Presentation on theme: "The basic questions before us here in Doha are: What is the fundamental nature of the world? and How Do We Fit Into It?"— Presentation transcript:
The basic questions before us here in Doha are: What is the fundamental nature of the world? and How Do We Fit Into It?
Our Basic Beliefs Shape Our Values Our Values Shape Our Actions Conflicting Basic Beliefs Generate Conflicting Actions! These Questions Are Important Because:
My Topic Is: What does basic physics say about the Nature of the World, and Our Connection To It.
The Preliminary Main Points. Contemporary basic physics is Quantum Mechanics. Quantum mechanics is fundamentally different from the classical mechanics of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Quantum mechanics gives answers to our questions that are profoundly different from those given by classical mechanics.
The Connection to the Future of Humanity Different answers to lead to different basic values! A shift in basic values can significantly affect the sort of future we will strive to create! A shift in science-based beliefs and values opens the door to significant dialogs with non-scientists.
The Classical-Physics Answer: Materialism The Precepts of Nineteenth Century Classical Physics Say: There exists a material universe consisting of tiny localized bits of matter that interact only with their close neighbors. These interactions are governed by mathematical laws. These laws entail that the material future is determined by the material past ALONE.
“ALONE” means There is no reference to human thoughts, choices, or efforts. This view is called “The Principle of the Causal Closure of the Physical” Contrary to Intuition, but intuition is claimed to be overruled by science! Science Ideology and Dogma Conflict with Religions
But Quantum Mechanics Rescinds the Dogma of the Causal Closure of the Physical! Yet the ideology continues to infect the thinking of many scientists and philosophers!
Classical Precepts versus Quantum Precepts “Quantum Uncertainty”
A Conflict Between the Empirical and Theoretical Aspects of Scientific Practice Quantum uncertainties at the atomic scale if left unchecked, would bubble up, irrepressibly, to the macroscopic scale. But that would conflict with empirical observation! “The moon would cover the whole night sky”
Mind-Matter Parallelism-->Mind-Matter Interaction. The Quantum Process of Measurement/Observation Creates a Firewall That Protects the Empirical Realm from unfettered intrusion of quantum uncertainties from the Theoretical Realm This process specifies a highly nontrivial interface between the empirical and the theoretical aspects of scientific practice! It specifies an intricate connection between Mind and Matter!
Von Neumann/Heisenberg Theory of Measurement/Observation Each experience occurs in conjunction with an ACTION! This Action Poses a Yes-or-No question! The answer, Yes or No, is registered in the realm of experience/mind. Heisenberg: “a mathematics that represents…our knowledge…”
The “Action” Part of the Process of Observation/Measurement!
Process 1 Has No Known Sufficient Cause. Von Neumann calls the physical/theoretical aspect of the action part by the name “process 1”. It enters importantly into the physical dynamics! But it is not controlled or specified by any known rule or law: A Causal Gap! Thus quantum mechanics does not entail the Causal Closure of the Physical!
Process 3 and the entry of randomness. The answers to the questions posed by the process 1 action are, according to quantum theory, random: they conform only to statistical regularities! Dirac calls the choice of answer “a choice on the part of nature”. answer Randomness enters only into the answer; not into the action that poses the question.
Process1 and the Freedom of Action Heisenberg call the choice of action, “a choice on the part of the ‘observer’ constructing the measuring instruments and reading their recordings.” Bohr says: “The freedom of experimentation…corresponds to the free choice of experimental arrangements for which the quantum mathematical formalism offers the appropriate latitude.”
The Entry of Mind? This choice of the action is “free”, in the specific sense that it is not specified by any known law But our choices of actions appear to be influenced by reasons! There is no logical basis for rejecting the possibility that mind-based reason supplies the missing cause. Indeed, allowing mind to fill this causal gap gives our experiential aspects a functional role to play in the unfolding of reality!
The Mind-Matter Connection. It is these choices of actions, not controlled by any known physical law, statistical or otherwise, but seemingly influenced by value-based reasons, that, in conjunction with the statistical process 3 choices of feedbacks, controls what passes through the firewall. This filtering process constitutes a highly nontrivial connection of mind to matter.
Conclusion 1 Quantum Mechanics Rescinds the Materialistic Conception of Human Beings Foisted Upon By the Failed Precepts of Classical Physics.
Conclusion 2 Quantum mechanics elevates our science- based image of ourselves from material automata to agents able to act rationally on the basis of values erected upon this science-based image of ourselves.
Conclusion 3 This self-image casts us as partial creators of an unfolding universe that is NOT controlled exclusively by the material aspects of reality alone.
Additionally Quantum mechanics entails also a deep interconnectedness of spatially separated aspects of reality that is incompatible with the causal precepts of classical materialistic physics. The next speaker will elaborate upon this important point.
Main Conclusions Physics has shifted from classical materialist physics to a quantum psycho- physics of the mind-matter universe. Fundamental questions are thus opened up that are not necessarily completely resolvable within science itself. That opens the door to meaningful dialogs with followers of other approaches. I will discuss tomorrow the possible impact of this upon the future of humanity.