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January 23, 2018

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: From Nothingness to Value Ethics by Gavin William Rowland [refresh]
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Author Gavin William Rowland wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 16:02 GMT
Essay Abstract

Foundational problems are often approached from the point of view of the current theoretical framework. That is, taking our current understanding of the universe, and attempting to rework that understanding to satisfy the gaps in our understanding. I propose that many foundational problems would be better approached by starting at the origin of the universe and finding a process that results in our observed reality. As a part of this process, we would need to be open to questioning our assumptions. In this essay I explain how existence, in terms of something from nothing, may be the consequence of a dimension of constructiveness. This requires a rethinking of the nature of fundamental dimensions. If this dimension is fundamental, it may be common to both the laws of the universe and our own aims and intentions. I aim to bring both aspects of this proposed dimension into sharper focus, through analysis of the available evidence and examples of some similar metaphysical proposals.

Author Bio

Gavin Rowland is an Australian general medical practitioner. Outside of medicine, he has interests in consciousness, physics and psychology. He published his first book, Mind Beyond Matter in 2015.

Download Essay PDF File

John C Hodge wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 17:42 GMT
Start with the EXPERIMENTAL confirmation of current models, add EXPERIMENTAL evidence that are anomalies to current models, and fins a model that describes all. I ended his with the Scalar Theory of Everything (STOE). DO NOT consider current models as having a partial truth. The goal is to predict more than current models.


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Branko L Zivlak wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 20:00 GMT
Dear Mr. Rowland

Your essay is written with full confidence in contemporary misconceptions. If you know the 7 major mathematical operations make sure in my essay that the universe is much simpler and rational.


Branko Zivlak

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Author Gavin William Rowland wrote on Mar. 5, 2017 @ 13:51 GMT
By the way, there is an error in the title - it should say "From nothingness to value ethics." I hope the rest is error-free.

Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 20:44 GMT
Fixed 7/3/2017

Eckard Blumschein wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 09:20 GMT
Dear Gavin William Rowland,

While you mentioned "value ethics" already in the title of your essay, you didn't get belonging comments. Why?

I would appreciate any hint to other essays that are addressing responsibility. So far I am only aware of Wudu.


Eckard Blumschein

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Anonymous replied on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 10:03 GMT
Dear Eckard

My apologies, what do you mean by "belonging comments"?

When you say responsibility, do you mean moral responsibility?



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Eckard Blumschein replied on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 17:14 GMT
Dear Gavin,

I meant comments that address "ethical values". Wudu's cry for help makes Boko (which includes science and belonging education) Haram (= this is a sin) understandable. In the near future I envision again and again periods of starvation and violence in Somalia, Southern Sudan, Ethiopa, and other regions.

I doubt that traditional moral is the appropriate solution to irresponsible growth of population. Help into a bottle without bottom has only one effect: Limitless exploitation of nature will globally destroy the environment.

While global warming could be repaired by suitable technology, reckless "We first" will not provide enough job perspectives to the overpopulation in slum-cities each with more than 20,000,000 predominantly young inhabitants.



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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 06:21 GMT
Dear Eckard

Thanks for your comments. I spent two pages on value ethics, but this mainly to argue the case for the mental dimension I propose. I defined value ethics as a regard for welfare of self, other and the wider world.

Ethics needn't mean old fashioned thinking. We need a shift in outlook from both government AND the general population. A scientific understanding of consciousness would help - particularly if my view of fundamental physics is correct.

Stephen Gardiner writes on environmental ethics - you may find his work of interest.

I am not aware of any other essays that cover ethics. I'll let you know if I find any.



Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 15:31 GMT
Nice essay Rowland,

You said in the beginning “since 1965, when Penzias and Wilson discovered the microwave background radiation, most have considered the evidence to be overwhelming. It appears as if the universe began in an explosion (the “Big Bang”) approximately 13.7 billion years ago, and has been expanding ever since”……………….

