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Jonathan C. Edwards and Willard Miranker have even proposed that that each single neuron in the brain is associated with its own center of consciousness. We directly experience ourselves as a single unified fields of consciousness that persist through changes in our brain states and bodily composition over periods of at least hours. We think we persist as the same selves over the lifetimes of our bodies.

In this we may be wrong. If memories are, as an overwhelming body of scientific evidence indicates, stored as patterns of synaptic connections among neurons in our brain, how do you know that you are the same field of consciousness that inhabited your body when you fell asleep?

If you can become attached to your brain shortly after conception or in the view of some people at birth and become detached from it at the moment of death, it stands to reason that you can also become attached to it long after birth and leave it well before death. Our association with our bodies may be only temporary. We may be breathed out and breathed in like so many oxygen atoms. Indeed, while many philosophers such as Descartes have thought that minds or souls are not extended in space and time and hence immaterial, the fact that we find ourselves stuck in physical bodies occupying in particular locations in space and even more mysteriously located at a particular moments in time, suggests that we too must at least partially be residents of spacetime ourselves, if only temporarily.

These particles appear, like our individual consciousnesses, to be indivisible leaving aside the possibility of subquarks for the moment. We may ourselves be material or quasi-material entities that can become stuck in individual brains on a temporary basis. We may be a particle or field already known to physical science, although it is more likely we are an entity yet to be discovered and explained.

The evidence for psi phenomena, to be discussed in Chapters 3 and 4, suggests that the mind may have abilities that transcend those of entities located at single spacetime location. If we are continually being recycled, then when we wake in the morning, we may not be in the same bodies or objects or plasma fields that we were in the day before.

If, as the overwhelming body of modern research in neuroscience indicates, our memories, thoughts and emotions are largely a function of our brain states, we would not remember our existence as, say, a crow the day before. We cannot find those memories in the same way that we cannot access a telephone number written on a misplaced piece of paper.

The telephone number and the pad it was written on are not parts of our essential selves. Neither are we the memories stored in the stored in the brain of the crow that now perches outside our window or the memories and personality traits stored in the new human brain in which we have just awakened.

What we will remember are the memories stored in that new human brain sometimes after a period momentary of confusion upon awakening. We will feel the emotions caused by the intense firing of our midbrain neurons and the hormones and neurotransmitters rampaging through our cerebral cortex. We think we are in sole command of the body, whereas in fact our nerves, the neurochemical soup in which they bathe, as well as numerous other centers of pure consciousness also mired in the same brain, may have as much or more to say about the fate of the body than we do.

In short, we fall under the illusion that we are the Person, the physical body that continues from birth to death, and the stream of memories, thoughts and emotions that courses through it, rather than the centers of pure consciousness that we are. Where Blackmore and Dennett err is in denying that there is any self or center of conscious that persists from moment to moment i. If I am to doubt that I am a center of consciousness persisting through macroscopic time intervals, then I must doubt everything and enter a state of total solipsism and nihilism.

However, I do agree that it is likely that spheres of consciousness are, just like electrons and quarks, continually being recycled, joining first one aggregate body and then another. But it is likely that such centers enter and leave the brain at times other than birth and death. The idea that the conscious self enters into the body at some time shortly after conception and then persists in that body until death is just an aspect of the illusion produced by identifying ourselves as the Person.

As we have seen, through replacement of atoms, the body we inhabit today is a totally different body from that of a decade age and the spheres of consciousness that inhabit it including ourselves are likely themselves different as well. There is no Person in the sense of a continuing aggregation of matter or a continuing self. The Person is likely to be, as Blackmore and Dennett insist, a story we tell ourselves. However, it is a useful story, just like the story of my car or my kitchen table.

It helps credit card companies to obtain payments for purchases we made the preceding month and guides our interactions with former classmates at a high school reunion. But in an absolute sense, the Person is only a cognitive construct, a very vivid hallucination. We cling to our present form of existence thinking that there is no other, but when you stop to think about the matter, human bodies, with their ills, needs and subjugation into mindless repetitive jobs, may not be the best places in the universe to inhabit.

