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Is it reasonable to suggest that if we were to "zoom out" further and further in space with our eyes focused on some object at our initial position, that all the solar systems, then galaxies, and so on could come together to form some coherent "object" in its own right? To clarify, when I say "zoom out", I'm trying to describe larger scales. Using the size of our human eye as a "base" scale, imagine another eye placed very far away from a given position, fixed on that initial position, but much much "larger".

I just wonder if everything we see in space is part of some larger structure, perhaps even life form. Presumably, this "zooming" could in principle continue ad infinitum.

Are there any theories or works out there which consider this idea, or one of a similar theme?

  • So basically that the Universe is organized into a meaningful superstructure on a much larger scale than ours, and that it may even be sentient at this level? Certainly there are many theories roughly like this, though I can't call to mind specific examples right now. – commando May 16 '13 at 22:16
  • yes, that's about it. Although I'm thinking that these levels could continue ad infinitum, with objects within a given level having a "meaning between them", much like we can "see the meaning" between objects at our level, but not at lower levels (such as the quantum level without the aid of scientific equipment) – Pixel May 17 '13 at 13:10
  • Of course - I'm also thinking that we don't just have to "zoom out". We can also do the reverse and "zoom in". Our own human eyes would be at the "much much 'larger'" scale described in my original post. – Pixel May 17 '13 at 13:11
  • @pbs - the idea of a 'life form' I find very intriguing. We have no true concept of the scale of the Universe or Multiverse - how can we? IMO it is possible to speculate that the entire visible universe comprises merely a cell, or one small organism, in vastly larger entity... see my amended answer. – Vector May 17 '13 at 21:54
  • I have just edited your post, and suggested a somewhat more informative title. But it could be that you're not really interested in "solid" structures, per se: please correct me if I'm wrong. – Niel de Beaudrap May 20 '13 at 11:25
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Yes, there are large-scale structures that are apparent in the universe. It is also possible that the visible universe is only part of a larger multiverse - where the other universes are causally separated from us. Evidence for this is via the Orthodox cosmological model - the Lambda-CDM model which on plugging observed cosmological data shows that the universe is much much larger than the observable one. So not only are there large-scale structures in the observable universe, but it s likely the observable universe is also a large-scale structure within the multiverse.

Panpsychism is a philosophical position not widely supported now but was rather fashionable during the 19C which advocates that consciousness is everywhere. That is not only do humans & amoebas have experiences, but so do electrons and quarks. Fechner endorsed a world-soul in which everything is a part.

Of course this raises a host of questions; if ontologically elementary particles have consciousness then do aggregates? What happens if aggregates are shared?

There is also a position in Physics in which states that the physical world is Information. This has been advocated by Bekenstein in 2003, the physicist who applied thermodynamics to black holes (which is why Hawking radiation is more properly called Bekenstein-Hawking radiation).

Now when we think of a computer as a mechanism for information change; and we also consider that Strong AI applies - that is computers can be conscious; what we are saying is a certain system of information and its changes are conscious. This allows us to at least throw a bridge between the physical universe and consciousness via information.

The mainstream position of emergentism for consciousness raises the question when does consciousness happen, exactly when does it emerge? One could argue that by continuity it never does - it just becomes more and more apparent and that it was already there. But if this is true of a computer, then it should also be true for the universe; or any part thereof.

This ties it in with the panpsychist view.

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