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Mysterious Observer: The Almighty or Big Brother? – Part 1

The topic discussed in this text has accompanied me in various forms for several years. Like most posts on the blog, it arose from the need to organize different, related threads in my mind. Therefore, it does not claim to be the objective truth, but merely my subjective reflections. What, or rather Who, will it be about? In a fascinating journey through the principles of quantum physics, labyrinths of human psyche, vast areas of philosophy, and depths of spirituality, I have encountered a figure who connects all these seemingly distant worlds – the mysterious Observer.

Since the text turned out to be quite lengthy, I divided it into two parts. Today is the first of them.


Omnipotent Observer and Silent Witness

There are many definitions of an observer. If we refer to the “Polish Language Dictionary“, we read that an observer is “a person who attentively watches someone or something for a long time.” However, in the context of what I will write about, a definition from one of the English dictionaries seems more interesting, according to which an observer is: “a person who observes and studies what happens but does not take an active part in it.” Here we see two additional elements: “studying” (alongside observing) and “lack of active participation.”

As we will soon see, the concept of an observer also varies in tone depending on the area to which it is applied. Let’s start with spiritual tradition. In some religions (including Christianity, which we rarely realize 😊), God is perceived as an omnipresent and omnipotent Observer, not only a witness to our actions but also our thoughts and intentions. This omniscience is supposed to motivate us, humans, to moral conduct, suggesting that although our deeds may remain unnoticed by human eyes, they will eventually be judged by a higher power.

In Eastern religions, the Observer is often interpreted as the essence of consciousness or soul, which experiences and gives meaning to our existence. Through meditation and concentration practices, these religions aim to become conscious observers of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This practice is supposed to lead to peace, harmony, and enlightenment – by realizing that we are more than our thoughts and emotions, we can experience life in a more full way and understand our true, universal connection with everything that exists.

At this point, it’s worth noting that many spiritual traditions also teach that the act of observation has – contrary to the definitions given above – a dynamic element, interestingly not in the form of “action” (associated with effort) but “power of creation” (effortless). What we focus our attention on begins to manifest in our life. This idea has its roots in the belief that mind and matter are deeply connected, and our consciousness has a direct impact on reality. By consciously directing our attention, we can thus influence the shape of our life.


Shock brought by the Science

With the development of science, especially physics and psychology, the concept of the observer began to enrich its dimension even further. While Newtonian physics taught us to observe the universe as a precise, determined mechanism, subject to calculations and predictions, discoveries in quantum mechanics have shown that the very act of observation can affect the observed object. This immediately shattered the traditional concept of objective reality – each observer can have their own truth. In quantum physics, observation is no longer just a passive act; it’s an interaction that can change the state of the observed object. This principle has fascinating implications for our everyday life. It seems to confirm what spirituality has been saying for centuries, that our “Presence” has the power to shape reality.

The contribution of psychology lies in the fact that it has drawn attention to the subjectivity of perception and the impact of the observer (including his expectations and beliefs) on the interpretation of observed phenomena. The observer effect (also known as the Hawthorne effect) shows how the awareness of being observed can change people’s behavior. These scientific discoveries have expanded our understanding of the impact of observation not only on the external world but also on internal psychological processes.

All the aspects related to the observer described above also permeate other fields. In philosophy, the concept of the inner observer, our consciousness that analyzes and evaluates our own thoughts and feelings, is utilized in analyzing issues related to freedom and self-control. Meanwhile, in art and literature, the observer often plays a key role in the interpretation of the work.


The Era of Big Brother

Entering the digital era has brought new challenges to our understanding of the observer. Industrial cameras, satellites, the internet, and social media have become our new “gods,” constantly watching us, often without our awareness or consent. This ubiquitous presence of the “digital observer” (or rather, “digital surveillance”) is intended to influence our behaviors on one hand (self-discipline, make life easier?), and on the other, it raises questions about the limits of privacy and freedom, reminiscent of Orwell’s dystopian visions where Big Brother constantly watches every move. Thanks to technology, each of us has also become an observer and the observed on an unprecedented scale. Surveillance, whether conscious or not, has become part of our daily lives, and the boundaries of privacy are increasingly difficult to define.

Another door in the discussion about the observer (in the form of Big Brother) is opened by our “journey into space.” Not only in the literal sense – by sending humans beyond our planet – but also in the context of hypotheses about the nature of our existence. For example, more than 20 years ago, N. Bostrom, a Swedish philosopher specializing in the future of technology and the ethics of artificial intelligence, presented his version of the simulation hypothesis. According to him, there is a significant chance that our reality is an advanced computer simulation created by more advanced civilizations. In this case, we would be dealing with observers similar to those depicted in the movie “The Truman Show” or the reality from the movie “The Matrix.” I once wrote about the conclusions such “cosmic” observations of humans might lead to in “What Do Aliens Think of Us?


It seems to me that the best synthesis of the observer concepts described above is found in video games or operating within virtual reality. Here, we simultaneously have the character of the Game Hero (or resident of the virtual world) and the person who observes his struggles but can also interfere in the Hero’s reality, taking him beyond what is determined by the game’s script (program). In reality, his/her decisions have a decisive impact on the course and outcome of the game! Translating this comparison to our reality poses a significant question: who are we in this arrangement? Merely a “controlled” game character? I will look for answers to this question in Part 2.


The image accompanying the text was generated by AI (DALL-E)

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