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The Central Role of Consciousness in Physics

  1. Sep 28, 2003 #1
    this is a very nice forum, though I'm slightly disappointed that there's no neuroscience or philosophy of mind board, given the central role of consciousness underlying all theories of physics.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2003 #2

    hypnagogue

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    Welcome to Physics Forums, Thanatos!

    I agree with the sentiments of your post. In the meantime, anything you want to say could probably be said in one of the current philosophy forums, though a philosophy of mind forum would be fantastic indeed. Greg? Splurge on one more? :smile:

    Interesting site, btw. If you stick around these here parts, I think you'll find you and me have a lot in common.
     
  4. Sep 29, 2003 #3

    Tom Mattson

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    Hi Thanatos,

    Although it is not true that consciousness per se has any role in any physical theory, we do welcome neuroscience topics in the Biology Forum (under Other Sciences) and we welcome philosophy of mind topics in the Metaphysics and Epistemology Forum (under Philosophy). In the event that those two topics grow to warrant their own Forums, then they we can talk about expanding the Forums further.
     
  5. Sep 29, 2003 #4
    Could quantum information be the key to understanding consciousness? Could consciousness enable future quantum information technology?

    Just a little antidote to think about.
     
  6. Sep 30, 2003 #5
    Re: Re: The Central Role of Consciousness in Physics

    Relativity? Quantum physics?
    Laws pertaining to the former are dependendent upon the subjective distortion of spacetime, as perceived by conciousness. Laws pertaining to the latter do so with the knowledge that a particle only behaves like a particle, when observed by conciousness.

    Let's not forget that physics is derived by reason - a facet of human conciousness - and that mathematics itself was borne of the mind.

    I feel that you do conciousness an injustice. Not the first physicist to do so... and certainly not the last. You're a product of your era and culture. But times are moving on...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2003
  7. Sep 30, 2003 #6

    Tom Mattson

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    Perhaps, because the modern scientific view is that consciousness is an epiphenomenon that emerges from quantum processes.

    I don't understand this question, but feel free to start a quantum info thread in the Quantum Physics Forum.

    Antidote to what?
     
  8. Sep 30, 2003 #7

    Tom Mattson

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    Re: Re: Re: The Central Role of Consciousness in Physics

    Yes, I know both of those theories and I stick by what I said.

    Absolutely false.

    First, relativity is not dependent on any subjective interpretation of anything. The results of relativistic calculations return the actual spacetime coordinates of events in a particular frame. To recover the subjective perception of those events, one must correct for the travel time of the speed of light. But that last part is not part of relativity at all.

    Second, observations in quantum mechanics have no reference to either consciousness or knowledge. A quantum mechanical observation can be made with a lifeless detector.

    I think that Thanatos was referring to consciousness in theoretical physics as a subject of the theory, not the means by which theories are formulated. If so, then the above is not relevant.

    ???

    First, this connection between the theories of physics and consciousness that you believe exists is really just a result of your misunderstanding of the concepts of "relative" (in SR) and "observation" (in QM). That is the only thing holding your thesis together. Second, I also think you do not have a very good handle on the scientific view of consciousness. As I said in my last post, it is an emergent property. That is, material processes (as described by QM and SR) are primary, and consciousness is secondary, but you and Thanatos seem to have it exactly backwards.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2003
  9. Sep 30, 2003 #8

    Nereid

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    I.e. "Consciousness is primary and material processes are secondary"
    Suggestion to Thanatos and Darrenicus: please start a thread in Theory Development, in which you will show that material processes arise from consciousness.
     
  10. Sep 30, 2003 #9
    Yes they do. But those predictions are derived from Einstein's work, which in turn was derived by the way we perceive the universe.
    So how do we perceive the universe?
    Lots to discuss there... but it's easy to argue that the predictions you discuss are just evidence of how perception is ordered within the mind's eye. Nothing else.
    It has been shown that a singular electron has acted as a wave until observed, when it then acts as a particle.
    And we should speak at-length about what a "lifeless detector" acually is. Later perhaps.
    Well, given the opportunity we would argue the opposite case. We'd also like to see someone give some reason for asserting your established conclusions, rather than just listen to the assertion and be forced to accept it.
    Such is philosophy.
     
  11. Sep 30, 2003 #10

    Nereid

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    So what's this thread doing in "Physics Forum Feedback & Announcements?"
     
  12. Sep 30, 2003 #11

    Tom Mattson

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    OK, post something in the Metaphysics and Epistemology Forum.

    edit: Never mind; I'll just move this one.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2003
  13. Sep 30, 2003 #12

    Tom Mattson

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    With our senses, and by extension, man-made instruments.

    It's a lot easier to argue that SR is more than that.

