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The Physics of Consciousness in Book Form

I always recommend Biocentrism by Robert Lanza. I should reread it so I remember exactly why I think it’s so important that you read it. It’s about the nature of consciousness and it uses the classic sexy physics demonstration, the double slit theory (that proves that matter behaves differently when it is observed) with entangled particles to illustrate that all matter in the universe existed only in a state of possibility until it snapped into existence when consciousness became aware of it. Maybe that was a spoiler.

I enjoy reading physics that’s just beyond my understanding. This book consistently stayed on the edge of what I already understood and what I’d never dreamed of. Except the part about Einstein’s theories of time, that was pretty challenging, but it was explained clearly enough that I was able to use the concept in conversation with an astrophysicist a year after reading. I don’t remember the concept now. Something like: since light moves like this, then time must all happen at once. Yes I will put it on my reread pile… there are a lot of good books on that pile.

I was very happy to find Beyond Biocentrism, the second book in the series about the physics of consciousness, or rather, the effects of consciousness on physics. When I read their first, Biocentrism, I thought it was the best book ever, but it was possibly the first non mycology non-fiction book I’d read. Now that I’ve read a lot if science books I was excited to find out how the writing would compare, and excited that this one would include a chapter on plant perception and a chapter on the illusion of death!

Beyond Biocentrism stood up as a very good read. It was only slowish because I had to stop a few times on each page to ponder and re-evaluate my understanding of reality. I enjoyed following the book’s logic. The first book in the series convinced me that all mater snapped into existence retroactively after consciousness observed it. This time around I disagreed with a lot of the logic, but disagreeing lead me to develop my own materialist beliefs and fleshing out what I think time and perspective is.

I was entertained by the constant anthropomorphic language and metaphor that you’d think a scientist who is talking about the relationship between consciousness and matter would cut out rather than repeatedly, euphemistically and unnecessarily saying that mater knows this and understands that. I enjoy marking up a book with pencil to correct the metaphoric intention that English can leave in science writing, but this time my copy was a library book.

The chapter on plant intelligence was not as fascinating as it could have been. They began by discrediting it, then referenced some science fiction films and then declared it real. I wish they’d talked more about the experiments that have studied plant perception and plant intelligence by the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology and the adversity faced by the Plant Signaling and Behavior Society. If you want to know more read Brilliant Green by Stefano Mancuso and Thus Spoke the Plant by Monica Gagliano.

I don’t think they offered a great argument against the existence of death, but they set the stage and invited us in to manifest our own. Most memorably by asking when consciousness entered our body. To me it seems like it didn’t, it was just already there when our brains grew around it and created the illusion of a separation between self and everything else and the illusion of time and space, which leads us to think that when our brains stop working that our consciousness will go back to being one with the universe. But on the other hand I believe that emotions are chemical and produced by the material of living bodies and that when we die all that get’s mixed back up into the world in an unconscious way.

The appendix at the end was a bit contradictory, that all matter and time exists only in our minds and that our minds exist not in our brains but where ever we direct our attention. I wish that page had been included in the main text rather than an aside on the last page as it was unsatisfying, but all in all I will recommend this book to anyone curious about physics and consciousness and I’m looking forward to reading the next one.

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