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Minds form a Discrete Degree, in the Same Way that the Physical has Discrete Degrees

Ian J. Thompson, Physics Dept, Surrey University, Guildford, UK.
April 4, 2008

Material for a Talk at Tucson2008 (see abstracts list, in Session C19)


If we examine the natural structures found by quantum physics, we find that energy operators, quantum-mechanical propensities and outcome-events form a triple set of  material ‘discrete degrees’. This is in the sense that they simultaneously exist in their own way, without being reduced to another. Furthermore, the energy operators (Hamiltonians) generate the propensities (wave functions), which in turn generate actual outcomes. (Even though we do not yet know the timings of the last step, we have many hypotheses.) I therefore name this triple as of ‘discrete degrees’, or ‘multiple generative levels’.  A similar set can be found if we take quantum gravity (pregeometric processes) to generate Lagrangians for virtual processes in spacetime, which in turn generate the triple (sub)degrees of energy/propensity/actual-event. (Even though we do not yet know the details of pregeometric processes, we are forming many hypotheses.) 

Now, just as the first ‘material triple’ is the set of sublevels in the final level of a more global ‘physical triple’, I now hypothesize that the physical triple is again a set of sublevels in the final level of a yet more global triple.  This global triple, for reasons to be given, is taken to be composed of two new parts: namely some kind of ‘spiritual’ processes followed by some kind of mental processes. We assume that the ‘recursive nesting’ pattern of levels and sublevels is repeated, so we have some guidelines for exploring these new degrees. There is already evidence from stage developmental theories of Erikson, Piaget, Gowan and Commons that the mental degrees have multiple sublevels of affectional and cognitive development of the required kinds. There is further empirical evidence from Swedenborg that the spiritual degrees have similar substructures, and indeed he hypothesizes that this ‘multiple generative level’ pattern is universal.

We therefore need to integrate our knowledges from physics and psychology (and, as necessary, from elsewhere) to ascertain the true nature of the discrete degrees as identified here, and see whether they in fact form a universal dynamical structure of the scope indicated. Then, since reductionism does not work even within physics, we would get an effective or ‘generalised’ dualism of mind and nature, one moreover according to which they are still constantly related by causal connections of similar kinds to those already discovered in the sciences. Mind and nature, without being reduced to the other, would be both part of a more complicated structure that the scientists have already begun to investigate in detail even though they have not yet seen the whole picture.


Pdf, Powerpoint (version 1c, April 4 2008)

Related Papers

Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness: A Causal Correspondence Theory

Discrete Degrees Within and Between Nature and Mind

Related Web Pages


Author: I.J. Thompson (except as stated)