Friday, July 01, 2005

Is consciousness primary and matter secondary?

Most scientists believe in an objective reality in which matter is the only substance. Mind, consciousness, self-awareness, etc. are considered to be epiphenomena of the brain. Is this true? To make progress in fields such as artificial intelligence, it almost has to be taken as fact. They assume that if computational speeds and memory storage and the complexity of algorithms become great enough, then there is the potential for the emergence of intelligence. This is an interesting point of view and I myself find it fascinating. However, let's take a different point of view. What if consciousness is primary and matter secondary. In other words, what if reality is not based on matter but is based on consciousness (spirit, the underlying whole, insert your favorite phrase here) to begin with. The underlying consciousness would then be responsible for creating both the observer and the observed. This view has been popularized recently by some physicists (most notably Amit Goswami and Roger Jones) and should be taken seriously as a possible paradigm for the basis of reality. It not only neatly solves some of the esoteric philosophical problems of quantum mechanics but I think leads to a more positive view of the nature of existence. There will be a lot more on this and related issues in the future.