The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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

The Ubiquity of Consciousness

The US physicist Nick Herbert thinks that consciousness is a pervasive process in nature. Consciousness is as fundamental a component of the universe as elementary particles and forces. The conscious 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 our conscious mind: free will, essential ambiguity, and deep psychic “connectedness”. Scientists may be vastly underestimating the quantity of consciousness in the universe.

The US computer scientist James Culbertson speculated that consciousness may be a relativistic feature of space-time. He, too, thinks that consciousness permeates all of nature, so that every object has a degree of consciousness.

According to Relativity, our lives are world lines in space-time. Space-time does not happen: it always exists. It is our brain that shows us a movie of matter evolving in time.

All space-time events are conscious: they are conscious of other space-time events. The "experience" of a space-time event is static, a frozen region of space-time events. All the subjective features of the "psycho-space" of an observer derive from the objective features of the region of space-time 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 space-time events connected to the brain.

Memory of an event is re-experiencing that space-time event, which is fixed in space-time. We don't store an event, we only keep a link to it. Conscious memory is not in the brain: it is in space-time.

The inner life of a system is its space-time 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 that speaks German. Their space-time histories are different.

At the same time, Culbertson thinks that our consciousness is much more than an illusory travel through space-time, and it can, in turn, influence reality. Quantum Theory prescribes that reality be a sequence of random quantum jumps. Culbertson believes that they are not random but depend on the system's space-time history, i.e. on its inner life.


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