The traditional view of reality seeks to identify the intrinsic or “real” properties of things such as their size, location, velocity, and mass. Physics has increasingly come to appreciate the futility of such an undertaking, and instead realizes that properties only exist relative to measuring instruments. This deprives properties of any absolute status. Modern theories of relativity and quantum mechanics underscore the necessity of replacing all absolute properties with relational “observables.” For example, lengths are shortened in the directions of motion according to Einstein’s relativity theory. The implications of this and similar facts for our notion of reality are profound. For example, objects do not have an intrinsic size, velocity or mass. Even the number of particles in a box can depend on its state of relative motion. In light of these discoveries of physics, we are called upon to set aside realistic, reductive views in favor of those that have a more phenomenological character. Arthur Zajonc will describe particular experiments that contradict the search for intrinsic properties and realistic theories, and Michel Bitbol will speak about the philosophical implications of such experiments and theories. These challenges from the new physics open up important themes for dialogue with Buddhist philosophy concerning the ultimate nature of reality and its relation to human experience .
- Dialogue 2627 sessions
- January 18, 2013Drepung Monastery, Mundgod, India