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Biocentrism

How biology is central to constructing a more complete and unified theory of the Universe

By | April 17, 2009

Our understanding of the universe as a whole has reached a dead-end. In our view, current physics-based theories of the material world do not work, and can never be made to work, until they fully account for life and consciousness. We call this new perspective linkurl:biocentrism.;http://www.amazon.com/Biocentrism-Consciousness-Understanding-Nature-Universe/dp/1933771690
Biology may seem an unlikely source for a new theory of the universe. But at a time when biologists believe they have discovered the "universal cell" in the form of embryonic stem cells, and when cosmologists like linkurl:Stephen Hawking;http://www.hawking.org.uk/ predict that a unifying theory of the universe may be discovered in the next two decades, shouldn't biology seek to unify existing theories of the physical world and the living world? Our own nature that is unlocked through the natural sciences that humans created and use to understand the universe. Since ancient times, philosophers have acknowledged the primacy of consciousness--that all truths and principles of being must begin with the individual mind and self. Thus linkurl:Rene Descartes's;http://www.renedescartes.com/ adage: "Cogito, ergo sum." (I think, therefore I am.) Our current scientific model claims that the universe was, until rather recently, a lifeless collection of particles bouncing against each other and obeying predetermined and mysterious rules. This view holds that life harbors consciousness -- a concept poorly understood by science -- but it is of little relevance in describing the universe. There's a problem with this supposition. Consciousness is not just a pesky byproduct or irrelevant item, the way a buzzing mosquito might interfere with a biologist's concentration as she skims algae off a lake. No, consciousness is the very matrix upon which the cosmos is comprehended. It is the movie screen upon which our worldview is projected. If it is bent or distorted or contains some unsuspected color, then all our perceptions of the cosmos seem fundamentally erroneous. Since May, 1926, when Nobel physicists linkurl:Werner Heisenberg;http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1932/heisenberg-bio.html and linkurl:Niels Bohr;http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1922/bohr-bio.html began to realize that the presence of an observer determined the results of experiments, it's become even clearer that attempts to explain the nature of the universe and its origins absolutely requires a worldview in which our presence plays a key role. After all, it is the biological creature that fashions the stories, that makes the observations, and that gives names to things. As linkurl:Ralph Waldo Emerson;http://www.transcendentalists.com/1emerson.html wrote in __Experience__: "We have learned that we do not see directly, but mediately, and that we have no means of correcting these colored and distorting lenses which we are, or of computing the amount of their errors." linkurl:George Berkeley,;http://www.iep.utm.edu/b/berkeley.htm the Irish philosopher for whom the university and city were named, came to a similar conclusion: "The only things we perceive," he famously said, "are our perceptions." And this is one of the central themes of biocentrism: That the animal observer creates reality and not the other way around. This view of the world, in which life and consciousness are central to understanding the universe, hinges on how subjective experiences interact with physical realities. Without perception, there can be no reality. Before applying this on a universal scale, consider your own kitchen. Its contents assume all of their familiar forms, shapes and colors, whether or not you are in it. Or do they? At night you click off the light and leave for the bedroom. Your kitchen stays the same all through the night. Right? Wrong. The refrigerator, stove and everything else are composed of a shimmering swarm of matter/energy. Quantum theory tells us that not a single one of those subatomic particles actually exists in a definite place. Rather, they merely exist as a range of probabilities. In the presence of an observer--that is, when you go back in to get a drink of water -- each particle's wave function collapses and it assumes a position, a physical reality. Moreover, the shapes and colors known as your kitchen are seen as they are only because photons of light, which possess no inherent visual properties, bounce off objects and interact with your sensory system. Biocentrism is no minor perceptual tweak. Our entire education system assumes that we perceive external pre-existing realities and play little or no role in their