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Consciousness - evidence of God

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1 Consciousness - evidence of God on Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:42 pm


Consciousness - evidence of God

The Argument from the Hard Problem of Consciousness 
1. The Hard Problem of Consciousness for materialists consists in the difficulty in explaining why it subjectively feels like something witnessing the functioning brain and body. (This is to be distinguished from the so-called Easy Problem of Consciousness, which is to explain why some brain processes are unconscious and others are conscious.) Just like you  suppose you are a man. You had a body of a child. You remember that you had a body of a child, but that body is no longer existing. But you remember; therefore you, the owner of the body, is existing. Otherwise how do you remember, "I had a body like this with this measurement? But that body is no longer existing, but you are remembering. So you are the owner and witness, transcendental to the body. Just like you have now for example a black coat. Say after two days you may put on another colored coat, but you remember that "I was putting on one black coat on that day." So you are existing; the coat is changed. Similarly, the soul is existing; the body is changed. 
2. Consciousness (in the Hard-Problem sense) is not a complex phenomenon built out of simpler ones; it consists of the irreducible substrate or basis of “raw feels, thoughts and desires” like seeing red, tasting salt, experiencing feelings, having thoughts.
3. Science explains complex phenomena by reducing them to simpler ones, and reducing them to still simpler ones, until the simplest ones are explained by the basic laws of physics.
4. The basic laws of physics describe the properties of the elementary constituents of matter and energy, like quarks and quanta, which are not conscious.
5. Science cannot derive to consciousness by reducing it to basic physical laws about the elementary constituents of matter and energy (from 2, 3, and 4). Science doesn’t have a theory of neuroscience that explains how consciousness emerges from patterns of neural activity.
6. Material science will never solve the Hard Problem of Consciousness (from 3 and 5) because it is not an emergent of matter (see 1) since it is the eternal transcendental spectator of matter
7. The explanation for consciousness is that it is beyond physical laws (from 6).
8. Consciousness, lying outside physical laws, must itself be immaterial (from 7). Every measurable manifestation of consciousness, like our ability to describe what we feel, or let our feelings guide our behavior (the “Easy Problem” of consciousness), has been, or will be, explained in terms of neural activity (that is, every thought, feeling, and intention has a neural correlate). Only the existence of consciousness itself (the “Hard Problem”) remains mysterious, for materialists.
9. A intelligent mind is also immaterial. When you  understand that "I, the proprietor of the body, I am different from this body," then you will understand God also, very easily. Because you are the proprietor of this body, and you are given the controlling power of the body by thinking, feeling, willing, by acting. You have your body. You are sitting. You can say, "Now I am going away." The body is under your control. You can do that. Similarly, when you understand this fully, then you'll understand that in this huge, gigantic body, material cosmic manifestation, there is also an immaterial proprietor and controller, easily. God is not different in quality than you. God means like you in huge, unlimited quantity. As you have got little intelligence—you can create a wonderful thing, Boeing 747 airplane flying in the air—so God has got unlimited brain.  The process is the same. You are teeny. You are very much proud that "I am so advanced that I have manufactured the 747." Now compare with the intelligence of God? Such a huge lump of matter, the sun, is floating also there. That is the difference between you and God. You have got brain, He has got brain, but your the brain is very teeny, little, and His brain very big. That is difference between you and God. So if you understand yourself, sample of God, then you understand the Supreme God.
10a. Consciousness and God both consist of the same immaterial kind of being (from 8 and 9). Consciousness comes from a spark of the divine, the soul.
10b. God has not only the means to impart consciousness to us, but also the motive—namely, to allow us to enjoy a good life, and to make it possible for our choices to cause or prevent suffering in others, thereby allowing for morality and meaning.
11. God exists.

Zechariah 12:1
This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundations of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him…."

The mystery of how information is "coded." Scientists can SEE the human brain, can MEASURE electrical pulses traveling within the brain, etc., but how can this explain our thoughts? The article goes on to draw this comparison:

   "The challenge is something like popping the cover off a computer, measuring a few transistors chattering between high and low voltage, and trying to guess the content of the Web page being surfed."

Science has no idea how memories are stored and retrieved in the human brain:
 "Memory retrieval is even more mysterious than storage…there is no good theory to explain how memory retrieval can happen so quickly." 2

–Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Planck, who founded quantum theory, and who is therefore one of the most important physicists of all time.
“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

the origin of consciousness is a big problem for evolution. Richard Gregory, evolutionist and professor of neuropsychology and director of the brain and perception laboratory at the University of Bristol in England, explained a major dilemma: 3

Here there is something of a paradox, for if the awareness of consciousness does not have any effect—if consciousness is not a causal agent—then it seems useless, and so should not have developed by evolutionary pressure. If, on the other hand, it is useful, it must be a causal agent: but then physiological description in terms of neural activity cannot be complete.— Richard Gregory, evolutionist and professor of neuropsychology.

   ‘If the brain was developed by Natural Selection, we might well suppose that consciousness has survival value. But for this it must, surely, have causal effects. But what effects could awareness, or consciousness, have? 

   ‘Why, then, do we need consciousness? What does consciousness have that the neural signals (and physical brain activity) do not have? Here there is something of a paradox, for if the awareness of consciousness does not have any effect—if consciousness is not a causal agent—then it seems useless, and so should not have developed by evolutionary pressure. If, on the other hand, it is useful, it must be a causal agent: but then physiological description in terms of neural activity cannot be complete. Worse, we are on this alternative stuck with mentalistic explanations, which seem outside science.’

Douglas Graham Atheists have a black hole on consciousness until the brain developed sufficiently to create it. Another lie. How is it a lie? Imagine unconscious beings existing successfully until their brains developed sufficiently to create consciousness. What can an unconscious being do for themselves? Nothing. Atheists are hungry for something they can feel a sense of belonging. The only thing in nature they mirror is darkness.

What is consciousness? A scientist’s perspective. 4
We all know what consciousness is. We can tell when we’re awake, when we’re thinking, when we’re pondering the universe, but can anyone really explain the nature of this perception? Or even what separates conscious thought from subconscious thought?

What is consciousness?
Imagine the difference between the image of an apple to your brain and a digital camera. The raw image is the same whether on a camera screen or in your head. The camera treats each pixel independently and doesn’t recognise an object. Your brain, however, will combine parts of the image to identify an object, that it is an apple and that it is food. Here, the camera can be seen as ‘unconscious’ and the brain as ‘conscious’.

A human brain contains roughly 86 billion neurons whereas a mouse brain contains only 75 million (over a thousand times less). A person might then argue that it is because our brains are bigger and contain more nerve cells that we can form more complex thoughts. While this may hold to a certain extent, it still doesn’t really explain how consciousness arises.

If you cut off a bit of your cerebellum (don’t try this at home) then you may walk a bit lopsided, but you would still be able to form conscious thoughts. If however, you decided to cut off a bit of your cortex, the outer-most folds of the brain, your conscious thought would be severely diminished and your life drastically impacted. So it seems that the number of brain cells we have doesn’t necessarily relate to conscious thought.

A person is a unity of body + mind/soul, the mind/soul being the immaterial part of you that is the real inner you. Chemicals alone cannot explain self-awareness, creativity, reasoning, emotions of love and hate, sensations of pleasure and pain, possessing and remembering experiences, and free will. Reason itself cannot be relied upon if it is based only on blind neurological events. 5

How can consciousness have evolved if it serves no purpose? 6
And there's another huge contradiction in the scientific community. Most conventional scientists claim that consciousness is an illusion which somehow arose out of natural selection so that individual members of a species could operate under the illusion of free will. Yet, at the same time, they claim this false "mind" has no actual impact on the real world because it is, by definition, an illusion.

