What is quantum buddhism

Three questions in quantum physics
to Buddhism

Contribution to the topic of science and technology by 50plus active on Bergstrasse on May 23, 2018 in Bensheim



For a good 100 years, quantum physics has replaced classical natural science, and yet no one has been able to convincingly say what it means for everyone to this day. Instead, there are four explanatory approaches that are mutually exclusive. Can Buddhism give an answer to what such a tetralemma says about man and his thinking? Does it confirm deep assumptions of dependent origination (pratitya-samutpada), and can it lead to a religious reorientation of the natural scientists whose enlightened basic attitude was closely connected with the classical physics of Newton?

The natural laws of quantum physics refer exclusively to possibilities. In contrast, only what actually happens can be observed and measured experimentally. At the moment of the measurement there is a so-called collapse of the space of possibility and the laws of quantum physics that are only valid in it. But aren't these laws just as real in their own way if all their predictions are confirmed, even if they are only formulated for statistical aggregates of probable events? Quantum physics asks for a new understanding of the possible, and this question has not even been taken into account by Western philosophy to this day. This gives rise to the second question to Buddhism: Are there ways (karana, samtana) to experience the space of possibilities as such before it collapses into the respective reality?

That would mean that one succeeds in diving into the space of possibilities in a circular movement without the anchoring (alaya-vijnana) to give up in the real and to return to reality from there. What does quantum physics say about it? And what does Buddhism teach about a cyclical movement into the realm of the possible and back to reality, which obviously goes far beyond the familiar cycles of day and night, of the seasons and of life and death?

Expertise is not a prerequisite, but joy in thinking about puzzles of nature and unfamiliar species. Questions are expressly welcome.

The Tetralemma of Quantum Physics and Buddhist Logic

In the face of quantum physics, thinking reaches its limits. Can something be wave and particle at the same time? We could not see anything if the photons in our eyes did not create a kind of shadow cast by external things. In 2016 it was shown that our eyes can even recognize individual photons (scinexx from July 20, 2016). It is different with sound waves. Noise travels in waves, making it difficult for the ear to locate. But the photons sometimes behave like particles and sometimes like waves. In the double slit experiment, photons (or other particles) are shot through two openings in a wall. Instead of continuing its path in a straight line, each opening appears like a source from which the individual paths emerge in a wave shape. As a result, an interference pattern is generated by the impacting particles on a rear screen, which is inexplicable from the point of view of classical physics.

Everyone knows the double slit experiment from soccer training when shooting through a goal wall with two openings. A net only needs to be set up behind the goal wall. If you shoot and hit hard enough, your ball will fly in a straight line through an opening and hit the net stretched behind it. There all the balls will land in two small circles that are like a shadow behind the two openings. It is completely different in the quantum world.


Fig. 1a, 1b: Double slit experiment: discrete and interference pattern
Discreet: As with the goal wall, the objects will rebound from the wall according to the laws of reflection, be reflected from the inner walls or fly straight through it.
Wave: The objects spread out like a wave and create an interference pattern

How can this be explained? (i) It is simply a physical description of what is happening here without understanding why it is so. (ii) Or a search is made for a mathematical formula with which the measurement results can be uniformly described without understanding why this formula is valid. (iii) Finally, it can be assumed that the particles involved have a previously unknown property that leads to the observed phenomenon. This property is named spin. Ironically, a recognized and recognized mathematician and physicist like Roger Penrose (* 1931) speaks of Quantum Magic and Quantum Secret (Penrose, 218, chapter heading) and writes: “Many physicists despair of the task of ever finding a picture for it. Instead, they are satisfied with the view that quantum theory does not provide an objective picture of the physical world, but only a method of calculating probabilities. "(Penrose, 235) When physicists speak of spin in their distress, they simply hide it under this name Ignorance: "But as we shall see, the spin of a single quantum mechanical particle shows some very strange properties that we would not expect at all in our experience with rotating billiard balls and similar things." (Penrose, 257)

To date, no convincing answer has been found for everyone. Is there a profound tetralemma in which, according to the Indian philosopher and Buddhist Nagarjuna (2nd century AD), all human thinking can be found? As long as Western thought and, last but not least, physics followed the classical lines, hardly anyone understood the tetralemma (Sanskrit: Catuskoti) he set up and took it seriously. It looks like a logical puzzle. If the question is asked whether a statement A is true, there are four formal ways of judging the truth of A:

- A is true
- A is wrong
- A is true and false
- A is neither true nor false

Usually the third and fourth judgments are ruled out as nonsensical, and logic is left with dualism: either A is true or A is false. There is nothing third (tertium non datur). Nagarjuna claims not only that the third and fourth judgments can also apply, but that for human thinking all four apply at the same time and are mutually dependent! (In doing so, he also undermines the few approaches of a non-Aristotelian or a dialectical logic, which additionally want to allow the fourth judgment ›A is neither true nor false‹, but, like traditional logic, assume that for a certain statement A only one The judgments can apply.) A tetralemma can only be spoken of when there are good reasons for all four judgments and no decision is possible. This happens with a statement like ›the photon is a particle‹ or the complementary statement ›the photon is a wave‹ or ›the photon is both a particle and a wave‹ or ›the photon is neither a particle nor a wave›. In the case of these statements, none of the four options for judging their truth apply. What appears to the Western tradition as a tetralemma, i.e. an indissoluble blockade into four mutually exclusive possibilities, is for Nagarjuna the only correct description of human thought in its inner diversity.

Nobody could imagine that Western science could ever get caught up in a tetralemma of this kind. But that is exactly what happened to quantum physics. In the 20th century, various interpretations of quantum physics have developed that correspond to these four possibilities and are undecidable. Christian Thomas Kohl (* 1945) first mentioned this in his book in 2005 Quantum Physics and Buddhism made aware. For him the consequence arises that the interpretations of quantum physics are an example of dependent origination in the sense of Buddhism. No statement A and no judgment about a statement A can exist on its own without at the same time taking into account the contrary statements and judgments that go beyond them. Every statement A and every judgment about the truth of statement A is therefore ‘nothing’ in itself. All statements and judgments about statements are mutually dependent and dependent on one another.

(1) Objectivism, reductionism. Somewhere there is an absolute substance that underlies everything, be it the smallest particles, "quantum objects, energies, force fields, natural laws & symmetries" (Kohl, 194). If we do not already know them, that only shows the incompleteness of our current knowledge. This is how Einstein argued against quantum physics. In addition to Einstein, other typical representatives are, apart from Einstein, the objective idealism of Plato, the Enlightenment and its most important representatives such as the encyclopaedist d'Alembert, Rutherford, Carnap, the quantum mechanics of de Broglie and Bohm, Feynman, Koyré, and more recently David Layzer, Henry J. Folse and many others Wittgenstein put this attitude in a nutshell and criticized it: "So they stop with the laws of nature as something inviolable, like the older ones with God and fate." 195), to which everything else can be traced back (reduced).

