NOT THIS

I’m digging through old back-ups looking for something. Not this. Still; Harry Stapp, Tuscon 1996, from his talk, Science of Consciousness and the Hard Problem.

The “Hard Problem” has several aspects. From the perspective of science the
question “Why does consciousness exist?” can be compared to the question
“Why does the electromagnetic field exist?” A physicist can answer this
question by giving an account of the important function that the
electromagnetic field plays in workings of nature, as they are represented in
his physical theory. Of course, consciousness plays no role at all in the
classical mechanics account of nature, and hence no functional answer is
possible within the classical-mechanics conceptualization of nature. Since it
is unreasonable for nature to have such a nonefficacious component, the
question of `why consciousness exists’ becomes essentially a plea for a more
adequate conceptual understanding of nature, one in which consciousness plays
an essential role.

Two essential roles of consciousness in the quantum formulation are:

1. Our conscious experiencings are what both science in general and quantum
theory in particular are about. One cannot eliminate our experiences from
the theory without eliminating both the connection of the theory to science
and also the basic realities upon which the theory itself rests: experiences
are the basic realities that the more subtle `physical’ aspects of nature
are propensities for.

2. Technically, experiences are used to solve the so-called basis problem in
quantum theory. Within the physical domain itself there is no natural
foundation for deciding which special states are the ones into which the
quantum state can “collapse”. The core idea of Bohr is that these special
states correspond to our experiences, and this core idea is carried by the
von Neumann/Wigner formulation into equations (1) and (4). Intuitively, this
amounts to the idea that the body/brain processes generate possibilities
that are presented to the quantum selection process, which interprets them
in terms of possible experiences, and then selects, in accordance with the
basic quantum statistical rule, one of these possible experiences, and
actualizes it, and its body/brain counterpart. (Of course, this intuitive
interpretation of the formulas (1) and (4) is not actually needed: the
formulas themselves define the theory.) But this means that our experiences
are not only the basic realities of the theory, and the link to science, as
noted in 1, but also play a key in specifying the “set of allowed
possibilities” that enter into the causal chain of mind/brain events. These
allowed possibilities must be just the ones that correspond to our possible
experiences, at least for practical purposes, or the whole theory loses its
tight connection to science: the events in the theory would no longer
correspond to the experiential realities.

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