The Self


The mind is just a field of information, the world hologram, so it obviously can only exist when a body gives rise to it. Nonetheless, the mind defines the whole of the conscious individual. The reason is another strange implication. Just as the world around me is only determinate where observed, the same is true of my body. 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.

In other words, all of that is indeterminate except where is observed, even including my own body.

It seems a bit crazy but the explanatory principle of the superworld makes it straightforward. I exist in every possible body that gives rise to this mind. Therefore my superworld includes every possible variation of the body in which my mind exists. In all these worlds, the things I have observed about myself, outer appearance, inner traits and so on, are exactly the same. These observed attributes of myself have to be the same in all these worlds because they are defined by the record of observations, my mind itself. So, like the body of the butterfly, all these aspects of my body are determinate. But everything else is the superposed sum of all the ways it could be. So things like the positions of small internal blood vessels are indeterminate, like the wings of the butterfly.

It seems that only the mind is real because the body is only real where it is defined by the mind. But how can I be just a mind? This makes more sense once we understand the nature and the importance of the ‘self-avatar’.

The Self-Avatar

Just as we build up knowledge about the world with our observations, we also build up knowledge about what we ourselves are like. This gives rise to the complete mental image of myself, built up from all the observations, looking in the mirror, noticing my preferences and so on. So this includes the self-concept, who I think I am, the self-image, how I see myself, and the ‘body schema’, the mental map of where everything is and how it all works.

All together this is the self-avatar, meaning the three-dimensional representation of myself at the centre of my world hologram. This self-avatar is what is symbolised by the me inside my head in the pictures in The World Hologram. As with the rest of the world hologram, the self-avatar is a holographic field of information, and it is mentally projected out onto my physical body.

And as with the rest of the world hologram, that field of information is what defines the determinacy of the body. So in the personal world, the mind defines the body. Along with everything else. Which is pretty strange. Objectively, of course, the body is exactly what we imagine, an ordinary object in terms of physics, the highly complex and sophisticated biological structure that produces and houses the extraordinary mind. But subjectively, in the relative world, the determinacy of the body is completely defined by the self-avatar. So in my personal world, the mind is who I really am as a conscious individual.

The Unconscious

This new conceptual framework also explains the nature of the unconscious with a startling new clarity. The great psychologist Carl Jung (1969) described the three primary attributes of the mind: the conscious mind, the ‘personal unconscious’ and the ‘collective unconscious’. The conscious mind is the immediate awareness of experience. The rest of the personal system is the personal unconscious.

As Jung defines, the personal unconscious is all the aspects of the memory, laid down by experience, that could be accessed consciously but are not in conscious awareness at the moment. In other words the record of your experiences, which is of course the world hologram. All the history of one’s life is part of the state of the memory, and defines the past in the world hologram. The collective unconscious is something quite different.

As Jung describes, this psychic component is not formed in the mind of the individual. It is a feature of the inherited structure of the brain. So in one sense it is not part of the mind of the individual. But of course it is part of what makes you tick, so it is crucial to understand it. The great deal of the activity of the brain is simply running the body. The collective unconscious is like the operating system that comes with the body. Vast amounts of neural activity are overseen by the unconscious processes to which one has no access.

As Jung describes, the collective unconscious contains certain pre-existent forms, the ‘psychological archetypes’. Classic examples are those defining the basic characteristics in the Myers-Briggs classification, extravert / introvert and so on. Each has a typical personality, a pattern of behaviours that make up a certain way of being, and they can play a major role in influencing how we think and feel and act. It is collective because the archetypes are shared among all humans, though different specifics are primarily active in each individual. A further key point is that the operating system can also have an agenda, which is where it gets really interesting.

Jung observed that archetypes can be energised in the service of mass politics. Powerful archetypal symbols, such as patriotism and rights, can be used to energise the collective unconscious to produce powerful emotional responses to a simple message. So just as computers can be hijacked when the operating system is hacked, we can be manipulated en masse outside our conscious awareness. And because the impulses to thought and action seem to arise naturally in the psyche, such influences are not seen as external. Thus they can seem to be as powerful and important personal drives on which one should base one’s life.

The Quantum Computer Brain

So the conscious part of me is my immediate experience of the present moment. My personal unconscious is the record of my experiences, my world hologram with the self-avatar at the centre. The collective unconscious is the operating system of my body. And this has one more extraordinary feature. Like the physical body, the features of the operating system are only real, determinate, where observed. So everything else is indeterminate. Again the reason is the same. I exist in every possible body that gives rise to my mind, so every possible variation of the operating system is superposed in my world. This would very neatly explain why there seems to be ‘nothing there’ beyond memory. It is ‘all dark’. But what is really fascinating is it means that the system works like a quantum computer.

The mind follows a train of thought, a sequence of associations. But where do new thoughts come from? Daniel Dennett in his ‘Multiple Drafts’ concept (1991), holds that the unconscious is constantly producing many trains of thought which one is not aware of. Each one is like a first draft, a possible beginning, a seed idea of the way a new train of thought could develop. As he describes, when one such draft is noticed, and the train of thought followed consciously, this becomes the content of awareness, meaning the train of thought one actually follows consciously as it develops. In the personal world there is an extraordinary implication. Every possible variation of your body is present, with every possible variation of the operating system. So in this case, every possible variation of a new train of thought is there in your system.

And this, it would appear, explains creativity. Where do creative ideas come from? Now we know. Every possible idea is present in the operating system, waiting to be noticed. The logic is identical to a quantum computer. This does its magic by working with memory which is in a superposition of states. So a large database can be searched with just one cycle of processing. The entry that matches the search is found almost instantly.

The new idea is a perfect match with the physics in a most unexpected way. The full and precise definition of the relative world is well established, but completely unrecognised. This new cosmology is a longstanding concept that ranks alongside the measurement problem as a total paradox. The resolution is the proof of the personal world, indeed the ratification of the whole relative world concept. This is The Holographic Universe.