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What Exists?

The nature of existence

Dictionary definition (Merriam-Webster)

To exist: To have real being whether material or spiritual. Being: The quality or state of having existence. Obviously, to understand existence we must look elsewhere!

The assumption of objective reality in physics

Objective reality and its laws exist and are independent of the mind. The aim of physics is to discover the laws of objective reality. The degree of correspondence of theory with the laws of objective reality can be determined by objective observations and measurements.

Physics depends on observation, communication, verification and agreement

Without communication, verification and agreement, there is no physics. Thus, agreement within a physics community is necessary for physics to exist.

From classical to quantum

Until 1899, physicists widely agreed that physical objects were separate from each other. In 1899, crucial experiments disproved the validity of classical physics. In 1900 physicists began to develop quantum mechanics, with major developments in the 1920s. Quantum mechanics brought into question the concept of physical objects that were separate from each other.

If not separate objects, what does quantum mechanics describe?

Physicists agree that quantum mechanics correctly predicts the probability that an observation will yield a specific result if many measurements are made on many identical systems (e.g., the probability that a position measurement will yield a specific position). This is called the statistical interpretation. The statistical interpretation predicts what one might observe in many measurements but it does not describe what actually exists.

The problem of interpretation

Currently, there is no agreement on an ontological interpretation of quantum theory, i.e., an interpretation in terms of objective truth describing what is objectively real. Examples of different proposed ontological interpretations: Copenhagen; hidden variables; many worlds; manyminds; relational; modal; transactional.

What will happen if physicists cannot agree on an ontological interpretation?

They will have to consider the possibility that there is no objective reality. If so, they will naturally be led to a subjective interpretation.

There is also the problem of space and time

Quantum theory assumes the existence of absolute space and time. However, in general relativity (gravity theory), space and time are not absolute but depend on each other. Currently, nobody knows how to reconcile these two theories. In order to reconcile them, the concepts of objective space and time might have to be abandoned.

If the concepts of objective space and time are abandoned.

the concept of an objective reality will also have to be abandoned and physicists will be led to the view that phenomena occur only in the mind. Just as physicists now are driven to know and understand the universal laws of objective reality they will then be driven to know and understand the universal laws of mind.

But, if there never has been an objective reality

then, physics always has been the study of the mind! A few working physicists already recognize this (e.g., Richard Conn Henry of Johns Hopkins University) but the present generation of physicists will have to die out before this new paradigm is widely accepted.

Universal mind vs. individual mind

Universal mind is analogous to objective reality. Individual mind is analogous to the individual physicist. Just as the laws of objective reality are those that physicists agree exists, the laws of universal mind are those that individual minds agree exists. There is nothing new here--except that separate objects have disappeared!

What we normally consider to be objects, including space-time, are nothing but appearances in mind. Since the body is nothing but an appearance in mind, mind is not confined to a body. Since, space-time is an appearance in mind, mind is not located or confined in space-time. Thus, minds are not separate. Even though minds are not separate, they are different because they consist of different appearances.

Communication and agreement

Since minds are not separate in space-time, appearances in different minds may be correlated with each other. When appearances in specific minds are correlated, it is called communication between minds. When appearances in all minds are correlated, it is called universal mind. Correlations and communication are not objective because there is no space-time.