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October 15, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

Quotes Critiquing Scientific Materialism and Reductionism by Philosopher Keith Ward

“The material universe is perhaps more like an organism than like a repetitive machine. Whereas an older generation of scientists and philosophers thought the universe was like a watch, many now regard the universe as more like a large organism. It grows and develops, and its first stages can only be properly understood when its completely developed state is perceived.”
“A human embryo does not unexpectedly and accidentally become an adult person, and it can only be properly understood as a potential adult…On the organic view, this trajectory of development, of increasingly integrated complexity, producing new sorts of properties, and eventually the ability to comprehend and conciously shape the future of the universe, is implicit in the universe at the moment of the Big Bang or in whatever gives rise to that primordial explosion.”
“From this point of view, it is a basic mistake of reductive materialism to try to explain everything in terms of its simplest elements–as though a large enough group of such simple elements just had to be mixed up at random for a long time, and would then produce brains, thoughts, and the theory or relativity.”
(Keith Ward, More than Matter, p. 83-84)

“The universe does not consist of discrete temporal slices, all isolated in their own little bubbles of time. Causal tracks and connections extend back and forth through time, and a present moment of consciousness can contain echoes of the past and premonitions or anticipations of the future. So we might see the universe not as a set of atomistic time-slices accidentally stuck together, but as one interconnected or entangled space-time whole. We do not see what objects are by seeing just one temporal slice of their existence. That would be like trying to understand a person by looking hard at them when they are asleep. We need to see them from beginning to end of their temporal existence and within the whole context in which they exist.”
(Keith Ward, More than Matter, p. 84)

“It is consistent with modern quantum theory to regard the whole cosmos as a web of interacting energies, of spatially and temporally located powers. Each part is not, like Leibniz’s unfortunate monads isolated and closed in on itself. Each part is essentially open to the totality of the space-time nexus. Each receives stimuli from all the others that surrounds it, integrates those stimuli into a unity of being, and actively responds in accordance with its own specific powers. At the simplest level, for instance that of subatomic wave-particles, both stimuli and responses are more or less algorithmic–they behave in accordance with regular and largely predictable routines, described by basic forces of nature like electro-magmatism, gravity, and nuclear forces. Only in this way can they take form stable atoms upon which more complex unities can come to exist.”
(Keith Ward, More than Matter, p. 100-101)

Click here for more quotes by philosopher Keith Ward.

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