The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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

The Immanent Manyverse

Because of the apparent approximation of any quantum description of a phenomenon, the Israeli physicist David Deutsch also thinks that our universe cannot possibly constitute the whole of reality, that it has to be part of a "multiverse" of parallel universes.  But Deutsch's multiverse is not a mere collection of parallel universes, with a single flow of time. He highlights the contradiction in assuming an external, superior time in which all spacetimes flow. This would still be a classical view of the world.  Deutsch's manyverse is instead a collection of moments.  There is no such thing as the "flow of time". Each "moment" is a universe of the manyverse. Each moment exists forever, it does not flow from a previous moment to a following one.  Time does not flow because time is simply a collection of universes.  We exist in multiple versions, in universes called "moments". 

A key concept is "fungibility": it means that a set of objects can be considered as a set of identical objects. For example, if I lend you one dollar and a few days later you give me back one dollar, we assume that the state of the world is the same as it was before the borrowing even though the dollar bill that you return to me is not the one that I gave you. However, if I lend you a book and you return me a different book, I would be pretty upset: not all books are alike the way all dollar bills are alike. Photons are fungible: you can't tell one from the other. The atoms of lasers are fungible: they are all the same thing. It turns out that fungible objects can deviate from each other and become different entities... in different universes of the multiverse. And that is the origin of the apparent randomness that an individual in one universe observes. If one views a particle as a multiversal object, randomness and uncertainty disappear: a particle has multiple positions and multiple speeds in multiple universes. The wave associated with a particle is not due to the duality of particles and waves: a particle is distributed across many universes, and therefore it "is" a wave in the multiverse.

Each version of us is indirectly aware of the others because the various universes are linked together by the same physical laws, and causality provides a convenient ordering. But causality is not deterministic in the classical way: it is more like predicting than like causing. If we analyze the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, we can predict where some of the missing pieces fall. But it would be misleading to say that our analysis of the puzzle "caused" those pieces to be where they are, although it is true that their position is "determined" by the other pieces being where they are.

Furthermore, Deutsch claims that Quantum Theory is not enough to understand reality. He does not adhere to the reductionist stance which says that to understand a system is to understand its parts and to have a theory of that system is to have a set of predictions of its future behavior. Deutsch thinks that the predictions are merely the tools to verify if the theory is correct, but what really matters is the "explanation" that the theory provides. Scientific knowledge consists of explanations, not of facts or of predictions of facts. And, contrary to the dominant "reductionist" approach, an explanation that reduces large-scale events to the movement of the smallest possible constituents of matter is not an explanation. As he puts it, why is a specific atom of copper on the nose of the statue of Churchill? Not because the dynamic equations of the universe predict this and that, and not because of the story of that particle, but because Churchill was a famous person, and famous people are rewarded with statues, and statues are built of bronze, and bronze is made of copper.

Scientists who adhere to the reductionist stance believe that the rules governing elementary particles (the base of the reductionist hierarchy) explain everything but they do not provide the kind of answer that we would call "explanation".

So we need four strands of science to understand reality: a theory of matter (quantum theory), a theory of evolution, a theory of knowledge (epistemology), and a theory of computation. The combined theory provides the "explanations" that Deutsch is interested in.


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