A number of researchers today make an appeal to quantum physics when trying to develop a satisfactory account of the mind, an appeal still felt to be controversial by many. Often these "quantum approaches" try to explain some well-known features of conscious experience (or mental processes more generally), thus using quantum physics to enrich the explanatory framework or explanans used in consciousness studies and cognitive science. This paper considers the less studied question of whether quantum physical intuitions could help us (...) to draw attention to new or neglected aspects of the mind in introspection, and in this way change our view about what needs explanation in the first place. Although prima facie implausible, it is suggested that this could happen, for example, if there were analogies between quantum processes and mental processes (e.g., the process of thinking). The naive idea is that such analogies would help us to see mental processes and conscious experience in a new way. It has indeed been proposed long ago that such analogies exist, and this paper first focuses at some length on David Bohm's formulation of them from 1951. It then briefly considers these analogies in relation to Smolensky's more recent analogies between cognitive science and physics, and Pylkko's aconceptual view of the mind. Finally, Bohm's early analogies will be briefly considered in relation to the analogies between quantum processes and the mind he proposed in his later work. -/- [This article is a modified version of an article that was first published in the anthology Being and Brain: At the Boundary between Science, Philosophy, Language and Arts, ed. by G. Globus, K. Pribram and G. Vitiello, Advances in Consciousness Research 58, John Benjamins, Amsterdam 2004, pp. 165-195.]. (shrink)
A number of researchers today make an appeal to quantum physics when trying to develop a satisfactory account of the mind, an appeal still felt to be controversial by many. Often these "quantum approaches" try to explain some well-known features of conscious experience (or mental processes more generally), thus using quantum physics to enrich the explanatory framework or explanans used in consciousness studies and cognitive science. This paper considers the less studied question of whether quantum physical intuitions could help us (...) to draw attention to new or neglected aspects of the mind in introspection, and in this way change our view about what needs explanation in the rst place. Although prima facie implausible, it is suggested that this could happen, for example, if there were analogies between quantum processes and mental processes (e.g., the process of thinking). The naive idea is that such analogies would help us to see mental processes and conscious experience in a new way. It has indeed been proposed long ago that such analogies exist, and this paper rst focuses at some length on David Bohm's formulation of them from 1951. It then briefly considers these analogies in relation to Smolensky's more recent analogies between cognitive science and physics, and Pylkko's aconceptual view of the mind. Finally, Bohm's early analogies will be briefly considered in relation to the analogies between quantum processes and the mind he proposed in his later work. (shrink)
The theme of phenomenology and quantum physics is here tackled by examining some basic interpretational issues in quantum physics. One key issue in quantum theory from the very beginning has been whether it is possible to provide a quantum ontology of particles in motion in the same way as in classical physics, or whether we are restricted to stay within a more limited view of quantum systems, in terms of complementary but mutually exclusive phenomena. In phenomenological terms we could describe (...) the situation by saying that according to the usual interpretation of quantum theory, quantum phenomena require a kind of epoche. However, there are other interpretations that seem to re-establish the possibility of a mind-independent ontology at the quantum level. We will show that even such ontological interpretations contain novel, non-classical features, which require them to give a special role to “phenomena” or “appearances”, a role not encountered in classical physics. We will conclude that while ontological interpretations of quantum theory are possible, quantum theory implies the need of a certain kind of epoche even for this type of interpretations. While different from the epoche connected to phenomenological description, the “quantum epoche” nevertheless points to a potentially interesting parallel between phenomenology and quantum philosophy. (shrink)
Bohm and Hiley suggest that a certain new type of active information plays a key objective role in quantum processes. This paper discusses the implications of this suggestion to our understanding of the relation between the mental and the physical aspects of reality.