So how can an illusory phenomenon drive natural selection and evolution if it has no impact on the real world?

This is a stinging contradiction demonstrating the false beliefs of the materialists (i.e. mainstream scientists). Given enough time and effort, I could name a hundred more obvious contradictions they shamelessly promote as "facts."

The philosopher David Chalmers has called the very existence of subjective experience the "hard problem." It is hard because it defies explanation in terms of mechanisms. Even if we understand how eyes and brains respond to red light, the experience of redness is not accounted for. 7


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2 Re: Consciousness - evidence of God on Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:42 am


Why Consciousness is Not the Brain 1

Excerpted from The Science of Premonition: How Knowing the Future Can Help Us Avoid Danger, Maximize Opportunities and Create a Better Life 
by Larry Dossey. Copyright 2009 by Larry Dossey. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Physicist Freeman Dyson believes the cosmos is suffused with consciousness, from the grandest level to the most minute dimensions. If it is, why aren’t we aware of it?
“We don’t know who first discovered water, but we can be sure that it wasn’t a fish,” the old saw reminds us. Continual exposure to something reduces our awareness of its presence. Over time, we become blind to the obvious. We swim in a sea of consciousness, like a fish swims in water. And like a fish that has become oblivious to his aqueous environment, we have become dulled to the ubiquity of consciousness.

In science, we have largely ignored how consciousness manifests in our existence. We’ve done this by assuming that the brain produces consciousness, although how it might do so has never been explained and can hardly be imagined. The polite term for this trick is “emergence.” At a certain stage of biological complexity, evolutionary biologists claim, consciousness pops out of the brain like a rabbit from a magician’s hat. Yet this claim rests on no direct evidence whatsoever.

As Rutgers University philosopher Jerry A. Fodo flatly states,
 “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. So much for our philosophy of consciousness.”

In spite of the complete absence of evidence, the belief that the brain produces consciousness endures and has ossified into dogma. Many scientists realize the limitations of this belief. One way of getting around the lack of evidence is simply to declare that what we call consciousness is the brain itself. That way, nothing is produced, and the magic of “emergence” is avoided. 

As astronomer Carl Sagan expressed his position,
 “My fundamental premise about the brain is that its workings – what we sometimes call mind – are a consequence of anatomy and physiology, and nothing more.”

 Nobelist Francis Crick agreed, saying
 “[A] person’s mental activities are entirely due to the behavior of nerve cells, glial cells, and the atoms, ions, and molecules that make up and influence them.”

This “identity theory” – mind equals brain – has led legions of scientists and philosophers to regard consciousness as an unnecessary, superfluous concept. Some go out of their way to deny the existence of consciousness altogether, almost as if they bear a grudge against it.

 Tufts University cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett says,
 “We’re all zombies. Nobody is conscious.” Dennett includes himself in this extraordinary claim, and he seems proud of it.

Consciousness can operate beyond the brain, body, and the present, as hundreds of experiments and millions of testimonials affirm. Consciousness cannot, therefore, be identical with the brain.

Others suggest that there are no mental states at all, such as love, courage, or patriotism, but only electrochemical brain fluxes that should not be described with such inflated language. They dismiss thoughts and beliefs for the same reasons. This led Nobel neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles to remark that “professional philosophers and psychologists think up the notion that there are no thoughts, come to believe that there are no beliefs, and feel strongly that there are no feelings.” Eccles was emphasizing the absurdities that have crept into the debates about consciousness. They are not hard to spot. Some of the oddest experiences I recall are attending conferences where one speaker after another employs his consciousness to denounce the existence of consciousness, ignoring the fact that he consciously chose to register for the meeting, make travel plans, prepare his talks, and so on.

Many scientists concede that there are huge gaps in their knowledge of how the brain makes consciousness, but they are certain they will be filled in as science progresses. Eccles and philosopher of science Karl Popper branded this attitude “promissory materialism.” “[P]romissary materialism [is] a superstition without a rational foundation,” Eccles says. “[It] is simply a religious belief held by dogmatic materialists . . .who confuse their religion with their science. It has all the features of a messianic prophecy.”

The arguments about the origins and nature of consciousness are central to premonitions. For if the promissory materialists are correct – if consciousness is indeed identical with the brain – the curtain closes on premonitions. The reason is that the brain is a local phenomenon – i.e., it is localized to the brain and body, and to the present. This prohibits premonitions in principle, because accordingly the brain cannot operate outside the body and the here-and-now. But consciousness can operate beyond the brain, body, and the present, as hundreds of experiments and millions of testimonials affirm. Consciousness cannot, therefore, be identical with the brain.

In science, we have largely ignored how consciousness manifests in our existence. We’ve done this by assuming that the brain produces consciousness, although how it might do so has never been explained and can hardly be imagined.
These assertions are not hyperbolic, but conservative. They are consistent with the entire span of human history, throughout which all cultures of which we have record believed that human perception extends beyond the reach of the senses. This belief might be dismissed as superstition but for the fact that modern research has established its validity beyond reasonable doubt to anyone whose reasoning has not clotted into hardened skepticism. To reiterate a single example – the evidence supporting foreknowledge – psi researchers Charles Honorton and Diane Ferrari examined 309 precognition experiments carried out by sixty-two investigators involving 50,000 participants in more than two million trials. Thirty percent of these studies were significant in showing that people can describe future events, when only five percent would be expected to demonstrate such results by chance. The odds that these results were not due to chance was greater than 10 to the twentieth power to one.
One of the first modern thinkers to endorse an outside-the-brain view of consciousness was William James, who is considered the father of American psychology. In his 1898 Ingersoll Lecture at Harvard University, James took a courageous stand against what he called “the fangs of cerebralism and the idea that consciousness is produced by the brain. He acknowledged that arrested brain development in childhood can lead to mental retardation, that strokes or blows to the head can abolish memory or consciousness, and that certain chemicals can change the quality of thought. But to consider this as proof that the brain actually makes consciousness, James said, is irrational. Why irrational? 

Consider a radio, an invention that was introduced during James’s lifetime, and which he used to illustrate the mind-brain relationship. If one bangs a radio with a hammer, it ceases to function. But that does not mean that the origin of the sounds was the radio itself; the sound originated from outside it in the form of an electromagnetic signal. The radio received, modified, and amplified the external signal into something recognizable as sound. Just so, the brain can be damaged in various ways that distort the quality of consciousness – trauma, stroke, nutritional deficiencies, dementia, etc. But this does not necessarily mean the brain “made” the consciousness that is now disturbed, or that consciousness is identical to the brain.

British philosopher Chris Carter endorses this analogy. Equating mind and brain is irrational, he says as listening to music on a radio, smashing the radio’s receiver, and thereby concluding that the radio was producing the music.
To update the analogy, consider a television set. We can damage a television set so severely that we lose the image on the screen, but this doesn’t prove that the TV actually produced the image. We know that David Letterman does not live behind the TV screen on which he appears; yet the contention that brain equals consciousness is as absurd as if he did.

