Undecidability in Quantum Physics, Chaos Theory, and Deconstruction: Implications for Politics, Ethics, and Society
The highest of all logical laws . . . is what is called the principle of Contradiction, or more correctly the principle of Non-Contradiction. It is this: A thing cannot be and not be at the same time.
Sir William Hamilton, Lectures on Methaphysics, 18361
We are unable to affirm and to deny one and the same thing: this is a subjective empirical law, not the expression of any "necessity" but only of an inability.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, 1888
Metaphoricity is the logic of contamination and the contamination of logic.
Jaques Derrida, Dissemination, 1981
The subject of this paper is ironic. It is a notion that by definition refuses to be explained, defined, and understood. The notion is called "undecidability," and it permeates the work of postmodern theorist and postclassical scientists alike. Undecidability is interesting because it appears to such different disciplines. It appears in the fiction of Jorge Luis Borges, the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, and the physics of the late Richard P. Feynman. Each of these thinkers takes into account notions of uncertainty and paradox. I propose that in order to adjust our politics, ethics, and rationality as a global community, we need to put in question one model of reality in light of a different model of "the real." Reality can no longer be understood as simply "real," because it is contingent on an uncertain observing apparatus and interpretive framework. I wish to explore different conceptions of reality by way of deconstruction in philosophy, chaos theory in mathematics and quantum theory in physics.
I believe we can produce more fruitful discourse if our thinking is based not