Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Quantum universe, mind, and idealism

After posting "Programming the Universe", I received several questions about my thoughts of the topic. One request is particularly interesting, which is from François Dongier at Belgium. He asked, "does Seth explicitly talk about such reconciliation in the book? How does he (or do you) see the connection between a quantum universe and idealism?" In fact, Seth did not mention the issue in his book (the book is more mechanics-focused). By just following Seth's statement, however, we may achieve several interesting derivations that probably even beyond Seth's first-place expectation. So here are a few of my thoughts on replying François' request (extended from the original reply posted at

One of the most amazing facts of quantum is the phenomenon of particle-wave duality. Physicists, however, have shown that the particle-wave duality is indeed a general fact. The phenomenon is not only about tiny elemental particles but also for much larger physical bodies such as humans. The reason that it is generally hard to observe the wave-side of our physical world is because the world contains too many mutually interacted particles. These particles mutually become detectors to each other. Hence, based on Heisenberg's uncertainty principle we may only observe the objects in their physical body shape. That is, the particle effect predominates the wave effect.

To human, however, there is one other thing that is puzzling besides whether we are particles or waves. It is mind or human thought. A longtime debate is whether mind is a type of matter. The materialists insist that everything including human mind is matter. The extreme materialists even exclaim that mind is nothing but function of human brain. In essence, Materialism believes that mind cannot exist without matter. Hence matter is at the first place and the most fundamental of the world while mind is a secondary existence.

On the other hand, idealists argues that matter does not make any sense when there is no mind of perception. A matter is matter only when there is some detector, i.e., mind. Without mind to detect, matter might not even exist. Hence, Idealism believes that mind is the first place existence while matter is a secondary fact.

By all of the previous statements, we may think of another possible solution to the debate: whether it is possible that indeed both of matter and mind are equally fundamental and they are coexisting to each other just like particle and wave. Without matter there is no mind and vice versa. Neither of the two could be in our world when the counter party does not exist. To any object, mass/energy and mind/information are about the same thing just in two varied interpretations.

However, I must say that the previous statement also leads to another hard philosophical problem---does God exist? Note that if matter and mind are coexisting buddies, mind exists before humans appear in this world. Moreover, mind should exist as early as at the first second of Big Bang. When there is no human (and nearly nothing at all) at the beginning, to whom does mind belong? Can we thus tell that there must be God?


gregory said...

consciousness is prior to mind and there was no big bang. god is consciousness, if you need the concept of god at all.

and neuroscience will never answer the question what is consciousness, their model is flipped.

francoisdongier said...

Thanks, Yihong, for these clarifications. Just posted a reply on Twine.

glen said...

In a Big Bang expression, matter and energy are transformations of the other, theory says prior to the transformations there was density and heat, with a possible inference that heat was caused by density, leading to before heat, a less dense state, but what if it was heat that precedes density and as density grows so does heat. This hardly leads to a definitive answer that might provide a single unifying force.


The encounter and endless argument between idealism and materialism had ever been in the human history. I also believe with the conclusion “whether it is possible that indeed both of matter and mind are equally fundamental and they are coexisting to each other just like particle and wave”.

I think we can call it energy and information. When I type this idea that is energy, and when you read it becomes information. Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Wayne dyer have said many more about it.

Please refer this book and site, if you not yet

Dr Deepak Chopra’s ‘Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’

I am deeply touched with your profound thoughts.
all the best.

Yihong Ding said...

thank you, PADMANABHAN. It seems an interesting book. I will check it out.



Dead tired of doing nothing said...

I would love to talk to you about a subject that has been boggleing my mind for some time now and i think u might find it of

Anonymous said...

Let us not confuse our thinking "mind is matter" but matter is not necessarily mind, just as a chair may be made out of wood but not all wood is made into chairs.