Review by Betsy Chasse & John Trevor Berger
A distinguished mathematician, physicist, and philosopher—who finds himself irreconcilably at odds with the prevailing Zeitgeist—Dr. Wolfgang Smith’s passion to expose the errors of scientism for the betterment of science (and humankind) is accomplished eloquently in his latest book.
Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology builds upon his earlier works Cosmos and Transcendence, The Quantum Enigma, and The Vertical Ascent. Over the course of these publications he discerned the error of the physicist’s basic philosophical presuppositions; posited the necessary distinction between the physical universe (the world “as conceived by the physicist”) and the corporeal world (the world as it manifests itself to sensory perception); and discovered the phenomenon of vertical causality—an ontological mode of causation which acts instantaneously, as distinct from the temporal causation known to physics—which makes possible the transition from the physical to the corporeal in the act of quantum measurement.
Smith now introduces a new ontological factor, the necessary complement of vertical causation: irreducible wholeness. The result is a persuasive proof of integrality in the cosmic order, presenting physics and cosmology in a brand new key. It is a restoration of meaning both to science and to our worldview at large.
As the author explains, to the extent that modern physics has possessed an ontology—a theory of “being”—at all, it has been primarily founded on the substance-dualism of René Descartes. Not only does Smith demonstrate this Cartesian “bifurcation” of reality to be untenable, but he also shows how, in the wake of quantum theory, this principle has in fact made physics incomprehensible.
At heart a philosopher in the most traditional sense, Smith became deeply attracted to the Platonist and Neoplatonist schools early in life, and in Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology he introduces a complete refoundation of physics on Platonist grounds, in which the quantum-theoretic stratum assumes its rightful place within the hierarchy of being.
We highly recommend reading all four of his books to better dive into the mind of Wolfgang Smith, and to immerse yourself in his nomenclature and metaphysics. You will embark upon an unexpected and thoroughly thought-provoking journey. His writing reflects a lifelong pursuit for an increasingly comprehensive understanding of the nature of reality, and his latest work reaches the summit.