Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Smythies's material dualism, a mathematical framework, and consistency with Vedanta
It is interesting that Vedanta has many concepts in common with the Material Dualism of Smythies. For example, Vedanta rejects the identity of mind and brain. The subtlest aspects of the mind, the accumulated latent impressions of all past experiences and desires called vasanas or samskaras are said to survive the death of the physical body and carried by jiva (the soul) who also survives death (because of being a spark of the immortal Consciousness) and enters them into another physical body for fulfillment of desires. The new life gives vasanas another chance for expression. To use the computer analogy, this principle of reincarnation is analogous to the following scenario: when the hardware of a computer is broken, the computer operator can load the same software that was in the broken computer into another computer and can run it again if the software was copied and stored on a storage device. (No copying is necessary in the case of vasanas because they have independent existence from the moment they are created unlike the computer software which is a mapping of some "real information" which exists in the programmer's head to the hardware elements of the computer memory.) Anyway, the point is that according to Vedanta, the contents of the mind (in other words, phenomenal information (PI)) are subtle and consist of a different kind of matter other than ordinary matter and they interact with the neural matter in the brain during life. Smythies does not go as far as reincarnation but he has suggested many times the possibility of a substance dualism in which phenomenal information (a person’s ‘consciousness module’) and its brain are two ontologically independent parts of a human organism located in different but related spaces (in two of the parallel universes of brane theory), and connected by causal relations (mechanism). In fact, Smythies suggested the following in Cosmology 2014; 18: 110-118: "physical space-time (4D) and phenomenal space (3 spatial dimensions) plus 1 dimension of real time—t2, are cross-sections of a common higher dimensional space that are in relative motion in t2 along the time axis of the block universe. This movement generates the ‘now’ and the passage of the time that we experience. The contents of phenomenal space are our sensations, images and thoughts all causally related to (but not identical with) particular brain events. " This proposal can be regarded as being consistent with Vedanta in view of the following theoretical developments.
In Indian philosophical literature thought is often described as being very fast and one that never comes to stop. Properties of thought described in this literature are very similar to those of faster-than-light objects, known as tachyons in modern physics. It will be possible to describe mental processes and interaction of mind with ordinary matter, in the terminology of mathematics and physics and quantum mechanics in particular, if one assumes that PI consists of superluminal matter.
Interestingly, it can be shown that in the Beck and Eccles (1992) quantum mechanical model of exocytosis, a zero energy tachyon (ZET) can precisely do the task of an Eccles’s psychon, that is, interact with boutons and increase the probability of the exocytosis in all the boutons of a whole dendron simultaneously thus coupling a large number of quantum amplitudes to produce coherent action but without violating energy conservation (Hari 2008).
Again, assuming mind-brain interaction as tachyon interaction with a nonrelativistic quantum brain, it can be shown that subjective experience is created in the form of tachyons if the mind consisting of tachyons pays attention to the brain (Hari 2014).
Libet’s delay-and-antedating temporal anomaly can be explained using the tachyon-matter interaction model of mind-brain interaction. Using the same model, it can be explained why an unconscious development of ‘readiness potential’ (RP) occurs prior to the awareness of the intention to act a freely voluntary act, and why on the other hand, one can consciously veto the act until actually beginning to do it even after being aware of one’s own intention to act (Hari 2014).
Coming back to Smythies proposal: During the 1970’s and later, tachyon physicists discussed six-dimensional special relativity (6D-SR) with equal number of space and time dimensions, as they found it more suitable for the description of tachyons than the conventional 4D-SR. In 6D-SR, events accessible (by exchange of energy, momentum etc.) to a subluminal object and those accessible to a superluminal object are located on two different 4D-Minkowski-spacetimes in the 6D-spacetime (Pavsic 1981). If one assumes that the PI module of a sentient observer consists of tachyons then the observer’s brain and mind play the roles respectively of a subluminal and a superluminal agent, whenever he/she observes an external material object or an internal thought, emotion, etc. The 6D-SR then implies that the spacetime of the physical world and the spacetime of PI of the individual are located on different 4D-Minkowski sheets embedded in the 6D-spacetime.
The tachyon theory of mind (TOM) explains the ‘now’ of an observation as follows: Consider an event BP in the brain S of observer O corresponding to a ‘conscious’ event P. BP is the event of a collapse of the wavefunction of S if we assume S to be a quantum system. According to TOM, awareness occurs because BP produces ZETs that describe the collapse. In the frame F in which S is at rest the coordinates of BP can be written in the form: BP(F) : (tb, 0, 0, x1, x2, x3), where the first three are the time coordinates and the last three are the space coordinates. The latter can be taken to be (0,0,0) because when one monitors the formation of a neural map, the completed neural map occupies the same place as where there is no such map earlier. The time tb is the time taken to build the map as measured by the monitoring neuroscientist. In the superluminal frame F’ in which the ZETs (in the mind S’ of O) are at rest, coordinates of BP are given by a coordinate transformation K called the transcendent superluminal transformation which switches space coordinates to time coordinates and vice versa. Hence in the frame F', the coordinates of BP are: K(BP) = BP(F') : (t'~(0, 0, 0), x'= (tb, 0, 0)). Thus, observer O reports the event as happening at time t'~ (0, 0, 0), i.e., as happening ‘now’. This conclusion therefore agrees with Smythies's view that the experienced ‘now’ of time in a block Universe is where consciousness, or the experiencing subject is, not where his or her physical body and brain are.
Obviously, the 6D-SR of TOM differs from the Smythies proposal by having one more time dimension in the higher dimensional space. I am not sure at this point whether just two time dimensions are enough to describe the physical and phenomenal worlds. For example, it is not possible to associate space and time in the block universe, to our dreams some of which we may be able to report to others because an event in a dream or any other event of pure imagination may not have happened and may never happen in the physical world. When we are aware of them, something happens 'now' in the second time dimension; when they are in the memory, it is not clear what time we can ascribe to them.References:
Beck Friedrich and Eccles John C. Quantum aspects of brain activity and the role of consciousness. Proc Nadl Acad Sci USA 1992; 89: 11357-11361.
Hari S D. Eccles’s Psychons could be zero-energy tachyons. NeuroQuantology 2008; 6 (2):152.
Hari S D. Mind and Tachyons: Quantum interactive dualism - Libet’s causal anomalies. NeuroQuantology 2014; 12(2): 247.
Pavšič M. Towards Understanding Quantum Mechanics, General Relativity and the Tachyonic Causality Paradoxes. Lettere al nuovo cimento 1981; 30(4): 111-115.
Pavšič. Unified kinematics of bradyons and tachyons in six-dimensional space-time. J Phys A: Math Gen 1981; 14: 3217-3228.
Smythies J. Many Mansions: Special Relativity, Higher-Dimensional Space, Neuroscience, Consciousness and Time Cosmology 2014; 18: 110-118