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The Quantum Mind: Panpsychism, Physics, and Consciousness
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The Quantum Mind: Panpsychism, Physics, and Consciousness


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Panpsychism, or neutral monism, is the idea that there is only one kind of stuff: light/matter/energy/proto-consciousness. Quantum mechanics says that atoms and photons exist in a probability state if …

Panpsychism, or neutral monism, is the idea that there is only one kind of stuff: light/matter/energy/proto-consciousness. Quantum mechanics says that atoms and photons exist in a probability state if they are not being observed. Quantum physics supports panpsychism.

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    • 1. The Quantum Mind: Panpsychism, Physics and Consciousness Jed Stamas M.A. Physics, Psychology & Education, University of California, Berkeley B.S. Physics & Astronomy, Haverford College
    • 2. What is the connection between consciousness and the physical world? Part I: What is consciousness? Part II: Historical background Part III: Quantum mechanics Part IV: Ethical considerations
    • 3. The Scientistic Orthodoxy Consciousness Biology Chemistry Physics (Matter/Energy) hierarchical model
    • 4. Alternative Model Physics (Matter/Energy) Consciousness Chemistry Biology
    • 5. Alternative Model Physics (Matter/Energy) Consciousness Chemistry Biology The connection between physics and consciousness is often dismissed. However, aspects of quantum physics point in that direction.
    • 6. What is Consciousness? • Descartes (1637): “I think therefore I am.” mind vs. body • David Chalmers: the phenomenological hard problem is the experience of consciousness • awakeness • self-awareness • sensing (pansensism) • alertness vs. sleeping or day-dreaming • pure consciouess / onesness / mystical / psychedelic (James, Huxley, Hindu, Magick)
    • 7. Consciouness • David Chalmers: Say there is a zombie person who has everything we have: except the experience of consciousness. • So what the hell is consciousness?
    • 8. Philosophy of Consciousness • Idealism • Dualism • New Mysterianism • Neutral Monism / Panpsychism
    • 9. Idealism • Idealism: We project mental qualities onto the world. • Problem: physical reality does not exist Mind Matter
    • 10. Dualism • mind body • Consciousness and matter are separate • View of scientistic orthodoxy: a dualism that dismisses consciousness entirely in favor of a completely materialistic interpretation.
    • 11. New Mysterianism • wikipedia: “New Mysterianism is a philosophical position proposing that the hard problem of consciousness will never be explained; or at the least cannot be explained by the human mind at its current evolutionary stage.”
    • 12. Panpsychism Neutral Monism • Anti-dualist: there is only one kind of “stuff” • so both consciousness and physics must be explained by that “stuff” • consciousness exists on the atomic level • But physicists don’t want to study consciousness; there is resistance to the idea that it is a branch of physics.
    • 13. E = mc 2 • Modern physics is connecting light, matter, and energy together. • Shortly after the big bang, light and matter were the same stuff. • Einstein discovered that matter is energy. • Light a match, and a bit of its mass becomes light and thermal energy.
    • 14. Part II: Historical Background
    • 15. Religious History of Europe Before 500: Paganism / Animism 200-2000: Theism was the dominant view instilled by christianity in the AD period. 1776-present: emergence of Masonic, Secular Humanist, Atheist, Agnostic, Neo-pagan, Pantheist, and New Age systems.
    • 16. Animism primary philosophy worldwide prior to Western tradition Many variations: Shinto, Native American, African, Australian Spirits dwell in nature, mountains are alive, rocks are alive “Old skool” panpsychism
    • 17. Hylozyism Greek: everything is alive; life and matter are one Advocated by Empedocles, Democritus, and Stoic Philosophers. Empedocles (490-430 BCE): fire, air, water, earth; love and strife Democritus (460-370 BCE): first atomic hypothesis; thought about consciousness, ethics
    • 18. Theism Humans are the only things with souls. Mind-body duality The body is bad, the soul is good. We are “of G-d,” but animals are not. The Earth is not a higher consciousness; G-d is.
    • 19. problems resulting from Theism: genital mutilation religious wars overpopulation environmental destruction
    • 20. Atheism Sam Harris: “Atheism is not a religion or a philosophy. Rather, it is the exposure and destruction of bad ideas.” Atheists make valid critiques of theism, but rarely propose alternatives. Atheist philosophy is usually based on materialism.
