Consciousness: A quick Look Dec 16 2011


The purely sensate mode of comprehending reality may embrace mathematics, and may ignore or deny the reality of mind and consciousness, seeing them as merely incidental by-products, or epiphenomena [1]  of physical processes. It is odd however,  that the mere epiphenomenon of mind could itself bring forth the tool of mathematics, the final arbiter of today’s  reality.

Why, in the indeterminate and probabilistic  theory of Quantum Mechanics, are there definite outcomes?  Quantum Mechanics researchers have long accepted that the spin of a particle will always be found to point along whichever axis is chosen by the experimenter as his reference. Physicist Eugene Wigner suggested that these definite outcomes, including looking where a wave was and seeing a particle,  are produced by the consciousness of the observer acting on the quantum system, “collapsing” the wave function into a well defined state.  Somehow the observer’s consciousness is effecting what is observed, and this is certainly a macroscopic effect. Perhaps for this reason, the study of consciousness as a Quantum Mechanical science has moved more towards the mainstream.


Of course another issue is location of the seat of consciousness. Is it in the body, and if so, which part? [2] Can consciousness reside outside of the physical body, and is it restricted in scale? Can the consciousness of individuals merge, like raindrops, into a sea?

David Bohm applied Eugene  Wigner type observations directly to functions of the brain and the problem of consciousness. He concluded that mind and matter “are two aspects of one whole, and are no more separable than form or content. …Deep down the consciousness of mankind is one. [3]


Wikipedia provides a good article on the current spectrum of quantum mind theories. [4]


Some sensate schools hold that reductionism will eventually explain mind and consciousness in terms of mechanisms of a biological system, such as action potentials, neurotransmitters, etc. Others believe that consciousness is an emergent property, but there is insufficient evidence to support this hypothesis.


In a 12 lecture course, Consciousness and Its Implications, [5] Professor Daniel Robinson discusses what is called the “Problem of Consciousness”, being an embarrassment to both scientific materialism (physicalism) which assumes only matter, and dualism, which asserts two types of stuff; matter and mind. He dismisses epiphenomenalism and explores the difficulty science has in explaining just how neurobiological processes of the brain gives rise to consciousness, in all of it’s multifaceted glory.


He notes Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose’s two books; The Emperors New Mind; 1989, and  Shadow Of The Mind, 1994. Both seek to set limits on the extent to which contemporary physical science may be viewed as promising in relation to the “problem” of consciousness . Penrose agrees with Galen Strawson, that we do not know enough about matter itself, and after extensive analysis of physics and its mathematical foundations reaches the conclusion that a scientific understanding of mental life may require a science which does not yet exist.


One of the reasons for this is Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness theorem and its proof: On Formally Undecidable Propositions published in 1931. Briefly, it is proven that any formal mathematical or logical system will be based on axioms or theorems which cannot be proved within the system itself. ie, the system is logically incomplete, and some external accepted fact must be brought in to make it complete. Penrose concludes that the proper model of human cognition could not be computational. We are able to reflect on our own problem solving, and do not need to import any axioms to make sense of what we are thinking.  This means the process of consciousness is non-algorythmic.


Even assuming a connection between quantum mechanics and consciousness; even assuming the validity of  Bohm’s implicate and explicate orders and the great significance of the Zero Point Field; even assuming science succeeds in building a theoretical bridge between matter and mind, science  is still at an impasse with regard to “explaining” consciousness in a reductionistic way.


The linkage of Mind and Matter: Consciousness creating reality

Synchronicity is generally seen as a confluence of an individual’s mental experiences; ie consciousness, usually in the form of thoughts or dreams, with that individual’s experiences in daily life. F. David Peat suggests that the existence of synchronicity shows that both consciousness  and matter are linked. Random Event Generator (REG) experiments and the work at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) lab also demonstrate  a linkage of mind and matter. Peat notes that various attempts to explain how mind and matter relate often preserve features of Cartesian duality. The duality could be resolved if mind and matter could be understood as emerging from a common source.  


There is  a trend to see consciousness not just as the perception but also the creation of “what is out there”. Roger Sperry, a neuroscientist from Cal Tech, won the Nobel prize for work characterizing the left and right brain. He put his thoughts into a lead article for the 1981 Annual review of Neuroscience titled Changing Priorities. In the article he says we are leaving behind determinism, behaviorism, and the materialism of the science of the past. “we are having to recognize the primacy of inner conscious awareness as a causal reality.”


Consciousness creating reality has been deduced directly from Quantum Mechanics. Bernie Haisch, an astronomer, stated in his book The God Theory: ‘It is not matter that creates an illusion of consciousness, but consciousness that creates an illusion of matter.’ Richard Conn Henry notes that we know from quantum mechanics that our observations create the past, as demonstrated by the famous delayed-choice experiment




[2] The heart has been associated with intelligence and consciousness in ancient Chinese and Egyptian cultures, as well as in most religions. Heartmath is a modern scientific institution which has been re-exploring the heart as seat of consciousness.



[3] Daniel Robinson: Consciousness and Its Implications CD The Teaching Company, 2007


[5] Daniel Robinson: Consciousness and Its Implications CD The Teaching Company, 2007. see also Daniel N. Robinson, Consciousness and Mental Life, Columbia University Press, 2007, 264pp. Several reviews of his paper appear at, including a review by a proponent of monistic materialism.



[6] Willis Harman, Global  Mind Change p. 9.

[7] The God Theory by Bernard Haisch. San Francisco Weiser Books, 2006. Quoted by Professor Richard Conn Henry