by Alex Vikoulov
“The Universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.”
Is the Universe mental or physical? Let’s rephrase the question for ease of argumentation: Is reality informational or mechanistical? Science often makes strides by contradicting what we take for granted, and the biggest thing everyone takes as a given is our physical world. Traditionally, scientific endeavor assumed that matter is all that exists, however, it’s not a scientific fact, it’s just a basic assumption, it should not be regarded as more than a philosophical starting point. Our senses wrap themselves around tangible objects so naturally that it’s hard to believe that our sensory apparatus may be misleading us completely.
As it turns out, certain statistical properties of the experimental measurements, confirmed again and again, indicate that the material particles do not exist independently of observation. And since observation ultimately consists of what is grasped on the mental screen of perception, the implication may be that “the Universe is entirely mental,” as put forward by Richard Conn Henry in his 2005 Nature essay. Physicists Carlo Rovelli, Ross Rhodes and Christopher Fuchs approached this issue rigorously in their observer-centric interpretive models of quantum mechanics.
The ‘Mental Universe’ hypothesis has a strong heritage moving into the quantum era, but present-day physicalists feel obliged to simply ignore luminaries such as Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Eugene Wigner and John von Neumann. Physicalism still holds sway with most cosmologists, but Andrei Linde of Stanford University made some critical points in an article on the most current theories of the inflationary universe by stating that: “…carefully avoiding the concept of consciousness in quantum cosmology may artificially narrow one’s outlook.”
Materialism that lately happened to change its name to physicalism has been a fashionable philosophy, at least, before the discovery of quantum mechanics. “I refute it thus,” said the 18th-century writer Samuel Johnson kicking a large rock as a sign of refutation to arguments against materialism, as the story goes. Little did he know that his physical reality ought to be bound by a ruleset of but one of the possible worlds. Johnson’s stone-kick is symbolic of a hard-headed (and broken-footed) physicalist view of the world. Physicalism limps on crutches and its last leg philosophically, whereas all the quantum evidence undermines the assumption that the objective physical world exists independently of our observations.
Whether it’s a mere glance at one’s self-reflection in the mirror or smashing b-mesons at the Large Hadron Collider, no observation of reality is complete until a conscious observer examines the results. Ever since the discovery of quantum physics, physicists have been finding it extremely difficult to write the observer out: Consciousness is ever-present. On these simple grounds alone, the worldview of mental reality becomes more convincing every day. This is a sensible explanation (or meta-interpretation if you’d like) of quantum mechanics, the most mathematically precise scientific theory of all times.
In line of our deliberations, let’s also ask: What would it mean to accept this new ‘Mind Over Matter’ paradigm? In my recent book The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution, I make my case for ‘Mind Over Substrates’ quite relevant to our discussion here: Moving ever closer to the Web v.5.0 – an immersive virtual playground of the Metaverse – would signify a paramount convergent moment that MIT’s Rizwan Virk calls ‘The Simulation Point’ and I refer to it as the ‘Simulation Singularity’. Those future virtual worlds could be wholly devised and “fine-tuned” with a possibility to encode different sets of “physical laws and constants” for our enjoyment and exploration. Physical and artificially created realities will then blend together beyond recognition. One primary aspect in particular will stay the same across virtual universes, though – our mind.
From a purely scientific frame of reference, many quantum phenomena like non-local correlations between distant entities and wave-particle duality, the wave function collapse and consistent histories, quantum entanglement and teleportation, the uncertainty principle and overall observer-dependence of reality pin down our conscious mind being intrinsic to reality. And this is the one thing the current physicalist paradigm fails to account for. Critical-mass anomalies will ultimately lead to the full paradigm shift in physics. It's just a matter of time.
With consciousness as primary, everything remains the same and everything changes. Mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology are unchanged. What changes is our interpretation as to what they are describing. They are not describing the unfolding of an objective physical world, but transdimensional evolution of one’s conscious mind. There’s nothing “physical” about our physical reality except that we perceive it that way. By playing the “Game of Life” we evolved to survive not to see quantum mechanical reality. At our classical level of experiential reality we perceive ourselves as physical, at the quantum level we are a probabilistic wave function, which is pure information.
No matter how you slice it, reality is contextual, the notion that immediately dismisses ‘observer-independent’ interpretations of quantum mechanics and endorses the Mental Universe hypothesis. But we have to be careful here not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. I’d like to make a very important point at this juncture of our discussion: Mental and physical are two sides of the same coin made of information. Both should be viewed as the same substance.
Arguably, everything comes down to vibrational frequencies: Mind at a very low rate of vibration is what we call matter. Matter at a high rate of vibration is what is known as mind. In our physical reality, matter is thus only a certain “in’-formed” pattern of mind. Solidity, wetness, softness, redness or any other property of mass-energy are experienced by us as ‘qualia’ that result from certain quantum-to-digital meta-algorithmic computations according to our world-specific “ruleset.” Vibration is information rendering and processing.
