Fundamental Physics and the Mind – Is There a Connection?
Recent advances in the field of quantum cognition (Pothos and Busemeyer 2013; Wang et al. 2013) suggest a puzzling connection between fundamental physics and the mind. Many researchers see quantum ideas and formalisms merely as useful pragmatic tools, and do not look for deeper underlying explanations for why they work. However, others are tempted to seek for an intelligible explanation for why quantum ideas work to model cognition. This paper first draws attention to how the physicist David Bohm already in 1951 suggested that thought and quantum processes are analogous, adding that this could be explained if some neural processes underlying thought involved non-negligible quantum effects. The paper next points out that the idea that there is a connection between fundamental physics and the mind is not unique to quantum theory, but was there already when Newtonian physics was assumed to be fundamental physics, advocated most notably by Kant. Kant emphasized the unique intelligibility of a Newtonian notion of experience, and this historical background prompts us to ask in the final part of the paper whether we can really make sense of any quantum-like experience (whether experience of the empirical phenomena in the “external world” or the “inner world” of psychological phenomena). It is proposed that intelligibility is a relative notion and that, regardless of initial difficulties, quantum approaches to cognition and consciousness are likely to provide valuable new ways of understanding the mind.
- Atmanspacher, H.: Quantum approaches to consciousness. In: Zalta, E.N. (ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2011). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2011/entries/qt-consciousness/
- Bermúdez, J., Cahen, A.: Nonconceptual mental content. In: Zalta, E.N. (ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2012). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2012/entries/content-nonconceptual/
- Bohm, D.: Quantum Theory. Prentice Hall, New York (1951). Republished by Dover (1989)Google Scholar
- Jack, A., Roepstorff, A. (eds.): Trusting the Subject?: The Use of Introspective Evidence in Cognitive Science. Imprint Academic, Thorverton (2003)Google Scholar
- Kant, I.: Critique of Pure Reason, 2nd edn. J.M. Dent & Sons Ktd, London (1991). Originally published in German in 1787Google Scholar
- Pylkkänen, P.: Can quantum analogies help us to understand the process of thought? Mind Matter 12(1), 61–91 (2014)Google Scholar
- Pylkkänen, P.: Weak vs. strong quantum cognition. In: Liljenström, H. (ed.) Advances in Cognitive Neurodynamics (IV). Springer, Dordrecht (2015)Google Scholar
- Strawson, P.F.: The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Routledge, London (1966)Google Scholar
- Toulmin, S.: Philosophy of science. In: Encyclopedia Britannica (2003)Google Scholar
- Wang, Z., Busemeyer, J.R., Atmanspacher, H., Pothos, E.M.: The potential of using quantum theory to build models of cognition. Top. Cogn. Sci. 5, 672–688 (2013)Google Scholar
- von Wright, G.H.: Vetenskapen och förnuftet. Ett försök till orientering. Söderströms, Helsinki (1986)Google Scholar