Experiments show that psi differs from known physical processes in a variety of ways, and these differences are described herein. Because of these, psi cannot be accounted for in terms of presently known physical laws. A number of theories, of which we review a sampling, suggest ways in which known physical laws might be expanded in order to account for psi. However, there is no agreement on which of these theories, if any, will ultimately provide a general explanation. A further (...) problem in studying psi is that it is elusive, i.e., methods are not presently known by which it can be reliably produced. However, if psi is real, its study can open the door to a new frontier of knowledge and contribute to our understanding of consciousness. (shrink)
The term action of consciousness is used to refer to an influence, such as psychokinesis or free will, that produces an effect on matter that is correlated to mental intention, but not completely determined by physical conditions. Such an action could not conserve energy. But in that case, one wonders why, when highly accurate measurements are done, occasions of non-conserved energy (generated perhaps by unconscious PK) are not detected. A possible explanation is that actions of consciousness take place within the (...) limits of the uncertainty principle. Two models are reviewed that, using the latter assumption, propose that consciousness can originate an action potential in the brain. One (that of Eccles) uses the latter assumption only, and the other (that of Burns) additionally assumes that consciousness acts, within those limits, by ordering quantum fluctuations. (shrink)
Recent models of consciousness are reviewed which explore the relationship of consciousness to physical laws; many of these also explore the relationship of consciousness to biological findings. Issues investigated by these models are discussed, with the issues framed in a general way in order to provide a comparison between the models. In Part I the issues discussed are: (1) What is the causal relationship between consciousness and the physical world (physicalism, dualism, etc.)? and (2) What physical characteristics are associated with (...) the interface between brain/physical world and consciousness? (shrink)
Even if all of the content of conscious experience is encoded in the brain, there is a considerable difference between the view that consciousness does independent processing and the view that it does not. If all processing is done by the brain, then conscious experience is unnecessary and irrelevant to behavior. If consciousness performs a function, then its association with particular aspects of brain processing reflect its functional use in determining behavior. However, if consciousness does perform a function, it cannot (...) be described entirely by known physical laws. Rather, even if the content of conscious experience follows physical encoding in the brain, consciousness must then be governed in part by a principle which is different from any known physical principle. (shrink)
Two forms of independent action by consciousness have been proposed by various researchers – free will and holistic processing. (Holistic processing contributes to the formation of behavior through the holistic use of brain programs and encoding.) The well-known experiment of Libet et al. (1983) implies that if free will exists, its action must consist of making a selection among alternatives presented by the brain. As discussed herein, this result implies that any physical changes mind can produce in the brain are (...) very small, and this in turn implies that holistic processing would also act to select among brain programs. The latter process would contribute to flexibility of behavior, which would therefore be an indication of the possible presence of consciousness in an animal. Because locomotion requires response to varying and unpredictable conditions, the above conclusions support the idea that simple forms of consciousness appear very early in the evolutionary line of the animal kingdom. (shrink)
It is shown that entropy increase in thermodynamic systems can plausibly be accounted for by the random action of vacuum radiation. A recent calculation by Rueda using stochastic electrodynamics (SED) shows that vacuum radiation causes a particle to undergo a rapid Brownian motion about its average dynamical trajectory. It is shown that the magnitude of spatial drift calculated by Rueda can also be predicted by assuming that the average magnitudes of random shifts in position and momentum of a particle correspond (...) to the lower limits of the uncertainty relation. The latter analysis yields a plausible expression for the shift in momentum caused by vacuum radiation. It is shown that when the latter shift in momentum is magnified in particle interactions, the fractional change in each momentum component is on the order of unity within a few collision times, for gases and (plausibly) for denser systems over a very broad range of physical conditions. So any system of particles in this broad range of conditions would move to maximum entropy, subject to its thermodynamic constraints, within a few collision times. It is shown that the spatial drift caused by vacuum radiation, as predicted by the above SED calculation, can be macroscopic in some circumstances, and an experimental test of this effect is proposed. Consistency of the above results with quantum mechanics is discussed, and it is shown that the diffusion constant associated with the above Brownian drift is the same as that used in stochastic interpretations of the Schrödinger equation. (shrink)
The possibility of empirical test is discussed with respect to three issues: (1) What is the ontological relationship between consciousness and the brain/physical world? (2) What physical characteristics are associated with the mind/brain interface? (3) Can consciousness act on the brain independently of any brain process?