(2) subjectivism. Nobody can say with certainty whether there is an objective world. Everything exists only in our models and concepts and is subjective. British physicist and non-fiction author Paul C.W. Davies (* 1946) wrote a programmatic contribution in 1984 Elementary Particles Do Not Exist. Typical representatives of this direction are George Berkeley (1685-1753), the great counter-Enlightenment, who was nevertheless able to inspire philosophy like hardly anyone else with his criticism, Ernst Mach (1838-1916), the initiator of Gestalt psychology and of great importance for Einstein, more recently Nicholas Rescher (* 1928) and John (Johann) Bernhard Stallo.

Bohr: "There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract quantum mechanical description. It is wrong to think that it is the task of physics to find out how nature is is. Physics is about what we can say about nature. "
Heisenberg: "Atoms or elementary particles are not that real; they form a world of contingencies or possibilities, instead of things or facts."
"Jordan emphatically stated that observation is not just what is to be measured to disturbbut it to produce. "(Quotes from Bell, 161)

(3) Both-and, holism. According to the 1927 Copenhagen Interpretation, objectivism and subjectivism are equally rejected in favor of a doctrine of overarching holism. The coincidence, the blurring and the complementarity of wave and particle are just as much a part of the nature of things as it is part of the nature of the subjective observer to unintentionally influence the objects observed by him. For Niels Bohr (1885-1962) there is no pure measurement process that simply runs in front of the eyes of the experimenter and can be recorded by him, but there is always an interaction between the objects and the subjectively controlled experiments. That was already Kant's argument why a pure, that is mathematical, psychology is never possible: Anyone who is observed by a psychologist feels it and behaves differently than usual (Kant Metaphysical foundations of natural science, Preface). According to Bohr, this also applies to quantum processes. They behave differently under observation than when they run exclusively for themselves. Therefore, all that remains is to become aware of this and to take into account the interaction of subject and object in the measurement results and the theories based on them. Even if it seems hard to imagine, extensive mathematical models have been developed to mathematically describe this break (collapse) of unobserved behavior at the moment of observation. Historically, this direction can refer to the Greek philosopher Heraklit ("Everything flows"). The Romantics took up this, both Holderlin and within Schelling's philosophy. In the 20th century, Heidegger and his pupil Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) stand for this direction as well as New Age thinking since the 1970s. Kohl quotes Gadamer: "The sharper thesis is the one and the many at the same time." (Gadamer The beginning of knowledge, Stuttgart 1999, 4, quoted in Kohl, 201). In physics, in addition to Niels Bohr, Klaus Michael Meyer-Abich (* 1936) and the later work of David Bohm, who speaks of "holomovement" (Bohm The implicit order, Munich 1985, 200, quoted in Kohl, 204). Through representatives like these, Holism has had a great influence far into the churches, the ecological movement and all kinds of alternative thinking, and in this environment a new interest in Buddhism has been awakened. The most important representative to this day is the Californian physicist Fritjof Capra (* 1939) from Austria, whose books Tao of Physics (1975) and Turning time (1983) shaped a new generation of natural scientists.

(4) Neither-nor, constructivism, instrumentalism. Even if holism prevailed in the second half of the 20th century, if it recognizes neither the object nor the subject, what is it on which to base its principles? Does wholeness hang in the air when it is neither objects nor subjective ideas from which it emerges? New terms such as emergence only help to a limited extent, because what is it that emerges: in the sense of holism, it must neither be an object from whose properties the emergence is explained, nor a subject in whose imagination an event appears as emergence. How can holism justify its own principles such as the gestalt idea? All that remains is to justify the respective model purely instrumentally (conventionalistically): A model is successful if it is free of contradictions and as simple as possible, and at the same time has proven itself in explaining the known phenomena. The mathematical model and the physical concept do not provide a physical explanation. This is completely dispensed with. Terms gain their meaning exclusively because they can be used to construct models that can mathematically describe all experimental results better than others. As a result, representatives of holism have often become constructivists and instrumentalists. They gave up the claim to look for their own reason for the whole and the holistic nature, regardless of object or subject, and deliberately limited themselves to relying on the technical superiority of their models. For them, the question of object or subject or both remains not only unanswerable, but ultimately also not very helpful in educating progress in research. For Kohl, Bohr and, among the philosophers, Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945) tended in this direction. An independent direction was formed with the systems theorist Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998) and in physics Stephen Hawking (1942-2018), Anton Zeilinger (* 1945) and others (Kohl, 12). For Kohl, it is above all Luhmann "who makes constructivism interesting and made it a leading model for new science, which is characterized by the keywords of self-organization, complexity, non-linearity, feedback, etc." (Kohl, 208). Ernst Pöppel follows this direction "What appears to us as reality is a construction of reality determined by ourselves" (Pöppel Limits of Consciousness, Frankfurt am Main 2000, 167, quoted in Kohl, 208). Kohl also names Harry Collins, Trevor Pinch, Peter Janich, Wolf Singer, Kuno Lorenz, Hugo Dingler.

Is it possible to enhance one of these directions with the help of Buddhism? Kohl sees this danger on the one hand with Capra, who in Tao of Physics favors Holism and represents a philosophy of Holism, New Age and Buddhism that is particularly popular in various circles in California, and on the other hand with constructivists and instrumentalists, if they do not want to base either on the emptiness in the sense of Buddhism. For example, the Indologist Kuno Lorenz (* 1932), who succeeded Weizsäcker in Hamburg as professor of philosophy in 1970, a representative of Paul Lorenzen's constructivism and dialogical logic. For Lorenz, the concepts and their mathematical relationships in modern natural science are empty and insubstantial compared to "real things" and only gain meaning within the mathematical models. According to Lorenz, Nagarjuna already anticipated this kind of emptiness and insubstantiality. For Kohl, both are an inadmissible simplification and a one-sided view of Nagarjuna. Buddhism does not find its place within the tetralemma, be it in the category of holism or constructivism, but results from the experience of the indissolubility of the tetralemma.

In a similar way, the physicist Anton Zeilinger and Tenzin Gyatso (* 1936), the 14th Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959, talked past each other when they could not agree on the question of causality and condition.Anton Zeilinger moves within constructivism and does not see how his approach to a Buddhist view is only one side within an overarching dependent arising. With dependent arising is not meant that in a deterministic, one-dimensional understanding A is the condition for B (A → B), but with Nagarjuna it can be said: Just as there is no going when there is no one who can walk, or when there is no path to walk and, conversely, there is no walker, if there is no movement of walking or no path to walk, and finally there is no path to walk when there is no one who walks it and no movement of walking, this can be transferred to quantum theory: the particles that spread out correspond to the walker, propagation corresponds to walking and the space over which they spread corresponds to the path taken. Each of them can only exist if the other two exist and is conditioned by them.

This way of thinking may seem like a gimmick, but it suggests two thoughts: possibility and cyclicality. There can only be walking if there are ways that can be walked (on which walking is possible). The mutual condition of all three moments indicates an inner cyclicity through which these moments are connected to one another. In the following, it will be a matter of taking up the ideas presented here, which go beyond the usual understanding of possibility and cyclicality.

