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At Mind Matters News: Quantum physicist shows how consciousness may create reality

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Arthur Schopenhauer in 1859

In his argument against physicalism (physical nature is all there is), Tim Andersen draws from the 19th-century philosopher Schopenhauer the concept of Will as the basis of all reality:

Tim Andersen, principal research scientist at Georgia Tech in general relativity and quantum field theory and author of The Infinite Universe: A First Principles Guide (2020), offers a riff on the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860). He argues, with Schopenhauer, that Will is the basis of reality:

“The key to understanding Will is in examining our own sense of consciousness. We have, in a sense, two levels of consciousness. The first is of experience. We experience a flower’s color and smell. Therefore, we are conscious of it. The second is that we are aware of our consciousness of it. That is a meta-consciousness which we sometimes call reflection. I reflect on my awareness of the flower. It is this second level of consciousness that gives rise to all art and poetry, for direct experience is simply awareness of a thing. Reflection on that experience internalizes awareness and makes it Representation.

PWill is unconscious without Representation. Only through Representation does Will become conscious of itself. Likewise, only by measuring the quantum particles and reflecting on those do we become aware of the will we exerted upon the universe.” Tim Andersen, Ph.d., “Consciousness May Create Reality” At Medium (July 8, 2020)

Schopenhauer, according to the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, “was among the first 19th century philosophers to contend that at its core, the universe is not a rational place.” It is governed by Will, the direction in which things move. Anderson explains

News, “Quantum physicist shows how consciousness may create reality” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: Arthur Schopenhauer is not to all tastes. The main thing to see here is: While reflections on a universal Will or universal Mind (Bernardo Kastrup’s view) will seem far out to many, it’s helpful to realize that quantum mechanics, among other things, has made simple materialism, including physicalism, increasingly untenable. So curious minds look at alternatives. And Schopenhauer, a very influential philosopher in his day, was bound to come up, even if Will appears to many of us to be an inadequate substitute for mind.

You may also wish to read: Bernardo Kastrup argues for a universal mind as a reasonable idea. The challenge, he says, is not why there is consciousness but why there are so many separate instances of consciousnesses. He tells Michael Egnor why his view, cosmopsychism, makes more sense than panpsychism.

6 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Quantum physicist shows how consciousness may create reality

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    “Likewise, only by measuring the quantum particles and reflecting on those do we become aware of the will we exerted upon the universe.”

    Schizophrenic word salad. Dude is loony.

  2. 2
    William J Murray says:

    Sometimes I think News throws this kind of stuff on the table here just to lure me in and get comment activity up. ; )

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    just to lure me in

    One must avoid the temptation at all costs. But I doubt the will power for that exists.

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    Our observations of quantum phenomena, while revealing an underlying layer of physical reality, have not changed what we experience of it in the slightest. We may now understand that a stone is made of entities that can be both wave-like and particulate or even ripples in a quantum field but it still hurts when we kick it. What are we to make of that?

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Sev states, “but it still hurts when we kick it. What are we to make of that?”

    That your subjective and conscious experience of pain, i.e. qualia, is the primary criteria that you use for inferring whether something is real or not? 🙂

    Seversky does not seem to realize that his example of him experiencing pain to differentiate what is real from what is not real does not negate the primacy of consciousness in reality, but instead his example actually bolsters the claim that consciousness must be primary in any definition of reality we put forth.

    Here are a few quotes from some of the main founders of Quantum Mechanics that back up this point.

    “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
    – Max Planck (1858–1947), one of the primary founders of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931

    “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
    – Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.

    “The principal argument against materialism is not that illustrated in the last two sections: that it is incompatible with quantum theory. The principal argument is that thought processes and consciousness are the primary concepts, that our knowledge of the external world is the content of our consciousness and that the consciousness, therefore, cannot be denied. On the contrary, logically, the external world could be denied—though it is not very practical to do so. In the words of Niels Bohr, “The word consciousness, applied to ourselves as well as to others, is indispensable when dealing with the human situation.” In view of all this, one may well wonder how materialism, the doctrine that “life could be explained by sophisticated combinations of physical and chemical laws,” could so long be accepted by the majority of scientists.”
    – Eugene Wigner, Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, pp 167-177.

    Here are a few semi-related quotes from Max Planck, a devout Christian

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    – Max Planck – Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], a 1944 speech in Florence, Italy,

    “That God existed before there were human beings on Earth, that He holds the entire world, believers and non-believers, in His omnipotent hand for eternity, and that He will remain enthroned on a level inaccessible to human comprehension long after the Earth and everything that is on it has gone to ruins; those who profess this faith and who, inspired by it, in veneration and complete confidence, feel secure from the dangers of life under protection of the Almighty, only those may number themselves among the truly religious.”
    – Max Planck – As quoted in God’s Laughter (1992) by Gerhard Staguhn, p. 152

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    I agree with Polistra’s overall sentiment, the quotes in the OP are basically “word salad” that are, by and large, incomprehensible.

