Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Is Consciousness a Form of Energy?

The essence of the argument is this: Consciousness is a form of matter-energy, with its roots in physical matter. In short, the "consciousness as a form of energy" view assumes that consciousness is an objective reality rather than a subjective (or inter-subjective) one.

This is no small issue. For that "matter," the whole problem surrounding consciousness is incredibly complex. There is a lot riding on this issue in case you haven't thought about it. Look around at the number of spirituality, psychology, and healing books that assume, in one way or another, that our consciousness is a subtle, non-measurable form of energy.

According to the contemporary philosopher Christian de Quincey, consciousness cannot be logically argued to be a form of matter-energy. Here is the essence of his critique of why it can't.

"The essence of my critique is the following quite straightforward logic:

1. Consciousness is either physical or nonphysical (there can be no middle option).
2. Consciousness is either a physical form of energy or it is a “nonphysical” form of energy.
3. If consciousness is physical energy, then we reduce it to physics (as materialists unsuccessfully try to do).
4. If consciousness is nonphysical energy, then we need to explain what we mean by “nonphysical energy.”
5. If we cannot make a meaningful and coherent distinction between “physical energy” and “nonphysical energy," then we may ask why use the term “nonphysical energy” at all?
6. If “nonphysical energy” is a phrase empty of meaningful content, and consciousness is not physical energy, therefore . . .
7. Consciousness cannot be any form of energy. It has a different kind of reality."

What is a better way to view consciousness? As much as we may love quantum physics, I would argue we are better off viewing consciousness as our most intimate subjective (inter-subjective) reality. It is our sense of interiority, and our personal experience of the world and all it contains. Why deprive ourselves of what is most precious to us: our sense of our own beingness. Reducing that experience to "subtle energy mechanics" seems a dangerous mistake to me.

As de Quincey says, "energy flows, and consciousness knows."

1 comment:

Dan said...

'energy flows, and consciousness knows.' Good one!

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