    Who's mind's eye? Yes, we all have our subjective experience of reality, but those experiences are all related by one simple theory, namely relativity. The theory itself transcends anyone's personal experience, and indeed it relates them all.

    A "lifeless detector" can be a geiger counter, a photometer, a current loop, etc.

    The original comment you objected to is the one in which I said that consicousness does not play a role (as in subject or object) in the theories of modern physics, and that is correct.

    You may not like the current scientific viewpoint, but the simple fact is that both QM and SR are consistent with it, and that includes the viewpoint that minds are epiphenomena that emerge from more basic interactions. Saying that consciousness plays a role in QM is like saying that chemistry plays a role in QM. It gets the primary players (quantum particles and interactions) and secondary players (consciousness and chemistry, respectively) exaclty backwards.
     
  14. Sep 30, 2003 #13
    thanks everyone for the warm welcome. I get more impressed with this forum the more I explore... really quite remarkable that a physics forum can be so popular and thriving.

    My sentiments seem along the lines of Darrenicus.

    As such, I take issue with the following (naturally)

    (Tom, I realize you've been here awhile, and constitute an important part of this forum. I don't mean any disrespect in the following)

    This is incorrect, and in fact seems rather presumptuous. The view of most neuroscientists is that mind is a function of the brain... that it's identical to a special type of activity involving populations of interacting neurons. As such, the mind is not caused by the brain, nor does it emerge from anything, but rather involves an identity. It's similar to an electromagnetic field appearing purely electric in one moving frame of reference, but also purely magnetic in a different frame of reference.... they're just different perspectives of one and the same electromagnetic field. So too with consciousness and neuronal activity... they're simply different perspectives of one and the same thing.



    so you presume to know what is conscious and what is not? Maybe you can elaborate on this. Maybe you can demonstrate why activity in the cerebellum is not brought to a subject's consciousness whereas activity in the cerebrum is. By all means, please use a quantum mechanical explanation if you care to. The fact of the matter is that you can't, and so your interpretations and beliefs, which you're trying to hand-wave and present dogmatically, are unwarranted.


    As for whoever attributed to me that "Consciousness is primary and material processes are secondary", I would say that this attribution is overly-simplistic and amounts to little more than a straw-man. We are all limited by our states of consciousness. For those of you who have experienced little of the vast range of consciousness, then it's easy to believe that what you experience is some accurate reflection of the 'objective world'. The 'objective world', as you perceive it, is merely a figment of your imagination. If you alter your state of consciousness, you will perceive different things, different truths, and in general, you will realize how small-minded and limited your previous conceptions of the 'objective world' are. I don't care how advanced your understanding of unified quantum field theory, string theory, or differential topology is... what you must understand is that understanding is relative. Einstein said that "All of mankinds thoughts are an insignificant reflection", and what do you suppose he meant by that? In a similar manner, all of mankinds highest states of consciousness yet experienced are like nothing compared to what is yet to be experienced and realized. I'm sure you're all familiar with the notion of a consciousness singularity, and so I won't belabor the point.... the point being that those who dismiss the centrality of consciousness are, imho, ignorant.


    namaste
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2003
  15. Sep 30, 2003 #14

    hypnagogue

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    Wait... so this Darrenicus fellow got banned (already)? 3 strikes and you're out? [?]
     
  16. Sep 30, 2003 #15
    banned?

    really? how can you tell?
     
  17. Sep 30, 2003 #16

    hypnagogue

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    Thanatos, I'm on your side but I'd suggest being a little more diplomatic in the tone of your argument. Being vehement or acerbic to any unwarranted degree can only turn people off to your ideas. I like what you have to say and I can understand your frustration, but you should also be wary of becoming as needlessly dismissive as some of our more textbook-oriented physics friends can sometimes tend to be. In the end those types of people only undermine their own cause, and the ideas you're talking about are too important to fall prey to so petty a fate.

    Peace.
     
  18. Sep 30, 2003 #17
    thank you, hypnagogue.
    :smile:

    I've toned down the msg a bit and will exercise greater precaution here.
     
  19. Sep 30, 2003 #18

    hypnagogue

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    Re: banned?

    The subtext under his/her screen name reads "Cracker"... means s/he's been banned. S/he was probably a previously banned user who used a new screen name from the same IP, or at least I hope so given the hastiness of it all.
     
  20. Sep 30, 2003 #19
    Re: Re: banned?

    that's interesting, and unfortunate. It would've been easy to change IP though...
     
  21. Sep 30, 2003 #20
    Although consciousness doesn't impact the outcome of any physical law per se' (even if gone unrealized), it is the only means we have by which to ascertain and measure it, in which case I would agree.

    In fact, I would take it a step further and say that consciousness is the very means by which the Universe gets to "know" itself.
     
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