♥ ♥ ♥   YOU are Special   ♥ ♥ ♥

     You have proof that you are special, but you have chosen to ignore it because your theories tell you otherwise. Popper says scientific theories cannot be proved, only at best confirmed. But surely individual observations, the plain facts, must be believed if they are immediately verifiable. Of course Feyerabend says that every fact is theory-laden. But some facts are so striking that one feels obliged to believe they are true, independent of any particular theory, or perhaps it would be better to say dependent on every reasonable theory. Descartes showed one could doubt almost everything, except for this one thing, I AM. One cannot doubt that one exists because existence is a prerequisite of this thought. "Cogito, ergo sum." (I think, therefore I am.) The proof that you are special is this; as far as you know, without introducing any metaphysical (untestable) assumptions, yours may be the only consciousness in the universe. Wherever you go, from birth to death, it will go with you. It is absolutely attached to you which makes you absolutely different from everyone else in the world, from your point of view. This point of view is the only one you have and, although you may deeply empathise with others, even other animals, you will forever remain you. You are ABSOLUTELY special and you cannot deny that. One is unique and absolutely different from every other person. This scientific observation, that there is only one direct consciousness, is ignored, degraded and even derided in conventional physics.

     What is consciousness? That is a hard question. Who is conscious? That's easier to answer, is it not? Everyone is conscious, are they not? Descartes pointed out that one can only prove one's own consciousness to oneself. No one else can prove that you are conscious, and you cannot prove that anyone else but yourself is conscious. Consciousness, by virtue of its very nature, is something that one can only observe internally, in oneself. The assumed consciousness of others is an implication of a theory which says, "You are not so special, you are so like everyone else and everyone is very like you." Basic science has tended to support this view because the laws of nature are demonstrably the same for everyone. This is indeed an axiom of general relativity: The fundamental laws of physics are necessarily the same for all observers. But what if the laws of nature turn out to be merely tautologous, necessary truths of the logic of the mathematical foundations, and therefore turn out to have no physical content other than that this is the way things must be? What then?

    All meaning resides in the light of awareness. The conditions under which an observation is made, the boundary conditions, dictate the meaning of reality, not the laws.

The ultimate laws of nature appear to be tautologies;
if so, only the boundary conditions contain real meaning.
We are getting used to being told that geometry is empirical, and now that logic is quantal.
Instead consider that the laws are theorems and circumstances prescribe everything.

     What is consciousness? It is this immediate experience. It is not about what was or what will be. It is about this here and now awareness. This is it. This is where consciousness is - always in the present; compared with memories of awareness, or assumptions of awareness, or endowments of awareness in others. We naturally endow fellow citizens with consciousness -– their equivalent of our experience. However, this is a metaphysical presumption which is not testable except by inference from a normal perspective. From a purely empirical stance, there is and can only be one consciousness, only one immediate and present reality, only one fountain of direct awareness. All other hypothetical consciousnesses are metaphysical assumptions without scientific basis, except in so far as our philosophy of science presupposes them. Hearsay and rhetoric will convince us of other minds - a complex tangle of states leading to complex behaviour patterns - but consciousness is certainly singularly mine, is it not?

     According to my view of quantum mechanics, alluded to in Philosophical Problems of Quantum Ontology and elaborated in Unity Consciousness and the Perfect Observer, the state of a system is only determinable through consciousness. If not immediately observed then the state is a superposition of all classically possible states. This means, in particular, that the states of mind of other people have to be considered as superstates - a hypothesis that should have testable consequences. This view could be labelled solipsistic pantheism because there is only one consciousness in the universe (hence solipsistic), and that which is experienced is a phenomenal unity emerging from a complex noumenal state underlying all reality. That noumenon we may call Nature (or Goddess) or God (hence pantheism).

     To be more precise, the noumenon of Kant might be understood as being represented by a complex function or set of complex functions which reside in a Hilbert space of states. Nothing like this is entertained as physics in Newton's natural philosophy where everything is in terms of real numbers and real functions of real numbers. Operators which act in this Hilbert space may be associated with Kantian phenomena by projecting real measurable numbers out of the function or group of functions in Hilbert space. Kant's forms of perception and categories of understanding may be identified with an array of sensory operators such as we have on board with our 5 senses.

     Consequences of this view might be comprehensible to a psychologist as well as a physicist.

     First the angle that is comprehensible to the physicist. Consider the attractive force between two oppositely electrically charged particles circling round one another. This force is ultimately deducible from the assumption that the state of the system, the complex function in Hilbert space, has a certain symmetry called U(1) invariance (meaning you can multiply the state by exp(iθ) and get the same observables). The U(1) invariance of the electromagnetic field implies conserved electric charges.   Non-zero charges attract or repel one another.  Similarly consider the attractive force between two differently colored quarks circling round each another. This 'strong force' is ultimately deducible from the assumption that the state of the system has a certain symmetry called SU(3) invariance.  (And the heavenly bodies attract as a result of GL4 symmetry of space-time.) Thus symmetries engender forces in physics.