Ladyman and Ross argue that quantum objects are not individuals and use this idea to ground their metaphysical view, ontic structural realism, according to which relational structures are primary to things. LR acknowledge that there is a version of quantum theory, namely the Bohm theory, according to which particles do have denite trajectories at all times. However, LR interpret the research by Brown et al. as implying that "raw stuff" or haecceities are needed for the individuality of particles of BT, (...) and LR dismiss this as idle metaphysics. In this paper we note that Brown et al.'s research does not imply that haecceities are needed. Thus BT remains as a genuine option for those who seek to understand quantum particles as individuals. However, we go on to discuss some problems with BT which led Bohm and Hiley to modify it. This modified version underlines that, due to features such as context-dependence and non-locality, Bohmian particles have a very limited autonomy in situations where quantum effects are non-negligible. So while BT restores the possibility of quantum individuals, it also underlines the primacy of the whole over the autonomy of the parts. The later sections of the paper also examine the Bohm theory in the general mathematical context of symplectic geometry. This provides yet another way of understanding the subtle, holistic and dynamic nature of Bohmian individuals. We finally briefly consider Bohm's other main line of research, the "implicate order", which is in some ways similar to LR's structural realism. (shrink)
Western philosophy and science have a strongly dualistic tradition regarding the mental and physical aspects of reality, which makes it difficult to understand their possible causal relations. In recent debates in cognitive neuroscience it has been common to claim on the basis of neural experiments that conscious experiences are causally inefficacious. At the same time there is much evidence that consciousness does play an important role in guiding behavior. The author explores whether a new way of understanding the causal role (...) of mental states and consciousness could be provided by the ontological interpretation of the quantum theory (Bohm and Hiley, Phys. Rep. 144:323–348, 1987; Bohm and Hiley, The undivided universe: An ontological interpretation of quantum theory. Routledge: London, 1993). This interpretation radically changes our notion of matter by suggesting that a new type of active information plays a causal role at the quantum level of reality. The author thus considers to what extent the alleged causal powers of consciousness involve information, and then moves on to consider whether information in (conscious) mental states can be connected to the information at the level of quantum physics. In this way he sketches how quantum theory might help to throw light upon one of the grand challenges facing the social sciences and the humanities, namely the question of whether consciousness plays any genuine causal role in the physical world. (shrink)
This accessible and easy-to-follow book offers a new approach to consciousness. The author’s eclectic style combines new physics-based insights with those of analytical philosophy, phenomenology, cognitive science and neuroscience. He proposes a view in which the mechanistic framework of classical physics and neuroscience is complemented by a more holistic underlying framework in which conscious experience finds its place more naturally.
Mainstream cognitive neuroscience typically ignores the role of quantum physical effects in the neural processes underlying cogni¬tion and consciousness. However, many unsolved problems remain, suggesting the need to consider new approaches. We propose that quantum theory, especially through an ontological interpretation due to Bohm and Hiley, provides a fruitful framework for addressing the neural correlates of cognition and consciousness. In particular, the ontological interpretation suggests that a novel type of 'active information', connected with a novel type of 'quantum potential energy', (...) plays a key role in quantum physical processes. After introducing the ontological interpretation we illustrate its value for cognitive neuroscience by discussing it in the light of a proposal by Beck and Eccles about how quantum tunneling could play a role in controlling the frequency of synaptic exocytosis. In this proposal, quantum tunneling would enable the 'self' to control its brain without violating the energy conservation law. We argue that the ontological interpretation provides a sharper picture of what actually could be taking place in quantum tunneling in general and in synaptic exocytosis in particular. Based on the notions of active information and quantum potential energy, we propose a coherent way of understanding how mental processes (understood as involving non-classical physical processes) can act on traditional, classically describable neural processes without violating the energy conservation law. (shrink)
