There seems to be a lot of talk in the New Age community these days about hyper-dimensional ideas, like “5D ascension,” “higher-dimensional realms,” and what not. Much of the stuff is either completely unsubstantiated or articulated in a way that flies in the face of science and reason. So although the fantasies are rich and appealing, their lack of any grounding is a complete turn-off. Yet, hyper-dimensionality, as a concept, can be explored in full accordance with materialism/physicalism to weave surprising possibilities about what it means to be a human being. Amazingly, it can even reconcile survival of consciousness, eternal life, and reincarnation with strict physicalism. Curious about how? Read on.
According to different versions of String Theory, and especially M-Theory, up to 10 dimensions of space are required for describing and explaining the behavior of matter. For years now popular culture has acknowledged this abstraction with a certain degree of wonder, thanks to the likes of Brian Greene and other science popularizers. Yet, there is one remarkable implication of these theories that seem to escape the attention of most of us: If matter exists in 10 spatial dimensions, then our bodies, which are made of matter, also fundamentally exist in 10 spatial dimensions. So the 3-dimensional body we see when we look down while dressing up each day is, in fact, a flattened projection of a 10-dimensional structure way beyond our ability to visualize spatially.
When we take a picture of a face, we are making a 2-dimensional projection of something that exists in 3 dimensions. A lot of information is lost in that process: A head-on picture of a face still shows a nose, but misses all the information about what the nose would look like in profile. Yet, at least there is a hint of the broader structure left: We still see the nose. In other cases, however, every hint of the presence of an entire structure in 3 dimensions can be lost in a 2-dimensional projection. For instance, if you have a mole on the side of your neck, there will be no sign of it in the head-on picture. By looking at the picture alone, nobody would be able to infer the presence of the mole, or of large parts of the structure of your ears. Now take this thinking several levels up: How many structures are lost when we project a 10-dimensional body onto only 3 dimensions? How many ‘organ systems’ become completely invisible? How many complex, vital structures inherent to the inner-workings of a living body disappear in the projection? Going from 3 to 2 dimensions, as we all know, implies significant loss of information; and that is just the loss of a single dimension. Imagine the loss of 7 dimensions.
If we had a closed causal explanation for human physiology today, all the way down to the molecular level, it would be fair to say that postulating invisible hyper-dimensional structures is totally unnecessary and gratuitous. In such case, we could still acknowledge that the visible human body is indeed a 3-dimensional projection of something in 10 dimensions but, just like the nose in our example, every structure in 10 dimensions is still hinted at, in some way, in the 3-dimensional projection we see; enough for us to construct said closed causal explanation. In other words, there would be no need to postulate moles or more complex structures that leave no hint in the projection. But we do not have a closed causal explanation for the inner-workings of the human body. Molecular biology is very, very far away from it. Most of the molecularlevel details of life are still a profound mystery. Moreover, research has been generating more questions than answers, so it’s hard to say even that we are getting closer. As such, we can still legitimately fantasize that there are bodily structures, inherent to life, existing in those 7 invisible dimensions, no hint of which is left in the 3-dimensional projection we normally call the human body. We can even fantasize that the difference between living and non-living structures in nature is precisely the presence of a hidden, hyper-dimensional core in living things, whose intrinsic dynamics becomes visible as the molecular physiology of life. According to this imagination, life is itself a ‘protrusion’ into our 3D world of something grounded in hidden dimensions.
Expanding on this fantasy now: Our ‘regular’ bodies (that is, the three-dimensional projection) have parts that grow, get older, and eventually get discarded: hair, nails, skin, teeth, etc. Nobody sits around in a gloomy mood because he or she has just shed a patch of dead skin; the core of what it means to be us remains intact. Now, imagine the visible human body as something analogous to that: It is a ‘protrusion’ into the regular 3 dimensions of our true hyper-dimensional bodies; a protrusion that grows and gets older throughout a lifetime, and eventually is discarded. The core of the structure, the thing it means to be a human being, albeit hidden, remains intact in those 7 invisible dimensions. Like the roots of garden plants, which survive underground throughout the winter even though their visible structures die and are discarded, the body we see may be just the glorified ‘flowering’ appendages that have their moments during the spring and summer. No need for a soul in this fantasy: Survival may be entirely physical.
A different, but ultimately equivalent, way to approach this is the following: Neuroscience today states that the entire reality we actually experience is a brain constructed hallucination modulated by external electromagnetic signals coming from an outside world (for the sake of the fantasy, I will pretend I agree with this position, so we can explore its implications). In other words, you live your whole life locked into a kind of ‘copy’ of reality generated by your brain. But if that is so, then everything we think to know about our brains is itself part of that ‘copy’ of reality generated by the brain; a self-referential loop. What we call a ‘brain’ is, thus, merely what ‘something’ related to a brain looks like from within the reality this ‘something’ creates.
To make description easier, let us define the following terminology: Let us call a ‘hyper-brain’ the true structure that actually generates our subjective reality; and let us call a ‘brain’ the way a hyper-brain looks from within the subjective reality it creates. Naturally, the hyper-brain fundamentally exists outside the reality we experience every day, for this everyday reality is itself created by the hyper-brain. Computer programmers can understand this with the following analogy: A ‘brain’ is an internal model, within a piece of software, of the computer that runs the piece of software. The internal model exists within the virtual reality of the software, while the machine itself exists in the same reality you and I inhabit. Clearly, despite important equivalences, a machine model running in software is not the actual machine, in the same way that your Facebook timeline is not your life, despite equivalences; one thing is just a representation of the other. The brain we see is merely a representation of a hyper-brain within the virtual reality created by the hyper-brain, in the same way that computer operating systems have virtual representations of the actual machines they run on.
Now the question, of course, is: How complete and accurate is this internal software model? How accurate a representation of the hyper-brain is the brain? How much about the hyper-brain is it safe to infer from observing a brain? Continuing on with our fantasy: The brain may be a faint, distorted, partial ‘echo’ of the real thing—the hyperbrain. As such, making assertions of certainty about the beginning or the end of the hyper-brain based on observations made within the reality created by the hyper-brain is, at best, tricky. We cannot infer the end of the hyper-brain from the decomposition of a brain within the hallucinated reality, in the same way that we cannot infer the destruction of the computer from erasing its software. This way, even though this second fantasy is not literally a hyper-dimensionality one, it leads to a similar conclusion.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our little excursion into the unexplored spaces of the physicalist imagination!
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This article is courtesy of www.masteringalchemy.com
BERNARDO KASTRUP has a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering and has worked as a scientist in some of the world’s foremost research laboratories, including the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Philips Research Laboratories (where the “Casimir Effect” of Quantum Field Theory was discovered). He has authored many scientific papers. Bernardo has also been an entrepreneur and founder of two high-tech businesses. Today, he holds a managerial position in the hightech industry. Bernardo has lived and worked in four different countries across continents. He currently resides in the Netherlands.
Bernardo’s books include: Rationalist Spirituality: An exploration of the meaning of life and existence informed by logic and science, Dreamed up Reality: Diving into Mind to Uncover the Astonishing Hidden Tale of Nature, and Meaning in Absurdity: What bizarre phenomena can tell us about the nature of reality. For more information and free articles, visit his website at http://www.bernardokastrup.com/.