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James Hoover: on 3/26/17 at 17:27pm UTC, wrote Stefan, Probably more metaphorical, relating to the "butterfly effect,"...

Stefan Weckbach: on 3/25/17 at 8:51am UTC, wrote Dear Rajiv, thank you so much for reading and commenting on what i wrote. ...

Stefan Weckbach: on 3/25/17 at 8:48am UTC, wrote Dear James, thank you for reading and commenting and for your kind words. ...

Rajiv Singh: on 3/22/17 at 11:58am UTC, wrote Dear Stefan Weckbach, Twists and turns presented with the force of logic,...

James Hoover: on 3/22/17 at 6:25am UTC, wrote Stefan, "Although quantum mechanics has formalized the microscopic world...

Stefan Weckbach: on 3/18/17 at 15:02pm UTC, wrote Hi Stefan, thanks for your clarifications. I understood that you didn't...

Stefan Keppeler: on 3/18/17 at 14:11pm UTC, wrote Dear Stefan thank you for your long reply. You write: "I think here you...

Peter Jackson: on 3/18/17 at 12:03pm UTC, wrote Stefan, (copy) I did so & published the algorithm in 2014. You had the...


Eckard Blumschein: "Lorraine, Thank you for addressing basics of mathematics. You refer to..." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

Eckard Blumschein: "Georgina, I apologize. Lorraine, Must "an economic system be found that..." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

James Putnam: ""The math time = 1/nu defines time ... " Nu is cycles/second. 1/nu is..." in Alternative Models of...

Steve Agnew: "Your work has shown how normal physics like S&Z mass, length, and time have..." in Alternative Models of...

kab: "The word is enternal magic. Hope all secret never has answer will be out..." in Does Quantum Weirdness...

Robert McEachern: ""According to QBism, the wavefunction is no longer to be thought of as an..." in Painting a QBist Picture...

Robert McEachern: ""We’re interested in what distinguishes the behaviour of particles in the..." in Bohemian Reality:...

Steve Agnew: "...oh yeah, I forgot to mention quantum Bayes or QBism, which is another..." in Bohemian Reality:...

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Bohemian Reality: Searching for a Quantum Connection to Consciousness
Is there are sweet spot where artificial intelligence systems could have the maximum amount of consciousness while retaining powerful quantum properties?

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The Spacetime Revolutionary
Carlo Rovelli describes how black holes may transition to "white holes," according to loop quantum gravity, a radical rewrite of fundamental physics.

Riding the Rogue Quantum Waves
Could giant sea swells help explain how the macroscopic world emerges from the quantum microworld? (Image credit: MIT News)

March 27, 2017

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: In Search of The Meaning of Meaning by Stefan Weckbach [refresh]
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This essay's rating: Community = 5.2; Public = 4.6

Author Stefan Weckbach wrote on Jan. 18, 2017 @ 21:40 GMT
Essay Abstract

There is no reason to think that mankind has already explored all the mysteries of nature. One such mystery is the dichotomy between mind and matter. It is argued that science should take terms like goals, intentions and meaning more seriously, because it could turn out that these concepts play a more crucial role within the grand scheme of things than science has thought of until now.

Author Bio

The author's main scientific interests are mathematical undecidability, algorithmic information theory, questions concerning consciousness, human free will and logics. Additionally he is interested in various interpretational questions about quantum mechanics.

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Stephen I. Ternyik wrote on Jan. 22, 2017 @ 10:54 GMT
It is a real pleasure to read your research article from time to time Mr.Weckbach; the essay is among my preferred favorites. The search for the meaning of meaning or a physics of consciousness belongs to the intersection of science and religion, that is for me personally humanity's level about the knowledge of an eternal and creative upper force, i.e. the existence of space and time has a 'higher' purpose, in terms of 'altruistic' science as the opposite to intellectual egotism. In any case, true meaning waits to be discovered.Best: s.ternyik

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Jan. 22, 2017 @ 12:32 GMT
Thank you Stephen for reading and commenting and for the positive feedback. If someone can benefit from what i wrote, then i am really happy and have achieved one of my goals in writing an essay at all. Another goal is to make people sensitive to some possible prejudices they might have about what science can achieve and what it can't. Science has 'evolved' nearly to the degree that it is considered by many people today as a kind of religion (that does not allow other religions to exist besides of it). Science and religion have both their limits, but i am convinced that if there is a higher purpose (and i believe there is), this purpose encompasses that human beings are able to find broad hints of it in many areas.

Best wishes

Stefan Weckbach

Jose P. Koshy wrote on Jan. 28, 2017 @ 17:26 GMT
Stefan Weckbach,

I read your essay; it appears that you are a believer. It is good; it will help you in harsh times. I will call you a lucky man.

Quoting you,"If there is goal-oriented ... should have its roots in a more knowing and more potent conscious agent". Then logic requires that you explain how the "more knowing and more potent conscious agent" got the knowledge and consciousness; it may require a still more potent conscious agent, and so on. Then why should you limit it to just two levels? So I think it would be better to stop with just one level by stating that 'there may be a goal oriented behavior in the universe'.

Healing is done by the body itself; medication just helps the body to cure by itself. If the body loses its healing power, no amount of medicine will work. Belief has the power of both healing and aggravating, even if the belief is totally false. As long as the belief does not aggravate your condition, but provides you with some healing effect, it is good, even if it a false belief. So it is practically good to believe in a 'more potent conscious agent' who protects us.

Near death experience is a hallucination created when you feel that something abnormal is happening to your body. Interpretation of near death experience is just like interpretation of dreams; it has nothing to do with "a more potent conscious agent" if any.

Jose P Koshy

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Jan. 29, 2017 @ 08:31 GMT
Dear Jose, thank you for reading my essay an commenting on it. I respect your considerations, although i do not automatically share them.

Let me explain why i do not automatically share them.

I don’t think that logics necessarily does require an explanation of the existence of ‘the more potent conscious agent’. The reason is twofold. Firstly, if time and space are not fundamental, logics requires the assumption that there should be a realm beyond space and time. In your essay, you take space and time as fundamental. If true, then logics would require one to ask what created the ‘more potent conscious agent’ in time. But since your framework is causally closed hermetically, this question does not make sense, along with the assumption that a ‘God’ could be possible or would be needed as an explanation of all the questions that can be posed by conscious beings.

Secondly, whether or not space and time are fundamental, one has to presuppose certain assumptions to be given. In your essay, this is an enternally pulsating universe. In my opinion, logics does require an explanation of how an uncaused eternal universe shoule come into being, since the framework within your assumed universe deals explicitly only with physical causes and effects in time. Even if one assumes space and time as not fundamental, logic would require to explain how the abstract mechanisms came into being that facilitated space and time.

In the case of assuming ‘God’ to be existent and space and time are not fundamental (as i do), one is logically forced to assume that ‘God’ is an eternal fact (there would be no need to install a ‘much more potent conscious agent’ to explain what brought ‘God’ into existence, because God is considered by me as beyond physical time) same as you assume that a pulsating universe is an eternal fact, or some quantum physicists assume that the rules of quantum mechanics are an abstract eternal fact.

In ALL scenarios i mentioned, one thing surely remaines unexplained, namely how it can be that there exists logics at all to come to some meaningful – and sometimes even true – conclusions about the world. By meaningful, i also mean that logics is able to facilitate consistent relationships at all, independent of wether they meet reality at all or not. Additionally, in ALL scenarios i mentioned, the possible assumptions or conclusions cannot be proven or falsified rigourosly. All our tools, including logics, are not sufficient to enable the provability of such assumptions.

In a strictly deterministic, physically closed universe, healing is a matter of certain physical properties interacting with each other according to some (mathematical) governing laws. Beliefs would have no causal powers. But i see no logical reason to believe the possibility that physicalism is all there is.

Jose P. Koshy wrote on Jan. 29, 2017 @ 14:13 GMT
Stefan Weckbach,

Quoting you, "one is logically forced to assume that ‘God’ is an eternal fact". Yes, I agree with you, it is an assumption that can neither be proven nor falsified.

As I pointed out in the thread you started in my essay, freewill is possible only in a deterministic world; similarly, belief can have causal powers only in a determinitisc world. In a random world, things happen arbitrarily. (It is to be noted that this explanation depends on how we define determinism and randomness).

Jose P koshy

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Feb. 10, 2017 @ 06:26 GMT
Stefan Weckbach,

We first met with my 2009 essay on consciousness, and we seemed simpatico then. I find your current essay power packed and fail understand why it has seen so little action. Perhaps because you began by noting that "it seems to be impossible to talk about goals, intentions and meaning without some kind of reference to human experience", whereas many authors have the goal of showing consciousness to emerge mechanistically. [My own essay considers experience the predominant aspect.]

You clearly state a conclusion I too have arrived at: "a strictly deterministic [no 'will'] evolution ... leaves no room for the subject to change the course of events in any way." Therefore 'awareness' has no value, since it cannot act, hence no Darwinian worth, and would not be selected for. For me that disposes of the will question, in favor of will.

And you make the most convincing argument I've come across against 'mindless math' producing anything. It is so powerful that I quote you in my essay [thank you]. You point out that from Godel we conclude that "relatively simple mathematical systems, although they are consistent, must remain incomplete" but the mathematical system cannot itself formalize this conclusion! This is a killer argument against "the complete formalizability of all that exists." It seems inescapable that "there is more to existence than mathematical structures ever can deliver."

With these two examples of inescapable logic you have in essence answered key questions that this essay contest is searching for. Congratulations. I think you need more visibility.

Best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 11, 2017 @ 10:23 GMT
Dear Edwin Eugene Klingman,

thank you for reading and commenting and for the positive feedback.

This year’s essay topic is quite difficult to tackle and i am glad that you appreciate my attempts. Some researchers on the origins of consciousness (and free will) have changed their attempts to tackle the problem by starting from the phenomenological properties of consciousness (e.g. Tononi or Donald Hoffman) instead of starting by reducing it via material correlations.

