Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 13, No 2 (2017)

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Using Psychic Phenomena to Connect Mind to Brain and to Revise Quantum Mechanics

Stanley A. Klein


One of the deep mysteries facing science concerns how the subjective aspect of consciousness (qualia) comes to exist. There is a possibility that psychic phenomena (psi) can provide an answer since psi and qualia may have the same source. Although I'm a psi skeptic I would love to see reliable data supporting it, since that could then usher in an exciting new exploration into brain mechanisms and would force fundamental physics to change. This paper explores four different approaches for understanding qualia and psi:  1) Modify physics. Four quite different approaches will be discussed: a) a modified Born Rule, b) a modification to general relativity, c) a Bohmian update of hidden variables, and d) adding a panpsychic ‘psychon' to QED. 2) Surprising emergence. This is the view whereby the neuroscience and psychology of the future will show how qualia and psi can come about by surprising brain mechanisms.  3) Panentheism and Cosmic Mind. In this view, consciousness is primary and possibly not amenable to scientific explanation. 4) Awesome illusion. Here, "qualia" is an ill-posed question and will therefore not be answered by science. For psi, being an illusion means that the past experiments are not replicable when steps are taken to satisfy friendly skeptics like me. Although I am a skeptic, I strongly hope that psi is replicable since that would usher in a revolution in physics and neuroscience. It could even lead to an understanding of qualia.

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