Physicalism Versus Quantum Mechanics

Abstract
In the context of theories of the connection between mind and brain, physicalism is the demand that all is basically purely physical. But the conception of “physical” embodied in this demand is characterized essentially by the properties of the physical that hold in classical physical theories. Certain of those properties contradict the character of the physical in quantum mechanics, which provides a better, more comprehensive, and more fundamental account of phenomena. It is argued that the difficulties that have plagued physicalists for half a century, and that continue to do so, dissolve when the classical idea of the physical is replaced by its quantum successor. The argument is concretized in way that makes it accessible to non-physicists by exploiting the recent evidence connecting our conscious experiences to macroscopic measurable synchronous oscillations occurring in wellseparated parts of the brain. A specific new model of the mind-brain connection that is fundamentally quantum mechanical but that ties conscious experiences to these macroscopic synchronous oscillations is used to illustrate the essential disparities between the classical and quantum notions of the physical, and in particular to demonstrate the failure in the quantum world of the principle of the causal closure of the physical, a failure that goes beyond what is entailed by the randomness in the outcomes of observations, and that accommodates the efficacy in the brain of conscious intention
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