Saturday, March 12, 2016

Daniel Little — Wendt's strong claims about quantum consciousness

An emerging POV.

Understanding Society
Wendt's strong claims about quantum consciousness
Daniel Little | Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Philosophy at UM-Dearborn and Professor of Sociology at UM-Ann Arbor


jrbarch said...

... or, all of the bodies (including mind) are inert, firing up only when Jivatma is present (?)

Tom Hickey said...

Various maps have been set forth in perennial wisdom. Scientists have long known about them and speculated on them.

Bohr, Heisenberg and Schrödinger were familiar with Vedic literature and remarked on similarities with QM. The task however is to develop a scientifically based map connecting ancient and modern knowledge and ancient and modern methodology, the former being subjective and the latter being objective. Subject and object are the poles of consciousness.

There are two aspects to this, theory and experiment. Research is underway in each. This is just in its infancy but serious work has been going on for several decades.

For example, wrt to theory see The Cosmic Plenum: Bohm's Gnosis: The Implicate Order, and John Hagelin, Is Consciousness the Unified Field?

John said...

Is this some sort of a joke? Has this guy ever taken a basic course in QM, let alone the more advanced stuff? Has he ever solved angular momentum and spin states? Has he read the various formulations of QM, Schrodinger's wave mechanics, Heisenberg's matrix mechanics, and Dirac's brilliant bra-ket formulation? Has he ever solved quantum vacuum problems? Or those of condensed matter, superfluidity and superconductivity? Has he ever studied the deep problems in quantum mechanics? Solved a quantum teleportation problem?

The answer is no. The guy has no idea what he's talking about. It's embarrassing. Has this guy ever wondered why it is we don't see quantum phenomena on a large scale? If he took the bother of learning the subject and then solving the equations he'll see why. Quantum effects are so unbelievably tiny on a classical scale. It's like asking why doesn't the Andromeda galaxy feel the gravitational effect of my rice pudding? Well, it does. But it's so tiny that it can't be measured.

But why bother to learn hard science, when you can just pontificate about stuff you have no idea about? What shameless pseudo-intellectual gibberish. We can only hope Alan Sokal updates his hilarious but necessary book "Intellectual Impostures".

Tom, David Bohm was an absolutely brilliant thinker. Some of his books can be read by interested lay readers. He had an astonishing mind, a pity that he went a bit new age near the end of his life. A greater pity that he was hounded out of the US by the House Un-American Activities Commission for his Marxism. At the time, he was possibly the leading plasma physicist in the world. His work on the foundations of QM is clearly the work of a very deep thinker. He even developed a different way of explaining the quantum world, something that only Heisenberg, Schrodinger and Dirac were able to do; unfortunately, theoretical physicists didn't take too kindly to Bohm's realism and instead preferred the ontologically unreal formulations of Heisenberg, Dirac and Bohr's Copenhagen School. A lot of his philosophical work is, again, just extraordinary. To really appreciate him, you have to know quite a lot of theoretical physics, but he can still be read by those who are willing to put in a little effort. Wendt clearly couldn't be bothered to learn anything.

jrbarch said...

Tom, thank you for the links you provide – I always find them interesting and pleasantly thought provoking. I do check them all out. My theoretical view remains closer to Patanjali, Vyasa Deva, the Tibetan, and associated thought. My experiential view to Kabir, Shri Maharaj and his son Prem; but most of all my own heart and experience.

I liked Bohm but note that his whole theory is based on an assumption about ‘elementary particles’. Fair enough. The above gentlemen make no assumptions.

My view is this regard is very simple, and I do not want to offend anyone in stating it: - mind is mind and intellect is intellect. Mind hands up sensory input to intellect to consider and intellect displays the result in the mind. Or intellect weaves thoughts together, as Bohm has done, into a theory. Mixed in with this is ego and desire. Ego is the glue that sticks down the traveller’s feet and attaches thinker to theory and the instruments of theory (even though the theory may be quite liberal and unusually, ‘deep’).

Mind, intellect and ego are like an ocean over which we skim, looking at the waves and eddies and whorls, constructing for ourselves the drama of the ‘I’. Trying to figure it all out, before the breath runs out.

It is not until we rise far above the ‘ocean, the earth and the atmosphere’ that we discover the reality of the Self. Without the Self, the ocean is inert. And it is not until we rise far above that Self, we discover the reality of the Serenity that is its essence.

Mind is useful as a screen on which to display little poems about Serenity, as did Kabir. For Kabir, mind was used to display an expression of the heart – he probably considered that far more valuable than science, because it addressed reality; not the veil of reality.

