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The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World

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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.

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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.

30 review for The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stewart

    Goodreads or Firefox "ate" my review, which I spent half an hour on. I am not going to write another one.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rama

    A journey through consciousness and physical reality This book is a conscious effort by the author to provide a link between the physical reality and consciousness. The first half of the book presents conceptual part of quantum physics in which he discusses the uniqueness of quantum world and how it differs from classical reality. The introduction to quantum physics is very well presented. The second half of the book discusses as how consciousness figures in the depiction of reality, and in the p A journey through consciousness and physical reality This book is a conscious effort by the author to provide a link between the physical reality and consciousness. The first half of the book presents conceptual part of quantum physics in which he discusses the uniqueness of quantum world and how it differs from classical reality. The introduction to quantum physics is very well presented. The second half of the book discusses as how consciousness figures in the depiction of reality, and in the process, he proposes a new and alternative interpretation of idealistic monism to explain quantum phenomenon. He is best known for his role as a commentator in the 2004 movie "What the bleep do we know?" starring Marlee Matlin (1). It is well known that quantum reality does not reconcile with classical reality. Classical reality assumes matter (electrons, atoms, molecules, living species, planets, stars, and galaxies) are real and exist independent of observers or the method we employ to observe them; thus, classical physics is dominated by this objectivity. Secondly determinism; the idea that it is possible to predict completely the motion of all material objects if initial conditions such as position and velocity are known. Thirdly, the cause leading to the effect in the cause-effect relationship of classical reality is due to certainty that an action lead to certain effect. In quantum physics the behavior of quantum objects is probabilis¬tic and strict cause-effect description of the behavior of a single object is impossible. Fourthly, the principle of locality is that all material influences occurring in spacetime must be local, and the information can travel in space at a finite velocity, and not faster than the speed of light. The assumption of locality that all inter¬actions between material-objects are mediated via local signals is crucial to the materialistic view that objects exist independently and separately. Fifthly, materialism depicts that matter and energy are fundamental and all other phenomenon are secondary. The epiphenomenalism is a principle in which all mental phenomenons are explained as secondary to matter by suitable reduction to antecedent physical conditions. Thus consciousness is assumed by the objectivity of science to be a secondary, a part of living being, perhaps an advanced living species. The subject and objects in classical thought are two different things, and God and consciousness do not appear in any mathematical formula, but consciousness appears in physical interpretation of reality. In quantum physics the collapse of wave function upon observation by a conscious observer mixes subject and object, and there is no distinction between the two. Consciousness is without experiences and it is devoid of an object or a subject The strangeness of quantum world may be summarized as follows; a quantum object can be at more than one place at the same time because of its wave property, and it cannot manifest in classical spacetime reality until we observe it as a matter (wave function collapse). A quantum object possesses both wave and particle (matter) nature but they are complementary properties. Quantum uncertainty prevents the momentum and the position to be determined precisely because of Heisenberg uncertainty principle. This is not measurement problem but a quantum physical problem since it is mathematically proved that the product of the position and the momentum is equal to or greater than Planck's constant. A quantum object ceases to exist here and simultaneously appears over there by quantum jumps and we cannot say it went through intervening space. A manifestation of one quantum object caused by our observation simultaneously influences its correlated twin object, no matter how far apart they are in the universe, by quantum entanglement. The behavior of quantum objects is probabilis¬tic and strict cause-effect description of the behavior of a single object is impossible. Instead, we have statistical cause and statistical effect when talking about a large group of particles. To understand quantum reality in the classical world physicists use a schema of interpretation; this depends on the philosophy or school of thought. Copenhagen interpretation postulated largely by Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Max Born is commonly used. The author claims that there is a monistic alternative to material realism where mind and matter are integral part of one reality, but reality is not based on matter alone. He observes that the existence of objective reality independent of consciousness is absurd and believes that the universe is "self-aware" and that it is consciousness itself that creates the physical world. It is outside of spacetime, non-local, all pervading and All-in-One unitary being. It is the consciousness that is the ultimate reality; the immanent and transcendent are within consciousness He attempts to convince the reader that monistic idealism provides a paradox-free interpretation of quantum physics that is logical, coherent, and offers explanation for mental phenomenon such as; self-consciousness, free-will, creativity and extrasensory perception, and finally provide a role for spiritual side of existence. In his discussion about artificial intelligence he questions how mind can be treated like a machine and free will as an illusion. Roger Penrose argues that computer like algorithmic reasoning is insufficient for the discovery of physical and mathematical (theorems) laws. Then where does mathematics come from if we operate like a computer? Mathematical truth is not ascertained by mere use of an algorithm (a systematic procedure which is strictly a logic based approach) for solving a problem. Consciousness is required to comprehend the mathematical argument to be convinced of its validity, and elucidate the emerging physical concepts. Therefore consciousness must exist prior to algorithm and mathematics. To explain the role of consciousness quantum physics, he cites von Neumann's work; the state of a quantum system (here it is mind) undergoes change in two separate ways. The first is a continuous change in which it spreads as a wave, becoming a coherent superposition of all the potential states allowed by the situation. Each potential state has a certain statistical weight given by its probability wave ampli¬tude. A measurement introduces a second discontinuous change in the state, and the state of superposition that exists in multifaceted potentia is reduced to one actualized facet. Some physicists view the selection process is random, but according to the idealist interpretation, it is consciousness that chooses the outcome. The intervention of the nonlocal consciousness collapses the probability cloud of a quantum state. Since this outcome is a conscious experience, we choose our conscious experiences yet remain unconscious of the underlying process. It is this unconsciousness that leads to the illusory separateness, the identity with the separate "I" of self¬-reference (rather than the "we" of one consciousness). The book provides significant number of references to other works such as; Vedanta (Hindu philosophy), Buddhist and Western philosophical thoughts and how they are related to his monistic interpretation. This book is highly recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    If Amit could define what consciousness is there would be, to quote Darth Vader, "No Conflict". But perhaps that is the final, ultimate rub. What IS consciousness? Can you measure it? Can you show me the math behind it? Well, not yet anyway. Can you deny it exists? Of course not. So we say that consciousness exists because we know it exists, without proof, without measure, without quantifiable and repeatable results. In my day we called that circular logic, not science. That his discussion of qua If Amit could define what consciousness is there would be, to quote Darth Vader, "No Conflict". But perhaps that is the final, ultimate rub. What IS consciousness? Can you measure it? Can you show me the math behind it? Well, not yet anyway. Can you deny it exists? Of course not. So we say that consciousness exists because we know it exists, without proof, without measure, without quantifiable and repeatable results. In my day we called that circular logic, not science. That his discussion of quantum mechanics is rock solid should come as no surprise since he is the author of the books used by most colleges to teach college level quantum mechanics. So far, so good. But then he proposes what appears to be the final paradigm shift required to explain it all, and it is based upon the circular logic common to every single religion. Matter is not the foundation of everything, Consciousness / God / Mind is the foundation of everything, and this shift explains the current inconsistencies seen in the behavior of the "very small". How can electrons be in two places at the same time unless we are watching, in which case it can only be in one place at a time? Where does the electron go when it jumps levels, and how can it be that it does not travel the intervening distance but instead pops from one place to another? How can we continue to say a theory is solid if experimental data point to the fact that something is clearly missing? This book, as well as his movie "The Quantum Activist" point to what I BELIEVE to be true. It points to the belief I have had for some time now. Reality IS space-time-consciousness. Not some white bearded jealous god on a cloud making rules, but Everything, without exception, right Now. So, I believe this. I think it is true. But even for someone who believes these things I found that as I read this book I kept waiting for him to lay out the proofs. It is hard to take, crossing the streams... melding belief and science, adding the heady and fragrant spice of mysticism to quantum physics, turning it all upside down and noticing that if you do, it is explained but not necessarily with proof. So, I believe it and I agree, and yet I find myself fussing and kicking and looking for the data. A great book, highly recommended, and one that will leave you doing what I am doing. Asking the questions and finding your own way. And isn't that one of the fun parts of being here?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Bachmann

