The Discontinuity of Process


The discovery of the quantum theory in the early twentieth century was, to some degree, a mathematical formalization of intuitive insights that have been expressed in many domains over the course of human history, both before and after the quantum revolution of the nineteen-twenties. In particular, the premodern ideas of inspiration, epiphany, apotheosis, conversion, revelation, transfiguration, and alchemical transmutation are all recognitions that change occasionally occurs in sudden leaps that reconfigure the entire meaning of a process. In modernity, this discrete quality of reality was variously recognized in chemistry as the change of state, in the mutation theory of Hugo de Vries, in the processes of mitosis, meiosis, and binary fission in cell biology, in punctuated equilibrium in evolution, and in the very structure of scientific revolutions, which disrupt and reconfigure the processes of normal science. This discontinuous quality of being can equally be seen in the changing of the seasons, the start of a rainstorm, a sunset, and the budding of a flower, or in the conception, birth, and pubescence of an animal. However, what quantum theory suggests, and what Erwin Schrödinger and others have made explicit in varying inflections, is that all of these discrete phenomena are related to the discontinuous nature of the atomic electron transition described in physics, sometimes through direct efficient causation, but always through the fractal reiteration characteristic of formal causation.

[This post is an excerpt from The Dynamics of Transformation: Tracing an Emerging World View]

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