Quantum Leap from Physics to Psychology

A quote from Karl H Pribram, The Form Within: My Point of View

p. 514 “The revolution in science inaugurated by quantum physics made us aware, as never before, of taking into consideration the role of observation and measurement in the construction of data. A personal experience illuminates the extent of this revolution. Eugene Wigner remarked that in quantum physics we no longer have observables (invariants) but only observations. Tongue in cheek, I asked whether that meant that quantum physics is really psychology, expecting a gruff reply to my sassiness. Instead, Wigner beamed a happy smile of understanding and replied: ‘Yes, yes, that’s exactly correct.’ In a sense, therefore, if one takes the reductive path in science one ends up with psychology, not particles of matter.”

This is no way to do science

p. 386 “As an example in the 1950s, Clark Hull, professor of psychology at Yale University, tried to build an efficient causal input-output, behaviorist theory that would encompass the works of Pavlov, Freud and Thorndike. Hull developed equations in which the terms of the equations represented the results obtained from experiments and observation. He copied his approach from engineers, who are often faced with situations when an input and an output are know, but the experimenter has to determine what the intervening factors might be. Hull’s equations provided room for unknowns that would be found through further experimentation. This approach brought Hull a great following, and experiments on rats were performed in profusion at a great number of universities. Each finding generated yet another equation until, at last, the whole structure fell of its own weight. About a month before Hull died, he said to me in discouragement, ‘Karl, this is no way to do science.”

Neuroscience Reverses Copernican Revolution

p. 8 “A major thrust in our current changing view of humanity has been growing understanding of what our brain does and how it does it.”

p. 8 “This revolution has many of the earmarks of the Copernican revolution of earlier times. That revolution inaugurated a series of scientific breakthroughs such as those by Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Freud. Though often unintended, all of these and related contributions shifted humans from center stage to over more peripheral players in the scientific scenario.

The current information revolution redresses and reverses this shift: Once again science is showing that we humans must be perceived as the agents of our perceptions, the caretakers of the garden that is our earth, and how we can be actively responsible for our fellow humans. As during the Copernican revolution, the articulation of new insights is halting, often labored, and subject to revision and clarification. But the revolution is under way, and the brain and psychological sciences are playing a central role in its formulation.”

p. 531 “As a result of the industrial revolution and modern scientific advances we have spawned a materialist society that fails to address the spiritual quest that nurtures us.”

p. 531-532 “Most important, ‘in ancient times’ we navigated our world and discovered experiences in ourselves that reflected what we observed in the world: We woke at sunrise and slept at sunset. We were intimately connected at every level with the cycles of nature. This process was disrupted by the Copernican revolution, by its aftermaths in biology – even by our explorations of quantum physics and cosmology – and in the resulting interpretations of our personal experiences. But today, once again, we have rediscovered that it is we who observe our cosmos and are aware that we observe; that it is we who observe our navigation of our world and observe our own observations.”

p. 533 “We know that Homo sapiens has experienced the spiritual aspect of ‘being’ since the dawn of our species. Science is a quest and, as I have tried to show, there is no reason scientists should continue to restrict that quest to be confined merely to the composition of matter.”