My conclusion is that consciousness is not a thing or substance, but is a nonlocal phenomenon. Nonlocal is merely a fancy word for infinite. If something is nonlocal, it is not localized to specific points in space, such as brains or bodies, or to specific points in time, such as the present.

The radio and TV analogies can be misleading, however, because consciousness does not behave like an electromagnetic signal. Electromagnetic (EM) signals display certain characteristics. The farther away they get from their source, the weaker they become. Not so with consciousness; its effects do not attenuate with increasing distance. For example, in the hundreds of healing experiments that have been done in both humans and animals, healing intentions work equally well from the other side of the earth as at the bedside of the sick individual. Moreover, EM signals can be blocked partially or completely, but the effects of conscious intention cannot be blocked by any known substance. For instance, sea water is known to block EM signals completely at certain depths, yet experiments in remote viewing have been successfully carried out beyond such depths, demonstrating that the long-distance communication between the involved individuals cannot depend on EM-type signals. In addition, EM signals require travel time from their source to a receiver, yet thoughts can be perceived simultaneously between individuals across global distances. Thoughts can be displaced in time, operating into both past and future. In precognitive remoteviewing experiments – for example, the hundreds of such experiments by the PEAR Lab at Princeton University – the receiver gets a future thought before it is ever sent. Furthermore, consciousness can operate into the past, as in the experiments involving retroactive intentions. Electromagnetic signals are not capable of these feats. From these differences, we can conclude that consciousness is not an electric signal.

Then what is it? My conclusion is that consciousness is not a thing or substance, but is a nonlocal phenomenon. Nonlocal is merely a fancy word for infinite. If something is nonlocal, it is not localized to specific points in space, such as brains or bodies, or to specific points in time, such as the present. Nonlocal events are immediate; they require no travel time. They are unmediated; they require no energetic signal to “carry” them. They are unmitigated; they do not become weaker with increasing distance. Nonlocal phenomena are omnipresent, everywhere at once. This means there is no necessity for them to go anywhere; they are already there. They are infinite in time as well, present at all moments, past present and future, meaning they are eternal.

Researcher Dean Radin, whose presentiment experiments provide profound evidence for future knowing, believes that the nonlocal events in the subatomic, quantum domain underlie the nonlocal events we experience at the human level. He invokes the concept of entanglement as a bridging hypothesis uniting the small- and large-scale happenings. Quantum entanglement and quantum nonlocality are indeed potent possibilities that may eventually explain our nonlocal experiences, but only further research will tell. Meanwhile, there is a gathering tide of opinion favoring these approaches. As 

physicist Chris Clarke, of the University of Southampton, says,
 “On one hand, Mind is inherently non-local. On the other, the world is governed by a quantum physics that is inherently non-local. This is no accident, but a precise correspondence ...[Mind and the world are] aspects of the same thing...The way ahead, I believe, has to place mind first as the key aspect of the universe...We have to start exploring how we can talk about mind in terms of a quantum picture...Only then will we be able to make a genuine bridge between physics and physiology.”

When scientists muster the courage to face this evidence unflinchingly, the greatest superstition of our age – the notion that the brain generates consciousness or is identical with it – will topple. In its place will arise a nonlocal picture of the mind.

Whatever their explanation proves to be, the experiments documenting premonitions are real. They must be reckoned with. And when scientists muster the courage to face this evidence unflinchingly, the greatest superstition of our age – the notion that the brain generates consciousness or is identical with it – will topple. In its place will arise a nonlocal picture of the mind. This view will affirm that consciousness is fundamental, omnipresent and eternal – a model that is as cordial to premonitions as the materialistic, brain-based view is hostile.


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3 Re: Consciousness - evidence of God on Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:10 am


Does Our Brain Really Create Consciousness? 1

Western science has had remarkable success in explaining the functioning of the material world, but when it comes to the inner world of the mind, it has very little to say. And when it comes to consciousness itself, science falls curiously silent. There is nothing in physics, chemistry, biology, or any other science that can account for our having an interior world. In a strange way, scientists would be much happier if minds did not exist. Yet without minds there would be no science.
This ever-present paradox may be pushing Western science into what Thomas Kuhn called a paradigm shift--a fundamental change in worldview.
This process begins when the prevalent paradigm encounters an anomaly -- an observation that the current worldview can't explain. As far as the today's scientific paradigm is concerned, consciousness is certainly one big anomaly. It is the most obvious fact of life: the fact that we are aware and experience an internal world of images, sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Yet there is nothing more difficult to explain. It is easier to explain how the universe evolved from the Big Bang to human beings than it is to explain why any of us should ever have a single inner experience. How does all that electro-chemical activity in the physical matter of the brain ever give rise to conscious experience? Why doesn't it all just go on in the dark?

The initial response to an anomaly is often simply to ignore it. This is indeed how the scientific world has responded to the anomaly of consciousness. And for seemingly sound reasons.
First, consciousness cannot be observed in the way that material objects can. It cannot be weighed, measured, or otherwise pinned down. Second, science has sought to arrive at universal objective truths that are independent of any particular observer's viewpoint or state of mind. To this end they have deliberately avoided subjective considerations. And third, there seemed no need to consider it; the functioning of the universe could be explained without having to explore the troublesome subject of consciousness.
However, developments in several fields are now showing that consciousness cannot be so easily sidelined. Quantum physics suggests that, at the atomic level, the act of observation affects the reality that is observed. In medicine, a person's state of mind can have significant effects on the body's ability to heal itself. And as neurophysiologists deepen their understanding of brain function questions about the nature of consciousness naturally raise their head.

When the anomaly can no longer be ignored, the common reaction is to attempt to explain it within the current paradigm. Some believe that a deeper understanding of brain chemistry will provide the answers; perhaps consciousness resides in the action of neuropeptides. Others look to quantum physics; the minute microtubules found inside nerve cells could create quantum effects that might somehow contribute to consciousness. Some explore computing theory and believe that consciousness emerges from the complexity of the brain's processing. Others find sources of hope in chaos theory.
Yet whatever ideas are put forward, one thorny question remains: How can something as immaterial as consciousness ever arise from something as unconscious as matter?

If the anomaly persists, despite all attempts to explain it, then maybe the fundamental assumptions of the prevailing worldview need to be questioned. This is what Copernicus did when confronted with the perplexing motion of the planets. He challenged the geocentric worldview, showing that if the sun, not the earth, was at the center, then the movements of the planets began to make sense. But people don't easily let go of cherished assumptions. Even when, 70 years later, the discoveries of Galileo and Kepler confirmed Copernicus's proposal, the establishment was loath to accept the new model. Only when Newton formulated his laws of motion, providing a mathematical explanation of the planets' paths, did the new paradigm start gaining wider acceptance.
The continued failure of our attempts to account for consciousness suggests that we too should question our basic assumptions. The current scientific worldview holds that the material world--the world of space, time and matter -- is the primary reality. It is therefore assumed that the internal world of mind must somehow emerge from the world of matter. But if this assumption is getting us nowhere, perhaps we should consider alternatives.

