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Dialogue (of sorts, or out of sorts) with Henry Stapp


From: "Henry Stapp" hstapp@mindspring.com
To: "Peter Mutnick" saint7peter@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: THE BRIEFEST CHAPTER OF THE BRIEFER COURSE
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 04:46:54 -0800


[William James, "Psychology", Chapter 14, p. 237-9]

[Henry Stapp]
Dear Peter, You have an abridged version: this is Chap 23 of the original.

[Peter Mutnick]
"Psychology" is the briefer course, not an abridged version. It was written by James two years after "The Principles of Psychology" to make the latter more accessible for course use. Much of it is duplicated, but there are many passages that are deleted or rewritten. In some cases, the rewrites are clarifications and James' last word on the subject. For that reason, the briefer course is invaluable in its own right.

On a personal note, this is a bad omen - we are starting out with a miscommunication. Last night I took an overdose of some medicinal herbs and had to go to the emergency room. There I saw one of the casualties of two separate freak car accidents involving the Berkeley and UC police. The police lieutenant said, "It's just one of those bizarre nights - full moon I guess". I believe this is all symbolic of the ongoing misunderstanding between you, Henry, and myself, and it is NOT just a misunderstanding on my part. My arguments are rational, but you invalidate them in nefarious ways to avoid addressing the intense confusion in your own thinking that they reveal. You have a very strong and clear mind, but that does not mean that there is clarity in your understanding, only certainty that you are right even when you are not. You have a one-track mind, and it can get on a wrong track and endanger everyone! You see, this is the model of the mind that you have created.

[William James, "Psychology", Chapter 14, p. 237-9]
All consciousness is motor. The reader will not have forgotten, in the jungle of purely inward processes and products through which the last chapters have borne him, that the final result of them all must be some form of bodily activity due to the escape of central excitement through outgoing nerves. The whole neural organism, it will be remembered, is, physiologically considered, but a machine for converting stimuli into reactions; and the intellectual part of our life is knit up with but the middle or 'central' part of the machine's operations. We now go on to consider the final or emergent operations, the bodily activities, and the forms of consciousness consequent thereupon.

[Henry Stapp]
Beautiful! James is once again right on the money. I guess you are passing this along as additional Jamesian support for my theory.

[Peter Mutnick]
Of course not! Please reread what I have said previously and my explanation afterwards of why it does NOT support your present "theory". I put this in quotations, because I, along with many others, do not believe that you have a coherent theory at the present time. We are trying to prevail on you to admit the contradictions and confusions in your "theory", for the sake of all.

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
"Purely inward processes" are phenomenal. They do not occur in the noumenal worlds of the quantum reality, von Neumann's extended I - mental, emotional, and physical worlds - but rather in the higher phenomenal worlds of the meta-physical classical observer and its phenomenal object, von Neumann's extended III - meta-physical, causal, and phenomenal worlds. The noumenon itself is physical, and the *noumenal* description, which is a thing-in-itself (or thing-in-its-idea) according to Max Born, is in the mental and emotional worlds.

[Peter Mutnick, cont.]
To understand why James' view is NOT compatible with your view, please consider the following:

[William James]
{from p. 331 of the Briefer Course} Our own formula has escaped the metempiric assumption of psychic atoms by *taking the entire thought (even of a complex object) as the minimum with which it deals on the mental side*, and the entire brain as the minimum on the physical side. But the 'entire brain' is not a physical fact at all! It is nothing but our name for the way in which billions of molecules arranged in certain positions may affect our sense. On the principle of the corpuscular or mechanical philosophy, the only realities are the separate molecules, or at most the cells. Their aggregate into a 'brain' is a fiction of popular speech. Such a figment cannot serve as the objectively real counterpart to any psychic state whatever. Only a genuinely physical fact can so serve, and the molecular fact is the only genuinely physical fact. Whereupon we seem, if we are to have an elementary psycho-physic law at all, thrust right back upon something like the mental-atom-theory, for the molecular fact, being an element of the 'brain,' would seem naturally to correspond, not to total thoughts, but to elements of thoughts. Thus the real in psychics seems to 'correspond' to the unreal in physics, and *vice versa*; and our perplexity is extreme.