Collapse of possibility into reality

Is there a factual reason why quantum physics is caught in a tetralemma and not classical physics? For me, this is explained by the new and completely unfamiliar relationship between possibility and reality. From his point of view, John Bell made a contribution shortly before his death in 1989 with the programmatic title Against the ‘measurement‘ given a fair assessment. Schrödinger originally understood the wave very clearly. "He tried to imagine the electron as a wave packet - a wave function that only differs appreciably from zero in a small area of ​​space." (Bell, 255) That could not be maintained. This was followed in 1926 by Max Born's (1882-1970) interpretation of probability as a wave of probability, from which the Copenhagen interpretation emerged. Born was »from 1921 to 1933 a professor in Göttingen. Here, among others, he developed large parts of modern quantum mechanics with Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Pascual Jordan and Friedrich Hund «(Wikipedia entry on Born, accessed on May 18, 2018). Bell emphasizes:

»The wave function does not give the density of materialbut rather (as the square of its amount) the density of probability. probability About what exactly? Not that the electron is there isbut that it is there found when its position is 'measured'. Why this aversion to 'being' and the insistence on 'finding'? The founding fathers were unable to form a clear picture of things on the distant, atomic levels. They became clearly aware of the machinery in between; and the need for a 'classical' basis from which to act on the quantum system. Hence the questionable division “into the observed system and the observing measuring apparatus. (Bell, 255)

Physicists like Paul Dirac were aware of the shortcomings, but put them on hold for now and hoped to be able to solve them later. “He expected developments in theory that would put these problems in a whole new light. It would be a waste of effort to worry too much about it, especially since we get along very well in practice without solving it. ”(Bell, 241) But it turned out completely differently. Instead of later looking for a solution that would convince everyone, since then the mathematical formulas have been accepted and their meaning has not been explained. It should be sufficient if your results agree with the measurement results. All further questions are declared superfluous. Is that lazy thinking, a self-righteous conservatism that shies away from any kind of subversion, or a reasonable modesty that is aware of the limits of human thought and has learned to accept them?

In its theory, quantum physics can only describe spaces of possibility (manifolds of possibilities), although, as in classical physics, only that which is actually given at the moment of measurement can be measured and recorded. At the same time, it is a hitherto unknown type of possibility: the possibilities that are differentiated from quantum physics are not independent of one another, but rather interlinked. As possibilities, they form a peculiar totality that is comparable to a living organism, and yet never shows itself as a whole, but always only in individual events, the inner connection of which remains hidden in the realm of possibilities and can only be opened up indirectly. Describing this even reasonably clearly and finding an explanation for it is an unusual challenge for a science that is hardly prepared for it at all. Since its beginnings with the Sumerians and Greek antiquity, western science has been oriented towards the primacy of the real and draws a clear dividing line from everything dark and uncertain, for which it sees myth and religion as responsible and delimits it as unscientific. To date, she has not found a convincing approach as to how the transition from the possible to the real comes about. Instead, since the Copenhagen Interpretation, most quantum mechanics have consistently spoken of the collapse of the wave function. Since the wave function describes the probability distribution of the measurement results, the collapse of the possibility into reality is meant. (If the word ‘collapse’ sounds too harsh for you, you speak of decoherence ’. The quantum systems only behave coherently in the mode of possibility and turn into decoherence when transitioning into reality).

What happens in the collapse? Here, most quantum physicists agree with Wittgenstein: "What you can't talk about, you have to be silent about it." (TLP 7). There is no time course of the collapse. It takes place simultaneously at all points of the wave function. Bell puts it in the dry language of quantum physics: “One of the apparent non-localities in quantum mechanics is the instantaneous collapse of the wave function during the measurement that takes place everywhere in space. (Bell, 58) In the following section I would like to show that there is, however, a subtext of philosophical convictions. Precisely because he was not talked about, he has shaped and narrowed the development of quantum physics in a hidden way. This is to be done at four stages in the history of quantum physics:

  • the hidden existentialism of the Copenhagen interpretation according to Niels Bohr
  • the interpretation of quantum mechanics as a game of chance according to John v. Neumann
  • the attempt to return to the principles of the Enlightenment and classical physics with David Bohm
  • the novel experimental strategy according to John Bell, which led to the discovery of quantum entanglement

- The existentialism of the Copenhagen interpretation

Why does quantum physics only know possibilities? Since the legendary conversations of Niels Bohr (1885-1962) and Werner Heisenberg (1901-1975) in 1927 - after which Heisenberg formulated the uncertainty relation in the same year - this has been explained by the measurement problem. Quantum physics is about particles that are in the same order of magnitude as the particles with which they are measured. Every measurement goes into quantum events and influences them. This is completely different from everyday experience. For example, when we look at the moon, no one believes that any change is being made by our eyes or a telescope on the moon, making the moon look different when we are looking than it was before we were looking at it. In the case of a quantum physical measurement, on the other hand, the measured object is changed, and it can only be concluded indirectly how it could possibly have looked independently and before each measurement.

But is that convincing? Why can't measurement, like all other processes, be described as a physical process, taken into account in the models and its disruptive influence calculated out, just as, for example, in the photographs of the cosmic background radiation, the influence of the measuring devices, the earth's atmosphere, etc. is taken into account? In the meantime, it seems to me that the Copenhagen interpretation has also been experimentally refuted. Zeilinger reports on experiments with which it could be shown that the interference pattern does not always occur in the double slit test. If the movement of fullerene molecules through a double slit is observed, the familiar interference pattern is initially shown there. However, this no longer applies if they are hotter than 3,000 degrees Celsius (Zeilinger, 105). This is an indication that the wave character does not result exclusively from the action of the observer when measuring, but also from the properties of the objects that are guided through the double slit.

When physicists think about measurement and its disruptive influences, they change their location. They no longer look at an object, but at their own experimentation. In this moment of self-reflection, many give up their scientific claim. They claim that the reality of measurement is a unique process in which a subject (the observer) and an object (his subject) relate to one another, which in turn cannot be scientifically described and its effects taken into account. The measuring process takes on an existential status that eludes any knowledge. Ultimately, it is argued that measuring is an inevitable reality. There is neither a further philosophical explanation nor some kind of meta-experiment to prove it. This basic attitude was neither spoken of nor openly discussed in exchange with other opinions. "It is a fact of the history of modern physics that Bohr never spent a word in trying to justify his philosophical position, which he adopted under the well documented influence of S. Kierkegaard, H. Høffding, and W. James." (So the Italian physicist Franco Selleri [1936-2013] in a 1994 article [quoted from Löfgren, 6]. Löfgren worked for some years with von Foerster at the Biological Computer Laboratory.).

With the two Danish philosophers Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and Harald Høffding (1843-1931) there is an indication of existentialism that flourished in the 1920s (for example with Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Barth, Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, Paul Tillich, who were born in the 1880s and belonged to the same generation as Niels Bohr). According to this direction, which emerged from the Protestant tradition, what counts for man is primarily his reality of life, his individually experienced existence, which defies any scientific (categorical) description. Science, too, is only one aspect of man and his existence. Existentialism claims to grasp human existence in a depth that precedes any science. It is therefore not to be explained scientifically in its own right, but, conversely, justifies the basic lines of all scientific thinking and working, of which science is unable to become conscious of itself. In this sense, measurement can be understood as an existential reality that is like a blind spot for science to understand. In other words: the reality of measurement is higher than the possibilities considered within quantum physics. But how did Niels Bohr manage to bridge the gap between existentialism and quantum physics? There is no text or traditional conversation that makes this clear. Instead, there are a variety of positions that relate in different ways to Bohr and the conversations with him and each refer to as the Copenhagen interpretation output. The philosophical questions raised here seem to me to be largely open and unanswered. For example, we should ask how Heidegger moved from existentialism to the priority of the possible, whether and how he influenced quantum physics with his philosophy, or what lines of development there are among the German physicists Heisenberg, Weizsäcker and their students, such as Thomas Görnitz and Holger Lyre who have made important contributions to the philosophy of quantum physics.

