The hard problem and the measurement problem: a no-go theorem and potential consequences

Por • 14 ene, 2020 • Sección: Filosofía

Igor Salom

The «measurement problem» of quantum mechanics, and the «hard problem» of cognitive science are the most profound open problems of the two research fields, and certainly among the deepest of all unsettled conundrums in contemporary science in general. Occasionally, scientists from both fields have suggested some sort of interconnectedness of the two problems. Here we revisit the main motives behind such expectations and try to put them on more formal grounds. We argue not only that such a relation exists, but that it also bears strong implications both for the interpretations of quantum mechanics and for our understanding of consciousness. The paper consists of three parts. In the first part, we formulate a «no-go-theorem» stating that a brain, functioning solely on the principles of classical physics, cannot have any greater ability to induce subjective experience than a process of writing (printing) a certain sequence of digits. The goal is to show, with an attempt to mathematical rigor, why the physicalist standpoint based on classical physics is not likely to ever explain the phenomenon of consciousness — justifying the tendency to look beyond the physics of the 19th century. In the second part, we aim to establish a clear relation, with a sort of correspondence mapping, between attitudes towards the hard problem and interpretations of quantum mechanics. Then we discuss these connections in the light of the no-go theorem, pointing out that the existence of subjective experience might differentiate between otherwise experimentally indistinguishable interpretations. Finally, the third part is an attempt to illustrate how quantum mechanics could take us closer to the solution of the hard problem and break the constraints set by the no-go theorem.

arXiv:2001.03143v1 [physics.hist-ph]

History and Philosophy of Physics (physics.hist-ph); Quantum Physics (quant-ph)

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