I found this article
as an External Link from a Wikipedia entry on Physical Systems
. It explains the interdependence between the universe and our consciousness of it.
The article uses some of these abbreviations (the bolded ones):
- physical system(s)
PP - PS from PS
- PS from CS
- conceptual system(s)
CP - CS from PS
- CS from CS
Conceptual Systems vs. Physical Systems
The universe is comprised of physical systems which are comprised of objects (which in turn are comprised of systems, ad infinitum). However, the appearance of objects and all possible experiences and observations, is a result of consciousness.
Nick Herbert is a physicist and author of various books on quantum physics and philosophy. In his book “Elemental mind” he endeavors to make sense of the mind/body problem from a scientific standpoint. The universe, he writes, “…seems to consist of two kinds of phenomena: mental experiences and physical objects
”. The nature of consciousness is the main subject of his book, but this paper ignores it and instead focuses on the conceptual nature of systems.
The human world is overrun with physical objects and concepts. One might not even be able to tell the difference between them. A rainbow might be thought of as a physical object, but it can not be touched. If one goes closer to it, it just seems to get farther away or disappears. The image of a rainbow is a mental phenomenon, like the illusion of water in a desert (a mirage). A rainbow itself is not a physical object, but there is a physical aspect to it. It is a physical system consisting of rays of light passing though many drops of water which are suspended in air.
The American Heritage dictionary defines a “system” as: “a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole” (system). A physical system (PS) is comprised of matter and energy
. The objects of a PS can be observed or experienced. A conceptual system (CS) is comprised of ideas or theories
. The elements of a CS only exist in one’s mind or by virtue of the CS itself. For instance, one does not have to mentally calculate every possible outcome of the equation “x-x” to know that “x-x=0” is always true; it is simply a fact by virtue of the system’s rules.
Electrical, chemical and mechanical engineering are applications of science in which CS are developed, then PS are constructed from them. An example of such a CS is an electrical circuit diagram. Such a diagram is a CC, and contains standard symbols representing certain physical objects, such as switches, compactors or diodes.
A complete circuit diagram represents a complete working physical electrical circuit (which is a PC). There is more chaos in the real circuit than in the diagram. The diagram can not account for all possible physical variables.
It is impossible to measure most systems, especially ones involving sub atomic particles, with 100% accuracy or to ever completely isolate a PS from the universe. That has not significantly affected scientific progress though. This alludes to an interesting question: “can a CS ever fully explain any PS?” H. V. Quine, author of the renowned book “Methods of Logic” wrote: “…physical objects are known to us only as parts of a systematic conceptual structure which, taken as a whole, impinges at its edges upon observation”. So maybe the answer is simply: “the only factor limiting the ability of a conceptual system to explain a physical system is observation.” One even might venture to say: “all physical systems are inherently conceptual because experiences and observations are subjective
So according to this article, we can't know all causal factors extant in a closed system, so we can't predict future states of that closed system with 100% certainty.
But the main thing, to me, is how consciousness has injected itself into modern physics and is an actual limiting factor in what we are able to perceive and understand about the physical world as well as the human condition itself (morality, free will, prejudice, etc.).