Amit Goswami

Dr. Amit Goswami taught physics at university for many years. In the summer of 2005, I saw him speak on physics and consciousness. Recently, he published a book, The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World. In an interview with Craig Hamilton of WIE magazine, he describes some of the main points. The article is called Scientific Proof of the Existence of God (an interesting juxtaposition to DawkinsGod Delusion“)

A few excerpts:

At that moment, solely because of the conscious observation of that individual, the entire universe, including all of the history leading up to that point, suddenly came into being. Until that moment, nothing had actually ever happened. In that moment, fifteen billion years happened... the universe, in order to exist, requires a conscious sentient being to be aware of it. Without an observer, he claims, it only exists as a possibility. And as they say in the world of science, Goswami has done his math.

Quantum physics, as well as a number of other modern sciences, he feels, is demonstrating that the essential unity underlying all of reality is a fact which can be experimentally verified…hence, the materialist paradigm which has dominated scientific and philosophical thought for over two hundred years can finally be called into question.

In fact, as far as we know, he is the only new paradigm scientist who is taking a clear stand against the relativism so popular among new age thinkers. At a time when the decay of human values and the erosion of any sense of meaning has reached epidemic scale, it is hard to imagine what could be more important than this.

…cause arises from the interactions of these basic building blocks or elementary particles; elementary particles make atoms, atoms make molecules, molecules make cells, and cells make brain. But all the way, the ultimate cause is always the interactions between the elementary particles. This is the belief—all cause moves from the elementary particles. This is what we call “upward causation.” So in this view, what human beings—you and I—think of as our free will does not really exist. It is only an epiphenomenon or secondary phenomenon, secondary to the causal power of matter. And any causal power that we seem to be able to exert on matter is just an illusion. This is the current paradigm.

Now, the opposite view is that everything starts with consciousness. That is, consciousness is the ground of all being. In this view, consciousness imposes “downward causation.” In other words, our free will is real. When we act in the world we really are acting with causal power. This view does not deny that matter also has causal potency—it does not deny that there is causal power from elementary particles upward, so there is upward causation—but in addition it insists that there is also downward causation. It shows up in our creativity and acts of free will, or when we make moral decisions. In those occasions we are actually witnessing downward causation by consciousness.

Amit goes on to observe how ideas like The Tao of Physics (nearly 30 years ago) brought new ideas to the table but did it from a materialist standpoint, that there was consciousness and matter. He is now suggesting “to recognize that all the paradoxes of quantum physics can be solved if we accept consciousness as the ground of being.” He feels this is a true paradigm shift and merging of physics and spirituality.

In quantum physics, objects are seen as possibilities, possibility waves. Right? So then the question arises, what converts possibility into actuality? Because, when we see, we only see actual events. That’s starting with us. When you see a chair, you see an actual chair, you don’t see a possible chair.

The universe is self-aware, but it is self-aware through us. We are the meaning of the universe.

…four hundred years ago, with Galileo, Copernicus, Newton and others, we started the separatist sail and we went on a separate journey of separateness, but that’s only the first part of the hero’s journey. Then the hero discovers and the hero returns. It is the hero’s return that we are now witnessing through this new paradigm.

And what a journey it is.

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5 Responses to Amit Goswami

  1. Pingback: Big Bang go Boom « In 2 Deep

  2. ri says:

    Have you seen the new documentary that is about Amit and his work? It’s called “The Quantum Activist”

  3. Pingback: The Quantum Activist « In 2 Deep

  4. Gloria says:

    The idea that “Consciousness is Primary; Matter is Secondary.” goes back to, at least, 1932. See my blog post of that title. In the following quote, when he says 30 years ago, he’s talking about 1902, which is 107 years ago to us. So, the idea expressed here is not that new. But it has not been understood.

    The mathematician and astronomer Sir James Jeans, wrote: “Thirty years ago, we thought, or assumed that we were heading towards an ultimate reality of a mechanical kind. . . . Into this wholly mechanical world . . . life had stumbled by accident. . . . Today there is a wide measure of agreement, which on the physical side of science approaches almost unanimously, that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter-not of course our individual minds, but the mind in which the atoms of which our individual minds have grown exist” (Jeans, 1932, pp. 185-186).
    Jeans, J. (1932) The mysterious universe (rev. ed.). New York: Macmillan.

  5. Davidya says:

    Hi Gloria
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and a great quote.

    If you study history, you’ll find that the idea of spirit being primary has been the dominant meme for most of recorded history. Science brought with it a rejection of ideas that could not be proved mechnically. We as if threw the baby out with the bathwater. But gradually, science is being confronted with some of the ideas it once rejected. The framework in which it all happens.

    Another example might be ether, another word for what is now called “dark matter / energy”….

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