March 21, 2007

The rise of 'biocentrism'

There's a provocative article over at Astroroach: "A Biocentric and Holographic Universe." The general idea behind biocentrism is that our cosmology and metaphysics cannot ignore the important interplay between conscious observers and quantum effects. As Robert Lanza notes,
"The trees and snow evaporate when we’re sleeping. The kitchen disappears when we’re in the bathroom. When you turn from one room to the next, when your animal senses no longer perceive the sounds of the dishwasher, the ticking clock, the smell of a chicken roasting—the kitchen and all its seemingly discrete bits dissolve into nothingness—or into waves of probability. The universe bursts into existence from life, not the other way around as we have been taught. For each life there is a universe, its own universe. We generate spheres of reality, individual bubbles of existence."
This fits in very nicely with not just the revealing sciences, but with the foundations of consciousness-centric Buddhist metaphysics as well.


Ryan said...

I have some trouble with these ideas. Is the point that we each create our own reality? This seems incorrect because I would certainly form my own differently if it was an option. It seems obvious that other people exist even if I'm not aware of them, and inanimate objects like clocks and computers continue to work without me ever seeing them.

BoyintheMachine said...

Unfortunately this is just some mystical, and rather beautiful B.S.

For some reason people seem to latch on to old ideas in the world of quantum mechanics and fail to educate themselves as our knowledge of the field increases.

Bell's Theorem, 'The Seamless Whole', destroys any belief that an observer creates the universe or that there is any special relationship between the observer and that being observed. Instead, Bell's Theorem shows that the universe and everything in it is interconnected. This would imply that phenomena is local yet reality itself is non-local. Humans cannot percieve this non-local reality as we are part of this universe.

In a manner Bell's Theorem is very similiar to the Gnostic description of "The Pleroma" or "The Plethera", the perfect fullness that exists beyond both human's and God's ability to percieve.

-Jason Gammon

Jef Allbright said...

There's a lot of popular "consciousness-centric" mysticism stemming from valid attempts to understand the observer role in quantum experiments, but sadly distorted beyond reason in material exemplified by What the Bleep....

Buddhism has been co-opted in similarly misguided ways, but the wisdom of Buddhism is quite the opposite: That nature is one, and the illusion of a privileged Self is just that--an illusion to be recognized, thus freeing one from its bondage.

It's ironic how many New Age seekers fall into the trap of ever more intensive naval gazing while ostensibly on the path to seeing the bigger picture.

Infidel753 said...

It sounds as if "biocentrism" is just a new term for what we used to call "solipsism".

Somnambulist Seeker said...

Quantum theory seems to be used these days as a support for just about any viewpoint imaginable.

I tend to come down more on the side of the article writer on this one, even though I recognize that on some points QM is clearly being stretched a bit definitionally.

What's far weirder to me, though is how some of the commenters seem to feel that QM supports some kind of nouveau materialism.

We've obviously come a long way from QM being "spooky". The observer effect seems to also exist at the meta level of discussion of the meaning of the observer effect! :-)

Nato said...

I took the position as a metaphorical statement on epistemic limitations; it mirrors the problem of induction but at higher magnification(not literal magnification - focus on the individual manifestation of empiricism). That said, I think Popper, Jaynes and others offer some very good arguments that most of our natural presumptions regarding the stability of the intersubjective world are justifiable a priori.

Anonymous said...

Quantum theory keeps turning up places where the existence of a conscious observer would seem necessary to the establishment of reality, or would at least make the implications a lot simpler. But I think there is a big arbitrary being injected, implied by the phrase "bio"centrism, just as there is with the "anthro"pic principle. The big misconception here is that an aware observer would necessarily be human, have a brain, or be some sort of biological life. Scrap this arbitrary! If awareness is a basic phenomenon rather than mysteriously arising from complexity then it becomes conceivable that aware observers were present from the beginning of the universe, explaining the apparent fixed nature of our agreed-upon reality.

Arthur said...

Biocentrism's claim is simple: life and the universe are one and the same. It would be simpler to think of the situation in three steps: first, an observer (individually or collectively) creates its own understanding of its respective universe and is eternally bound to its own theories; second, each observer of nature is a dynamic, influential and fundamental part of reality; and third, that the observer-nature duality is ultimately an illusion in itself and that all there is constitutes the oneness of existence.

The term "bio" simply means "life" (greek: βίος, or bios), and is used in its most general definition. In the context of biocentrism, "life" transcends the practical definition of "biological life", and is viewed as a vessel of consciousness.