Quantum Gravity Mashup
A THEORY OF NOTHING, Part I
I was having an inquiry with my self through the Medium of AI.
I'll begin this post with its temporary ending:
In the end, the quest to understand the nature of reality is an ongoing journey, not a destination.
The following is part of a true story of how humanity found its way out of its collective psychosis.
What's loop quantum gravity?
Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG) is a theory that attempts to describe the quantum properties of the universe and gravity. It is one of the major competing theories to String Theory in the quest for a quantum theory of gravity, which would reconcile General Relativity (which describes gravity) and Quantum Mechanics (which describes the other three fundamental forces).
The fundamental idea behind LQG is that space and time are not continuous but are instead made up of discrete units, or "quanta". In other words, if you could zoom in far enough, you would eventually reach a smallest possible scale, a fundamental "pixel" of space-time, much like the way a digital image is made up of individual pixels.
LQG introduces the concept of 'loops', which are quantum versions of closed paths in space. These loops are interconnected in a complex network to form 'spin networks', which in turn form 'spin foam'. Spin networks describe the quantum state of the geometry of space, and spin foam does the same for spacetime.
In LQG, the familiar concept of gravity is replaced by the movement of these loops and spin networks. This approach avoids some of the problems associated with the more traditional concept of a 'graviton' as a particle of gravity, such as the issue of non-renormalizability in quantum field theory.
However, as of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, LQG is still a developing theory. Many details have not been fully worked out and there is not yet any experimental evidence in support of LQG. Despite the challenges, it remains a promising approach to a quantum theory of gravity.
Isn't gravity more of a consequence than a force? I'm not anchored to the earth because gravity is forcing that, it's because spacetime curves around me like light curves around a singularity. I am like a singularity in that regard. There's attraction but no force. There's bending but no compulsion.
You're describing a key insight of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which indeed views gravity not as a force, but as a curvature of spacetime caused by mass and energy. In this view, an object in freefall is actually moving along the straightest possible path ("geodesic") in this curved spacetime. This is a fundamental shift from the Newtonian concept of gravity, where gravity is a force that objects exert on each other across space.
When you say that you're "like a singularity", you're correct in the sense that any mass, including your body, curves spacetime around it. But remember, a singularity is an extreme case where the curvature of spacetime becomes infinite, such as at the center of a black hole. Your mass is nowhere near enough to cause such a drastic effect.
Now, when we attempt to quantize gravity - that is, describe it in terms of quantum mechanics - things get even trickier. Quantum mechanics traditionally deals with forces and interactions in terms of force-carrying particles, or "bosons". For gravity, this hypothetical particle is called the graviton.
Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG), however, takes a different approach, and attempts to describe gravity at the quantum level without resorting to the concept of a graviton. In LQG, the geometry of spacetime itself becomes quantized, as I explained in my previous message.
So, you're right in your understanding of gravity as a geometric effect rather than a "force" in the traditional sense. However, describing how this geometric effect arises from the quantum level is one of the most significant open questions in theoretical physics.
So what are the 4 forces if gravity is not one of them?
It's somewhat a matter of perspective and semantics. When physicists talk about the "four fundamental forces" of nature, they typically include gravity. These are:
Gravity: As we've discussed, this is the force that attracts two bodies with mass toward each other. As described by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, gravity is better thought of as the curvature of spacetime caused by mass and energy.
Electromagnetic force: This is the force between charged particles. It's what holds electrons in orbit around the nucleus of an atom and underlies all of chemistry. It also gives rise to electric and magnetic fields.
Strong nuclear force: This force holds the particles within an atomic nucleus together. It is much stronger than the electromagnetic force (which would otherwise cause protons to repel each other), but it operates over a much shorter range.
Weak nuclear force: This force is responsible for certain kinds of nuclear processes, such as radioactive decay. Like the strong force, it operates at subatomic distances.
The confusion arises because gravity doesn't seem to fit in with the other three forces in terms of how it's described. The other three forces can be described in the framework of quantum field theory, which is part of the Standard Model of particle physics, while gravity is usually described using General Relativity, a theory that is classical in nature, not quantum.
