Side remark: Times are changing: nowadays even physicists allow for themselves the luxury of talking about things like life and consciousness.
The article discussed two basic problems encountered in theories of consciousness.
The first one is the hard problem: the understanding of qualia. In standard materialistic approach - physicalism as it is called - there is no hope of this since physicalism cannot distinguish between Zombie and conscious entity. Also dualistic approach requiring consistency with deterministic laws of physics leads to materialism and impasse. One should understand the physical correlates of qualia and but this is impossible. There are of course many other problems: in the world of physicalist there is no ethics and moral.
Materialism based Turing's test for consciousness based on behaviorism describing us as deterministic automatons is a bad joke: the ability of programmer to cheat someone to believe that computer is conscious does not make computer conscious.
Physics of course does not require materialism so that "physicalism" contains a lot of political ideology and even more: lack of thinking of basics labelled as "philosophizing". Here the basic problem of quantum measurement theory - the nondeterminism of state function reduction is inconsistent with the determinism of unitary time evolution - could serve as a guideline but the materialistic vision has made the problem taboo. Copenhagen interpretation says that wave function does not represent anything real but only knowledge of observer. No ontology, just epistemology. Period. Also the other interpretations do their best expel of conscious observer from the physical world. These conscious observers are indeed disgusting creatures since seem to have free will not describable in the Newtonian world. What one cannot describe, does not exist.
Article describes an alternative approach fo consciousness called constitutive panpsychism. In this view every physical entity is conscious - even elementary particles have rudimentary consciousness. Each physical entity has its own views about the Universe. Now one encounters combination problem: how these different views integrate to larger views?
This problem closely relates also to the problem of how to understand the idea that universe is single conscious entity - Self or God - when it is obvious that it decomposes to separate conscious entities.
Could dissociative identity disorder help?
The experiments could help here. The article begins by telling about multiple personality disorder or DID (dissociative identity disorder). Same person have very different kinds of personalities and is also conscious about the existence of "others". In the example considered one of the "others" was blind!
Single personality seems to dominate at time. This kind of splitting could occur in situations in which person meets a psychically insurmountable situation. Continually fighting authoritative parents might induce DID. Child believes that both parents are always right and simultaneously sees that they cannot be both right. This could lead to a dissociation as a manner to survive psychically. The other self is on the side of father and the other one on the side of mother.
The idea proposed in the article is that the entire Universe suffers from DID. This however does not solve the problem of how the Universe decomposes to conscious entities and is single conscious entity simultaneously.
TGD view about consciousness and DID
TGD inspired theory of quantum consciousness could be loosely classified as quantum version of constitutive physicalism. The important distinction is that not any system can be consciousness. System must de-entangle from the environment in order to have self identity: this corresponds to the fundamental division to me and the environment - separation as eastern thinkers call it. The purpose of meditative practices is to get rid of this separation and experience cosmic consciousness.
Unitary time evolution however entangles unentangled system immediately with environment so that something else is needed. In standard quantum measurement theory repeated quantum measurements of the s same observable would keep the systems un-entangled. Nothing would happen to the conscious system. Conscious entities however experience experience time flow and sensory input inducing thoughts and motor actions.
TGD inspired solution to the problem comes from zero energy ontology (ZEO) .
- Quantum states are analogous to events rather than time=constant snapshots: pairs of initial and finals states having opposite conserved net quantum numbers - this guarantees the conservation laws are satisfied. Zero energy state can be seen as quantum superposition of deterministic time evolutions connecting the initial and final states. The new element is that the time evolutions in question need not be parts of an infinitely long time evolution as in positive energy ontology. Zero energy states can be created from vacuum. A concrete realization is in terms of a scale hierarchy of causal diamonds, which I will not discuss now.
- During generalized Zeno effect second member - the passive one - is unaffected and de-entangled from environment, and represents the permanent part of selfness. Second member - the active one - moves towards future, entangles during a sequences of unitary evolutions followed by state function reductions, and changes. Every state function reduction locates this member with respect to geometric time. Geometric time grows and this is experienced as subjective time basically identifiable as the sequence of state function reductions. This view also explains the differences between geometric time and experienced time and also the problem caused by the conflict between determinism of unitary evolution and state function reductions. There are two times and two causalities. The changes of the active member give rise to various components of experience.
- The overall important delicacy would be that consciousness is not a property of a physical system: conscious experiencer is in the state function reduction in which quantum state in the sense of ZEO is replaced with a new one. Hence the "-ness" word "consciousness" is misleading: "nous" or the finnish word "tajunta" would be more appropriate. Conscious existence is conscious recreation in 4-D sense: quantum superposition of 4-D deterministic time evolutions is recreated. I think that here TGD differs dramatically from competing theories of consciousness.
What about DID? One can imagine several explanations but the all rely same basic idea. Here is one explanation.
- Self could tend to decompose to two separate selves due to de-entanglement for long periods of time. Only single self would use the biological body at time. Both selves would however become gradually aware about the fact that some other lives in the same house. "Someone has eaten from my plate!" said the little bear!
For instance, a decomposition of magnetic bodies of brain hemispheres to two separate parts could take place. These two persons would use the same biological body and if biological body is indeed controlled by the magnetic body, dramatic changes in the functioning of the biological body inducing even blindness might take place as the owner changes.
- The two separate selves could correspond normally to two sub-selves, say magnetic bodies assignable to left and right hemispheres. In the normal situation these magnetic bodies would most of the time entangle to form single self. In split personality disorder this would not take place.
Consider the example in which endlessly fighting parents induce DID: the magnetic body of child would contain the mental images (sub-selves) of parents continuing their fight. The situation would be so intolerable that a divorce of mental images leading to DID would be unavoidable!
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