Emergence is interpreted in a non-dualist framework of thought. No metaphysical distinction between the higher and basic levels of organization is supposed, but only a duality of modes of access. Moreover, these modes of access are not construed as mere ways of revealing intrinsic patterns of organization: They are supposed to be constitutive of them, in Kant’s sense. The emergent levels of organization, and the inter-level causations as well, are therefore neither illusory nor ontologically real: They are objective in the (...) sense of transcendental epistemology. This neo-Kantian approach defuses several paradoxes associated with the concept of downward causation, and enables one to make good sense of it independently of any prejudice about the existence (or inexistence) of a hierarchy of levels of being. (shrink)
This paper analyzes how conflicts of perspective are resolved in the field of the human sciences. Examples of such conflicts are the duality between the actor and spectator standpoints, or the duality of participancy between a form of social life and a socio-anthropological study of it. This type of duality look irreducible, because the conflicting positions express incompatible interests. Yet, the claim of incommensurability is excessive. There exists a level of mental activity at which dialogue and resolution are possible. Reaching (...) this level only implies that one comes back to a state of undetermination between situations and interests whose best model is a superposition of states in generalized quantum theory. Some applications of this strategy of going back below the point of state reduction , from the psychology of perception to the history of civilization, are presented. (shrink)
In recent years, many philosophers of modern physics came to the conclusion that the problem of how objectivity is constituted (rather than merely given) can no longer be avoided, and therefore that a transcendental approach in the spirit of Kant is now philosophically relevant. The usual excuse for skipping this task is that the historical form given by Kant to transcendental epistemology has been challenged by Relativity and Quantum Physics. However, the true challenge is not to force modern physics into (...) a rigidly construed static version of Kant's philosophy, but to provide Kant's method with flexibility and generality. In this book, the top specialists of the field pin down the methodological core of transcendental epistemology that must be used in order to throw light on the foundations of modern physics. First, the basic tools Kant used for his transcendental reading of Newtonian Mechanics are examined, and then early transcendental approaches of Relativistic and Quantum Physics are revisited. Transcendental procedures are also applied to contemporary physics, and this renewed transcendental interpretation is finally compared with structural realism and constructive empiricism. The book will be of interest to scientists, historians and philosophers who are involved in the foundational problems of modern physics. (shrink)
There are two versions of the putative connection between consciousness and the measurement problem of quantum mechanics : consciousness as the cause of state vector reduction, and state vector reduction as the physical basis of consciousness. In this article, these controversial ideas are neither accepted uncritically, nor rejected from the outset in the name of some prejudice about objective knowledge. Instead, their origin is sought in our most cherished (but disputable) beliefs about the place of mind and consciousness in the (...) world. It is first pointed out that these common beliefs about mind and consciousness arise from reification of situated first-person experience. Then, situatedness is shown to be a constitutive part of any exhaustive treatment of quantum measurements. It turns out that the alleged connection between consciousness and the measurement problem is a symptom of (i) the ineliminability of our being situated from the end-product of science, and (ii) our difficulty to express correctly this being situated. (shrink)
The reduction of the concept of heat to that of molecular kinetic energy is recurrently presented as lending analogical support to the project of reduction of phenomenal concepts to physical concepts. The claimed analogy draws on the way the use of the concept of heat is attached to the experience in first person of a certain sensation. The reduction of this concept seems to prove the possibility to reduce discourse involving phenomenal concepts to a scientific description of neural activity. But (...) is this analogy really justified? We will show that if there is an analogy, far from speaking for a reduction of phenomenal concepts, it rather stresses the necessity to integrate phenomenal reports in the scientific study of experience. (shrink)
“Ontological emergence” of inherent high-level properties with causal powers is witnessed nowhere. A non-substantialist conception of emergence works much better. It allows downward causation, provided our concept of causality is transformed accordingly.
