The following is a blog detailing the aftereffects of the thoughts engendered after posting the blog "On Consciousness Existing Outside of Space-Time" in the philosophy subreddit of Reddit.
I recently posted the "On Consciousness Existing Outside of Space-Time" blog onto Reddit and have been receiving lots of views and feedback from users. All praise is due to God. Some of the feedback was people's attempts to poke holes in the idea of consciousness not being bound by space-time. In these attempts, I was able to expound further on the idea. I am going to post the arguments that further elaborated on this idea here and my subsequent responses:
A user on Reddit asked "Are computers also out of spacetime?"
The reason for this question, from my understanding, is that he was trying to imply that because a computer contains information of many different programs, software, code, books, videos, etc. in every present moment, that this proves that consciousness could also be like this computer existing within space-time with all of the different languages, ideas, images, knowledge, etc. ready to call the information forward. In other words, that because a computer is physical, and is obviously not outside of space-time, that somehow the computer and consciousness could be interchangeable, thus proving that consciousness could be physical like the computer.
My reply to him in a summarized form was that, just because a computer contains all of the information required to call up various different programs, software, code, books, videos, etc. the information contained by the computer still requires space-time in order to process the information and exhibit it to us in the present moment. In other words, my argument was that information could exist abstractly as a whole like a code in a computer in the present moment, but that even these abstract wholes that exist presently in the computer, are still only pieces that do not become exhibited until they are processed by the computer, moment by moment, bound by space-time.
The following is exactly what I wrote back to them (another user was also commenting about the same time) in response:
"Information exists abstractly but has to be processed bit by bit through successive present moments. You just proved my argument.
Your computer can exist in different states physically, successively moment by moment, but your computer cannot exist in every state that it has ever been in all at once. Or exhibit all of the videos all at once on your screen in a way that you can understand. The information has to be processed successively bit by bit.
Why? Because your computer is bound, just as you are, by space-time. I do not think that you understood the ideas completely. You use the term a week later, to be able to watch a Beyonce video, but I just explained to you that we take in bits of information in the present moment bit by bit. A week ago you were in a different present moment so you were able to watch the Joe Rogan video. A week later you are in a different present moment. You cannot be in both moments in one moment of time. The whole information of the Joe Rogan video resides in your hard drive as a whole of information abstractly as numbers but has to be processed so you can understand it. You cannot view that whole of information all at once in the present moment. All the information in your computer exists in a certain state, but you cannot view all of the videos or take in all of the information from your computer all at once.
I never argued that information can not exist abstractly as symbols or titles in every present moment. The seed of the tree has all the information it needs (you do not see the information, to you it exists abstractly just like the videos on your computer) in order to grow into a tree with the triggers of sunlight and water and air and good earth. However, the tree goes through a successive moment by moment process of growth in order to exhibit all of the information of the seed growing into a tree. And the seed also requires outside information in each successive moment, in the form of water, earth, sunlight, and air. The information in the seed requires the outside information from the water, earth, sunlight, and air in various successive moments in order for it to eventually become a tree. When it grows into a tree it exists once again confined in that moment, but only in one of it's forms, from the information of the seed's interaction with the sunlight, the water, the air and the earth. The information of the seed is not displayed to you all at once. The whole history of the tree exists abstractly, and exists potentially in the seed presently, until it is given more information (sunlight, water, earth, and air) and processed moment by moment in successive stages.
Also, I did not argue that you can not have 5,000 videos on your computer, existing at once, I argued that you can't view them all at once, and that they only exist abstractly until you view them. All the information on your computer exists abstractly until it is processed. Just as all the information for the process of the seed turning into the tree exists abstractly and potentially until it is given more information (sunlight, earth, air, water) and processed. The videos exist in an abstract sense as bits of information and titles to videos until they are processed and viewed by you. Your consciousness is that which can view this process of unfolding information, and create a coherent whole from all of that information known as the history of the video, and then also understand the meaning of the video.
If you were to tell me, that you can view all videos at one time, on some, crazy 5,000 screen mechanism. Your mind would not be able to digest all of that information properly at once. You wouldn't be able to tell me what any of the movies were about because you would be confused. In the same way, you cannot be in 5,000 moments at one time.
Also, I never said that consciousness is information. I said that consciousness is that which takes in the information, processes it, into a coherent whole from successive pieces and then views that coherent whole in order to understand it's meaning.
I think there was a disconnect in your understanding of my blog, because I go into detail explaining that consciousness itself cannot be these abstract wholes of information, because it has to stand outside the wholes of information to understand them."
