Perception of Matter by Spiritual Beings
From: "Peter Mutnick"
CC: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: RE: Perception of matter by spiritual beings
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 2004 09:31:42 -0800
From: Dennis Janssen
To: Peter Mutnick
Subject: Perception of matter by spiritual beings
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2004 15:05:52 -0800 (PST)
Was reading something in the Urantia Book about the perception of the material world by spiritual beings "Indited by an Archangel of Nebadon" and thought of you.
44:0.8 All these activities of the morontia and spirit worlds are real. To spirit beings the spirit world is a reality. To us the material world is the more unreal. The higher forms of spirits freely pass through ordinary matter. High spirits are reactive to nothing material excepting certain of the basic energies. To material beings the spirit world is more or less unreal; to spirit beings the material world is almost entirely unreal, being merely a shadow of the substance of spirit realities. ...
To those of the madhyamaka, nondual, path, it would bespeak of subtle dualism to retain the word "spirit" for the true substance of reality. The material world is a kind of shadow of the true substance of reality, but the problem is that the actual mechanism of the material world is like a motion picture projector, i.e., the mechanism is one of light projection, so to call it "shadow" is a bit misleading. Rather, the material world, as God created it, and continues to create it, is light, but not exactly the pure undifferentiated light of the primal experience of consciousness itself. In that sense, that it is the lesser, qualified, light, rather than the pure unqualified light, and in that sense only, might it be called "shadow".
The true substance of reality is embodied in the atomic actual entities of subjective experience. The Sanskrit term for "actual entity" is "tathabhava", which is sometimes translated as "entity of suchness". "Tathabhava" is the "subject" of Whitehead, while "svarupa" is the "superject" - subject is substance and superject is form, according to Whitehead. The Tibetan term for both tathabhava and svarupa is "ngo bo". It is a curious synchronicity that one of the foremost Whitehead scholars at Claremont Institute is named Nobo, or Jorge Luis Nobo (the "g" in "ngo bo" is silent).
As you know, I am working with some world class physicists, trying to develop a new paradigm for quantum field theory, in which the particles of matter do not constitute the dynamical elements of interaction, as they do in the present conventional theory. Rather, they appear only as asymptotic abstractions, the outgoing products of an S-matrix element, for which the incoming materials are the multiplicity of past concrescences. The superject of each concrescence is a potential for an actual event in the mental pole of a present, prehending actual entity. The mental pole is essentially an "S-matrix element". Each such "S-matrix element" of dynamic atomic experience reanimates the memory of the universe, as embodied in the objectively immortal concrescences of the past and projects it upon the screen of time and space, which screen is comprised of points and instants (ksana, in the Sanskrit). The dipolar (physical and mental) actual entity then goes on to fully develop as a concrescence in its own right. The total potentiality of the universe is never reduced, i.e. there is no state vector reduction, per se, since concrescences do not change, but the multiplicity of concrescences is increased by one (the newly completed actual entity). Due to special affinity with its successor, the most recent concrescence, even though only one in trillions, could be of special significance in the continuum of subjective experience.
Since the whole outcome of process is to increase the multiplicity of actual entities by one, process could be represented by a creation operator of the unified field. As you expressed to me in private conversation, in at least one sense, there is nothing but consciousness, and even the idea of sensory experience, insofar as it involves the multiplicity of radical pluralism, is somewhat illusory. Indeed, the so-called phenomenological reduction of Descartes and Husserl, which reveals a metaphysical context for consciousness itself and the transcendental ego thereof, could be represented by the destruction or annihilation operators of the unified field, insofar as it turns away from and denies (actually it just suspends consideration of) the ontological existence of the concrescences or actual entities of nature, which constitute the natural realm. The coherent states of the unified field, which are the eigenvectors of the destruction or annihilation operators, would then be the states of consciousness which form the basis states for all that we are capable of experiencing consciously. The notion of coherent states on a lattice constituting basis states for any possible measurement is discussed by von Neumann in his book, Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics.
Since each actual entity prehends all other actual entities, the universe in its entirety is literally recreated in each atomic bit of subjective experience! That recreated universe is then further processed into the "actual world" of that "actual entity", in Whitehead's terminology. The pre-existent actual world is the multiplicity of other concrescences - the pre-existent actual world is the input of the "S-matrix element", while the produced universe of elementary particles is the output. Hence, we see that experience is much more complex than could be imagined based upon a merely mechanical model of reality. Such mechanical models can never encompass or explain experience. Rather we need the next generation of quantum theory to do that, which will be an even deeper expression of the principle of complementarity, as Niels Bohr predicted.
Let me know if any of this resonates with you.
P.S. I am cc'ing this to some of the physicists I am talking with, because it is perhaps the most comprehensive statement to date of my present views.
Henry Stapp's use of Whitehead is very attenuated compared to the program outlined below. He basically views the actual entities as the temporal sequence of Heisenberg actual events that reduce the state vector, thus producing in each instance a new potential or superject for further actual events. The only real use of Whitehead is in the notion that the Heisenberg actual events are experiential and subjective, and hence in the first instance subjects. He justifies this with the analysis of von Neumann and Wigner (the so-called von Neumann chain, terminating in the abstract "ego" and presumably consciousness). Stan Klein is also limited to this narrow interpretation, based on the unlimited moveability of the Heisenberg Schnitt.
