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What’s It Like to Be a Universe: Implications of Being In, Of, and About a Brain, or a Speculative Panconsciousness Approach to Quantum Nonlocality



The problem of quantum nonlocality references instantaneous entanglements happening between particles at great distances, putting under question physical assumptions about time and local effects. Despite a wide range of proposed solutions in physics, the problem persists; however, due to the recent interest in panconsciousness and panpsychism in philosophy as well as numerous suggestions that consciousness and quantum physics are intimately related, I argue in favor of thinking strange quantum effects—and nonlocality as case in point—in lieu of conscious activity happening at a universal scale. Drawing on the mind-brain problem or “the hard problem” as an intellectual resource and particularly pertinent metaphor in the case helps to illuminate the argument; briefly stated, I argue that a conscious universe eliminates the necessity of thinking distance as a problem needing to be resolved to comprehend disparate physical observations. In other words, I offer a speculative vision for quantum nonlocality and ultimately aim to encourage scholars to more carefully consider what it is like to be In, Of, and About a brain when thinking about the universe.
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abandonment of two basic assumptions dominating the discussion. The
first is that quantum dynamics simply exist and in that sense are “dumb,”
i.e., not understood as adding up to consciousness nor having immanent
effects of a conscious entity. Subsequently, a second assumption must also
be jettisoned, namely, that distance is necessarily a problem when two
seemingly disparate points across space-time appear to be entwined. The
speculative approach in this case—i.e., what Peter Gratton terms any cre-
ative attempt to rethink or articulate a reality beyond human sense correla-
tions16—offers a way of imagining quantum nonlocality wherein a universe
taken to be conscious retains a simultaneity or mind-dependent relation
that eliminates an a priori assertion of distance as a confounding factor in
physical observations.
I term this way of rethinking quantum nonlocality “In-Of-About,”
which is to say that doing productive work on the mind-brain problem
requires one to think what it is like to be In, to be Of, and to be About a
brain in order to investigate the mind, and doing so in relation to the uni-
verse proves a useful philosophical activity, especially once biases against
potential relations among what is currently categorized in the realms of
the material versus the metaphysical are set to one side. Specifically, in the
mind-brain analogy, I am likening quantum particles and composites (or
relatively stable material configurations) to “neurons” while likening quan-
tum energies and dynamics to the activities of consciousness, presenting
physicists with something like a mind-brain problem. The application of
the mind-brain analogy in this way carries immediate implications: first,
the analogy insists that humans do not have a full or privileged view when
positioned as configurations, or mere “neurons” in the metaphor, just as
select neurons do not have a full or privileged view of the brain nor of the
mind, even if said neurons are able to be somehow self-aware of their own
very limited work. Thus, the metaphor also suggests that the physical struc-
ture of the universe, like a brain writ large, flashes and sparks in seemingly
disconnected ways when having certain conscious experiences, confound-
ing even the privileged overarching view of the whole, such as what hap-
pens when neuroscientists look through a brain scanner, per the analogy.
Ultimately, I argue that making distinctions between Being-In,
Being-Of, or Being-About quantum states presents another angle on
the problem of quantum nonlocality and at a point when reductionistic
assumptions about the nature of the universe continue to be assailed in
consciousness studies and cognitive science. That is to say that repeated
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assertions regarding materiality’s inherent consciousness17 as well as argu-
ments favoring unavoidable ties among the production of consciousness
and quantum physics18 raise the need to think quantum problems within
panconsciousness frames, at least for the intellectual task of openness
and for the inventional resources that might contribute to the problem.
In this article, in particular, I offer Being-In, Being-Of, and Being-About as
distinctions and philosophical resources that can contribute to the broader
interest in panconsciousness and panpsychism as scholars rethink physical
phenomena in new frames.
With respect to definitions, Being-In references how quantum dynam-
ics is conscious with its own interior experience of itself, which is to say
that there is a way that it feels to be the universe.19 The term Being-Of ref-
erences the material components of the universe, stated in terms of quan-
tum physics, i.e., particles and/or waves that compose our bodies as well as
brains. Finally, Being-About references human discussions about quantum
physics, which are certainly fictitious to some extent, subject to negotia-
tion and processes of argumentation. Notably, Being-About has not up to
this point been framed as a discussion about what it might be like on the
inside of a conscious quantum universe, or said differently, what a quantum
world is from the perspective of that world.
