Featuring: A Movie in Your Mind
Originally posted July 11,2011
The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014 .
An area in which the Human Effectiveness Institute focuses is the interface between psychology and physics. The ultimate nature of reality is what all of us assume physics is studying, while the nature of mind is what psychology studies.
However, picture a future in which psychology reaches what we might call the complete circumnavigation of the mind. Everything about human psychology is understood, and animal psyk too. Psychoanalysts working with the new perfect model have the same success rate as today’s hip replacements, and in about the same turnaround time. People are pretty much always happy, except for short lapses so as not to forget what the other emotions feel like, or lose their functionality through disuse. Got that envisioned?
Okay, we are together living in that future world and we have all read the popularizations of the ultimate psychology. We get it, it makes our lives work better, we are proud that the human race has achieved such an accomplishment.
Then, in this sci-fi movie we are playing in our minds, a problem arises: physics arrives at the same place as psychology. Physics, too, explains everything in its field. We know how the Big Bang happened and why. We know why there is a universe at all. Our picture leaves nothing out, everything is solved. We finally solve the 400 BC conundrum of which came first, matter or mind.
The problem is this: the physics picture totally overturns the psychology picture.
Then what do we do?
Obviously, at that point the hero/ine gets to work and we see time cuts of the hard work it takes (movies are great at condensing that part) and – voila! The old theory is ingeniously twisted 90 degrees and it clicks perfectly with the new model, and now the population is not always just happy, the entire population rises to the level of genius, is always in flow state, art flourishes and enriches culture, each individual becomes fully realized in all good potentials inherent at birth, the awe and magic of life is restored and never again forgotten even for a moment, psychic and/or telepathic abilities bloom gradually in everyone, and – most important of all – each individual is in total fusion with God.
Yes I said the dread word that causes materialism-philosopher-scientists (MPS) to stop reading. You see scientists have always been philosophers too. We have always had a segment of MPS and another segment of idealism-philosopher-scientists (IPS). Daniel Goleman or David Brooks might well write a book about the relative contributions to science of MPS versus IPS scientists – it would make fascinating reading. Newton of course was IPS. Quite capable of debating fine points of IPS with Leibniz, another idealist philosopher of the time who was a mathematician rather than scientist (Newton was all of these things). Mathematicians and scientists have always produced greater science by working together, and probably greater mathematics too.
The word “God” has meaning to IPS but causes shutdown to MPS. My guess is that those MPS still reading to this point are only reading so as to refute whatever my point might be in all this.
Before I get to the point, let’s stop for a moment to make a fix that has been long in coming. Roughly 2500 years overdue. The term of art “Idealism” when used in juxtaposition with “Materialism” is a confusing misnomer since the word “Idealism” has other meanings used far more frequently. Time to change the term, so let’s first understand where it came from. It was Plato.
Plato of course had heard similar thoughts and was putting them together more concisely and less mystically so everyone could understand them. Qabala contains similar thoughts, for example, and everything thinkable exists somewhere in the tradition of India, captured in written language since the Vedas.
The Idea is that there are multiple levels of reality. In the Absolute Plane of Reality, Ideas exist. They are the perfect embodiment of themselves. The Ideal Chair is the most often used example in philosophy courses –that’s sure getting old. “Ideal” in the sense of “Idea” and also in the sense of “Perfect Embodiment” and “Archetype”.
At any rate, there are these Ideas floating around in the realest plane of reality, and down here on these lower planes (Qabala has four levels, some Indian texts also, but other interpretations have infinite levels – Qabala calls this Jacob’s Ladder) we have shadow imitations of those Ideal Ideas, imperfect replicas intermixing all the Ideas in sort of a stew.
Here on Earth we exist in the lowest of the planes in hard material reality, sometimes called the Visible World. To Plato we are as if in a cave watching shadows on a wall cast by something outside the cave we cannot see.
Without attaching to the history of the term, I’ve laid it out here to show the trail. This is how the great debate got to be called “Materialism versus Idealism”.
What instead should it be called? The debate is trying to solve the question of which came first, mind or matter — which of these is the actual basis of reality, the ultimate quantum plane from which the universe arises.
About 400 years ago, by the way, Hume and Berkeley, Leibniz and Spinoza and Kant and many others drove a period of philosophy where mind came first, before matter.
Today the view that is baked into the average person including scientists is that matter is the supreme substance of the universe. Ironically, the most far-out physicists are now heading back in the other direction toward mind or an intermixture, and gradually the culture is slowly following them. This is not discussed philosophically by the average person, who may nevertheless detect a drift back into what s/he would call a spiritual direction.
We would prefer that the debate be called “Materialism vs. Mindism” or “Materialism vs. Consciousness as Prime”. That’s what it always has been about. The “Mind Came First” position in this debate does not necessarily have to be locked into Plato’s multiple-levels theory, as there are many theories that could be built around the “Mind Came First” position.
“But how could that possibly be?” one thinks, still in the current culture that assumes materialism without even knowing that one is doing so.
After all, Carl Sagan told hundreds of millions of viewers that after the Big Bang occurred due to forces we do not yet comprehend, bits of matter started to assemble due to electromagnetic forces we do understand. At a certain point they formed the Replicator molecule – akin to viruses – robotical pseudo-life. And then just impelled by these random collisions of electromagnetic forces, this process continued to evolve and build itself up until consciousness emerged.
We all mostly bought it, didn’t we? I must confess I didn’t – it seemed like random waves on a beach could build beautiful sand castles if I just sat around for a googletillion years. I still can’t convince my gut of this.
So what is this Theory of the Conscious Universe I was supposed to talk about? Please excuse the tease, but I promised I would lay out the roots here. Now that I’ve established the roots, in the next postings I will get on to the theory.
Best to all,
I would like to invite you to a free ARF webinar I am presenting next week on April 18. A featured section will propose standards for ethical use of psychological data.