The hypothesis was first put forward in 2014 by cosmologist and theoretical physicist Max Tegmark from MIT, who proposed that there's a state of matter - just like a solid, liquid, or gas - in which atoms are arranged to process information and give rise to subjectivity, and ultimately, consciousness. See his paper: https://arxiv.org/abs/1401.1219.

Now, assume that Consciousness is the state of matter. There is a theory that Consciousness is expanding. So the question is that if you believe in the ontology of eternalism and Tegmark's Theory of Consciousness, then Consciousness had its own Big Bang (inflation type theory for Consciousness), hence there must be another type of nothingness before of Big Bang of Consciousness.

How to explain nothingness in the Consciousness theory of Tegmark?

In his Book entitled Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence - Tegmark mentioned that since there can be no meaning without consciousness, it’s not our universe giving meaning to conscious beings, but conscious beings giving meaning to our universe.

If all the wonders of the cosmos carry on without a conscious mind to appreciate them, the universe will be rendered a meaningless “waste of space”.

History: The Idea of Consciousness is the state of matter is originated from Agni Yoga.

See page 5 ,number 11 of the paper of the multidimensional Consciousness by Sergey G. Dzhura


Jay Alfred also studied Consciousness as a state of matter. See his book: Alfred , J. (2007). Dark Plasma Theory – Biology. Canada: Trafford Publishing.

I read it here page 4. Line 18: "Philosophising consciousness from string theory" Ningombam Bupenda Meitei

  • The issue is: there were something "before" matter or there is "nothing" from which matter emerged at some point in time ? – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jul 15 '20 at 8:09
  • If there is something before matter, we must say something like mirror of Consciousness before Big Bang . If there is nothing from which matter emerged, then there must be firmement between levels of nothingness. Nothingness from above, and nothingness so below – user47436 Jul 15 '20 at 8:17
  • Tegmark investigates properties of matter states that give rise to consciousness. It makes no sense to say that it "expands" on his theory, matter can expand but not its states, expanding gas is still a gas. So a separate Big Bang or "nothingness" for consciousness are also nonsensical. Moreover, Tegmark's conscious matter has to be highly organized, so it can only emerge long after the material Big Bang, when complex atoms and molecules form. It is unclear what eternalism has to do with any of this. Your sorts of speculations require an immaterial consciousness, not Tegmark's physicalism. – Conifold Jul 15 '20 at 8:31
  • From your comment Consciousness started from $t_1$ which from Big Bang to $t_1$ universe was without conscious ! This means change happened Independent of Consciousness! Hm ! ... Here are more comments researchgate.net/post/… – user47436 Jul 15 '20 at 9:46
  • Universe also started without life, and then, after stars and planet formed, life emerged on some of them. It did not happen like a bang at any particular moment either, such processes take place gradually, over millenia. On Tegmark's theory, consciousness is no different than life, a special state of matter, and neither life nor consciousness have any special cosmic significance, they are states like gases or plasma. – Conifold Jul 15 '20 at 10:01

The analogy to the big bang, is confusing. It implies there was no matter to have states before consciousness, and that consciousness originated instantenously.

A better analogy might be with the epoch of recombination, which produced the cosmic microwave background. The universe had expanded and cooled enough for atoms to be stable, making what had been opaque plasma into mostly translucent atoms.

Life can be observationally diagnosed, as having a specific relationship with entropy. Like a fire, or polymer formation, it's a type of propagating pattern. But it can be linked to harvesting the Gibbs free-energy, to understand how it actively generates disorder to maintain such a propagating pattern (ie, eats), and replicates with modification (evolves). We had a discussion on defining life here: Are Life and Intelligence analogous?

It has been estimated that using conventional known technologies, humans could colonise our entire galaxy in less than 10,000 years. Extrapolating, we can expect life to become a dominant process across the universe, across a timescale not so different from the duration of the recombination epoch (18,000-370,000 years after the Big Bang), and with an analogous transition in state behaviour.

You might look at it as an extreme case of the way a 'seed crystal', or other perturbation is needed, for a phase transition - otherwise supercooling and other anomalous behaviours occur of prolonged instability, progressively increasing the likelihood of transition as they become more unstable.

If all the wonders of the cosmos carry on without a conscious mind to appreciate them, the universe will be rendered a meaningless “waste of space”.

Strictly speaking it would be neither meaningless nor not meaningless. But in fact, the anthropic principle can be used to say other variations of fundamental physical laws must have happened as part of the complexity that allowed our universe to happen randomly. Thus even though we cannot access those other possible states of physics, giving them a place in 'our story', which is to say, in our parochial way, giving them meaning.

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