Our Mathematical Universe
Max Tegmark (2014)
Summary and review of the above book
The first part of this book is a readable guide to understanding physics and cosmology. Where it goes wrong is that the author gets out of his depth in trying to extend to non-consensual areas such as time, reality and consciousness. The discussion here starts well in identifying that the brain constructs a model of reality, which is consciousness, helped by the integrative brain hub scheme developed by neuroscientists such as Giulio Tononi. No additional Cartesian time entity or system is needed to view this. The buck stops here, so to speak. Beyond this things get difficult. Consciousness is argued to be a ‘self-aware substructure (SAS). The mathematical substructure is argued to be a reality, although it is not clear why something that is only known as a product of brain processing can also be identified as an underlying reality. At one point, it is suggested that we will discover that consciousness is a different ‘phase of matter’.
However, in a previous publication at the end of the last century, the author effectively cut himself off from discussing consciousness as a fundamental feature of matter by purportedly proving that this was not possible. This is mentioned in this book, although not the fact that biological research since 2007 has tended to refute his earlier position. The argument rather peters out amongst near science fiction talk of aliens with SAS busters.