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papo   The third hypothesis
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"Everybody knows that something is impossible to realize
till someone inexperienced comes and invents it."
(Albert Einstein)

I have no intention of playing the part of the fanatic who thinks that his ideas can be demonstrated by quantum theory, basing myself only on all the strangeness this involves. My knowledge of modern physics is that of an fervent amateur who is happy to read popular publications but is aware of his limitations. The list of books that I like, which is present in a page dedicated to this in my personal web site gives some idea of the type of reading which has prepared me. That said, I would now like to put forward some reflections on how exactly that which seems to be the only conceptual difficulty standing in the way of accepting as admissible the model of the third hypothesis does not – from the point of view of modern physics – represent a real obstacle at all: the "technical" question of how it could be possible that my "io" can experience a plurality of lives that are all taking place "at the same time".

First of all, we need to be aware that relativity and quantum theory have forced scientists to abandon those concepts of time and space that we so calmly use in everyday life. Relativity has revealed that time can pass at different speeds for two observers that are in movement in relation to each other, and that two events can turn out to be contemporaneous for one of these observers and not for the other. At the same time, this theory denies that any information can be transmitted faster than the speed of light because otherwise, exactly on the basis of the relativity of time, it would be possible to send information into the past, which would give rise to impossible paradoxes. Quantum physics has revealed phenomena that are even more surprising: the state of reality is not something uniformly determined, and the measurements we choose to carry out "force" the physical world to take on a state that was not already predisposed before: this state is "decided on the moment" even if this decision implies "behaviour" that photons and other elementary particles can only have manifested in a place and a time that is very remote. Nevertheless, this phenomenon does not consent the "sending" of information to the past. As well as this, this "past influence" can be neutralized by the destruction of information even when it has already been acquired, on condition that it has not been used. Put in this way, these phenomena sound absurd, and so I would ask you to look them up on Wikipedia under "Special relativity" for the loss of simultaneity, and under "Bell’s theorem" for the indefinite state of unmeasured particles. Regarding the behaviour of past particles, you should search "Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment". As concerns the destruction of information read "Delayed choice quantum eraser" article at Wikipedia site.

Let me say it again: this does not give me the right to claim that the third hypothesis has been demonstrated. All I want to do is insinuate doubts into those who think that the "technical difficulty" of going back into the past to live another life is impossible to get over. Put in this ingenuous way, this concept tends only to give the idea of what I mean when I say that, during all our lives, it is always the same "io" that manifests itself, despite the fact that everyone considers that his own "io" is only "his" or "her". In fact, it is very important to keep in mind that that all our physical and mental characteristics are connected only to our particular contingent experience, and the only thing we share is that "shining light" that everyone feels inside himself. Anyhow, absolutely no information can ever "come back in time" along with our "io" that is in continual metempsychosis. This is an indispensable condition to avoid giving rise to paradoxes in which an event can become the cause (or the prevention of its own existence: and this is exactly the condition that is respected even in the disconcerting phenomena observed in the experiments proposed by Bell and Wheeler. In this way, at least as a matter of principle, the third hypothesis might be recognized as "not impossible" in that it does not involve the transmission of information back into time.

If we accept that the third hypothesis is admissible, we can then at least appreciate how well it integrates with a number of cosmological models that are under discussion at the moment: for example the same John Wheeler of the "delayed choice" experiment that we have already cited proposes a "anthropic participative principle", according to which of the possible universes that could evolve in a stable way, only those able to generate living observers can really exist due to an action of "backward causality" that consciousness itself operates on the universe, which is a generalization of what happens when a living being takes a measurement on a quantum particle which would otherwise remain in an "undefined state". More drastically others, like Max Tegmark hold that a universe exists for every possible mathematical structure, although, evidently, only those which are able to sustain life can ever be experienced. It seems to me in any case, that the question of whether to consider as existent even those universes which can not be experienced is just another example of a problem that cannot be posed, as indicated in the preceding pages. Seth Lloyd suggests that we should consider the universe as an immense quantum calculator which represents at the same time the programme that it is carrying out. In this kind of interpretation, the variety of possible universes is as vast as in that proposed by Tegmark, but we still need an "experiencer" in order for the existence itself of the universe to unveil itself. This is what Stephen Hawking has called "what breathes fire into the equations".

If we consider the "io" as an absolute subject, and not a phenomenon which has appeared in an accidental way and which might never have been a given thing, then we can discuss the world, life and ourselves in a different prospect. Our vision of the world is simplified because it is no longer necessary to "keep the administration" of an infinite set of "aspiring experiencers", or to find any impossible explanation for the fact that "by blind chance" our single "io" is a humble member of this group. The fact that we consider this "io" as something unique is the key to having a complete vision of the world in its multiple forms, even if we limit these or extend them to the infinite number of forms configured by Tegmark. These different organizations have no way of expressing themselves without a subject that can experience them or to differentiate themselves from the infinite sum of all the different possibilities or to give themselves concrete form coming down from the platonic world of ideas. Whenever the "io" can manifest itself, it must not be "extracted by chance": it is always the same "io" even if, each time it experiences existence, (and this is the same thing for each configuration of a universe) it is subject to intrinsic limitations represented by the limits of our physical or intellectual abilities and by the physical laws that keep our external world together.

We could ask ourselves why the unique "experiencing subject" is manifested through a multitude of beings all of which are living parallel lives instead of as a unique monolithic existence which has no need to divide itself up. My reply is that, first of all, we should not think of a pre-existent "io" that chooses the forms of life in which to manifest itself, but of an "io" that is the subject of every possible form of existence that can be manifested. Secondly, even if we admit that "monolithic" types of existence are possible, it is nevertheless much more probable that a complex form of life develops itself starting from simple types of life that are, however, able to reproduce, differentiate and evolve themselves exploiting the mechanisms of natural selection discovered by Darwin. That implies the simultaneous existence of many living beings, but does not mean that there have to be many "experiencing subjects" if we admit the condition of isolation of information that I proposed above. The only thing that we need is that the world "in progress of experimentation" maintains its consistency while the "io" goes from one life experience to another, and this network is held together by the relay of living beings that run between them, in that they are continuous witnesses of a set of information which is forced in this way to maintain its coherence in time. Both the world that precedes its appearance and that which follows its decline is destined to disappear in a gigantic, ineluctable quantum cancellation. In this way, the "consistency of reality" turns out to be an "unproposable problem", beyond all the veils of appearance and approximation. All that we can hope to experience is a consistency limited to our life experience: we are called on to live again each single event that we witness for each of the living being that are involved. It is not necessary to suppose there is any "reality" above this.

Continued on the next page: "Mystical metaphors".


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