A Heuristic Inquiry into the Correlations between Consciousness and Theoretical Physics

Dare to gaze outside Plato's Cave?
Dare to gaze outside Plato's Cave?

“What you do is what the whole universe is doing at the place you call the here and now. You are something the whole universe is doing in the same way that the wave is something that the whole ocean is doing. The real you is not a puppet which life pushes around. The real deep-down you is the whole universe.” –Allan Watts

Introduction

Before Copernicus, people lived on a flat Earth located at the center of a universe that the sun revolved around (Gonzalez & Richards, 2004, pp. 221-245). Before Einstein, people lived in a world in which time was the same throughout the universe (Davies, 1995, pp. 13-19). Before Heisenberg, Schrodinger, and Feynmann, people lived in a world in which everything was uniform and causally predictable (Penrose, 2004). Now, we find ourselves looking back and wondering: If history has proven, time and time again, that perception is inadequate for explaining the way things “actually” are, who is to say that our perceptions are not tricking us into seeing what we think is real as opposed to what is “actually” real? This form of reasoning is analogous to Plato’s Theory of Forms and his allegory of the cave (Watt, 1997), which hypothesized that the forms we “see” are not real but literally mimic the real forms. In the allegory of the cave, the things we ordinarily perceive in the world are characterized as shadows of the real thing, which we cannot perceive directly. How might our own perception of reality be analogous to Plato's Cave? More importantly, what creates the difference between perceptual and actual reality and how might this knowledge effect our perception?


The Question

What creates the difference between perceptual and actual reality and how might this knowledge effect our perception? This is a question that automatically ties the nature of consciousness to the nature of physical reality. Let us break this question down to its roots. It is a question about reality. It distinguishes between two potential “types” of reality: perceptual and actual. Most importantly, the question asks if there is a difference between these two types of reality. Attempting to define these two types of reality may provide a greater understanding for the question and perhaps a better way of answering it. Searle (1992) believes that the distinction between “appearance” and “reality” is the basis for all important theorizing about consciousness (p. 121).

So, what is perceptual reality? Perceptual reality is the reality perceived by the senses: seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, and tasting. Perceptual reality is the reality perceived when a conscious being uses its sensory perception on its environment. “Sensory perception may be regarded as the fundamental aspect of consciousness” (Farthing, 1992, p. 30).

Contrastingly, actual reality is hypothetically the capital “R” type of reality. This reality includes everything we can perceive and everything we cannot. This is the reality that is occurring around us, mostly outside of our senses. This is the reality that science cannot explain but that experiments have given us indirect knowledge of (the double-slit experiment, for example).

Kant (2007) discussed these concepts when he wrote about his ideas of phenomenal and noumenal realities. What is actually happening in this reality is a mystery, one we will probably never solve, but what we do know is that our perceptions are limited and something is happening outside of our perceptions that some scientific experiments are beginning to uncover indirectly. So, basically, perceptual reality (phenomenal) is what we can perceive directly, and actual reality (noumenal) is what we can and cannot perceive directly.

Rosenblum and Kuttner’s (2006) explanation of a twin-state photon experiment puts this point into perfect perspective. This experiment shows us that particles are also waves and are possibly, somehow, being influenced by phantom particles in other dimensions. It shows us that reality is more than what our eyes are telling us it is. Common sense tells us that light must either be made up of particles or waves, but what the interference experiment proves is that light is both. Pinker’s (1997) surface-perception module is a good example of how the brain makes up for any missing information on the perception of reality. It explains how the brain “assumes” the reality it is living in. “The surface-perception module solves an unsolvable problem, but at a price. The brain has given up any pretense of being a general problem-solver. It has been equipped with a gadget that perceives the nature of surfaces in typical earthly viewing conditions because it is specialized for that parochial problem” (p. 29).

Such experiments imply that without consciousness nothing would be as we think it is. In other words, the limited way in which we perceive reality would be gone, and the way things actually are (without the brain’s bias perspective) would be the only reality. This further implies that consciousness creates its own reality.

As you can see, the “difference” between perceptual reality and actual reality is difficult to surmise, but we do know that we perceive something that seems to be “real” (perceptual reality). We also know that our perceptions are limited to our senses and to our technology. It is this limitation that proves to us that something is happening outside of our capacity to know it (actual reality). We know this even without scientific experiments telling us so.