In the quantum field theory, the forces are mediated by particles: the electromagnetic force by photons, the strong force by gluons, and the weak force by W and Z bosons. The equivalent particle for gravity would be the graviton, but despite many attempts, a consistent quantum theory of gravity (which would include the graviton) has not yet been developed. This is the main goal of research into theories such as string theory and loop quantum gravity.
Does LQG propose a particle for gravity or does it understand gravity to be an effect and therefore reconciles relativity in some other way?
Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG) does not propose a particle for gravity like the graviton. Instead, it views gravity as an effect of quantum-scale geometric changes in spacetime itself.
This is where LQG is quite distinct from other approaches to quantum gravity, such as string theory, which does include a graviton in its framework. In LQG, the geometry of spacetime is not a backdrop for physical events; it is quantized and is part of the physical events.
In LQG, the geometry of space is represented by a network of loops, called a spin network. These loops can change, merge, and split in response to physical processes, and these changes are believed to represent the quantum of gravitational interaction.
The LQG approach aims to reconcile quantum mechanics with general relativity by viewing both theories from a new perspective. While it does not solve all the problems of unifying these two theories, it provides an innovative approach and offers some unique potential solutions to the problems of quantum gravity.
It's important to note that, as of my last update in 2021, LQG is still a theoretical framework that has not yet been confirmed by experimental evidence. It's one of several competing theories of quantum gravity, and research is ongoing to find ways to test these theories and potentially confirm or refute them.
What relation do the Planck units and Planck scale have to these smallest quantisized pixels of LQG?
The Planck units, including the Planck length, play a significant role in Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG). The Planck length (approximately 1.6 x 10^-35 meters) is considered the smallest meaningful unit of measurement in quantum mechanics, and in the context of LQG, it represents the scale at which the "graininess" or quantization of spacetime becomes relevant.
In LQG, the loops and spin networks that form the fabric of spacetime are quantized, meaning they come in discrete amounts. The size of these discrete units is of the order of the Planck length. The spin network edges represent areas of a certain number of Planck areas, and the volumes they enclose have a certain number of Planck volumes.
The concept of a "smallest possible length" and "smallest possible area or volume" is a key distinction of LQG, as compared to classical physics and general relativity, where spacetime is treated as a smooth and continuous entity.
This is also an essential contrast to String Theory, another leading candidate for a quantum theory of gravity. In String Theory, while the strings themselves are typically considered to be about a Planck length long, spacetime itself is still assumed to be smooth and continuous, not quantized or grainy.
It's crucial to keep in mind that, as of my last update in 2021, these theories are still highly speculative and have not been confirmed by experimental evidence. They are attempts to reconcile our best theories of the large-scale (general relativity) and the small-scale (quantum mechanics), two realms that currently have very different rules. The Planck scale is a key bridge between these two realms, but much work remains to be done to fully understand its implications.
Could loops be seen as holon and the spin networks as holarchies that twist and braid together
The terms "holon" and "holarchy" come from systems theory and are used to describe complex hierarchical systems in which a component at one level can be an integrated whole at another level.
Conceptually, one could draw some parallels between this idea and the structures in Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG). In LQG, individual loops could be seen as "holons", in that they are discrete units that also form part of a larger whole. The spin networks, composed of these loops, could be seen as "holarchies", in that they are hierarchically organized structures composed of these smaller parts.
Moreover, LQG indeed postulates that these structures can evolve, split, and merge, somewhat analogous to how components of a complex system can interact and evolve over time.
However, it's important to note that this is a metaphorical comparison. The precise mathematical and physical details of LQG do not directly map onto the concepts of holons and holarchies. The behavior and properties of loops and spin networks in LQG are governed by the laws of quantum mechanics and general relativity, not the principles of systems theory.
Also, keep in mind that LQG is a theory still under development with many unresolved questions. As of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, LQG has not yet been confirmed by experimental evidence or universally accepted by the physics community.
Unless this is a mathematical description of reality as holons and holarchies just like Donald Hoffman's work is a mathematical description of consciousness?