Rovelli’s RQM is first characterized by contrast with both Everett’s and Bohr’s interpretations of quantum mechanics. Then, it is shown that a basic difficulty arises from the choice of formulating RQM in a naturalistic framework. Even though, according to Rovelli’s interpretation, statements about the world only make sense relative to certain naturalized observers described by means of quantum mechanics, this very meta-statement seems to make sense relative to a sort of super-observer which does not partake of the naturalized status of (...) ordinary observers. The difficulty is solved by substituting functional reference frames for physical (or naturalized) observers throughout. Instead of being relative to physical observers, statements about the state vector of physical systems are here relative to well-defined projects of probabilistic prediction which may be embodied by several physical observers. (shrink)
This paper reviews the debate between Carnap and Schrödinger about Hypothesis P (It is not only I who have perceptions and thoughts; other human beings have them too)–a hypothesis that underlies the possibility of doing science. For Schrödinger this hypothesis is not scientifically testable; for Carnap it is. But Schrödinger and Carnap concede too much to each other and miss an alternative understanding: science does not depend on an explicit hypothesis concerning what other human beings see and think; it is (...) simply a practice of communication which anticipates or presupposes the perfect interchangeability of positions amongst the members of the linguistic community. The mentalistic vocabulary of folk-psychology, used by Carnap and Schrödinger, does not take first but last place in this perspective; because it does nothing but express after the event the confidence to which the disputants bear witness regarding a generally successful practice of communication. (shrink)
When he formulated the program of neurophenomenology, Francisco Varela suggested a balanced methodological dissolution of the hard problem of consciousness. I show that his dissolution is a paradigm which imposes itself onto seemingly opposite views, including materialist approaches. I also point out that Varela's revolutionary epistemological ideas are gaining wider acceptance as a side effect of a recent controversy between hermeneutists and eliminativists. Finally, I emphasize a structural parallel between the science of consciousness and the distinctive features of quantum mechanics. (...) This parallel, together with the former convergences, point towards the common origin of the main puzzles of both quantum mechanics and the philosophy of mind: neglect of the constitutive blindspot of objective knowledge. (shrink)
Quantum Mechanics has imposed strain on traditional (dualist and representationalist) epistemological conceptions. An alternative was offered by Bohr and Heisenberg, according to whom natural science does not describe nature, but rather the interplay between nature and ourselves. But this was only a suggestion. In this paper, a systematic development of the Bohr-Heisenberg conception is outlined, by way of a comparison with the modern self-organizational theories of cognition. It is shown that a consistent non-representationalist (and/or relational) reading of quantum mechanics can (...) be reached thus. (shrink)
The two major options on which the current debate on the interpretation of quantum mechanics relies, namely realism and empiricism, are far from being exhaustive. There is at least one more position available, which is metaphysically as agnostic as empiricism, but which shares with realism a committment to considering the structure of theories as highly significant. The latter position has been named transcendentalism after Kant. In this paper, a generalized version of Kant's method is used. This yields a reasoning that (...) one is entitled to call a transcendental deduction of some major formal features of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
This book gives a comprehensive account of SchrÃ¶dinger's successive interpretations of quantum mechanics, culminating in their final synthesis in the 1950s. SchrÃ¶dinger's original position in the realism-anti-realism debate is analyzed. His views on the wave-corpuscle issue are contrasted with Bohr's, and his conceptions of the measurement problem are systematically compared with current no-collapse interpretations.
A complete reappraisal of the philosophical meaning of Everett's interpretation of quantum mechanics is carried out, by analysing carefully the role of the concept of "observer" in physics. It is shown that Everett's interpretation is the limiting case of a series of conceptions of the measurement problem which leave less and less of the observer out of the quantum description of the measuring interaction. This limiting case, however, should not be considered as one wherein nothing is left outside the description. (...) Something is still needed besides this description: pure cognitive capacity, the subject, or, in a very abstract sense: "mind". The set of branches which arise, according to Everett, from a measuring interaction, gain a renewed signification. They do not refer to distinct "worlds", but to the points of view "mind" can identify itself to. This idea is compared and contrasted with Squires' "selection" of a branch by the mind (without quotation marks). Finally, the notion of indeterminism in quantum mechanics gains an unexpected and new light from a strict application of the previous ideas. (shrink)
Six arguments against the view that conscious experience derives from a material basis are reviewed. These arguments arise from epistemology, phenomenology, neuropsychology, and philosophy of quantum mechanics. It turns out that any attempt at proving that conscious experience is ontologically secondary to material objects both fails and brings out its methodological and existential primacy. No alternative metaphysical view is espoused (not even a variety of Spinoza’s attractive double-aspect theory). Instead, an alternative stance, inspired from F. Varela’s neurophenomenology is advocated. This (...) unfamiliar stance involves (i) a complete redefinition of the boundary between unquestioned assumptions and relevant questions ; (ii) a descent towards the common ground of the statements of phenomenology and objective natural science : a practice motivated by the quest of an expanding circle of intersubjective agreement. (shrink)