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Four Letters to Henry Stapp on the Views of Jaegwon Kim



Henry,

I think we should just stick to the following, and examine the conclusion in the third paragraph, which I can prove is erroneous:

"A view like this has been the dominant position concerning the status of mentality and other "higher-level" properties investigated in the special sciences. These properties, though supervenient upon and "realized" by fundamental physical properties, are irreducible and autonomous, and they enter into physically irreducible causal laws and causal explanations. This gives us an attractive view of the status of the special sciences that many seem to find irresistible: Physics is not all there is to science; the special sciences do not merely redescribe the phenomena described, more precisely and in richer detail, by physics, and the explanations they provide are not mere stopgap measures that only cloak our ignorance of the physical processes involved.

"A further thesis that I believe any physicalist should, and would, accept is the causal closure of the physical domain. This can be stated in various ways that are not strictly equivalent to each other. One way to put it would be this: If a physical event has a cause that occurs at t, it has a physical cause occurring at t. A stronger version would go like this: No physical event has a cause outside the physical domain.

"I think it would be quite evident to everyone that given these physicalist doctrines the prospect of mentality turning out to be both (i) causally efficacious in the physical world and yet (ii) not being part of the physical domain looks pretty grim."

If we realize that the first paragraph pertains ONLY to the hypostatic dimension of the measuring device, von Neumann's II, they we can see that consciousness must be supervenient on the causally closed physical result registered in the physical measuring device. It can have additional causal laws of its own, but they must not interfere with the registered result or it would nullify the the function of the measuring device as bringing closure to the experiment, ala Bohr.

The registering of the result in the measuring device is not an event, per se. As Aage Bohr maintains, it is a fortuitous and oroboric link between the physical realm of the observed and the meta-physical realm of the detached observer. If we want to consider "physical events" then we are considering a different metaphysical system of worlds altogether. The first type of causal closure of Kim says that if the physical event has a cause in potentia, as potential, then it must also have an actual cause, rendering the physical event an actual event. The second type of causal closure of Kim refers to physical events that are only actual and not arising from any potentia or potential. These would define the events of classical physics.

It is then obvious that by fixing Kim's definitions in their proper metaphysical locations, his conclusion is sheer non sequitur. The reason is that consciousness is not limited to supervenience of the registered result in the measuring device conceived as an oroboric link between the observed and the observer. Consciousness is also an intentional property of the detached observer, arising from inherent energy and then limited, as in the reduction of the density matrix, to a particular stream of consciousness. Moreover, even within the oroboric dimension considered by Kim, there is the free will choice of what measuring device to use that precedes any result in the measuring device or consciousness that supervenes upon that result.

Peter


Henry,

I would like to take one more step in the analysis of Kim's paper, because it really demonstrates the utility of putting his ideas in a proper metaphysical perspective. Here is what Kim says next, after what has already been quoted and analyzed in the previous letter (above).

"In the book, I advance various considerations to convince the reader why it really is grim - in fact, why it is completely hopeless. My main argument is what I call "the supervenience argument", sometimes also called "the exclusion argument" in the literature. The gist of this argument is that when we consider the claim that a certain mental event, M, is a cause of another event, R, we see that Mís physical supervenience base, P, has all the credentials to serve as a cause of R, thus threatening to preempt Mís claim to be a cause of R. The only way out for the nonreductivist would seem to be to recognize both M and P each as a full cause of R, making R causally overdetermined. I do not believe this is a plausible move for the physicalist to make (for one thing, it may well violate physical causal closure), but some nonreductivists seem willing to embrace it. In contrast, the reductionist has a simple answer: If M is to retain its causal status, it must be reducible to P - at least, the given instantiation of M must be reductively identifiable with the instantiation, on that occasion, of its supervenience or realization base."

See, now these letters are a giveaway, because we can consider some other letters, if you will bear with my imaginative construction. B represents the whole quantum brain. N represents the networks and neurons of that brain. J represents the synaptic junctions. Now, just consider putting letter A through L around a clock, with A at the 1 and L at the 12. Now drop M, N, O, P down through the center of the circle with O right at the center. The B and J balance at 2 and 10, respectively.

Now, I say with William James that the whole brain is not a physical fact at all, but a mental concoction. It is only the synaptic junction that contains some ions and molecules sufficiently local to be considered and treated as physical in the truest sense of the word. Forget for now the physicalist principle of Kim that large things are built out of the small things, for that is not a fact but a theory, as James so keenly recognized.

Now, what is the relationship of this quantum brain to the stream of consciousness? First of all the stream of consciousness is like a reduced density operator, which means that the original density operator must represent the cosmic consciousness, which is one, which is the same for all of us and the source of our individualized stream of consciousness. This is an extraordinary finding, for it means that the primary substance of the universe is consciousness. The individualized stream of consciousness is instantiated on the quantum brain.

