Observation, Measurement, Science, (Un) Consciousness and Occultism (part 4)

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

Various Quotes from various sources - ancient to modern.

Obs.50.   “As observers, our perceived experience obviously corresponds only to a single one of the branches*, and it can easily be shown [Everett 1957] that intersubjective agreement between different observers on the same branch is always guaranteed.
   The most popular of (the arguments against Everett's theory), namely the uneasy feeling connected with the idea of many unobserved branches ( other worlds ) all existing alongside our single observed one ...” p1257-1258 Ben-Dov 1990a (Ben-Dov speaks for himself. My experience is different.)

Obs.51.   “The discontinuous ‘jump’ into an eigenstate is thus only a relative proposition, dependant upon the mode of decomposition of the total wave function into the superposition, and relative to a particularly chosen apparatus-coordinate value. So far as the complete theory is concerned all elements of the superposition exist simultaneously, and the entire process is continuous.” (Everett 1957) qby Ben-Dov p830 1990b (Window shopping precedes purchase; there is looking prior to leaping.)

Obs.52.   “The hallmark of this psychopathology is the existence of a number of discrete personalities inhabiting a single psyche, each with its characteristic perceptions and cognitions, wants and feelings. Some of the personalities may be unaware of the existence of the other personalities. Often the personalities are of different psychological ages and manifest contradictory motivations and affects. They may come into sever conflict with one another in their attempt to inhabit the same psychic ‘space’. These personalities would appear to be the more common complexes blown, as it were, into full empirical ego status. As a consequence, the various personalities interfere with the long-range adaptation of the being. We suspect that the difficulty many scientists and others have had in accepting the existence of this syndrome and of empathizing with its consequences derives ultimately from lack of experience of themselves as fragmented consciousnesses. That is, most people -- and scientists included -- do not question the reality of their cognized selves, their empirical egos. It is the rare observer who directly experiences his pure ego and cognizes himself as a multiplicity of consciousness. Yet, as we have implied, such experience is the inevitable consequence of intensive, long-term, mature contemplation, be that by any route to self-knowledge that results in personal involvement in one's own individuation in the Jungian sense.” p137 “For example, Roger Mitchell notes that belief in multiple selves is ubiquitous among African traditional religions: ‘Central to the African view of personality is the concept of the ‘multiple self’, each aspect of which is believed to have an external character. In Africa the various components of the self are pictured as separate entities rather loosely held together, each having a different source and a different function.’ p47 Mitchell 1977” p138 Laughlin 1990

Obs.53.   “Yet the fact that we cannot disclose this undivided wholeness in our conscious constructions of this reality as parts does not mean that science invalidates the prospect that we can apprehend this wholeness on a level that is prior to the conscious constructs. It merely means that science ... cannot fully disclose or describe the whole.” p179 “Since this single significant whole, or Being, must be represented in the conscious content as parts, or beings, it is not and cannot be a direct object of scientific inquiry or knowledge. Thus any direct experience we have of this whole is necessarily in the background of consciousness, and must be devoid of conscious content.” p180 Kafatos 1990

Obs.54.   “Diagnosis and treatment of mental disturbances can be particularly difficult because much of people's mental life is not usually accessible even to them. When we remember someone's name, for example, the name just seems to come to us -- the conscious mind has no idea of what the search process was. Similarly. we may experience anger or fear or depression without knowing why. According to some theories of mental disturbance, such feelings may result from exceptionally upsetting thoughts or memories that are blocked from becoming conscious.” p76-77
   “Among these activities, none is more important than measurement, in that figuring out what to measure, what instruments to use, how to check the correctness of measurements, and how to configure and make sense of the results are at the heart of much of science and engineering.” p188
   “In science, conclusions and the methods that lead to them are tightly coupled. The nature of inquiry depends on what is being investigated, & what is learned depends on the methods used.” p190 Rutherford 1990