     Now consider objectively two butterflies fluttering around one another and imagine that this animal magnetism is ultimately explicable in terms of some deep symmetry. Of course there is already an obvious symmetry between the butterflies. They are the same species, they look the same, talk the same and even smell the same, but we are looking for a description that is deeper than that. While it might seem more satisfactory to seek an account of what is happening in terms of the colour and scent experiences of the individual butterflies, perhaps their experience is better understood as a quantum superposition of possible states requiring a completely different mode of explanation. They have the same genetic origins, their gnome is almost identical. Could this symmetry appear as a force? Could quantum identity principles introduce superposition or interference or entanglement at a deeper level of explanation?

     The theory might be called "G2 Love". G2 is a wonderful symmetry with, as yet, no definite application in the real world. Nevertheless you can do the same mathematical tricks with G2 as are done with U(1) and SU(3) and produce a theory of deep and complicated forces. Since love is a real and powerful force in human lives, let us look for human dimensions that might fit in with this objective way of looking at human relations. The search for the dimensions of the mind is not a new quest but the mathematics of G2 might be a much needed guide. This theory has a classical (real) version and so can be discussed without involving relativity or some of the more abstruse quantum ideas such as intrinsic spin or anti-matter. This is non-relativistic Yang-Mills theory with G2 symmetry.

     However quantum ideas are still vital. Consider Schroedinger's cat. The cat cannot be said to be alive or dead until observed, in von Neumann's mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics. Wigner's friend observes the cat, and now he too cannot be said to have seen a live cat or seen a dead cat. Until one knows the result of the wicked experiment oneself, the complete mathematical description of the world does not involve a cat which is alive, nor one which is dead. The cat and indeed the mind of Wigner's friend are in an entangled state with respect to the question of the health of the cat. For a fuller explanation, see the account in Philosophical Problems of Quantum Ontology, chapter 2.

     The usual interpretation of Wigner's friend rests on the fact that we believe the friend when he tells us that he was never in a superposition of two states, one seeing a live cat and another seeing a dead cat. This led Wigner to conclude that, at least by the time the information has arrived at his friend's consciousness, the state of the cat has already 'collapsed'. This is not the interpretation given here. (I went to Princeton in the summer of 1974 to talk to Eugene Wigner about this very point of his paradox, but unfortunately he was not in his room at the university when I visited.) Consider instead, that the only reality is ones immediate conscious experience, and all that is implied by that experience. The state is an evolving complex function and only when directly observed by you can many properties that were previously entangled be said to have real values. Even other minds must be treated like this. B.F.Skinner showed that, by focusing entirely on behaviour, one can completely ignore the possibility of consciousness in many psychological experiments without a complete loss of substance in psychology. Now we must view other minds like a quantum computer with superpositions of many entangled possibilities. The resulting behaviour may require the combination of many classical alternatives to explain it. It is worth noting here that Einstein, Tolman and Podolski showed that determining the state of a quantum system now does not imply that the past can have all quantum uncertainty squeezed out of it, and that John Archebald Wheeler (whom I wrote to in 1976 and who was good enough to reply with a kind and sympathetic letter) showed with a delayed choice experiment that state 'collapse' cannot be assumed to happen at the moment of the nominal event. Inferences about the past, in particular about the past state of mind of a friend, can not be made glibly, and without reference to a physical theory. But remember how Wheeler helped Feynman to understand that there might be only one electron in the universe, similarly we might be able to go from a conception of many minds to just one mind by an analogous route of quantum logic.

     In the quantum version of G2 Love, two minds are each considered as superpositions of states. These superstates interact by way of exchange of the 14 virtual bosons corresponding to the Yang-Mills theory of G2 interaction symmetry. What classically we describe as exchange of visual or audio information and even exchange of chemicals such as pheromones, now we must describe in a new way given only that which we ourselves know, and without the classically assumed substrate of an infinity of assumptions about the precise state of an underlying objective reality. Thus, for example, butterflies, which have huge eyes (although they can see only red, green and yellow) might be assumed to attract simply by sight of the bright wing colours. But butterflies have been around for over 100 million years and are probably even more complicated and more subtle than that. Butterflies don't have mouths or noses, but they can smell with their antennae and they can taste with their feet. What is more, they can communicate with molecular scent. Male butterflies can release pheromone chemicals from their abdomen and attract females by this "song". The mind of a butterfly might have a simpler deeper less disjointed (due to the multitude of artificial experimental arrangements involved in human analysis of butterflies) comprehension. They might see communication as transferring a mental state by exchange of some particular intermediate boson, rather like nucleons interact by exchange of pions. If we knew all about butterflies, this theory of communication (love is perfect communication) might not seem so far fetched. For example, it is said that butterflies can orient themselves both in latitude and in longitude and that they can be seen to cooperate with ant colonies. We easily forget one consequence of Bell's theorem, that correlation between quantum states is significantly greater than one can imagine from a classical perspective. Nature may have found ways of using this while we can hardly imagine what it signifies.

