Geek from earliest days, I was always fascinated by how things work. Physics was my favourite subject. But when sports cars came into my life engineering became the great fascination. Then when I got interested in the mind I trained as a psychotherapist and practised for several years. When personal computers got serious I moved on to software engineering and systems analysis where I not only got to understand complex systems but actually build things from scratch as well. Along the way, the popular science genre exploded in the 90s, and I read voraciously. Naturally, I certainly never expected to have any new insights in the field, but coming from an I.T. perspective the resolution to a major and longstanding paradox became strangely obvious. Granted this does sound very unlikely. It is well known that the days of the lone theorist making a significant discovery are long gone. But there is no new physics here. This is just the explanation of the well-established science that has been discovered. The paradox is not because of a lack of science but a false presupposition about what lies at its root, an ontological category error. My only qualification is a blank slate, but it turns out this is much more of an asset than one could possibly imagine. As Thomas Kuhn wrote in his famous book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: “Those who achieve fundamental inventions of a new paradigm have generally been either very young or very new to the field whose paradigm they changed”.
All I really wanted to know was how reality works. I was stunned to find that it doesn’t. Relativity shows us the universe is static. This is not in question. It turns out past and future are ‘there’ in spacetime just like up and down, and here and there. Of course, this is a major paradox because we are experiencing the passage of time. (Some pundits have suggested this might be an illusion, but there is also no Now in the physics, meaning there is no present moment.) So, you have a system which is the epitome of dynamic, with a present moment that is always changing, in a static physical universe. Coming from an I.T. background the solution is just too obvious. It works like a DVD.
A DVD is a static object. The thread of a story, depicted in sight and sound, is engraved on the long spiral track that the DVD player reads. The player reads the information on the track, and produces the moving picture and the accompanying soundtrack. This may not sound much like physical reality, but it is exactly the same logical form. Relativity tells us the world is four dimensional, and it is all laid out ‘already’, meaning the past ‘behind’ us, and even the future ‘in front of us’, exist in the same way as the reality above us and the reality below.
This means that we are in fact four dimensional beings, because one’s past and one’s future exist as real as one’s left and one’s right. This is the ‘world line’. At each point on the line you exist as a three-dimensional entity, the body-mind, and of course the definition of this body-mind is different moving along the line. Yes, it is just like the DVD.
So right away the big question is, who is playing the world-line? According to relativity, no one is. Nothing happens. But according to relativity there is no Now either, and that is obviously not an illusion. Both the paradoxes are very easy to solve. Herman Weyl produced the perfect explanation back in 1949. As he emphasised:
The objective world simply is, it does not happen. Only to the gaze of my consciousness, crawling up the life-line of my body, does the world fleetingly come to life. (1949, 116)
In other words, yes, time does not pass. But consciousness passes along through time, crawling along the life-line of the body, i.e. the world-line; and as a result it seems that time passes. Problem solved. Not. Not according to anyone but Weyl anyway, and possibly Max Planck and Erwin Schrödinger.
The problem is that for this to be how it works, consciousness has to be out of this world, literally. The thing that plays the DVD cannot be part of the DVD. It has to be able to take the DVD and move the read-point along the track. If consciousness is going to crawl up the world-line of the body, it has to be outside the world-line. And this is directly opposite to the current way of thinking. Nobody knows what consciousness is, but it in any kind of modern science it is always assumed it is a property of the brain. And that cannot pass along the worldline any more than the DVD can play itself.
It is important to note that the word consciousness …
It is not just that modern science is not sure what consciousness is, no one has a clue. As stated by Jerry Fodor:
Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. So much for our philosophy of consciousness. (1992)
That of course leaves us looking for some other way that the reality one experiences, call it a frame of reference, moves along the lifeline, each moment one comes to becoming the Now. The whole problem is that nothing physics can do this. Everting is stuck fast in the static four-dimensional space-time layout. That is why the idea of the passage of time being an illusion is seriously raised in the first place. But if we do not accept this, there is only one way this can work. Consciousness is something else.
As it happens, this is exactly what learned physicists have been saying for some time. Both Planck and Schrödinger held that consciousness is fundamental, a property not of the matter and energy of the physical world, but of the universe itself. In modern times modern analysis has yielded the same result. As David Chalmers states, consciousness is definitely not a property of the brain; it cannot be part of physical reality at all, in any way. It is something altogether different. The experiencing can only be:
… a fundamental feature of the world, alongside mass, charge, and space-time. (1995, 216)
In other words, it is contextual to reality, just as the DVD player is to the DVD. It is in the position to scan through space-time just as the DVD player is in the position to scan through the track of the movie.
