Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretation

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretation

Postby skakos on July 14th, 2013, 11:35 am 

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Quantum mechanics (QM) is a field with strong controversy on interpretation matters. It could be said that philosophy has found a new friend in QM. Never before did philosophy matter most in a scientific field. There are currently more than 14 different interpretation schools on the (at leat) weird/ paradoxical results of quantum experiments, including superspotition, non-locality and the wave function collapse.

I personally feel closer to the interpretation of Wigner according to whom the CONSCIOUS observer is the key for the collapse of the wave function. According to him, we are the ones who (literally) formulate "reality".

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In the double-slit experiment, the electrons do interfere with other particles (e.g. on the detectors used) or with various fields (e.g. the gravity field). However non of these interactions suffice for the electron's wavefunction to collapse. We continue to get interference patterns until an observer... observes the experiment.

What is your opinion on that?
Do you think that a conscious observer is what really matters in the wavefunction collapse?
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on October 14th, 2013, 12:04 pm 

I think we should always remember that we, as observers, are part of any experiment. This is why it seems fairly logical to me to conclude that something such as the double split experiment illustrates that we are able to produce experiences that human beings have never been in a position to undergo before thus creating novel situations that could never have existed in the past. These new interactions with nature, I believe, are in effect forming new relationships and new realities for human beings that have the potential to alter our future in perhaps unimaginable ways. So what I am really saying is that the study of physics is not actually a study of what is already existing waiting for mankind to stumble across but, more dynamically, a participatory process with our input taking a crucial role in "sculpturing" future realities. It is as well to realise that we are products of natural processes that have taken place over huge periods of time and that, in the final analysis, we are the universe interacting with itself, discovering itself, realising what is possible. This is why there exist so many interpretations of QM; that we are in an undiscovered country and it is a new direction, which is why human beings have nothing in their experience to define such a novelty. It is up to us to find the best fit or fits that may account for the bizarre world of QM and in my opinion is the beginning of the evolution of us in adapting to new realities we could never have once dreamed of.
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby Obvious Leo on October 14th, 2013, 8:58 pm 

In discussing QM it's important to make the distinction between what are observations and what are the explanations for those observations. We DO NOT see 2 particles in the same place at the same time, for instance. Neither do we see a single particle at 2 different places at the same time. QM is a mathematical system for predicting the behaviour of particles, not an explanatory model to describe how such behaviour occurs. There are still a diminishing few who would say different but they are a dying breed.

After a century's hiatus, the doctrine of causation is becoming popular again. QM will have to fall into line and make sense, and not before time IMO.

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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on November 2nd, 2013, 6:34 am 

Obvious Leo wrote:In discussing QM it's important to make the distinction between what are observations and what are the explanations for those observations. We DO NOT see 2 particles in the same place at the same time, for instance. Neither do we see a single particle at 2 different places at the same time. QM is a mathematical system for predicting the behaviour of particles, not an explanatory model to describe how such behaviour occurs. There are still a diminishing few who would say different but they are a dying breed.

After a century's hiatus, the doctrine of causation is becoming popular again. QM will have to fall into line and make sense, and not before time IMO.

Regards Leo


Surely, the whole history of science has been to provide models of reality that seem to fit the observations made, hasn't it? How else does science progress? Observations come first, explanations follow. The challenge to science, of course, is to devise experiments that promote insight. It may be that the study of QM challenges our traditional ideas about reality which is why it is proving such an elusive subject.
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby owleye on November 2nd, 2013, 9:44 am 

I believe the scientific consensus isn't that consciousness or observation is the determining factor, but that any device capable of detecting the presence of a photon, absorbing something of its energy, and having that energy transformed is sufficient. The pattern of photon detections by a screen that precedes our observation of it is evidence of this. The pattern doesn't emerge just because we observe it.

It may be that observations associated with consciousness impose a reality, but this is the case whether or not there is a quantum-theoretic determination of patterns.

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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on November 3rd, 2013, 5:20 am 

owleye wrote:I believe the scientific consensus isn't that consciousness or observation is the determining factor, but that any device capable of detecting the presence of a photon, absorbing something of its energy, and having that energy transformed is sufficient. The pattern of photon detections by a screen that precedes our observation of it is evidence of this. The pattern doesn't emerge just because we observe it.

It may be that observations associated with consciousness impose a reality, but this is the case whether or not there is a quantum-theoretic determination of patterns.

James


I would have thought that in any event the element of consciousness is vital in "actualising" such an event because any observation consists of a chain of causal links ending up with the observed event. Taking consciousness out of the equation seems to me to be removing part of such a chain in terms of the perceptual and intellectual interpretation of incoming data. I cannot prove this, of course, because in attempting to do so will necessarily invoke the processes if consciousness so it is impossible to isolate any event without the role of consciousness. I would go further and assert that without conscious observation it is meaningless to talk of anything "existing". In what way could it exist? Existence can only occur if it "interferes" with some aware agency and if we imagine for a moment a world denuded of any living entities what would be about to be "interfered" with? The pattern of photon detections by a screen are only patterns because we interpret them as such; why would they be a pattern otherwise? Does a pattern "know" it is a pattern by itself? I would have thought not. Does a photon know it is a photon and how it behaves in the context of quantum processes? If no, then how can it really be said to exist in total isolation from a conscious observer?
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on November 3rd, 2013, 5:56 am 

Obvious Leo wrote:QM is a mathematical system for predicting the behaviour of particles, not an explanatory model to describe how such behaviour occurs.

