Quantum Physics & Dualism:
Is Orthodox Quantum Physics consonant with a Plausible Dualism?
The problem of the relation between mind and body is well known as a
difficult `world knot'. Over the centuries various monistic and dualistic
theories have been proposed, and the subject has had renewed interest as we try
to assimilate the implications of quantum physics. These implications may make
us re-examine our views of brains and bodies, but it is still not clear what
consequences they have for our understanding of minds. We may suspect that
quantum mechanics and consciousness are related, but the details are not at all
More detail ..
- In context of Mind-Body Dualism:
Henry Stapp (home,
proposes that minds select the times of probabilistic 'measurement'
events, but not directly the probability outcomes:
Mind, Matter and Quantum
Mechanics, 1993 (2nd
ed, 2004, 3rd ed.,
Classical Mechanics Cannot Naturally Accommodate Consciousness but Quantum
Mechanics Can, 1995.
Quantum theory and the
role of mind in nature, 2001,
Quantum physics in
neuroscience and psychology: a neurophysical model of mind/brain interaction,
2004. (pub, cc)
Quantum Interactive Dualism: An Alternative to Materialism, 2005; also at
Clarifications and Specifications: Conversation with H. Atmanspacher,
JCS 13 (2006) 67
"The Mindful Universe",
Physicalism Versus Quantum Mechanics
Searle's "Dualism Revisted" (Searle
The Effect of Mind upon
Brain (cc: pdf,
Contemporary Physical Theory with Personality Survival (cc)
Quantum Duality (cc)
For counter arguments to Stapp, see
- Matthew Donald, On the Work of Henry P.
Stapp, 2003 (cc),
and Stapp's reply.
- David Bourget,
Leaps in Philosophy of Mind, (JCS 11, Dec 2004,
cc), and Stapp's reply (JCS 11,
Dec 04, cc)
- Kirk Ludwig,
Difference Between Quantum and Classical Physics is Irrelevant to the
Mind/Body Problem, (Psyche, 2(16), 1995) (cc).
Brian D. Josephson and Fotini Pallikari-Viras,
Utilisation of Quantum NonLocality (list),
Brian D. Josephson, Beyond
quantum theory: a realist psycho-biological interpretation of reality'
propose that biosystems may have evolved to exploit patterns of events which
appear random to physics.
- Jean Burns,
The Action of Consciousness and the Uncertainty Principle (cc)
- Stuart Hameroff and Deepak Chopra,
The “Quantum Soul”: A Scientific Hypothesis (cc,cc)
- David Hodgson, The Mind Matters - Consciousness and Choice in a Quantum World, 1993.
- Rüdiger Vaas,
Why Quantum Correlates of Consciousness Are Fine, But Not Enough (cc)
- D.E. Klemm and W.H. Klink,
Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics: Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics:
Opting from Alternatives (scribd,
- E.H. Walker,
Dualism, Causal Loops in Time, and the Quantum Observer Theory of
- In context of Divine-Nature Dualism
(essentially the same questions
Quantum Physics may be indeterministic about the detailed choices between
differerent outcomes for some classes of microscopic events, namely decoherent
measurements, but it is not completely arbitary. Rather, it makes very
precise predictions for the probabilities of those outcomes, and,
furthermore, the evolution of these probability distributions is completely
Either dualist input influences the choice of when decohering measurements
occur (as Stapp suggests), or it changes the probabiliities of different outcomes
(as Saunders et al also consider). In the first
case, the range of influence is extremely limited, and hardly plausible in a
dualist theory. In the second case, the dualist input change the probability
rules of quantum physics, in just the same way as dualist input would have to
change Newton's laws of motion if it were to influence classical systems.
We conclude therefore, with Saunders and Brecha, that it is very doubtful
that any dualist or divine input into the operation of the natural world
proceeds by exploiting the small residual indeterminism of quantum physics.
Dualist control in quantum physics is no easier than in classical physics. That
is, any influence of a dual degree must affect those properties of objects that
are also measured by physics.
The challenge, therefore, is to find a coherent theory which explains what,
how, when and why those physical properties are changed.