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Otto Rössler talking at xxxxx2006.

london, transcribed by oswald berthold

Maybe this is automatic. Can you hear me? Thank you. The louder it is, the softer my voice becomes so maybe it shouldn't be too loud. Maybe i should talk like a human being, …

(Sounds and Gemurmel)

i was told that the real world way to, if you would, greek, .. physics from within should be eso-physics but eso-terics is already a dangerous way of looking at science and so endophysics is a little bit less troubling if used as a new notion. but why should one think that a field as esoteric as physics would need a new name? and what is the difference between endophysics and physics? and what has this to do with reality. maybe physics itself is something that most people wouldn't think has much to do with reality. and so, .. the second word was monads. monads means “lonely beings”. monas in greek, aeh, monastery is people who live alone in a kloster, and monadology is a word first coined i guess by giordano bruno. and maybe i mention him briefly. bruno is interesting. he is the teacher of galileo's which is not very well known, and he was burned on the stake in 1600, in rome, 17th of feb, because he had a too modern theory of the cosmos. he is the inventor of modern cosmology and he is the first who thought that there are many earths, many suns in the universe, the whole universe was unlimited and he was the first person to speak out against the big bang, that was one of the reasons he was murdered. and its quite nice, no, that was a joke of course. so thats too much physics, we suddenly entered physics and we really should think at this conference of interfaces i was told. should put this back.

i wondered wether i shouldnt start out with rene descartes it always, maybe i should forget about this. and we, if im standing i can talk better, thank you.

i m having at this moment an interface type experience. i m here and you are here and something is inbewtween us which i try to bridge which would be the interface. thinking about the interface is not something people are very used to because we all live always only in an interface. if one is very careful, i mean the first who deeply thought about this is rene descartes whom i mentioned, the interface, the reality that we find ourselves in is so that, no … i m trying to find the right entry to my talk. if it becomes a talk i will know today.

switching back one more time if you allow me to do that. if the microphone is in my hand then my mind is mostly used up trying not to. but you can understand me better so thats necessary now.

calderon de la barca in spain wrote a piece, a theater piece in 1628, if i m informed correctly called life as a dream and in that piece he talks about a young son of a king who spends part of his life in a prison and part of it as the coming king in the main town of the country and he is put into a state of, no, he's given a narcotic, probably alcohol and is taken violently into the other place, into the prison or back into the honourable situation and he is told that each time when comes back into the other place that what he has been experiencing in the last period was a dream and the idea is that you cannot distinguish between life and a dream.

this idea that life is really a dream, i don't know who really, who in history invented the idea, but in france rene descartes had the same idea a few years before calderon and cartesianism if you wish is a theory of an interface and the interface idea is even older in history, one could go back to buddha even, and buddhism has similar ideas. but descartes is closer to our hearts and descartes was the first to completely address himself, no, i m not sure he's the first, but .. why do i talk about all this, it has to do with the prisonlike situation. maybe the previous talk had some connotations also about the modern world and the computer revolution on the one hand, but on the other hand everybody is without guidance at the moment how the future will look like and there are many young people on the world who are somehow not finding a representation in the present and in the future and there is a dying continent called europe, and there are other continents who are thriving but somehow the balance of power on the planet does not reflect the relationship between the old people, the minority of old people of white color on the planet who are in power and the majority of people who are young and not taken seriously.

and in physics we have this problem of qm, there is also a crisis, we have this political crisis which i just mentioned, we have in physics a crisis of science, that science lost contact with rationality, rationalism in 1927 when niels bohr discovered the complementarity principle, as he called it and wolfgang pauli invented the idea of “primary chance” and i was lucky that for some time i could work in chaos and chaos is a theory that deals with chance on a basis which is rational.

the weather is a very well known example of chaos theory applied, where everybody know that it is impossible to make an exact forecast of the weather half a year from now. and everybody agrees that it is easy to understand because you would have to know too many details of the atmosphere at one moment in time to calculate the future movements of the winds, and so on. so the wind blows where it wants to. and this can be reconciled with rationalism because this is just a matter complexity and everybody realizes that the fact that we cannot control the weather, we cannot control the future of the weather is a rational implication of the things we know. but wolfgang pauli claimed that the primary chance that you find in a quantum experiment when you have a geiger counter who either makes a click or not dependant on wether a certain radioactive source is shooting a particle through it or not, this click of the geiger-counter is completely unpredictable.