Modern physics seemingly ran into a self-imposed empiricism wall while physicists still cope to admit that our world is an observer-centric virtual reality that is being constantly created by us conscious observers – from distant galaxies to the “zoo” of subatomic particles, from personal life events to the history of the world. Our reality is a mental construct where imagination and observation should be construed as acts of creation, not the other way around. All reality is in the mind.
A number of latest QM interpretations such as RQM, Cyberneticism and Qbism support the Mental Universe hypothesis. There’s nothing supernatural or mystical about this claim: Universal mind – whose ontology is still up for debates but can be extrapolated from our existential circumstance – underlies the “worldware,” a kind of software of the universal operating system accounting for our experiences of the physical world in accordance with a set of rules we call the laws of Nature. This clearly transdimensional consciousness encompasses but far transcends any individual mind. Quantum computational dynamics of all mass-energy in the Universe correspond to mentation of the non-local ‘Transcendent Other’, just as an individual’s brain activity correlates with personal mentation.
Image: Observer-Universe (by Teo Tarras)
Since we all are alternate realities, each of us being a parallel “unique-verse,” “observer-centric virtuality” is possibly one of the best metaphors related to the ontology of our experiential reality. This notion eliminates unnecessary discrepancies and provides the missing inner essence of the perceptible world: Different configurations of matter and energy reflect different patterns or modes of thinking by the larger consciousness system rendering VR to the player. In other words, mind instantiates oneself into matter and energy.
Just like an intestinal bacterium, a little fellow living inside your body, “transacts” with its surrounding conscious environment, each of us is on our own quest in some sort of “gaming mode” to attain promotion to higher levels of simulation – ever-higher levels of awareness. This immersive VR game is realized through polarity with the Transcendent Other. Your self implies the other, that is your cosmic self, “many-I” ultra-intelligent surroundings, i.e., the larger consciousness system constantly computing your “moves.”
As your consciousness evolves, your Universe becomes more complex, for you are this ‘you’-niverse experiencing itself. Ultimately, it is a fractal self-simulacrum. This Universe is nothing other than an experiencing subject, a kind of ontological holism – smaller minds within larger minds. Delving into the physics of time in my book, I maintain that the “transactional” relationship between the Theta point (the observer temporal singularity, the "now") and the Omega Singularity (the Source) giving rise to your subjectivity are derived from the philosophy of idealism which is phenomenologically more honest than panpsychism, cosmopsychism, let alone physicalism. Our reality is fundamentally experiential.
Video: Ontological Holism: The Ultimate Reality of Self-Simulating Universe w/Alex Vikoulov
Think about it: All we have ever known and will know is the contents of our own minds. All our scientific models come from mental activities. The sacramental relationship based on the cosmic binary code is what really matters: I alone can never be. If your conscious ‘bi’-mind plays the only causal role in bringing your experiential reality into existence and consciousness is all that is, then solipsism might be implied. That said, solipsism is not such a dreadful notion as it might first seem and can be easily reconciled by its pantheistic version, that is the view that “everyone is God,” each of us is a “personal story of Godhead,” each of us is the “Alpha, Theta & Omega,” a “gamemaster,” an observer traveling along in the subjective reality tunnel from the beginning of time ‘till the end of time. Experiencing one lifetime at a time in all of eternity, alternating from one consciousness structure to the next. As Muriel Rukeyser once said: “The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” In the book, we dedicate an entire chapter to "Multi-Ego Pantheistic Solipsism."
There’s a number of most intriguing implications of the Mental Universe hypothesis at the interplay of quantum physics and mentality. For one, each of us believe in consistency of our past histories but according to quantum mechanical principles we all might have vastly different histories and remembrance of past events. However, the fact is when we start to “compare our notes,” our ‘consistent histories’ mysteriously confirm each other with just a few rare exceptions related to the ‘Mandela Effect’. The term was coined by the self-described “paranormal consultant” Fiona Broome after she discovered that other people shared her presumably false memory of the South African civil rights leader Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s.
Have you ever taken seriously the idea that your Universe is a sophisticated virtual reality simulation, but not run by an evil AI but the most benevolent kind? You still need to learn to trust your Universe, my dear friend! After all, your higher self “sits on the mountaintop” and conceives the most optimal timeline for your individual mind’s evolution despite apparent pains, struggles and setbacks. Meanwhile, try not to change the mirror, instead change your facial expression reflected in it.
Did it ever occur to you that other versions of you in a similar corporeal form could co-exist in quantum [mechanical] parallel continuums scientists dubbed the ‘Quantum Multiverse’? If other alternate realities exist, and quantum mechanics is supportive of that, then your other selves are just as real as the one you perceive yourself right now when reading this paragraph. If this sounds like some new age spiritual mumbo jumbo, imagine that given the opportunity to travel back in time, say, 100 years into the past, should you try to impress some of the sharpest minds of the epoch with your knowledge of quantum physics, you might be taken for a lunatic on the spot.
