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The hard problem: a quantum approach

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[opening paragraph]: In his keynote paper David Chalmers defines ‘the hard problem’ by posing certain ‘Why’ questions about consciousness? Such questions must be posed within an appropriate setting. The way of science is to try to deduce the answer to many such questions from a few well defined assumptions. Much about nature can be explained in terms of the principles of classical mechanics. The assumptions, in this explanatory scheme, are that the world is composed exclusively of particles and fields governed by specified mathematical laws that refer neither to any individual person, nor to anyone’s experiences. These physical laws are supposed to be such that particles and fields, acting in concert, can form causally efficacious real functional entities such as driveshafts and propellers. Similarly, surges of electrical and mechanical activity in appropriately designed material substrates, composed of particles and fields acting in concert, could implement, in the world of matter, complex functional structures and long sequences of logical operations. Thus it is conceivable that all of our behaviour, and all of the internal processing that occurs in our bodies and brains could be deduced, at least in principle, from the principles of classical mechanics and appropriate boundary conditions.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Theoretical Physics Group, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720.

Publication date: March 1, 1996


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