Obs.55.   “... the platonist ‘will depict truth conditions in terms of conditions on objects whose nature, as normally conceived, places them beyond the reach of the better understood means of human cognition (e.g., sense perception and the like)’ (p409 Benacerraf 1973) Benacerraf suggests it is mysterious because we know nothing at all about the kind of perception of sets that Gödel mentions, and it may actually be impossible, since abstract objects if they did exist would be unknowable. The argument for this last objection is indeed plausible: to know about anything requires a causal connection between the knower to the known, and there can be no such connection between things inside space and time (i.e., us) and things outside space and time (i.e., sets and other abstract objects.)” p57
   “It is, of course, a common presumption, that none of us is causally linked to anything outside of space and time.” p68
   “Einstein's brand of verificationism is not like any other; it gives special status to the intuitively obvious. His positivism is more an impulse to assign the self-evident a special role than to eliminate unobservable entities. ... Einstein is happy with all sorts of unobservable things.”
   “The crucial difference between ‘observable’ and ‘intuitive’, as I use these terms, is this. An intuitive distinction is one that can be made either in ordinary experience or in a thought experiment. (Thus, an observable difference is just a special case of an intuitive one.) This is to be contrasted with a (purely) theoretical distinction, one made in a (constructive) theory, which cannot be ‘perceived’ even in a thought experiment.” p114-115
   “‘Physics’, remarks Einstein, ‘is an attempt to conceptually grasp reality as it is thought independently of its being observed’ (p81 Einstein 1949)” qby Brown p123 1991
   “The properties that the system can have, e.g., position, momentum, angular momentum, energy, spin, etc. are called observables (though often there is nothing observable about them) ...” p128-129
   “Realism: Each photon has all of its properties all of the time. Measurements do not create, they discover.” p138 Brown 1991

Obs.56.   “Suppose Gödel is right: we can ‘see’ some mathematical objects (which are abstract entities). And suppose the Armstrong-Dretske-Tooley account of laws of nature is also right: laws are relations among universals (which are abstract entities.) Wouldn't it be a surprise and indeed something of a mystery is we couldn't ‘see’ laws of nature, as well? Isn't the ability to grasp them just as we grasp mathematical objects exactly what we should expect?”
   “Nor should Plato's view be accepted in full. Plato held that our immortal souls once gazed upon the heavenly forms. Our a priori knowledge is the result of remembering what we forgot in the rough and tumble of birth. The only part of this I wish to retain is ... the part that universals (properties and relations) have an existence of their own and like mathematical objects can be grasped by the human mind. This is an objective view of a priori knowledge -- it posits a non-sensory perception of independently existing objects.” p86-87 Brown 1991

Obs.57.   “A Chinese philosopher is said to have remarked that in practice unicorns do not exist, because if anyone saw a unicorn he would instantly tell himself that he had not seen it and forget the memory.” (p72)
   “We also spoke of Blake's double vision which seems at first to be reverting from the conscious awareness of an objective order to the old superstitious notion of presences haunting it.” (p83)
   “The growth of nature from a manifestation of order and intellectual coherence into an object of love would bring about the harmony of spirit & nature that has been a central theme of this work.” p84 Frye 1991

Obs.58.   “Consciousness is a very poor guide to what is in fact experienced.” p252
   “The distinction between experience as such and conscious experience is of vital importance to parapsychology, as is the question of why some forms of experience become conscious on a regular basis, whereas other forms of experience become conscious only rarely, if at all. In particular, sensory experience regularly becomes conscious, {this does not mean that all or even most sensory experience becomes conscious; most of it is surely subliminal.} while extrasensory perception (ESP) -- as generally understood, to mean nonsensory perception of remote entities -- rarely does.” 255
   “... given both the philosophical and empirical reasons for believing that psi reception occurs at the unconscious level ...” p257
   “Most of the surplus energy of the psyche to this day is unconscious energy, employed for symbolizing activity that is largely autonomous from the symbolizing activity of the conscious portion of the psyche. This hypothesis would explain why the power to express psi, and especially to exercise strong amounts of it, would be beyond the conscious control of most people.” p263-264
   “If the psyche finds itself apart from its bodily sensory system, then much more of the (nonsensuously) prehended data may regularly rise to consciousness, no longer being blocked out by sensory data. Telepathic and clairvoyant perceptions may, accordingly, be conscious with the clarity and regularity that is now associated with memories and bodily and sensory perceptions.” p279 Griffin 1993