But we may not inhabit such Hells or such Heavens as there might be for as long as we think. As Frost suggests, there may be miles to go although perhaps not so many as one might think before we sleep and enter yet another dream. The Game Plan. The remainder of this book further develops the themes outlined above and defends the foregoing thesis regarding the relationship between conscious selves and the physical world. In Chapter 1, we well will explore the nature of the relationship between mind consciousness and matter. Chapter 2 continues this exploration with a consideration of the implications of quantum mechanics regarding the role of mind in the cosmos.

In Chapters 3 and 4, we will consider the evidence for psi phenomena, such as ESP and psychokinesis, in some detail. The defense of the primary thesis regarding the role of conscious observers presented above will in no way rest on the existence of psi phenomena.

However, such phenomena, if they exist, have profound implications regarding the role of mind in the physical world and they are entertaining and instructive to explore in their own right. Chapter 5 is devoted to an exploration of the implications of psi phenomena, if they exist, for our views of reality in general and the nature of mind-matter interaction in particular.

Chapter 6 presents the existing evidence for the survival of the Person including memories, emotions, and even physical appearance of the death of the human body. In Chapter 7, we will explore in further detail the nature of the self and the nature of mind-brain interaction. In Chapter 8, we will turn again to a consideration to the role of mind in the physical universe, this time on the grandest of scales, by considering the anthropic principle and arguments that the universe may to designed to support the existence of and possibly to entertain conscious observers.

Chapter 9 contains a final summing-up of the evidence and conclusions presented in the main body of the book. It is time to get started. Before launching into a discussion of modern views on the mind-body problem, it is helpful to consider the historical processes that gave rise to those views. In particular, an historical perspective will enable us to understand the almost religious vehemence with which some positions are held.


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In the history of human thought up until surprisingly recent times, it was much more common to attribute mental or psychological properties to seemingly inanimate matter than it is today. Jonathan Shear, the founder and editor of the Journal of Consciousness Studies , notes that the problem of accounting for the existence of conscious experience that confronts modern science was not a problem for the ancient Greeks, as they viewed the material world as being imbued with mind, which served as a force governing the behavior of matter Shear, For instance, Thales of Miletus died c.

A century later Empedocles asserted that all elemental bodies were endowed with thought and sensation Nash, a. Epicurus B. This idea has been revitalized many times over the course of development of Western thought. Aristotle taught that the natural state of any body was one of rest. These animistic views of matter gradually crumbled under the onslaught of scientific advances. After all, if you spin a top, it keeps spinning by itself. Philoponos was rewarded for this observation by being denounced as a heretic by the Church.

Divine intervention by deities or angels was no longer permitted; events were seen to be predictable from, and governed by, the laws of nature alone. Vestiges of divine intervention persisted at least into the 18th century. However, in general the picture of the universe that emerged from the seventeenth century at least in Western philosophy was one of a huge impersonal machine governed by strictly mechanical principles.

Once the picture of the physical universe as a soulless machine gained ascendancy, not only did matter get stripped of its mental and spiritual aspects, so did living organisms. For instance, while Ernest Haeckel used an analogy between the growth of salt crystals and that of living cells to proclaim that all matter had a spiritual aspect, his contemporary Carl Nageli used precisely the same analogy to deny that biological cells were associated with a spiritual force, instead arguing that their growth was due to simple mechanical forces.

Antoine Lavoisier had earlier demonstrated that the ratio of emitted heat to carbon dioxide was the same for candle flames as it was for animals, suggesting that respiration was a purely mechanical process. While vitalism is not dead, its few modern advocates, including Arthur Koestler , have been regarded as fringe thinkers by the scientific establishment. One of the contributors to this mechanistic cosmology was, paradoxically enough, the seventeenth century philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes, who is widely regarded as being the prototype of the modern dualist a dualist being one who regards the realms of mind and matter as having independent reality.

Among the phenomena that had most strongly indicated a mental aspect to matter were those suggestive of the operation of action-at-a-distance, such as gravitation and magnetism. Descartes was able to eliminate this stumbling block on the road to a totally mechanistic outlook by proposing theories of magnetism the vortex theory and gravitation the plenum theory that avoided the problem of action-at-a-distance by assuming that these two types of force were transmitted through a physical medium. Descartes extended his mechanistic philosophy to encompass living creatures as well as inanimate matter.