- Quantum mechanics as a game of chance (v. Neumann)

In this situation, there were two alternatives: To give up the classic idea of ​​a trajectory entirely and view quantum mechanics like a game of chance, or to use mathematical methods to design virtual trajectories and understand the wave function of probability as a hidden interaction of the virtual trajectories with one another. John v. Neumann, for the second Louis de Broglie and David Bohm.

John von Neumann (1903-1957) came from a Jewish family in Hungary, but was sent to Protestant schools and, from a young age, proved to be a universal mathematical genius with a legendary reputation. He worked with Hilbert in Göttingen from 1926 to 27. Those were the years when the mathematical theory of quantum physics emerged there, and from the beginning he learned to see its development from the perspective of the geometrical and axiomatic thinking founded by Hilbert. He was invited to the USA as early as 1929 and supported Gödel in his later departure from Austria to the USA in 1940. His contributions range from logic and set theory to functional analysis to game theory and the architecture of modern computers named after him, unfortunately also with dubious political commitment to the atomic and hydrogen bomb and paranoid reactions in the arms race with the Soviet Union (Stanley Kubrick wrote in 1964 in Movie Dr. Strange or: How I Learned to Love the Bomb not least to v. Neumann thought).

The 1932 published Mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics were initially overshadowed by the work of Paul Dirac (1902-1984), who had succeeded in taking the first steps towards merging Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, as well as the different approaches of Schrödinger and Heisenberg, and who caused a sensation with the detection of antimatter . But at the latest with the success of differential geometric methods in the 1950s, v. Neumann's approach, which was strictly based on Hilbert's geometry, was much to the chagrin of all the physics students who from then on had to grapple with Hilbert spaces and self-adjoint operators. His direction dominated at least two generations of physicists and has only got into a crisis today, since string theories and supersymmetries cannot be proven experimentally. With them, the approach of v. Neumann are to be crowned.

Dirac and v. Neumann were representatives of a new generation who no longer had to break free from the principles of classical physics and the Enlightenment in hard controversies like Planck, Einstein, Bohr and Born, but were able to move on the new ground with almost dreamlike certainty. Their slogan was Occam's razor: Just as the new art of their time turned against ornamentation and the plush of Art Nouveau, and just as Carnap postulated in 1935 "There is no morality in logic" (Carnap, 45), they all rejected their point of view superfluous non-mathematical interpretations, explanations and illustrations and limited themselves to the purely mathematical structures of quantum mechanics. For them, quantum mechanics describes a world of singular, mutually independent events. It is pointless for them to ask which path or justification leads from one event to another, and which motives or feelings could play a role. Each event stands for itself, and the only question that can be asked is the formal rules according to which events are similar to one another and the transition probabilities with which one event follows another. They no longer criticized the classic terms such as substance, causality and interaction or matter, inertia, freedom and necessity, but simply considered them to be superfluous accessories to describe something again with additional metaphysical terms, the mathematical structure of which is already known and clarified.

It was only consistent when v. Neumann went further from the theory of independent events to game theory. Using game theory is not the theory of a lifestyle along the lines of the homo ludens in other words, or Schiller's enthusiasm, people "are only fully human where they play". It is about uncooperative games of chance and card games such as dice, roulette, poker, etc. As early as 1928, v. Neumann made an important contribution in this area and, in 1944, published the standard work with Oskar Morgenstern The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior out. The title says it all: The one only interested in self-interest Homo oeconomicus becomes the measure of all things, and its kind of cost-benefit maximization the archetype of all mathematics.At the same time, it was not without coincidence that Heidegger, who emerged from existentialism, accused mathematics of its calculating approach, in the double meaning of calculating and the exclusive orientation towards its own advantage. Game theory and Heidegger's criticism of all mathematics are two sides of the same coin.

When after 1989 many quantum physicists found a new job as so-called quants in the banks and designed the constructs that have become known as financial innovations, with which, according to all the rules of the art, safe and speculative values ​​are mixed according to the model of good and bad cards and for the opponent the buyers] are indistinguishably linked, they could basically continue what they originally had with v. Neumann had learned. And while the string theories could not be verified empirically, this approach with big data is experiencing an unexpected, new upswing. Their algorithms for controlling human behavior are based on the same image of man v. Neumanns and want to organize people's lives comprehensively using the techniques of smartphones and electronically controlled social networks according to the rules of game theory. Life seems to be breaking up into an abundance of independent events and happiness decisions (like buttons), which - without the individual users being aware of it - are preformed by database applications.

I do not know if v. Neumann has published his image of man or his philosophy somewhere. But there are many reports that he was personally a passionate poker player, negotiated astronomical salaries for himself very early on, and was a staunch advocate of game theory in his political commitment since working on the Manhattan project to develop the atomic bomb and later the hydrogen bomb. Game theory has long been considered a kind of secret weapon in the Cold War, and as a v. Neumann was dying (from cancer that he might have contracted from radiation exposure while developing the atomic bomb), his room in the hospital was guarded so that he would not reveal secrets to spies when he was weakened.

Just as Bohr's existentialism was only secretly represented, so was v. Neumann. Frank Schirrmacher had their far-reaching influence in his book in 2013 Ego - the game of life highlighted. Mathematical details are not to be discussed here. However, I suspect that the theory of games of chance was the inner point of reference for the work of v. Neumann is. V. Neumann proceeded from chance and consequently rejected the for him deterministic theories of hidden parameters and with them the whole direction of de Broglie and later Bohm. It is similar in game theory. It is pure luck (or accident) how someone was thrown into life and what situations they are faced with. Life is seen as a kind of lottery or, more precisely, a card game, in which everyone has drawn the lot through their birth, in which circumstances they grow up and which inheritance and which skills were given to them. In card games, luck decides which cards are dealt, but only each player knows for himself which cards he has in hand. In such cases, game theory recommends uncooperative games with incomplete (asymmetrical) information based on the example of poker, bluff and deception. No other strategies are possible in this type of gambling. The social impact can hardly be overestimated. In a secular society in which world views no longer count, people see themselves thrown back on a state as described by game theory. The politicians of the western states adhere to this no less than those who are exclusively oriented towards personal benefit homo oeconomicus. If v. Neumann is right, quantum physics provides a scientific explanation for this, which in the 1920s and 1930s was able to combine well with a branch of biology that wanted to continue Darwin's theory of evolution with statistical methods. - From this location, to which any kind of compassion, religion or spirituality is alien, no questions about quantum physics for Buddhism arise. Anyone who loves a religious language can say that physics has never lost itself further in the realm of darkness. I am convinced that on this path there will be a setback like the one described by Kierkegaard Sickness to death will come.