The underlying lines of reasoning for them are, i think, that we know today that reality is (or at least in a scientific framework should be) a consistent whole. Consciousness therefore isn’t anymore handled as just an ‘epiphenomenon’, a kind of accident, by these researchers, but as a significant part of reality; the latter seems natural to me due to the fact that without consciousness, no science would be possible and the term ‘consistent’ would have no objective meaning; without consciousness, consistence or inconsistence would be both meaningless terms, because such ‘terms’ simply wouldn’t exist. So the fact that they do exist together with consciousness should be not pushed aside to easily.

I think Gödel’s results are somewhat underrated when it comes to questions that try to tackle problems at the borders of our logic and our understanding. The mind-body problem is just such a problem. It remains unresolved for what i think is due to the difficulty to unify an assumed physically closed worldview (consisting of only deterministic necessities) with an open worldview (mainly the ability of consciousness to ‘imagine’ counterfactual things or to imagine things that can’t be proven to be counterfactual in nature or not).

I think if we take logics seriously and not as another cosmic ‘accident’ in the grand scheme of existence, then we are forced to assume our universe to be the result of a meaningful event in the past - if one believes there was a big bang at all. Besides the latter, even an eternal physical universe should not rule out realms beyond space and time, realms where logics itself has its origins. For me, logics – like Gödel’s results – indicates that there must be such a realm. Even if one assumes that all that exists did come into existence via an ‘accident’, or out of literally ‘nothing’, this ‘nothing’ nonetheless must have at least one well defined property, namely the possibility to produce ‘something’. If this logical reasoning holds true (and i think it does), then ‘nothing’ as the origin of everything is a misnomer – it is bound to a kind of logic in the first place to produce something at all, namely the logic that it is possible at all. Otherwise we are wandering in a kind of magical world.

I will take a look at your essay!

Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Feb. 10, 2017 @ 16:24 GMT

You write between pages 2 and 3:

The picture described here implies that the physical universe as a whole is an open system and that conscious beings are too.

My essay is about the requirement for an open universe for there to exist consciousness. I largely argue for an open universe according to quantum entanglements. Your essay then proceeds to talk about Godel's theorem, where I in turn discuss Malament-Hogarth spacetimes that serve as a hyper-turing machine. My essay looks at this issue from a somewhat different angle.

It has been a sideline question for me for a long time as to what role Godel's theorem plays in physics. I tend to think it has a role in the measurement problem. If we think of a measurement as a quantum system being coupled to a larger quantum system that as a whole is performing at least partially a self-measurement this is a self-referential loop. Maybe the inability to understand quantum measurement from the foundations of quantum mechanics is because of axiomatic incompleteness of quantum logico- algebraic system. This is also connected with black holes as well, where the apparent loss of entanglement according to a local observer is similar to a measurement.

I think the universe is in some sense set up as an open system to permit the probability for conscious entities. I don't go into great depth on the nature of consciousness, though as with you I think it is emergent from self-referential incompleteness. I do however, think consciousness is more approximately self-referential, which is what cuts it off from infinite regressions.

I will give your essay a score of 9. I reduce it 1 point because the mention of near death experiences and such testimonies does not seem right. However, over all your essay was great!

Cheers LC

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 11, 2017 @ 10:33 GMT
Dear Lawrence B. Crowell,

thank you for reading and commenting and for your scoring.

I read your essay a few days ago but have to re-read it to fully capture it.

I think Gödel’s results, as simple as they appear on first sight, are a profound result about the structure of reality. I think you are on the right track by handling reality as an open ‘system’. And yes, entanglement seems to play a crucial role in this by measuring subsystems and thereby turing their possibilities into consistencies, thereby procuding new entanglement. So one could say this is a kind of evolving process, a process seemingly not determined to the last detail. Otherwise Darwinian evolution, or to say it better, selection processes wouldn’t make any sense in nature.

You mentioned another important area, namely the measurement problem, or stated differently, the axiomatic basis of quantum mechanics. Here i think, and i have the impression that you do also, that Gödel’s results are somewhat related to it. The crucial point here for me is, that to find natural axioms to complete some formal systems is not at all a simple task because one always has to differenciate between a necessity and a possibility. How can a mathematician unevocally know that a certain axiom is necessary instead of simply only possible? This problem is tied to the ‘problem’ that we live in a seemingly contingent world where things happen which cannot be explained by mere mechanical terms. For example the fact that Kennedy was shot – was this inevitable due to some laws of physics / nature or not? Surely it was possible to happen (otherwise it did not happen), but was it also *necessary* in the sense that it could not have been avoided by any action in the universe?

The problem of contingence plays a similar role when one tries to completely axiomatize a formal system. I suspect that some claims about the validity of Gödel’s results (by questioning some of his used axioms in his proofs) stems from the dichotomy between a necessity and a possibility.

I too think that consciousness is only approximately self-referential. In my opinion it surely has some elements of self-referentiality, but i wouldn’t reduce it just to the property of self-referentiality. There must be some other properties of consciousness that make a difference between a mere description, a representation of reality in a conscious mind, and the qualia of it. Representation and mere data processing doesn’t do the job, i think. Consciousness seems to have the ability to simply be aware of some reality without judging or interpreting it. It then is in a state to be aware of the existence of something, simply as it appears to this consciousness. How qualia does fit in there, i do not really know for sure. I suspect that the real meaning of our qualia (e.g. the subjective feeling of seing red) do reside beyond spacetime in a realm where the answers to the question about the objective meaning of existence also resides.

I didn’t fully grasp what you meant by a ‘hyper-turing machine’. What is the difference of this machine to a UTM?

I will re-read your essay and try to comment on your essay page.

Lawrence B. Crowell replied on Feb. 11, 2017 @ 21:35 GMT
It may have come to your notice that mention of Gödel's theorem in physics circles brings up pretty negative reactions and comments. I can in part see why that is the case. Gödel's theorem has some rather negative implications for the ability to do physics. It also has not had the impact on mathematics that Godel himself thought it might.

The idea that quantum measurement problems were...

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Avtar Singh wrote on Feb. 10, 2017 @ 23:41 GMT
Dear Stefan:

Enjoyed reading your excellent essay. You have pointed out two key insights that could lead to the development of an integrated scientific model as presented in my paper - "FROM LAWS TO AIMS & INTENTIONS - A UNIVERSAL MODEL INTEGRATING MATTER, MIND, CONSCIOUSNESS, AND PURPOSE."

The first insight is that the universe is alive and conscious as you say- "If there is...

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 12, 2017 @ 07:27 GMT
Dear Avtar Singh,

thank you for reading and commenting and for your positive feedback.

I read your essay and left a comment on your page

Best regards,

Stefan Weckbach

Avtar Singh replied on Feb. 13, 2017 @ 22:12 GMT
Dear Stefan Weckbach

Thank you very much for reading my paper as well as your kind comments.

I would appreciate it very much if you could please rate my paper.

Best Regards


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Member George F. R. Ellis wrote on Feb. 12, 2017 @ 06:01 GMT
Nice essay. You are getting at a key problem with much modern day thought. Well done.

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 12, 2017 @ 07:30 GMT
Dear George Ellis,

thank you for having read my essay and for your positive feedback!

Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 12, 2017 @ 22:17 GMT
Dear Stefan Weckbach,

Thank you for excellent essay….

In your reply to Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Feb. 10, You also accepted you think it is an open universe.

In an open universe all the radiation emitted from Stars, Galaxies goes out of universe at the velocity of light. In your opinion where that radiation goes, will that not be a part of the universe …?



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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 13, 2017 @ 18:09 GMT
Dear Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta,

thank you for reading and commenting and for your question.

Due to current physical theories, radiation that was produced in 3D space, remains in 3D space. Thhis should be the case whether space is infinite or finite. In the latter case, there are hindsights that the universe began as a 'big bang', space and time did emerge from some other process. Space expands in the far field of the universe with v > c, so that no light does ever reach a point where space does end.

By 'open' i mean not the case that space does end 'somewhere' far out at the borders of our universe, but i mean that it is interwoven within another dimension, different from space and time. Again, hindsights are there for this in form of spontaneous particle creation / annihilation and the energy / time uncertainty relation. So, with 'open' it is meant another dimension, indicated by quantum mechanical processes measureable in our universe; the latter seems to be open in the sense that what we think as our universe isn't causally closed, but open. Surely, the latter also indicates that it is an open question what rules reside in this other dimension. Personally, i think these rules should have something to do with life, consciousness and intentionality.

Anonymous replied on Feb. 13, 2017 @ 19:20 GMT
Hi Stefan,

I enjoyed reading your essay - I think you are getting at something important. I intend to read it a few more times.

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta replied on Feb. 20, 2017 @ 23:18 GMT
Thank you Stefan,

Your words… “..By 'open' i mean not the case that space does end 'somewhere' far out at the borders of our universe, but i mean that it is interwoven within another dimension, different from space and time. Again, hindsights are there for this in form of spontaneous particle creation / annihilation and the energy / time uncertainty relation. So, with 'open' it is meant another dimension, indicated by quantum mechanical processes measureable in our universe”… are good explanation.

Why do you want to use imaginary dimensions? Three space dimensions and one time dimension are sufficient to explain all the anomalies………..

Please use Dynamic Universe Model, no imagination…

……….No Isotropy; No Homogeneity; No Space-time continuum; Non-uniform density of matter(Universe is lumpy); No singularities; No collisions between bodies; No Blackholes; No warm holes; No Bigbang; No repulsion between distant Galaxies; Non-empty Universe; No imaginary or negative time axis; No imaginary X, Y, Z axes; No differential and Integral Equations mathematically; No General Relativity and Model does not reduce to General Relativity on any condition; No Creation of matter like Bigbang or steady-state models; No many mini Bigbangs; No Missing Mass; No Dark matter; No Dark energy; No Bigbang generated CMB detected; No Multi-verses etc.

I got many results published…

Have a look at:

Best Regards


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Yehuda Atai wrote on Feb. 16, 2017 @ 15:29 GMT
Dear Stefan

Thanks for your article that debates around the possibilities of meaning base information. From my observation the space is full of relations between 2 or more existents and the relation itself hold the potential action for each existent in he relation. Meaning based information exists when there is a possibility for at least one action to the relating Existants. If there is no potential for at least one action (conscious or unconscious) there is no relations between the existents. Causality works as a special case in the finitude life of the phenomenon. Causality does not evolve the phenomena in general. Therefore, reality is contingent and possible, and not predetermined. The forces of nature that we know works within the framework of the Phenomena but they are special cases where the relationship hold only one (even statistically) possible outcome. The selection of potential action from a range of potentials by a self organization depends on the actual State of the self organization and the attributes it has for its movements. I claim that a movement are not only the 3-4 measurable attributes we used in physics but rather 20 attributes that allow the self organization to be unique in its existence whether it is a grain of sand or a human being.

