Beyond the Stalemate: Conscious Mind-Body-Quantum Mechanics-Free Will-Possible Panpsychism-Possible Interpretation of Quantum Enigma

By Kauffman, Stuart | Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, January 2014 | Go to article overview

Beyond the Stalemate: Conscious Mind-Body-Quantum Mechanics-Free Will-Possible Panpsychism-Possible Interpretation of Quantum Enigma


Kauffman, Stuart, Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy


INTRODUCTION

I wish to discuss a large, interwoven set of topics pointed at in the title above. Much of what I say is highly speculative, some is testable, some is, at present, surely not. It is, I hope, useful, to set these ideas forth for our consideration. What I shall say assumes quantum measurement is real, and that Bohm's interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is not true.

The Stalemate: In our contemporary neurobiology and much of the philosophy of mind post Descartes we are classical physics machines and either mindless, or mind is at best epiphenomenal and can have no consequences for the physical world. The first main point of this paper is that we are not forced to this conclusion, but must give up total reliance on classical physics.

THE CAUSAL CLOSURE OF CLASSICAL PHYSICS IS THE SOURCE OF THE STALEMATE.

We all know Newton, his three laws of motion, universal gravitation, and invention of differential and integral calculus. Given seven billiard balls rolling on a billiard table, we might ask Newton what will happen to the balls. "Write down the initial conditions of position and momenta of the balls, the boundary conditions of the edges of the table, and the forces between the balls, and the balls and the edge of the table using my three laws of motion in differential equation form. Then, to find out what will happen to the balls in the future (or past, my laws are time reversible), integrate my differential equations to obtain the trajectories of the balls (for all time in the absence of friction)". But, I note, integration is deduction of the consequences of Newton's differential equations for the trajectories of the balls, and deduction is "entailment". "All men are mortal. Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is a mortal." is a syllogism whose conclusion is logically entailed by the truth, if so, of the premises. So too the trajectories are entailed by integration of Newtons differential equation.

But this entailment sets up the Stalemate. If the brain is a classical physics system, then the present state of the classical physics brain is entirely sufficient to determine the next state of the brain. But then, there is NOTHING for mind to do, and NO WAY for mind to do it! It would be like asking mind to alter the trajectories of the balls on the billiard table.

Thus, if mind somehow is present in a classical physics setting, it can have NO consequences at all for the classical physics world. At best, the mind can be merely epiphenomenal. (W e might wonder if mind exists and is merely epiphenomenal, and if mind with brain evolved, what selective advantage could it have had?).

The culprit is the causal closure of classical physics with, as Aristotle said, no Prime mover. The Stalemate arises because we want mind to act causally on brain, but it cannot because all the classical physics causes are already in the laws of the billiard ball classical physics neuronal system and attendant classical physics further variables including classical physics noise.

QUANTUM MECHANICS PROVIDES TWO WAYS TO BREAK THE CAUSAL CLOSURE OF CLASSICAL PHYSICS AND HAVE ACAUSAL CONSEQUENCES FOR THE "CLASSICAL" BRAIN.

I begin with a familiar outline of Quantum Mechanics, with the caveat that I am not a physicist. 1) We all know the two slit experiment and the resulting interference pattern of spots on the developed film emulsion beyond the two open slits. 2) We know the Schrodinger linear wave equation, often set equal typically to a classical potential V. The equation has no energy term, so what is "waving" cannot be matter or energy. No one knows what is "waving". I will propose below that what are waving are "possibilities", (1), or, with Heisenberg, Potentialities, (2). 3) We know the Born rule: square the amplitude of each wave, say spin up or spin down, in superposition, and that is the probability that upon measurement that outcome will be found. …

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