Now that we are somewhat intimate with the question that this study focuses on, we are ready to begin the six phases of the heuristic inquiry. For the remainder of this study, actual reality will be termed as actuality and perceptual reality will be termed as perceptuality.

The Six Phases of Heuristic Inquiry

According to Moustakas (1990), there are six phases in heuristic inquiry: (a) initial engagement, (b) immersion, (c) incubation, (d) illumination, (e) explication, and (f) creative synthesis (p. 27). Each of these phases will be incorporated in this study so as to stimulate and direct thinking, and also to analyze and synthesize the data.

Initial engagement:

My initial engagement with the question came to me through a process I call meditative writing. It is a type of creative writing journal I began in 1997, predominantly made up of short one- to two-page stream-of-consciousness writings on specific subjects. Each book is about 140 pages long. I have written 24 of these books. The initial engagement with the research question came in book 10 on January 19, 2000. I had recently read Chaos by James Gleick, Infinity and the Mind by Rudy Rucker, and The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. The title of the piece I wrote was “Of Thought and Theme.” I expounded upon the nature of the universe and realized that no matter how many answers science came up with, we would always have a way to question them, ad infinitum. I realized that any theory based on the way reality actually is could always be refuted. There could never be an end. Reality had to be infinite. But how could that be?

I continued to write daily. I had made writing a daily habit since I was 8 years old. I began to notice I was writing more and more about the nature of reality. I wrote about the way I perceived reality and how my perceptions were inadequate to realize that the Earth was actually spherical. I wrote about how “common sense” tricks us into believing things about nature that are wrong. I realized that there was a difference between the way things appeared to be and the way things actually were. And it was this realization that spawned the question that this study seeks to clarify.

The question was powerful for me because it hit me at the core. It threw me back to that day my mother passed away. I was transformed into that confused 5-year-old once again, perturbed and flabbergasted by the overwhelming futility of existence but old enough, and aware enough, to be propelled by an insatiable curiosity to figure it all out.

I had found my passion. I realized that every ounce of my being, every cell in my organism, was made to clarify that question—and maybe, in so doing, clarify the mystery of consciousness and its relationship with reality.

Immersion:

I came to the realization that studies in consciousness and modern physics were the key to the crystallization and illumination of my question. For years I poured over every book I could get my hands on regarding the nature of the infinite: physics books, math books, philosophy books, and even spiritual books. I dissected and tore apart theories and paradoxes and unnatural phenomena. I brainstormed. I wrote pages and pages of stream-of-consciousness writing in my meditative writing books. I did thought experiment after thought experiment. I attempted to measure the infinite halves of a ruler (Zeno’s paradox; Moore, 1990, pp. 25-26) and failed. I tried to square the circle and failed. I imagined the break down of the human body: cells, nucleus, molecules, atoms, protons, electrons, neutrons, gluons, quarks, and on and on. Where did it end? Could there ever be a fundamental element? Even if we could measure an element as “small” as the Plank length, would we not still be able to say, “Okay, what is it made of? Whatever it is made up of must be smaller, and whatever that is made up of must be smaller still, ad infinitum.” And then there was Zeno’s dichotomy paradox (Mazur, 2008) that somehow proves that motion does not actually exist because in order to get from point A to point B one must complete an infinite number of tasks, which is impossible. Everything was paradoxical. Nothing made sense. And I was hooked.

The intensity of my interest spilled over into psychology and how/why we view the world the way we do. There had to be a link between the way we perceive reality and the paradoxes of infinity that seemed to be popping up in virtually every domain of knowledge. So I read voraciously. I poured over books on consciousness and the brain, gaining most of my influence from such books as Consciousness Explained (Dennett, 1991); The Synaptic Self (Ledoux, 2002); and The Emperor’s New Mind (Penrose, 1989). I questioned everything concerning the mind of mankind. I made every moment of every day a potential foundation for a questioning of reality. I sat in bookstores and libraries reading and writing for 12 hours a day. I even engaged my peers in healthy debates on reality and perception. I brought it up in my various upper-level undergraduate psychology courses, enticing the students and confusing the instructors. I was completely, and in all ways, immersed in the question. Little did I know that it would be during the writing of my first novel (McGee, 2006) that I had my first breakthrough insight into the complexity of my question.

Incubation:

My phase of incubation took the form of writing a novel. (It is only now, writing this thesis, that I realize this.) I did not begin the novel as a way of escaping the question. No, I had been trying to write a novel for years. It was only then that I had enough stamina to pull it off. But in hindsight, I realize that writing the novel when I did proved to be the perfect catalyst for the illumination of the question that this study covers.

