Is Fundamental Reality as We See It?

Form, space, and time is an emergent property of consciousness

Do our senses give us truths about the structure of objective reality, whatever that structure may be? Quite frankly no, it doesn’t.

Long ago science set a theory to explain conscious agents and experience, yet have failed to provide one bit of proof that conscious emergence is actually the process. There have been some brilliant people working on it for quite some time, yet not one case or process has been identified as true—that this particular mechanism leads to that. Not very good progress considering how long they’ve been at it.

Using the evolutionary models and calculations, the probability is zero that any of our senses report any truths about the structure of reality—Donald Hoffman

Since space time is doomed as a theory (Nima Armani-Hamed, David Gross, Ed Witten) so are the standard models of conscious emergence as a fundamental property of evolved brains. It is appearing more and more the opposite is true—that brains are the result of consciousness, as well as everything else. And that reality as we see it, isn’t fundamental at all.

So space-time is no longer fundamental but seems to be an emergent property of consciousness. It has been a useful theory and created many beneficial gadgets and technologies, but it will soon be replaced to take us far beyond the present kind.

So what is reality constructed of and what would it look like if we could perceive it with our senses? Please watch this interview With Lex Fridman and Donald Hoffman.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs escaping the faith trap.

44 thoughts on “Is Fundamental Reality as We See It?”

  1. we can design tools and instruments that permit us to overcome the limitations of our natural senses
    We can artificially segregate nature with arbitrary lines and test them as separate entities—which they are not. We have a few useful tools that seem really neat while at the same time they are simultaneously destroying us due to our very short sighted comprehension (lack of reality again) The gadgets are actually demonstrating our inability to comprehend reality, not the other way around. Evolution has ignored any comprehension that doesn’t lead to reproduction—shortcutting our perceptions at every level to divide cells and reproduce.
    Not knowing what we don’t know makes it easy to seem like we really have it going as a specie. All the while surrounded by phenomenon we cannot comprehend because of the biological shortcuts.

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  2. Let’s put your theory to the test. If you believe that your senses provide absolutely no truths about objective reality, then you should have no reservations about jumping off the ledge of a cliff. Or running out onto a busy freeway. Or slamming a door shut on your fingers. Or drinking battery acid. 🙂

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    1. That isn’t the question.

      Do our senses give us truths about the structure of objective reality, whatever that structure may be?
      Of course we avoid the edge of the cliff or the bus on the busy freeway, while simultaneously having no idea what those structures are actually made of.
      Like Roger Penrose said, “I’m a physicalist, but really don’t know what that means or how to define it.”
      If you had to fully understand a blade of grass, or an icon on your desktop, you’d never get past the millions of lines of code and impulses that makes that reality. The icons and impulses are not real things, but they represent functions and that’s all you see.

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      1. Iow, in evolutionary terms these are protective measures to get to reproduction. Full stop. Anything beyond that would never develop to see the full picture.

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      2. My issue is with the framing of your question. You’re correct that our senses can only report what’s occurring — not the underlying causes and structures of our environment. But that doesn’t negate the fact that we can design tools and instruments that permit us to overcome the limitations of our natural senses,

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  3. Thing is what you now believe is true by listening to Hoffman, is just one other man’s opinion…he is not necessarily well regarded by all in the hard science group. Yes he is brilliant, but sorta out there.
    And it doesn’t even matter because none of us will know for sure what real reality is or where consciousness really comes from. We live and we die and that’s it. Same with quantum mechanics…it’s there but doesn’t affect our everyday lives in the least…

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    1. Doesn’t affect our everyday lives? ”Desktops, laptops, tablets, satellites, smartphones, even small household appliances and kids’ toys are driven by computer chips that simply would not be possible to make without our modern understanding of quantum physics.”
      If Nima Arkani-Hamed is a fringe physicist I’ll agree with your “out there” statement. Hoffman is continuing the work of his late friend and colleague Francis Crick—another fringe “out there”?
      The primary role of natural selection is to reproduce. We see only what we need to see to achieve that. The goal of natural selection is to cause the extinction of genomes (things we no longer see it have yet were true) that are not well adapted to their present environment.
      Natural selection can do only one thing; It can only cause extinctions. It removes organisms whose genetic information is not well adapted to the present environment. It does not “create” better adapted organisms. Organisms that have genetic information that is better suited to the environment do not get that genetic information from natural selection. There is obviously more to the universe than meets the senses and somehow knowing that won’t affect the way we live?

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      1. Of course quantum mechanics affect our lives and the very universe itself. But I don’t worry with how my oven bakes a cake or my IPad works, just that they do.
        And why would anyone not believe in spacetime? It’s simply a measure of distance and position in an ever changing expanding universe. It’s the whole picture and life and any form of consciousness arose much much later and first life had to occur.

        I agree natural evolution removes and this in itself makes room for adaptations and emergence of more complex “things”like consciousness. What’s the big deal with consciousness. It’s simple instinct like animals with a twist of more complexity.

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    2. Also, Max Tegmark published a paper called “Consciousness as a state of Matter” (it isn’t any hocus pocus) and notes —“an interesting connection between the emergence of consciousness and the emergence of time” space time is dependent on consciousness, not the other way around.

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  4. I think one can say “our senses give us perceptions about the structure of objective reality.”

    People seem to be confusing perception and proof. The search for absolutes and proofs is, I believe, supported by religious thinking, but it isn’t supported by reality.

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    1. Your vision is adapted to survival and reproduction. The models are consistently showing the less accurate your perceptions the greater the survivability. Yak a minute or two to watch the video. He’s no slouch and has much to support it.