appearance. Scientists and non-scientists alike typically imagine an external world existing on its own; with an appearance that more or less resembles what we see. By this reasoning, the human eye and brain allow us to cognize the actual visual appearance of things, and to alter nothing. Not so, says biocentrism. Another strong argument for biocentrism is that the universe has a long list of traits that make it appear as if everything from atoms to stars were tailor-made just for us. There are over 200 physical parameters so exact that it strains credulity to propose that they are random. These fundamental constants of the universe are not predicted by any theory--they all seem carefully chosen, often with great precision, to allow for existence of life. Tweak any of them and you never existed. Some scientists call this revelation the "Goldilocks Principle," because the cosmos is not "too this" or "too that," but rather "just right" for life. Eschewing teleological justifications, biocentrism posits that if the universe is created by life, then a universe that doesn't support life could not possibly exist. Quantum experiments, showing that the results depend on whether anyone's watching, make no sense at all absent a biocentric basis for the cosmos. Oddly enough, so do space and time, which according to biocentrism, are forms of animal sense perception. When we speak of time, we inevitably describe it in terms of change. But change is not the same thing as time. Everything we perceive is actively being reconstructed inside our heads. Time in this sense can be defined as the summation of spatial states--much like in a film--occurring inside the mind. So what is real? If the next mental image is different from the last, then it is different, period. We can award that change with the word time but that doesn't mean there is an actual invisible matrix in which changes occur. That is just our own way of making sense of things. There is a peculiar intangibility to space, as well. We cannot pick it up and bring it to the laboratory. Like time, space is not an external object. It is part of an animal's mental software that molds sensations into multidimensional objects. We have come to regard space as sort of a vast container that has no walls. But this notion is false. By treating space and time as fundamental and independent things, science picks a completely wrong starting point for understanding the world. By contrast, biocentrism offers a springboard to make sense of aspects of biological and physical science which are currently insensible. This brief synopsis of biocentrism is just the iceberg's tip. To grasp its connotations is to abandon the shaky foundation underlying our historical understanding of the universe. The 21st century is predicted to be the Century of Biology, a shift from the previous century's focus on physics. It seems fitting then to begin the century by employing biology to unify all sciences. Let's stop leaning on the purely theoretical, such as imaginary strings, and instead start with a much simpler idea, the roots of which are buried in all of us. Adapted from linkurl:__Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe__;http://www.benbellabooks.com/bookstore/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=509 by Robert Lanza with Bob Berman, BenBella Books, Dallas Texas, May 2009. 224 pp. ISBN: 978-1-933-77169-4. $17.47. __linkurl:Robert Lanza,;http://www.robertlanza.com/ M.D. is currently chief scientific officer at Advanced Cell Technology, and a professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Lanza has worked with some of the greatest thinkers of our time, including Jonas Salk, B.F. Skinner, Christiaan Barnard, and Nobel laureates Gerald Edelman and Rodney Porter. He has authored over 20 books, including __Principles of Tissue Engineering and Essentials of Stem Cell Biology__, which are considered definitive references in the field.__ __linkurl:Bob Berman;http://skymanbob.com/ is the most widely read astronomer in the world. Author of over 1,000 published articles in publications such as __Discover__ and __Astronomy__ magazine, where he is a monthly columnist, he is also astronomy editor of __The Old Farmers Almanac__. He is adjunct professor of astronomy at Marymount College, and writes and produces a weekly show on Northeast Public Radio, aired weekly during NPR's weekend edition.__
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Biology's Gift to a Complex World;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54988/
[September 2008]*linkurl:Physics Meets the Brain;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/36676/
[December 2006]*linkurl:String Theory;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/10517/
[7th January 1991]
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Comments

