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The living universe

  1. Jun 30, 2004 #1
    The universe is alive and thinking because we are alive and thinking.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2004 #2
    Simplistic, but true! Could it be that we are alive and thinking because the universe is alive and thinking?
  4. Jun 30, 2004 #3


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    This doesn't really seem to follow. Is an electron alive and thinking, because the body which it is part of is alive and thinking? What about a photon which is emitted from a body which is alive and thinking? I don't think the concept of life carries with an increase, or decrease in scale.
  5. Jun 30, 2004 #4
    hehe, or, the universe is feeling and thinking, just like we are feeling and thinking....
  6. Jun 30, 2004 #5


    o my god we are surrounded!
  7. Jun 30, 2004 #6
    yes i think we are the universe's consciousness. without life, the universe would live and die without an audience, and nothing would really have any "meaning". i quote the word meaning because it is very subjective..
  8. Jul 1, 2004 #7
    Does that than mean that the Earth is living as well?
  9. Jul 1, 2004 #8
    the earth is "living", but not in the literal sense. without life theres no perception.. no perception of time, and no perception of events..if absolutely nothing is perceived, then it just dies away unnoticed. We perceive the stage the earth is in. To us, the earth is alive and well. Warm. Still full of energy. If all life were to all of a sudden ceize to exist (including all life that may be REACHABLE from earth), then what would the world be without an audience (or even a potential observer, such an alien astronomer in a nearby galaxy)? absolutely nothing. timeless, careless... just a piece of rock that dies off without being slowed down by time (assuming that time is merely a perception)...instantaneous death

    same with the universe... if there were to be absolutely no life in it, then time would not be perceived, and the universe's birth and death would be be virtually "instantaneous".

    so i do believe the universe is alive in this sense because of life...and that its ultimate death is *slowed* down by life's perception of time..
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2004
  10. Jul 1, 2004 #9
    ewwww. I like that.

    Without the subject, there can be no object...yet, with just one subject, objective reality continues in all directions, and even suggest she does not need the subject to exist!.

    There are some that suggest, and I am all behind such proposition, that human or human like intelligence (consciousness participating) may be the creative princaple and organising method of universe itself.
    If universe is infinite and eternal, then so is this distinguished component.

    and then there is also the proposition that universe is also governed by quantum computer..which seems that it can then be programmed by us for ourselves on an individual level...

    so, is this life, or is this intelligence?
  11. Jul 1, 2004 #10
    I agree that we are alive and thinking because the universe is alive and thinking. Unlike FZ, I believe the universe is composed of nothing but mind, and so do many physicists and philosophers. As to whether photons and electrons possess consciousness I would say yes.
  12. Jul 1, 2004 #11

    Les Sleeth

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    I think I know what you mean, but to say a photon or electron is conscious really dilutes the question of what consciousness is. Humans can be conscious, but you can make them un-conscious by bonking them in the head. Is it that the knocked-out human is unconscious, but his/her electrons are conscious?

    First you have to define consciousness to talk about what is and isn't conscious. I say, the minimum requirement for being conscious is self-awareness, and electrons haven't been shown to exhibit that trait.
  13. Jul 2, 2004 #12
    Les, do you think that lower life forms are self aware? Like cats and dogs. If not then does this mean you wouldn't called them conscious? I remember reading somewhere about the theory that man himself hasn't been self aware all that long. Somehow by reading the writings of early man, there is evidence that there was no concept of self. Is that all bogus? I thought so when I read it but what do I know? :rofl:
  14. Jul 2, 2004 #13
    Yes Les. as to the question of what consciousness is, whole books have been written on the subject. A burning question in my mind is can science ever explain it?
    I think there are different levels of awareness. Not only in the animal kingdom in general but in human scociety to a lesser extent.
  15. Jul 2, 2004 #14

    Les Sleeth

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    Remember the long debates with confutatus about whether we need language or concepts to be aware of something? For a being to have a self concept might require the human level of consciousness, but self awareness is something else.

