Sunday, March 19, 2017

Quantum mechanics and consciousness - Part 1/6 of thoughts on a causal correspondence theory

Which way does causation proceed? The pattern in the material world seems to be upward: particles to molecules to organisms to brains to mental processes. In contrast, the principles of quantum mechanics allow us to see a pattern of downward causation. These new ideas describe sets of multiple levels in which each level influences the levels below it through generation and selection. Top-down causation makes exciting sense of the world: we can find analogies in psychology, in the formation of our minds, in locating the source of consciousness, and even in the possible logic of belief in God.

1. A quantum viewpoint

Over the last 100 years the study of quantum phenomena has shown that there is more than the material world of matter, force and motion. The experts have often speculated about a role for observers, even for consciousness, in an understanding of quantum measurements [1] [2]. More recently many [3] have speculated that quantum physics itself reveals consciousness. There are now many cottage industries seeking to develop ideas of ‘quantum consciousness’, even of ‘quantum spirituality’. It has become popular to say that ‘quantum theory shows that consciousness creates physical reality’, and that this fits into an advaita non-dualist framework where only the Godhead is real while everything else is a generation of consciousness.

For many, however, such a monism where all beings are numerically identical does not seem to be the ultimate answer. People generally consider unselfish love to be superior to selfish love. If all persons were identical in being, then unselfish love between distinct persons would be impossible. The reality of unselfishness disposes many of us to dualist views in which people are ontologically distinct and in which God and worlds are distinct [4, p. 18]. It is important for theorists to explore theories in which minds and god are distinct. If mind and matter are distinct then many philosophical problems with materialism may be resolved.

I here present some ideas to help interpret quantum mechanics, mind and theism in a non-reductive approach. These ideas describe a set of multiple levels which all exist simultaneously in their own manner. Rather than everything being a system of objects at one fundamental level, we can develop a theory of multiple levels, each with different kinds of objects existing in their own kinds of spaces. The first challenge is to see how quantum substances exist on a single level. A second challenge is to show how objects interact between levels.

E. Wigner, "Remarks on the Mind-Body Question," in The Scientist Speculates, N.Y., Basic Books, 1962, pp. 284-302.
H. Stapp, Mindful Universe, N.Y.: Springer, 2011.
E. Lazslo, "Quantum and Consciousness: In search of new paradigm," Zygon, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 533-541, 2006.
E. Swedenborg, DIvine Love and Wisdom (1763), West Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation, 2010.

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