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Sorry, Bill, I edited just as you posted.

Yes, if abacus is right, I'd say that would have to be true.

It seems to me that in the absence of a consciousness, either pre-existing or evolved, a universe could have no meaning, direction or purpose.


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- and focusing on the topic, perhaps science will reveal that consciousness has a fundamental and essential role in all physical processes, beyond that observed in the aforementioned experiments.


"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler
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Originally Posted By: redewenur
Yes, consciousness gives meaning to the cosmos.

So, abacus, are you saying that you believe the universe was programmed to attain consciousness for the specific purpose of defining itself? If it is a 'quest', then that requires a pre-existing intelligence/consciousness, right?



Not necessarily. The complexity of matter has reached a stage where it can think and reason, that is all.

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Originally Posted By: redewenur
Sorry, Bill, I edited just as you posted.

Yes, if abacus is right, I'd say that would have to be true.

It seems to me that in the absence of a consciousness, either pre-existing or evolved, a universe could have no meaning, direction or purpose.



Well, put is this way: How could a universe consisting of just dumb matter understand or be aware of itself?

Last edited by abacus9900; 09/16/10 09:45 AM.
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Originally Posted By: redewenur
- and focusing on the topic, perhaps science will reveal that consciousness has a fundamental and essential role in all physical processes, beyond that observed in the aforementioned experiments.



Well, we need to remember that when human beings conduct experiments probing the incredibly small we are an unavoidable part of the situation. The traditional view of science is that the observer has no special significance in scientific experiments, however, any experimental results obtained represent the totality of any set-up because, as I mentioned in an earlier post, nature unobserved is not the same as nature observed.

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Originally Posted By: abacus9900
Originally Posted By: redewenur
Sorry, Bill, I edited just as you posted.

Yes, if abacus is right, I'd say that would have to be true.

It seems to me that in the absence of a consciousness, either pre-existing or evolved, a universe could have no meaning, direction or purpose.

Well, put is this way: How could a universe consisting of just dumb matter understand or be aware of itself?

It couldn't, of course, but would it matter? I mean, from the cosmic viewpoint, so what?

Originally Posted By: abacus9900
Well, we need to remember that when human beings conduct experiments probing the incredibly small we are an unavoidable part of the situation. The traditional view of science is that the observer has no special significance in scientific experiments, however, any experimental results obtained represent the totality of any set-up because, as I mentioned in an earlier post, nature unobserved is not the same as nature observed.

Yes, it's essential to emphasise that the significant factor in the mentioned experiments is not the physical presence of the experimenter, but the observing consciousness, capable of gaining information. That's the key - whether or not it happens to be the consciousness of the human beings conducting the experiment.


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Originally Posted By: abacus9900
nature unobserved is not the same as nature observed.


Surely we can only theorise about what "nature unobserved" might be like.

Even in an experiment such as the DS, only part of the experiment is unobserved. The outcome must always be observed, or the experiment is not conducted. Can we be sure that that outcome would have been the same had we not observed it?


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Quote:
It couldn't, of course, but would it matter? I mean, from the cosmic viewpoint, so what?



I think the crucial question here is: what universe?

Could the universe as we perceive it really be said to exist in any meaningful way in the absence of observers?



Quote:
Yes, it's essential to emphasise that the significant factor in the mentioned experiments is not the physical presence of the experimenter, but the observing consciousness, capable of gaining information. That's the key - whether or not it happens to be the consciousness of the human beings conducting the experiment.



Many, if not most physicists, would take the view that the result of the experiment would be the same regardless of whether there was a 'consciousness' present or not. They maintain that the device used to collect the data from the experiment is sufficient to produce the same result. You could arrange to have a computer that makes a random decision as whether to erase the 'which-path' information or not.

What do you think?

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Originally Posted By: Bill S.
Originally Posted By: abacus9900
nature unobserved is not the same as nature observed.


Surely we can only theorise about what "nature unobserved" might be like.

Even in an experiment such as the DS, only part of the experiment is unobserved. The outcome must always be observed, or the experiment is not conducted. Can we be sure that that outcome would have been the same had we not observed it?