I was moving on a totally different path than the one where I was intensely motivated and concentrating on the question. The creative juices were flowing, but, on another level, an expansion of knowledge was taking place. The characters in my novel seemed to take on a life of their own. Their verbal jousting became a way for me to actualize my intense passion for understanding the nature of reality. The dialogue in the novel allowed for “the inner workings of the tacit dimension and intuition to continue to clarify and extend understanding on levels outside the immediate awareness” (Moustakas, 1990, p. 29).

Writing the novel changed my perspective on reality. Pieces of my life fell into place over and over again. A vision of unity had come from this experience. It was a vision that carried over into my intense passion for discovering the nature of reality and the role of consciousness within it. I realized that in order to have a good theory of consciousness, one must first have a good theory of reality. I realized that just as nature is fine the way it is despite us, so too is reality fine the way it is despite us. I realized that reality is not the paradox. We are.

Illumination:

My perception of reality would never be the same after my discovery. For so long I had been questioning nature, questioning the brain, questioning logic and strange paradoxes. But I had merely glazed over the profound truth that human perception is fallible. It was not nature that needed to be questioned. It was not the neurons in the brain that needed to be measured. Nor was it reality that was suffering from paradox. It was the perception of man that needed to be questioned, measured, and deemed fallible. Consciousness itself is the paradox! Why do the observed facts of quantum mechanics produce a cognitive dissonance? It is because we are psycho‑physiologically adapted to perceive a sense of time and space. Sure, quantum mechanics is counterintuitive, but it is elegant, and there is no reason to assume that nature need behave in accordance with our intuition.

I finally came to accept what quantum theory was telling me—that no thing is there until a conscious observation deems it as such. Or, put more succinctly, everything is there and then consciousness creates disparateness. My realization came when I was writing my novel and later wrote about the nature of reality in my meditative writing. Later, I read about various interpretations of the quantum enigma derived from the uncertainty principle, Schrodinger’s equation, and the thousands of experiments done on the interference phenomenon. One interpretation above all seemed to confirm what I had discovered: that the universe was infinite and that perceptual reality was nothing more than a finite perception of an infinite wavefunction collapsing into particular points and objects along an infinite multiverse of potential energy. This is the Many Worlds Interpretation of the quantum enigma (Rosenblum & Kuttner, 2006) and is a very difficult interpretation to accept.

Hugh Everett came up with the idea in the 1950’s to allow cosmology to treat a wavefunction for the universe. The many-worlds interpretation resolves the mystery of the conscious observer by the sensible-seeming ploy of including consciousness as part of the physical universe described by quantum mechanics. (Rosenblum & Kuttner, 2006, p. 159)

When I combined all of the data, the illumination was paramount. The question, What creates the difference between perceptual and actual reality?, was coming into a very unique and intriguing focus. Moustakas (1990) said it best: “The illumination as such is a breakthrough into conscious awareness of qualities and a clustering of qualities into themes inherent in the question” (p. 29). The breakthrough into conscious awareness is the realization that the difference between perceptual and actual reality is a matter of finite and infinite conceptualization. In other words: a finite-perceiving brain perceives an infinite reality and creates sub-realities (perceptual realities) that are different than actual reality.

Governing the precepts of the many-worlds interpretation, it stands to reason that each and every electron, photon, and proton are in an infinite superposition across the multiverse of reality. The wavefunction of each infinite element collapses only when something (a conscious observer for example) attempts to measure it. In fact, if you want to take the interpretation literally, the photon itself is not even a photon until it is observed. Before observation, the photon is merely an infinite smeared-out wavefunction entangled with everything else. “Applying the uncertainty principle to the universe naturally leads to a multiverse” (Kaku, 2008, p. 245). Likewise, applying the finite-bias principle to consciousness naturally leads to multiple perceptual realities.

Even stranger, and closer to home, is the fact (governing this precept) that each of us (also made up of protons and electrons) and every single object in the universe, are entangled in the superposition of each and every other element. This means that not only are elements spread out infinitely throughout the multiverse, but so are we. So is everything!