Avatar of: john toeppen

john toeppen

Posts: 52

April 17, 2009

It is with some amusement that I read the article on biocentrism. On one hand, the topic is similar to observing a child closing their eyes and saying ?you can?t see me.? The universe is not about us, it exists as a separate reality from our perceptions. Apparent dualities like particle and wave function coexist in harmony in nature, but our understanding of this situation seems duplicitous to some people and complex to others. Reality exists without concern for such apparent dichotomies. The universe is not about us and our perception, but our personal reality is about us and our perceptions. It pays to know the difference.\n\nHuman vision seems to peer out into a physical world that is continuous and apparently seamless. Yet we know that our optic nerve creates a very large blind spot. All points in our field of view appear to be in full resolution, yet our fovea is constantly scanning around and sharpening up the model of the world that exists in our mind?s eye. We might think our vision to be like that of a video camera with a densely packed detector array rather than the sparsely populated retina that it is. We perceive a narrow range of colors that correspond to the solar peak, the ripeness of fruit, and sensitivity to wavelengths of use to us. If we were snakes our hardware would be different. Nature has nicely matched sensor arrays with the needs of creatures and has used remarkable software to create the perception of a seamless reality. But ultimately, we are not objective in our data acquisition or data processing. While this often serves us well, let us not get confused between objective and subjective realities.\n\nThere are limits to human certainty and what we know about the positions of atoms at any given time. But if we get up in the night and open our refrigerator the milk is probably where we left it. At any given instant, in a moment called now, all of the atoms are in a particular position and in the next moment they will be someplace else. But, the milk will be where we last left it unless someone else came and drank it.\n
Avatar of: WARREN J GALLIN

WARREN J GALLIN

Posts: 9

April 17, 2009

This idea seems to be an even loopier formulation of the central idea of the extreme anthropic principle.\n The statement that awareness creates reality is the same thing as a little kid thinking that they are rendering themselves invisible by closing their eyes, or that a loud noise will go away if they plug their ears.\n I don't think that there is any evidence that life and perception are anything other than complex (OK, very complex) physical and chemical phenomena. Just because we can not currently describe physical mechanisms for consciousness doesn't mean they don't exist. And there is no evidence that says such mechanisms can not or do not exist.\n This is one more idea that falls, along with intelligent design, into to pool of ideas that are supported only by the argument of personal incredulity.
Avatar of: Gary Huber

Gary Huber

Posts: 23

April 17, 2009

Maybe it's time to take another look at Aristotle, with his "form" and "substance". I'll admit, I don't quite understand him myself, but I'd be interested in any philosopher who can address the problem that we don't really know what protons and electromagnetic waves really ARE. All we have are equations that predict what we will observe and experience in a given situation.

April 17, 2009

To quote John Maynard Smith, with realtion to both the ide aof stem cells as "universal cells" in particular and all the Goldilocks nonsense in genelra: \n"This argument seems to me so manifestly false that I fear I must have misunderstood it."\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 17, 2009

Well the article proves one thing biology isn't the answer to what is going on ... Sad when a couple of adults can pass such stuff off as a breakthrough or for that matter even claim such writing has anything to do with science. Best post such things in the fiction section it doesn't even qulify as science fiction. It can't even qualify as wrong ...
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 10

April 17, 2009

If I understood correctly, can we think of consciousness as an intrinsic property of matter in the universe that could be explained by physical laws? It sounds esoteric to me. \nI prefer to think of consciousness as the result of the work of complex neural networks with the capability to sense the environment and respond to it. This is probably one of the most central principles in biology, at all levels of organization. Then, there should be different levels of consciousness. Humans, and mammals in general, seem to posses one of the highest levels of consciousness. Humans in particular seem to have better self perception. But consciousness is limited by our capability to perceive our environment, and it has evolved to respond to certain stimulus. Our senses detect colors, sounds, smells, etc., and our brains are best stimulated by food, sex and danger. No wonder our consciousness is so limited.\n
Avatar of: John Torday

John Torday

Posts: 12

April 17, 2009

These authors have cleverly turned the physical world upside down by suggesting that biology is its determinant- isn't that how Gallileo got into hot water? and then bailed humanity out. But the reality is that biology is a derivative of the physical world, and it is only once we determine the cell-molecular basis of evolution that we will understand our place in the universe, not the other way 'round.
Avatar of: Ken Dev

Ken Dev

Posts: 3

April 17, 2009

I am surprised I am reading this in The Scientist. My initial reaction was it was April Fool's day, today, but it is NOT. Did the authors set out to be merely controversial or are they really serious? A 1999 editorial in Nature asked the question, "Can physics bring about another revolution in biology?" Well, it did before and it will do again. In fact, it is doing it already but, I guess, like the double-helical structure of DNA, the life's secret, there have been many mini-revolutions, rather than a huge one. The only way a unified explanation of the problems, the authors have talked about, can be found is through meaningful crosstalk between the physical scientists and the life scientists, a thesis I have recently proposed.
Avatar of: RONALD MATHISON

