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Symmetry: Culture and Science
Volume 28, Number 4, pages 391-407 (2017)


Antoaneta Nikolova* and Yordan M. Georgiev**

* Philosopher (b. Sofia, Bulgaria, 1961)
Address: Department of Philosophical and Political Sciences, South-West University, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
E-mail: anikolova@swu.bg

** Physicist (b. Dimitrovgrad, Bulgaria, 1961)
Address: Institute of Ion Beam Physics and Materials Research, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, P.O. Box 510119, 01314 Dresden, Germany
E-mail: y.georgiev@hzdr.de

Abstract: The idea of symmetry is an idea developed within the philosophical frameworks of the Western school of thought. The main questions of our study are the following: what is the counterpart for the symmetry concepts in the Eastern school of thought? How is it expressed in the poetical form of haiku, which is a representative form for the Eastern culture? What patterns can haiku reveal if interpreted in the terms of contemporary physics. To answer these questions, we divide our work into three parts. The first part discusses the peculiarities of the Eastern kind of thinking and how it differs from our Western school of thought. The second part outlines the nature of haiku with its inhearent asymmetry, shorthness, simplicity, openness, dynamism and potential of multiple meanings. It comments also on the similarities between haiku and fractals. The third part considers a possible interpretation of haiku from the point of view of contemporary physics, speculating that haiku’s multiplicity of meanings resembles the multiplicity of possible states of a quantum system. As the observation of a quantum system leads to realisation of only one of its possible states, the reading of a haiku leads to a reduction of its multiple potential meanings to a single particular meaning.

Keywords: assymetry, haiku, Western philosophy, being, Eastern philosophy, Daoism, I Ching, Buddhism, fractal, pattern, contemporary physics, quantum, quantum mechanics, quantum system, wave function.