George Berkley (1685-1753)
Irish philosopher and empiricist
What is reality? What is it that we can truly be sure of when it comes to objective "reality"?
Is there really a "there" out there? Or is what we perceive just electrical-chemical impulses sent to a dark portion inside our brain from our five human senses?
And can any one of us ever be sure that any "thing" actually exists, or any other person is really alive or conscious?
Berkley's quixotic quote suggests that our perceptions are all we can truly be sure of.
Our perceptions, of course, presuppose that the individual person doing the perceiving is alive and conscious. Under this view, it would thus follow that consciousness is the fundamental matrix of the universe.
Biologist Robert Lanza in his book, Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, developed this concept further into a stunning new theory of the universe - the Biocentric Universe.
Consider this classic question: If a tree falls in the woods without anyone to hear it, does it make any sound?
Lanza would answer that the tree never actually fell and would never fall, if no one conscious is around to perceive it.
In contrast to the classical model that the objective universe came first and created life, Lanza proposes the opposite: namely, that life - particularly consciousness - literally constructs the universe.
And that the universe, and everything in it, even time itself, could not exist without us.
In other words, ours is a Biocentric Universe. And we literally engineer the universe as we go, in a participatory way.
In short, Lanza proposes a paradigm shift in scientific thinking of the highest order.
Quantum physics which applies to sub-atomic particles, Lanza points out, supports his theory. Experiments under quantum theory reveal that sub-atomic particles such as an electron only exist in a blurred and ambiguous state, sometimes even in two places at the same time.
Quantum physicists call this a "superposition" of undefined probabilities, until a conscious observer makes a measurement. And obviously everything in our universe - objects, living things, stars, galaxies - is made up of atoms and sub-atomic elements.
Hence, everything might only be a superposition of probability until we observe it.
How does all this relate to our humble game of tennis?
Tennis is undeniably part of our world - and any Biocentric Universe, if the theory holds true.
Consider how the conscious biological observer, namely the tennis player himself or herself, is the key component in the game's equation.
- *The player and his or her perceptions - not the court, racket, equipment, conditions, luck, or even the opponent - dictate the game.
- *The player and his or her internal skills, technique, and deliberate-practice results - not other things - generate the blueprint of play.
- *The player and his or her knowledge, play style, tactics and strategy - not other things - shape the flow of the game.
- *The player and his or her beliefs, such as fear, being intimidated, or being confident and relaxed - not other factors - create victory or defeat.
In the Biocentric Universe, we - as the player and conscious biological observer - create the game, and it's shape and result.
In an ultimate sense, consider this: we are our tennis game, and our tennis game is us.
1. Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the Universe, Robert Lanza, M.D. (Biology) & Bob Berman, (Astronomer) (Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, 2010)
2. Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness (2nd Ed.), Bruce Rosenblum, Ph.D. (Physics) & Fred Kuttner, Ph.D. (Physics) (New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011)
3. The Conscious Mind, David J. Chalmers, Ph.D. (Philosophy) (New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997)
Video: The Biocentric Universe