Τετάρτη, 22 Οκτωβρίου 2008

Ξαναθυμήθηκαν τη θεωρία του Β. Ράιχ για τον οργασμό

Ξαναθυμήθηκαν τη θεωρία του Β. Ράιχ για τον οργασμό

Ασοσ. Πρες

ΡΕΪΝΤΖΛΙ. Μισό αιώνα μετά τον θάνατο του εμπνευστή της αμφιλεγόμενης θεωρίας της «οργονικής ενέργειας», Βίλχελμ Ράιχ, οι λιγοστοί υποστηρικτές του εκκεντρικού επιστήμονα καταβάλλουν την ύστατη προσπάθεια προκειμένου να δώσουν νέα ώθηση στο ξεχασμένο του έργο. Ο αυστριακής καταγωγής γιατρός και ψυχαναλυτής είχε ταράξει τα νερά της αμερικανικής επιστημονικής κοινότητας στις αρχές της δεκαετίας του ’50, υποστηρίζοντας ότι η «κοσμική ενέργεια» που παράγεται κατά τη διάρκεια του σεξουαλικού οργασμού έχει θεραπευτικές ιδιότητες.

Αντικείμενο χλευασμού η μηχανή του

Η μηχανή συγκέντρωσης «οργονικής ενέργειας» που κατασκεύασε ο Ράιχ έγινε αντικείμενο χλευασμού από την αμερικανική κοινή γνώμη πριν, τελικά, η επιτροπή Φαρμάκων και Τροφίμων αποφανθεί ότι πρόκειται για απάτη και διατάξει την κατάσχεσή της. Απαξιωμένος από το επιστημονικό κατεστημένο των ΗΠΑ, ο Ράιχ πέθανε σε ηλικία 60 ετών από ανακοπή καρδιάς σε φυλακή της Πενσιλβάνια, όπου εξέτιε ποινή διετούς κάθειρξης για περιφρόνηση δικαστηρίου, στις 3 Nοεμβρίου του 1957.

«Προσωπικά, θεωρώ ότι θα περάσει πολύς καιρός πριν η επιστημονική κοινότητα κατανοήσει το έργο του», δηλώνει σήμερα η εγγονή του Ράιχ, Ρενάτα Μόιζ, με αφορμή την έκθεση του Εβραϊκού Μουσείου της Βιέννης με θέμα τη ζωή και το έργο του ψυχαναλυτή. Η Μόιζ επιμένει, μάλιστα, ότι η «μεταλλική κουβέρτα» ή αλλιώς «μηχανή συγκέντρωσης οργονικής ενέργειας» δεν είναι απάτη. «Την έχω χρησιμοποιήσει κι εγώ προκειμένου να θεραπεύσω εγκαύματα και μπορώ να σας διαβεβαιώσω ότι λειτουργεί», ισχυρίζεται. Ο Ράιχ υποστήριζε ότι ανακάλυψε τα «βιόνια» που ουσιαστικά αποτελούν την «οργονική ενέργεια» κατά τη διάρκεια πειραμάτων στη Νορβηγία. Διατεινόταν ότι η εν λόγω ενέργεια παράγεται κατά τη διάρκεια του οργασμού και ότι έχει θαυματουργές ιδιότητες. Σημειώνεται ότι ο Ράιχ εγκατέλειψε τη ναζιστική Γερμανία, όπου διέμενε μέχρι το 1933, λόγω της εβραϊκής καταγωγής του και των φιλοκομμουνιστικών του απόψεων. Αρχικά βρήκε καταφύγιο στη Νορβηγία, αλλά μετανάστευσε στις ΗΠΑ λίγο πριν από την έναρξη του Β΄ Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου.

Το έργο του Ράιχ δεν περιορίζεται, φυσικά, στην «οργονική ενέργεια» και στις προσπάθειες περισυλλογής της. Δεν είναι, άλλωστε, τυχαίο ότι η Ενωση Αμερικανών Ψυχαναλυτών τον χαρακτηρίζει έναν από τους «πιο λαμπρούς και δημιουργικούς ψυχαναλυτές» και υπενθυμίζει ότι ήταν ο πρώτος που έδωσε βάρος στην ανάλυση του χαρακτήρα έναντι των νευρωτικών συμπτωμάτων. Οι υποστηρικτές του υπογραμμίζουν την ανάγκη αναγνώρισης των μελετών του Ράιχ από την επιστημονική κοινότητα και συνιστούν στους νεότερους ψυχαναλυτές να μελετήσουν τη ζωή του.


Hμερομηνία : 07-11-2007
Copyright: http://www.kathimerini.gr

BΙΛΧΕΛΜ ΡΑΪΧ - 50 ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΜΕΤΑ

BΙΛΧΕΛΜ ΡΑΪΧ - 50 ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΜΕΤΑ
Ενας τολμηρός και παρεξηγημένος πρωτοπόρος

Της ΕΛΙΖΑΜΠΕΤΤΑΣ ΚΑΖΑΛΟΤΤΙ

Πενήντα χρόνια μετά τον θάνατό του η παγκόσμια επιστημονική κοινότητα ξαναδιαβάζει τον Βίλχελμ Ράιχ και κορυφώνονται σε όλο τον κόσμο οι εκδηλώσεις με επίκεντρο την αιρετική σκέψη του. Με αυξημένο ενδιαφέρον αναμένεται επίσης η δημοσίευση εργασιών του, που για πρώτη φορά θα είναι στη διάθεση των ερευνητών.

Πενήντα χρόνια μετά τον θάνατό του ανοίγουν σήμερα οι πόρτες του Εθνικού και Καποδιστριακού Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών που θα υποδεχτεί για πρώτη φορά τον «επαναστάτη» Βίλχελμ Ράιχ με πρωτοβουλία του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών, του Κέντρου Μελετών και Ψυχοθεραπείας «Βίλχελμ Ράιχ» και της Πανελλήνιας Ενωσης Σωματικής Ψυχοθεραπείας (αίθουσα τελετών του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών, Πανεπιστημίου 30, 10.00-15.00).

Σε μια ημερίδα που όχι τυχαία φέρει τίτλο «Πενήντα χρόνια από τον θάνατο του Ράιχ: Η ιστορία μιας απώθησης», μελετητές της σκέψης του, ανάμεσά τους ο ποιητής και συγγραφέας Νάνος Βαλαωρίτης, ο καθηγητής Ψυχολογίας και Επικοινωνίας του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών Κλήμης Ναυρίδης, ο καθηγητής Φιλοσοφίας της Επιστήμης στο ΕΜΠ Αριστείδης Μπαλτάς, ο επίκουρος καθηγητής ΕΜΠ Κίμων Χατζημπίρος κ.ά., θα επιχειρήσουν να εξετάσουν με μια σύγχρονη ματιά το διαχρονικό, αλλά και συνάμα χαοτικό μερικές φορές έργο του.

Ο Ράιχ περιγράφεται από την Αμερικανική Ψυχαναλυτική Εταιρεία ως ένας από τους πλέον δημιουργικούς και λαμπερούς πρωτοπόρους της ψυχανάλυσης. Ομως, μεγάλο μέρος του έργου του είναι άγνωστο στο μεγάλο κοινό, στο σημείο που επώνυμοι στοχαστές της «Σχολής της Φρανκφούρτης» μπόρεσαν να καρπωθούν τη σκέψη του ειδικότερα σε ό,τι αφορά τη λιγότερο γνωστή μαρξιστική περίοδό του.

Η σκέψη του Βίλχελμ Ράιχ ακροβάτησε ανάμεσα στον φροϋδισμό και τον μαρξισμό, των οποίων επιχείρησε μια πετυχημένη όσο και θαρραλέα σύνθεση δημιουργώντας ένα νέο ψυχαναλυτικό ρεύμα. Γεννήθηκε έτσι ένας ιδιότυπος φροϊδο-μαρξισμός που αγκάλιασε ολοκληρωτικά ακόμη και ο Μαρκούζε.

Οι ιδέες του επηρέασαν την ψυχαναλυτική σκέψη, κοινωνικά και πολιτικά κινήματα των νέων, τον χώρο της ψυχοθεραπείας. Η σωματική ψυχοθεραπεία, ένα από τα πιο διαδεδομένα ψυχοθεραπευτικά ρεύματα σήμερα, βασίζεται στις ιδέες του Β. Ράιχ.

Ο Βίλχελμ Ράιχ γεννήθηκε το 1897 στην Dobrzcynika, τότε Αυστροουγγαρία σήμερα Ουκρανία, από εύπορη οικογένεια και πέθανε το 1957 στο Lewisburg της Πενσιλβάνιας.

Μαθητής και βοηθός του Φρόιντ αρχικά, πήρε αποστάσεις από την κλασική ψυχανάλυση και δημιούργησε μια δική του ψυχοθεραπευτική μέθοδο. Επηρεασμένος από τον μαρξισμό επεδίωξε να εντάξει τις ψυχαναλυτικές ιδέες σε μια προοπτική σοσιαλιστικής αλλαγής της κοινωνίας.

Γοητευμένος από την τότε Οκτωβριανή Επανάσταση, επισκέπτεται τη Μόσχα τον Σεπτέμβριο του 1929. Διακρίνει όμως ότι το νέο καθεστώς δημιουργεί αυταρχικές δομές και γυρίζει στη Βιέννη προβληματισμένος από αυτή την εμπειρία. Ασχολήθηκε ιδιαίτερα με την κοινωνική πρόληψη των ψυχικών διαταραχών στα παιδιά και τους νέους.

Εκανε κριτική στην αυταρχική οικογένεια που προετοιμάζει τα παιδιά για νευρωτικούς και υποταγμένους ενήλικες και καταπιέζει τη φυσική σεξουαλικότητα των εφήβων και των νέων, δημιουργώντας το έδαφος για την ψυχική διαταραχή.

Αντιμετώπισε τον άνθρωπο ως μια ψυχοσωματική ενότητα: τα ψυχικά φαινόμενα αντανακλώνται στο σώμα και τα σωματικά φαινόμενα εκφράζουν τον ψυχισμό.

Στη θεραπευτική του μέθοδο συνδύασε την ψυχανάλυση με τεχνικές που κινητοποιούν το σώμα του θεραπευόμενου. Οι ιδέες του επηρέασαν την ψυχαναλυτική σκέψη, κοινωνικά και πολιτικά κινήματα των νέων, τον χώρο της ψυχοθεραπείας. Η σωματική ψυχοθεραπεία, ένα από τα πιο διαδεδομένα ψυχοθεραπευτικά ρεύματα σήμερα, βασίζεται στις ιδέες του Β. Ράιχ.

Είναι γνωστός και για την ανάπτυξη της υπόθεσης μιας ενέργειας που χαρακτηρίζει τους ζωντανούς οργανισμούς, την οποία ονόμασε «οργόνη».

Τα πειράματά του γύρω από τη φύση αυτής της ενέργειας χαρακτήρισαν «επικίνδυνα» στις ΗΠΑ, όπου ζούσε από το 1939. Κυνηγημένος από την Υπηρεσία Τροφίμων και Φαρμάκων, πεθαίνει στη φυλακή, λίγο πριν από την ακρόασή του. Βιβλία του καίγονται και το εργαστήριό του καταστρέφεται.

Εργα του όπως «Η ανάλυση του χαρακτήρα», «Η δολοφονία του Χριστού», «Ο συσσωρευτής οργόνης» ξεσήκωσαν και ξεσηκώνουν ακόμη παγκοσμίως συζητήσεις.

«"Εχω δικαίωμα στην κρίση ανθρώπων ικανών να με κρίνουν και στο καλοπροαίρετο ανιδιοτελές λάθος".

Τα λόγια αυτά με τα οποία ο Ράιχ αντιμετώπισε τους δικαστές του που τελικά τον έστειλαν στη φυλακή θα έπρεπε να βρίσκονται γραμμένα στην είσοδο κάθε πνευματικού ιδρύματος στον κόσμο.

Δίνοντάς του τον λόγο στο Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών, πιστεύω ότι αναγνωρίζουμε τη δύναμη, την τόλμη και την ανιδιοτέλειά του, την επιμονή του στη διεπιστημονική προσέγγιση και στη σύνδεση σκέψης, βιώματος και δράσης, ότι του δίνουμε, όπως ζητούσε, το δικαίωμα να κριθεί με πνευματικά κριτήρια, χωρίς υποχρεωτικά να προσυπογράφουμε όσα λέει...», τονίζει η καθηγήτρια Αισθητικής και Επικοινωνίας του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών, Πέπη Ρηγοπούλου, που είναι και από τους κεντρικούς ομιλητές της σημερινής ημερίδας.


ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΟΤΥΠΙΑ - 27/11/2007


Σάββατο, 18 Οκτωβρίου 2008

ΝΕΥΡΟΤΕΧΝΟΛΟΓΙΑ-Το κράνος που μας κάνει εξυπνότερους

Το κράνος που μας κάνει εξυπνότερους

Αξιοποιεί την τεχνική της διακρανιακής μαγνητικής διέγερσης για να «αφυπνίσει» τον εγκέφαλο και να αυξήσει τις νοητικές μας επιδόσεις

Του ΣΠΥΡΟΥ ΜΑΝΟΥΣΕΛΗ

ΝΕΥΡΟΤΕΧΝΟΛΟΓΙΑ

Ολοι θα θέλαμε να γίνουμε πιο έξυπνοι και πιο δημιουργικοί, μέχρι σήμερα όμως πιστεύαμε ότι αυτό είναι εξαιρετικά δύσκολο να γίνει. Μια ομάδα Αυστραλών ερευνητών έρχεται να αναπτερώσει το ηθικό μας, μελετώντας την υλοποίηση μιας συσκευής η οποία θα βοηθά στην ανάδυση όλων των εν δυνάμει ικανοτήτων μας, καθιστώντας μας έτσι στην πράξη εξυπνότερους και ικανότερους.

Η συσκευή αυτή, που μοιάζει με σκούφο κομμωτικής, αξιοποιεί τη «διακρανιακή μαγνητική διέγερση» ή TMS, μια μη επεμβατική και μη φαρμακευτική τεχνική, η οποία έχει ήδη εφαρμοστεί με επιτυχία σε ασθενείς που υποφέρουν από κατάθλιψη ή σε άτομα που ταλαιπωρούνται από ημικρανίες. Εξοπλισμένη με ειδικό ηλεκτρικό πηνίο, εκπέμπει μικρής έντασης μαγνητικούς παλμούς, οι οποίοι φαίνεται πως είναι ικανοί να τροποποιούν τον τρόπο με τον οποίο λειτουργεί ο εγκέφαλος, με αποτέλεσμα να βελτιώνονται θεαματικά κάποιες νοητικές ικανότητες.

Τα πρώτα τεστ έχουν ήδη δώσει εντυπωσιακά αποτελέσματα: ορισμένοι από τους εθελοντές εκδήλωσαν αξιοσημείωτες καλλιτεχνικές ικανότητες, ενώ κάποιοι άλλοι κατάφεραν, έστω και προσωρινά, να ξεπεράσουν σοβαρές νοητικές παθήσεις όπως ο αυτισμός.

Οι Αυστραλοί επιστήμονες φιλοδοξούν μάλιστα, όπως αναφέρει η βρετανική εφημερίδα «Daily Mail», να προχωρήσουν στη διάθεση της συσκευής στην αγορά, μόλις βέβαια τελειοποιηθεί. Ετσι, όπως οι άνθρωποι με προβλήματα ακοής χρησιμοποιούν ακουστικά, έτσι και οι κάθε μορφής δημιουργοί (συγγραφείς, καλλιτέχνες, διαφημιστές) θα μπορούν, όποτε νιώθουν την ανάγκη, να προσφεύγουν σε αυτήν τη συσκευή τόνωσης της δημιουργικότητας.

Η ιδέα για την κατασκευή της συγκεκριμένης συσκευής προέκυψε από τις υπεράνθρωπες νοητικές ικανότητες που επιδεικνύουν οι «ιδιοφυείς μικρόνοες» (idiots savants), αυτή η ειδική κατηγορία ατόμων που ενώ παρουσιάζουν νοητική υστέρηση, εντούτοις έχουν ανεπτυγμένη σε υπερβολικό βαθμό, σε σχέση με έναν φυσιολογικό άνθρωπο, κάποια συγκεκριμένη ικανότητα, όπως η απομνημόνευση αριθμών και η εκτέλεση πολύπλοκων αριθμητικών πράξεων.

«Ψυχή» της ερευνητικής ομάδας είναι ο Αυστραλός πρωτοπόρος ερευνητής της νευρογνωσιακής επιστήμης Allan Snyder (βλ. φωτ.), καθηγητής στο Πανεπιστήμιο του Σίδνεϊ και διευθυντής του Center for the Mind. Ο Σνάιντερ υποστηρίζει με μεγάλο πάθος αλλά και με αρκετά πειστικά επιχειρήματα ότι η μαγνητική διέγερση των αριστερών κροταφικών λοβών μπορεί να προκαλέσει σε φυσιολογικά άτομα την ανάδυση ικανοτήτων ανάλογων με αυτές των «ιδιοφυών μικρόνοων». «Πιστεύω ότι στον κάθε έναν από μας υπάρχουν κρυμμένοι υποσυνείδητοι μηχανισμοί, οι οποίοι μπορούν να μας επιτρέψουν να εκδηλώσουμε εκπληκτικές καλλιτεχνικές, μνημονικές ή μαθηματικές ικανότητες», δηλώνει χωρίς περιστροφές. Δυστυχώς, η επήρεια της συσκευής διαρκεί λίγο: ύστερα από δύο ώρες οι ικανότητες που έχουν αναπτυχθεί εξαφανίζονται.*


2 - 18/10/2008

Τετάρτη, 3 Σεπτεμβρίου 2008

Κυριακή, 8 Ιουνίου 2008

Σάββατο, 7 Ιουνίου 2008

Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness

Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness

David J. Chalmers

Department of Philosophy
University of California
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

chalmers@ling.ucsc.edu

1 Introduction

Consciousness poses the most baffling problems in the science of the mind. There is nothing that we know more intimately than conscious experience, but there is nothing that is harder to explain. All sorts of mental phenomena have yielded to scientific investigation in recent years, but consciousness has stubbornly resisted. Many have tried to explain it, but the explanations always seem to fall short of the target. Some have been led to suppose that the problem is intractable, and that no good explanation can be given.

To make progress on the problem of consciousness, we have to confront it directly. In this paper, I first isolate the truly hard part of the problem, separating it from more tractable parts and giving an account of why it is so difficult to explain. I critique some recent work that uses reductive methods to address consciousness, and argue that such methods inevitably fail to come to grips with the hardest part of the problem. Once this failure is recognized, the door to further progress is opened. In the second half of the paper, I argue that if we move to a new kind of nonreductive explanation, a naturalistic account of consciousness can be given. I put forward my own candidate for such an account: a nonreductive theory based on principles of structural coherence and organizational invariance and a double-aspect view of information.

2 The easy problems and the hard problem

There is not just one problem of consciousness. "Consciousness" is an ambiguous term, referring to many different phenomena. Each of these phenomena needs to be explained, but some are easier to explain than others. At the start, it is useful to divide the associated problems of consciousness into "hard" and "easy" problems. The easy problems of consciousness are those that seem directly susceptible to the standard methods of cognitive science, whereby a phenomenon is explained in terms of computational or neural mechanisms. The hard problems are those that seem to resist those methods.

The easy problems of consciousness include those of explaining the following phenomena:

  • the ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to
    environmental stimuli;
  • the integration of information by a cognitive system;
  • the reportability of mental states;
  • the ability of a system to access its own internal states;
  • the focus of attention;
  • the deliberate control of behavior;
  • the difference between wakefulness and sleep.

All of these phenomena are associated with the notion of consciousness. For example, one sometimes says that a mental state is conscious when it is verbally reportable, or when it is internally accessible. Sometimes a system is said to be conscious of some information when it has the ability to react on the basis of that information, or, more strongly, when it attends to that information, or when it can integrate that information and exploit it in the sophisticated control of behavior. We sometimes say that an action is conscious precisely when it is deliberate. Often, we say that an organism is conscious as another way of saying that it is awake.

There is no real issue about whether these phenomena can be explained scientifically. All of them are straightforwardly vulnerable to explanation in terms of computational or neural mechanisms. To explain access and reportability, for example, we need only specify the mechanism by which information about internal states is retrieved and made available for verbal report. To explain the integration of information, we need only exhibit mechanisms by which information is brought together and exploited by later processes. For an account of sleep and wakefulness, an appropriate neurophysiological account of the processes responsible for organisms' contrasting behavior in those states will suffice. In each case, an appropriate cognitive or neurophysiological model can clearly do the explanatory work.

If these phenomena were all there was to consciousness, then consciousness would not be much of a problem. Although we do not yet have anything close to a complete explanation of these phenomena, we have a clear idea of how we might go about explaining them. This is why I call these problems the easy problems. Of course, "easy" is a relative term. Getting the details right will probably take a century or two of difficult empirical work. Still, there is every reason to believe that the methods of cognitive science and neuroscience will succeed.

The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought. What unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.

It is undeniable that some organisms are subjects of experience. But the question of how it is that these systems are subjects of experience is perplexing. Why is it that when our cognitive systems engage in visual and auditory information-processing, we have visual or auditory experience: the quality of deep blue, the sensation of middle C? How can we explain why there is something it is like to entertain a mental image, or to experience an emotion? It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does.

If any problem qualifies as the problem of consciousness, it is this one. In this central sense of "consciousness", an organism is conscious if there is something it is like to be that organism, and a mental state is conscious if there is something it is like to be in that state. Sometimes terms such as "phenomenal consciousness" and "qualia" are also used here, but I find it more natural to speak of "conscious experience" or simply "experience". Another useful way to avoid confusion (used by e.g. Newell 1990, Chalmers 1995) is to reserve the term "consciousness" for the phenomena of experience, using the less loaded term "awareness" for the more straightforward phenomena described earlier. If such a convention were widely adopted, communication would be much easier; as things stand, those who talk about "consciousness" are frequently talking past each other.

The ambiguity of the term "consciousness" is often exploited by both philosophers and scientists writing on the subject. It is common to see a paper on consciousness begin with an invocation of the mystery of consciousness, noting the strange intangibility and ineffability of subjectivity, and worrying that so far we have no theory of the phenomenon. Here, the topic is clearly the hard problem - the problem of experience. In the second half of the paper, the tone becomes more optimistic, and the author's own theory of consciousness is outlined. Upon examination, this theory turns out to be a theory of one of the more straightforward phenomena - of reportability, of introspective access, or whatever. At the close, the author declares that consciousness has turned out to be tractable after all, but the reader is left feeling like the victim of a bait-and-switch. The hard problem remains untouched.

3 Functional explanation

Why are the easy problems easy, and why is the hard problem hard? The easy problems are easy precisely because they concern the explanation of cognitive abilities and functions. To explain a cognitive function, we need only specify a mechanism that can perform the function. The methods of cognitive science are well-suited for this sort of explanation, and so are well-suited to the easy problems of consciousness. By contrast, the hard problem is hard precisely because it is not a problem about the performance of functions. The problem persists even when the performance of all the relevant functions is explained. (Here "function" is not used in the narrow teleological sense of something that a system is designed to do, but in the broader sense of any causal role in the production of behavior that a system might perform.)

To explain reportability, for instance, is just to explain how a system could perform the function of producing reports on internal states. To explain internal access, we need to explain how a system could be appropriately affected by its internal states and use information about those states in directing later processes. To explain integration and control, we need to explain how a system's central processes can bring information contents together and use them in the facilitation of various behaviors. These are all problems about the explanation of functions.

How do we explain the performance of a function? By specifying a mechanism that performs the function. Here, neurophysiological and cognitive modeling are perfect for the task. If we want a detailed low-level explanation, we can specify the neural mechanism that is responsible for the function. If we want a more abstract explanation, we can specify a mechanism in computational terms. Either way, a full and satisfying explanation will result. Once we have specified the neural or computational mechanism that performs the function of verbal report, for example, the bulk of our work in explaining reportability is over.

In a way, the point is trivial. It is a conceptual fact about these phenomena that their explanation only involves the explanation of various functions, as the phenomena are functionally definable. All it means for reportability to be instantiated in a system is that the system has the capacity for verbal reports of internal information. All it means for a system to be awake is for it to be appropriately receptive to information from the environment and for it to be able to use this information in directing behavior in an appropriate way. To see that this sort of thing is a conceptual fact, note that someone who says "you have explained the performance of the verbal report function, but you have not explained reportability" is making a trivial conceptual mistake about reportability. All it could possibly take to explain reportability is an explanation of how the relevant function is performed; the same goes for the other phenomena in question.

Throughout the higher-level sciences, reductive explanation works in just this way. To explain the gene, for instance, we needed to specify the mechanism that stores and transmits hereditary information from one generation to the next. It turns out that DNA performs this function; once we explain how the function is performed, we have explained the gene. To explain life, we ultimately need to explain how a system can reproduce, adapt to its environment, metabolize, and so on. All of these are questions about the performance of functions, and so are well-suited to reductive explanation. The same holds for most problems in cognitive science. To explain learning, we need to explain the way in which a system's behavioral capacities are modified in light of environmental information, and the way in which new information can be brought to bear in adapting a system's actions to its environment. If we show how a neural or computational mechanism does the job, we have explained learning. We can say the same for other cognitive phenomena, such as perception, memory, and language. Sometimes the relevant functions need to be characterized quite subtly, but it is clear that insofar as cognitive science explains these phenomena at all, it does so by explaining the performance of functions.