    I'm not sure where to begin. Like so many of the books on my shelf that have been written by scientists, notably physicists, the promise of a meaningful synthesis of quantum theory, quantum mechanics, and the science of consciousness leave readers deeply disappointed. These authors consistently seem to promise far more than they are capable of delivering. In this particular case, and I leave open the possibility that my mind could change since I have only read about 60% of this book so far, my f I'm not sure where to begin. Like so many of the books on my shelf that have been written by scientists, notably physicists, the promise of a meaningful synthesis of quantum theory, quantum mechanics, and the science of consciousness leave readers deeply disappointed. These authors consistently seem to promise far more than they are capable of delivering. In this particular case, and I leave open the possibility that my mind could change since I have only read about 60% of this book so far, my first observation is great pity for the students who must have endured the author's lectures. Since he was a physicist, I would imagine that he may have been able to reasonably teach basic features of physics satisfactorily. In fact, the first part of this book seems to give a decent introduction into quantum physics. However, once he steps into the realm of psychology, behavioral sciences, and consciousness, watch out. Obviously he is well read, and has a library full of literature to which he can refer as he touches upon these areas and tries to link them to the collapse of quantum waveforms. The problem is that from chapter to chapter he cooks up psychological and/or neuroscience stews--hobo stews--in which he reaches into his pantry and throws anything of possible relevance into the mix. His explanations may have hints of logic to them, but there is never a shred of empirical support. Thus, like so many of hs colleagues that aim to do the same thing, he offers the promise of scientifically sound support (based on his scientific credentials) to propositions that are not much more than his own mythology. Maybe he will write a chapter or two toward the end of the book that, in fact, will manage to demonstrate (preferrably empirically but maybe even with incontrovertible logic) the connection between the quantum world and consciousness and show unequivocally how, as he proposes, consciousness is the ground state of all reality. AAt this point, assuming he is able to do that, the chapters between his early exposition about quantum physics and those possible latter chapters are nothing more than very sophisticated bullshit. OK. Now that I've finished the book, my review stands. The last chapters were abject failures if their aim was to provide linkage between quantum science and consciousness or spirituality. I'm not sure what exactly was the point of any of the chapters apart from the initial ones on quantum physicis.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katie Curlee Hamblen

