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Mind and Matter: The World as "Representation" in Quantum Theory

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This paper makes critical use of the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) and his disciple Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860). One of their radical conclusions was that “objects” conform to “subjects” and such subjects form a world of “representation”, the world of “phenomena”. Although Kant and Schopenhauer assumed that Newtonian Physics was the final theory many of their ideas cohere with Quantum Theory. Indeed Quantum Theory can explain how we form our world of representation in the macroscopic realm. In everyday life “measurement” is constantly taking place as we form our world of representation through what has come to be called “decoherence”. A case will be made that ultimately it is the mind of sentient creatures which constitutes the physical world through the process of “measurement” but such constitution may often occur by indirect means. If the mind has this fundamental role it could explain why mathematics discloses some of the fundamental structures of the world and why the human mind is somehow written into the very fabric of universe (cf. the “anthropic principle”). The paper concludes with a brief discussion of some theological implications of such an approach. One is that only God can fully access the “thing in itself”; furthermore he is the creator of this world of “noumena”. But human beings (together with other sentient creatures) create the world of “phenomena” in that their minds constitute the “physical order” and thereby act as God’s co-creators.

This talk is part of the The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion series.

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