One alternative that is gaining increasing attention is the view that the capacity for experience is not itself a product of the brain. This is not to say that the brain is not responsible for what we experience -- there is ample evidence for a strong correlation between what goes on in the brain and what goes on in the mind -- only that the brain is not responsible for experience itself. Instead, the capacity for consciousness is an inherent quality of life itself.
In this model, consciousness is like the light in a film projector. The film needs the light in order for an image to appear, but it does not create the light. In a similar way, the brain creates the images, thoughts, feelings and other experiences of which we are aware, but awareness itself is already present.
All that we have discovered about the correlations between the brain and experience still holds true. This is usually the case with a paradigm shift; the new includes the old. But it also resolves the anomaly that the old could not explain. In this case, we no longer need scratch our heads wondering how the brain generates the capacity for experience.
This proposal is so contrary to the current paradigm, that die-hard materialists easily ridicule and dismiss it. But we should not forget the bishops of Galileo's time who refused to look through his telescope because they knew his discovery was impossible.


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4 Re: Consciousness - evidence of God on Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:13 am


Quantum Consciousness 1

An approach to the mind-body problem based on physical laws has been advocated by several thinkers. Quantum Theory has been particularly intriguing for scientists eager to provide a physical explanation of consciousness.
Loosely speaking, the point is that consciousness is unlikely to arise from classical properties of matter (the more we understand the structure and the fabric of the brain, the less we understand how consciousness can occur at all), which are well known and well testable. But Quantum Theory allows for a new concept of matter altogether, which may well leave cracks for consciousness, for something that is not purely material or purely extra-material. Of course, the danger in this way of thinking is to relate consciousness and Quantum only because they are both poorly understood: what they certainly have in common is a degree of "magic" that makes both mysterious and unattainable...
On the other hand, it is certainly true that all current neurobiological descriptions of the brain are based on Newton's Physics, even if it is well known that Newton's Physics has its limitations. First of all, Newton's Physics is an offshoot of Descartes division of the universe in matter and spirit, and it deals only with matter. Secondly, neurobiologists assume that the brain and its parts behave like classical objects, and that quantum effects are negligible, even while the "objects" they are studying get smaller and smaller. What neurobiologists are doing when they study the microstructure of the brain from a Newtonian perspective is equivalent to organizing a trip to the Moon on the basis of Aristotle's Physics, neglecting Newton's theory of gravitation.
No wonder most neurobiologists reach the conclusion that Physics cannot explain consciousness, since they are using a Physics that 1. was designed to study matter and leave out consciousness and that 2. does not work in the microworld. Not surprisingly, it has been claimed that all current neurobiological models are computationally equivalent to a Turing machine.
The true pioneer of this field is the biologist Alfred Lotka, who in 1924, when Quantum Theory had barely been born, proposed that the mind controls the brain by modulating the quantum jumps that would otherwise lead to a completely random existence.
The first detailed quantum model of consciousness was probably the American physicist Evan Walker's synaptic tunneling model (1970), in which electrons can "tunnel" between adjacent neurons, thereby creating a virtual neural network overlapping the real one. It is this virtual nervous system that produces consciousness and that can direct the behavior of the real nervous system. The real nervous system operates by means of synaptic messages. The virtual one operates by means of the quantum effect of tunneling (particles passing through an energy barrier that classically they should not be able to climb). The real one is driven by classical laws, the virtual one by quantum laws. Consciousness is therefore driven by quantum laws, even if the brain's behavior can be described by classical laws.
A few researchers have invoked another quantum effect, Bose-Einstein condensation (theoretically predicted in 1925 and first achieved in a gas in 1995), which is a general case of superconductivity. A Bose-Einstein condensate is the equivalent of a laser, except that it is the atoms, rather than the photons, that behave identically. Its atoms behave like they were a single atom. Technically speaking, as temperature drops each atom's wave grows, until the waves of all the atoms begin to overlap and eventually merge. After they merged, the atoms are located within the same region in space, they travel at the same speed, they vibrate at the same frequency, etc.: they become indistinguishable. The atoms have reached the lowest possible energy, but Heisenberg's principle makes it impossible for this to be zero energy: it is called "zero-point" energy, the minimum energy an atom can have. The intriguing feature of a Bose-Einstein condensate is that the many parts of a system not only behave as a whole, they become whole. Their identities merge in such a way that they lose their individuality.
In 1986 the British physicist Herbert Froehlich suggested that such condensation can be achieved in Nature by biological organisms. In particular, it should arise when biological oscillators which are in a nonequilibrium state (such as all plants and animals) are maintained at constant temperature. Biological oscillators of this kind are pervasive in nature: living matter is made of water and other biomolecules equipped with electrical dipoles, which react to external stimuli with a spontaneous breakdown of their rotational symmetry. The biological usefulness of such biological oscillators is that, like laser light, they can amplify signals and encode information (e.g., they can "remember" an external stimulus).
In 1989 the British phychiatrist Ian Marshall showed similarities between the holistic properties of condensates and those of consciousness, and suggested that consciousness may arise from the excitation of such a Bose-Einstein condensate. In Marshall's hypothesis, the brain contains a Froelich-style condensate, and, whenever the condensate is excited by an electrical field, conscious experience occurs. The brain would maintain dynamical coherence thanks to an underlying quantum coherent state (due, precisely, to the properties of such a condensate).
Drawing from Quantum Mechanics and from Bertrand Russell's idea that consciousness provides a kind of "window" onto the brain, the philosopher Michael Lockwood advanced a theory of consciousness as a process of perception of brain states.
First he noted that Special Relativity implies that mental states must be physical states (mental states must be in space given that they are in time). Then Lockwood interpreted the role of the observer in Quantum Mechanics as the role of consciousness in the physical world (as opposed to a simple interference with the system being observed). Lockwood argued that sensations must be intrinsic attributes of physical states of the brain: in quantum lingo, each observable attribute (e.g., each sensation) corresponds to an observable of the brain. Consciousness scans the brain to look for sensations. It does not create them, it just seeks them.
In 1986 John Eccles, the British neurophysiologist who discovered neurotransmitters, has speculated that synapses in the cortex respond in a probabilistic manner to neural excitation, a probability that could well be governed by quantum uncertainty given the extremely small size of the synapsis'"microsite" that emits the neurotransmitter. If this is true, Eccles speculates that an immaterial mind (in the form of "psychons") controls the quantum "jumps" and turns them into voluntary excitations of the neurons that account for body motion.
Conscious matter
The American physicist Nick Herbert has been even more specific on the similarities between Quantum Theory and consciousness. Herbert thinks that consciousness is a pervasive process in nature. Mind is as fundamental a component of the universe as elementary particles and forces. Mind can be detected by three features of quantum theory: randomness, thinglessness (objects acquire attributes only once they are observed) and interconnectedness (John Bell's discovery that once two particles have interacted they remain connected). Herbert thinks that these three features of inert matter can account for three basic features of mind: free will, essential ambiguity, and deep psychic connectedness. Scientists may be vastly underestimating the quantity of consciousness in the universe.
The computer scientist James Culbertson, a pioneer of research on robots, has even speculated that consciousness may be a relativistic feature of spacetime. In his opinion, too, consciousness permeates all of nature, so that every object has a degree of consciousness.
According to Relativity, our lives are world lines in spacetime. Spacetime does not happen, it always exists. It is our brain that shows us a movie of matter evolving in time.
All spacetime events are conscious: they are conscious of other spacetime events. The "experience" of a spacetime event is static, a frozen region of spacetime events. All the subjective features of the "psychospace" of an observer can be completely derived from the objective features of the region of spacetime that the observer is connected to. Special circuits in our brain create the impression of a time flow, of a time travel through the region of spacetime events connected to the brain.
Memory of an event is re-experiencing that spacetime event, which is fixed in spacetime. We don't store an event, we only keep a link to it. Conscious memory is not in the brain, is in spacetime.
The inner life of a system is its spacetime history. To clarify his view, Culbertson presents the case of two robots. First a robot is built and learns German, then another robot is built which is identical to the first one. Culbertson claims that the second robot does not speak German, even if it is identical to the one which speaks German. Their spacetime histories are different.
At the same time, Culbertson thinks that our consciousness is much more than an illusory travel through spacetime, and it can, in turn, influence reality. Quantum Thoery prescribes that reality be a sequence of random quantum jumps. Culbertson believes that they are not random but depend on the system's spacetime history, i.e. on its inner life.
Tripartite Idealism
The American physicist Henry Stapp holds that classical Physics cannot explain consciousness because it cannot explain how the whole can be more than the parts. In Quantum Mechanics, on the other hand, the relationship between the parts and the whole is completely different. Stapp therefore advances a "quantum theory of consciousness" and bases it on Heisenberg's interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (that reality is a sequence of collapses of wave functions, i.e. of quantum discontinuities). He observes that this view is similar to William James's view of the mental life as "experienced sense objects".
His view harks back to the heydays of Quantum Theory, when it was clear to its founders that "science is what we know". Science specifies rules that connect bits of knowledge. Each of us is a "knower" and our joint knowledge of the universe is the subject of Science. Quantum Theory is therefore a "knowledge-based" discipline. This view was "pragmatic" because it prescribes how to make experiments, and it was separating the system to be observed from the observer and from the instrument.
Von Neumann introduced an "ontological" approach to this knowledge-based discipline, which brought the observer and the instrument in the state of the system. Stapp describes Von Neumann's view of Quantum Theory through a simple definition: "the state of the universe is an objective compendium of subjective knowings". This statement describes the fact that the state of the universe is represented by a wave function which is a compendium of all the wave functions that each of us can cause to collapse with her or his observations. That is why it is a collection of subjective acts, although an objective one.
Stapp follows the logical consequences of this approach and achieves a new form of idealism: all that exists is that subjective knowledge, therefore the universe is now about matter, it is about subjective experience. Quantum Theory does not talk about matter, it talks about our perceiving matter. Stapp rediscovers George Berkeley's idealism: we only know our perceptions (observations).
Stapp's model of consciousness is tripartite. Reality is a sequence of discrete events in the brain. Each event is an increase of knowledge. That knowledge comes from observing "systems". Each event is driven by three processes that operate together:

