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Some perils of quantum consciousness. Epistemological pan-experientialism and the emergence-submergence of consciousness

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If consciousness emerges into ontological reality at some point in nature, as system complexity increases, then it also ‘submerges’ at some adjoining point, as structures simplify. This has led some to posit a ‘latent-consciousness’ in what Bohr saw as the consciousness-like spontaneity of quantum phenomena. Yet to move on this basis to Whitehead's ontological pan-experientialism or to direct quantum explanations of consciousness (Hameroff and Penrose) faces serious epistemological limitations -- perhaps being more unwittingly projective than genuinely explanatory. More reasonable would be an epistemological pan- experientialism in the sense of the later James. Consciousness, as the ultimate lens and medium of all knowledge, is inseparable from the physical reality it would know, especially at the very limits of empirical observation in microphysics. ‘Submerged’ consciousness is better understood in Jamesian pragmatic terms than via assumed but unprovable ontologies.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Pychology, Brock University, St Catherine's, Ontario, L2S 3A1 Canada. Email:

Publication date: 2001-09-01

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