What is Consciousness?
And how does it define our behaviour? How much of it is located in our brain? And where else in our physical form do we actually “think”?
This fundamental question is the hardest riddle of neuroscience today. Our cultural approach to answer it has been influenced over centuries by one of Europe’s most renown philosophers: René Descartes. He was convinced that body and conscious mind are two different substances: the first is made of matter, the other is immaterial. His ideas had influenced neuroscience until a few decades ago, but the field has moved on. Today, it is widely accepted that our brain, even our whole body has an important role by giving rise to consciousness.
But how? That is a raging debate between neuroscientists, philosophers as well as IT-experts, who are working on robotics and artificial intelligence. And if you invite quantum physicists to the discussion, it all gets really crazy, as Jeanny remembers vividly:
Individual Consciousness - or not?
“A couple of years ago, I was sitting in the big plenary room of Forum Alpbach. Each year, end of August, scientists, technical experts, politicians, managers and other opinion leaders from all over the world come together in a tiny, romantic alpine village in Austria to discuss the burning questions of Science and Society. This particular year, 2014, the opening session was about “Us and Our Brains – Neuroscience at the Crossroads”, a talk about neuroscience and the latest findings about consciousness and meaning making. The speakers, all of them at the leading edge of their field, from the US and Europe showed us pictures of tomography, colourful graphics of brains at work and explained their actual findings. After 1,5 hours the panel started with questions and answers, as a grizzled man with a wicked grin rose his arm to ask a question. Everybody in the room knew him: Austrian born Prof. Anton Zeilinger, one of today’s globally most popular quantum physicists and definitely a candidate for the Nobel Prize. His work is about quantum communication and quantum entanglement. He defined a process how to get unbreakable code with entangled particles, and how to “beam” or (to say it professionally) quantum teleport information from one place to the other without time delay.
“I’m just a physicist…” he started his question “but how can you still take it for granted that consciousness is a phenomenon which arises and can be shown in one single brain? Quantum Physics has already disproved this concept!” Silence. The other scientists had no answer. And they could not discard it since it was raised by an honoured fellow scientist.”
Now, why is this relevant? Because taking Zeilinger’s remark into consideration – backed by latest scientific studies – reality obviously is just an individual construct made up of unconscious patterns, beliefs, experiences and expectations. A totally subjective and highly individual perspective on the same “thing”. Quantum Physics shows, that information is the basic concept behind all universes. We all have the same access to any kind of information. What we perceive as vital is a matter of choice. Making this choice a conscious one is what our work is all about.