Archive for November 13th, 2010

Today’s topic is biocentrism … and, yes, I’m out of my fucking mind even beginning to go there on a Saturday morning in November, especially after an evening involving wine … and starts with its seven principles:

1. What we perceive as reality is a process that involves our consciousness. An “external” reality, if it existed, would by definition have to exist in space. But this is meaningless, because space and time are not absolute realities but rather tools of the human and animal mind.

2. Our external and internal perceptions are inextricably intertwined. They are different sides of the same coin and cannot be divorced from one another.

3. The behavior of subatomic particles, indeed all particles and objects, is inextricably linked to the presence of an observer. Without the presence of a conscious observer, they at best exist in an undetermined state of probability waves.

4. Without consciousness, “matter” dwells in an undetermined state of probability. Any universe that could have preceded consciousness only existed in a probability state.

5. The structure of the universe is explainable only through biocentrism. The universe is fine-tuned for life, which makes perfect sense as life creates the universe, not the other way around. The “universe” is simply the complete spatio-temporal logic of the self.

6. Time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.

7. Space, like time, is not an object or a thing. Space is another form of our animal understanding and does not have an independent reality. We carry space and time around with us like turtles with shells. Thus, there is no absolute self-existing matrix in which physical events occur independent of life.

Got that? No … me neither.

I’ve been giving this thought since learning about that whole particles need observers to do much thing, chicken/egg/cart/horse thinking that shakes my brain like a rattle in the hand of Insane Demon Baby.

It’s this article in the Huff post that handed the noise toy to the toddler-from-hell-living-in-my-head this morning, luring me in by speaking directly to me in the opening sentence:

Why do you happen to be alive on this lush little planet with its warm sun and coconut trees?

Why, indeed.

Although the bit about the coconut trees is nothing but overkill, the Why are you here? question is one I ask often, although usually framed differently: What the fuck do you think you’re doing? … How the fuck did you end up here? … Now what?

Although those questions-posed-to-self are often self-focused, I do ponder the point of me in the greater sense … What is the point of me and him and her and them and those thingies over there? … and the article puts the little in little ole me:

How did inert, random bits of carbon ever morph into that Japanese guy who always wins the hot-dog-eating contest?

In short, attempts to explain the nature of the universe, its origins, and what’s really going on require an understanding of how the observer, our presence, plays a role. According to the current paradigm, the universe, and the laws of nature themselves, just popped out of nothingness. The story goes something like this: From the Big Bang until the present time, we’ve been incredibly lucky. This good fortune started from the moment of creation; if the Big Bang had been one-part-in-a-million more powerful, the cosmos would have rushed out too fast for the galaxies and stars to have developed. If the gravitational force were decreased by a hair, stars (including the Sun) wouldn’t have ignited. There are over 200 physical parameters like this that could have any value but happen to be exactly right for us to be here. Tweak any of them and you never existed.

Okay, so I’m a statistical probability as remote as my coconut tree sprouting legs and jogging on the beach … and so are you, neener neener neener.

Or not.

Indeed, according to biocentrism, it’s us, the observer, who create space and time (which is the reason you’re here now). Consider everything you see around you right now. Language and custom say it all lies outside us in the external world. Yet you can’t see anything through the vault of bone that surrounds your brain. Your eyes aren’t just portals to the world. In fact, everything you experience, including your body, is part of an active process occurring in your mind. Space and time are simply the mind’s tools for putting it all together.

So, we are all legends in our own mind?

Cogito ergo sum, folks.

In ethics, biocentrism puts us in our place:

Biocentrism states that nature does not exist simply to be used or consumed by humans, but that humans are simply one species amongst many, and that because we are part of an ecosystem, any actions which negatively affect the living systems of which we are a part, adversely affect us as well, whether or not we maintain a biocentric worldview. Biocentrists believe that all species have inherent value, and that humans are not “superior” in a moral or ethical sense.

There is no doubt my dog’s version of me varies greatly from mine, as does mine from hers, and since both she and I exist on the same plane … or veranda, as is the case at the moment … each reality is as valid as the other.

I find the notion of biocentrism in both cosmology and ethics more than interesting, but it falls short for me, lacking just a bit of the imagination it would take to move it just a smidgen beyond the biology that gives the theory its name.

It’s consciousness that seems the point, the indefinable, unmeasurable dimension of consciousness, and it’s biology that limits our capacity to fully grasp what must be accessible when the biojar that contains consciousness is eventually jettisoned.

As Einstein put it:

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Although there are plenty of peeps whose consciousness is suspect … yeah, they watch Fox News … it’s still the elephant in every room — the invisible, densely-packed-empty-vacuum, infinitely there-and-not-there-always-never powering the deus ex machina life inserts to cause all to lose the plot, yet save the day after day after day.

In the case of that ‘particles need observers’ deal, it’s not the fact that eyeballs are aimed in the general direction, it’s that consciousness is, and as Ray Charles proved beyond doubt, functioning eyes are no requirement for soul.

Much like a tortoise is not the shell, yet defined by it … since without a carapace it’s either dead or not a tortoise … we are not our biology. It does define us and, like the tortoise, it also CONfines us.

Einstein again:

“My feeling is religious insofar as I am imbued with the consciousness of the insufficiency of the human mind to understand more deeply the harmony of the Universe which we try to formulate as “laws of nature”.

It’s the limiting nature … biology … of the human mind that makes so illusive the far reaches of consciousness, not the other way round, and it’s the consciousness that makes everything else, including the biology. It follows, then, that we are more than our physical form. We’re like tequila … whether it be rotgut or nectar de dioses … most of our potential is wasted while in the bottle.

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