The Self-Aware Universe Paperback – Mar 21 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all existence, declares University of Oregon physicist Goswami, echoing the mystic sages of his native India. He holds that the universe is self-aware, and that consciousness creates the physical world. Calling this theory "monistic idealism," he claims it is not only "the basis of all religions worldwide" but also the correct philosophy for modern science. Once people give up the assumption that there is an objective reality independent of consciousness, the paradoxes of quantum physics are explainable, contends Goswami, writing with his wife and Reed ( Building the Future from Our Past ). He also applies his hypothesis to the so-called mind-body schism, which he attempts to heal. Sketching a model of the self, this demanding but rewarding treatise uses analogies from the "new physics" to throw light on choice, free will, creativity, the unconscious and paths to spiritual growth. Illustrated.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
Goswami (Physics/University of Oregon; coauthor, The Cosmic Dancers, 1983) uses quantum physics to promote monistic idealism- -the theory that both matter and mind have their origin in consciousness. The villain here is materialism--the teaching that everything is comprised of atoms--and its tag-along doctrines of locality (that interactions between objects occur in local space-time), strong objectivity (that objects exist independently of consciousness), and epiphenomenalism (that mind is an accidental by-product of brain function). According to Goswami, quantum physics has laid to rest this view of reality: Quantum objects jump from here to there without passing through intervening space, disproving locality; Heisenberg's uncertainty principle disproves strong objectivity, etc. Goswami's explication of modern physics- -which draws on everything from Winnie-the-Pooh to optical illusions--is a model of clarity. Vastly less satisfying is his brief for monistic idealism. For one thing, he writes off an important alternative, dualism--the ``common-sense'' view that mind and matter both exist, that a rock is a rock and a thought is a thought--in a few skimpy paragraphs. For another, his argument is inconsistent: He cites paranormal events as evidence for idealism, but when an exception arises (such as out-of-body experiences, which suggest dualism), he becomes a debunker. Worst of all, when he tries to describe how idealism actually shapes the world, he sounds like Madame Blavatsky with a hangover (``the universe exists as formless potentia in myriad possible branches in the transcendent domain''). Goswami's aim is inviting--who does not wish us to ``realize our full potential--an integrated access to our quantum and classical selves''?--but most readers will remain agnostic. More substantial than Fritjof Capra, which isn't saying much. This is one cosmic egg that may be too big to crack. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I gathered this intelligence at the Eugene home of Amit Goswami, Professor of Physics at the Institute of Theoretical Studies at the University of Oregon. I arranged this special interview because of Goswami's new book, The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World. (Tarcher/Putnam). I wanted to meet the person who authored such a book and to make sure I was correctly understanding its many profundities.
At first glance, the book appears to be one of those "new science" books that have become so popular. It does describe quite well the basic experiments of quantum physics, the ones that produce such paradoxes as the dual identity (wave and particle) of electrons and their ability to communicate at a distance with each other instantaneously (non-locality). But rather than simply leaving us with a "Gee, whiz, isn't this incredible?" impression that the real world isn't as we assumed, Goswami boldly, yet very thoughtfully, introduces us to monistic idealism and suggests we accept it as a foundation for a new, and quite compelling, worldview.
Monistic idealism is the academically correct name given to a philosophical position that once was considered pre-scientific. It existed before the advent of what philosophers today label as materialistic dualism,. or what we might call the current official scientific world view. Materialistic dualism is the assumption that physical matter is the primary reality and that mind is separate from, but dependent upon, matter.Read more ›
Some people respond with a wary eye but an open mind.
Others don't care.
Still others enthusiastically embrace any challenge and work with it to see where they get to in the end.
Then there are the people who just as enthusiastically resist any open challenge to an established, "gut" idea. These people respond irrationally, with fear and excessive caution. Many of the reviews of this book fall into the latter category.
Yes, Goswami's interpretation of quantum mechanics has been disputed. What this has to do with anything is rather irrelevent. To the gentleman who named Polkinghorne by name, Polkinghorne's interpretation of physics has been challenged numerous times as well. There is no one interpretation physicists agree on. Look at the results and you can even see that not all of them agree the Earth exists!
Further, this gentleman points out that the reformulation of Descartes' Cogito argument could well be "God chooses, therefore I am". How silly this is supposed to be a criticism. Anyone who understands the book knows that Goswami is talking about a transcendent mind, not a personal one. He IS talking about God.
It is true that Goswami does not hold up every so-called "paranormal" event as evidence of his idealist philosophy. Again, this is irrelevent. Science always progresses this way--a new model appears and allows us to explain something we previously though impossible, but it does not logically follow that everything we thought impossible is now explainable by the model, now does it?
I was ready to blast Goswami's point about the OBE (Out-of-body-experience) because I read the Amazon.Read more ›
Goswami utilizes findings from recent experiments in quantum physics to provide ample evidence of his assertion that old assumptions based on material monism are out-dated and no longer valid. Goswami points out that: we live in a non-local universe, where everything is interconnected to everything else at the most fundamental level; we cannot hope to observe anything without affecting what we are observing; we can only predict the outcome of events in probabilities (not certainties); and there is something much more to this universe than just the matter and energy we can measure.
With a brilliant mind and warm heart, Goswami guides the reader on a wonderful journey. We discover objects that exist in two places at once, effects that precede their causes, the implications of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox and the Schrodinger's cat thought experiment, and the fascinating world of paradoxes and tangled hierarchies.
At the end of this journey, we find ourselves wondering who we truly are. Goswami writes, "the self of our self-reference is due to a tangled hierarchy, but our consciousness is the consciousness of our Being that is beyond the subject-object split. There is no other source of consciousness in the universe. The self of self-reference and the consciousness of the original consciousness, together, make what we call self-consciousness."
I highly recommend this enchanting book!
Most recent customer reviews
Not exactly as "easy" read, however, it is highly rewarding. Amit is a great mind and his thoughts are articulated very well. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Stacey
While this topic interested my curiosity and even though I consider my self an above average reader with a reasonable IQ, I found this presentation nearly unreadable. Read morePublished on March 19 2011 by Ronald W. Maron
This is a wonderful and timely book. It gives a fresh view of science, religion, mind, body, consciousness and the universe, stimulates thinking and makes one really understand... Read morePublished on Dec 3 2006 by Kate Bazilevsky
It has been a long time since I was so happy reading a book.
I grew up in Christian Science. As a Christian Scientist I would not normally approach the subject of spirituality... Read more
Most books that explore the intersection between science and spirituality seem to be written by non-scientists who explain some basic scientific principles and then extrapolate... Read morePublished on Dec 1 2003 by Robert Anderson
I thought that this book was very interesting. I would also recommend "The Science of G-d" by Israeli physicist Gerrard Shroeder. Read morePublished on Oct. 8 2003
As a non PhD Biologist, which in this case makes me an interested layman, I may not be qualified to review this book. Read morePublished on Nov. 20 2002 by Tom Herren
As a non PhD Biologist, which in this case makes me an interested layman, I may not be qualified to review this book. Read morePublished on Nov. 18 2002 by Tom Herren
When I read books on subjects I am not very familiar with, such as subatomic physics, I tend to access the reliability of the author by his accuracy on subjects I know more about. Read morePublished on Oct. 7 2002 by David Marshall