    Want to change the way you think about everything? Well, here you go.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fred Joy

    Challenging, intriguing, fascinating. Try watching "What the bleep do we Know" first.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Leticia

    You might be surprised to learn that I have only just finished reading this book, the beginning of which was over twelve months ago. There's a very good reason for this: It's pretty heavy going. The Self-Aware Universe is a book about quantum physics, and as such if you are not trained in physics then you will need to grapple with some pretty intense new terminologies, concepts, and ways of thinking. For advanced readers, it's a good chance to stretch your brain. Even if you are familiar with qua You might be surprised to learn that I have only just finished reading this book, the beginning of which was over twelve months ago. There's a very good reason for this: It's pretty heavy going. The Self-Aware Universe is a book about quantum physics, and as such if you are not trained in physics then you will need to grapple with some pretty intense new terminologies, concepts, and ways of thinking. For advanced readers, it's a good chance to stretch your brain. Even if you are familiar with quantum physics, you will still need to take time to digest it. In my case, the long, slow digesting was entirely intentional. Well, except for mid-year this year when I felt that I didn't have the intellectual capacity to give it the attention that it deserved. The Self-Aware Universe gives us an impressively argued case for eliminating material realism in the sciences in general, and in physics in particular. In its place, the author argues for the introduction of a monistic idealism, and does so on the basis that it resolves the paradoxes that exist in material-realism-based quantum mechanics. In the other half of this book, the author goes on to demonstrate how mystical writings throughout time have given us indications of what quantum mechanics is only now learning, and goes on - impressively - to show us how a monistic idealism as a framework can unite the spiritual and the scientific. The reason is because where material realism sees consciousness as arising from physical things like the brain, the monistic idealist sees matter as emerging from consciousness. It's a framework in which consciousness comes first. Well, as first as you can in a tangled hierarchy. Of course, the staunch atheist, being grounded firmly in material realism, will be unable to grapple with this notion despite its having been demonstrated, argued and proven, insofar as you can prove a quantum concept. Therefore, if you are a hardline atheist, you'd get as much benefit out of this as you would going to church. However, if you are primarily a material realist but have an open mind and are willing to be challenged, then please read this book. The Self Aware Universe is, In my opinion, essential reading for anyone who seeks to better understand quantum mechanics, or their own relationship with the world. In fact, Goswami does a lot of good in his work: Not only does he manage to make the difficulties of quantum mechanics obtainable with a little bit of effort, but he also manages to discuss many of the hard-to-understand and hard-to-reach elements of a Millenia of mystical writings by bringing the two together. While this may sound like a lot of difficult things all jumbled into one magnificent basket, the truth is that the understanding of quantum mechanics you will reach will allow you to better understand the mystical writings themselves. That alone is of enormous benefit to the curious and philosophical reader. While a great number of people will skip over this book, it has the potential to dramatically change how people see the world. It is also perhaps one of the more remarkable, rigorous and scientific works at the bleeding edge of scientific knowledge: A place of which science has, through its institutionalised perspectives and academies, become both intolerant and afraid. If you read this work, I hope that you end it in as great a state of excitement and joy at the possibilities as I did.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    The author, famous/infamous for his appearance in the film What the Bleep Do We Know?, begins with a fascinating premise-that the only metaphysical interpretation of quantum physics that accounts for all data is monist idealism. This monist idealist interpretation of quantum physics is akin to the worldview of Advaita Vedanta, in which there is, absolutely speaking, one fundamental reality-Mind/Conciousness (the Sanskrit word is Atman or Brahman, depending on whether one approaches it from the p The author, famous/infamous for his appearance in the film What the Bleep Do We Know?, begins with a fascinating premise-that the only metaphysical interpretation of quantum physics that accounts for all data is monist idealism. This monist idealist interpretation of quantum physics is akin to the worldview of Advaita Vedanta, in which there is, absolutely speaking, one fundamental reality-Mind/Conciousness (the Sanskrit word is Atman or Brahman, depending on whether one approaches it from the perspective of the individual or the whole). This nondual, nonlocal fundamental reality is apprehended dualistically as the subject of experience (the noumenal world of the individual mind) and the object of experience (the phenomenal world of individual objects). Goswami's most interesting thesis is that the quantum level of mind is that empty silence wherein free choice and novel creativity occur, whereas the classical level of mind is the conditioned chatterbox that operates on habit and repetition; this "two truths" approach allows his model to include and transcend the insights of behaviorism, etc. As I said, this is a fascinating interpretation, and one that resonates with the philosophical-religious worldview that has been called the perennial philosophy. Alas, this book is not as well written as I would have liked; sometimes the parables he relates don't connect meaningfully to the material at hand and at other times each paragraph seems only slightly related to those preceding and following. As well, the prose is often stilted and occasionally even embarassing (although, in his defense, he is a professor of physics and not creative writing). He only spends 1/3 of the book developing his thesis, a big mistake when you are rocking the boat so thoroughly. Another problem with this book is that the last 1/3 is a completely unnecessary (in my opinion) application of this interpretation to the spiritual path. There are scores of better books on the religious/spiritual practice of nondualism, so why bother? Is it to give the imprimatur of science to something that had previously been merely religious, and therefore suspect? Or is to fill pages? In short, Goswami's book expresses an interesting idea, although it is not always an interesting read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Noah