…………….In your opening ...

view entire post

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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 11:46 GMT
Dear snp gupta

Thanks for your comments. I haven't found any steady-state-type universe models convincing, but I will have look at your paper.



Akinbo Ojo wrote on Mar. 11, 2017 @ 10:19 GMT
Dear Gavin,

Nice that we medical people are no longer leaving the task of apprehending reality to the physicists and mathematicians. They have been disappointing.

I am in full agreement with you that to apprehend reality we should start from the very beginning. This is a task I have taken up over the years. Haven read your essay, let me now pose some questions or give some food for thought from my standpoint, which may of course be biased.

Your description of ‘Nothingness’ was logical and brilliant. Indeed, there is no other option for a beginning from the quantitative information of the Big Bang as I show in my essay.

Although, you discuss existence, and how it may have come to be, you did not examine whether ALL that exists as ‘what-ness’, was present right from the beginning or whether the ‘what-ness’ has been growing as the universe expanded. Since you agree on the flatness of the universe, I don’t think you will disagree with my own assertion that, along with its spatial extent, the matter in the universe has also being growing. This is what makes the universe flat and remain within the range of its critical density.

I agree with pretty much else in the essay. A very interesting contribution and I am rating it right away.



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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 07:35 GMT
Dear Akinbo

Thank you very much for this review. And it is nice to meet a fellow medical doctor too.

Since I am proposing that the universe is engaged in an ongoing process of creation from nothingness, it is not unreasonable to consider the possibility that further matter and spacetime are being created as we go along. Hence the dark energy?

I suspect i will have to defer to the standard position of cosmology today, as this question is beyond my expertise, but it is an interesting proposal. I will have a look at your paper tomorrow.

Thanks again


Paul R Martin wrote on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 19:17 GMT

I greatly enjoyed reading your essay. I think you are on exactly the right track. But, I have some suggestions that might be helpful.

You said, "In this essay I explain how existence, in terms of something from nothing, may be the consequence of a dimension of constructiveness. This requires a rethinking of the nature of fundamental dimensions."

I think you are exactly...

view entire post

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Author Gavin William Rowland wrote on Mar. 14, 2017 @ 09:46 GMT
Hi Paul

Thank you for your extensive comments. In the earlier part of your post you list several possible points of contention (or exploration). I agree these are possibilities - the universe may her finite, may be older (eternal even), and dimensions may be 'hidden', perhaps as manifolds.

Your ideas made me reflect a bit. Personally, i don't think of this complexity dimension as curled up in a manifold, and I'll explain why. I see the time, space and complexity dimensions as fundamental organising principles of reality. As the first steps in creating reality, i see them as necessarily prior to their expression, (which is in the form of the laws of the universe, and what we know of in our reality as space, time and complexity). So these fundamental dimensions are not actually these things - these things are their expression. The fundamental realities exist, to my mind, as a sort of Platonic level of reality. So we are in Plato's cave, and when we see the expressions of the dimensional reality, we are able to deduce the organising principles behind them, but will never actually see them. Does that make sense?

By the way, i enjoyed your take on this whole question. You have obviously put a lot of thought into it also. I think we were perhaps reading and commenting on each other's essays at about the same time.

btw I have added Flatland to my reading list/pile



Paul R Martin replied on Mar. 14, 2017 @ 15:44 GMT
Hi Gavin,

Your response to me was a delight. You are exactly the kind of person I hoped to find when I decided to enter the contest. Unfortunately, I am just about to head out the door to spend the rest of the week in the mountains. But when I return I will respond in more depth.

Before I run out the door, and to give you something else to think about while I am gone, I will send...

view entire post

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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 08:28 GMT
Hi Paul

Yes it is good to talk to you too!

I like your last paragraph particularly. You track a group of interrelated capacities of the mind - these are very important, but often neglected in accounts of consciousness. I think you put this very well.

