Physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser offers some thoughts as to the light quantum mechanics — as opposed to classical physics — can shed on consciousness. The problem, he thinks, is that both quantum mechanics and consciousness are mysteries and adding them two mysteries together doesn’t produce simple answers:News, “Can quantum physics, neuroscience merge as quantum consciousness?” at Mind Matters News (November 28, 2021)
The truth is that despite the tremendous success of quantum physics when it comes to its applications — the digital and nuclear technologies that define much of modern life — its interpretation remains uncertain, a target of heated debate among physicists. We know how to use quantum physics, but we do not know what it is telling us about the nature of reality.Marcelo Gleiser, “Can quantum mechanics explain consciousness?” at Big Think (November 24, 2021)
It’s the same with the brain and the mind:
In a nutshell, the issue here is that tagging neuronal activity is the easy part of the task. The hard part is understanding how active neurons conspire to create the sense of who we are — that is, translating bioelectrical activity and blood flow into self-awareness.Marcelo Gleiser, “Can quantum mechanics explain consciousness?” at Big Think (November 24, 2021)
Indeed. For example, in a recent discussion, neuropsychologist Mark Solms and neurosurgeon Michael Egnor agreed that, while neuroscientists tend to see the prefrontal cortex of the human brain as the seat of consciousness, clinical experience points to portions of the brain stem, which we share with other vertebrates, of varying degrees of intelligence or self-awareness. [Not much help.]
[Wethinks they’ll be at this a long time.]
Takehome: The problem is, if we assume that “the mind is nothing more than the brain,” there may be nothing we can discover about how it works. Gleiser wishes we could prove that that’s wrong but he can’t.
You may also wish to read: Does science disprove free will? A physicist says no. Marcelo Gleiser notes that the mind is not a solar system with strict deterministic laws. Apart from simple laws governing neurons, we have no clue what laws the mind follows, though it does show complex nonlinear dynamics. (Michael Egnor)