Smolin Completes Einstein?

Mentioned in the previous post that I had ordered Lee Smolin’s “Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution” and today I picked it up.

Posting just some initial thoughts from the blurb and the preface, so that my prejudiced position is transparent.

“Humans … confuse our representations of the world with the world itself.”

Good to see this statement of the problem right from the off. The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. Our model (ie physics) is not reality.

Part 1, the first 6 chapters, is entitled:

“An Orthodoxy of the Unreal”

Again, this is my position. Scientists often reel at the suggestion they are following an orthodoxy, but many (most) really are despite their protestations of scepticism and empiricism. He goes on to invoke Feynman …

“I can safely say that no-one understands quantum mechanics”

… and points out the the orthodox descriptions and functional mathematical formulations of quantum physics have too many unexplained and inexplicable mysteries to count as reality held in any common sense “view” in the mind of anyone, scientist or otherwise. (He also points out that there has been since Einstein’s time, an alternative neglected formulation that holds out greater hope of instrumental realism, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. I recall Goldstein pointing of that fundamental physics remains incomplete until hypotheical rubber hits the road of reality.)

He “tiptoes” past the hard problem of consciousness to establish his focus on realism. He makes the distinction between realists believing that the world out there exists objectively (ontologically) and those “anti-realists”  believing reality can only ever be what we can know about the world (epistemologically) and declares himself a realist at the outset. I personally don’t need this distinction – have the same criticism of idealists, like Kastrup. Given a metaphysical ontology whose fundamental quanta underlying physics are information itself, the two views merge to be the same in my book (*).

I’m not sure exactly where Smolin ends up yet, though obviously by hanging onto realism he is more likely to bring his scientific audience along for the full ride. I seem to recall from my previous Smolin read “The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time” that he was / is much closer to my position.

Let’s see.


[(*) It’s a pretty basic text so far – the orthodoxy – low on maths. He even explains that “>” means greater-than. After many allusions to cats, he eventually spend 3 pages explaining Schrodinger’s thought experiment? Interestingly he explicitly discounts fundamental-informationists like myself as anti-realists. But a good summary of the Solvay and Copenhagen sagas (see also Huw Price article in previous post, and I must digest Sabine’s review …]

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