    I was intrigued by this book as soon as I learned about what it was about in Peace Is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End by Deepak Chopra. The book's main theme is pretty simple: the fundamental building block of reality is not matter (atoms or energy, e=mc2) but consciousness. The results of quantum physics experiments can only be explained by the existence of a conscious observer outside of space time, namely the one universal consciousness, or as some people call it, God. Because of I was intrigued by this book as soon as I learned about what it was about in Peace Is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End by Deepak Chopra. The book's main theme is pretty simple: the fundamental building block of reality is not matter (atoms or energy, e=mc2) but consciousness. The results of quantum physics experiments can only be explained by the existence of a conscious observer outside of space time, namely the one universal consciousness, or as some people call it, God. Because of the conditioning that I've had particularly in the sciences, painstaking going through and explaining everything using the actual results of experiments in quantum physics was helpful for me to be able to overcome limiting beliefs about the nature of reality and my ability to shape it. What drove me to read it at this time was a desire to reconcile the overwhelming evidence that consciousness creates reality with my inability to understand how, if that is the case, why I cannot instantaneously change reality--why we do not see dream-like changes ala Inception happening on a daily basis. I have experienced instantaneous changes in reality as a result of my thoughts, but it still happened in a way that conforms to the normal rules of classical physics. I do not have the ability to make supernatural things happen, but if reality is simply consciousness, why not? The book answered that question for me. I can't fully articulate the ideas in the book (check out an interview for that), but I think I understood them. The authors go into detail to explain the illusion of separate consciousnesses and all of the other questions that arise for people operating in a materialist paradigm. I feel satisfied that yes, the building block is consciousness, but that doesn't mean the laws of physics go out the window, they are part of the creation that has its own existence. I will be exploring his other books to learn more about the practical implications of what it means to live in a world where consciousness creates the reality we live in.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Janice (JG)

    So, the thing we're looking for is the thing that is doing the looking... interesting dilemma. Goswami uses the first half of the book to explain some basic physics and quantum theory. It is the development of quantum physics, he says, that has given us a means to discuss something science has avoided up til now -- what is consciousness? I was hanging on by my fingernails trying to wrap my head around physics and quantum physics explanations and examples for several chapters, but the end result So, the thing we're looking for is the thing that is doing the looking... interesting dilemma. Goswami uses the first half of the book to explain some basic physics and quantum theory. It is the development of quantum physics, he says, that has given us a means to discuss something science has avoided up til now -- what is consciousness? I was hanging on by my fingernails trying to wrap my head around physics and quantum physics explanations and examples for several chapters, but the end result was a very convincing argument: rather than consciousness existing within physical reality, physical reality exists within consciousness. And quantum physics explains how that can happen. But if you want to know the answer, you'll have to read the book. Goswami definitely has an agenda, which is to put forth the theory that material objects begin in our consciousness, and exist there. His book was published in 1995. Now, I'm reading "Our Existence Part 1 : The Nature and Origin of Physical Reality: A straightforward and impartial guide to the science and philosophy of our physical environment" by Christophe Finipolscie and published in June 2017. (For some reason the book link isn't working for me right now). This will be an interesting follow-up, since Finipolscie also takes on the relationship between science, physics, and philosophy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    The books main argument is against "material realism" and in favor of a more holistic approach to reality in which our individual consciousness is responsible for creating external phenomena.This aim is achieved by invoking the Copenhagen Interpretation which is an outdated concept that wasn't even taken seriously at the time is was proposed as it was unable to explain what happens when conscious observation is absent, but here we have god collapsing the the "wave packet" of information to keep The books main argument is against "material realism" and in favor of a more holistic approach to reality in which our individual consciousness is responsible for creating external phenomena.This aim is achieved by invoking the Copenhagen Interpretation which is an outdated concept that wasn't even taken seriously at the time is was proposed as it was unable to explain what happens when conscious observation is absent, but here we have god collapsing the the "wave packet" of information to keep it all rolling along. Anyway if you ignore this glaringly obvious flaw you can invent any number of quasi religious theories that sound plausible to those with a predisposition to megalomania or manic depression, who buy this type of literature in the hope that its some kind of key to untold power or a way out of some sort of personal hell.The number of authors mining this dubious vein of iron pyrite is increasing daily but if you want to add yourself to the heap you could do worse than read this at least its got a decent potted history of quantum physics and the author is quite congenial.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve Payeur

