Thursday, March 15, 2007

To Further Complicate Things...

Okay, here's something that Greg can answer because I have no clue as to its validity:

From Andrew Sullivan's reader

"The most fascinating stuff I've come across in my research, by a long shot, is in the area of quantum mechanics, as presented in the work of the Oxford mathematican/physicist Roger Penrose and his colleague Stuart Hameroff, an anesthesiologist and professor at the University of Arizona.

"Together, Penrose and Hameroff have developed a theory of consciousness called ORCH OR (Orchestrated Objective Eduction of Quantum Coherence in Brain Microtubules) which posits that consciousness "occurs" not at the neuronal level in the brain, and not in algorithmic processes mimicking on a grand scale the way computers work, but at the sub-neuronal level, in the microtubles (crystal-like lattice structures that help organize cell structures and enable information processing) in which quantum processing interacts with classical physics. It's that intersect, between classical and quantum physics, to drastically over-simplify the Penrose/Hameroff model, that "provides the global binding necessary to consciousness."

"Why is this interesting? Two reasons: because it suggests that the brain functions not like a computer but in a non-computable (i.e. non-reproducible by artificial means) way, and because Penrose goes further, and theorizes a stable set of Platonic ideal structures residing at the very lowest energy level of the Planck scale (where quantum gravity, whatever that is, would be strongest), which inform and influence at least our unconscious minds. Because quantum mechanics allows for non-local patterns, and because these non-local patterns repeat everywhere, the implication is that the universe is in some way conscious, and that we are part of that consciousness."

This is the other answer to the mind/body problem in Descartes- there have long been philosophers who thought that the split between Mind and the Physical world was more apparent than actual. And actually, the sub-neuronal level is astoundingly complex, especially considering that we one saw it as an on-off switch. So, perhaps Greg can clue me in as to the implications of non-local patterns for consciousness?

2 comments:

gregvw said...

Wow! That's an astonishing conjecture and certainly no more suspect than any other I've encountered to date. Penrose is, of course, the very definition of a big-shot in the physics world. As to the implications of non-local patterns for consciousness? Uh...

ESP n' shit?

Rufus said...

I don't even know if it would have to be at the level of consciousness to affect consciousness, if that makes any sense. It's funny- Sullivan is a Catholic, but the first thing I thought of when I read it was the idea of a "world soul" in Brahmanism.