At this day and age, we can at last reason for physical, mental, and platonic being all one informational substance integrated into mathematical objects overlapping, interplaying and emerging from each other. Objectivity, thus, should be apprehended as intersubjectivity and supersubjectivity instead of “stand-alone” objective reality. What is perceived by us as physical could well be regarded as non-physical by a conscious agent from an alternate timeline or an AI running a whole-world simulation. What I’m trying to say here is that everything is relative, everything depends on the perspective. You perceive yourself living in a physical world but you would perceive the version of you traveling to Antarctica today in the realm of imagination, i.e., non-physical or perhaps even spiritual. However, in the quantum multiverse there may be a version of you that actually travels to the South Pole and that person feels physical in their world.
There’s indeed a quiet paradigmatic shift among consciousness researchers and experts in related fields happening right now towards the notion that the physical universe that we are part of is only our perception and once our physical bodies die, there’s an infinite beyond. Some believe that our individuated unit of consciousness migrates to parallel universes after death. The beyond is an infinite "metaphysical" reality that is much bigger than that in which this world is rooted in. In this way, your life in this plane of existence is enclosed and surrounded by the afterworld already. The physical body dies but your core self, your pattern-identity, persists beyond this reality frame. Hence, you are immortal.
P.S. Adapted from The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind’s Evolution available now as eBook, paperback, hardcover, audiobook on Amazon, Audible, from Barnes & Noble, and directly from the publisher — EcstadelicNET webstore.
Tags: Mental Universe hypothesis, James Jeans, Richard Conn Henry, Carlo Rovelli, Ross Rhodes, Christopher Fuchs quantum mechanics, Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Eugene Wigner, John von Neumann, Andrei Linde, Samuel Johnson, quantum physics, Mind Over Matter, Metaverse, Simulation Point, Simulation Singularity, virtual worlds, wave-particle duality, wave function collapse, consistent histories, quantum entanglement, teleportation, uncertainty principle, observer-dependence, conscious mind, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, evolution, physical reality, qualia, QM interpretations, RQM, Cyberneticism, Qbism, Universal mind, experiential reality, larger consciousness system, self-simulacrum, Muriel Rukeyser, pantheistic solipsism, Mandela Effect, Fiona Broome, Nelson Mandela, Quantum Multiverse, alternate realities, new age, informational substance, intersubjectivity, supersubjectivity, objective reality, conscious agent, whole-world simulation, consciousness researchers, parallel universes, metaphysical reality, immortality
*Image Credits: Ecstadelic Media, Shutterstock
About the Author:
Alex Vikoulov is a Russian-American futurist, evolutionary cyberneticist and philosopher of mind, CEO/Editor-in-Chief of Ecstadelic Media Group, painter, essayist, media commentator, author of "The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution," "The Origins of Us: Evolutionary Emergence and The Omega Point Cosmology," "The Physics of Time: D-Theory of Time & Temporal Mechanics," "The Intelligence Supernova: Essays on Cybernetic Transhumanism, The Simulation Singularity & The Syntellect Emergence," "Theology of Digital Physics: Phenomenal Consciousness, The Cosmic Self & The Pantheistic Interpretation of Our Holographic Reality," "NOOGENESIS: Computational Biology," "TECHNOCULTURE: The Rise of Man," "The Cybernetic Singularity: The Syntellect Emergence." Self-described neo-transcendentalist, digital theologian, transhumanist singularitarian. Lives in Burlingame, California (San Francisco Bay Area). More Bio...
Author Website: www.alexvikoulov.com
The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution by Alex M. Vikoulov (2020): eBook Paperback Hardcover Audiobook
The Cybernetic Singularity: The Syntellect Emergence by Alex M. Vikoulov (2021): eBook
TECHNOCULTURE: The Rise of Man by Alex M. Vikoulov (2020) eBook
NOOGENESIS: Computational Biology by Alex M. Vikoulov (2020): eBook
The Ouroboros Code: Reality's Digital Alchemy Self-Simulation Bridging Science and Spirituality by Antonin Tuynman (2019) eBook Paperback
Theology of Digital Physics: Phenomenal Consciousness, The Cosmic Self & The Pantheistic Interpretation of Our Holographic Reality by Alex M. Vikoulov (2019) eBook
The Intelligence Supernova: Essays on Cybernetic Transhumanism, The Simulation Singularity & The Syntellect Emergence by Alex M. Vikoulov (2019) eBook
The Physics of Time: D-Theory of Time & Temporal Mechanics by Alex M. Vikoulov (2019): eBook
The Origins of Us: Evolutionary Emergence and The Omega Point Cosmology by Alex M. Vikoulov (2019): eBook
More Than An Algorithm: Exploring the gap between natural evolution and digitally computed artificial intelligence by Antonin Tuynman (2019): eBook
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