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  • Writer's pictureDan Thompson

Consciousness and the Measurement Problem, part. 1

Everyone from scientists to religious adherents believe in an, as of yet, undiscovered law or theory of everything. Suggestions have included a fundamental crystalline structure, the holographic principle, super-symmetry, quantum gravity, God and consciousness itself. In one way or another they are all incomplete because, they depend on our anthropocentric views of the world, which are limited by the information available to us and of our brains to interpret it. These limitations include unconscious biases i.e. hindsight bias, confirmation bias, the scientific method and the empirical table of notation and conversions, which are the root of all measurement problems—our influence on the measurement, sometimes called the observer effect—because it takes a certain unit of energy, i.e. consciousness–observation–to make a measurement.

   The measurement is of how much energy it requires to retrieve the information equivalent to that measurement and therefore the resulting information is equal to that expenditure of energy, whereby it becomes an empirical unit, or constant, e.g. how many TeV it takes to find, or observe a boson? Answer: 13 TeV, so that boson is worth 13 TeV. But the information doesn’t actually become a particle or a discrete objective thing until it is observed by consciousness, as distinct from conscious agents (see: Hoffman) abstracting properties from a concrete thing (more on this later). It is consciousness that makes the measurement (retrieves the information) and does something with it; which is that measurement. All we’re doing is making measurements, otherwise it is just a process, which goes on, unbeknownst to anyone except the conscious agents (particles) that compose it.

It’s the observer (consciousness itself) that gets in the way. We can’t stop ourselves from observing, in that way we do, hungry for data, that we end up consuming a lot of it. The exchange of information goes on even when we aren’t aware of it. What we get is just random data though, a bewildering interchange of valuable and expendable sights, sounds, smells, thoughts, ideas, interpretations and the occasional insight. We know things, we just don’t know or can’t prove how we know it. ‘Not what the eye can see, but that whereby the eye can see’ from the Kena Upanishads, used in the teachings of Advianta Vedanta, which posed the question some 4000 years ago; namely ‘who?’ is this one who ‘knows’ and in response, tells us that what we know is different from how we know it. That in order to do something it is not absolutely necessary to know how it works, just that it does work. Equivalent to the physicists’ maxim ‘shut up and calculate’, used as a kind of deterrent against such indecipherable questions as ‘why is there something rather than nothing?’, ‘grand unification’, and ‘is there an inherent meaning to life and the universe?’.

But it’s not enough and we do want to know, if for no other reason than to give us something to look forward to, whether we are mystics, religious practitioners or scientists, because what we have in terms of material objects and explanatory theories is increasingly less and less important the closer we get to whatever it is that gives it all meaning.

Meaning is a state of consciousness and consciousness is what gives life and thus matter=energy (the stuff that keeps us alive), meaning. There is no upper limit to how much consciousness a physical system can have, or the number of entangled particles within that system (limited only by the number of particles). Therefore it is conceivable that the entire universe is entangled in a conscious system “only the inanimate universe and living bodies are observers” (Kastrup 109:2019).

As we have seen, observation and measurement are both physical interactions. Which means that all systems are observers, including the universe i.e. mind-at-large, and that we are dissociated alters of the same universal Mind, be it a hologram, a crystal, or a system of informational units (conscious agents). We all see more or less the same things, even though they may have a different significance, they appear the same because of the intersubjectivity of these alters (see: Husserl intersubjectivity), or conscious agents (see: Hoffman, Prakash), which ‘observe’ (depend) on each other at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles

It is possible, that out of the afformentioned explanations, one of them is correct, but how would we know? Our unique position as conscious beings puts us in exactly the right place to find it. It’s just that we have to ask the right questions and know how to listen. But how does one do this? First one must be pay attention, like opening the door of awareness wider and wider to intention, intuition and eventually discernment.

The truth, as far as we can explain it, is limited only by the theorist’s capacity for self-reflection and critical thinking. If it isn’t necessary, they don’t seek an answer. Our theories therefore are only as good as our own desire to discover the truth and our ability to discern it. We get in our own way, finally unable to perceive ourselves as the perceiver of the outside world. To discern the truth from the mountains of information. The phenomena shining of its own light to the point of blindness. Obscuring the numinous and preventing us from seeing the form; the thing in itself.

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