Thanks again since I use the term of Operating meaning in my book: "generators theory", and I claim that the space is a composite of these natural language of operating meanings.

Here, at FQXi contest, I wrote an article about the attributes of the movement without getting into the space of Operating Meaning. The essay name is: "we are together, therefore I am".


yehuda atai

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 18, 2017 @ 07:02 GMT
Dear Yehuda Atai,

thank you for reading and commenting.

You mention that causality does not evolve the phenomena in general. I think you are right about this, otherwise one would end up with a picture i described in my essay. The question though is how unphysical causes are connected to physical stuff. Movement is important insofar as it indicates activity, even on the quantum level. Activity also seems to be an attribute of consciousness, although there are also states of consciousness where the latter seems to be totally passive.

I’ll take a look at your essay.

Peter Jackson wrote on Feb. 16, 2017 @ 15:56 GMT

Nicely written essay with some good, pertinent and interesting points well put. But before discussing content; the one part \I stumbled over- did you really mean; "circumscribed' as different.." and I'm no sure 'energetical' is actually a word!? I think I knew what you meant anyway as circumscribed may suggest 'enclosed together' while also different.

On content, I found agreement with most, indeed our essays do have various commonalities. I agree; "The question arises in which sense nature should not be fully formalizable" but I suggest a rather more defined answer- which links to your interest in; interpretational questions about quantum mechanics I think and hope you may very much like and agree with my essay and will comment on it.

One thing I'm not sure you really meant, and that my essay may show might now be challengable; "..couldn’t deliver a coherent understanding of how goals and intentions can exist in a mindless physical universe." Do you suggest minds are not part of the universe? or did you really mean mindless mathematics?

Thanks for a high quality essay anyway.


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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 18, 2017 @ 07:08 GMT
Dear Peter,

thank you for reading and commenting.

You catched up with a version of my essay which i did alter in some details (accidentally FQXi uploaded the older version the first couple of days after posting the new one for eligibility) For a dualistic view of mind and matter, one needs two ingredients. First, one needs some commonalities and second, one needs some differences. I identify ‘activity’ as a commonality, i circumscribe it in physical terms as energetical vibrational patterns. I could have left out the term ‘energetical’, because ‘vibrational’ indicates activity, too. I define ‘energy’ as the potential to transform a potentiality into a factuality. This means that the world isn’t fully determined by mechanical causes and effects. I stumbled over an interesting approach to systematizise these lines of thought in physical terms by a researcher named Joachim Keppler. The reference to his work can be found in Avtar Singh’s essay, if you are interested in it.

With mindless universe i mean the widespread belief that the universe came into existence (or forever existed) without a higher purpose and our minds and insights into nature’s lawfullness are somewhat just an accident, a random fluctuation. I do not belief this scenario, but naturally it is hard to disprove it rigorously.

Thank you for your kind words and best wishes for your own attempt in the contest!

Peter Jackson replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 20:10 GMT

Response to your post on mine;

Yes, it'd be ideal if such major advancements were perceived immediately, but it never happens, as history shows. Big new physics is 'wrong', ignored, and finally 'self apparent'. In 2010 I estimated 10 years ('2020 Vision') so it's on track.

But there are no 'local hidden variables' in the model. Bell was correct. The 'secret' is found...

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 07:19 GMT
Dear Peter,

thanks for your reply.

I really read your essay, not skimmed it. You used 47 times the term ‘may’ in the sense of ‘it may be that’. Therefore and for the reason that i am not into cosmology, i don’t want to comment on the anomalies, paradoxes and inconsistencies you claim to have resolved. It only appears to me that you use two different modalities to...

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Feb. 16, 2017 @ 17:09 GMT
Hello Mr Weckbach,

Congratulations for your relevant general reasoning.I liked how you have interpreted the origin of consciousness in comparating two main systems, tha main entropical cause God or the accidental logic appearing of this consciousness.It was a relevant reading.Personaly I have inserted in my model of spherisation, God with logic also.I need this infinite potential to encircle better the kinetic distribution of energy and motions.The codes and informations of evolution are a reality,like if all was coded and followed the quiet harmonical road of encodings and increasing mass.The consciousness for me is a result of evolution.Our brains are fascinating like results of evolution.We continue at each instant to encode informations, spheronic(gravitation)and photonic.I ask me if a number of matter,of particles is necessary for this consciousness,like in the brains,is it just correlated with biology?the real ask is there in fact ? If the consciousness is gravitationa and that electromagnetism is just a fuel for interactions, si it becomes intriguing considering the mind body soul problem.Ithe biology is necessary or not ?That is the question,how can we understand better what is this consciousness.It is not easy in fact.Personaly I beleive that an AI is possible but not a consciousness correlated with our gravitational soul in fact.It is a subtil difference.But of course we arrive at a philosophical interpretation and how we must interpret this infinite consciousness,entropy,this eternity fractalising in fact this infnite potential and creating lifes, with matter energy evolution on this entropical irreversible Arrow of time in fact, gravitationally and electromagnetically speaking.It is not easy in fact all this puzzle.We search to understand the words, the music, the laws, the codes and informations of this infinity simply.So simple this generality, so complex these détails ....I am wishing you all the best Mr Weckbach in this contest.Best from Belgioum

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 18, 2017 @ 07:14 GMT
Dear Steve,

thank you very much for reading and commenting.

I hope you are well and i am happy that you participate in the discussions on FQXi. Yes, i too argue for a higher purpose of existence and i think spacetime isn’t all there is, same with physical systems. This does not imply that God is a nonphysical ‘system’, although i define the term God to be surely a nonphysical entity by the very means of its definition and of the definition of consciousness. I wished you would elaborate your model into an essay, so we could discuss commonalities and differences better. I think that spheres are important, they are not only archetypical forms, but for me, they also have archetypical content. For example the number Pi, defined as the ratio between the circumference and the diameter of a sphere nicely combines linear and circular features, leading to a number sequence which is statistically normal (random), but at the same time precisely calculatable. I do not think that the digit before the decimal point is ‘random’, the ‘3.’ is in my opinion an expression of the intricate link of a unity and its possibility to split it in two seemingly symmetrical parts by the diameter. Nonetheless the circle remains a unity, a unity with two complementary parts of it, resulting in a threesome composition. Think of the many threesome collections in nature: 3 spatial dimensions, 3 qualities of time (past, present, future), 3 classical states of matter, 3 generations of fermions, 3 components of atoms (electrons, neutrons, positrons), 3 color charges of gluons, 3 sentential connectives of propositional logics (not, or, and), 3 categories of classical metamathematics (completeness, consistence, decidability).

Wish you some further exciting readings of the essays and may the relevant solutions and insights come to you as a surprise and a gift!

Steve Dufourny replied on Feb. 18, 2017 @ 14:06 GMT
You are Welcome Mr Weckbach,

and I am thanking you also.I am a little better since the problems in belgium and death of my mom.I was very weak psychologically speaking.I try to evolve.

About phsycis,your line of reasoning is general and relevant.I love indeed to read this contest.The essays this year are very relevant.It is a real pleasure because I learn in the same...

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Feb. 21, 2017 @ 08:44 GMT

When I was a child, the church told me that science cannot prove or disprove God. May I ask you what consequences are to be derived? When the pope was asked for his opinion concerning uncontrolled limitless growth of population, he just expressed his hope for responsible parentship. Do people, who voted for Trump and Brexit, need to understand your message that the enigma of endless space can be resolved by believing in an additional dimension, a modern sort of heaven outside the sky?

I respect your attitude although mine is different.


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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 22, 2017 @ 20:09 GMT
Dear Eckard Blumschein,

good questions. Firstly, i am not convinced that the pope is an authority choosen by God. Secondly, i think that believing in God is not the point, but acting as if he would exist. Surely, for me, i claim that such an entity does exist, but it should make a difference then how i impart my values. We all know that acting according to the golden rule could make the world a better place. This is also a message from near-death experiencers. Another message is ‘learning’, respectively ‘education’. Overpopulation is a problem, indeed. I do not know in detail the reasons why there are so many people on the planet, it may have to do with the lack of prevention of pregnancy, but there are surely other reasons as well like having offspring which can fend for oneself if one gets old. If it is also due to some statements of popes, then I would say they are wrong with it.

Back to education. We live in a system (at least in the western world) where a person is evaluated by his/her manpower and/or his/her money. The system has accumulated gigantic amounts of wealth in very few person’s accounts – by all sorts of trickery. There’s a famous saying in the banking scence that goes ‘you will hold them dense, i will hold them poor’. Our educational systems, our advertising, our addictions of consumption, our fear to be excluded when we don’t please the mainstream and its ‘Zeitgeist’ makes us prisoners and are the tools by which a few individuals make most people dense and poor. Maybe these people are those who voted for Trump and the Brexit, but not necessarily. Look, we have 2017 now, the financial crisis began 2007. What has the world learned from it? Does a majority of people even know that there are 700 Billion dollar on CDO contracts out there? Don’t blame God or the non-existence of God for all this, humanity has overslept to invest in true education. By the latter i don’t mean education for some job, but education of the heart. In the western hemisphere, people go to work and then amuse themselves, a majority without ever thinking about philosophical or religious things, about how it is that they are here and where they probably go when they die.

There are no easy answers to these questions, but i think every human being should have thought about it once in a lifetime and should have searched for an answer without being biased by modern science. Who does regularily read books which are concerned with those questions? I would assume that most people are occupied with the trash on their handies or with cheap trash at the TV. Therefore i do not expect the majority of people to even understand what i have written in my essay or that they know of Gödel or some interpretations of quantum mechanics or about modern cosmology. But this isn’t a tragedy. The Tragedy is that modern science behaves like it is almighty. That’s the picture purported by science itself and by several magazines and tons of books – and most people believe it *without thinking for themselves*. They believe that science can know (or indeed does already know) all things and solve all problems. Think for yourself whether or not science can solve all problems. Personally, i think believing this would be extraordinarily naïve. Not until it is too late people will recognize that they believed in a false God, in an idol, and to be honest to you, there are so many false Gods out there, from money, science, fame, to personal potency. We live in an age of abuse, everybody misuses everybody (under the cloak of political correctness) and it is no wonder for me that individuals like Trump or others gain influence. As long as science does communicate that it has all the ultimate answers (although it doesn’t have them), you will see the ever same scenario of seducers giving the dense audience what it wants to hear / to read.

