Danah Zohar:
QUANTUM SELF (William Morrow, 1990)

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(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

The American philosopher Danah Zohar, the wife of British psychiatrist Ian Marshall, believes that consciousness is the bridge between the classical world and the quantum world. One of Quantum Mechanics' shortcomings is that it doesn't truly explain how reality emerges from the quantum world of elementary particles and probability waves. Zohar believes that the answer has always been in the theory, and that we simply refused to take it at face value. Zohar subscribes to the thesis of Bose-Einstein condensation advocated by Ian Marshall, which basically reduces mind/body duality to wave/particle duality. Zohar is fascinated by the behavior of bosons. Particles divide into fermions (such as electrons, protons, neutrons) and bosons (photons, gravitons, gluons). Bosons are particle of "relationship", as they are used to interact. When two systems interact (electricity, gravitation or whatever), they exchange bosons. Fermions are well-defined individual entities, just like large-scale matter is. But bosons can completely merge and become one entity, more like conscious states do. Zohar therefore claims that bosons are the basis for the conscious life, and fermions for the material life. The Bose-Einstein condensate is the extreme example of "bosonic" behavior (relationship, sharing of identities). Zohar imagines that such a condensate is the ideal candidate to provide the unity of consciousness. The properties of matter would arise from the properties of fermions. Matter is solid because fermions cannot merge. On the other hand, the properties of mind would arise from the properties of bosons: they can share the same state and they are about relationships. This would also explain how there can be a "self". The brain changes all the time and therefore the "self" is never the same. I am never myself again. How can there be a sense of "self"? Zohar thinks that the self does change all the time, but quantum interference makes each new self sprout from the old selves. Wave functions of past selves overlap with the wave function of the current self. Through this "quantum memory" each self reincarnates past selves. Zohar's quantum self is a "fluid" self, not a static self. One more time, it is the wave aspect of nature that makes a self possible, regardless of the fact that the matter of the brain changes all the time. By the same token, a self is woven into the waves of other selves and therefore becomes part of a bigger entity. Zohar draws a number of conclusions from this picture of the "quantum self" that may serve psychiatrist and possibly provide more solid foundations for psychoanalysis. Her theoretical premises, though, rely mostly on "similarities" between concepts of Quantum Theory and concepts of folk psychology.

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