RONALD MATHISON

Posts: 4

April 17, 2009

I must of missed something in the Biocentrism "fluffy" argument. The thesis offers neither insight nor guidance on how Biocentrism is going to help understand the Universe. It is probably as testable as string theory, for with each contradicting argument a variant of the theory can be found. When our Sun goes out in 5 billion years, will earthly Biocentrism as well as the Universe cease to exist?
Avatar of: john toeppen

john toeppen

Posts: 52

April 17, 2009

The logic in Ron?s points are clear enough. It would also follow that consciousness might be necessary to create the conditions for the existence of the physical universe itself. Is this a creationist argument? Or is it simply a way to sell books? Is it yet another amusing metaphysical distraction? Does wishing for something make it so?

April 17, 2009

I think life came as a consequence of the Universe, not the other way as the authors seems to propose. I agree that we create our reality but it is because the brain have a limited capacity and it has to choose what part of the reality is going to take into account, we know all of this, even we do not see all the light spectrum, but only an small portion but it is enough for us.\nThe universe is right for life, of course!!! otherwise will not be here...But like Carl Sagan said once, we can not survive as a humans and still nature although it is working hard to make us survive, does not care about the final result because we are not the only experiment running at this moment.
Avatar of: Ruth Rosin

Ruth Rosin

Posts: 117

April 17, 2009

In his well known book, Thomas Kuhn (1970). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (2nd edition), had already stressed that scientists have no choice but to rely on paradigms. (He later substituted the term "disciplinary matrix" for paradigm.)\n\nHis point was this: A paradigm is a combination of a "scientific world view" I(which determines that type of entities that can exist within that "world view", and "exemplars" (which show how to approach the solutions of problems within that "world view", and which kind of solutions can be accepted within it). Although scientists rely on paradigm, they never accept a paradigm as the absolute truth, but are fully aware that an accepted paradigm may eventually be toppled by a scientific revolution, and be replaced by a new, incommensurate paradigm. We know that scientific revolutions had occurred in the past, and there is nothing to assure us that they will not occur in the future.\n\nKuhn stresses that the reason scientists have no choice but to rely on paradigms (with their "scientific world views"), is that ultimate reality, i.e. the absolutely true world view can never be known to us, and we, therefore, cannot compare it with any "scientific world view" we temporarily accept. If the absolutely true world view could be known to us, we would never, even temporarily, accept anything less than that, and scientific revolutions could, then, never occur.\n\nSince ultimate reality is inaccessible to us, neither "biocentrism", nor any other "centrism", can ever alter that!

April 17, 2009

Maybe biocentrism (which should not be conflated with anthropocentrism) has pretensions of competing with cosmology for finding the keys for unlocking the mysteries of the universe. And maybe the complexity of life is in the same class as the complexity of the universe. But after looking at some of the images from the Hubble deep field probes of the universe (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgg2tpUVbXQ), life on Earth seems really small and unequal to the task, George Berkeley notwithstanding.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 3

April 17, 2009

There is no substance to this apparent argument, as presented in this book review, that consciousness creates the universe rather than visa versa. Quantum phenomena on the sub-atomic level do not support the argument that your kitchen is a subjective reality created by a light switch. Now the question is will this help sales. Sale not made.
Avatar of: DENSON FUJIKAWA

DENSON FUJIKAWA

Posts: 1

April 17, 2009

The problem with the naysayers regarding the concept of biocentrism is that everything that we posit from the physical and cosomological point of view depends upon our structuring the measurements and viewing the outcomes. This is what I think is meant by biocentrism. Of course Bishop Berkeley was wrong in saying that the world around me depends upon my perception and my perception only. I think that the authors are on to something. It's not "fluffy" or "froofoo" stuff that they're talking about. String theory, the general and specific theories of relativity emanate from humans and their eminently small, yet eminently powerful, brains. QED.
Avatar of: Paul Temple

