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Is Life All About The Quantum?

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Far From Being Absurd, Life May Be A Quantum Force That Gets Ever More Complex

The most striking feature of the Quantum is that, by doing something somewhere, one can change the state of something else, somewhere else. Einstein found this “spooky”. Philosophically, it just says that, whatever the universe is about, it’s not about old fashion “points”, as found in old fashion mathematics.

This “Quantum Entanglement” and the related, yet diluted “Quantum Discord” constitute the true architecture of the universe. This revelation ought to impact everything. Not just philosophy, but also psychology.

I propose the following. Life, its gathering complexity, adaptability, progress, ethology, meaning, are all animated by the very nature of the Quantum. It’s neither weird, nor absurd, it’s a force that proceeds.

Let me backtrack a bit.

“There is only one really serious philosophical problem,” Camus says in his book, The Myth of Sisyphus, “and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that.”

What does this mean? Not much. Besides the admission that apparently much of Camus’ life was absurd. Camus should have done like Nietzsche, and go climb mountains solo. There, as Nietzsche did, he would have found meaning.

One does not decide if life is worth living, most of the time, because, most of the time, life is not a choice. One does chose to breathe. One breathes. When one is thirsty, one drinks, and so on. There is a mechanical aspect to animals, who are machines which live. Most of the time, an animal’s systems are on automatic, best described by inertia.

Animals find meaning by experiencing the life that they are made for.

Recent studies have shown that young lions get neurological damage, if they don’t chew hard on tough flesh. Being a lion is meant to be tough, to be fulfilling. Camus and company lived too soft, in their hour of glory.

Lamarck believed that two forces acted on evolution. One had to do with adapting to the environment, the other was the “Pouvoir de Vie”. This “Life Power” brought increasing complexity to biological evolution. It goes without saying that it is observed. It is an open question whether life started on Mars (it probably did). What is clear, though, is that fortunes are spent to sterilize landers sent to other planets (including the Moon), because exobiologists are worried that today’s Earth life would take over: Earth life has become so complex, it can adapt to what space can throw at it.

This “Life Power” made reductionists spiteful, because they saw no science based reason for it. However, if they had been smarter, they would have seen it that it was a fact. They knew too much Classical and Thermo Dynamics. While the true nature of Quantum Physics was hidden by the siren song of the Copenhagen Interpretation.

Quantum Physics depends upon law (unfortunately, that “law” varies; it can be an infuriatingly parachuted wave equation, or another, or, more generally in the “Standard Model”, some manipulation of a hyper complicated Laplacian; in any case, it has to do with waves. Non-linear waves, in the general case!), initial conditions, and also the final space (a Hilbert space generated by eigenstates). This makes Quantum Mechanics somewhat teleological, an inconceivable horror for the classic-mechanical minded.

It means the Quantum looks far ahead, and everywhere, as if it were a god in the machine. It is a god, the god, in the machine.

The final space for genes is the environment. Genes are Quantum machines (a bit like Turing machines, but operated by the Quantum). This interaction between the genetic machinery and the environment means that we have a Quantum mechanism for fast adaptation to the environment.

Someday, soon, Quantum Biology may well become the queen of sciences. Ruling even mathamatics.

But not only this. The Quantum force operates through Quantum Entanglement. Entanglement creates a complexity at a distance, and that complexity propagates, as the Quantum Entanglement does.

So it is as if life progressed by extending Quantum tendrils in all spaces that it can reach, and it can reach a lot. There is Lamarck’ Life Power, there is the increasing complexity, and there is progress. If biology itself progresses, at fortiori culture, the minds’ tendrils.

Why was Camus so obsessed by absurdity? Because he got surrounded by absurdity. He came from a dirt poor environment in Algeria, and, in exchange for valor and work, was given everything by the Republic. This testimony, a celebration of human rights and equal opportunity, was then confronted to “intellectuals” who inverted, and buried all these values. In their names. Camus was told to follow Comrade Stalin, instead. When he begged to differ, he is called a colonial racist.

What is teleology? It’s the logic of the ends, the logic of purposes, logic at a distance. Socrates believed in it. Plato and Aristotle had their own versions. During the Enlightenment, dominated , and inspired as it was by Classical Mechanics, teleology got assimilated to the discredited Christian god, and fell into contempt.

We know more now, and we can afford different, more sophisticated teleologies. I claim that life is teleological, because it evolves not just haphazardly (“stochastically”), but also teleologically (thanks to Quantum Physics, which provides eyes and a feeling. for what is going on at a distance).

Teleology at the level of hydrogen bonds? Most probably (surprise, surprise). Modify the DNA’s environment, and Quantum Computational pressure is exerted on DNA’s hydrogen bonds (among other bonds). Thus the DNA will evolve much faster than (classical “Darwinian”) haphazard mutations would have it. It is such an obvious mechanism that evolution is bound to have selected for it. Life’s little secret is the Quantum!

Experiments are planned. All this will be probably viewed as obvious, all along, within ten years.

What this teleology does is to make life ever more adapted and ever more adaptable. If one measures progress by adaptability, progress there has been, as adaptability has progressed.

Philosophically, it means that, in the deepest sense, life, thanks to the Quantum, is behaving as if it were making value judgments. For example, at the molecular level, lowest energy solutions can be evaluated, and selected.

What is the aim of that teleology? Survival of the life form adapting. A question which immediately surges, is what is life? One thing that is clear, though, is the definition of goodness. For a give lifeform, that means survival of said lifeform. So, naturally enough, goodness will vary according to species, but also tribes, and even individuals.

So let the biggest goodness, and the goodness of the strongest lifeform win (as Nietzsche insisted. and this is the way life always has had it. as Nietzsche himself pointed out, following Sade, who was even clearer!)

Experiments in ethology are starting to test this (EJ Winner ought to consider them! ;-)). Basic psychology, such as a sense of fairness, have obvious survival values in social species such as primates.

Intelligence is also teleological. Philosophically, one can argue that intelligence, and even culture, are an extension of the adaptability of life at the nanometer scale, harnessing the Quantum. The extension probably uses the same Quantum machinery that starts to be put in evidence at the molecular level (say in the chlorophyll molecule).

If Homo Is Aware, Is the Universe Aware? It’s a bit like the question of pondering whether a planet harboring life is alive, or not. Earth is certainly alive, because life enables the very conditions on Earth that enable of its on-going existence, so far. The advent of oxygen producing lifeforms enabled the progress of complexity, hence the apparition of intelligence and advanced ethology of the conscious type.

Speaking of this, a question naturally arises: what is the definition of life? Life, so far, has no definition. The greatest minds have been left speechless.

Considering the preceding, clearly, such a definition will have to involve the Quantum, and Entanglement, besides reproduction. Crystals, and Quasi-crystals can reproduce an Entanglement architecture, but they are intensely boring. They can be described by just one equation.

Life is any Quantum Entanglement architecture which can approximately self-reproduce and adapt while being described by a potentially growing set of equations.

Probably, we are aspects of the Entanglements and Delocalization that the Quantum is capable of, at least in a little corner of the universe. We don’t need no Sisyphus: we can operate on it, at a distance.

Spooky, admittedly, but that’s what we are.

All these revelations  change the overall mood towards the purpose of life. Life is not absurd, it simply is a growing, entangled complexity, our morality and intelligence, hopes, meaning, and consciousness are entangled with it. But the solutions we cling to, all too long, can well be, indeed, all too disjointed, point-wise, disconnected, and thoroughly absurd.

Equally clearly, the (meta, or final!) solution is to have all the absurdities gobbled up by life itself.

Patrice Ayme

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