What are the elementary particles of consciousness

Consciousness creates matter? In search of collective consciousness within the framework of philosophy and quantum physics

Table of Contents


What is consciousness

Is there a collective consciousness?

Summary and conclusion



"The endlessness of the scientific struggle ensures that the researching human spirit has its two noblest impulses and that they are rekindled over and over again: enthusiasm and awe."

(Max Planck)

In times when everything technical seems feasible and all scientific and philosophical questions are generally considered to be resolved, there are still a large number of unexplained phenomena. One of the most mysterious of our times is still consciousness. What is consciousness How does consciousness arise and what substance does it consist of? What evolutionary advantage did consciousness bring with it? Can consciousness even exist in a physical world? What role does the brain play in this? How are body and soul basically related? Is there a soul at all? How can a soul be proven? People have asked themselves these questions since the beginning of time.

The fact that humans have a consciousness, yes, are aware of themselves, has long been considered undisputed in science. However, what was not taken into account for a long time - and was only researched through experiments in the 1970s - is that animals also have states of consciousness such as wishes, feelings, greed, suffering, loyalty, affection and intentions, and thus have a special intelligence and awareness .[1] Even if there are serious differences in the expression of consciousness, humans and animals - since they are self-aware - are on a “level of consciousness”. That this is the case is shown by a study by the Russian Tomsk State University, which states that dogs do indeed have a kind of sense of self.[2] Other mammals such as monkeys, dolphins and pigs as well as birds - e.g. ravens, which even solve complex tasks with small tools - can demonstrate intelligent and conscious properties. It was not until July 7, 2012, that Stanford University's Phillip Low published the fact that animals are conscious at a meeting of outstanding scientists at Cambridge University.[3]

After this long overdue scientific milestone, it made sense to devote oneself to the subject of plants. After scientifically controversial studies of the last decades, revolutions are currently looming in botany. Some scientists claim that there are hardly any differences between the flora and fauna. Plants do not have a central nervous system, but they use electrical signals to perceive changes in the outside world.[4] They defend themselves with special excretions to combat pests or change the direction of growth of the roots due to certain environmental toxins in the soil. Some scientists even claim that plants can perceive human emotions such as joy or anger due to their special temperature sensors; growth can also be influenced by means of different sound waves. Even the ability to remember is ascribed to the plants. Many of these statements and studies in this research segment are still subject to general skepticism; the number of valid research results is currently still too low. Language and self-reflection are still considered trademarks of “higher” consciousness.

In the following, this scientific work is intended to show how the concept of consciousness was defined in a historical context and differentiated from other concepts in the humanities. As already indicated, consciousness seems to be present in all living beings. The first chapter aims to answer the question of whether it is fundamentally possible to objectively prove the existence of consciousness. We use theories and models from the field of quantum physics - as progress has been made in this area in the last few decades - as well as experiments in experimental metaphysics. Since the term “collective consciousness” is often used in the relevant, predominantly esoteric media, the second chapter examines whether there can be such a consciousness that connects humans, animals and plants. Various research projects and studies will be presented and various views of psychology and philosophy will be explained. At the end of the second chapter it should also be shown what influence a collective consciousness could have on our existence. Is humanity really connected to all living beings, the earth and the universe, as postulated by indigenous peoples, ancient cosmological myths or the Gaia hypothesis, among others? That is the central question of this work.

What is consciousness

In order to find out what consciousness is, some definitions and delimitations with regard to other neuroscientific terms are required. Whether the concept of consciousness can ever be precisely defined scientifically cannot yet be foreseen. But to put it in the words of the American philosopher John Searle, awareness is the most important aspect of our life ”. [5] His contemporary argument goes on to say:

“Awareness is a necessary condition for us to be able to attach importance to things in our lives. But if without consciousness there wouldn't be anything important for us at all, nothing can be more important than consciousness itself. "

Since consciousness is largely a highly subjective or possibly just a biological phenomenon, it is difficult to research. Others claim that consciousness can only be reduced to complex physical processes. In many languages ​​there is not even a corresponding translation of this phenomenon. In many popular neuroscience textbooks, you will search in vain for this term in the index.