  • The "Schroedinger process" is a mechanical, deterministic, process that predicts the state of the system (in a fashion similar to Newton's Physics: given its state at a given time, we can use equations to calculate its state at a different time). The only difference is that Schroedinger's equations describe the state of a system as a set of possibilities, rather than just one certainty.

  • The "Heisenberg process" is a conscious choice that we make: the formalism of Quantum Theory implies that we can know something only when we ask Nature a question. This implies, in turn, that we have a degree of control over Nature. Depending on which question we ask, we can affect the state of the universe. Stapp mentions the Quantum Zeno effect, as a well known process in which we can alter the course of the universe by asking questions (it is the phenomenon by which a system is "freezed" if we keep observing the same observable very rapidly). We have to make a conscious decision about which question to ask Nature (which observable to observe). Otherwise nothing is going to happen.

  • The "Dirac process" gives the answer to our question. Nature replies, and, as far as we can tell, the answer is totally random.

Once Nature has replied, we have learned something: we have increased our knowledge. This is a change in the state of the universe, which directly corresponds to a change in the state of our brain. Technically, there occurs a reduction of the wave function compatible with the fact that has been learned.
Stapp's interpretation of Quantum Theory is that there are many knowers. Each knower's act of knowledge (each individual increment of knowledge) results in a new state of the universe. One person's increment of knowledge changes the state of the entire universe, and, of course, it changes it for everybody else.
Quantum Theory is not about the behavior of matter, but about our knowledge of such behavior.
"Thinking" is a sequence of events of knowing, driven by those three processes.
Instead of dualism or materialism, one is faced with a sort of interactive "triality", all aspects of which are actually mind-like:
The physical aspect of Nature (the Schroedinger equation) is a compendium of subjective knowledge. The conscious act of asking a question is what drives the actual transition from one state to another, i.e. the evolution of the universe. And then there is a choice from the outside, the reply of Nature, which, as far as we can tell, is random.
Stapp's conclusions somehow mirror the ideas of the American psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwarz, who is opposed to the mechanistic approach of Psychiatry and emphasizes the power of consciousness to control the brain.
Stapp revives idealism by showing that Quantum Theory is about knowledge, not matter. The universe is a repository of knowledge, that we have access to and upon which our consciousness has control.
Holonomic Consciousness
The "holonomic" model of memory, advanced by psychologist Karl Pribram, is based on the hologram. Many properties of the brain are the same properties that are commonly associated with holograms: memory is distributed in the brain and memories do not disappear all of a sudden, but slowly fade away.
Holograms are the product of a physical process that preserves the three-dimensional quality of an object. Normally, lasers are employed to record the diffraction pattern of an object, from which a 3-dimensional image of the object can be rebuilt.
In Pribram's opinion a sensory perception is transformed in a "brain wave", a pattern of electromagnetical activation that propagates through the brain just like the wavefront in a liquid. This crossing of the brain provides the interpretation of the sensory perception in the form of a "memory wave", which in turn crosses the brain. The various waves that travel through the brain can interfere. The interference of a memory wave and a perceptual (e.g., visual) wave generates a structure that resembles an hologram.
Pribram employs Fourier transformations to deal with the dualism between spacetime and spectrum, and Gabor's phase space to embed spacetime and spectrum. All perceptions (and not only colors or sounds) can be analyzed into their component frequencies of oscillation and therefore treated by Fourier analysis. Dirac's "least action principle" (which favors the least expenditure of energy) constrains trajectories in such a space. Gabor's uncertainty principle sets a limit at which both frequency and spacetime can be concurrently determined (the fundamental minimum is Gabor's "quantum of information"). Structure and process are two aspects of the same entity, distinguished only by the scale of observation (from a distance an entity looks like a structure, but close enough it is a process).
In Pribram’s theory, therefore, the formalism of Quantum Theory applies to the modeling of brain functions themselves (brain microprocesses and physical microprocesses can be described by the same formalism). Incidentally, Pribram suggested that consciousness may occur primarily in dendritic-dendritic processing and that axonal firings may support primarily automatic, non-conscious activities.
Quantum brain dynamics
The Heisenberg and Von Neumann tradition has always viewed the brain as a "quantum measuring device". But the Japanese physicist Kunio Yasue, the American physicist Gordon Globus and others, claims that brain substrates uphold second-order quantum fields, which cannot be treated as mere measuring devices.
Yasue, building on the quantum field theory developed in the 1960s by the Japanese physicist Hiroomi Umezawa and on his concept of "corticons" as more primitive than "neurons", has developed a "quantum neurophysics" that explains how the classical world can originate from quantum processes in the brain.
Yasue is not a connectionist. The fact that neurons are organized inside the brain is of negligible importance in his theory.
Yasue thinks that several layers of the brain can host quantum processes, whose quantum properties explain consciousness and cognition. Yasue presents the brain as a macroscopic quantum system. He focuses on water megamolecules in the space between neurons, which can combine to form extended quantum systems, interacting with the neural networks.He focuses on the sensory system, whose quantum field causes some special molecules in the membrane of the neuron to undergo Froehlich condensation and cause, in turn, macroscopic coherence.
He focuses on structures such as microtubules which lie inside the neuron, and which contain quasi-crystalline water molecules that again lend themselves to quantum effects. The function of this quantum field could be cognitive: some particular quantum states could record memory.
He focuses on a bioplasma of charged particles which interact with the electromagnetic field, an ideal vehicle for a merge of the sensory quantum field with the memory quantum field, an ideal vehicle for the creation of classical reality. Thus, classical order can continually unfold in this bioplasma.
According to traditional interpretations of Quantum Theory, classical order unfolds because of a measurement and the consequent collapse of the wave function. According to Globus, classical order unfolds from the interaction between quantum cognition (the memory quantum field, or "holoworld") and quantum reality (the sensory quantum field).
Heisenberg's discontinuous sequence of collapsed realities is replaced by a continuous unfolding of worlds from a holoworld.
Yasue shows how consciousness could arise from the interaction between the electromagnetic field and molecular fields of water and protein. Furthermore, Yasue maintains that the evolution of the neural wave function is not random, as would result from the traditional quantum theories, but optimized under a principle of "least neural action". Random effects of consciousness are replaced by a "cybernetic" consciousness which is more in the tradition of the self as a free-willing agent.
Quantum-gravitational Consciousness
One of the strongest proponents of a theory of consciousness founded on Quantum Theory is Roger Penrose in person, one of the leading British physicists of our times. In his opinion, consciousness must be a quantum phenomenon because neurons are too big to account for consciousness. Inside neurons there is a "cytoskeleton", the structure that holds cells together, whose "microtubules" (hollow protein cylinders 25-nanometers in diameter) control the function of synapses. Penrose believes that consciousness is a manifestation of the quantum cytoskeletal state and its interplay between quantum and classical levels of activity.
