[ I1 - I2 - I3 ]

Quantum Interactive Trionism

§1: classification

§2: cautionary note

this catalog entry attempts to describe a perspective developed by Dr. Henry P. Stapp which he calls quantum interactive dualism. it has here been classified as a trionism because Stapp appears to be counting the way Descartes counted whereas this catalog uses a taxonomy based on counting as I2 have interpreted Chalmers' system of counting.

§3: descriptive analysis

according to most interpretations of quantum mechanics, the laws of physics require a consciousness to resolve the so-called measurement problem thru the exercise of a free will. since the physical realm is deterministic, something undetermined is required to support the exercise of a free choice. hence, consciousness must derive from a something non-physical, mind.

The most radical departure from classical physics instituted by the founders of quantum mechanics was the introduction of human consciousness ... the need for a rationally coherent and practically useful theory forced the creators of quantum mechanics to bring into the theory not merely a passive observer, superposed ad hoc onto classical mechanics, together with the knowledge that flows passively into his or her consciousness, but, surprisingly, an active consciousness that works in the opposite direction, and injects conscious intentions efficaciously into the physically described world. [Stapp (2005) @45]

Von Neumann showed that one can place the entire physical world, including the bodies and brains of the agents, in the physically described world. Then the entire physical world is described in the mathematical language of quantum mechanics. In this von Neumann formulation the physically described action associated with the consciously intended probing action by the agent is a mathematically described action on the brain of that agent. The psychophysical causal connections thereby become mind-brain causal connections. This makes the theory similar to a Cartesian Interactive dualism, with, however, causal connections between the two realms now specified, in part, by the basic laws of physics. [Stapp. (2005). @48 (emphasis in original)]

this insight is often expressed in terms of 'an observer'. it is said that the observer interacts with the observed in the act of observation --- helping to create the phenomena observed; but, when said that way it obscures the important point: an actual, non-physical consciousness is required. anything physical just becomes another part of the experimental apparatus; and, it gets entangled with the quantum phenomena under study. a conscious agent is required to collapse the wave function.

this point is also addressed is a recent work by physicists Rosenblum and Kuttner:

A robot argument is often presented to evade physics' encounter with consciousness. Here's how it goes: We don't need a conscious observer to collapse a wavefunction, because a not-conscious, isolated robot can do it. ... The robot could randomly choose to do either a look-in-a-box experiment or an interference experiment and print out a report of its results. Since that printout would be indistinguishable from an observation presented by a conscious observer, the not-conscious robot can therefore be considered to be an observer. No consciousness need be involved.

but ... is this a realistic argument? No.

If we consider the robot argument from the view of quantum theory, the isolated robot is a quantum system, and von Neumann's conclusion applies: The robot entangles with the object ... and the object's wavefunction does not collapse ... until a conscious observer views the robot's printout. [Rosenblum and Kuttner. (2006). @183-4]

§3.1: the nature of the ontological component

in the structure diagram for QIT, I2've depicted the I2 as a function of the T3 (where T3 = 'mind'). this use of the collective version of mind requires some explanation. while Stapp wants to bring mind and consciousness into relation to quantum theory, he goes out of his way to claim that quantum mechanics explains the 'Jamesian mind' which "involves no 'knower' that stands behind the thoughts themselves". [Stapp. 1993. @22]

by the 'Jamesian mind' Stapp refers to James' oft-quoted passage about the thoughts that think themselves, a passage that is generally understood to mean that there is no experiencer of the passing thoughts:

The consciousness of Self involves a stream of thought, each part of which as 'I' can 1) remember those that went before and know the things they knew; and 2) emphasize and care paramountly for certain ones among them as 'me', and appropriate to these the rest ... Whatever other things are perceived to be associated with this feeling are deemed to form part of that me's experience ... This is an empirical aggregate of things objectively known. The I that knows them cannot itself be an aggregate. Neither for psychological purposes need it be considered to be an unchanging metaphysical entity like the Soul, or a pinciple like the pure Ego, viewed as 'out of time'. It is a Thought, at each moment different from that of the last moment, but appropriative of the latter, together with all that the latter called its own ... If anyone urge that I assign no reasonwhy the successive passing thoughts should inherit each other's possessions, or why they and the brain-states should be functions (in the mathematical sense) of each other, I reply that the reason ... must lie ... in the total sense or meaning of the world. ... it alone can make clear to us why such finite human streams of thought are called into existence in such functional dependence upon brains. This is as much as to say that the special natural science of psychology must stop with the mere functional formula. If the passing thought be the directly verifiable existent which no school has hitherto doubted it to be, then that thought is itself the thinker, and psychololgy need not look beyond. [James. 1890/1983. @378-9 (emphasis in original)]


James, William. 1890/1983. The Principles of Psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Rosenblum, Bruce and Kuttner, Fred. (2006). Quantum Enigma: Physics encounters consciousness. New York: Oxford University Press.

Stapp, Henry P. (1993). Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Stapp, Henry P. (2005). Quantum Interactive Dualism: An Alternative to Materialism. Journal of Consciousness Studies. 12(11):43-58.