Enjoy your time away, and drop me a line with your reflections when you return.


Alexey/Lev Burov wrote on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 05:11 GMT
Dear Gavin,

I consider your essay as a rare sober voice. Thank you. Indeed, as you said on my page, we have a lot in common, so our differences are rare and subtle. Let me focus on one of them. Your essay ends with "Thus our universal laws and our heartfelt intentions can be unified as expressions both of something from nothing." I am a traditionalist in that respect, I do not think that "something from nothing" is a reasonable idea, if this "nothing" is indeed a complete ontological nothing. I think the very special laws of nature is a clear signature of the upper Mind. Well, this is a rare disagreement, while I could quote many important places from your text, which I fully share. I consider you essay deep and to the point, so I score it high.

Good luck!

Alexey Burov.

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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 08:46 GMT
Dear Alexey

Thank you for your encouraging words. It's good to hear that we are generally in agreement. It is exciting to think that there is a possibility of science turning the spotlight onto value.

And yes, whether mind is present very early on or at the very beginning is a minor disagreement. My thinking is also compatible with an eternal cyclic universe in which mind persists from the last universe to the next.

btw Alexey, if you haven't done so already, don't forget to vote. I am a little anxious my essay and its ideas will be lost in the pile!

Best regards


Giovanni Prisinzano wrote on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 15:47 GMT
Dear Gavin

I enjoyed reading your essay that concerns issues of great philosophical and scientific relevance. Thank you for submitting it to my attention!

Just a question. You say that to explain the universe from nothing is easier than to explain it from something, because any sort of initial condition presupposes a further condition as its cause (the turtle's tower), while "an original state of nothingness, by contrast, should require no further explanation of prior states." But this means, in my opinion, to replace a difficult problem with another no less difficult. It means namely to understand how can something come out from the absolute nothingness . Leibniz, great mathematician and philosopher you very appropriately mentions, said that the biggest problem of metaphysics can be summed up in the question: "Why is there something rather than nothing?" The answer of Leibniz was roughly "Because there is God who chose to create the world", otherwise it would be much more logical that there was nothing at all, since, as the ancient Greeks had understood, from nothing comes out nothing. But God seems to be outside of science, and therefore Leibniz question seems destined to remain unanswered.

My best wishes for you!


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Author Gavin William Rowland wrote on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 21:12 GMT
Dear Giovanni

Thank you for your supportive comments. As you rightly point out, I have left the question of how something could come from nothing unanswered. Nobel prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek has suggested that nothingness is very symmetrical, and so should be prone to symmetry breaking. I have a model in which the universe is created from nothing via symmetry breaking - you can read about it here (look under table of contents). This model results in two types of dark energy - a contracting as well as an expanding one. As regards the net expansion/contraction of the universe, a contracting type dark energy would become less important with time. I think this could be the answer to a new controversy in cosmology, which you can read about here. This is all rather speculative, however...

Best regards


Giovanni Prisinzano replied on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 07:42 GMT
Dear Gavin,

thanks for your response and your suggestions. I will visit the websites!


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Ted Christopher wrote on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 17:08 GMT
Hi Gavin,

(Responding here as well as my page).

Just a quick response amidst business. I really appreciate your reading and commenting on my essay. This weekend I will download. print, and read your essay.

One quick disagreement. I think the place to look for the "credible hypothesis" it is to look at the failure of the scientific/materialist vision. This I tried to do in my book. I think the physics-side is too ambiguous and also far from meaning.



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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Mar. 19, 2017 @ 22:37 GMT
Dear Gavin,

What an excellent essay! I agree with much of it. You say:

"Within living things, there is no threshold of complexity at which consciousness can be said to begin."