    I gave this book five stars because of the importance I perceive the subject matter has, not necessarily that every aspect of the book was perfect, but it was very good at what it set out to do, which is close to my heart - another reason for the rating. It set out to unite science and religion, approaching from many angles with appropriate-depth explanations of many facets from quantum physics (a main staple of the book) through consciousness, perception, religion, where our sense of self comes I gave this book five stars because of the importance I perceive the subject matter has, not necessarily that every aspect of the book was perfect, but it was very good at what it set out to do, which is close to my heart - another reason for the rating. It set out to unite science and religion, approaching from many angles with appropriate-depth explanations of many facets from quantum physics (a main staple of the book) through consciousness, perception, religion, where our sense of self comes from, ethics, morality, and more. I would recommend it, but that also shows my bias. Putting the personal axes away that I normally grind, it has a lot of science, but very few - if any - equations. It explained some things well that I know well, and revealed many new ideas that I was not familiar with. It does think about being scientifically rigorous, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a lot to offer.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Doug Dillon

    In this instance, the book cover really does tell the story--All of Existence looking back at itself. Goswani and his co-authors put forth the concept that consciousness is indeed the basis for All That Is. Building on the extensive work already done in Quantum Physics, the authors help give readers meaning and purpose to their existences. This book effectively links mind and body in such a way as to establish a joyful connectivity between all things. Clearly written, the authors entice readers w In this instance, the book cover really does tell the story--All of Existence looking back at itself. Goswani and his co-authors put forth the concept that consciousness is indeed the basis for All That Is. Building on the extensive work already done in Quantum Physics, the authors help give readers meaning and purpose to their existences. This book effectively links mind and body in such a way as to establish a joyful connectivity between all things. Clearly written, the authors entice readers with good chapter titles like, “The Nine Lives of Schrödinger’s Cat”, “In Search of Quantum Mind”, and “Spiritual Joy”. Carefully constructed illustrations and a useful glossary help readers make their own connections with the concepts being addressed. Great end notes and the bibliography add scholarly depth and an excellent index makes for easy reference while reading and after.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katie Sibley

    The Self-Aware Universe by Amit Goswami is a book for thought. Given, it gave me plenty of headaches and deep consideration into the world around me and the reality or illusion of it all, I thoroughly enjoy this book. It delves deep into the ideas of quantum physics and mechanics, monistic idealism, consciousness and the way that all of these things play into our lives and into what is actually happening around and inside of us at all times, on both a micro and macro level. Though it may be a lo The Self-Aware Universe by Amit Goswami is a book for thought. Given, it gave me plenty of headaches and deep consideration into the world around me and the reality or illusion of it all, I thoroughly enjoy this book. It delves deep into the ideas of quantum physics and mechanics, monistic idealism, consciousness and the way that all of these things play into our lives and into what is actually happening around and inside of us at all times, on both a micro and macro level. Though it may be a long read given the possible difficulty of comprehension, when you go slow and take the time to digest the thoughts and ideas, it leaves you with an entirely new worldview. I loved this book for its alternative ideas and theories, paradigm shifts, and paradoxes. It made me slow down and consider everything around me in a new way.

  15. 4 out of 5

    -uht!

