Erik Davis, author of TechGnosis,
asked the following.
From: Erik Davis
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 7:42 AM
Subject: Re: Block-universe ego-death
>1. How does your block universe model jibe with quantum uncertainty and the seemingly open-ended or emergent drift of time? In other words, what kind of physics does it rest upon?
First it strikes the mind that this model of time, will, self, and world are stunningly coherent, then that system slams you to the ground in powerlessness, then you seek a way of standing up again on your own cybernetic, egoic feet as a seemingly self-authoring, self-originating agent again. You seek a way to become like a free sovereign agent again.
This 2- or 3-phase view of the revelation experience explains various paradoxes. The mysteries reveal metaphysical unfreedom, revealing us as prisoners in the cage of spacetime, which creates our thoughts for and forces them upon us via one's now alienated will. Yet the mysteries also claim to provide transcendent freedom by uniting with and becoming a higher god that is even higher than the Fates and astrological cosmic determinism.
>2. How do you characterize this last phase in contemporary cybernetic non mystery-religion terms? Philiosophically speaking, what constitutes this higher I/God outside the system? What is the nature of its freedom?
Michael Anderson wrote:
> 1) You see the block universe as "deterministic" in some sense, at least when time is considered as a frozen dimension as opposed to flowing. Where/how does quantum uncertainty fit into this scheme?
Erik Davis, author of TechGnosis,
asked the following. Michael Anderson asked the same question.
1. How does your block universe model jibe with quantum uncertainty and the seemingly open-ended or emergent drift of time? In other words, what kind of physics does it rest upon?
I essentially agree with Einstein, Bohm, Huw Price (book Time's Arrow), Schrodinger, and James T. Cushing (several books including Copenhagen Hegemony). I assume you have read these books, so that I can focus on connecting them with my theory, which for short let us dub "the egodeath theory".
Key ideas of these theorists include the block universe, hidden variable determinism, opposition to the Copenhagen view. I am, however, skeptical about the need for the concept of "advanced action" and will have to read the latest books on the subject.
I could provide some quotes later from these books that say exactly the same things I did when enrolled in an atomic physics course.
(I will refer to The Cybernetic Theory of Ego Transcendence as "the egodeath theory" for short. I do want want to frame it as "my theory"; it is my expression of "the" theory which we can discover. It is good for me to "own" the theory as its representative exponent, yet I want to hold it at arm's length.)
As far as the Einstein camp (the anti-Copenhagenists such as myself) are concerned, quantum indeterminacy merely expresses our state of knowledge, not the state of the measured physical world. The particle *has* a specific velocity, location, and spin; the only "cloud of uncertainty" is the uncertainty of our *knowledge* about the particle.
The only "collapse" of the wave is a (positive) collapse of our knowledge. There is no collapse in the physical system being measured; the particle has a particular position etc. at all times, independently of our act of measuring and being aware of the particle's parameters.
This is all trivially obvious to the anti-Copenhagenists but as Huw Price points out, as I have always seen, the physicists adopted Copenhagenism by rejecting philosophical precision in their speech. They all made the cheating jump from "measurement impacts the particle" to "our awareness changes the particle".
In addition to Price's description of the philosophical crudeness of such philosophizing by physicists, I investigate the psychological reasons *why* they all made this cheating jump. They propped up Copenhagenism because they wanted the mind to have power, including metaphysical freedom. Such power of consciousness is removed if you adopt hidden-variables determinism as we anti-Copenhagenists do.
Copenhagenism is an invention of those with a covert agenda that lies outside physics: their real motivation for interpreting QM is to provide a safe haven for egoic metaphysical freedom and power, of a type that are not supported within a deterministic system.
The egodeath theory is emphatically *not* "founded on" any system of physics. The future is frozen not because of billiard balls playing out over time into a not-yet-settled future. Rather, the future is frozen due to the fixity of the time axis, the inability of time to flow, and the lack of room for metaphysical freedom.
