Since its inception, many physicists have seen in quantum mechanics the possibility, if not the necessity, of bringing cognitive aspects into the play, which were instead absent, or unnoticed, in the previous classical theories. In this article, we outline the path that led us to support the hypothesis that our physical reality is fundamentally conceptual-like and cognitivistic-like. However, contrary to the “abstract ego hypothesis” introduced by John von Neumann and further explored, in more recent times, by Henry Stapp, our approach does not rely on the measurement problem as expressing a possible “gap in physical causation,” which would point to a reality lying beyond the mind-matter distinction. On the contrary, in our approach, the measurement problem is considered to be essentially solved, at least for what concerns the origin of quantum probabilities, which we have reasons to believe they would be epistemic. Our conclusion that conceptuality and cognition would be an integral part of all physical processes comes instead from the observation of the striking similarities between the non-spatial behavior of the quantum micro-physical entities and that of the human concepts. This gave birth to a new interpretation of quantum mechanics, called the “conceptuality interpretation,” currently under investigation within our group in Brussels.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Regarding this free choice aspect, Stapp (2009) writes: This choice is sometimes called the “Heisenberg choice,” because Heisenberg emphasized strongly its crucial role in quantum dynamics. At the pragmatic level it is a “free choice,” because it is controlled, at least at the practical level, by the conscious intentions of the experimenter/participant: neither the Copenhagen nor von Neumann formulations specify the causal origins of this choice, apart from the conscious intentions of the human agent.
Aerts, D. (1982). Description of many physical entities without the paradoxes encountered in quantum mechanics. Foundations of Physics, 12, 1131–1170.
Aerts, D. (1984). The missing elements of reality in the description of quantum mechanics of the EPR paradox situation. Helvetica Physica Acta, 57, 421–428.
Aerts, D. (1986). A possible explanation for the probabilities of quantum mechanics. Journal of Mathematical Physics, 27, 202–210.
Aerts, D. (1998). The entity and modern physics: the creation discovery view of reality. In E. Castellani (Ed.) , Interpreting bodies: classical and quantum objects in modern physics (pp. 223–257). Princeton: Princeton Unversity Press.
Aerts, D. (1999a). Foundations of quantum physics: a general realistic and operational approach. International Journal of Theoretical Physics, 38, 289–358.
Aerts, D. (1999b). The stuff the world is made of: physics and reality. In D. Aerts, J. Broekaert, E. Mathijs (Eds.) , Einstein meets Magritte: an interdisciplinary reflection (pp. 129–183). Dordrecht: Springer.
Aerts, D. (2009). Quantum particles as conceptual entities: a possible explanatory framework for quantum theory. Foundations of Science, 14, 361–411.
Aerts, D. (2010a). Interpreting quantum particles as conceptual entities. International Journal of Theoretical Physics, 49, 2950–2970.
Aerts, D. (2010b). A potentiality and conceptuality interpretation of quantum physics. Philosophica, 83, 15–52.
Aerts, D. (2013). La mecánica cuántica y la conceptualidad: Sobre materia, historias, semántica y espacio-tiempo. Scientiae Studia, 11, 75–100. Translated from: Aerts, D. (2011). Quantum theory and conceptuality: matter, stories, semantics and space-time. arXiv:1110.4766 [quant-ph].
Aerts, D. (2014). Quantum theory and human perception of the macro-world. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, Article 554.
Aerts, D., & Aerts, S. (1995). Applications of quantum statistics in psychological studies of decision processes. Foundations of Science, 1, 85–97.
Aerts, D., & Czachor, M. (2004). Quantum aspects of semantic analysis and symbolic artificial intelligence. Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical, 37, L123–L132.
Aerts, D., & Durt, T. (1994). Quantum, classical and intermediate, an illustrative example. Foundations of Physics, 24, 1353–1369.
Aerts, D., & Gabora, L. (2005a). A theory of concepts and their combinations I: the structure of the sets of contexts and properties. Kybernetes, 34, 167–191.