Regards Leo


The way I would put it is that QM is a mathematical system for describing our (scientists') patterns of experiences produced by interacting with "nature" in experimental situations. In any unobserved situation how can we say how particles behave, since we are not affecting such behaviour? Does this not imply that by interfering with how particles behave we are creating an artificial situation by the very act of observation?
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby Obvious Leo on November 3rd, 2013, 5:59 am 

We should be careful about what we say about the things that we see and do. "Collapsing a wave function" is just a fancy physicist's way of saying "taking a look" . It doesn't change what happens in an objective reality which just always does what it does but it makes the world of difference for us in interpreting what we see. We see it once it's already been and done and happened in our past. Be careful with our only dimension, we are looking backwards at the events we've been involved in. James, for Christ's sake, why aren't you helping me. Set aside our bullshit done and gone.

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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on November 3rd, 2013, 7:22 am 

Obvious Leo wrote:We should be careful about what we say about the things that we see and do. "Collapsing a wave function" is just a fancy physicist's way of saying "taking a look" . It doesn't change what happens in an objective reality which just always does what it does but it makes the world of difference for us in interpreting what we see. We see it once it's already been and done and happened in our past. Be careful with our only dimension, we are looking backwards at the events we've been involved in. James, for Christ's sake, why aren't you helping me. Set aside our bullshit done and gone.

Regards leo


Leo, what you seem to be saying is that we see an observation that has already happened in the past but in that case, who made the past observation, if only now we are making it? Now, I can hear your objection, viz., that an "event" happened in the past independent of an observer, however, isn't it impossible for an event to happen unless it is detected?
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby Obvious Leo on November 3rd, 2013, 8:12 am 

It's a clever question, matt. Luckily you've put it onto an afficiconado of the bloody obvious. Events will happen, regardless of what you or I can do about it. Maybe. We live in the real world where everything just keeps moving forwards into the future. If you want to be a player you get up and play the game. If you haven't got the balls for it, you just sit back and watch everybody else cock it up.

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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby owleye on November 3rd, 2013, 9:37 am 

webplodder wrote:
owleye wrote:I believe the scientific consensus isn't that consciousness or observation is the determining factor, but that any device capable of detecting the presence of a photon, absorbing something of its energy, and having that energy transformed is sufficient. The pattern of photon detections by a screen that precedes our observation of it is evidence of this. The pattern doesn't emerge just because we observe it.

It may be that observations associated with consciousness impose a reality, but this is the case whether or not there is a quantum-theoretic determination of patterns.

James


I would have thought that in any event the element of consciousness is vital in "actualising" such an event because any observation consists of a chain of causal links ending up with the observed event. Taking consciousness out of the equation seems to me to be removing part of such a chain in terms of the perceptual and intellectual interpretation of incoming data.


Well, yes. I suppose if you equate reality with the perception of it, then of course there is no reality external to human consciousness, and humans themselves. In the ordinary sense of thinking about biological evolution, it is said that the environment (i.e, nature) selects what is preserved by it. And if we are conscious creatures, having evolved from a long chain of events most of which humans were not part of, there seems to be some sort of contradiction between the reality of humans, biologically, and the reality of humans as consciousness would dictate it. I grant that what reality the brain produces in consciousness (i.e., perception) is only a representation, but the usual idea is that it is a representation of the environment external to consciousness. In my view, what it represents is something that is sufficiently faithful to warrant that the adaptation contributes to the success of any creature endowed with it. And as such, it represents the information content of its environment adequately.

webplodder wrote:I cannot prove this, of course, because in attempting to do so will necessarily invoke the processes if consciousness so it is impossible to isolate any event without the role of consciousness. I would go further and assert that without conscious observation it is meaningless to talk of anything "existing". In what way could it exist? Existence can only occur if it "interferes" with some aware agency and if we imagine for a moment a world denuded of any living entities what would be about to be "interfered" with? The pattern of photon detections by a screen are only patterns because we interpret them as such; why would they be a pattern otherwise? Does a pattern "know" it is a pattern by itself? I would have thought not. Does a photon know it is a photon and how it behaves in the context of quantum processes? If no, then how can it really be said to exist in total isolation from a conscious observer?


I recognize that you are emphasizing knowledge here and not reality, and that quantum theory plays havoc with making a distinction between knowledge (or information) and what it is knowledge (information) about, but if you are going to commit to a position in which reality and knowledge (information) are one and the same thing, then consciousness (perception) isn't what it purports to be, namely consciousness (perception) of something external to it. Information about some world isn't what perception provides. Instead, information is created by perception from whole cloth. There is no conveyance by (for example) light from some object external to us that mediates perception. Everything, even our sense organs are derivative of information created out of "nothing". Science itself is creating something from nothing.