These abstract concepts are forcefully experienced during the mystic altered state; one perceives time as frozen, and perceives personal power as an epiphenomal illusion injected into the mind from beyond the egoic sense of control. The sense of time's flow is suspended together with the sense of personal metaphysical freedom and power.
Determinism is always defined as providing prediction-in-principle, and conceives of the future as not yet existing, and is always defined reductionistically. Ancient mystic Fatalism, as I proffer, is coming from an entirely different chain of reasoning.
If there is a bit of true randomness in the universe, determinism (as defined) utterly collapses into ruin. Fatalism, however, remains standing tall. Prediction is a red herring. I reject defining science as "prediction" though prediction is the *main* component of standard definitions of what constitutes science.
Determinism is susceptible to be overthrown by problems of subatomics or prediction -- (correctly conceived) Fatalism is utterly immune to these threats.
Time in only open-ended as far as our *knowledge* about the future. The future is single (I hold this because it's the simplest worldmodel) and closed and already exists. Forking only describes our lack of knowledge. Only 1 future is possible: that which has always existed. Past, present, future all popped into existence, crystallizing forward and backward, at the timeless moment of creation.
My goal is to find the simplest coherent worldmodel that explains the relation between time, will, personal control, and the experience of ego-death. Forking futures and multiple branching universes is unnecessarily complicated.
My approach is "first-things-first", and the first worldmodel we should define is the simplest one. Only after we acknowledge that most basic worldmodel should we go on to discuss more complex models.
Reductionistic determinism is more complicated than ancient Fatalism - - it piles on extra assertions (such as prediction in principle) that are overly bold and venturesome and are not needed for a most basic and simple model, which is frozen time and the preexisting future.
In a separate posting I will address question 2:
>>Yet the mysteries also claim to provide transcendent freedom by uniting with and becoming a higher god that is even higher than the Fates and astrological cosmic determinism.
Erik Davis wrote:
> 2. How do you characterize this last phase in contemporary cybernetic non mystery-religion terms? Philiosophically speaking, what constitutes this higher I/God outside the system? What is the nature of its freedom?
I know there is a lot of interest in these subjects. I have written the basic ideas already, in some emails I have not posted here yet, or in earlier writings at my site. While I decide what to do to present this material, interested people can read the material at the site.
Main URL for this:
The material looks fairly well presented in these assembled notes and writings. You won't find this set of ideas covered this much in books.
I haven't written about this much lately. It's very stable and settled in my thinking, for years. I have some good new books about anti-Copenhagenism and tenseless time, to read.
I remember working out those ideas for several years. But now, learning about the religions of the mystery-religion era is more of an unexplored jungle for me -- I'm connecting this with block-universe determinism and the problem of transcending determinism. All the connections are falling into place. Stoic Fatalism was the problem of the day, or rather of the century, in the era of the mystery religions.
The mystery religions used entheogens to shockingly encounter, and then somehow transcend, the problem of determinism. The main concern of the religions of that era is determinism, as an experienced encounter. This is an original theory of mine, but is supported by Ulansey's Mithraism breakthrough about a system of transcending cosmological determinism.
Einstein wrote, "In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever. Everyone acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer's saying, that 'a man can do as he will, but not will as he will' has been an inspiration to me since my youth up."
This fits with his adherence, with Bohm, against Bohr, to the hidden-variables interpretation of quantum physics.
The World As I See It, page 2
Translated by Alan Harris pub Bodley Head 1935 ISBN 0-8065-0711-X
The abridged edition (128 p.) is:
Unabridged: (214 p.)
I created this new book list centering around hidden variables interpretations of quantum physics, as opposed to Copenhagenist interpretations. Issues of time seem closely intertwined with hidden variables interpretations and I may need to more separate the two -- but I'm impressed by how much the book The End of Time agrees with hidden variables and determinist interpretations of quantum physics. Hidden variables, entanglement of apparent action-at-a-distance, and timelessness seem connected almost inextricably.