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    1. Our VR headsets seem pretty capable don’t they?
      The theory is useful and creates a lot of gadgets, but is nearing the end of its advances. This is t coming from me, but the physics and math are saying space time is doomed. It is not a fundamental law but the result of the observer.

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        1. Well even the materialist view of Roger Penrose he admits he thinks like a materialist but can’t define what that is. It isn’t made of anything but has form. This is where the new physics is taking us into consciousness which appears to preclude everything, including space time.

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            1. I do find it fascinating how much people today still think in Newtonian terms, while they’re using their cell phones and space-time physics in their daily life.

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            2. Einstein believed that everything is certain, and we can calculate everything. That’s why he rejected quantum mechanics, due to its factor of uncertainty.

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    2. And Hubble and the new JWST is certainly out there in space and “seeing” things in a very long ago timeframe and space.

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        1. Yes..it’s way too much “woo” for me. It’s like they’re searching for something like some people search for religion. They just can’t be satisfied with reality.

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          1. If you interpret this as woo that’s on you. Even Hoffman has stated this is not mystical, but definable and attainable. If consciousness is woo it’s all woo.

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            1. Consciousness is not woo. It’s a product of every more progression of complexity of evolution..there was a time when humans didn’t have much language or abilities like humans do today. Compare early man’s brain’s abilities and Einstein’s. It’s evolution.
              When you are a little baby you aren’t really conscious yet and it occurs slowly and by the time you’re 3/4 you begin to have a sense of self and start to think and wonder. Consciousness is an emergent property..nothing more

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  5. Well, the The Matrix the question of “what is real” has been bandied about. However, this is the first I’ve heard about Space/Time concept being doomed. I will Google.

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    1. Once it is realized that space time is a concept, it is a concepts from what? I’m beginning to think we could take any aspect, any idea and run with it and it will be useful and productive in certain applications. it just depends on what flavor of society, technology, and gadgets are the center of focus.

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  6. Emergence is brought about through evolutionary processes. No hardware, no (apparent) consciousness. Simple hardware, simple consciousness. Complex hardware, complex consciousness. Turn the hardware off, no (apparent) consciousness. This, of course, is describing the physical organism. Your idea is sound, but it requires another world.. which is certainly possible.

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    1. Simple hardware, simple consciousness. Complex hardware, complex consciousness. This in not what the mathematics is telling us and it is based on evolutionary mathematics. It is in reverse order of that.
      Space time has reached its useful limits and this isn’t my theory (although I like it) but the cat is out of the bag and physics is about to have another massive change. Google “space time is doomed” and arrange the implications of that. It is going to be interesting.
      Roger Penrose says he’s a materialist, yet he can no longer define what that is.

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      1. Where is it saying the reverse?

        There is a clear line of quantifiable, verifiable evidence for the emergence model. It’s physically availably to look at and study and test repeatedly. But, as said, this applies only to the physical world. Panpsychism could mean a different rung, and that rung might affect the physical world in some fundamental way.

        Still, not sure i understand what you mean about ‘reverse order.’

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        1. For quite some time we have been down the path that some mechanism of the brain switches it on. This was the hypothesis yet it has failed to produce with some of the greatest scientist of all time working for quite a long time. That isn’t good progress.
          The problem is that there is no known mechanism for its appearance. Before subscribing to that idea I would like to see the proposal of a mechanism for its emergence, otherwise it’s no better a suggestion than “and then some magic happened”. Better still if that mechanism admits of testable predictions so that we could actually do science with it.
          Science set the bar and with the fizzle of space time goes the fizzle of consciousness as an emergent property. Space time is a concept coming from where? It is not a fundamental characteristic but the hard problem of consciousness is the last straw (to date)

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          1. Not sure you answered the question there, Jim.

            Where is it saying the reverse?

            And progress is being made. Every day. In the Panpsychist’s eyes everything was/is always “on.” There is no “off.” That’s what I’m saying — that level of “on” (beyond the physical substrates we look to today) might be real (and it probably is), but it’s essentially meaningless to us.

            And there is a mechanism (a very, very, very, very clear one) for biological consciousness — the neuron. No neuron, no physically observable consciousness.

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            1. Neurons only exist in space time which doesn’t exist where mathematically it appears consciousness does.
              As an example, close your eyes for a moment. Even when you’re in the off position you still have thoughts and ideas. Why, when you turn off your senses is there anything at all?

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            2. Sorry Jim, I’m missing a whole lot of something here. What does that mean: “which doesn’t exist where mathematically it appears consciousness does.”

              Where does conscious ‘appear to exist’ in mathematics?

              You know I’m in the panpsychism pool (everything is “on”), so I’m not antagonistic to your position… I’m just struggling to understand where some of your statements came from.

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      1. This is certainly not a One Minute Listen. But what if I say it this way, Jim: “Even knowing that what I am perceiving as reality is not reality as reality is, the things I perceive to be real work for me, and allow me to get through life in the best way I know how, for me.” I realize this is a simplistic statement, with all kinds of assumed definitions, but yet, it works, at least for me. But then, my reality is different from most people’s reality, so I have no idea if it would work for them. ???

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        1. I pretty much go along with you, rawgod. All this pondering and speculating really doesn’t make much difference in how I live my life. I suppose there was a time when such topics intrigued me, but as time passes😉, such discussions have, for the most part, taken a back seat.

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          1. This is like saying Newton, Einstein, and even the Hebrew religions have had nothing to do with the way you live your life. But they have everything to do with how you live your life. Those dominant mythologies have certainly shaped the way we think and live.

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            1. Oh yes, I agree with your statement that those factors all played a role. But this is not what I got from your post. Sorry if I misinterpreted, but I didn’t notice any reference to the gentlemen you mentioned … or the Hebrew religion. I took it as general pondering.

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