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2008 - Volume 29, Number 3, Summer

The Nature and Purpose of Belief
Jonathan Leicester, The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

This paper reviews intellectualistic, dispositional, and feeling or occurrent theories of belief. The feeling theory is favored. The purpose of belief is to guide action, not to indicate truth. Decisions about actions often have to be made quickly in the absence of evidence. Belief gives speed and economy to inquiry and counterfactual thinking. The feeling theory explains this role of belief and suggests mechanisms for overconfidence of correctness, confirmation bias, wishful believing, vacillating belief, the difficulty with multifactorial reasoning, the inability to withhold judgment, the delusions of mental illness, and the relations between belief, opinion, and knowledge. The intellectualistic theory of belief fails because it gives undue weight to evidence as the most salient or available factor concerned with belief, which leads to the mistaken conclusion that the purpose of belief is to indicate truth.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Jonathan Leicester, 62 Rickard Street, Five Dock 2046, NSW, Australia. Email: jonleicester@westnet.com.au

Neurophysics of the Flow of Time
Ronald Gruber, Stanford University

Three physical theories explaining the flow of time are examined. One theory suggests that “flow” is associated with the manner of information transfer between registers (modules) within the brain. Different robotic systems are predicted to experience different types of flow. Here, human examples (savants and amnesics) are found to support the theory and the model is modified suggesting that flow is a cognitive illusion. A second theory suggests that time is non-existent, that the universe is a complex quantum state which, upon observation, the brain acquires “stills” and converts them to an illusion of motion and flow. Accordingly the brain should be able to generate a physiological illusion of temporality (the experiential phenomenon of before/after) from stills. Experimental evidence is given that the temporality illusion so generated is not physiological; it is cognitive, lending no support to that theory. A third theory suggesting that the flow of time is really a myth is briefly reviewed.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Ronald Gruber, M.D., 3318 Elm Street, Oakland, California 94609. Email: rgrubermd@hotmail.com

Characteristics of Consciousness in Collapse-Type Quantum Mind Theories
Imants Barušs, King’s University College at The University of Western Ontario

The purpose of this paper is to look at some of the apparent characteristics of consciousness in theories in which consciousness is said to play a role in the collapse of the state vector. In particular, these reflections are based primarily on the work of three theorists: Amit Goswami, Henry Stapp, and Evan Harris Walker. Upon looking at such theories, three characteristics of consciousness become apparent. The first is a volitional aspect of the mind that needs to be distinguished from awareness or observation. The second is the stratification of consciousness such that the experiential stream that goes on privately for a given person can be distinguished from a universal deep consciousness, akin to David Bohm’s implicate order, that might underlie ordinary consciousness. Having done so, a question arises regarding the manner in which deliberately intentional acts that occur within one’s experiential stream can apparently have their intended effects. An indirect mechanism consistent with the M5 model of Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne is proposed. Third, in transferring the notion of the collapse of the state vector from the context of observation in experimental physics to manifestation of everyday life, the temporal discontinuity of collapses implies that the experiential stream of ordinary waking consciousness is also discontinuous. Furthermore, in some collapse-type quantum mind theories, the subject–object distinction is thought to emerge with the collapse, so that the physical universe itself, including its spatial features, could be arising from a pre-physical substrate at the rate of once per Planck time. This idea can be modelled using Jack Ng’s notion of a spacetime lattice with Planck time timelike separations and Planck length spacelike separations. Furthermore, such modelling can be partially cast in category-theoretic form by adapting a previous application of Grothendieck topoi to Edmund Husserl’s conceptualization of conscious mental acts. Thus, a volitional aspect of mind, the stratification of consciousness, and discontinuity of the ordinary waking state are some of the characteristics of consciousness implicit in some collapse-type quantum mind theories.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Imants Barušs, King’s University College, Department of Psychology, 266 Epworth Avenue, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 2M3. Email: baruss@uwo.ca

Why Private Events Are Associative: Automatic Chaining and Associationism

That every response is also a stimulus has important implications for how we characterize the private experiences of both people and non-human animals. Acting as stimuli, responses, whether covert or overt, change the probability of subsequent responses. Hence, all behavior, covert and overt, is necessarily associative in some sense, and thinking may be characterized as “covert autochaining.” According to this view, animals capable of responding to temporally remote stimuli and to characteristics of their own bodies necessarily engage in some form of associative thinking. This characterization of thinking necessarily presumes that private behavioral events adhere to at least some processes that occur in — and have been extensively studied in — overt behavior. To assume otherwise, as do Daniel Dennett, Robert Nozick, and others, is to be unnecessarily pessimistic both about the robustness of evolutionary processes and about our ability to explain complex human phenomena in rigorous empirical terms.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert Epstein, Ph.D., 1035 East Vista Way, Vista, California 92084. Email: repstein@post.harvard.edu

Proper Names and Local Information
Osamu Kiritani, Kyushu University

Evolutionary theory has recently been applied to language. The aim of this paper is to contribute to such an evolutionary approach to language. I argue that Kripke’s causal account of proper names, from an ecological point of view, captures the information carried by uses of a proper name, which is that a certain object is referred to. My argument appeals to Millikan’s concept of local information, which captures information about the environment useful for an organism.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Osamu Kiritani, Ph.D., User Science Institute, Kyushu University, 4-9-1 Shiobaru, Minami-ku, Fukuoka 815–8540, Japan. Email: okiritan@nifty.com

Book Review

Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness
Book Authors: Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, 211 pages, $29.95 hardcover.
Reviewed by Judith L. Glick-Smith, California Institute of Integral Studies.

Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner are self-described “conventional, even practical” (p.11) physics professors at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Together they have written Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness, a book which explores the physics taboos of consciousness and entanglement. The book’s first sentence is, “This is a controversial book” (p.3). The authors quickly point out that while quantum theory has never been wrong in its predictions, there is a “corner” in the theory that is hard to accept: that we actually create our physical reality when we observe it. This is what physicists call the “measurement problem” (p.10). Physicists have kept this “skeleton in the closet … because it is a bit embarrassing” and addressing it is tantamount to admitting that consciousness is intricately tied to the existence of our reality (p. 85). Rosenblum and Kuttner write, “Quantum theory is at the base of every natural science … [it is] about the here and now and even encounters the essence of our humanity, our consciousness” (pp.11-12). Most scientists want to steer clear of the quantum enigma because it begins to sound mystical, rather than scientific.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Judith Glick-Smith, 2915 Brookwater Drive, Cumming, Georgia 30041. Email: judy@mentorfactorinc.com


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