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In particular, quantum cosmology starkly underlines the need for something like consciousness. To take a particular example: the WMAP satellite observations of the universe at an age of some , years confirm a picture in which the universe has evolved as if it started in a perfectly smooth homogenous state though strictly speaking there can be no "initial state" since the very earliest stages merge into the as yet unknown timeless conditions of quantum gravity.

By the epoch observed by WMAP we see minute fluctuations superimposed on this uniform background, of the same character as the quantum fluctuations that can be detected when a uniform beam of radiation is observed in the laboratory. On conventional theory, these cosmological fluctuations grew under the influence of gravity to produce stars, galaxies and ourselves. Note, however, that in quantum theory it is the act of observation that precipitates quantum fluctuations: without observation in whatever generalised form we may conceive it a homogeneous initial state evolving under homogeneous laws must remain homogeneous.

So the early fluctuations that eventually give rise to the existence of planets, people and WMAP are caused by observations such as those made by people and WMAP! The problem of quantum observation lies at the heart of modern cosmology. This cosmological perspective makes it clear that the bare mathematical formalism of quantum theory in insufficient on its own. Without some additional ingredient, the universe would remain homogeneous and sterile.


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Two ideas from quantum cosmology are needed in order to make sense of this. They will also provide the key to the role of consciousness. The first was introduced by James Hartle , building on the "histories" interpretation of Griffiths Instead of considering probabilities for different outcomes to a single quantum observation, Hartle examined the probabilities of sets of outcomes for any collection of observations scattered throughout the universe in space and time.

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The mathematics was almost the same as it would have been if one had assumed a collapse of the wave function simultaneously across the universe with each observation; but strictly speaking the latter concept cannot be used in cosmology because it is not consistent with the fact that in relativity theory "simultaneous" is an observer-dependent concept.

By considering this "super- observation" extended over the whole of space-time there is no need to consider either collapse or issues of causality between future and past events. Hartle gave no indication as to what was actually meant by an "observation" or "observer". This issue was made explicit through the second key idea, first raised by Matthew Donald.

He considered quid-consciousness - i. Then, however, the idea was explored by Don Page who focussed on "sensation", which is close to the qualis-consciousness of this paper. The aim of a cosmological theory, he argued, was to explain the universe as we see it, and this is equivalent to requiring that the quantum state of the universe is compatible with an instance of conscious sensation like ours.

This in turn is equivalent to the quantum state assigning a non-zero probability to such an instance. This then gives a new way of thinking about the role of consciousness: consciousness does not alter the quantum state of the universe, but it imposes a filter on the state, selecting a component if there is one compatible with our capacity for sensation.

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The combined work of Hartle and Page gives a picture of a universe arising from the interplay of a background homogeneous quantum cosmology with possible networks in space and time of instances of consciousness. Self-contradictory networks of awareness are ruled out because quantum mechanics assigns to them a zero probability Everett, ; Clarke, But in addition the networks of awareness are shaped by their own internal logic, manifested by qualis- consciousness and different from the Aristotelian logic of quid-consciousness Clarke, This logic brings in elements such as agency and meaning.

Consciousness, on this view, "does something", but by selection rather than modification, and in a way which is compatible with and dependent on the known laws of physics. A Theoretical Understanding of Consciousness and Quantum Theory One final building block still seems required: a non-arbitrary criterion is needed for what physical systems have the capacity for qualis- consciousness. Many recent authors de Quincey, ; Skrbina, have, however, come to the conclusion that no such criterion exists. In other words, everything might be conscious, a position known as "panpsychism".

A problem remains, however: if "everything" is conscious, what is a "thing"? A consciousness-carrying "thing" must have some internal unity rather than being an arbitrary aggregate of objects, which suggests that it has an internal coherence. The simplest definition of this is that its parts are in quantum entanglement Clarke, In addition, it must not be merely an arbitrary subset of a larger "thing", so that it must be maximal with respect to this coherence. In other words, it must be on the boundary between the quantum and the classical, a boundary set by the onset of decoherence.

The structures considered by Hameroff and Penrose are of this sort. It now becomes clearer what consciousness does. At this quantum-classical boundary the question of what "observation" or, more formally, what algebra of propositions is to be expressed is not yet determined by decoherence, and so is open to determination by consciousness Clarke, Following Hartle, this happens not in isolation, but within the whole network of "things" throughout the universe.

Physical causation operates through quantum state of the universe, while consciousness independently filters this into awareness through its own sort of logic in the sense of the structure of an algebra of propositions. The large scope this gives for future experimental and theoretical research has been outlined in Clarke, ,8. Several candidates for the logic of consciousness are available, allowing us to understand how consciousness brings creativity alongside rational deduction.

Quantum Gravity

This model raises for the first time the possibility of a rigorous theoretical framework for parapsychology Clarke, without which that subject remains only a semi-science. In addition, there will be other candidates for what a "thing" is, opening up alternative theories that can be tested against the theory just outlined. References Berger, D. Clinical empathy. Northvale: Jason Aronson, Inc. Clarke, C. Philosophy of Science, 41, The role of quantum physics in the theory of subjective consciousness.

Mind and Matter 5 1 , Clarke C. A new quantum theoretical framework for parapsychology. European Journal of Parapsychology, 23 1 , Daneri, A. Quantum Theory of Measurement and Ergodicity Conditions.

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Radical Nature: Rediscovering the Soul of Matter. Dennett, D.

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Consciousness Explained, Allen Lane. Donald, M. Coecke Ed. Berlin: Springer.

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Everett, H. Griffiths, R.. Consistent histories and the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Hameroff, S. Conscious events as orchestrated space-time selections. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 3 1 , Hartle, J. The quantum mechanics of cosmology.


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In Coleman, S. Singapore: World Scientific. Heidegger M. What Is a Thing? Barton Jr. Permanent link for public information only:. Permanent link for all public and protected information:. Managers Grefe, M. Westphal, A. There are 3 events in the past. Show them. Hide the events in the past 3 fetching past events