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With Quantum physics we don't really have a widely accepted theory explaining it. The important point is that both point of views are equally valid. A "materialistic" viewpoint or "consciousness is fundamental" viewpoint can equally be defended by the available evidence.
And this should always be remembered when confronted with somebody claiming there is only a materialist perspective. But the same goes with the consciousness is fundamental perspective.
The amazing part for me is that with quantum mechanics some phycisists are giving consciousness a very fundamental place in the universe and this itself is a very big paradigm shift.
Dennis Dieks wrote a very good paper on "The Quantum Mechanical Worldpicture and Its Popularization." which explains why there isn't a widely accepted theory on quantum mechanics. It was published again in the new online magazine www.anti-matters.org or http://71.18.123.59/ojs-2.1.1/index.php/antimatters/issue/view/1/showToc
for a direct link.

Greets,
Filip

Questions like these drove me to become a pragmatist. I think William James was one of the last people to offer a way out of the idealist/materialist quagmire.

Lanza's article is here.

Hmm...Lanza is a relatively prominent biologist. It sounds suspiciously like he is advocating some form of vitalism. I wonder how he reconciles the views in his essay with Neo-Darwinism.

Michael,

Here is a gift for you:

http://www.jossip.com/vanity-fair/christopher-hitchens-like-youve-never-seen-him-wanted-to-see-him-before-20070907/

Thanks, Matthew, for the link to Lanza's essay. I didn't know American Scholar articles were online.

I can't really thank James for the Christopher Hitchens link, though. I feel like Phoebe on Friends: "My eyes, my eyes!"

>A "materialistic" viewpoint or "consciousness is fundamental" viewpoint can equally be defended by the available evidence.

Wouldn't a purely materialist interpretation require something like the many-worlds theory? When physicists start talking about billions of new universes being formed every second, it seems a little desperate to me.

"Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity."

What people often fail to realize is that this sort of dispute is not at all new, though it has been reawakened by the advent of quantum mechanics.

When Aristotle was developing his philosophy of whether science and empirical observation told us about the world as it really is or just as it appears and interacts with us, he arrived at the conclusion that unless the mind/soul has no essential nature, we only perceive the world-as-it-appears. He wanted to science to tell us about the world-as-it-is, so he concluded that the mind/soul is without essence.

Kant had the same problem, but felt that the mind does have a nature, and so we can only know the world-as-it-is by empirical inquiry.

This question is essentially: what role does an independent consciousness (e.g. human mind/soul) play in the "natural" behavior of nature-dependent things around them.

With quantum mechanics, we get closer to the boundary between science and metaphysics, and the way quantum theory is lends itself to many interpretations. The age-old question, ever since Cartesian dualism, about the interaction between the mind and physical reality (whatever those are!) is simply one playground in a much broader question.

That's not to say that all interpretations are equally valid, or that quantum mechanics is our only source of insight. For instance, here is one philosopher's claim that it's been empirically demonstrated that materialism is false, since human consciousness is not equal to the human brain.

I love this topic because it is, for me, THE topic: consciousness in existence. The reactions of those readers who, in their responses to Mr. Lanza's article, steadfastly cling to materialism demonstrate the same fundamentalist zeal as any religious adherents, and human history has a superabundance of examples of the dark power of zealotry. I've always considered the demonstrated need for certainty to be directly caused by basic insecurity, one of the greatest driving forces of behavior for human beings. We need to generate a greater tolerance for ambiguity and accept that, in this stage of existence, we CAN'T get all the answers to all of our questions. To the materialists, I offer this quote from one of my favorite poets:

"Our claim to our own bodies and our world is our catastrophe..."-W.H.Auden, Canzone

Having read Mr. Lanza's article, I noted that the basic premises of his "biocentrism" are built on what seems some faulty foundational assumptions. Early in his article, he writes: "Our science fails to recognize those special properties of life that make it fundamental to physical reality." This statement assumes that material reality is fundamental, which is unprovable. Lanza continues a bit further on: "It is the biological creature that makes observations, names what it observes, and creates stories." A false assumption, as it is consciousness which does the conceiving, using sensory input from the biological mechanism. The massive amount of evidence, empirical as well as anecdotal,for the fact that mind is not created by the brain is surveyed in the recent book "Irreducible Mind".Along with Biocentrism, Michael notes the Big Four: Idealism, Materialism, Neutral Monism, and Dualism. Perhaps the answer lies with an "ism" that ISN'T (at least, not yet). No questions are bigger or more fascinating. I can't think of them and not end up asking myself another big one: what is the limit of mind? And another: can we reach that limit (in this life or any other)? Still another: what is the importance of love in relation to these questions? The list quickly multiplies exponentially, a conceptual chain reaction approaching critical mass. What happens then?
"Human kind cannot bear very much reality" -T.S.Eliot

"Wouldn't a purely materialist interpretation require something like the many-worlds theory? When physicists start talking about billions of new universes being formed every second, it seems a little desperate to me."

yeah I agree it sounds pretty desperate for me to but for the defenders of that view probobly not... :) checkout this site:
http://thisquantumworld.com
it's very interesting and explains the current state of the theories of QM. Mohrhoff proposed the The Pondicherry interpretation of quantum mechanics.

greets,
Filip

Check out F. David Peat's interviews with Dirac, Heisenberg, Bohm, etc. Bohm's criticism, in particular, is worth hearing:

http://www.paricenter.com/library/audio/index.php

That which we are not conscious of is the ecological crisis from Western civilization. So the "biological imperative" is an attempt for science to break out of this denial. Consciousness is formless and not based on atomism or reductionism. The Logos is listened to, not a visual-based or phonetic-defined reality. Geometry-dominant reality (science) uses symmetry while consciousness is resonated through asymmetry -- which the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle reveals.

Filip:

They had to come up with something to explain the big bang so they decided to have infinite big bangs.

From my point of view the universe is in a constant state of “creation” and unfoldment. I am sure I will be nailed to the proverbial cross for the creation word.

I watched a special on TV one night and the "things" that had to happen in sequence for this earth to support life as we know is beyond our comprehension. Even the moon played a part in preparing the earth for life, as we know it.

As far as paradigm paralysis one of my all time favorite terms due to I am sure showing barker’s video several hundred times at my seminars a materialistic paradigm can have as much paralysis as a religious paradigm.

As the woman said to Dr James, it is turtles, turtles, turtles all the way down.

The basic flaw in nearly all of these arguments is the mistaken and untenable idea of distinction between self and universe.

Regardless of the assumptions one is willing to make - consciously or otherwise - the result of distinction is as it must be: nonsensical in the literal sense of the word.

There is nothingness. There is all. There is no thing between. And they are identical.

Hi, Im from Melbourne.
These four related references give a unique insight into the baneful limitations of our usual dreadfull sanity.
1. www.aboutadidam.org/lesser_alternatives/scientific_materialsm/index.html
2. www.dabase.org/spacetim.htm
3. www.dabase.org/dht6.htm
4. www.daplastique.com

For a radically different - but still pragmatic - new view on time. psi, consciousness, just check out my website

Cordially,

Sean O'Donnell Ph.D.

For a radically different - but still pragmatic - new view on time. psi, consciousness, just check out my website

Cordially,

Sean O'Donnell Ph.D.

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