That is key! If there were, consciousness would clearly 'emerge'. Also, you note 'learning' and 'decision' are all the way down to the cell, while "within the human brain there are perhaps...

view entire post

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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 20, 2017 @ 07:59 GMT
Dear Edwin

Thanks for your reply, and for reading my essay. Many interesting points here! I think our two viewpoints are actually compatible in many ways. Beyond our agreement on a form of universal, primordial consciousness, your model proposes a classical mind-field while mine proposes a dimension of constructiveness. While value ethics isn't to everyone's taste, essentially what I am saying is that, were there a complexity dimension, any model of consciousness may be automatically imbued with a sense of purpose.(As I say on P9 "that is not to say that a constructive-destructive mental dimension is necessarily inexplicable in material terms")

Good luck with your essay too!


Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 14:33 GMT

Nice essay, covering may areas missed by most and with unique insights, well set out and described.

You were straight up high in my scoring regime with your opening; "..many foundational problems would be better approached by starting at the origin of the universe and finding a process that results in our observed reality. As a part of this process, we would need to be...

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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 22, 2017 @ 04:48 GMT
Dear Peter

Thank you for this review. I very much enjoyed reading your comments. I love cosmology and would be very interested any links you can recommend - you mention complex asymmetries, axis of evil, etc. Just keep in mind my maths is high school level only.

One question about 'big bounce' theories - I thought they were outdated, as they would have to explain how the current...

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Peter Jackson replied on Mar. 25, 2017 @ 21:18 GMT

'Big Bounce' theories are very much alive and well, most a bit MORE consistent than the BB but none so far complete enough to confidently replace it. Even Penrose admits his 'Conformal cosmolgy' version has ultimate limits.

Also don't forget that accelerating expansion is still only a HYPOTHESIS! Sure it was popular when the (unseemly!) 'race' to produce it from redshift...

view entire post

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Ted Christopher wrote on Mar. 25, 2017 @ 20:17 GMT
Hi again Gavin Rowland,

I really appreciated your essay as well as your comments. You also mentioned two books that are of interest to me - yours and also Roger Trigg's.

You commented about the up-in-the-air state of contemporary physics. I just read the "Tangled Up in Spacetime" article in January's Scientific American. That "It from Qubit" effort is drawing a lot of attention from physicists, perhaps reflecting the current state.

I hope things go well with your work.

Ted Christopher

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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 25, 2017 @ 21:39 GMT
Hi Ted

Just read the article you mentioned. I wonder whether some of the booming interest in this idea (which doesn't sound especially new) might be because the theoretical physicists involved are running out of ideas themselves.

Thanks for your comments.


James Lee Hoover wrote on Mar. 25, 2017 @ 21:53 GMT

I can agree with your abstract statement: "I propose that many foundational problems would be better approached by starting at the origin of the universe and finding a process that results in our observed reality. As a part of this process, we would need to be open to questioning our assumptions. In this essay I explain how existence, in terms of something from nothing, may be the consequence of a dimension of constructiveness."

By the tone and details of your essay, you seem able to free yourself from accepted ideas and supplement them with others like "our universal laws and our heartfelt intentions can be unified as expressions both of something from nothing," the subjective time and space existing independently in the mental realm." Your essay seems to be an open exploration which invites the same openness with the reader.

In the same spirit essay speculates about discovering dark matter in a dynamic galactic network of complex actions and interactions of normal matter with the various forces -- gravitational, EM, weak and strong interacting with orbits around SMBH. I propose that researchers wiggle free of labs and lab assumptions and static models

I hope you can get a chance to read and comment on mine.


Jim Hoover

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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 07:28 GMT
Thanks for your feedback Jim. Glad you enjoyed it.

Your essay sounds interesting. i will read it now and get back to you on your thread.



Anonymous wrote on Mar. 28, 2017 @ 09:00 GMT
Dear Gavin;

I have read your essay with great interest and pleasure.

the fommowing remarks that are no critics:

Your "Nothingness" can in some way be compared to my "Total Simultaneity" that has no time and or space. It doesn't "exist" in our emerging reality.

