The role of dispositions in the physical world is considered. It is shown that not only can classical physics be reasonably construed as the discovery of real dispositions, but also quantum physics. This approach moreover allows a realistic understanding of quantum processes.
Examining the role of dispositions (potentials and propensities) in both physics and psychology reveals that they are commonly derivative dispositions, so called because they derive from other dispositions. Furthermore, when they act, they produce further propensities. Together, therefore, they appear to form discrete degrees within a structure of multiple generative levels. It is then constructively hypothesized that minds and physical nature are themselves discrete degrees within some more universal structure. This gives rise to an effective dualism of mind and nature, (...) but one according to which they are still constantly related by causal connections. I suggest a few of the unified principles of operation of this more complicated but universal structure. (shrink)
Until quite recently, mind-body dualism has been regarded with deep suspicion by both philosophers and scientists. This has largely been due to the widespread identification of dualism in general with one particular version of it: the interactionist substance dualism of Réné Descartes. This traditional form of dualism has, ever since its first formulation in the seventeenth century, attracted numerous philosophical objections and is now almost universally rejected in scientific circles as empirically inadequate. During the last few years, however, renewed attention (...) has begun to be paid to the dualistic point of view, as a result of increasing discontent with the prevailing materialism and reductionism of contemporary scientific and philosophical thought. Awareness has grown that dualism need not be restricted to its traditional form and that other varieties of dualism are not subject to the difficulties commonly raised against Descartes' own version of it. -/- Interest in these alternative versions of dualism is growing fast today, because it seems that they are capable of capturing deep-seated philosophical intuitions, while also being fully consistent with the methodological assumptions and empirical findings of modern scientific work on the human mind and brain. The object of this book is to provide philosophers, scientists, their students, and the wider general public with an up-to-date overview of current developments in dualistic conceptions of the mind in contemporary philosophy and science. (shrink)
The causal closure of the physical world is assumed everywhere in physics but has little empirical support within living organisms. For the spiritual to have effects in nature, and make a difference there, the laws of physical nature would have to be modified or extended. I propose that the renormalized parameters of quantum field theory (masses and charges) are available to be varied locally in order to achieve ends in nature. This is not adding extra forces to nature but rescaling (...) the forces which already exist. We separate metric time in 4 dimensions from process time as the order of actualization of potentialities. This is to allow iterative forward and reverse steps in metric time to influence intermediate variations in the vacuum permittivities to move charged bodies towards achieve specific targets at a later time. Then mental or spiritual influx could have effects in nature, and these should be measurable in biophysics experiments. With this proposal, we see after some centuries how ‘final causes’ could once again be seen active in nature. (shrink)
In order to link fine-tuning in physics with spiritual influx, I propose that the highest degree in physics is where ‘ends’ are received in physics. By ends, I refer to what it is that determines the means or causes in physics, and what it is that manages or influences to basis parameters (masses and charge values) of the quantum fields. This is fine-tuning, in the sense that it occurs not just for the whole universe (in the Big Bang, for example), (...) but locally. That is, this fine-tuning is different at each time, and in point in space. Thus this influx can be specific to living organisms, and can occur at all the needed scales and levels in psychology and biology, namely every day and every micros-second of our lives. (shrink)
Which way does causation proceed? The pattern in the material world seems to be upward: particles to molecules to organisms to brains to mental processes. In contrast, the principles of quantum mechanics allow us to see a pattern of downward causation. These new ideas describe sets of multiple levels in which each level influences the levels below it through generation and selection. Top-down causation makes exciting sense of the world: we can find analogies in psychology, in the formation of our (...) minds, in locating the source of consciousness, and even in the possible logic of belief in God. (shrink)
Modern physics has cast doubt on Newton's idea of particles with definite properties. Do we have to go back to Aristotle for a new understanding of the ultimate nature of substance? If we ask, `what is the nature of substance?', we might be told that this substance is salt, that one is copper, or that the atomic nucleus is a mixture of protons and neutrons. But what are all these substances? What do they have in common which makes them substances? (...) We don't seem to think that such things as colours, numbers, or shapes are by themselves `substantial enough' to be substances in their own right. We therefore change our question to `what is it to be a substance?', or to `what is the ultimate nature of the simplest substances?'. (shrink)
We may suspect that quantum mechanics and consciousness are related, but the details are not at all clear. In this paper, I suggest how the mind and brain might fit together intimately while still maintaining distinct identities. The connection is based on the correspondence of similar functions in both the mind and the quantum-mechanical brain. Accompanying material for a talk at The Second Mind and Brain Symposium held at the Institute of Psychiatry, Denmark Hill, London on 20th October, 1990.
