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Counter-challenge to Ulrich Mohrhoff's challenge to Henry Stapp

Note from Peter Mutnick: I am here presenting an antithesis to Ulrich Mohrhoff's work, as exemplified in "THE 18 ERRORS OF HENRY P. STAPP" and previous papers. I have discussed the first four issues raised by him as designated errors of Henry Stapp, and I have discussed in some detail Mohrhoff's own ideas on the first issue. I am hoping that this leads to a vital debate on these deep issues, which will be joined by Stapp himself and others. If not, then it only bespeaks of the insincerity of the people promoting ideas they cannot defend.

Ulrich Mohrhoff
Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry-605002 India

Several errors in Stapp's interpretation of quantum mechanics and its application to mental causation (Henry P. Stapp, "Quantum theory and the role of mind in nature", e-Print quant-ph/0103043, to appear in Foundations of Physics) are pointed out. An interpretation of (standard) QM that avoids these errors is presented.


According to some theorists (London Bauer, von Neumann, Wigner, Heisenberg, Page, Squires, Lockwood, Albert}, consciousness is needed for making sense of quantum mechanics (QM). According to others {Jibu, Yasue, Penrose, Globus, Hameroff, Eccles}, QM is needed in order to understand consciousness and/or account for its causal efficacy. In a recent contribution to this journal, Henry P. Stapp argues for both: Consciousness is essential for understanding QM, and QM is essential for the causal efficacy of consciousness. In the present article I point out a number of errors that mar Stapp's theory---inconsistencies, fallacies, and conclusions founded on such logical mistakes---and offer an interpretation of (standard) QM that avoids these errors. In addition I outline an alternative account of mental causation.

[Ulrich Mohrhoff]
Section 2 stresses the fact that an algorithm for assigning probabilities to the possible results of possible measurements cannot also represent an evolving state of affairs (Stapp's first error, E_1).

[Peter Mutnick]
What you say is true, and yet the status of the State Vector can be somewhat other than an algorithm. The phenomenal reality, on the one hand, is a set of weighted eigenvectors of an observable operator. The noumenal reality, on the other hand, is represented algorithmically by a particular representation of the State Vector. The reason the Wave Function, for instance, is algorithmic has to do with the presence within it of the particular representation, which is observer dependent. The State Vector itself does indeed constitute the thing-in-itself, which is however mental, not physical. The thing-in-itself is the thing-in-its-idea and for that reason is mental, in contradistinction to the noumenon, which is physical and the root of the physical. The representation, e.g. the Wave Function, is physical, but it is not the noumenon, as Stapp claims; rather it is an algorithmic representation of the noumenon.

To make these definitions precise: the phenomenal reality is the set of weighted eigenvectors, the noumenal reality is represented algorithmically by the set of weights, and the State Vector is the sum over the set of weighted eigenvectors. The phenomenal reality actually has dual meanings, which correspond roughly to Bohr's use of the concept before and after 1935. Originally it meant what the observer actually experiences as "out there" in his phenomenal experience of the world. Later, after the discussions with Einstein, it came to mean the experimental and experiential wholeness of the observed and the observer in a more noumenal and inward transcendental sense with respect to the observer.

Metaphysically, this latter meaning has to do with the oroboric connection between the quantum observed in the first or physical world and the classical observer in the seventh or meta-physical world. The first sense of phenomenon is in the fifth or phenomenal world. The seven interpenetrating worlds are: physical, emotional, mental, etheric, phenomenal, causal, and meta-physical. The physical world is, since the quantum revolution, governed by quantum laws, while the meta-physical world is the domain still governed by the classical laws of physics. It is very useful to think in these terms and it is the only way I have found to organize effectively the increased complexity of reality revealed by the quantum revolution.

