Consciousness as a State of Matter

Max Tegmark
MIT’s Max Tegmark argues that consciousness is a state of matter, and by “matter,” he doesn’t mean that somewhere in the deep recesses of your brain is a small bundle of liquid, sloshing around and powering your sense of self and your awareness of the world. Instead, Tegmark suggests that consciousness arises out of a particular set of mathematical conditions, and there are varying degrees of consciousness — just as certain conditions are required to create varying states of vapor, water, and ice. In turn, understanding how consciousness functions as a separate state of matter could help us come to a more thorough understanding of why we perceive the world the way we do. Read more here:

https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/why-physicists-are-saying-consciousness-is-a-state-of-matter-like-a-solid-a-liquid-or-a-gas-5e7ed624986d

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5 Responses to Consciousness as a State of Matter

  1. Hariod Brawn says:

    Correlations, correlations and yet more correlations. . . are they enough?

    • diplopi says:

      The so-called hard problem of consciousness, where consciousness is often thought to be a unique brain state that occurs independently of function, is still a mystery to science. But still there are no experimental results exclusively supporting the existence of consciousness independent of function and access. There are several theorists claiming that there are neural correlates of conscious experience that are separate from the neural correlates of cognitive functions, but by isolating conscious experience from cognitive functions one removes the experience in question from any further scientific testing. Even though such theories might offer substantial insight into the formation of internal representations of the sensory and perceptual world, it is still not sufficient to explain personal awareness.
      So, yes, I agree, Max Tegmark has only theories. But they are interesting theories, and one day one might be able to test the theories in machines. Because if it is as he says, then consciousness must be universal and also independent of ‘carrier’, and we might one day have machines with consciousness..?

      • Hariod Brawn says:

        Thank you for this detailed and considered response to my rather unhelpful comment. If consciousness is in fact not solely ‘a unique brain state’ but rather is somehow irrevocably integrated into what is external to the body (‘external’ either in space or time), then may I ask, is there hope that one day a formulation might exist as to the what/why/how of it in your opinion?

        Many thanks.

        Hariod.

      • diplopi says:

        Well, I must admit that I am a materialist myself, viewing consciousness as a product of brain activity. But I think crazy ideas about other possibilities are interesting and might lead somewhere sometime. A formulation to the what/why/how of this thing called consciousness is a big part of the ‘hard problem’, but it would be exciting (and a little terrifying) if one were able to make an introspective, conscious machine. Maybe that would answer many of our questions, or maybe it would only lead to even more questions..? I think maybe the latter to be true.

      • Hariod Brawn says:

        Thank you for your response once again; I appreciate it.

        When you say you are a materialist, do you mean that consciousness/awareness, for you, is something internal to the cranium so to speak? That is to say, does it have boundaries (somewhere?) within your body, beyond which it does not and cannot exist/display/manifest?

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