Webinar Notes: Science and Beyond

Summary: My first blogpost summarizing some highlights and my thoughts from a webinar I attended

Science and Beyond: Toward Greater Sanity through Science, Philosophy, Art, and Spirituality

I wasn't taking notes with the intention of writing a blogpost initially, so this post is more just a collection of quotes and ideas from the presentation. If I choose to continue this type of blogpost then I will give extra effort to provide more structure and coherency. Also: if this blog gets dense in content I will likely have to implement tagging & categories unless the Listed platform provides in the future.

This is the second webinar I have attended from this The Scientific & Medical Network community; the first being the introductory session A Call for a Renaissance of the Spirit of Humanities, on April 23. I have been thinking about spirituality and consciousness sporadically throughout my life, and with acceleration & devotion in the last couple years during the Covid-19 pandemic shenanigans, so I was absolutely hooked on that first session (which I may write about after this). I joined this community and plan on attending every webinar. I truly love these topics and this very important endeavor to revive wisdom and understanding of what it means to be a human being, which is not a "left-brain" dominated, ultra-reductionist, hyper-materialist dogmatic understanding of reality but a sensory & intuitive understanding of this truly supernatural and miraculous existence being one with nature and the universe.

This webinar, unlike the first, was mostly centered around one speaker, Prof Rolf Sattler, and his book titled Science and Beyond. Notes & paraphrasing:

  • How science is always iterating and evolving, "yet people in government and even many scientists talk about 'proof' and assert their experimental discoveries and reductionist world-views as fact. How is this possible?" Prof Settler invoked the analogy of the apparent fact of swans being all white until a black swan was discovered. Nowadays, it seems like black swans just get murdered and buried (my words). This is a recurring problem throughout history: scientists, from archaeologists & anthropologists to chemists & physicists get so proud of their discoveries and spend the rest of their life teaching students what they know, but when new discoveries challenge their legacy, instead of being proper scientists and adapting, they defend their ego and sometimes lash out in the most inhumane and unprofessional of ways (my words). "They love when they find something to disprove another's arguments but hate when contradictory evidence is presented toward their own beliefs/arguments".
  • Facts are theories... and you cannot disprove one's hypothetical with another hypothetical... it is impossible to absolutely disprove a theory or any scientific tenant
  • Science is not concerned with uniqueness, only replicability"... "if experiments cannot be replicated, then the experiment/observation that had been done before must be wrong... I think this is a fallacious conclusion because we know that everything we know/experiment is context-dependent. If the context changes, then the result of the experiment can change. Contexts are always changing. in some cases it may be that the reason of replication is often so difficult.
  • Science is concerned with shared perception... if we share one perception, then we consider that 'objective'. That notion of objectivity is considered 'useful' in science. Knowing we have 5 fingers is a shared experience, so we call that objective. But seeing auras around the fingers is not shared by too many people, so that would be considered subjective because it's not widely shared. But does that mean it's not real?
  • Subjectivity is not desired in science because it is focused on shared experiences. [But] if you look at history, there have been many unusual visionaries with insightful experiences which have enriched humankind. [Intuition] is very important.
  • On logic: most scientists take Aristotelean logic for granted. It is based on laws of thought: identity, contradiction, and the excluded middle. And there are profound problems with these three so-called laws: absolute identity does not exist in the real world. Since Neils Bohr, we know light can manifest as both particle and wave - either and both. So contradiction doesn't make too much practical sense. When we consider contradictory theories as complimentary, we actually enrich our scope. It may illuminate the "contradiction". Many scientists don't sufficiently consider complimentary theory. Most people don't consider things can be both true and false. They dichotomize a person as honest OR dishonest, etc. Fuzzy logic developed in the '60s... what it means really is you don't have sets that exclude one another. Fuzzy Set Theory. Sets are a matter of degree, ranging from 0% to 100%. Example: fuzzy set of tall people. To ask if someone is tall or not tall is not a good question. Good for extreme cases but in the middle someone could be a part of that set to some extent. Or fuzzy set of happy people, honest people, good people, evil people, of justice, etc. The closer we look, the fuzzier things become. The 'law' of the excluded middle is very limited and only applies to extreme cases of membership in a fuzzy set.
  • Yin-yang thinking in Taoism: they contain each other. It's not whether it's one or the other, but they are both. Complimentary. It's not an either-or situation, but a degree of how much it's yin and how much it's yang. Buddhist logic has four values, including either/or, but also includes AND and NEITHER NOR. Jain logic: seven-valued logic. Each statement has to be prefixed by a statement which says from this perspective, or in a way (or something like that). Seven perspectives. "It is", "it is not", "it is indescribable", the other 4 are combinations of these. Instead of saying "this person is bad" but "in a way, this person is bad but in another way this person is not bad, yet in another way this person is indescribable". Like "from a perspective this person is a terrorist, from another this person isn't, and from another this person is indescribable." What difference would this understanding change?! To me this logic is mind-blowing. We are too used to Aristotelean logic.
  • When we say something is indescribable then we really go beyond science. If it's beyond language, it's beyond science.
  • Language can be likened to a map, and we know a map isn't the actual territory. It conveys the aspect of the territory but there is A LOT more than any map can convey. Therefore, there is a lot more in reality than any linguistic interpretation can convey. One has to keep this in mind that this limits what science can convey because science uses language. If science no longer uses language, then it's no longer science, but we can go personally beyond language because silence is very important. To say 'John is good' is a wrong statement - what he is is beyond language, it is the indescribable. What you say he is, he is not! What he is is beyond language.
  • I am tempted to say science can never reveal what reality is, at best it can only reveal aspects of reality.
  • On the topic of empiricism: science is considered empirical... but empiricism means that when in science when we have theories and we want to test them, we have to test them with facts. Facts are basic and crucial, but they are described through language, therefore empiricism is limited because they are described through language which is limited in how it can describe reality and how things are. One shortcoming of empiricism.
  • Science today is often about power...
  • So, 'what is science?' It's not very clear. Scientific knowledge is knowledge gained through the scientific method, but as some pointed out: there is no one scientific method. There is no method that is used by all scientists in all circumstances - they use a great variety of methods. So we cannot define science through the Scientific Method. To give a few examples: one method that is often used is called the hypothetical-deductive method: you have a theory that makes predictions and you test it and decide if it confirms or disconfirms the theory, but not all scientists work this way. Some, like Goethe, use intuition as primary means of deduction. Barbary McGlintoch(?) won the Nobel prize for "jumping genes" - she did most of her work with corn/maize. She got to a "communion" with her objects, there was no longer an observer/observed. Then people like naturalists like Jane Goodall - when she was sitting there observing chimpanzees, she was not (just) using the hypothetical-deductive method. They use a great variety of methodology. Science cannot be delimited from non-science by the so-called Scientific Method. Maybe science is also a fuzzy set, maybe there is no way to clearly distinguish. Maybe it's a continuum. If they had an upset stomach they knew which plant to eat. They used intuition/instinct, something closer to what Goethe did.