Would we have to have a human being acting as observer or could we use something else?

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Originally Posted By: abacus9900
Would we have to have a human being acting as observer or could we use something else?


This is the crux of the matter, isn't it? If we insist that the observer be human, then we are a step closer to saying that nothing existed before humans were around to do the observing.

On the other hand we might extend the role of observer to possible pre-human observers: God, Boltzmann brains, intelligent cosmos etc etc, but it all seems to reduce to what we believe.


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Originally Posted By: redewenur
then that requires a pre-existing intelligence/consciousness, right?


Not necessarily pre-existing, if the cosmos is infinite, then the "intelligence/consciousness" has always been a feature of it.


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Originally Posted By: Bill S.
Originally Posted By: abacus9900
Would we have to have a human being acting as observer or could we use something else?


This is the crux of the matter, isn't it? If we insist that the observer be human, then we are a step closer to saying that nothing existed before humans were around to do the observing.

On the other hand we might extend the role of observer to possible pre-human observers: God, Boltzmann brains, intelligent cosmos etc etc, but it all seems to reduce to what we believe.



You used the word 'intelligence' there.


If the experiment was performed and then all human life was suddenly wiped out would the meaning of the experiment any longer have any meaning? I can't persuade myself that it would. OK, you could automate the whole thing and, as mentioned, pre-program a computer to stand in for the experimenter and randomly erase/not erase info, but what would be about to interpret the results?

So, the question now becomes: does reality for it to exist need an agency to interpret it?

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Originally Posted By: abacus9900
You could arrange to have a computer that makes a random decision as whether to erase the 'which-path' information or not.

What do you think?
Originally Posted By: abacus9900
Would we have to have a human being acting as observer or could we use something else?

It doesn't seem to matter if there's a human observer on the scene, or whether the human obtains the information via a non-conscious system. Either way, the information becomes accessible to consciousness. The cat is out of the bag (or the box smile ) I wonder how the universe 'knows' that the cat is out of the bag!!!

Originally Posted By: abacus9900
Could the universe as we perceive it really be said to exist in any meaningful way in the absence of observers?
Originally Posted By: abacus9900
So, the question now becomes: does reality for it to exist need an agency to interpret it?

Originally Posted By: Bill S.
This is the crux of the matter, isn't it? If we insist that the observer be human, then we are a step closer to saying that nothing existed before humans were around to do the observing.

John Wheeler suggested something that more or less amounts to that: - that the act of observing 'creates history'. There are better explanations on the net. But, as you can imagine, his peers thought that was going too far.

I guess any consciousness capable of comprehending the observable event will suffice, be it in the form little green men or whatever.


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Originally Posted By: redewenur
I wonder how the universe 'knows' that the cat is out of the bag!!!


If the "universe" is infinite it must "know" anything that is known by any conscious being.

Quote:
little green men
Shouldn't that be "little green people" in these days of PC?


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Originally Posted By: Bill S.
Originally Posted By: redewenur
I wonder how the universe 'knows' that the cat is out of the bag!!!

If the "universe" is infinite it must "know" anything that is known by any conscious being.

Whether or not the universe is infinite, it can be said to possess knowledge in the sense that a fraction of it consists of conscious entities; but what's elusive is an explanation of how that part of the universe which is not comprised of conscious entities can know, or be aware of, anything at all - unless it has, in its entirety, a form of consciousness independent of those entities.

Originally Posted By: Bill S.
Originally Posted By: redewenur
little green men
Shouldn't that be "little green people" in these days of PC?

Oops


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Originally Posted By: redewenur
explanation of how that part of the universe which is not comprised of conscious entities can know, or be aware of, anything at all - unless it has, in its entirety, a form of consciousness independent of those entities.


When the spell checker points out our mistakes we say "The computer knows it's spelt wrong" I think this is getting to the distinction between "knowing" and "having information". What's the difference? Obviously the universe is chock full of information about itself. Isn't that suffucient?


