KARL JASPERS FORUM

TA107
(Rosen)

Commentary
2

( BRIDGING THE "TWO
CULTURES": MERLEAU-PONTY AND THE CRISIS IN MODERN PHYSICS
)

by Donald
Mender

27 May 2008, posted 31 May 2008

<1>

I am entirely in agreement with
Steven Rosen's project of both "softening" physics and
"hardening" phenomenology so that C. P. Snow's "two cultures"
may extend to meet in a common middle ground.
I agree with Professor Rosen that a phenomenological re-working of the
sub-Planck scale vital to the yet incomplete goal of unifying gravitation and
quantum field theory holds the key to accessing that middle ground. I am also on board with his ideas,
respectively explicit and implicit, that 1) the incarnated subject, which
non-transcendentally interpenetrates the "objects" of physics, is a
perceiving subject, and 2) the "geometry" of that interpenetration cannot
be subsumed by insufficiently generalized invariances
under translational, affine, or diffeomorphic
transformations.

<2>

However, with regard to 1) and 2)
I must ask the following questions:

1) Doesn't quantum physics require that the
subject not only perceive but, more than that, ACT on
physical "objects"? That's why
quantum observables are constituted not by mere variables but by operators,
whether expressed as differential or matrix-mechanical symbols. If so, then a quantum-oriented phenomenology
will have to incorporate the notion of praxis directly into its rubric. Husserlian
constructs won't cut it here. Even Merleau-Ponty alone won't do the
job, though his propounding of subjective incarnation is a necessary first
step. Beyond that, Heidegger's existentialism is
required.

2) Is geometrical abstraction to topology
generalized enough to handle the conundra of
self-referent paradox? After all, these
contradictions came to light historically through the doomed project of axiomatizing set theory, stripped even of constraints
imposed by invariance under homeomorphic transformations. Maybe topology is not a radical enough
vantage point from which to address the big picture of
subject/object interpenetration. Perhaps
some re-thinking of foundational set theory is needed.

<3>

Having raised these issues, I
believe that Professor Rosen has unearthed some important leads pointing toward
their resolution:

1) The non-commutativity
of uncertainty relations between canonically conjugate operators and hypernumbers may relate to each other in heretofore
unexplored ways whose correspondences could yet prove theoretically
redundant. If so, a consolidating path
toward wedding all quantum operators, both first- and second-quantizing, to the
sub-Planck scale may thus be delineated.
This would afford the purveyors of quantum-gravitational unification and
existentially phenomenological agency a comprehensive mode of mutual connection.

2) The crucial role of Bose-Einstein and
Fermi-Dirac statistics in the local supersymmetry of
quantum gravity may indicate a possible means of reworking set theory to
encompass the structural strengths of topology without requiring its overly specific
recourse to explicit bicontinuity. By re-working I mean an expansion of
probability-valued logic in pure set theory to include also Bose-Einstein and
Fermi-Dirac statistics.

<4>

If the measures outlined in the
last two paragraphs were combined, one might thereby produce a sub-Planck
mathematical structure weaving together quantum-subjective praxis and a
pseudo-topologically elastic, potentially meta-paradoxical expansion of set
theory. This seems to me a worthy goal.

-----------------------------------------------

Donald Mender, M. D.

Assistant Clinical Professor of
Psychiatry

Yale University School of
Medicine

e-mail < dmm87
(at) email.med.yale.edu >