    • 21. Materialism The idea that the material world is all that exists. Materialism denies the existence of the supernatural, spiritual, and the soul. How is mechanistic (world-body-machine-like) philosophy, falsely accredited to Newton, related to materialism?
    • 22. An argument against materialism According to panpsychism, there is no supernatural because the physical and consciousness are both natural. By defining “supernatural,” materialists assume dualism, then assume that consciousness cannot influence the physical. These assumptions are not supported by quantum physics.
    • 23. Mechanistic Philosophy The universe is a great big machine. Wholes (trains, bodies, planets) can be reduced to their constituent parts (reductionism) Everything is deterministic. falsely accredited to Newton Disproved by modern physics.
    • 24. Consequences of Mechanistic Materialism Matter is dead. Humans are the only things that have minds. Therefore, we can do anything we want to things without minds.
    • 25. Secular Humanism watered-down atheism; materialist influences Science became technology, and technology was integrated into human culture (economic, social, lifestyle). This caused many people to doubt theism, especially during WW2 and again in the ‘60s.
    • 26. Secular Humanism an incoherent mixture, not a philosophy advocates tolerance, but also human rights? (You can’t have both.)
    • 27. Panpsychist Alternatives Indigenous Western magick Sufism Masonic New Age Pagan / Neopagan Pantheist
    • 28. Panpsychism • “Everything is alive.” • The physical stuff (matter/energy) has psychic properties (choice or awareness). • Everything is part of the same thing; holistic, anti-reductionist, monistic
    • 29. Panpsychism • The natural world is all that exists. • The natural world, at its fundamental, atomic, quantum level, is mind-like • Quantum mechanics provides evidence of this choice making (collapsing of the wave equation / probability function)
    • 30. But rocks aren’t alive! • Ok, but both rocks and humans are made up of the same stuff. • Rocks are made up on atoms, which behave quantum mechanically. The electrons are constantly making choices. • In the brain, the same quantum mechanics causes awareness and consciousness.
    • 31. Part III: Quantum Mechanics Physics of the atom Matter and energy at the smallest scales Developed by Faraday, Einstein, Bohr, Planck, Heisenberg from 1838 to 1927.
    • 32. Quantum mechanics led to computer technology. • Applications of quantum mechanics are responsible for 1/3 of all economic activity (computers, cell phones, etc.)
    • 33. Quantum Mechanics • explains how matter and light both exhibit wave-like and particle-like characteristics.
    • 34. “Particles” such as electrons, protons, and photons all show interference patterns. • particle-like: like a ball in space; collisions can occur, but interference cannot. • wave-like: like a wave; interference (constructive and destructive) can occur.
    • 35. Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle a certain amount of uncertainty is unavoidable when making measurements of a particle’s characteristics. The particle is also wavelike, and it is impossible to to know the exact position or energy of a wave because it is spread out.
    • 36. • Although wave-particle duality also applies to matter (electrons, protons, and neutrons), for simplicity, let’s think about it in terms of light.
    • 37. Light is both a wave and a particle. The particles are called photons. The brighter the light, the more photons. The higher the frequency of the photons, the more often the electromagnetic waves vibrate, and the more energy the photons have. (E = hf)
    • 38. Shine photons on two slits, and over time an interference pattern emerges.
    • 39. Before a photon is detected, it can only be described by a probability function (wave function or superposition state). One can predict the probability of where a photon will land, but not exactly where it will land. Once a photon is detected, the wave function collapses into a real, known value. The act of detection (or observation) creates a physical reality.
    • 40. What does it mean to “detect” a photon? Open question: is a macroscopic instrument all that is necessary to detect? Or, is a conscious observer (such as a scientist) necessary? Is seems impossible to design an experiment that could test this question.
    • 41. Dr. Quantum
    • 42. Superposition According to Richard Feynman the superposition principle “has in it the heart of quantum mechanics” and is its “only mystery.”
    • 43. Light can be polarized. A filter can block out all photons which electromagnetic fields that are not in alignment with it.
    • 44. If two polarizing films are aligned in the same direction light from the first polarizer passes through the second. If the polarizers are opposed at a 90° angle, the polarized light from the first polarizer is stopped by the second.
    • 45. However, if a third polarizer is sandwiched between the two opposed polarizers at a 45° angle, some light gets through the last polarizer!
    • 46. The light passing through the diagonal polarizer is in a superposition state: 50% horizontal and 50% vertical. A superposition state is a combination of two different states. A given photon has an equal probability of being horizontal or vertical, but it does not exist either horizontal or vertical until it is observed.