[Peter Mutnick, cont.]
James is clearly speaking noumenally here. He is referring to the quantum brain in nature as built up out of the microscopic atomic constituents of the brain. However, and this is decisive, he states correctly that the whole brain is NOT a physical fact at all. What kind of fact is it then? It is a mental fact. And the networks and neurons of the brain are emotional world facts. However strange this metaphysical way of thinking may be to you, it is the only way to make coherent sense of what James is saying here or what Bohr says throughout his writing or what any illumined sage of our sciences has said. That you are in ignorance of this truth does not make it go away, although I am sure you would like to simply destroy the truth and be done with it.

In any case, the point is that it takes the combined worlds of physical, emotional, and mental to accommodate all the noumenal facts, which constitute von Neumann's I in the extended sense. The "extended sense" means the one that includes *all* the extra-physical elements of the observational process. Von Neumann does NOT deny those extra-physical or metaphysical elements, but he DOES reduce them, by the principle of the psycho-physical parallelism, as he interprets it, to elements of the physical world! This he believes, along with Einstein, to be a requirement for the scientific method. Bohr did NOT agree with this, and built his interpretation on the OPPOSITE premise.

SO, HOW IN GOD'S NAME CAN YOU, HENRY, DENY THAT THE WHOLE PREMISE OF VON NEUMANN'S APPROACH IS THE PHYSICAL REDUCTION, OR REDUCTION TO THE PHYSICAL, ACCORDING TO THE PRINCIPLE OF THE PSYCHO-PHYSICAL PARALLELISM???

That is what he says he does, and it is what he does through his mathematical methods. Only you think that he somehow did the exact opposite of what he said he did and what he did. If he reduced the extra-physical elements, which would include the experience and consciousness of the observer, to elements of the physical world, then he has thereby excluded consideration of what they are in themselves, apart from their projection onto elements of the physical world. These projections are like the shadows in Plato's cave - they are NOT the real things themselves, NOT the real experience, consciousness, or idea-like elements of the phenomenal reality. Is this physicalism necessary for science? Yes, according to von Neumann and probably Einstein, as well as Schrodinger, de Broglie, and the Bohm of the 1952 pilot-wave theory; NO, according to Bohr, Pauli, and Heisenberg, although Heisenberg was a unique case, with his own interpretation and his own interpretation of Bohr that was in blatant contradiction to Bohr himself, as Bohr's exchange with Heisenberg's student, von Weizsacker, revealed (von Weizsacker was just stating what Heisenberg said in print in "Physics and Philosophy", so Bohr's refutation of von Weizsacker applies to Heisenberg himself as well).

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
"Purely inward processes" are phenomenal. They do not occur in the noumenal worlds of the quantum reality, von Neumann's extended I - mental, emotional, and physical worlds - but rather in the higher phenomenal worlds of the meta-physical classical observer and its phenomenal object, von Neumann's extended III - meta-physical, causal, and phenomenal worlds. The noumenon itself is physical, and the *noumenal* description, which is a thing-in-itself (or thing-in-its-idea) according to Max Born, is in the mental and emotional worlds.

[Henry Stapp]
Yes, our descriptions are also real things, which reside in the world of idea-like things. Right!

[Peter Mutnick]
The *noumenal* description is a real thing, but that is NOT the description that Bohr is talking about. You yourself have at times distinguished between the state vector of the universe as a noumenal reality and the state vector as representing our knowledge. You have called it, somewhat mistakenly IMHO, the distinction between the epistemological view and the ontological view. Now, for some bizarre reason, you seem to have no idea of what the distinction really means. It means that there are two descriptions, a noumenal description, which is part of the extended noumenal reality, or quantum reality, von Neumann's I in the extended sense, and a phenomenal description, which has to do with the description of the reconstructed noumenal reality within the experience of the observer. The noumenal description is indeed mental and perhaps emotional, but the phenomenal description is NOT part of the total quantum reality and must therefore be somewhere else. That somewhere else is in the higher octave of phenomenal reality, which is the realm of the experience and consciousness of the meta-physical or classical observer. What does classical mean? It simply means the realm where extension and thought are well-separated attributes. Quantum reality, even noumenal or physical quantum reality, is thought-like, as you yourself have said many times, while in the classical realm, only extension is physical and thought is distinctly spiritual.

