As stated by Chancellor Professor of Physics Hans von Baeyer:
If I am the agent, the objective world is everything outside my mind―including other agents and even my own body. All of that I may, if I chose, treat quantum mechanically and describe by wavefunctions.
What this means is that all that is indeterminate in the personal world. And even one’s body is indeterminate except where observed – more on this on the next page The Self. So only the mind is determinate, real. But what is this mind?
The definition is given in Hugh Everett’s famous many-worlds theory. As he describes, the operational entity is the ‘state of the memory’ of the observer. And this is defined as the ‘record of observations’. It is this entity that the philosopher of physics Michael Lockwood defines as the mind. This is literally the ‘conscious point of view’ as he describes. He also calls it the ‘phenomenal perspective’. This seems all very technical, but the real thing is very straightforward. The mind is the same thing as the ‘perceptual reality’.
The Perceptual Reality
As you make observations, you generate an internal picture of what is in front of you. It is this representation that you actually experience directly.
Each experience is recorded in memory. This is the process of making an observation.
Over time, as each experience is recorded, this gives rise to your concept of the world, your map of reality as a whole. And this of course is what you are making use of when you imagine some other place and how to get there. Your concept of the world is the integrated synthesis of all the observations, the state of the memory in Everett’s formulation. And this is literally your conscious point of view. The perceptual reality is how you see things, and the way you understand things. This is the mind as defined by Lockwood.
The actual form of this field of information is totally obvious when we describe it, but this is still not widely known and understood. It is a virtual reality. As the famous biologist Richard Dawkins states:
Our brain constructs a three-dimensional model. It is a virtual reality in the head. (1998, 276)
The same thing is stated by David Deutsch, a renowned physicist who works on fundamental issues:
What we experience directly is a virtual-reality rendering, conveniently generated for us by our unconscious minds from sensory data (1997, 120)
The sensory data is information from the environment. Our eyes perceive the world, and the result is formed into a three-dimensional rendering of the environment. This is the observation, which is recorded in memory.
The integrated synthesis of all the observations forms the virtual reality as a whole. This virtual reality forms your map of the world, your concept of reality. Whenever you think about any aspect of the world, where you went yesterday, what might be happening now far away, what you are actually experiencing is in fact this virtual reality. Of course.
The World Hologram
As Deutsch goes on to describe, the virtual reality representation is mentally projected out onto the real world. In other words, although the virtual reality itself is going on ‘in here’ within the brain, it is experienced as going on ‘out there’ in the world.
So the virtual reality being experienced takes the form of a hologram. It is a spatially-distributed, three-dimensional image that is mentally projected onto the real world, so as to match up precisely. I call it the ‘world hologram’. This is the form of the mind. This is what the conscious point of view is ‘made of’.
It is this entity that is present in a great number of worlds in the many-worlds universe. It is this entity for which the world is a personal world, indeterminate except where observed. The proof of this idea, and the ratification of the whole relative world concept, is found in the ‘Holographic Universe’, as explained here The Holographic Universe. The page Logical Types explains the fundamental reason for the difference between the relative, personal world and the ordinary world. And it is in this type world that the whole fraught area of probability is naturally explained. This is described on the page Schrödinger’s cat.
But perhaps the most immediate question following on from all this is who am I, really? If I am just the state of the memory, the record of my observations, and all else is indeterminate, how can I exist without a proper body? This is addressed on the page The Self.