# Re-Thinking the World with Neutral Monism:Removing the Boundaries Between Mind, Matter, and Spacetime

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## Abstract

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## 1. Introduction

#### 1.1. The Project

...the subject has generated sustained interest among mathematicians, physicists, and others who aim to translate the results of previous investigations into formal-mathematical models. This interest has been fueled by the observation that many relevant questions, e.g., about the connection between fundamental physics and consciousness, are not amenable to less formal analysis.

It is somewhat depressing to think of an absolute limit on our science: to know there are things we can never know. ...Mathematical physics has yielded knowledge of so many of the properties of matter. However, the fact that we material objects have experiences should convince us that it cannot, alas, yield knowledge of them all. Unless a new Galileo appears, who offers us a way of getting at properties of matter that need not be mathematically expressible, we will never make any scientific progress on the hard problem of consciousness.

Once science sees the neural correlate of conscious experience face to face, what then? ...But we would still not understand at a conceptual level why this mechanism but not that one constitutes a particular experience. How can the mental be squeezed out of the physical? To paraphrase the New Testament and the philosopher Colin McGinn, how is the water of the brain turned into the wine of experience?

#### 1.2. Re-Thinking Fundamental Explanation

We can distinguish various kinds of theories in physics. Most of them are constructive. They attempt to build up a picture of the more complex phenomena out of the materials of a relatively simple formal scheme from which they start out ...

Along with this most important class of theories there exists a second, which I will call “principle-theories”. These employ the analytic, not the synthetic, method. The elements which form their basis and starting point are not hypothetically constructed but empirically discovered ones, general characteristics of natural processes, principles that give rise to mathematically formulated criteria which the separate processes or the theoretical representations of them have to satisfy ...

The advantages of the constructive theory are completeness, adaptability, and clearness, those of the principle theory are logical perfection and security of the foundations. The theory of relativity belongs to the latter class.

#### 1.3. Overview of the paper

- A principle explanation for the relationship between what we call conscious mind (subjectivity) and what we call physical phenomena (objectivity). This will include an explanation as to why there is an experience of a Dedekind cut between internal mental experience and the external physical world, where none exists absolutely. That is, we will attempt to show that, via principle explanation, there is no longer any mystery about the deepest ontological or formal relationships between conscious experience and physics, and thus no mystery of the experience of subjects in a world of space and time, i.e., no hard problem or explanatory gap.
- A sketch of a derivation (a principle explanation) of much of known physics from two axioms that constrain and range over the aforementioned neutral events that make up spacetime. These axioms are the formal backbone of our brand of neutral monism and they seamlessly unify subjectivity and objectivity. From these two axioms we will outline a new approach to quantum gravity. We think the quantum information theory community is on the right track in seeking a fundamental principle explanation for QM and indeed all of physics. While they have found many axiomatic bases for QM, they have not produced axioms for physics as a whole, e.g., quantum gravity.We understand that to many readers this project will seem insanely ambitious or just insane. Once you jettison the idea that physics such as quantum mechanics or relativity is fundamental, that property dualism is true and that the deepest explanations are always dynamical or causal-mechanical, all assumptions shared by strong emergence and panpsychism in some form, then there is room to truly re-think the relationship between mind, matter, and spacetime.

## 2. Neutral Monism

Radical empiricism was, nevertheless, psychological; that is to say, it placed immediate experience at the center of everything we have to say about the universe. Consciousness, therefore, knower-and-known, subject-and-object, person-and-world, formed the basis of all science and all knowledge-getting. Positivistic science had to conform as much to the dictates of such psychology, as psychology was trying to conform to such a science.

A given undivided portion of experience, taken in one context of associates, play[s] the part of the knower, or a state of mind, or ‘consciousness’; while in a different context the same undivided bit of experience plays the part of a thing known, of an objective ‘content.’ In a word, in one group it figures as a thought, in another group as a thing([20], p. 533).

The relation itself is a part of pure experience; one if its ’terms’ becomes the subject or bearer of the knowledge, the knower, the other becomes the object known([20], p. 534).

Things and thoughts are not at all fundamentally heterogeneous; they are made of one and the same stuff, stuff which cannot be defined as such but only experienced; and which one can call, if one, wishes, the stuff of experience in general([21], p. 110).

“Subjects” knowing, “things” known, are “roles” played. Not “ontological” facts([21], p. 110).

