The Next Big Bang: Human Consciousness & the Universe (The limitations of science)

by BBella @, Friday, February 24, 2017, 08:05 (125 days ago)

The Next Big Bang: Human Consciousness & the Universe’s Ultimate Secret

An excellent article, rather long but well worth the walk down memory lane, that takes science from where we were to where we are today and then to tomorrow's possibilities.

http://www.newdawnmagazine.com/articles/the-next-big-bang-human-consciousness-the-unive...

Quote: "But the truth is, physics itself, that most foundational of all sciences, has now progressed far beyond that initial, dismissive assessment, to a conceptual worldview far more accepting of spirituality than ever before."

Quote: "In a very real sense, Heisenberg’s principle delivered a body blow to Newtonian physics. Because, if the precise state of the universe was impossible to measure at any given moment, then any state either before or after was also impossible to calculate. It was as simple as that."

Quote: "And there was still more damage as a result of Heisenberg’s new principle. Because, if particles could not be clearly defined in terms of their position and movement, then particles could no longer be clearly defined as material objects anymore."

Quote: "Even more importantly, if the manner by which a particle was measured (or observed) altered the resultant observation (a fact Heisenberg had demonstrated), then it followed logically that observation itself had to be a fundamental aspect of reality."

Quote: "Nick Herbert explains the next leap in logic that took place. “If we take quantum theory seriously, it seems to demand that the world before an observation is made up of pure possibility. But if everything around us is only possible not actual, then out of what solid stuff do we construct the device that will make our first observation? Either there are some physical systems whose operations unaccountably evade the quantum rules or there are nonphysical systems not made of multivalued possibility, but of single-valued actuality – systems that exist in definite states capable of interacting in an observational capacity on indefinite quantum-style matter.” Yet it was clear that all material systems consisted of particles, and that these particles always obeyed the rules of quantum mechanics (not individually, but in statistical aggregates), because these rules had been tested and verified throughout countless experiments. “On the other hand,” Herbert continues, “we are aware of at least one nonphysical system that not only can make observations but actually does so as part of its function in the world – the psychological system we call human consciousness.”

Quote: "This assertion, while sound mathematically and entirely logical, was so startling that it literally turned classical physics on its head. A science that had accepted as utterly valid a universe constructed of, and driven by, material particle movement was told suddenly that it had had it all wrong from the very beginning. And make no mistake about it, that’s exactly what was being said. “The general idea of von Neumann and his followers,” Herbert explains, “is that the material world by itself is hardly material, consisting of nothing but relentlessly unrealised vibratory possibilities. From outside this purely possible world, mind steps in to render some of these possibilities actual and to confer on the resultant phenomenal world those properties of solidity, single-valuedness, and dependability traditionally associated with matter. This kind of general explanation may be enough for philosophers, but physicists want more. They want to know exactly how it all works, in every detail.”

Comment: It seems that science is in the midst of deducing that the only constant or "definite state" is the observational capacity of the consciousness/mind.

The Next Big Bang: Human Consciousness & the Universe

by dhw, Friday, February 24, 2017, 13:12 (124 days ago) @ BBella

Quote: "This assertion, while sound mathematically and entirely logical, was so startling that it literally turned classical physics on its head. A science that had accepted as utterly valid a universe constructed of, and driven by, material particle movement was told suddenly that it had had it all wrong from the very beginning. And make no mistake about it, that’s exactly what was being said. “The general idea of von Neumann and his followers,” Herbert explains, “is that the material world by itself is hardly material, consisting of nothing but relentlessly unrealised vibratory possibilities. From outside this purely possible world, mind steps in to render some of these possibilities actual and to confer on the resultant phenomenal world those properties of solidity, single-valuedness, and dependability traditionally associated with matter. This kind of general explanation may be enough for philosophers, but physicists want more. They want to know exactly how it all works, in every detail.”

BBELLA's comment: It seems that science is in the midst of deducing that the only constant or "definite state" is the observational capacity of the consciousness/mind.

Science is supposed to require the testing of theories, so let me vary my invitation to all these theoretical dreamers: instead of stepping in front of a moving bus, I suggest they jump out of an airplane from 10,000 feet without a parachute. That may help them to find out whether it is or is not only the mind that confers material properties on the material world, though I suspect they will have to leave it to others to record the results of the test.

