A Classification of the Relationship Between Physics and Consciousness

A tool to sharpen thinking and clarify implicit assumptions

Kevin Ann

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The most fundamental issues in Science and Philosophy concern the nature, meaning, and relationship between:

  • Physics: external objective physical reality of the cosmos
  • Consciousness: internal subjective experience of consciousness

Although these may appear to be distinct and even as opposite as possible, they’re deeply intertwined in the fundamental nature of reality itself.

For example, in the role of the observer in Quantum Mechanics (QM) and mathematical implications of the theory that may involve Everettian multiverses. Following this line of thought, if there is a role for the conscious observer in QM, and QM is a fundamental pillar in physical law that describes the universe, then what role did consciousness play in the creation of the universe? Indeed, we are bathed in the faint afterglow of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation of of the creation of the universe. Could that consciousness be “God”?

We’ve experienced breathtaking advances in the physical Sciences in the past few decades and the pace has only been accelerating. All of this progress occurred “only” considering the objective physical world and completely ignored the role of the subjective inner experience of a conscious observer and the conscious observer itself. However, we’re approaching developments in Science where consciousness can no longer be ignored. Some representative issues at the heart of Technology, Science, and Philosophy:

  • Physics in particular and Science in general may eventually explain what actually happened at the creation of the universe, but they cannot tell us “why”. Some invoke “God”, but wouldn’t that imply consciousness?
  • Could we eventually build sentient machines?
  • Could we upload our consciousnesses currently running on organic neurons to another non-organic system such as silicon, graphene, or any other arbitrary non-neuronal system?
  • What really is the nature of the observer in Quantum Mechanics?

Many answers to these questions make many implicit assumptions on the relative importance and primariness of physics and consciousness. Does mind arise from physics? Are physics and consciousness separate? Are they the same or…

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Kevin Ann

AI/full-stack software engineer | trader/investor/entrepreneur | physics phd