The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"


Physics and the Mind

Today’s science, in particular Relativity and Quantum theories, present us with a world that is hardly the one we intuitively know. The reason is simple: Quantum and Relativity theories deal with the problems of the immensely large or the immensely small. Our brains were built to solve a different class of problems. They were built to deal with midsize, colored objects that move slowly in a three-dimensional space over a span of less than a century.

The vast majority of the theories of mind still assume that the world is a Newtonian world of objects, of continuous time, of absolute reality and of force-mediated causality. What that means is very simple: most theories of mind are based on a Physics that has been proven wrong. Newton's Physics does work in many cases, but today we know that it does not work in some other cases. We don't know whether mind belongs to the set of cases for which Newton's Physics is a valid approximation of reality, or whether mind belongs to the set of cases for which Newton's Physics yields wrong predictions. Any theory of mind that is based on Newton's Physics is a gamble.

For example, psychologists often like to separate the senses and feelings based on the intuitive fact that the senses gives us a photograph of the world, whereas pleasure and pain are the outcome of an interpretation of the world. When I see an object, I am transferring a piece of reality as it is inside my mind. When I feel pleasure, I am interpreting something and generating a feeling. This separation makes sense only if one assumes that objects do exist. Unfortunately, modern Physics has changed our perception of reality. What exists is a chaos of elementary particles, that our eyes "interpret" as an object. A chair is no more real than a feeling of pain. They are both created by my mind. Actually, what exists is truly waves of probabilities, that somehow our brain reduces to objects.

Modern Physics is not necessarily right (although Newton is necessarily wrong on several issues, otherwise Hiroshima would still be standing). But many theories of mind rely on a Physics that, de facto, is either Newton's or is a Physics that has not been invented yet.


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