Obs.59.   “There are some areas of implicit processing in which relatively neutral terms can be substituted or used - ‘procedural’, ‘automatic’, ‘covert’. But there is one field of neuropsychological research, ‘blindsight’, in which it is very difficult to avoid using terms such as ‘non-conscious’, ‘unconscious’, or ‘lack of awareness’. Blindsight refers to the ability of subjects with ‘blind’ field defects, cause by visual cortex damage, to discriminate visual stimuli in their impaired fields with forced-guessing or by implicit method, even though they do not ‘see’ the stimuli. Whatever ‘neutral’ terms one would prefer, it was undoubtedly the fact that patients claimed to be unaware of the stimuli they could nevertheless be shown to discriminate in their ‘blind’ fields that caught the attention and surprise of investigators as well as philosophers and, indeed, even the general public. Calling it either ‘implicit’ or ‘covert’ processing does not remove either the excitement of the mystery of the discovery, even if there are those who would wish to inhibit the use of folk-psychological terms. This aspect of the problem has also tended to raise metaphysical hackles, or alternately, either delight or scepticism in some quarters, even in extreme instances to the extent of declaring it not to be a proper subject for scientific study.” p235 Weiskrantz 1993

Obs.60.   “The Copenhagen interpretation holds that when we measure any quantity, such as position or momentum, we are intervening in a way that causes an unpredictable change in the wave function, resulting in a wave function for which the measured quantity has some definite value, in a manner that cannot be described by the deterministic Schrödinger equation.” p25 “And although opinions differ, it is hard to identify anything special that qualifies some process to be called a measurement, except its effect on a conscious mind.” p26 Weinberg 1994

Obs.61.   “The way that we observe depends on human capabilities and properties of nature. Observation may affect the objects observed and our observational procedures depend upon the state of technology and are guided by theory. The results of observation have to be derived by procedures that depend upon some theoretical model as well as upon experimental techniques, and we define observed quantities operationally by the procedures that we use to obtain them.” p140-141
   “The very definition of a standard of measurement gives it certain properties in consequence of that fact that once a way of realising a standard has been defined, that realisation is invariant -- there is nothing else against which it can be compared or with respect to which changes in it can be established.”
   “The theory of special relativity handles the consequences of the fact that the only observations we can make of events across empty space are instants, frequencies and polarisations of electromagnetic signals. Times, coordinates, momenta, energy, electromagnetic field vectors or tensors, are all variables of the theory used to calculate results of observation, which are essentially, times and intervals equivalent to distances, speeds and accelerations. How we assign them is determined by two factors, the observations that we can make, which must not vary with changes in the way we make the assignments, and the fact that four numbers (coordinates of time and space) are needed to locate any observable event, four components of a vector to specify the dynamics (energy and momentum) and four components of a further vector to specify an electromagnetic field.”
   “It is very important to keep clearly in mind what are essentially auxiliary objects of the theory and what are real observables. ... Theoretical objects such as fields, potentials, coordinates, electrons are not directly observable, we can observe only their experimental consequences ...” p142-143
   “In summary, all physical quantities are defined operationally, some with more observational content, others with more theoretical content. ... Observational quantities are employed to represent the empirical content of our interactions with the physical world, theoretical quantities to represent our abstract models of those interactions. They are not identical.” p144 Cook 1994

Obs.62.   “Some brain-damaged patients with defects in their visual field manifest the extraordinary phenomenon of blindsight -- they can detect, localize and even identify visual stimuli that they deny seeing.” p290 Cowey 1995

