The Large, the Small, and the Human Mind

By: Roger Penrose Read in 1998 and 2008

63 Mysteries: Puzzle mysteries (puzzling but real): wave-particle duality, null measurements, spin, non-local effects. Paradox mysteries (logically impossible and therefore must be wrong): the measurement problem.
99 Aspects of consciousness: passive manifestations which involve awareness: perceptions of color, of harmonies, the use of memory, etc.. active manifestations: free will, the carrying out of actions under our free will.
120 Markov: "topological 4-manifolds are not computationally classifiable"
129 the role of microtubules in mitosis
150 Abner Shimony: "The most radical concept of quantum theory is that a complete state of a system - that is, one which specifies the system maximally - is not exhausted by a catalogue of actual properties of the system but must include potentialities."
150 Abner Shimony: "The second radical concept of quantum theory is entanglement."
151 Abner Shimony: "Quantum theory thus has a mode of composition without analogue in classical physics."
151 Abner Shimony: "Potentiality is the instrument whereby the embarrassing bifurcation between dim protomentality and high-level consciousness can be bridged. Even a complex organism with a highly developed brain may become unconscious. The transition between consciousness and unconsciousness need not be interpreted as a change of ontological status, but as a change of state, and properties can pass from definiteness to indefiniteness and conversely." -- like tuning a radio, or adjusting Rosenberg's Receptivity??
151 Abner Shimony: "For a many-body system in entangled states there is a much richer space of observable properties than for a single particle, and the spectra of the collective observables are commonly much broader than those of the component particles." -- It seems to me that even to talk about "observables" you need some "observer" outside the system of particles. No?
151 Abner Shimony: "The entanglement of elementary systems each with a very narrow range of mental attributes can, conceivably, generate a broad range, all the way from unconsciousness to high level consciousness." -- This seems to say that observables generate the observer. I disagree.
153 Abner Shimony: "From a modernized Whiteheadian standpoint, what is missing - inadvertently or deliberately - in Roger's theory of mind is the idea of mentality as something ontologically fundamental in the Universe. Roger's account sounds suspiciously like a quantum version of physicalism." -- I agree.
153 Abner Shimony: "The appearances of our mental life have no place in a physicalist ontology, and a physicalism governed by quantum rules is still physicalistic."
155 Abner Shimony: "A serious application of quantum theory to the mind must also consider the mathematical structure of the space of states and the set of observables. These are not supplied by the quantum framework."
158 Abner Shimony: "[I]t is worth remarking that from a Whiteheadian point of view the hypothesis that the actualization of potentialities is achieved by the psyche of the perceiver is not as ridiculous, anthropocentric, mystical and unscientific as it is commonly regarded to be. According to Whitehead, something like mentality is pervasive throughout nature, but high-level mentality is contingent upon the evolution of special hospitable complexes of occasions."
158 Abner Shimony: "[A]ttribution of the power of reducing superpositions to the psyche should be taken seriously only if its implications for a wide range of psychological phenomena are carefully worked out, for only then would there be a possibility of subjecting the hypothesis to controlled experimental test." -- Yes, and finally give Prof. Daniel Robinson his long-sought-after systematic and comprehensive theory of psychology. I think the implications of the hypothesis of a single consciousness can do that.
163 Nancy Cartwright: "Quantum mechanics is important for explaining aspects of chemical phenomena but always quantum concepts are used alongside of sui generis - that is, unreduced - concepts from other fields. They don't explain the phenomena on their own."
164 Nancy Cartwright: "[Most philosophers of biology] cannot get beyond a kind of monism; they feel compelled to insist on 'supervenience'. Roughly, to say the properties of biology supervene on those of physics is to say that if we had two situations that were identical with respect to their physical properties they must be identical with respect to their biological properties."
175 "Although I had not explicitly asserted, in either Emperor or Shadows, the need for mentality to be 'ontologically fundamental in the Universe', I think that something of this nature is indeed necessary."
176 "Without some widespread entanglement with some highly organized structure, superbly adapted to some kind of 'information processing capability' - as occurs in brains - genuine mentality would presumably not significantly arise."
182 "If someone can similarly give me an idea of what a 'biology' that does not supervene on its corresponding 'physics' could be like, then I might begin to take such an idea seriously." -- How about the biology of the characters in a video game?
183 "I do not see how we can change biology to be not part of that world-picture without also changing physics." -- How about accepting the notion of a radio-controlled-like remote driver of organisms? The physical behavior of cars is radically changed with the addition of a driver but the laws of physics are not changed at all.
185 "[W]ith regard to natural selection, was a general ability to understand that was selected for..."

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