In the broadest sense, the term “consciousness” (Latin conscientia, ancient Greek syneídēsis) generally means co-knowing, being sensible, thinking. It therefore corresponds to an experiential existence of mental states and processes.[6] The term consciousness is often associated with other terms such as psyche, soul and spirit. The explanation of mind has always seemed to be a problem in philosophy and other sciences. But what do these terms mean? The term “psyche” (ancient Greek psychḗ, originally: breath, breath) was a synonym for the word soul for a long time, but over the centuries the two terms were increasingly separated from one another. Since the beginning of psychology as a science, which began with Aristotle and Plato 2,400 years ago, the psychic as an object has moved into the focus of many questions.

Furthermore, the development of psychology and the examination of the soul, that is, human experience and behavior, went through many different epochs. In the Age of Enlightenment, scholars and philosophers such as Siegmund Freud, Thomas Aquinas or Descartes examined psychodynamic models, the mind-body problem or the existence of the soul (res cogitans and res extensa). This was - even if the subject-object problem had been known since Plato - the hour of birth of classical dualism. On the other hand, there was monism, which assumed that there are only physical things and processes, i.e. less - as assumed in dualism - material and spiritual things, which means that they are two completely different phenomena.

Since the criticism of the soul substance by Kant (Critique of Metaphysics) and Heidegger and of the faculty of the soul by J. F. Herbart, the concept of a "psychology without a soul" has come more and more to the fore.[7] At the beginning of the 19th century, the field of psychology was largely shaped by materialism. This epistemological position symbolically describes that man is to be understood as a machine, that is, all processes in the world can be traced back to matter and its laws. Opposing these opinions were supporters of idealism. This philosophical direction, in turn, takes the view that the spirit represents the fundamental reality, but the spiritual cannot be traced back to material things or processes, that is, reality can only be determined through knowledge and thinking. Although materialism has been criticized from its inception, it has strongly criticized the concept of idealism, but materialistic thinking continues to bear fruit to this day. A very special form is eliminative materialism, the central thesis of which is that mental states are merely phenomena that never existed. Accordingly, there are only physical things and processes, fewer states of consciousness and mental phenomena such as feelings, desires and beliefs. Some neuroscientists and cognitive scientists, such as the Canadian philosopher Paul Churchland from the University of San Diego, make use of these conceptions and claim that consciousness does not exist in reality, so that even psychology and philosophy should be corrected.[8]

There is no question that neurophysiological and neuropsychological findings have an important explanatory value for mental phenomena. But to claim that consciousness is only a purely biological neurological process and that the existence of consciousness must therefore be reduced to absurdity, more research is certainly required. There are still countless unanswered questions. On the one hand, states of consciousness always have a certain experience content and on the other hand it is not entirely clear how the brain produces experience at all. Furthermore, how can phenomenal consciousness be described or the problem of quality and intentionality finally resolved? How are self-knowledge and intuition, i.e. the internal and external perspective approaches to consciousness, defined? What happens to consciousness during sleep, under anesthesia or in a vegetative state?

The famous Libet experiment from 1979 made clear that consciousness could perhaps only be a purely neurological process in the brain. The American neurophysiologist Benjamin Libet examined the chronological sequence of a conscious decision to act and the corresponding reaction of the body. The evaluations of the measurement results of his test subjects showed that the point in time to make a conscious decision was measured with a time delay as nerve activity in the motor cortex.[9] The question of human free will and conscious decisions seemed to be thrown overboard. And although there are still numerous objections to his research results, the experiment shows that even human free will is only a sensation generated by the brain as an independent entity.[10]