“If you reject the infinite, you are stuck with the finite, and the finite is parochial... the best explanation of anything eventually involves universality, and therefore infinity. The reach of explanations cannot be limited by fiat.” -David Deutsch

I admit this information is difficult to digest. How can one jump so easily from a worldview of finite beginnings and endings to one of infinite wavefunctions and an infinite multiverse? Accepting this cannot—and, indeed, must not—be done on faith. In order to understand this interpretation, one must analyze the data. It is a combination of open-minded reasoning and of clustering the data into a conceivable conclusion relevant to the overall reoccurring theme, all while fighting against the tug of cognitive dissonance. The combined understanding of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Schrodinger’s equation, Zeno’s paradoxes, and the many-worlds interpretation naturally lead to an infinite multiverse. Paradox only occurs, seemingly, because of the observer’s bias toward finitude.

The many worlds interpretation is sometimes claimed to beat all others by Occam’s razor, on the grounds that it requires no physical assumptions. Accepting it requires only the moral courage necessary to accept that the same rules that apply to small isolated systems, like bunches of atoms, also apply to larger isolated systems without limit, therefore including the largest possible one –our universe taken as a whole. (Bruce, 2004, pp. 127-128)

Explication:

The aspect of reality that creates the difference between perceptual and actual reality is a matter of finite and infinite conceptualization. This, essentially, is the breakthrough in my experience. That perceptual reality (consciousness) is finite, and actual reality (actuality) is infinite. When a conscious observer perceives an infinite reality using finite faculties, a paradox occurs. That paradox is what we call reality. It is perceptuality—a sub-reality of the actual infinite reality.

Here is an example. Take any object, an egg, for example, and break it down. It is made up of egg parts. It is made up of egg whites and yolk. What is the yolk made up of? Molecules, then atoms, then protons, right? Now, we have the protons of the egg yolk, vibrating underneath our measuring devices. Let us single out one of these protons, its wavefunction having already collapsed into that which we call a proton. What is it made up of? This is the point where things become theoretical. But, theoretically, given the right technological equipment, we could dissect the proton indefinitely, coming up with an infinite supply of fundamental particles (Wallace & Hodel, 2008). Even at the smallest conceivable length in our universe, the Planck length (Greene, 1999, p. 130), the “length” would still divide indefinitely through other universes and into the multiverse. There is no end to anything. Everything is infinite. Consciousness itself is the function of finitude. Consciousness itself creates perceptuality, which is simply an aspect-reality of the capital R-type Reality, actuality.

All our external experiences are of virtual reality, generated by our own brains. And since our concepts and theories are never perfect, all our renderings are indeed inaccurate. That is to say, they give us the experience of an environment that is significantly different than the environment that we are really in. Mirages and other optical illusions are examples of this. Another is that we experience the Earth to be at rest beneath our feet, despite its rapid and complex motion in reality. Another is that we experience a single universe, and a single instance of our own conscious selves at a time, while in reality there are many. (Deutsch, 1997, p. 136)

If infinity is possible at all,then reality must be infinite. Why is this? Because if any one thing can be considered infinite, as with Cantors Theorem and infinite mathematics (Rucker, 1995, pp. 236-238), then all things must be considered infinite, otherwise we are contradicting our premise. This is not merely a matter of semantics. Identifying infinity claims limitlessness, boundlessness, and endlessness. Claiming such, and then in your next breath saying, “Sure, numbers are infinite, but this rock in my hand is not,” is completely irrational because saying a rock is finite contradicts infinity. “Perceptually” the rock is finite, yes, but “actually” the rock is infinite (Moore, 1990, pp. 25-26). Conscious observation makes the rock finite. Just as conscious observation makes Zeno’s arrow seem to be in motion. If science is important for anything, it is important because it attempts to be rational despite irrationality. It is the duty of all scientists to maintain this rationality, lest science itself suffer.

If we were to ask Zeno today why we see the arrow leave the bow and hit its target, he would still respond, “Mere appearance of change. Motion is an illusion,” and possibly add, “Now that you’ve had more than twenty-four centuries to ponder the problem, you know that even matter is nothing more than energy, and vice versa. Nothing has changed. The external world may be material known only by our senses giving the illusion of color, smell, feeling, and motion.” (Mazur, 2008, p. 220)

People tend to think that the concept of infinity is just a number, or a fancy term used in theoretical physics or calculus. But this concept is much more than that. Indeed, this concept is quite literally reality itself. The concept of infinity cannot be anything less than everything because anything less would be finitude, the antithesis of infinity, and thereby a contradiction in terms.

One’s automatic reaction to such declarations is to announce, “Paradox!” and be done with it. But here is the thing: The only reason the concept of infinity seems paradoxical is because consciousness itself is paradoxical. Reality is just fine being as infinite as it is. Infinity is the natural order of reality. It is conscious observation that is paradoxical.