When it comes to conscious experience, this sort of explanation fails. What makes the hard problem hard and almost unique is that it goes beyond problems about the performance of functions. To see this, note that even when we have explained the performance of all the cognitive and behavioral functions in the vicinity of experience - perceptual discrimination, categorization, internal access, verbal report - there may still remain a further unanswered question: Why is the performance of these functions accompanied by experience? A simple explanation of the functions leaves this question open.

There is no analogous further question in the explanation of genes, or of life, or of learning. If someone says "I can see that you have explained how DNA stores and transmits hereditary information from one generation to the next, but you have not explained how it is a gene", then they are making a conceptual mistake. All it means to be a gene is to be an entity that performs the relevant storage and transmission function. But if someone says "I can see that you have explained how information is discriminated, integrated, and reported, but you have not explained how it is experienced", they are not making a conceptual mistake. This is a nontrivial further question.

This further question is the key question in the problem of consciousness. Why doesn't all this information-processing go on "in the dark", free of any inner feel? Why is it that when electromagnetic waveforms impinge on a retina and are discriminated and categorized by a visual system, this discrimination and categorization is experienced as a sensation of vivid red? We know that conscious experience does arise when these functions are performed, but the very fact that it arises is the central mystery. There is an explanatory gap (a term due to Levine 1983) between the functions and experience, and we need an explanatory bridge to cross it. A mere account of the functions stays on one side of the gap, so the materials for the bridge must be found elsewhere.

This is not to say that experience has no function. Perhaps it will turn out to play an important cognitive role. But for any role it might play, there will be more to the explanation of experience than a simple explanation of the function. Perhaps it will even turn out that in the course of explaining a function, we will be led to the key insight that allows an explanation of experience. If this happens, though, the discovery will be an extra explanatory reward. There is no cognitive function such that we can say in advance that explanation of that function will automatically explain experience.

To explain experience, we need a new approach. The usual explanatory methods of cognitive science and neuroscience do not suffice. These methods have been developed precisely to explain the performance of cognitive functions, and they do a good job of it. But as these methods stand, they are only equipped to explain the performance of functions. When it comes to the hard problem, the standard approach has nothing to say.

4 Some case-studies

In the last few years, a number of works have addressed the problems of consciousness within the framework of cognitive science and neuroscience. This might suggest that the analysis above is faulty, but in fact a close examination of the relevant work only lends the analysis further support. When we investigate just which aspects of consciousness these studies are aimed at, and which aspects they end up explaining, we find that the ultimate target of explanation is always one of the easy problems. I will illustrate this with two representative examples.

The first is the "neurobiological theory of consciousness" outlined by Crick and Koch (1990; see also Crick 1994). This theory centers on certain 35-75 hertz neural oscillations in the cerebral cortex; Crick and Koch hypothesize that these oscillations are the basis of consciousness. This is partly because the oscillations seem to be correlated with awareness in a number of different modalities - within the visual and olfactory systems, for example - and also because they suggest a mechanism by which the binding of information contents might be achieved. Binding is the process whereby separately represented pieces of information about a single entity are brought together to be used by later processing, as when information about the color and shape of a perceived object is integrated from separate visual pathways. Following others (e.g., Eckhorn et al 1988), Crick and Koch hypothesize that binding may be achieved by the synchronized oscillations of neuronal groups representing the relevant contents. When two pieces of information are to be bound together, the relevant neural groups will oscillate with the same frequency and phase.

The details of how this binding might be achieved are still poorly understood, but suppose that they can be worked out. What might the resulting theory explain? Clearly it might explain the binding of information contents, and perhaps it might yield a more general account of the integration of information in the brain. Crick and Koch also suggest that these oscillations activate the mechanisms of working memory, so that there may be an account of this and perhaps other forms of memory in the distance. The theory might eventually lead to a general account of how perceived information is bound and stored in memory, for use by later processing.

Such a theory would be valuable, but it would tell us nothing about why the relevant contents are experienced. Crick and Koch suggest that these oscillations are the neural correlates of experience. This claim is arguable - does not binding also take place in the processing of unconscious information? - but even if it is accepted, the explanatory question remains: Why do the oscillations give rise to experience? The only basis for an explanatory connection is the role they play in binding and storage, but the question of why binding and storage should themselves be accompanied by experience is never addressed. If we do not know why binding and storage should give rise to experience, telling a story about the oscillations cannot help us. Conversely, if we knew why binding and storage gave rise to experience, the neurophysiological details would be just the icing on the cake. Crick and Koch's theory gains its purchase by assuming a connection between binding and experience, and so can do nothing to explain that link.

I do not think that Crick and Koch are ultimately claiming to address the hard problem, although some have interpreted them otherwise. A published interview with Koch gives a clear statement of the limitations on the theory's ambitions.

Well, let's first forget about the really difficult aspects, like subjective feelings, for they may not have a scientific solution. The subjective state of play, of pain, of pleasure, of seeing blue, of smelling a rose - there seems to be a huge jump between the materialistic level, of explaining molecules and neurons, and the subjective level. Let's focus on things that are easier to study - like visual awareness. You're now talking to me, but you're not looking at me, you're looking at the cappuccino, and so you are aware of it. You can say, `It's a cup and there's some liquid in it.' If I give it to you, you'll move your arm and you'll take it - you'll respond in a meaningful manner. That's what I call awareness." ("What is Consciousness", Discover, November 1992, p. 96.)

The second example is an approach at the level of cognitive psychology. This is Baars' global workspace theory of consciousness, presented in his book A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness. According to this theory, the contents of consciousness are contained in a global workspace, a central processor used to mediate communication between a host of specialized nonconscious processors. When these specialized processors need to broadcast information to the rest of the system, they do so by sending this information to the workspace, which acts as a kind of communal blackboard for the rest of the system, accessible to all the other processors.

Baars uses this model to address many aspects of human cognition, and to explain a number of contrasts between conscious and unconscious cognitive functioning. Ultimately, however, it is a theory of cognitive accessibility, explaining how it is that certain information contents are widely accessible within a system, as well as a theory of informational integration and reportability. The theory shows promise as a theory of awareness, the functional correlate of conscious experience, but an explanation of experience itself is not on offer.

One might suppose that according to this theory, the contents of experience are precisely the contents of the workspace. But even if this is so, nothing internal to the theory explains why the information within the global workspace is experienced. The best the theory can do is to say that the information is experienced because it is globally accessible. But now the question arises in a different form: why should global accessibility give rise to conscious experience? As always, this bridging question is unanswered.

Almost all work taking a cognitive or neuroscientific approach to consciousness in recent years could be subjected to a similar critique. The "Neural Darwinism" model of Edelman (1989), for instance, addresses questions about perceptual awareness and the self-concept, but says nothing about why there should also be experience. The "multiple drafts" model of Dennett (1991) is largely directed at explaining the reportability of certain mental contents. The "intermediate level" theory of Jackendoff (1988) provides an account of some computational processes that underlie consciousness, but Jackendoff stresses that the question of how these "project" into conscious experience remains mysterious.

Researchers using these methods are often inexplicit about their attitudes to the problem of conscious experience, although sometimes they take a clear stand. Even among those who are clear about it, attitudes differ widely. In placing this sort of work with respect to the problem of experience, a number of different strategies are available. It would be useful if these strategic choices were more often made explicit.

The first strategy is simply to explain something else. Some researchers are explicit that the problem of experience is too difficult for now, and perhaps even outside the domain of science altogether. These researchers instead choose to address one of the more tractable problems such as reportability or the self-concept. Although I have called these problems the "easy" problems, they are among the most interesting unsolved problems in cognitive science, so this work is certainly worthwhile. The worst that can be said of this choice is that in the context of research on consciousness it is relatively unambitious, and the work can sometimes be misinterpreted.

The second choice is to take a harder line and deny the phenomenon. (Variations on this approach are taken by Allport 1988, Dennett 1991, and Wilkes 1988.) According to this line, once we have explained the functions such as accessibility, reportability, and the like, there is no further phenomenon called "experience" to explain. Some explicitly deny the phenomenon, holding for example that what is not externally verifiable cannot be real. Others achieve the same effect by allowing that experience exists, but only if we equate "experience" with something like the capacity to discriminate and report. These approaches lead to a simpler theory, but are ultimately unsatisfactory. Experience is the most central and manifest aspect of our mental lives, and indeed is perhaps the key explanandum in the science of the mind. Because of this status as an explanandum, experience cannot be discarded like the vital spirit when a new theory comes along. Rather, it is the central fact that any theory of consciousness must explain. A theory that denies the phenomenon "solves" the problem by ducking the question.

In a third option, some researchers claim to be explaining experience in the full sense. These researchers (unlike those above) wish to take experience very seriously; they lay out their functional model or theory, and claim that it explains the full subjective quality of experience (e.g. Flohr 1992, Humphrey 1992). The relevant step in the explanation is usually passed over quickly, however, and usually ends up looking something like magic. After some details about information processing are given, experience suddenly enters the picture, but it is left obscure how these processes should suddenly give rise to experience. Perhaps it is simply taken for granted that it does, but then we have an incomplete explanation and a version of the fifth strategy below.

A fourth, more promising approach appeals to these methods to explain the structure of experience. For example, it is arguable that an account of the discriminations made by the visual system can account for the structural relations between different color experiences, as well as for the geometric structure of the visual field (see e.g., Clark 1992 and Hardin 1992). In general, certain facts about structures found in processing will correspond to and arguably explain facts about the structure of experience. This strategy is plausible but limited. At best, it takes the existence of experience for granted and accounts for some facts about its structure, providing a sort of nonreductive explanation of the structural aspects of experience (I will say more on this later). This is useful for many purposes, but it tells us nothing about why there should be experience in the first place.

A fifth and reasonable strategy is to isolate the substrate of experience. After all, almost everyone allows that experience arises one way or another from brain processes, and it makes sense to identify the sort of process from which it arises. Crick and Koch put their work forward as isolating the neural correlate of consciousness, for example, and Edelman (1989) and Jackendoff (1988) make similar claims. Justification of these claims requires a careful theoretical analysis, especially as experience is not directly observable in experimental contexts, but when applied judiciously this strategy can shed indirect light on the problem of experience. Nevertheless, the strategy is clearly incomplete. For a satisfactory theory, we need to know more than which processes give rise to experience; we need an account of why and how. A full theory of consciousness must build an explanatory bridge.

5 The extra ingredient

We have seen that there are systematic reasons why the usual methods of cognitive science and neuroscience fail to account for conscious experience. These are simply the wrong sort of methods: nothing that they give to us can yield an explanation. To account for conscious experience, we need an extra ingredient in the explanation. This makes for a challenge to those who are serious about the hard problem of consciousness: What is your extra ingredient, and why should that account for conscious experience?

There is no shortage of extra ingredients to be had. Some propose an injection of chaos and nonlinear dynamics. Some think that the key lies in nonalgorithmic processing. Some appeal to future discoveries in neurophysiology. Some suppose that the key to the mystery will lie at the level of quantum mechanics. It is easy to see why all these suggestions are put forward. None of the old methods work, so the solution must lie with something new. Unfortunately, these suggestions all suffer from the same old problems.

Nonalgorithmic processing, for example, is put forward by Penrose (1989; 1994) because of the role it might play in the process of conscious mathematical insight. The arguments about mathematics are controversial, but even if they succeed and an account of nonalgorithmic processing in the human brain is given, it will still only be an account of the functions involved in mathematical reasoning and the like. For a nonalgorithmic process as much as an algorithmic process, the question is left unanswered: why should this process give rise to experience? In answering this question, there is no special role for nonalgorithmic processing.

The same goes for nonlinear and chaotic dynamics. These might provide a novel account of the dynamics of cognitive functioning, quite different from that given by standard methods in cognitive science. But from dynamics, one only gets more dynamics. The question about experience here is as mysterious as ever. The point is even clearer for new discoveries in neurophysiology. These new discoveries may help us make significant progress in understanding brain function, but for any neural process we isolate, the same question will always arise. It is difficult to imagine what a proponent of new neurophysiology expects to happen, over and above the explanation of further cognitive functions. It is not as if we will suddenly discover a phenomenal glow inside a neuron!

Perhaps the most popular "extra ingredient" of all is quantum mechanics (e.g. Hameroff 1994). The attractiveness of quantum theories of consciousness may stem from a Law of Minimization of Mystery: consciousness is mysterious and quantum mechanics is mysterious, so maybe the two mysteries have a common source. Nevertheless, quantum theories of consciousness suffer from the same difficulties as neural or computational theories. Quantum phenomena have some remarkable functional properties, such as nondeterminism and nonlocality. It is natural to speculate that these properties may play some role in the explanation of cognitive functions, such as random choice and the integration of information, and this hypothesis cannot be ruled out a priori. But when it comes to the explanation of experience, quantum processes are in the same boat as any other. The question of why these processes should give rise to experience is entirely unanswered.