Other notable ideas/quotes, some from audience members (mostly paraphrased):

  • "If we can go beyond space & time then we can go beyond uncertainty"
  • "There is a Shiva meditation which says: 'put the palms of your hands over your eyes like a feather and focus on the third eye'... it, or one of the 112-ish Shiva meditations, can instantly transport you beyond space and time... almost like a shortcut to Nirvana... you can become totally immersed in beauty like in a flower meadow... or in total laughter. I once laughed for 30 minutes straight with friends, which puts you in a totally different state of mind and you don't worry about anything else."
  • "Ultimate reality may be beyond science, anyhow"
  • "After retiring and meditating a lot, I once saw my hands full of light! After that I could see beautiful auras around leaves and trees and humans... but when I talk to most people they think I'm hallucinating or something. It is not a shared experience, it is a subjective experience. But just because it is not shared doesn't mean it is not real. Of course it could be hallucination, but shared experiences can be 'hallucinations' too."
  • "Sensing can reveal aspects of reality that are beyond empiricism. If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is: infinite. Our senses can be a door to the infinite."
  • "We don't have time for the evolutionary process to work its way out to get to the world we know we need to be in. We need some radical moves [on behalf of humanity and civilization]."
  • Jane Goodall "speaks at the same time from the head and the heart"
  • The indoctrination starts pre-kindergarten when children ask "what is this?" and we answer "this is a flower" instead of "we call this a flower but we don't exactly know, it is indescribable!"
  • "Prose is descriptive, poetry is evocative. Poetry attempts to bring something out beyond the words themselves, through imagery and intuition."
  • To contrast or relate to the idea of "The language of God is silence" - "The language of reality is mathematics"

And I can't help but think about ideas like "sacred geometry" and the universe unfolding itself through fibonacci or related growth algorithms. Language, science, life, and everything are iterative, evolutionary, infinite... Ideas that go back to at least Pythagoras and the founding of his mathematical School that was actually primarily a Spiritual community, believing all matter and observable reality derive from consciousness - the One. The non-conceptual knowledge... the ideas that are found in Taoism and all religions & mythologies. I also think about "synchronicities" - a topic written on by Carl Jung and many others, and something we've all experienced at one point or another.

Fascinating stuff.

Some books mentioned during the call and chat:

  • Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field - Barbara Brennan
  • Thich Nhat Hanh's poem "Call Me By My True Names"
  • Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
  • Jean-Pierre Jordain's work on Panoramic Vision/Maps
  • Satish Kumar's works
  • John Barrow's PI in the Sky, which speaks on the aforementioned Jainist logic
  • Jim Garrison's Humanity Rising webinar series (on which Jane Goodall appeared)
  • Resurgence & Ecologist magazine/organization
  • probably more I didn't catch

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