The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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

Quantum Consciousness

If no theory of consciousness based on classical Physics is satisfactory in explaining how consciousness emerges from the electrochemical activity of the brain, then maybe the problem lies with classical Physics. Physicists began in the 1920s to advocate an approach to consciousness based on 20th-century Physics rather than classical Physics.

Loosely speaking, the point is that consciousness is unlikely to arise from classical properties of matter (the more we understand the structure and the electrochemical fabric of the brain, the less we understand how consciousness can occur at all). But, for example, Quantum Theory allows for a new concept of matter altogether, which may well leave cracks for consciousness, for something that is not purely material or purely extra-material.

Of course, the danger in this way of thinking is to relate consciousness and Quantum Theory only because they are both poorly understood: what they have in common is a degree of “fuzziness” that allows us to tinker with definitions.

The advantage of Quantum Theory, though, is that it allows for "non-local" properties and provides a framework to explain how entities get "entangled", precisely the phenomena that electrochemical brain processes are not enough to explain.

The unity of consciousness is a favorite example. A conscious state is the whole of the conscious state and cannot be divided into components (I can't separate the feeling of red from the feeling of the apple when I think of a red apple). Newton's Physics is less suitable than Quantum Theory for dealing with such a system, especially since Bell's Theorem proved that everything is permanently interacting. Indeterminate behavior (for example, free will) is another favorite, since Heisenberg's principle allows for some unpredictability in nature that Newton's Physics ruled out. And, of course, the mind/body dualism reminds Physicists of the wave/particle dualism. In fact, Descartes' dualism is less credible within the framework of Quantum Physics because, in Quantum Physics, matter is ultimately not a solid substance.

 


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