Quantum reality and ethos: A thought experiment regarding the foundation of ethics in cosmic order

Zygon 44 (2):265-287 (2009)

Abstract

The authors undertake a thought experiment the purpose of which is to explore possibilities for understanding moral principles in analogy with cosmic order. The experiment is based on three proposals, which are described in detail: an ontological, a neurological, and a moral proposal. The ontological proposal accepts from the phenomena of quantum physics that there is a nonempirical domain of physical reality that consists not of material things but of what is philosophically conceptualized as a realm of nonmaterial forms. This realm of forms is the realm of potentiality in physical reality that quantum physics posits as an indivisible Wholeness—the One. It is the ultimate reality because everything empirical is the actualization of its forms. The neurological proposal is the hypothesis that the brain is sensitive to the potentiality waves in the cosmic field, as ordinary measuring instruments in physics are sensitive to potentiality waves at the quantum level, so that the cosmic field can communicate with the human brain. The third proposal assumes that the communication with the cosmic field can translate into moral ideas and actions. Even though the three proposals underlying the thought experiment are highly speculative, they lead to definite implications that make sense in their own right and can be applied in a useful way. From the order of reality some simple rules of conduct follow that are identical with traditional moral rules but have the character of rules of well-ness, leading to new aspects of Aristotle's concept of eudaimonia and Kant's concept of the highest good. In analogy with the structure of physical reality, where all empirical phenomena are actualizations of nonempirical forms, it is suggested that the structure of morality, too, is that of a tacit, nonempirical form that actualizes in explicit principles and moral acts through our consciousness. The tacit form is thought to exist in the realm of cosmic potentiality, together with all the other forms that the empirical world actualizes. It can appear spontaneously in our consciousness when needed, offering its guidance to our judgment and free will. Because it does not appear in the form of commandments accompanied by threats, the actions of the tacit moral form define a higher level of morality, similar to that offered by some aspects of the Christian teaching, where one acts not out of fear but on the desire to do things right.

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