• Thou Art That and Other Essays: Reflections of an Algorithmic Scientist on an Era Between Gods

    John Lawrence Nazareth (see profile)
    Computer science, Consciousness, Science, Philosophy, Religions
    Item Type:
    Alfred North Whitehead, Cartesian dictum, Fechner, Henri Bergson, William James, Natural science, World religion
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    This book lies at the intersection of religion, science, and philosophy. It builds a bridge between the "perennial philosophy" of the past, which has inspired and provides the foundation for the world's major religions, and the "natural philosophy of organism" of four great philosopher-scientists of the 19th and 20th centuries---Gustav Theodor Fechner, William James, Henri Bergson, and Alfred North Whitehead---who were widely celebrated during their lifetimes, but now have fallen into relative obscurity. Their profound philosophical insights could greatly facilitate our scientific understanding of the natural world and, in particular, the scientific effort currently under way to unravel the mystery of consciousness. They can also help to address the deep spiritual malaise of our present day, which the novelist, John Updike, has aptly characterized as an "Era Between Gods." An overarching theme of this book is that the broadened Cartesian dictum governing much of modern science, namely, "I compute, algorithmically, therefore I think, symbolically, therefore I am, experientially," is today being reversed in a Copernican-like scientific revolution. Only through the acceptance of a new governing scientific principle, which can be stated compactly as "I experience therefore I symbolize therefore I compute," will science be able to progress beyond its current focus on the physical world of "things," and develop a deeper understanding of the psychological and phenomenological realms of nature. The author bases this thesis on the foregoing "natural philosophy of organism," and, over the course of its elaboration, he provides the reader with a survey of a fascinating literature, covering philosophical, spiritual, and scientific works, and ranging from ancient to modern. In particular, he presents a unified and intentionally-poetic introduction to the writings of Fechner, James, Bergson, and Whitehead, the aforementioned four great philosopher-scientists of our modern era.
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    3 years ago
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