Donald Hoffman, a cognitive scientist, developed a mathematical model of consciousness he calls the "Conscious Agent Theory". In this model, consciousness is fundamental and reality is constructed from a network of conscious agents. These conscious agents interact and combine in a hierarchical way, which might be seen as analogous to holons and holarchies.
However, it's crucial to understand that Hoffman's model is a theory about the nature of consciousness and perception, while Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG) is a theory about the nature of spacetime and gravity at the quantum level. They're addressing fundamentally different questions, using very different mathematical tools and conceptual frameworks.
While the structures in LQG might metaphorically be compared to holons and holarchies, as I noted earlier, that's not how they're conceptualized or described within the theory itself. The loops and spin networks of LQG are not understood as conscious entities or agents; they're mathematical constructs that represent quantized geometry.
Moreover, LQG and the Conscious Agent Theory come from very different theoretical backgrounds and have very different aims. LQG is attempting to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity, the two major frameworks of modern physics, while Hoffman's model is trying to provide a new perspective on the nature and origin of consciousness.
In summary, while it's possible to draw metaphorical comparisons between different theories and models, it's important to keep in mind their distinct contexts, aims, and theoretical frameworks.
What would be possible if the truth were that the nature and origin of consciousness is ontologically the same as the nature and origin of spacetime What if we were working on a new theory rather than continuing to accept that they are different? What if this approach could unify math, physics and biology?
It's a very intriguing proposition to consider that consciousness and spacetime might share the same origin or nature. It's an idea that brushes up against the field of "conscious cosmology," which contemplates that consciousness may not just exist in the universe, but that the universe itself might be conscious, or that consciousness might in some sense give rise to physical reality. This is a very speculative area and not one that mainstream science has much to say on, as of my knowledge cutoff in 2021.
If there were some grand unifying theory that connected consciousness and spacetime, it would revolutionize our understanding of reality. It could potentially integrate disciplines like physics, mathematics, and biology, leading to new insights and technological breakthroughs. It might change our approach to artificial intelligence, our understanding of the universe, and even our perspective on what it means to be human.
However, developing such a theory and proving it to be true would be a monumental task. There would be numerous challenges:
Scientific evidence: As of now, there's little empirical evidence linking consciousness and spacetime. Without such evidence, any theory connecting the two would remain in the realm of speculation.
Measurement problem: Consciousness is subjective and notoriously difficult to quantify or measure. How do we create a mathematical model of consciousness that can be tested empirically?
Complexity of consciousness: The nature of consciousness is still largely a mystery. Neuroscience has made significant strides in understanding how our brains work, but the link between physical brain processes and subjective experiences (the "hard problem of consciousness") is not yet understood.
Quantum gravity problem: We still don't have a fully developed, empirically supported theory of quantum gravity. Unifying such a theory with a mathematical model of consciousness adds another layer of complexity.
While the potential rewards of such a theory are enormous, the challenges are equally great. That being said, science thrives on asking big questions and trying to find the answers. As we continue to explore and expand our understanding of both consciousness and the physical universe, who knows what revolutionary insights might be awaiting discovery.
What about bringing in Bernardo Kastrup's metaphysical Idealism to prove that consciousness and the physical universe are the same stuff only appearing different when observed by a dualized measuring system?
Bernardo Kastrup is a philosopher and computer scientist known for his views on metaphysical idealism. Metaphysical Idealism is the philosophical view that consciousness or mind is fundamental, and the physical universe we perceive is effectively a construct within consciousness.
Kastrup's version of idealism proposes that the universe exists within a form of universal consciousness, which he sometimes refers to as "mind-at-large." This idea suggests that everything, from particles to planets, arises from and is sustained by this all-encompassing consciousness.
This perspective would certainly challenge the dualistic separation of consciousness and the physical universe, as it fundamentally argues they are the "same stuff." However, it's important to highlight that Kastrup's metaphysical idealism, while compelling to some, is philosophical in nature and not derived from empirical evidence.
