Hard Problems in Philosophy of Mind and Physics: Do They Point to Spirituality as a Solution?

  • Nikolaus von Stillfried
Part of the Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality book series (SNCS, volume 1)


I suggest that there exists an interesting and little known relationship between Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality. To illustrate this, I first outline the paradoxical relation between the subjectivity of mind (i.e. consciousness) and its objective material correlate (i.e. neuroscience). I then give support to the notion that this paradox is rationally unsolvable by showing that it is isomorphic to the wave-particle paradox in quantum physics, where the impossibility to rationally resolve it has eventually been accepted as a fundamental property of reality, called the complementarity principle. Next, I point out that spiritual (mystical) traditions have also arrived at very similar paradoxical descriptions of reality, which lends additional plausibility to the insights from quantum physics and philosophy of mind (and vice versa!). Finally, and most importantly, I suggest that since mystical practices offer ways to individually transcend logical paradoxa by developing non-dual, transrational states of consciousness, they may provide a solution to fundamental theoretical problems such as those outlined above and should thus be regarded as an indispensible part of any advanced research methodology.


Hard Problem Mystical Experience Ultimate Reality Double Slit Experiment Complementarity Principle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author gratefully acknowledges helpful comments from Harald Walach and Stefan Schmidt and funding from the Fetzer-Franklin Fund.


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© Springer Netherlands 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Environmental Health SciencesUniversity Medical Center FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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