## 3. Neutral Monism and the Axioms of Physics

#### 3.1. Background

If neo-Kantianism has expelled earlier forms of dualism, we shall have expelled all forms if we are able to expel neo-Kantian in its turn. For the thinkers I call neo-Kantian, the word consciousness today does no more than signalize the fact that experience is indefeasibly dualistic in structure. It means that not subject, not object, but object-plus-subject is the minimum that can actually be. The subject-object distinction meanwhile is entirely different from that between mind and matter, from that between body and soul. Souls were detachable, had separate destinies; things could happen to them. To consciousness as such nothing can happen, for, time itself, it is only a witness of happenings in time, in which it plays no part.

If it be the self-same piece of pure experience, taken twice over, that serves now as thought and now as thing–so the objection runs–how comes it that its attributes should differ so fundamentally in the two takings. As thing, the experience is extended; as though, it occupies no space or place. As thing it is red, hard, heavy; but who ever heard of a red, hard or heavy thought? Yet even now you said that an experience is made of just what appears, and what appears is just such adjectives. How can the one experience in its thing-function be made of them, consist of them, carry them as its own attributes, while in its thought-function it disowns them and attributes them elsewhere. ...To begin with, are thought and thing as heterogenous as is commonly said? Their relations to time are identical. ...Sensations and apperceptive ideas fuse here so intimately that you can no more tell where one begins and the other ends.

The individualized self, which I believe to be the only thing properly called self, is a part of the content of the world experienced. The world experienced (otherwise called the “field of consciousness”) comes at all times with our body as its centre, centre of vision, centre of action, centre of interest. Where the body is is “here”, where the body acts is “now”; what the body touches is “this”; all other things are “there”, and “then” and “that”.

The desired conception of a completely impersonal world is only expressible as a geometrical structure. Thus relativity theory (taken as including something like Weyl’s extension of the class of conceivable observers) has completely overturned the older conception of an external world as substance or material.

#### 3.2. The Physics

- Axiom 1: Interacting “bodily objects” coextensive with space and time form the context of all self-consistent, shared perceptual information between POs and these perceptions constitute different reference frames in that spacetime model of the Physical (the “real external world”).
- Axiom 2: For all of physics, the perceptions of any particular PO do not provide a privileged perspective of the Physical. This is known as “no preferred reference frame” (NPRF).

#### 3.2.1. Quantum-Classical Contextuality

#### 3.2.2. Axiom 1 and Quantum Gauge Invariance

**K**is given by

**K**for the Klein–Gordon and Dirac equations [40].

**K**the “relations matrix” because the rows of

**K**sum to zero. For example, if we were describing the line of people [Alice, Bob, Charlie, David], we would say, “Alice is in front of Bob” and “Bob is behind Alice and in front of Charlie”. Assigning a numerical value of $+1$ to “in front of” and $-1$ to “behind”, we see that adding the statements describing the locations of all four people gives a result of zero. This “summing to zero” happens because we have a self-referential, relational description of all four people. Mathematically we write $\mathbf{K}\xb7{\left[1111\right]}^{T}=0$ and say that ${\left[1111\right]}^{T}$ is a non-null eigenvector of

**K**with eigenvalue zero and

**K**is said to possess a non-trivial null space. The complement to that non-trivial null space is called the “row space” of

**K**. That

**K**possesses a non-trivial null space is the graphical counterpart to gauge invariance and restricting the transition amplitude Z integral to the row space of

**K**is the graphical counterpart of Fadeev–Popov gauge fixing ([39], p. 168–170). Since the source $\overrightarrow{J}$ also appears in the integral for Z, we need it to reside entirely in the row space of

**K**which means $\overrightarrow{J}\xb7{\left[1111\right]}^{T}=0$, so that the components of $\overrightarrow{J}$ also sum to zero, i.e., $\overrightarrow{J}$ is said to be “divergence-free” which is necessary for conservation of whatever is being exchanged in the interaction. Thus, the adynamical global constraint for QM per Axiom 1 is that divergence-free $\overrightarrow{J}$ follows from relationally defined

**K**, which follows from the geometric tautology $\partial \partial =0$ encoding the construct of TTOs necessary for classical physics. As noted by Rovelli, “Gauge is ubiquitous. It is not unphysical redundancy of our mathematics. It reveals the relational structure of our world” ([26], p. 7). In addition to the action for the Schrödinger, Klein–Gordon, and Dirac equations, this relationally defined

**K**appears in the Maxwell and Einstein–Hilbert graphical actions and can be extended to the graphical action for the Standard Model of particle physics [41].

