Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mindful Universe

A friend took me to the local library yesterday, and I signed up for a library card. A good thing about libraries is you don't keep the books. A bad thing about libraries is you don't keep the books. I really don't want more books, I think it's good to conserve paper and all that, but I'm a little bit aggrieved to know that I have a set three weeks to read my book before the government starts fining me money. Not the greatest thing for a present-dwelling monk, that...

Anyway, I picked up a small book on "Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer" called Mindful Universe. The race is on to see if I can finish it in three weeks and remind myself to return it on time. In the meantime, it's quite a read, and provides quite a support against materialist critics of the mind-body dichotomy of early Buddhism:

According to orthodox (von Neumann) quantum theory, achievement of a satisfactory reduction of the smeared out brain state to a brain state coordinated with the subject's streams of conscious experiences is achieved through the entry of a process 1 intervention, [a probing action] which selects from the smear of potentialities generated by the mechanical process 2 evolution a particular way of separating the physical state into a collection of components, each corresponding to some definite experience. The form of such an intervention is not determined by the quantum analog (process 2) of the physically deterministic continuous dynamical process of classical physics: some other kind of input is needed.

The choice involved in such an intervention seems to us to be influenced by consciously felt evaluations, and there is no rational reason why these conscious realities, which certainly are realities, cannot have the sort of effect that they seem to have.

Mindful Universe, p. 32