The Nature of Consciousness – Federico Faggin

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What are the nature of physical reality, and the nature of consciousness? These two questions have remained unanswered since the beginning of the human race. Science has made tremendous progress in understanding physical reality, but consciousness has remained largely a mystery. In human experience, reality has an inner, subjective aspect, and an outer, objective aspect, yet science insists in a materialistic position where everything in the universe, including consciousness, is supposed to derive from matter. For science, then, only outer reality exists, and inner reality must therefore be an epiphenomenon.

For the last 400 years, western culture has lived suspended between a Cartesian mindbody dualism and a monism based on scientific materialism. On the other hand, for more than 4000 years, many eastern spiritual traditions have held that consciousness is fundamental, and physical reality derives from it. How can we resolve this debate and find unity between inner and outer realities?

In his talk, Federico Faggin will describe his attempt at unification with a hypothesis that starts where the eastern traditions leave off, and weaves a narrative that is intended as a first step toward uniting science and spirituality. This narrative is intended to create a conceptual framework for a future mathematical theory of consciousness, where consciousness is held as a primary property of nature. This hypothesis starts by postulating that the fundamental energy of which space, time and matter are made contains also the seeds of consciousness, therefore the evolution of our universe is in reality a co-evolution of consciousness and matter. This co-evolution is driven by the desire of consciousness to know itself, and matter serves as a kind of mirror to help consciousness do so. Thus, the complexity of living matter reflects the self-knowing of consciousness.

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