The fact that cognitive neuroscience in particular is vehemently searching for the solution to many diseases of civilization and the locality of consciousness is shown by how much investments are made in this segment. Representative of this is the EU-funded Human Brain Project, which was launched in 2014, equipped with 500 scientists from over 20 countries, set for ten years and financed with around 1.2 billion euros. In view of the non-transparent distribution of research funds on the part of the EU, the criticism of many scientists was also strong in this case.[11]

The brain-consciousness problem (body-soul problem) seems very complex at first glance, and even the attempt to work out clear definitions of the terms psyche and soul (spirit) seems to be idle due to a variety of interpretations and not expedient for this work. The exemplary juxtapositions of dualism and monism such as materialism and idealism should also make it clear how difficult it can be to explain and prove the existence of consciousness in just a few words.

For the reasons mentioned, the following will focus on an area that has often caused a stir in the last few decades and which could perhaps resolve the discrepancy between body (matter) and soul (spirit) in the future. This area also has the potential to clear up many unscientific theories in the area of ​​esotericism and finally to unite natural sciences and religions. These areas could from now on complement each other - also according to the forecasts of many scientists - and significantly influence our everyday minds.[12]

"The reason why our feeling, perceiving and thinking ego does not appear anywhere in our scientific worldview can easily be expressed in five words: It is itself this worldview. It is identical with the whole and therefore cannot be part of it By its nature, consciousness exists only in the singular. I would like to say: the total number of all "consciousnesses" is always just "one". "[13]

(Erwin Schrödinger)

This quote from Erwin Schrödinger, one of the founders of quantum mechanics and Nobel Prize winner in physics, makes it clear that no precise knowledge (about consciousness) can be derived from a factually objective world - while it is isolated from a subjective world. Thus, an objective knowledge cannot be perceived from an extra-worldly, subject-free position. [14]


[1] See Elger, Bernice S .; Biller-Andorno, Nikola; Rütsche, Bernhard: Ethics and Law in Medicine and Biosciences, Berlin 2014, p. 200.

[2] Cf. Heinemann, Pia: Do dogs have an ego-consciousness ?, Berlin 2015, o. P.

[3] See Ricard, Matthieu; Bausch, Gerd: Plea for the Animals, Munich 2015, p. 9. 3

[4] See Moyes, Christopher; Schulte, Patricia: Tierphysiologie, Munich 2010, p.165. 4th

[5] Searle, John: Our Shared Condition - Consciousness, In: TED, 2013.

[6] See Brugger, Walter; Schöndorf, Harald: Philosophical Dictionary, Freiburg 2010, p.169. 5

[7] See Hand, Annika; Bermes, Christian; Dierse, Ulrich: Key Terms in the Philosophy of the 19th Century, Hamburg 2015, p. 48 ff.

[8] Cf. Michael Pauen: Materialism and Metaphysics. Can scientific knowledge question consciousness and subjectivity? In: Neue Rundschau, Heft 3, Frankfurt 1999, p. 29.

[9] Cf. Benjamin Libet: Do we have a free will? In: Journal of Consciousness Studies, 1999, p. 49.

[10] Cf. Walter, Sven: Illusion of free will? Limits of an empirical approach to a philosophical problem, Stuttgart 2016, p. 128f.

[11] See Dambeck, Holger: brain simulation. Researchers threaten to boycott the EU's billion-euro project In: Der Spiegel, Hamburg 2014, o. P.

[12] See Görnitz, Thomas; Görnitz, Brigitte: From quantum physics to consciousness. Cosmos, Spirit and Matter, Berlin - Heideberg 2016. S.10.

[13] E. Schrödinger, The Arithmetic Paradox - The Unity of Consciousness, In: Dürr, Hans-Peter; Bohm, David: Physik und Transzendenz, Bad Essen 1987, p. 159ff.

[14] Cf. Köller, Wilhelm: Forms and Functions of Negation. Investigations into the modes of appearance of a language universal, Berlin - Boston 2016, p. 86.

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