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Schneider, J. (1997). Time and the Mind Body Problem: A Quantum Perspective. Am. Imago, 54(3):307-322.

(1997). American Imago, 54(3):307-322

Time and the Mind Body Problem: A Quantum Perspective

Jean Schneider

1. The Problem

Insofar as we perceive the human body (our own and others) as we do any physical object, it is legitimate to study it with the methods of biophysics, and even of physics. In this respect, the Mind/Body problem is part of the Mind/Matter problem.

It happens that in today's physics, namely in Quantum Mechanics, the status of what an object is is problematic. My objective here is to show that, as a consequence, the point of view of the so called cognitive sciences is perhaps to be turned up side down. I will investigate whether it is pertinent, or not, to see the Mind as an “emanation from” the material body.

But, first of all, is there anything like “Mind” at all? We live in a technical epoch where computers and drugs have the pretension to explain every mental state in terms of mechanical tropisms. It is thus not useless, for the sake of the human condition, to recall why a Weltanshauung with no Subject cannot explain the totality of everyone's experience. There are several ways to conduct such a demonstration, resting for example on the absence of demonstrative foundations of the mathematical concepts used by the scientific theories themselves. I will rather take my argument from the analysis of Time. The decisive point is that there is nothing in physics allowing one to speak of anything like the “now.” The only way to express the now lies in the symbolic dimension of meaning in language. It is customary for physicists to think of language in terms of communication and exchange of information. But the dimension of meaning is excluded from such a view.

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