Where in a universe is the cosmologist studying the universe?
Consider a painter who paints a picture of his studio. The painter stands within the studio and yet does not include himself within the picture in the act of painting the picture. An attempt to portray the act of painting leads to the absurdity of an infinite regression of pictures: the picture contains the painter painting a picture, which contains the painter painting a picture, and so on, indefinitely. The cosmologist constructs a world picture that contains his physical body and physical brain and but not his mind that constructs the picture. If his mind is not excluded, or he thinks of himself as only a physical brain, he also encounters the absurdity of an infinite regression: the universe contains the cosmologist studying a universe, which in turn contains the cosmologist studying a universe, and so on, indefinitely. Where then is the cosmologist studying the universe?
Can an image contain the image maker? They physical universe, consisting of multitudes of facts woven together in a web of ideas, apparently does not contain the thing that shapes the facts and spins the ideas. Those persons who cannot agree and claim that life and mind are no more than a collective dance of atoms must answer the containment riddle. Generally, those who think that life and mind are fully contained in the physical universe confuse the physical universe with the unknown Universe and mistake the mask for the face.
The answer to the containment riddle is that we, who create universes, occupy the unknown Universe. We, the image makers, occupy the Universe and our images are the universes that often, mistakenly, we believe we live in. each universe contains not life and mind but the physical representations of life and mind, such as wildflowers and brains. The world of matter contains body and brain but not the agent that conceives the world of matter containing body and brain. ~ Edward Harrison, Cosmology: The Science of the Universe
An adequate cosmology will only begin to be written when an adequate philosophy of mind has appeared, and such a philosophy of mind must provide full satisfaction both for the motives of the behaviorists who wish to make mind material for experimental manipulation and exact measurement, and for the motives of idealists who wish to see the startling difference between a universe without mind and a universe organized into a living and sensitive unity through mind properly accounted for. ~ Edwin Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science
Could the solution to the dilemma of indeterminism be a universe in which all possible outcomes of an experiment actually occur? ~ Bryce DeWitt, Quantum Mechanics and Reality
Why not apply this idea to free will? When a person must make a choice either to do this or to do that, the universe at that moment branches into two or more universes such that all choices are made? In this way we solve the conflict of free will and determinism. Rigid determinism operates in each separate universe, but a person enjoys complete free will by moving from universe to universe. All universes are virtual except that which the person occupies, which is real. ~ Edward Harrison, Cosmology: The Science of the Universe