The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

A Fuzzy World

Modern physics relies heavily on Quantum Mechanics. Quantum Mechanics relies heavily on the theory of probabilities. At the time, probabilities just happened to fit well in the model.

Quantum Mechanics was built on probabilities because the theory of probabilities is what was available in those times. Quantum Mechanics was built that way not because Nature is that way, but because the mathematical tools available at the time were that way; just like Newton used Euclid's' geometry because that is what Geometry could provide at the time.

Boltzmann's stochastic theories had showed that the behavior of gases (which are large aggregates of molecules) could be predicted by a dynamics which ignored the precise behavior of individuals, and took into account only the average behavior. In retrospect Boltzmann's influence was enormous on Quantum Mechanics. His simplification was tempting: forget about the individual, focus on the population.

Quantum Mechanics therefore prescribed a "population" approach to Nature: take so many electrons, and some will do something and some will do something else. No prescription is possible about a single electron.  Quantum phenomena specify not what a single particle does, but what a set of particles do. Out of so many particles that hit a target, a few will pass through, a few will bounce back. And this can be expressed probabilistically.

Today, alternatives to probabilities do exist. In particular, Fuzzy Logic can represent uncertainty in a more natural way (things are not black or white, but both black and white, to some extent). Fuzzy Logic is largely equivalent to Probability Theory, but it differs in that it describes single individuals, not populations. 

On paper, Quantum Mechanics could thus be rewritten with Fuzzy Logic (instead of probabilities) without altering any of its conclusions. What would change is the interpretation: instead of a theory about "set of individuals" (or populations) it would become a theory about "fuzzy individuals". In a Fuzzy Logic scenario, a specific particle hitting a potential barrier would both go through and bounce back. To some extent. It is not that out of a population some individuals do this and some individuals do that; a specific individual is both doing this and doing that. The world would still behave in a rather bizarre way, but somehow we would be able to make statements about individuals. However, this approach would allow Physics to return to a science of individual objects, not of populations of objects. 

The uncertainty principle could change quite dramatically: instead of stating that we can never observe all the parameters of a particle with absolute certainty, it could state that we can observe all the parameters of a particle with absolute certainty, but certainty not being exact.  When I say that mine is a good book, I am being very certain. I am not being exact (what does "good" mean? How good is good? Etc).

The fact that a single particle can be in different, mutually exclusive states at the same time has broad implications on the way our mind categorizes "mutually exclusive" states; not on what Nature actually does. Nature never constrained things to be either small or big. Our mind did. Any scientific theory we develop is first and foremost a "discourse" on Nature; i.e., a representation in our mind of what Nature is and does.

Some of the limits we see in Nature (i.e., the fact that something is either big or small) are limits of our mind; and conversely some of the perfection that we see in Nature is the perfection of our mind (i.e., the fact that there is a color white or something is cold or a stone is round, while in Nature no object is fully white, cold or round). Fuzzy Logic is probably a better compromise between our mind and Nature, because it allows us to express the fact that things are not just zero or one, white or black, cold or warm, round or square; they are "in between", both white and black, both cold and warm, both...

 


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