Dear Eckard Blumschein, i critizise science for its omnipotent behaviour, but the latter isn’t exclusively reserved for science, but an attribute of mankind in general. I know that some people do not like what they read here, but should i renounce my values just for some guys giving me some more points for my essay? I would be no better than the dense people i spoke of. Recognition of what i wrote will come or don’t come, and i do not expect it to come easy, for it is not the short success, but remaining values i search for. If you want people that have voted or not voted for Trump to be more intelligent, you should always admit the truth and the truth is that we both do not know if a God does indeed exist. It is a matter of belief, personal experience and of believing that certain aspects of science and other phenomenologies support such a worldview. So for people which lack the experience i spoke of in the last sentence: do not claim what you don’t know for sure and the world will be a slightly less confused place. Maybe it is too late to turn mankind into an overall intelligent community, but if true, this has nothing to do with God, it is then our fault. Therefore we as intelligent beings should begin here and now, every day. This is the minimum of what can be expected from people who are termed by FQXi as top thinkers in foundational questions.

Eckard Blumschein replied on Feb. 23, 2017 @ 17:38 GMT
Dear Stefan,

I recommend to you an attached figure provided by Wudu from Ethiopia, a region that will again suffer from hunger which was so far a mechanism as to stabilize the density of population. I don't doubt that we will manage to help and stabilize further growth. As A. Kastner famously said, we will manage it. She also said, the chances are so much in excess of the risks, we must only realize and exploit them (my poor translation from German).

Well, I understand, you are feeling soul who suspects all voters for Trump and Brexit to be dense. Warning about nationalism myself too, in particular about Wahibism, I hope for locally and globally more reasonable steps of evolution.

Is it reasonable to feel great by inviting all poor people in Africa and Asia, come to Europe as to live better and in peace? Or might it nurture an irresponsible illusion without stopping their way into horrible megacities?

My message is not welcome: Reasoning demands that menkind lives up to its responsibility. Otherwise the destruction of environment will rapidly get worse. From an unbiased by tradition human perspective, human rights are insufficient.

Let's hope and act together,


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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 24, 2017 @ 20:56 GMT
Dear Eckard,

thanks for your reply. The peace you spoke of cannot be achieved, if there are aggressors. If they hit you once, they will hit you twice. Therefore the question about it being resonable to invite poor people coming to Europe will not be a peaceful adventure in the long run. The motivations and reasons for these people are as different as ours to vote for or against Trump i would think. Some hope for a job, some for more food, some for more money without a job, some for peace and maybe some for an adventure and for bringing terrorism to Europe. The same i think holds for voting for or against someone like the president of America – there are many motivations involved in the majority which has formed the voting result recently. Last but not least different candidates can have very different motivations to become the worlds most powerful person (besides some advisers of the president and some military commanders).

The more divided our societies become, the more different reasons accumulate into one and the same voting result i would suspect. But you are right, nationalism is a danger these days, months and years, and i think it becomes more dangerous as our societies get more divided. As more and more people live on this planet, the question of distribution and allocation of natural resources and money becomes more and more virulent. Yes, i think here guys like Daniel Dennett and his memes come to the point, virulent behaviour and thinking patterns can distribute over a whole population and poison it, if misdistribution goes further on.

The question also is, who are the aggresssors, or formulated otherwise, are there aggressors at all in the world? Who is the aggressor in Syria, for example? I think there is more than one aggressor in this conflict, all fighting against each other for some profitable outcome of this war for their interests. If Europe slips into another financial or economical crisis, there will be also more aggressions between european countries. In this sense, many aspects are connected with many other aspects and this makes the whole case of global peace so difficult, so complex. Your message is welcome by me, but it will not alter the course of events unfolding in the next, say, decade. Humanity does only learn in small steps, if ever, and only by global suffering i suspect. This seems to me to be an unbiased view of the human psychology if it is fully attached to hedonism - as is the case for many people, in my opinion. I cannot say what Trump is planing in the future or has already planed for his country / the world. Therefore it is very difficult for me to estimate what his actions will bring us. It seems like he is an impulsively acting person, supporting the financial complex and his own country rather than global peace. I also agree that human rights are insufficient, the same with the rights of some nations (like for example iraq, which was destroyed and radicalized by the Bush family and Albright). I have now written too much political opinions to win the contest, but my words are conserved by the internet for whoever wants to reflect them again in the future!

Bala R Subramanian wrote on Feb. 23, 2017 @ 21:40 GMT
Dear Stefan,

Thanks for an interesting article and the discussions in this community page about those concerns and topics. My own take on the question of determinism and non-determinism is that they both end up being one and the same for all practical purposes. Let me explain: One can say, birth and death are determined but the life in between those two determinations might still be undetermined. With regard to the consciousness and your own search of the meaning of meaning, my sense is that; between the self and the super-self (God/Creator) there are one or more societies and societal-consciousness(es), which not only provide goals and intentions,but many other frames of references to explore dimensions that are beyond the space and the time.Far from being mindless, in that sense, mathematics and computations provide a way to unify intuitions with the all the rest. Kurt Godel's incompleteness theorems can be concurrently consistent, complete and be both open and closed. The essential truth of the quantum mechanics is that; everything is dynamic and in constant transition from state-to-state following the natural laws as described here:
id=A93EB2435BBCDE67!380&app=PowerPoint I am curious as to how you would react?

Would you agree there might be a science of societal-mechanics? as described here:

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 24, 2017 @ 21:03 GMT
Dear Bala R Subramanian,

thanks for reading and commenting.

“Kurt Godel's incompleteness theorems can be concurrently consistent, complete and be both open and closed”

Yes, but only in the modus of non-dual thinking. Remember that near-death experiences tell us that in the more pleasant realms, one part of duality has vanished (of course the bad part). But there are also experiences which tell us that the ‘same’ can be true for a realm where the other part (the good part) has totally vanished. Heavenly realms may have multiple layers, yes, and consistenly, the hellish realms too (as also delivered by some near-death experiencers). The reason that in the heavenly realms there are no open questions which all lead to self-referential answers (like those we discuss here at FQXi) is that one part of duality simply vanishes and therefore all paradoxons do vanish. All is crystal clear. The same is true for the more hellish realms – you realize that you are (for whatever reasons) caught up in an existential realm that is completely distinct from God’s realms. There are so many aspects of near-death experiences to interpret and discuss and surely every spiritual tradition does it different. The problem here is that such experiences do not deliver the one distinct interpretation that suffices all the different expectations of different religious / spiritual traditions. They all are a matter of belief.

Therefore i am not in a position to comment on societal mechanics or other systematizations. I only observe society, psychology and the different values of people and ask where these different patterns could lead in the end globally. As i outlined to Eckard in my comment above, i am rather sceptical of an interpretation which guarantees every soul a pleasant place in the heavenly realms after death. I follow Eckard’s words that reasoning demands that menkind lives up to its responsibility and don’t see life as a kind of cosmic game or something one reincarnates into again and again. But this is only my personal opinion.

Surely for all practical purposes, the quest for determinism or indeterminism is void of any help. Nobody does believe 24 hours a day that he/she has no free will. Nobody does believe 24 hours a day that solipsism is true. But when making a difficult decision, by thinking humans do not have free will, one can defend every irrational / immoral intention. The same is true in my opinon for the concept of reincarnation or the multiverse interpretation. Let the majority of mankind believe in such concepts and i would assume that morality would vanish dramatically. If i can kill somebody and there are no real consequences (besides maybe that in my next life i am killed also by a person), this would in my opinion demand a chain of killing events, what does not seem to me to be a consistent explanation of human consciousness and some overall purpose of existence. I therefore think that consequences and responsibility come into play in a different, much more serious way – as is indicated by the fact that there is no universal interpretation of near-death experiences, a kind of undeniable accredited ‘true’ interpretation. You have to choose. Of course i do not say that you believe in one or the other, because i cannot know and i don't want to teach someone due to my own beliefs. So please do not take my lines of reasonings personally.

Best wishes

Stefan Weckbach

Bala R Subramanian replied on Feb. 26, 2017 @ 11:45 GMT
Dear Stefan,

" If i can kill somebody and there are no real consequences (besides maybe that in my next life i am killed also by a person), this would in my opinion demand a chain of killing events, what does not seem to me to be a consistent explanation of human consciousness and some overall purpose of existence." - Isn't the 21st century war mongering and killing proof enough of such individual and societal-consciousnesses?

As to "some overall purpose of existence"- at least one spiritual and historical fact seems to suggest this:

ks for reading and responding to my comments and questions,

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Bala R Subramanian replied on Feb. 27, 2017 @ 13:15 GMT
Dear Stephan,

In addition to my earlier comment, I came across this talk that might help explain your concerns about the near death experiences:
erful_stroke_of_insight ; I believe the parallel and the serial processing of information happens socially as well. We as individuals behave as parallel processors of information and interact with one another both in serial and in parallel modes. It is these complex relationships that some time bring about the dualism Vs the oneness phenomena. I am convinced it is just a matter of time before we will arrive at all the answers we have been seeking.

Thanks for both your time and posts.

Bala R Subramanian

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Alexey/Lev Burov wrote on Feb. 28, 2017 @ 01:12 GMT
Dear Stefan,

Reading your essay gave me the highest reward in this contest!

I appreciate your both clear and deep thinking about the topic of this contest, so nicely captured by the title of your essay. I am giving you the highest score, and I have a question for you. You write, “This force of ‘intentionality’ must be thought of as not being able to receive a physical back-reaction from the material world”. How do you see the relation of this fundamental ‘intentionality’ to the laws of nature? Do you share the theistic or pan-psychistic answer? Your comments to our essay would be greatly appreciated.


