I’m going to post my essay on my concept of infinite potentialities. I made a video as well discussing the theory, which I will post. The concept of infinite potentialities features in my recently released book, In Defense of the Mind, which can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Defense-Mind-Philosophical-Treatise/dp/1522829687/ref=la_B00QEL41LS_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458070898&sr=1-6
The video can be found here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4ktKFsg-dRQ
I’m going to talk about my theory of infinite potentiality.
To talk about this theory, I need to lay some background that is going to help support my idea of infinite potentiality/potentialities. The idea of infinite potentiality is a very psychological conception: It deals a lot with the mind. I’m going to first lay the groundwork for infinite potentiality as a theory by way of quantum mechanics and the multiverse, and then lay the conceptual/philosophical groundwork in which the idea of infinite potentiality would reside in in day to day life, and use both of these frameworks to then get to the main point/claim, which is that of infinite potentiality itself.
I don’t know if you’re into quantum mechanics and theories of the multiverse. They are on opposite ends of the spectrum, so to speak, as the multiverse deals with everything on the macroscale, dealing with the many universes that exist in the universe. Quantum mechanics, however, focuses on the really small, the microscale, focusing on quantum particles.
All you need to know about the multiverse for my intents and purposes is the idea of multiple universes within a universe. Each universe in this larger universe can have its own laws of physics. This is important to keep in mind. When you contemplate the multiverse, you get a universe that has multiple universes, each with their according laws of physics: You potentially, then, end up with an infinite set of universes, each with their own laws of physics, this process of which potentially goes on ad infinitum. Keep this in mind as a conception of infinity.
In quantum mechanics, there is the notion of superposition. Physicists say that quantum particles exist in states of possibility, in moments of probability, rather than having their own position or velocity. These quantum particles, then, are basically existent all over the place. A good example is that of an orange, representing a quantum particle: The orange can be in one place, in another place, and yet another place: It can be in all of those places at once, and the trick is to know where the orange is, but the whole point is that we can’t necessarily know where it is.
This of course doesn’t mean that human beings can be in a superposition, where they can be everywhere. It depends on how you interpret quantum mechanics, of course, but bizarre implications/conclusions are difficult not to arrive at, as the theory states that a quantum particle can be in multiple places/multiple possibilities at once.
I hope you can see the pattern emerging with superposition in quantum mechanics and the multiverse. It’s the idea of infinity, and more specifically, the idea of infinite possibilities, and how they potentially manifest.
Keep these ideas in mind. Now, I’d like to lay the philosophical groundwork for infinite potentiality as I define it, by focusing on a theory of mind that I have been developing.
The theory goes something like this:
There are three realms of existence. Of course, there are/might be other realms to discuss, but those are irrelevant to this theory.
The three realms are the following: the physical world, the cultural/social world, and the mental world.
The physical world seems cut and dry. When you knock on a table with your fist, the table is pretty solid as a physical object. Your hand won’t go straight through the table. The table is just there. Potentially, you can manipulate the table by moving it, and you can manipulate the objects on the table by moving them, but the physical world remains solid: substantial and mostly unchanging. For example, if you get hit by a car, obviously that is that: You were hit by a physical object, and you can’t just think your way out of that predicament, as the physical world is a very real realm. Think about that in terms of limitation, and the limitations we have in this physical world. Again, we might be able to manipulate objects in the physical world, but there are limitations.
Then there is the cultural/social world. I’m pretty reluctant to use the term “cultural relativism,” particularly the idea that our behavior is culturally determined. However, I think there is some truth to it, at least in my case. There is a common idea that society is run by the masses. There seems to be truth to this statement. Society does rule a lot of who we are and who we can be, and that’s something we take for granted sometimes.
These are the two assumptions: The physical world is pretty set in stone, and we live in a culturally deterministic world.
But there is a third part, of course, that must be taken into account. That is, of course, the mind. The mind is an interesting thing. Everything at this point would fall on the mind: The mind has to perceive the physical objects and it has to perceive/understand how it fits in society. All of this is crucial to keep in mind.