and this unpredictability was claimed to be a primary chance in the sense that there is no causal, deterministic, understandable explanation of why this happens. and since 1927 when this theory got elaborated, qm has acquired this status of being a theory which predicts only probabilities, primary probabilities, but not the events themselves. and this, in a sense means the end of the scientific program as it was invented by rene descartes.

who had thought that it might be possible to find a rational description of the world in the realm of science and if you wish he invented science this way, he invented the idea that the whole world might be a rational place. and the whole world might be a place that is open to humanism.

the fact that cartesianism died in 1927 is not very well known, but there is something like a voting with the feet that the young people are doing because the attractivity of science has very much declined since this has happended. and there is even one person in germany called manfred, i guess, count von mayen who wrote a book that there is a direct connection between the weimar republic and this discovery of qm on the one hand and the historical development in germany where scientists could not oppose the new irrationalism in the government.

and if you wish, maybe one could expect that there is a connection between believing in rationalism in the way that descartes, the science descartes invented and humanism in the sense of personal responsability of people finding themselves important to intervene with big mistakes that society is making which might again be the case today.

so it might be worth to try to reawaken rationalism in a situation of crisis. this is still too close to, this is not what i wanted to address. how could someone like descartes come up with a deeper view that everybody living since descartes has accepted more or less. so he is one of the few people in history who's thinking has kind of enslaved the thinking of everybody else who lived since his time. this is as such very interesting but its also interesting that only about 10% of his thinking has enslaved the world and the rest of his thinking which might be even more important did not find the acceptance or is not even known. for exmaple he is known as the inventor of dualism, that mind and matter was distinct. but actually, if you look closer at his work it turns out he was a monist. he did not believe in this distinction between materialism and mind, that people attribute to him.

but why then was he so influential and what was his basic insight? and i think the basic insight of his was this interface insight or, its even deeper, why could he conceive of the interface?

because, thats a personal interpretation of the way he thought, he faced the fact that life, he was 23 years old when he had his basic insight, maybe i start there. that was his famous dream that he had when he was, during one night in the winter of 1619 on the nov. 11, he was an officer who returned from an official duty, i mean there was an election of an emperor i guess in frankfurt, and he returned to his quarters, and he was snowed in in a town very close to ulm in southern germany where einstein was later born and in that night he had a dream living alone in a farmhouse that has been given to him as an officer. this dream was reported by a friend of his later and the dream had quite interesting elements.

the dream is quite well known. at first he was near a cemetery, and wind came and he was turned around several times by the strong wind and then later in the dream he found that his leg, one of his legs was no longer working so he was lame on one leg and this apparently is a recollection of in the dream of a story in the bible where someone who had been fighting with heaven had a lame leg. jacob was his name. and then later in the dream, the dream brought him a book close to his bed where he was lying and he didnt know wether he was awake or dreaming and he was very much interested that had come through the window onto his table beside his bed and it was the book of all possible knowledge. later gˆdel wondered wether its possible to have a book of all possible knowledge.

and this book contained a chapter, it was written in the from of theater plays, and this one play that was especially interesting to him had the title “quod vitae sectabo ite”, he was dreaming in latin, so thats one of the few latin phrases that have been invented by a dreaming mind. what path of life am i to take or cut, which way should i take in life, this was his basic problem at his young age and he started to look into this chapter but suddenly the wind took the book again out of his room and after a while it returned and when he feverishly looked it up again this particular chapter was missing and in the morning when his fellow officers came in he didnt know wether in the future he would be forced to hallucinate, he knew he had ahllucinated during the nite and even during his, he wouldn't be able to distinguish between living in an hallucination or not. which is a quite dangerous situation when you don'T know how to rationally respond to the world. and this problem of facing a the possibility of being a lunatic forced him to come to grips with this nightly dream. and he developed a strategy how to hide from the other the fact that he couldnt distiinguish between dream and reality. and he found out a method, he saw that when the light was shining in the day it mgiht, usually its quite easy to find that, to be sure that you dont dream because something that in the nightly dream is absent usually daily, unless you are drunk maybe, namely that something which had been there was no longer there and then reappeared and was changed. this is called material consistency. and this is a modern word but he could have used it.

and this consistency of the world that descartes was hoping to find in the morning, in the daylight he saw could save him. but then, on second thoughts he realized that maybe this is no real criterion because it might turn out that the living reality within which we find ourselves might not be consistent either. just like it happened in the dream. so in order to be sure that he could rely on reality he would need to make, to check on this consistency hypothesis. and this consistency hypthesis turned out to be quite difficult to implement in reality. and after 10 days he found that he still had not found an example of inconsistency in the world but maybe there is somewhere such an example.