Aerts, D., & Gabora, L. (2005b). A theory of concepts and their combinations II: a Hilbert space representation. Kybernetes, 34, 192–221.
Aerts, D., & Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2014). The extended Bloch representation of quantum mechanics and the hidden-measurement solution to the measurement problem. Annals of Physics, 351, 975–1025.
Aerts, D., & Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2016). The extended Bloch representation of quantum mechanics. Explaining superposition, interference and entanglement. Journal of Mathematical Physics, 57, 122110.
Aerts, D., & Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2017a). Quantum measurements as weighted symmetry breaking processes: the hidden measurement perspective. International Journal of Quantum Foundations, 3, 1–16.
Aerts, D., & Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2017b). Beyond-quantum modeling of question order effects and response replicability in psychological measurements. Journal Mathematical Psychology, 79, 104–120.
Aerts, D., & Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2017c). Do spins have directions? Soft Computing, 21, 1483–1504.
Aerts, D., & Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2018a). The extended Bloch representation of quantum mechanics for infinite-dimensional entities. arXiv:1704.06249 [quant-ph].
Aerts, D., & Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2018b). Quantum perspectives on evolution. In S. Wuppuluri, & F.A. Doria (Eds.) , The map and the territory: exploring the foundations of science, thought and reality (pp. 571–595): Springer: The Frontiers collection.
Aerts, D., & Sozzo, S. (2011). Quantum structure in cognition: why and how concepts are entangled? Quantum Interaction. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 7052, 116–127.
Aerts, D., & Sozzo, S. (2014). Quantum entanglement in concept combinations. International Journal of Theoretical Physics, 53, 3587–3603.
Aerts, D., & Sozzo, S. (2015). What is quantum? Unifying its micro-physical and structural appearance. In H. Atmanspacher, et al. (Ed.) , Quantum interaction. QI 2014, Lecture notes in computer science (Vol. 8951 pp. 12–23). Cham: Springer.
Aerts, D., Aerts, S., Coecke, B., D’Hooghe, B., Durt, T., Valckenborgh, F. (1997a). A model with varying fluctuations in the measurement context. In M. Ferrero, & A. van der Merwe (Eds.) , New developments on fundamental problems in quantum physics (pp. 7–9). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
Aerts, D., Coecke, B., Durt, T., Valckenborgh, F. (1997b). Quantum, classical and intermediate I: a model on the Poincaré sphere. Tatra Mountains Mathematical Publications, 10, 225.
Aerts, D., Broekaert, J., Smets, S. (1999a). A quantum structure description of the liar paradox. International Journal of Theoretical Physics, 38, 3231–3239.
Aerts, D., Coecke, B., Smets, S. (1999b). On the origin of probabilities in quantum mechanics: creative and contextual aspects. In G. Cornelis, S. Smets, J.P. Van Bendegem (Eds.) , Metadebates on science (pp. 291–302). Dordrecht: Springer.
Aerts, D., Sozzo, S., Veloz, T. (2015). Quantum structure of negation and conjunction in human thought. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1447.
Aerts, D., Sassoli de Bianchi, M., Sozzo, S. (2016). On the foundations of the brussels operational-realistic approach to cognition. Frontiers of Physics, 4, 17. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphy.2016.00017.
Aerts, D., Sassoli de Bianchi, M., Sozzo, S., Veloz, M. (2018a). On the conceptuality interpretation of quantum and relativity theories. Foundations of Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10699-018-9557-z.
Aerts, D., Sassoli de Bianchi, M., Sozzo, S, Veloz, T. (2018). Quantum cognition goes beyond-quantum: modeling the collective participant in psychological measurements. arXiv:1802.10448 [q-bio.NC].
Atmanspacher, H., Römer, H., Walach, H. (2002). Weak quantum theory: complementarity and entanglement in physics and beyond. Foundations of Physics, 32, 379–406.
Bell, J. S. (1966). On the problem of hidden variables in quantum mechanics. Reviews of Modern Physics, 38, 447–452.