Obs.63.   “Using an objective measure, we show that conscious experience remains defective at presentation times much longer (1s) than the onset of visual sensitivity (~60ms).” (p337) ... There is a “dissociation of performance and awareness ... This seemingly complete lack of awareness far above the onset of visual sensitivity warrants comparison with blindsight. ... recent suggestions, on anatomical grounds, that subjective awareness may correlate with neural activity in extrastriate but not striate cortex.” p338 Kolb 1995

Obs.64.   “Perceptual processing is usually thought of as occurring bottom-up from stimuli, running through a cascade of various parallel channels to culminate in behaviour and (mysteriously) awareness. But there is growing evidence that the process is by no means one way, and that top-down mechanism are involved in interpreting or reading stimulus patterns as more-or-less familiar objects. It has been established anatomically that there are richly diffused descending neural pathways in the brain to support such mechanisms.” (p21) “It may be helpful to extend the usual terminology of bottom-up signals coming down from the senses, and possible top-down effects on them, to include what might be called ‘topping-up’; that is, adding knowledge to stimulus signals, which is generally a necessary part of interpreting the ghostly patterns of stimuli as solid objects of the external world. Topping-up with knowledge from prior experience, or with assumptions, may be part of the mechanism for deciding between ambiguous possibilities, while leaving the raw data of the initial neural signals unaffected by what may be false assessments. Thus the perceptual system could continually reassess inputs free from contamination by possibly inappropriate top-down intervention.” p22 Gregory 1995

Obs.65.   Aphorisms from the Observers Handbook:

Obs.66.   “There was one truly accidental feature of the situation in fundamental astronomy during this whole period (from Ptolemy to Copernicus). This was in the similarity of the order of magnitude of the variations in the basic elements, to the order of magnitude of precision in observation. Had the changes been slower, they might have passed undetected, as did many others, such as the proper motions of the fixed stars. Had the instruments been more precise, then the effects would have been more perfectly computed. But, as we have seen, the changes lay just beyond the limit of reliable observation, and so real and spurious effects became inextricably mixed. Even the most competent and judicious astronomers, such as Copernicus, could not possibly sift out the genuine from the imaginary motions. All scientific knowledge is a mixture of what is later accepted as truth and what is later rejected as error. What makes the present case so unusual is that the error was of prime importance in setting the problem that led to a new truth.” p46 Ravetz 1965

Obs.67.   “Suspicion about consciousness as an object of scientific inquiry is vested in the cultural prejudice due to which we regard physics as the paradigm of science par excellence. This prejudice may lead us to legislate away subjective experience from the scientific domain ...” p113 Bisiach 1992

Obs.68.   Reading a great deal of material for this book has led to encounters with some strange coincidences; it would seem that at least two contemporary distinguished physicists owe some of their ideas to a theologian of five hundred years ago.
   76 David Bohm (1993) has tried to explicate an insight into the nature of a world ontologically prior to this one with the notion of folding and enfoldment. Here is a quote from Nicholas Cusanus (1400-1464): (Idiota de Mente; 1450 p49-51) “You know how the divine simplicity folds everything up in itself. Mind is an image of this enfolding simplicity. ... As God is the enfolding of enfoldings, so the mind, God's image, is the image of the enfolding of enfoldings. ... By being the image of the absolute enfolding which is the infinite mind, mind has the power to assimilate itself to every unfolding.”

Obs.69.  John Archibald Wheeler has written at length for many years about his insight that “The boundary of a boundary is zero.” Here is what Nicholas Cusanus wrote in 1450: “... there is no limit of a limit.” (p71)

Obs.70.   “We should definitely recognize the existence of an occult or hidden side of Nature ... the mind in Nature.” (p226) “... an energy or group of energies is the veil of an intelligence, a consciousness, who has that energy as its outer expression.” “Unless a man can thus look at Nature, all esoteric teaching must remain for him a sealed book.” (p237 Besant 1901)