Paul Temple

Posts: 1

April 17, 2009

"current physics-based theories of the material world do not work, and can never be made to work, until they fully account for life and consciousness."\n\nThis statement assumes that our consciousness can define itself. But system of logic that "fully accounts for [human] consciousness" could only come from a superhuman consciousness (God, for example.) Yet the authors arrogantly presume to be able to think outside of their own minds.\n\nThese men (like many arrogant scientists) first establish that human consciousness is inadequate to explain itself, and then continue by trying to do it anyway. There is a word for this and it's "hypocrisy."\n\nOf course, it makes sense to me that human consciousness has a limit, because I acknowledge the existence of a higher consciousness. Anyone humble enough to do the same--I ask you to read the Bible.\n\n
Avatar of: Ken Wilsher

Ken Wilsher

Posts: 5

April 18, 2009

Please - Schrödingers' cat story was a joke!\n\nIn his joke we were asked to believe that a single pulse output of a Gieger tube could be held in a state of quantum indeterminancy until an "observer" came along to look at it. \n\nNow we are asked to believe that turning on the lights in the bathroom and taking a look collapses "the wave function" of the bathroom!\n\nHere is a nice project for Robert Lanza and Bob Berman to spend the rest of their lives on. Find out just how intelligent this observer has to be. Would a fly be OK or even a microbe. Maybe a few stupid atoms would be enough?\n\nAnother funny twist - Schrödinger was very influential in getting physicists to move into biochemistry. Reason was - he was convinced that there were new principles of physics to be discovered in biology. He seems to have been wrong so far.
Avatar of: Wade Lee

Wade Lee

Posts: 2

April 18, 2009

Interesting, what that was proposed in this article has an uncanny resemblance to the Eastern Zen/Chan Philosophy, which also asserts that the sense of "self-hood" in itself on top of everything else is too an illusion of the mind.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 107

April 18, 2009

Has this world without me wrought\nOther substance than my thought?\nLives it by my sense alone\nOr by some essence of its own?\n-Henry Hedge (I think - can someone confirm this?)\n\nBishop Berkeley famously concluded that, since things must be perceived in order to to exist, the universe can only exist if it is perceived in the mind of God, which he took to be a proof of the existence of God, which is a reasonable enough conclusion once you have decided to go down this road. Ironically, it is advances in biology, specifically our understanding of the mechanics of human perception, that undermine Berkeley's premise. His classic example was a tree falling in a forest. Does it make a sound if no one is there to hear it? We now know that the percept (sound) only exists in the mind of the listener, but a physical phenomenon (compression waves traveling though the air) can exist independently of the percept. This dichotomy dissipates Berkeley's argument, at least in this example. The process of validating our perception of the outside world by examining how another person perceives it (e.g. by the scientific study of perception) is known as intersubjectivity. Philosophically and psychologically it is fundamental to our grasp of the reality of the physical world around us. People in solitary confinement go quite mad without it. It works roughly like this: I can observe you in the process of perceiving the world outside of yourself, and I can clearly see that the objects you perceive exist separately from you, and I can see how objects external to you manifest themselves to you. You can do the same for me, and we can compare notes. All that remains is to assume that you and I are mentally basically similar -- i.e. that our relationship is basically symmetrical -- and we can thence conclude that the world we mutually perceive exists outside of ourselves. Reality is a social construct, to borrow the phrase of Peter Berger -- not in the sense that reality is merely a matter of social convention, but in the sense that verifying it is critically dependent on social interaction. Ignoring this simple truth has left philosophers chasing their own tails for millenia. To the extent that contemplative philosophy is solitary, it is incapable of grasping reality. Maybe this is why most scientists distrust it. (I am aware that the assumption of mental symmetry is unprovable, but it seems overwhelmingly plausible, and I for one am willing to go with it.)
Avatar of: Matthew Grossman

