While many fields realize that modernity comes to an end like any epoch eventually does, the “hard sciences”, especially physics, still rest in relatively naïve stages, still proud of their “modern” status like a teenager loving his first car. Attempts to advance beyond adolescence are countered with references to the Sokal Affair, although that affair has long since been understood in more enlightened ways and even Alan Sokal himself in the end concluded that the affair proved the enormous bias due to pure status in all sciences, news perhaps to the physicist Sokal, but certainly not to social constructionists.

Modern physics is in a crisis of its very own (different from the publish-or-perish problems and suchlike more general crises). Ever more humongous experiments find nothing but confirmation of a quite unnatural seeming standard model as it is already known for half a century, while there is no experimental indication about how to resolve quantum mechanic’s clash with general relativity. It is well known, but unsurprisingly little advertised, that high energy experiments are unlikely to find anything but that they on principle cannot resolve that question, for example because the energy density required always hides behind event horizons (like a black hole). On the other hand, ever more theoretical physics points towards what postmodernism is all about: Description relativity!

The most severe blow is perhaps the AdS/CFT Correspondence, also known as Maldacena duality, i.e. the fact that gravity, meaning curved space-time inside a volume in one description, is mathematically precisely(!) dual, i.e. the exact same physics as observed by physical observers, as a description via a physics that happens on the boundary of that volume which has no gravity! Establishment scientists and philosophers are almost silent about the true implications, because this is a slap into the face of all the high and mighty lecturing, a black eye right where it hurts most: the almost religiously defended interpretation of the general theory of relativity as fundamental is revealed as being a doctrine enforced by power games that destroyed countless careers, something “modern physics” will be known for in history, something consistent and somewhat explaining the utter impotence of philosophy of physics today.

Physics knows precisely nothing about how far its descriptions are fundamental rather than emergent! While physicists the world over still fight about whether it is one or the other, people who are less sure about being better than all other sciences have long moved on even beyond the multiverse compromise (where facts can be this way and that way simultaneously, depending on which universe you happen to find yourself in): The difference between emergent and fundamental is possibly verification transcendent! Not only are we perhaps cognitively closed toward lower (and higher emergent) strata via the technicalities of emergence, but there cannot be anything other than different descriptions that are ultimately constrained by being descriptions, because there is nothing else that you can describe!

Most physicists have yet to realize that “postmodern” is not an F-word insult against those sciences, especially social sciences, which they do not grasp. “Postmodern Physics” starts to become serious business. Slowly but surely, wiser people dare to come out of the closet. Cathryn Carson’s 1995 Who Wants a Postmodern Physics? [1] is still rather concerned with the social aspects of science, for example the social constructionist aspects that physicists as much deny as profit from. More toward embracing postmodern maturity as something physicists need to actively adopt in order to make progress in physics proper is for example Hans J. Pirner’s The Semiotics of “Postmodern” Physics [2]. I am perhaps insisting most clearly [3] on that postmodern physics is a vital step that must be taken in order to advance physics through its present stalemate (see also articles on dualities in black hole descriptions, space-time dimensionality and so forth), which promises that philosophy could become useful for physics once again, as it traditionally was.

It is an uphill struggle against charges of pseudoscience and outright cultural relativism corrupting the Western pseudo-democratic doctrine. The endeavor is also discredited as “German pseudo-profundity”. It is perhaps German profundity, period: True paradigm change, which by definition requires novel terminology, requires careful reading instead of fast-food like consumption of yet another Anglo-Saxon pragmatism inflating the sheer volume of your bookshelf.

In my view, Postmodern Physics is well defined by the realization of Describer/Description Relativity in precisely the same way in which the hallmark of Modern Physics is to take Observer Relativity seriously into account:


From draft [4]

Describer/description relativity has strict consequences for self-descriptions of totality, for example ultimate limits on such descriptions that eclipse today’s uncertainty and complementarity relations, likely for example making solipsist dual descriptions a necessity, but sadly perhaps also being themselves indescribable.

While some still think that ultra modern physics simply becomes yet more subjective via pulling back further onto the observer as a conscious individual “now”, thus pushing magic quantum consciousness, I say that the next step is instead pulling back onto the describer/description (for example me the author over long times, needing consideration of finite time resolution), which is completely consistent with Dennett’s elimination of regress error type “phenomenal consciousness” via reported consciousness (self-descriptions) and B. Libet's results. I claim that understanding quantum self-creation of totality is only possible if such a fundamental description is understood to be constrained by being self-description, and this is the profound connection between physics and consciousness!

I will next discuss why quantum solipsism (e.g. local patch descriptions like R. Bousso’s) and other solipsist versions are an expected dual description of any description of totality. This will clarify once more differently why Wittgenstein is so relevant to (post)modern physics [3], also via his “private language” anticipating the Myth of Jones, and thus the resolution of consciousness as a sort of illusion. Stay tuned.


[1] Cathryn Carson: Who Wants a Postmodern Physics? Science in Context, 8, pp 635-655 (1995) doi:10.1017/S0269889700002222

[2] Hans J. Pirner: The Semiotics of “Postmodern” Physics. M. Ferrari and I.O. Stamatescu (Eds) Symbol and Physical Knowledge Springer Verlag 2002, pp 210

[3] S. Vongehr: “Realism escaping Wittgenstein’s Silence: The Paradigm Shift that renders Quantum Mechanics Natural”. 4th FQXi Essay Contest http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1483(2012)

[4] S. Vongehr: “Towards Naturalness of Einstein and Everett Relativity in the Fundamental Description”. (2012)