Now, the primary bits of stuff that comprise reality are not physical, according to James. They are bits of experience neutral between content and consciousness. This is the primary mental matter of our quantum brains. As you may have realized in reading Whitehead, for him eternal objects, which are really Platonic ideals, constitute the structural continuity between the actual entities of the present and those of the past or the future, which are prehended either causally or anticipatorily. The actual entities comprise subjects. The quantum brain, like an eternal object, provides continuity of experience, and so the subject's relation to its quantum brain is a surrogate subject-object relationship, which tends to get projected onto the physical as a representation of the world of presentational immediacy.

It is only here that N, the nondual world of bits of experience, gets bifurcated into M, P, and R, where M will represent a bit of mental reality and P a bit of physical reality, which we know as an elementary particle. Here is the principle of physicalism, and it is a derivative principle, necessary to conform philosophy to the fact that in physics our fundamental theory pertains to elementary particles. But these mental and physical realities exist in and through our quantum brains.

The conclusion is that consciousness is the primary stuff of the universe. It is the only thing not transient that exists from eternity to eternity. All of us are parts and parcels of it. The real world is a monadological matrix. The first facts are that the cosmic consciousness gets reduced to a particular stream of consciousness, which is instantiated on a particular quantum brain. In is only within each of those quantum brains that the physical elements of reality exist, arising from the bifurcation of primary mental matter.

What this philosophical framework has accomplished is a bridge between where physics now is and where it must get to. It is now an effective field theory of elementary particles, where "effective" is used in the sense of Steven Weinberg, meaning that it is not ultimately true. Where it must get to is the "final" theory of Weinberg that is really self-consistent from first principles. Here I have laid out the first principles of philosophy, so it is a straightforward matter to now translate them into the first principles of physics and a theory based on the first principles.

It is somewhat ironic that Kim as a philosopher is so concerned with touching bases which the physics that we now know, but we physicists are far more concerned with going beyond that physics, and what we would like from philosophy is not an apology for our present physics but a direction toward a new type of physics, as Niels Bohr himself envisioned. I have provided in these two letters a gnosis of what that new direction might be.

Peter


Henry,

So, let me just summarize the results of the previous two letters (above). The P and M of Kim are the physical bit, or particle, and the mental bit, or mimeme, as an objectified bifurcation of the true bit of experience, neutral between content and consciousness, of William James. A final theory of physics will take cosmic consciousness as the stuff of the universe, described by the ontological density operator. The reduced density operator will represent a particular stream of consciousness, which is instantiated upon a particular quantum brain. The stuff of that quantum brain are the bits of experience neutral between content and consciousness, which comprise primary mental matter. The actual entity of Whitehead is the subject of experiential reality in the quantum world. Eternal objects (Platonic ideals) function to ensure the continuity of experience, but they also form the objective polarity of the subjective actual entities. The quantum brain similarly functions to provide continuity of experience and is a surrogate object for the dipolar actual entity as subject. There is a subjective tendency to objectify and make physical both the objects and the surrogate objects. This is referred to by John von Neumann as the principle of the psycho-physical parallelism. The final theory of physics will have the bits of experience as its primary subject matter, and the equations will separate into parts that govern particles and parts that govern mimemes. All the present paradoxes and inconsistencies and inadequacies of present effective field theories, ala Weinberg, stem from erroneously taking particles as the primary subject matter of the theory. That is contrary to the natural mathematical superstructure adopted by you (Henry Stapp) as representative of the work of John von Neumann.

Peter


Henry,

I will now try to refute the following conclusion and argument of Kim:

"I think it would be quite evident to everyone that given these physicalist doctrines the prospect of mentality turning out to be both (i) causally efficacious in the physical world and yet (ii) not being part of the physical domain looks pretty grim."

"The gist of this argument is that when we consider the claim that a certain mental event, M, is a cause of another event, R, we see that Mís physical supervenience base, P, has all the credentials to serve as a cause of R, thus threatening to preempt Mís claim to be a cause of R."

I will utilize the thought-form I have already set up:

"B represents the whole quantum brain. N represents the networks and neurons of that brain. J represents the synaptic junctions. Now, just consider putting letter A through L around a clock, with A at the 1 and L at the 12. Now drop M, N, O, P down through the center of the circle with O right at the center. The B and J balance at 2 and 10, respectively."

Q and R we can superimpose over O and P, recognizing that each of these pairs have the relationship of cause and effect. Q and R can only refer to Quantum Reality subjectively perceived in the physical world. P is the underlying physical world whose bits are particles. Now Bohm theory has something to say about this, because it does postulate a world of objective physical particles obeying causally closed deterministic laws. However, the Quantum Reality subjectively perceived is never this deterministic world of particles, because of uncertainty as to the initial conditions. So, we see right away from Bohm's quantum measurement theory that something else does enter into our subjective perception of the Quantum Reality of the physical world. The causally closed deterministic world is never perceived - it is in a sense just a theoretical artifact, a proto-structure that can help to explain what is perceived.

In Whiteheadian terms, the question becomes whether M as an eternal object can ingress into a physical subject, or dipolar actual entity, and the answer is, "Yes." This ingression of eternal objects is an essential element of the structure of Whiteheadian metaphysics. So, both Bohm theory and Whiteheadian process theory give clear refutations of Kim's "quite evident" proposition.

Peter



Peter Joseph Mutnick 1949 - 2000


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