Quantum Theory and the Role of Mind in Nature
- Cite this article as:
- Stapp, H.P. Foundations of Physics (2001) 31: 1465. doi:10.1023/A:1012682413597
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Orthodox Copenhagen quantum theory renounces the quest to understand the reality in which we are imbedded, and settles for practical rules describing connections between our observations. Many physicist have regarded this renunciation of our effort describe nature herself as premature, and John von Neumann reformulated quantum theory as a theory of an evolving objective universe interacting with human consciousness. This interaction is associated both in Copenhagen quantum theory and in von Neumann quantum theory with a sudden change that brings the objective physical state of a system in line with a subjectively felt psychical reality. The objective physical state is thereby converted from a material substrate to an informational and dispositional substrate that carries both the information incorporated into it by the psychical realities, and certain dispositions for the occurrence of future psychical realities. The present work examines and proposes solutions to two problems that have appeared to block the development of this conception of nature. The first problem is how to reconcile this theory with the principles of relativistic quantum field theory; the second problem is to understand whether, strictly within quantum theory, a person's mind can affect the activities of his brain, and if so how. Solving the first problem involves resolving a certain non-locality question. The proposed solution to the second problem is based on a postulated connection between effort, attention, and the quantum Zeno effect. This solution explains on the basic of quantum physics a large amount of heretofore unexplained data amassed by psychologists.