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Conditional Support For Henry Stapp's New Approach


Having just written a very critical essay, refuting Henry Stapp's claims to be presenting either the views of von Neumann or Bohr, I must balance that criticism with a conditional support for Henry's new approach as described in his new book, which is on his webpage. That approach he characterizes as tantamount to an absolute knowledge approach, which means, according to him, that physics is founded upon consensus or collective knowledge. While this is NOT the approach of von Neumann or Bohr, I think it is one of the offshoots of Copenhagen spawned by the genius of Werner Heisenberg, who sat on the fence with respect to the Copenhagen interpretation and was only nominally a Copenhagenist, sharing in fact many of the views of the Princeton alliance of Einstein and von Neumann, most especially the view that "quantum theory does not contain genuine subjective features".

Bohr's view was solidly based on the psychology of James and the phenomenology of Kant, and therefore did contain "genuine subjective features". Pauli's version of Copenhagen, based on the psychology of Jung, was much more consistent with Bohr's actual view, while Heisenberg's version, based on Plato, Aristotle, and Neoplatonism, diverged significantly and thereby holds the promise of a synthesis with the Princeton and Gottingen interpretations, provided that it does not lead first to terminal confusion. So, the point is that one should really distinguish at least five interpretations of quantum mechanics: Copenhagen, Zurich, Munich, Gottingen, and Princeton.

These are all ontological interpretations, although the Munich interpretation of Heisenberg diverges in all directions to include not only the post-modern views of Bohm, Stapp, and Everett, but also the etiological (lower, but not lowest, causal) view in which Stapp now believes that he has found a synthesis. Von Neumann's view actually involved the lowest causal principle, still within the ontological framework, insofar as he reduced all the extra-physical elements of the observational process to the physical world, where they were entirely governed by the Schrodinger Equation, except for the null set which came to represent the "abstract 'ego'". The term *abstract* should make clear that this is not regarded as a "genuine subjective feature", but an abstraction in common with the entire noumenal description of nature, which we can only know by inference through a free invention of the human mind. Bohr's view, based on the phenomenal reduction rather than the physical reduction, involves the higher causal principle of the sixth or causal world.

Stapp's new view involves an intermediate causal principle, which is the central axis of symmetry in a fourfold system of worlds that look like: physical, astral, causal, mental, etheric or etheric, mental, causal, astral, physical. To give a sense of this, in the latter case, the state vector is mental, the substance it refers to is causal, the wave aspect of that substance is astral, and the particle aspect of that substance is physical. In the former case, the potential for an actual event is causal, the actual event is astral, and the material base for the other forms of actualization, other than the efficient cause in the causal and astral worlds, is physical. There are two other folds in this system of worlds, which constitute on the one hand the contact function of the senses and on the other hand the realm of absolute knowledge, now employed by Stapp.

There is indeed a reason that the particular fold of the system of worlds constituting the contact function of the senses should represent the state vector reduction, and it has to do with Bohr's notion of "closure" of the experiment. In any case, it is possible that the synthesis of these ideas, state vector substance, potential actual event, and state vector reduction, should occur in the fourth fold of the system of worlds, which is now employed by Stapp. Moreover, this world could be regarded as a type of reconstituted classical-like world, because in this world the whole brain might be regarded as physical, while the networks and neurons would be causal, and the synaptic junctions would be etheric. In the ontological system of worlds, as William James recognized, only the microscopic atomic elements of the synaptic junctions can be regarded as physical in the quantum sense and the whole brain must be regarded as mental.

The consensus knowledge or collective knowledge is known as *alaya-vijnana*, or the storehouse consciousness. In Jungian terms, this would be the collective unconscious. The absolute knowledge is called *jnana* and indeed it resonates with the phenomenal description of Niels Bohr as reflected in the mental world of the ontological system of worlds. So, Stapp's new framework, when properly contextualized, does indeed have the potential for a type of synthesis of the phenomenal and noumenal approaches. Whether it is the ultimate synthesis, for which we seek, remains to be seen, but I very much doubt it, since it is only an offshoot stemming from the highly creative but maverick views of Heisenberg. It could be part of the grand synthesis, however, once the whole metaphysical structure unearthed by the discovery of quantum theory is acknowledged in all of its glory. Until then, the utter confusion of the quantum muddle shall continue to reign supreme.

To go a bit deeper into this, in their respective stations within the ontological system of worlds, it is rather like Bohr is the first person of the Godhead, and Pauli is the second person of the Godhead, while Heisenberg is either the evil spirit or the holy spirit, depending on whether you think he was a Nazi or an anti-Nazi. In either case, it is like: "I have a system of worlds of my own". Heisenberg's own system of worlds is the nomological system of worlds pertaining to his unified field. Heisenberg is also the source, however, of the three divergent post-modern views of Bohm, Stapp, and Everett. Bohm's system of worlds pertains to the particle, in a nomological sense that is complementary to Heisenberg's unified field. Heisenberg's nomological system of worlds is to Bohm's nomological system of worlds as the phenomenological system of worlds is to the ontological system of worlds. Hence, the basis for the phenomenal object within the ontological system of worlds is a representation of the phenomenological system of worlds, even as the core of the phenomenal object is a representation of the ontological system of worlds. Stapp's system is then the fourfold etiological system of worlds discussed above. The nucleus of these is the process 1 of von Neumann, which occurs within the central axis of the sub-worlds of the emotional world of the ontological system of worlds. The fourfold etiological system of worlds is thus a Heisenberg-like embellishment or enhanced explanation of process 1 in relation to process 2.

