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The Social Sciences may benefit from taking a more holistic perspective in order to understand the nature of integrity, or its why and how in the information rich world. Here, Science provides useful insights that can be capitalised on for the development of consciousness, and therefore integrity.
As to the why of integrity, the Philosophy of Information and Information Ethics offer useful clues. Floridi’s IE approach, for example, so-called due to its emphasis of basic realities as a foundation of normative judgement, specifies that “an action is right or wrong because it decreases entropy of the Infosphere”. Here entropy refers to the destruction or loss of diversity of the infosphere. The why of integrity, may therefore be described in terms of contributing to the sustainability of systems through a coherent proliferation of life, information, meaning and purpose.
As to the question of how, or the dynamics involved, the work of quantum physicists such as Bohm, Einstein, Dirac, Podolsky, Rosen, Schrödinger and more recently Hameroff and Penrose, pave the way towards greater understanding of consciousness and therefore, integrity.
Consciousness operates beyond the reach of the classical sciences paradigm which currently dominates social sciences. In this paradigm the emphasis is on what is tangible and observable such as the body, the brain and the building blocks of behaviour. Such a static, structured, and sub-divided material perspective has proven to severely limit the value and impact of social sciences.
CQuantum Physics, however, introduced an alternative and more inclusive perspective of the universe and consciousness. It deals with physical phenomena at microscopic scales where the laws governing quantum entities differ from the more predictable laws of classical reality. Quantum theory capitalises on particle-wave measurement possibilities as first highlighted by Heisenberg’s (1926) uncertainty principle, or the measurement problem at quantum levels in which light and matter cannot merely be regarded as particles, but processes or waves which take place in time. When measured, however, the wave function collapses. This theory held fundamental implications for consciousness theory in that it could expand the rather limited views of consciousness as a function of the brain only, or even a dualistic view of brain versus mind, to that of a fully connected universe.
Related to the above and essential to any discussion of consciousness in this regard is the work of the theoretical physicist David Bohm who introduced the possibility of a deeper reality in his book: “Wholeness and the Implicate Order” (1980). Bohm links the activity of consciousness with that of the Implicate Order of the universe by which everything is connected to everything else, and every element can reveal detailed information of any other element in the universe. The layers of the Implicate Order infinitely enfold and unfold themselves at deeper levels. Physicists have subsequently referred to Bohm’s Implicate Order of the universe as the Zero Point Field (ZPF), universal field, or physical space-time.
Bohm and Pribram (1991, 2007) explain the mind-brain relationship in terms of Dennis Gabor’s (1948) concept of the hologram. Their Holonomic brain theory posits that the brain can be described as a holographic storage network which involves electric oscillations in the brain’s fine-fibered dendritic webs – which differ from the known action potentials of axons and synapses. These oscillations are waves which create wave interference patterns for memory encoding. Like a hologram, each part of a dendritic network in the brain contains all the information of the entire network.
Related quantum physics ideas and concepts which have emerged are those of entanglement and nonlocality. The term entanglement was introduced by Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen as well as by Schrodinger in 1935. It arises when two quantum systems are produced from a common source. Entangled quantum systems behave as if they are one in that they affect one another instantaneously, even when extremely remote from each other, thereby exhibiting a form of non-locality. Quantum physicists view fields of consciousness in terms of long-range entanglements which are nonlocal in nature – a perspective which enriches our understanding of collective consciousness and may just offer leverage in terms of the development of consciousness and integrity. The concepts of entanglement and nonlocality shattered the assumptions of classical physics that matter exists separately.
Penrose’s concept of objective reduction (OR), or quantum state reduction, reveals the mechanisms of consciousness. In the briefest terms, it suggests that consciousness arises from vibrations (moments of quantum state reductions) in protein polymers or microtubules inside the neurons in the brain which connect to deeper order ripples of space-time geometry. Hameroff and Penrose’s Orch OR theory suggests a connection between the brain’s biomolecular processes and the basic structure of the universe. It indicates that our waking consciousness can potentially access deep, fundamental, or boundary-less consciousness, thereby transcending time and space. M-theory, or string theory, offers additional insights in terms of collective consciousness and therefore the integrative potential and reach of human awareness and integrity.
Given the increasing technicalization of the information rich world in which we find ourselves, there are the claims of some proponents of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that consciousness is computational in nature and that AI has the potential to become the highest form of intelligence in the universe. However, in terms of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, Hameroff and Penrose hold that other than in the case of AI, human understanding cannot be encapsulated by a computational system only. Instead, they explain the mechanisms involved in consciousness in terms of quantum physical processes intrinsic to the universe.
AI which is algorithmically based is thus incapable of feelings and higher forms of awareness. Elon Musk warns that through our increasing reliance on and investment in AI, we are summoning a demon.
By making computers smarter they will not become sentient, though. We should therefore remain mindful of the implications of creating a rule-based as opposed to a conscious world. While AI holds the potential to rule the world, it may not be in a conscious and compassionate manner. This may even prevent the potential evolution of human consciousness toward greater integrative resonance with all aspects of our world.
A number of related scientific perspectives have also encompassed these new perspectives such as those of Rupert Sheldrake. His idea of morphogenesis explains morphic fields (specified by morphological aims) and morphic resonance or mysterious telepathy- type connections at a collective level. Sheldrake’s theory is compatible with that of Bohm on the Explicate and Implicate Order of the universe and also is of particular interest in terms of the development of consciousness and integrity.
In addition, David Hawkins (Power vs Force and The Eye of the I) and Lynne MacTaggart’s (The Field) concepts of attractor fields or energy fields is particularly valuable for current purposes. Taggart describes the ever-present conscious field within which we exist as an ocean of vibrations or a vast quantum field. Living beings can be regarded as packets of quantum energy constantly exchanging information with this sea of energy surrounding them. At our most elemental, we can be described not in terms of chemical reactions, but energetic charges. To a greater or lesser extent, humans thus resonate with their world, Hawkins explores this line of thought further with regards to levels of consciousness.
The related phenomenon of brainwave synchronisation, otherwise referred to as neural entrainment provides further scientific support in this regard.
The perspectives and models of quantum theory are thus useful for exploring the principles underlying consciousness. And although it clarifies subtle issues in a way which goes beyond the speculation of the descriptive sciences, it nevertheless fails to go all the way in explaining consciousness. Ancient spiritual systems and philosophies, however, seem to offer additional answers that are regarded by physicists as logically impeccable and worthy of further exploration. An integration of all the various perspectives on the matter, be those of a social science, philosophical, physical, or spiritual nature, probably provides most leverage towards an understanding of consciousness.