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Further Discussion with H. Dieter Zeh


Note: I have added a response to a quote from Einstein on his attitude toward metaphysics, which leans strongly toward the attitude of the logical positivists, such as Mach. This seems to be very relevant to some of Dieter's remarks.

Note: Dieter has asked for a pause in the dialogue, which I of course graciously grant, but since I do not lack any desire in pursuing the dialogue (with any who are willing and able), I will reply and then we will pause, if that is OK.

[[Peter]]
I think this reveals a certain ignorance of what these philosophers were about. They are NOT working by the so-called scientific method.

[Dieter]
I was not talking about methods, but about results. It is not ignorance but disappointment. This discussion leads us into a different (and, of course, very difficult) field, but I do not see how we may (now) learn anything about the observed world from philosophy.

This does not mean that I am (or was) never interested in it. My attitude is a RESULT of philosophy (which led to Hume, for example).

[Peter]
I don't know much about Hume, except that Whitehead often quotes him and does not interpret him in the negative way with respect to metaphysics that you do.

[[Peter]]
However, Einstein emphasized the essential value of such a tension between theory and experiment even in modern science.

[Dieter]
You may be misunderstanding him. He admired Hume, but not any modern philosophers.

[Peter]
When asked if he believed in God, he said, "Yes, in the God of Spinoza". On other occasions, also, he affirmed affinity for Spinoza's philosophy of a universal substance, where minds and bodies are modes of that one substance corresponding to certain of its attributes, which are infinite and each of which expresses eternal and infinite essence. Also, he was interested in Mach, although I am not sure what he thought about Mach's "Analysis of Sensations", which is quite radical in its philosophy of science.

Spinoza's view is purely quantum mechanical. In religion, we have the Kantian trinity of universal father, infinite son of man, and eternal spirit. Universal father is the universal state vector, infinite son of man is the () structure of the wave function. But the attributes here are declared to be infinite (i.e., there are an infinite number of them) in accord with the view of David Deutsch, who believes that they are a continuum and indeed a metric space! Here one can understand Einstein's interest!

Apparently Einstein took from Mach something that Heisenberg, et al, resoundingly rejected (see "Physics and Beyond"). In Einstein's contribution to "The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell", he says:

[Albert Einstein]
In order that thinking might not degenerate into "metaphysics", or into empty talk, it is only necessary that enough propositions of the conceptual system be firmly connected with sensory experience and that the conceptual system, in view of its task of ordering and surveying sense-experience, should show as much unity and parsimony as possible. Beyond that, however, the "system" is (as regards logic) a free play with symbols according to (logical) arbitrarily given rules of the game.... The concepts which arise in our thought and in our linguistic expressions are all - when viewed logically - the free creations of thought which can not inductively be gained from sensory experiences.

[Peter Mutnick]
I believe what Einstein is rejecting here is, in quantum mechanical terms, precisely the notion that observables can come from the Schrodinger dynamics. Where his logic breaks down is in not realizing that the abstract "ego", as the classical observer, is not constrained by outer relations only, but by inner relations which have to do with the quantum implicate order (what Heisenberg, et al., called the "central order"), which is the true Mind of the Observer. Without recognizing this internal constraint and the real nature of the consciousness that the abstract "ego" utilizes in its observations of external nature, one might reasonably espouse such a subjective freedom to be arbitrary. In the light of the phenomenological research of Descartes and Husserl, however, which reveals the inner reality of subjectivity and consciousness, such an arbitrariness can no longer be exalted over a genuine metaphysics of the quantum implicate order, IMHO. Hence, the way is made straight for the development of a theory of observables that are determined by the noumenal reality and not arbitrarily selected by the classical observer. A genuine free will is still mandated, but it has to do with the transcendental wholeness of the quantum phenomenon and not with the freedom of the abstract "ego" from internal constraint.

[[Peter]]
Ah, but that is part of the essential tension between theory and experiment. Theory, IMHO, *should* have a life of its own.

[Dieter]
Yes, life is different from truth, but I am not really interested now in the details of this philosophical debate. Perhaps you send me e-mails once in a while, but not regularly.

[Peter]
That is fine, but my whole purpose *is* to reunite religion, philosophy, and science and the methods thereof into one unified and successful approach. I sincerely believe such an approach holds the *only* hope for real progress in physics at this time, which has just gotten too confusing and is in dire need of a deep simplifying unification of the bewildering complexity.

[[Dieter]]
So did you find his arguments convincing, or did you just believe his claims?

[[Peter]]
I do defer to Stapp on these matters, which are his particular area of profound expertise, but I am in the process of thoroughly digesting his arguments, and yours.

[Dieter]
Sorry, I may be disappointing you. I met Henry at Esalen many years ago. I also met Capra (once at my home), but I am sure he is talking nonsense about quantum theory. If something comes out of the discussion between Stapp and Joos (I doubt it), they may inform you.

[Peter]
Please do not conflate Henry in any way with Capra, or me with Capra, for that matter. I have never had much affinity for Capra's writing and I know that neither Chew nor Stapp were much impressed by him. He is indeed a popularizer without much depth or intensity, as far as I can tell. Indeed, he has faded into obscurity, while Stapp is still standing and still very active. I know Stapp to be intense and sincere in his approach to physics. My only difference with him is that, along with William James, he puts off the application of metaphysics to physics for another hundred years. I say the time is NOW.

[[[Peter]]]
If they are not, in principle, self-consistent (as Stapp claims),

[[Dieter]]
Does he claim they are or they are NOT?