It is not known whether consciousness can affect the physical world, as a result of a free will action or in some other way. To do so, it must be able to produce physical changes that cannot be accounted for by physical laws, an ability we will refer to as causal action, and several issues relevant to this possibility are discussed. 1) Until recently it was thought that the conservation laws of physics would prohibit causal action. It has now been (...) found that such is not the case, but other problems remain. 2) Observations of brain activity show that most of the process for determining a decision is done by the brain. However, the question of whether the final determination is done by mind or the brain is still open. The issue then arises that given the large amount of processing the brain can do, why would mind do this final step and if it does, why would the amount done by mind be so small? (shrink)
Vacuum radiation causes a particle to make a random walk about its dynamical trajectory. In this random walk the root mean square change in spatial coordinate is proportional to t 1/2, and the fractional changes in momentum and energy are proportional to t −1/2, where t is time. Thus the exchange of energy and momentum between a particle and the vacuum tends to zero over time. At the end of a mean free path the fractional change in momentum of a (...) particle in a gas is very small. However, at the end of the mean free path each particle undergoes an interaction that magnifies the preceding change, and the net result is that the momentum distribution of the particles in a gas is randomized in a few collision times. In this way the random action of vacuum radiation and its subsequent magnification by molecular interaction produces entropy increase. This process justifies the assumption of molecular chaos used in the Boltzmann transport equation. (shrink)
It is assumed that mental action, such as free will, exists, and an exploration is made of its relationship to the brain, physical laws, and evolutionary selection. If the assumption is made that all content of conscious experience is encoded in the brain, it follows that free will must act as process only. This result is consistent with the experimental results of Libet and others that if free will exists, it must act by making a selection between alternatives provided by (...) the brain. Also, proposals for some additional actions of consciousness, besides free will, are reviewed. The use of mental action by consciousness is not in accord with presently known physics, in which physical changes are either deterministic or random, and an extension would have to be made to known physics to account for physical changes produced by such an action. However, such an extension could be fairly simple in overview, such as the assumption that consciousness can produce the ordering of randomness. Examples of several such theories are given. If consciousness can make selections among programs in the brain/nervous system, and thereby contribute to the formation of behavior, less programming would be needed, especially in situations affected by a variety of types of factors. For this reason consciousness might be present early in the evolutionary line for animals that explore new territory. Emotions and cognitive ability, even though determined by the brain, could be viewed as “choice guiders,” and for this reason their presence in an animal would indicate the presence of consciousness. (shrink)
A new event is defined as an intervention in the time reversible dynamical trajectories of particles in a system. New events are then assumed to be quantum fluctuations in the spatial and momentum coordinates, and mental action is assumed to work by ordering such fluctuations. It is shown that when the cumulative values of such fluctuations in a mean free path of a molecule are magnified by molecular interaction at the end of that path, the momentum of a molecule can (...) be changed from its original direction to any other direction. In this way mental action can produce effects through the ordering of thermal motions. Examples are given which show that the ordering of 10^4 10^5 molecules is sufficient to (a) produce detectible PK results and (b) open sufficient ion channels in the brain to initiate a physical action. The relationship of the above model to the arrow of time is discussed. (shrink)
It is shown that if mental influence can change a position or momentum coordinate within the limits of the uncertainty principle, such change, when magnified by a single interaction, is sufficient to order the direction of traveling molecules. Mental influence could initiate an action potential in the brain through this process by using the impact of ordered molecules to open the gates of sodium channels in neuronal membranes. It is shown that about 80 ordered molecules, traveling at thermal velocity in (...) the intercellular medium in the brain, can break an ionic or covalent bond, and that the number needed to initiate an action potential is relatively small. If mental influence can act within the brain, it is reasonable to suppose it can act to some extent outside of it. If mental influence could not only order the direction of individual molecules, but coordinate this effect to produce a longitudinal pressure wave which is reasonably coherent across a macroscopic surface, only 10^4 molecules need be simultaneously affected to produce a detectible sound wave. Such an effect is not ordinarily observed, which suggests that if mental influence acts by ordering the direction of molecules, it acts at the level of individual molecules, but does not coordinate their motion. (shrink)
The concept of free will is central to our lives, as we make day-to-day decisions, and to our culture, in our ethical and legal systems. The very concept implies that what we choose can produce a change in our physical environment, whether by pressing a switch to turn out electric lights or choosing a long-term plan of action which can affect many people. Yet volition is not a part of presently known physical laws and it is not even known whether (...) it exists -- no physics experiments have ever established its presence. The purpose of this article is to make two points: first, that free will cannot be accounted for by presently known physical laws and second, that if free will exists, any description of its effects in the physical world would necessarily constitute a radical addition to presently known physical laws. (shrink)