    God dammit. I thought I was getting a science book but this is hippy dippy. Oh well, I'll keep going until I can't stand it anymore. Should've noticed that one of the reviews on the back was from Yoga magazine.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    incredibly wordy but pretty interesting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Luc Vors

    I actually modeled a character in one of my books after Amit Goswami. Amazing insights in this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    The author writes for New Scientist magazine and is a good presenter of scientific information to a non-specialist audience. In this book, he shows this same skill of explaining some surprising (and under-reported) experimental results from the sciences of physics, neurobiology, and experimental psychology. He does a little less good a job explaining philosophical arguments which start with the ancient Greeks up through modern times. For someone who has not previously studied these things, this The author writes for New Scientist magazine and is a good presenter of scientific information to a non-specialist audience. In this book, he shows this same skill of explaining some surprising (and under-reported) experimental results from the sciences of physics, neurobiology, and experimental psychology. He does a little less good a job explaining philosophical arguments which start with the ancient Greeks up through modern times. For someone who has not previously studied these things, this might be a bit overwhelming. Much of this book is a review of science and philosophy so the author can build his groundwork in order to present his case. To add to his encyclopedic knowledge of western science and philosophy, the author is also knowledgeable about Buddhist and Hindu beliefs which I enjoyed learning about. The author's own scientific background is a quantum physics and his penchant for precision results in a rather dense text which many readers, particularly those who are unaccustomed to technical or philosophical texts, will find difficult to follow. As for the author's principle theory, that consciousness precedes reality (is the true ground of being). This conclusion is interesting, provocative, and has some agreement with other modern writers, but I find the evidence that he presents in this book, is less than convincing. The author suggests, as did Nikola Tesla, that at some point, for science to progress, it needs to unify its objective study of the external world with what now is considered by most as the subjective spiritual, internal world. The author points out that his theory accounts for all of the phenomena that current Western science ignores (e.g. Out-of-Body Experiences, Telepathy, Remote Viewing) because it does not fit their current paradigm. He points out, and I agree, that a truly "Objective" scientist cannot ignore data that does not fit his theory. When this has happened before in history, it necessitated a paradigm shift. For example, to understand atomic spectra required the development of quantum theory. The reader who will most enjoy this book is one who is interested in the nature of consciousness and especially in the concept promoted by Carl Jung of the universal unconsciousness. Put in another way, it has been said that the total number of consciousnesses in the universe is One! That every person's soul is a Spark of the Creator / Source / God. That we are eternal souls occupying a temporary body experiencing life so God can better know himself and enjoy his creation. If this does not sound crazy to you, I suggest you read the "Law of One" books, a channeled work from highly evolved E.T.'s who explain try to explain the nature of reality, as best they can, given the limits of human language and experience. Spoiler Alert, the Law of One is largely consistent with Amit Goswami's view as expressed in this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abner Rosenweig

    Goswami's introduction to the idealist interpretation of reality via quantum mechanics is very good at times. The problem is that, with three authors, the book's voice varies widely throughout, resulting in a frustratingly discontinuous reading experience. There are times when the explanations of quantum theory are very good. There are also times when the book resorts to cheap narrative gimmicks to explain "intimidating" physics topics, for example, and these attempts at novelty feel patronizing Goswami's introduction to the idealist interpretation of reality via quantum mechanics is very good at times. The problem is that, with three authors, the book's voice varies widely throughout, resulting in a frustratingly discontinuous reading experience. There are times when the explanations of quantum theory are very good. There are also times when the book resorts to cheap narrative gimmicks to explain "intimidating" physics topics, for example, and these attempts at novelty feel patronizing and obnoxious. At times, the book remains humble and qualifies its assumptions and speculations with words like "if" -- "if this is right." Many lesser books simply make assertions about quantum theory that are totally unfounded, leading to wild woo-town junk writing. The book should have gone further in its caution, acknowledging other interpretations and their potential validity, but Goswami clearly has a bias toward idealism. "I trust my intuition that the idealist interpretation of quantum mechanics is the correct one" (145). The author's intuition may be right, but rather than assuming based on intuition, it would be preferable if the author focused on how modern science suggests that idealism is the correct interpretation. Overall, this is a passable intro to the return of idealism through quantum mechanics, but I'd recommend something else, written by an author who doesn't play games with readers by interjecting tasteless narrative gimmicks.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bo Garner

    I really liked the first part of this book. It did a great job of explaining how quantum mechanics redefines classical reality. It really made me think about the inter connectedness of all beings and how physics can be used to prove this concept. Wonderful and thought provoking. I really enjoyed how he even discussed Zen. A practice near and dear to my heart. The second half, however, was much less science and more speculation. Too much talk about mystics, etc. I feel for the author though. Tryi I really liked the first part of this book. It did a great job of explaining how quantum mechanics redefines classical reality. It really made me think about the inter connectedness of all beings and how physics can be used to prove this concept. Wonderful and thought provoking. I really enjoyed how he even discussed Zen. A practice near and dear to my heart. The second half, however, was much less science and more speculation. Too much talk about mystics, etc. I feel for the author though. Trying to explain why the concept of self arises is a tough one no matter how smart you are.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Interesting idea. Can’t really comment on the validity of the science behind it, but it’s worth a read and to be given some thought.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    Having read the Quantum Doctor first, I felt half of this book was repetitive of what I had already learned and the other half was more philosophical than I cared to study right now.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