    • 47. Schrodinger’s Cat • Put a cat in a box. If a particle decays, poison is released and the cat dies. In 1 hour, there is a 50% probability this will happen. • After an hour, is the cat alive or dead, or both?
    • 48. Schrodinger’s Cat • Until it is observed, the cat is in a 50% alive, 50% dead superposition state. • When you open the box, you see the cat either alive or dead.
    • 49. Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics Every event is a branch point. The cat is both alive and dead, even before the box is opened, but the "alive" and "dead" cats are in different universes, both of which are equally real, but which cannot interact with each other.
    • 50. Probability to Reality Quantum mechanics implies that the act of detection collapses a superposition state into a real, observable value. 1. What constitutes an observer / detector? 2. How often is this happening? 3. How is it related to time? 4. Is this collapse similar to a conscious choice?
    • 51. 1. What constitutes an observer / detector? We don’t know. Some interpretations say that a conscious observer is necessary. Others say that any macroscopic scientific instrument’s detection causes collapse. We don’t know if or how detection influences the state into which the atom collapses.
    • 52. 2. How often is this happening? We don’t know. For macroscopic objects, quantum collapse is happening all the time, so they are particle- like. But with the large number of atoms, it may be rare for any given atom to collapse.
    • 53. 3. How is it related to time? Ilya Progogine researched how quantum collapse is related to the directionality of time.
    • 54. 4. Is this collapse similar to a conscious choice? Hypothesis: Quantum collapse (reality creation) is the proto-consciousness that panpsychism proposes.
    • 55. Quantum Mechanics Supports Panpsychism • Panpsychism: there is only one kind of stuff, and it has mind-like properties • light, matter, and energy all exhibit wave-particle duality • When detection occurs, a superposition state collapses, “making a choice” to be a certain way.
    • 56. Animal Consciousness • Decisions made in the mind are much more complex and involve networks of neurons. • Each neuron consists of many microtubules, within which many atomic wave functions are collapsing. • Human higher consciousness occurs because atoms are mind-like. • Panpsychism is true!
    • 57. Orchestrated Objective Reduction • Developed by Penrose and Hammeroff • A paramecium does not have a brain, but it can learn • Brain processing takes place in microtubules • Quantum wave functions objectively collapse over time; this is free will consciousness
    • 58. Part IV: Ethical Considerations
    • 59. Why is this important? Even though science supports it, panpsychism is still considered to be a radical, “mystical” view. If the mainstream materialist view is not overthrown and replaced by panpsychism, the human race may go extinct.
    • 60. If the mainstream materialist view is not overthrown and replaced by panpsychism, the human race may go extinct. • Materialism has allowed the Earth’s rights to be ignored. • If one views the Earth as dead, it becomes easy to exploit. • If all things are alive as we are, we must respect them.
    • 61. with mind, with rights • 18th century: only white males with property • 21st century: adult humans* • *does not consider discrimination, racism, sexist, homophobia, human rights violations
    • 62. without mind & without rights • babies • animals • plants • the Earth • Sun & Moon • rocks & natural resources
    • 63. without mind & without rights • babies: nonconsensual genital mutilation • animals: dying and going extinct • plants: dying and going extinct • the Earth: ocean ecosystem collapse, global warming • rocks & natural resources: mountaintop removal, declining air and water quality
    • 64. Possible Future if materialism is not overthrown • Coastal flooding • Respiratory diseases • Starvation • Widespread antibiotic resistant bacteria • Nanotechnology & AI takeover
    • 65. Autonomous Participatory Panpsychism • A moral, ethical, and political philosophy • Autonomous choices are made by atoms and autonomous individuals. • Infants make fewer autonomous choices. • Children learn to make autonomous choices.
    • 66. Ethics • Adults have the freedom to make choices, as long as those choices do not impinge on other’s bodies or lives. • Holistic: the health of the Earth is important. • Living and eating requires us to kill plants and animals, but can be done in a way that is part of the ecosystem.
    • 67. • Freedom, consent = choice • Coercion = lack of autonomous choice • Ethics and morality has to do with freedom and consent.
    • 68. Economics • Corporate capitalism and materialism have had a cozy relationship. • We need a new economic system, one that rewards virtue and favors worker- owned small businesses and anarcho- syndicalist collectives that respect the environment.
    • 69. The End Love is the Law, Love Under Will