He viewed animals as mere machines. He viewed mind as a totally different kind of entity from matter. Thus, the mind inhabited a different plane of existence from the physical world and could not be said to have a spatial location. He thought the pineal gland was the area of the brain in which this mind-matter interaction took place as the pineal gland was the one structure that was not duplicated in the cerebral hemispheres and thus seemed appropriate to house a unitary and indivisible mind.

The mathematician G. Leibniz, however, demonstrated that Descartes was in error and that directionality was conserved in the law of momentum. Thus, Leibniz demonstrated that the physical body as modeled by Descartes was a deterministic system. There was therefore no room left for an influence of the mind on the body, and the mind was totally excluded from influence on the physical world.

As a deterministic clockwork physical universe allows no room for mind-action, it is not surprising that Cartesian dualism soon yielded to the materialism of Hobbes and La Mettrie and more recently of Watson, Skinner, Dennett and the Churchlands. Once again, an application of the law of inertia led to the exclusion of the spiritual realm from scientific models of the world, only this time it was not angels being banished from the heavens, but the human soul itself being banished from its body.

However, since the emergence of the theory of quantum mechanics early in the last century, the brain is no longer viewed as a deterministic system. Thus, the argument from determinism no longer works, and there is now the possibility that an immaterial mind could interact with a physical brain by selecting which quantum state the brain enters out of the many states that are possible at any given time. The philosopher Michael Lockwood has noted that the prejudice in favor of matter was grounded in the apparent solidity of the former in the Newtonian worldview.

Lockwood points out that the solidity of matter has disappeared in the theory of quantum mechanics material particles exist as probability waves in an abstract mathematical space until they are observed and that mind and matter are now both equally mysterious. The tenacity with which some scientists resist the idea of an autonomous realm of mind is perhaps understandable in light of history. The emerging mechanistic picture of the world was fiercely resisted by the religious establishment, notable examples being the condemnation of Galileo for the crime of propounding the heliocentric sun-centered model of the solar system and the resistance to the theory of biological evolution that is still being mounted by Christian fundamentalists.

Thus, any mention of an immaterial soul may raise fears of a descent back into religious irrationalism and a consequent lack of funding on the part of many scientists. The monistic position that contends that the world is composed solely of minds and mental events goes by the name of idealism. According to idealists, all that exists is mental experience. People consciously or unconsciously construct the hypothesis of a physical world in order to account for certain regularities in their sensory experience, but this is only a convenient fiction.

The contention that the physical world may be an illusion is logically irrefutable. For instance, you may think you are a human being holding a book on the mind-brain problem in your hand, whereas in fact you may be a nucleon-based life form on the surface of a neutron star who has gone into the analogue of a movie theater where strong pion fields have been applied to your brain both to induce amnesia for your real existence and to create in you the illusion that you are some two-legged elongated oxygen-breathing carbon-based being on a remote planetary body for the sole purposes of entertainment.

More simply, you could be merely dreaming or hallucinating. Following the Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu, the reader might legitimately wonder whether she or he might be a butterfly temporarily dreaming about being a human being reading a sentence about butterfly dreams. I can remember arguing with someone against this position. I maintained that I could not be dreaming because of the clarity and consistency of my sensory experience. Imagine my surprise when I woke up. This actually happened to me. All you can be certain of is your own existence.

Seeking certain knowledge, Descartes found that he could not doubt his own existence as a thinking being. The inferences you make about your external environment based on these mental events may not be valid, as you may be hallucinating, remembering falsely, having groundless feelings and thinking delusional thoughts. The various agencies presumed by idealists to be responsible for producing the illusion of the physical world have included God in the view of the prototypical idealist, the eighteenth century philosopher Bishop George Berkeley, for whom Berkeley University was named , a collective mind or collective unconscious, and the illusion-producing state of craving and ignorance according to certain schools of Buddhism.

The reply of most modern scientists and philosophers of science to idealism is that scientific theories that postulate the existence of an objective physical world have produced more exact predictions about possible human observations than have idealistic theories and therefore should be preferred over the latter for that reason. Such theories are even covertly preferred by most solipsists, who seem strangely reluctant to step in front of illusory oncoming trains. Idealism is not merely an historical curiosity, but even has its advocates today.

