Sunday, March 05, 2023

The Mind of Some Eternal Spirit

"When scientists study the world of phenomena, the shadows which nature throws onto the wall of our cave, they do not find these shadows totally unintelligible, and neither do they seem to represent unknown or unfamiliar objects. Rather, it seems to me, we can recognize chess players outside in the sunshine who appear to be very well acquainted with the rules of the game as we have formulated them in our cave. To drop our metaphor, nature seems very conversant with the rules of pure mathematics as our mathematicians have formulated them in their studies, out of their own inner consciousness and without drawing to any appreciable extent on their experience of the outer world.
And now it emerges that the shadow-play which we describe as the fall of an apple to the ground, the ebb and flow of the tides, the motion of electrons in the atom, are produced by actors who seem very conversant with these purely mathematical concepts-with our rules of our game of chess, which we formulated long before we discovered that the shadows on the wall were also playing chess.
When we try to discover the nature of the reality behind the shadows, we are confronted with the fact that all discussion of the ultimate nature of things must necessarily be barren unless we have some extraneous standards against which to compare them. For this reason, to borrow Locke's phrase, "the real essence of substances" is forever unknowable. We can only progress by discussing the laws which govern the changes of substances, and so produce the phenomena of the external world. These we can compare with the abstract creations of our own minds.
It does not matter whether objects 'exist in my mind, or that of any other created spirit' or not; their objectivity arises from their subsisting 'in the mind of some Eternal Spirit.'"

- Sir James Jeans (1877 - 1946)
The Mysterious Universe

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