Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!



Response to Bohm's Answer to Heisenberg's
"Physics and Philosophy"



Critique of "Classical and Non-Classical Concepts in the Quantum Theory, An Answer to Heisenberg's 'Physics and Philosophy'", by David Bohm, in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Volume XII, February 1962, No. 48, p. 265.

First of all, Bohm starts out by making an apparent blunder of rather cosmic proportions. He says "'Physics and Philosophy'... can be regarded as an authoritative presentation of what has come to be known as the 'Copenhagen' point of view (because of its association with Niels Bohr)", and "[Heisenberg] is therefore eminently qualified to discuss this subject".

Bohr's exchange with Heisenberg's student, Carl von Weiszacker, had already occurred in 1956, so there is no excuse for Bohm not to know that Bohr had unequivocally rejected Heisenberg's version of complementarity as that between the causal description and the space-time description. Bohr, et al., never did like the term "Copenhagen Interpretation", probably for this very reason - that really there is no such thing, *unless* you mean by that solely the views of Bohr himself. Heisenberg's views should be called the Munich Interpretation, Pauli's views the Zurich Interpretation, and Born's views the Gottingen Interpretation. They all recognized the need for unity, but it is doubtful that they were able to achieve it on any of the major issues.

Bohr rejected von Weiszacker's and Heisenberg's notion of complementarity because the causal or unitary description was according to Bohr just an algorithm and could not be compared to real phenomena in space and time. Only different types of real phenomena, such as position measurements and momentum measurements, could be in a relationship of complementarity, according to Bohr.

Now what is interesting, however, is that Bohm's criticism of Heisenberg's view, which he finally gets around to, is a necessary and sufficient condition to solidify Heisenberg's argument vis-a-vis Bohr. Bohm criticizes Heisenberg's actual event ontology, which he doesn't seem to appreciate fully, on the grounds that in it the physical act of observation, as opposed the psychical act, is according to Bohm epiphenomenal and does not enter into the mathematical formalism in any way. In fact, the von Neumann phenomenal reduction seems to insure that the actual event at the measuring device, or "out there" in nature, is an artifact that can be eliminated by pushing the Schnitt further back into the organism of the observer. This turns out not to be true, because in fact the phenomenal reduction of von Neumann is epiphenomenal and leaves in tact the underlying noumenal relationships, as Heisenberg himself understood quite well. I will discuss this a bit at the end of this note.

Bohm's proposal is that we should define an "actuality function" separate from and parallel to the wave function. The actuality function should describe something "out there" in nature, not just in the mind of the observer. I would suggest, in that case, calling the function describing unitary development a "reality function". In Cartesian philosophy, actuality is to reality as extension is to thought as matter is to spirit. So, if we expel what is actual from the mind of the observer, we should also liberate what is real from a material conception. This stands the von Neumann/Wigner ontology of Henry Stapp back on its feet, but more importantly it puts the two elements, physical spacetime description as extension in matter and causal description as a thought-like reality in spirit, on an equal footing that *can* be related by complementarity. Both of them are now algorithmic, existing within the inner classical domain of the actual observer. Only we see that the causal laws of quantum theory in fact fulfill the function of thought-like reality within that classical paradigm and complete the Cartesian Ansatz.

For our concept of extension, however, Bohm sees the necessity of adopting Whitehead's extensive continuum as a more general topological description of location than the abstract points in spacetime. By the same token, we might suggest the "quantum of thought" as a generalization of the quantum of action. This is in accord with approach of William James, who, although he spoke about holistic concepts like the stream of consciousness, was in fact a radical pluralist, who felt that the parts are the real things and the whole is ultimately an abstraction. This is in accord with von Neumann, who dubbed the personal identity in the stream of consciousness an *abstract* "ego". Of course, it is not the true wholeness of the quantum implicate order that is being rejected by James and von Neumann, but only the classical type of wholeness, based on continuity, which has not absorbed its opposite or limit, namely discreteness.

