Fathulla, K. and Jost, D. (2008) Quantum humanism: the reality of the atom and the mind through a Dooyeweerdian lens. Seminar Presentation presented to: Subject, Self, and Soul: Transdisciplinary Approaches to Personhood, Universidad Pontificia Comillas Madrid, Spain, 13-17 July 2008.
While physicists pursue the search for the Grand Unified Theory (GUT) and the expedition to find the Higgs that ought to solidify the Standard Model, philosophers keep inquiring as to what the nature of matter and mind might be and propose various theories. At first sight, the high energy physicist or the philosopher, both human, and the elementary particle seem to have nothing in common, however we contend and argue in this paper that we are looking at different scales of what constitutes universal behaviour and use Herman Dooyeweerd's theory of Modal Aspects to bridge the particle to the mind. To other than a physicist the dual nature of the atom or the so-called elementary particles may be difficult to comprehend and certainly appears unfathomable to intuit. This is due to the fact that the dual nature of matter finds its anchoring within the theoretical and mathematical frameworks provided by quantum mechanics, the latter tends to not be easily accessible to most individual's intuition. What would the consequences be if human nature itself had a dual character? We all know that human nature is both egoistic and altruistic, however it is not often that one considers the fact that egoism is an individual behaviour, while altruism is a collective behaviour. Likewise a particle is an individual manifestation of what we call matter, while wave nature can be considered characteristic of collective behaviour of the same matter. Recent advances in experimental physics—the queen of reductionist science—aimed at solving the mysteries of the quantum world has led to a deepening of the mystery rather than easing it, dispelling the EPR paradox and pointing out a conceptional error in this now famous gedanken experiment, while lending some authority and validation to quantum mechanics. The strange features of the quantum world are founded on what Bohr dubbed complementarity, or the way a sub-particle entity can behave either as a wave or as a particle; and on Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, which says that a quantum entity such as an electron does not avail itself to a deterministic exact measurement of both position and momentum simultaneously. Such postulates seem to contradict deeply held assumptions by the deterministic and materialistically oriented world of experimental physics where everything, including the atom, can be reduced to a single aspect. There are mounting calls for newer ways of understanding reality that are capable of handling these apparently strange incomprehensible phenomena revealed through the classical observation of the microscopic quantum world. There is also fundamental progress made in bouncing cosmology theories that bridge general relativity to quantum mechanics and provide some insight into the nature of the universe and its transition and pre-history through the big bang. The thrust of this paper evolves around two pillars. One, is that that the apparent logical fissure emergent in reductionist thought, coming from orthodox science and the application of the scientific method that is manifest in what we know and do not understand in quantum mechanics, can be liaised to our intellectual understanding through the perspective offered by Herman Dooyeweerd's theory of Modal Aspects. The other, is the central and special role humans have in relation to the universe. Through this approach, we will argue that the dual nature of the atom or elementary particles is, rather than being a strange phenomenon, in fact an essential characteristic of what constitutes its nature