Linking quantum mechanics to consciousness

#1
Hi Alex et al,

I came across some audio material from a Dr Amit Goswami who is essentially a quantum physicist but he has branched out into 'quantum activism'.

Unfortunately I don't have enough math skills or enough spare time to acquire them to really get to grips with quantum mechanics so I have been searching for some material that really makes sense at a conceptual level. This motivated me to listen to Goswami's material. I must say I find his ideas extremely interesting, they really challenge one's concept of reality. Although they probably wouldn't admit it, I believe the ideas expounded by more conventional physicists like Dr. Michio Kaku are not that far away from Goswami. If a scientific explanation for consciousness ever emerges I think this is the most likely direction it will come from.

What leads me to this quantum stuff is the rather unnerving realization that the material world we live in, and ourselves, is extremely nebulous,

For example, comparing the relative sizes of atoms and astronomical objects, the ratio between the diameter of a hydrogen atom (that is the electron shell diameter) and the nucleus is more or less the same as the ratio between the orbit of Neptune, the outermost planet in our solar system, and the diameter of the sun.

That is not all. When physicists break the nuclei of atoms in particle accelerators like the LHC the sub atomic particles they find inside are correspondingly tiny. Protons and neutrons each consist of 3 quarks. On an astronomical scale if the orbit of Neptune represented the diameter of a proton then each quark buzzing around inside would be roughly the size of the sun.

That is not all. At least some physicists believe the LHC will reveal smaller particles inside quarks when they increase the energy levels. current

Essentially Alex, you, me, our family and friends, our goods and chattels and the universe we inhabit consists essentially of nothing material at all. Just infinitesimally tiny whirlpools of energy. From a quantum physics viewpoint if a human body was on an astronomical scale it would look more or less like the milky way does in the night sky, with plus or minus 10 light years between each atomic nucleus.

It has seemed to me for some time that the best way to understand the universe and our lives is that we are avatars in a gigantically complex video game. I sometimes wonder when who or whatever is playing it will press restart.

Anyway, enough rambling, I would be interested to hear if anyone else has any experience of Goswami?

Best regards,
Robin
 
#2
Another interesting point: mass of a macroscopic object is essentially total mass of protons and neutrons in the object. However mass of protons and neutron is mostly kinetic energy of quarks within proton/neutron. Only 1% of mass of proton is rest mass of its constituents (quarks). Therefore total mass of a macroscopic object is mostly kinetic energy of the movement of subatomic particles.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton
 
#3
I hope this thread takes off as Im very interested in Quantum everything, but alas I am very dimwitted when it comes to maths and physics of any type. I love reading about it though. Thanks for starting this topic.
Hopeful
 
#4
I hope this thread takes off as Im very interested in Quantum everything, but alas I am very dimwitted when it comes to maths and physics of any type. I love reading about it though. Thanks for starting this topic.
Hopeful
Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner in the Complexity thread. When I am trying to think about one person's model of how things work, I find it hard to take off that hat and put on another and then go back to the first. This is great material - wish it was in the Complexity thread! This is just what I was after!
 
#5
Anyway, enough rambling, I would be interested to hear if anyone else has any experience of Goswami?
No I hadn't, but I looked him up. From a very brief read it seems like he also thinks there are two mechanisms at work... a classical 'local' mechanism which presents sensory data to a quantum 'non-local' mechanism. Which is pretty much what I think is going on too...

Once you get to that point... and start exploring the possibilities of local sensory input patterns which constrain this other passive non-local mechanism, forcing it to work on the classical local mechanisms behalf... I've found I get a rather different perspective on many things we take for granted.
 
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#7
What leads me to this quantum stuff is the rather unnerving realization that the material world we live in, and ourselves, is extremely nebulous,

[---- snip ---]

Anyway, enough rambling, I would be interested to hear if anyone else has any experience of Goswami?
Hmm . .I found that realization wonderful. And yes . given that the physical (the ones we know and others) are expressions of no-thing (consciousness) it is . .yes wonderfully - nebulous and malleable.

If you haven't read it yet, I'd suggest you read The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot.

As for Goswami . yes I'm familiar with him. I've read some of his articles and he gave some excellent summations in the movie What the Bleep! (another recommendation). He's also not the first or only physicist to come to those perspectives. Bohm is another one of note. In fact, even Planck (often called the "father of QM") was aware that the physical was anything but absolute.

BTW what you mention about the assessment of the size of electron, protons in atoms and the work at CERN is not QM, it's particle physics.

And yes there is much in QM that may be or may indicate some of how no-thing (as information) gives rise to things (physical frameworks)
 
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#8
If you haven't read it yet, I'd suggest you read The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot.
Indeed a terrific book, among my favorites. And now that you mention it, I am tempted to go back and re-read it, since I haven't touched it in years :)
 
#11
Once you get to that point... and start exploring the possibilities of local sensory input patterns which constrain this other passive non-local mechanism, forcing it to work on the classical local mechanisms behalf... I've found I get a rather different perspective on many things we take for granted.
With that model of explanation - the "non-local mechanism" isn't passive. It is in fact the most active component. The local doesn't constrain any of the no-thing. In fact the local is a mechanism generated by the non-local. Which is why - useful as it is for expalnations- the model is not actuality.
 
#12
Given what had been written above, I went to reacquaint myself with Goswami's perspective on consciousness and was happy to find that -yes some of it is close to my experience.

Here's an overview courtesy of bibliotecapleyades

In searching for the fundamental basis of physical reality and the nature of the mind, Goswami (1993) has defined consciousness as "the agency that affects quantum objects to make their behavior sensible." In choosing this criterion he hopes to show how mind can effect matter non-energetically because they share the same essence.

