Consciousness and Items from Susan Blackmore’s Book

January 6, 2007


 

 Susan Blackmore Conversations on Consciusness, OUP 2005 

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I ponder quantum uncertainty  I look ahead to the next conversation with Stuart Hameroff who considers consciousness to be quantum coherence in the microtubules of the brain. I think too of other physics. We talk of mass and time  etc but do we really know what they are? They are just mathematical entities. We must eventually get a mathematical theory of consciousness? 

Consciousness Quantum Effects and also meditation

I have been going on about the potential effects of Quantum Mechanics on consciousness. Here are some crucial sentences from a very exciting paragraph from the Sue Blackmore conversation with Stuart Hameroff concerning quantum effects on consciousness. 

Sue:

Then what do you think happens to consciousness after death? Stuart:

When the quantum coherence in the microtubules is lost ….quantum information leaks out…….the quantum information….doesnt completely dissipate, but hangs together because of quantum entanglement. ….And because the universe at the Plank level is non-local, it exists holographically, indefinitely. Is this the soul? Why not? 

…………….

I have also been interested in meditation associations. Here a sample from a conversation with Stephen LaBerge who has worked significantly with lucid dreams. 

Sue:

This implies that if we have these related kinds of illusion and you can wake up in a dream and say ‘Oh, but now I realize it’s a dream,’ you might be able to wake up in waking life in the same way- and have lucid living

Stephen:

Yes certainly. The religious, esoteric, religious traditions of enlightenment talk about that exactly, and lucid dreaming seems to be one of the best metaphors for what that enlightenment would be like.  

Meditation

Susan Blackmore Conversations on Consciusness, OUP 2005 

There is an interesting chapter for the conversation with Thomas Metzinger. This deals with aspects of meditation and alerts to ramifications of consciousnes research on modes of media enetrtainment and the split in the world between metaphysical cultures and the western scientific ones.

 

 

Free Will Again

I have just been reading the conversation between Sue Blackmore (the collector of converstaions) and Susan Greenfield. Susan Greenfield was/is a Professor of Pharmacology with, currently,  interests in Anaesthesia and  Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. They are discussing free will and the assumption that it does not exist. 

Susan has said:

……what do you do with criminal justice system? For example, if no one has free will it means that no one should be in prison. 

Sue has replied:

No it doesn’t because although you get rid of retribution you would still put people in prison in order to provide a deterrent for other people and in order to keep really dangerous ones off the streets – so some of the system would survive.  

…………….. I find this conversation quite extraordinary. If we do not have free will we cannot blame criminals but also we have no control over deciding on the criminal justice system.  As far as I am concerned the absence of  free will means that the universe unfolds, our neurons fire away, and we discover what the criminal code is and our sense of blame just arises from the neuronal activity . It is a kind of drama in which the audience is actually flowing along with it.  As I sit typing this it is part of the unfolding. If many people were persuaded in this unfolding that there was no free will, and the unfolding continued with a depressed population, which faded away to extinction as a result, that would be the drama continuing to unfold. I like the logic of no free will. However , of course , whilst living normal life and not thinking such thoughts, it does seem a strange mystery. When I am walking along a road with my wife, and a car driving far too fast passes by, we discuss the absurdity of such driving, as if it mattered. We discuss the absurdity of Bush and Blair and how wrong their way of thinking is.We talk to the dog and think what a fine specimen of an animal he is and how superior he is to any other dogs we know. And so on and so forth.  So why, if we have no control, do we bother? But we do simply because it all unfolds….. 

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