Vladimir A. Lefebvre (1996) Free Will and the Cosmic Subject. Psycoloquy: 7(07) Human Choice (5)

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Psycoloquy 7(07): Free Will and the Cosmic Subject

Reply to Adams-Webber on Human-Choice

Vladimir A. Lefebvre
School of Social Sciences
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, California



By using the anthropic principle, cosmologists leave a niche for the observer in their models of the Universe. To fill this niche one must construct a compact model of a "cosmic subject." A formal model described in the target article (Lefebvre, 1995) can be considered one possible representation of such a cosmic subject.


choice; computation; decision theory; ethical cognition; mathematical psychology; model building; parameter estimation; probability; rationality.
1. Adams-Webber writes:

    "The anthropic principle serves an important epistomological
    function in cosmology, which possibly also has implications
    for the 'physics of the mind'." (Adams-Webber, 1995)

I share this point of view. Moreover, it was my main incentive for undertaking the construction of a formal model of the subject, years before the anthropic principle was formulated by astronomers. In my book "Konfliktuyushchie Struktury" (Conflicting Structures) published in Russian in 1967, I have a chapter entitled "Bio-cosmology." Let me quote a paragraph from that book:

    "Self-organizing systems have not yet taken their place within the
    world-view of physics. Although the existence of giant cosmic
    civilizations is accepted as a possibility, such entities are
    always presented in an implicit contrast with so-called 'natural'
    processes. Modern cosmological models are generated by physics, and
    biological objects appear dissonant within them. During the last
    two decades, however, we have seen the origin of a new cosmology
    alongside the older, purely physical one; this new cosmology has
    the task of including biological reality in its picture of the
    world as a natural and necessary component... It seems expedient
    now to consider those cosmological models whose constitutive
    principles dictate that living organisms and civilizations, on the
    one hand, and the phenomena of physics, on the other, be regarded
    as different manifestations of a single underlying structure."
    (Lefebvre, 1967, p. 19)

2. In this book, as well as in its second, enlarged edition and in other publications (see, for example, Lefebvre, 1969; 1977), I suggested several simple models for the "double" interpretation of phenomena according to both physical and biological frameworks. Let me emphasize that those models were purely illustrative. They did not claim to provide a "real" explanation of the world surrounding us. My goal was to formulate as clearly as possible my prognosis that a synthesis of physics and biology would be achieved through the creation of special cosmological models.

3. Thirty years have passed since I wrote the quoted paragraph. I think it is time now to look at how well the development of scientific thought has matched my prediction. It is easy to see that the idea cited above anticipates the formulation of a so-called "strong anthropic principle," the meaning of which is that living organisms and an observer similar to the human being must inevitably appear in the universe. In other words, the world is originally ordered in such a way that it can eventually become our dwelling-place. The term "anthropic principle" was introduced by Carter (1974), who suggested the use of this principle in selecting initial conditions for the construction of cosmological models. The anthropic principle has today become an integral part of the philosophy of science (Barrow & Tipler, 1986; Bertola & Curi, 1993). Moreover, in inflationary models of the universe this principle is taken for granted (Carter, 1993). Therefore, to a certain degree, my prognosis has been fulfilled.

4. Modern cosmologists leave a niche in their models for an intelligent observer. The next step, I believe, is the development of compact models of "cosmic subjects" which would fit into such niches. The first versions of these models were suggested in my early works (Lefebvre, 1967; 1977). I hypothesized that a cosmic civilization can be represented as a system of individuals capable of reflecting in their inner domains the system as a whole, including themselves and other individuals together with their inner domains. This capacity for such multiple reflection suggests to us the distinction between "civilizations" and other categories of objects.

5. Today we have only one example of such cosmic subjects: ourselves. Therefore, the only model deserving to be placed in the cosmological niche is one which demonstrates its explanatory and predictive power in relation to human beings.

6. What would be the specific character of such a model? It would have to be founded on very general principles rather than on sets of empirical and experimental facts. This limitation is important to avoid basing the model on data related only to our earthly version of man.

7. I hope that my tendency to base my considerations on extremely general assumptions has now become more clear. I am trying to construct the model of a cosmic subject in which I locate such human properties as the ability to distinguish good from evil and to make free choices.


Adams-Webber, J.R. (1995) A Pragmatic Constructivist Gambit for Cognitive Scientists. PSYCOLOQUY (6)34 human-choice.2.adams-webber.

Barrow, J.D. & Tipler, E.J. (1986) The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Bertola, F. & Curi, U. (Eds.) (1993) The Anthropic Principle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Carter, B. (1974) Large Number Coincidences and the Anthropic Principle in Cosmology. In: Longfair, M. S. (Ed.) Confrontation of Cosmological Theories with Observational Data. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel.

Carter, B. (1993) The Anthropic Selection Principle and the Ultra- Darwinian Synthesis. In: Bertola, F. & Curi, U. (Eds.) The Anthropic Principle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lefebvre, V.A. (1967) Konfliktuyushchie Struktury (Conflicting Structures). Moscow: Vysshaya Shkola.

Lefebvre, V.A. (1969) Janus-Kosmologie. Ideen des exakten Wissens. No. 6, pp. 335-340.

Lefebvre, V.A. (1977) The Structure of Awareness. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.

Lefebvre, V.A. (1995) The Anthropic Principle in Psychology and Human Choice. PSYCOLOQUY 6(29) human-choice.1.lefebvre.

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