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
The neural organism refers especially to the quantum brain, and the neurons thereof, which constitute the neural correlates of consciousness. This is likened to a machine - it works according to noumenal (more or less physical) laws. If one does not see beyond the mental and physical noumenal world, the world of earth and sky, then one has reduced man to a machine and denied the real experience and consciousness of man.

[Henry Stapp]
This seems to contradict what you just said, provided by mental you mean the conscious/idea-like part of reality, the part III of von Neumann, and one part of my unified quasi-dualistic theory. [I say "quasi-dualistic" because I unify the potentia and idea-like aspects into one unity that has both aspects combined in a specified way.]

[Peter Mutnick]
No, the whole point is that mental function is NOT necessarily conscious or attended by experience. Dewey made the point that once one has acquired a good habit by training the mental body, then it functions quite automatically and unconsciously. Instinct is also unconscious and yet a mental reality manifesting innate intelligence. In order to make room for the quantum brain, as a mental rather than physical fact, and for the noumenal description, as distinct from the noumenon itself (the "indestructible individuality" of the atomic entity), one MUST have more worlds than physical and mental! That is the point. Even Penrose acknowledges a third world, the world of Platonic ideas, as distinct from the mental world! That view is more compatible with mine, and his third world is my sixth world. The noumenal description, for instance, if it is a thing-in-itself, or thing-in-its-idea, is part of von Neumann's I - it is part of the total noumenal or quantum reality.

Now what may be confusing you is that von Neumann does, in the process of his psycho-physical reduction, first reduce everything to the psycho-physical (mental and physical) realm, before he reduces it further to the physical world. At that intermediate stage, which is a logically necessary step, III becomes the mental world, II becomes the emotional world, and I becomes the physical world. But prior to that, and this is what you are not seeing, physical, emotional, and mental were all I, etheric was II, and phenomenal, causal, and meta-physical were III. That system goes all the way up to the meta-physical classical observer of Bohr, which is the opposite ontological pole to the physical observed system in the physical world of nature.

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
Von Neumann's Princeton interpretation is based on a physical reduction according to the principle of the psycho-physical parallelism, while Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation is based on a phenomenal reduction, involving the reconstruction of the noumenal reality within the phenomenal experience of the observer.

[Henry Stapp]
The physical reduction and the phenomenal reduction is what Von Neumann (and I) synthesize.

[Peter Mutnick]
I have just given, in my recent essays, an in-depth explanation of what the phenomenal reduction is according to the actual statements of Bohr, which are in perfect accord with the statements of James, and you show no sign whatsoever of even acknowledging anything Bohr, James, or I have said on the subject of the phenomenal reduction, which has hitherto been unnamed and unperceived by almost everyone, even though it is in plain sight, if you just read and comprehend what James and Bohr actually said. Nor do you seem to be able to comprehend the obvious fact that an approach based on physical reduction cannot explain experience and consciousness, since it has explicitly excluded them from consideration, except as analogs to something in the physical world with a physical, not conscious or experiential, character.

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
Even the quantum reality *as we actually know it* is and can only be this internal reconstruction of noumenal reality. The actual world of nature, according to the Princeton interpretation of von Neumann and Einstein, is entirely an inference, knowable only as an abstraction that is a free creation of the human mind.

[Henry Stapp]
This may be Einstein's position, but von N allowed the increments in knowledge to be aspects of the objective physical collapse, and vice versa.

[Peter Mutnick]
Yes, but this is not an attempt at describing the fullness of the experience, but only its physical effect, in terms of a physical element that does NOT have the character of the conscious experience - that is what has been explicitly excluded by the psycho-physical reduction. Von Neumann's principle is in accord with Heisenberg's statement on p. 55 of "Physics and Philosophy": "Certainly quantum theory does not contain genuine subjective features". Bohr would disagree! Inability to distinguish between Bohr and Heisenberg is a primary cause of the quantum muddle. As you know, there was considerable tension between Bohr and Heisenberg, and that tension had a cause, which was that they had entirely different modes of understanding. Pauli was much closer to Bohr, although in his case also there were differences (viva la differance?), such as Pauli's inability to understand what Bohr meant by the "detached observer" - he meant the meta-physical classical observer, in contradistinction to the embodied observer in the emotional world, which you, Henry, are the first to proclaim, as far as I know - it is your O added to von Neumann's S and M, where O is also regarded as a subsystem of the total quantum system.