Recent advances in the field of quantum cognition suggest a puzzling connection between fundamental physics and the mind. Many researchers see quantum ideas and formalisms merely as useful pragmatic tools, and do not look for deeper underlying explanations for why they work. However, others are tempted to seek for an intelligible explanation for why quantum ideas work to model cognition. This paper first draws attention to how the physicist David Bohm already in 1951 suggested that thought and quantum processes are (...) analogous, adding that this could be explained if some neural processes underlying thought involved non-negligible quantum effects. The paper next points out that the idea that there is a connection between fundamental physics and the mind is not unique to quantum theory, but was there already when Newtonian physics was assumed to be fundamental physics, advocated most notably by Kant. Kant emphasized the unique intelligibility of a Newtonian notion of experience, and this historical background prompts us to ask in the final part of the paper whether we can really make sense of any quantum-like experience. It is proposed that intelligibility is a relative notion and that, regardless of initial difficulties, quantum approaches to cognition and consciousness are likely to provide valuable new ways of understanding the mind. (shrink)
This paper explores the theme “quantum approaches to consciousness” by considering the work of one of the pioneers in the field. The physicist David Bohm not only made important contributions to quantum physics, but also had a long-term interest in interpreting the results of quantum physics and relativity in order to develop a general world view. His idea was further that living and mental processes could be understood in a new, scientifically and philosophically more coherent way in the context of (...) such a new world view. This paper gives a brief overview of different – and sometimes contradictory - aspects of Bohm’s research programme, and evaluates how they can be used to give an account of topics of interest in contemporary consciousness studies, such as analogies between thought and quantum processes, the problem of mental causation, the mind-body problem and the problem of time consciousness. (shrink)
This article deals with women-centred prose texts of the 1990s and 2000s in Russia written by women, and focuses especially on generation narratives. By this term the author means fictional texts that explore generational relations within families, from the perspective of repressed experiences, feelings and attitudes in the Soviet period. The selected texts are interpreted as narrating and conceptualizing the consequences of patriarchal ideology for relations between mothers and daughters and for reconstructing connections between Soviet and post-Soviet by revisiting and (...) remembering especially the gaps and discontinuities between (female) generations. The cases discussed are Liudmila Petrushevskaia’s ‘povest’ Vremia noch [The Time: Night] (1991), Liudmila Ulitskaia’s novel Medeia i ee deti [Medea and her Children] (1996) and Elena Chizhova’s novel Vremia zhenshchin [The Time of Women] (2009). These novels reflect on the one hand the woman-centredness and novelty of representation in women’s prose writing in the post-Soviet period. On the other hand, the author suggests that they reflect the diverse methods of representing the Soviet era and experience through generation narratives. The texts reassess the past through intimate, tactile memories and perceptions, and their narration through generational plots draws attention to the process of working through, which needs to be done in contemporary Russia. The narratives touch upon the untold stories of those who suffered in silence or hid the family secrets from the officials, in order to save the family. The narration delves into the different layers of experience and memory, conceptualizing them in the form of multiple narrative perspectives constructing different generations and traditions. In this way they convey the ‘secrets’ hidden in the midst of everyday life routines and give voice to the often silent resistance of women towards patriarchal and repressive ideology. The new women’s prose of the 1980s–90s and the subsequent trend of women-centred narratives and generation narratives employ conceptual metaphors of reassessing, revisiting and remembering the cultural, experiential, and emotional aspects of the past, Soviet lives. (shrink)
-/- Panpsychism is often thought to be an obviously mistaken doctrine, because it is considered to be completely inconceivable how the elementary particles of physics could possibly have proto-mental properties. This paper points out that quantum theory implies that elementary particles are far more subtle and strange than most contemporary physicalist philosophers assume. The discusses David Bohm’s famous “pilot wave” theory which implies that, say, an electron is a particle guided by a field carrying active information, the latter of which (...) can be seen as a primitive mind-like quality. (shrink)
_"It was sheer chance that I encountered David Bohm's writing in 1958... I knew nothing about him. What struck me about his work and prompted my initial letter was his underlying effort to seek for some larger sense of reality, which seemed a very humanized search." - __Charles Biederman, from the foreword of the book This book marks the beginning of a four thousand page correspondence between Charles Biederman, founder of Constructivism in the 1930s, and David Bohm the prestigious physicist (...) known for his interpretation of quantum theory. Available for the first time, we are given a rare opportunity to read through and engage in a remarkable transatlantic, intellectual discussion on art and science, creativity and theory._. (shrink)
