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How Consciousness Creates the Material World

by Amit Goswami & Richard E. Reed & Maggie Goswami

Pub Date: April 28th, 1993
ISBN: 0-87477-669-4
Publisher: Tarcher/Penguin

 Goswami (Physics/University of Oregon; coauthor, The Cosmic Dancers, 1983) uses quantum physics to promote monistic idealism- -the theory that both matter and mind have their origin in consciousness. The villain here is materialism--the teaching that everything is comprised of atoms--and its tag-along doctrines of locality (that interactions between objects occur in local space-time), strong objectivity (that objects exist independently of consciousness), and epiphenomenalism (that mind is an accidental by-product of brain function). According to Goswami, quantum physics has laid to rest this view of reality: Quantum objects jump from here to there without passing through intervening space, disproving locality; Heisenberg's uncertainty principle disproves strong objectivity, etc. Goswami's explication of modern physics- -which draws on everything from Winnie-the-Pooh to optical illusions--is a model of clarity. Vastly less satisfying is his brief for monistic idealism. For one thing, he writes off an important alternative, dualism--the ``common-sense'' view that mind and matter both exist, that a rock is a rock and a thought is a thought--in a few skimpy paragraphs. For another, his argument is inconsistent: He cites paranormal events as evidence for idealism, but when an exception arises (such as out-of-body experiences, which suggest dualism), he becomes a debunker. Worst of all, when he tries to describe how idealism actually shapes the world, he sounds like Madame Blavatsky with a hangover (``the universe exists as formless potentia in myriad possible branches in the transcendent domain''). Goswami's aim is inviting--who does not wish us to ``realize our full potential--an integrated access to our quantum and classical selves''?--but most readers will remain agnostic. More substantial than Fritjof Capra, which isn't saying much. This is one cosmic egg that may be too big to crack.