The Mind Matters: Consciousness and Choice in a Quantum World

The Mind Matters: Consciousness and Choice in a Quantum World

The Mind Matters: Consciousness and Choice in a Quantum World

The Mind Matters: Consciousness and Choice in a Quantum World

Synopsis

In this book, Hodgson presents a clear and compelling case against today's orthodox mechanistic view of the brain-mind, and in favor of the view that "the mind matters." In the course of the argument he ranges over such topics as consciousness, informal reasoning, computers, evolution, and quantum indeterminancy and non-locality. Although written from a philosophical viewpoint, the book has important implications for the sciences concerned with the brain-mind problem. At the same time, it is largely non-technical, and thus accessible to the non-specialist reader.

Excerpt

As a child, I was told that our eyes are like cameras, and I wondered how the 'pictures' which these camera-eyes made inside our heads were themselves 'seen': was there another camera in the brain to take pictures of the pictures, and if so, what then? Later, I was troubled by the conflict between the feeling of freedom to choose and act, and the apparent universality of physical causation. Later again, it struck me that much reasoning, including legal reasoning, was of its nature inconclusive; in particular where opposing considerations were not commensurable, and could be resolved only by some poorly defined 'weighing' or 'judgment'.

Over the years, I continued to be intrigued by these questions, although the idea of writing a book about them did not begin to form until about twelve years ago. I read Hofstadter Gödel, Escher, Bach, and was impressed; but I felt it was fundamentally incorrect, and I wanted to pursue the matter. I went to books in its bibliography, and on to other books about the mind, computers, quantum physics, and so on. I accumulated a mound of notes on these books, my reactions to them, and my developing ideas. Eventually, I began to, get these into some order, at first for my own satisfaction, and ultimately in the belief that I had something worthwhile to say to others.

Until the last couple of years, this was a solitary endeavour, much of it done on twice-daily forty-minute train journeys to and from my chambers in the city of Sydney. At this stage, my main intellectual debts were to such people as Hofstadter, Dennett, Boden, Putnam, Popper, Nozick, Nagel, Swinburne, Parfit, d'Espagnat, and Davies, through their writings. Also the work and example of Sir John Eccles, promoting the cause of dualism in hostile times, emboldened me in my thinking; although my conclusions turned out to be rather different from his.

Subsequently, I received more direct assistance. Draft chapters for Parts I and II were read by Professor Jonathan Stone, physiologist and commentator on artificial intelligence; for Part iii by Professor Don Melrose, theoretical physicist; and for Parts I, ii, and iv by Professor John Finnis, philosopher of law and much else. All made penetrating comments and useful suggestions. I also received helpful comments from Philip Hodgson, Sue Hodgson, Paul Crowe, Marcus Young, and advisers and editors at Oxford University Press.

Any errors and infelicities which remain are all my own work. My greatest debt is to my wife Raewyn: for the major task of entering my handwritten drafts into the word processor; for her understanding of my periods of preoccupation and detachment from family activities; for valuable . . .

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