Patanjali and Vyasa Deva started from the light in the head, and used it to explore the sheaths, starting from the bottom and working their way up. The effort can take up a whole lifetime – twelve hour straight meditation sessions, day after day. Let the critics try for a whole life time in this way and keep up the effort ‘for no result’ as is claimed. If scientists wanted to test their techniques, they would have to do the same themselves – and recognise that their physical instruments are gross. Not just theorise about it hey? Patanjali also mentioned there are more direct routes for those who recognise the heart.

This is the basis of my experience: ‘listen to your heart – it is far far wiser than your head’. It leads straight to where you want to go.

Tom Hickey said...

@ jrbarch

The issue as it exists is among 1)those who adhere to a scientific pov based on materialistic reductionism, which holds that consciousness is an emergent property of matter generated by nervous system complexity and explicable based on contemporary scientific understanding, 2) those who adhere to the pov that the various wisdom teachers had special insight into the nature of reality or were uniquely informed by revelation, and 3) the newly emerging pov of "quantum consciousness," in which consciousness is the basic stuffs.

#1 is the predominant view of "the scientific community."

#2 is the predominant view of religious, spiritual and New Age communities.

These views are seen as mutually exclusive in that many if not most scientists regard #1 as naturalistic and #2 as supernaturalistic, while those who adhere to #2 regard these scientists as obtuse.

From the pov of #1 the experiences from which the wisdom traditions emerged likely manifested as reported phenomenologically but they were then misinterpreted as being metaphysically, ontologically, or epistemologically significant. These experiences may have been unusual but that in itself doesn't show that they were not a matter of self-delusion, chemical states resulting from so-called spiritual practices that induce hallucination, or even misrepresentation. Some may have just been self-deluded, others psychologically imbalanced and others charlatans. Even different groups of those holding #2 are not in agreement over this, if not in conflict.

From the pov of #2 the first view is simply preposterous. It involves throwing out the bulk of what the world counts as received wisdom of the past, and is itself based on an assumption of reductionism. Absence of scientific evidence is not evidence of absence.

The proponents of #1 and #2 are mostly at loggerheads, and the debate is stuck at fundamental assumptions that are incompatible. Pov #3 promises to transcend that opposition.

The advantage of #3 is that by making consciousness primary, the explication falls in line with the teaching of the world's wisdom traditions, as a number of scientists familiar with those traditions have noticed. #3 also promises to be able to provide a scientific account of experiences that while unusual are nevertheless naturalistic and to tie them together in a comprehensive interpretation of reality as the confluence of subjectivity and objectivity, rather than identify reality with the objective pole of consciousness alone.

Moreover, those reporting those experiences from ancient times to the present day, including under laboratory conditions now, are real people and such experiences need to be accounted for in a fully developed account of human potential. For example, initial studies have suggested that psychophysiological changes among practitioners result in more optimal function on widely accepted scales. While this compatible with #2, #2 cannot explain it and it remains an anomaly. #3 could introduced a new paradigm that would overcome that.

Another advantage of #3 is that in enables resolving some of the knotty issues in philosophy on a scientific basis.

jrbarch said...

Understood Tom.

I am just wishing to reinforce a 4th pov that it doesn’t really matter if one holds the views of 1) 2) or 3) in any combination: - one still has to develop nascent faculty within one self, a different ‘tool’ in order to investigate further. Mind and intellect are limited tools although mind can be used to ‘display’ the reflection of the new investigation, with the correct tool. These tools are the inner senses that have their external correspondence. The first tool to develop is ‘feeling’ and it lies nascent in the human heart. People have a lot of ‘reality’ invested in the senses, mind and intellect - the world as it exists today is its play - and it takes a tremendous effort and a lot of understanding to reorientate oneself to something new, inclusive of the old. We have had this very enjoyable conversation, many times in one form or another hey?

Random said...

Tom and all here, I highly recommend you all read The Self Illusion by Bruce Hood. It is an excellent book.

Tom Hickey said...

We have had this very enjoyable conversation, many times in one form or another hey?

Well, from the POV of reality, it is the only conversation really worth having, both with oneself and also with others.

I view the current interest around #3 as a shift in the general conversation on the way to a shift in the cultural mindset.

Similarly, a few decades ago meditation was considered exotic and weird if it was considered at all. Now it is a staple in health care, sports and business.

Taken together the shift in theory and practice is going to have major implications down the line.

Tom Hickey said...

The Social Construction of Reality.

Perennial wisdom has been saying for millennia that the naïve commonsense POV is about appearances rather than reality. Western philosophers have also explored this. Science corroborates the view that appearance is not the reality that naïve commonsense takes it to be. While there are no longer many flat earthers or people who think that sunrise and sun set are the result of the the sun's motion, there are many other assumptions that are as erroneous.

This ignorance of reality results in taking the trivial as important and the important as trivial.