- Quantum mechanics according to Bohm

Even if the Copenhagen interpretation has officially prevailed - at least in the view ascribed to Bohr that it in the nature of a particle lie below certain limits (which are given by the uncertainty relation) to be able to assign location and momentum to it «(Wikipedia accessed on May 2, 2018) - and the standard model of particle physics is based on the mathematics of v. Neumann goes back, a scientist tends intuitively to the theory of leadership waves developed by Louis de Broglie (1892-1987) and David Bohm (1917-1992). It is true that the paths of the particles cannot be observed in the double experiment, but without saying it everyone assumes that such paths exist. De Broglie and Bohm have succeeded in setting up a corresponding mathematical model that also matches the measurement results perfectly. The paths are unique in the model for all particles and they do not overlap. You thus meet the elementary requirements for a physical field with field lines.

Fig. 2: Wave pattern shown in movement paths (trajectories) according to Bohm
»Simulation of some Bohmian trajectories for a double slit. The particles are guided by the wave function that interferes at the double slit. In this way the well-known interference pattern occurs, although a movement of particles is described. «(Wikipedia, accessed on April 20, 2018)
Author: Von Doppelspalt.jpg: Opassonderivative work: Malyszkz (talk) - Doppelspalt.jpg, Gemeinfrei, Link

For me, this picture is still the best way to illustrate the mathematics of quantum physics. The interference pattern is resolved with the unusual course of the movement paths. It can be clearly seen how there is a kind of internal wave (a sprain or a tremor) in the transition from one trajectory to another. The guide shaft runs perpendicular to the paths and gives them their peculiar shape. The picture shows all the paths that the particle can take. Which path it actually takes cannot be observed. But the properties of the totality of all paths that the particle can take can be recognized mathematically, and these properties result in the interference pattern that can be measured on the screen behind the double slit. Therefore, this picture is also a good illustration of what is meant by the totality of all possibilities and its mathematical properties.

With David Bohm, a minority among quantum physicists began to abandon the unspoken philosophical and ethical views in the tradition of Bohr and v. Neumann to solve and turn back to the investigation. That also had a political context. While existentialism and game theory variants were the two of a bourgeois thinking that was sometimes conservative and sometimes modern, Bohm was interested in the philosophy of Hegel and Marx, had studied with Oppenheimer in 1939, tended towards politically pacifist and communist ideas and worked with Einstein after 1945 together. Because of his political convictions, he had to leave the USA in 1951 despite Einstein's intercession and went to Great Britain via Brazil and Israel. (I see a forerunner in Lew Landau. Landau [1908-1968] came from a Jewish family in what is now Azerbaijan, "from which many well-known rabbis and scholars emerged" [Wikipedia, accessed on May 20, 2018]. He left 1929-31 zu Max Born in Göttingen, was with Bohr in Copenhagen in 1929 and 1933-34, and worked with Sakharov on the Soviet hydrogen bomb project in the late 1940s and 1950s. In his textbook written in the Soviet Union with Yevgeny Lifschitz in the 1930s, it says: » In quantum mechanics, a measurement is understood to mean any interaction process between a classical and a quantum object that takes place independently of any observer. "[Quoted from Bell, 245]. Although he could not draw a clear line between what distinguishes a classical object from a quantum object, but the reversal from existentialism and game theory to a science in the tradition of the Enlightenment is clearly recognizable.)

To the disappointment of Bohm, Einstein did not join this direction, although he was also of the opinion, "God does not throw the dice" (letter from Einstein to Max Born of December 4, 1926). On May 12, 1952, Einstein wrote in a later letter to Max Born: “Did you see that Bohm (like de Broglie, incidentally, 25 years ago) believes that he can reinterpret quantum theory deterministically? The way seems too cheap to me. «(Wikipedia, accessed on May 1, 2018)

Bohm had decided the question of possibility and determinism too one-sidedly for him. Even if Einstein contradicted the prevailing view in quantum physics, there had to be a solution for him as to why it can only formulate its laws in spaces of possibility. Bohm had led the space of possibility back on real paths and hoped to place quantum physics completely on the ground of classical physics. According to Einstein's own criticism of Newton's physics, that was not enough. In a way, Bohm accepted Einstein's criticism. He realized that quantum mechanics needed further principles that go beyond classical physics. But he saw no starting point to achieve this within mathematics and physics and in his later years reoriented himself and made a turn in the direction of theosophy and Buddhism. He worked for many years with the theosophist Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) and had a series of meetings with the Dalai Lama, who called him "one of my scientific 'gurus'" (Lee Nichol [ed.]) The essential David Bohm, London, New York 2003, x). But he does not seem to have found solid ground under his feet in religious questions, as his sympathies for theosophical schools show. He remained a seeker who lacked the sure religious instinct and who was therefore unable to counter the atheism that was newly emerging among natural scientists in Great Britain, such as Penrose, Dawkins and Hawking, with sufficient persuasiveness (see Renée Weber's conversations with Bohm, the Dalai Lama, Krishnamurti and others in her book All life is one).

- Quantum Entanglement (John Bell)

It is difficult to say whether Einstein would have assessed the further development more positively. For me, the Northern Irish physicist John Bell (1928-1990) succeeded in turning things around. He went to the CERN research center in the 1950s and advocated Bohm's theory from the start. Like no other, he has the weaknesses of the first two generations of quantum physics according to Bohr and v. Neumann, without further deviating entirely from physics like Bohm and looking for a non-physical answer in theosophy and Buddhism. For me, quantum physics has acquired the ability to dialogue with Buddhism with him: Buddhism will never be able to give a physical answer to a physical question and, for example, provide a new formula, but it could help to find a better understanding of the basic concepts of physics . To do this, it is necessary to ask the right questions, and that has seemed possible to me since Bell. Conversely, as the example of the Dalai Lama shows, there is a willingness on the part of Buddhism to take up suggestions from modern physics and to enrich their own understanding of the world.

For a long time, Bell was virtually unknown to the other leading quantum physicists, and the direction of de Broglie, Bohm and Bell was seen as a niche development apart from that which should not be taken particularly seriously mainstream of the standard theories, while everyone was talking about the quarks and the eightfold path of particle physics, with which Murray Gell-Mann (* 1929) wanted to strike a superficial link between the new particle physics and the eightfold path of Buddhism, but on the whole the foundations of the Quantum mechanics not questioned. Only in the last few years has there been a rethinking, like the contributions in the anthology published by Friebe et al Philosophy of Quantum Physics demonstrate.

