The topic of this book is the relationship between mind and the physical world. From once being an esoteric question of philosophy, this subject has become a central topic in the foundations of quantum physics. The book traces this story back to Descartes, through Kant, to the beginnings of 20th Century physics, where it becomes clear that the mind-world relationship is not a speculative question but has a direct impact on the understanding of physical phenomena. The book’s argument begins with the British empiricists who raised our awareness of the fact that we have no direct contact with physical reality, but it is the mind that constructs the form and features of objects. It is shown that modern cognitive science brings this insight a step further by suggesting that shape and structure are not internal to objects, but arise in the observer. The author goes yet further by arguing that the meaningful connectedness between things — the hierarchical organization of all we perceive — is the result of the Gestalt nature of perception and thought, and exists only as a property of mind. These insights give the first glimmerings of a new way of seeing the cosmos: not as a mineral wasteland but a place inhabited by creatures.
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