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Is The Universe A Conscious Mind?

Discussion in 'Scientific Studies' started by haidut, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. haidut

    haidut Member

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    We have discussed several times in the past the nature of consciousness and the role matter plays in that phenomenon. The topic is something that has been fascinating scientists and philosophers for millenia bt unfortunately, over the last 100 years a very crude, mechanistic and frankly false "science" took over and relegated those questions to the realm of "gurus", "shamans", "hippies", etc. As a result, the public has largely lost interest in those topics despite the fact that the "pathological science" Peat spoke about in his articles has provided no answers to any of the fundamental questions on life, matter, and consciousness.
    JC Bose's work was probably the most recent and serious attempt to show that all matter may possess a fundamental property to perceive and react to its surroundings, which has long-believed to be a property of "animate" matter only. More than a century later, there have been some recent minor studies that have revived interest into the ability of "inanimate" matter to perceive and even learn.
    A Piece Of Dough Can Learn Just Like Animals And Humans

    The essay below makes a good argument that the Universe as a whole is a giant, conscious mind, and all matter (us including) inherit that property downstream. To use the analogy mentioned in the essay, a table does not exist because of the atoms composing it but rather the atoms exist because of the table. Similarly, our minds/consciousness exist and are capable of what they are because of same capabilities of the Universe as a whole. I think the CTMU that @Such_Saturation has commented on many times promotes a similar idea. It also resonates with ideas discussed in Peat's latest newsletter, which triggered the discussion in the thread below.
    Does Anyone Care To Explain January 2019 "Receptors, Or Sensitive Substance?"

    Maybe "science" is finally taking a turn for the better? Who knows, in previous newsletters Peat sounded more optimistic and said a few times the house of cards of fake medicine is crumbling. But his most recent newsletter was not so optimistic.

    Cosmopsychism explains why the Universe is fine-tuned for life | Aeon Essays
    "...We have no direct access to the nature of matter outside of brains. But the most reasonable speculation, according to Eddington, is that the nature of matter outside of brains is continuous with the nature of matter inside of brains. Given that we have no direct insight into the nature of atoms, it is rather ‘silly’, argued Eddington, to declare that atoms have a nature entirely removed from mentality, and then to wonder where mentality comes from. In my book Consciousness and Fundamental Reality (2017), I developed these considerations into an extensive argument for panpsychism: the view that all matter has a consciousness-involving nature."

    "...There are two ways of developing the basic panpsychist position. One is micropsychism, the view that the smallest parts of the physical world have consciousness. Micropsychism is not to be equated with the absurd view that quarks have emotions or that electrons feel existential angst. In human beings, consciousness is a sophisticated thing, involving subtle and complex emotions, thoughts and sensory experiences. But there seems nothing incoherent with the idea that consciousness might exist in some extremely basic forms. We have good reason to think that the conscious experience of a horse is much less complex than that of a human being, and the experiences of a chicken less complex than those of a horse. As organisms become simpler, perhaps at some point the light of consciousness suddenly switches off, with simpler organisms having no experience at all. But it is also possible that the light of consciousness never switches off entirely, but rather fades as organic complexity reduces, through flies, insects, plants, amoeba and bacteria. For the micropsychist, this fading-while-never-turning-off continuum further extends into inorganic matter, with fundamental physical entities – perhaps electrons and quarks – possessing extremely rudimentary forms of consciousness, to reflect their extremely simple nature."

    "...However, a number of scientists and philosophers of science have recently argued that this kind of ‘bottom-up’ picture of the Universe is outdated, and that contemporary physics suggests that in fact we live in a ‘top-down’ – or ‘holist’ – Universe, in which complex wholes are more fundamental than their parts. According to holism, the table in front of you does not derive its existence from the sub-atomic particles that compose it; rather, those sub-atomic particles derive their existence from the table. Ultimately, everything that exists derives its existence from the ultimate complex system: the Universe as a whole."