#### 3.2.3. Axiom 2 and Symmetries

There are not two worlds in one of which I am here and in the other I am three feet to the left, with everything else similarly shifted. Instead, there is just this world and two mathematical descriptions of it. The fact that those descriptions put the origin at different places does not indicate any difference between the worlds, as the origin in our mathematical description did not correspond to anything in the world anyway. The symmetries tell us what structure the world does not have.

#### 3.2.4. The Relational Blockworld Interpretation of QM

#### 3.2.5. The Hierarchy of Physics

#### 3.2.6. Quantum Gravity

## 4. The Axioms Reveal QM’s Completeness and Coherence

I hope to convince you that the conceptual problems and raging disagreements that have bedeviled quantum mechanics since its inception are unsolved and unsolvable, for the simple reason that the theory is wrong. It is highly successful, but incomplete.

#### 4.1. The Mysteries of Length Contraction and Time Dilation per Special Relativity

- Event 1: Joe meets Sara at ${X}_{1}={x}_{1}=0$, ${T}_{1}={t}_{1}=0$.
- Event 2: Bob meets Kim at ${X}_{2}=1250$ km, ${T}_{2}=-0.0025$ s, ${x}_{2}=1000$ km, ${t}_{2}=0$.
- Event 3: Bob meets Alice at ${X}_{3}=800$ km, ${T}_{3}=0$, ${x}_{3}=1000$ km, ${t}_{3}=0.002$ s.
- Event 4: Bob meets Sara at ${X}_{4}=0$, ${T}_{4}=0.00\overline{44}$ s, ${x}_{4}=1000$ km, ${t}_{4}=0.00\overline{55}$ s.

#### 4.2. The Mystery of Quantum Entanglement per the Bell Spin States

#### 4.2.1. The Mystery as Revealed by the Mermin Device

- When Alice and Bob’s settings are the same in a given trial (“case (a)”), their outcomes are always the same, $\frac{1}{2}$ of the time RR (Alice’s outcome is R and Bob’s outcome is R) and $\frac{1}{2}$ of the time GG (Alice’s outcome is G and Bob’s outcome is G).
- When Alice and Bob’s settings are different in a given trial (“case (b)”), the outcomes are the same $\frac{1}{4}$ of the time, $\frac{1}{8}$ RR, and $\frac{1}{8}$ GG.

Why do the detectors always flash the same colors when the switches are in the same positions? Since the two detectors are unconnected there is no way for one to “know” that the switch on the other is set in the same position as its own.

#### 4.2.2. The Correlation Functions and the Bell Spin States

#### 4.2.3. Axiom 2 and the Quantum Correlation Function

#### 4.2.4. Completing the Analogy with SR per Axiom 2

## 5. QM and Experience

A recurring theme in natural philosophy is the tension between the God’s-eye view of reality comprehended as a whole and the ant’s-eye view of human consciousness, which senses a succession of events in time. Since the days of Isaac Newton, the ant’s-eye view has dominated fundamental physics. We divide our description of the world into dynamical laws that, paradoxically, exist outside of time according to some, and initial conditions on which those laws act. The dynamical laws do not determine which initial conditions describe reality. That division has been enormously useful and successful pragmatically, but it leaves us far short of a full scientific account of the world as we know it. The account it gives—things are what they are because they were what they were—raises the question, Why were things that way and not any other? The God’s-eye view seems, in the light of relativity theory, to be far more natural. ...To me, ascending from the ant’s-eye view to the God’s-eye view of physical reality is the most profound challenge for fundamental physics in the next 100 years [italics ours].

[If] you only saw a violation of quantum theory when you had systems that might be regarded as conscious, humans or other animals, that would certainly be exciting. I can’t imagine a more striking experimental result in physics than that. We’d want to debate as to what that meant. It wouldn’t settle the question, but it would certainly have a strong bearing on the issue of free will.