     General relativity takes Riemannian geometry and applies it to flat Minkowski 4D space-time. Quantum theory takes Hilbert space theory and applies it to Lagrangian dynamics. Both these applications of new mathematics lead to completely new understandings of the world which are incomprehensible to traditional Western metaphysics. Is it possible that Eastern metaphysics could provide a new foundation for our understanding? Western philosophers such as A.C.Grayling are beginning to take Indian philosophy seriously, partly because they have discovered that not all schools of Indian philosophy are mystical - some are realist and even atheistic. But what we are looking for is ways to understand the world which can accommodate lack of determinism, lack of locality, increased correlation and perhaps a big change in what we mean by reality. As Einstein did to geometry, even logic has been taken down from the shelf of a priori truths. (I went to talk to Hilary Putman in Harvard about quantum logic in 1974, but he was not there at the time.) It is the traditional mystical schools of Indian philosophy such as Vedanta and Yoga that are most likely to enlighten the West. I went to visit Fritjov Capra at Imperial College in order to understand better his ideas on some connections between particle physics (mostly S-matrix theory, the fashion at the time) and Eastern philosophy. (Unfortunately he was away too.) In order to discover more about Indian philosophy, in 1978 I went to the Radhakrishnan Institute at the University of Madras where they had a course that included Indian logic and Indian epistemology. Unfortunately they seemed more interested in Wittgenstein. In any case I was not able to stay in India for long because the banks would not transfer my savings from Edinburgh.

     The original motivation of both religion and science is to make sense of the world. Through history, religion has at many times been hijacked by those in power for political purposes and the original message has been corrupted or lost. Lee Smolin has recently suggested that science might be suffering from political influences today. Science and religion would not be enemies if both were completely honest because both have some truth and neither have all of the truth.

     Usually religion is condemned for being unscientific, but yoga is said to be a science in India. There are many branches of yoga, including hatha, raja, karma, bhakti, jnana, kundalini, kriya, mantra and tantra yoga to name a few. I am initiated in Transcendental Meditation and in the Ananda Marga movement. TM in particular argues for the scientific approach to yoga, or union. The primary branch of yoga, raja yoga, has eight limbs, or stages, to union: yama or loss of ego, niyama or purity, asana or posture, pranayama or breath control, pratyahara or withdrawal, dharana or concentration, dhyana or meditation and samadhi or union. Jnana yoga follows the path of knowledge. Bhakti yoga follows the path of love. The Greeks had four different concepts of love: agape, philia, storge and eros. The love of bhakti yoga is most like agape, the love that consumes, the highest and purest form of love. Bhakti yoga follows essentially the same path as raja yoga but with Krishna as the vehicle of union through perfect love. Christianity follows the Bhakti path with Jesus as its consummation. Where are we trying to get to? - to a new understanding through a higher level of consciousness!

     There is a scientific observation that is ignored by science and recognised by religion. One faces the world from within, looking out. The approach of science has been to discount this truth as contingent, necessary perhaps in order to progress, but contingent to the final goal of an objective description of the world, independent of all souls. The approach of religion is clearly different. The true basis of religion is intuitive experience rather than blind faith and belief. Individual souls are taken to be central to the description and the final understanding of the world. There is some evidence that science and religion are beginning to see the other's point of view. Some cosmologists see that an anthropic principle may be the answer to their science, while some modern yogis see psychopharmacology as holding the key to their religion. Philosophy and religion are venerable attempts to understand the world but they must take full account of modern science to continue to develop. Similarly, modern science must not reject all past thinking because they need a new foundation themselves. Metaphysical religious dictates such as uniteing of a human with God is not consistent with Islamic philosophy or pseudo-scientific pronouncements such as cannabis causes psychosis don't help at all in the search for real understanding.

     So I have written a little black book in which I have tried to explain what might help. I have tried to explain what I understand by quantum theory and how this theory might change our perception of ourselves and the world. It is a simple book but it is not an easy book, at least not until the simplicity is accepted. Please read it and then study the meaning of quantum ontology further.
And for heaven's sake ..