Using this In-Of-About framework, I hope to inspire others to specu-
late about a conscious universe (and/or multiverse), but the effort is espe-
cially geared to show how Being-In would necessarily alter Being-Of and
Being-About quantum physics such that if one assumes that a universe is
not Being-In then certain potentials for explaining processes of Being-Of
are severely constrained. Another way to put this is to say that I confirm
Chalmers’s notion that “experience is information from the inside” by high-
lighting just how important Being-In would be to understanding quantum
effects; however, this article also complicates Chalmers’s followup sentence,
which states, “Physics is information from the outside” inasmuch as I enter-
tain the idea that the “inside” of physics cannot be so neatly divorced from
the “outside.”20 Indeed, if the universe is generating a consciousness, then
any “inner-but-outside” view—such as our view—might be deeply and fully
dependent on what a universe feels like and what it thinks about, including
what its “brain” does, which furthermore may enrol in its processes how
we think. In other words, physics, too, may well have an “inside,” resulting
in a human situation where crucial information about physics could not
be gleaned without recognizing and theorizing that consciousness; having
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more “information” then may well require multiple kinds of investigations
pursued in conjunction with scientific experimentation and philosophical
speculation about the nature of that conscious “inside.”
In brief, neither assumption #1 (materiality is dumb) nor #2 (dis-
tance is a problem) is necessarily pertinent to quantum nonlocality once
entangled particles are imagined as material effects of a universe’s con-
sciousness. What I offer therefore is a speculative panconsciousness take
on quantum nonlocality not to be conflated with a panpsychism approach,
whereas the former signals a “grand consciousness” spanning the universe
and the latter the idea that all bits of matter have some specific experience
of their own. In what follows, I present reasons for the proposal, outline
the argument in terms of propositions, and address three probable conten-
tions. I end with a brief reflection on the value of the mind-brain analogy
for theorizing quantum physics.
Quantum Nonlocality and the Mind-Brain Metaphor
In the mind-brain problem, neuronal activity never adds up to the experi-
ence of being conscious, even if brains do prove to be, at minimum and
quite uncontroversially, integral to the production of consciousness. In a
similar way, we can imagine quantum dynamics as the kind of dynamics
that makes a consciousness with our view of any particular quantum case
being like a neuron’s view—or for a more human situated example, being
perhaps also in some ways like the neuroscientist’s view when examining
the neuronal activity. Just as neurons do not themselves reveal much about
first-person experiences, any discrete entanglement (or any other quantum
effect) may not give immediate insight into the many worlds that a con-
scious quantum dynamics produces or could theoretically inhabit. Thus,
it is fair to say that our conscious experience of the world need not be any-
thing like the universe’s, but we must also immediately and first admit that
seemingly uncaused behavioral eruptions in people or animals are easily
dismissed when simply proposing that those entities are conscious. When
someone starts to laugh, for example, and we see no local reason for it,
then we do not wonder too much because we realize that the interior view
involves an experience, perhaps a very real memory of a funny situation,
which explains away the observable effect. I do not mean to say that the uni-
verse is laughing but that we have refused to believe that it could laugh and
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so stand perplexed at phenomena otherwise open to the kind of reasoning
we use everyday.
Importantly, the point here is that we need not experience what Being-In
the universe is like even though we are also conscious, and this is the case
even though we, too, are composed of some of the universe’s material
dynamics. Again, we can consider that our brains entail neurons, but we do
not have awareness of our own neurons acting nor do we know what Suzie’s
particular mentalizations are like. In a similar way, we also do not need to
say that human consciousness feels the same or produces the same kind of
consciousness as the universe’s proposed consciousness, since we are not
Being-Of everything that quantum dynamics’ consciousness would be Be-Of.
It may simply be the case that when the totality of quantum physics itself is
thought in the same way that we think of ourselves, as Being-Of, then we can-
not avoid the possible conclusion that its material dynamics, like our own—
but much more extensive than our own—result also in a mind.