As you can probably imagine, if we are culturally determined and the physical world controls a lot about ourselves and what we can do, then that puts a lot of pressure on the mind. That is, however, good in a sense, because it allows the mind to conceive of all and any possibilities: as many possibilities as it wants, essentially.
And this is when I finally get to my idea of infinite potentialities: Indeed, that the mind can conceive of anything, and use those conceptions to shape reality.
There are problems with this theory, of course. Some people would ask how much control we have over our mind. There is a famous idea in psychology, specifically psychological determinism, that says that we aren’t really in control of our decisions, because we aren’t conscious of our decisions. We make the decision first, before we are conscious of the decision, and then we become conscious of the decision. So essentially, we aren’t even in control of making decisions, at least according to that model.
I’m not worried about ideas like that, however. What I am worried about is how the idea of infinite potentiality deals with the mind. Remember, I was thinking of the multiverse, and how each universe has its own laws of physics, a process that goes on ad infinitum. Then you also think of the quantum particle in quantum mechanics, where the particle is in a superposition, and is occupying many possibilities at once.
How does this relate to the mind? This is where I think it gets tricky. It’s tricky because the mind has a lot of limitations. The mind can’t just act on any of its ideas. We can’t act on multiple decisions in one instance. We are bound by a decisions that we make.
But I’m fascinated by the concept of superposition and the multiverse because it brings up this idea of infinite potentiality. If the mind can think of anything, at least theoretically, then what can it do? Essentially, it can do whatever it wants. That is assuming that it has the ideas at is disposal, the creativity, the capability, etc. The point is, we’re assuming the mind does have the ability.
I’ll admit, in my own understanding of infinite potentiality, I see a lot of limitations. Just because you can conceive of a lot of different things, doesn’t mean they can happen. An example would be flying: You can conceive that you are flying. That is great: Except, we obviously know we can’t fly. But that doesn’t mean we can’t conceive of that idea in our mind. I think what we do with that idea is where the power is. That is why I think of this idea of infinite potentiality.
Not every idea we have has to have some kind of practical bearing on the world. That is what we fall prey to, however. We lose track of our creativity, our imagination, and we think that everything we think has to have a practical role. That is the mistake. Simply by entertaining the idea of infinite potentiality for the mind, we at the very least open our minds to the possibilities that exist. We open up our minds to what we can/could do.
Again, just to be clear, I bring up the idea of the multiverse and the idea of superposition because I think that the mind can dream up a lot of possibilities, and the mind itself is full of possibility. It’s just a matter of tapping into that potential and figuring out what the mind can do.
If we believe that the mind can think whatever it wants, and the physical world on both the micro and macro level has this potential to exist in infinite sets and potentialities, then why can’t the mind? The trick is to figure out how to use the infinite potential of our mind to shape reality. That is the trick.
In my own experience, I’ve found it difficult to do this. I’ve been thinking a lot about how abstract notions of the multiverse, of the philosophy of emergence, of Postmodern literature, etc., seem to exist in such an abstract realm that they seem divorced from the real world, which makes me wonder if the only thing that matters is where I’m at physically, while my thoughts don’t matter. So for instance, all that matters is what I’m doing right now: Writing this piece. But I think that’s a mistake: What we need to do is figure out how to merge the physical world and our actions/the actions we could potentially do, with the infinite potentialities that exist in our minds, that exist just like the multiverse and just like the strangeness of quantum particles.
As I’ve kind of implied before, there are many tricks and difficulties, as it’s difficult to let abstractions and the constraints of the physical world match, but it’s possible, I believe, if we give it a lot of thought.
Try to think of your creativity and what it can accomplish, if you keep your mind open to all the possibilities. Assuming the multiverse exists, and assuming quantum mechanics is accurate about superposition, it shows that differing levels of existence can exist in a state of abundant possibility, and my question is, why can’t the mind do that as well?