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
Henry Stapp has claimed for some time now to have a theory of human experience based on von Neumann's approach. I frankly view this as an extreme example of the intense confusion known as the quantum muddle. The correct approach, IMHO, is to acknowledge two distinct realms, the noumenal realm of nature and the phenomenal realm of human experience and consciousness, as James clearly does in the above quote and throughout his work.

[Henry Stapp]
It continues to amaze me how you can so completely misunderstand me. I, along with James and vN, recognize and insist on the dynamical and ontological synthesis of these two aspects of reality. That is the main point of what I am doing.

[Peter Mutnick]
The Devil is in the details, Henry. In a vague way, you intend to accomplish something that you do not actually accomplish in the details of what you actually say and do. Like most physicists, you have a profane attitude toward philosophy, and you do not really take it seriously enough. You think it is just a yes-man to physics, and therein is the rub, my friend.

As for your "synthesis", you do not acknowledge any world higher than the mental world, so if I am right, you do not even acknowledge the entire phenomenal realm, which is supramental.

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
It is possible to reduce everything to either - von Neumann reduced to the noumenal,

[Henry Stapp]
No, vN synthesized the two by associating the mental/mind/conscious event with the physical brain event. That is the main point of his work.

[Peter Mutnick]
Where does von Neumann do this, Henry? What he does in his book is reduce all the extra-physical elements of the observational process to elements of the physical world by the principle of the psycho-physical parallelism. That means that he excludes them from consideration as "genuine subjective features". You may agree with him that this is necessary for quantitative science, but Bohr, et al., did NOT agree with that view, nor did James or Whitehead. They thought that the mathematics could and should describe the real structure of our experience, not nature itself, which must forever be an inferred abstraction. No doubt there is a mathematical description of nature itself, but it is different than the mathematical description of our actual experience, and until these issues are clarified in quantum theory, no real progress can be made.

Again, however, let us examine what this means: "No, vN synthesized the two by associating the mental/mind/conscious event with the physical brain event." First of all, your "No" is absurd - of course that is what von Neumann did and said that he did in his book. How can you blatantly deny the fact? Secondly, your "*physical* brain event" is wrong, because the whole brain is not physical, as James realized. With these corrections, your statement could only refer to the intellectual prehensions of an actual entity, but you have abandoned the Whiteheadian project, to the best of my knowledge.

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
...Bohr reduced to the phenomenal. However, it is not possible, upon reduction, to account fully for the other realm. You cannot use von Neumann's noumenal (physical) reduction to explain human experience,

[Henry Stapp]
von N does not *explain* the experience by the physical reduction. He ties the experiential event of the Copenhagen approach to the physically interpretable reduction event in the brain!

[Peter Mutnick]
Again, where does vN do that? That is what you do in his name, but where in God's name did *he* do that??? Whether you have done anything that makes sense is something that we could discuss separately. I think what you have done does not make sense for all the reasons that I have already stated. The grand synthesis of which you speak, between the phenomenal approach and the noumenal approach, is much to be desired, but you have NOT accomplished that, because you show no sign at all of even beginning to comprehend what the phenomenal approach actually is. I have just spelled it out in my recent essays, by "squeezing the texts" of Bohr and James, to which you did not respond in any way that demonstrated the least bit of recognition or comprehension.

In any case, how do *you* "tie the experiential event of the Copenhagen approach to the physically interpretable reduction event in the brain"? You see, your first error is in saying "the *physically* interpretable reduction event in the brain". It should be "the *mentally* interpretable reduction event in the brain", for the reason that James recognized - the whole brain is not a physical fact at all. Once that adjustment has been made, then your program is realizable, because "the experiential event of the Copenhagen approach" has its cause in the sixth or causal world and its effect in the fourth or etheric world. This indeed interfaces with "the *mentally* interpretable reduction event in the brain", which is in the third or mental world.