As stated by Michel Bitbol:
Consciousness is existentially, transcendentally, and methodologically primary. (2008, 16)
Well surely that can’t be right? If it is that simple, why are we not all talking about it? Because this is not seen as any kind of solution. This is considered too ridiculous for words. The idea that consciousness could be significant to how the world actually works is a standing joke. This is perfectly understandable when it is considered to be a purely passive phenomenon, which is obvious, experiencing things, observing the world, is a purely and utterly passive activity. There is absolutely no way it can in anyway make a difference to physical reality. This is totally obvious from the physics we have discovered. But of course the DVD player does not do anything to the DVD. It just plays it. It seems to be crystal clear that consciousness is of this nature. That is what became very obvious to me.
Firstly of course there was complete rejection simply on the grounds of reasonableness. Obviously this idea could not be correct because otherwise it would be in the textbooks. So I must be missing something. I was, but it was the reason stuff like this can be invisible. Weird huh? As described by Thomas Kuhn, conceptual revolution tends to be effectively invisible in the world of established science. At first he thought this was because of a kind of mental overspecialisation, a commitment to the structure one has to take on to do the work. But eventually he worked out that the problem was just language.
Once a new concept is accepted in science, it is explored, new forms and rules are discovered, and new words are coined to describe them. Quantum, quark, world-line, inertial frame of reference, are all terms of the new physics that Newtonian mechanics would have no use for. Indeed, the concepts of the new physics sound ridiculous in that domain. In Classical mechanics the world is a physical machine. Bits of it therefore do not tunnel through other bits by disappearning at one point and reappearing somewhere else. But quanta do.
The word consciousness just means experiencing, and obviously that dose not affect physical reality. but there is a word for the type of thing, like a projector, that moves the frame of reference along a series of positions, iterating the definition of the current situation, the Now – ‘third logical type’. This is my explanation of how reality actually works, and the application of the term ‘logical type’ to this context is my methodology. This provides the new lexicon required to integrate the new concept into the existing science.
The principle of logical type was discovered by Bertrand Russell (1908). A set of things is a completely different kind of entity to any one of those things, the elements of the set. This is important because they are quite different kinds of things, and have quite different kinds of properties. Therefore, as Russell pointed out, ignoring this kind of difference inevitably leads to paradox and nonsense results. What I discovered is that this is essentially the problem with the great paradoxes of the new physics.
The logical type of a movie is the ideal example here. The movie film is simply a sequence of still images, but a movie is of course a completely different kind of thing to a single frame. You cannot play a frame, it is not the right kind of thing. The frame is of the first ‘primitive’ logical type, and the movie, the set of frames, is of a second logical type. The movie projector is a completely different kind of thing again, a third kind of thing. A movie depicts a story as a sequence of events enacted in reality. A projector runs movies. It iterates the frames of any and all movies. It is thus of the class of all possible sets of frames, of a third logical type.
Consciousness is the same kind of thing, as in it works like that, as in quacks, swims, flies etc. In technical terms consciousness supervenes on the moving frame of reference in reality.
It is well-established that the frame of reference we encounters is moving through space-time (at light-speed, as beautfeuuly illustrated by Brian Greene). There is no explantation for this of any kind. We experience the frame of reference of reality moving through space-time, at lightspeed, in a static, four-dimensional space-time, matter-and-energy world. The only way this can possibly work is if consciousness is to the world as the projector is to the movie.
After that new technology is generated, and the rest is history.
Physicists are mathematicians. They test ideas with mathematical rigour, and they apply there skills to anything and everything in the field. And the field covers the definition of the physical universe to a fantastically thorough and accurate degree. This is reality. The concept of consciousness as in any way causal is an oxymoron.
influence or define reality
It seems obvious that the experiencing consciousness is ‘in here’, so it is natural to think of it as something going on in the brain. But this is simply and solely because what is being experienced, the perceptual reality, is in the brain. It is the brain that produces everything that gets experienced; that is the perceptual reality, the world hologram. But consciousness itself is something else entirely. It has been a complete enigma. In fact it is a phenomenon of a completely different kind to anything in reality. As shown in Part 2, it is of a different ‘logical type’.