The final piece to the conceptual puzzle is that quantum dynamics hav-
ing a Being-In would surely affect any manifestation of its own Being-Of. A
thing aware of itself seems likely to alter the things of itself. It is hard to
imagine a mind that does not, by thinking, and by thinking about itself,
affect the look of the brain from an outside point of view. When looking
at the human brain’s wily firings, for example, there is great difficulty in
explaining from a neuroscientific point of view why some neurons fire in
regions separate from others until the person with the brain in the scanner
is presumed to be conscious. Without asking someone to think about the
taste of chocolate, for example, a neuron signaling a memory of eating at
the same time as one located somewhere else also firing and tied to pleasure
would seem perplexing, if not for internal rumination and the correspond-
ing ability of neuroscientists to mark a neuron as signalling “a memory”
or “a pleasure” in the first place from first-person reports. Likewise, in
experiments on mentalizing, or the ability to imagine other people’s men-
tal states, the brain brings together otherwise dissociable processes, but the
mentalizing itself is only accorded as such when the participant offers a
self-report.21 Unsurprising then is the conclusion that quantum dynamics
with a consciousness could, like a brain, produce effects across distances
and that these effects would not necessarily touch nor match our own view
of the universe’s comportment or capacities even if simultaneous and hav-
ing some underlying relation.
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Here we confront the issue of distance across the universe. Yet, when we
add that quantum dynamics are intimate to the construction of space-time
(and, thus, distance) and still further entertain the idea that those dynamics
are involved in consciousness production, then we suddenly have trouble
assuming a priori that distance is objectively real; this is to say that distance
to any grand consciousness produced by quantum dynamics might be per-
ceived as something entirely different to us than to it. I find it hard to grasp
how something that entails the entirety of everything could look and act the
same way as one small part of it thinks that it should look and act according
to that small part’s point of view. If the whole acts across great distances,
then we have no choice but to accept that distance is not a problem for it.
Saying so might be as silly as saying that we ourselves cannot tap our feet
and blink our eyes at the same time. The point, however, is that distance
may not be an actual problem to it from its Being-In but only to us who
impose it as one kind of Being-Of by force of our own Being-About linear
scientific explanation and lifeless or “dumb” characterizations of quantum
physics. Our own limitations certainly keep us from seeing that distance is
not real to the universe or, likewise, inhibit us from comprehending how
space-time may neither be about space nor time.
The sum of the In-Of-About method is that we are Being-About physics
while being physical—i.e., Being-Of quantum physics—yet without the priv-
ileged benefit of having access to the universe’s own Being-In experience. If
the case, then the result would be a serious limitation to our understanding
of what is happening in the universe and a confirmation of a chorus declar-
ing the need for speculative imagination in quantum physics.22 Although
such work tends to apply strange observations from physics back to philo-
sophical concepts, the reverse intellectual move may well be more needed,
at least in cases like quantum nonlocality.
Overall, the speculative proposal can be outlined as follows:
When considering quantum nonlocality, we have assumed that there
is no such thing as what it is like to be a universe and have, rather,
accepted that physical states just are. Even if we accept that universal
scale quantum dynamics could produce some form of consciousness,
in theory, then we might still assume that quantum nonlocality would
be a problem—but we can only do so if we also assume that the uni-
verse engages its material “Of-ness” in the same ways that humans
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do and that human seeing—our Being-About the universecorrelates
to the universe’s own “Of-ness.”
However, a speculative approach requests another way to think
quantum nonlocality. In particular, the mind-brain analogy proves
useful for conjuring two propositions, each having one subsequent
Proposition 1: Conceptually and professionally, we can risk
not assuming that effects of quantum dynamics are limited to
quantum states and spins; there may be other effects.
P1.1. Given proposals regarding intimate relations between
quantum physics and human consciousness,23 it is reasonable
to include the possibility that one effect of the totality of quan-
tum dynamics is a universal-scale consciousness.
Proposition 2. If a “universal scale consciousness” exists,
then the space-time observations made by humans would be
somehow embedded into the production of that conscious-
ness, whether or not any human-specific phenomena is itself
coming-into the conscious awareness of the universe.
P2.1. Material effects—indeed any discrete phenomenon—
can be experienced as different in the universe’s Being-In than
our own Being-In and/or be relevant to the universe’s conscious
activity, even as those same effects (such as entanglement of
particle X and Y) may also prove to be irrelevant to the con-
scious awareness of the universe even if highly relevant to our
own human consciousness.