Now to *really* realize this program, the first step is to develop a thorough mathematical treatment of the "Copenhagen approach", which to my knowledge has never been done. To do this one must have some understanding of what the "Copenhagen approach" actually is, so that one knows what one is trying to model mathematically. Therefore, to really implement your program, the first step is to really read and understand the quotes I have just given from Bohr and James. QED.

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
...any more than you can use Bohr's phenomenal reduction to explain what really happens in nature, although it is Bohr who had the more comprehensive vision, and that is why all the other founders consented to his unquestioned leadership.

There is a reason that Bohr was more comprehensive, which has to do with the phenomenological reduction, where the noumenon actually becomes the internal foundation for the transcendental ego, rather than an external foundation in nature.

[Henry Stapp]
The two aspects, mental and physical, are co-dependent.

[Peter Mutnick]
Again, this is such a vast oversimplification as to be trite and meaningless. The quantum omniverse is bigger than that. You are trying to fit new wine in old bottles - it will break the seams and has broken the seams - the wine is spilling out and being lost forever.

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
However, by this very process, the noumenal description of von Neumann, spawned in the ontological context, where it is physical, could be transported into the realm of the transcendental noumenon in the phenomenological system of worlds. Indeed, von Neumann's idea of the state vector reduction, his process 1, seems to involve consciousness and the phenomenal realm, as Wigner claimed,

[Henry Stapp]
Absolutely!

[Peter Mutnick]
Fine, but why do you ignore the logical upshot, which follows??? Do you have any idea what Bohr meant by "closure"? If you do, you should explain it in detail, because no one else (except maybe me) has a clue.

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
...even as Bohr's idea of the "closure" of the experiment seems to be a Gestalt concept that involves the noumenal realm. So, the two interpretations are limits or others to each other, which of course they are, metaphysically speaking.

There is in fact a great deal of confusion about what the difference is *in practice* between von Neumann's interpretation and Bohr's interpretation. It would seem likely that the mathematics employed by von Neumann are uniquely applicable to his philosophical approach, and it is not so clear what the mathematics that would be uniquely applicable to Bohr's approach even are, since to my knowledge no one has ever written a "Grundlagen" from Bohr's point of view.

[William James, cont.]
...Using sweeping terms and ignoring exceptions, *we might say that every possible feeling produces a movement, and that the movement is a movement of the entire organism, and of each and all of its parts*.

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
What is this but Bohm's holomovement in the context of the first-person case?

[William James, cont.]
...In short, *a process set up anywhere in the centres reverberates everywhere, and in some way or other affects the organism throughout, making its activities either greater or less*. It is as if the nerve-central mass were like a good conductor charged with electricity, of which the tension cannot be changed at all without changing it everywhere at once.

[Henry Stapp]
Great!

[Peter Mutnick, prev.]
Considering that the "neural organism" is a noumenal reality, it is a quantum reality, according to our new quantum theory of nature. This process James is describing here, when viewed in that way, would seem to be a good description of the *non-local* "state vector reduction".

[Henry Stapp]
Yes, James is, as usual, right on the money.

[Peter Mutnick]
As usual, you are resisting in the mode of confluence. What James is saying is not just what you say and nothing more. It is open-ended, it is saying something that may have some implications, such as a *new* way of conceiving of the state vector reduction in truly empirical terms. What does it really mean if we try taking it literally, as a model or as a transcendental clue, and not just as an allegory supporting your already well established and relatively conventional views?

[Henry Stapp]
By the way, the narrowing of consciousness that James describes is right in line with the sequence of psycho-physical events in vN.

[Peter Mutnick]
No, it is NOT. The narrowing of consciousness has to do with the fact that very few of the noumenal neuronal inputs from the quantum brain penetrate into the phenomenal realm of our consciousness and experience, which James sees as an entirely distinct internal realm and you do not. James does NOT say that the penetration occurs in a unique linear sequence, but only that it is a vast narrowing of the total field. Actually, it is the basis for the relative isolation of the noumenal quantum reality actually under observation, and hence it is what defeats the decoherence arguments. What you are talking about is a noumenal process that has nothing at all to do with the phenomenal realm of our actual experience. Your confusion is off the Richter scale.



Peter Joseph Mutnick 1949 - 2000


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