David Paul Boaz
“The essential fact of quantum mechanics is entanglement” (Leonard Susskind). It was this “lucid mysticism” (Pauli) of Quantum Field Theory (QFT) with its holistic quantum entanglement—Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance”—that begat the catastrophic violation of the essentialist scientific realist principle of locality— the foundation of causal Local Scientific Realism/Materialism—the very ontic fundament of Western Science: no signal or information between “space-like separated” particles can exceed Einstein’s light speed limit; yet superluminal speed seems required for one nonlocal entangled particle in a two part quantum system to instantly “know” the spin state of the other particle, even when separated by many light years. Enter, the “spooky” antirealist principle of nonlocality.
At this inherently vexed nonlocal substrate, the zero point energy field vacuum ground state (ZPE), subject and object merge. There are no “substantival” points/objects, but rather a continuous Heraclitean flux of structural relations. Cosmos is process, not things. Things are but Hume’s inferred “bundles of properties”, mass, charge, spin. ZPE pervades boundless whole of the quantum continuum, hence wave/particle processes are embedded in and subsumed by this whole. Only the whole has properties. Particles are conceptual fabrications, even confabulations, not objective realities. Here classical Newtonian atomistic ontology utterly breaks down.
Relationship is all there is. Indeed, for habitués of this fuzzy quantum realm, an “affrighted and confounded” (Hume) collapse of objective reality, of an observer- independent “real world out there” (RWOT).
The “unfolding explicate order” of wave-particle parts is for David Bohm (1980) always “enfolded” in his “implicate order” of the great holographic “holomovement” continuum, the “vast unbroken whole” itself. For Bohm it is misleading to speak of observer-independent separate “parts”. He prefers the untidy epithet “relatively independent subtotalities”. Here, QFT fields are not real objective things, but subjective relations.
Bohm’s “vast implicate order of the whole” helps us to understand the intrinsic connectedness and interdependence of our above two entangled particles, without exceeding Einstein’s light speed limit. How? Explicate separate relativistic particles are ultimately embedded in the implicate whole. As are all of us. Classical objective Local Scientific Realism/Materialism is thus a failed scientific ontology. But wait! Might such Realism obsequies be premature?
Bohm and his mentor Einstein were “hidden variables” realists. Both believed quantum theory incomplete; but Bohm retained quantum nonlocality. We need as yet undiscovered hidden variables to explain all this.
Hidden variables theory now stands refuted. Physical spacetime locality (local contact of physical stuff) has been tested many times and found wanting. The definitive work consists of John Bell’s “inequalities” (1965); then Alain Aspect’s proof of Bell’s inequalities (1982). All have demonstrated the truth of nonlocality. Ronald Hanson (2015 arXiv.org) and Anton Zeilinger (2017) have finally closed the “locality loopholes”.
Einstein’s 1905 Special Relativity Theory (SRT) opposed Newton’s substance view of spacetime, the physical foundational ground of appearing reality. Einstein inveighed for a non-substantival, relational, atemporal spacetime. Yet his inner realist 1915 General Relativity Theory (GRT) curved spacetime geometry (Tіј) seems to commit him to a local substance view. And he rejected quantum non-locality to the very end.
The bad news for any local realist ontology? Quantum entanglement/nonlocality means the end of our beloved metaphysic of local, objective Scientific Realism. Must 2400 years of Platonic Realism—a physical, observer/model-independent separate RWOT—now be relegated to the ontological trash bin of history? It seems so. Objectivity, causality and local spacetime spacetime are kaput!
This quantum quandary—nonlocal quantum emptiness—has shaken the very foundations of classical deductive logic, to wit, Aristotle’s Law of Excluded Middle: “either A or not-A”; for any proposition, either that proposition is true, or its negation is true. Upon this logical bedrock we base our objective atomistic treatment of elementary particle discreteness, countability and physical identity. Scientific Realism, with “common sense realism” (Russell’s “metaphysics of the stone age”) are no longer tenable. Either spacetime reality exists; orit does not. If quantum non-locality obtains, then spacetime reality does not. Could be bad for the economy. Is there a centrist middle way between these heady ontic extremes of objective local physical spacetime reality, and spooky nonlocal proto idealist quantum emptiness?
Perhaps then, we should dump this learned bivalent Western logical canon for a contradiction-tolerant trivalent (3VL) deductive logic that accesses the subtle precision and depth of the contemplative Buddhist Dzogchen“logic of the non-conceptual”. Indeed, there’s a lot of reality between true and false. Such multi-valued paraconsistent logics, including Indian Nyaya with its five axioms, surpass Aristotle’s “Three Laws of Thought”. Further, the Logical Intuitionism of L.E.J Brouwer denies altogether the validity of excluded middle. In any case, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our course objectivist philosophies.
Excerpted from David Paul Boaz, The Collapse of Objective Reality: Quantum Nonlocality and Buddhist Emptiness, 2019, Ch. 13. davidpaulboaz.org ; coppermount.org