Life the Universe and Consciousness #2

I previously devoted a whole post and made several other references to a new book by A T Bollands “Life the Universe and Consciousness.

Although addressing many of the same issues, problems with physical science, which are driving other current philosophers in the direction of panpsychism, Bollands is a “Universal Lifer”. In his book we find out for the first time what that means.

As a self-published project Bollands has made good use of Twitter to market his thinking into many of the discussions clustered around Goff and Kastrup. As well as the on-line extracts we have been treated to his Twelve Intractable Problems as a thread of tweets. (The topic of my previous post.)

I’d not completed my read yet, so as usual the start of this “review” post honestly lays bare my own prejudices and pet-hates on initial acquaintance. My main reason for reading, as ever, is to find convergence with my own cybernetics agenda, how systems regulate their own existence in their environment, and my own pan-proto-psychist thinking towards that. That self-regulation is very close to definitions of life, and the response to the environment is very close to definitions of consciousness, from good-old thermostats upwards. So the fit is clear.

As well as the Twelve Intractable Problems which take up half the page count and a chapter each, the short introductory chapter is a selective potted history of world-views from Aristotle to Copenhagen and Kuhn. His point is to set out a blueprint for how problems with existing knowledge get resolved and solved. This he bases on the enhancement of the Copernican revolution by the likes of Descartes, Kepler and Newton questioning and fixing the beliefs on which earlier models were based. Seems straightforward enough, so we await how these are applied to each of the 12 problems and his eventual Universal Life conclusions.

The Douglas Adams allusion which originally caught my attention in the title is continued in chapter epigraphs so far, Dirk Gently as well as H2G2. I also like his “bag of beans” allegorical tale as individual beans become aware of their fellow beans and their bag.

There are inevitably pet-hates too. More of the Galileo mythology. And despite references to Chalmers, Smolin and (later) Dennett, they are limited so far as I can see to their earlier works. Chalmers (Hard Problem, 1995 and 2002), Smolin (Trouble with Physics, 2006) and Dennett (Consciousness Explained, 1991). The latter two in particular have been part of my own co-evolving thinking right up to the last couple of years, along with Rovelli, Verlinde and the IIT crew.

To be continued …

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