Physics Is Pointing Inexorably to Mind
So-called “information realism” has some surprising implications
All of which is in full agreement with the admonition that “we create our own reality.” Apparently physics is becoming philosophical…I have physics textbooks printed from before Fulton’s steam engine in which physics is considered a philosophy. The steam engine became fact and physics became very materialistic and Newtonian. Now, with the acceptance of quantum mechanics, we’re getting back to the subject re-becoming a philosophy… ~ Don Chapin
By Bernardo Kastrup on March 25, 2019 https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/physics-is-pointing-inexorably-to-mind/
In his 2014 book, Our Mathematical Universe, physicist Max Tegmark boldly claims that “protons, atoms, molecules, cells and stars” are all redundant “baggage.” Only the mathematical apparatus used to describe the behavior of matter is supposedly real, not matter itself. For Tegmark, the universe is a “set of abstract entities with relations between them,” which “can be described in a baggage-independent way”—i.e., without matter. He attributes existence solely to descriptions, while incongruously denying the very thing that is described in the first place. Matter is done away with and only information itself is taken to be ultimately real.
This abstract notion, called information realism is philosophical in character, but it has been associated with physics from its very inception. Most famously, information realism is a popular philosophical underpinning for digital physics. The motivation for this association is not hard to fathom.
Indeed, according to the Greek atomists, if we kept on dividing things into ever-smaller bits, at the end there would remain solid, indivisible particles called atoms, imagined to be so concrete as to have even particular shapes. Yet, as our understanding of physics progressed, we’ve realized that atoms themselves can be further divided into smaller bits, and those into yet smaller ones, and so on, until what is left lacks shape and solidity altogether. At the bottom of the chain of physical reduction there are only elusive, phantasmal entities we label as “energy” and “fields”—abstract conceptual tools for describing nature, which themselves seem to lack any real, concrete essence.
To some physicists, this indicates that what we call “matter,” with its solidity and concreteness—is an illusion; that only the mathematical apparatus they devise in their theories is truly real, not the perceived world the apparatus was created to describe in the first place. From their point of view, such a counterintuitive conclusion is an implication of theory, not a conspicuously narcissistic and self-defeating proposition.
Indeed, according to information realists, matter arises from information processing, not the other way around. Even mind— psyche, soul—is supposedly a derivative phenomenon of purely abstract information manipulation. But in such a case, what exactly is meant by the word “information,” since there is no physical or mental substrate to ground it?
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