The notion that reality could be anything other than infinite is merely a natural human bias to perceptual reality. It is this bias to finitude that constantly leads us away from the facts. It is understandable that people should be more inclined to believe what their brains and their senses are telling them than what quantum experiments, Cantor’s theorem, Godel’s Incompleteness theorem, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Schrodinger’s equation, and Zeno’s paradox is telling them. People are in love with perception. Indeed, perception is our reality (perceptuality), but, as history and science has shown us, time and time again, assumptions based upon perception and common sense are usually wrong.

The finite-bias principle is a principle derived from the precept of the many‑worlds interpretation of the quantum enigma, Zeno’s paradoxes of the infinite, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Schrodinger’s equation, and the conscious observer’s historical tendency to rely too much on intuition and common-sense reasoning. It states that the reality a conscious observer perceives is only one type of finite-reality (of an infinite amount of finite-realities) in the overall infinite reality of the multiverse. In other words, the finite-bias principle states that conscious observation is merely a finite interpretation of an infinite wavefunction. One could even go as far as to say that this bias to finitude is consciousness, which brings about a new definition of consciousness: a psychophysical phenomenon occurring when a perceptual organ (a brain or something like it) attempts to discern an infinite reality using finite faculties.

(A fascinating side-note: in Stephen Hawking's latest book, The Grand Design, he has an idea that he calls Model-dependent Realism, which is strikingly similar to my finite-bias principle. On pages 139-140, he writes about the history of the universe derived from Feynman Sums, similar to my finite-bias principle derived from Everett's Many Worlds interpretation. I find it fascinating that we came to the same conclusion from two different viewpoints; his from physics and mine from psychology.)

Watch your tone, Mr. Z!
Watch your tone, Mr. Z!

Here is the thing. We have a tendency to confuse what is perceptually real with what is actually real. Perceptually the Earth is flat, but actually it is spherical. Perceptually the sun revolves around the Earth, but actually the Earth revolves around the sun. Perceptually time is uniform, but actually time is relative. Perceptually reality is finite, but actually reality is infinite. Perceptually the finite-bias principle is paradoxical, but actually perception is paradoxical. Perceptually everything happens at different moments, but actually everything happens at once. Perhaps the most fundamental aspect of consciousness is the brain’s bias to finitude. Without this natural bias, consciousness would not be consciousness at all. It would be ubiquity.

“Common sense and classical physics contain the parochial error that only one history exists. This error, built into our language and conceptual framework (finite-bias principle), makes it sound odd to say that an event can be in one sense extremely unlikely and in another certain to happen. But there is nothing odd about it in reality.” -David Deutsch

Governing the precept of the many-worlds interpretation, it stands to reason that each and every observer is uniformly collapsing wavefunction after wavefunction, electron after electron, and photon after photon into a reality that we all agree on as the universe. Everything in the universe, even time, from the big bang to its current state, is in superposition with everything else. We stand proud at the center of this universe, claiming it, and ourselves, as the be-all-end-all. But what we do not seem to realize is that reality is infinite. Our perceptually finite universe is merely one of an infinite amount of finite universes in an infinite multiverse. And they are all connected. A common misconception within the many-worlds concept is that there are an infinite amount of universes within the multiverse. But using the finite-bias principle, one sees that everything is one, that the multiverse is Infinity itself. Everything is connected. It takes a consciously aware being to create individuality and separateness. We ourselves are merely one of an infinite amount of versions of ourselves. Without conscious observation, everything is simply infinite, no beginning and no ending, merely infinite energy. With conscious observation, we have form and shape and texture and objects and planets and galaxies and universes. More importantly, we have ourselves, observing the miracle of conscious existence.

Conscious observation is merely a finite interpretation of an infinite wavefunction. If there is no conscious observation, there is merely infinite energy, with the potential to be collapsed into an object such as a photon or an electron. Consciousness is the medium by which reality, as we know it, exists. Without conscious observation, everything is everything. With conscious observation, everything is separate, dynamic, different, and meaningful.

The finite-bias perspective is a vital principle in the nature of observable reality. Without this principle, reality would be meaningless and nothing more than an infinite amount of potential matter and energy. It is not so much that we are creating reality than it is that we are shaping it into a conceivable construct. Reality is the way it is despite us. We are merely influencing it by perceiving it through a brain that has a bias toward finitude.

