Home > consciousness, cosmology, Perception, philosophy, physics, science, universe > Should Quantum and Consciousness be Connected?

Should Quantum and Consciousness be Connected?

October 13, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Quora question:

Are there any reasonable reasons to believe that there is a connection between quantum physics and consciousness?


I don’t think that we need to believe in such a connection, but there are certainly reasonable justifications for seeking it out.

From the consciousness side, the issue is that sooner or later we have to get around to asking exactly how experiential qualities like flavors and images come into being. There has to be an inflection point or event horizon…some process through which psychological phenomena are transduced or emerge from actual physical substances. For example, we can see exactly where a computer displays graphic phenomena, but that display is

1) not part of any computational process
2) not comparable to any part of the brain
3) dependant on the visual experience of a conscious user to interpret

This would seem to put our direct, ordinary experience outside of a detectable physical location. Since quantum phenomena violate our classical expectations of physical location, it might be a good place to start. Futher, we know that electromagnetic activity in the brain correlates to conscious experience, and that electromagnetism is reducible to QED.

From the quantum side, there are a few different issues. One is that it isn’t classical. It’s not merely the fact that QM is ‘weird’, but that the particular ways in which it is weird suggests more thought-like properties than stuff-like properties. If we are willing to surrender classical realism for an abstract, counter-intuitive universe, then why rule out that this universe is in fact the same as the one in which our interior experience resides?

Another issue that I think qualifies as a reasonable consideration is that we are finding more and more examples of quantum effects which are macroscopic and organic. Rather than quantum theory settling down into a more unified interpretation, it continues to spawn more possibilities and more strangeness. When we consider what is really meant by photons entangled through time rather than space (Weird! Quantum Entanglement Can Reach into the Past) are we really that far from a universal sense of memory?

The idea that consciousness is related to quantum need not be a reason for us to place ourselves, as Homo sapiens, into the fundamental fabric of existence. Instead, it may be that our human awareness and quantum share a common ancestor. Several of the founding fathers of Quantum Physics emphatically supported the idea that QM is grounded in participation and process rather than objective ‘things’.

I have proposed that QM and Relativity share a connection to rudimentary awareness: Frames of reference, worldlines, multiple worlds, holographic simulation, etc all speak to an influence which bridges a gap between a cosmos with no possibility of preference to one which is dominated by localized perspectives and irreversible change. To me, there is an obvious conceptual intersection between quantum uncertainty and special relativity, and that intersection is in the sharability of sensory experience. This seems to be the inflection point. Both spacetime and causality can be seen to be emergent from a foundation which is perceptual-participatory rather than information-theoretic, spatio-temporal, or mass-energetic. It’s a matter of flipping our expectation of inputs and outputs serving to distribute objective “information” units, to seeing information as the the appreciation of common throughput qualities.

The human qualities of consciousness may not have as direct an effect as some supporters of New Age metaphysics may like*, but it may very well have an effect on which aspects of physics we think we can explore and which aspects we are afraid of. Just as particles have biases in terms of spin and charge, human psychology tends to become polarized. We are only beginning to understand the connection between genes, gender, and what has been termed the empathizing-systemizing spectrum. Autism and psychosis have been linked to the extremes of the E-S spectrum, along with ties to gender influence in gene expression.

If we have built a science which concentrates an overwhelmingly ‘S‘ or genetically ‘male’ perspective, and then use academic processes which only serve to amplify that bias, then it should not be a surprise when the great missing links in our cosmology come to us as shadow projections: Despised foes from across a gap of prejudice. If your psychology is highly biased toward the Systemizing side of consciousness, then you will know it because reading these words will cause you unusually vivid anger and outrage. Rather than a calm consideration of these ideas, it seems (and this is borne out in brain lateralization studies also) that your certainty only grows more fanatical and rigid. It’s not your fault. Ironically the mind is controlled by chemical influences and evolutionary defense mechanisms which deny themselves in our awareness.

If your psychology is overwhelmingly ‘E‘, then I would expect that you might feel more hurt and confused when reading this. The feeling is that this information isn’t really ‘for you’, or that I haven’t developed my own consciousness enough to really understand spirituality. Where the S-minded scientist shouts ‘Woo-woo!’ and demands evidence, the E-minded mystic retires to aloofness. One demands submission to the truth, while the other resigns such demands with transcendence and pluralism. Both views dismiss the authority of subjectivity, but in opposite ways.

To resolve this tendency toward psychic extremism, we may need to go much further in our efforts to seek objectivity than we have imagined. We may need to update our understanding of subjectivity to make it more objective, and our understanding of objectivity to make it more subjective. QM makes this especially true, as objectivity itself has proved to be fundamentally elusive.

This is where Gödel comes in. Formal systems may not only not be enough, they may prevent us from grasping the most essential truths of nature…that we are not observers of an illusory world, but participants in a spectrum of world-like experiences ranging from the very real to the very surreal.

*or at least, not in every state of consciousness or in states of consciousness that are accessible to everybody.

  1. October 20, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    The Science geek

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