As held by many great minds, consciousness is fundamental, a property of the universe itself. This idea is usually rejected automatically. It is far too alien to the current worldview. However, as demonstrated in Chapters 11 and 12, we have powerful evidence from the new physics that this is correct. Consciousness is a property of the totality. It is universe consciousness.
The answer to the puzzle is that conscious experiencing is something that it takes a whole universe to do. Brains, or even whole human bodies, do not produce phenomenal consciousness. They just produce that which gets experienced, the ‘inside view’ of reality.
My journey of exploration began with an investigation of how reality works. As described in … I discovered it works in experience, and only in experience. What next? The big problem in quantum theory is that there is no proper and generally accepted definition of what reality actually is. As … new scientist …
So although our modern science provides us with an astonishing level of mastery in many fields, this very question remains unanswered. This kind of suggests the science of physics is incomplete. Logical type turned out to be the answer again.
The world is personal. This is the dictum of QBism, by … It is only what you have personally observed that is ‘determinate’, meaning physically real and definitely so. And all else is indeterminate, which means not in any way defined.
This, by the way, is not a new idea. This is simply what undaunted physicists, such as Carlo Rovelli, Lev Vaidman and Hugh Everett, have been saying. But it does not make any sense. We all live in a great big world together. How obvious could it be? But we do not. Or rather we do, and we don’t.
QBism resolves all the problems. As the authors state:
But it has no explantation. So it is given a nod and ignored. I came across the explanation by turning the idea of superposition upside down.
Quantum computers work on quantum superposition. the memory is put into a superposed state, and the computation runs. All possible answer are given in one pass.
When I got to looking at what reality really is, I came upon Tegmark’s concept of the inside view. This is an elucidation of one of the central principles of Everett’s many worlds theory.
As he states:
Everett defines these two different kinds of frame of reference in his formulation.
It does not
The full implication, however, is as bizarre as it is revolutionary. In this kind of reality, silly though it sounds in our modern technological age, karma is not just some odd, misguided idea of a primitive people: it is a real operational phenomenon, meaning that your relationship with every aspect of the world directly affects which version of this world you are likely to experience in the future, with regard to every aspect of the world, however apparently remote.
This is not a bad thing. This is happening anyway; and given that it is happening anyway, it is extremely useful to know that this is going on. But the crucial point is that this resolves some of the greatest global crises the human race has ever faced: crises that threaten not just catastrophe but potential annihilation. We are facing a hard limit to the growth and expansion of our numbers and our economies. Throughout the long process of human evolution there was a vast global commons that seemed inexhaustible. Now all the cheap oil has been used up, most habitable land has been claimed, and even the great oceans cannot keep up with our demands. If we go on with business as usual there will be a crash, as the available resources become totally inadequate to support a population that is still trying to grow exponentially. However, if we stop competing and start cooperating we can still have everything we need, and at the same time make the transition to a stable population and a world in which everyone is productive and provided for. And this is exactly what happens once we all realise exactly what kind of reality one is living in.
Once I realise that I am in a realm of karma, cooperation and seeking the best for everyone is directly in my own best interests. And living at the expense of others is directly in my own worst interests. Egoism is potentially disastrous. In a domain of this nature, to take more than one gives is to impoverish every aspect of one’s life; but to give more than one takes is to enrich every aspect of it. In other words, living for the good of all is the best one can possibly do for oneself. Just this knowledge and this understanding brings about the transformation in our global culture that Alexander King – founder of the Club of Rome, the organisation that first quantified limits to growth – saw as the only hope for survival through this century: “Any durable solution to [humanity’s] external and internal problems can only come from evolution beyond the egoism that motivates every individual. The wisdom we desperately require can only come through inner transformation. … This seems the only hope of breaking the impasse of both great danger and great promise, in which mankind is presently constrained.” By egoism he means not just an exaggerated self-importance, but the ethical belief that self-interest is the just and proper motive for all human conduct.
We are fundamentally egoistic. We are incredibly clever, naked, killer apes. In order for our race to make it to 2100 in good shape we need to grow up, meaning we need to take the next step of evolution, as King describes. We need to understand that we are, each one of us, at cause: one is constantly participating in the destiny of all of one’s reality. And this will do the trick. So my work has turned out to have some rather massive implications, though I am the first to admit it all sounds rather absurd. But the concepts fit the facts exactly; and it seems that nothing else does. All this is fully described in my book Human Being 2.0, available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
You can read a broad summary of this work.
The result is a new worldview which is presented at AvantGardeScience.com (a work in progress).
The technical papers explaining the underlying concepts are also available.
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org