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Sascha VongehrRSS Feed of this column.

Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙], physicist and philosopher, studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory) at Sussex University... Read More »


“Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus, 6.431 (emphasis added)


-- What is that even supposed to mean, “Finding eternity in the now”?

For several years I felt the desire to give readers a positive message around this time of year, as it is the most depressive for many. Alas, as you can tell from my writing ever less, I have little to say. Mostly because I understand now that my writing is too difficult and dark. I actually kept writing much, enough for a hundred good posts, but I keep revising, unable to let the light I seem to be seeing shine through the words.

The popular description of virtual particles “borrowing” energy and popping in and out of existence all the time is very misleading. There are no such processes “really happening” in the way of a naïve, classically mechanistic physicalism. Instead, all potential partial processes consistent with the observations are together what the observation supervenes on.

       For the sake of clarity, let us consider the two widely known, nonsensical scenarios: The first is one that many scientists charge ‘idealist’ philosophers with, although no thinker beyond the dorm room bong level holds this view: All is just a dream and there is no physical world. The second nonsensical scenario is that a physical world “really exists independently out there” and it happens to be the case that consciousness arises in it although it could have conceivably been otherwise, a physical universe just being without consciousness.

Look at a fan rotating its blades. Now look somewhat to the side of it. It seems to rotate slower now. Now shift your gaze slowly back toward the center of the fan. The fan seems to pick up speed. There are not just two appearances of its speed, one fast if I stare at it, and one slow if it is in the periphery of my visual field, but instead the fan seems to pick up speed gradually!

This may surprise, but Ludwig Wittgenstein, for many the greatest philosopher, or anyway the most eminent exponent of analytic philosophy according to Roger Scruton, maintained that music (!) was the most important to him, not formal logic or philosophy. On the other hand, it is known for at least a century, this I take from a mentioning in Bertrand Russell’s “The Analysis of Mind”, that artistic skills, apparently especially that of drawing pictures, suffer when the brain starts using more resources for rational tasks. Similarly, some who lose logic functionality due to stroke start drawing very well.