(One special attraction of quantum theories is the fact that on some interpretations of quantum mechanics, consciousness plays an active role in "collapsing" the quantum wave function. Such interpretations are controversial, but in any case they offer no hope of explaining consciousness in terms of quantum processes. Rather, these theories assume the existence of consciousness, and use it in the explanation of quantum processes. At best, these theories tell us something about a physical role that consciousness may play. They tell us nothing about how it arises.)

At the end of the day, the same criticism applies to any purely physical account of consciousness. For any physical process we specify there will be an unanswered question: Why should this process give rise to experience? Given any such process, it is conceptually coherent that it could be instantiated in the absence of experience. It follows that no mere account of the physical process will tell us why experience arises. The emergence of experience goes beyond what can be derived from physical theory.

Purely physical explanation is well-suited to the explanation of physical structures, explaining macroscopic structures in terms of detailed microstructural constituents; and it provides a satisfying explanation of the performance of functions, accounting for these functions in terms of the physical mechanisms that perform them. This is because a physical account can entail the facts about structures and functions: once the internal details of the physical account are given, the structural and functional properties fall out as an automatic consequence. But the structure and dynamics of physical processes yield only more structure and dynamics, so structures and functions are all we can expect these processes to explain. The facts about experience cannot be an automatic consequence of any physical account, as it is conceptually coherent that any given process could exist without experience. Experience may arise from the physical, but it is not entailed by the physical.

The moral of all this is that you can't explain conscious experience on the cheap. It is a remarkable fact that reductive methods - methods that explain a high-level phenomenon wholly in terms of more basic physical processes - work well in so many domains. In a sense, one can explain most biological and cognitive phenomena on the cheap, in that these phenomena are seen as automatic consequences of more fundamental processes. It would be wonderful if reductive methods could explain experience, too (I hoped for a long time that they might). Unfortunately, there are systematic reasons why these methods must fail. Reductive methods are successful in most domains because what needs explaining in those domains are structures and functions, and these are the kind of thing that a physical account can entail. When it comes to a problem over and above the explanation of structures and functions, these methods are impotent.

This might seem reminiscent of the vitalist claim that no physical account could explain life, but the cases are disanalogous. What drove vitalist skepticism was doubt about whether physical mechanisms could perform the many remarkable functions associated with life, such as complex adaptive behavior and reproduction. The conceptual claim that explanation of functions is what is needed was implicitly accepted, but lacking detailed knowledge of biochemical mechanisms, vitalists doubted whether any physical process could do the job and put forward the hypothesis of the vital spirit as an alternative explanation. Once it turned out that physical processes could perform the relevant functions, vitalist doubts melted away.

With experience, on the other hand, physical explanation of the functions is not in question. The key is instead the conceptual point that the explanation of functions does not suffice for the explanation of experience. This basic conceptual point is not something that further neuroscientific investigation will affect. In a similar way, experience is disanalogous to the élan vital. The vital spirit was put forward as an explanatory posit, in order to explain the relevant functions, and could therefore be discarded when those functions were explained without it. Experience is not an explanatory posit but an explanandum in its own right, and so is not a candidate for this sort of elimination.

It is tempting to note that all sorts of puzzling phenomena have eventually turned out to be explainable in physical terms. But each of these were problems about the observable behavior of physical objects, coming down to problems in the explanation of structures and functions. Because of this, these phenomena have always been the kind of thing that a physical account might explain, even if at some points there have been good reasons to suspect that no such explanation would be forthcoming. The tempting induction from these cases fails in the case of consciousness, which is not a problem about physical structures and functions. The problem of consciousness is puzzling in an entirely different way. An analysis of the problem shows us that conscious experience is just not the kind of thing that a wholly reductive account could succeed in explaining.

6 Nonreductive explanation

At this point some are tempted to give up, holding that we will never have a theory of conscious experience. McGinn (1989), for example, argues that the problem is too hard for our limited minds; we are "cognitively closed" with respect to the phenomenon. Others have argued that conscious experience lies outside the domain of scientific theory altogether.

I think this pessimism is premature. This is not the place to give up; it is the place where things get interesting. When simple methods of explanation are ruled out, we need to investigate the alternatives. Given that reductive explanation fails, nonreductive explanation is the natural choice.

Although a remarkable number of phenomena have turned out to be explicable wholly in terms of entities simpler than themselves, this is not universal. In physics, it occasionally happens that an entity has to be taken as fundamental. Fundamental entities are not explained in terms of anything simpler. Instead, one takes them as basic, and gives a theory of how they relate to everything else in the world. For example, in the nineteenth century it turned out that electromagnetic processes could not be explained in terms of the wholly mechanical processes that previous physical theories appealed to, so Maxwell and others introduced electromagnetic charge and electromagnetic forces as new fundamental components of a physical theory. To explain electromagnetism, the ontology of physics had to be expanded. New basic properties and basic laws were needed to give a satisfactory account of the phenomena.

Other features that physical theory takes as fundamental include mass and space-time. No attempt is made to explain these features in terms of anything simpler. But this does not rule out the possibility of a theory of mass or of space-time. There is an intricate theory of how these features interrelate, and of the basic laws they enter into. These basic principles are used to explain many familiar phenomena concerning mass, space, and time at a higher level.

I suggest that a theory of consciousness should take experience as fundamental. We know that a theory of consciousness requires the addition of something fundamental to our ontology, as everything in physical theory is compatible with the absence of consciousness. We might add some entirely new nonphysical feature, from which experience can be derived, but it is hard to see what such a feature would be like. More likely, we will take experience itself as a fundamental feature of the world, alongside mass, charge, and space-time. If we take experience as fundamental, then we can go about the business of constructing a theory of experience.

Where there is a fundamental property, there are fundamental laws. A nonreductive theory of experience will add new principles to the furniture of the basic laws of nature. These basic principles will ultimately carry the explanatory burden in a theory of consciousness. Just as we explain familiar high-level phenomena involving mass in terms of more basic principles involving mass and other entities, we might explain familiar phenomena involving experience in terms of more basic principles involving experience and other entities.

In particular, a nonreductive theory of experience will specify basic principles telling us how experience depends on physical features of the world. These psychophysical principles will not interfere with physical laws, as it seems that physical laws already form a closed system. Rather, they will be a supplement to a physical theory. A physical theory gives a theory of physical processes, and a psychophysical theory tells us how those processes give rise to experience. We know that experience depends on physical processes, but we also know that this dependence cannot be derived from physical laws alone. The new basic principles postulated by a nonreductive theory give us the extra ingredient that we need to build an explanatory bridge.

Of course, by taking experience as fundamental, there is a sense in which this approach does not tell us why there is experience in the first place. But this is the same for any fundamental theory. Nothing in physics tells us why there is matter in the first place, but we do not count this against theories of matter. Certain features of the world need to be taken as fundamental by any scientific theory. A theory of matter can still explain all sorts of facts about matter, by showing how they are consequences of the basic laws. The same goes for a theory of experience.

This position qualifies as a variety of dualism, as it postulates basic properties over and above the properties invoked by physics. But it is an innocent version of dualism, entirely compatible with the scientific view of the world. Nothing in this approach contradicts anything in physical theory; we simply need to add further bridging principles to explain how experience arises from physical processes. There is nothing particularly spiritual or mystical about this theory - its overall shape is like that of a physical theory, with a few fundamental entities connected by fundamental laws. It expands the ontology slightly, to be sure, but Maxwell did the same thing. Indeed, the overall structure of this position is entirely naturalistic, allowing that ultimately the universe comes down to a network of basic entities obeying simple laws, and allowing that there may ultimately be a theory of consciousness cast in terms of such laws. If the position is to have a name, a good choice might be naturalistic dualism.

If this view is right, then in some ways a theory of consciousness will have more in common with a theory in physics than a theory in biology. Biological theories involve no principles that are fundamental in this way, so biological theory has a certain complexity and messiness to it; but theories in physics, insofar as they deal with fundamental principles, aspire to simplicity and elegance. The fundamental laws of nature are part of the basic furniture of the world, and physical theories are telling us that this basic furniture is remarkably simple. If a theory of consciousness also involves fundamental principles, then we should expect the same. The principles of simplicity, elegance, and even beauty that drive physicists' search for a fundamental theory will also apply to a theory of consciousness.

(A technical note: Some philosophers argue that even though there is a conceptual gap between physical processes and experience, there need be no metaphysical gap, so that experience might in a certain sense still be physical (e.g. Levine 1983; Loar 1990; Byrne 1993; Papineau 1994; Sturgeon 1994). Usually this line of argument is supported by an appeal to the notion of a posteriori necessity (Kripke 1980). I think that this position rests on a misunderstanding of a posteriori necessity, however, or else requires an entirely new sort of necessity that we have no reason to believe in; see Chalmers 1995 (also Jackson 1994 and Lewis 1994) for details. In any case, this position still concedes an explanatory gap between physical processes and experience. For example, the principles connecting the physical and the experiential will not be derivable from the laws of physics, so such principles must be taken as explanatorily fundamental. So even on this sort of view, the explanatory structure of a theory of consciousness will be much as I have described.)

7 Toward a theory of consciousness

It is not too soon to begin work on a theory. We are already in a position to understand certain key facts about the relationship between physical processes and experience, and about the regularities that connect them. Once reductive explanation is set aside, we can lay those facts on the table so that they can play their proper role as the initial pieces in a nonreductive theory of consciousness, and as constraints on the basic laws that constitute an ultimate theory.

There is an obvious problem that plagues the development of a theory of consciousness, and that is the paucity of objective data. Conscious experience is not directly observable in an experimental context, so we cannot generate data about the relationship between physical processes and experience at will. Nevertheless, we all have access to a rich source of data in our own case. Many important regularities between experience and processing can be inferred from considerations about one's own experience. There are also good indirect sources of data from observable cases, as when one relies on the verbal report of a subject as an indication of experience. These methods have their limitations, but we have more than enough data to get a theory off the ground.

Philosophical analysis is also useful in getting value for money out of the data we have. This sort of analysis can yield a number of principles relating consciousness and cognition, thereby strongly constraining the shape of an ultimate theory. The method of thought-experimentation can also yield significant rewards, as we will see. Finally, the fact that we are searching for a fundamental theory means that we can appeal to such nonempirical constraints as simplicity, homogeneity, and the like in developing a theory. We must seek to systematize the information we have, to extend it as far as possible by careful analysis, and then make the inference to the simplest possible theory that explains the data while remaining a plausible candidate to be part of the fundamental furniture of the world.

Such theories will always retain an element of speculation that is not present in other scientific theories, because of the impossibility of conclusive intersubjective experimental tests. Still, we can certainly construct theories that are compatible with the data that we have, and evaluate them in comparison to each other. Even in the absence of intersubjective observation, there are numerous criteria available for the evaluation of such theories: simplicity, internal coherence, coherence with theories in other domains, the ability to reproduce the properties of experience that are familiar from our own case, and even an overall fit with the dictates of common sense. Perhaps there will be significant indeterminacies remaining even when all these constraints are applied, but we can at least develop plausible candidates. Only when candidate theories have been developed will we be able to evaluate them.

A nonreductive theory of consciousness will consist in a number of psychophysical principles, principles connecting the properties of physical processes to the properties of experience. We can think of these principles as encapsulating the way in which experience arises from the physical. Ultimately, these principles should tell us what sort of physical systems will have associated experiences, and for the systems that do, they should tell us what sort of physical properties are relevant to the emergence of experience, and just what sort of experience we should expect any given physical system to yield. This is a tall order, but there is no reason why we should not get started.

In what follows, I present my own candidates for the psychophysical principles that might go into a theory of consciousness. The first two of these are nonbasic principles - systematic connections between processing and experience at a relatively high level. These principles can play a significant role in developing and constraining a theory of consciousness, but they are not cast at a sufficiently fundamental level to qualify as truly basic laws. The final principle is my candidate for a basic principle that might form the cornerstone of a fundamental theory of consciousness. This final principle is particularly speculative, but it is the kind of speculation that is required if we are ever to have a satisfying theory of consciousness. I can present these principles only briefly here; I argue for them at much greater length in Chalmers (1995).

1. The principle of structural coherence. This is a principle of coherence between the structure of consciousness and the structure of awareness. Recall that "awareness" was used earlier to refer to the various functional phenomena that are associated with consciousness. I am now using it to refer to a somewhat more specific process in the cognitive underpinnings of experience. In particular, the contents of awareness are to be understood as those information contents that are accessible to central systems, and brought to bear in a widespread way in the control of behavior. Briefly put, we can think of awareness as direct availability for global control. To a first approximation, the contents of awareness are the contents that are directly accessible and potentially reportable, at least in a language-using system.

Awareness is a purely functional notion, but it is nevertheless intimately linked to conscious experience. In familiar cases, wherever we find consciousness, we find awareness. Wherever there is conscious experience, there is some corresponding information in the cognitive system that is available in the control of behavior, and available for verbal report. Conversely, it seems that whenever information is available for report and for global control, there is a corresponding conscious experience. Thus, there is a direct correspondence between consciousness and awareness.