Another way of looking at it is to imagine conscious perception in relation to Cantor’s Set Theory. If we begin with the subset of infinity as the unexplainable cause to all effects, interesting things begin to happen. Cantor (as cited in Barrow, 2005), while attempting to understand the nature of infinity in his transfinite mathematics, ingeniously used the subset of infinity as a method of understanding the infinite. This led to the revolutionary Set Theory. Contrastingly, we could use a philosophical subset of infinity to explain the nature of reality and the consciousness that perceives it, wherein the human organism is the set, perception is the subset of this set, and consciousness is the subset of these sets, with infinity as the super-set of all sets and subsets.

We live, seemingly, in a world where we are descendants of nature’s evolutionary design. Furthermore, we live in a universe where, coincidentally or not, the Big Bang was fine tuned to support a galaxy and a sun that could support a planet where an evolution of life is possible. This is usually referred to as the strong anthropic principle (Rosenblum & Kuttner, 2006, p. 200). But, considering my interpretation that reality is by nature infinite, and reality as we know it (perceptuality) is produced only when a brain biased to finitude observes an infinite reality, we see that even this universe that has conceived me and my perception of it is just one of an infinite amount of universes in an infinite multiverse of possibilities. We also see that I am merely one of an infinite amount of “me’s,” each contemplating the anthropic principle of each of my own universes. This conclusion creates what I call a super-anthropic principle, where each and every conscious observer creates and is created by, simultaneously and infinitely, each and every state of his or her universe—from beginning to end, despite time and space. Under the super‑anthropic principle, any single universe (from Big Bang to conscious observation) is merely a giant cycle of elements, each entangled with the other. Time is only relevant in the sense that (a) conscious observation takes time to evolve, and (b) conscious observation takes time to observe that which it is observing. Essentially, time is but a manifestation of the brain’s bias to finitude. As the finite-bias principle applies to the conscious observer, the super-anthropic principle applies to the multiverse as a whole in regards to conscious observation. The super-anthropic principle, essentially, is the cosmological equivalent of the finite-bias principle.

To summarize, my breakthrough came when I realized that the difference between perceptual and actual reality is a matter of finite and infinite conceptualization. I realized that if the many-worlds interpretation were true, then that meant that every “object” in reality is merely a smeared-out wavefunction with infinite potentiality waiting to be observed into a finite, objective state. I then came up with a way to explain the “gap” of missing information between these two realizations by implementing the finite‑bias principle and showing how a conscious observer is biased to his or her own finite perceptions and thereby incapable of directly perceiving infinite reality.

Why should we not see the occurrence of this necessity for a conscious observer in quantum theory as something that tells us about the nature of reality? So far, nowhere else in all of science have we seen anything that gives us any hint about what consciousness really is. Maybe this Gordian knot is simply something we have created in our own minds because we cannot see the simple solution. (Walker, 2000, pp. 109-110)

Creative synthesis:

The ocean of the Milky Way beams across the canopy of the night sky. I am lost in the vast amount of light that splashes into my pupils. Everything outside of my meditative state melts into nothingness. I stare deep into the maelstrom of galaxies, breathing in and breathing out. A ball of twinkling stars forms at the center of my vision. I feel small against the grandeur of that ball of light and darkness. I am a microbe in a macrocosm. I am a mere second within infinite seconds. My heart races in my chest. I am but a speck that if the universe were to blink, I would be crushed.

But then I remember the balance within nature—the yin-yang teeter-totter of observable reality. I am a mere human complete with fallible brain and limited capacity, observing an infinite reality with an evolutionary-induced bias toward finite perception. I cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste more than what nature will allow me. And the universe spills into this vessel of want and woe, and my brain reacts as neurons fire and synapses spark, forming me just as I am forming it. And a universe blossoms around me. Photons, racing at the speed of light from stars born in the infancy of the universe, have been collapsed from an infinite wavefunction by my observation, collapsing across time and space back into the infancy of the star that bore it.

Then, somewhere within the chaotic throes of my heart, a contentedness blossoms and glows more profound and glorious than any perceived emotion hitherto. I can find depth and sacredness within that which I can observe. I can find reason within the maelstrom.

