Monday, January 5, 2015

The cryptography of being, part I — some novel thoughts about consciousness, essence, and personality

Image from the Voynich manuscript

 This morning, a close friend sent me a copy of a paper entitled equivalent of wave particle duality to entropic uncertainty.  For those interested, there's a YouTube video of the author presenting his work.

This is very heady stuff, and the mathematics will be well beyond most of us. Yet the subject itself raises some interesting questions about Being and its nature; so I thought I would bring them up.

 The Heisenberg uncertainty principle and wave/particle duality both present a conundrum whereby one can know one thing, but not the other: and the second of the two illustrates a situation where you can know a particle's momentum (wave) that is, its direction and speed, so to speak, or you can know its location — but,  roughly speaking again, the more one learns and knows about the one, the less one learns and knows about the other. The author of this paper proposes that these two apparently different principles are closely linked by a single mathematical concept.

 In order to understand this better, it's worth conceiving of reality (which is manifested by both waves and particles, each one of which conveys specific and legitimate information about its nature) as an encrypted system. This view is entirely legitimate, because reality contains information, and quantum uncertainty places specific limits on the amount of information we can extract. Extracting one kind of information, it turns out, lessens our ability to extract other kinds. This is a fact; or, if you will, a law.

It occurred to me, when reading the paper this morning, that Being and consciousness, as a manifested portion of reality, must be subject to this law.

 This leads us to some interesting thoughts about the question. One can conceive of essence as being a particle; this is the "I am" of the quantum world, the point at which one knows one's location, one knows who one is. Following the law, the more one knows who one is, the less one would know where one is in terms of movement, motion, trajectory. These three qualities correspond, more or less, to one's outward nature, or personality.

When we are deeply invested in personality, as we all are, the information of our essence, who we are, remains encrypted to us, and the further we move into personality, the more we learn about it, the less we know about essence.

The paradox arises when we attempt to learn about essence; at which point, we may master our inner being, but as we do so, consistently sacrifice information about our personality, which then also becomes encrypted to us.

Gurdjieff, we may note, taught his pupils to master both entities; that is, to balance essence and personality, and inhabit the two of them simultaneously. This is necessary, in order for the Reality of Being to manifest; one must be invested in both of the wave of one's life, one's living, and the particle of one's "I", one's Being.

Yet the one apparently excludes the other; and apparently, there is a fundamental law that creates the tension between the two, which must be resolved through a unique and inexplicable mechanism — that mechanism we refer to as consciousness.

I'll discuss this a little further in tomorrow's post.


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