Alexey Burov.

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 28, 2017 @ 18:00 GMT
Dear Alexey and Lev Burov,

thank you for reading, commenting and for your appreciation!

You pose important questions. First, i share a theistic worldview. As you may know, to come to some reliable conclusion about ‘ultimate reality’, means, the deepest level, one has to presuppose something as given. Science and my own experience of life tells me that there must be something out there which is meaningful in itself, is alive, is intelligent, is conscious in itself (eternally). I gave some arguments in my essay why i presuppose God instead of ‘quantum foam’ or some other ingredient to be the ‘fountain of all existence’. Obviously, a natural explanation of all there exists cannot explain itself to exist and to bring all other things into existence. It seems to me that with God, things are a bit different, because he has some attributes that beautyfully differ frome a mechanical solution – and they are consistent with what near-death experiencers regularily report.

Now to your question: Firstly, one can doubt that all our mental and psychological contents are caused by some brain activity. A certain class of mental subjectivity could well be uncaused by any brain activity, but could force some brain activity to be instantiated – for example to move my hand. But either way, this cannot be proven. So let us stick with a more physical view of the connection of the mental with matter. Both have in common that they are obviously expressions of some activity. Therefore one could circumscribe them in terms of energy patterns, or frequencies if you will. A nice analogy for the mind-body connection would be the wave-particle duality in QM. Thinking of the wave (whatever it is) as a non-localized activity pattern (outside of normal spacetime) and the particle as the result of such a wave activity (in ordinary spacetime). Gulio Tononi assumes some ‘Qualia space’ where all the possible Qualia reside, QM assumes an Hilbert-space. Well, both should be located out of ordinary spacetime (if one does not identify them with ‘dark matter’ or something else).

So the question reduces to the question of how a wave function evolves (and collapses) and if there is some irreversibility after such a process. I think, one way or the other, consciousness is somewhat linked to the quantum realms (see the paper of Joachim Keppler for a very good theory on that which is very different to Penrose/Hamerhoff ideas). I think this is the interface for Qualia and for filtering out contents of a consciousness that may relate to higher levels of existence. Once a wave function collapsed, the particle(s) cannot alter this wave function anymore to make it undone. This is what i intended by my remarks that these actions of the wave function (especially its collapse) cannot receive anymore a physical back-reaction. This is fundamentally different than in Newtonian mechanics, where all physical states are reversible (in principle). I do not believe that QM is completely unitary, i think some states vanish, therefore some other states arise (in terms of information, the total informational content of the universe stays the same, hence is conserved).

I tend not to be a pan-psychist (anymore), because i see no necessarity yet to involve all matter into an antropomorphical worldview. But i am convinced that at the borders of matter and spacetime – namely in the realm of quantum mechanics, there is a good place to identify the interface between mind and matter. For the other facts of consciousness, for example that it can be altered by drugs or anesthetics, i would prefer a combination of Joachim Kepplers theory with that of Penrose/Hameroff. Maybe one can dim down consciousness (without ever destroying it) by limiting the frequency window for it to act on and so some material stuff like drugs and anesthetics can come into play. We are just at the beginning of investigating these fascinating possible connections and i think it will take some time to put every detail into its natural place.

I just read your own essay and i like it very much. It argues for reason and intelligence and against nonsense and self-contradiction. Good work! By the way, i think that a part of the fascination into mathematics relies on the fact that it has an appeal to be eternal – something most human beings are fascinated by. If there are values that are eternal, we also wish that our own values may be eternal (best example: the rich man who wants to take his money with him to heaven, because he has identified his self-value so much with that money/gold he ‘made’).

Alexey/Lev Burov replied on Mar. 2, 2017 @ 05:13 GMT
Dear Stefan,

When I am reading your text and comments, I wish to read more! Everything you write resonates with me so much that it almost never happens. When I will be in Germany next time, I will try to see you, if you do not mind. If you will be in Chicago, let me know, please.

Thank you for letting me know about Joachim Keppler, I will read him.

The following point seems to be the only one I did not understand:

"in terms of information, the total informational content of the universe stays the same, hence is conserved"

Did not the appearance of life and thinking beings increase "the total information content"? Did the informational content increase or stay the same after Newton's discovery of celestial mechanics?

Yours, Alexey.

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 2, 2017 @ 08:16 GMT
Dear Alexey,

thank you for your kind words. I am happy if someone can profit from what i wrote.

I am not a professional scientist as you are and haven’t ever worked in the scientific field – although i am a media engineer (programming). But i am no more working in this field (internet) because it is too money dominated and commercial to me and is flooded with tons of advertising tricks i cannot identify with. In case i win something at the current essay contest, i will come to Chicago and visit you, promised – otherwise i can’t afford this journey. Here in germany i live in a moderate setting, contented with it and work with children in a nice kindergarden to make my living. Giving some love, passion and guidance to these little human beings is a fulfilling duty for me. So, if you want to visit me, i cannot offer an academic environment, but only my thoughts and my personality.

If one presupposes that the material world is quantized – as it is permanently measured by itself via ‘decoherence’ or ‘collapse’ due to quantum fluctuations, then the informational content of the universe can be associated with the number and states of particles in it – in terms of bits. Since the number of particles in the universe does not depend on the expansion of the latter, it may only be dependent on how much matter gets transformed into radiation during the course of cosmic events and how much radiation can be thought of as being able to be convertible into ordinary matter. I know of no theory that claims that new matter is regularily produced by some radiation, so the total amount of ordinary matter seems to be somewhat fixed in the universe. Since we only can speak of information if we can measure something and such a measurement process necessitates particles to interact with each other, one can say that the total amount of information – in a quantitative sense – is somewhat fixed in the universe.

The *qualitative’ amount of information, means meaningful information to us humans, is just a tiny, tiny part of this total amount of information in the universe. This is so, because the *meaningful information* is exactly the information about structures that are highly compressible, means, algorithmically compressible. Therefore the discovery of celestial mechanics by Newton is the discovery of the algorithmical compressibility of – at least some parts – of nature. Newtons laws, written down in mathematical language, do only represent some tiny, tiny few bits of information! – although this information is *highly* meaningful to us as observers! The same seems to be true for me for the results of Kurt Gödel. Consistence, completeness and decidability (well, the latter better termed as provability): these are the ingredients / main properties of all formal systems. If i presuppose the universe to be a formal system at – and only at the particle level –, then the quantitative informational content of the universe is a fixed one (because you can only obtain as much information out of such a system - in quantitative terms - as you put into it in the first place - due to axiomatic considerations). The beautyful thing now is, as mentioned, that we need no trillions of tons of bits to describe the main lawful features of the universe, but only a tiny, tiny small fraction of the total amount of bits. That’s the beauty of science. But it is also the beauty of logics. Instead of having to measure trillions of tons of bits to come to general conclusions – for example about the microwave background, predicted by the big-bang scenario and the redshift and so on -, the information that there has to be some MBR is somewhat encoded within the available information about redshifts and so on.

The question now is, how can the total amount of information in the universe encode itself – totally – within only a tiny, tiny small fraction of its own bits? The answer for me is, that it cannot. Because besides the known laws of physics which are nicely encodable into very few bits, the ‘initial conditions’ aren’t encoded anywhere (and if they nonetheless would be, they wouldn’t be decodable for all practical purposes). For me, this indicates, that the worldview of infinitely precise initial conditions is a dead end. Similar, a complete and consistent formal system, searched for by many scientists, is also a dead end, insofar as it will never answer the questions that are posed in this essay contest!! For me, all details point into the direction that nature prefers its overall consistence to the price of some fundamental incompleteness of its formal describability. Remember for example a particle which does pass a beam splitter. One cannot say in advance wich path it will take (only give some probabilities). The information of the path it will take is not existent yet anywhere in spacetime! After the particle passed the beam splitter, the information is available – but only, if there isn’t a second beam splitter before the particle hits one of two detectors. If there is such a second beam splitter, one cannot say which of the two paths the particle took. But instead, one can say with certainty, which detector will detect the particle. So the bit of information (right versus left path) is destroyed (or ‘transformed’; but only in the case where the second beam splitter is installed!) into the bit which says us which detector will fire. If no second beam splitter is in front of the detectors, the relevant bit is not destroyed and replaced by another bit of information, but used to tell us what of the two paths the particle has taken. Only in this case, something can be ‘stated’ before the particle does take its path: namely that it seems as it will take only one distinct path and not both simultaneously.

As i argued in my essay contribution prior to the current one, the conservation of consistency does somewhat imply the incompleteness of formal systems as it is in my opinion the case for a presupposed quantized universe – and this does further imply that time does flow. If there would be total completeness – as in the block universe view – it would be indeed mysterious how time can arise or more accurately speaking, how conscious observers can arise which are able to correlate only some specific bits so that the impression arises that time does flow. Moreover, to be able to correlate these bits in the fashion human beings do it, one has to presuppose time right from the start!. So, if there is total completeness, Gödel tells us that there must be some kind of inconsistency (in our case of the derivation of 'time'). I think the conservation of consistency is a necessary assumption to at all make some meaningful statements / conclusions about reality. All indications point into the direction that nature is consistent, even if there should be ‘supernatural forces’, yet to be discovered. Assuming such forces to be existent and further assuming that they aren’t formalizable in mathematical terms, this does not contradict that, - once they are detected (presumably indirectly) –, they then could equally well be termed ‘natural’ instead of ‘supernatural’. The question is, are such supernatural laws needed? I think the answer is one way or the other yes, if one wants to have a coherent and consistent answer to the questions posed by this essay contest.

Member Noson S. Yanofsky wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 15:27 GMT
Dear Stefan,

Thank you for the essay. I have two little comments. I like the fact that you stress that goals and intentions are subjective. I agree with you. There is something else that is subjective which science takes a great interest in. That is Information. We measure it. We compare it. There are several different theories about it (Shannon, Kolmogorov etc).

Unfortunately I cannot agree with your point on near-death experiences. There is simply a lack of proof of such things being anything more than biology.

I hope you can look at my essay.

All the best,

Noson Yanofsky

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 16:03 GMT
Dear Noson,

thanks for reading and commenting!

I will have a look at your essay, but it may take some time to comment in extent to it because momentarily i have the flue. Anyways, your abstract sounds very interesting and i will read what you have to say.

Best wishes

Stefan Weckbach

Author Stefan Weckbach wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 16:06 GMT
I will answer every questions, but momentarily it takes some time to do so because i have the flue. So, be a little bit patient and in the meantime ask whatever you want, you will receive an answer some days later.

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton wrote on Mar. 4, 2017 @ 06:56 GMT
stefan, hi,

i was fascinated to see your approach in which you follow the classic victorian-era "objective science" approach, eliminating "that which may be experienced" from all possible enquiry.

i like that you follow up that, even by asking the question that relates something as subjective as "mind" in an objective framework such as mathematics, you conclude that the standard approach (dismiss all that is "subjective" summarily without due process) cannot possibly work.



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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 5, 2017 @ 18:45 GMT
Dear Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton,

thank you for your kind words. It's always good to get some confirmation.

Best wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Mar. 5, 2017 @ 22:30 GMT
Dear Stefan Weckbach,

I wrote a comment above almost a month ago, and I can sincerely say that the most pleasure I have found in this essay contest has been reading your comments on various essay pages. I thank you. You mention that you work with little human beings on a daily basis. Alan Watts remarked that a three year old is as close as one can get to a Zen Master. Perhaps this accounts for your wisdom. I am most impressed by the way you hold your own, and in my opinion win the argument, against some very professional physicists who have chosen to enter this contest and play this game. I am too old to travel again to Germany (although I've enjoyed all my visits) but if you ever find yourself near San Francisco please let us get together.

After this gushing you may be discouraged from even commenting on my essay, but I would dearly love to hear your opinions. I can tell from your response to Alexey and Lev Burov that you will not fully accept my model, as you credit ideas of "quantum collapse" and the idea that microtubules or some other essentially "large molecule" are related to consciousness. You put more faith in current interpretations of quantum mechanics than do I. I believe instead in an underlying unity and universality that is neither panpsychism nor anthropomorphism. Anyway, I hope you haven't forgotten my essay, but have just been thinking about it.

This contest is blessed by the participation of such as you.

With all my best wishes,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 08:48 GMT
Hi Edwin,

thanks for your comment and the very kind words.

Yes, i think i forgot your essay, although it is at the top of the list. I will read it the next days in detail and will then comment on it.

I do also believe in unity. As you may have noticed, i believe that there exists a God. In my comment to Ajay Pokhrel below, i gave some reasons for this belief.

Some years ago, i did believe also in God, but more in an esoteric fashion, means an intelligent source, operating much like an algorithm (with reincarnation and all that stuff), but the problem of evil and some other reasons led me to conclude that there is a personal God. Especially my studies of many near-death experiences led me to conclude this. So, i have more faith in unity an universality than in, say, quantum mechanics. But for tackling the essay questions rationally and therefore hopefully also more convincing for the audience, it is necessary to assume the case that these laws are fundamental and then conclude where this logically could lead.

My results of these conclusions are in my essay as well as in my comments here and on other essay pages and i am very happy that you could profit from what i wrote!

I'll read your essay and comment on it, hopefully i have to say something substantial about it. And if i win a prize here, i will not only come to Chicago, but also to San Francisco, promised. It would be nice to meet some of the participants here personally; i think this would be a great adventure and also an enrichment for everyones worldview i think. Because, after all and besides all controversy and deductive competition and different experiences in life, we all are only humans!

Best wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

Ajay Pokhrel wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 05:55 GMT
Hello Stefan,

I read your essay 2 or 3 three times and I got a lot knowledge and your thought about consciousness. May be my qualifications and knowledge does not coincide for high quality essay but I found something confusing in the essay as well.

I liked in the part when you said "Therefore, the terms goal, intention and meaning simply make no sense if every subject is eliminated from these terms. It would be like talking about thoughts and at the same time claiming that there is no need for a thinker of them." and I totally agree with it.

Also, the part " the whole universe is math" which I have discussed in my Essay:"Our Numerical Universe".

But I am a little confused about the part" wrongly assume to know all governing laws, even those of in-principle unobservable events." Is it that you meant that we ,human have used wrong mathematics for several assumptions they have made, because I think "Physics is all about assumption" and we were not always wrong about our assumption. Or maybe I am not fully grapsing your essay.

Also, I liked the part where you said the God is in greater consciousness than us. In my essay also I have written about part, "Can God be represented by Maths? I will be very happy If you check out my essay on link:

Though I am very young to judge your talent, but the essay was mindblowing and I gave a very high rate to it.

Best Regards from Himalayas


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Anonymous wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 08:27 GMT
Dear Ajay Pokhrel,

thank you for reading, commenting and appreciating my essay.

There are two possiblilities one can start from. First, assuming that we know all governing laws of the universe, they have yet to be interpreted properly. So we have Newtonian mechanics, relativity and quantum mechanics. From this point of view one now can ask where the consequences logically do lead us. Is the universe overall deterministic, is it stochastic, does anything emerge from a most fundamental level of description and how does this fundamental level of description has come into existence (if not eternal). One surely ends up with some eternal fundamental 'thing' and can ask if it makes sense to assume it to be indeed exclusively fundamental. This works fine in the usual buisness of physics and science, since in this daily business, the subject including consciousness, qualia, the impression of a kind of free will and living things per se do not matter much (except for biology and the higher siences).

But when it comes to questions posed by this essay contest, one can come into trouble. I tried to expose these troubles in my essay in a short, but hopefully thought-provoking manner. The troubles are, is consciousness merely an epiphenomenon (it produces consciousness like the kidneys produces urine), has a subject some kind of choice what to think, to conclude, whow to behave - has it some kind of free will. If true, how is this possible if one assumes the only governing laws to be the ones i mentioned above. And if consciousness can be derived as just a result of some physical interactions (maybe with some quantum twists within it to produce it physically), what does a system like a brain qualify to be conscious, in contrast to, say, a computer. Not surprising enough that consciousness, under these exclusively physically - and therefore also mathematically - premises should be possible at all (in comparison to, say, a computer), no, it is not only aware of some environment, but is also able to decipher huge parts (and if the above assumption that we already know all governing laws is true), if not all parts of the lawfull behaviour of reality. Although this reality then would be describable exclusively in terms of mathematics and logics, without no intelligent fundamental level of reality one is forced to ask the following question:

Is it logical that nature is logical, means, is it logical that logic does indeed exist and does consistently rule all of existence?

I think, the only way to solve these conundrums is to 'simply' assume an eternal source of creative intelligence, aka God. This may not be so simple for some people, because there are also good arguments to question the existence of such a God. Therefore in my essay i had to give some indirect arguments, arguments that are not mathematically as precise as we are used to think of science. But the possibilities for logic to make some reliable deductions is unfortunately limited and i therefore try to use another scientific (and debatable) tool, namely induction. I ask, what patterns can support aims and intentions as something that is genuinely valid, even beyond space and time. It cannot be mathematics, unless one assumes that mathematics is some kind of aware structure with aims and intentions.

Now to your question: If determinism and with it automatically mathematics has its limits (even in describing some simple problems like chaotic behaviour or the three-body-problem) and it additionally has been proven that most formal systems have limits of provability (they cannot differentiate between a necessity and a possibility), but we as intelligent beings can (because we can conclude that Gödel's results must mean that the mentioned systems must be consistent, but incomplete, otherwise these systems could prove everything, even the falseness of Gödel's results; so the assumption of consistence is necessarily true) what mathematics isn't able to do, this is a strong hint that mathematics is not all there is and surely is not the fundamental level of reality. If true, how then explain the existence of consciousness? By accumulated side-effects of fundamental physical laws? This is called 'emergence', but if emergence is true, it would be just another phenomenon which needs an explanation, because until now, nobody has traced all the assumed side-effects to show that they indeed lead to consciousness. Moreover, this emergence then must be understood as just another deterministic path nature does go. Therefore, whether we try to explain consciousness as a fundamental-particle phenomenon or as an emergent phenomenon does not make much difference, because emergence is bound to the fundamental particle level, as surprising as its effects may be. Surely, some kind of emerging properties are prsumably really there in the brain, i do not doubt this. The big question is if science and physics, concerned with these questions, is on a realistic path by generalizing the hitherto found results to be exclusively the only possibilities.

Now to the second possibility (mentioned at the beginning). To explain subjective impressions without behavioural functions like for example the impression of the color red, one comes into troubles. All the mentioned lines of reasoning let me conclude that we should be open to the possibility that the laws and regularities we found until now in nature - are incomplete. They will concern us again and again with the question wether the made assumptions to explain all the conundrums mentioned here are really exclusive, means necessary and complete, or merely possible in the sense that the resulting explanation scheme is consistent and is not plaqued by some contradictions. So, with unknown governing laws i mean some instructions which have the power to govern the physical course of affairs, even if they are imposed onto the universe from without space and time (either via a law of lawlessness - means an instruction before the beginning of time for the microscopic realms to behave stochastically and/or by interacting from outside spacetime onto the course of affairs via some power to alter probabilities).

In the latter case, altering some probabilities, one has the problem that it implies that the right probabilities are needed to generate consciousness in the brain. So, why rely on probabilities if one assumes well defined conditions for consciousness to arise? I make here a distinction: Altering probabilities is only a way to explain how an assumed unphysical entity (a soul) can have access to the functions of the body. It does not explain the production of consciousness in the brain per se. Therefore i presuppose that this soul is somewhat 'entangled' with material reality for the course of its lifetime. The interface between this soul and the brain has a twist which allows in certain domains that the one does influence the other, but not in all domains. Although a narcotized person has the impression afterwards that it had no consciousness, maybe what it experienced was similar to what a photo diode does experience. In contrast to our rich world of un-narcotized awareness, this narcotized state would seem like 'nothing'. Consciousness i think must have this ability to be dimmed down, even near-death experiences tell me this. So it well may be that consciousness and its contents are correlated (at least in this world) to specific frequencies, as frequencies are the only 'physical' think i can imagine as a regulatory property.

It was an honor for me to lay down my lines of reasoning for you and hope, they may be usefull for you and i have answered your questions (if not, feel free to ask!! No problem!!). Thank you also very much for your rating.

Best wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 08:30 GMT
Ups, i got logged out!

