Home > Conscious > Chapter 9 > 9.1. Render Hard into Easy Problem


One reason why consciousness presents a hard problem for science is because it lacks a clear and adequate scientific definition. In plain English, the word "consciousness" has several different definitions. One of them is "awareness of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts and surroundings, etc." (dictionary.com). The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy also formulates the hard problem as "the problem of explaining why conscious mental states 'light up' and directly appear to the subject." Thus, consciousness may be defined as the phenomenon of "self awareness", or "self observation". Physics is a scientific discipline that deals with natural phenomena at the most fundamental level. Observation does play an important role in physics, especially in quantum mechanics.

From the physical point of view, the mind is a system. When the mental system is in a conscious state, it can observe itself. According to the Geon Hypothesis, the conscious mental state is a gravitational geon which can exist on its own for a finite period of time. Although the mental system arises from neuronal activities, GR waves have virtually no interaction with matter. Hence, the mental system composed of only GR waves can be considered as a separate system from the nervous system. This mental system constitutes the immaterial or spiritual part of a person, because GR waves are not matter although they are physical entities.

The major difference between the mental system and other physical systems is that the mental system can observe itself when it is in a conscious state . Therefore, to solve the hard problem is to explain why the mental system can observe itself. This can easily be understood from the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, which proposes that the act of observation may cause a quantum system to reduce to only one of many possible states (called eigenstates or eigenfunctions). Prior to observation, a quantum system may exist in any of these eigenstates with certain probabilities. The reality is not known. In other words, the real state of a system may be manifested only by observation.

Spontaneous neuronal activities are quite common in the brain. When a mental system happens to be in an eigenstate, it must have been observed, resulting in the manifestation of reality to the observer, i.e, the mental system itself. A gravitational geon could be one of the eigenstates. Thus, the creation of a geon should accompany self-observation so that the mental system may self-reduce to an eigenstate (a geon). This easy solution can be tested from the analysis of EEG data which contains mental information. Preliminary studies are consistent with the prediction (Section 9.3.