Beyond the Cartesian dualism
As stated by Penrose : "... it is our present lack of understanding of the fundamental laws of physics that prevent us from coming to grips with the concept of "mind" in physical or logical terms.". This difficulty is related to the survival in present day physics of the Cartesian dualism. The usual formulation of the laws of physics implies time symmetry and determinism, while life and the brain need an evolutionary approach and imply the appearance of "novelty".
The author presents a brief summary of the work of his school on the generalization of laws of nature to include irreversibility and probability.
In this view laws of nature are associated to "possibilities" and no more to "certitudes". This generalization applies to well- defined dynamical systems such as chaotic systems and classes of Poincaré non-integrable systems.
The mathematical formulation of this generalized form of dynamical laws is in terms of complex and irreducible spectral representations in appropriate functional spaces. These terms are explained in the text where a simple example (the Bernoulli shift) is presented in detail.
It is a great priviledge to participate in this conference organized by my friend Karl Pribram. I feel somewhat uneasy as I have really nothing to contribute from the point of view of neurophysiology. All what I can do is to make some general remarks on the situation of the problem of the brain in respect to our concepts in theoretical physics. In the book by Roger Penrose "The Emperor's New Mind", we read : "... it is our present lack of understanding of the fundamental laws of physics that prevent us from coming to grips with the concept of "mind" in physical or logical terms."