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Biocentrism and Subjectivity

  1. Jul 24, 2009 #1
    The subject-object dualism seems inescapable, ingrained in our science, our language, and our way of thinking about the world. Some would even go so far as to say it "created" our world.

    Biocentrism (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31393080/ns/technology_and_science-science//) postulates that living things give time and space their meaning. In this theory, time and space do not exist except as the tools of the living organism. If this is true, then it begs the question: why did living organisms "create" time and space? Why did a bit of the universe suddenly become categorically separated from the rest of the universe?

    Why am I, the subject, capable of interpreting the objectivity that is the world around me? How did this framework of experience get started?

    I'm not looking for a history of consciousness. I'm looking for the "why" of consciousness. Maybe its a futile question. I'm very confused about it all, but I think that somehow our assumption about the universe and ourselves is fundamentally wrong.

    Take an example from brain science: There is a region in the brain, called the posterior superior parietal lobe, that controls spatial distinctions and navigation. This region of the brain normally works by creating a map of "you" distinct from all that which is "not you." However, when deprived of sensory stimuli, it cannot create that map. This results in an experience of expansion of the self, a merging of oneself with all that the mind can imagine. (See Why God Won't Go Away, by Andrew Newberg M.D., et al.) Such mystical experiences suggest that there is another way of conceptualizing the universe beside the standard self-other model.

    If one follows the philosophy of biocentrism, it doesn't make sense that the self-other model should predominate. After all, if space and time have no objective existence, why should it be more adaptive to live within artificial parameters? Wouldn't it be more beneficial to see life the way it "really" is, without time or space? Or is some framework, even if wrong, absolutely necessary? If so, why? Its not even certain that the subject-object duality is necessary.

    Congradulations on making it thus far. Any thoughts/ideas would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 24, 2009 #2
    This article abuses philosophy almost as much as it abuses science.
  4. Jul 24, 2009 #3
    I think that biocentrism is a good way to look at it, but I don't think that it means the universe isn't objectively there.
    Biocentrism would be a local phenomena created in the brain, of which only that brain really experiences it.
    I'm kind of halfway between biocentrism and materialism.. I find that the brain is capable of creating internal worlds, but I still also believe that there exists an absolute external reality.

    I read the wikipedia article on it;;
    I think that's taking it too far.
    I believe there are a lot of things that show that life isn't the center of the universe.
    The general chaotic and random nature of accidents and the way life is always vulnerable to damage for instance.
    They say the universe is fine-tuned for life, but what if life is fine-tuned for the universe? Wouldn't that make more sense?
  5. Jul 24, 2009 #4
    I'm all for being aware of the axioms that we view the world with, but I don't see how biocentrism is useful for rational thought. It looks like a dead-end that tries to explain everything by saying nothing exists to be explained. It's an infallible argument that can only be penetrated with intuition. This one belongs to the mystics for now.

    Also, the manner in which the article was written was disparaging at times, as if science has somehow failed or is on the decline. It also made a remark about scientists drooling or spilling food at a buffet table or some such thing.
  6. Jul 26, 2009 #5
    To me, it just seems like a modern reformulation of Transcendental Idealism. Time and space being viewed as just a priori methods the brain uses to relate sensations together. There is a certain amount of truth in the idea of the brain altering the true reality of physical nature for human perception, but that's nothing new. The only new tenet is the beliefe that the universe is here for us, which to me seems outrageously dumb....And yes (Huckleberry) it does seem as if they are trying to degrade scientists slightly, like "physics is out, biology is in! Let's go with the new trend and create a philosophy for the era"
  7. Jul 27, 2009 #6
    I see that all the time and hate it. Every time some new (unproven) competing theory comes along, you'll be given the impression that everything about the previous 3000+ years of inquiry is dead wrong. Those stupid scientists!

    It sells papers, I guess.
  8. Jul 31, 2009 #7
    Hmm, maybe I ought to read the article again. Actually my questions really had less to do with biocentrism and more to do with questions of consciousness. At least, that was my intent. But since people felt inclined to comment on biocentrism, I suppose I'll reply to those comments.

    First of all, I'm not saying I agree with everything that the article says. Just the part about time, space, and the universe-as-we-know-it being human conceptual creations.

    As octelcogopod says, "I find that the brain is capable of creating internal worlds, but I still also believe that there exists an absolute external reality."

    And I wouldn't say that "the universe is here for us," as if it had some sort of purpose. I would say that the universe as we experience it, this map we draw of reality, appears fine-tuned for life because we drew it that way. And the universe isn't fine-tuned to SUSTAIN life.... its miraculous enough that the conditions in the universe even ALLOW for life.

    As far as life being fine-tuned for the universe, I suppose that's another way of looking at it, since if we've had to evolve just so in order to be able to conceive of our current universe.

    Huckleberry wrote: "[Biocentrism] looks like a dead-end that tries to explain everything by saying nothing exists to be explained."

    Actually, biocentrism says everything exists as "potential" until it is measured or observed. It takes this idea from quantum mechanics, but I'm not going to pretend I understand what it all means. I don't really care that much.

    I don't think that we can deny that there is "something" causing our experiences, but we can deny that the "something" is "out there." Its a sort of monism. We usually think in terms of a dualism, me vs the universe, and maybe that's the way things "really" are. But maybe not. Or maybe there is no "right way" to view reality. I don't know.

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2009
  9. Aug 6, 2009 #8
    The Copenhagen is still the default interpretation in quantum theory. Biocentrism is pretty much central to the CI and CI(consciousness causes instantaneous collapse) is actually science.
  10. Aug 6, 2009 #9
    Measurement causes collapse, not consciousness.
  11. Aug 7, 2009 #10

    There are different flavours within CI but they all come down to the statement:

    'there is no observer independent reality"


    A scientific theory which posits the view that life creates the universe instead of the other way around. In this view, current theories of the physical world do not work, and can never be made to work, until they fully account for life and consciousness
  12. Aug 7, 2009 #11
    The fact that a wavefunction has not yet collapsed, does not mean that 'whatever it is' that constitutes the wavefunction, does not exist.

    Observation does not require consciousness, particle detectors work just fine. Unless you think a particle detector is conscious?

    Reality is phenomena, philosophers have been discussing the difference between observed things and things-in-themselves (the causes of phenomena) for centuries. Nothing new here.

    The universe is what exists, but that doesn't mean the universe is equivalent to the reality we experience. In fact, it most assuredly is not.
  13. Aug 7, 2009 #12
    The wavefunction in CI is not a physically real object, but a mathematical model of the knowledge of the probability that particular eigenstates will be selected out of all others.

    At the end, it's consciousness that carries out and objectifies(gives meaning) to all observations and there is no precise agreement on what the Copenhagen interpretation really is and consequently, its definition leaves plenty of room for physicists' own opinions . But i am not insisting that I am right that "there is no observer-independent reality", such a statement is unfalsifiable currently and can only be cautiously inferred by certain other aspects of quantum mechanics(i.e. the impossibility of a local realistic model of the universe as per Bell, spacetime in blackhole singularity, the disappearance of space and time at the planck scale, the non-existence of the universe from the frame of reference of a photon, etc). I merely pointed out that it is still considered science and is taught in universities all over the world and a re-write of it in the future might turn out to be the correct interpretation of reality.
    Oh, and btw a new physics is around the corner that will very likely change forever our relationship with the universe.

    Agreed. The new TOE will carry radical and profound implications on how we view reality.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2009
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