    "...Holism has a somewhat mystical association, in its commitment to a single unified whole being the ultimate reality. But there are strong scientific arguments in its favour. The American philosopher Jonathan Schaffer argues that the phenomenon of quantum entanglement is good evidence for holism. Entangled particles behave as a whole, even if they are separated by such large distances that it is impossible for any kind of signal to travel between them. According to Schaffer, we can make sense of this only if, in general, we are in a Universe in which complex systems are more fundamental than their parts. If we combine holism with panpsychism, we get cosmopsychism: the view that the Universe is conscious, and that the consciousness of humans and animals is derived not from the consciousness of fundamental particles, but from the consciousness of the Universe itself. This is the view I ultimately defend in Consciousness and Fundamental Reality."

    "...
    Making sense of this requires two modifications to basic cosmopsychism. Firstly, we need to suppose that the Universe acts through a basic capacity to recognise and respond to considerations of value. This is very different from how we normally think about things, but it is consistent with everything we observe. The Scottish philosopher David Hume long ago noted that all we can really observe is how things behave – the underlying forces that give rise to those behaviours are invisible to us. We standardly assume that the Universe is powered by a number of non-rational causal capacities, but it is also possible that it is powered by the capacity of the Universe to respond to considerations of value."

    "...Ockham’s razor is the principle that, all things being equal, more parsimonious theories – that is to say, theories with relatively few postulations – are to be preferred. Is it not a great cost in terms of parsimony to ascribe fundamental consciousness to the Universe? Not at all. The physical world must have some nature, and physics leaves us completely in the dark as to what it is. It is no less parsimonious to suppose that the Universe has a consciousness-involving nature than that it has some non-consciousness-involving nature. If anything, the former proposal is more parsimonious insofar as it is continuous with the only thing we really know about the nature of matter: that brains have consciousness."

    "...Having said that, the second and final modification we must make to cosmopsychism in order to explain the fine-tuning does come at some cost. If the Universe, way back in the Planck epoch, fine-tuned the laws to bring about life billions of years in its future, then the Universe must in some sense be aware of the consequences of its actions. This is the second modification: I suggest that the agentive cosmopsychist postulate a basic disposition of the Universe to represent the complete potential consequences of each of its possible actions. In a sense, this is a simple postulation, but it cannot be denied that the complexity involved in these mental representations detracts from the parsimony of the view. However, this commitment is arguably less profligate than the postulations of the theist or the multiverse theorist. The theist postulates a supernatural agent while the agentive cosmopsychist postulates a natural agent. The multiverse theorist postulates an enormous number of distinct, unobservable entities: the many universes. The agentive cosmopsychist merely adds to an entity that we already believe in: the physical Universe. And most importantly, agentive cosmopsychism avoids the false predictions of its two rivals."

    "...The idea that the Universe is a conscious mind that responds to value strikes us a ludicrously extravagant cartoon. But we must judge the view not on its cultural associations but on its explanatory power. Agentive cosmopsychism explains the fine-tuning without making false predictions; and it does so with a simplicity and elegance unmatched by its rivals. It is a view we should take seriously."
     
  2. Hugh Johnson

    Hugh Johnson Member

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    I'd like to point you to Rupert Spira's argument against panpsychism. Panpsychism implies that there are two realities, matter and spirit, yet those two realities must exist have an underlying framework, so it is an incoherent idea.

    In human experience and even in our sciences we can actually only know things that are in our consciousness. In other words the existence of the material world is purely hypothetical because we do not know anything about our consciousness except that all we experience and have ever experienced happens inside it.

    I am probably butchering his argument though, but I hope it is close enough.
     
  3. Owen B

    Owen B Member

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    It's risky to generalize about quantum physics, but ASFAIK the only idea it's about is indeterminism. What does the author of the "Aeon" article mean when he jumps from indeterminism to holism?