Bell hit the critical point: In the axiomatic v. Neumanns, the events of quantum physics must be independent of one another. This is taken over from geometry in the tradition from Euclid to Hilbert. Nobody doubts that the individual points, lines and figures of the geometry are independent of one another and do not influence one another. No straight line bends another straight line by itself, and there are no geometric points that are in any way interlaced with one another. One can only ask about their external relationships to one another, which are shown and established by the geometer with his constructions. Hilbert and v. Neumann had succeeded with overwhelming success in transferring this approach to quantum mechanics, game theory and thus ultimately to human ethics and religious beliefs. It may be difficult for an outsider to understand how radical Bell’s new approach is. He asked: Can the static model of geometry really be transferred to a dynamic theory of events? Instead, could it be the case that each individual possible event can only be calculated according to the usual probability expectations, but at the same time there are inner dependencies between the possibilities, which are referred to below as quantum entanglement? Bell took the gamble approach seriously and devised a guessing game of sorts. He was able to formulate a mathematical condition with the help of which it can be recognized in a game of chance whether its events are really independent of one another. With this idea he moves completely within the theory of v. Neumanns and found the point at which it can be shown from within that their claim contradicts the measurement results.

This can be explained using the example of a typical game of chance. Suppose 6 players roll the dice at the same time and the dice are independent of each other as usual. If the dice were quantum entangled, then, in addition to the known probability distribution, additional rules for the totality of all 6 throws would have to be demonstrable. For example, it could be the case that each number occurs exactly once in each round. Nobody knows who rolls which number, but it turns out that no number comes up twice. The game of dice would inadvertently have assumed the character of a cooperative game, in which the aim is that everyone achieves a given pattern of throws together, in the simplest example 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. In a cooperative game, not one wins against the others, only the group can win if it is given a task as a group that cannot be solved by anyone alone but by everyone together. Such a game course contradicts all basic assumptions of the game theory of v. Neumann and the ethics built on it. Mathematicians would add: It also contradicts the law of large numbers, according to which the statistical average values ​​are approximated as precisely as desired only after a great number of throws, but are usually never achieved perfectly. Anyone who is suspicious of fraud and intrigue from their experience with non-cooperative games would immediately ask: How does one die (or the respective dice player) know how the other dice are rolled and hit exactly the right one? It looks like magic, a collusion or a magic trick that nobody wants to believe. - Anyone who goes back to the naive logic of a child, on the other hand, will admit that it is clear that with 6 dice all numbers come up once. After probability theory had struggled to free itself from the naive point of view, there must now be a way back in order to gain a higher understanding of the conditions under which games of chance are cooperative or non-cooperative and the respective laws of probability apply.

Bell took the first step in 1964 with Bell's inequality, which was named after him. The inequality mathematically establishes the condition when an experimentally recognized probability distribution shows quantum entanglement, and when all events seem to follow higher rules only by chance. That formula wasn't the only difficulty. There could also be hidden external conditions that explain the dependence of events. The players could have agreed beforehand and manipulated their dice. They could coordinate with each other in the course of the game (exchange information about the respective course) and skillfully influence the respective throw. Or there could be a third event on which they orientate themselves independently of one another and thus come to coordinated events. The breakthrough came in 1982.The French physicist Alain Aspect (* 1947) was able to demonstrate experimentally using entangled photons that there are processes in quantum physics that do not correspond to the gambling model, but rather fulfill Bell's condition. This has since been confirmed in numerous other experiments, including by Zeilinger. In the meantime, the number of entangled quanta can be continuously increased and their distance from one another increased, and the experimental evidence simplified. Current status: A team in Warsaw was able to entangle a photon with trillions of atoms (scinexx from March 3, 2017), Chinese scientists succeeded in entangling over 1,200 km via satellite (Spectrum of Science from June 16, 2017).

The consequences are hardly foreseeable, neither for physics nor for philosophy and maybe even religion. Some speak of a new Copernican turn. With his criticism of v. Neumann a basic principle of natural science, which Wittgenstein had correctly reduced to the simple formula: "The facts are independent of each other." (TLP, 2.061) This no longer applies to the case of entangled possibilities, and quantum information is only used here. With usual information there is either a clear chain of events and conditions A → B →…, or they are independent of each other. Neither one nor the other applies to quantum information. The peculiarity of the quantum calculus and the algorithms based on it up to the quantum computer make use of the entanglement.

In a way that is still unexplained for me, quantum entanglement is linked to the metaphysical question of identity, difference, contradiction and reason. In the case of quantum entanglement, what is the identity: the individual quanta entangled with one another or the entirety of all entangled quanta? Zeilinger was able to demonstrate experimentally that interference patterns only occur when the individual particles cannot be distinguished from one another. This is his explanation for the experiments with fullerene molecules, in which the interference pattern disappears with increasing temperature. "When the fullerene molecules are very hot, in our case around 3,000 degrees Celsius, they emit so many photons that the interference pattern actually disappears." (Zeilinger, 105) Thanks to the photons that are emitted, they can be distinguished. Conversely, this means that the interference pattern only occurs when the particles are indistinguishable. Bell already suspected that there is no signal transmission in quantum entanglement. The particles are correlated with each other without changing their behavior. In the example of the 6 dice, this would mean that the dice are indistinguishable at the moment they are thrown, and yet there is a possibility of voting in such a way that no number appears twice in the result. Bell is convinced: “Einstein had no difficulty in accepting that states in different places can be correlated. What he could not accept was that an intervention in one place could directly affect the condition in another. "(Bell, 163)

A paradigm shift from non-cooperative to cooperative games could be initiated by strategy games. Even with strategy games like chess and go, there is a completely new way of differentiating between the rules of the game and the strategy of the game. Here everything that is known from the game of chance fails: All cards are face up on the table and everyone has democratically the same starting chances in the game, so that hardly any deception maneuvers are possible. At the same time, due to the exponentially growing number of possible moves, the attempt to calculate all possibilities and select the best one fails. Instead, those game courses that have proven to be successful are weighted positively and reinforced for further game decisions without evaluation. Presumably the human brain does the same thing. Only since this path was taken with methods of neural networks has it become possible for computers to be unbeatable even in strategy games such as Go. You can play more successfully because you can better record the patterns of superior game progress like a memory in the network of neurons and use them for yourself. Nevertheless, everyone intuitively distinguishes between the chessboard and the chess pieces or the go board and the go pieces that lie in front of me on the one hand, which I can take in my hand and throw or set, and the mathematical model and the neural network on the other, which game courses are possible and which methods are used to record successful game courses. Every single move is an event. A strategy takes into account a large number of moves and possible answers of the opponent. A strategy gradually builds up a solution that is initially unfinished and associated with many imponderables, until it is finally able to develop its own dynamic that the opponent cannot escape. In order to return from the strategy game to quantum physics, it must be assumed that there is neither chance nor an outside player who draws the pieces or stones according to his strategy, but that their strategy is laid out in them. Each figure knows by itself what the others are doing and which way to go. - Without question, the strategy games can only be an intermediate step. The mere rules of luck and chance no longer apply, but they are not yet cooperative either. Thinking together about strategies and heuristics, however, already shows the characteristics of a cooperative game.

Paths of the possible and creative thinking

With quantum entanglement, new questions arise for Buddhism.

  • Path and event.
    What happens between two events?
    Can a particle go two or more paths at the same time?
    Are there ways into forbidden areas (tunnel effect)?

  • Anchoring the paths.
    How can the many paths be anchored with one another so that they do not diverge or cross or block?
    Are there paths of the first and second order: A path of the second order arises from the path of the first order, observes or monitors it from the outside and can influence it through a re-entry. How are the ways of the second order anchored in the ways of the first order? What kinds of second order paths are there? Examples are dreams, daydreams, conscious reflection, therapeutic exercises, etc.