One of the users then commented that Matter is not information (since I used the seed turning into a tree metaphor, to explain the computer's ability of processing abstract information that exists abstractly and potentially in the seed). To this I did not get to respond, but would like to do so here:
Information in the thermal dynamic interpretation is an ordered state that is not chaotic and can be quantized and measured. In other words, matter that has some kind of order, can be viewed as information. Since atoms of different elements are structured by the number of protons, electrons, and neutrons etc. matter can be viewed as information. That is why I stated that the information in the seed has to be triggered by the information of the sunlight, air, earth, and water, and then it has to be processed within space-time.
In the final sentence of the comment, one of the users decided to state that consciousness is bound by space-time but we cannot understand how, because it's laws are not contained presently in our physical scientific theories (Quantum Mechanics, General Relativity). In response to this, I ended with the following:
"As to what you said in your final sentence stating that it isn't that consciousness is not outside of space-time, but that it's laws are not describable within the theoretical framework of general relativity or quantum theory, I would have to state, that consciousness can not be described by these physical theories, because they are physical theories, proving my point again. If everything physical is supposed to be described by these theories, and you are stating that consciousness is physical, then consciousness should be explained by these theories. The very fact that consciousness cannot be explained by physical theory, is a proof in my favor that consciousness is not bound by space-time."
In other words, that it is precisely because Consciousness is not bound by space-time that it cannot be explained by the current physical theories.
Another interesting comment attempted to frame my idea into a dualistic understanding of reality. Since, the user was mentioning that I was creating a sort of split between space-time and consciousness. To this user I responded with the following:
"This is a good answer, and I applaud the effort taken to define it. However, I have not established dualism just yet. I believe there has to be something that acts as a bridge between consciousness and space-time, otherwise they could not interact or coexist. This bridge between consciousness and space-time, or the method by which they interact, would place this idea on the road to unity, instead of duality. So, basically it was not my intention to create a schism between space-time and consciousness implying duality. I admit that there has to be unity between the sphere of space-time and the sphere of consciousness, otherwise, like stated previously we could not exist in the way we do. A bridge between consciousness and space-time would be the next necessary piece to the structure of this idea, in order to keep the unity and successful interaction between both realms."
This bridge between space-time and consciousness is something that I would like to add to further here from some of my recent readings of the Quran and Hadith. Just to be clear here though, I am not stating anything absolutely but that there are some interesting ideas that coincided with the idea of a bridge between space-time and consciousness, and God knows best.
In the Afterlife recordings by Anwar Al-Awlaki, track 06, he states that Jewish rabbis came to the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and asked him the following question:
"Where would the human beings be, on the day when the earth would change and the heavens would change? Where will the people be?"
(He is referring to the day of Judgment.)
To which Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) responded that "They will be in the darkness beside the bridge"
Now, I found this very interesting, because the earth and the heavens refers to everything that is physically existing within space-time. In our knowledge of the physical universe, there is nothing beyond the earth and the heavens. The heavens encompasses everything that we can see with our technology and physical instruments. In other words, the limit of human sight using telescopes and all of the other gadgets that we have at our disposal.
So how is it that there could still exist a physical bridge, if everything physical is being destroyed and recreated? And how is it that human beings could be in the darkness beside this bridge? Would the bridge, not have to be something that exists outside of physical space-time as we know it? Could Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) be referring to the consciousness of human beings existing in the darkness next to this bridge that will remain between consciousness and space-time while the physical universe is being destroyed and recreated? In other words, this bridge, has to remain so that humans can have access again to the recreated earth and heavens, as well as paradise.
Something else that I saw recently, yesterday to be precise, is from the Quran in Surah Ar-Rahman, Ayah 33. Where Allah states "O company of jinn and mankind, if you are able to pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, then pass. You will not pass except by authority [from Allah ]."
What is there to pass beyond, if the heavens and the earth, refers to everything physically existing in space-time? So here, we have, an ayah stating that there is something beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth. Could that which is beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, be the realm of consciousness, which is our link to the divine One? We know that God is outside of space-time, and that we require a link to that divine One which resides outside of space-time. Is human consciousness as we know it, this link or bridge to the divine one?
In the end, I realized from one of the user's comments that he was expecting and wanting for consciousness to be bound by space-time, because he believes that consciousness can be an emergent property from out of the computations in the brain. In other words, he believes that matter on it's own is capable of achieving consciousness from mere physical computations. This is a very strong belief in computer science and it stems from attempting to understand the universe from a bottom up view. In fact, it is what is driving the goal of achieving a conscious machine, which to many computer scientists, is the end game of Artificial Intelligence. To this assertion, I responded with a response that I will leave at the end of the blog, but I would also like to respond now with extra proof that machines could never acquire consciousness. Godel proved that every logical mathematical system will always contain truths that cannot be explained by that system. In other words, every mathematical system will always be incomplete, in that there will always be truths that cannot be proved by it. Since consciousness requires the ability to process in real time and always have the capacity to reach new truths, then consciousness cannot be an organized system of abstract code that computes itself from what it already contains in the system, if it expects to always reach higher truths. Consciousness always has to have the capacity to reach new truths that are not contained by a set system of code in order to reach higher levels of elevation. Godel's brilliant proof should be studied more by anyone attempting to argue that a physical system containing information could become aware or conscious of itself through mere computations. In this very camp of mathematicians and philosophers I would also like to add that Roger Penrose also does not believe that a machine becoming conscious is possible due to the aforementioned.
