[extropy-chat] The Uncertainty Principle in Zen

scerir scerir at libero.it
Tue Mar 6 19:22:27 UTC 2007

> In Zen, training the mind to be aware of the dualism between self and
> no-self is a test of the Uncertainty Principle/randomness which is the
> essential teaching of "Emptiness" as a state of possibility.

Well, it is true that Bohr said: "For a parallel to the lesson
of atomic theory regarding the limited applicability of such
customary idealisations, we must in fact turn to quite other
branches of science, such as psychology, or even to that kind
of epistemological problems with which already thinkers like
Buddha and Lao Tse have been confronted, when trying
to harmonize our position as spectators and actors
in the great drama of existence". (N.Bohr: "Celebrazione del
Secondo Centenario della Nascita di Luigi Galvani -Bologna-
18-21 Ottobre 1937-XV").

And it is also true that a huge chapter of an intense book
by Max Jammer is devoted, entirely, to the eastern
philosophies and modern physics (pages and pages
of references inside that chapter).

But I do not think that the two fields have much more
in common than some superficial similarity. Maybe here
you can read an amusing correspondence between
Paul Laporte and Einstein, about the supposed
similarity between SR and ... cubism. (Paul
Laporte did not know the superposition principle,
which has something to do with the 'analytical' cubism).

As for your 'state of possibility' you can indeed find
many good 'implementations' in quantum theory. Ie, it is well
known the Heisenberg doctrine of 'potentia' (reminiscent
of Aristotle). It is also well known that what we call
the outcome of a quantum measurement of some observable A
in general does not depend only on the observable A itself
and on the state of the quantum system. It also depends,
on the measurements we could, in principle, perform on some
other observable B, even when B and A are commuting.

But the above 'implementations' are not the incarnation
of Zen, in the quantum domain. And the UP is not what
makes Zen so attractive. 


'It was tacitly assumed that measurement of an
observable must yield the same value independently
of what other [compatible] measurements may be made
simultaneously ... There is no a priori reason to believe
that the results should be the same.'
-John Bell, Rev.Mod.Phys., 38 (1966) 447.   

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