Put simply, three nonnecessary but reasonable conclusions can
follow. First, if P1 is adopted, then a problem of nonlocality may be
resolved by stating that distance is not necessarily a problem for the
universe that must be solved or “overcome.” Second, if P1 and P1.1
are adopted together, then any given entanglement (or particle state)
could be the outcome of a universal scale conscious dynamics, which
does not itself “experience” those dynamics in terms as particles or
states nor consider them in a linear way. Third, if P2 and P2.1 are
adopted, then speculation and alternative ways to respond to, “touch,”
or perturb the universe’s consciousness are now needed.
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With the above formulation, importantly, I do not suggest that quantum par-
ticles are illusory or an imagined product of a distant mega-consciousness.
Rather, I suggest that effects observed across the universe may result in part
from conscious activity, being tied to the making of consciousness states or
being produced from a state. Thinking in this way about quantum phys-
ics means that quantum entanglement across great distances would not
necessarily be constrained by space-time orientations nor temporal delin-
eations. With respect to the mind-brain analogy and quantum nonlocal-
ity, some thoughts can only be thought when divergent particles, as kinds
of “neurons,” simultaneously fire. Thus, Being-In quantum physics may
mean something altogether bigger and different than what we are pres-
ently Being-About. Inside the inner view of the universe, we can imagine
a world where time and distance do not seem to exist, yet produce effects
across what look like time and distance.
Answering Contentions, or the Entailments
of Quantum Nonlocal Speculations
There are at least three contentions to the In-Of-About speculative approach.
The first is that humans can create quantum entanglements, not only the
universe. Thus, if strange effects like quantum nonlocality occur as a result
of the universe having some conscious activity, then how come humans
can cause entanglements to happen? The immediate answer would be that
humans induce an effect already staged, meaning that we compel a con-
dition already in place or already “thought,” serving as a kind of spark or
memory. Another option would be to say that humans, as quantum perfor-
mances, participate in the universe’s broader scale conscious activity, truly
acting as neurons. But this answer should not turn us away from the main
point: quantum dynamics making the very conditions of space-time and
of consciousness will mean that distance and consciousness are subject
to each other—and not necessarily in any way that we are. All presumed
correlations among human senses and exterior physical realities of the uni-
verse are reduced to rubble by the universe itself—So what is happening?
One can say that only the universe can offer a first-person account; of
course, the remaining problem is that the universe may also not be fully
self-aware, just as we do not know why our own divergent neurons fire,
when they fire, nor what they mean in relation to how and what we think.
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The second objection to In-Of-About is likely to be that the approach is
useless since it proposes an untestable solution. How would one determine
whether or not quantum dynamics produce a universal scale conscious-
ness? Even if one could, the solution would be founded on no mechanism
to which we have access, since we have no way to access the universe's
consciousness and, thus, no way to know if or what it does think when
entanglements happen. To the first half of the objection, I would say that
no solution is useless even if imaginative or speculative; this is the case
especially given how new ideas can reorient researchers and open up other
ways to think about complex problems. Every philosophical solution, as a
solution, must be granted enough time to possibly remake our most fun-
damental assessments. Physics, of all places, requires difficult, potentially
crazy, and often initially untestable ideas to move even an inch forward. To
the latter half of the contention, I would say that not having direct access
to minds does not stop the work of neuroscientists, nor does not always
having verbalizations of experiences, so why then should it stop the work
of panconsciousness proponents and physicists adopting such intellectual
scope? The lack of access to mentalizations does not mean that nothing is
learned nor that hope of better understanding of neural processes and even
first-person thinking processes is erased.
The final objection is the idea that quantum dynamics with a con-
sciousness cannot exist in a vacuum and must be located somewhere to have
thoughts about something, just as brains are in the head/body and living
in an environment that enables a brain to fire neurons about chocolate bars
and taste buds. Quantum dynamics, being absolutely everything and every-
where, would mean that any “inner view” is also everywhere, even inside of
us, and only ever about itself. A universal scale consciousness has no object
except itself. To that contention, I have three brief remarks. First, we cannot
say for sure that the universe has no object or dimension exterior to itself.
Second, yes; I do not see a problem in theoretically conceptualizing a pos-
sibility of limited interiority of experience. Finally, any failure to imagine a
self-referencing interiority for the universe’s consciousness probably tries
to correlate too closely the human conscious experience with that of the
universe. These are likely very different, even if the human one is a kind of
“loop” within a loop.
