Quantum Dualist Interactionism

Max Velmans, Understanding Consciousness

In Chapter 2, Conscious Souls, Brains and Quantum Mechanics there is a nice section Quantum Dualist Interactionism (p. 17 – 21) where Max Velmans describes works that present interpretation of dualism in the framework of quantum mechanics.

Stapp, H. (2007a) ‘Quantum mechanical theories of consciousness’ in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness, pp. 300-312.

Stapp, H. (2007b) ‘Quantum approaches to consciousness’ in The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness, pp. 881-908.

Stapp, H. (2007c) Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer.

Interestingly enough Stapp refers to the work of von Neumann:

Von Neumann, J. (1955/1932) Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics/Mathematische Grundlagen der Quantummechanik.

p. 19. “In various interpretations of quantum mechanics there is in any case ambiguity, and associated controversy, about where in the observation process a choice about what to observe and a subsequent observation is made. For example, according to the ‘Gopenhagen Convention’, the original formation of quantum theory developed by Niels Bohr, there is a clear separation between the process taking place in the observer (Process 1) and the process taking place in the system that is being observed (Process 2).”

p. 21. “To differentiate the conscious part of Process 1 (the ‘conscious ego’) from the physically embodied part, Stapp (2007c) refers to it as ‘Process 0’. Stapp believes that such quantum dualist interactionism neatly sidesteps the classical problems of mind-body (or consciousness-brain) interaction (see Stapp, 2007a, p. 305). According to the von Neumann/Stapp theory, consciousness (Process 0) chooses what question to ask; through the meditation of Process 1 that interacts with Process 2 (the developing possibilities specified by the quantum mechanics of the physical system under interrogation, including the brain) – and Nature supplies an answer, which in turn reflected in conscious experience (making the entire process a form of dualism-interactionism).”

p. 21. “A central claim of the von Neumann/Stapp theory, for example, is that it is the observer’s conscious free will (von Neumann’s ‘abstract ego’ or Stapp’s ‘Process 0’) that chooses how to probe nature.”