and after a while, after a year or so he realized he might need many more months or years to study reality to decipher, to disentangle this question. and after 10 or 20,30 years he realized that this might take many centuries. until people know wether this hypothesis of his that the world might be consistent is falsified or not. and as i already told you, in 1927 physicists decided, the answer is “no”. there is an end to consistency in physics. the cartesian hypothesis that the world might be consistent had gone.

at least this is still the opinion of the majority of people in physics. and if you beleive in science being important this is quite a cutting event, cutting type event in history that science abandonded the very idea which stood at its beginnings. why is it so important to stick to this idea of consistency?

sounds of thinking

the interface, i mean, you realize, descartes had been a dreamer. then in the dream he had found something that was worrying to him and then so if you wish, he started out without any preassumptions, he started out from his experience and he wanted to come to grips with this experience.

as you sometimes do when you are very young, when you are a child, or sometimes when you grow older, eventually you find that most of the things that people think are very important are not that important because there is, there are overriding questions like this one. and the real question that descartes found himself confronted with, was, that he had been captured by a power that was not under his own control, during that night. and he wondered wether this fact that dream and reality were almost indistinguishable to him was not something really very important to face. and, what he saw is that all he has to cling to, is the substance of a dream, of subjective experience, of consciousness. but consciousness is not a main subject fo physics usually. of daily type science and business.

so why, he was very much alone, almost no one else in european has looked at consciousness before him. i mean the very notion of consciousness is alien to western thinking. in buddhism or in japan people always, when they come back from work in the evening, they shed their european clothes, they take on the kimono and they realize now again that there is nothing but consciousness. and the daily work is much less important than being aware of this reality which is only consciousness.

but in descartes' case, you know the phrase “cogito ergo sum” that he coined. cogito means “i m thinking therefore i am”, cogito is not just thinking, its “having consciousness”, cognitive science comes from this work, so cognition is the real substance. and cognition, if you wish, is it an interface. i mean we are living in the interface of consciousness. but consciousness is more than an i-f. its all we have. there is no other reality than consciousness. we cannot escape from consciousness. some people would say if you are dead you escape from consciousness but thats of course not true, because to realize that you are dead you would have to be conscious.

the prison of consciousness is so tight that even death is no escape, offers no escape. and the situation is a situation of very great cruelty. the cruelty of existence was faced by young rene descartes during that night and he came up with this interface idea, that maybe, first we started out talking a little bit about interfaces and i started talking about consciousness, now i try to come back. consciousness was the whole, we have nothing but consciousness. but then, we try to make sense of this prison of consciousness, the prison of young calderon. of calderon's young king, the son of the king.

silence in recording

the idea of the prison is most important ….

there are no contradictions between what you saw before in the book and later it was missing from the book. so the world of reality might have these steel-fibers woven into it which give you, which make the world as calculable as it is in a computer, or on the internet. this steel-fiber idea, he used, he needed this idea and you might say, why did he cling to causality, why did he want this relational consistency? why did he claim that the world is consistent? why did he found science by having this idea?

because, we come back here to this prison, no, sadism type question. if the world is consistent, why did he want the world to be consistent. not just not to be found out with his hallucinations but for another reason. we just saw that the world is nothing but a dream, its just psychic substance. otoh if within this big colorful reality the numbers that this fiber-system of relations, he called it analytical geometry, he found a way to apply mathematics to these relations, to the shadows that go through the dream with all its other features. if these shadows are consistent as he hoped they would be in the morning when his fellow officers came in, that he could rely on the relations of the world. and if there were no inconsistencies he would know he wouldn't be in danger.

this idea of consistency gave him an infinte power. because, if the world is consistent and i am the one who is dreaming the world as we saw, then i can use the relations that i find and on the basis of these relations can build a model of the world. i can understand the world, the world becomes a machine.

this machine theory of descartes' enabled him to look at the world as a machine, to look at other people as machines, everything in the world would become a machine, even though its substance is nothing but dream substance. its consciousness. colors, everythnig. emotions. but as far as the relations that these shadowy part of the world which is least conspicious and the most lowly element of it according to the old greeks, they called it the hades, the hades was the only thing that was surviving after death according to their mythology. but everything, the relations were the same, the shadows were the same. but it was no use to live in this underworld, in the hades because even the king of the hades, would rather be a lowliest peasant on the earth, the slave who had to make, who was being driven by the slaveowner in front of a, to pull the earth open, i mean, as, like someone, like an animal, on the, i dont know the english word for the plough, yes plough that you are pulling. so he rather wanted to be a slave on earth than the king of the underworld because the relations are worth nothing. its just shadows.