The correspondence can be taken further. It is a central fact about experience that it has a complex structure. The visual field has a complex geometry, for instance. There are also relations of similarity and difference between experiences, and relations in such things as relative intensity. Every subject's experience can be at least partly characterized and decomposed in terms of these structural properties: similarity and difference relations, perceived location, relative intensity, geometric structure, and so on. It is also a central fact that to each of these structural features, there is a corresponding feature in the information-processing structure of awareness.

Take color sensations as an example. For every distinction between color experiences, there is a corresponding distinction in processing. The different phenomenal colors that we experience form a complex three-dimensional space, varying in hue, saturation, and intensity. The properties of this space can be recovered from information-processing considerations: examination of the visual systems shows that waveforms of light are discriminated and analyzed along three different axes, and it is this three-dimensional information that is relevant to later processing. The three-dimensional structure of phenomenal color space therefore corresponds directly to the three dimensional structure of visual awareness. This is precisely what we would expect. After all, every color distinction corresponds to some reportable information, and therefore to a distinction that is represented in the structure of processing.

In a more straightforward way, the geometric structure of the visual field is directly reflected in a structure that can be recovered from visual processing. Every geometric relation corresponds to something that can be reported and is therefore cognitively represented. If we were given only the story about information-processing in an agent's visual and cognitive system, we could not directly observe that agent's visual experiences, but we could nevertheless infer those experiences' structural properties.

In general, any information that is consciously experienced will also be cognitively represented. The fine-grained structure of the visual field will correspond to some fine-grained structure in visual processing. The same goes for experiences in other modalities, and even for nonsensory experiences. Internal mental images have geometric properties that are represented in processing. Even emotions have structural properties, such as relative intensity, that correspond directly to a structural property of processing; where there is greater intensity, we find a greater effect on later processes. In general, precisely because the structural properties of experience are accessible and reportable, those properties will be directly represented in the structure of awareness.

It is this isomorphism between the structures of consciousness and awareness that constitutes the principle of structural coherence. This principle reflects the central fact that even though cognitive processes do not conceptually entail facts about conscious experience, consciousness and cognition do not float free of one another but cohere in an intimate way.

This principle has its limits. It allows us to recover structural properties of experience from information-processing properties, but not all properties of experience are structural properties. There are properties of experience, such as the intrinsic nature of a sensation of red, that cannot be fully captured in a structural description. The very intelligibility of inverted spectrum scenarios, where experiences of red and green are inverted but all structural properties remain the same, show that structural properties constrain experience without exhausting it. Nevertheless, the very fact that we feel compelled to leave structural properties unaltered when we imagine experiences inverted between functionally identical systems shows how central the principle of structural coherence is to our conception of our mental lives. It is not a logically necessary principle, as after all we can imagine all the information processing occurring without any experience at all, but it is nevertheless a strong and familiar constraint on the psychophysical connection.

The principle of structural coherence allows for a very useful kind of indirect explanation of experience in terms of physical processes. For example, we can use facts about neural processing of visual information to indirectly explain the structure of color space. The facts about neural processing can entail and explain the structure of awareness; if we take the coherence principle for granted, the structure of experience will also be explained. Empirical investigation might even lead us to better understand the structure of awareness within a bat, shedding indirect light on Nagel's vexing question of what it is like to be a bat. This principle provides a natural interpretation of much existing work on the explanation of consciousness (e.g. Clark 1992 and Hardin 1992 on colors, and Akins 1993 on bats), although it is often appealed to inexplicitly. It is so familiar that it is taken for granted by almost everybody, and is a central plank in the cognitive explanation of consciousness.

The coherence between consciousness and awareness also allows a natural interpretation of work in neuroscience directed at isolating the substrate (or the neural correlate) of consciousness. Various specific hypotheses have been put forward. For example, Crick and Koch (1990) suggest that 40-Hz oscillations may be the neural correlate of consciousness, whereas Libet (1993) suggests that temporally-extended neural activity is central. If we accept the principle of coherence, the most direct physical correlate of consciousness is awareness: the process whereby information is made directly available for global control. The different specific hypotheses can be interpreted as empirical suggestions about how awareness might be achieved. For example, Crick and Koch suggest that 40-Hz oscillations are the gateway by which information is integrated into working memory and thereby made available to later processes. Similarly, it is natural to suppose that Libet's temporally extended activity is relevant precisely because only that sort of activity achieves global availability. The same applies to other suggested correlates such as the "global workspace" of Baars (1988), the "high-quality representations" of Farah (1994), and the "selector inputs to action systems" of Shallice (1972). All these can be seen as hypotheses about the mechanisms of awareness: the mechanisms that perform the function of making information directly available for global control.

Given the coherence between consciousness and awareness, it follows that a mechanism of awareness will itself be a correlate of conscious experience. The question of just which mechanisms in the brain govern global availability is an empirical one; perhaps there are many such mechanisms. But if we accept the coherence principle, we have reason to believe that the processes that explain awareness will at the same time be part of the basis of consciousness.

2. The principle of organizational invariance. This principle states that any two systems with the same fine-grained functional organization will have qualitatively identical experiences. If the causal patterns of neural organization were duplicated in silicon, for example, with a silicon chip for every neuron and the same patterns of interaction, then the same experiences would arise. According to this principle, what matters for the emergence of experience is not the specific physical makeup of a system, but the abstract pattern of causal interaction between its components. This principle is controversial, of course. Some (e.g. Searle 1980) have thought that consciousness is tied to a specific biology, so that a silicon isomorph of a human need not be conscious. I believe that the principle can be given significant support by the analysis of thought-experiments, however.

Very briefly: suppose (for the purposes of a reductio ad absurdum) that the principle is false, and that there could be two functionally isomorphic systems with different experiences. Perhaps only one of the systems is conscious, or perhaps both are conscious but they have different experiences. For the purposes of illustration, let us say that one system is made of neurons and the other of silicon, and that one experiences red where the other experiences blue. The two systems have the same organization, so we can imagine gradually transforming one into the other, perhaps replacing neurons one at a time by silicon chips with the same local function. We thus gain a spectrum of intermediate cases, each with the same organization, but with slightly different physical makeup and slightly different experiences. Along this spectrum, there must be two systems A and B between which we replace less than one tenth of the system, but whose experiences differ. These two systems are physically identical, except that a small neural circuit in A has been replaced by a silicon circuit in B.

The key step in the thought-experiment is to take the relevant neural circuit in A, and install alongside it a causally isomorphic silicon circuit, with a switch between the two. What happens when we flip the switch? By hypothesis, the system's conscious experiences will change; from red to blue, say, for the purposes of illustration. This follows from the fact that the system after the change is essentially a version of B, whereas before the change it is just A.

But given the assumptions, there is no way for the system to notice the changes! Its causal organization stays constant, so that all of its functional states and behavioral dispositions stay fixed. As far as the system is concerned, nothing unusual has happened. There is no room for the thought, "Hmm! Something strange just happened!". In general, the structure of any such thought must be reflected in processing, but the structure of processing remains constant here. If there were to be such a thought it must float entirely free of the system and would be utterly impotent to affect later processing. (If it affected later processing, the systems would be functionally distinct, contrary to hypothesis). We might even flip the switch a number of times, so that experiences of red and blue dance back and forth before the system's "inner eye". According to hypothesis, the system can never notice these "dancing qualia".

This I take to be a reductio of the original assumption. It is a central fact about experience, very familiar from our own case, that whenever experiences change significantly and we are paying attention, we can notice the change; if this were not to be the case, we would be led to the skeptical possibility that our experiences are dancing before our eyes all the time. This hypothesis has the same status as the possibility that the world was created five minutes ago: perhaps it is logically coherent, but it is not plausible. Given the extremely plausible assumption that changes in experience correspond to changes in processing, we are led to the conclusion that the original hypothesis is impossible, and that any two functionally isomorphic systems must have the same sort of experiences. To put it in technical terms, the philosophical hypotheses of "absent qualia" and "inverted qualia", while logically possible, are empirically and nomologically impossible.

(Some may worry that a silicon isomorph of a neural system might be impossible for technical reasons. That question is open. The invariance principle says only that if an isomorph is possible, then it will have the same sort of conscious experience.)

There is more to be said here, but this gives the basic flavor. Once again, this thought experiment draws on familiar facts about the coherence between consciousness and cognitive processing to yield a strong conclusion about the relation between physical structure and experience. If the argument goes through, we know that the only physical properties directly relevant to the emergence of experience are organizational properties. This acts as a further strong constraint on a theory of consciousness.

3. The double-aspect theory of information. The two preceding principles have been nonbasic principles. They involve high-level notions such as "awareness" and "organization", and therefore lie at the wrong level to constitute the fundamental laws in a theory of consciousness. Nevertheless, they act as strong constraints. What is further needed are basic principles that fit these constraints and that might ultimately explain them.

The basic principle that I suggest centrally involves the notion of information. I understand information in more or less the sense of Shannon (1948). Where there is information, there are information states embedded in an information space. An information space has a basic structure of difference relations between its elements, characterizing the ways in which different elements in a space are similar or different, possibly in complex ways. An information space is an abstract object, but following Shannon we can see information as physically embodied when there is a space of distinct physical states, the differences between which can be transmitted down some causal pathway. The states that are transmitted can be seen as themselves constituting an information space. To borrow a phrase from Bateson (1972), physical information is a difference that makes a difference.

The double-aspect principle stems from the observation that there is a direct isomorphism between certain physically embodied information spaces and certain phenomenal (or experiential) information spaces. From the same sort of observations that went into the principle of structural coherence, we can note that the differences between phenomenal states have a structure that corresponds directly to the differences embedded in physical processes; in particular, to those differences that make a difference down certain causal pathways implicated in global availability and control. That is, we can find the same abstract information space embedded in physical processing and in conscious experience.

This leads to a natural hypothesis: that information (or at least some information) has two basic aspects, a physical aspect and a phenomenal aspect. This has the status of a basic principle that might underlie and explain the emergence of experience from the physical. Experience arises by virtue of its status of one aspect of information, when the other aspect is found embodied in physical processing.

This principle is lent support by a number of considerations, which I can only outline briefly here. First, consideration of the sort of physical changes that correspond to changes in conscious experience suggests that such changes are always relevant by virtue of their role in constituting informational changes - differences within an abstract space of states that are divided up precisely according to their causal differences along certain causal pathways. Second, if the principle of organizational invariance is to hold, then we need to find some fundamental organizational property for experience to be linked to, and information is an organizational property par excellence. Third, this principle offers some hope of explaining the principle of structural coherence in terms of the structure present within information spaces. Fourth, analysis of the cognitive explanation of our judgments and claims about conscious experience - judgments that are functionally explainable but nevertheless deeply tied to experience itself - suggests that explanation centrally involves the information states embedded in cognitive processing. It follows that a theory based on information allows a deep coherence between the explanation of experience and the explanation of our judgments and claims about it.

Wheeler (1990) has suggested that information is fundamental to the physics of the universe. According to this "it from bit" doctrine, the laws of physics can be cast in terms of information, postulating different states that give rise to different effects without actually saying what those states are. It is only their position in an information space that counts. If so, then information is a natural candidate to also play a role in a fundamental theory of consciousness. We are led to a conception of the world on which information is truly fundamental, and on which it has two basic aspects, corresponding to the physical and the phenomenal features of the world.

Of course, the double-aspect principle is extremely speculative and is also underdetermined, leaving a number of key questions unanswered. An obvious question is whether all information has a phenomenal aspect. One possibility is that we need a further constraint on the fundamental theory, indicating just what sort of information has a phenomenal aspect. The other possibility is that there is no such constraint. If not, then experience is much more widespread than we might have believed, as information is everywhere. This is counterintuitive at first, but on reflection I think the position gains a certain plausibility and elegance. Where there is simple information processing, there is simple experience, and where there is complex information processing, there is complex experience. A mouse has a simpler information-processing structure than a human, and has correspondingly simpler experience; perhaps a thermostat, a maximally simple information processing structure, might have maximally simple experience? Indeed, if experience is truly a fundamental property, it would be surprising for it to arise only every now and then; most fundamental properties are more evenly spread. In any case, this is very much an open question, but I believe that the position is not as implausible as it is often thought to be.

Once a fundamental link between information and experience is on the table, the door is opened to some grander metaphysical speculation concerning the nature of the world. For example, it is often noted that physics characterizes its basic entities only extrinsically, in terms of their relations to other entities, which are themselves characterized extrinsically, and so on. The intrinsic nature of physical entities is left aside. Some argue that no such intrinsic properties exist, but then one is left with a world that is pure causal flux (a pure flow of information) with no properties for the causation to relate. If one allows that intrinsic properties exist, a natural speculation given the above is that the intrinsic properties of the physical - the properties that causation ultimately relates - are themselves phenomenal properties. We might say that phenomenal properties are the internal aspect of information. This could answer a concern about the causal relevance of experience - a natural worry, given a picture on which the physical domain is causally closed, and on which experience is supplementary to the physical. The informational view allows us to understand how experience might have a subtle kind of causal relevance in virtue of its status as the intrinsic nature of the physical. This metaphysical speculation is probably best ignored for the purposes of developing a scientific theory, but in addressing some philosophical issues it is quite suggestive.

