A Peacock’s Tail of Theories
Whether we discuss theories that are orthodox, heterodox, fashionable or turn out to describe reality, our quest is a journey through the Imaginal Realm. Perhaps the alchemical notion of Anima Mundi needs to become Anima Universalis or Anima Imaginalis.
Infinite Space is the Goddess whose womb gives us our very existence. For medieval alchemists, the Earth was the center of it all, and what little they knew of the heavens revolved around it. In a relatively short time we have discovered our own galaxy, countless others and expanded our understanding of the immensity of space and deep time.
Space is vast and her mysteries are deeper than the Hubble Deep Field photos which allows us to peer back aeons to the birth of proto-galaxies. Everywhere we look there are hundreds of thousands of galaxies in even a portion of seemingly “empty” space. Maybe perception equals reality, but reality in real-time may not equal truth.
Maybe there is a spectrum of truths like there is of prismatic colors. In this sense, the many theories of reality are the Millennial version of the alchemical peacock’s tail that heralds the beginnings of integration, the Unus Mundus, the Grand Unified Theory or Theory of Everything in physics. The irridescent tail represents all the colors of light while the “eyes” symbolize all potential universes.
The challenge for the alchemist is to trust the process, the life force we presume is at work in the universe. There is, in the end, only one Life Force, though it operates on many levels, each with its own set of challenges. Discrimination of some sort, at every level, is therefore essential. Unity exists, but so does duality. Truth exists but so do fantasies.
A Peacock’s Tail of Theories
Theory must explain what is observed. But almost invariably that description is an interpretation of the abstract mathematics of quantum mechanics. Contending schools of thought include Copenhagen, Transactional, Many Worlds, Bohm, existential, stochastics, many minds, objective collapse, decoherence, quantum logic, etc.
Many terms are possible properties. They are attempts to explain how quantum mechanics informs our understanding of nature since experiments are open to different interpretations (QFT, QED, SED, QCD, etc.). They are sets of rules for operating on experimental data. They help us determine the probability of certain results. A given theory may have two interpretations, one of which is deterministic, and the other not. There are variants within interpretations even though the physical theory stands.
Interpretations help us determine what is considered “real,” but they also appeal imaginatively to our archetypal beliefs. Because of their archetypal nature, theories function like Strange Attractors holding us in thrall. So, we can get zealously hooked on certain theories because of their qualities and implications. It is a philosophical as well as scientific problem. The status of interpretations is a matter of philosophical argument. Casting aside consensus opinion, heterodox theories strike out on their own based on different assumptions. The boudaries of realism and belief may blur. Different observers give different accounts of phenomena. No experimental evidence distinguishes among interpretations.