    Indeterminism only says matter and mind, however related, cannot be reduced to each other. The universe is not a whole, nor does it comprise of wholes any more than it is comprised of parts. There are only whole/parts, holons.

    The author argues that wholes are more "fundamental" than parts. He does not explain what he means by "fundamental" but we can start to guess what he is assuming without explaining.

    Because before too long the author's promising start with "top-down" causation peters out all too predictably. The "single conscious mind" theory of the universe is supposed to be preferred because "...it's continuous with the only thing we really know about the nature of matter; that brains have consciousness". (Note that this is also not explained, only assumed - in a predictably certain way).

    But, while "on the way down", why stop at the brain? It's "turtles all the way down"! Before invoking quantum physics the author should go back and read a little William James: "The brain is not the cause of the mind; it is a condition for it".

    And it was Whitehead, the philosophical and mathematical genius who paved the way for the development of quantum physics, who expanded James" insight into a kind of condition of conditions, an ever-present condition within which and without which no evidence of any kind could ever arise in the first place. What makes wholes fundamental is not their role as a new ground for physical exploration (although that is important); it is their unpredictability, their spontaneity, their creativity. Wholes are important because they are "always already" and operating through time. No "holism".

    I think the author of the article is pulling a fast one here. A sleight-of-hand. He invokes "top-down" causation and the "continuous" only as a new way of defending physicalism. Using "top-down" causation this way is kind of a born-again experience for physics. That's why he brings in "value". But the only value being defended here is scientism, the privileging of sense-derived empiricism. The author talks "top-down"; but he walks "bottom-up".

    Formerly, the world only began in the physicist's brain; now it begins and ends in the physicist's brain.
     
  4. Gary Guittard

    Gary Guittard New Member

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    Holy cow! This is a crazy first thread to post to:

    Thanks all for such stimulating speculation and food for thought; Ha, makes my mind spin, in a good way.

    I’ll TRY to relate my ponderings and frugal attempts to better understand a consciousness universe and how I approach this work in process.

    Yikes, how do philosophers and scientists make sense of this stuff without letting their inherited biases and experience of life limit their perceptions of the wholeness and partness of the universe and above it all: it’s consciousness? It’s is always nice when science proves philosophy and exhilarating when it happens. Personal evolution and experience allow us to or not to climb to a point for a better view of whatever it is we are trying to understand.

    Our boodies are made up from the matter of the stars and because some of us have consciousness, we have the ability to experience ourselves and in turn better understand the universe and hopefully someday the higher laws: conscious or not, that make it work.

    Most in this forum work on our inner alchemy, to better connect and understand ourselves, others and what the universe throws at us consciously or not. I do believe we can, through conscious effort, experience the universe’s energy which leads us to creativity, a better understanding of how this all works and in the process, learn about ourselves.

    I think, Yoga, Tao, Sufi, Chemicals and other paths can give people the tools and experience to better connect with themselves by overcoming bias and imbalances; unfortunately, many can become crazy fanatics and end up worse in the end. The positive and negative, push pull, in our bodies is something we can harness; not become slaves to. It can help us creatively connect with others, the universe and help answer some of our most perplexing questions.

    I think the path to the answers we seek resides somewhere between the balls (ovarys) and the brain.......The Heart!
     
  5. Kartoffel

    Kartoffel Member

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    Since it's not your argument, you will probably forgive me for saying that this is an incredibly stupid argument that has been made by many "philosophers" throughout the ages. There isn't even any intelligent way to respond to such nonsense. If you don't accept the existence of a reality outside of your consciousness, then there can be no science, no empiricism. Even critics of inductive reasoning like Popper stated that without accepting the reality of the material world, science, and thinking in general, don't make any sense. One must be an incredibly disturbed person to claim that the material world is not real, and that only their own consciousness exists.
     
  6. Hugh Johnson

    Hugh Johnson Member

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    You do notice that in response to an argument, you answer with agression? That is typically the sign of a person with indefensible views. So tell me, what is there outside of conciousness? Make even one argument for reality outside conciousness.