The theory exposed by Penrose and his close American associate Stuart Hameroff is very detailed. The story begins with Penrose's distinction between "subjective" and "objective" reduction. Subjective reduction is what happens when an observer measures a quantity in a quantum system: the system is not in any specific state (the system is in a "superposition" of possible states) until it is observed, the observation causes the system to reduce (or "collapse") to a specific state. This is the only reduction known to traditional Quantum Theory. Objective reduction is a Penrose discovery, part of his attempt at unifying Relativity Theory and Quantum Theory.
Superpositioned states each have their own space-time geometry. Under special circumstances, which microtubules are suitable for, the separation of space-time geometry of the superpositioned states (i.e., the "warping" of these space-times) reaches a point (the quantum gravity threshold) where the system must choose one state. The system must then spontaneously and abruptly collapse to that one state. So, objective reduction is a type of collapse of the wave function which occurs when the universe must choose between significantly differing spacetime geometries.
This "self-collapse" results in particular "conformational states" that regulate neural processes. These conformational states can interact with neighboring states to represent, propagate and process information. Each self-collapse corresponds to a discrete conscious event. Sequences of events then give rise to a "stream" of consciousness. The proteins somehow "tune" the objective reduction which is thus self-organized, or "orchestrated".
In concluding, the quantum phenomenon of objective reduction controls the operation of the brain through its effects on coherent flows inside microtubules of the cytoskeleton.
In general, the collapse of the wave function is what gives the laws of nature a non-algorithmic element. Otherwise we would simply be machines and we would have no consciousness.
Therefore, Penrose and Hameroff believe that "protoconscious" information is encoded in space-time geometry at the fundamental Planck scale and that a self-organizing Planck-scale process results in consciousness. This means that Penrose believes in a Platonic scenario of conscious states that exist in a world of their own, and to which our minds have access; except that his "world of ideas" is a physicist's world: quantum spin networks encode proto-conscious states and different configurations of quantum spin geometry represent varieties of conscious experience. Access to these states (or consciousness as we know it) originates when a self-organizing process (the objective reduction) somehow coupled with neural activity collapses quantum wave functions at Planck-scale geometry.
There is a separate mental world, but it is grounded in the physical world.
A Physics of Consciousness
Now that legions of physicists are delving into the topic, physical models of consciousness abound.
One has to do with other dimensions. The unification theories that attempt at unifying General Relativity (i.e. gravitation) and Quantum Theory (i.e., the weak, electrical and strong forces) typically add new dimensions to the four ones we experience. These dimensions differ from space in that they are bound (actually, rolled up in tiny tubes) and in that they only exist for changes to occur in particle properties. Saul-Paul Sirag's hyperspace, for example, contains many physical dimensions and many mental dimensions (time is one of the dimensions they have in common).
The physicist Erich Harth is trying to explain consciousness by means of a process that relies on "positive" feedback. Feedback can be negative or positive. Negative feedback is the familiar one, which has to do with stabilizing a process, in particular its input with its output. Positive feedback works in the opposite direction, at the edge of instability: the signal is amplified by itself, weakening the relationship between input and output. Harth thinks that a loop of positive feedback spreads through different areas of the brain and provides "selective amplification. If that be the case, then unification of consciousness would occur at the bottom of the sensory pyramid, not at the top.
The American physicist Alwyn Scott applies Eigen's model of "hypercycles" to consciousness. He makes consciousness stem from a procedure which is analogous to the one that generates life: simple cells originate complex cells which originate hypercomplex cells.
A critique of Neuroscience
All contemporary Neuroscience is based on classical Physics. No surprise that it derives a view of the brain as a set of mechanical laws: that is the "only" view that classical Physics can derive. No surprise that it cannot explain how consciousness arises, since there is no consciousness in classical Physics: it was erased from the study of matter by Descartes' dualism (that mind and matter are separate), on which foundations Newton erected classical Physics (the science of matter, which does not deal with mind). By definition, Descartes' dualism predicts that mind cannot be explain from matter, and Newton's Physics is an expression of dualism. Which means that dualism predicts that Newton's Physics cannot explain mind. Neuroscientists who are looking for consciousness miss that simple syllogism: they are looking for consciousness using a tool that is labeled "this tool does not deal with consciousness".
Contemporary Neuroscience rests on the idea that a physical system is made of independent parts which interact only with their immediate neighbords and whose behavior over time is deterministic. This is the principle behind all computational models of the brain.
Within this paradigm, a mind is the product of a brain, which is one particular system of the many that populate the universe.
This is a very interesting paradigm, but it is not what Physics prescribes today. It is what Physics prescribed a century ago, before it was showed to be wrong.
The New Materialism
A contemporary American philosopher of the mind, David Chalmers, argues that consciousness cannot be explained with a reductionist approach, because it does not belong to the realm of matter. Chalmers proposes to expand Science in a fashion that is still compatible with today's Science (in the areas where it is successful) and that allows for a dualist approach.
Chalmers distinguishes between a phenomenal concept of mind (the way it feels) and a psychological concept of mind (what it does). Every mental property is either a phenomenal property, a psychological one or a combination of the two. The mind-body problem is therefore made of two parts, one that deals with the mental faculties and one that deals with how/why those mental faculties also give rise to awareness of them (Jackendoff's "mind-mind problem"). Pain, for example, is both a material entity that can be analyzed functionally, in terms of its effect on behavior, and the feeling of pain. The same distinction applies to consciousness, with psychological consciousness being commonly referred to as "awareness"; but phenomenal consciousness always comes with psychological consciousness. Awareness is having access to information that may affect behavior.
Chalmers' brand of monism admits both physical and non-physical features in the world. His dualism is different from Descartes' in that it claims that "consciousness is a feature of the world" which is somehow related to its physical properties. A new, fundamental, irreducible feature (a set of "protophenomenal" properties) must be added to space-time, mass, charge, spin, etc., and a set of "psychophysical" laws (explaining how phenomenal properties depend on physical properties) must be added to the laws of nature. Chalmers outlines a few candidate psychophysical laws, such as the principle of coherence between consciousness and cognition and the principle of organizational invariance. The former states a tight relationship between the structure of consciousness and functional organization. The latter states that every system organized in the appropriate way will experience the same conscious states, regardless of what substance it is made of, i.e., consciousness is "organizationally invariant". From these principles, it follows that consciousness is due to the functional organization of the brain. It also follows that anything having the proper functional organization can have consciousness, regardless of the material it is made of.
