Quantum Interactive Dualism: An Alternative to Materialism
Rene Descartes proposed an interactive dualism that posits an interaction between the mind of a human being and some of the matter located in his or her brain. Isaac Newton subsequently formulated a physical theory based exclusively on the material/physical part of Descartes' ontology. Newton's theory enforced the principle of the causal closure of the physical, and the classical physics that grew out of it enforces this same principle. This classical theory purports to give, in principle, a complete deterministic account of the physically described properties of nature, expressed exclusively in terms of these physically described properties themselves. Orthodox contemporary physical theory violates this principle in two separate ways. First, it injects random elements into the dynamics. Second, it allows, and also requires, abrupt probing actions that disrupt the mechanistically described evolution of the physically described systems. These probing actions are called Process 1 interventions by von Neumann. They are psycho-physical events. Neither the content nor the timing of these events is determined either by any known law, or by the afore- mentioned random elements. Orthodox quantum mechanics considers these events to be instigated by choices made by conscious agents. In von Neumann's formulation of quantum theory each such intervention acts upon the state of the brain of some conscious agent. Thus orthodox von Neumann contemporary physics posits an interactive dualism similar to that of Descartes. But in this quantum version the effects of the conscious choices upon our brains are controlled, in part, by the known basic rules of quantum physics. This theoretically specified mind-brain connection allows many basic psychological and neuropsychological findings associated with the apparent physical effectiveness of our conscious volitional efforts to be explained in a causal and practically useful way. The intent of this paper is to give an updated account of the author's developing theory that is clearer than before, focused on the positive, and suitable for non-specialist readers.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA., Email: [email protected]
Publication date: 01 January 2005