Recent models of consciousness are reviewed which explore the relationship of consciousness to physical laws; many of these also explore the relationship of consciousness to biological findings. Issues investigated by these models are discussed, with the issues framed in a general way in order to provide a comparison between the models. In Part II the issues discussed include: Does all of the information content of consciousness correspond to neural coding in the brain? Does consciousness follow the brain passively, or can (...) it act independently? Is independent processing by consciousness compatible with the second law of thermodynamics? (shrink)
Résistance(s) réunit un ensemble de contributions scientifiques originales émanant de chercheurs en sciences humaines et sociales et consacré à la ou aux résistance(s). La résistance décrit les capacités de refus, d'évitement et d'adaptation développées par les acteurs lorsqu'ils sont confrontés à une imposition externe ou à une injonction institutionnelle. Elle se présente comme une interprétation des refus, des éventuelles ruses voire des conflits ouverts qui s'expriment dans une telle situation ; cette interprétation diffère cependant de sa simple manifestation dans la (...) mesure où elle recadre la rationalité et le bien-fondé de l'action ou de la réaction. Il n'est plus question d'y voir l'immaturité d'une population ou le sous-développement d'une nation incapable d'offrir une réponse adéquate à une tension du monde ou à une décision dont elles seraient l'objet. Au contraire, cette réponse est analysée comme pertinente dans le cadre précis de cette population ou de cette nation: ramener l'interaction à son cadre, intégrer dans sa perception les logiques endogènes qui ont présidé à son élaboration, affirmer la simple présence de telles logiques, c'est-à-dire d'une telle cohérence, revient à accepter l'idée même de cette résistance qui, intrinsèquement, exprime ainsi l'existence et la reconnaissance d'une réelle diversité."--Page 4 of cover. (shrink)
In three experiments we tested hypotheses derived from the goal specificity literature using a real-world physics task. In the balance-scale paradigm participants predict the state of the apparatus based on a configuration of weights at various distances from the fulcrum. Non-specific goals (NSG) have been shown to encourage hypothesis testing, which facilitates rule discovery, whereas specific goals (SG) do not. We showed that this goal specificity effect depends on task difficulty. The NSG strategy led to rule induction among some participants. (...) Among non-discoverers, SG participants were faster and more accurate on difficult problems than NSG participants. The use of misleading exemplars (scale configurations that obscured the rule governing outcomes) led to fixation on inappropriate hypotheses for NSG but not SG participants. When more diagnostic learning exemplars were used, NSG non-discoverers still performed worse than SG participants on difficult problems. SG participants also outperformed NSG participants on a post-test of difficult problems. These findings qualify the generality of goal specificity effects. (shrink)
"In the 12 case studies in this treasure of a book, various authors examine the critical, direction-finding moments in the work of such individuals as Charles Darwin, Jean Piaget, Robert Burns Woodward, William James, Anais Nin, and others." --Virginia Quarterly Review.
The discourse marker use of the word like is considered by many to be superfluously sprinkled into talk, a bad habit best avoided. But a comparison of the use of like in successive tellings of stories demonstrates that like can be anticipated in advance and planned into stories. In this way, like is similar to other words and phrases tellers recycle during story telling. The anticipation of like contrasted with the uses of other discourse markers such as oh, you know, (...) and well, which almost never re-occurred in similar locations across tellings. Um and uh did sometimes re-occur; these uses are contrasted with like. Although discourse markers are generally used on the fly to handle various issues that come up in coordinating talk as it unfolds, like can be used as an integral part of the story -a marked contrast to the prevalent idea that likes are speech tics. (shrink)
L'Université de Paris, foyer primitif de l'humanisme.--Erasme de Rotterdam, père de l'humanisme.--Voltaire et "le siècle des lumières."--Goethe, événement européen et non pas allemand.--Nietzsche, éducateur et prophète.--Le message de Carl Spitteler à notre temps.--Rilke, "le nouvel Orphée.--La catastrophe mondiale et le bon Européen de l'avenir.
Margaret Brazier has argued that, in the literature on reproductive technology, women's “right” to reproduce is privileged, pushed, and subordinated to patriarchal values in such a way that it amounts to women's old “duty” to reproduce, dressed up in modern guise. I agree that there are patriarchal assumptions made in discussions of whether women have a right to select which embryos to implant or which fetuses to carry to term. Forcing ourselves to see women as active, rational decisionmakers tends to (...) counteract any lingering patriarchal assumptions. But rational decisionmaking requires information. Voting wisely requires information about the candidates. Taking women's reproductive rights seriously means taking seriously women's need for relevant information to make rational decisions, including decisions about which embryos to implant or alter. I argue that preimplantation genetic profiles and prenatal test information should be made available to prospective parents, especially prospective mothers, unless doing so threatens to harm the resulting child or the larger society in specifiable and important ways. (shrink)