The Next Big Bang: Human Consciousness & the Universe

by David Turell @, Friday, February 24, 2017, 15:17 (124 days ago) @ dhw

Quote: "This assertion, while sound mathematically and entirely logical, was so startling that it literally turned classical physics on its head. A science that had accepted as utterly valid a universe constructed of, and driven by, material particle movement was told suddenly that it had had it all wrong from the very beginning. And make no mistake about it, that’s exactly what was being said. “The general idea of von Neumann and his followers,” Herbert explains, “is that the material world by itself is hardly material, consisting of nothing but relentlessly unrealised vibratory possibilities. From outside this purely possible world, mind steps in to render some of these possibilities actual and to confer on the resultant phenomenal world those properties of solidity, single-valuedness, and dependability traditionally associated with matter. This kind of general explanation may be enough for philosophers, but physicists want more. They want to know exactly how it all works, in every detail.”

BBELLA's comment: It seems that science is in the midst of deducing that the only constant or "definite state" is the observational capacity of the consciousness/mind.

dhw: Science is supposed to require the testing of theories, so let me vary my invitation to all these theoretical dreamers: instead of stepping in front of a moving bus, I suggest they jump out of an airplane from 10,000 feet without a parachute. That may help them to find out whether it is or is not only the mind that confers material properties on the material world, though I suspect they will have to leave it to others to record the results of the test.

Are you really missing BBella's point? These quantum considerations are real. No question our conscious observations affect the results. I again remind you of late choice experiments. This is at the particle/wave micro level. But I do agree with you that at the gross real world of our reality, the bus and Earth are solid. Both levels of reality are real. The issue is can we combine them in understanding how they relate?

The Next Big Bang: Human Consciousness & the Universe

by dhw, Saturday, February 25, 2017, 11:17 (123 days ago) @ David Turell

BBELLA's comment: It seems that science is in the midst of deducing that the only constant or "definite state" is the observational capacity of the consciousness/mind.

dhw: Science is supposed to require the testing of theories, so let me vary my invitation to all these theoretical dreamers: instead of stepping in front of a moving bus, I suggest they jump out of an airplane from 10,000 feet without a parachute. That may help them to find out whether it is or is not only the mind that confers material properties on the material world, though I suspect they will have to leave it to others to record the results of the test.

DAVID: Are you really missing BBella's point? These quantum considerations are real. No question our conscious observations affect the results. I again remind you of late choice experiments. This is at the particle/wave micro level. But I do agree with you that at the gross real world of our reality, the bus and Earth are solid. Both levels of reality are real. The issue is can we combine them in understanding how they relate?

Of course both levels of reality are real, but BBella has pointed out what to me seems to be the absurd conclusion these theorists are heading towards. The fact that our conscious observations affect the results of certain experiments does not in any way show that our own solid reality is less real than the so far unexplained reality of the quantum world. Call me crazy if you like, but I really and truly believe that the sun and the stars and volcanoes and oceans would continue to go their own merry way even if there were no conscious minds to observe them.

The Next Big Bang: Human Consciousness & the Universe

by David Turell @, Saturday, February 25, 2017, 14:26 (123 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Of course both levels of reality are real, but BBella has pointed out what to me seems to be the absurd conclusion these theorists are heading towards. The fact that our conscious observations affect the results of certain experiments does not in any way show that our own solid reality is less real than the so far unexplained reality of the quantum world. Call me crazy if you like, but I really and truly believe that the sun and the stars and volcanoes and oceans would continue to go their own merry way even if there were no conscious minds to observe them.

We shall both keep our feet firmly on the solid ground and not in front of moving buses.

The Next Big Bang: Human Consciousness & the Universe

by David Turell @, Monday, June 26, 2017, 18:01 (2 days ago) @ David Turell

Another essay on consciousness as a part of the universe; discusses panpsychism:

http://bigthink.com/philip-perry/the-universe-may-be-conscious-prominent-scientists-state

"Then there’s a third option which is gaining ground in some scientific circles, panpsychism. In this view, the entire universe is inhabited by consciousness.

"A handful of scientists are starting to warm to this theory, but it’s still a matter of great debate. Truth be told, panpsychism sounds very much like what the Hindus and Buddhists call the Brahman, the tremendous universal Godhead of which we are all a part. In Buddhism for instance, consciousness is the only thing that exists.

***

"In quantum mechanics, particles don’t have a definite shape or specific location, until they are observed or measured. Is this a form of proto-consciousness at play? According to the late scientist and philosopher, John Archibald Wheeler, it might. He's famous for coining the term, "black hole." In his view, every piece of matter contains a bit of consciousness, which it absorbs from this proto-consciousness field.

"He called his theory the “participatory anthropic principle,” which posits that a human observer is key to the process. Of this Wheeler said, “We are participators in bringing into being not only the near and here but the far away and long ago." In his view, much like the Buddhist one, nothing exists unless there is a consciousness to apprehend it.

"Neuroscientist Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, is another supporter of panpsychism. Koch says that the only theory we have to date about consciousness is, it’s a level of awareness about one’s self and the world. Biological organisms are conscious because when they approach a new situation, they can change their behavior in order to navigate it, in this view. Dr. Koch is attempting to see if he can measure the level of consciousness an organism contains.