I haven't yet found books specifically focusing on "hidden variables" in the title, but the content of these books fits together around that theme and immediately related themes.
Bk list: Hidden Variables Determinism
John A wrote:
>>...the so-called randomness of quantum mechanics cannot determine the issue of the free-will thesis. This is the realm of metaphysics and is intractable to physical theory. The issue to be determined is merely determinism vs. indeterminism, not determinism vs. free will. It is nonsense to speculate (as do some authors) that the conscious mind can accumulate or influence quantum randomness, convert this into volutary nueral activity, and thus invoke free will.
>>It is my undertanding that experiments have shown that quantum mechanics is right and hidden variables (both LHV and NCHV) are violated.
>>A. Aspect, P. Grangier und G. Roger, Experimental Realization of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen-Bohm Gedankenexperiment: A New Violation of Bell's Inequalities. Phys. Rev. Lett. 49 (1982)(2) 91
>>Realization of All-or-nothing-type Kochen-Specker Experiment with Single Photons (2002) Yun-Feng Huang, Chuan-Feng Li, Yong-Sheng Zhangy, Jian-Wei Pan, and Guang-Can Guoz Key Laboratory of Quantum Information, University of Science and Technology of China, Chinese Academy of Science, Hefei, Anhui, P. R. China, 230026
Frozen-time block-universe determinism with a single future, time as a spacelike dimension, is an interpretation of the very nature of time, an utterly simple and fundamental interpretation, and therefore trumps any attempt to use QM to prop up the "reality" of the flow of time.
There are many interpretations and nuances and possibilities in interpreting QM, and in debating freewill vs. determinism -- single-future block-universe determinism trumps them all: it can accomodate many detailed formulas and interpretations, and has fewer hypothetical postulates than the conventional conception of determinism as causal-chain determinism.
Furthermore, the mind can rather easily and commonly *experience* block-universe determinism: being the simplest conception of determinism and time, it is the *first* nonordinary conception to be encountered and constructed in the timeless altered state, and can be most fully and vividly grasped. For mystics and the ego death experience, clearly the most outstanding and profound conception of QM and determinism is the hidden variables deterministic, and Einstein-approved, single-future block-universe determinism model, with time as a spacelike dimension.
Not the complicated and needlessly speculative "timeless many-worlds" interpretation as in the book The End of Time -- maybe the following book leans toward a single-future determinism, by embracing the "hidden variables and nonlocality" interpretation of Quantum Physics:
Entanglement: The Unlikely Story of How Scientists, Mathematicians, and Philosphers Proved Einstein's Spookiest Theory
Book list: Hidden Variables Determinism
Aren't determinists very bothered at how deeply the dogma has become entrenched, that QM has "rescued the world from the threat of determinism"? Hidden variables determinism has been disproved by QM according to seemingly most people -- though in fact hidden variables determinism is fully viable and is starting to have a resurgence.
Book list: Hidden Variables Determinism
John A. wrote (paraphrased):
>>You are a determinist. So was Albert Einstein; "God does not play dice with the universe."
>>But we live in a non-deterministic universe at the quantum level (the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle), and random quantum events (radioactive decay) are capable of influencing the macro world (Schrodinger's Cat).
You are asserting the Copenhagenist interpretation of quantum physics (Bohr), against hidden variables interpretations (Einstein, Bohm). Hidden variables interpretations are determinist. There are different conceptions of determinism. The conventional dominant conception of determinism is premised on a linear flowing view of time, or unfolding time, or "tensed time". I advocate the timeless conception of determinism, premised on tenseless time. Multiple-universes views are a kind of hybrid random-determinist combination.
My goal is the simplest and most unimpeachable model of determinism, so I advocate tenseless time, a single frozen future, and entanglement. Ego is essentially illusory, and its control over the future is essentially illusory; the experience of frozen time drives home that impotence of the ego to create its own future stream of thoughts.