With respect to the second point above, a final mind-brain corollary
further clarifies the potential of having some interior experience be itself
the basis of a physical manifestation: we note that we can create effects in
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our bodies when we imagine dreamy delusions or have intense memories
that could not have been true, and by following out this analogy, we can
then say that strange quantum effects—like entanglement over distances
with seemingly impossible quickness—would need not occur because of
something outside of the universe nor even due to something “real,” mean-
ing also observable and available to us. Crucially, the universe has its own
The short story is this: when quantum dynamics are folded into con-
cepts of life and allowed to have a way to produce conscious experience,
then the problem of nonlocality is placed radically under question and basic
assumptions require new interrogations. For even if the specific problem of
quantum nonlocality is solved from the old assumptions having a ground-
work of instantaneous communication across a stunning distance, then
this still does not mean that we, as humans, are not merely Being-Of and
that the dynamics of our universe are not Being-In, even in and through
us.It is well past time we start imagining what it is like to be the universe.
Conclusion: The Speculative Simplicity
of the Mind-Brain Metaphor
All we must do to find a new way to tackle the philosophical problem of
quantum nonlocality is to re-picture the universe as a kind of conscious
brain having its own experience of itself.24 But we should not ignore the
implications. Crucially, being positioned as one outcome of a universe
with a consciousness and having our own special view means that our
consciousness is a loop within a loop. The first loop is of universe-scale
conscious dynamics; the second loop is human consciousness emerging
when certain particles come together to construct an(other) experience not
identical to the first. We are then in that case an emergent mini-process,
perhaps some form of mirror, or perhaps an accident of the processes
themselves, or perhaps a thought about itself, a universe’s rumination on
itself or means of self-interrogation. The central point is that once consid-
ering panpsychic/consciousness proposals with scientific experiments and
mathematical proofs used as support—including, for example, Hoffman’s
“Conscious Realism” or Strawson’s “Realistic Monism”25—we might now
be at a new stage of possibility, both in physics and with respect to ontologi-
cal creations and our own onto-genesis; with such approaches as grounding
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inspiration, we can discover new ways to think about problems like quan-
tum nonlocality.
The simplicity of the In-Of-About method arguably touches a serious
problem with the many physical, correlationist solutions detailed at the
top of this article, namely, that quantum nonlocality, as a problem made
precisely so because of the way that it breaks the bounds of present sci-
entific knowledge (about the universe and how it works) cannot escape
itself. When solutions are forged of the assumptions and using the same
methods as the problems that those assumptions and methods create, then
imagination must suspend the scene; speculation must then overrun the
circumscribed drama. What else does a mind do other than continually
exceed the observable materiality of the brain at every turn, raising “the
hard problem,” which is a problem that if solvable only a mind can solve?26
Here, because “the hard problem” raises awareness that a complete
account of consciousness cannot be forged from brain data alone, we sense
an opportunity: to equally raise awareness of the limits of physics when
bound to a refusal to entertain metaphysical questions due to a complete
dedication to materialism—and this occurs even amid a simultaneous
break in the scientific community on the point, which is to say that many
scientists, including most neuroscientists, attribute all minded states to
material complexities.27 So to refuse minded states in the study of physics
while yet to admit materialism in studies of minded states exposes the crit-
ical imbalance as much as the indivisibility of matter-energy, systems-life.
Although it might be perfectly reasonable to admit one study into another
and not allow the other to enter into the former (like allowing milk into
coffee but not coffee into milk), the task of upholding such an imbalance is
complicated by the fact that minded states necessarily inform all materialist
inquiry. In other words, to reject mindedness as having anything to do with
observations in physics is strange when all minds are said to only be able
to be explained through material observations. Accordingly, the argument
is metaphorically closer to saying that cream is not going to be allowed
in milk because one presumes that milk has no cream while yet recog-
nizing that cream comes from milk. We could say that we do not know
for sure if milk yet holds any cream—i.e., that we do not know if minded
states are involved in the effects described as quantum physics—but an
argument favoring any proposal to that effect from the outset sounds inau-
thentic when we assert that cream certainly has milk in it, namely, that
quantum effects are certainly involved in minded states. We can use such
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considerations to bring about a new lens for seeing Einstein, Poldosky, and
Rosen’s question, “Can the quantum-mechanical description of physical
reality be considered complete?” The mind-brain analogy requests that
we ask the same—is it complete?—of any physical description applied to
the physical world. Indeed, we must more than ask—for when scientific
tries rooted in old assumptions continue to fail, then the criterion for what
counts as real must change and new creativities exposing present reduc-
tionisms must enter the scene and inform investigative pursuits.
