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New Concepts of Matter, Life and Mind

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by Ervin Laszlo

Author, Founder of Systems Philosophy

In light of the current, revolutionary advances in the natural sciences and in the study of consciousness, the concepts of matter, life, and mind have undergone major changes. This paper outlines some basic aspects of these changes, taking in turn the emerging concept of matter, of life, and of human mind and consciousness.

The concept of matter

The Western common sense view has held that there are only two kinds of things that truly exist in the world: matter and space. Matter occupies space and moves about in it and it is the primary reality. Space is a backdrop or container. Without furnished by material bodies, it does not enjoy reality in itself. This common sense concept goes back to the Greek materialists; it was the mainstay also of Newton’s physics. It has been radically revised in Einstein’s relativistic universe (where spacetime became an integrated four-dimensional manifold), and also in Bohr’s and Heisenberg’s quantum world. Now it may have to be rethought again.

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