Within parapsychology, for instance, Edgar Mitchell , a former Apollo astronaut who once walked on the moon, suggested that an idealistic philosophy may have to be adopted in order to account for the evidence for psychokinesis the alleged ability of mind to directly influence material objects and systems that are remote from the body. The physicist Amit Goswami has contended that an idealist conception of the world is required in order to render modern theories of physics, in particular quantum mechanics, coherent.

Radical Materialism.

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Radical materialism is the polar opposite of idealism. Radical materialists deny the existence of mental events, insisting that the world of physical matter is the only reality. Incredibly enough, this philosophy held sway in the discipline of psychology itself in the early part of this century at least in the United States. Behaviorism emerged as the dominant force in psychology in this country as a reaction against the fallibility of the method of introspection that predominated in the earliest days of psychological investigation.

Skinner e. Skinner could not consistently claim that he believed that mental events do not exist, as that belief would itself constitute a mental event. If the books produced by Skinner are in fact merely the product of conditioned typewriter-pecking responses and the sentences within them do not express ideas, there is no need to take these books seriously. It should be noted that Skinner did eventually retreat from this early radical version of his theory. Materialism is not dead as a philosophy in modern cognitive neuroscience, however. Churchland has in fact gone so far as to assert that truth might cease to be an aim of science!

This assertion is implicitly based on the assumption that the concept of truth presupposes the existence of propositions capable of being true or false, which in turn presupposes the existence of mental events such as thoughts, ideas and beliefs that are expressed in such propositions. But now we are right back where we started. However, I imagine that reader like me has personally experienced a great number of qualia, such as brilliant patches of red and pangs of hunger. Qualia may be both beautiful and horrifying.

Quasi-dualistic materialism. More sensible versions of materialism concede the existence of mental events, but contend that mental events arise solely from physical events and that a complete scientific description of the world can be given in terms of physical processes alone. A related doctrine is double-aspect theory. Double-aspect theorists contend that mental and physical events are merely two aspects of a single underlying reality.

As the vast majority of double-aspect theorists implicitly or explicitly assume that this single underlying reality is essentially physical matter, this theory is basically equivalent to the previous two. A similar doctrine is panpsychism, which asserts that all matter, not just living organisms, has a mental aspect. However, when you carefully consider it, the doctrine begins to grow on you.

An electron may even enjoy a certain degree of freedom of action due to quantum indeterminacy and may be able to sense a quantum field that is highly complex and global in nature. As does Griffin, Skrbina associates more complex forms of consciousness with aggregates of matter, such as single neurons, or large assemblies of neurons such as hippocampi and cerebral hemispheres. Also, fields of consciousness appear to be unitary and indivisible, much more like a quark than like a molecule or a neuron. As he notes, there is no definitive line of demarcation that can be drawn between conscious and nonconscious organisms, in either the present world or in the course of evolution.

It should, however, be noted that panpsychism still faces the difficulty of accounting for the emergence of a unified mind and global consciousness out of a myriad of psychic elements, as was pointed out long ago by William James and, more recently, by William Seager Epiphenomenalism is technically a form of dualism, insofar as it grants separate reality to the realms of mind and matter; however, I will classify epiphenomenalism as a form of quasi-dualistic materialism, as it denies that mental events have any influence whatsoever on the physical world.

Several writers, including the noted mathematician Roger Penrose b and Karl Popper and John Eccles have noted that epiphenomenalism in fact goes counter to Darwinism. Why should a conscious mind have evolved, they ask, if it did not play an active role in benefiting the organism? Also, and perhaps most amusingly, the mere existence of epiphenomenalist theories is in itself sufficient to refute the doctrine of epiphenomenalism.

After all, epiphenomenalism was developed as an attempt to explicate the role of mental events; therefore, the theory has been created in response to i. Thus, the theory of epiphenomenalism is refuted by the fact of its own existence. This idea had previously been suggested by Ed Fredkin of M. This view has been most recently revived by the noted mathematician Stephen Wolfram , who suggests that universe is best understood as a giant cellular automaton computerized grid of cells following prescribed rules of behavior.

If this suggestion that the universe is in fact the product of a giant computer has any validity, we cannot equate ourselves with the godlike programmers who created the universe and assume that we have simply each become entranced in the life of one of our three-dimensional creations which we have come to regard as our physical body.