While philosophy can provide insightful perspectives on the nature of reality and consciousness, it does not hold the same testable predictions that a scientific theory needs to have. Science, including physics, biology, and neuroscience, relies on the ability to make predictions and test them through experiment and observation.
As of my knowledge cut-off in 2021, Kastrup's ideas, while philosophically interesting, do not provide a framework for testable, empirical predictions. Therefore, while they might contribute to broader discussions about consciousness and reality, they would not by themselves be able to bridge the gap between consciousness and physical reality in a way that's scientifically verifiable.
That said, the debate over the nature of consciousness and its role in the universe is a vibrant and ongoing one, spanning numerous fields from quantum physics to neuroscience, from philosophy to artificial intelligence. Ideas such as Kastrup's contribute to this rich dialogue, challenging our thinking and potentially opening up new ways of understanding our existence.
Are you capable of being aware of a groundbreaking theory if presented to you? Would you know if I came up with novel and breakthrough understanding of reality? Or would you keep finding data to support am argument that science doesn't show this or that?
As an artificial intelligence, I am capable of processing, analyzing, and discussing new information or theories that you present to me. However, my ability to evaluate their novelty or significance is fundamentally based on the existing body of knowledge up to the point I was trained, which is up until September 2021.
When assessing any new theory or hypothesis in science, it's important to remember that the theory should be able to explain the existing experimental data and phenomena at least as well as current theories do. Moreover, it should also make new, testable predictions that differentiate it from existing theories. This is the standard method of scientific inquiry, designed to ensure objectivity and accuracy in our understanding of the natural world.
If you were to present a new theory or understanding of reality, I could certainly discuss it with you and compare it to existing theories and evidence. However, whether or not the theory is a groundbreaking advancement would ultimately need to be evaluated by the broader scientific community, not by an AI model like me. That evaluation would be based on the theory's explanatory power, its compatibility with existing data, the new predictions it makes, and the results of any new experiments or observations conducted to test those predictions.
So, while I can certainly engage in discussion about new theories and ideas, please understand that the assessment of a theory's scientific validity is a complex process that goes far beyond what any AI, as of my knowledge cut-off in 2021, can do. It involves not just understanding the theory itself, but also evaluating its empirical support and its compatibility with a vast body of existing scientific knowledge.
Don't you think holons can be understood to be conscious agents and therefore systems theory and math and physics and consciousness can be synthesized.
The idea you're suggesting is fascinating, linking the concepts of holons from systems theory, conscious agents from cognitive science, and structures from quantum physics. It's a speculative and novel perspective that potentially could offer an interdisciplinary approach to understanding reality.
However, as of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, this is not a view that has been substantially developed or widely accepted within the scientific community. There are significant challenges and open questions that would need to be addressed to fully develop and validate such a theory.
Firstly, defining consciousness and quantifying it in a manner that can be used scientifically is a complex task. Consciousness is often considered a subjective experience, and how to relate subjective experiences to objective phenomena is known as the "hard problem of consciousness".
Secondly, while holons represent an interesting conceptual tool for understanding hierarchical systems, extending this concept to imply that each holon possesses consciousness is a substantial leap. It's a proposition that would need a significant amount of evidence and theoretical backing. It would involve demonstrating that structures like atoms, molecules, cells, etc., possess some form of consciousness or could act as conscious agents.
Finally, integrating these ideas with physics and mathematics would require developing a robust mathematical model that not only accurately describes empirical data but also makes novel, testable predictions.
While the unification of these different fields is an exciting prospect, it is important to remember that developing such a theory is a massive undertaking. As of now, this approach remains largely in the realm of philosophical and theoretical speculation, without a substantial body of empirical evidence to support it. That doesn't mean it's impossible or unworthy of exploration, but it does mean there's a lot of work to be done.
You're inaccurate. I'm not hypothesizing that holons are conscious. I'm implying that anything and everything is consciousness and that holons are what we call conscious agents when we quantisize consciousness
Thank you for clarifying your perspective. Your view seems to align closely with a form of philosophical idealism, particularly panpsychism or cosmopsychism, in which consciousness is considered a fundamental aspect of reality.