Max Born in his "Gottingen Interpretation" introduced the thing-in-itself thusly (from "My Life and My Views", p. 184-5): "The assumption that the coincidence of structures revealed by using different sense organs and communicable from one individual to the other is accidental, is improbable to the highest degree.... I am not afraid of identifying such well-defined structures with Kant's 'thing in itself'. ...the concept of causality is a residue of former ways of thinking and is replaced today by the process of coordination as described before. This procedure leads to structures which are communicable, controllable, hence objective. It is justifiable to call these by the old term 'thing in itself'. They are pure form, void of all sensual qualities. That is all we can wish and expect." It is clear to me, at least, that the "well-defined structure" he is referring to here as the thing-in-itself is the State Vector.

[Ulrich Mohrhoff]
The introduction of consciousness into discussions of QM (E_2) serves no other purpose than to provide gratuitous solutions to a pseudo-problem arising from E_1.

[Peter Mutnick]
It is indeed because quantum theory is not *just* an algorithm, and Bohr never said that it was, that consciousness must enter into it at the foundational level. The quantum theory of Bohr and the other founders is not the madness and relinquishing of all sense of reality that its detractors and false advocates imagine. Bohr most certainly believed in the noumenal reality of the quantum object. He never spoke of it only in the spirit of Wittgenstein's final injunction in the Tractatus: of that which we cannot speak, we must remain silent. But it is implicitly present in all of his deliberations. Anyone who fails to realize that is like the good citizens who believed that the naked emperor had a new set of clothes. Bohr did mention explicitly, BTW, that quantum theory had removed all doubt as to the real existence of the atoms. This does indeed extend to the sub-atomic domain and to quantum objects in general.

How does this then require consciousness? The point is that the noumenon is always beyond the reach of the observer. He can only observe the noumenon if he can find something in himself (Whitehead's percipient event) that adequately represents the noumenon. That something must itself be noumenal and it must be quantal in character. That something then can only be the phenomenologically reduced essence of the observer himself, his absolute and pure noumenal consciousness, which constitutes within him the implicate order of David Bohm. That is why Bohr's whole conception of complementarity did indeed originate in the statement from William James, in 1891, on p. 206 of "The Principles of Psychology", Vol. 1:

"It must be admitted therefore, that *in certain persons*, AT LEAST, *the total possible consciousness may be split into parts which coexist but mutually ignore each other*, and share the objects of knowledge between them. More remarkable still, they are *complementary*. Give an object to one of the consciousnesses, and by that fact you remove it from the other or others. Barring a certain common fund of information, like the command of language, etc., what the upper self knows the under self is ignorant of, and *vice versa*." [Cap. emphasis mine]

[Nilanjan, NC]
But isn't that an abnormal state of things? Schizophrenia? An illness to be cured? ........

[Peter Mutnick]
That is the surmise of Abraham Pais in the book "Niels Bohr's Times", but I don't think James ever used that word (was it even invented in 1891?), and James says "*in certain persons*, AT LEAST" [Cap. emphasis mine], which means that he was considering and suggesting the possibility that this was a universal phenomenon. As I pointed out, James' upper self and lower self seem to correspond exactly to Fritz Perls' top dog and under dog replacement for the Freudian super-ego, which applies to everyone, not just pathological cases. However, it is true that in Gestalt Therapy the top dog/under dog complex is commonly regarded as an *introject*, which is to some extent something to be expelled during therapy. So, you are right that the idea is somewhat problematic, but very suggestive of a new way to interpret complementarity in terms of consciousness on a fundamental level. So, let us go into it...

I discern quite a few types of consciousness. First of all, on the phenomenological level, there is absolute or God Consciousness and then there is Cosmic or Causal Consciousness. The former is the pure cogito, while the latter posits the pure experience in an external but undifferentiated world. On the ontological level, this latter becomes the Stream of Consciousness in the sixth or causal world juxtaposed to the Content and Consciousness comprising neutral bits of Experience in the second or emotional world. There seems to then be the idea that the whole phenomenological system of worlds is instantiated in the emotional world of the ontological system of worlds as that which is observed by the *embodied* observer. The idea is that at the embodied level, each of von Neumann's hypostases, I, II, and III, which have become the quantum sub-systems, S, M, and O, split into observer-observed pairs. The System, S, is also a Subject-Superject and hence observes itself. Similarly, the Observer O can in fact observe the System only by directly observing some element in itself, so O must also be an observer-observed pair.