The type of determinism that is intensely and overwhelmingly experienced during the intense mystic altered state of consciousness is *not* conventional linear determinism, where the future doesn't exist yet and isn't set yet, but unfolds mechanically as the moving present proceeds into the future. Rather, the type of determinism that is experienced is vertical, timeless determinism.
Timeless determinism is immune to randomness: even if there is a bit of true randomness in spacetime, timeless determinism remains standing as a viable model, whereas conventional, horizontal, in-time determinism immediately collapses as a viable model.
Timeless determinism is experienced, as a repeatable experiential phenomena, and that then afterwards raises the question of linear, in-time prediction of the future. The conventional notion of mystically or magically predicting the future is a result of and a metaphor for experiencing the timeless type of determinism.
>>That tells against determinism. Even a supremely intelligent being, knowing the precise location, velocity of every particle and energy packet in the universe could not precisely determine the future.
I disparagingly call the conventional, in-time conception of determinism "predictionism", and am always amazed at how unthinkingly most writers define science as being mainly driven by the goal of prediction. I don't see any good reason to think of science as having the goal of prediction; science is for understanding -- not for predicting.
Conventional determinism is defined as in-principle predictability, which holds that if God knows the vectors at a given point in time, he can calculate the vectors at the next point in time. I call that 'horizontal determinism', and reject it as unwarranted and lacking evidence, and liable to fail catastrophically as a theory if there is even one bit of randomness in the universe.
The timeless version of determinism (vertical determinism) is more warranted, based on logic, theory durability or immunity, and experience. This holds that God knows the future *not* because time-slice configurations are mechanically interconnected, but rather, because time is an illusion; time is tenseless; time is a space-like dimension. God knows the future not by calculating the future, but because the future already exists in the frozen 4-dimensional spacetime block: God simply looks at the future, which is timelessly present to him.
The future is non-variable because all content and points in spacetime are frozen and timelessly already exist, not because time-slice configurations are mechanically interconnected. The moving train is bound to crash not because of a series of mechanical causal connections along the time axis, but rather, because the crash, like *all* events at all spacetime points, is eternally embedded in the spacetime matrix.
As David Hume points out, adjacent time-slice configurations have a constant conjunction, but there is no possible observational evidence for mechanical causality through time, other than the constant conjunction we observe. Mechanical causality from one time-slice to the next is an assumption, a hypothesis, not a directly observed datum.
Ultimately, we must consider the observed and logical evidence in support of arguably the 3 main interpretive frameworks: Copenhagenist indeterminism, horizontal determinism (conventional "determinism"), and timeless determinism. I advocate the latter as the simplest model, best supported by the experiential evidence and logical deduction.
>>This is exactly what determinism proposes, that the future is inalterable (the metaphysical "impossibility of alternatives"). More accurately, the future exists in an uncollapsed wave form probability (there is a probability distribution, but within that, it is truly random).
That is only one version of determinism; that's the version of determinism that hasn't given serious thought to the nature of time. In contrast, the timeless version of determinism holds different views about the collapsing of the wave packet. The many-worlds interpretation, which I reject as requiring additional unwarranted assumptions, holds that the wave packet collapses with multiple actual outcomes (one per branched-off universe) -- regardless of whether that collapsing (or set of collapsings) is called "deterministic" or "random".
I also reject the many-worlds version of wave-package collapse because that conception of the wave-packet collapse doesn't bring a mystic-state experiential climax.
>>Perhaps even the present, again the paradox of Schrodinger's cat. http://www.upscale.utoronto.ca/GeneralInterest/Harrison/SchrodCat/SchrodCat.html
>>This simple concept can be utterly misunderstood, even by intelligent people.
The constant *norm* is for intelligent people to misunderstand basic concepts.
>>See, for example http://www.mathpages.com/rr/s9-08/9-08.htm, where the author acknowledges that quantum mechanics rules out determinism, but then, after citing some irrelevant mathematical formulae, proceeds to the conclusion that "There is no requirement for a deterministic universe to be predictable."
