Erwin Schrödinger: Brahmanist, polyamorist, canvas, God
And there’s more—
To Western ideology the thought has remained a stranger, in
spite of Schopenhauer and others who stood for it and in spite of those true lovers who, as they look into each other’s eyes, become aware that their thought and their joy are numerically one—not merely similar or identical; but they, as a rule, are emotionally too busy to indulge in clear thinking, which respect they very much resemble the mystic.
Allow me a few further comments. Consciousness is never experienced in the plural, only in the singular. Even in the pathological cases of split consciousness or double personality the two persons alternate, they are never manifest simultaneously. In a dream we do perform several characters at the same time, but not indiscriminately: we are one of them; in him we act and speak directly, while we often eagerly await answer or response of another person, unaware of the fact that it is we who control his movements and his speech just as much as our own.
How does the idea of plurality (so emphatically opposed by the Upanishad writers) arise at all? Consciousness finds itself
intimately connected with, and dependent on, the physical state of a limited region of matter, the body. (Consider the changes of mind during the development of the body, at puberty, ageing,
dotage, etc., or consider the effects of fever intoxication, narcosis, lesion of the brain and so on.) Now there is a great plurality of similar bodies. Hence the pluralization of
consciousnesses or minds seems a very suggestive hypothesis. Probably all simple, ingenuous people, as well as the great majority of Western philosophers, have accepted it.
It leads almost immediately to the invention of souls, as many as there are bodies, and to the question whether they are mortal as the body is or whether they are immortal and capable of existing by themselves. The former alternative is distasteful while the latter frankly forgets, ignores or disowns the fact upon which the plurality hypothesis rests. Much sillier questions have been asked: Do animals also have souls? It has even been questioned whether women, or only men, have souls.
Such consequences, even if only tentative, must make us suspicious of the plurality hypothesis, which is common to all
official Western creeds. Are we not inclining to much greater nonsense, if in discarding their gross superstitions we retain their naive idea of plurality of souls, but ‘remedy’ it by declaring the souls to be perishable, to be annihilated with the respective bodies?
The only possible alternative is simply to keep to the immediate experience that consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknown; that there is only one thing and that what seems to be a plurality is merely a series of different personality aspects of this one thing, produced by a deception (the Indian MAYA); the same illusion is produced in a gallery of mirrors, and
in the same way Gaurisankar and Mt Everest turned out to be the same peak seen from different valleys.
There are, of course, elaborate ghost-stories fixed in our minds to hamper our acceptance of such simple recognition. E.g. it has been said that there is a tree there outside my window but I do not really see the tree. By some cunning device of which only the initial, relatively simple steps are itself explored, the real tree throws an image of itself into my the physical consciousness, and that is what I perceive. If you stand by my side and look at the same tree, the latter manages to throw an image into your soul as well. I see my tree and you see yours (remarkably like mine), and what the tree in itself is we do not know. For this extravagance Kant is responsible. In the order of ideas which regards consciousness as a singulare tantum, it is conveniently replaced by the statement that there is obviously only one tree and all the image business is a ghost-story.
Yet each of us has the indisputable impression that the sum total of his own experience and memory forms a unit, quite distinct from that of any other person. He refers to it as ‘I’. What is this ‘I’?
If you analyse it closely you will, I think, find that it is just a little bit more than a collection of single data (experiences and memories), namely the canvas upon which they are collected. And you will, on close introspection, find that what you really mean by ‘I’ is that ground-stuff upon which they are collected. You may come to a distant country, lose sight of all your friends, may all but forget them; you acquire new friends, you share life with them as intensely as you ever did with your old ones. Less and less important will become the fact that, while living your new life, you still recollect the old one. “The youth that was I”, you may come to speak of him in the third person; indeed, the protagonist of the novel you are reading is probably nearer to your heart, certainly more intensely alive and better known to you. Yet there has been no intermediate break, no death. And even if a skilled hypnotist succeeded in blotting out entirely all your earlier reminiscences, you would not find that he had killed you. In no case is there a loss of personal existence to deplore.
Nor will there ever be.
Not only I am God, but I’m also everyone, and immortal. Well! Good to know.
After reading this I went to Wikipedia to find if Schrödinger ever had any experience with Eastern thought, Ortega or something; and found out instead that he was one more addition to the list of awesomely non-monogamic physicists:
The request for March stemmed from Schrödinger’s unconventional relationships with women: although his relations with his wife Anny were good, he had had many lovers with his wife’s full knowledge (and in fact, Anny had her own lover, Hermann Weyl). Schrödinger asked for March to be his assistant because, at that time, he was in love with March’s wife Hilde.
[…]On his return to Oxford he negotiated about salary and pension conditions at Princeton but in the end he did not accept. It is thought that the fact that he wished to live at Princeton with Anny and Hilde both sharing the upbringing of his child was not found acceptable. The fact that Schrödinger openly had two wives, even if one of them was married to another man, was not well received in Oxford either.
Those familiar with the serious and portly figure of Weyl at Princeton would have hardly recognised the slim, handsome young man of the twenties, with his romantic black moustache. His wife, Helene Joseph, from a Jewish background, was a philosopher and literateuse. Her friends called her Hella, and a certain daring and insouciance made her the unquestioned leader of the social set comprising the scientists and their wives. Anny [Schrödinger’s wife] was almost an exact opposite of the stylish and intellectual Hella, but perhaps for that reason [Weyl] found her interesting and before long she was madly in love with him. … The special circle in which they lived in Zurich had enjoyed the sexual revolution a generation before [the United States]. Extramarital affairs were not only condoned, they were expected, and they seemed to occasion little anxiety. Anny would find in Hermann Weyl a lover to whom she was devoted body and soul, while Weyl’s wife Hella was infatuated with Paul Scherrer.
Why are we less liberated than the 20th (-_-)