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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby Obvious Leo on November 3rd, 2013, 9:51 am 

owleye wrote:. Instead, information is created by perception from whole cloth. There is no conveyance by (for example) light from some object external to us that mediates perception. Everything, even our sense organs are derivative of information created out of "nothing". Science itself is creating something from nothing.


Almost, but not quite, I will agree with this statement. Nothing, of course, is NOT.

Regards Leo
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby Athena on November 3rd, 2013, 12:03 pm 

webplodder wrote:I think we should always remember that we, as observers, are part of any experiment. This is why it seems fairly logical to me to conclude that something such as the double split experiment illustrates that we are able to produce experiences that human beings have never been in a position to undergo before thus creating novel situations that could never have existed in the past. These new interactions with nature, I believe, are in effect forming new relationships and new realities for human beings that have the potential to alter our future in perhaps unimaginable ways. So what I am really saying is that the study of physics is not actually a study of what is already existing waiting for mankind to stumble across but, more dynamically, a participatory process with our input taking a crucial role in "sculpturing" future realities. It is as well to realise that we are products of natural processes that have taken place over huge periods of time and that, in the final analysis, we are the universe interacting with itself, discovering itself, realising what is possible. This is why there exist so many interpretations of QM; that we are in an undiscovered country and it is a new direction, which is why human beings have nothing in their experience to define such a novelty. It is up to us to find the best fit or fits that may account for the bizarre world of QM and in my opinion is the beginning of the evolution of us in adapting to new realities we could never have once dreamed of.


I think what you said is beautiful. It reminded me of I Ching and the concept of blending of heaven and earth. I googled for a better explanation of this and got this mention of tai-chi

http://www.ichingdao.org/tao/en/ii-deve ... chi-i.html

Tai Chi I : the 13 Movements PDF Print E-mail

The work with the structure that has been carried out up to this level has been done with static positions, either standing or seated. At this level we learn to put the structure in movement while maintaining the alignment and integrity cultivated in the previous steps.

The blending of earth and heavenly energies taking place through the bone structure is specifically the interacting of the two polarities which make life possible: yin and yang, negative and positive, female and male, flexible and firm.

The interaction of yin and yang results in a third force named ‘The Creative Energy’. All creation takes place through the Creative Energy. All the work with the structure we have carried up to this level has as a deeper purpose the welcoming of The Creative Energy.

Tai Chi consists of a series of slow movements done while maintaining alignment between heaven and earth. The movements increase the flow of Creative Energy. This skill in movement becomes the way we move in ordinary situations in life: aligned, centered, connected, grounded, full of purpose without effort and self-confident.

Tai Chi is the step which brings energy practices into the ordinary situations of our lives by the way we move and flow. Living and practice become one with a minimum of effort and striving.

The flowing movements of Tai Chi mirror the way we flow through situations in life.


The Tao of Physics is on line.

http://www.plouffe.fr/simon/math/The%20 ... hysics.pdf
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby Venus on November 3rd, 2013, 12:32 pm 

It looks like there are some misunderstandings here.

Taiji or T'ai chi is simply the concept of unity between yin and yang. Yì Jīng or I Ching is a book that describes a divination system and Taijiquan or T'ai chi ch'uan is a Chinese fighting (but not martial) art.
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby owleye on November 4th, 2013, 9:04 am 

Obvious Leo wrote:
owleye wrote:. Instead, information is created by perception from whole cloth. There is no conveyance by (for example) light from some object external to us that mediates perception. Everything, even our sense organs are derivative of information created out of "nothing". Science itself is creating something from nothing.


Almost, but not quite, I will agree with this statement. Nothing, of course, is NOT.

Regards Leo


Are you taking the solipsist position, in its extreme form, where the only reality is one's self, namely yours? Or perhaps that the self doesn't exist either, but only the shadows on Plato's cave?

There's something about the idea of the obvious in obvious leo that I can appreciate, but it isn't this sort of thing. Rather, to me, when I say that the chair I'm sitting in exists independent of me, I take this as obviously true, even if it is all mediated from the information received by the senses from a world that exists apart from me by way of some media that the sense organs can sense. The cognitive parts of my brain have determined this and have made it so obvious that there's little need to question it, though, of course philosophers are sometimes prone to do so and many a movie has attempted to deny it and that in fact we can make errors in judgement and that mirages exist, and we can hallucinate, etc. and so forth, seemly endlessly.

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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby Athena on November 4th, 2013, 9:52 am 

Venus wrote:It looks like there are some misunderstandings here.

Taiji or T'ai chi is simply the concept of unity between yin and yang. Yì Jīng or I Ching is a book that describes a divination system and Taijiquan or T'ai chi ch'uan is a Chinese fighting (but not martial) art.