    The only thing you have is a bunch on nonsensical claims. Of course science can exist. It is a concept that exists in conciousness.
     
  7. Kartoffel

    Kartoffel Member

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    It's not agression. I am just saying it's an incredibly stupid idea. I am not going to make an argument, because your proposition is not falsifiable and therefore not a scientific one. You might as well ask me to make an argument for or against the existence of god. You can either accept that the material world is real or not. When some confused students asked G.E. Moore for the proof of the existence of the material world he would tell them this.

    • Here is one hand,
    • And here is another.
    • There are at least two external objects in the world.
    • Therefore, an external world exists.
     
  8. Hugh Johnson

    Hugh Johnson Member

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    That is increadibly stupid. You can't even tell what conciousness is, and you can not tell what those hands would be outside concious awareness. Since your awareness of the two hands only exists in your conciousness, you can not establish a material world without first understanding conciousness. That is purely a statement of faith, and has no more validity than any other statement of faith. For all you know you are a three headed armeless creature having a dream.
     
  9. Kartoffel

    Kartoffel Member

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    Of course I can. They would be hands.
     
  10. Collden

    Collden Member

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    I trust that panpsychism is correct because it was the idea that buddhists came up with after spending years studying consciousness through introspection, which is the only way that consciousness can be studied.
     
  11. Douglas Ek

    Douglas Ek Member

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    I get his point. His point is you accept the rules of the game aka the world that we percieve through our senses. But yeah there’s no way to validate anything really. But what does even reality mean. Its a made up word and description that we humans conjured up. When you sleep and dream why is that not reality? It is actually reality because in reality you’re percieving it and then it might as well be real since its real for the person dreaming it. Not untill he wakes up he can validate that it was not reality. The emotions are real. Still we state that its not in a true meaning what we define reality. We can all be a simulation aswell anything is possible and then we can also ask us the question do we have free will? If we don’t then are we even alive? Might as well be rolling rocks if you get what i mean. Even dead objects can move and might even percieve. Trippy stuff. I dont think that mankind will ever understand the universe and reality what it is etc...
     
  12. Kartoffel

    Kartoffel Member

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    Strictly speaking it's true - there is no final proof for anything. But as I have said: No serious philospher or scientist from Hume to Popper has ever questioned the existence of a material world. I don't remember where exactely but Peat once wrote that only the most disturbed personality could perceive the world in this way. When a thousand people stand in front of a wooden table, and every single one agrees that they see, and can touch, a table, made out of wood - then you have gathered a lot of support for the hypothesis that there seems to be a material object outside of you. To think that this is all just inside your consciousness is nothing but the most extreme form of solipsism. If you argue that the table only exists in your mind, you also deny the existence of any other person/mind in the world.
    There are billions of successfull instances of proof that the outside world exists, while there is not a single one that we are inside of a simulation. Maybe the material world hasn't been proven but it has been cooberated over and over again, while there is not a single negative proof/single proof for the theory of a simulation.
    In short, realists have all the evidence on their side while scepticts have none.

    When you ask whether it's not also part of reality when you dream, you just mix terms here to create an artificial argument or problem. Of course, a dream is a sort of reality but it is not the material world outside of your body, which does not stop existing just because you, the center of the universe, don't perceive it with your outward senses at the moment. I am waiting for one of you to ask whether a falling tree makes a sound, if there is noone there to hear :D
     
  13. milk_lover

    milk_lover Member

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    Is quantum mechanics made up science? I saw an MIT lecture about it and I am not sold. Not because it's difficult to understand, it just doesn't make sense to me.
     
