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Chapter 3. From Object to Process


We are creatures of nature. We can't always live in a world of dreams, paradoxes, axiomatic mathematics, and uncertainties. If, from time to time, we have our head in the clouds, our feet should always be planted firmly on the ground. If we live in a high rise in the midst of a great city, we should never forget that our distant origins lay in grassy plains, rivers and streams, forests and deserts, oceans and mountains.

Our bodies are formed of matter. We require matter, in the form of air, food and drink, in order to live. This material world is the one inalienable certainty of all life. In many of the world's religions it is symbolized by what has been called The World Tree, whose crown reaches up to heaven while its roots descend deeply towards the center of the earth. This tree is also an image of individual human life, a life that aspires to the transcendent, numinous, and spiritual by virtue of its secure foundation within the earth.

But our understanding of this stuff of the world was radically transformed by quantum theory. Chairs and tables dissolved into an empty space filled with colliding atoms. Then atoms broke apart into nuclei, nuclei into elementary particles and finally, elementary particles into symmetries, transformations, and processes in the quantum vacuum. Understanding this new reality required a change in thinking so deep that it reached down into the very language we speak. In place of nouns and concepts we must now dialogue in terms of verbs, process, and flux. Once again, this change in our approach to reality mirrors similar revolutions that have taken place in art, literature, philosophy, and social relations.



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