Physics professor and frequent First Things contributor Stephen Barr discusses the implications of quantum physics at Big Questions Online:

No less a figure than  Eugene Wigner , a Nobel Prize winner in physics, claimed that materialism — at least with regard to the human mind — is not “logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.” And on the basis of quantum mechanics, Sir Rudolf Peierls, another great 20th-century physicist, said, “the premise that you can describe in terms of physics the whole function of a human being . . . including [his] knowledge, and [his] consciousness, is untenable. There is still something missing.”

How, one might ask, can quantum mechanics have anything to say about the human mind?  Isn’t it about things that can be physically measured, such as particles and forces?  It is; but while minds cannot be measured, it is ultimately minds that do the measuring. And that, as we shall see, is a fact that cannot be ignored in trying to make sense of quantum mechanics.  If one claims that it is possible (in principle) to give a complete physical description of what goes on during a measurement — including the mind of the person who is doing the measuring — one is led into severe difficulties.


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Articles by Anna Sutherland

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