Exploring Quantum Theories of Consciousness
The objective of the Quantum Mind site is to keep users appraised of developments that are relevant to the concept of consciousness as a fundamental property in terms of biology and fundamental physics. This concept tends to be loosely described as quantum consciousness or sometimes quantum mind. A tide of black propaganda, superficial but highly effective, has condemned such quantum consciousness theories to the fringe. Career researchers are therefore keen to keep any links to consciousness out of their work. The purpose of the site is to counter this tendency amongst academics and their popularisers.
The site attempts to summarise and review books, academic papers and articles from neuroscience, physics, biology, philosophy and psychology where it is relevant to the concept of consciousness as a fundamental. Much material, particularly in neuroscience and quantum biology points in this direction, but it is unusual to find any admission of this possibility in the mainstream literature.
The Quantum Mind blog is now the main part of the site, with new material being continuously added. The blog material is sub-divided into a number of categories, with several areas of neuroscience as separate categories.
The categories are detailed below:-
Artificial Intellingence, AI / Computing / Robotics:
Discussed with respect to the differences between brains and computers or robots. Focuses on the failure of AI to produce a fully autonomous intelligent robot and also the apparent absence of consciousness from computers and robots. The question of whether any classical computer can achieve these things is discussed. The ability of unconscious regions of the brain to direct motion but not other aspects of behaviour is a further topic discusses under this category.
Freewill and conscious will:
The concept of freewill is upsetting to mainstream thinkers, and it might in fact be better discussed under the term ‘conscious will’. The adjective ‘free’ raises the philosophical question of whether anything in the universe could be altogether free from some form of constraint under the physical law. The material here concerns to what extent experienced conscious will can have any influence on human action and behaviour. Included is material showing the oft quoted Libet disprove of freewill to have been invalidated by recent neuroscience.
Mathematics and logic:
Deals with questions as to whether consciousness transcends formal systems of maths and logic.
Neuroscience and consciousness:
Neuroscience is seeing rapid advances as a result of modern brain scanning, but a surprisingly small proportion of this material is finding its way into mainstream or even fringe consciousness studies. Of particular interest have been studies that appear to narrow the search for consciousness onto intensive activity in limited areas of the brain.
Neuroscience of emotions:
Emotion or feelings are taken to include the evaluation of sensory inputs and possible actions. The related preferences and choices are explored as being the core area of consciousness rather than cognition, and as being the reason that evolution selected for consciousness.
Neuroscience of perception:
Relates mainly to how visual images and other sensory material arises in the brain and its relation to preferences, choices and cognition.
Neuroscience of reasoning:
Relates conscious processing, evaluations and preferences to working memory and cognition.
Neuroscience of the unconscious and of movement:
Discusses those large areas of the brain in which consciousness does not play a role, particularly the dorsal stream and spontaneous actions.
Origins of life:
Relates theories about the origins of life on Earth to discussions about consciousness.
Philosophy and consciousness:
Consciousness studies is still to a great extent dominated by philosophers in contrast to other areas of science. This category critiques philosophical books and papers most of which are dismissive of fundamental theories of consciousness.
Discusses aspects of physics that appear relevant to fundamental theories of consciousness.
Quantum biology is an effectively new academic subject relating to quantum states that have a non-trivial functional role in organisms. The discussion here relates to how this might instantiate conscious neural processing. Quantum states in photosynthesis are discussed as an area of particular interest.
The most recent additions to the blog are listed below:-
1.) Top-Down Biases in Short-Term Memory - 01 March 2014
2.) Frontal Eye Field and Direction of Attention - 23 February 2014
3.) Frontal Eye Field as Controller of Voluntary Attention – 16 February 2014
4.) Relationship and Propositional Quantum Consciousness – 7 February 2014
5.) Radical Plasticity Thesis – attempts to relate conscious to the learning process – 30 January 2014
6.) Far from the madding brain – Discusses the divergence of robotics away from imitating the human brain. – 19 January 2014
7.) Control of spatial attention – Deals with relationship of consciousness and attention – 10 January 2014
8.) Orienting to the environment – Deals with the relationship of consciousness and attention – 3 January 2014
9.) Thalamic control of visual attention – Deals with the relationship of consciousness and attention – 21 December 2013
10.) The self, consciousness and will – Discusses the problem of trying to elide consciousness with the self – 13 December 2013
These are brief introductions mainly aimed at visitors to the site who are unfamiliar with the concepts of fundamental or quantum consciousness, with the reasons for looking for consciousness in these areas or with the underlying science. At the end of the ‘Why Quantum Theory’ page we list ’15 Books to change the world’.
This page summarises and comments on books and papers by leading quantum theorists including Roger Penrose, Stuart Hameroff, Henry Stapp and David Bohm as well as less well known figures.
At the moment this comprises only one book, ‘Consciousness, Biology and Fundamental Physics’ attempting a comprehensive overview of the topics discussed on this site plus a tentative theory of consciousness. A second book ‘Neuroscience and Consciousness’ is in preparation.
DEFINITION OF CONSCIOUSNESS:
“This is probably the stage at which we should provide a definition of the consciousness that we are going to try and talk about here. Consciousness is defined as our awareness that we exist, and that consciously existing and having sensory experience is like something. It is like something to be alive, to have a body and to experience the colour red and the numerous other sensory inputs. Put another way, we have a subjective experience of the external world, our bodies, our emotions and preferences and our thoughts.
In contrast, it is usually assumed not to be like anything to be a table, a chair or any other inanimate object. Further to being like something, consciousness also gives us the experience of preferences and real or apparent choice. There is something it is like to choose between types of beer, or between a small amount of benefit now, as against a more substantial benefit in the future. These subjective experiences are otherwise referred to as qualia. The problem of qualia or phenomenal experience is here viewed as the whole of the problem of consciousness.
The problem we have to address here is the so-called ‘hard problem’ of how consciousness/subjective experience/qualia arise in physical matter, or more loosely of how you get consciousness from meat.”