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June 05, 2021


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“Everything is what it is only with respect to something else.”

Pure Genius. Time can’t exist alone.

And so it is… here we are…

We were all once part of the Human Cult. The Human Cult’s guru is ignorance.

Quantum physics is a messenger to the modern world. We needed proof that there was something more, so “God” gave the intellectuals a language they could understand—quantum mechanics—which opens the door to all sorts of possibilities (not to mention hope).

It bears repeating—Time canNot exist alone.

"Hope you enjoy these words from Rovelli as much as I do."

.......Absolutely! Thanks very much, for this discussion and for presenting these excerpts.


"If the fine grain of the world is made of material particles that have just mass and motion, it seems difficult to reconstruct our perceiving and thinking complexity from this amorphous grain.

But if the fine grain of the world is better described in terms of relations, if nothing has intrinsic properties except in relation to other things, perhaps in this physics we can better find elements able to combine in a comprehensible way, to be the basis of those complex phenomena that we call our perceptions and our consciousness.

If the physical world is woven from the subtle interplay of images in mirrors reflected in other mirrors, without the metaphysical foundation of a material substance, perhaps it becomes easier to recognize ourselves as part of that whole.

...But there is no need to attribute photo-consciousness to elementary systems in order to get around a frozen "simple matter." It is enough to have observed how the world is better described by relative variables and their correlations.

This allows us to be released from the prison of a blunt opposition between the objectivity of matter and mental life. The rigid distinction between a mental world and a physical one fades. It is possible to think of both mental and physical phenomena as natural phenomena: both products of interactions between parts of the physical world.

...If the world consists of relations, then no description is from outside it. The descriptions of the world are, in the ultimate analysis, all from inside. They are all in the first person.

Our perspective on the world, our point of view, being situated inside the world (our "situated self," as Jenann Ismael beautifully puts it), is not special: it rests on the same logic on which quantum physics, hence all of physics, is based.

If we imagine the totality of things, we are imagining being outside the universe, looking at it from out there. But there is no "outside" to the totality of things. The external point of view is a point of view that does not exist. Every description of the world is from inside it.

The externally observed world does not exist; what exists are only internal perspectives on the world which are partial and reflect one another. This world is this reciprocal reflection of perspectives.

...I think that when we wonder about the relationship between the "I" and "matter," we are using two concepts that are both confused and misleading, and this is the origin of the confusion surrounding the questions about the nature of consciousness.

Who is the "I" that has the sensation of feeling, if not the integrated set of our mental processes? We have an intuition of unity when we think about ourselves, but this is justified by the integration of our body and by the ways our mental processes work, of which the part we call conscious does one thing at a time.

The first term of the problem, the "I," is the residue of a metaphysical error: the result of the common mistake of mistaking a process for an entity.

...To ask what consciousness is, after having unraveled the neural processes, is like asking what a storm is after having understood its physics: it is a question that makes no sense. To add in a "possessor" of sensations is like adding Jove to the phenomenon of the thunderstorm.

It is like saying, after having understood the physics of the storm, that there still remains, as Chalmers would put it, the "hard problem" of connecting it with the anger of Jove.

It is true that we have the "intuition"of an independent entity that is the "I." But we also had the "intuition" that behind a storm there was Jove. And that the Earth was flat. It is not through uncritical "intuitions" that we construct an effective comprehension of reality."

........Sorry for quoting your own words (or at least, the words you've yourself quoted here) back at you at length like this, but I couldn't help doing that. This is so beautifully put, this bit!


"Introspection is the worst instrument of inquiry if we are interested in the nature of mind:"

This is the part I disagree with, though. While it sounds kind of right, yet we do have the Buddha's definitive observations about the nature of self, made in the absence of any of the findings of modern day QM or neuroscience, that indicate otherwise.

Thinking this over, a question occurs to me. Would you say our sense of self is an illusion? (This ties in with our earlier exchanges on free will, actually, though I'm not really going there now, not beyond simply discussing this single theme of the sense of self here.)

Sure, the abiding, separate sense of self (and certainly the imagined-as-eternal sense of self) that is often thought of as self-evident, would appear to be illusory.

However, I would argue that while the above is true, nevertheless the sense of self, seen as no more than an emergent property of physical processes, is real enough. Given that all things, be it a chair, or a star, are ultimately no more than processes, therefore the processes that define "us" are no less real than a chair or a star; and I'd further argue that our sense of self, seen as no more than an emergent property of these transitory processes, is equally as real. Very likely evolution has something to do with this curious object --- sorry, curious *process* --- having come to be.

I was wondering if you'd like to weigh in, with your own opinion on this.

What a wonderful set of ideas. Put things aside and think relationships.

Whether the quanta of contemporary politics or the function of power within sub-atomic or astronomical concepts, it is relationship that is primary.

Thanks kindly, Brian, for the post and all the wonderful comments.

Humbly, I don't believe for a second that the "life-force" which exists in all animate species is a product of the body (bacteria, insect, plant, fish, animal, human) and its material constituents.

My belief cannot be proven, however, so I have nothing more to add. I also believe that the power of conscious perception is given only to living species, and not to insentient/inanimate matter, no matter what the inert form.

'Who is the "I" that has the sensation of feeling, if not the integrated set of our mental processes?'

Not just what you can measure, but even what you can't measure.

The relationship of matter to consciousness can be viewed from several perspectives.

All matter could be part of consciousness.

All consciousness could be an arrangement of matter.

Matter could be qualities of consciousness. Higher consciousness, higher matter and awareness of higher matter.

Consciousness could be qualities of matter. Higher matter, higher levels of consciousness.

The seat of consciousness has not been located in any specific part of the brain, though different parts of the brain affect levels of conscious awareness. What we are detecting as the brain might really just be the container of consciousness and not consciousness itself.

The billions upon billions of interactions within the dendritic trees have scarcely been investigated, and dwarf in number the slower interactions of the neurons. In those interactions, signals move on multiple and complex interactions we do not understand. There is no casual pathway of signals through any specific structures with the exact opposite pathway moving through the exact same structures.

A network such as the internet at least is made up of nodes that are fully functional and can receive signal and send new signal all of their own. Perhaps the brain, as a network, has such nodes of full conscious, cognitive functionality, but they are simply too subtle for current instruments to detect.

There is so much we do not understand.

To study the brain is to study a mechanism developed over millions of years, with capacities we are only beginning to understand in very limited ways.

The connections between the brain and the environment are little understood.

The symbolic language of the brain has yet to be decoded.

No wonder people developed the notion of the soul to explain the element that transcends awareness of physical sensory experience.

Just as Freud theorized the Id, Ego and superego to explain well documented behavior. These are not organs to be found in the brain, but they do help us understand something of how we function, think and feel and in that regard are quite real. They describe behaviors and character in ways brain anatomy has not yet uncovered.

What is consciousness? What is that point of awareness within us?

It cannot be said to be proven.

However much neuro science has learned, there is more it cannot explain.

Naturally a child with a new bicycle thinks it can ride it to the stars.

Oops. Typo

"There is no casual pathway of signals through any specific structures with the exact opposite pathway moving through the exact same structures."

Should read
"There is no causal pathway of signals through any specific structures without the exact opposite pathway moving through the exact same structures...

The sensations you feel when being touched change depending upon whether you believe you are being touched by a friend or a stranger. And this actually starts at the sensory neurons in your skin. Your brain attenuates them as well as receives signal from them. "

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