1. Einstein, Albert, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen., “Can
Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?”
Phys. Rev. 47, no. 10 (1935): 778.
2. John S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2004), 144.
3. Einstein et al., “Can Quantum?,” 778–79.
4. Lucien Hardy, “Non-locality for Two Particles Without Inequalities for Almost
All Entangled States,” Physical Review Letters 71, no. 11 (1993): 1665–68.
5. Jean-Daniel Bancal, Stephano Pironio, Antonio Acin, Yeong-Cherng Liang,
Valerio Scarani, and Nicolas Gisin. “Quantum Nonlocality Based on Finite-speed
Causal Influences Leads to Superluminal Signaling,” Nature Physics 8 (2012):
6. William Sulis, “Locality Is Dead! Long Live Locality!” Frontiers in Physics 8
(2020): 360.
7. Sabine Hossenfelder and Tim Palmer, “Rethinking Superdeterminism,”
Frontiers in Physics 8 (2020): 139.
8. Vincenzo Fano, “Non-materiality of Non-locality,” Foundations of Physics 34,
no. 12 (2004): 2005–13.
9. Hrant Gharibyan and Robert F. Penna, “Are Entangled Particles Connected
by Wormholes? Evidence for the ER = EPR Conjecture from Entropy Inequalities,”
Phys. Rev. D 89 (2014): 066001. Also see: E. Wilson-Ewing, “Potential
Consequences of Wormhole-Mediated Entanglement,” Foundations of Physics 51
(2021): 87.
10. Sandu Popescu and Daniwel Rohrlich, “Nonlocality as an Axiom,”
Foundations of Physics 24, no. 3 (1994): 379–85.
11. Ji, Zhengfeng, Anand Natarajan, Thomas Vidick, John Wright, Henry Yuen,
“MIP*=RE.” arXiv. 2020. Available on at arXiv:2001.04383.
12. Richard Feynman, “The 1964 Messenger Lectures at Cornell University,
Lecture #6,” (1964): 6.
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13. The title to this article should refer in an obvious way to Thomas Nagel,
“What’s It Like To Be A Bat,” The Philosophical Review 83, no. 4 (1974): 435–450.
Nagel’s idea that consciousness is widespread makes for a nice entrance into
this article; but the title also communicates that consciousness must be thought
beyond earth and beyond biological bodies, so in that sense, I push Nagel’s
widespread consciousness concept to the far edge of possibility. Through an
intertextual reference to Nagel's paper, the title also raises the question: Can we
understand the universe?
14. Parallax here, for me, means how a metaphor allows another perspective on
a thing that exposes more than the person having simply a lack of perspective
but, rather, exposes a prior limit on encountering or accounting for Being, so it
is a way of saying metaphor has not merely epistemological but also ontological
implications. With respect to time suspension, I inherently here reference the
speculative power of refusing to take common conceptions of space and time for
granted; see Daina Habdankaitė, “The Absolute as the Meeting Point Between
Speculation and Fiction,” Open Philosophy (2020): 1.
15. The approach is to some extent aligned with how Andrew Haas describes
Hegel’s “speculative sentence” that aims to bring into existence something not
able to be said. See: Andrew Haas, “Hegel’s Speculative Sentence,” Journal of
Speculative Philosophy 35, no. 3 (2021): 213.
16. Peter Gratton, Speculative Realism: Problems and Prospects (London:
Bloomsbury, 2014), 39–40.
17. Arianne Conty, “Pan-psychism: A Response to the Anthropocene Age,” The
Journal of Speculative Philosophy 35, no. 1 (2021): 27–49; D. Hoffman, The Case
Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth From Our Eyes (New York:
W. W. Norton & Company, 2019); R. Sheldrake, “Is the Sun Conscious?” Journal of
Consciousness Studies 28, no. 3–4 (2021): 8–28.
