Science, Abstraction and Wholeness

This is an excerpt from one of the presentations featured in the Pari Center’s event Science, Art and the Sacred, in Pari from August 29 to September 4, 2019.

with Shantena Augusto Sabbadini

The overall pattern of our culture is the gradual loss of a sense of communion with the soul of the world and the rise of science as an abstract modelling of reality that confers power over natural phenomena. The predominance of abstraction ultimately brings about a reversal of roles, in which the intrinsic logic of technology and of the economy comes to dominate human life. Only by recovering our sense of belonging to the larger circle of life can we find ethical guidance and balance in confronting the blind forces that threaten to ravage the biosphere and possibly annihilate us and many of our non-human relatives. This journey back takes many forms. Hints of a return to wholeness are perceptible within science itself, as we will briefly review.

Shantena Augusto Sabbadini was awarded his PhD in physics from the University of California in 1976. He worked as a theoretical physicist at the University of Milan and at the University of California. In Milan he researched the foundations of quantum physics. In California he contributed to the first identification of a black hole.

In 1990s he was scientific consultant for the Eranos Foundation (, an East-West research centre founded under the auspices of C.G. Jung in the 1930s. In that context he studied Chinese classics and produced various translations and commentaries in Italian and English, including the Yijing and the trilogy of Daoist classics, the Laozi, the Zhuangzi and the Liezi.

Presently he is director of the Pari Center for New Learning ( and lecturer at the Schumacher College (, Devon, UK. He leads workshops on the philosophical implications of quantum physics, on Daoism, and on using the Yijing as a tool for introspection. His latest book, Pilgrimages to Emptiness, has just been published by Pari Publishing.