but then exactly on these shadows descartes concentrated. he saw that these relations are the key. why? because if the world is consistent relationally then its a machine world and then the other human beings that you meet during daily life also are nothing but machines. then you could in principle build a computer, build an artificial human being, artificial persons or at any rate, even if you, if the computer had not been invented yet where you could build a lower level universe to which you are the boss in the same sense as he felt there was a boss aboove him.

even before that, with respect to the other people in your world, to you, you can claim that their are machines, you are outside them in the same way as the vertical exteriority that imposed the dream of consciousness on you is outside to you. so this is again a sadistic situation.

there was a pupil of descartes', a hundred years later called DeMarquis who took this element out of cartesianism and wrote very cruel books, i didn't read them but a friend of mine did and told me the gist and so, one of the sentences is that this young lady, he tells her that its her own business if she loves him. it has nothing to do with him. its none of his business to be loved by her. its just her own pleasure. and this cruelty was made possible by descartes thinking. if he is the only sensing soul everybody else is nothing but clay in his hands. its a slavery type situation, so the same slavery type situation the he felt himself to be in suddenly he is able to give to the next level so to speak.

suddenly the others become slaves in his own, they are dependent in his fairness or not, he can do with them, he can mistreat them as machines or he can treat them as machines without mistreating them. like a samurai who had his peasants who depended on his voice and a samurai could kill his peasants. i think it has never happened. like a zen master who also can kill his pupils but it never happened. but this exteriority that, there's an infinte distance suddenly that was created by descartes' idea of the world being a machine and we all live in this strange view that the world of science, the world as a machine might be a consistent machine. so you might say, “oh, we are lucky that qm allowed us to escape from this machine type thinking picture of the world”.

but then, that would be a great pity because this realization of descartes' that the others are machines, maybe as long as consistency is not falsified, its just a hypothesis, gives him an infinte power over the others. its just the same, a situation of slavery the he had found himself in, that he suddenly realizes, the others are relative to him. so science is strange, .., modern cartesian science is the strange idea that the individual is infinitely important because in his consciousness all the others are just figures, figments that can be treated well or not because he is outside. so its an infinte power, its the infinite power of horizontal exteriority that descartes discovered compared to the vertical exteriority which he was not able to accept.

so its the idea of fairness that he discovered, the idea that if you are infinitely powerful you can be fair or not fair. and if you are fair, if you don't misuse the infinite power that you have by being outside the others who depend on you then suddenly you are even. because then this dream-giving instance that is riding on your back woudl be put to shame if you do not misuse the infinte power of exteriority of modern rationalism.

and so, this modern rationalism, modern science, this whole thing is an interface theory. but this modern rationalism enabled descartes to humanize the world. and it would be a great pity if it couldn't be reconstructed.

just if i might end, finish this with just one, a few sentences on applications, this interface theory that i proposed to you is called endophysics. you are alone, a monad or a nomad, which is almost the same thing in the world, but if you take it seriously, if you, descartes claimed, that his science would eventually allow you to become immortal. it would be even much more powerful than science has ever been up til now. then there was this crisis in physics where suddenly qm showed there was a limit to this rationalism. but if you believe in cartesianism, if you believe that the world is rational then you find a way out again, then you find an explanation why these interface phenomena in qm happen exactly the way they do. there is an outside view which allows you to understand why you cannot explain the click in the geiger-counter, why this is suddenly something metaphysical which broke into physics.

and this is this theory of endophysics where you explain quantum phenonema as something to be expected if you are a part of the world. and so, this would take me too long to explain in detail but maybe this new way of doing science as endophysics allows you to do it leads to new predictions that give you a new handle on the world. peter weibel and i called this world change technology. a technology which does not change something within the world as all technologies have done so far, but which changes the whole world. because, you are starting to manipulate the very interface which contians the whole world if it is true that the world is an interface reality.

if it is true that rationalism can be regained taling into account the fact that you are with your own body part of the world and then only the difference between you and the rest of the world is available, is accessible to you. then part of the world would become infected by the fact that you are an element of the world. if you really faced this strange situation you are in in the world you could start to manipulate this interface. and so even death as descartes claimed would eventually be overcome by this type of thinking.

