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Does consciousness go against the laws of physics?

  1. Feb 13, 2009 #1
    So the brain and everything in the universe is controlled by set laws that have set solutions right? The brain is mainly controlled by chemical and electrical reactions with amino acids and stuff. So these reactions should have set/predetermined outputs right? Just like how a computer has? Then how does a consciousness exist? Because a conscious follows no laws, it's random, unpredictable, not predetermined, etc. Yet the chemical reactions that control our brain are predictable, predetermined etc. or so they should be. What is able to bend these laws and create thought? thinking? randomness? doesn't that go against physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2009 #2
    Bald assertion.
  4. Feb 13, 2009 #3
    Well I'm just going by the definition.
  5. Feb 13, 2009 #4
    But I think that is true... Can't really explain it...so there's a bunch of predetermined reactions taking place in your brain, but they are all communicating with "you" that makes the final decision. And I think "you" ARE free from those laws. I mean, you're thinking to yourself and everything, you know you exist, you decide and you can make any decision, who IS this "you"? are you saying that "you" is just a bunch of reactions governed by the universal laws? how do they have self awareness then? when I say "you" I don't just mean your emotions, desires and stuff, but I'm mean YOU....lol not sure if I can really explain it...
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
  6. Feb 13, 2009 #5
    What definition?
  7. Feb 13, 2009 #6


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    If you think of "consciousness" as "self-awareness", what has that got to do with "random, unpredictable, not predetermined". Doesn't the ability of some to write eg. great music, and the ability of others to recognize it as such, mean that your consciousness is in fact predictable?
  8. Feb 13, 2009 #7
  9. Feb 13, 2009 #8
    That's a very basic instinct built hard into your system, like sexual desire.
  10. Feb 13, 2009 #9


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    Whether it's built hard or subject to neural plasticity, you haven't shown that "consciouness" conceived as "awareness" or "self-awarenss" is not subject to the laws of physics.

    Maybe you are thinking of "consciousness" as "free will"? That's a bit more problematic for physics, if it really can be defined and exists. Try: The Free Will Theorem, Conway & Kochen, http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0604079?
  11. Feb 13, 2009 #10
    Well, I went to the wikipedia link and consciousness is not defined as "random, unpredictable, not predetermined". In fact, all the people reported there to be investigating consciousness have done, and are doing so, on the assumption there are patterns and structure to be discovered and defined.
  12. Feb 14, 2009 #11


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    Thread moved.
  13. Feb 14, 2009 #12
  14. Feb 14, 2009 #13
    Our consciousness does not disobey the laws. Just because we do not have a grasp of all the influencing factors that make up our minds and our awareness does not mean they are not following the natural laws of the universe. If we were actually able to define all the interacting devices of our consciousness right down to the molecular level we would certainly find that they are all behaving predictably. In a sense, our sense of "I" is an illusion. But it's an allusion I can live with :)
  15. Feb 14, 2009 #14
    It's random, magical, and mysterious, right? Just like how we thought of so many things in the past as mysterious or magical because we didn't know how they work.

    If you ask me, even the Universe has a consciousness, though don't get me mixed up with the religious nutters. Energy is being transferred in the brain and it and our bodies react to stimuli. You witness a collision in space. It is energy being transferred and each are reacting to each other. Though it seems random and mysterious to us, I can guarantee if the same conditions are met, for example, you're not taking any drugs to dull certain reactions in the brain or body and can feel pain, that if you touch a hot stove, you will pull away very fast.

    Just because we can't predict it doesn't mean there's not predictability there at some level. The brain is a complex organ and combined with other biological differences, conditional factors, etc, it makes it even more complex and gives us personalities so it seems to have some mystery to it. I would argue that a conscious is any complex means of reacting to stimuli. And that could be quite arbitrary. At what level of AI would a computer be called conscious? To me, it's interesting to ponder.
  16. Feb 15, 2009 #15

    Math Is Hard

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    What does that mean?
    Was that the explanation? Because it doesn't seem to argue for a "conscious universe".
    Another tough sell. Rube Goldberg machines are "complex" and could be said to "react to stimuli" but we don't call them conscious.
  17. Feb 16, 2009 #16


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    I'm sure there's a law in physics that says when you have 100 billion neurons (and 1 trillion "glia" support cells) with the ability to fire because of internal or external stimulus, you will perceive the results to be slightly less predictable than a rock rolling down a hill. Even then, a rock rolling down a hill will still be 90 percent unpredictable in its actions/reactions unless the hill has been paved, according to its grade and what planet its on.:smile:
  18. Feb 17, 2009 #17
    Math is Hard: I was inferring that just as the Universe is gooey, so can our definition of what consciousness means. Gooey, as I like to say, referring to how the more we learn, the more you take a look back and see that all the big, drawn lines are no longer that and the Universe appears to be one, big, malleable mass. And that I don't put my trust in anything but the observed so I'm not trying to push some agenda that there is a god/s, but that what makes us up is actions for which the Universe birthed.

    It takes complex reactions to create complex objects, however you define complexity in this sense. I'm not arguing for or against a conscious Universe/Multiverse, but I don't think we can discard it either at this point. The only thing I'm unsure of is how unsure I am of things. To try to make a distinction between us and the Universe is just as right as my view of the Universe and humans being indistinguishable on a larger scale, imho. Just as you take a look at a cell from afar and you zoom in, you are able to distinguish parts of it, and what makes it up, and what makes that up, etc. That when you zoom out, you'll see that we're all a part of a functioning system.

    And when you speak of Rude Goldberg machines, those are simple enough it's easier to make a distinction. But what happens when machines grow complex enough to appear conscious? We will really have to delve into the subject matter then to find more of a distinction.

    If you ask me, distinctions are there if you see them, and they are not if you don't. No one vantage point is right if you assume our vantage points are of equal validity. Your fence is my arbitrary line. You can say that's your property and this is my own on the other side, or you can also view it as microscopically and see the line is just as gray and gooey as sculptor's clay. All is relative to the observer.
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