8 Conclusion

The theory I have presented is speculative, but it is a candidate theory. I suspect that the principles of structural coherence and organizational invariance will be planks in any satisfactory theory of consciousness; the status of the double-aspect theory of information is less certain. Indeed, right now it is more of an idea than a theory. To have any hope of eventual explanatory success, it will have to be specified more fully and fleshed out into a more powerful form. Still, reflection on just what is plausible and implausible about it, on where it works and where it fails, can only lead to a better theory.

Most existing theories of consciousness either deny the phenomenon, explain something else, or elevate the problem to an eternal mystery. I hope to have shown that it is possible to make progress on the problem even while taking it seriously. To make further progress, we will need further investigation, more refined theories, and more careful analysis. The hard problem is a hard problem, but there is no reason to believe that it will remain permanently unsolved.[*]

*[[[The arguments in this paper are presented in greater depth in my book The Conscious Mind. Thanks to Francis Crick, Peggy DesAutels, Matthew Elton, Liane Gabora, Christof Koch, Paul Rhodes, Gregg Rosenberg, and Sharon Wahl for their comments.]]]

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Consciousness in David Bohm's ontology

Consciousness in David Bohm's ontology

by Paavo Pylkkänen

Consciousness Studies Programme

Department of Humanities
University of Skövde
P.O. Box 408
S-541 28 Skovde
Sweden
E-mail:
paavo@ihu.his.se

Introduction

David Bohm was one of the foremost physicists of his generation and made significant contributions to e.g. plasma physics and the foundations of the quantum theory. As is well known, his interests and explorations extended far beyond physics. His biography Infinite Potential by David Peat, for example, makes it clear that a very primary interest in Bohm's life was with the question of how to bring about a good society. His engagement with physics, philosophy, social theory, religion and eventually a form of group dialogue all were strongly connected to his concern for "making the world a better place". It is fair to say that Bohm was most concerned about consciousness in the sense of trying to bring about a kind of mind and way of being that would contribute to an overall coherence and creative harmony for humanity. This is not to deny that a great deal of Bohm's work can be seen to be motivated by a more intrinsic interest, in the sense that the issues that are explored are taken to be interesting in themselves, without clear connections to the broader social aims. But it is important to appreciate just how central for Bohm was the concern with transforming society through transforming both individual and social consciousness. In this course our topic is "quantum approaches to consciousness", and on this I will now focus. However, references to Bohm's work concerned with the broader ideas are also made from time to time in the text below.

Our question in this lecture is: "What were David Bohm's ideas about the relationship between quantum theory and consciousness?" This is no easy question to answer, for Bohm's views about the quantum theory developed and changed, as did his views about the mind and consciousness.

I have written some new material for this lecture and also included some previously published material, as well as references to websites. There is in particular

1) Historical overview of Bohm's work on mind and matter , specifically written for this course (by Paavo Pylkkänen)

2) An exposition and analysis of Bohm's early (1951) analogies between quantum processes and thought, specifically written for this course (by Paavo Pylkkänen).

3) Web reference to Bohm's 1990 article "A New Theory of the Relation between Mind and Matter", originally published in the journal Philosophical Psychology. In this paper Bohm summarizes his quantum approach to mind and matter.

4) Web reference to the physicist Chris Dewdney's home page where you can find a good summary and visual illustrations of Bohm's "causal interpretation" of the quantum theory.

5) Introductory material to Bohm's quantum approach to mind, as well as a discussion of it (by Paavo Pylkkänen, modified for this course).

6) Web reference to Basil Hiley's overheads in the Tucson III conference, which make an overall presentation of the field of quantum approaches to consciousness, and explain some of his latest ideas on the topic.

7) A brief paper by Paavo Pylkkänen on Bohm's view of causality as it develops in the early 1960s in the Bohm-Biederman correspondence (Routledge, 1999).

1. Historical overview of Bohm's work on mind and matter

The idea of this section is to briefly review some of Bohm's major contributions relevant to "quantum approaches to consciousness". The following list is not meant to be exhaustive, but tries to give a basic orientation. It expands more on Bohm's lesser known work and is relatively brief in the well known work (e.g. the implicate order).

* 1940s -> groundbreaking contributions in some more standard areas of physics like plasma physics. Bohm suggested that the plasma behaved in some respects like a living organism. If you disturbed it it would shield itself etc.

* one of the clearest formulations of the "standard" interpretation of the quantum theory in his 1951 text book Quantum theory. Particular emphasis on making explicit the physical meaning of the theory (as opposed to a mere exposition of the mathematical formalism). Yet Bohm said that after writing the book he still felt he couldn't understand the theory well enough. The book also has a well known section where analogies between quantum processes and inner thought processes are discussed (to be considered in section 2 of this lecture).

* dissatisfaction with standard quantum theory catalyzed by discussions with Einstein led Bohm to "do the impossible" (Bell) - to offer a consistent alternative interpretation of the quantum theory, published in 1952 as two papers in the journal Physical Review. According to this intepretation a quantum system like an electron always a particle accompanied by a new type of field. This made possible an unambigous ontology where particles were moving under the action of not only classical potentials but also a new quantum potential. A striking non-classical feature was non-locality or action at-a-distance, a feature of quantum mechanics which Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen had made explicit in their 1935 attempt to argue against Bohr's conventional quantum theory. Because of the uncertainty principle it is not possible to verify Bohm's intepretation, and it remains partly a hypothesis about what might be going on where we are not able to look. At the same time it provides perhaps the most elegant account of the observed facts of the quantum theory, at least for those feel theories are allowed or even supposed to make assumptions about the unobservable to account for unintilligible observed facts.

Bohm called his approach initially a "hidden variable" interpretation, and a bit later he called it the "causal" intepretation. A yet another name used is "pilot-wave" interpretation. Actually de Broglie had proposed something very similar to Bohm's theory already in the 1920s under the title "theory of a double solution", but soon dropped the idea due to heavy criticisms especially from Wolfgang Pauli. Bohm was able to answer these and as a result de Broglie returned to develop his original approach. Thus it is common to refer to the view also as "de Broglie - Bohm interpretation". There one needs to remember that regardless of striking similarities there are also important differences. One of these is that de Broglie's view sees the electron as a singularity of a field, whereas Bohm's 1952 papers postulate the electron to have a particle aspect which exists over and above the wave aspect.

Bohm develops his approach in co-operation with e.g. Vigier and later on with Basil Hiley and their research students like Chris Dewdney at Birkbeck College, University of London. More description, references and "movies" of Bohm's approach, as well as a description of recent developments, can be found at Chris Dewdney's home page and you are recommended to check this out later on, in section 4 of the lecture at:

For an exposition of a more "mechanistic" line of development (known as "Bohmian mechanics") that has arisen from Bohm's work, see Sheldon Goldstein's home page.

The importance of Bohm's 1952 approach to the "quantum consciousness" debate arises especially thorugh a later re-intepretation of the model, where Bohm suggested that the wave aspect of the electron contains "active information" that in a subtle "non-mechanistic" way in-forms (rather than mechanically pushes and pulls) the particle aspect. In this week's lectures this idea will be extensively discussed, as follows. In section 3 of this lecture it is recommended that you read Bohm's own paper on the topic at

Paavo Pylkkänen's introduction into the approach and a discussion of Bohm's above paper is also included later on in this lecture, in section 5. Section 6 of the lecture then suggests that you go through Basil Hiley's overheads to the Tucson III meeting at

Let us go back to the historical overview. The next philosophically important step is

* the book Causality and Chance in Modern Physics (1957, republished by Routledge in 1984), where the causal interpretation is placed into a wider, non-mechanistic world-view, where "qualitative infinity of nature" is a key concept. The critics had accused Bohm for making a conservative step back towards the mechanical Newtonian deterministic physics in his 1952 "hidden variable" papers, and Bohm takes great pains to deny that his causal intepretation implies that nature is a deterministic machine. In a dialectical fashion he sees determinism and indeterminism as two sides of any process in nature. In some domains one of these sides, say, determinism may dominate so that a deterministic theory provides a correct account of that domain (e.g. in the domain of classical physics, there seems to be no principal limit to the accuracy in which we cann predict the behaviour of an individual system). Yet if one were able to see that process from "another side" or more precisely one would see indeterminate features coming in (e.g. the more accurate study of particles like electrons showed basic limitations in our ability to predict their behaviour, thus revealing the aspect of indeterminism). Bohm's controversial idea then was that in an even more accurate study, revealing a "sub-quantum level" we might well discover a new kind of determinism, and his 1952 causal interpretation showed one such possible deterministic model. But the key point was that even if some such model were found to be correct, it would not prove that nature is absolutely determinisitc, for Bohm's scheme suggests that we would be likely to find a new kind indeterminacy even at the sub-quantum level in an accurate enough study.

He emphasized that each theory in science is correct only with respect to a particular domain and that similarly, determinism and indeterminism are features of some limited domain (such as the domain of classical physics, quantum physics, subquantum etc.) The essence of "mechanistic philosophy" was defined as "...the assumption that the great diversity of things that appear in all of our experience, every day as well as scientific, can all be reduced completely and perfectly to nothing more than consequences of the operation of an absolute and final set of purely quantitative laws determining the behaviour of a few kinds of basic entities or variables. In this connection it must be stressed, however, that the mere use of a purely quantitative theory does not by itself imply a mechanistic point of view, as long as one admits that such a theory may be incomplete. Hence, mechanism cannot be a characteristic of any theory, but rather ... a philosophical attitude towards that theory" (pp. 38-9).

* in a correspondence with the American artist Charles Biederman he further develops his views about necessity and contingency, and begins to consider the concepts of order and structure as the fundamental concepts in the description of nature (Bohm and Biederman 1999). This reflects itself in 1965 papers such as "Space-Time considered as Discrete Structural Process" and "Problems in the Basic Concepts of Physics", in a paper on the notion of "order" in biology (1969) and eventually in two papers on the notion of the implicate order 1971 and 1973, which were republished in Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1980).

For a brief description of how necessity and contincency are understood in the BB correspondence, see my paper "Quantum interweavings", included as section 7 of this lecture.

* a paper discussing "The Problem of Truth and Understanding in Science" appears in Popper's Festschrift in 1964.

* discussions with the Indian-born teacher J. Krishnamurti begin in the early 1960s and continue till Krishnamurti's death in 1986. This offers Bohm, among other things, a "method" of introspection; consciousness and the possibilities of its transformation become a central focus of his work. Joint books are published, in particular The Ending of Time and The Limits of Thought (posthumously). The interest in Krishnamurti combines with Bohm's earlier concerns with the social dimension, and in the 1980s we see Bohm advocating a form of large group dialogue as means of social exploration, transformation and well-being.

* the 1965 text book The Theory of Special Relativity contains an appendix "Physics and Perception" which argues that Relativity describes human perceptual process better than Classical Physics. On the whole during this period we see in Bohm's writing more concern with trying to understand human mental processes as a special and developed case of general processes of "reflection" to be found in nature. The later discussions of consciousness in the context of the notion of implicate order bear a clear resemblance to these ideas in the early sixties, both in the Bohm-Biederman correspondence, the article "Space-Time considered as Discrete Structural Process" and in the appendix "Physics and Perception".

* the 1973 paper "Human nature as the product of our mental models" considers the idea that our mental reality is in some sense produced by our mental models. This anticipates the later (1980s) ideas, where meaning is seen as the key factor of being. A number of other philosophical and psychological papers appear in the mid 1970s.

* the 1977 paper "Science as Perception-Communication" summarizes Bohm's study of Bohr's interpretation of the quantum theory, where communication plays a central role. The book Fragmentation and Wholeness shows Bohm's concern with the mechanization of modern society. A new more holistic and process-like mode of language, the Rheomode, inspired by quantum theory is introduced. Another paper explores the implications of the idea that both reality and knowledge are considered to be processes.

* the book Wholeness and the Implicate Order of 1980 presents together six previously published papers and introduces a new one, titled "The enfolding-unfolding universe and consciousness". The Revision magazine features Bohm "holographic universe" alongside Pribram's holographic theory of the brain, and Renee Weber's interviews convey Bohm's approach to a wider public.

* the book Unfolding Meaning (1985) (edited by Donald Factor) includes the paper "Soma-significance" where meaning is seen as a key factor of being. The ideas about dialogue in the sense of a special form of group process begin to take concrete shape. The book Changing Consciousness with Mark Edwards presents Bohm's approach to the human condition. Later publications along similar lines include the posthumously published book On Dialogue.

* the anthologies Beyond Mechanism (ed. by D. Schindler) and Physics and the Ultimate Significance of Time: Bohm, Prigogine and Process Philosophy include important articles by and on Bohm.

* the paper "A new theory of the relation between mind and matter" (1986) presents the idea of active information for the first time.