You do not think one influences the other? I am reminded of my recent plant specimen collection journey with my great grandson. Things are the same and different. Trees, bushes and what we call flowers, all have flowers, and the pine cone looks like a flower, some more so than others.

http://www.circlewalking.com/5391/i-chi ... a-tai-chi/

Although many books on tai chi assign the eight internal energies of peng, ji, lu, an, lieh, tsai, kao and jou to the eight trigrams, they are not manifestations of the trigrams themselves, otherwise bagua—the art form of the I Ching—would employ that methodology.


I expect the China to surpass us in quantum physics matters, because I believe their logic is better suited for this than western logic which is better suited for the advancement of material technology up to this point.

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/129246-chinese-physicists-achieve-quantum-teleportation-over-60-miles

Hold onto your seats: Chinese physicists are reporting that they’ve successfully teleported photonic qubits (quantum bits) over a distance of 97 kilometers (60mi). This means that quantum data has been transmitted from one point to another, without passing through the intervening space.


The military implications of this technology should make people sit up and take notice.
Last edited by Athena on November 4th, 2013, 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on November 4th, 2013, 11:09 am 

owleye wrote:
Obvious Leo wrote:
owleye wrote:. Instead, information is created by perception from whole cloth. There is no conveyance by (for example) light from some object external to us that mediates perception. Everything, even our sense organs are derivative of information created out of "nothing". Science itself is creating something from nothing.


Almost, but not quite, I will agree with this statement. Nothing, of course, is NOT.

Regards Leo


Are you taking the solipsist position, in its extreme form, where the only reality is one's self, namely yours? Or perhaps that the self doesn't exist either, but only the shadows on Plato's cave?

There's something about the idea of the obvious in obvious leo that I can appreciate, but it isn't this sort of thing. Rather, to me, when I say that the chair I'm sitting in exists independent of me, I take this as obviously true, even if it is all mediated from the information received by the senses from a world that exists apart from me by way of some media that the sense organs can sense. The cognitive parts of my brain have determined this and have made it so obvious that there's little need to question it, though, of course philosophers are sometimes prone to do so and many a movie has attempted to deny it and that in fact we can make errors in judgement and that mirages exist, and we can hallucinate, etc. and so forth, seemly endlessly.

James


Yes, I think a more reasonable position would be that objects do have independent separation from one another, however, since we are all fundamentally made of the same "stuff", although seperated, objects have the ability to interact with one another through the mediation of common characteristics. For example, for me to be able to sense something or someone I must possess the ability to process sensory information in terms of light (or photons), sound (in terms of pressure waves), touch (in terms of skin sensitivity), and so on. Now, obviously we have evolved over time to adapt to our environment, as have other animals, but the important point here is that the physics of nature (or the universe if you like) has selected those elements of the original mix of constituents present after the Big Bang that have the ability to "communicate" with one another (I can't think of a better word for it offhand). It's really a case of the universe communicating and interacting with itself. This seems to work out on the " macro" scale where the interaction between large objects seems predictable and logical but at the quantum level, for some reason, the "communication" seems to break down. Why? Presumably it has something to do with the fact that isolated quantum systems do not behave in the same way as quantum systems embodied within macro objects, therefore, there is much less in common between the two as would be the case between two macro systems. I tend to think that we have been "hardwired" by evolution to interact and respond to macro objects because in this way our species has successfully risen to the challenges of survival. Any thoughts?
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby skakos on November 4th, 2013, 1:53 pm 

webplodder wrote:
Obvious Leo wrote:We should be careful about what we say about the things that we see and do. "Collapsing a wave function" is just a fancy physicist's way of saying "taking a look" . It doesn't change what happens in an objective reality which just always does what it does but it makes the world of difference for us in interpreting what we see. We see it once it's already been and done and happened in our past. Be careful with our only dimension, we are looking backwards at the events we've been involved in. James, for Christ's sake, why aren't you helping me. Set aside our bullshit done and gone.

Regards leo


Leo, what you seem to be saying is that we see an observation that has already happened in the past but in that case, who made the past observation, if only now we are making it? Now, I can hear your objection, viz., that an "event" happened in the past independent of an observer, however, isn't it impossible for an event to happen unless it is detected?


I would say that modern QM has showed that unless an observer... observes, then nothing can "happen". Superposition of all possible states will remain.
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby Obvious Leo on November 4th, 2013, 2:52 pm 

owleye wrote:Are you taking the solipsist position, in its extreme form, where the only reality is one's self, namely yours? Or perhaps that the self doesn't exist either, but only the shadows on Plato's cave?


No, James. This is not my position. My position is that reality is fleeting, both for the observer, the self, and the observed, the shadows. I don't deny the validity of an objective reality, but merely hold that it is inherently unknowable because time moves on too quickly and what we perceive as real no longer exists by the time we perceive it. Reality is a flux of constant change in my philosophy, which predicts this, for instance.