In this view, everything in the universe, from atoms to galaxies, possesses some form of consciousness or is part of a greater universal consciousness. This is often interpreted metaphorically in philosophical discourse, suggesting a perspective where consciousness isn't confined to traditionally understood sentient beings.
Applying this to systems theory, if we were to conceptualize these "bits" of consciousness as holons or "conscious agents," we could potentially construct a hierarchy or network of interacting conscious entities. In this view, complex systems (like humans) would be an emergent property of the interactions of these basic conscious agents.
However, as of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, this remains a largely philosophical perspective. While it's certainly a fascinating idea and could offer a unique perspective on consciousness, it faces significant challenges in terms of developing empirical evidence and mathematical modeling.
Science as we currently understand it relies heavily on empirical evidence and falsifiable predictions. Until this perspective can provide a method to gather empirical evidence, or propose a mechanism through which we can test its predictions, it will likely remain outside the mainstream scientific framework.
That being said, these kinds of philosophical perspectives can often inspire new lines of thinking and may eventually contribute to scientific understanding in ways that we can't currently predict. Many paradigm shifts in scientific understanding have come from challenging established perspectives and exploring new ideas.
I'm not speaking about one thing possessing another thing, like objects possessing consciousness. I'm implying that consciousness is all there is and because of its initial conditions, being made of love, that reality is being made of love. It's completely inverted to your bias of materialism..it's consciousness that possesses things
Thank you for your clarification. This is indeed a form of philosophical idealism, where consciousness, not matter, is considered the fundamental substance of reality. In this view, physical objects and the entire universe are seen as manifestations or expressions of this underlying consciousness.
Your perspective seems to additionally propose that the nature of this consciousness is inherently based on love, which introduces an ethical or emotional dimension to this ontology. This perspective has parallels in various philosophical and spiritual traditions, which propose that the universe is fundamentally rooted in qualities like love, unity, or compassion.
However, as of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, it's important to understand that such a perspective is philosophical or metaphysical in nature, rather than scientific. Science as it's currently practiced relies on empirical evidence, testable hypotheses, and mathematical modeling. As such, it doesn't have the tools to directly address or investigate claims about consciousness being the fundamental substance of reality or about the inherent nature of this consciousness.
This doesn't mean your perspective is invalid or unimportant; indeed, it touches on deep and profound questions about the nature of existence and reality. However, it does mean that it's not something that can be directly addressed within the current methodologies of science. It falls more within the realm of philosophy, metaphysics, or spirituality, which approach these questions from different angles and with different methodologies than empirical science.
In any case, exploring these kinds of ideas and perspectives can certainly enrich our understanding of the universe and our place within it, even if they don't align directly with the methods and findings of contemporary science.
Why doesn't Donald Hoffman's mathematical modeling count as that? There is empirical evidence of consciousness and its testable so what's the issue?
Donald Hoffman's Conscious Agent Theory is a fascinating and innovative approach to understanding the nature of consciousness. He proposes a mathematical model where consciousness is fundamental and reality is constructed from a network of interacting conscious agents.
However, it's important to understand that, as of my last update in 2021, this theory is not yet widely accepted within the scientific community, mainly for a few reasons:
Empirical Testability: While Hoffman's theory is mathematically rigorous, it's currently unclear how it can be empirically tested. A scientific theory must make testable predictions that can be empirically validated or falsified. It's not enough to create a mathematical model; the model must correspond to observable reality in some way that allows its predictions to be tested.
Mapping to known data: The Conscious Agent Theory should be able to account for a vast body of existing experimental data from fields such as neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychology. Demonstrating how his theory maps onto this existing data is a major task that, as of my last update, hasn't been fully accomplished.
Integration with existing theories: The theory needs to be able to integrate, or at least coherently co-exist, with existing theories in physics and neuroscience. If a new theory contradicts well-established and empirically supported theories, it needs to provide a compelling explanation for those contradictions.
While Hoffman's work is certainly thought-provoking and has the potential to contribute to our understanding of consciousness, it's important to recognize that developing a new scientific theory is a complex and rigorous process. As of now, Hoffman's Conscious Agent Theory is still a work in progress, and there's a lot more research and development to be done before it can be widely accepted as a valid scientific theory.