Because of the arguments against epiphenomenalism, we cannot be mere spectators in the world. Our consciousnesses have a more active role in the universe than that. The philosophical positions that I have grouped together under the heading of quasi-dualistic materialism would seem to be equivalent to one another as scientific theories, insofar as they all apparently make the same scientific predictions mainly that no violations of the known laws of physics will occur in the brain and that no successful predictions regarding the behavior of the brain can be generated from theories involving nonphysical entities such as souls or minds that could not in principle at least be derived from theories referring solely to physical entities and processes.

Because of their importance in this debate and because of the controversies surrounding parapsychological research, these findings and their implications will be discussed in some detail in Chapters 3 through 5. It is commonly held, both by parapsychologists and skeptics, that psi phenomena are inexplicable on the basis of current physical theories and are thus evidence against the doctrine of physicalism, if the latter is construed as the contention that all phenomena can be ultimately accounted for in terms of present theories of physics or relatively minor extensions thereof.

Joseph Banks Rhine the researcher who is largely regarded as the progenitor of modern parapsychology and who established the first major research program in experimental parapsychology at Duke University in the s in particular was highly skeptical that psi phenomena could be explained on the basis of any physicalistic theory.

In fact, Rhine suggested that psi was nonphysical in nature, due to the lack of dependence of experimental psi-scoring rates on spatial or temporal separations and the lack of attenuation of the psi signal by physical barriers between the percipient and the target object e. Rhine also cited the fact psi success appears to be independent of the physical nature of the target object, as well as the apparent backward causation in time involved in precognition and, we might now add, retroactive psychokinesis , as further evidence against any physicalistic explanation of psi phenomena.

As the vast majority of working scientists subscribe to some form of physicalistic solution to the mind-body problem, it should not be surprising that they would choose to reject the claims of parapsychology, insofar as those claims tend to threaten their worldview. Some of the resistance of establishment science toward accepting the existence of psi may stem back to the fact that Western science has relatively recently in the vast scheme of things emerged from a battle with the Church over who would hold the authority regarding determining the nature of reality, the trial of Galileo being only one prominent example.

There are those who believe that some sort of truce should be declared between science and religion, such as Stephen J. For instance, in a scathing attack on parapsychology, Nicholas Humphrey asserts that the questions of the existence of souls and of the existence of paranormal powers are not independent issues and that the possession of a soul would imply the existence of such powers. On the other side of the fence, as psi phenomena suggest the existence of a nonphysical aspect to the mind, many people who would prefer to believe in the existence of an immortal soul may tend to adopt a belief in psi phenomena in support of their position.

This is undoubtedly too strong an assertion, however, as it is quite conceivable that a mind or soul or more likely a field of pure consciousness could survive death even if the living person or surviving trace did not possess the powers of ESP and PK. Even if it is assumed that the explanation of psi phenomena will require the postulation of entities and principles beyond those currently known to physicalistic science, it may be a mere issue of terminology whether such entities are to be considered material or nonmaterial.

If the former, the physicalist can claim victory; if the latter, the dualist can claim the same. Obviously, if mind and matter interact, they form one united system. Whether one chooses to call that system the physical universe may be a matter of semantics rather than substance. Some of the theoretical concepts already employed by physicists, such as the quantum-mechanical wave function discussed in the next chapter, already seem more mind-like than material in any event.

Strangely enough, J. Rhine himself disavowed any position of dualism. Interestingly enough, Frederick Dommeyer has classified Rhine as a double-aspect theorist, presumably referring to a version of double-aspect theory in which the common substance underlying mental and physical events is something other than matter as currently understood. Several other parapsychological theorists have proposed versions of the double-aspect theory. In more recent times, Carroll Nash , b has proposed a double-aspect theory to explain psi phenomena. Nash proposes that mind and matter are each aspects of some tertium quid, or neutral substance, that is not governed by space, time or causality, thus allowing psi to occur as well as providing the basis for mystical experiences.

Susan Blackmore has noted that psi phenomena are frequently invoked in support of the contention that consciousness plays some fundamental role in the universe. She argues that, in view of the fact that psi is often considered to operate primarily at a subconscious or unconscious level, the assertion that psi phenomena are evidence for a fundamental role for consciousness is unwarranted.

Machine Consciousness. What about humanly-manufactured machines that exhibit more complexity and activity than does, say, a slab of granite? Do thermostats feel a twinge of pain when the thermometer passes the set point and the furnace is not yet turned on?

