Biocentric Musings

Taking a jump to the left from yesterday's post about quantum mysticism, let's now explore the universe in your head. Alan Boyle posted yesterday on his always-excellent Cosmic Log about the new book Biocentrism - by leading stem cell research Robert Lanza, along with Bob Berman - and linked to an exclusive online abridgement from the book. It's definitely worth checking out - not only is it a detailed and lengthy read, it touches on numerous fascinating elements of 'reality'. Integrating everything from the role of the observer in the quantum world, through to the psychological construct of time, Biocentrism suggests that we may be looking at things all wrong when trying to understand the cosmos; perhaps we should be starting with us:

[L]ike time, space is neither physical nor fundamentally real. It is a mode of interpretation and understanding — part of an animal’s mental software that molds sensations into multidimensional objects.

In modern everyday life, however, we’ve come to regard space as sort of a vast container that has no walls. In it, we cognize separate objects that were first learned and identified. These patterns are blocked out by the thinking mind within boundaries of color, shape or utility. Human language and ideation alone decide where the boundaries of one object end and another begins.

...Now, space and time illusions are certainly harmless. A problem only arises because, by treating space as something physical, existing in itself, science imparts a completely wrong starting point for investigations into the nature of reality. In reality there can be no break between the observer and the observed. If the two are split, the reality is gone. Space, like time, is not an object or a thing. Space and time are forms of our animal sense perception. We carry them around with us like turtles with shells. Thus, there is no absolute self-existing matrix in which physical events occur independent of life.

While some parts of the article didn't really ring true for me, other parts gave me that nagging feeling that Lanza and Berman's lateral view on these fundamental questions may have some real worth. I don't think I've grasped all of what they're saying yet actually, probably due to my own 'indoctrination' into the current, orthodox view of the cosmos.

Biocentrism is available from Amazon US and UK.


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daydreamer's picture
Member since:
21 February 2009
Last activity:
32 weeks 6 days

This sounds alot like re-conceptions coming out of science and developmental biology in particular. The old guard of a God provided truth of reality, built for us and trustworthy in its meaning is gone. Replaced by realisations that our perceptions of reality are a model, built by interactions over long periods of time and are not created to give mankind some kind of special guide to reality, but are more about finding food, procreating and ensuring the survival of our children. Reality has taken a back foot to this.

It is quite possible that an understanding of reality will not be based around whatever we perceive of it. True conception of reality is probably whatever it is without us. Any conception that places a 'break between the observer and the observed', making the observer special above reality is probably going to miss it. Colour, shape, function, beauty, emotion, 'language and ideation' - what will an understanding of reality mean without human concepts? Will it be empty, or will it be full?

Regarding starting points, the treatment of space and time etc. As concepts of human understanding we can be nihilistic and declare them as simply mindsets of the day. Are love and tree's different though? What about water and height? Or blue and touching a ball. Somethings beg to be different, perhaps we categorise them as such because they are.

If something requires different equations to describe it then i am happy calling it different for now, when the equations unify then we can say it is aspects of the same thing. Ultimately though this entire universe looks like it was once much smaller and simpler so everything probably unified into a much smaller number constituent parts.

Regarding 'true' or 'prefect' understanding, or even just some sort of understanding of reality. I suspect that this isnt possible as ultimately we are humans and only have the tools we have have. This isnt the same thing as not being able to work it out though. I can say that i understand that f=ma, but this isnt the same as understanding what it means for all things, across the entire universe and throughout all of the past and future all at once and that is just a single simple equation. Grasping reality is impossible, but that is not the same as not being able to spot the bullshit - though that can be difficult too.

Richard's picture
Member since:
1 May 2004
Last activity:
3 years 7 weeks

Hello Daydreamer.

Is not the understanding of reality fixed to the limit of what is accessible to the mind?

If so, to understand reality better, the mind must at some point start exploring where it cannot see for the moment.

An example:
There is debate about the implications of quantum physics on the mind. Until we have a consciousness that is directly aware of the universe where quantum laws rule, we can't directly create a comprehensive understanding of what that world is, like we can of the material world of which we have a direct awareness.

We can make projections, mathematical interpretations, but we can't directly define it.

Still, it is obvious that there are relationships between the quantum universe and the material universe, that there are implications between the laws of one and the other, and that one regulates the other.

It becomes problematic when not being conscious of how what becomes the invisible, we cannot see in quantum therefore it is invisible, and what really lies there, particles don't pop up in existence out of nowhere, they have to come from somewhere, and if we can't reach beyond a certain limit at this point, it is a bit like being in a black hole and not being able to see beyond the event horizon of our materiality. Yet, beyond that black whole there can be another universe which is immensely vaster than what the black hole contains itself. Even worse, once gone beyond the quantum world, there may be more energy layers with their own laws that in turn regulate the quantum field.

One problem with human thinking is the concept of impossibility. And this is something that severely limits how much we can take into consideration while having an outlook at what does not fit with our event horizon.

daydreamer's picture
Member since:
21 February 2009
Last activity:
32 weeks 6 days

Hi Richard,

All good points, but we can define what is accessible.

Rather than focus on what is accessible to the mind, and especially to link that in some way to the senses i think it can be more useful to draw attention to the difference between experiments, the data they produce and the interpretations.

Typically it is the interpretation that creates conflict. Whereas definitions of accessibility speak about the experimentation and the data.

There are so many examples of collection of data beyond our senses and of the building of theories leading to data beyond our original ideas.

There is also the affect of what a million combined minds can produce compared to a single one, and of course what the affect of computers and mathematical understanding in what appears to be a mathematical universe.

I agree completely that we are limited to what is accessible to the mind. The only thing that can be added to that argument is that the mind grows as understanding grows and that the senses can be augmented by experimentation.

After this we step outside of the picture we have seen though repeated experimentation, trail and error and mathematical theory and into the unknown.

If we agree that ideas cannot surpass our own imaginations, but add that our understanding is often jumped forward by surprises from reality revealed though trial and error and experimentation, then we can look at the role of our minds in this process.

I think knowledge today has already surpassed our senses and any basal imagination, knowledge now informs those things.

This whole situation is a bit different to what you originally described.

This is the reality of it. After that we enter philosophy and it can be whatever we want, philosophy is also limited by our senses and imaginations, but whether it is informed by knowledge is a personal choice.

Mapou's picture
Member since:
24 January 2008
Last activity:
8 years 6 weeks

This is not really new. It is easy to show logically that space and time cannot exist.

Nasty Little Truth About Space:

Nasty Little Truth About Spacetime Physics: