Edward Frenkel poses the question why Cartesianism—by which he means the idea of science as an “impartial arbiter” that can explain everything, coupled with the idea of a deterministic universe in which all processes can be fully described and controlled—is taking such a strong hold in our collective psyche today, 400 years after Descartes. He argues that the roots of this reductionist view of the world are in our unresolved and unacknowledged childhood traumas. The good news, however, is that these traumas can be resolved through the process of self-inquiry. As Carl Jung said, “Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” By looking inside, we liberate ourselves and remember who we truly are.
Edward Frenkel is a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, which he joined in 1997 after being on the faculty at Harvard University. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, and the winner of the Hermann Weyl Prize in mathematical physics. Frenkel has authored three books and over eighty scholarly articles in academic journals, and he has lectured on his work around the world. His YouTube videos have garnered over 4 million views combined.
Frenkel’s latest book “Love and Math” was a New York Times bestseller and has been named one of the Best Books of the year by both Amazon and iBooks. It has been published in 15 languages. He has also co-produced, co-directed and played the lead in the film “Rites of Love and Math”.
This talk took place at SAND 2015