The famous neurophysiologist W. What about modern computers that can defeat any human at chess? Many people argue that, if a machine or computer were able to duplicate human thought processes, there is no need to postulate the existence of an immaterial mind or soul to explain human thought, as human-manufactured computers are presumably not endowed with such ethereal entities as souls or minds.

Roger Penrose b , David Layzer and John Searle , have argued that, even if computers were to prove capable of simulating human behavior, this would not imply that computers possess awareness or have conscious experiences. On the other hand, their assertions that the particular properties of biological wetware are necessary for the generation of conscious experience are not in general supported by any convincing argument.

It would be desirable, therefore, to have a more or less objective test to determine whether a computer or robot is conscious. Just such a test was proposed by the mathematician Alan Turing , in the form of an imitation game which has since become known as the Turing test. If a human being communicating with a computer and with another human being through a teletype machine or, these days, a computer monitor cannot tell which is the computer and which is the human being, then the computer should be deemed conscious in other words, if you are willing to ascribe consciousness to the human being on the basis of her behavior, you should extend the same courtesy to the computer.

Could a computer successfully pass the Turing test? Computers operate by following mathematical algorithms fixed, mechanical procedures for solving a problem or producing output. Roger Penrose b, , has argued that human thought does not rely exclusively on such algorithms. If Theorem X were provable, a contradiction would result, as Theorem X asserts its own unprovability. Therefore, if the mathematical axiom system is consistent, Theorem X could never be proven. Consequently, Theorem X is true, as it simply asserts its own unprovability.

Computers, being driven by algorithms, are equivalent to mathematical axiom systems.


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Hence, a computer would be unable to perceive the truth of its own Theorem X, as it would only regard as true those statements that it could prove. Humans, on the other hand, are readily able to perceive the truth of such statements as Theorem X. Hence, Penrose argues, human thought is not algorithmic and therefore could not be simulated by an algorithmic computer. The chief difference between the computer and the human in this regard might be that the human can understand the meaning of the statements involved, whereas computers just blindly manipulate symbols according to prescribed rules without any idea of what those symbols might mean.

As we shall see, Penrose has come to view consciousness as intimately connected to nonlocal quantum processes in the brain. He sees such noncomputable quantum processes as being a prerequisite for consciousness. Churchland does not, however, see such nonalgorithmic reasoning as emerging from arcane quantum mechanical processes, but rather from the continuous, analog nature of the human brain as compared to Turing machines, which operate by entering one discrete state after another. Philosopher John Searle , has argued that even if a computer were to successfully simulate human behavior, this would not imply consciousness on the part of the computer.

As an analogy, he considers the case of a person who does not speak Chinese who sits alone in a room with a book of rules instructing him how to respond to strings of Chinese characters. While a speaker of Chinese may think he is engaging in a dialogue with this person by swapping notes back and forth under the door to the room, the person inside the room does not in fact understand what the Chinese speaker is saying or what he himself is saying, as he does not know what the symbols mean. Similarly, Searle argues, computers are engaged in a purely syntactic manipulation of symbols and have no idea of what those symbols mean.

Kaernbach found that his subjects gained no insight into the meaning of their symbolic operation unless they were specifically informed of the connection to mathematical operations. In his later publications, Searle does concede that a robot might be said to have semantic and not just merely syntactical understanding of linguistic symbols if the robot were provided with sensing devices such as TV cameras and motor apparatus such as robot arms. It may be argued that, even if a computer could simulate human thought, humans quite possibly possess psi abilities that may be indicative of a spiritual or immaterial aspect to human beings.

Computers, being mere machines, would presumably be incapable of demonstrating such psi powers. Actually, Turing himself considered this objection in his original proposal of the imitation game.

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Such quantum mechanical decay is based on the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and is according to standard theories of physics truly random. Even a physicist with complete knowledge of the REG system which must be less than complete in any event due to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle could not predict when such a decay will occur. Once the REG system is implanted in the computer, the computer might appear to have psi powers at least if humans themselves have such powers.

Thus, to all appearances, the computer would have psi powers. To pursue this line of thought even further, it would be interesting to speculate what would happen if a large number of quantum-mechanically based REGs were installed in the computer. Of course, it would no longer be the sort of deterministic, algorithm-following sort of computer that is known as a Turing machine. Instead, it might be something approaching a silicon-based life form.