Athena wrote:Hold onto your seats: Chinese physicists are reporting that they’ve successfully teleported photonic qubits (quantum bits) over a distance of 97 kilometers (60mi). This means that quantum data has been transmitted from one point to another, without passing through the intervening space.


There is no intervening space, thus there is no conundrum to resolve. Photons are the priveleged massless entities that carry the information of reality's journey through the time dimension at the speed of time itself. Photons have no need of space, which strips the mystery from entanglement and reduces it to the bloody obvious. Solipsism is an ugly philosophy which deprives the world of meaning and reduces the self to a cruel and tasteless joke. This is not my gig. The hard problem of consciousness in my world-view is nothing more than this fundamental disconnect between the real world as it happens and the same real world as we perceive it. The self is merely the agent of construction that puts the coherent picture of our past events together.

This particular agent has put a real situation together uncleverly and I'm required to go abroad again later in the day. Hopefully I can be back within a week and I'll try and expand on this rather confusing collection of notions. But collapsing a wave function is just fancy physicists talk, for "having a look". It doesn't cause anything to happen but it fixes a particular past indelibly into the consciousness of the observer.

skakos wrote:I would say that modern QM has showed that unless an observer... observes, then nothing can "happen". Superposition of all possible states will remain.


This is the official party line, all right, and a ridiculous one it is. The world goes right on happening, regardless of what you or I observe, and especially regardless of what you or I may choose to say about what we have observed. We observe the past only, and the past is inalterable.

Regards Leo
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on November 4th, 2013, 3:20 pm 

skakos wrote:
webplodder wrote:
Obvious Leo wrote:We should be careful about what we say about the things that we see and do. "Collapsing a wave function" is just a fancy physicist's way of saying "taking a look" . It doesn't change what happens in an objective reality which just always does what it does but it makes the world of difference for us in interpreting what we see. We see it once it's already been and done and happened in our past. Be careful with our only dimension, we are looking backwards at the events we've been involved in. James, for Christ's sake, why aren't you helping me. Set aside our bullshit done and gone.

Regards leo


Leo, what you seem to be saying is that we see an observation that has already happened in the past but in that case, who made the past observation, if only now we are making it? Now, I can hear your objection, viz., that an "event" happened in the past independent of an observer, however, isn't it impossible for an event to happen unless it is detected?


I would say that modern QM has showed that unless an observer... observes, then nothing can "happen". Superposition of all possible states will remain.


I understand this is the generally accepted position, although I am open to correction as I'm no physicist.

To the best of my understanding an unobserved photon is not actually a 'particle' (whatever that is), existing in more of a 'wavelike' state and it is the act of making an observation on it that causes it to present itself as 'particle-like'. Of course, these are descriptions we derive from natural language in order to allow the general public to get some kind of handle about what is going on but I know that the real 'language' used to produce a scientific model of experimental results is mathematics. This seems to show to me that something like a photon has a 'potential' to become something other than its un observed state when something interacts with it.

Having said all this, however, I still find the definition of an 'observation' perplexing. What I mean by this is what exactly constitutes an observation? The standard view is that any part of the environment that interacts with a photon is equivalent to an observation, but it is? How can a piece of inanimate matter make an observation equivalent to a conscious observer, even a very primitive one? A human being makes an observation by processing incoming data ("qualia") involving all sorts of biochemical reactions, something a piece of rock is patently unable to do. So where does that leave us? I think what this shows us is that when we talk of 'reality' we really mean those aspects of our environment that we are able to have a relationship with in terms of our mental inclinations and that there will always be a 'world' out there that will forever be hidden to us, at least unless and until we have evolved further as a species.
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby Obvious Leo on November 4th, 2013, 3:37 pm 

webplodder wrote: How can a piece of inanimate matter make an observation equivalent to a conscious observer, even a very primitive one?


It can't, and your respect for the obvious does you credit. The observer is the constructor, not of the reality to come, but of the reality that's already been.

Regards Leo
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby owleye on November 4th, 2013, 5:00 pm 

Obvious Leo wrote:No, James. This is not my position. My position is that reality is fleeting, both for the observer, the self, and the observed, the shadows. I don't deny the validity of an objective reality, but merely hold that it is inherently unknowable because time moves on too quickly and what we perceive as real no longer exists by the time we perceive it. Reality is a flux of constant change in my philosophy, which predicts this, for instance.


I'm not sure I understand this at all. For example, supposing I observe the moon one night. Well, one may suppose that such an experience is fleeting, but you seem to be saying that because the experience is fleeting, therefore what it is an experience of must be fleeting as well. In this case, then, I should conclude that the moon only exists when I experience it. Yes, reality is in constant flux, but being so doesn't preclude that things persist, even as they change. This concept may have been a difficult issue prior to Aristotle, but I should think that it's so obvious that an Obvious Leo would accept it.

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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on November 5th, 2013, 4:29 am 

Please ignore this.
Last edited by webplodder on November 5th, 2013, 4:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on November 5th, 2013, 4:34 am 

webplodder wrote:
Obvious Leo wrote:
webplodder wrote: How can a piece of inanimate matter make an observation equivalent to a conscious observer, even a very primitive one?