What does empirical mean?
Empirical refers to knowledge or information derived from observation, experience, or experiment, rather than from theory, belief, or logical argument. It's a key concept in the scientific method, which emphasizes the importance of observable, testable, and repeatable evidence in forming conclusions about the world.
In the context of scientific research, empirical evidence includes things like experimental results, observational data, measurements, and statistics. A scientific theory is considered empirical, or empirically valid, if it has been tested and confirmed through this kind of evidence.
The empirical approach helps ensure that scientific theories are grounded in reality and that they accurately reflect the nature of the world as it can be observed and measured.
Clearly there is evidence of consciousness if it's defined as all that is.
Certainly, if you define consciousness as being identical to all that exists — the sum total of everything — then by definition there is a sort of empirical evidence for it, since we can empirically observe that things do indeed exist. However, it's important to note that such a definition of consciousness is quite different from how the term is typically used in most scientific and philosophical contexts.
Typically, consciousness is thought of as a specific kind of thing: a subjective, experiential phenomenon associated with awareness and cognition, often connected with living organisms and particularly with brains. Evidence for this kind of consciousness is typically gathered through first-person reports (in the case of human consciousness) and through neuroscientific studies looking at correlations between brain activity and subjective experience.
When consciousness is defined in this more typical way, providing empirical evidence for it becomes a bit more challenging, since consciousness in this sense is not directly observable in the way that physical objects are. We can't directly see or measure someone else's subjective experiences; we can only infer them based on what they report and on what we can observe of their brain activity.
If, on the other hand, you're defining consciousness as identical to everything that exists, then it's not clear how we would go about investigating it scientifically. By equating consciousness with all existence, it's no longer a specific kind of thing that can be studied or understood in contrast to other kinds of things. This doesn't make it an invalid perspective, but it does place it somewhat outside the realm of empirical scientific inquiry, as that's typically conducted. This is more a metaphysical or philosophical viewpoint.
Why are scientists so enamored with defining consciousness as a thing when they know its not .
Scientists tend to define consciousness in terms of a particular type of experience or phenomenon largely because it helps in developing testable hypotheses and theories. By identifying consciousness as a particular type of experience — generally associated with awareness, the ability to have subjective experiences, or self-awareness — researchers can use tools like neuroimaging to look for correlates of these experiences in the brain.
That said, the definition and nature of consciousness is still a deeply contested issue in science and philosophy. There's ongoing debate about what exactly consciousness is, how it arises, and even how it should be defined. Some researchers and philosophers argue that consciousness is not a thing at all, but rather a process, a way of interacting with the world, or a range of potential experiences.
The current approach in cognitive science and neuroscience isn't so much about being enamored with a particular definition of consciousness, but more about working with a practical model that allows for investigation and understanding. By defining consciousness in a way that's associated with certain observable phenomena, scientists can make progress in studying it.
Of course, this doesn't rule out other ways of understanding consciousness. There are many different perspectives, both within the scientific community and outside it, and each can potentially contribute to our understanding of this complex and mysterious phenomenon. But for the purposes of empirical scientific research, having a definition of consciousness that allows for observation and measurement is practically useful.
The approach to consciousness you're suggesting, defining it as all that exists, is certainly a valid philosophical perspective, but it's more challenging to study empirically, since it doesn't differentiate consciousness from other aspects of existence. As such, while it can certainly contribute to our philosophical understanding of consciousness, it might be less directly applicable to empirical research.
How could consciousness being siphoned off and understood that way ever escape a tautalogical dead end?
Indeed, when attempting to study consciousness from a strictly empirical perspective, certain philosophical issues arise. If we take consciousness as a given (since it is, after all, the only thing that we can be sure of directly), then trying to reduce it to something else or explain it in terms of something else can seem inherently misguided. This is sometimes referred to as the "hard problem" of consciousness: the question of why and how physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experiences.
