Putting the Fire in the Equations; Generating multilevel dynamical processes in Physics and Psychology
Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness:
|Net Level||Network Relations of||Developed in|
Piaget/ Gowan Stage
|4||plans, models, formalisms||formal||12-16|
|3||classes, series, numbers||operational||7-11|
|2||events, single relations, sentences||preoperational (preconceptual & intuitive)||2-6|
|0||images, motor movements||(initial)||-0|
|Net Level||Network Relations||Quantum Theory|
|5||meta-theories, paradigms||variational principles|
|4||plans, models, formalisms||time evolution equations|
|3||classes, series, numbers||invariance groups|
|2||events, single relations||propensities & forces|
Artificial Intelligence and Neural NetworksNeural networks have proved to be useful framework for formulating a wide range of information processing problems in cognitive psychology. This has lead some to postulate their sufficiency for a system of artificial intelligence. However, there are three main problems with neural networks. The first is the question of speed, the second the problem of procedures, and the third the problem of levels.
- In order for neural networks to (approximately) solve global optimisation problems, some search procedure such as simulated annealing is required. This is notoriously slow, and, as still a procedure of `exponential complexity', will be prohibitively slow for problems of realistic complexities.
- Neural networks have fixed connections only, and in order for them to achieve anything like translation or scale invariances for perception, then all possible translations and scales have to be `hard wired' simultaneously (Hinton et al, 1985). This could be avoided again by some `procedural' or `algorithmic' mechanisms, with `variable bindings', but this can only be implemented in neural networks by `brute force' multiple connections.
- Neural networks seem to plausibly describe the interactions of related ideas on a given `level' oftable 1. They are notoriously poor, indeed AI as a whole is notoriously poor, at modelling the connections between the separate layers (see Thompson, 1990).
What is new physics in this proposal, is the first principle I: that the mind predisposes the physiological potentialities (whether deterministic or indeterministic according to quantum physics). This relation between mind and brain is analogous to that between virtual and real quantum events, but postulating the mind/brain relation to be of this kind has new empirical content.The predisposition of physical propensities is of course not arbitrary. It is conditioned from the physical side by past actual events, from the mental side by the functions which may be accomplished, and from both sides by the requirement of correspondence. These constraints mean we do not have merely a `mind of the gaps' which fills in what is left undetermined by modern science. There are certainly gaps to be filled, but the present scheme will also explain what we already know, not just what we don't know.
If, for example, there is a regular sequence of actual physical events, and the predisposition is not varying, then there will be a constant production of new propensities, and hence a regular sequence of physical effects as if by a universal physical law. Thus our principles can provide a new basis for physical laws which we already know.
When there are intermediate propensities (e.g. of individual minds) then physical events do not follow the previous simple pattern. The new pattern will describe how the brain works in conjunction with the mind. Clues to this behaviour can be found by analogy with psychological processes, as discussed later.
- We saw in table 2 that the images (in the mind) correspond to actual selections (in quantum mechanics). This casts new light on our old problem of the role of consciousness in quantum measurement, and we see that perception of images does cause and correspond to the selection of actual outcomes of measurement in quantum physics. It is similar to Eccles' proposal, but now we have a better idea of the mental side of the picture. The network level 0 is the initial stage of cognitive development, and does not require any sophisticated analytical or predictive capacities: it is more the ability to `see what there is to see'. This means that the selection of outcomes of measurements does not happen at the time of the (random) event, but later, when perceptibledifferences have emerged, and are perceived.
- The ability of the sensorimotor mind to influence the course of events is, however, quite limited. Its role in everyday life is more to provide a source of perceptions, and implement outcomes that have already been decided. This corresponds in quantum mechanics to the small size of Planck's constant, and the rarity of quantum-random events which do have perceptible differences. Occasionally, however, there is still a need for basic decisions, and (in the mind and in quantum mechanics) it is necessary to decide between one of a small number of options. On these occasions, consciousness does limit itself to a single perception, and this does cause the selection of a particular outcome of a event left random by quantum physics.
- Most of the interesting processes in the mind and in quantum physics take place at levels 3 - 5: the `theoretical' layers as these were described earlier. Processes occur at these layers which generate in the first place the `short list' of options for the sensorimotor mind, and a great deal of detailed knowledge and derivation goes into this preparation.
- The operation of predisposition and correspondence in these `higher' levels must mean that the time-evolution equation of physics, normally taken to be Schrödinger's equation, is not fixed. We should be able to discover circumstances in which even classical systems follow a modified physical law.