The paper explores whether David Bohm’ s proposal about quantum theoretical active information, and the mind-matter scheme he developed on the basis of it, can help us to explain consciousness. Here it is important to acknowledge that other researchers in philosophy of mind and consciousness studies have also made use of the concept of information in their theories of mind and consciousness. For example, Dretske and Barwise and Seligman have explored the possibility that information in the sense of factual semantic (...) contents can be grounded in environmental information. For Dretske this was an important part of his attempts to give a naturalistic account of sensory experiences, qualia and consciousness. During recent years the notion of information has been used to explain consciousness most notably by David Chalmers, as well as by Giulio Tononi and his co-workers. The strategy of this paper will be to first describe Bohm’ s mind-matter scheme, and then to briefl y consider Chalmers’ and Tononi et al.’ s ideas in the light of this scheme. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant famously thought that the presuppositions of Newtonian physics are the necessary conditions of the possibility of experience in general – both “outer” and “inner” experience. Today we know, of course, that Newtonian physics only applies to a limited domain of physical reality and is radically inadequate in the quantum and relativistic domains. This gives rise to an interesting question: could the radical changes in physics suggest new conditions for the possibility of experience? In other words, does post-Newtonian physics (...) suggest a post-Kantian view of human experience? (shrink)
This paper briefly discusses some of David Bohm’s views on mind and matter and suggests that they allow for a stronger possibility for conscious free will to influence quantum dynamics than Henry Stapp’s approach.
This article discusses the prospects of quantum psychiatry from a Bohmian point of view, which provides an ontological interpretation of quantum theory, and extends such ontology to include mind. At first, we discuss the more general relevance of quantum theory to psychopathology. The basic idea is that because quantum theory emphasizes the role of wholeness, it might be relevant to psychopathology, where breakdown of unity in the mental domain is a key feature. We then discuss the role of information in (...) psychopathology, and consider the connections with quantum theory in this area. In particular, we discuss David Bohm’s notion of active information, which arises in the ontological interpretation of quantum theory, and is suggested to play a fundamental role as the bridge between mind and matter. Some such bridge is needed if we are to understand how subtle mental properties are able to influence more manifest physical properties in the brain (all the way to the molecular and possibly microtubular level), and how changes in those possibly quantum‐level physical processes are able to influence higher cognitive functions. We also consider the implications of the notion of active information for psychopathology. The prospects of implementing the Bohmian scheme in neuroquantal terms are then briefly considered. Finally, we discuss some possible therapeutic implications of Bohm’s approach to information and the relation of mind and matter. (shrink)
The received view in physicalist philosophy of mind assumes that causation can only take place at the physical domain and that the physical domain is causally closed. It is often thought that this leaves no room for mental states qua mental to have a causal influence upon the physical domain, leading to epiphenomenalism and the problem of mental causation. However, in recent philosophy of causation there has been growing interest in a line of thought that can be called causal antifundamentalism: (...) causal notions cannot play a role in physics, because the fundamental laws of physics are radically different from causal laws. Causal anti-fundamentalism seems to challenge the received view in physicalist philosophy of mind and thus raises the possibility of there being genuine mental causation after all. This paper argues that while causal anti-fundamentalism provides a possible route to mental causation, we have reasons to think that it is incorrect. Does this mean that we have to accept the received view and give up the hope of genuine mental causation? I will suggest that the ontological interpretation of quantum theory provides us both with a view about the nature of causality in fundamental physics, as well as a view how genuine mental causation can be compatible with our fundamental (quantum) physical ontology. (shrink)
Examples from Chinese, Thai, and Finnish illustrate why researchers cannot always be confident about the precise nature of the word unit. Understanding ambiguities regarding where a word begins and ends, and how to model word recognition when many derivations of a word are possible, is essential for universal theories of reading applied to both developing and expert readers.