Busemeyer, J. R., & Bruza, P. D. (2012). Quantum models of cognition and decision. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Birkhoff, G, & von Neumann, J. (1936). The logic of quantum mechanics. The Annals of Mathematics, 37, 823–843.
Foulis, D. J., & Randall, C. H. (1978). Manuals, morphisms and quantum mechanics. In A.R. Marlow (Ed.) , Mathematical foundations of quantum theory (pp. 105–126). New York: Academic Press.
Gabora, L., & Aerts, D. (2002). Contextualizing concepts using a mathematical generalization of the quantum formalism. Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, 14, 327–358.
Gleason, A. M. (1957). Measures on the closed subspaces of a Hilbert space. Journal of Mathematics and Mechanics, 6, 885–893.
Gudder, S. P. (1970). On hidden-variable theories. Journal of Mathematical Physics, 11, 431–436.
Haven, E., & Khrennikov, A.Y. (2013). Quantum social science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jauch, J. M. (1968). Foundations of quantum mechanics. Reading: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Jauch, J. M., & Piron, C. (1963). Can hidden variables be excluded in quantum mechanics? Helvetica Physica Acta, 36, 827–837.
Khrennikov, A. (1999). Classical and quantum mechanics on information spaces with applications to cognitive, psychological, social and anomalous phenomena. Foundations of Physics, 29, 1065–1098.
Khrennikov, A. Y. (2010). Ubiquitous quantum structure. Berlin: Springer.
Kochen, S., & Specker, E. P. (1967). The problem of hidden variables in quantum mechanics. Journal of Mathematics and Mechanics, 17, 59–87.
Ludwig, G. (1983). Foundations of quantum mechanics I, texts & monographs in physics. New York: Springer.
Mackey, G. (1963). Mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics. W. A. Benjamin: Reading.
Piron, C. (1976). Foundations of quantum physics. W. A. Benjamin: Reading.
Rauch, H., Zeilinger, A., Badurek, G., Wilfing, A., Bauspiess, W., Bonse, U. (1975). Verification of coherent spinor rotation of fermions. Physics Letters, 54A, 425–427.
Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2013a). The delta-quantum machine, the k-model, and the non-ordinary spatiality of quantum entities. Foundations of Science, 18, 11–41.
Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2013b). Using simple elastic bands to explain quantum mechanics: a conceptual review of two of Aerts’ machine-models. Central European Journal of Physics, 11, 147–161.
Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2015). God may not play dice, but human observers surely do. Foundations of Science, 1, 77–105.
Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2017). Theoretical and conceptual analysis of the celebrated 4π-symmetry neutron interferometry experiments. Foundations of Science, 22, 627–653.
Sassoli de Bianchi, M. (2018). On Aerts’ overlooked solution to the EPR paradox. arXiv:1805.02869 [quant-ph].
Stapp, H. P. (2009). Mind, matter and quantum mechanics, QThe Frontiers Collection. Berlin: Springer.
Stapp, H. P. (2011). Mindful universe, the frontiers collection. Berlin: Springer.
Von Neumann, J. (1932). Grundlehren, Math. Wiss. XXXVIII.
Wendt, A. (2015). Quantum mind and social science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Werner, S. A., Colella, R., Overhauser, A. W., Eagen, C. F. (1975). Observation of the phase shift of a neutron due to precession in a magnetic field. Review Letters, 35, 1053.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Submitted to a special issue of Activitas Nervosa Superior: Brain, Mind and Cognition, dedicated to Henry Stapp in honor of his 90th birthday.
About this article
Cite this article
Aerts, D., Sassoli de Bianchi, M., Sozzo, S. et al. From Quantum Axiomatics to Quantum Conceptuality. Act Nerv Super 61, 76–82 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41470-019-00030-7
- Quantum theory
- Conceptuality interpretation
- Quantum cognition
- Extended Bloch representation
- Quantum structures
- Quantum probabilities