The American counterculture, often understood as an outgrowth of Romanticism, explores implications of Quantum physics (exemplifying Thomas Kuhn’s model of how new paradigms become routinized). Quantum physics revolutionizes what and how we think about the world. Scientists exist in relationship with the world, no longer dispassionate observers. The world is mysterious, truth dependent on methodology (electrons are not “things” but “probability patterns of relationships”). For some physicists, this perception mirrors Eastern philosophies.
The new physics influences the counterculture literally, metaphysically and epistemologically. Literally, the atom bomb signals potential apocalypse, reinforcing an existential (provisional) philosophy. Metaphysically, the world is magic, dangerous—and alive. Epistemologically, the planet is our home, providing us with place, purpose and meaning (cyberneticist Gregory Bateson overcomes the division between self and world, characteristic of Cartesian thinking).
For the counterculture, this changes everything. Ecological consciousness creates an urgent appreciation for the natural world, leading to the first Earth Day, the Gaia hypothesis, and the environmental movement. The Esalen Institute housed therapies that believe people live in systems—or gestalts. Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog promoted holistic vision, self-sufficiency and community (Brand also organized the first Acid Tests, multi-media events attempting to duplicate the LSD experience that destroyed the barrier between artist and audience). LSD users discovered an awe-ful world coinciding neither with the laws of logic nor common sense. Some LSD users designed the personal computer. Others studied Eastern religions, emphasizing the journey rather than the destination, participation rather than dogma. Ken Kesey’s literature dramatized people’s ability to generate viable communities and futures with possibility, the metaphor of the Demon Box showing that humans can evade entropic breakdown because they live in open rather than closed systems. The “new consciousness”—influenced by Quantum physics—has implications for health care, education, foreign policy, city planning, etc.
|Keywords:||Quantum Physics, American Counterculture|
Professor of Humanities and Literature, College of Theology, Arts and Science, Concordia University, Portland, Oregon, USA
There are currently no reviews of this product.Write a Review