PROLOGUE: Mind, brain, behavior, and cognitive evolution
Trying to respond to the age old questions of, “who am I,” “where did I come from,” and “where am I going,” is and has been the purpose of science, philosophy and religion, although each of them have their own laws and systematizations. These three existential questions that for centuries have been the concern of thinkers, I will synthesize into one word: ‘Trilogy.’
The first to answer this Trilogy were the mystics of ancient times, founders of religions which obtained the answers through revelations from immortal beings. These “extraterrestrial beings” had the knowledge of the origin, development and death of the Universe, plus everything within it that was a benefit or detriment to humanity.
Greek philosophers came next and invented the techniques of deductive and inductive logic to solve this evasive Trilogy. Nonetheless, after several centuries of effort, the philosophers of the world were incapable of finding reliable models regarding the fundamentals of human existence. In the beginning of the 20th century they simply gave up their search, dedicating themselves to the study of ethics, esthetics, logic, languages, and other disciplines related to the adaptation of personal life within society.
Meanwhile science –rebel daughter of the theological doctrines– gradually separated from religion and tried to answer the Trilogy based on a static and uniform Universe, where space and time were independent from matter. It was in this pre-Einstein epoch when the functioning of the universe was figuratively compared to a giant-sized clock, and the natural laws to the winding which gave it animation. Though they wondered, “Who or what wound this enormous universal clock?”
“An impersonal God,” was the answer whispered in the halls by physicists.
This notion of a predestined Universe convinced the majority of researchers in the “hard-sciences” (physics, chemistry and mathematics) that nature no longer held secrets to be discovered. Physics had reached its end!
However at the beginning of the 20th century, the unheard-of concept of quantum physics surprisingly barged into the scientific arena, a theory which explained the Universe only by mathematical equations, obtaining conclusions in utter disagreement with common sense. Obviously, the orthodox scientists reacted negatively. This newcomer, one of the most extraordinary models created by human intelligence, seemed to be a serious threat to the well-established description of the “concrete world.” Nobody suspected that it would decipher the universal “substratum,” which in turn, would establish the structure for the future development of a maelstrom of findings never imagined.
The criticism against this innovative theory grew when the founder of quantum physics, Max Planck, stated during his acceptance speech of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918, that:
“There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
In other words, according to Planck, the mind is the underlying structure of matter that enables the existence of atoms; a concept absolutely bizarre for Newtonian reflections. Without doubt Planck’s statement was an immense sacrilege, much like the one of Copernicus when his heliocentric model expelled man from the center of the universe.
Later, with no reservation regarding what was being said, Planck stood his ground and declared:
“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as a derivative from consciousness.”
Whereas, derivative means ‘something that is based on another source’ and in that time ‘consciousness’ and ‘mind’ were concepts practically interchangeable, what Planck in fact said to the astonished scientific community was:
Matter comes from mind. More exactly, the world that we see is constructed by us and without the presence and participation of the mind, matter cannot exist!
Another remarkable physicist-mathematician, Freeman Dyson, backed Planck when affirming:
“Mind is inherent in every electron.”
Since it is accepted that quantum physics does not have any interest in the events that happen outside of its atomic field, any attempt to venture into our macro-world with these theories is automatically discarded. Indeed, any philosophical interpretation is considered to be out of the question. But I believe that science without philosophical content is like an unmanned ship in the middle of an angry sea. To negate any quantum influence in our macro-world seems a bit hasty in my opinion. After all, are we not ourselves an enormous federation of atoms and as such, the inventors of science and philosophy?
Wherefore, I committed the unthinkable of intertwining the deductive, integral and systematic logic of philosophy with the mathematical, reductionist, calculable, and measurable scientific logic. This alliance, which goes against the grain of “hard sciences,” I call The Human Theorem because it is precisely an innuendo of the commitment between what is scientific (Theorem) and with what is philosophical (Human).
Newton said, “Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.”
Well then, I consider this Human Theorem as one of the bridges that Newton is referring to, a scientific-philosophical “bridge” that allows us to reexamine the millenarian Trilogy using the post-modernistic concepts of quantum physics.
Unquestionably the best foundation for building the infrastructure of the “bridge,” is Planck’s mind concept. Although it comes from Planck, accepting the mind as the cornerstone of my hypothesis is not easy, even if one acknowledges that in new physics, many counter-intuitive concepts are the standard. Furthermore, any consensual definition of mind among the disciplines of science is practically impossible. In fact, at the present time they tend to isolate themselves more and more within their own specialties. Logically the abstract notion of mind was also biased by this segregation, resulting in dissimilar definitions of the mind according to the convenience of each branch of knowledge.
We can say that the meaning of the mind concept is so vast that it can range from ‘an expression of the intellectual potency of the soul,’ all the way to ‘the manifestation of an emerging phenomenon from the brain’s neural net.’ From my viewpoint, the mind has universal attributes in the same way that gravitation or the atomic forces have. Consequently, in order to be able to define the concept of mind as a universal mainstay, I had to reconstruct its meaning from the roots up. This required surmounting the typical difficulties that are always present when the unit under consideration is an intangible one, because such a condition does not enable verification in a direct way. Therefore, the best form of validating the Human Theorem’s hypothesis was following the methodology developed by the great mathematician and Greek philosopher Euclid. Euclidean theorems do not require experimental proofs to substantiate their legitimacy; they only demand either a deductive logic, sponsored by other theories of established authority, or for the hypothesis to be so obvious that any refusal of it would be considered completely absurd.
So, I believe that studying the mind regarded as a universal constant, and next analyzing how we see the world not only gives us the answers to the Trilogy, but will also grant us a new vision to suit the environment and ourselves. Such insight will inevitably expand the knowledge and understanding of our limitations, potential, and our place within the universal context, which will prove to be invaluable information in managing the obstacles that obstruct the art of living. For these reasons this study was divided into six chapters:
- The Universal Reality, which establishes the conditions where the mind manifests itself according to my proposition and describes the basic interaction between the quantum world and the “real world.”
- The Postulates, which lay the foundation to sustain my prototype of a mind of universal character, and discuss its properties.
- The Terrestrial Cognitive System, which establishes the structure and functioning of a mental prototype.
- The Transphysic Milieu, which establishes the influence of the quantum world on humanity and describes its effects on the individual.
- Epilogue, which establishes the applicable answers to the Trilogy using the knowledge of our information-technology era.
It appears to me that this essay –conceived under the shade of quantum physics– can be considered a “scientific philosophy,” or a philosophy from a scientific standpoint, due to its epistemological and ontological nature; particularly because it is a description of the quantum micro-world variables which influence what we are, where we are going, and where we came from, and for extrapolation, our quality of life and well-being.
In conclusion, this study was written with the intention to be a platform for the development of my prototype, the Terrestrial Cognitive System, which in turn is an incorporeal texture, able to answer the Trilogy according to our century’s data through its interrelation between the quantum world and real world. For the architecture of this prototype I used the modern knowledge of quantum physics, philosophy, and social neuroscience as its infrastructure. Accomplishing this task took me approximately a half a century of multidisciplinary investigation (not full-time, of course), leaning on my education in nuclear physics, chemical engineering, philosophy, and in a hard logical evaluation; as well as in the influence of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who saw matter as being organized by the activity of the ‘mind.’
I have no doubt that the interaction between science and philosophy is the most accurate way for comprehending our behaviour and the environment in which we are immersed.