It is doubtful that Bohr intended such an *unlimited* moveability, and likely that he meant something much more limited and subtle by his parable of the cane. It is true that he thought the moveability of the separation between subject and object was important philosophically, but unlikely that he thought it had unlimited application - he never embraced the approach of von Neumann, for instance, even though they were close friends and he must have been very familiar with it. Bohr never identified von Neumann's measurement theory with the next generation of quantum theory that would include a quantum description of the measuring device, even though technically that is what the von Neumann theory purports to accomplish (without however requiring a fundamental revamping of the theory - Bohr insisted a fundamental revamping was necessary to accomplish the inclusion of the measuring device in any way that was more than trivial, urealistic, and essentially false).
Moreover, Whitehead says explicitly in "Process and Reality" that the actual entities DO NOT occur in a temporal sequence, thus ruling out the interpretation of Stapp as an accurate reading of Whitehead. Stapp justifies his deviation with the notion that Whitehead was unreasonably concerned with following the restrictions of relativity in ignorance of quantum theory, particularly the Tomonaga-Schwinger theory of the spacelike surfaces for reductions, which *may* be preferred, without disturbing the causality requirements of the theory.
Logically, Stapp could be right, and Whitehead must then have been suffering from one collossal psychosis (justifiied by his ignorance of quantum theory). But I doubt it.
An authentic reading of Whitehead takes the actual entities not just as the Heisenberg actual events, made subjective by by the von Neumann chain, but as the subjective substitute for the objective entities of nature, known as elementary particles. According to Whitehead, the notion of elementary particles as objective building blocks of nature, *even* if they are just phantasms in the mind of the scientist, amounts to what he called "vacuous actuality". In fact, Stapp's view that they are essentially phantasms in the mind of the scientist confirms Whitehead's view that they are not an adequate basis for ontology and leave any ontology based on them weak to the point of being unsustainable. Stapp's claim that his ontology is not based on particles is belied by his failure to define any other basis for his ontology - his ontology is in fact based on the quantum brain, which is comprised of elementary particles. His state vector of the universe is the state vector of all the elementary particles in the universe, and it is the state vector of the universe that he imbues with mind-independent reality, in analogy with the objective universe of classical physics. End of story.
Whitehead is attempting to define a true basis for ontology, and he finds that true basis in the actual entities of nature as he defines them, i.e., as subjects which become superjects through an internal process of becoming. There is of course a mountain of sublime intuition which goes into this axiom. The question raised by Stan Klein at the "Whitehead and Physics Conference" at the Clarement Institute is whether a real correspondence can be found between Whitehead and physics. Klein has since backed off that ambitious goal and in fact forgotten that he ever proposed it. I must now undertake the mission that has been forsaken, and I must invite all those in whom the fire of true knowledge is still kindled to join me.
As a minimal but otherwise accurate simplification of what Whitehead said, which I believe to be helpful in modeling his theory for physics, I say that all prehensions occur in the mental pole of the actual entity. The physical pole obeys the anticipatory prehensions of actual entities of the past, but that obedience does not in itself constitute a "physical prehension". The prehension amounts to an actual event in the mental pole of the prehending actual entity, and the prehended actual entity must be a completed concrescence, the superject of which is the potential for that actual event. That is for a positive prehension. For an anticipatory prehension, we must say that the present or prehending actual entity holds state vector knowledge for the substance which is the raw unprocessed subject of a future actual entity.
Each actual entity is a subject which essentially prehends or observes or measures each other actual entity in the universe, which is simply defined as the multiplicity of actual entities.
There is an asymmetry between the past light cone of the present actual entity, as the home for potential - actual event, and the future light cone, as the home for state vector - substance. The asymmetry arises because the state vector of the future substance must be put in a representation to bind the the future actual entity to a pattern of behavior. The unique representation that I believe to be astoundingly applicable to Whitehead's theory is von Neumann's representation of coherent states on a lattice. The event-particles and point-instants of Whitehead can be mathematically described in terms of the coherent states on a lattice.
So, the correspondence of Whitehead to physics seems to be this: the mental pole of each present or prehending actual entity is an S-matrix element, for which all the actual entities of the past are the input and all the actual entities of the future, assigned to the proper representation, are the output. The S-matrix element is nothing but a resonance, which will itself become an element of the input for future actual entities. The subjective actual entities are the real inputs and outputs and dynamical elements, and only because of the chosen representation do the actual entities of the future assume the abstract form of elementary particles, i.e., the elementary particles are abstract objects of the subjective aim, which never come to occupy the ontological basis or dynamical basis of the theory. This is in accord with Heisenberg's or Stapp's views on particles, but the difference is that an alternative basis for the ontology and the dynamics *is* explicitly provided.
I believe the above construction to be a faithful synthesis of both Whiteheadian philosophy and quantum physics, and the only serious attempt I have seen to attempt such a construction. The upshot and consequence for philosophy is the theory of atomic subjectivity, thus casting atomism in a new light, or possibly in its original light. Consciousness and experience are primary, consciousness itself being the verity of the universe, the only thing that endures from eternity to eternity. Subjective experience, however, as the other essential component of reality, is atomic, and it is experience itself that is divided into subjective atoms of experience. The thought thinks the thinker, and so our sense of ourselves as human subjects comes indeed from the atomic continuum of subjective experience. On the other hand, each sentient being as consciousness is one and the same consciousness, namely consciousness itself, which is the eternal verity of the universe, or the God of quantum theory, which Henry Stapp admits as necessary for a proper conception of even conventional quantum theory.
Getting in touch with the id of atomic subjective experience and the superego of consciousness itself indeed takes the burden off the ego of the sentient being and helps to alleviate and ultimately ameliorate the suffering thereof, which is the purpose of all our compassionate endeavors.