    It is far easier, at least nowadays, to infer that our ‘will’ is, and must be, a fundamental aspect of reality by simply referring to Zeilinger’s closing of the ‘freedom of choice’ loophole.

    As the late Steven Weinberg, who was an atheist himself, states in the following article, “In the instrumentalist approach (in quantum mechanics) humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level.,,, the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else.,,, In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure,,, Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,”

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,

    In fact the late Weinberg, again an atheist, rejected the instrumentalist approach precisely because “humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level” and because it undermined the Darwinian worldview from within. Yet, regardless of how he and other atheists may prefer the world to behave, quantum mechanics itself could care less how atheists prefer the world to behave.

    Moreover, although there have been several major loopholes in quantum mechanics over the past several decades that atheists have tried to appeal to in order to try to avoid the ‘spooky’ Theistic implications of quantum mechanics, over the past several years each of those major loopholes have each been closed one by one. The last major loophole that was left to be closed was the “setting independence”, “freedom of choice”, and/or the ‘free-will’ loophole:

    Closing the ‘free will’ loophole: Using distant quasars to test Bell’s theorem – February 20, 2014
    Excerpt: Though two major loopholes have since been closed, a third remains; physicists refer to it as “setting independence,” or more provocatively, “free will.” This loophole proposes that a particle detector’s settings may “conspire” with events in the shared causal past of the detectors themselves to determine which properties of the particle to measure — a scenario that, however far-fetched, implies that a physicist running the experiment does not have complete free will in choosing each detector’s setting. Such a scenario would result in biased measurements, suggesting that two particles are correlated more than they actually are, and giving more weight to quantum mechanics than classical physics.
    “It sounds creepy, but people realized that’s a logical possibility that hasn’t been closed yet,” says MIT’s David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and senior lecturer in the Department of Physics. “Before we make the leap to say the equations of quantum theory tell us the world is inescapably crazy and bizarre, have we closed every conceivable logical loophole, even if they may not seem plausible in the world we know today?”

    And now Anton Zeilinger and company have recently, as of 2018, pushed the ‘free will loophole’ back to 7.8 billion years ago, thereby firmly establishing the ‘common sense’ fact that the free will choices of the experimenter in the quantum experiments are truly free and are not determined by any possible causal influences from the past for at least the last 7.8 billion years, and that the experimenters themselves are therefore shown to be truly free to choose whatever measurement settings in the experiments that he or she may so desire to choose so as to ‘logically’ probe whatever aspect of reality that he or she may be interested in probing.

    Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars – Anton Zeilinger – 14 June 2018
    Abstract: This experiment pushes back to at least approx. 7.8 Gyr ago the most recent time by which any local-realist influences could have exploited the “freedom-of-choice” loophole to engineer the observed Bell violation, excluding any such mechanism from 96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.

    Some atheistic naturalists, such as Sabine Hossenfelder, have tried to appeal to ‘superdeterminism’, (where all our present choices were somehow, mysteriously, determined prior to the Big Bang), to try to get around the closing of the ‘freedom of choice’ loophole. (It is also interesting to note that “superdeterminism” sounds suspiciously very similar to strict Calvinism where it is held that God’s sovereignty completely trumps our ability to make free will choices).

    But anyways, (regardless of the inability to differentiate superdeterminism from Calvinism, and in regards to Hossenfelder’s appeal to superdeterminism), instead of Hossenfelder believing what the experimental results of quantum mechanics are actually telling us, (i.e. that free will is a real and tangible part of reality),, Hossenfelder, i.e. the Determinist, and/or Atheistic Naturalist, is now forced to claim, via ‘superdeterminism’, that the results of the experiments were somehow ‘superdetermined’ at least 7.8 billion years ago, (basically all the way back to the creation of the universe itself), and that the experimental results are now ‘conspiring’ to fool us into believing that our experimental results in quantum theory are trustworthy and correct and that we do indeed have free will.
    As should be needless to say, if we cannot trust what our experimental results are actually telling us about reality, then science is, for all practical purposes, dead.
    Atheistic Naturalists, in their appeal to superdeterminism, and in their rejection of experimental results that conflict with their a-priori philosophical belief in determinism and/or atheistic materialism, have basically become ‘science deniers’ in the truest sense of the term ‘science denier’,,,

    1 Thessalonians 5:21
    but test everything; hold fast what is good.

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