Still looking for fundamental laws of consciousness, Charmers offers an interpretation of his theory based on the dualism between information and pattern: information is what pattern is from the inside. Consciousness is information about the pattern of the self. Information becomes therefore the link between the physical and the conscious. Ultimately, everything in the universe may be conscious, at least to some degree.
A Darwinist Theory of Consciousness
If we assume that a similar law of evolution is responsible for all living phenomena, from the creation of species to the immune system, and we admit that mind is one of them, then a possible scenario emerges, which is compatible with the latest neurophysiological findings.
Thoughts are continuously and randomly generated, just like the immune system generates antibodies all the time without really knowing which ones will be useful. Thoughts survive for a while, giving rise to minds that compete for control of the brain. At each time, one mind prevails because it can better cope with the situation.
Which mind prevails has an influence on which thoughts will be generated in the future. In practice, a mind is the mental equivalent of a phylogenetic thread (of a branch of the tree of life).
We are conscious, by definition, only of the mind that is prevailing.
In ancient times the minds generared chaotically were simply shouted to the "rational" apparatus of the brain, which would act as the mediator with the environment: it would translate "hallucinations" into actions. and the result of actions into emotions, and emotions would either reinforce or weaken the mind in control. Emotions would select the mind.
This is more evident in children, which explore many unrelated thoughts in a few minutes: whatever the various minds produce. Later, the adult is better adjusted to select "minds" and does not need to try them all out. The adult has been "biased" by natural selection to recognize the "best" minds.
The 40 Hz radiation may simply be a way of scanning all available thoughts and of reporting emotions back to all minds (in other words, of reading the outputs of the minds, in the form of thoughts, and of feeding them new inputs, in the form of emotions).
A Materialistic Theory of Consciousness
But "what" is consciousness? What substance is it made of?
Many attempts have been made at explaining consciousness by reducing it to something else. To no avail. There is no way that our sensations can be explained in terms of particles. So, how does consciousness arise in matter? Maybe it doesn't arise, it is always there.
I am conviced that, no matter how detailed an account is provided of the neural processes that led to an action (say, a smile), that account will never explain where the feeling associated to that action (say, happiness) came from. No theory of the brain can explain why and how consciousness happens, if it assumes that consciousness is somehow created by some neural entity which is completely different in structure, function and behavior from our feelings.
From a logical standpoint, the only way out of this dead-end is to accept that consciousness must be a physical property.
When we try to explain consciousness by reducing it to electrochemical processes, we put ourselves in a situation similar to a scientist who decided to explain electrical phenomena by using gravity. Electrical phenomena can be explained only if we assume that electricity comes from a fundamental property of matter (i.e. from a property that is present in all matter starting from the most fundamental constituents) and that, under special circumstances, enables a particular configuration of matter to exhibit "electricity".
Similarly, if consciousness comes from a fundamental property of matter (from a property that is present in all matter starting from the most fundamental constituents), then, and only then, we can study why and how, under special circumstances, that property enables a particular configuration of matter (e.g., the brain) to exhibit "consciousness".
Any paradigm that tries to manufacture consciousness out of something else is doomed to failure. Things don't just happen. Ex nihilo nihil fit. Consciousness doesn't come simply from the act of putting neurons together. It doesn't appear like magic. Conductivity seems to appear by magic in some configurations of matter (e.g. metallic objects), but there's no magic: just a fundamental property of matter, the electrical charge, which is present in every single particle of this universe, a property which is mostly useless but that under the proper circumstances yields the phenomenon known as conductivity.
Particles are not conductors by themselves, just like they are not conscious, and most things made of particles (wood, plastic, glass, etc. etc.) are not conductors (and maybe have no consciousness), but each single particle in the universe has an electrical charge and each single particle in the universe has a property, say, C. That property C is the one that allows our brain to be conscious. I am not claiming that each single particle is conscious or that each single piece of matter in the universe is conscious. I am only arguing that each single particle has this property C which, under the special circumstances of our brain configuration (and maybe other brain configurations as well and maybe even things with no brain) yields consciousness.
Just like electricity and gravitation are macroscopic properties that are caused by microscopic properties of the constituents, so consciousness may be a macroscopic property of our brain that is caused by a microscopic property of its constituents. Just like electrical phenomena can only be reduced to smaller-scale electrical phenomena (all the way to the charge of each single constituent), so consciousness can only be reduced to smaller-scale conscious phenomena.
Any theory that tries to manufacture consciousness from other properties of matter is doomed. Even Penrose's, because he too makes consciousness appear by magic out of unconscious matter (molecules that are unconscious suddenly acquire consciousness when organized in a cytoskeleton).
My theory is not dualistic and is not materialistic. Like dualists, I admit the existence of consciousness as separate from the physical properties of matter as we know them; but at the same time, like materialists, I consider consciousness as arising from a physical property (that we have not discovered yet) that behaves in a fundamentally different way from the other physical properties. So in a sense it is not a "physical" property, but it is still a property of all matter. Mine is an identity theory, in that I think that mental correspond to neural states, but it goes beyond identity because I also think that the property yielding consciousness is common to all matter, whether it performs neural activity or not.
What made Descartes believe in dualism is the unity of consciousness. But electrical conductors also exhibit a unity of electricity, and still electrical phenomena can be reduced to a physical property of matter
The main problem is the lack of an empirical test for consciousness. We cannot know whether a being is conscious or not. We cannot "measure" its consciousness. We cannot rule out that every object in the universe, including each elementary particle, has consciousness: we just cannot detect it. Even when I accept that other human beings are conscious a) I base my assumption on similarity of behavior, not on an actual "observation" of their consciousness; and b) I somehow sense that some people (poets and philosophers, for example) may be more conscious than other people (lawyers and doctors, for example).
The trouble is that our mind is capable only of observing conscious phenomena at its own level and within itself. Our mind is capable of observing only one conscious phenomenon: itself.
A good way to start is to analyze why consciousness is limited to the brain. Why does consciousness apply only to the brain? What is special about the brain that cannot be found anywhere else? If the brain is made of common matter, of well-known constituents, what is it that turns that matter conscious when it is configured as a brain, but not when it is configured as a foot? And why does it stop being conscious if oxygen or blood are not supplied?


