Is There a Thing, or a Relationship between Things, at the Bottom of Things?

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Is There a Thing, or a Relationship between Things, at the Bottom of Things?

John Horgan


Quote:Rovelli has continued expounding the relationship doctrine. In a volume of essays on panpsychism to be published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, he writes: “20th-Century physics is not about how individual entities are by themselves. It is about how entities manifest themselves to one another. It is about relations.” Rovelli suggests that this perspective applies not merely to electrons and photons but to all of reality, whether material or mental. “I see no reason to believe that this should not be sufficient to account for stones, thunderstorms and thoughts.”



Quote:Another eloquent explicator of the relationship doctrine is science writer Amanda Gefter. After hearing her give a talk last December, I interviewed Gefter for my podcast “Mind-Body Problems.” Gefter seems intent on moving past old dualities, like the one between mind and matter. She is dissatisfied with both strict materialism, which decrees that matter is fundamental, and idealism, which insists that mind precedes matter. “The central lesson of quantum mechanics,” Gefter told me, “is that “subject and object can never be decoupled.”

Gefter has drawn inspiration from diverse sources, including Wheeler and philosopher Martin Buber, author of the classic work I and Thou. She is also intrigued by QBism, sometimes called quantum Bayesianism, an interpretation of quantum mechanics that overlaps with those of Wheeler and Rovelli. According to QBism, each of us creates our own, personal, world through our interactions with it; objective, consensual reality emerges from the interactions of all our subjective worlds.

Maybe, Gefter speculates, we don’t live in either a first-person world or a third-person world, as implied by idealism and materialism, respectively. Maybe we live in a second-person world, and the fundamental entity of existence is not “I” or “It” but “You.” “The second person always deals in relations,” Gefter explains, because every “You” implies an “I” interacting with the “You.” This view “is definitely not materialism,” Gefter says, “but it’s not idealism either.”
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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This is interesting with regards consciousness because consciousness seems to require something to be conscious of and what we describe as an object seems to require consciousness to create it out of all the random information available.  This ties in with Zen and with some peak experiences I have had where there is no distinction between observer and observed.  I think duality (binary) is just a way by which we consciously learn and communicate ideas and is necessary for survival but is not the real nature of the universe.
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  • Typoz, Sciborg_S_Patel
(2022-04-16, 11:37 AM)Brian Wrote: This is interesting with regards consciousness because consciousness seems to require something to be conscious of and what we describe as an object seems to require consciousness to create it out of all the random information available.  This ties in with Zen and with some peak experiences I have had where there is no distinction between observer and observed.  I think duality (binary) is just a way by which we consciously learn and communicate ideas and is necessary for survival but is not the real nature of the universe.

There is another more down to earth question that physicists never seem to ask themselves.

Have I reached the bottom, and how will I know if I do?

Protons, electrons, neutrons, and photons seemed to form a plausible bottom layer, but then physics expanded again into a mass of complexity. I sometimes wonder if physics needs the other layers - quarks, gluons..... Higgs, or whether some reformulation of the way it works would show that we found the bottom layer about 100 years ago!
(2022-04-17, 01:37 PM)David001 Wrote: There is another more down to earth question that physicists never seem to ask themselves.

Have I reached the bottom, and how will I know if I do?

Protons, electrons, neutrons, and photons seemed to form a plausible bottom layer, but then physics expanded again into a mass of complexity. I sometimes wonder if physics needs the other layers - quarks, gluons..... Higgs, or whether some reformulation of the way it works would show that we found the bottom layer about 100 years ago!

I'm not sure there is a bottom layer.  Whenever I hear about such, I can't help asking "yes, but what is that made of?"

EDIT: Just had a thought while I was cooking chips for my supper.  Try whirring this one through yer cogs!  Reality is that which we think of when we are not analyzing.  When we analyze, we punctuate and divide reality so that we only see parts.  Between nothing and something is a blur that can be infinitely divided by constant attempts at discovering a "bottom layer."
(This post was last modified: 2022-04-17, 05:17 PM by Brian. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2022-04-17, 05:08 PM)Brian Wrote: I'm not sure there is a bottom layer.  Whenever I hear about such, I can't help asking "yes, but what is that made of?"
Yes, I think that conceptual problem prevents us from thinking about the bottom layer.
Quote:EDIT: Just had a thought while I was cooking chips for my supper.  Try whirring this one through yer cogs!  Reality is that which we think of when we are not analyzing.  When we analyze, we punctuate and divide reality so that we only see parts.  Between nothing and something is a blur that can be infinitely divided by constant attempts at discovering a "bottom layer."

Yes, there certainly seems to be something perverse about looking ever deeper.

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