but, i m sure i have not been able to completely get through what i wanted to say but maybe you got a little bit the idea. thank you very much for allowing me to talk so long.


unknown: i m not a quantum physicist or anything like that, so maybe on the more philosophical aspects, just went you were talking about externality, is that right, and the vertical, and also the horizontal, i was thinking about the vertical and kind of saying in terms of this whole slavery thing and prison, this all sounds terrible, and maybe its kind of related to religion and things like that, but if it was coming from behind or below maybe it would be a whole different set of feelings.

i was also then thinking about, why dont we just forget about 3 dimensions altogether. it just seems a little glitch in the whole system.

otto: thank you, you brought up this very important question of religion, of wether it is, this, the whole thing is not a way of rejuvenating fundamentalism, maybe. if you wish, this is philosophy, i mean descartes is a philosopher usually, it is misunderstood maybe. this is this old shamanistic type of it its the whole, art and science together are elements of shamanism. the shaman is someone who is not working for his living, but he is paid giving a living by those who are working and he is paying back by making ceremonies, by producing pieces of art, by judging others, by becoming a judge, and by doing science, by working miracles, by being a medical doctor. shamanism, this come out of this fraction of society who doesnt work but tries to be valuable nonetheless.

and religion is usually, this what i talked about is ususally understood as religion, misunderstood,

but religion itself is an element of this type of thinking. but its very strange that someone like descartes could bridge these 2. he was, he came from the school of loyola in spain originally, he went to the school led by, in la Fleche, by jesuit priests, and i was told that loyola had invented the technique of what he called exercises. exercises are really experiments, but experiments with your own existence. for example, he became a monk, he lost , he gave away every money, all money, and then he wanted to go to palestine for religious reasons. he made a bet, he went to a ship, to a captain on a ship which was going out to palestine and told the captain he should take him along. and the captain of course said what are you paying me, and loyola said, you see, i m a monk without, i m begging, i cannot give you any money. so why should i take you along? loyola said because then you will arrive. and he went to 3 captains of ships and the third captain took him with him and you can ask 3 times which ship of the 3 arrived in palestine. so this was the kind of thinking that descartes was brought up in, making a bet with heaven, that is a religious type fo thinking. but i think descartes manageed to go back to the older level where, of shamanism where religion and science are still one and can, i think he is more modern than that. thank you very much for this question.

unknown: i wanted to ask a question on, i think it wasnt really clear because you were speaking on kind of horrors of the modern world but then also that its a common kind of knowledge that it is the cartesianism that acutally brought to life what is know as the modern world and western civilization and kind of responsible for the state of the world we are at now. so i m wondering how is it that you say that its a pity that we are leaving now behind the rationalism and humanism because they are also the sources of what we have now, i mean how can this save or help if it was the reason of the first place. i mean i m …

otto: wonderful, yes. the commentary. he is responsible if you wish for the whole mess, and why should we return to his old recipes? i dont think he is responsible for the whole mess. this rationalism enabled of course colonialism, iyw, and the bomb eventually. so young people today hate science i m afraid because of the bomb. very slowly its sinking in that if raissa gorbatshova hadn't saved the world from communism, the wife of gorbatshov, then we would still have this danger of nuclear war extinguishing mankind, humankind. this could be a direct consequence of cartesian rationalism and maybe raissa grobatshova realized, she overcame this danger. i have a very high concern for her because of waht she did. we need someone like her again today to, who would find a way to realize, lambsacus on the internet, i mean this hometown of humankind on the internet where everybody, every person on the planet has the right to live and has a voice and has an address, an identity, and gets informational needs answered free of charge whihc would be easy to do with modern technology. and all the people in europe who have nothing to do as we know because there is not enough work we are told, they could work in lambsacus, they could work providing the necessary information that everybody could learn everything he would need for his own survival and could learn anything, i mean, to become teachers of the world and, i mean, that would be the role of dying old europe. to give a gift to humanity, the gift would just cost 10 billion dollars, thats the cost lambsacus and you only need 1 billion per year and it would give you a lot, it would give a lot of working places on the planet where people could work for others. and this would be the real modern cartesianism. its very easy if you realize how important you are, what infinte power you have. then you can do something. and that is really descartes idea. and the machine idea that is the rationality idea was only to make sure that one is really that important. so its because not enough cartesianism has been picked by the world so far i think. that would be my answer. thank you very much.

otto_roessler_xxxxx_2006.txt · Last modified: 2007/06/13 11:40 (external edit)