In the end, the real test of consciousness in automata such as robots and computers may be to wait to see if such machines spontaneously express curiosity and wonderment about their own inner experience, much as human philosophers of mind do. Presumably, a nonconscious computer would not develop a preoccupation with the machine equivalent of the mind-body problem.

Stairway to the Mind: The Controversial New Science of Consciousness / Edition 1

We are thus led to consider dualist positions, which grant independent reality to both mental and physical events. We will begin with parallelism. Parallelism is a peculiar form of dualism in that it insists that the realms of mind and matter are totally separate and do not interact at all.

Parallelism seems to have one more realm than it needs. After all, the reason that we postulate the existence of a physical world in the first place is to explain certain regularities in our sensory experience. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle imposes a limit, causing quantum state reduction. Space-time uncertainty is expressed as the gravitational self-energy E , the energy required for an object of mass m and radius r or it's equivalent spacetime geometry to separate from itself by a distance a.

E was calculated for separation at the level of 1 the entire tubulin protein, 2 atomic nuclei within tubulin, and 3 nucleons protons and neutrons within tubulin atomic nuclei. Separation at the level of atomic nuclei femtometers was found to dominate, and used to calculate E in terms of number of tubulins for various values of time t corresponding with neurophysiology, e. Quantum state reductions are essential to quantum computing which involves superposition of information states, e. Superposition, entanglement and reduction are also essential to quantum cryptography and quantum teleportation technologies Bennett and Wiesner, ; Bouwmeester et al.

Entanglement implies non-locality, e. Einstein initially objected to entanglement, as it would appear to require signaling faster than light, and thus violate special relativity. When one electron was measured at its destination and, say, spin-up was observed, its entangled twin miles away would, according to the prediction, correspondingly reduce instantaneously to spin-down when measured. The issue was unresolved at the time of Einstein's death, but since the early s Aspect et al. Strange as it seems, EPR entanglement is a fundamental feature of quantum mechanics and reality. How can it be explained?

Penrose ; , cf. Indeed quantum information going forward in time is also considered acausal, unable to signal classical information either. In quantum cryptography and teleportation, acausal quantum information can only influence or correlate with classical information, but nonetheless greatly enhance capabilities of causal, classical processes. Penrose suggested acausal backward time effects used in conjunction with classical channels could influence classical results in a way unattainable by classical, future-directed means alone, and that temporal non-locality and acausal backward time effects were essential features of entanglement.

Can quantum backward referral happen in the brain? Backward time in EPR entanglement. On the left is an isolated, entangled pair of superpositioned complementary quantum particles, e. The single electron at the top in superposition of both spin up and spin down states is measured, and reduces to a single classical state e. Instantaneously its spatially-separated twin reduces to the complementary state of spin up or vice versa.

The effect is instantaneous over significant distance, hence appears to be transmitted faster than the speed of light. According to Penrose ; cf. No other reasonable explanation has been put forth. Penrose put forth OR as a mechanism for consciousness in physical science the first, and still only specific proposal. Starting with classical microtubule automata e. Entangled superpositions contribute to increasing gravitational self-energy E. Compatible with known neurophysiology, Orch OR can account for conscious causal control of behavior.

Superpositions outside the largest, most rapidly evolving gap junction-connected web may decohere randomly, or continue and participate in a subsequent moment of consciousness. The results of each Orch OR conscious moment set initial conditions for the next. Proteins can act as quantum levers, able to amplify quantum effects into particular classical states Conrad, Orch OR suggests that tubulin states and superpositions are initiated by electron cloud dipoles van der Waals London forces in clusters of aromatic resonance rings e.

London force dipoles are inherently quantum mechanical, tending to superposition. This suggests a deeper order, finer scale component of the NCC. A A microtubule, a cylindrical lattice of peanut-shaped tubulin proteins, with molecular model of enlarged single tubulin with C-termini tails Craddock et al. B Tubulin dimer, lower C terminus tail visible. Interior blowup shows aromatic rings clustered in a linear groove, and further blowup of ring structures.