It can't, and your respect for the obvious does you credit. The observer is the constructor, not of the reality to come, but of the reality that's already been.

Regards Leo


Which begs the question: what is the difference between a reality that's already been, but unobserved, and a reality that's already been and observed? In the first case consciousness is not part of the situation, whereas in the second case it is, so I would suggest they represent distinct things. In my view, the first case is really a 'potential' for reality rather than an 'actualised' reality; in the second case the role of consciousness 'actualises' this potential into full reality. It seems to me we can debate about what is real or not real in the absence of an observer till the cows come home, but the only way of confirming reality is by observation. For example, how can it be said that a pattern of photons on a screen is a pattern at all unless a conscious observer detects such a pattern? The photons or the screen certainly have no awareness of patterns so can we really conclude that reality can exist independently of a conscious observer? I tend to think not. Is it not really the case that when we say an unobserved event has occurred, what we mean is we anticipate that such an event has occurred in lieu of observing it? In your response you seem to be making a distinction between a 'constructed' reality and a 'non-constructed' reality so this strongly suggests they are not equivalent.
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on November 5th, 2013, 4:48 am 

owleye wrote:
Obvious Leo wrote:No, James. This is not my position. My position is that reality is fleeting, both for the observer, the self, and the observed, the shadows. I don't deny the validity of an objective reality, but merely hold that it is inherently unknowable because time moves on too quickly and what we perceive as real no longer exists by the time we perceive it. Reality is a flux of constant change in my philosophy, which predicts this, for instance.


I'm not sure I understand this at all. For example, supposing I observe the moon one night. Well, one may suppose that such an experience is fleeting, but you seem to be saying that because the experience is fleeting, therefore what it is an experience of must be fleeting as well. In this case, then, I should conclude that the moon only exists when I experience it. Yes, reality is in constant flux, but being so doesn't preclude that things persist, even as they change. This concept may have been a difficult issue prior to Aristotle, but I should think that it's so obvious that an Obvious Leo would accept it.

James


Perhaps the answer to this is that despite such experiences being fleeting, they are capable of being highly repeatable. This seems to tie in with the scientific method where one of its supporting pillars is repeatability.
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby owleye on November 5th, 2013, 9:04 am 

webplodder wrote:
owleye wrote:I'm not sure I understand this at all. For example, supposing I observe the moon one night. Well, one may suppose that such an experience is fleeting, but you seem to be saying that because the experience is fleeting, therefore what it is an experience of must be fleeting as well. In this case, then, I should conclude that the moon only exists when I experience it. Yes, reality is in constant flux, but being so doesn't preclude that things persist, even as they change. This concept may have been a difficult issue prior to Aristotle, but I should think that it's so obvious that an Obvious Leo would accept it.

James


Perhaps the answer to this is that despite such experiences being fleeting, they are capable of being highly repeatable. This seems to tie in with the scientific method where one of its supporting pillars is repeatability.


You needn't rely on science to answer this question. It's possible of course that things don't persist. It may be that things that exist independently of us are fleeting -- that wisp of smoke we observe after a gun fires, for example. More than that, if one goes about trying to figure out the criteria for existence, for example, an existence defined by a dynamic equilibrium of constituent elements, then existence would cover lots of things that at some point began to exist and at another point lost its existence. Why? Because at some point the dynamic equilibrium came to be and at another later point the equilibrium failed. But in no case should we conclude that such an equilibrium exists because we observe it, even though there remain issues regarding some things that we observe, for example shadows, rainbows, holes, as well as theoretical objects, objects where our senses do not adequately represent what they purport to represent and other things related to observation. Moreover, insofar as information is involved in observations, and that "information" is a term of choice within the scientific community depicted as having some constituency, I reckon this to be because science is about the acquisition of knowledge of a world independent of it, and the term 'information' is something that can link the two.

Now quantum theory, as I've mentioned, plays havoc with this idea, since when science investigates the seemingly most fundamental aspects of what comprises the universe, strange things occur. It appears they cannot separate observations from the reality that they intend to observe, since it requires reality to observe, so much so that it appears that the observation itself created the reality. However, quantum theory, while cutting off access to explanations of what it observes at this quantum level, nevertheless is determinate of whatever exists spatially and temporally in its particulate and constituent form. Which is to say that quantum theory itself can successfully be explanatory. Quantum theory, for example, can explain chemistry.

Note this is not to say that the randomness observed and theorized in quantum level events is due to lack of knowledge, like every other sort of randomness. The results of the Bell's inequality test laid that idea to rest, or pushed to other domains, i.e., questions about space-time. But this feature of quantum theory isn't all there is to it. Quantum theory also has a determinate role to play, as if it were due to lack of knowledge, and this can be characterized by the emergence of objects that are treated as fundamental to chemistry, objects that constitute the world of our observations (especially when coupled with other features of the world, namely gravitation).