* The book Science, order and creativity (1987) with David Peat presents a popular account of many of Bohm's ideas.

* Bohm's festschrift Quantum Implications (edited by Hiley and Peat) comes out 1987. In his own paper Bohm explains the relationship between the hidden variables and the implicate order. A number of other papers by eminent authors discuss issues relevant to "quantum consciousness.

* in the paper "Meaning and information" in the anthology The Search for Meaning (1989) he further develops the ideas of soma-significance and active information. A developed version of the paper "A New Theory of the relationship between mind and matter" appears in the journal Philosophical Psychology in 1990. See
(this paper is also recommended reading for this lecture, see section 3 below)

* Bohm has discussions with the biologist Rupert Sheldrake, where interesting connections are explored between "formative fields" in physics and biology. These are published in the 2nd edition of Sheldrake's book The New Science of Life.

* Bohm reconsiders his ideas on cognition in the late 1980s and early 1990s in co-operation with Paavo Pylkkänen, who is writing a PhD on Bohm and cognitive science. The co-operation results in a manuscript of an article, which is not completed due to Bohm's death 1992. It may be published posthumously in some form.

* Completed before Bohm's death in 1992, The Undivided Universe with Basil Hiley (Routledge, 1993) summarizes the work on the ontological intepretation and explores new developments thorugh the notion of implicate order, also discussing the mind-matter relationship. The book is hailed by C.J. Isham as "One of the most important works on quantum theory during the last twenty years".

* David Peat's biography of Bohm, Infinite Potential appears in 1994.

* posthumous publications include On Creativity (edited by Lee Nichol, Routledge), which includes many articles on mind. The first volume of the Bohm-Biederman correspondence (ed. by P. Pylkkänen) is published by Routledge in 1999. Bohm's widow, Mrs Saral Bohm has played a key role in helping this as well as other posthumous publications to appear.

As already mentioned, one of the difficulties of stating Bohm's quantum approach to consciousness is that he explored many differents views of quantum theory, opening up different ways to discuss consciousness in a quantum context. It is easy to confuse these different ideas with each other. Before discussing the 1951 analogies, let me therefore briefly summarize how Bohm's mind-matter ideas from different periods relate to the different views of quantum theory that he explored.

Phase 1: the conventional interpretation of the quantum theory

* until 1951 Bohm was the supporter of the "conventional" interpretation of the quantum theory, Bohr's approach in particular. Thus his 1951 discussion of analogies between thought and quantum processes are based on the conventional approach and must not be confused with those of his later (1980s) ideas on mind and matter (e.g. active information) that arise from a re-interpretation of his own 1952 causal or ontological interpretation.

Phase 2: hidden variables and the qualitative infinity of nature

* the 1952 papers on hidden variables do not explicitly discuss the mind-body problem. But they are philosophically relevant because they present a "realist" alternative to the prevailing "positivist" Copenhagen view. That is, Bohm argues that unlike Bohr had claimed, it is both possible and meaningful to think about quantum processes at the level that we cannot observe. This is a typical tension between realism and positivism, and Bohm explicitly mentions positivism as his opponent in the papers. The philosophical point is that Bohm tries to show that there exists a mind-independent well-defined reality at the quantum level in the sense that particles, for example have a well-defined position and momentum. The quantum world exists ontologically independently of the human mind, and the quantum world gives rise to the classical world in situations where the effect of the quantum potential is negligible. In contrast Bohr and others had claimed that quantum theory gives us an epistemological lesson, in the sense that we are not justified in assuming the existence of a well-defined physical reality at the quantum level, independently of the observational phenomena that are known to us; and those observational phenomena do not reveal a well-defined quantum world, but only certain features (like position) at one context, while others equally important (like momentum) are unobservable (complementarity).

One of the characteristic features of philosophy since Kant has been to emphasize the role of the human mind in constructing our experience of the world and to be silent about the nature of the unobserved and unobservable world that is not constructed by us. In this general sense Bohr clearly belongs to the Kantian tradition, as did the positivist (though see e.g. Plotnitsky's book Complementarity for considerations that Bohr also radically breaks away from the Kantian tradition) . Scientific realists, on the other hand, oppose Kant and the positivists and claim that it is possible to know the "real world", at least to a certain approximation (truthlikeness or verisimilitude). Bohm is clearly a representative of scientific realism in his 1952 papers.

Commentators like Stapp have been keen to note that Bohm's 1952 approach leaves out the mind of the observer from the physical universe. However, this would only follow if Bohm claimed that his version of the quantum theory is a final and complete description of the physical universe, and this he didn't claim or even imply. But perhaps the point was not made clear enough in the 1952 papers, given that so many people took Bohm to represent simplistic determinism and even a kind of elimination of consciousness from the scientific view of the world.

* in any case already in the 1957 book Causality and Chance in Modern Physics Bohm explicitly professes the view that no theory can ever plausibly be considered complete, due to his assumption that the universe is infinite not only in a quantitative but also in a qualitative sense. He clearly makes room for the existence of consciousness in the physical world, although he doesn't discuss what consciousness is and how it relates to the physical world.

Phase 3: Back to the conventional interpretation of qm and towards the Implicate Order

* partly as a result of heavy criticisms of the 1952 causal interpretation and partly as a result of not seeing how to develop the approach further, Bohm seems to give up the causal interpretation for a number of years, and starts to reconsider Bohr's approach, as well as to consider a wider framework in which the different contradictory theories of physics (especially quantum theory and general relativity) could be reconciled. This leads later on to the idea of the implicate order. It is very important to realize that the ideas of the implicate order are in some respects more similar to Bohr's approach than to Bohm's own 1952 approach. For example, Bohm begins to consider in 1960s that we must give up the traditional notion of space-time. In the early papers from mid-1960s one finds references to Bohr's discussion of the indivisibility of the quantum of action as important in this context but no references to Bohm's own 1952 work. Bohm's concept of mind as a highly developed process of "reflection" (in some ways similar to "reflection" occuring at the level of physics, with light etc.) begins to emerge in those papers in the mid-1960s, but the 1952 causal interpretation does not seem to play any significant role in that period. Thus one might say that the sort of "quantum approach to consciousness" that Bohm presents in the final chapter of the book Wholeness and the Implicate Order is in some ways more in the line with Bohr's approach than it is in the line of his own 1952 approach.

phase 4: the grand synthesis: active information and the implicate order

* Bohm started to reconsider the 1952 work in the late 1970s and it is only in the 1980s that we see Bohm developing a "quantum approach to mind" in relation to the re-intepreted 1952 causal interpretation, with the suggestion that the quantum field contains "active information" which guides the particle aspect. To understand how Bohm himself looked at the relation between the 1952 approach and the implicate order, it is worth reading his own paper in his Festschrift Quantum Implications. The idea is that eventually one could look at "active information" as an example of the implicate order, and that both concepts are necessary to work out the Bohmian approach to mind and matter. But given that Bohm's views changed a lot, it is no easy task to spell out the "grand synthesis". Indeed, it seems that Bohm felt that these ideas were very much in the early stages of development.

With these remarks in mind, let us now move on to consider Bohm's 1951 ideas about analogies between quantum processes and thought.

2) Analogies between thought and quantum processes (1951)

Probably Bohm's first published remark on the relation between quantum theory and thought processes can be found in the text book Quantum theory (1951, pp. 168-172). Here is a summary and a brief discussion of those ideas.

2.1 Three different analogies

a) Effects of observation

"If a person tries to observe what he is thinking about at the very moment that he is reflecting on a particular subject, it is generally agreed that he introduces unpredictable and uncontrollable changes in the way his thought proceeds thereafter."

This is similar to the effects of observation at the quantum level. In other words, the way observation of thought introduces unpredictable and uncontrollable changes in the way thought proceeds thereafter.

is analogous to

the way observation of the position of a particle introduces unpredictable and uncontrollable changes in the particle's momentum.

For example, let us ask a person to give a detailed description of what he is thinking about while reflecting on some definite subject. The "paradox" is that as soon as he begins to give this detailed description, he is no longer thinking about the subject in question, but is instead thinking about giving a detailed description.

The idea is that the thought process does not allow itself to be observed beyond a certain approximate level without changing in a significant way.

The analogy with quantum level observation could be a mere coincidence. But one alternative is that the physical aspect of thought involves quantum processes in some crucial way. This would explain in a qualitative way why the direction ("momentum") of thought is disturbed by an attempt to define the content ("position") of thought. This applies especially in the debate about the interpretation of the quantum theory, for there it is widely held that as you define your position, you lose your momentum... :-)

b) Relationality of being (indivisibility)

"...if a person attempts to apply to his thinking more and more precisely defined elements, he eventually reaches a stage where further analysis cannot even be given a meaning". This leads Bohm to suggest that

A part of the significance of each element of thought processes originates in its indivisible and incompletely controllable connections with other elements.

which is analogous to

The way some of the essential properties of a quantum system (e.g. whether it is a wave or a particle) depend on indivisible and incompletely controllable connections with surrounding objects.

Similarly, "...part of the connotation of a word depends on the words it is associated with, and in a way that is not, in practise, completely predictable or controllable (especially in speech). In fact the analysis of language, as actually used, into distinct elements with precisely defined relations between them is probably impossible."

Comment: Again, this analogy could just be a coincidence. But if the physical aspect of thought and language were essentially involving quantum processes, some holistic features of language and meaning would get a qualitative naturalistic explanation.

c) Logic and causal laws, concepts and objects, nonlogical discovery and quantum jump

The thought process is analogous to the classical limit of the quantum theory.

"The logical process corresponds to the most general type of thought process as the classical limit corresponds to the most general quantum process."

The rules of logic are analogous to the causal laws of classical physics.

"Logically definable concepts play the same fundamental role in abstract and precise thinking as do separable objects and phenomena in our customary description of the world."

"Yet, the basic thinking process probably cannot be described as logical."

Sudden emergence of a new idea is analogous to a quantum jump.

Comment: The idea here is that the structure and operation of the human mind reflects the dual nature of the reality out of which the mind emerges. According to Bohm the classical world of separable objects and phenomena governed approximately by the causal laws of classical physics is a real but not the most fundamental aspect of the physical world. The more fundamental level is the quantum level where features like quantum jumps are central. And just as the physical world at the classical limit can be thought to consist of separable objects and phenomena governed by classical laws, so the human mind has a "classical level", a level of logical thought process which consists of logically definable concepts governed by the rules of logic. Yet this is not the full story about the physical world nor about the human mind. In the physical world at the quantum level, the classical notion of separable objects is not generally applicable, neither are causal laws of the classical type. Instead the essential properties of a quantum system (e.g. whether it is a wave or a particle) depend on indivisible and incompletely controllable connections with surrounding objects. The traditional idea of a separable object thus breaks down at the quantum level. Also, processes are radically different from processes at the classical level (e.g. because of quantum jumps). Similarly for Bohm the "most general type of thought process" cannot be described as logical, and it would be natural to suggest that logically definable concepts are not applicable to the basic thinking process.

So, just as there are , if you like, two physical worlds (the general quantum world and the special case of a classical world) so there are two minds (the mind in the sense of a general alogical and aconceptual thinking process and the special case of the mind as logical thinking process with logically definable concepts).

We have the quantum world of inseparable objects and discontinuous processes, and the classical world of separable objects and causal, continuous processes.

We have the aconceptual mind (cf. Pylkkö, The Aconceptual Mind, John Benjamins 1998) with alogical processes and the conceptual mind engaged in logical thinking as a special case of it.

Again, we have a strong analogy, and one explanation of it would be provided if it is the case that the physical aspect of the alogical, aconceptual thought process involved quantum processes (with inseparability and discontinuity), while the physical aspect of the logical and conceptual thought process involved classical processes (e.g. classically describable neural "activation patterns" governed by the classical laws of physics).

This last analogy is perhaps the philosophically most sophisticated one, for recent analyzes in the philosophy of mind and of cognitive science have shown the importance of the non-conceptual or aconceptual level of the human mind. The interesting question is what might be the physical or computational concomitants of non-conceptual processes, and connectionism has been pointed to as a candidate. Yet there are arguments that connectionist models are mechanically computable and thus deterministic which would make them an implausible candidate for the physical aspect of a truly non-mechanical level of aconceptual mental processes.

2. 2 Is the analogy between quantum processes and inner experiences / thought processes a mere coincidence?

"Bohr suggests that thought involves such small amounts of energy that quantum-theoretical limitations play an essential role in determining its character."

Much of the enormous amount of mechanism in the brain must probably be regarded as operating on a classically describable level. But "...Bohr's suggestion involves the idea that certain key points controlling this mechanism (which are, in turn, affected by the actions of this mechanism) are so sensitive and delicately balanced that they must be described in an essentially quantum-mechanical way."

If Bohr's hypothesis could be verified, it would explain in a natural way a great many features of our thinking.