18. J. Acacio de Barros and Carlos Montemayor, Quanta and Mind: Essays on the
Connection Between Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness (London: Springer,
2019); C. Simon,“Can Quantum Physics Help Solve the Hard Problem of
Consciousness?” Journal of Consciousness Studies 26, no. 5–6 (2018): 204–18.
19. Here I draw implicitly from Nagel’s aforementioned 1974 article “What’s It
Like To Be A Bat,” as much as Koch’s definition of consciousness in his work. See
Christof Koch, The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness Is Widespread but Can’t
Be Computed (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2019), 4–6.
20. See: Jim Holt, Why Does the World Exist? (New York: Liveright, 2012), 194.
21. Patrick Luyten and Peter Fonagy, “The Neurobiology of Mentalizing,”
University College London, Discovery (2015): 3–4.
22. Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Half-way: Quantum Physics and the
Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007);
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T. E. Eastman,M. Epperson,and D. R. Griffin, Physics and Speculative Philosophy:
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23. See: Donald Hoffman, Case Against Reality; Galen Strawson, “Realistic
Monism: Why Physicalism Entails Pan-psychism,” Real Materialism and
Other Essays (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2008); Giuseppe Vitiello, “Fractals as
Macroscopic Manifestation of Squeezed Coherent States and Brain Dynamics,”
Journal of Physics 380 (2012): 012021.
24. Saying the universe has a kind of “conscious brain” is self-consciously stated
here because even saying it in this way puts the universe on human terms and
retains a scent of human-centrism; the universe, if conscious, we must remember,
may not be anything like the consciousness of any brain.
25. See: Donald Hoffman, The Case Against Reality; Strawson, “Realistic
Monism.” Also see detailed work by Giuseppe Vitiello, “Fractals.”
26. It is assumed here that the audience is aware of the quandary of “the hard
problem,” but for extended discussion, see David Chalmers, “The hard problem
of consciousness,” The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness, ed. Max Velmans,
Susan Schneider (Washington, DC: Blackwell Publishing, 2007), 225–26; Koch,
The Feeling, 18–25.
27. See Raymond W. Gibbs, Embodiment and Cognitive Science (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2006), 5–6.
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Full-text available
Almost all philosophers (and many non-philosophers) recognize the fundamental importance of the "Phenomenology of Spirit." But Hegel’s way of thinking and speaking—which he names, “speculative”—needs explaining. The example of “the speculative sentence” is helpful—for here, speculating means implying, that is, neither bringing meaning to presence nor keeping it in absence; but rather, speaking and thinking by implication. If the history of philosophy, however, overlooks what is implied, then it cannot grasp what is, and what is thought and said in the speculative sentence. Luckily, there is another way: implying that which can neither be said nor left unsaid, neither thought nor unthought. Reinterpreting Hegel’s speculative sentence, therefore, for implication, for what is implied—and neither present nor absent—Haas demonstrates how to think and speak speculatively about thinking and speaking, substance and subject, being and becoming, whether in philosophy or not, even if we implicate ourselves thereby.
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There are hints that the connectivity of space-time in quantum gravity could emerge from entanglement, and it has further been proposed that any two entangled particles may be connected by a quantum wormhole. One way to test this proposal is by probing the electric field of an entangled charged particle to determine whether its electric field leaks through the putative wormhole. In addition, if such a wormhole is traversable, then it could be possible for the collapse of the wave function to occur in a causal manner, with information about the collapse travelling through the wormhole at the speed of light, rather than the wave function collapse being a global and instantaneous event.
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The recent panpsychist turn in philosophy opens the possibility that self-organizing systems at all levels of complexity, including stars and galaxies, might have experience, awareness, or consciousness. The organismic or holistic philosophy of nature points in the same direction. Meanwhile, field theories of consciousness propose that some electromagnetic fields actually are conscious, and that these fields are by their very nature integrative. When applied to the sun, such field theories suggest a possible physical basis for the solar mind, both within the body of the sun itself and also throughout the solar system. If the sun is conscious, it may be concerned with the regulation of its own body and the entire solar system through its electromagnetic activity, including solar flares and coronal mass ejections. It may also communicate with other star systems within the galaxy.
