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Same old same old

  1. Apr 28, 2007 #1
    Is there any aspect of QM that doesn't ultimately come down to the nature of consciousness?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 29, 2007 #2
  4. May 1, 2007 #3
    Thanks Nabuco, a really eye-opening link. Referring to my original question it seems Scott is suggesting that QM can be derived exclusively via mathematics although he does point out the usefulness of experimentation. As Abstract Thought (mathematics) is an aspect of human consciousness this may go some way to explaining why some QM models of reality seem constantly drawn to the nature of consciousness.
  5. May 1, 2007 #4
    In a way, yes. But the same can be said of most physical theories. Once the theory is understood, it becomes obvious that the universe can only possibly behave in that way and not any other.

    For instance, special relativity is really the logical consequence of the fact that the speed of light is the same for all inertial observers. Saying "the speed of light is the same for all inertial observers" does not make anyone scratch their heads, whereas saying "clocks slow down when moving" sounds mystifying, but one thing really is just the logical consequence of the other. More, even the constancy of the speed of light becomes obvious when you see how the alternative makes no sense whatsoever.

    Yes but only as an aid to our limited intellectual abilities, just like doing math with your fingers.

    I think there is lots of misunderstanding in this area. QM has as much to do with consciousness as probability theory does. No one seems befuddled by the fact that if you keep throwing two dice you will get more sevens than any other combination. In other words, there's nothing strange about some order arising out of absolute chaos, about randomness giving rise to determinism. The perceived weirdness of QM is not due to any weirdness in the universe but simply our state of confusion.

    What perhaps QM is really showing us is that the so-called laws of physics are not real but simply artifacts of the way we perceive the universe. The laws of physics are what you get when you deal with a huge amount of data of which you understand absolutely nothing about. How do you deal with lots of data of which you understand nothing? Use probabilities!

    To address your point, yes, in a way QM is strictly tied to the nature of conciousness, because it's the way conscious beings use to deal with data provided by the universe. But it definitely doesn't mean any of this new-age nonsense about some mysterious link between our minds and the world. Not anymore that there is a link between our minds and two dice rolling on a table.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2007
  6. May 3, 2007 #5
    I'm not sure I see how the laws of physics are 'artifacts of the way we percieve the universe'. I assume the law of gravity was firmly in place long before human consciousness arose. On the other hand, as all data has to be processed by an aspect of consciousness I can see how everything is 'an artifact'.
    Another important aspect of QM is that it removes the observer-observed divide which involves consciousness becoming part of the data that must be processed by consciousness. In QM there is a deep link between 'our minds and two dice rolling on a table", so to speak.
  7. May 7, 2007 #6
    This may sound silly or irrelevant, but the fact is that the law of gravity was invented less than four centuries ago. Thinking about an abstract entity called law of gravity which makes objects move certainly helps us understand the universe, but I find it a very far cry to assume such a thing has real existence.

    Those aspects of consciousness are our senses. More specifically, primarily the sense of vision. Regardless of what the universe really is and what may or may not govern its behavior, our understanding of the universe is expressed primarily in visual terms. If we had no eyes and perceived the world using sound waves, or some inimaginable way of perceiving the world, then our laws of physics would be completely different. They would describe phenomena we currently don't perceive, and would mention phenomena that can only be perceived through mental concepts associated with vision. In spite of that, the universe would remain just as it is.

    Now the interesting question for me is: exactly which portion of physics is describing the universe as it really is, and which portion of physics is describing nothing more than the subjective experience of vision?

    I think this is true, but I also think it's a very mundane fact that should not surprise anyone. It's basically the old notion that you can't measure a thing without changing it, except when you apply it to very small things being measured you get some interesting consequences. Interesting but still to be expected.

    Yes, "so to speak", and that's what makes it sound mysterious. If you said it like it really is, something like "in QM the image of the rolling dice is the product of the interaction between the photons reflected by the surface of the dice and the atoms that form our retina", it doesn't sound that spectacular, it sounds rather obvious. To me anyway.
  8. May 8, 2007 #7
    Not at all.
  9. May 28, 2007 #8
    Another possibility is that we are reaching the limits of human observation and boardering on metaphysics. Thus the confusion about the ultimate nature of what we are observing is perfectly understandable, and understandably broad and fundamental.

    As Allan Watts once wrote: "We are staring at god, and god is staring back."
  10. May 30, 2007 #9
    I fully agree. It seems to me that science, and in particular physics, is a crystallisation of Rational Thought and, as such, is finally reaching the threshold of its own limitations. There has always been a fractal nature to Rational Thought (reflected in Reductionism) that no matter what the 'object of thought' is, it can be divided into smaller 'objects of thought'. I believe, with the advent of QM, this process is laid bare in that we are possibly beginning to see that the classifying, analysing, labelling nature of Ratioinal Thought actually alters, and to a certain extent creates, the reality it wishes to objectively measure.
    It may be that when we do not think about it, reality (whatever that may be) disappears and that it exists only when we're "not looking".
  11. May 31, 2007 #10
    That is correct. Its like looking at a multi-representational pricture (the ones that you would be shown by psychologist to interpret) and insist that there is only one thing to be seen. Instead you are missing the picture, the picture turned into what you want to see and all other forms are imperceptible to us. (note that the point of the picture is that it can be whatever one wants it to be). But there are many ways of looking at the picture and ultimatelly one must acknowledge that the picture is coherent only as whole. I think there are many ways to improve rational thought to fully realize the picture and see it many ways.
  12. Jun 1, 2007 #11
    Cosciousness is not QM. Penrose and his friend Hameroff did too much damage with these claims. Consciousness is most likely a biological phenomenon that is irreducible though. The universe existed long before we came into it and we are as disposable to it as our genetic vehicles are for life.
  13. Jun 4, 2007 #12
    Firstly, it has not been said that consciousness is QM
    Secondly, you seem certain that QM has no application at a genetic level.
    The theme that seems to be developing in this thread can possibly be viewed in this way- However an observer comprehends reality dictates the nature of that reality.
    It may be that an observer's comprehension lies somewhere on the spectrum between purely rational/abstract and purely intuitive/holistic. It seems to me that to fully comprehend the nature of reality requires a synthesis of these complimentary 'polar opposites'.
    Certainly in an area like physics the emphasis would be heavily on the rational/abstract. I genuinely view QM as a path that leads to the redressing of this imbalance in that, in my opinion, QM may be leading thinkers to the very edge of Rational Thought.
    What kind of comprehension lies beyond the boundary of Rational Thought?
  14. Jun 8, 2007 #13
    I would recommend you get in touch with Bohm's thoughts on Implicate order.
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