"If it should be true that the thought processes depend critically on quantum-mechanical elements in the brain, then we could say that thought processes provide the same kind of direct experience of the effects of quantum theory that muscular forces provide for classical theory."

"We suggest that ... the behavior of our thought processes may perhaps reflect in an indirect way some of the quantum-mechanical aspects of the matter of which we are composed."

Bohm might have added that logical thought processes reflect and perhaps give us some experience of processes in the classical domain, given that he emphasized the analogy between these two in the previous section.

Note that in these remarks Bohm is not directly addressing the "hard problem" of consciousness but is rather focussing on the nature of the thought process. The first point concerns how the thought process behaves when it is "observed"; the second concerns the underlying holistic character of the thought process; and the third notes that there is both a "general" and a "classical" aspect to thought, just as there is a general and a classical aspect to physical processes.

Given that thought processes and quantum processes have so much in common, then perhaps this is so because in some respects they are the same process.

Note that the critics of "quantum consciousness" sometimes claim that people in the approach think "consciousness is a mystery, quantum mechanics is a mystery, perhaps they are the same mystery?". But even Bohm's 1951 remarks argue that quantum processes and mental processes are not only mysterious but share certain basic properties in common, so much so that we are led to think that they to some extent at least are the same process.

3) Bohm's 1990 article "A New Theory of the Relation between Mind and Matter"

It is now recommended that you read this article. It was originally published in the journal Philosophical Psychology. In this paper Bohm summarizes his quantum approach to mind and matter.

4) Chris Dewdney's summary and visual illustrations of the Bohm interpretation of the quantum theory.

It is now recommended that you check out Dewdney's website at

5) More introductory material to Bohm's quantum approach to mind by Paavo Pylkkänen

This material is useful to you especially if you have little background in the topic. The text discusses in particular Bohm's 1990 article (section 3) but includes a broader philosophical perspective as well.

**will be added shortly **

6) Basil Hiley's overheads in the Tucson III conference

Here is an overall presentation of the field of quantum approaches to consciousness, and an explanation of some of Hiley's latest ideas on the topic. It is recommended that you first read the "Pre-conference workshop slides" and then the plenary talk slides.

7) "Quantum interweavings" by Paavo Pylkkänen

This is a brief paper on Bohm's view of causality as it develops in the early 1960s in the Bohm-Biederman correspondence (Routledge, 1999). The paper was originally written for Dr. Ivan Havel's 60th birthday volume (to be published) in 1998.



QUANTUM INTERWEAVINGS

Paavo Pylkkänen
Department of Humanities
University of Skövde
P.O. Box 408
S-541 28 Skovde
Sweden
E-mail:
paavo@ihu.his.se

Ivan Havel and I first met in 1991. We shared an interest in David
Bohm's work and what Ivan likes to call a "transdisciplinary " approach.
My own graduate work dealt with applying quantum theory to the mind-matter
problem and the like and I was very encouraged by Ivan's open and
supportive attitude - after all many researchers still think you are being
non- rather than trans- or inter-disciplinary when you want to work across
and beyond the boundaries of established disciplines. Over the years we
have managed - often jointly - to organize a number of small meetings and
workshops to nurture the transdisciplinary conspiracy.
I'd like to congratulate Ivan on his birthday by briefly discussing
one of the big questions of this century, that of determinism vs.
indeterminism in quantum theory, and by evaluating Bohm's role in this
debate. Towards the end of the paper I will take a transdisciplinary
turn...

1. Indeterminism vs. determinism in quantum physics

The determinism of Newtonian physics was an important cornerstone of the
mechanistic world picture, and for many the most radical feature of the
quantum revolution in physics was the failure to predict the behaviour of
individual quantum systems such as electrons. From this failure to
predict it was generally inferred that such systems have genuinely
indeterministic features. Of course, there is much about, say, electrons
and atoms that appears as straightforwardly determined, properties such as
mass or charge of the electron or energy levels of the atom. Further, in
a two-slit experiment a sufficiently large number of electrons produce a
precisely predictable interference pattern. And even the behaviour of an
individual electron is determined in the sense that we can predict what it
will not do: for example it will not go to certain areas of the
photographic plate in a two-slit experiment. Yet the fact that we cannot
predict just where in the possible areas it does appear in the plate is an
example of the radical kind of unpredictability that is also behind the
more generalized notion that individual processes at the most basic level
of nature known to us are genuinely indeterministic.
It is against this background that one needs to understand the
significance of Bohm's 1952 papers on hidden variables, presenting a
"causal interpretation of quantum theory" for a first time in a consistent
way. Bohm did not, of course, find a way of predicting where, say, an
electron will appear in a typical interference experiment. Nor has anyone
since been able to do that - quantum unpredicatibility and the uncertainty
principle still reign regardless of important advances in technology (e.g.
advances in observing individual atoms with lasers). What Bohm did was to
produce a model which showed that regardless of our inability to predict
it is still a coherent and physically consistent possibility that the
behaviour of electrons actually is determined. Here one must remember
those who, like von Neumann, had presented proofs that such models are
simply inconsistent with the quantum formalism, a formalism that had
gained tremendous experimental support. What Bohm established was that it
is ultimately a matter of faith whether or not one makes the assumption of
genuine indeterminism within the quantum domain. Quantum experiments and
formalism do not rule out the possibility that electrons, after all, move
deterministically along trajectories, being in this respect like their
macroscopic cousins, the billiard balls. Yet given that the inability to
predict still reigns in the domain of individual quantum systems, faith in
indeterminism seems more justified on the basis of the empirical data than
faith in determinism. Or is this just a matter of taste?
Bohm's 1952 work - and the work along these lines that followed it
- is an important contribution to our knowledge. It is important
precisely because, by offering a deterministic alternative as a
possibility, it brought out clearly that the commitment to genuine quantum
indeterminism is ultimately a matter of faith. But as is well known it
did not gain Bohm much respect amongst his colleagues back in 1952 - it
was felt by many that he was turning the clock back. It was quite common
to mention Bohm as an example of someone who was so attached to
determinism that he was unwilling to go along with the indeterministic
part of the quantum revolution. Today we can see, in various ways, more
appreciation of the 1952 work. There is, for example, a research activity
known as "Bohmian mechanics" which develops the approach and finds its
deterministic features an advantage rather than a drawback. This
development further backs up the impression of Bohm as one of the key
supporters of determinism in contemporary physics.


2. Bohm's view of determinism and indeterminism as interwoven categories

The fact about Bohm's attitude towards determinism is, however, more
complex than the above discussion suggests. There is no denying that Bohm
was eager to prove the possibility of a deterministic description of
quantum systems. Yet a study of his more philosophical writings reveals
that he was equally keen to understand the role of indeterminism and even
genuine indeterminism in nature. This was already brought out in his 1957
book Causality and Chance in Modern Physics where he argued that
determinism and indeterminism are aspects of a more general law. These
ideas were then discussed and developed further in a correspondence he had
during 1960-1969 with the American artist Charles Biederman, the first
part of which will be published in 1998 by Routledge as the book
Bohm-Biederman Correspondence (hereafter BB). I believe that these letters
provide an important clarification of Bohm's notion of determinism and
indeterminism.
The reason why the interaction with Biederman brings out Bohm's
views on indeterminism so clearly is the fact that Bohm and Biederman
disagreed about the status of indeterminism. For Biederman indeterminism
was subjective in the sense that it only arose in the meeting of human
beings and nature, while he assumed nature without human beings to be
determinate. This prompted Bohm to very clearly spell out in which sense
he thought indeterminism to be an objective property of nature. So here
we can see Bohm taking the opposite role, that of defending indeterminism
rather than questioning it. Indeed, this kind of dialectical approach
seems to have been much more important to Bohm than attachment to any
particular category such as determinism. Yet even in light of the
Bohm-Biederman correspondence it seems that for Bohm the totality of the
universe is determined and I guess this defines him as some sort of a
determinist. But it is certainly a very weak form of determinism.
Consider, for example, the following excerpt by Bohm:

"Of course, you might say that each event is determined necessarily in a
complete totality. But this would be trivial. For to give the complete
totality, you would have to give each event, so that the determination of
that event wouldn't add very much to it. Rather, necessity and
determination have real content, only insofar as they operate within
fields of abstration." (BB, p. 164)

Thus, for example, Bohm's 1952 causal interpretation should not be taken
as offering in principle a complete description of the totality of the
universe at the basic quantum level, but rather as a description of
determinism that may operate within a limited "field of abstraction", in
this case the quantum domain. Bohm assumed that the quantum determinism
he proposed would very likely dissolve into chance in some broader field
or sub-quantum domain. The notion of "fields of abstraction" is
elaborated earlier in the same letter:

"...the existence of fields of abstraction is characteristic of nature's
structure and order. The partial and relative dependence and independence
of these fields is also characteristic of nature. Therefore, in each
field, there must be contingency and chance. What is chance in one field
may be necessary in a broader field and vice versa. But all thought
functions in fields. Therefore, we will never get rid of chance and
contingency in our thought. But this is not purely the result of our own
way of thinking. For this way of thinking is based on the existence of
fields of abstraction in nature... There is genuine contingency, insofar
as functioning in fields is valid." (BB, p. 162-3)


The above excerpts have been taken out of a context in which the various
concepts have already been discussed from different angles, and thus they
are likely to appear somewhat cryptic here. The key point is, however,
that determinism and indeterminism are for Bohm complementary concepts
that obtain a real, as opposed to trivial, meaning only when we are
discussing a part or a partial field of the totality of the universe.
Dividing the universe into parts has always the risk of introducing
dualisms which seem impossible to interweave back together, thus creating
an unfortunate fragmentation to our world view - the dualism between mind
and body being perhaps the most notorious case. Yet if we do not
introduce divisions, what is there to say? Bohm's dialectical approach is
perhaps best summarized in the following excerpt:

"The truth about the cosmos is to be asserted by first asserting its unity,
by then asserting its duality in terms of opposing categories, and then
showing the interwoven unity of two duals." (BB, p. 50)

In this way determinism and indeterminism are for Bohm an example of
opposing categories which are both needed for a non-trivial understanding
of the universe. It is in understanding their mutual relationship, how
they interweave, that we obtain a non-trivial understanding of natural
process. Other categories that he uses in a similar way throughout the
correspondence with Biederman include actuality and possibility, finite
and infinite, law and lawlessness and regularity and irregularity.

3. Interweaving mind and matter

Perhaps this kind of dialectical method would be a useful addition to many
contemporary debates, say in the philosophy of mind. The mind-body
problem indeed becomes sharp by Descartes asserting the duality of mind
and matter in terms of opposing (mutually exclusive) categories:
non-extended, thinking and indivisible mental substance is separated from
extended, non-thinking and divisible material substance. The fact that it
has been difficult to show the "interwoven unity" of the Cartesian
opposites does not mean that this could not work for some other way of
distinguishing the mental and the physical. Contemporary philosophy of
mind, however, often sees dualism as a bad thing and opts for some form of
materialism with the unfortunate result that in most theories of the mind
the mind is left out, as Searle (1992) sarcastically points out. Perhaps a
different attitude in which one is not trying to eliminate or reduce one
category to obtain monism would be more fruitful. Searle's own "biological
naturalism" starts from an outright denial of the dualism between mind and
matter, insisting that the mind is a biological category. Yet it may be
Searle's inability or unwillingness to distinguish the mental from the
physical in a satisfactory way at the start of his approach which leaves
some of his readers unconvinced. We are given the "right answer" ("mind
is a biological category") at the very start of the inquiry but we do not
understand how it is a biological category. In Bohmian terms, the
Searlian mind doesn't interweave properly with the Searlian brain.
Bohm himself discussed the mind-matter issue with pairs of concepts
such as implicate vs. explicate, soma vs. significance and subtle vs.
manifest. He also proposed ways of seeing how these categories interweave:
the "explicate", for example can be seen as a special case of the
"implicate". I believe that a further study of such categories (or
similar ones yet to be developed) and their relationship is likely to
throw some new light upon even such a perennial problem as the mind-matter
one.

Bibliography

Bohm, D. (1952) "A Suggested Interpretation of the Quantum Theory in Terms
of Hidden Variables I & II", Phys. Rev., 85, no. 2, 166-193, Republished
in Quantum Theory and Measurement, Ed. by J. A. Wheeler and W. H. Zurek,
369-96, Princeton University Press, (1983)

Bohm, D. (1984) Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, London, Routledge
and Kegan Paul (new edition of work first published by RKP in 1957).

Bohm, D. (1980) Wholeness and the Implicate Order, London, Routledge and
Kegan Paul.

Bohm, D. and Biederman, C. (1998), Bohm-Biederman Correspondence. Volume
One: Creativity and Science, Edited by Paavo Pylkkanen, Routledge, London.

Bohm, D. and Hiley B.J. (1993), The Undivided Universe: An Ontological
Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, Routledge, London.

Pylkkanen P. et. al eds. (1997) Brain, Mind and Physics, IOS Press, Amsterdam.

Searle, J. (1992) The Rediscovery of the Mind, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.