    By "self aware" I mean at least two aspects are required to make it happen. 1) The being has to have a detection aspect; that is, it feels/senses. 2) The being has to have an aspect which recognizes (I say "knows") it has sensed/felt. To me, that is the absolute minimum required for self awareness. However, I also believe there is a third aspect, which is the being retains some of what it senses/feels and that is why all animal life seems to learn.

    So to answer your question, I think all animal life, and maybe plant life too in some way, is self aware. And it seems to me that the evolution of the central nervous system is one which creates higher and higher level of self awareness.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2004
  16. Jul 2, 2004 #15

    Les Sleeth

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    Science cannot explain it. Of course, neither can anyone else (unless you want to accept my model :surprise:) with enough evidence to prove they are correct. Because science can't explain it is why some of us propose that the foundation of consciousness isn't physical (since science only reveals physical facts). I agree with you about levels of awareness.
  17. Jul 2, 2004 #16
    You are referring to the work of Julian Jaynes, *The Origins of Consciousness and the Bi-cameral Mind*

    Individual consciousness did not start appearing until 3000 years ago (some others say 1967 :surprise: ) Until then, all actions that were taken by humanity were in the commands of gods, or individual audio 'halluncinations' that intructed our every move! This mind collapsed with an increase in complexity of civilization, and we were forced to start thinking for ourselves when this mind collapsed....Which suggests that nature created early civilisation, not us...hmmm, if this is true, makes you wonder whom we may all be working for...

  18. Jul 2, 2004 #17
    FZ+ it is not a matter of scale but complexity. The universe is far more complex than a human being by the same order as we are far more complex than an electron or proton.
    Yet, remember the E.P.R. Paradox. Is the photon or electron aware of itself and it partner or is something else aware that forces the opposite characteristic once one is known whether it is instantaneous or at the speed of light?
    I say that the universe is conscious and aware and thinking and is aware of all that is within it. We are a part of the universe and are conscious,aware and thinking and are aware at least of some of the universe so that does make the universe at least partly self aware. By extension I think that it is completely self aware and we are only a small part of that awareness.
  19. Jul 2, 2004 #18
    How can you make a distintion of what is self-aware?, except by assumptions, of observation of behavior of different frames? How can you know what a particle feels or senses, except though its electro-magnetic covelent bonding?

    Is it only from your experience that you can make that distintion? You mentioned in your model that, non-living things did not appear to have that same pulsating vibrancy that living things did. Where and what is the distintion? Why does it appear, there is a quantum leap between innate and living matter? Is it only a human supposition, because of observation of different frames of reference, when the frames of reference are close, through behavior we can make logical assumptions. Might it be that the physical reference frame used by us humans, does not allow us to make logical assumptions of what is not physcial? The reason, I ask you this, is to know, do you consider your experience a physical one? To refrase the question better, is the subjuntive experience considered, physcial in nature?
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2004
  20. Jul 3, 2004 #19

    Les Sleeth

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    I think I know what you are saying, which I’ll respond to at the end of this post. However, (just to get this off my chest) compared to some physicalists (or any “-ist”), I don’t think it is me who is most guilty of making a distinction based on a priori assumptions. I have experienced and observed differences between that which is self aware and (what I believe) are non-self aware things.

    I say it is certain physicalists who assume, and also ignore behaviors which are atypical of physicality because they are already committed to a physical explanation for everything (I'm not talking about you Radar). For example, some physicalists say things like, “Conceptually, there is no longer a need for the soul, or life force, or spirit. We can explain life perfectly well without those old-fashioned concepts.” In consciousness studies they do the same thing, waving off qualia, subjectivity, and sneering at the homunculus analogy again saying, “we don’t need those concepts . . . brain mechanics can account for everything.”

