I think you're drawing unwarranted conclusions from the absence of a "flow" of time. There is no "flow" of space, but that doesn't keep space from being a useful concept. In GR there is still a time dimension. As Sean Carroll points out there can still be states corresponding to consciousness in a block universe. You've arbitrarily assumed these states are discrete and disjoint, but QM would require that they have duration. And common experience is that one's thoughts have durations; which means that they not only have order, but they can overlap - and that's enough to explain "flow".

Also one should keep in mind that GR, QM, space, time, are all models we use to explain and predict experience. Don't put absolute weight on any one model. If you start by assuming something, like GR, and reach a strange conclusion then you should reexamine your assumptions and inferences. Perhaps you've proven your assumption was absurd?

Brent

On 7/12/2013 12:37 PM, luizfelipecs...@gmail.com wrote:

Hi,

My name is Luiz Felipe, I am 38 years old, Brazilian, graduated in engineering and i am crazy about science and philosophy.

Recently, after reading and watching documentaries about general relativity and the problem of consciousness, I made a structured reflectionon on a 4 pages "paper" . I' ve already referred this "paper" for a science-list(egroups) in Brazil , where there are some members with good knowledge of general relativity. So far, none of them know how to stand in relation to what I wrote.

Thus, I am sending this "paper" to this list (i already sent this paper to Alberto Corona), in order to know if I made any mistake in understanding general relativity; specifically on the concepts of block universe and the flow of time, and it's consequences.

Thanks for the attention, and sorry about my english :-) !

Best Regards!
Luiz Felipe

Summary: This study aims to analyze the philosophical (materialists, dualists and idealists) explanation of consciousness and its consistency with a major current physical theory: General Relativity.

*
*

*1. Introduction*

The problem of consciousness today occupies one of the most important points to be clarified by philosophy and science. By its nature, there is no consensus among both philosophical, as in science, with respect to its explanation.

The main philosophical position today are : materialistic, where consciousness is explained as a result of neural processes (is the basis for scientific research on consciousness) or as an illusion generated by brain processes (deniers); dualistic, which considers consciousness independently of matter and which postulates that consciousness is a fundamental entity of the universe (as fundamental as space-time and matter) and idealist, who believes consciousness as the basis of all physical existence.

*2. Theories of Relativity*

The Special Theory of Relativity “break”s the objective flow of time. According Belizário (2001) "The idea is that the" flow "of time is different for different observers." With that, according to Einstein himself, the distinction between past, present and future is a persistent illusion, a illusion, that comes from our perception, which curiously depends on our consciousness.

According Damour (2010) "General relativity has opened the door to an even deeper twist of the ordinary concept of time. However, the most popular treatments of science have a tendency, when speaking of General Relativity (GR), and especially when describing relativistic cosmological models (inflation, Big Bang), to use language that suggests that the GR reintroduces the notion of temporal flow, which had been abolished in Special Relativity.

Far from it. The GR space-time is as timeless as the Especial Relativity. The Big Bang should not be referred as the birth of the universe and its creation "ex nihilo" but as one of the possible limits of a strongly deformed (and timeless ) block of space-time. "

*3. General Theory of Relativity and the Philosophical Currents of Awareness*

The materialists consider consciousness as a result of neural processes. The possibility of consciousness as a result of one or more processes in the brain has as an implicit assumption (necessary condition), the physical existence of the flow of time. Because if the flow of time does not physically exist, then we have no existence of physical processes and, consequently, we have no conscious being "produced"; emerging from this processes.

>From the above, we can conclude that:

1) The "materialistic hypothesis" of consciousness is fully consistent with the "/Newtonian Universe."/ A universe in construction, where the existence of processes is required, and the physical existence of the flow of time allows these processes to occur.

So, in a/“Newtonian Universe”/, where space and time are absolute, and the flow of time is a physical reality, the explanation of consciousness as a result of a process, adheres to this reality, but if the flow of time doesn’t exist (physically), so we have no processes and therefore we have no consciousness being "produced"; emerging from these processes.

2) If we accept the premise that the GR is correct about the lack of the flow of time, then all philosophical position that hypothesize consciousness as a result of one or more neural processes, should be compulsorily incorrect, because it is premised on a reality incompatible with the reality described by GR.

In this case, we have only two hypotheses to explain the phenomenon of consciousness. The idealistic and dualistic (discussed below).

The dualistic hypothesis of David Chalemrs consider consciousness as a basic entity, wich does not interfere in the matter.

Occam's Razor warns us not to multiply entities of a model than is necessary. However, since GR (assuming, as a premise, that the GR is correct about the lack of the flow of time, and about the "Block Universe") explains the material universe, but is not sufficient to explain the conscious experience (which allows us to experience the flow of time), it becomes legitimate to postulate another entity, so that we can have a model that can deal not only with the description in the third person of our physical universe, but also with own first-person experience (awareness), which leads to the perception of time flow.

Thus, if we postulate that consciousness is another fundamental entity in our universe, which may, through an unknown mechanism, interacting with the "Einstein Universe " without interfering in it, we have as a result, a hypothesis of awareness that is compatible with the reality described by GR, which also explains why we perceive the flow of time and changes along the "Block Universe".

In this case, we can think of consciousness and its relation to the "Block Universe", similar to a video game, game, and set the HD plus Reader. Just as the game exists as a whole, together with the HD, and its sequencing is the result of the interaction of the reader with HD, we can consider that the spacetime contains the whole of our history (and in a sense, our immortality), and assume that the illusion of the flow of time refers to the stream of consciousness "through" space-time, this flow allows us to experience our story sequentially and always forward in time.

This modified Chalmers Hypotheses maintains compatibility with the GR: how we have to give up totally, our free will, compatibility with GR is assured since all our past, present and future are already determined.

Sean Carroll, in a article “The Flow of Time” says that */“Modern physics suggests that we can look at the entire history of the universe as a single four-dimensional thing. That includes our own personal path through it, which defines our /**/world line <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_line>/**/.This seemingly conflicts with our intuitive idea that we exist at a moment, and move through time. Of course there is no real conflict — just two different ways of looking at the same thing. There is a four-dimensional universe that includes all of our world line, from birth to death, once and for all; and each moment along that world line defines an instantaneous person with the perception that they are growing older, advancing through time.”/*

Notice that i don’tdeny Seans claim (in what I am proposing), that every time we are aware of the "present moment" plus "moments earlier" The problem is: what makes us walk through these moments, so we constantly forward in time.

His argument doesn’taddresses this question, and brings another problem: as he considers the existence of instantaneous awareness, consciousness - through a "materialist" explanation – is no longer the result of a brain process, and become a state. Because even with nothing happening (impulses coming and going), consciousness is still there. Even with frozen time!

But if the illusion of time flow of time is the result of the flow of consciousnessthrough a “frozen” space-time, them we can satisfactory explain the instantaneous awareness, and our movementforward in time.

*Conclusion*

Whereas, as a premise, that the GR is correct about the physics lack of flow of time, then the whole “materialist” explanation of consciousness is necessarily wrong, due to incompatibility between the physical reality in which it’s need to be in order to be correct, and the reality described by GR.

The price to pay to have an dualistic explanation for consciousness is the total absence of free will.



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