Ajay Pokhrel replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 10:55 GMT
Hello Stefan,

I got my answers but as you have said you introduced God to solve the problems and also said that our mathematics cannot support the existence of those eternal body. I support your statement that Mathematics is mindless and not aware in itself but what i think is it is our(human) problem that we are always stucked with the philosophical description of God and we have never, seriously, tried to mix our mind with mindless math to prove existence of God, which is still considered as our limitations.

Anyway the logic you gave me was verymuch understable for me, and I want you to view my essay and discuss the ideas that I have arised and give it a rating , if possible.

Best Regards


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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 16:04 GMT
Dear Ajay Pokhrel,

your work is important. We should investigate all options.

In my comment above to Steve Dufourny at my essay page (Feb. 16, 2017 @ 17:09 GMT), i wrote about the number 3 and trinities. Maybe this is interesting for you.

I will read your essay the next days and comment on it.

Best wishes

Stefan Weckbach

Anonymous wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 16:04 GMT
Dea Stephan,

We both are searchers for the essence of our reality, not only the How but alo the Why.

When you are saying : "consciousness aims to be not merely a cosmic accident but has an inner desire to be the intentional result of a meaningful process to have its roots within a greater consciousness (god) that should have the power to bring such a process at all into existence." then I agree with you about an external influence or mybe an external reason of our emergent phenomenon called reality. I don't call this an "author" but introduce the non formalisable Total Simultaneity.

I think that maybe my essay "The Purpose of Life" may give you new insights, like yours did for me.

I gave you an 8 because of the insights you gave and and acceptance that we never be 100% sure of our incoming information. I await your comment.

best regards


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Wilhelmus de Wilde replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 16:08 GMT
Sorry, anonymus is me

Wilhelmus de Wilde.

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Wilhelmus de Wilde replied on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 09:48 GMT
Dear Stephan,

Thank you for your honest comment on my essay.

I would like to add some explanations for you that I post also on your thread:


When our emergent body and mind complexity is reaching the finish of a certain life-line, it is still our restricted form of consciousness that stays "entangled" with Total Consciousness in TS. At that very point of the time-line, the restricted part (in the body) and the Total are very "close", so information of other available life-lines can leak through, or maybe even the singularity of Total Consciousness may become more "available" (maybe for us in the form of a bright light.

Quantum observations by human beings.

First of all I would like to enlarge the observers with animals, trees, plants etc, so every "living" agent. In my essay I indicated already that we are living in the past (80 milliseconds). The moment the "observation" is realised, the observer is not yet consciouss of what he observes. Furthermore each observation is about a wave function that gives us the probability of measuring the location or speed of a "particle". Once this probability has become a "certainty" it is about a certainty from the past. From the time of observation decoherence takes over, and the particle side of this emergent entity continues its way to the screen. (2 slit experiment). So decoherence is caused by measurement (observation). The specific time-line of the observer and its object has changed with the action of. The only neccecity for this event in our emergent phenomenon called reality is consciousness, because without consciousness ther would be no evaluation of the location/speed so no change....the wave would not "collapse". This is in agreement with my reamark that without consciousness there would not be any emergent phenomenon.This is the cause that we are experiencing the "FLOW" of reality.


My perception is that each form of Multiverse and or paralel Universeis just an availability in Total Simultaneity that only becomes an emergent reality once there is a consciouss agent touching it with its (in our case) through time and space restricted life-line. The unity of Total Consciousness and Total Simultaneity (God ?) gives reason for nay time/life-line. Of course it is not a "physical" law in our own emergent reality, but just because of the fact that we are thinking about it (evaluations of our consciousness) confirms the existance of these probabilities.

regarding : logical assumptions:

You are right with your conclusion that me neither can explain EVERYTHING. Knowledge about different life/time-lines (that will always stay unknown by us because hey only "exist" as probabilities. It takes other emergent realities and consciousness agents to make them an experienced FLOW. ALL these flows (from agents) exist in TS. There is no time nor space in TS so we could even conclude that they are ALL represented as eternal singularities. The logic of my thoughts brought me to this perception taking in acount my own experiences (scientific and personnel).


When I am looking at our emergent reality and specifically our earth then I observe that each living being is just busy with survival (eating other species) and procreation (love and agression). The beauty of nature from flowers and the colours of autum are expressions of survival and procreation. The moment we a child is born it is for us the ultimate happiness. We don't yet take into account the food neede for continuing this life (his footstep on nature, the rest of the survivers). The counterside of this is that humanity is earching for a reason of life, the WHY. Religions are giving us support that there is a better life after death. Every human being (even atheists) is looking for GOD (their TEO). This search gives us a calm that has nothing to do with survival (in this earth) and procreation, but with our HOPE that after death there will be something better.

It is this hope that drove me to search for a for me (and perhaps for others) acceptable explanation of GOD. My perception is not yet complete, I know, but I continue to think, and this essay contest , the essays I am reading (like yours) gives me more HOPE.

best regards


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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 12:03 GMT
Dear Wilhelmus de Wilde,

thank your very much for your feedback to my comment on your essay page.

Let’s assume that these different time-lines do exist. Let’s further assume that these alternative worlds are all configurations of all the things that can happen in our world (inclusively all the quantum possibilities, means all the different paths a particle can take and all the conscious decisions that are ever possible by conscious agents).

The question for me is in what cases the universe i assume to live in since birth does change to another ‘time-line’? If a quantum measurement occurs (either by decoherence or by some other process)? Or/and if a conscious being has made an irreversible choice? Does these time-lines switch for every thought i think?

I would answer these questions by saying that – if those time-lines are indeed really available – that they change (‘update’) every time a situation occurs where a logical inconsistency would be produced by nature. For example in the case of the delayed-choice experiments. But what sense can one ascribe to an approximately infinite set of different time-lines available to ‘only’ conserve the consistency and rationality of the (physical) microworld?

The only answer i have to this question is that quantum events are really random in the sense that even God does not know how a particle does decide its path/energy/position and that God also does not know all the decisions of ‘me’. He may have a full description of all possible ‘me’s’, but cannot figure out which one is really ‘me’. Hm, does this make sense? I think not much, because in the latter case, there should be entities similar to me, but being *not* me – as in the traditional multiverse interpretations.

The only sensible framework to incorporate these ideas is to think of reality as a kind of projection, a projection of activity into an assumed physically and spatially fundamental realm. This projection would project the results of a data processing stream onto spacetime. The only difference that has to be made here is to not assume this data processing to be a deterministic process, but being a program with some deterministic parts but also with many parts that are undefined until they interact with each other. This approach is similar to what Brian Withworth wrote in his essay from 2011 ( it could explain why particles don't have any properties until measured (until they interact).

Reality may be a kind of virtual reality, driven by a program with deterministic and creative parts incorporated. A program which can alter its code somewhat. That this fundamental reality is projected onto spacetime seems not so problematic to me, since it could probably connected to some holographic attempts. Either way, to explain what fundamental level constitutes our reality, i think we have to somehow transcend the borders of space and time.

Best wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

Cristinel Stoica wrote on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 08:50 GMT
Dear Stefan,

Your essay is well-written, and discusses what you justifiably call "the hard problem of science" of goals, intentions and meanings seriously. This is indeed a very hard problem, both philosophically and scientifically. I tried to approach it partially in my essay too, and I am very aware of the difficulty of finding a balance between these problems and objective science. Good luck!

Best regards,

Cristi Stoica

The Tablet of the Metalaw

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 10:39 GMT
Dear Cristinel Stoica,

Thank you for reading and commenting on my essay.

I have already read and commented on your essay and i gave it a high rating due to its content and the contents of your reply to my comment!

Best wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

James Arnold replied on Mar. 11, 2017 @ 22:54 GMT

An excellent essay, with subtle and powerful reasoning.

I especially liked:

To eliminate the subject from the consideration of meaning “would be like talking about thoughts and at the same time claiming that there is no need for a thinker of them.”

“mathematics speaks to us, and the message is that there is more to existence than mathematical structures ever can deliver, not even an infinite tower of axiomatic turtles can do this.”

I would have encouraged you to exclude the part about near-death experiences, as it only gives the dogmatists a convenient target to divert upon. Your logical arguments are devastating unless they're carefully avoided.

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 11:37 GMT
Dear Arnold,

thank you so much for your kind words, i am happy that you like my essay and its lines of reasoning!

I know that mentioning near-death experiences in a forum for physics with many experts is not a thing that guarantees huge storms of enthusiasm. But i couldn't leave it out since in my opinion it shows that there are some things in reality we haven't understood yet. I take it as guaranteed that these experiences transcend our physically known world, although the religious interpretation of these experiences remains a question of personal taste.

I know that these arguments are a target, but at the other side, there are not yet any objections to it written as a post on my essay page. I think one can debate such experiences on a rational basis with arguments, instead of dogmatically rate the essay with some 1's as recently been done twice. Doing this is in my opinion not scientific behaviour, it avoids the arguments and instead wants to create facts in favour of the own position where no facts are (at least i cannot read any on my essay page).

Thanks again for your kind words, James.

Best wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

Don Limuti wrote on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 09:17 GMT
Hi Stephan,

I liked everything about your essay.

There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in FQXi essay questions.


Don Limuti (and do check out my essay!)

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 11:25 GMT
Hi Don,

thank you so much for reading, commenting and for the kind words!

I will check out your essay soon!

Best wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Mar. 14, 2017 @ 05:02 GMT
Dear Stefan Weckbach!

. I appreciate your essay. You spent a lot of effort to write it. If you believed in the principle of identity of space and matter of Descartes, then your essay would be even better. There is not movable a geometric space, and is movable physical space. These are different concepts.

I invite you to familiarize yourself with New Cartesian Physic

I wish to see your criticism on the New Cartesian Physic, the founder of which I call myself.

The concept of moving space-matter helped me: The uncertainty principle Heisenberg to make the principle of definiteness of points of space-matter; Open the law of the constancy of the flow of forces through a closed surface is the sphere of space-matter; Open the law of universal attraction of Lorentz; Give the formula for the pressure of the Universe; To give a definition of gravitational mass as the flow vector of the centrifugal acceleration across the surface of the corpuscles, etc.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential in understanding the world. To show this potential in essay I risked give «The way of The materialist explanation of the paranormal and the supernatural” - Is the name of my essay.