James
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on November 5th, 2013, 1:22 pm 

It all seems to come down to the ability to measure something or not. When I use the term "measure" I think what I really mean is the process of comparing something or other to our internal mental models, which then categorizes the phenomena under consideration. So ultimately, I think, the "template" we use to classify our experiences is something we are hardwired with, developed over evolutionary time to relate and manipulate our environment to differing degrees in the interests of survival. Probably, the phenomena we study, whether quantum mechanics or cosmology, is nothing like the models we represent them to be, however, such models do seem to posses consistency and predictability, at least for the time being, so we have little choice in attributing the label "reality" to them. We can never really know what reality is since everything necessarily has to pass through our mental filters but this is kind of wonderful, I think, because it keeps us on our toes in that we must always be ready to modify our long cherished ideas about what we think is correct or incorrect. The great pioneers of science knew this and pushed our knowledge of things to ever greater heights.
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby neuro on November 7th, 2013, 12:26 pm 

owleye wrote:There's something about the idea of the obvious in obvious leo that I can appreciate, but it isn't this sort of thing. Rather, to me, when I say that the chair I'm sitting in exists independent of me, I take this as obviously true, even if it is all mediated from the information received by the senses from a world that exists apart from me by way of some media that the sense organs can sense. The cognitive parts of my brain have determined this and have made it so obvious that there's little need to question it, though, of course philosophers are sometimes prone to do so and many a movie has attempted to deny it and that in fact we can make errors in judgement and that mirages exist, and we can hallucinate, etc. and so forth, seemly endlessly.

James

I'd like to speculate a bit about the "bloody obvious"...

Elaboration of experience and interpretation of reality proceeds below the level of attention until novelties, unexpectedness, inconsistencies, difficulties or conflicts are encountered. In these cases cortical arousal calls into play brain systems involved in targeted, attentive, rational elaboration of information.
Whatever fits into a consistent picture with no need for such attentive, rational reinterpretation, appears as "bloody obvious". Whether what is bloody ovious also is true or not, is another question, which regards the adequacy of our sensory apparatus and our algorithmic power in describing and understanding the phenomena under observation.

The point is that "bloody obviousness" is an internal experience: when I perform a task I am skillful at, I feel it as a very easy and simple task to perform, although it might actually be a very complex and hard task; things only get difficult when something unexpected occurs, or my behavior doesn't produce the expected result. Similarly, when a conceptual task does not create any difficulty or inconsistency I feel no surprise, problem, conflict, and the result of my elaboration appears as bloody obvious. Inconsistencies and conflicts, on the contrary, ask for further analysis and raise uncertainty.

In a sense, we talk about "truth", and of our ability to perceive reality "as it is", but all our statements are based on a totally different criterion: we call "truth" the internal consistency - bloody obviousness - of our interpretation (which may well be consistent because we lack most information); we call uncertainty the feeling that there is no perfect consistency or several conflicting interpretation display comparable degrees of consistency; we call "false" what we can not fit into a consistent picture (once more, possibly, because we lack information).
And what is "false" might become "true" if we simply acquire additional information that lets us change perspective, or perform a mental set shift, such that consistency is achieved.

In this perspective, quantum mechanics offers us a methematical tratment of physical observations that can make them consistent, and thus it smells true. However, Nature does not need to actually be that way...
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby webplodder on November 7th, 2013, 3:43 pm 

neuro wrote:
owleye wrote:There's something about the idea of the obvious in obvious leo that I can appreciate, but it isn't this sort of thing. Rather, to me, when I say that the chair I'm sitting in exists independent of me, I take this as obviously true, even if it is all mediated from the information received by the senses from a world that exists apart from me by way of some media that the sense organs can sense. The cognitive parts of my brain have determined this and have made it so obvious that there's little need to question it, though, of course philosophers are sometimes prone to do so and many a movie has attempted to deny it and that in fact we can make errors in judgement and that mirages exist, and we can hallucinate, etc. and so forth, seemly endlessly.

James

I'd like to speculate a bit about the "bloody obvious"...

Elaboration of experience and interpretation of reality proceeds below the level of attention until novelties, unexpectedness, inconsistencies, difficulties or conflicts are encountered. In these cases cortical arousal calls into play brain systems involved in targeted, attentive, rational elaboration of information.
Whatever fits into a consistent picture with no need for such attentive, rational reinterpretation, appears as "bloody obvious". Whether what is bloody ovious also is true or not, is another question, which regards the adequacy of our sensory apparatus and our algorithmic power in describing and understanding the phenomena under observation.

The point is that "bloody obviousness" is an internal experience: when I perform a task I am skillful at, I feel it as a very easy and simple task to perform, although it might actually be a very complex and hard task; things only get difficult when something unexpected occurs, or my behavior doesn't produce the expected result. Similarly, when a conceptual task does not create any difficulty or inconsistency I feel no surprise, problem, conflict, and the result of my elaboration appears as bloody obvious. Inconsistencies and conflicts, on the contrary, ask for further analysis and raise uncertainty.

