Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Constraint of Language

Physicist David Peat wonders if the language that physicists think in could be part of the reason that a grand unified theory of physics has eluded them.

The American quantum theorist David Bohm pointed out that quantum effects are much more process-based than those of classical physics, and they require a process-based language to describe them accurately.

In European languages nouns (objects) predominate over verbs (processes); however, the native American Algonquin family of languages "have a wide variety of verb forms, while they lack the notion of dividing the world into categories of objects."

"The world view of Algonquian speakers is of flux and change, of objects emerging and folding back into the flux of the world. There is not the same sense of fixed identity - even a person's name will change during their life. They believe that objects will vanish into this flux unless renewed by periodic rituals..."

New Scientist, Jan 2008
The mind - and so the individual self - does not exist as an object, but as a process.

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