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The article investigates Meillassoux’s notion of the absolute in relationship with the Kantian and Hegelian philosophical systems. The absolute, as independent of subjective consciousness, is showcased as the meeting point of speculation and fiction. By looking into Meillassoux’s notions of speculation and some works of weird fiction, it is argued that the significant role of imagination as well as a deferred temporality is what facilitates the discussion of both speculation and fiction as faculties able to transcend the limitations that are projected by the correlationist mind. Through a reading of Lovecraftian fiction, both the strong and weak points of Meillassoux’s argumentation in After Finitude and Science Fiction and Extro-Science Fiction are identified, proving the latter to be a less successful way of grasping the chaotic real.
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Several decades of theory and experiment into EPR correlations have led to the widely held belief that reality is non-local, in spite of the fact that this violates special relativity. To date, no experiment has shown a violation of special relativity, and EPR experiments do not demonstrate the existence of superluminal information exchange, merely correlations which violate certain inequalities. Every “loophole” in these hidden variable theories has been thought plugged. However, there is much confusion in the literature due to conflation of the terms “locality,” “realism,” “hidden variables,” “non-contextuality.” The presence of local hidden variables is thought to necessarily lead to a Kolmogorov probability structure (hence non-contextuality), but this is an assumption, one which is not true in general once context effects are taken into account. Treated as an observational theory, several authors have shown no incompatibility between quantum mechanics and locality, and that the Bell scenario is actually about whether reality is contextual. This paper proposes a descriptive theory by assuming a generated reality (following Whitehead's Process Theory) which can violate the principle of continuity and possess non-Kolmogorov probability structure, and reproduce the results of non-relativistic quantum mechanics, while allowing only causally local information exchange without hidden variables. A generated reality is thus compatible with both quantum mechanics and special relativity, reproducing all of the results expected from quantum mechanics while still maintaining causally local realism. This process model thus appears to be an ideal candidate for developing theories for the unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity.
Full-text available
Quantum mechanics has irked physicists ever since its conception more than 100 years ago. While some of the misgivings, such as it being unintuitive, are merely aesthetic, quantum mechanics has one serious shortcoming: it lacks a physical description of the measurement process. This “measurement problem” indicates that quantum mechanics is at least an incomplete theory—good as far as it goes, but missing a piece—or, more radically, is in need of complete overhaul. Here we describe an approach which may provide this sought-for completion or replacement: Superdeterminism. A superdeterministic theory is one which violates the assumption of Statistical Independence (that distributions of hidden variables are independent of measurement settings). Intuition suggests that Statistical Independence is an essential ingredient of any theory of science (never mind physics), and for this reason Superdeterminism is typically discarded swiftly in any discussion of quantum foundations. The purpose of this paper is to explain why the existing objections to Superdeterminism are based on experience with classical physics and linear systems, but that this experience misleads us. Superdeterminism is a promising approach not only to solve the measurement problem, but also to understand the apparent non-locality of quantum physics. Most importantly, we will discuss how it may be possible to test this hypothesis in an (almost) model independent way.
Panpsychism, the view that the material elements of the universe have mental properties, has until quite recently remained in the periphery of the philosophical mainstream due to its blatant contradiction of normative Cartesian dualities, which divided the world into mental properties (that inhere in human beings alone) and material properties, that are devoid of value and sentience. The recent geological shift to the Anthropocene Age, in which human culture can be found in pesticide resistant mosquitoes and the ozone heavens, has undermined the foundations of Cartesian dualism, making panpsychism a credible alternative. Yet some panpsychists go too far by conflating all distinctions between living and nonliving, human and nonhuman, evolved and made entities. Using Whitehead's process philosophy, this article will defend panpsychism and develop the philosophical criteria of causation, relationality, unity and intentionality to differentiate between natural living forms, natural nonliving forms, and human artifacts.
Consciousness and the measurement problem of quantum mechanics have a logical connection and an historical involvement. Moreover, current issues in the two arenas have striking similarities. Whether or not consciousness warrants quantum mechanical consideration, analogies between quantum measurement and consciousness are tantalizing and suggestive. After a review of how the issue of consciousness arises in quantum mechanics (but not in classical physics), and after a brief discussion of the implications of the measurement problem for reductionism, we develop a series of analogies between consciousness and quantum mechanics. We conclude that any substantial advance in one arena would at the least offer hints for routes to take in the other.