So I reach out to that ball of white-hot universe, to that ball of infinite photons and electrons collapsing in on itself since the Big Bang. And my hands begin to glow. The starry orb fits perfectly in my grasp. And then I realize how powerful I really am. Sure, I am but a grain of sand upon an infinite beach, but I give that beach meaning. Sure, I am but a blink in the eye of the infinitesimal, but it is I who perceives it. A rose is not a rose without its red color, or its scent, or its texture. But I am the one who smells it. I am the one who sees it. I am the one who feels it. And so I give the universe an existence by living in it.

And suddenly I am not so small.

Dare to question the cosmos. You never know where it could lead you.
Dare to question the cosmos. You never know where it could lead you.

Conclusion, Summary, Implications, and Outcomes

In the end, my interpretation of the data is different in the sense that it is essentially a psychological, and personal, approach to the strangeness of both the potentially infinite nature of reality and the counter-intuitive nature of quantum mechanics. Although my method is heuristic in nature, my interpretation is theoretical. I question how and why we humans tend to have cognitive dissonance in regards to the overwhelmingly accurate data in quantum experiments. Contrastingly, I question how we can have such a strong cognitive dissonance toward the concept of the infinite. Consequently, our inability to understand the nature of reality seems to be a psychological hang-up. There is something with the way our brains have evolved that makes such evident concepts as infinity and quantum mechanics seem strange and counter-intuitive. My description of this psychological hang-up, essentially, is the finite‑bias principle.

The universe does have the element of consciousness and will thereby seem to be paradoxical. This is because we (human beings) are the ones blessed, or cursed (depending on one’s perspective), with the ability of consciousness. We are the ones who are aware that we exist. And it is exactly this awareness that causes us to believe that it is nature, and not us, that is suffering from paradox. It is not nature that is faced with a dilemma, it is us. It is we who are begging the questions. Nature is perfect the way it is. It is we (humankind) who have the dilemma. Thus, it is we who should be questioned, not nature. It is our bias to self, to humankind, to the Earth, and to finitude that causes us to believe that nature is complex and full of paradoxical phenomenon; however, the truth of the matter is that nature is simple and certain, and it is really our own perceptions that are paradoxical. This is the finite-bias principle and the root to the author’s explanation of reality and the role that consciousness plays within it.

My interpretation of the data shows that nothing short of everything could ever possibly be anything. Just try to imagine any aspect of perceptual reality existing independently from the rest of reality. Sure, one can see oneself as a separate entity from one’s environment, but this perception is merely a bias to the finite perceptual capacity of the human brain. In all actuality, nothing can exist separate from anything else. All is needed for anything to be possible. This is important to understand, not only because it teaches humility but because it breaks a particular type of mental paradigm that causes us to put all of our eggs into just one basket. In other words, such reasoning prevents cognitive dissonance from creeping in and tainting science. Moreover, it is important to understand this concept because it is here where spirituality, meaning, and purpose are found within the human condition.

The implications to these interpretations are paramount. It implies that there is a huge gap between what we perceive to be real and what is actually real. The only problem is the matter of proof. Although the many-worlds interpretation, Zeno’s paradoxes of the infinite, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and Schrodinger’s equation are solid foundations for the finite-bias principle, further research is needed to support this conclusion and can only come by further reasoning and the further advancement of physics and consciousness studies.

In a practical sense, these conclusions are irrelevant because we can continue to perceive reality the way we always have without any noticeable repercussions. In a philosophical and scientific sense, these conclusions, and those founded in modern physics, seem to be important in order to understand the way reality is despite opinion and belief. Theorizing, of course, proves nothing, but it does stimulate and direct thinking. Heisenberg (1971) quoted Einstein as saying, “In principle, it is quite wrong to try founding a theory based on observable magnitudes alone. In reality the very opposite happens. It is the theory that decides what we can observe” (p. 63).

By implementing the finite-bias principle into our understanding of conscious observation, we see how theories regarding the nature of reality, from the quantum to the cosmological, become more elegant. Nothing more needs to be added. The finite-bias principle is the Occam’s razor of conscious observation. The paradoxical elements of Zeno’s quandaries fall away, replaced with a shrug and an understanding that such seeming paradoxes will always occur when a brain biased to finitude perceives an infinite reality. The counter-intuitive precept of the many-worlds approach makes more sense using the finite-bias principle because it is understandable how everything is nothing more than the constant collapsing of the infinite master wavefunction by finite observation. It also supports, and even improves upon, the uncertainty principle and Schrodinger’s equation. And regarding the mind, hampered as it has been by historical baggage, it blurs the historical dividing line between “inner” and “outer” as merely a product of ingrained mental habits.