Another interesting point of Bohm is that since Heisenberg states that "a large part of the universe, including ourselves, does *not* belong to the object", "the underlying principle of the uncertainty principle is the real interconnection of everything in the universe, by means of quanta". He goes on to explain, "Because these quanta are *indivisible*, they belong as much to one side of the connection as the other", and "It follows from the above described point of view that the common notion of what is called an 'object' must be changed in a fundamental way".

When von Neumann divides the ontological reality into I (actually observed system), II (measuring instrument), and III (actual observer), Bohm seems to claim that this division is not entirely effective. By von Neumann's own analysis it is variable and hardly anything but an artifact of our conceptualization, but it still has endpoints that are fixed and inalterable - there must always be a I and there must always be a III, however much territory is appropriated by II in either direction. So, Bohm seems to be implying something more than just the fluidity of the description. He seems to be talking about the solid metaphysical structure of objective reality.

If we start with the quantum object as an expression of the noumenon at the root of the physical world, there are two ways to establish the relationships of this quantum object to the rest of the metaphysical universe. The first way is to regard this quantum object as I, the oroboric connection between the quantum physical and the meta-physical classical as II, and the meta-physical classical observer as III. In this sense, we must regard the quantum itself as mutually configured by I and III, the observed and the observer, and what it is as only revealed through II. This oroboric connection is the transcendental basis for the algorithmic construction within the classical domain of the actual observer. It is what saves the (idealized) Copenhagen Interpretation from the charge of subjectivism.

However, this revelation of the indivisibility of the quantum phenomenon is not unpacked. The only way to unpack it is to consider the other way of establishing the relationship of the quantum object to the rest of the metaphysical universe. The physical noumenal quantum object must be expanded into a psycho-physical or mental-emotional-physical object that can be correlated to an etheric object, as von Neumann's I to II. In this way the fruit of the phenomenal object in the fifth or phenomenal world becomes apparent, and we can talk about objective reality as both the phenomenal object and the noumenal object. The Buddhist mantra for the involution of the phenomenal object is *nam myo-ho ren-ge kyo*. Kyo means objective reality. The term "kyochi" refers to the objective reality of the noumenal object, where *chi* is the subjective wisdom to realize the objective reality and *kyo* is a ket in relation to *chi* as a bra.

Of course, *chi* is not a single valued function but a pair of conjugate possibilities. In non-relativistic Bohm theory, there are ontological reasons why these possibilities are position and momentum. But when we try to actually correlate bras and kets to well-defined subjects and well-defined objects, we find that these do NOT describe classical position and momentum variables, bolstering Bohm's argument that our modes of observation are not necessarily classical. In a correctly relativized theory, that is in accord with well-defined subjects and objects, the holomovement of topological motion in process time takes the place of classical motion or momentum and the position operator is defined in a more realistic way also. The latter turns out to be a remnant of static classical reality, but one that is legitimate and properly defined.

Finally, I would just like to reconsider Heisenberg's statement, quoted by Bohm, which Bohm does not seem to appreciate fully: "The transition from the 'possible' to the 'actual' takes place as soon as the interaction of the object with measuring device, and thereby the rest of the world, has come into play; it is not connected with the act of registration of the result by the mind of the observer. The discontinuous change in the probability function, however, takes place with the act of registration, because it is the discontinuous change of our knowledge in the instant of registration that has its image in the discontinuous change of the probability function."

This is a beautiful metaphysical statement. The transition from the Kantian possible in the mind of the observer to the phenomenal actual in nature apparent occurs in conjunction with an interaction between the physical noumenon and the etheric measuring device via the mental and emotional formalism of state vector substance and potential actual event. The action of world 4 on world 1 is via the state vector substance and the back-action, resulting in inter-action, is via the potential actual event. Heisenberg suggests imaginatively that PsiPsi*, the probability function, symbolizes the state vector substance times the potential actual event, i.e. the potential actual event is Psi*. Until this interaction between world 4 and world 1 begins, the state vector substance is just evolving in its particular representation in the physical world. Whatever the outcome of our investigations, this viewpoint Heisenberg has established will surely continue to be relevant.

It should be pointed out as a footnote that the phrase "registration of the result by the mind of the observer" has implications for Bohm theory, since the Observer's Mind *is* the quantum implicate order.



Peter Joseph Mutnick 1949 - 2000


Home