C Approximate locations of resonance rings suggesting trans-tubulin alignments see Figure 14A. Electron movements of one nanometer, e. Hagan et al. But subsequently plant proteins have been shown to routinely use electron superposition for chemical energy Engel et al. Further research has demonstrated warm quantum effects in bird brain navigation Gauger et al.

Microtubules Sahu et al. But topological qubits are robust, resist decoherence, and reduce to classical helical pathways or combinations which can, with each conscious moment, regulate synapses and trigger axonal firings. B Bottom: same as A , but with topological qubits, i. One particular pathway is selected in the Orch OR conscious moment. Two Orch OR events solid lines underlie integrate-and-fire electrophysiology dotted lines in neurons.

Each Orch OR moment occurs with conscious experience, and selects tubulin states which can then trigger axonal firings. Each Orch OR event can also send quantum information backward in perceived time. Wolf, ; Sarfatti, Do backward time effects risk causal paradox?

In classical physics, the cause of an effect must precede it. But backward-going quanglement is acausal, only able to influence or correlate with information in a classical channel, e. There is no causal paradox. If conscious experience is indeed rooted in Orch OR, with OR relating the classical to the quantum world, then temporal non-locality and referral of acausal quantum information backward in time is to be expected Penrose and Hameroff, Temporal non-locality and backward time referral can rescue causal agency and conscious free will.

Orch OR can help resolve the three problematic issues in the following ways. Orch OR is based on sequences of quantum computations in microtubules during integration phases in dendrites and cell bodies of integrate-and-fire brain neurons linked by gap junctions. Each Orch OR quantum computation terminates in a moment of conscious experience, and selects a particular set of tubulin states which then trigger or do not trigger axonal firings, the latter exerting causal behavior.

Orch OR can in principle account for conscious causal agency.

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Brain electrical activity appearing to correlate with conscious perception of a stimulus can occur after we respond to that stimulus, seemingly consciously. Accordingly, consciousness is deemed epiphenomenal and illusory Dennett, ; Wegner, However evidence for backward time effects in the brain Libet et al. This enables consciousness to regulate axonal firings and behavioral actions in real-time, when conscious choice is felt to occur and actually does occur , thus rescuing consciousness from necessarily being an epiphenomenal illusion.

In Orch OR, consciousness unfolds the universe. The selection of states, according to Penrose, is influenced by a non-computable factor, a bias due to fine scale structure of spacetime geometry. According to Orch OR, conscious choices are not entirely algorithmic. Orch OR is a testable quantum brain biological theory compatible with known neuroscience and physics, and able to account for conscious free will. The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Front Integr Neurosci v. Front Integr Neurosci. Published online Oct Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Received Jul 14; Accepted Sep This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

Keywords: microtubules, free will, consciousness, Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR, volition, quantum computing, gap junctions, gamma synchrony. Introduction: three problems with free will We have the sense of conscious control of our voluntary behaviors, of free will, of our mental processes exerting causal actions in the physical world. Does consciousness come too late? Determinism Even if consciousness and a mechanism by which it exerts real-time causal action came to be understood, those specific actions could be construed as entirely algorithmic and inevitably pre-ordained by our deterministic surroundings, genetics and previous experience.

Open in a separate window. Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4. A finer scale? Figure 5. Is consciousness too late? Readiness potentials Kornhuber and Deecke recorded brain electrical activity over pre-motor cortex in subjects who were asked to move their finger randomly, at no prescribed time. Figure 6. Figure 7. Backward time effects in the brain? Figure 8. Figure 9. Pre-sentiment and pre-cognition Electrodermal activity measures skin impedance, usually with a probe wrapped around a finger, as an index of autonomic, sympathetic neuronal activity causing changes in blood flow and sweating, in turn triggered by emotional response in the brain.

Time and conscious moments What is time? Consciousness and quantum state reduction Reality is described by quantum physical laws which appear to reduce to classical rules e. Figure Orchestrated objective reduction Orch OR Penrose put forth OR as a mechanism for consciousness in physical science the first, and still only specific proposal. A mechanism for consciousness and causal agency Orch OR is based on sequences of quantum computations in microtubules during integration phases in dendrites and cell bodies of integrate-and-fire brain neurons linked by gap junctions.

Conflict of interest statement The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. References Adamatzky A. Slime mould computes planar shapes. Bio-Inspired Comput. Properties of a quantum system during the time interval between two measurements.

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