- way and event

Those who did not want to get involved in the elusive existentialist ideas of the Copenhagen interpretation preferred to limit themselves to facts and pure mathematics to describe them. The novelty of quantum physics is not simply that nobody can predict the measurement results in detail. Only at first glance do they resemble a game of chance. As with rolling the dice or roulette, in the double-slit experiment nobody knows where the particle will hit the screen, and only with a large number of particles can a fixed, predictable pattern be recognized and mathematically described by their collective behavior. And yet there is an essential difference: in both cases it is not possible to predict which event will occur. But when gambling, anyone can watch directly which way the dice, the roulette ball or the coin take until the event occurs. The path cannot be predicted, but its current course can be followed and clearly identified. That is not possible in quantum physics.

In this way it differs radically from any everyday experience and no less from classical physics and logic. There, physical movements and processes can be mathematically described as chains of events along paths, on which one event follows the other according to fixed rules. In order to get from a given state A to a desired state Z, a way must be found for this. This can be a sequence of clearly distinguishable steps A → B → C →… → Z as well as a continuous trajectory 𝔨. Examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, ..., which lie on the path of the number line, the letters A, B, C, ... if their arrangement in a text or in the alphabet is considered a path in a figurative sense, or the Trajectories along which, for example, the particles are observed during an electron-positron generation (see cover picture). If the question of the hitherto unobservable paths in the event spaces of quantum physics is asked, for mathematics it is the question of whether and how the movement paths known from mechanical spaces can be generalized into higher-dimensional event spaces, and there, in a comparable way, virtual paths as it was designed by Bohm, for example.

The task is in a certain way paradoxical: Usually, fragments are given to mathematics, and it is their task to put them together like a mosaic and to determine them as fragments of a pattern or path to be found by mathematics in a uniform formula or a coherent system of formulas . Mathematics picks up a trace on the basis of individual signs and concludes from it the path, the type of locomotion that is shown in the trace and the properties of the being whose trace is to be seen. Like all human knowledge, mathematics is track reading. Historically, one of the most famous examples is how Kepler found their laws of motion from the observations of stars and planets by Tycho Brahe.

In quantum physics it is almost the other way round: With the measurement results, the solutions are known, and mathematically the task is sought whose solution they are. The result is known, but it has covered its tracks, or they are in an area where no one suspects them. For example, it is known how much energy was required (or what work had to be done) to go a certain path, but it is not known which path it was along which this achievement could be successfully accomplished. To formulate it more precisely mathematically: The integrals are known, and thus it is also known that there must be paths along which the integral can be formed, but the paths themselves are unknown. At this point there are several possibilities: The integrals have been formed in a previously unknown way. Or there are no individual paths along which they are formed, but there are spatially overlapping geometric properties from which the integrals are derived. In both cases, a basic assumption that applies to classical mathematics and physics is violated: For mathematical calculations it is crucial that the task proceeds along a path whose formal properties can be clarified by means of mathematics, and the mathematical calculation itself takes place along a solution path that can be developed and verified step by step. The axiom applied: what is real, its path can be followed and optimized.

This approach has not only shaken quantum physics, but at the same time there have been two similar shocks within mathematics: with complex numbers and probability theory. In the case of complex numbers, according to Cauchy's integral theorem formulated in 1814, in regular domains the integral is the same over all paths that connect two given points. Conversely, this means that from the value of an integral it is not possible to unambiguously deduce the path over which the integration was carried out, because the same integral results along all paths between the respective starting and end points. Seen in this way, the situation in function theory agrees exactly with quantum physics, but contradicts everything that mathematics and physics had previously assumed. When mathematicians were still trying to find explanations for unexpected results and were not satisfied with the formal consistency, it was a mystery to them. This is what it says in the first published in 1924 and recognized for a long time as the standard textbook Function theory von Konrad Knopp (1882-1957): "As can be seen from this interpretation, the sentence is extraordinarily strange and shows that the values ​​of a regular function are linked by a very strong inner bond." (Knopp, 64) Knopp encountered in the Function theory (the theory of calculating with complex numbers) on a phenomenon that also occurred in quantum mechanics at the same time, when the particles find their way there in a double slit experiment on many paths that are somehow linked to one another. Almost in the same year, in 1926, Ernst Schrödinger (1887-1961) guessed the Schrödinger equation named after him, which describes the temporal development of the probability distribution of objects in quantum physics. It operates with imaginary numbers. This resulted in the path integral developed primarily by Feynman in the 1940s, which takes into account all possible paths (paths) for a particle from one state to another.

In this case, mathematics did not emerge as an abstraction from empirical and physical observations, but mathematics and physics developed synchronously in close proximity. As if by chance, mathematics delivered exactly what physics needed at exactly the right moment, and at the same time both fell into the same crisis of their traditional core beliefs. Nobody can explain that to this day. The mathematicians were fascinated by the simplicity and beauty of the theory of functions, which had become simpler and not more difficult with the transition from real to complex numbers, and they spoke of the queen of science. I suspect that mathematics and physics encountered a larger phenomenon from two sides that requires philosophical clarification: the cyclicity, which is shown both in the multiplication of complex numbers and in the processes of quantum physics. With cyclicity, a new term could be found that has the same meaning as transitivity and continuity. But that has not even been noticed by philosophy to this day. Obviously there is some kind of thought block.

The law of large numbers known from statistics is just as incomprehensible. It says that in all games of chance, every streak of bad luck or luck comes to an end at some point, but no one knows when that will happen. It contradicts the intuition that e.g. when rolling the dice, even after 10 successive sixes are thrown in the eleventh throw, a six will again come with a probability of 1: 6. Everyone intuitively suspects that the probability of rolling the same number again should decrease. And this intuition is right in a way: The law of large numbers says that at some point in the case of large numbers, the average probability will prevail. But how will it prevail, and can we predict when it will prevail? To this day, that is completely impossible, and there are not even approaches to a solution. Often times, not even the question is understood. Because even if the same number was thrown so many times in succession, the same probability of one sixth applies to each new throw, as if nothing had preceded. It is impossible to tell from the probability of individual throws that a compensation of previous, very unlikely event sequences must take place. The respective probability never changes for the individual throw. And yet the law of large numbers prevails over all individual throws. Is there some kind of hidden memory when unlucky or lucky streaks are evened out? Can a path be mathematically described that leads from the individual events to the law of large numbers?

- germ lines

For a long time, quantum physics had hoped to be able to take over formal operations from mathematics that apply equally to the possible and the real. A mathematical formula cannot tell whether its variables apply to the possible, the real, or both. It only applies if this difference is irrelevant. Today I see exactly a reversal: Can mathematics and logic learn from the new experiences and ideas of quantum entanglement to systematically differentiate between what is possible and what is real? This idea also goes back to Bell, who justified it differently from a physical point of view. For him it was unsatisfactory how physicists differentiate in physical equations between those variables that only serve as calculative quantities, as in mathematics, and those that, as observables, relate to observable quantities. This distinction is basically in the right direction for him, but with the expression ‘Observable’ it suggests that the equations would only apply to an observer (observer) and its observation possibilities (observations) apply. Instead, he suggested from beables ('be-able', or more precisely 'maybe-ables', literally translated 'be-bare'), which I would call real because, unlike the observables, it does not focus on the observer, but on something real Refer to (Bell, 196).

