestations of mental processes only by first recognizing the mind at work in them; that in fact a rational pattern of behavior must be comprehended as a whole, before we can set out to analyze it;” (p610) “Before they learn to see objects, both apes and babies do in fact see sense data, that is, patches of light and color. And this is the case also when normal adults observe the meaningless fragments of a puzzling sight and have to make an intelligent effort in order to see the objects of which these are the qualities.”
   “Such an effort is a process of tacit integration by which the object is recognized as the meaning of the sense data which constitutes its appearance. It is not a process of explicit inference, and hence the question of the ways in which such inference can be conducted does not arise. The same is true for the insoluble question of the way in which the existence of other minds is inferred. It does not arise; for we know other minds, not by explicit inference, but by a tacit process of integration.” (p611) “To undertake the search for the solution of a problem is to claim the faculty of sensing the increasing proximity of its solutions -- since no inquiry can succeed without such guidance. In all these anticipations, essential to any scientific endeavor, we focus on a center that is necessarily empty.” (p612)
   “Knowing is a process in two stages, the subsidiary and the focal, and these two can be defined only within the tacit act, which relies on the first for attending to the second. But again, why should this fact have been overlooked and a false ideal of science been perpetuated for centuries? Because the moment we admit that all knowing is rooted in an act of personal judgement, knowledge seems to lose all claim to objectivity. I have hinted at a way out of this difficulty by my definition of reality, and a substantial treatment of it has been given elsewhere. But the answer will yet have to be worked out fully in the future.” (p616) Polanyi 1962

Obs.18.   “There are two distinct problems concerning the relationship between physical objects and consciousness. One is the ontological problem of accounting for the fact that two such diverse kinds of entities occur in nature and interact with each other. The other is the epistemological problem of justifying physical theories by reference to human experience. A complete solution to either of these problems would surely require a solution to the other as well. In particular, it seems that the epistemological problem cannot be completely solved without understanding how the effects of physical entities can be registered upon consciousness, since performing observations and formulating theories constitute a series of acts of consciousness. It is a remarkable fact about classical physical theory that considerable progress was made on the epistemological problem, at least on that part of the problem which has been demarcated as ‘scientific method’, while the ontological problem remained obscure. Classical physical theory was consistently ‘mechanical’ in the sense that the fundamental physical entities were considered devoid of sensuous qualities;” p755 Shimony 1963

Obs.19.   “His initial observations made the physical geometry of the orbit virtually unintelligible for Kepler. But, when treated as an approximation to the” ellipse, “the complexities fell into an orderly array.”
   “This move of treating observed physical phenomena as being but approximations to mathematically ‘clean’ conceptions developed after Kepler into what has become virtually a defining property of physical inquiry. Thinking about physical phenomena at all came to consist of ‘smoothing’ the experimentally accurate descriptions to mathematically manipulable patterns.” p265 “Sit autem haec figurra perfecta ellipsis, parum enim differt. Videamus quid inde sequatur. Let us suppose our figure is a perfect ellipse. Let us see what follows therefrom.” Kepler, qby Hanson p267 1967

Obs.20.   “When one undertakes the technique of renormalization to cope with what are sometimes referred to as the divergencies in the fully developed quantum theory of radiation, it turns out that there are an infinite number of solutions to a given wave equation. One selects, from this infinite set, on terms that are completely extraneous mathematically, a finite number for further examination. (Unfortunately this yields) ghost states, negative probabilities, and all sorts of strange things. (The main argument in favor of it is that the answer comes out ‘right’.)” p132-133 Hanson 1970