To get a sense of Heisenberg's heterodox style, consider the following statement on pp. 49-50 of "Physics and Philosophy":

"Bohr uses the concept of 'complementarity' at several places in the interpretation of quantum theory. The knowledge of the position of a particle is complementary to the knowledge of its velocity or momentum. If we know one with high accuracy we cannot know the other with high accuracy; still we must know both for determining the behavior of the system. The space-time description of the atomic events is complementary to their deterministic description. The probability function obeys an equation of motion as the co-ordinates did in Newtonian mechanics; its change in the course of time is completely determined by the quantum mechanical equation, but it does not allow a description in space and time. The observation, on the other hand, enforces the description in space and time but breaks the determined continuity of the probability function by changing our knowledge of the system.

"Generally the dualism between two different descriptions of the same reality is no longer a difficulty since we know from the mathematical formulation of the theory that contradictions cannot arise. The dualism between the two complementary pictures - waves and particles - is also clearly brought out in the flexibility of the mathematical scheme. The formalism is normally written to resemble Newtonian mechanics, with equations of motion for the co-ordinates and momenta of the particles. But by a simple transformation it can be rewritten to resemble a wave equation for an ordinary three-dimensional matter wave. Therefore the possibility of playing with different complementary pictures has its analogy in the different transformations of the mathematical scheme; it does not lead to any difficulties in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory."

This notion of several types of complementarity, and specifically the two types mentioned in the first paragraph above, is precisely what Carl von Weizsacker formulated as "parallel" and "circular" complementarity and Bohr rebuffed, insisting that complementarity must always be between *equivalent* types of description, and hence different types of deterministic description, for instance, rather than deterministic vs. space-time description. But the point is that Heisenberg was reassured enough by the mathematical "training wheels" to venture into the realm of metaphysical speculation. He thus founded all these diverse traditions emphasizing nomological, etiological, or cosmological systems of worlds. The original interpretations of quantum theory (Copenhagen, Gottingen, and Princeton) are, on the contrary, purely ontological in reference to the phenomenological, as the ontological must necessarily be.

One gets from the Bohm view to the Stapp view by a kind of deconstruction of the particle picture. However, the Stapp view is then also superseded by a Bohm-Wigner collaboration that produces the Everett view. The Bohm side views the *lowest* causal principle, involving the sub-worlds of the etiological astral world (isomorphic to the ontological physical world), as the vertical implicate order and the *lower* causal principle of the fourfold etiological system of worlds as the horizontal implicate order, i.e., it views both process 2 and process 1, as reinterpreted within the Stapp view, as implicate order causal processes within the Mind of the Observer, which in turn constitutes a third type of causal process in relation to consciousness. This relation to consciousness was emphasized by Wigner.

The Everett view is thus a cosmological view, which arises from cosmic consciousness, the cosmos being an outer expression of the implicate order. The physical world of the ontological system of worlds is also the physical world in this cosmological system of worlds and it comes to constitute a von Neumann I. The oroboric abyss between physical and meta-physical in the ontological system of worlds here becomes the astral world and constitutes a von Neumann II. The meta-physical world of the ontological system of worlds here becomes the causal world and constitutes a von Neumann III. A further hypostasis is now postulated by Wigner as a 4 that represents consciousness. But another 4 is necessary to form the connection between between III and 4. The intermediate 4 is the mental-etheric bridge between the causal world and the soul world, between cosmos and consciousness, in this cosmological system of worlds.

The idea of the Everett interpretation is that the experiential physical world is the one that is reconstituted within the experience of cosmic consciousness, as the foundation of the intermediate 4. This is very similar to the Bohr view and somewhat isomorphic to it, except that the Bohr view is within the ontological system of worlds and cannot be in blatant contradiction to what goes on in the noumenal physical world, although it can differ significantly from it. Hence the slogan on Bohr's coat of arms: "Complementary, not contradictory".

Hence, Bohr's view requires a kind of reset mechanism, very similar to the action of THOUGHT in recalibrating the noumenal quantum object in the physical world to the result of the actual event in the mental world. But this higher recalibration is between what goes on in the sixth or causal world and what must occur in the first or physical world. It has to do with the relations between the knower, the knowledge, and the known. As William James realized, these relations can only be understood metaphysically.

The metaphysical ideas expressed here, because they constitute a rigorous metaphysical formalism, must also constitute a rigorous mathematical formalism. Mathematics is just a shorthand notation for metaphysical ideas, a way to test their consistency and make sure that they are rigorous. However, the summum bonum of scientific research is not the development of a mathematical theory, which is only a kind of dry run or test, but rather the development of magical powers that demonstrate a real understanding and mastery of nature. In a capitalist society, the magical powers of the individual are condemned and scientific knowledge is stripped from its knower to produce technological marvels. It is for that reason that this knowledge comes at this time only in its metaphysical expression, and not in its mathematical expression.



Peter Joseph Mutnick 1949 - 2000


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