Complexity and Mysticism

“Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science. But man needs both”

Although my formal training is in the sciences, I am also interested in topics relating to spirituality. Combining both would be the next logical step, but such a path seems to be scorned by the experts on both sides. Luckily, author Fritjof Capra also believed in the unity of science and spirituality when he courageously wrote the book The Tao of Physics. It is a general and quite understandable study on the parallels between modern physics (the quantum world, mostly) and Eastern mysticism. With this book, I found an intellectual soulmate. It really was OK to combine science with spirituality! 

My only concern about the book involved the parallels between Eastern mysticism and the quantum world. The scale of the quantum world is so small that it is not part of our direct experience. The world of complex systems brings some of the characteristics of the quantum world into the scale of human experience. Since it is easier for us to relate to complex systems, that is the direction I have taken in this course. 

The course is a collection of questions and ideas that have been rattling around in my head for quite some time. We’ll touch on subjects as diverse as philosophy, physics, math, psychology, ecology, mystery, wonder and enchantment. By looking at the parallels between these subjects and the Hermetic philosophy of ancient Egypt and Greece, we’ll construct a potential road map for finding personal enrichment. Since my knowledge of many of these subjects is not very deep, I’m hoping that members of the class can lend their expertise to round things out. Class participation is welcome!


If you would like a brief preview of one of the course topics, here’s a link to an amazing little video that vividly illustrates the concept of entropy and thermodynamic equilibrium (see video below.)

This course is a way for me to put some order into what at times seems to have been a random selection of topics. Without the help and encouragement of the great folks at UMASC, much of this would not have been possible. Senior College is such a great way for like-minded people to get together, share ideas and have a good time in the process. I only discovered Senior College about a year ago through an encouraging friend. Once I found the UMASC website, I was hooked. I was pleased to see how interested the team was in looking for new course material. The course proposal process was extremely user friendly. 

This is my first teaching course through SC, and I’m really looking forward to teaching, sharing ideas and getting to know everyone.

Leave a Reply