Originally Posted By: redewenur
little green men

I don't think there's the faintest shred of evidence to suggest that consciousness has any effect on reality, apart from the direct effects of us deciding to do things.

It sounds more like that philosophy of how do we know the world exists? We can only perceive things. We might be brains in jars with computers feeding our senses. Totally pointless thing to discuss because it's been thrashed to death and isn't scientific.



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"Totally pointless thing to discuss" etc, etc.

kallog, why be such a bore? I'm afraid you're developing an attitude signature

- which is a pity, since you make some interesting contributions.


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Quote:

It doesn't seem to matter if there's a human observer on the scene, or whether the human obtains the information via a non-conscious system. Either way, the information becomes accessible to consciousness. The cat is out of the bag (or the box smile ) I wonder how the universe 'knows' that the cat is out of the bag!!!




Yes, but the point I was making was if no human or any other comparable life form in the universe was ever able to examine the data, would such data have any meaning? If yes, then reality carries on without conscious observers; if no, reality needs conscious observers to exist.



Quote:
John Wheeler suggested something that more or less amounts to that: - that the act of observing 'creates history'. There are better explanations on the net. But, as you can imagine, his peers thought that was going too far.

I guess any consciousness capable of comprehending the observable event will suffice, be it in the form little green men or whatever.



Again, I am posing the question in the context of no intelligent observers. For example, how could scientific experiments of the kind we have been discussing be made in a universe of dumb matter? There would be no such thing as quantum mechanics, spacetime or anything else! It seems to be that for knowledge to increase you have to produce scientific experiments in order to improve scientific understand and effectively reveal new realities. Now, I accept that the potential for new knowledge is there, but you need consciousness in addition to that because consciousness has the ability to gain knowledge, hence, in my view reality consists of potential and consciousness.

You have to remember that our minds/brains are part of the universe, so it reduces to the universe studying itself and I think there exists a kind of 'feedback' effect where what happens is whatever input conscious observers put into matter produces some kind of 'response', which in turn produces a response from consciousness and so on. It's like a kind of 'dance' between mind and matter and I think this is what I would define as 'reality.'



Last edited by abacus9900; 09/17/10 08:37 AM.
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Quote:

When the spell checker points out our mistakes we say "The computer knows it's spelt wrong" I think this is getting to the distinction between "knowing" and "having information". What's the difference? Obviously the universe is chock full of information about itself. Isn't that suffucient?



Back to the tree in the forest. When the tree falls, information is produced in the form of sound waves but what if there are no ears about to hear the sound? Can the information then be said to really exist?


Quote:
...apart from the direct effects of us deciding to do things.



Well, if you take that part out of the equation, what's left? Answer: Unobserved reality, and then you have to decide whether unobserved reality is equivalent to observed reality.



Quote:

It sounds more like that philosophy of how do we know the world exists? We can only perceive things. We might be brains in jars with computers feeding our senses. Totally pointless thing to discuss because it's been thrashed to death and isn't scientific.





I think science and philosophy have always been intertwined and without philosophy how would science know what to study? I don't think any unresolved question is pointless to discuss because if you take that road progress stops.



Last edited by abacus9900; 09/17/10 08:38 AM.
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Quote:
you're developing an attitude signature


If I keep bringing infinity into the picture, I suppose I shall develop some sort of signature.

Originally Posted By: redewenur
Whether or not the universe is infinite, it can be said to possess knowledge in the sense that a fraction of it consists of conscious entities; but what's elusive is an explanation of how that part of the universe which is not comprised of conscious entities can know, or be aware of, anything at all - unless it has, in its entirety, a form of consciousness independent of those entities.


If the cosmos is finite then fractions of it can possess knowledge that the rest does not possess. However, if it is infinite, the entire cosmos must possess the knowledge of every fraction. How does the cosmos know the outcome of a particular experiment? The experimenter knows, so the cosmos knows. Thus, the "form of consciousness" of the cosmos does not have to be "independent of those entities", in fact, it is entirely dependent on those entities.

I use "cosmos" rather than "Universe" to avoid diversions into the possibly demonstrably finite nature of the Unuverse.


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