The New Physics and Matters of the Mind
Classical physics states that physical reality is local, or that a measurement at one point in space cannot influence what occurs at another beyond a fairly short distance. Until recently this seemed like an immutable truth in nature. However, in 1997 experiments were conducted in which light particles (photons) originated under certain conditions and traveled in opposite directions to detectors located about seven miles apart. The amazing results indicated that the photons “interacted” or “communicated” with one another instantly or “in no time,” leading to the revelation that physical reality is non-local–a discovery that Robert Nadeau and Menas Kafatos view as “the most momentous in the history of science.”
In pursuing this groundbreaking argument, the authors provide a fascinating history of developments that led to the discovery of non-locality and the sometimes heated debate between the great scientists responsible for these discoveries. What this new knowledge reveals, the authors conclude, is that the connection between mind and nature is far more intimate than we previously dared to imagine. What they offer is a revolutionary look at the implications of non-locality, implications that reach deep into that most intimate aspect of humanity–consciousness.
Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality
The rise of modern science has brought with it increasing acceptance among intellectual elites of a worldview that conflicts sharply both with everyday human experience and with beliefs widely shared among the world’s great cultural traditions. Most contemporary scientists and philosophers believe that reality is at bottom purely physical, and that human beings are nothing more than extremely complicated biological machines. On such views our everyday experiences of conscious decision-making, free will, and the self are illusory by-products of the grinding of our neural machinery. It follows that mind and personality are necessarily extinguished at death, and that there exists no deeper transpersonal or spiritual reality of any sort.
Beyond Physicalism is the product of an unusual fellowship of scientists and humanities scholars who dispute these views. In their previous publication, Irreducible Mind, they argued that physicalism cannot accommodate various well-evidenced empirical phenomena including paranormal or psi phenomena, postmortem survival, and mystical experiences. In this new theory-oriented companion volume they go further by attempting to understand how the world must be constituted in order that these “rogue” phenomena can occur. Drawing upon empirical science, metaphysical philosophy, and the mystical traditions, the authors work toward an improved “big picture” of the general character of reality, one which strongly overlaps territory traditionally occupied by the world’s institutional religions, and which attempts to reconcile science and spirituality by finding a middle path between the polarized fundamentalisms, religious and scientific, that have dominated recent public discourse.