By making the leap from a universe based on bits of matter, to one based in consciousness, he hopes to logically and coherently resolve some of the major paradoxes of physics. He suggests that instead of everything being made of atoms, everything is made of consciousness. If quantum objects are waves that spread in existence at more than one place, as QM has shown, then consciousness may be the agency that focuses the waves so we can observe them at one place.


Goswami labels this philosophy, "monistic as opposed to dualistic, and it is idealism because ideas (not to be confused with ideals) and the consciousness of them are considered to be the basic elements of reality; matter is considered to be secondary." Mental phenomena such as self-consciousness, free will, creativity, and ESP are explained anew in this reformulation of the mind-body in a fresh context.


As in both the mystical view and holographic universe (such as that described by
Bohm), there is only the dynamic play of one great webwork of existence (Bohm's holomovement). This unified movement, a dance of creation and annihilation, has intentionality. However, Goswami does not propose that consciousness is mind; they are different concepts. In monistic idealism, the consciousness of the subject in a subject-object experience is the same consciousness that is the ground of all being. Therefore, consciousness is unitive. The domain of potentia also exists in consciousness. Nothing is outside consciousness.


Buddha tells us that,

"There is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, this Unoriginated, this Uncreated, this Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed would not be possible."

But there is this essential ground, and it is possible to "escape" space-time, according to Buddha.


If the brain-mind is itself an object in a non-local consciousness that encompasses all reality, then what we call objective empirical reality is within this consciousness. The one becomes many through self-reference, fragmentation into tangled hierarchies of self-iterating information.


The trick is to distinguish between consciousness and awareness. In processes of which we are aware classical models prevail. When we consciously see, consciousness [not exactly - Saiko] collapses the quantum state of the brain-mind. Unconscious processing does not effect collapse of the quantum wave-function, pinning down quantum entities to one reality. Thus, unconscious processing permits the expression of non-local phenomena.


The situation in the brain-mind, with consciousness collapsing the wave function may only happen when awareness is present. There is a tangled hierarchy within the immanent self-reference of a system observing itself.
-------------------

Complete article => http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_psycho08.htm




 
#13
Although I have not read his book - only some articles on his website - I think your description rather sums him up. I get sick of people who take concepts and stretch them out of all recognition, and then claim to prove something!

To me, the real problem is that QM - like classical physics - is just a set of equations. You can't use them to explain anything about conscious awareness, because ultimately they are just a mechanism. You set up the system in one state and it changes with time - a ball set up at the top of a slope, moves predictably down that slope. QM is similar, except that the outcome is probabilistic, and the different possibilities can interfere with each other until the outcome is actually observed. I can't see how that can be used to explain consciousness in itself.

My gut feeling is that QM is very relevant to the nature of consciousness - because it completely removes the simple description of reality that reduces everything to mechanism. However, I think any science of consciousness will need new facts and theories - you simply can't simply take standard QM and claim that you can derive God (or whatever) from it!

David
 
#14
I found this article very interesting:

NEW PROOF OF REVOLUTIONARY THEORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Sir Roger Penrose is one of the most influential scientists investigating the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. Together with Stuart Hameroff, an American anaesthetist and brain researcher, he developed a new theory of consciousness. A theory that remained controversial, as no one could prove it. Until now. Having spent five years carrying out research on brain cells using an atomic scanner, Anirban Bandyopadhyay has done just this. But he has also expanded the theory, postulating that not only do quantum fluctuations play a role in our neurons, but they also communicate through sound waves.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/discovery...roversial-20-year-old-theory-of-consciousness
 
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#15
Hello every one.. I am new to the forums, but have listened to Skeptiko since, nearly, its beginning. I just have a question, if any one more informed than I would be able to provide some answers, all though the question is very vague and a detailed answer, all though may be required, doesn't matter to me at this moment.

1. Can any one tell me how Hameroff's views on consciousness differ from the view Penrose holds?

I have read in some forums on various websites, and in articles' comment section, that Penrose does not support the - sigh, I don't know, Cosmic Consciousness? - idea that Hameroff supports. (I apologize at my ignorance on the subject) All though, I am not sure what Hameroff calls his belief, but it seems different than mind only existing within the confines of the brain. I also have read that Penrose believes in different realms of existence, or something like that. That he supports the idea of a mental realm and/or an abstract mental realm.

So long story short my question is, can any one elaborate on the difference between Hameroff's and Penrose's views on consciousness.
 
#17
I obtained Goswami's documentary "The Quantum Activist" some time ago, but don't remember much about it. I'll have to go back and watch it again. All I can say now is that either I was not that impressed at the time or I was so fogged in that I missed the answer to the origin of consciousness.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#18
Hello every one.. I am new to the forums, but have listened to Skeptiko since, nearly, its beginning. I just have a question, if any one more informed than I would be able to provide some answers, all though the question is very vague and a detailed answer, all though may be required, doesn't matter to me at this moment.

1. Can any one tell me how Hameroff's views on consciousness differ from the view Penrose holds?
....
So long story short my question is, can any one elaborate on the difference between Hameroff's and Penrose's views on consciousness.
I recall Hammeroff noting where Penrose disagrees, or at least doesn't fully claim agreement, in particular papers. IIRC Penrose doesn't believe in souls, whereas Hammeroff is at minimum open to the idea of "quantum souls". I think their positions on Psi differ as well - Penrose I recall is more skeptical.

Not sure how Hammeroff feels about Platonic Math. He has talked about Good -and possibly Evil- existing at the Planck scale.

Look here for more info:

http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/
 
#20
Indeed a terrific book, among my favorites. And now that you mention it, I am tempted to go back and re-read it, since I haven't touched it in years :)
Hi, I'm new to the site but just recently read this book. Outstanding and a favorite of mine as well.
Currently reading both Goswamis Self Aware Universe and Wolfs Taking the Quantum Leap.
 
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