I formulate a description of the world of relativity and quantum physics that is independent of classical physics, so that we can bypass some of the unwanted legacies which have accumulated from the theories of material corpuscles. The task of this book is to produce a formulation in sufficient detail that an understanding of quantum physics begins to be possible. Even though the present investigations will not produce a complete physical theory, I hope to show that they are still valuable (...) in providing some general ideas which are reasonable, which can be realistically interpreted, and which contribute in some part to our understanding of the world we live in and its quantum peculiarities. (shrink)
Many of us these days sense there is something real beyond the scope of naturalistic science. But what? Must mental and religious lives always remain a mystery and never become part of scientific knowledge? In this well-argued book, physicist Ian Thompson makes a case for a 'scientific theism'. He shows how a following of core postulates of theism leads to novel and useful predictions about the psychology of minds and the physics of materials which should appear in the universe. These (...) predictions constitute a kind of 'theistic science'. It meshes surprisingly well with the structure of reality already revealed by modern quantum field theory and by theories of developmental stages in human minds. The result is a serious look at a promising new rational structure encompassing theology, psychology and physics. (shrink)
Since the failure of both pure corpuscular and pure wave philosophies of nature, process theories assume that only events need to exist in order to have a physics. Starting from an ontology of actual events, a dispositional analysis is shown here to lead to a new idea of substance, that of a `distribution of potentiality or propensity'. This begins to provide a useful foundation for quantum physics. A model is presented to show how the existence of physical substances could be (...) a reasonable consequence of a theory of processes. (shrink)
Discussing questions concerning quantum physics and spirituality together is particularly valuable in order to see the connection between them from a New Church standpoint. An urgent reason for discussing this link is that some people want to identify these things. The feeling is widespread that somehow they are connected, but some “new age” people want to say that quantum physics tells us about spirituality. We know from Swedenborg that the connection is not quite so simple, so we need to understand (...) in more detail what is going on. (shrink)
An ontological extension of dispositional essentialism is proposed, whereby what is necessary and sufficient for the dispositional causation of events is interpreted realistically, and postulated to exist. This ‘generative realism’ leads to a general concept of ‘substance’ as constituted by its more fundamental powers or propensities appearing in the form of some structure or field. This neo Aristotelian view is reviewed historically, and in respect to quantum physics.
The analysis of dispositions is used to consider cases where the effect of one disposition operating is the existence of another disposition. This may arise from rearrangements within aggregated structures of dispositional parts, or, it is argued, also as stages of derivative dispositions within a set of multiple generative levels. Inspection of examples in both classical and quantum physics suggests a general principle of `Conditional Forward Causation': that dispositions act 'forwards' in a way conditional on certain circumstances or occasions already (...) existing at the `later' levels. (shrink)
This year is the 300th anniversary of the birth of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 - 1772). Although he worked in the eighteenth century, his investigations into the nature of physical, physiological and spiritual processes are still relevant today, although they are not as widely known as they deserve. In this article, I will briefly describe the stages in Swedenborg's life, and outline his mature teachings with particular relevance to what is relevant to the concerns of contemporary science, and to the concerns (...) of those wishing to extend that science. (shrink)
In cognitive psychology there appears to be a creative tension between models that use connections of a network, and models that use rules for symbol manipulation. The idea of a connectionist network goes back to McCulloch & Pitts  and Hebb , and finds recent revival in the `parallel distributed processing' (PDP) models that have been extensively examined in the last few years (see e.g. Rumelhart et al. ). In the intervening years, however, the predominant explanations of psychology have been (...) in terms of rules for the manipulation of symbolic structures (e.g. since Newell & Simon ). Because of the tension between these different approaches (see e.g. Fodor & Pylyshyn ), there is great interest in the formulation of `hybrid systems' which combine connectionist components with traditional symbolic processing. I attempt below to outline the general architecture of such a hybrid system. (shrink)
In a pragmatic approach to ontology, what is necessary and sufficient for the dispositional causation of events is interpreted realistically, and postulated to exist. This leads to a concept of `generic substance' (Aristotle's underlying `matter') as being constituted by dispositions, not just being the `bare subject' for those dispositions. If we describe the forms of objects according their spatiotemporal range, then this form is best viewed as a field, and substances themselves are best conceived as `fields of propensity'.
A model is presented to show how the existence of physical law could be a reasonable consequence of Divine Immanence in the world of natural phenomena. Divine Immanence is seen as the continual production of the principal causes or dispositions which enable created things to act and change. It..