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Speculations on Consciousness, Meaning, and the Mathematical Rules that Orchestrate the Cosmos

by David Darling

Pub Date: July 14th, 1993
ISBN: 1-56282-875-4
Publisher: Hyperion

In another speculative volume, Darling (Deep Time, 1989) foresees a grand and glorious future as he ponders the nature and destiny of humanity. With degrees in physics and astronomy, he's able to write knowledgeably, if glibly, about current conundrums and issues—so, in a sense, his latest offering serves to introduce readers to current ideas in cosmology, computer science, and evolution. But there are caveats. Darling writes didactically, without nuance. It's as if it were common consensus, for example, that the divisions of the brain are neat and simple: left for logic, right for feeling; that mathematics is neither discovered nor invented but resonates with reality; that the fundamental particles are the electron and quark; and that, at the level of quantum mechanics, it's the intervention of the observer that causes a ``fundamental, unknowable disturbance in the system.'' All this leads Darling to embrace the thesis that human consciousness is both necessary and sufficient for establishing reality. These are ideas that have been heard before in David Bohm, John Wheeler, and the proponents of the anthropic principle. Here, they're brought to apotheosis in a final anthropic principle in which the mind evolves, bodies fade, and some sort of universal consciousness arises and permeates the galaxies: That's the grand and glorious future. Meanwhile, a perverse thought keeps stirring: Isn't this solipsism turned inside out?