Now, the observer we already know from von Neumann is essentially an *abstract "ego"*, but this abstract "ego" is in fact the correct ontological definition of the Freudian "ego", which however becomes embodied in the emotional world as the embodied observer, along with the "id" and the "super-ego". What is missing is a definition of the element that the embodied observer observes in himself every time he observes a quantum system. It must be something in himself that adequately represents the quantum system. That something can only be the phenomenologically reduced reality of the observer himself, his very essence. It is this which must be instantiated in the neural makeup of the embodied observer. The embodied observer himself is instantiated on the psychon side of the mental/physical noumenal reality. But the element in himself that he directly observes, what Whitehead calls the percipient event, must be instantiated on the neuron side of the mental/physical bipolar entity. Whitehead's actual entity as a subject-superject is here conceived as a psychon-pneumaton in relation to a neuron as its object, following the idea of Eccles.

The basic structure of the element instantiated on the objective side is that it involves a split or complementary consciousness, what James calls the upper self and the under self, and what Perls calls the top dog and the under dog. They are in fact the absolute or God Consciousness and the Cosmic or Causal Consciousness, insofar as these are two inseparable dimensions of the pure phenomenologically reduced experience. These are introjects insofar as these pure undefiled elements appear in the midst of the greedy needs of the psychological self. As pure elements they are threatening to the greedy needs of the self, and yet if the greedy needs of the self can tolerate them and absorb them rather than expelling them, then they will transmute the greedy needs of the self. This is the goal of alchemy, the transmutation of the base elements into gold.

In terms of physics, we see that the origin of complementarity is very close to home. It is in the very structure of the psyche and its ability to find an element in itself that adequately represents the external objects it would perceive. This dictates what can in fact be perceived and to some extent what can exist, since there is no other way that a *perceptible* universe could exist. In terms of brain science, the project becomes very simple: find out how the phenomenological self with its complementary types of consciousness are instantiated on the neural circuitry. Knowing what the structure is that the neural correlates must correlate to should simplify the search immensely and reduce it from an impossibility to an eminent possibility. Since we already know the CCM (cognitive correlates of matter), it should be relatively easy to find the NCC (neural correlates of consciousness).

To see *why* the something in the observer that can adequately represent the quantum system can only be the phenomenologically reduced reality of the observer himself, one need only consider that the observer is a meta-physical classical element that observes a noumenal quantum reality in nature. But the essence of phenomenology is that such an observer has an inner nature (or Buddha nature) that is every bit as real and noumenal in its own way as the outer nature he observes in the physical world. Although in his classical role, the observer is just an isolated point of view, in his true inner nature, he is as expansive and vast as the outer universe he takes to be different than himself. This inner nature is noumenal and hence quantal in character - it is the realization of the implicate order of David Bohm. So, because it is quantal and because it is the vast underpinning of the whole manifested universe, this true inner nature in the context of the self is the perfect representation of the outer noumenal element that the observer is trying to know in Nature.

To see how the forms of phenomenologically reduced consciousness correspond exactly to the position representation and the momentum representation, one need only realize that the embodied form of Consciousness mentioned by James, namely the one that is equally Content in each quantum bit of Experience, refers directly to the embodied form of being, called by Heidegger Dasein and by Sartre Etre pour-soi. Etre pour-soi is just the quantum noumenal being, which is in fact of the nature of consciousness itself, even as quantum reality in general is thought-like, rather than matter-like, as many have pointed out, including Henry Stapp. According to Sartre, Etre pour-soi tries to integrate itself with Etre en-soi, in such a manner as to become a unified Etre pour-soi-en-soi, which would be an Ens Causa Sui. This attempt to become God is the goal of existence, according to Sartre. But the interesting thing for physics is that Etre pour-soi-en-soi turns out to be the God Consciousness, embodied ontologically, and Ens Causa Sui correlates to the Cosmic or Causal Consciousness, also embodied ontologically as the Stream of Consciousness.

