Holt’s guiding premise here comes from the great 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza: “Of all the possible resolutions to the mystery of existence,” Holt writes, “perhaps the most exhilarating would be the discovery that, contrary to all appearances, the world is causa sui: the cause of itself.” For Spinoza, all mental and physical existents were temporally modified expressions of a single substance, an infinite substance that he called God or Nature. Albert Einstein embraced Spinoza’s idea that the world was divine and self-causing, as more recently have other “metaphysically inclined physicists” like Sir Roger Penrose and the late John Archibald Wheeler. Such scientists go even further, proposing that human consciousness has a critical role in the world’s self-creation. “Although we seem to be a negligible part of the cosmos,” Holt writes in summary of these ideas, “it is our consciousness that gives reality to it as a whole.”
more from Jay Tolson at The American Scholar here.