Time and space are in my perception "restrictions" of our reality, they are needed for consciousness to become "aware" of the FLOW of time and space. However I think that time and space are not created BY our emerging universe but by "nothingness" or Total Simultaneity. This is the emerging of what you are calling "whatness".

I think that any "complexity" that should start for new again is not "destroyed" but stays available as probability (eternally) in what you call "nothingness".

I like very much your approach of consciousness on page 5.

You say "Our conscious experience is also characterised by a spatial continuum" I would like to say : "Our by time and space restrcted emergent consciousness" is part of Total Consciousness" in Total Simultaneity (nothingness ?)

"Emergence often yield novel and inexpected consequences" I fully agree with that , could have written it myself.

I was very pleased with your approach and gave it a high valid so I hope that the above remarks will lead you to read, leave your comment and also a rating to my essay : "THe Purpose of Life"

best regards and good luck

Wilhelmus de Wilde

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Wilhelmus de Wilde replied on Mar. 28, 2017 @ 09:04 GMT
sorry I forgot to log in...

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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 07:33 GMT
Hi Wilhelmus

Many have proposed that consciousness and/or a platonic realm of all possibilities exist outside of conventional time and space. This is actually my opinion too, although i don't get there in this essay.

Thanks for your comments. i will read your essay shortly and get back to you on your thread.



Wilhelmus de Wilde replied on Apr. 1, 2017 @ 14:58 GMT
Hi Gavin,

Thanks for your attention.

The MWI (again an acronym) is different from my proposition. MWI is splitting up at each choice (in two realities) like mine but my proposition is not splitting up in two coexisting realities, it is splitting up in one ongoing life-line and one that is "becoming" an eternal availability (probability). I will make an illustration for my next article.

The many Minds that you indicate are the many available minds outside your own. YOU are experiencing one of them, the others (an infinity of them) are available as probabilities in Total Consciousness that is essentially the total YOU.

I am now thinking about the so called "availability" of all other "YOU's" in Total Consciousness. These availabilities are experienced as flows of reality by other YOU's. This could be because each Eternal Now Moment is the "cause" of the memory of a specific YOU. As an Eternal Now Moment is a pointlike entity in Total Consciousness and Total Simultaneity (both Time and Spaceless) this could mean that every YOU is experiencing its own reality (a FLOW because it is outside TC and TS) eternally. What we are experiencing as the FLOW of our reality in Time and Space is just an excitation. I would like to compare this thought with the hologrphic principle, a n dimensional entity can be the cause of an n+1 dimensional emergence. In this case an n+2 dimensional emergence.

It is a very difficult question you are asking me there about the unity of TS and TC. Total Consciousness is like a field in Total Simultaneity. The Total Consciousness I introduce is the totality of ALL forms of Consciousness. If we have Total Simultaneity without Consciousness it is just a complete set of information (data) without any goal a chaos of data. It is only there. The to be or not to be has only a reason with consciousness.

When we accept Consciousness as afield it could be the counterforce of entropy.

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 17:23 GMT

"Regarding dark matter, my favourite theory is primordial black holes. Perhaps they would suck up a lot of plasma energy in a hot dense universe, if there were enough of them. You can read more about this here."

Got your second hyperlink. I have seen most dark matter theories but had not seen this before: An intriguing alternative view is that dark matter is made of black holes formed during the first second of our universe's existence, known as primordial black holes. I thought you were referring to dense gas directly forming into black holes rather than from massive stars. How does this relate to or explain the inflation theory during the first second after the big bang? Or does it?

Thanks for the link and thanks for your kind words.


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Author Gavin William Rowland wrote on Mar. 31, 2017 @ 00:02 GMT

You are right, there could be a connection between inflation and primordial black holes(PBH's).

The MACHO surveys in the early 1990's looked for massive objects (planets, black holes)that might explain the missing matter. They didn't find nearly enough, but the dark matter could still be loads of mini black holes somewhere between lunar mass and asteroid mass.