>>But that addresses an entirely different issue, not the one at hand. A gifted mathematician, can, merely by computing the formula, predict the successive sets. A deterministic universe may not be predictable, but it cannot be random.
A quantum physics theory that holds that the universe is in-principle predictable is a (linear, in-time) determinist theory.
A quantum physics theory that holds that the universe is not in-principle predictable is an indeterminist theory (or a randomness-asserting theory).
A quantum physics theory that holds that the universe is possibly in-principle predictable and is timelessly deterministic (entanglement and hidden variables) is a vertical-determinism theory. Such a theory is determinist in a way that emphasizes time as a space-like dimension, rather than being determinist in a way that emphasizes mechanical causality across time-slices. This is the version or conception of determinism I advocate and that seems to be gathering momentum in recent books about quantum physics.
>>This is not to suggest that randomness equates to free will. Far from it. Free will can be just as illusory (or more so) in a universe that operates by probability.
Free will experientially collapses in the light of the experience of timeless frozen-future, single-future block-universe determinism, with time experienced as being a space-like dimension. When one sees intellectually, and feels the great elegance and plausibility of this version of determinism, this can lead to self-control instability and seizure, and then lead to postulating a compassionate divine system of assumptions.
Time's Arrow & Archimedes' Point: New Directions for the Physics of Time
Huw Price, 1996
I was surprised to see it stated so explicitly. The author communicated with Bell, who stated that there is only one model of quantum mechanics that is comprehensible and rational, but that model can't be accepted because it would require rejecting the assumption of free will. The author is intent on finding a way to accept that model of QM is such a way that the assumption of free will remains viable. This project isn't a problem for determinists, however.
The author, and Bell, should acknowledge that determinists are all set and can be pleased with that rational model of QM. It's stunning how *casually* the physicists admit or state that their physics theory-selection choices are based on totally extra-scientific commitments, of upholding the free will assumption. They so casually define science as "the quest for a rational model of the physical world that doesn't contradict free will."
Richard Double wrote the most indispensable philosophy book about the free will debate, pointing out that freewill-committed philosophers (or freewill-committed scientists) are driven by an axiomatic, pre-theoretical commitment to defending and upholding a free will-based theory of ethics and moral philosophy, rather than following where reason and scientific discovery leads.
People talk about how science was discovered to ultimately be nonrational, but that is a completely debatable and unfortunate dominant historical accident: science, or not science at all but rather scientists, chose Copenhagenism, choose to reject hidden variables, kicked out and insulted Einstein, ignored Bohm, and then finally admitted the good sense of hidden variables only to reject it as unacceptable because of violating the freewill assumption.
Was this "science", we had in the 20th Century? After Relativity, Physics wasn't actually science at all, it's been something else -- science driven by and used for extra-scientific commitments and constraints.
Science was treated as the queen of the domains, Physics was treated as the queen of the sciences, and QM was treated as the queen of Physics, yet look which path those quasi-scientists chose -- the path of unreason and gleeful embrace of mystification, the path of magical mind-over-matter, the path of free will, rejecting a comprehensible, deterministic hidden-variables model out of hand, for reasons having nothing to do with science.
I don't necessarily agree with any reasoning in the theories of QM physicists -- I completely abandoned trust in them, with a sense of deep betrayal, the moment the professor favorably presented Copenhagenism to my class. Does the one coherent QM hidden-variables model require abandoning the freewill assumption? Bell says it does, but I trust no connections these distorters of science claim to make.
At least, Bell's train of reasoning does certainly reveal the extra-scientific nature of some of his main motives that he mixes into his notion of science and reason, including, as Double points out, his notion of what science is *for* and what its goals are. As a kind of determinist, I characteristically reject the notion that science ought to be guided by an assumed pre-theoretical commitment to upholding the freewill assumption.