A potential design for a future study on this subject might consist of a heuristic method consisting of interviews of established physicists and psychologists, further theorizing upon how time and space (in a cosmological sense) might be entangled with the finite-bias principle and the super-anthropic principle, and finding deeper correlations between conscious observation and its effect on matter at the quantum level. Perhaps breaking down the data into a Cantorian Set Theory Model, while focusing more on the hard evidence and speculating less on the potential outcomes of the evidence, would help ground the idea more. Also, I think David Bohm’s Concept of the holomovement (Bohm, 1980) may have some applicability to a future study on this subject.

The problem of consciousness as a state of being, and consciousness as it affects matter at the quantum level, will continue to be an enigma. Because of this, there will continue to be a dispute among scientists. “The essential nature of the observer problem in quantum mechanics has been in dispute since the inception of the theory. Similarly, ever since consciousness has become scientifically discussed in psychology and philosophy, its essential nature has been in dispute” (Rosenblum & Kuttner, 2006, p. 176). In a lot of ways, the dispute is fueled, on the one side, by traditionalists sticking to their traditions and, on the other side, by rebel theorists raising red flags and shouting “Eureka!” I admit that I fall into the rebel theorist category. However, I believe both parties are necessary for the process of science to evolve. There is a middle ground to be found, but it can only be found through the open-minded consideration of good theories. There has never been a notion in science that can be considered as perfect, and there never will be. Good science is a healthy understanding that theories are not meant to be coveted but interrogated. Indeed, science should not be the goal of finding better answers for the nature of reality. Science should be the goal of finding better ways of questioning the nature of reality.

In The Principle of Psychology, William James put things into perspective when he said, “. . . understand how great is the darkness in which we grope, and never forget the natural-science assumptions with which we started are provisional and revisable things” (Carter, 2002, p. 307).


Eureka is a verb!
Eureka is a verb!

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Comments 11 comments

Eliminate Cancer profile image

Eliminate Cancer 4 years ago from Massachusetts

This is EXCELLENT!! Wow, one of the most interesting hubs I've read. Thank you :)


-Z- profile image

-Z- 4 years ago from Everywhere, USA Author

Thank you! And thanks for reading.


Eliminate Cancer profile image

Eliminate Cancer 4 years ago from Massachusetts

I had to read it twice - still absorbing it!!


ILovePlaid profile image

ILovePlaid 4 years ago from here, there

I truly enjoyed reading this. I would love to sit down and discuss this in detail with you one day!

The Creative Synthesis section really spoke to me. My favorite part.

Amazing. Simply fantastic.


RainbowBear 4 years ago

I love the elegance of 'finite-bias principle'.

You have distilled aspects of my consciousness going back some 50 years, which, despite extensive study of psychology, philosophy and spirituality, I have but seen 'through a glass darkly.'

A profound and sympathetic 'aha' for me.

Thankyou


-Z- profile image

-Z- 4 years ago from Everywhere, USA Author

You are very Welcome, RainbowBear!

From now on we see through a glass, clearly.

or at least attempt to do so. ;)


Angela Sasser profile image

Angela Sasser 2 years ago from London, Kentucky

I really loved this. Because of this, I have learned more about physics than I've ever known in a single night. I stayed up all night researching things like Schrödinger's cat, Occam's razor, Zeno's paradox theories, and the double-slit experiment. I read about the "many worlds" theory before I started reading this hub again and when you mentioned it later in your text, it made it a modicum clearer. I would love to find someone in my personal life just to talk about this stuff I've learned last night, sadly no one like this exists for me but I have the internet thankfully. Thank you my friend, you have awoken something in me I never knew existed, I love physics.


-Z- profile image

-Z- 2 years ago from Everywhere, USA Author

Thanks for reading, Angela. Your enthusiasm brings me much joy, and I am happy to be a catalyst for your continued interest in physics. Like the great Carl Sagan wrote, "Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known." Cheers!


Brenton smith 2 years ago

Simplicity at its best


Calin 11 months ago

This just feels so true and good:)


Art 3 months ago

What if the universe isn't infinite, what if the idea of Infinity itself for the universe is A paradox of the conscience of the human mind, a mere lack of the R the real aspect of life itself has to be a part of one singe multiorgamism as a whole I believe there has to be a end.... Maybe a reflective type infinity, that acts for R reality and our perception of reality of our surroundings that repeats within itself would make more sense, but I believe there is an end to our universe just infinite within itself.

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