Matthew Grossman

Posts: 27

April 18, 2009

This may be the route to the unified theory but I'm having trouble with this review of the book, which I haven't read.\n\nOne view point I don't get, or why one would say it as if is needed to justify the pursuit of this view, is captured in statements such as:\n"Our understanding of the universe as a whole has reached a dead-end. In our view, current physics-based theories of the material world do not work, and can never be made to work, until they fully account for life and consciousness."\n\nOf course our current physics-based theories work. They in fact work to an amazing precision for predicting most of what we observe around us. But as we know they do not do a complete job of it, and we don't have a Theory of Everything (T.O.E) yet; biocentrism may get us there, lets see.\n\nI also get nervous when I see statements suggesting that it is just to improbable that the universe is the way it is unless it was consciousness was involved, insomuch as it seems to invoke a God concept. I tend to prefer the anthropic principle, it makes sense to me, i.e., we can't experience a world we couldn't live in. Therefore the world we live in must support life.\n\nBut mostly I see a familiar position I am uncomfortable with, which is it has to this or that, the universe is physics determined or it is biological. My position is it is both and in fact they are one and the same thing. Just as E=MC^2 came as a great non-intuitive concept, and later proven reality, this argument may be missing a crucial perspective. \n\nMy thinking goes like this. Two familiar primary arguments regarding life and consciousness go like this. One saying we are "just" a series of chemical reactions thinking we are conscious. The other being consciousness is transcendental and is in fact attributed to a soul or some other non-chemical entity. \n\nTo me this is not helpful. In the first argument the word that gives me the greatest trouble is "just". In the second, it is the need to create some entity that we have absolutely no data to support its existence other than faith and uneasiness with the first argument.\n\nI suggest a different view. We are, and our consciousness is, in fact an emergent quality of the physical and chemical arrangement we call a human beings brain and the corresponding sensory organs. But the point is this is not a "just" it is a profound realization. Think about it, it means that the chemistry and physics that surrounds us when arranged in a particular way form a consciousness we call human. Amazing! It simply is that way; it is not diminishing or deflating. It tells a profound reality of the universe, consciousness is inherent in the basic components, quarks, electrons, muons, photons, the forces and time, i.e., there is a quantum consciousness of the fundamental object of existence, or the fundamental object is indeed consciousness. I would suggest that our consciousness points strongly to this view. It is right out in front of us but we find it very hard to believe.\n\nThis lack of believing and moving with what is staring us in the face is akin to scientific concepts such as animals don't feel pain, emotions, don't reason or have consciousness or language. Anyone who spends anytime with say a dog, cat or cow clearly sees this is nonsense and it is only recently that science has proven such things "scientifically" in the case of other primates, dolphins etc. Not that I have a problem with the scientific proof of such things but it was obvious to anyone who just accepted what they saw.\n\nSo perhaps a new equation will emerge from biocentrism.\n\nPerhaps something like Awareness= Consciousness x Chemistry squared, abbreviated to A=CCm^2. Where chemistry/physics is some measure of space-time arrangement leading to emergent consciousness such as our own.\n\n\n
Avatar of: Satish Agarwal

Satish Agarwal

Posts: 3

April 19, 2009

This article is very thought provoking. Our perception of the universe (for example, 3 dimensions space) depends on the way we perceive, the details of which are not known. Quantum Mechanics takes the view that without understanding the details of the perception processes involved, we may try to understand our observations. It turns out that Quantum Mechanics can not only explain the observed behavior but can also predict. Among the many things that have come out as surprises, is the Heisenberg?s Uncertainty principle. Let us not forget, however, that the Quantum Mechanics starts with a set of postulates, which although have been tested experimentally, but have never been proved, theoretically. It appears as though we have hit upon a recipe using which we can predict what we are going to find after a measurement, even though we do not know how our senses may change the reality (if there is one). \n\nThe present article is relevant here as it suggests biology as the key to cosmology. It is interesting to speculate that this may be possible, if we understand how our senses including brain work, so that we shall understand the origin of the postulates of Quantum Mechanics and might be able to derive them mathematically.\n

April 20, 2009

Isn't the proposed 'biocentrism' not psychology in a fancy hat?\n\nIf we put our mental perceptions of space, time and external reality at the centre of our scientific understanding of the cosmos, it slaps more of egocentrism than any other centrism.\n\nI think that humans, as but one conscious species existing for a flash of time in the known universe, really only perceive a sliver of what the universe holds.\n\nMy eye for example, only detects a modest range of light wavelengths. Instruments augment this faculty but hey - who trusts an instrument?\n\nBiology is more interesting than physics - now that's a better argument. \n\nThere's no need to call this argument 'biocentrism'.