    In reality they can’t explain life and consciousness, though there's nothing wrong with that since one day they may explain them. It's that they don’t give proper weight to the significance of what is preventing a sound explanation now. As of now, all their anti-nonphysical statements amount to is a self-referenced tactic, one that eliminates from the life-consciousness discussion facts which they can’t explain, and which would therefore raise doubts about physicalism. To me it’s the height of irony when someone ridicules Biblical creationism only to replace it with science fiction. :rolleyes:

    What about me? If I didn’t notice the distinctions between living/non-living and aware/non-aware, I’d be perfectly happy to say consciousness is "likely" physicalistic. Whatever it is, it is, and no amount of wishing the truth were like I want it to be is going to change the truth. But what should I do about the fact that I experience and observe those pesky distinctions? :eek:

    You are correct, I can’t. I think even “its electromagnetic covalent bonding” only tells us how it behaves, not if it feels.

    Experience yields the best evidence. In the case of consciousness, it is all that I have to go on. As you know, I have been advocating the study of one’s own consciousness by learning how to experience it, along with contemplating it in action. I still believe that avenue has great potential, and is relatively unexplored. If you look at most of the discussion about consciousness, it is reduced to either functionalism or rationalism. So far nobody’s getting at the essence of the question because there isn’t sufficient experiential confirmation available either in external observation or through conceptualization. So yes, it is from my experience that I make distinctions . . . at least I’ve gone to the trouble to experience it!

    An atom may oscillate a trillion times per second, while one cycle of that “pulse” is lucky to complete in a second. All living things seem to share that pulse, while each atom is vibrating discretely.

    That’s exactly what I think, plus one other factor. The main reason I am more confident about stating distinctions between physical and non-physical is because of my inner experience. I think it is really difficult to only imagine the non-physical (i.e., sans experience).

    To think about or imagine physical possibilities is easy because it can be observed with the physical senses, and the physical is made up of “parts” and mechanics. Anything that is multifaceted can be thought about. But the oneness of the non-physical makes it difficult to conceptualize, and impossible to “figure out” intellectually. When it comes to parts and mechanics, logic and reason deserve top priority. When it comes to understanding the basis of life and consciousness, our sensitivity requires the top spot -- one feels the foundation of life and consciousness.

    My theory is, each realm is separate and distinct, so I do not believe there is a way to mentally grasp the basis of life and consciousness. If someone tries it, they will never be satisfied intellectually. Now, if one is able to practice proper reasoning skills and proper inner experience, then one might put together a model of how the two interact. But (IMHO) as long as clear distinctions are not made between physical and non-physical, then the issue will remain muddy.

    That’s a great question, and I believe I share some of your angst in trying to understand it. I’ve already stated that I believe the true subjective is not physical, but that we are “entwined” in the physical setting of biology. So right now at least we are part physical. But, if the physical and non-physical were two totally different natures, how could it be possible to join them for biology? I can’t see how it is possible unless the physical and non-physical are actually the same base “stuff,” but existing in two different conditions. In other words, in essence both physical and non-physical (relying on my model) are the stuff I call “illumination,” but each are subject to different conditions.

    My favorite analogy is to use water. What’s the difference between water vapor and ice? Are they two different substances, or are they the same substance existing in different conditions? It is the conditions which create distinctions. Yet, even though they are the same substance, you can’t ignore that there is a demarcation between the two, where it is either a solid or a gas, and not both at once.

    Likewise, I am saying that the physical is a “solid” version of illumination, and that consciousness is the “vapor” aspect. Further, in the case of illumination, the vapor aspect is its natural state. It is what the physical temporarily arises up from, and then eventually returns to. We, as consciousness, exist and endure first and foremost in the non-solid form.

    I have another analogy to explain one type of the joining of physical and non-physical. Biology reminds me somewhat of a hydraulic system, where there’s a series of interconnected “pistons,” each larger than the one before it. The result is that a small amount of force applied on the small end can cause a powerful action on the big end. I’ve suggested that one of the inherent skills of consciousness is concentration, and so when we exert our concentration it commences the biological hydraulic system allowing our non-physical “will” to move the physical system.

    I know that doesn’t explain exactly how and where we first join to the physical. I don’t understand that myself, but would like to (although I've said I suspect the joining is via the autonomic system). That’s why I hope the quantum guys make progress . . . maybe it will give us a clue to that mystery. :smile:
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2004
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