***

"UK physicist Sir Roger Penrose is yet another supporter of panpsychism. Penrose in the 80’s proposed that consciousness is present at the quantum level and resides in the synapses of the brain. He is famous for linking consciousness with some of the goings on in quantum mechanics.

"Dr. Penrose doesn’t go so far as to call himself a panpsychist. In his view, “The laws of physics produce complex systems, and these complex systems lead to consciousness, which then produces mathematics, which can then encode in a succinct and inspiring way the very underlying laws of physics that gave rise to it.”

***

"Theoretical physicist Bernard Haisch, in 2006, suggested that consciousness is produced and transmitted through the quantum vacuum, or empty space. Any system that has sufficient complexity and creates a certain level of energy, could generate or broadcast consciousness. Dr. Matloff got in touch with the unorthodox, German physicist and proposed an observational study, to test it.

"What they examined was Parenago’s Discontinuity. This is the observation that cooler stars, like our own sun, revolve around the center of the Milky Way faster than hotter ones. Some scientists attribute this to interactions with gas clouds. Matloff took a different view.

"Unlike their hotter sisters, cooler stars may move faster due to “the emission of a uni-directional jet.” Such stars emit a jet early on in their creation. Matloff suggests that this could be an instance of the star consciously manipulating itself, in order to gain speed.

"Observational data shows a reliable pattern anywhere Parenago’s Discontinuity is witnessed. If it were a matter of interacting with gas clouds, as is the current theory, each cloud should have a different chemical makeup, and so cause the star to operate differently. So why do all of them act in exactly the same way?

***

"Dark matter supposedly makes up around 95% of the universe, although, scientists can’t seem to find any. So, for the sake of argument, if consciousness is a property that arises on the subatomic level with a confluence of particles, how do these tiny little bits of consciousness coalesce?

"Neuroscientist and psychiatrist Giulio Tononi, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, proposes a slightly different take on panpsychism, called integrated information theory. Here, consciousness is a manifestation with a real, physical location, somewhere in the universe. We just haven’t found it yet. Perhaps this heavenly body radiates out consciousness as our sun radiates light and heat.

"Dr. Tononi has actually puts forth a metric for measuring how much consciousness a thing has. The unit is called phi. This translates into how much control a being can enact over itself or objects around it. The theory separates intelligence from consciousness, which some people assume are one in the same."

Comment: And I believe in panentheism, God within and without the universe. Wheeler has a point considering how the human mind affects quantum activity.

The Next Big Bang: Human Consciousness & the Universe

by dhw, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 12:58 (12 hours, 12 minutes ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Another essay on consciousness as a part of the universe; discusses panpsychism:
http://bigthink.com/philip-perry/the-universe-may-be-conscious-prominent-scientists-state

QUOTE: "Then there’s a third option which is gaining ground in some scientific circles, panpsychism. In this view, the entire universe is inhabited by consciousness.

Thank you for this interesting article. Panpsychism is indeed the third option we have been discussing, and I’d like to comment on a few of the quotes.

QUOTE: "Truth be told, panpsychism sounds very much like what the Hindus and Buddhists call the Brahman, the tremendous universal Godhead of which we are all a part.

The moment one associates panpsychism with a name, a God, an established religion, one immediately classifies it and endows it with attributes. When you and I discuss your God, David, we both do the same (although you don’t like to think you do), but if we strip the panpsychist theory down to its essentials, we have nothing more than consciousness. Let’s stick to that for the moment.

QUOTE3: “[Wheeler] called his theory the “participatory anthropic principle,” which posits that a human observer is key to the process. […] In his view, much like the Buddhist one, nothing exists unless there is a consciousness to apprehend it.

While acknowledging the mysteries of the quantum world, I find this so contrary to everyday experience, history and common sense that I reject it totally. I do not believe the universe, dinosaurs and the Grand Canyon do not/did not exist until or unless we observe(d) them. My usual response to this is to invite the believer to step in front of a bus, and then kid himself it did not exist until he got hit.

QUOTE: "Neuroscientist Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, is another supporter of panpsychism. Koch says that the only theory we have to date about consciousness is, it’s a level of awareness about one’s self and the world. Biological organisms are conscious because when they approach a new situation, they can change their behavior in order to navigate it, in this view.

This is crucial to my own “cellular intelligence” hypothesis concerning evolution, except that I would restrict “awareness about one’s self” to humans and perhaps some of our fellow animals. Organisms know what they are doing, but it seems unlikely that they know that they know what they are doing.

QUOTE: "Unlike their hotter sisters, cooler stars may move faster due to “the emission of a uni-directional jet.” Such stars emit a jet early on in their creation. Matloff suggests that this could be an instance of the star consciously manipulating itself, in order to gain speed.