April 20, 2009

If the Milky Way Galaxy spins in the cosmos and a human does not observe it, does it still undergo core collapse?
Avatar of: David Deal

David Deal

Posts: 1

April 20, 2009

well well well. the idea of biocentrism could be another classic example of humanity's over-inflated view of its own self-worth. could just as well go by the moniker egocentrism. the biocentrism view is based on thinking humans are the epitome of life. in fact would we always recognize life if we saw it? i'll concede this biocentristic model will prove to be more valid if indeed the planet Earth is the only source of any form of life. if that is indeed the case humanity has a much greater responsibility in the greater scheme of things. seems to hint at quantum consciousness which appears to be gaining steam. will metaphysics ever go away? appears not. brain/mind, body/mind, body/soul, body/soul/spirit and all that it entails.
Avatar of: john toeppen

john toeppen

Posts: 52

April 20, 2009

According to Wiki, Bishop Berkeley's best selling book was "Siris: Philosophical reflexions and inquiries concerning the virtues of tar-water, and divers other subjects connected together and arising from one another (1744)"\n\nBut there was an even better summation in Wiki:\n\nOver a century later Berkeley's thought experiment was summarized in a limerick by Ronald Knox and an anonymous reply:\n\nThere was a young man who said "God \nMust find it exceedingly odd \n To think that the tree \n Should continue to be \nWhen there's no one about in the quad." \n\n"Dear Sir: Your astonishment's odd; \nI am always about in the quad. \n And that's why the tree \n Will continue to be \nSince observed by, Yours faithfully, God."
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

April 20, 2009

Yes, the poet is the transcendentalist Frederic Henry Hedge - whose "Questionings" contains the 4-line stanza you quote. Collected in The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology, ed. George Willis Cook; pub. 1903, Houghton, Mifflin. At http://books.google.com/books?id=XjUMAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&dq=has+this+world+without+me+wrought+poem+henry+hedge&source=bl&ots=Z7lKbk1TBB&sig=m5NZTRppXCeOBD5BbfvcMZ04zpk&hl=en&ei=8vDsSdS7BoPUNOjMsPMF&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8#PPR10,M1

April 22, 2009

I for one have NOT personally met or heard of Frederic Henry Hedge and therefore refuse to acknowledge his existance. I will however take the word of either of you, if and only if, you have met him in person. :)
Avatar of: Venkata Ramanan

Venkata Ramanan

Posts: 12

April 28, 2009

Very true.What is in the macrocosm is in tne microcosm.Fundamental units that make up macrocosm,atoms-in broader terms earth, water, fire, air and ether that are present in the Universe is present in ALL living things.Understanding the micro can unravel macro mysteries.Coming to consciousness-it is a part of gross elements, yet apart from it.You infer consciousness through senses and senses can be perceived through only consciousness.It is all pervading yet difficult to pinpoint.Working of consciousness make one do/think , including what I write right now.Consciousness permeates every human being and it is Universal for all living things-It is a stream.It appears differently to each one because of Space and Time,two googles through which we peceive, as Kant puts it.Henri Bergson calls it Elan Vital and ancient Hindu texts call it Brahman, the Ultimate Reality.\nWithout onderstanding consciousness, we will be groping in the dark without knowing we are groping.Micro undersanding shall shall unravel the mysteries of macrocosm.

August 25, 2009

The preliminary idea of biocentrism seems to be very good. It has some similarity with the ancient system of knowledge called Vedanta, which was discussed in India among sages and great devotees since time immemorial.\n\nOne of the basic aphorism in Upanisads is: asadva idam agra asit, or brahman (and its symptom consciousness) existed even before the manifestation of the material world. This implies that life cannot be explained from matter as life is more fundamental than matter. However to develop a scientific conception of the real nature of life will require a very serious dialogue among the thoughtful scientists and scholars all over the world.

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