AE-DOC: matheism-and-psychonics

Chapter 5: Max Tegmark's Ultimate Ensemble Hypothesis

Max Tegmark is a physicist, cosmologist and professor at MIT. He is the creator of the Ultimate Ensemble Hypothesis, which states that all mathematical objects exist, in some sense, and that a subset of these mathematical objects which are sufficiently complex will contain self-aware substructures (SASs) which will perceive themselves as existing within a tangible reality. Our universe would be such a sufficiently complex mathematical object, and human beings would be SASs within that mathematical object. This hypothesis is also known as the mathematical universe hypothesis (MUH).

There is, at first glance, some similarity between Tegmark's ideas and the cosmic network hypothesis presented in Part One. Both hypotheses rely upon the fact that mathematical truths (or mathematical objects) have an inherent mathematical existence, and therefore require nothing external to themselves for that existence. Both also hold that mathematical truth, itself, is the ultimate foundation and cause of all reality.

Consciousness Does Not Arise from Complexity

The crucial difference between Tegmark's position and that of Scionics is the stance regarding consciousness. While both hypothesis require the existence of consciousness in order to go from purely intangible mathematical truth to the experience of a tangible reality, Tegmark never explains how consciousness arises within mathematical objects, other than to say that complexity is somehow involved, which is an insufficient explanation. It can be supposed that Tegmark assumes, as do many scientific materialists, that consciousness is something which emerges from certain types of sufficiently complex material configurations, of which biological organisms (such as humans) are an obvious example. Scionics, on the other hand, recognizes that, while complexity does play an important role in constructing mind from raw consciousness, raw consciousness is irreducible and ontologically necessary (due to its mathematical nature) and that it is the activity of this raw consciousness which gives rise to the experience of tangible reality. In other words, consciousness could never emerge from (even very complexly organized) non-conscious matter, but the apparent experience of a physical world can emerge from raw consciousness, acting according to its own mathematical and hedonic nature (as described in Part One).

Boltzmann's Universes?

Another important weakness of the ultimate ensemble hypothesis is something which may at first appear to be a strength: it posits that every possible mathematical object, hence every possible universe exists. This means that all sorts of chaotic and unpredictable universes would exist, just as all sorts of regular and predictable universes would exist. Furthermore, it seems that each one of the infinite number of regular and predictable universes which would exist would correspond to an overwhelming number of additional chaotic and unpredictable universes. After all, for each orderly, regular state which a large complex system can assume, there are countless other disorderly and irregular states. This would also mean that for each purely regular and predictable universe, there also would be a huge (possibly infinite) number of very similar universes which might appear to be regular and predictable within certain regions of space or time, but outside of those regions would be completely chaotic. In other words, it would always be more likely that our experience of reality would become completely strange, chaotic and unpredictable, at any moment, than that it would remain regular and predictable. To say that this is problematic would be a gross understatement.

This is somewhat like the Boltzmann's brain argument ( which states that, due to random thermodynamic fluctuations, it is probable for a fully-formed human brain to appear, complete with apparent memories of this universe, provided that long-enough time scales are involved. The argument also holds that the occurrence of these Boltzmann's brains would actually outnumber the occurrence of humans which evolved by the means conventionally accepted by science, because of the finite scale of human existence and the infinite scale of existence itself. This would mean that it would be statistically improbable for any individual to actually be a conventional real human being, rather than a Boltzmann's brain – and there would be no way to tell the difference. In Tegmark's ultimate ensemble hypothesis, however, it would not even be necessary to wait for random thermodynamic fluctuations since, according to his view, every mathematical object is realized. It seems, then, that most entities in the ultimate ensemble which think they are a human being in this universe would simply be a “complex mathematical object” with such thoughts and memories, although not part of this universe at all. In fact, there would be countless universes (or mathematical objects) which contain only just such a Boltzmann's brain, in isolation.

Self-contradictory Mathematical Metaphysics

A fundamental problem with the ultimate ensemble hypothesis can be revealed and resolved by means of an analysis of the mathematical metaphysics involved. All of the infinite mathematical and logical truths exists at every point throughout all existence. After all, it is not as though 1+1=2 at one point, and 2+2=4 at some other point; rather, all such truths exist at all points. Mathematical objects essentially are mathematical truths, and thus all mathematical objects have mathematical existence at all points. According to the ultimate ensemble hypothesis, this would essentially mean that every member of this ensemble, i.e., every mathematical object, and hence every possible universe, would simultaneously exist “on top of” each other, in its entirety, at every point, while also being duplicated infinitely, over and over, at every point. Again, to say that this is problematic would be a gross understatement.

Psychonics, however, resolves all of this quite easily. All mathematical and logical truths do indeed exist at every point, but this existence is strictly mathematical and strictly intangible. The only thing which coexists with intangible mathematical truth is intangible consciousness, and this is due to the mathematical nature of intangible consciousness itself. There is no absurd ensemble of mathematical objects or universes “made real,” which give rise to SASs (self-aware substructures) when they are “complex enough” – just a singular, eternal, infinite plenum of mathematical truth and raw consciousness. The mathematical and hedonic nature and activity of this psychonic plenum gives rise to the psychonic network which serves as the matrix of Planck units which comprise our physical reality. Rather than claiming that consciousness or “self-aware substructures” arises due to sufficient complexity, Scionics (and psychonics) asserts that raw consciousness is irreducible and omnipresent, and that the universe is constructed from raw consciousness itself. Minds, on the other hand, are a type of complex, organized consciousness, such as arises from biological evolution due to the process of natural selection.

This document is under construction; more to come.