`New' MetaphysicsThese ideas have the possible disadvantage (or feature) that the operation of ordinary inert physical processes requires further analysis. Basically, since the propensities for physical processes derive from mental processes, all physical dispositions must derive (or have been derived from) some prior psychical level. This may sound like pan-psychism, but I am not saying that all physical processes include their ownconsciousnesses. There is a simpler solution, if you can accept the new metaphysics that there is some kind of Source, composed of suitable `psychic' propensities, from which everyday material propensities perpetually derive. Since the operation of this Source is always according to past physical events, we saw above that this operation amounts to the constant production of new propensities as if a `physical law' were prevailing. That is the way most scientists prefer to see the world. It is only that sometimes things are not so simple.There may be some reaction to the apparent `dualism' in these ideas, as I have postulated minds existing separately from brains. However, this separation is only in our theory: in practice they need each other, and function together as a unified whole - as the person.
Origin of these ideasI have presented these ideas as worth of consideration on their own, but they really have a long history in a variety of contexts. The basic idea that causation only truly works from the mind into the brain (and not vice versa) is not a popular one today, but has to be traced back to `non-standard' insights of people such as Plotinus (b. 205), Boehme (b. 1575), Swedenborg (b. 1688) and some other traditions. Swedenborg was well educated as a physicist and then physiologist, so I find his accounts the most detailed and useful. Of course, he knew nothing of quantum mechanics (only Newtonian mechanics), so I have had to `re-apply' his principles in the light of what we now know about the physical world. He, however, has the clearest presentation of the idea of `conditional forward causation' (he calls it `influx into uses'), and he gives the most complete account of the `correspondences' which exist between mental and bodily things. For a brief summary of his ideas, see Thompson (1989).
ConclusionIn order to understand how the mind and brain function together, it is not enough for there to be gaps in our physical theories. We also need to have a unified picture of both minds and brains. In this paper I have tried to outline such a unified approach. These suggestions require some departure from what is commonly accepted in the physical sciences, but we can still learn a great deal from what has already been discovered both there and in the psychological sciences.
- Bawden, H.H. (1947) `The Psychical as a Biological Directive', Philos. Science, XIV pp. 56 - 67.
- Bohm, D. (1951) `Quantum Theory', Prentice-Hall.
- Bohm, D. (1980) `Wholeness and the Implicate Order', Routledge and Kegan-Paul.
- Deutsch, D. (1985) `Quantum Theory, the Church-Turing principle and the universal quantum computer', Proc. R. Soc. Lond,A 400, pp. 91 - 117.
- Donald, M.J. (1990) `Quantum Theory and the Brain', Proc. R. Soc. Lond, A 427, pp. 43 - 93.
- Eccles, J. and K.R. Popper, (1977) `The Self and Its Brain', Springer.
- Eccles, J. (1989) `Evolution of the Brain: Creation of the Self', Routledge.
- Faber, R.J. (1986) `Clockwork Garden'.
- Gowan, J.C. (1972) `Development of the Creative Individual', Knapp.
- Hinton, G.E. and K.J. Lang (1985) `Shape Recognition and Illusory Conjunctions', Proceedings of IJCAI-85, pp. 252 - 259.
- Jahn, R.G and B.J. Dunne (1986) `On the Quantum Mechanics of Consciousness, with Application to Anomalous Phenomena',Foundations of Physics, 16 pp. 721 - 772.
- Marshall, I.N. (1989) `Consciousness and Bose-Einstein Condensates', New Ideas in Psychology, 7 pp. 73 - 85.
- Maxwell, N. (1988) `Quantum Propensiton Theory: A testable resolution of the wave-particle dilemma', The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 39, pp. 1 - 50.
- Squires, E.J. (1990) `An Attempt to Understand the Many-worlds Interpretation of Quantum Theory', in Quantum Theory without Reduction, ed. Cini and Levy-Blond, Adam Hilger, pp. 151 - 160.
- Thompson, I.J. (1988) `Real Dispositions in the Physical World', The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 39, pp. 67 - 79 (html).
- Thompson, I.J. (1989) `Swedenborg and Modern Science', Scientific and Medical Network Newsletter, 26, pp. 3 - 8 (html).
- Thompson, I.J. (1990) `Layers of Semantic Nets and Developmental Psychology', unpublished (html).
- Toben, B. (1974) `Space-Time and Beyond', Dutton.
- Walker, E.H. (1970) `The Nature of Consciousness', Mathematical Biosciences, 7, pp. 131 - 178.
- Wigner, E. (1962) `Remarks on the Mind-Body Question', pp. 284 - 302 in The Scientist Speculates, I.J. Good, ed: Basic Books, N.Y.
- Zohar, D. (1990) `The Quantum Self', Bloomsbury.