by Marinus Jan Marijs
Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomenon: “It is impossible to specify what it is, what it does, or why it has evolved”. Stuart Sutherland in the entry he wrote for the 1989 version of the Macmillan Dictionary of Psychology.
But consciousness affects the way we relate to the external world.
The following quotes are from the greatest scientists of the twentieth century, they refer to the nature of consciousness and the impossibility to position consciousness in a monistic materialistic framework.
Max Planck (Nobel Prize for Physics)
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck (23 April 1858 – 4 October 1947) was one of the most important German physicists of the late 19th and early 20th century, winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918; he is considered to be the founder of quantum theory. Planck, based on his studies of atoms, did not believe that consciousness is derived from matter. He did not believe that the brain produces consciousness. He believed that matter is derived from consciousness. He said:
I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness. As quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)
As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.
– Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944) (from Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797)
Erwin Schrödinger (Nobel Prize for Physics)
Erwin Schrödinger received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933. He believed consciousness was not produced by the brain and could not be explained in physical terms. Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger (12 August 1887 – 4 January 1961) was an Austrian born physicist and theoretical biologist who was one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, and is famed for a number of important contributions to physics, especially the Schrödinger equation, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933. In 1935 he proposed the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment.
Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.
Other quotes by Schrödinger:
The observing mind is not a physical system, it cannot interact with any physical system. And it might be better to reserve the term “subject” for the observing mind. … For the subject, if anything, is the thing that senses and thinks. Sensations and thoughts do not belong to the “world of energy”.
I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously.
There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousnesses. Their multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind.
Eugene Wigner (Nobel Prize in Physics)
Eugene Wigner shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963. He believed that materialism is not consistent with quantum mechanics. The Wikipedia article on Wigner says:
Eugene Paul “E. P.” Wigner (November 17, 1902 – January 1, 1995) FRS was a Hungarian American theoretical physicist and mathematician. He received a share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 “for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles…
Near the end of his life, Wigner’s thoughts turned more philosophical. In his memoirs, Wigner said: The full meaning of life, the collective meaning of all human desires, is fundamentally a mystery beyond our grasp. As a young man, I chafed at this state of affairs. But by now I have made peace with it. I even feel a certain honor to be associated with such a mystery. He became interested in the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism, particularly its ideas of the universe as an all pervading consciousness. In his collection of essays Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays, he commented. It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.
Wigner also conceived the Wigner’s friend thought experiment in physics, which is an extension of the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment. The Wigner’s friend experiment asks the question: At what stage does a ‘measurement’ take place? Wigner designed the experiment to highlight how he believed that consciousness is necessary to the quantum-mechanical measurement processes.
Sir John Eccles
Sir John Eccles was a neurophysiologist who won the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1963 for his work on the synapse. He did not believe that the brain produces consciousness. In Evolution of the Brain: Creation of the Self (1989) he wrote:
I maintain that the human mystery is incredibly demeaned by scientific reductionism, with its claim in promissory materialism to account eventually for all of the spiritual world in terms of patterns of neuronal activity. This belief must be classed as a superstition … we have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world.
Kurt Friedrich Gödel (April 28, 1906 – January 14, 1978) was an Austrian American logician, mathematician, and philosopher. After World War II, he emigrated to the United States. Considered with Aristotle one of the most significant logicians in human history, Gödel made an immense impact upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century, a time when others such as Bertrand Russell, A. N. Whitehead, and David Hilbert were pioneering the use of logic and set theory to understand the foundations of mathematics.
Kurt Gödel did not believe in materialism, or that the mind was produced by the brain, or that the brain evolved through Darwinian evolution. He believed a human was a spirit connected with a physical body and that there were beings higher than humans and other worlds than earth.
Kevincarmody.com lists these quotes by Kurt Gödel (among many others) from A Logical Journey by Hao Wang. Kurt Gödel said:
- Materialism is false.
- The world in which we live is not the only one in which we shall live or have lived.
- The brain is a computing machine connected with a spirit.
- I don’t think the brain came in the Darwinian manner. In fact, it is disprovable. Simple mechanism can’t yield the brain. I think the basic elements of the universe are simple. Life force is a primitive element of the universe and it obeys certain laws of action. These laws are not simple, and they are not mechanical.
- In materialism all elements behave the same. It is mysterious to think of them as spread out and automatically united. For something to be a whole, it has to have an additional object, say, a soul or a mind. “Matter” refers to one way of perceiving things, and elementary particles are a lower form of mind. Mind is separate from matter.
- There are other worlds and rational beings of a different and higher kind.
Quantum Physicist: Consciousness Arises Outside of the Brain
Monday, May 18, 2015
A quantum physicist at Chungbuk National University in Korea has provided mathematical evidence that consciousness cannot be simulated in or replicated by a computer, and in turn that it cannot be the byproduct of neurological activity in the brain.
Professor Daegene Song has provided mathematical proof that human consciousness cannot be simulated by a computing device, due to self-observation being a unique mechanism in the process of consciousness. In his paper, “Non-computability of Consciousness,” Song shows consciousness as a mathematical representation, and in the process that it is not compatible with mechanical systems.
“Among conscious activities, the unique characteristic of self-observation cannot exist in any type of machine. Human thought has a mechanism that computers cannot compute or be programmed to do.”
Song also goes on to illustrate that consciousness itself is not like known physical systems, like neural pathways in the brain. “If consciousness cannot be represented in the same way all other physical systems are represented, it may not be something that arises out of a physical system like the brain. The brain and consciousness are linked together, but the brain does not produce consciousness. Consciousness is something altogether different and separate. The math doesn’t lie.”
The neuroscience community has been working for many years to replicated consciousness in a machine by increasing the number of pathways between memory chips, but now it appears that, no matter how large the machine brain, it will never be self aware. A general assumption among scientists is that consciousness is a side-effect of brain activity, but Dr. Song’s math suggests that this cannot be true. If he is correct, then a fundamental change not just in science is implied, but also in the way we view ourselves. It would appear that consciousness may be something that the brain accesses, but does not generate.
This is consistent with a new theory of consciousness being advocated by physicist Sir Roger Penrose and Dr. Stuart Hameroff. Penrose and Hameroff a;sp suggest that consciousness is something applied to the brain, not generated by it.
“The origin of consciousness reflects our place in the universe, the nature of our existence. Did consciousness evolve from complex computations among brain neurons, as most scientists assert? Or has consciousness, in some sense, been here all along, as spiritual approaches maintain?” ask Hameroff and Penrose in the current review. “This opens a potential Pandora’s Box, but our theory accommodates both these views, suggesting consciousness derives from quantum vibrations in microtubules, protein polymers inside brain neurons, which both govern neuronal and synaptic function, and connect brain processes to self-organizing processes in the fine scale, ‘proto-conscious’ quantum structure of reality.”
Read the original source: http://www.unknowncountry.com/news/quantum-physicist-consciousness-arises-outside-brain#ixzz3zWQRL83f