[[Peter]]
He claims the Schrodinger Equation by itself cannot produce local orthogonal basis states that could correspond to either experiment or experience. However, your reading of von Neumann seems different than mine and, I think, Stapp's. First of all you say, in "The Problem of Conscious Observation in Quantum Mechanical Description", which is on your website at http://www.zeh-hd.de, "John von Neumann seems to have first clearly pointed out the difficulties that arise when one attempts to formulate the physical process underlying subjective observation within quantum theory [Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics]. He emphasized the latter's incompatibility with a psycho-physical parallelism, the traditional way of reducing the act of observation to a physical process." I do not think he found any such incompatibility.

[Dieter]
That's precisely why he introduced the collapse of the w.f.

[Peter]
Oh, in that sense, of course! He absolutely depended on the notion of a cut and an actual observer (his III who is outside the quantum mechanical calculation) to implement the principle of the psycho-physical parallelism. That was his whole point, as I understood it, that the moveability of the cut and the whole structure of the Copenhagen Interpretation gave for the first time in the history of science a satisfactory explanation of the principle of the psycho-physical parallelism. The classical view of course cannot synthesize the realms of extension and thought and thereby surmount the Cartesian cut. That is the superiority of the quantum explanation. There is still a cut, but it is relative and not absolute.

[[Peter]]
He simply mapped mental, emotional, and physical world elements onto a III, II, and I existing as vertical structures or sub-worlds within the physical world.

[Dieter]
I doubt he ever used such terms!

[Peter]
Really he did. He spoke of the "extra-physical" elements of the observational process as being put into correspondence with physical elements. By "psycho-physical" what could he mean but "mental" and "physical"? By "parallelism" what could he mean but the emotional world that interfaces with both the mental world and the physical world? Within the physical world, there is a vertical structure of sub-worlds:

etheric
mental.......Understanding.......III
causal.....................................II
astral.........Sensibility...............I
physical.....Relativity

The mental world gets mapped onto the mental sub-world, the emotional world and the physical world get mapped onto the causal sub-world and the astral sub-world, one world higher than their corresponding element, because they are governed nomologically, through the Schrodinger Equation, by the sub-world above their corresponding element.

BTW, this whole treatment of III, II, and I is not the ultimate one that includes the phenomenal reality of the actual observer in the classical sense, but von Neumann showed, as Wigner later explained, how one can get the full reality of the classical observer and his stream of consciousness from the psycho-physical quantum reality. The brain is a ground in the mental world. As each figure, indicating function, emerges and is reduced by the principle of the psycho-physical parallelism to its corresponding element in the mental sub-world of the physical world, the mental world ground is eventually emptied of materiality and becomes a true ground state. This corresponds to an "ego sum" in the mental sub-world of the physical world, which in turn corresponds to the abstract "ego", or classical brain, in the meta-physical classical world of the observer. This shows how the quantum ground state can be identified with the classical brain or even the whole classical world, as Werner Heisenberg and Hans-Peter Duerr have asserted.

The higher worlds, meta-physical, causal, and phenomenal, which constitute von Neumann's III in the ultimate sense, are in one sense epiphenomenal, and hence so is the stream of consciousness, but they are not really epiphenomenal, because they play the essential role of defining the observable operators that provide the basis states for actual phenomenal experiments and experiences. In this way, however, one should be able to derive the observable operators from the underlying Schrodinger dynamics. This was von Neumann's unfinished quest for a new ring of operators that would display their noumenal derivation.

[[Peter]]
Secondly, you say, "These problems in formulating a process of observation within quantum theory arise as a consequence of quantum nonlocality (quantum correlations or "entanglement", characterizing generic physical states), which in turn may be derived from the superposition principle. This fundamental quantum property does not even approximately allow the physical state of a local system (such as the brain or parts thereof) to exist. Hence, no state of the mind can exist "parallel" to it (that is correspond to it one-to-one or determine it)."

I remember very clearly that von Neumann does mandate the application of a reduced density matrix to sub-systems such as the brain. The reduced density matrix is obtained by tracing over all variables except those of the sub-system.

[Dieter]
You are now entering the Joos/Stapp debate.

[[[Peter]]]
To me, that is not decisive, however, since I am mostly interested in the deeper question, which present experiments will still not touch upon, of the relation of the material world to our subjectivity and consciousness.

[[Dieter]]
So am I, but I do not see any ways to answer it except by CONCLUSIVELY refuting physical realism.

[[Peter]]
Jeez, I though quantum theory had done that back in 1925, or at least in 1935. The attempts to revive naive physical realism have all failed to my knowledge,

[Dieter]
That's Bohr's brain washing! Bohm's theory is a sufficient counter example (even though it is not convincing in all its details).

[Peter]
According to Stapp, the inability of the Schrodinger Equation to produce branches that constitute local orthogonal basis states applies as much to the Bohm Interpretation as to the MWI. The latest I have heard is that Joos wants to introduce delta functions into the solution to the double well problem (as Zurek's model for the branching) that Stapp believes to be unphysical and hence irrelevant.

[Dieter]
I am impressed by your enthusiasm, but it must be clearly separated from ARGUMENTS. Let's make a pause!

[Peter]
I understand. Very few can believe in my method, which is indeed transcendental and beyond reason. I am eager, however, to put it to the test, which I am confident will reveal that it is indeed adequate to the derivation of scientific truth from first philosophical principles.

http://www.geocities.com/saint7peter

Best wishes, Dieter

--------------------------------------------------------------
H. Dieter Zeh
Gaiberger Str. 38
D69151 Waldhilsbach, Germany
Phone: (+49)6223 74097
Fax: (+49)6223 74098
e-mail: zeh@urz.uni-heidelberg.de
See also: www.zeh-hd.de (or www.time-direction.de)



Peter Joseph Mutnick 1949 - 2000


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