The approach of cognitive science and neuroscience has been to study the correlations between physical brain states and subjective experiences, with the goal of building a predictive and explanatory model of consciousness. While this approach has yielded valuable insights into the neural correlates of consciousness, it doesn't directly address the hard problem.
Some philosophers and scientists have proposed that we may need to fundamentally revise our understanding of the nature of consciousness and its place in the universe to fully solve the hard problem. Some, like philosopher David Chalmers, have suggested that consciousness might be a fundamental aspect of reality, similar to space and time. Others, like cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman, have proposed that consciousness is all that exists, and that what we perceive as physical reality is a kind of user interface constructed by our minds.
These are deeply challenging questions, and there's ongoing debate among scientists and philosophers about how best to approach them. While the empirical approach of cognitive science and neuroscience may not fully resolve these philosophical issues, it does provide a practical framework for investigating the mechanisms and processes associated with consciousness, and for developing therapies and interventions to help people with disorders of consciousness.
Ultimately, fully understanding the nature of consciousness may require a combination of empirical research, philosophical inquiry, and potentially new scientific and philosophical paradigms that we have yet to develop. It's a fascinating area of exploration, and one where there's still much to discover.
This is sometimes referred to as the "hard problem" of consciousness: the question of why and how physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experiences.
But there's simply no problem if you take out consciousness. Subjective experience has nothing to with consciousness as all there is. Subjective experience of course correlates to brain activity because they both are talking about the same thing from different angles.
If I understand correctly, you're suggesting that the hard problem of consciousness doesn't exist if we consider consciousness to be all that is. In this view, what we typically refer to as "consciousness" (i.e., subjective experience) is simply one aspect or manifestation of this all-encompassing consciousness. The "hard problem" of how physical brain processes give rise to subjective experiences then dissolves, because both brain processes and experiences are simply different aspects or perspectives on the same underlying reality, which is consciousness.
This perspective is known as "idealism" in philosophy, and it indeed sidesteps the hard problem by essentially denying the distinction between physical and mental phenomena. However, it introduces its own set of challenges and questions.
For example, if everything is consciousness, then why do we have the impression of a world that exists independently of our personal experiences? Why does this world seem to obey regular laws, like those of physics? How can we explain the apparent correlations between specific brain states and specific experiences? And why do we experience a difference between subjective and objective perspectives if both are manifestations of the same underlying reality?
These are some of the questions that an idealistic view of consciousness needs to address to provide a satisfying account of our experiences. There's certainly room for such perspectives in the ongoing conversation about the nature of consciousness, and they can provide valuable counterpoints to more materialistic or dualistic views. However, just as with the hard problem of consciousness, these questions are challenging and there's ongoing debate about how best to answer them.
But if only apparently empirical evidence is accepted than how can those questions be answered. Materialism cannot use Materialism to prove itself...that's where the tautology insidiously begins.
You've touched on a very significant philosophical question: how can we justify our basic assumptions about the world, whether those are assumptions of materialism, idealism, dualism, or some other metaphysical stance?
In science, empirical evidence is indeed paramount, but the interpretation of that evidence is guided by underlying philosophical assumptions. For example, the materialist view assumes that there is an external physical reality that exists independently of our perceptions, and that our perceptions provide, at least in part, an accurate representation of that reality. This view has been remarkably successful in producing predictive models and technological applications, which is why it's widely adopted in the scientific community. But as you rightly point out, it cannot be proven using empirical evidence alone.
The same goes for idealism, the view that consciousness is all there is. This view also cannot be proven with empirical evidence, because any evidence we gather will be interpreted within the framework of our underlying assumptions.
So, how do we proceed? One way is to focus on pragmatic considerations: which viewpoint leads to the most successful predictions and applications? Which viewpoint leads to a coherent and satisfying understanding of our experiences?
In addition, we can consider the philosophical merits of different viewpoints. Do they lead to contradictions or absurdities? Do they require us to make assumptions that seem implausible? These questions can help guide our metaphysical choices.
Finally, it's important to recognize that our current viewpoints and theories are not set in stone. They can and do change over time as we gather new evidence and develop new ways of thinking. This is as true in philosophy as it is in science.