Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joe CorbettJoe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at [email protected].


Schrödinger, the AQAL, and the Kosmic Brain

Joe Corbett

In essence, the wave function is a model of how the universe computes information based on the rapid exchange of past information with future possibles, in the present.

In 1925 Erwin Schrödinger created what would become known as the Schrödinger Equation to describe the state of a quantum system like a hydrogen atom. He did this by formulating the trajectory of particles as waves, wherein waves are considered as oscillations between the probability of finding a particle at a certain point of the wave (given by the amplitude) and the possible distribution of points where it might be found (given by the frequency). Since this equation operates over time the probabilities and possibilities of the wave are constantly shifting, even if only in the slightest and most minute way.

From this equation comes the famous phrase, “the collapse of the wave function”, which simply means that the oscillation between the probability and the possibility of the wave comes to a close with the particle settling on a fixed position, and hence collapsing into the real world of definite rather than probable or possible existence. Nevertheless, for it to work the wave function can never truly disappear from existence after the “collapse of the wave function”, as particles remain as waves in oscillation between probable and possible states as the very condition of their existence. And this is where the paradox of the collapse of the wave function comes in, leading to various interpretations about what happens in wave function collapse, such as the many worlds, hidden variables, and “just shut up and calculate” versions of what exactly is happening when this oscillation comes into existence in our world of concrete objects.

As it turns out (oops!?), the AQAL provides a model for what is happening in the wave function and its collapse, which is the (mathematically representational) process by which all of our reality and existence itself is manifested. In the model of Kosmic Dynamics that I have discussed in previous essays, the Upper-Left Quadrant represents the field of future possible forms, the subtle imaginal realm of the mind, which in quantum field theory (QFT) represents the infinite potentials of the various quantum fields that not only surround and permeate us, but extend out to infinity. Excitations in these infinitely extending fields, identifiable as probability spikes in formulaic measurements, are manifested as particles of matter, including the matter of the body you are occupying right now.

Erwin Schrödinger

These field potential excitations can come into existence only as probability waves, as required by the Born rule that stipulates field potentials must pass the test of a probability function to be manifested. This is similar to how a mind, in order for its creative possibilities to be manifested, must pass the test of cultural group-verification as a bona fide meaningful product that is ready for the world. Hence just as the Upper-Left Quadrant represents the field potentials of the mind, the Lower-Left Quadrant represents the field probabilities of the causal realm, the (as yet) formless ritual habits, values and customs that are generated from the repetitions of the wave form potentials in the minds and behaviors of its individual members, which (over time) become well-worn probabilities, or familiar ways of being.

The picture we have of the wave function within the AQAL then is an oscillation between the field potentials in the Upper-Left and the field probabilities in the Lower-Left, which get collapsed into existence as a concrete object or behavior in the Upper-Right, but always within the total environmental context of all things (all field potentials, probabilities, and objects) in the Lower-Right. One might even say, with some mytho-poetic license, that Reality is a rapid oscillation from moment to moment between the Mind and the Soul, between the creative field potentials of the universe and the deep memory field of the space-time fabric, which gets collapsed into the concrete Mother of matter within the Spirit of all that is.

If you are still with me, you will notice that in the preceding paragraph I referenced the Lower-Left as the space-time fabric, the deep soul-memory of the universe, which serves as the probability function within the wave equation, and as the cultural verification mechanism in human affairs. In previous essays I have attributed this soul-memory to the dark matter of the universe, which may have a role in the encoding of information on the surface of the 2-D space-time fabric, as required by the holographic principle to project forms into the 3-D bulk of the universe, all mediated by the virtual particles of the vacuum, the all-seeing Witnesses to everything and all that is, the Spirit-in-action.

If this has not been enough to turn you away from reading further, let me go back to something more concretely relatable. In the model of Bayesian inferential cognition advocated by people like Karl Friston,

“... the mind operates like a Bayesian calculator, continually updating its beliefs about the world based on new evidence. This model posits that individuals make decisions and draw conclusions by combining prior knowledge with new information in a rational and systematic way, taking into account uncertainty and the strength of evidence. This approach allows for flexible and adaptive reasoning in a complex and uncertain world.”—ChatGPT

In other words, according to the Bayesian inferential model of cognition, the mind operates much like the way I have been describing how the wave function operates within the AQAL. Cognition is an oscillation between prior knowledge about the world (probabilities in the Lower-Left) with new information (possibilities in the Upper-Left) in order to anticipate and predict outcomes and to make the best or most rational and systematic responses from moment to moment. In essence, the wave function is a model of how the universe computes information based on the rapid exchange of past information with future possibles, in the present. And it does so according to the principle of least action, whereby the possibilities for the future are most often “chosen” according to the criteria of whether they resemble the prior information. Indeed, the universe it seems has a tendency toward conservatism, or at least toward the conservation of energy.

In short, the model of the wave function within the AQAL is a model of the Kosmic Brain, the physical AND non-material substrate of field potentials and their probabilities operating in the context of the local (and nonlocal) environment of field excitations. This is a process that occurs all the way down, from the quantum level, and all the way up to the biological, ecological, and social systemic levels of existence, and even beyond to the cosmological level as when for instance cosmic bodies align in physical (gravitational and electromagnetic) and non-physical (synchronistic and nonlocal) formations that take account of and influence one another's movements and shapes. At the core of all of these phenomena is the rapid oscillation between a space-time memory field (probabilities) and their quantum field potentials as modelled by the Schrödinger wave equation.

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