Author: Mangala Gowri M., Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, University College of Science, Tumkur.
Our understanding of certain primary concepts in Physics such as time, space, dimension, objectivity in observation and measurement, the relation between cause and effect, probability, vacuum and so on has been radically changed since the advent of Modern Physics. What is striking, however, is that the approach of Modern Physics to such concepts is not contradictory to the way in which Philosophy approaches those very concepts. Instead, we find conspicuous parallels and correlations between the two fields. The conclusions that Philosophy and Physics arrive at are based on thorough observation. Whereas the Physicists observe the external world, the Philosophers look into oneself— into the inner consciousness. Both these approaches are therefore empirical and both arrive at same conclusions.
It is said that for every intuitive element in science, there is a parallel concept in eastern Philosophy. Julius Robert Oppenheimer had once said “What we shall find [in recent discoveries in atomic physics] is an exemplification, an encouragement, and a refinement of old wisdom”.
I think if we delve deeper into these apparent similarities we can find a common plane of understanding between the two. I’m very positive about that since both these branches of thought are concerned with the nature of reality. I strongly believe that the metaphysical reality that the Eastern Philosophies are after can be reached only through a thorough observation and experience of the external reality which Modern Physics focuses on. Even great physicists admit that Modern Physics forces us to see the world very much as an eastern Philosopher sees it.