  14. Douglas Ek

    Douglas Ek Member

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    Its not relevant even to question the material world because its here and its what we got. Thats what normal people never do they never question the existence of something more than what we can percieve. That’s why we arent making any new discoveries. You have to think borderline crazy but still so close that it might in fact be true. Thats when you discover atoms and quantum mechanics. We cant percieve quantum mechanics but its there and its a whole world. We cant percieve that there is a multi verse with bilions of bubbles of universes each all with their own laws of nature. But just as quantum mechanics was there before we even discovered it the multi verse might even be there. Might end up that those multi universes are actual atoms in a whole new universe. Or that black holes compresses our universes atoms so hard that it even creates a new space and universe within that black hole. No one knows whats inside a black hole and what happens once you go in. It truly bends the laws of physics in every way. Its not possible for objects of that size to be so heavy but still they exist and they change the laws of physics that we humans came up with trying to quantify some sort of formula of the universe but we cant even explain a black hole that we can infact percieve with telescopes. That just tells you how off we might be about everything we know. Including our own existence and reality. But like you said why hypothesize when it will never matter coz we will never live to figure it out anyway.
     
  15. Douglas Ek

    Douglas Ek Member

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    Well we cant see it but we have decided that it is reality on the premise of experiments we make results in behaviour we estimate. Its like if an apple is about to fall from a tree how do you know it will fall down? Why not up? Well based on previous observations you would assume that it will fall down. So though you can start assuming there is a force. Thats how gravity was discovered. Gravity sounds pretty sound to me because it acts in ways we can predict. Same goes for quantum mechanics so based on that its a bigger possibility we are right than wrong. But yeah you can never be 100% sure. What I don’t understand is the slith thing where they shot a lazer through slits and it should go in one hole but it ends up going in both holes but it only happens when we dont watch.
     
  16. Douglas Ek

    Douglas Ek Member

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    Yeah obviously I realize that the the world goes on even if I die. Like you said thinking about reality like it doesnt exist or question it is no point because its here and its just disturbing to speculate and I dont even think its good for your mental health to ponder about those things. Personally I feel that I thought about it all enough and I don’t feel any drive or need to even think about it as its only a waste of time. You have one life and I bet you can have more fun on earth with friends and family living in the now and making use of the awesome machinery you’ve been given we call the human body than speculating about alternate realities and what ifs or not. Go out kick some ass instead :cigar:
     
  17. Kartoffel

    Kartoffel Member

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    Now that's just bs. Just because someone isn't mentally disturbed and questions the reality of the material world, doesn't mean that they won't question interpretations and conventional "knowledge". It's precisely the kind of people that engage empirically with the material world that made all the great discoveries. I don't know of a single one of them that subscribed to philosophical scepticism. Go ask Peat whether he sometimes questions the reality of the material world.
    It's funny that you mention black holes because it's exactely this kind of nonsense that you get when you lose touch with reality and think in terms of abstract quantum mechanics, and are unable to see the obvious things right in front of you. Black holes don't exist as far as I am concerned, and the scientists belonging to the Electric Universe have shown in very simple ways (with empirical observations) why there is no evidence for them, and why they don't exist.
    Progress in physics (and basically everywhere else) stopped after WWII when empiricism and experimentation were cast aside by sceptics thingking in terms of quantum mechanics, dark energy, black holes, and uncertainty.

    If you accept that the material world is real, and can be grasped and understood by observation and experimentation, you will be able to make sense of it. This is what drives scientific progress. The stuff that @Hugh Johnson writes is nothing more than Plato's old idea of innate ideas and concepts. It's the antithesis to knowledge and progress. It's solipsism, the worst kind of mental state.
     
  18. Makrosky

    Makrosky Member

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    For anyone wanting to experiment this, not just think about it...

    250 mcg LSD-25

    :cya
     
  19. Kartoffel

    Kartoffel Member

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    I very much prefer psilocybin. LSD distorts reality when you take more than a little, whereas psilo causes you to notice everything around you. It's like you remove a filter, both perceptionally and emotionally.
     
  20. Makrosky

    Makrosky Member

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    I prefer it also but because it doesn't last 12 damn hours... Just 6.
     
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