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100 Notable Scientists Call for Open Study of Consciousness   1

We are a group of internationally known scientists, from a variety of scientific fields (biology, neuroscience, psychology, medicine, psychiatry), who participated in an international summit on post-materialist science, spirituality and society. The summit was co-organized by Gary E. Schwartz, PhD and Mario Beauregard, PhD, the University of Arizona, and Lisa Miller, PhD, Columbia University. This summit was held at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, on February 7-9, 2014. Our purpose was to discuss the impact of the materialist ideology on science and the emergence of a post-materialist paradigm for science, spirituality, and society. We have come to the following conclusions:

1. The modern scientific worldview is predominantly predicated on assumptions that are closely associated with classical physics. Materialism—the idea that matter is the only reality—is one of these assumptions. A related assumption is reductionism, the notion that complex things can be understood by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things such as tiny material particles.

2. During the 19th century, these assumptions narrowed, turned into dogmas, and coalesced into an ideological belief system that came to be known as "scientific materialism." This belief system implies that the mind is nothing but the physical activity of the brain, and that our thoughts cannot have any effect upon our brains and bodies, our actions, and the physical world.

3. The ideology of scientific materialism became dominant in academia during the 20th century. So dominant that a majority of scientists started to believe that it was based on established empirical evidence, and represented the only rational view of the world.

4. Scientific methods based upon materialistic philosophy have been highly successful in not only increasing our understanding of nature but also in bringing greater control and freedom through advances in technology.

5. However, the nearly absolute dominance of materialism in the academic world has seriously constricted the sciences and hampered the development of the scientific study of mind and spirituality. Faith in this ideology, as an exclusive explanatory framework for reality, has compelled scientists to neglect the subjective dimension of human experience. This has led to a severely distorted and impoverished understanding of ourselves and our place in nature.

6. Science is first and foremost a non-dogmatic, open-minded method of acquiring knowledge about nature through the observation, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. Its methodology is not synonymous with materialism and should not be committed to any particular beliefs, dogmas, or ideologies.

7. At the end of the nineteenth century, physicists discovered empirical phenomena that could not be explained by classical physics. This led to the development, during the 1920s and early 1930s, of a revolutionary new branch of physics called quantum mechanics (QM). QM has questioned the material foundations of the world by showing that atoms and subatomic particles are not really solid objects—they do not exist with certainty at definite spatial locations and definite times. Most importantly, QM explicitly introduced the mind into its basic conceptual structure since it was found that particles being observed and the observer—the physicist and the method used for observation—are linked. According to one interpretation of QM, this phenomenon implies that the consciousness of the observer is vital to the existence of the physical events being observed, and that mental events can affect the physical world. The results of recent experiments support this interpretation. These results suggest that the physical world is no longer the primary or sole component of reality, and that it cannot be fully understood without making reference to the mind.

8. Psychological studies have shown that conscious mental activity can causally influence behavior, and that the explanatory and predictive value of agentic factors (e.g. beliefs, goals, desires and expectations) is very high. Moreover, research in psychoneuroimmunology indicates that our thoughts and emotions can markedly affect the activity of the physiological systems (e.g., immune, endocrine, cardiovascular) connected to the brain. In other respects, neuroimaging studies of emotional self-regulation, psychotherapy, and the placebo effect demonstrate that mental events significantly influence the activity of the brain.

9. Studies of the so-called "psi phenomena" indicate that we can sometimes receive meaningful information without the use of ordinary senses, and in ways that transcend the habitual space and time constraints. Furthermore, psi research demonstrates that we can mentally influence—at a distance—physical devices and living organisms (including other human beings). Psi research also shows that distant minds may behave in ways that are nonlocally correlated, i.e. the correlations between distant minds are hypothesized to be unmediated (they are not linked to any known energetic signal), unmitigated (they do not degrade with increasing distance), and immediate (they appear to be simultaneous). These events are so common that they cannot be viewed as anomalous nor as exceptions to natural laws, but as indications of the need for a broader explanatory framework that cannot be predicated exclusively on materialism.

10. Conscious mental activity can be experienced in clinical death during a cardiac arrest (this is what has been called a "near-death experience" [NDE]). Some near-death experiencers (NDErs) have reported veridical out-of-body perceptions (i.e. perceptions that can be proven to coincide with reality) that occurred during cardiac arrest. NDErs also report profound spiritual experiences during NDEs triggered by cardiac arrest. It is noteworthy that the electrical activity of the brain ceases within a few seconds following a cardiac arrest.

11. Controlled laboratory experiments have documented that skilled research mediums (people who claim that they can communicate with the minds of people who have physically died) can sometimes obtain highly accurate information about deceased individuals. This further supports the conclusion that mind can exist separate from the brain.

12. Some materialistically inclined scientists and philosophers refuse to acknowledge these phenomena because they are not consistent with their exclusive conception of the world. Rejection of post-materialist investigation of nature or refusal to publish strong science findings supporting a post-materialist framework are antithetical to the true spirit of scientific inquiry, which is that empirical data must always be adequately dealt with. Data which do not fit favored theories and beliefs cannot be dismissed a priori. Such dismissal is the realm of ideology, not science.

13. It is important to realize that psi phenomena, NDEs in cardiac arrest, and replicable evidence from credible research mediums, appear anomalous only when seen through the lens of materialism.

14. Moreover, materialist theories fail to elucidate how brain could generate the mind, and they are unable to account for the empirical evidence alluded to in this manifesto. This failure tells us that it is now time to free ourselves from the shackles and blinders of the old materialist ideology, to enlarge our concept of the natural world, and to embrace a post-materialist paradigm.

15. According to the post-materialist paradigm:
a) Mind represents an aspect of reality as primordial as the physical world. Mind is fundamental in the universe, i.e. it cannot be derived from matter and reduced to anything more basic.
b) There is a deep interconnectedness between mind and the physical world.
c) Mind (will/intention) can influence the state of the physical world, and operate in a nonlocal (or extended) fashion, i.e. it is not confined to specific points in space, such as brains and bodies, nor to specific points in time, such as the present. Since the mind may nonlocally influence the physical world, the intentions, emotions, and desires of an experimenter may not be completely isolated from experimental outcomes, even in controlled and blinded experimental designs.
d) Minds are apparently unbounded, and may unite in ways suggesting a unitary, One Mind that includes all individual, single minds.
e) NDEs in cardiac arrest suggest that the brain acts as a transceiver of mental activity, i.e. the mind can work through the brain, but is not produced by it. NDEs occurring in cardiac arrest, coupled with evidence from research mediums, further suggest the survival of consciousness, following bodily death, and the existence of other levels of reality that are non-physical.
f) Scientists should not be afraid to investigate spirituality and spiritual experiences since they represent a central aspect of human existence.

16. Post-materialist science does not reject the empirical observations and great value of scientific achievements realized up until now. It seeks to expand the human capacity to better understand the wonders of nature, and in the process rediscover the importance of mind and spirit as being part of the core fabric of the universe. Post-materialism is inclusive of matter, which is seen as a basic constituent of the universe.

17. The post-materialist paradigm has far-reaching implications. It fundamentally alters the vision we have of ourselves, giving us back our dignity and power, as humans and as scientists. This paradigm fosters positive values such as compassion, respect, and peace. By emphasizing a deep connection between ourselves and nature at large, the post-materialist paradigm also promotes environmental awareness and the preservation of our biosphere. In addition, it is not new, but only forgotten for four hundred years, that a lived transmaterial understanding may be the cornerstone of health and wellness, as it has been held and preserved in ancient mind-body-spirit practices, religious traditions, and contemplative approaches.

18. The shift from materialist science to post-materialist science may be of vital importance to the evolution of the human civilization. It may be even more pivotal than the transition from geocentrism to heliocentrism.


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