It can be shown, by investigating in some detail the real subject/object or relations involved in the position representation and the momentum representation, respectively, that the Etre pour-soi-en-soi and the God Consciousness refer to the ontological meaning of the position representation, while the Ens Causa Sui and the Cosmic or Causal Consciousness refer to the momentum representation. The former was of course established to some extent by Bohm, and the latter was investigated by Whitehead. His actual entities are, of course, Causa Sui, as he says explicitly. So, Sartre's problems in making his project of existence succeed had only to do with his lack of comprehension of the complementarity between the Etre pour-soi-en-soi and the Ens Causa Sui. Bohm and Hiley are also confused on this point, since they fail to cognize that only the position representation is ontological, while only the momentum representation leads to a fundamentally *causal* interpretation, which Whitehead referred to as perception in the mode of causal efficacy.

[Ulrich Mohrhoff]
Stapp's third error (E_3), pointed out in Sec. 3, is a category mistake. It consists in his treating possibilities as if they possessed an actuality of their own. This leads to the erroneous notion that possibilities are things ("propensities") that exist and evolve in time (E_4).

[Peter Mutnick]
The realm of the possible is the oroboric abyss between the quantum physical realm of the observed noumenon and the meta-physical classical realm of the actual observer. What is possible must be possible both from the noumenal perspective *and* from the perspective of the inherent Kantian-type capacity of the actual observer. What is further asserted is that the noumenon has the character of an Aristotelian "potentia", which assumes the form of a potential for an actual event at the measuring device as a result of the interaction between the noumenon and the measuring device. I believe that Heisenberg held the intuitive notion that PSI was the State Vector Substance, representing the action of the measuring device on the noumenon, and PSI* was the Potential Actual Event, representing the back-action of the noumenon on the measuring device. The Born Probability Rule represents then the *interaction* of the measuring device with the noumenon.

I agree that Stapp has relinquished Heisenberg's correct noumenal interpretation of the "potentia" and the potential for an actual event, leaving no conclusion but that he falsely assumes some actual existence for it in the mind of the observer or some such absurd and contradictory notion. In fact, its existence is the noumenal existence of the quantum object as it exists in Nature, quite real, but not actual until acted upon by an observer. It is true, as you say, that we cannot attribute definite laws of evolution to the noumenon itself, but we can of course discover the regularities that govern our interactions with the noumenon. Moreover, if we can conceive of the external noumenon as existing entirely within the internal noumenon of consciousness itself, then there is a possibility of discovering the universal law of the unified noumenon. This is the strategy of Heisenberg in developing his unified field theory, although not even Hans-Peter Duerr, his closest associate, seems to have any clue of this. Such is the shroud of secrecy and mystery that surrounded (and still surrounds) the discovery of quantum theory.

Says Max Born (in "My Life and My Views", p. 188): "I wish to mention that the latest branch of physical research, the theory of elementary particles, seems to be still entirely in the abstract.... The content of Heisenberg's world formula seems to me at present an abstract 'thing in itself' without an immediate correlation with sense impressions.... Yet we scientists should always remember that all experience is based on the senses. A theoretician who, immersed in his formulae, forgets the phenomena which he wants to explain is no real scientist, physicist, or chemist; and if he is estranged by his books from the beauty and variety of nature, I would call him a poor fool. At present we have a reasonable equilibrium between experiment and theory, between sensual and intellectual reality, and we ought to see that it is preserved."

Born here takes the position of Goethe vs. his old student Heisenberg. However, I dare say, that although Born had more intuitive insight than most into the meaning of Heisenberg's unified field theory, he did not really understand it at all. It is, very simply, the unified field of consciousness, the quantum description of the observer (von Neumann's III) and his internal construction of all that is or ever will be. The unified field acts on the observer as a Bohm-type guidance field for this internal construction of noumenal reality.

Peter Joseph Mutnick 1949 - 2000