In a sense, we talk about "truth", and of our ability to perceive reality "as it is", but all our statements are based on a totally different criterion: we call "truth" the internal consistency - bloody obviousness - of our interpretation (which may well be consistent because we lack most information); we call uncertainty the feeling that there is no perfect consistency or several conflicting interpretation display comparable degrees of consistency; we call "false" what we can not fit into a consistent picture (once more, possibly, because we lack information).
And what is "false" might become "true" if we simply acquire additional information that lets us change perspective, or perform a mental set shift, such that consistency is achieved.

In this perspective, quantum mechanics offers us a methematical tratment of physical observations that can make them consistent, and thus it smells true. However, Nature does not need to actually be that way...


Yes, I think what it amounts to is we relate to our experiences through our mental models, many of which are consistent over time which we often label as "the blinking obvious" but when the unexpected occurs, when, for example, a situation arises that places in doubt our preconceptions of the obvious, then we are challenged to re- examine what we thought was obvious. This is the gaining of knowledge through experience, I suppose, and over time contributes to our wisdom (hopefully). It is also true to say, I think, that some people have lazy ideas about things and pretty much stop examining situations that others might not so readily take for granted so this can lead to the obvious not necessarily being so obvious after all.

With quantum mechanics our best attempts at producing an entirely consistent and predictable model has failed in the sense of being unable to include certainty (or at least very high probability, since nothing is really certain) in our predictions, having instead to settle for probabilities. This is something Einstein could not accept since his conception of the "obvious" demanded that chance could ultimately play no role in nature, however (thus far at least) it seems "playing dice" is the way that reality is at a fundamental level. So where does this leave truth? I think if there is truth out there we can never discover it because we are always subject to our own nature in terms of perceiving and thinking, so ultimately, I think we simply have to settle for what is true for us.
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Re: Quantum Mechanics, consciousness, schools of interpretat

Postby owleye on November 7th, 2013, 9:57 pm 

neuro wrote: I'd like to speculate a bit about the "bloody obvious"...

Elaboration of experience and interpretation of reality proceeds below the level of attention until novelties, unexpectedness, inconsistencies, difficulties or conflicts are encountered. In these cases cortical arousal calls into play brain systems involved in targeted, attentive, rational elaboration of information.
Whatever fits into a consistent picture with no need for such attentive, rational reinterpretation, appears as "bloody obvious". Whether what is bloody ovious also is true or not, is another question, which regards the adequacy of our sensory apparatus and our algorithmic power in describing and understanding the phenomena under observation.

The point is that "bloody obviousness" is an internal experience: when I perform a task I am skillful at, I feel it as a very easy and simple task to perform, although it might actually be a very complex and hard task; things only get difficult when something unexpected occurs, or my behavior doesn't produce the expected result. Similarly, when a conceptual task does not create any difficulty or inconsistency I feel no surprise, problem, conflict, and the result of my elaboration appears as bloody obvious. Inconsistencies and conflicts, on the contrary, ask for further analysis and raise uncertainty.

In a sense, we talk about "truth", and of our ability to perceive reality "as it is", but all our statements are based on a totally different criterion: we call "truth" the internal consistency - bloody obviousness - of our interpretation (which may well be consistent because we lack most information); we call uncertainty the feeling that there is no perfect consistency or several conflicting interpretation display comparable degrees of consistency; we call "false" what we can not fit into a consistent picture (once more, possibly, because we lack information).
And what is "false" might become "true" if we simply acquire additional information that lets us change perspective, or perform a mental set shift, such that consistency is achieved.

In this perspective, quantum mechanics offers us a methematical tratment of physical observations that can make them consistent, and thus it smells true. However, Nature does not need to actually be that way...


Welcome back. I assume you were indisposed for a while. As it happens, there were a few "where's neuro?" comments while you were away.

All of what you say may be the case, but note that I was making use of a referring mode, not a classification principle. In saying, for example, the chair exists that I'm sitting on, I'm not saying that the representation of the chair corresponds to the what's out there. What I'm saying is obvious is that the chair I'm sitting on has a reference in reality, one that is fairly faithful to its information content, as it is formed by the brain in some fashion. Moreover, I recognize that cameras can also capture (surface aspects) of objects such as chairs by way of the properties of light that impinge on its sensors, and of course, to capture the information derivative of the chair, it has to be focussed and presented in a form that mimics what would be seen if the chair would be observed directly. And, of course, it does this imperfectly, if we think of it qualitatively, and depending on the camera, it can take in more information than our senses can detect.

The point being perception may not be accurate, respecting some or another quality of the experience, but all in all, judgements are possible based on the success we have when we rely on it. Of course, if something occurs causing us to doubt that judgment then we will react in various ways to it. Indeed, even if it's only because someone says: "Are you sure?" we may go into that mode. In any case, despite this possibility, it's just not reasonable to regard what I'm sitting on as failing to exist, and fails to exist independently of me. There is just no solipsist in me.

James
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