As far as I know, the distinction introduced by Bell between observable and real (beables) has not yet been taken up. On the other hand, I would like to generalize them and give them a new twist. It is not just about the distinction between real and observable with reference to the object or the observer. Rather, it can be asked more generally: Is a dynamic logic possible that gradually follows the path from the possible to the real and recognizes different stages in the area of ​​the possible, which are each half-finished and become gradually more precise according to the model of emergence and become the Approximate reality? Then there would no longer be talk of a collapse of the possible into the real, but of a genesis of the real from the possible. The step-by-step learning process of the neural network can be a starting point.

The physicist John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008) proposed a first thought experiment in this direction: In a common guessing game, a group thinks of a certain term that the guessing person develops step by step, for example: living beings? Yes. Flies? No. Swims? Yes. Fish? No. Mammal? No. Green? Yes. Crocodile? Yes. Instead of agreeing on something like the crocodile in advance, it can also be agreed: The respondents consciously leave the term to be guessed open, but the rule applies that no answer may contradict a previous one. So at the beginning there is an almost infinite space of possibilities, what can be meant, which is dynamically restricted step by step until finally a possibility emerges that probably no one had thought of at the beginning (Zeilinger, 211f). Is it possible, using the example of such decision-making from the uncertain, to recognize a successful inherent logic that tries to explore the horizon of the area in a targeted manner and pushes for branching points at which the multitude of possibilities can be restricted?

Are there any vivid role models to help you continue along this path? This could be embryology, immunology and, in mathematics, the indistinguishable large natural numbers and the imaginary numbers.

- In embryological development there is a continuous chain of branching points at which many possibilities are still open at the beginning. Can an overarching geometry be identified that may work with qualitative methods that are still unknown today, and how do living beings succeed in stabilizing the embryological development beyond the branching points?

- Immunology considers an immune system that can react to an in principle unlimited number of possible threats. It must both be able to react to previously unknown threats and quickly find an effective defense against any illness.

- How can the paradox be solved that on the one hand the natural numbers become indistinguishably large somewhere, on the other hand each specifically named natural number n can be clearly distinguished from its neighbors n - 1 and n + 1? That leads to the law of large numbers. Can the phenomenon of a limit for indistinguishable particles, as demonstrated by Zeilinger, be inversely transferred to the natural numbers?

- With the imaginary numbers, a model could be available to take the transitions from the imaginary area to the real number axis as a model for the transition from the possible to the real.

Obviously, western-oriented thinking has so far found it difficult to move in this area. That seems to me to be the biggest hurdle for further progress. So the second question to Buddhism is: Can Buddhism help find an answer here? The fundamental question seems to me to be to gain a new understanding of possibilities that is moving away from the gambling model.

- Is there an excess of the space of possibilities compared to reality that can be experienced in some way? Is Buddhism a way of getting out of ordinary reality and experiencing the space of all possibilities as such? With such an experience one would understand and understand what the great innovation of quantum physics is: to understand and experience the space of possibility as a separate entity.

- Is it possible to meet and experience the point of indifference at which the inner view and the distance view of one's own actions separate and meet? At this point of indifference, both paths appear empty ’- empty’ not meant as depressive nothingness or nihilism, but as an experience of Shunyata in the sense of the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna.

- How can the half-finished and germinal be described mathematically? In mathematics there are approaches such as the differential, the imaginary or, in a mathematically technical sense, straws and germs. Can Buddhism teach to gain an inner access to the half-finished and germinal that inspires mathematical intuitions?

- Obviously a different concept of the way has to be found for the lines of development in a dynamic logic than for the ways for chains of evidence and events. Biologists speak of germ lines. Can the terms found by Buddhism such as karana for the course of movement and samtana help in the twofold sense as a maturation process and stream of consciousness?

First and second order paths

Everyone knows from their own experience the danger when thinking moves into the realm of the possible and can get lost there in one way or another, be it in unrealistic wishful thinking or compulsive brooding. Is there a dynamic logic, that is a logic of the second order, whether and how it succeeds in thinking in terms of possibilities in the first step of recognizing the scope for action of all alternatives, and then turning it around again and acting accordingly? Does the thinking have an inner cyclicity that leads out of the immediate proximity and the thoughtless, spontaneous reaction, is capable of reflection, and then in a second negation is able to repel what is merely possible and is capable of reality? Western philosophy describes this with Aristotle as prudence, with Kant as judgment, or with Hegel as liveliness. In its rigid orientation towards the real (realism, positivism), Western philosophy is possibly too strictly under the pressure to succeed in demonstrable and measurable results (applications) and therefore does not break away from first-order logic consistently enough when it comes to not just the results , but also to recognize the characteristics of the path of thought. Thinking is measured too closely according to an input-output model (what do I invest, what do I get back for it), instead of giving it greater freedom and examining which rules it follows. What answer does Buddhism give? The work of Vasubandhu on the stream of thoughts and its properties could be of particular help here.

Does the situation in quantum physics exceed the possibilities of conscious thinking? Is Kant right that we can only think in terms of substances with their categorical properties, causality and interaction?

Can mathematicians think in other times and spaces? That was Einstein and Gödel's question to Kant. Does Buddhism offer a more extensive answer? Vasubandhu spoke of alaya vijnana. This is the ability to recognize their roots in things and ideas and, through their reason, inner soul relationships (elective affinities) with other things and ideas. There are also experiences of this kind in the West, for example when someone feels how at the same time another person who is physically distant but personally close is feeling great happiness or suffering, when garden flowers react to the affection of the gardener, etc., yes this is mostly dismissed as a crush, if not even as a mental illness. When did Western thinking develop in this direction, and are other traditions passed down in Buddhism that give different answers to the same experiences? The idea of ​​anchoring could describe both the inner cohesion of movement paths of the elements of a collective, which Bohm meant by the leadership waves, as well as the stabilization of consciousness processes that can freely associate without losing themselves at random and not back into reality to find back.

For me we are at the beginning of a dialogue. It is not enough to simply admire results from another culture like strange pictures. This will only lead to your own rethinking when the blind spot in your own thinking is gradually recognized. Therefore, after this first questioning of one's own thinking, two central terms should be used to ask about the fundamentals of Western thought in order to be able to continue the dialogue with Buddhism: Which germ lines does Plato have in his model of the origin of the world in Timaeus seen, and with what understanding of number and time did Aristotle the occidental physics justified. That prepares for the next topic: The questions of the theory of relativity to Buddhism.


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in: SWR2 Aula - Manuscript Service: Broadcast: Sunday, May 12, 2013, 8:30 a.m., SWR 2

Photo credits of the cover picture: Von Paarbildung_gamma_p_Desy_Blasenkammer_Rekonstruiert.png: Ivan Baev (DESY-Bubble Chamber) derivative work: Pro2