Visit my essay and you will find something in it about New Cartesian Physic. Note my statement that our brain creates an image of the outside world no inside, and in external space.

Do not let New Cartesian Physic get away into obscurity! I am waiting your post.


Dizhechko Boris

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 18:19 GMT
Dear Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich,

thanks for your comment. I'll take a look at your essay and comment on it if i have to say something substantial!

Best wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

Stefan Keppeler wrote on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 09:36 GMT
Dear Stefan,

you write science should take terms like goals, intentions and meaning more seriously -- I agree. Goals are an essential part of our best macroscopic theories and as such should be taken seriously. Our best microscopic theories, however, don't use the language of goals. That's the basic tension.

You report on a way (decade of the brain etc.) to ostensibly resolve this tension by letting the microscopic take precedence over the macroscopic, by eliminating the subject. You reject this solution and rightly so.

You then move on to your own solution positing external goals rooted in a greater consciousness. I'd just like to mention that there is also a way to resolve the basic tension within the initial setting, without leaving the realm of science and leaping into metaphysics (as you put it over at the discussion of Alexey and Lev Burov's essay). In my own essay I explain that goal-free microscopic theories are not automatically at variance with macroscopic theories of goal-oriented behavior. With this I don't mean to imply that you shouldn't try to explore the metaphysical explanations and consequences, I'd merely like to point out that we don't have to in order to resolve the basic tension.

Cheers, Stefan

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 18:17 GMT
Dear Stefan,

first time that someone has the same first name as me :-)

It is no question for me that we can describe parts of the macroscopic world in terms of goal-oriented behaviour. This is exactly the crux of the essay’s contest question. We *can* do it – because there is indeed goal-oriented behaviour! The hard question for me (and probably also for you) is how dead matter can give rise to life, consciousness and aims and intentions.

We only can describe parts of the macroscopic world in terms of aims and intentions, because obviously there are really such aims and intentions present in the world. I wrote my essay because i had the intention to participate and to share my thoughts. Even if the microscopical level would totally determine my aims and intentions, i nonetheless have consciousness and are somehow ‘able’ to think about the essay contest’s questions. The big question is how a ‘bunch of quarks’ can emerge to a phenomenon that has space- and timeless features (we can imagine thinks far away from our location and far away from our present time).

Stefan, you wrote

“I thus conclude that goal-oriented dynamics – formulated mathematically or not – is part of essentially every successful theory of the macroscopic world. And successful macroscopic theories should be taken as seriously as their microscopic counterparts.“

I think here you miss a crucial point. Not all theories of the macroscopic world are formulated in terms of goal-oriented behaviour. For example Special Relativity, or the behaviour of galaxies. I used the term ‘behaviour’, because there is no other suitable word (at least in german language – or is there one?). But galaxies are a dead bunch of aggregated particles, following some dynamics according to the mathematical laws discovered so far.

You are correct that a rock cannot / should not be described as an agent. You write then

“At this point a mechanistic model of your macroscopic dynamics no longer works. Instead I will switch to a theory involving goals and intentions.”

Yes, in practice a mechanistic model does not work anymore. But this hasn’t prevented many scientists to claim that if one had all the initial data for a specific time and enough processing power, one could calculate the future behaviour of my arm. Surely, it does make more sense to describe the behaviour of my arm in terms of goals and intentions, but this – and here is the crux again – does only make sense, because there exists goals and intentions at all in the universe, goals and intentions which aim to describe someone other’s goals and intentions. The question how this can come about at all in the universe, is left unanswered (for good reasons).

Personally, i think that it is not only impossible in practice to forecast at which point in my future my arm will reach out for a glass of water, but also impossible in principle. But this does also not solve the main question scientifically, because it is only a belief of mine.

Although it seems possible that our world could be fully determined by the physical laws, what does this assumption add to our understanding of aims and intentions other than they are merely rigid illusions? If the world is fully determined, the predetermined thoughts in my mind in this moment i write these lines of reasoning are dictating me to write that this kind of determinism would be very strange. Strange because it must be orchestrated such that it leads to an appropriate answer to your comment on my essay site! How can this be possible without both of us having physically interacted ever? The only explanation i know of is, that there are quantum correlations sieved out over time so that the ones left over, are all consistent with each other (in a strange way, because not all human communication is per se consistent).

If i assume nonetheless this scenario to meet reality, then i arrive at quantum correlations and information flow in quantum systems. Since we need a kind of entanglement for this scenario, some kind of unexplained behaviour of the microworld is inclusive, either as the question of what this fundamental randomess means, or as the question of how an individual measurement result is choosen from the multitude of possibilities. I have also no answer to the question why in a multiverse it should be me to observe the particle taking the left way and my alter ego in the other world observing it taking the right way and not vice versa.

Surely, galaxies have not the kind of rigidity and the kind of flexibility as living systems. And i agree that you identified – at least for life as we know it – some properties of the latter. I do not know whether these properties are necessary for some conscious entity, but according to Darwin i would think they must. But as i wrote in my essay, the problem with Darwinism is that it does not fit into an assumed to be fully deterministic world. In the latter, the process of evolution would evolve in every single detail in the same manner as we assume it to have happened – if we would trace all trajectories back to their origin. At this origin there had to be a highly ordered initial condition to lead to Darwins results. But here i come up with an exception: If many ordered initial conditions lead to Darwins results (one way or the other), then his theory would be not much in conflict with radical determinism. But again, how precise and of what nature should these initial conditions be to lead to meaningful conversations between two bunches of quarks (me and you:-) which never interacted in the past?

At the end of your essay you wrote

“Summing up, we have seen that goal-oriented macroscopic dynamics is equally real as goalfree microscopic dynamics. Moreover, goal-oriented macroscopic behavior is compatible with goal-free microscopic laws, if the macroscopic entities under question are sufficiently flexible and sufficiently rigid. Under these circumstances mindless mathematical laws can give rise to aims and intention.“

Surely, macroscopic dynamics is equally real as goalfree microscopic dynamics. This is only the case because there exist goals and intentions that can be described as such (but it must not necessarily be described with these terms. As i remarked above, some people think that it can at least theoretically be described with goal-free microscopic laws). The circumstances you describe for mindless mathematical laws to give rise to aims and intentions are those that are in the middle between rigidity and flexibility. Let me note that i cannot see how these mathematical laws – although i only assume here that they indeed do exist – should be facilitated to give rise to aims and intentions. Although it sounds logical that life occupies the realm between the flexible and the rigid, i would not claim that these characteristics ground the path for life to be possible from an emergent point of view.

Let me shortly also cite a sentence from Ines Samengo at your essay page:

“But I know that people working on insect behavior, for example, can reproduce their actions to a remarkable precision, they truly behave as tiny robots.”

This is no wonder, since we humans can also predict the behaviour of our fellow friends in many cases. But this does not mean that we are robots. The insects have a rather small space of goals and intentions and therefore i would expect that the prediction of such behaviour is possible. The more interesting question is whether some kind of God can *to a remarkable precision* predict the actions of humans, since from the perspective of God our space of behaviour may be equally small than that of an insect.

Thanks for your comment and for your essay. Your identification of rigidity and flexibility as a necessary ingredient for life is very interesting.

Best wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

Stefan Keppeler replied on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 14:11 GMT
Dear Stefan

thank you for your long reply. You write: "I think here you miss a crucial point. Not all theories of the macroscopic world are formulated in terms of goal-oriented behaviour. For example Special Relativity, or the behaviour of galaxies. (...) But galaxies are a dead bunch of aggregated particles, following some dynamics according to the mathematical laws discovered so...

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 15:02 GMT
Hi Stefan,

thanks for your clarifications. I understood that you didn't support superdeterminism, but just wanted to show that your best theory about me is one which treats me as an entity that develops goals and acts accordingly. You claim that this theory is compatible with our best microscopic theories although they do not contain any goals. I agree insofar as they obviously work well in...

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Mar. 22, 2017 @ 06:25 GMT

"Although quantum mechanics has formalized the microscopic world so that scientists can in many cases predict the long-term behaviour of some macroscopical subsystems, at shorter scales and with less particles involved, individual particle behaviour cannot anymore be predicted for sure in all cases."

In addition to the mystery of the dichotomy between mind and matter, a mystery of nature you reference above is the relation of the quantum and the macro world. Quantum biology poses such mysteries. I had not seen such evidence of biomolecules directly depending on quantum phenomena like tunneling, coherence and entanglement for efficiencies like photosynthesis, where the noisy interior of a living cell might act to drive quantum dynamics and maintain quantum coherence. Such quantum phenomena have been seen in butterflies and birds.

How are meaning, knowledge and consciousness interwoven in plants and animals as well as goal-oriented behavior?

Your essay inspires one to ponder many things.

Hope you get a chance to give your thoughts on mine.

Jim Hoover

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 25, 2017 @ 08:48 GMT
Dear James,

thank you for reading and commenting and for your kind words.

I know of the photosynthesis and the case of birds, but was unaware of the butterflies. Can you give me a source where the case for the butterflies is exemplified? This would be great, since i am interested in these new findings.

I will take the time to read and comment on your essay. It may take a bit time, but i will do it and looking forwards to read it.

Best wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

James Lee Hoover replied on Mar. 26, 2017 @ 17:27 GMT

Probably more metaphorical, relating to the "butterfly effect," but interesting:
erfly.html, producing a fractal butterfly with a quantum effect.

and recognition ther is no sharp distinction between the quantum and the macro worlds:


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Rajiv K Singh wrote on Mar. 22, 2017 @ 11:58 GMT
Dear Stefan Weckbach,

Twists and turns presented with the force of logic, took me on a roller coaster ride. Everytime I thought, you are attempting to establish certain things, I discovered the logic taking me away from it.

When you said, "This force of ‘intentionality’ must be thought of as not being able to receive a physical back-reaction from the material world", I first took...

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Mar. 25, 2017 @ 08:51 GMT
Dear Rajiv,

thank you so much for reading and commenting on what i wrote.

I will take the time to also read your approach and hopefully i can make some useful comments on it. Your approach sounds interesting and i am eager to study it more closely.

Best wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

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