    Not yet convinced Here's a dilemma: Most psychologists are materialists and consider thoughts and consciousness to be epiphenomena. An epiphenomena is one that occurs parallel to the phenomena under study. It's there, but psychologists can't measure it like behavior, or treat it like a physical object. It's ephemeral, and undescribed. Materialists deal with matter, and thoughts aren't that. Whatever thoughts may be, they are not something that materialists are comfortable with examining.   Quantum Not yet convinced Here's a dilemma: Most psychologists are materialists and consider thoughts and consciousness to be epiphenomena. An epiphenomena is one that occurs parallel to the phenomena under study. It's there, but psychologists can't measure it like behavior, or treat it like a physical object. It's ephemeral, and undescribed. Materialists deal with matter, and thoughts aren't that. Whatever thoughts may be, they are not something that materialists are comfortable with examining.   Quantum physics presents a picture of reality that is very different than the one   presented by classical, Newtonian physics. Although quantum physics was born over a century ago, some scientists cling to the materialism that grew out of pre-quantum, Newtonian physics. This works well for describing reality most of the time, but occasionally it biases what we consider possible, or restricts our methods of inquiry.   Quantum physics has called traditional materialism into question, and Amit Goswami questions materialist explanations of consciousness as well. Quantum physics proves that observers can't be separated from observations. Before an observation is made, little can be said about atomic particles--they only exist as probability waves. Only when observation collapses a probability wave, creating a measurement, can anything certain be said about particles. This finding has baffled many and continues to do so. Goswami believes it implies that consciousness is a force in nature. As such, consciousness is unitary in nature, however people experience themselves as individuals and only occasionally become aware of the One that they are expressions of. For hundreds of years religious mystics have sought direct experience of the One through prayer, meditation, fasting, sitting vigils, etc. For mystics, direct experience constitutes proof. For scientists, experimental results are required.   Goswami provides no experimental proof. He doesn't even suggest an experimental path to test his theory. Physicists critical of String Theory acknowledge its elegance, but complain that it lacks testability. Goswami's theory is likewise elegant but lacking testability. He suggests that proof may come through paranormal research, but much of that research is highly controversial. Too many paranormal-leaning scientists have accepted results that stage magicians have easily refuted. In the end, Goswami's ideas are more suggestive than explanatory. I'd recommend another book with a more convincing explanation of consciousness, but I haven't found it yet.

