What is reality? Is it only based on the physical world surrounding us or is it something more? This is what principal research scientist at Georgia Tech, Tim Andersen, tries to figure out while drawing on the concept of Will by 19th-century philosopher Schopenhauer.
Andersen argues that rather than just physical nature, the concept of Will plays a big role in our reality as well.
In fact, the Infinite Universe: A First Principles Guide author believes Will is the very basis of our reality.
To really understand the concept of Will, we need to focus on our own consciousness, becoming hyper aware of it.
First of all, it is worth mentioning that people have two separate levels when it comes to consciousness – experience and reflection (or meta consciousness.)
For instance, in the first level, we “experience” the world through our 5 senses of smell, touch, taste, hearing and sight, while the second entails that we are also “aware” of the consciousness of our experience.
This second level allows us to reflect upon our experiences and how it affects and makes us feel and is usually associated with the creation of all artistic expression.
It internalizes awareness of a certain experience and gives birth to Representation.
Without Representation, Will is unconscious, needing the other to be conscious of itself.
Similarly, to become aware of the will we exert upon the whole of the universe, measuring the quantum particles and reflecting on them is absolutely needed.
According to Anderson, Schopenhauer argues that the universe is not, in fact, “a rational place.”
Will is something lifeless nature experiences as well but only the first level of it.
While human beings reflect on their experiences and, as a result, learn, make plans and use their reason to obtain a desired future, an inanimate object cannot do the same.
Schopenhauer explains this phenomenon by using a rock falling to the ground as an example.
In his view, the rock is following its Will and experiences the falling but it is not Aware of the fact that it is falling, being unable to reflect on this experience.
Anderson goes on to extend this idea to physicists and how they measure particles in detectors.
“From a physics perspective, this argument is just the reverse interpretation of the standard superdeterminism argument that all our decisions are determined by some hidden states at the Big Bang. Rather, our decisions, emanating from underlying Will, determine those states. Our Will is essential and reality manifests around it. This would be a universe that is, in a sense, constructed by the inhabitants that it manifests — a self-building universe created by consciousness. That may be a universal consciousness or it may not be. Whatever the truth is it is a powerful argument against physicalism.”
Schopenhauer, on the other hand, argues that it would be rather preferable “if there were nothing.”
This is because, in his pessimistic view, there is much more pain than pleasure and “every satisfaction is only transitory, creating new desires and new distresses, and the agony of the devoured animal is always far greater than the pleasure of the devourer.”
While reflection on a universal Mind (or Will) in our day and age, it becomes more and more apparent, thanks to quantum mechanics and other things, that “physicalism” (the argument that there is nothing more than physical nature) is no longer defendable.
As a result, the greatest minds of our time seek alternative ways of perceiving and decoding reality.
Naturally, since Schopenhauer was such a huge thinker in his day, it was expected he would be brought up and his thoughts used as a basis for more articulate theories even if many still do not think the concept of Will is the perfect parallel to the concept of “mind.”