This is the level at which my own scepticism begins to set in. It raises the question of a borderline between consciousness and non-consciousness which none of us can draw. Does inorganic matter “know” what it’s doing (without knowing that it knows)?

QUOTE: “So, for the sake of argument, if consciousness is a property that arises on the subatomic level with a confluence of particles, how do these tiny little bits of consciousness coalesce?

I don’t have a problem if the “particles” are organic – i.e. cells communicating and cooperating – but that is a giant step away from inorganic particles combining to form living cells.

I simply can’t latch onto Giulio Tononi’s theory of a physical body that radiates different levels of non-physical awareness into physical bodies from a physical location. At least David’s God doesn’t have a material and therefore destructible body.
Dr Tononi wants to measure consciousness according to “how much control a being can enact over itself or objects around it. The theory separates intelligence from consciousness…." He therefore confines consciousness to living beings. It would perhaps be interesting to know how he separates consciousness from intelligence and from sheer physical limitations during his observations of how much control, say, bacteria have over themselves and the objects around them.

DAVID’s comment: And I believe in panentheism, God within and without the universe.

The expression is far too glib for me. I would like to know what you mean by “without” (presumably = outside). If your God is what you often refer to as a universal consciousness, what is the “withoutness” or “outside” of the universe? But if he is a consciousness that is present all through the universe, that is the actual meaning of panpsychism. And if you stay true to your principles and reject any humanization of your God, and you stop calling it “Him” and “God”, then it will be panpsychist consciousness without attributes.

The Next Big Bang: Human Consciousness & the Universe

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 14:52 (10 hours, 18 minutes ago) @ dhw

dhw: but if we strip the panpsychist theory down to its essentials, we have nothing more than consciousness. Let’s stick to that for the moment.

QUOTE3: “[Wheeler] called his theory the “participatory anthropic principle,” which posits that a human observer is key to the process. […] In his view, much like the Buddhist one, nothing exists unless there is a consciousness to apprehend it.

While acknowledging the mysteries of the quantum world, I find this so contrary to everyday experience, history and common sense that I reject it totally. I do not believe the universe, dinosaurs and the Grand Canyon do not/did not exist until or unless we observe(d) them. My usual response to this is to invite the believer to step in front of a bus, and then kid himself it did not exist until he got hit.

Wheeler has to be understood from delayed choice experiments. Our conscious choices determine the result.


dhw: QUOTE: "Neuroscientist Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, is another supporter of panpsychism. Koch says that the only theory we have to date about consciousness is, it’s a level of awareness about one’s self and the world. Biological organisms are conscious because when they approach a new situation, they can change their behavior in order to navigate it, in this view.

This is crucial to my own “cellular intelligence” hypothesis concerning evolution, except that I would restrict “awareness about one’s self” to humans and perhaps some of our fellow animals. Organisms know what they are doing, but it seems unlikely that they know that they know what they are doing.

I would go further. None of our fellow animals are self-aware except in a physical sense. And they do not know why they are doing what they are doing.


dhw: QUOTE: "Unlike their hotter sisters, cooler stars may move faster due to “the emission of a uni-directional jet.” Such stars emit a jet early on in their creation. Matloff suggests that this could be an instance of the star consciously manipulating itself, in order to gain speed.

This is the level at which my own scepticism begins to set in. It raises the question of a borderline between consciousness and non-consciousness which none of us can draw. Does inorganic matter “know” what it’s doing (without knowing that it knows)?

I agree.


dhw: QUOTE: “So, for the sake of argument, if consciousness is a property that arises on the subatomic level with a confluence of particles, how do these tiny little bits of consciousness coalesce?

I don’t have a problem if the “particles” are organic – i.e. cells communicating and cooperating – but that is a giant step away from inorganic particles combining to form living cells.

The article and other opinions wonder about quantum consciousness in the brain. Think of Penrose.


dhw: I simply can’t latch onto Giulio Tononi’s theory of a physical body that radiates different levels of non-physical awareness into physical bodies from a physical location. Dr Tononi wants to measure consciousness according to “how much control a being can enact over itself or objects around it. The theory separates intelligence from consciousness…." He therefore confines consciousness to living beings. It would perhaps be interesting to know how he separates consciousness from intelligence and from sheer physical limitations during his observations of how much control, say, bacteria have over themselves and the objects around them.

Bacteria do not control objects around them.


dhw: DAVID’s comment: And I believe in panentheism, God within and without the universe.

The expression is far too glib for me. I would like to know what you mean by “without” (presumably = outside).

The definition of panentheism I've found is that God is both inside and outside the universe He created. Pantheism means He is just inside. I am a panentheist because the universe has a beginning and God is eternal.

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