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    The thesis of this book is that consciousness is the ground of all being and our self-consciousness is That consciousness. Down with matter! Up with brains! Or, well, at least the ‘quantum brain-mind’ as Goswami puts it. Matter versus mind is one theme explored in depth in this book. Is consciousness epiphenomena of matter/the brain or is it more fundamental and the brain is merely its worker bee, its interpreter of the rest of the explicit universe springing forth from… consciousness? Wait a seco The thesis of this book is that consciousness is the ground of all being and our self-consciousness is That consciousness. Down with matter! Up with brains! Or, well, at least the ‘quantum brain-mind’ as Goswami puts it. Matter versus mind is one theme explored in depth in this book. Is consciousness epiphenomena of matter/the brain or is it more fundamental and the brain is merely its worker bee, its interpreter of the rest of the explicit universe springing forth from… consciousness? Wait a second. How can there be just one consciousness yet multiple selves? This is another theme explored in depth. Our self-consciousness is part of a tangled hierarchy of processes interacting in overlapping ways as the potentia in the sub quantum level becomes explicit and real. The duration of this tangled hierarchy of processes give us the impression that we are in fact a separate being from The overall being, which is beyond explicit reality’s subject-object split. That we are observing it is more illusion than reality. It is true and irrelevant. What is more Godless—a universe of matter or one with consciousness at the root? It is clearly the former, but it is an ironic matter of fact that most theists today are “hard objectivists” meaning they believe or at least operate in their lives as if matter were the ground of all being and logic and rationality are the only guidelines. How to incorporate the obviously practical principles of science and being rational into this “idealist” world view? This is another topic of coverage in the book—classical physics and rationality in the explicit world are by no means discounted in Goswami’s thesis. Indeed as a physicist, his viewpoint ‘merely’ places physics and rationality within a wider context. He sees science and religion working in tandem—the former in objective studies both theoretical and practical and the later in subjective and meaningful dissemination of this objective material. He cites many sacred texts, heavy weight scientists and mystics in this book. Some of the harder “coherent superposition” quantum physics topics were are, but he always does a great job summarizing this info as he integrates into a wider context infused with meaning that includes related subjective personal and historical stories as well as examples.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    I really like the goal that this book has, however I don't know if it quite achieves it. The book seems to be split into two parts. The first part is more of a physics explanation, and this is the part I feel was the weakest. Goswami is a physicist, and I think because of that he doesn't elaborate as much as he probably should in explaining some of these physics concepts. It wasn't until Von Neumann machines were discussed about four separate times that I actually started to glean what they were I really like the goal that this book has, however I don't know if it quite achieves it. The book seems to be split into two parts. The first part is more of a physics explanation, and this is the part I feel was the weakest. Goswami is a physicist, and I think because of that he doesn't elaborate as much as he probably should in explaining some of these physics concepts. It wasn't until Von Neumann machines were discussed about four separate times that I actually started to glean what they were and what they meant. This is probably due to the fact that Goswami doesn't really realize that some things aren't going to be self-evident to the lay person. The reason that I am uncomfortable with this is that there were some things I didn't feel like I could wrap my head around completely, which made it hard to trust that the author was not making leaps in logic. The second part was far more philosophical and Goswami seems to have written this part beautifully. A lot of the back half of the book made a lot more sense to me and made me enjoy reading the second half a lot more. Ultimately, I don't think that someone who doesn't have at least some understanding of basic quantum physics theories will probably not be able to get much out of this, but if you can follow the physics, then it is a pretty decent book from what I could grasp.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    This book is pretty cool and got me on to many other books(both a good and bad thing). The author tries his best to simplify and go slow explain his position and what he's trying to seek an understand. He talks of dream trying to not only understand what consciousness is but to debate and explain it to the various groups able to deicfer any of it.He goes through pscyhology philosophers, and scientists unable to really make a fit but yet there's someone in his dream representing consciousness as This book is pretty cool and got me on to many other books(both a good and bad thing). The author tries his best to simplify and go slow explain his position and what he's trying to seek an understand. He talks of dream trying to not only understand what consciousness is but to debate and explain it to the various groups able to deicfer any of it.He goes through pscyhology philosophers, and scientists unable to really make a fit but yet there's someone in his dream representing consciousness as a whole trying to help him understand. I had to take a break from this book for a while but i feel he's just trhoroughly trying to make his case and hims to have some pretty interesting facts and case studies but i could only take so many of einstein's equations especially recalling back to science in high school some time so this bool was definitely kicking my butt. BUT i did get and understand some of the basic ideas of quantum mechanics and the relativity of atoms and electron quantum jumps which altered my whole perspective on reality(i'm no too hard to convince i'm pretty open to new ideas especially from scientists). Either way i just figure if I can understand that much anyone can and should if they're interested and one day i'll finish this book and maybe know a bit more.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

    What a kind heart Dr Goswami displays The Self-Aware Universe by Amit Goswami My rating: 5 of 5 stars What a kind heart Dr Goswami displays View all my reviews

  28. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    I don't recommend this book unless you are prone to looking at the universe in a spiritual light. The author has attempted to use the inherent mysteries of the quantum world to suggest that everything is connected in a wonderful conscious mashup with purpose and spirit - I suspect that this is a uniquely human emotional interpretation of the universe rather than a window into some heretofore unperceived aspect of reality. Don't let the fact that Goswami is a trained physicist fool you into think I don't recommend this book unless you are prone to looking at the universe in a spiritual light. The author has attempted to use the inherent mysteries of the quantum world to suggest that everything is connected in a wonderful conscious mashup with purpose and spirit - I suspect that this is a uniquely human emotional interpretation of the universe rather than a window into some heretofore unperceived aspect of reality. Don't let the fact that Goswami is a trained physicist fool you into thinking that he has some answers.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Averill

    I read "Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid" a few years back, and I remember dredging thru what seemed like countless hours of paradoxical back and forth. It's apparent the Amit Goswami got a kick out of that book. His writing style attempts to mimic G.E.B., and I feel falls flat. That being said, I did like the book over all. The idea that a non-local conscience is holding our reality together rocks ,and totally answers a ton of questions. But alas, as in reading the likes of Michio K I read "Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid" a few years back, and I remember dredging thru what seemed like countless hours of paradoxical back and forth. It's apparent the Amit Goswami got a kick out of that book. His writing style attempts to mimic G.E.B., and I feel falls flat. That being said, I did like the book over all. The idea that a non-local conscience is holding our reality together rocks ,and totally answers a ton of questions. But alas, as in reading the likes of Michio Kaku it's "ALL" theory, and a beautiful smoke and mirrors game of back and forward.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kasey

    The idea that consciousness conforms to the laws of quantum physics was purely fascinating. However, the author starts by giving an overview of the basics of quantum physics which I found confusing and hard to follow. Fortunately, I was already familiar with most of the concepts but if this had been one of my first books on the subject, I would have been very frustrated. Once he got into the theoretical part, however, the book became much more compelling.

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