Finally, here is my response to that very user who is expecting for consciousness to be something that is bound by space-time, because he follows this bottom up view of materialist scientific philosophy. "You are a materialist philosopher and I am a Neo-Platonist philosopher. You think that things build themselves from the bottom up. I believe that there are higher realms from which matter takes it's form. I believe in the One, spoken of by Al-Kindi and Plotinus and many other philosophers. You probably do not believe in a hierarchy of levels and you probably believe that there is no God and that there is no afterlife and that there is only this world and that's it. If this is so, then we are never going to see eye to eye on anything having to do with many philosophical subject matters including consciousness. Consciousness to me, does not emerge from matter but rather it belongs to a higher realm. That is why our consciousness controls our matter (body). There has to be some sort of bridge between consciousness and space-time in order for this to be so, but consciousness itself cannot be bound by space-time. The abilities that consciousness is capable of, should not be possible. Our bodies are not the same as they were 10 years ago, yet most of us still retain the same sense of self. If consciousness were physical then this persistent sense of our (I) should not be possible. That is just one example of why I think that consciousness exists in a higher realm that is not subject to this physical realm, but rather that the physical realm is subject to the higher realm of consciousness. I appreciated the discussion, but as I said before I do not think that we will ever agree. I say that we just part here, and continue on our paths."
Now, I commented this, but I have to state here now, that I am not a Neo-Platonist in a 100% sense of that term. I am a Neo-Platonist when it comes to the description of the higher realms of perfect forms and ideas. I am a Muslim first and foremost, but I have found that Neo-Platonist philosophy coincides in many ways with my religious beliefs. Whenever Neo-Platonism does not agree with our revealed information, I do not admit it into my corpus of thought.
Upon further analysis of using the idea of the persistent conscious knowledge of the self (I) even though space-time has metaphorically "passed" in order to prove that consciousness cannot be physical, one could argue that this is not true for Alzheimer's patients, or those who suffer from memory loss due to physical trauma or due to old age. I went into another dialogue on how to explain this and why this occurs within these people. Here is the main argument of that dialogue of which it might be further expanded upon later; Can consciousness still reside outside of space-time, if events that occur within space-time such as diseases, shocks, trauma, degeneration or old age appear to severely affect it?
My answer to this, is that yes it can. Why? And more importantly how?
Since the human self (I) knows that it is not really bound by this physical realm, Alzheimer's could represent a partial detachment of the consciousness of the human being from it's physical body due to the consciousness's acknowledgement that it's physical vessel is becoming damaged or incapable of allowing itself to manifest it's actions completely through the physical body. This would explain why the causes of Alzheimer's are currently not known but it is thought to have to do with the brain's proteins not functioning normally. The same could be said about shocks, trauma, degeneration and old age.
The consciousness's knowledge of it's superiority to the physical is shaken from it's former attachment to the physical body due to these physical shocks, diseases, trauma, and old age. It detaches itself partially from it's connection to the physical by retreating. It is as if it is shocked away from the physical organism and begins to retreat to the higher realm of consciousness, and the physical manifestation of this retreat is loss of memory, sense of self, and other physically measurable abilities. In other words, memory loss or physical manifestations of the loss of consciousness is not proof that consciousness is being affected physically, but only that it is retreating from it's connection (bridge) into the physical realm (space-time). We cannot measure the realm where it is retreating into (conscious realm), because all we measure on our physical end are the physical manifestations of a disconnect between the consciousness and the physicality of the organism. There are examples of people who were in accidents and who severely damaged areas of the brain that were thought to house certain functions of the body. These people had the ability to use different parts of the brain for language after the area that was thought to be for language was damaged. This could only be explained by consciousness not being physical and having the ability to manipulate the physical body for it's purposes of continuing to manifest it's dominance over the physical body.
I will end this blog here. But I am curious as to the response this new blog will receive. There are many ideas in here that require expansion and I have recently found that the best way for this to happen is through the feedback of other conscious people. No man or woman is an island or what not, and all that cliche jazz, although sometimes we might wish we could be, lol.
Copyright 2020 by Jimmy Eleazar Vargas de Sanchez. All rights reserved.