Modern theories of relativity and quantum physics emphasise the necessarily pragmatic and subjective nature of our view of reality. Concepts of physical reality arising from experimental observations show that our concepts of the reality of the universe do not fall easily into our everyday understanding of things and lead us into deep paradoxes concerning our view of what ‘reality’ is. It is necessary to fall back on the use of mathematical equations to describe what we observe – not an adequate vehicle, but the best we have got. We have to introduce the idea of ‘imaginary’ quantities or dimensions to describe concepts of the physical universe, concepts which are ‘real’ in the sense that they explain our observation.
Modern physics confirms the subjective nature of our view of reality and opens our minds to the way in which we construct concepts of ‘realities’ to describe and predict our observations. For the logical positivist scientist, and the relativist postmodernists, these observations are the only ‘reality’, the only ‘facts’. All our concepts are equally ‘real’ in so far as they describe the observations. For both the scientists and the postmodernists the question ‘is it true?’ has no relevance – and indeed no meaning. For both, the relevant question is ‘is it useful in my chosen epistemology in my chosen grand narrative?’
For the socialist, and the social scientists, modern physics underlines the pragmatic, subjective, fragile nature of our conceptual constructs and the need to treat them accordingly – as ‘truth for now’. Cosmological physics forces us to reassess our importance, significance and meaning in the universe.Marx would have been happy to accept the view that we must continually review the plot to find new ideas to match the evidence.
© Lusion 2005