Compatibility of Contemporary Physical Theory with Personality Survival

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Compatibility of Contemporary Physical Theory with Personality Survival

Henry Stapp

Quote:Orthodox quantum mechanics is technically built around an element that von Neumann called Process 1. In its basic form it consists of an action that reduces the prior state of a physical system to a sum of two parts, which can be regarded as the parts corresponding to the answers ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to a specific question that this action poses, or ‘puts to nature’. Nature returns one answer or the other, in accordance with statistical weightings specified by the theory. Thus the standard statistical element in quantum theory enters only after the Process-1 choice is made, while the known deterministic element in quantum theory governs the dynamics that prevails between the reduction events, but not the process that determines which of the continuum of allowed Process-1 probing actions will actually occur. The rules governing that selection process are not fixed by the theory in its present form. This freedom can be used to resolve in a natural way an apparent problem of the orthodox theory, its biocentrism. That resolution produces a rationally coherent realization of the theory that preserves the basic orthodox structure but allows naturally for the possibility that human personality may survive bodily death.

Quote:Reports of evidence for survival of personality after bodily death have long been viewed with great skepticism by most of the scientific community, including this author. But, in contrast to the doubters who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope, I have, in spite of my skepticism, perused certain documentations of such claims that have been brought insistently to my attention by scientists judged by me to be intelligent, critical, and sober-minded.

One such document was particularly arresting. It is the book Irreducible Mind, written by Edward and Emily Kelly and several other scientists personally known to me. While insufficient to quell my life-long doubts, this account has rendered reasonable the task of examining whether the phenomena in question, if assumed to be veridical, could be reconciled with contemporary physical theory in a natural and reasonable way.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2021-12-20, 05:00 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
Well I skimmed that - Stapp can be horribly verbose, at least when he writes about QM without equations (and to be honest the equations are hard for me by now), but his final paragraph seems to say it all.
Quote:In light of these considerations, strong doubts about personality survival based solely on the belief that postmortem survival is incompatible with the laws of physics are unfounded. Rational science-based opinion on this question must be based on the content and quality of the empirical data, not on a presumed incompatibility of such phenomena with our contemporary understanding of the workings of nature.

My understanding of this is that all the layers between the double-slit experiment (say) and the mind can be treated (abstractly!) as handled by standard QM, leaving the bare mind - outside of spacetime - to issue those process 1 requests.

By issuing process1 requests, the mind, operating outside spacetime, controls the brain and whatever else the brain is normally thought to control.

To me, this is precisely body and spirit.

I would also say that by adding his chapter in BP, he was sticking his neck out saying that a spirit mind is entirely possible.
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Somewhere I remember Stapp speculating that the mind might interact with matter not just by the timing of its process 1 requests, but also by overriding the Born rule that determines the probability of the various outcomes. After all, we know essentially nothing about that level, and the non-physical component is really an unknown.
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(2021-12-20, 08:07 PM)David001 Wrote: Somewhere I remember Stapp speculating that the mind might interact with matter not just by the timing of its process 1 requests, but also by overriding the Born rule that determines the probability of the various outcomes. After all, we know essentially nothing about that level, and the non-physical component is really an unknown.
Here is Stapp spelling it out.  https://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/NOT72C.pdf

Quote: Process  1  is  the  process  that  generates  perceptions.  Each Process-1  action  is  associated  with  a  particular  conscious observer.  It  has  a  mathematical  form  that  is  very  different  from that  of  Process  2.  Process  1  is  not  “unitary”  but  is,  instead, “projective”:  it  is  associated  with  the  subjective  occurrence  of  a perception  coupled  to  the  instantaneous  elimination  from  the material  universe  of  all  aspects  that  are  incompatible  with  the occurrence  of  that  perception.  Thus  this  process  has  two  phases. The  first  phase  selects  a  possible  next  subjective  perception  on the  part  of  the  observer.    This  ‘possible/potential’  next  perception defines  a  corresponding  brain  correlate,  which  has,  according  to the  theory,  a  certain  statistical  weight.  The  second  phase  of Process  1  then  reduces  the  material  universe  to  two  parts,  one that  definitely  contains  this  brain  correlate  and  the  other  that definitely  does  not  contain  this  brain  correlate,  and  it  “actualizes” either  one  part  or  the  other.  This  choice  made  by  nature  between the  two  parts  accords  with  a  certain  statistical  rule  known  as  the “Born  Rule”.  This  Born-Rule  choice  is  the  (unique)  place  where “an  element  of  chance”  enters  into  the  quantum  dynamics.  The preceding  choice  of  a  possible  next  perception  reflects  the  history and  the  felt  values  of  the  observer,  and  is  identified  with  what  the observer  feels  is  his  or  her  personal  subjective  choice  of  what physical  property  of  the  observed  system  to  probe  or  inquire about.  No  element  of  chance  is  ascribed  to  this  choice  made  by an  observer  of  a  particular  possible  probing  action.

Bolding of "projective" is mine.  Defining how projection is working is of my interest.

Love to talk about this.  Why would mind need to "overrule" Born rule?  The Born rule as a selector/specifier is where chance/freedom can take place.  Isn't it the Schrodinger equations that ae deterministic?
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(2021-12-22, 07:28 PM)stephenw Wrote: Here is Stapp spelling it out.  https://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/NOT72C.pdf


Bolding of "projective" is mine.  Defining how projection is working is of my interest.

Love to talk about this.  Why would mind need to "overrule" Born rule?  The Born rule as a selector/specifier is where chance/freedom can take place.  Isn't it the Schrodinger equations that ae deterministic?

Well the real answer to that is far simpler to describe in terms of the Schroedinger equation, but here is a rough analogy. Think of a mixture of sounds of different pitch. This can be described in as a graph or trace on a screen - typically with a complicated shape. Now imagine passing that through a filter that extracts just one sound component corresponding to middle C (say). That filtering process can be thought of as projecting out one component of the original sound, and blocking the rest. That is very closely analogous to the projecting that Stapp is talking about - particularly if you think in terms of wave functions, which I find pleasingly concrete. The evolved wave function contains a variety of components corresponding to different outcomes, and one outcome is filtered out, and the rest discarded.

As far as I know, there is no way to derive the Born rule, which describes the probability of different outcomes, but it works nicely when consciousness is not involved. However it is conceivable (and as I say, I think Stapp considered it a possibility in something he wrote) that the Born rule is violated in that special case.

The trouble is, I read a lot, and don't keep all the links to find these details on demand 🙁
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