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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Apr. 1, 2017 @ 23:09 GMT
Actually I was reading last night the Large Hadron Collider may have turned up evidence of axions

Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Apr. 2, 2017 @ 14:19 GMT
Dear Gavin,

Thank you very much for reading my essay and your comment. I have read with interest your deep analytical essay, executed in the Cartesian spirit of doubt. It is this spirit of radical doubt that gives impetus to the search for a way out of the crisis of understanding in fundamental science. Fundamental science, including cosmology, needs today a wide competition of ideas,...

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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 10:32 GMT
Dear Vladimir

Thank you for your comments. I think we are very much in agreement.

Best wishes


Patrick Tonin wrote on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 07:57 GMT
Dear Gavin,

Thank you for commenting on my essay.

I really enjoyed reading yours. We seem to share the same simple logic in the way we try to describe the Universe. I also think that one should take a bottom up approach and not the opposite.

I like your quote:

“In fact, true nothingness by its very definition should have no limit or boundary, or else it would be something rather than nothing!”

All the best,


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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 10:38 GMT
Thanks for your comments Patrick.

I read in one of the other essays that if the problem doesn't make sense, one should expand the available set of factors until it does. With foundational problems, I think starting from the cosmic origin gives us the best chance of including all relevant factors. And therefore, we are likely on the right track.

Best wishes


George Gantz wrote on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 13:57 GMT
Gavin -

Thanks for a very interesting essay! I was struck by the similarities between your "dimension of constructiveness" and the cosmic intentionality I discuss in The How and The Why of Emergence and Intention. Your allusion to our experience of flow is also, I think, an important clue to the functioning of the universe.

The question of something from nothing is an interesting paradox, one which I explored in the prior FQXi contest (The Hole at the Center of Creation). Nothing is as troublesome a concept as infinity. Even to mention nothing is to imply that it is something (if only the abstract null set - which is, even then, a set).

You stated - "I don’t think it is necessary to delve more deeply into what the nature of this state of decision-making would be, as it would be rather speculative to do so." I think this is actually the heart of the matter. Either there is decision-making (intention) or there is not (randomness). We may not be able to observe the difference - but the it makes all the difference in how we perceive the world and how we live in it.

Sincere regards - George Gantz

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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 10:44 GMT
Hi George

Glad yo got to read my essay. We seem to be thinking along the same lines...

In what essay contest was your essay "The Hole at the centre of Creation"? i would like to read it.

True, the question of what consciousness IS, is in a way the heart of the matter. It was really just a bit much to bite off in a 5000 word essay so I sidestepped the issue.

Best regards


Ulla Marianne Mattfolk wrote on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 13:47 GMT
Dear Gavin.

I propose that many foundational problems would be better approached by starting at the origin of the universe and finding a process that results in our observed reality. As a part of this process, we would need to be open to questioning our assumptions.

This is indeed true, but also very difficult. When we change one small detail the whole frame will be changed too, so we end up with the plethora of theories we see today.

Cheers, Ulla.

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Author Gavin William Rowland replied on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 23:55 GMT
Agreed Ulla. It's a big metaphysical guessing-game.


Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 08:52 GMT
Dear Sirs!

Physics of Descartes, which existed prior to the physics of Newton returned as the New Cartesian Physic and promises to be a theory of everything. To tell you this good news I use «spam».

New Cartesian Physic based on the identity of space and matter. It showed that the formula of mass-energy equivalence comes from the pressure of the Universe, the flow of force which on the corpuscle is equal to the product of Planck's constant to the speed of light.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential for understanding the world. To show it, I ventured to give "materialistic explanations of the paranormal and supernatural" is the title of my essay.

Visit my essay, you will find there the New Cartesian Physic and make a short entry: "I believe that space is a matter" I will answer you in return. Can put me 1.


Dizhechko Boris

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