Obs.21.   “The formalism of quantum theory is not, in itself, a physical theory, but it becomes one by virtue of an epistemology relating it to certain kinds of perceptual experience as explanans to explanandum. Such epistemology involves much more than mere operational rules ... consider the limitations on the nature of the constructs of any theory proposed as explanans.”
   There are the “puzzles and paradoxes such as the so-called ‘measurement problem’ (reduction of the state-vector) and the problem of ‘duality’. Bohr's rejection of the classical ontology was not wholly adequate to solve these problems, if only because primitive terms such as ‘observation’, ‘measurement’ and ‘particle’ had not been given phenomenologically clear and unambiguous usages.” p71
   “Quantum theory deals with (alleged) events submicroscopically placed, and these can be loosely described as submicroscopic phenomena. In my view, one cannot properly speak of their being ‘observed’”. p72
   “To obtain a ‘quantum-mechanical measurement’ the connecting structure must be such that one can reasonably suppose a certain property of it (e.g. frequency, velocity) to remain unchanged between the first interaction and the second. ... Other measures, sometimes excessively small (e.g. electronic charge, Bohr radius), are obtained by the successive application of formulae to models conceptually placed in the mathematical frame as if it were the apparatus frame.”
   “On the other hand, it is more correct to say that the submicroscopic event is ‘inferred’ from the observation by a complex and abstruse backward extrapolation, and that the ‘magnification’ is thus more strictly an extrapolated correspondence between what is observed and unobservable structures postulated in the mathematical frame and obeying mathematical equations. Such correspondence constitutes the quantum-mechanical explanation of the observations.” p73
   “The claim for the existence of such particles rests on the results of such experiments as Millikan's oil drop experiment and J.J.Thomson's on the deflection of beta rays. Actually experiment establishes only the discreteness of absorptions, not of ‘particles in transit’. After this, a dubious argument leads to the view that the incoming wave consists of separate wave-packets (photons).” p74
   Given the results “in the Jánossy-Náray experiment ... we may infer that the extrapolated field in the mathematical frame, between the two interactions, represents a ‘control mechanism’ for absorption, rather than a localised transfer of anything specific.”
   “Backward extrapolation thus seems to take us to ‘another sphere’, of quite different ontological status from that of observations. It is a sphere of general control-structures represented in a mathematical frame and not specific observable ones in the apparatus frame.” “In quantum theory, when we consider the unobservable region of potentiality to which we try to extrapolate backwards from a few ultimate observations, it seems plain that if there is any such gradual working out, we are, in nearly all respects, unable in principle to extrapolate backwards to the details of it. The process is, for the most part, beyond mathematical formulation in principle.” p78 Whiteman 1971

Obs.22.   “We ... must know the natural laws at least in practical terms, before we can claim to have observed anything at all. Only theory, that is, knowledge of the natural laws, enables us to deduce something the underlying phenomena from our sense impressions. When we claim that we can observe something new, we ought really to be saying that, although we are about to formulate new natural laws that do not agree with the old ones, we nevertheless assume that the existing laws -- covering the whole path from the phenomena to our consciousness -- function in such a way that we can rely upon them and hence speak of ‘observation’. Einstein qby Heisenberg p63-64 Heisenberg 1971” qby Jammer p266 1983

Obs.23.   “... the quantum principle tells us that the observer is more than an observer, he is a participator. In some strange sense this is a participatory universe.” p333 “The mystery of (gravitational) collapse and the mystery of ‘participation’ summarize the greatest crisis physics has ever faced. ... Soon, we can believe, they will unite to thrust an imperative upon us: ‘Accept a drastically new view of man's relation to the physical universe -- or understand nothing.’” p334-335 Wheeler 1975b

Obs.24.   Consider the Relativity of States approach to the interpretation of the quantum mechanics formalism. “In a sense, its first promoter was Schrödinger (1935), but it was systematized and carried to its logical extreme 10 years ago by Everett (1957).” It asserts that “... this universe of ours is continuously splitting into a stupendous number of branches, each of them as real as any other one. Yes, we, as parts of that universe, are ourselves continuously splitting.” p266-267
   “... it is a theory that cannot be disproved by any specific experiment, since we cannot observe the split. ... Whether we should economize preferably on universes or on principles is likely to remain a matter in which each of us can follow his own preferences. ... it is not the case that one branch alone exists: all of them must be considered as separately existing.” p271-272
   “... if an outside observer could ascertain the state vector of the universe, he would find that my macroscopic observables have no definite value; in fact, he would find that I am in a linear combination of a large number of states, each of which is correlated with the states of immensely many objects. As previously noted, we are not conscious of such a split.” p275
   An observer A, in one split world, can never know that an observer B in another split world “does not have the same impression as he has. This comes from the fact that any transfer of information from B to A -- for example, any answer made by B to a question asked by A -- unavoidably proceeds through physical means.” p277 d'Espagnat 1976

Obs.25.   “No consideration argues more forcibly that the ‘observer’ has nothing to do with the scheme of physics than the disparity in size of 26 powers of 10 between man and the universe; and none argues more strongly that life and consciousness are a rather unimportant development in a faraway and not particularly relevant part of space.” p18 Wheeler 1977

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