## 6. Conclusions

- Mental/physical property dualism as found in both strong emergence and panpsychism.
- A Newtonian as opposed to relativistic conception of time as it pertains to “physical” and conscious “mental” processes.
- Ontological and methodological reductionism. The idea that physics is fundamental and that in principle, the smallest scale phenomena always explain the larger scale phenomena, but never the reverse. The foundationalism or hierarchy thesis wherein relations between the smallest scale physical entities and other larger scale physical entities are anti-symmetric, transitive, and anti-reflexive.
- The fundamentality of causal and dynamical explanation over principle-type explanation.

## Author Contributions

## Funding

## Conflicts of Interest

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**Figure 1.**

**Physics From Neutral Monism**. This is a summary of the paper. Note that what is being described is not a causal, dynamical, or temporal process but a number of adynamical global constraints that operate over spacetime understood per neutral monism. Thus “events” in Russell’s sense do not emerge in some dynamical, causal, or temporal sense from Neutral Pure Presence. Yet, the world of experience is grounded in and one with Neutral Pure Presence. The experience of temporal flow, as well as causal and dynamical processes, are strictly sensible only “within” spacetime with POs (the subject-object cut). The remaining adynamical global constraints ensure that POs experience a world of interacting trans-temporal objects, a world where one frame of reference or coordinate system can always be related to another with no inconsistency. One must always keep in mind that this is neutral monism wherein subjectivity and the objective world are fundamentally one—the difference is perspectival only. Spacetime (the world of experience) is not a noumenal physical arena or virtual construction of the mind, in which there are subjects or selves conceived dualistically, with qualia in their heads. The mind or self is not “in the head” or brain, it is extended in spacetime, part of the world of experience, and interacts directly with that world.

**Figure 2.**The boundary of a boundary is zero. The oriented plaquettes bound the cube and the directed edges bound the plaquettes. As you can see from the picture, every edge has oppositely oriented directions that cancel out. Thus, the boundaries of the plaguettes (the edges), which bound the cube, sum to zero.

**Figure 3.**A Stern–Gerlach (SG) spin measurement showing the two possible outcomes, up and down, represented numerically by $+1$ and $-1$, respectively. The important point to note here is that the classical analysis predicts all possible deflections, not just the two that are observed. This difference uniquely distinguishes the quantum joint distribution from the classical joint distribution for the Bell spin states [56].

**Figure 4.**Alice and Bob making spin measurements on a pair of spin-entangled particles with their Stern–Gerlach (SG) magnets and detectors in the $xz$-plane.

**Figure 5.**

**The Mermin Device**. Alice has her measuring device on the left set to 2 and Bob has his measuring device on the right set to 1. The particles have been emitted by the source in the middle and are in route to the measuring devices.

**Figure 7.**

**Average View for the Spin Singlet State**. Reading from left to right, as Bob rotates his SG magnets relative to Alice’s SG magnets for her $+1$ outcome, the average value of his outcome varies from $-1$ (totally down, arrow bottom) to 0 to +1 (totally up, arrow tip). This obtains per conservation of spin angular momentum on average in accord with no preferred reference frame. Bob can say exactly the same about Alice’s outcomes as she rotates her SG magnets relative to his SG magnets for his $+1$ outcome. That is, their outcomes can only satisfy conservation of spin angular momentum on average in different reference frames, because they only measure $\pm 1$, never a fractional result. Thus, just as with the light postulate of SR, we see that no preferred reference frame requires quantum outcomes $\pm 1\left(\frac{\hslash}{2}\right)$ for all measurements leading to constraint-based explanation.

**Figure 8.**

**Average View for the Spin Triplet States**. Reading from left to right, as Bob rotates his SG magnets relative to Alice’s SG magnets for her $+1$ outcome, the average value of his outcome varies from $+1$ (totally up, arrow tip) to 0 to $-1$ (totally down, arrow bottom). This obtains per conservation of spin angular momentum on average in accord with no preferred reference frame. Bob can say exactly the same about Alice’s outcomes as she rotates her SG magnets relative to his SG magnets for his $+1$ outcome. That is, their outcomes can only satisfy conservation of spin angular momentum on average in different reference frames, because they only measure $\pm 1$, never a fractional result. Thus, just as with the light postulate of SR, we see that no preferred reference frame requires quantum outcomes $\pm 1\left(\frac{\hslash}{2}\right)$ for all measurements leading to constraint-based explanation.

**Figure 9.**The spin angular momentum of Bob’s particle ${\overrightarrow{S}}_{B}={\overrightarrow{S}}_{A}$ projected along his measurement direction $\widehat{\beta}$. This picture violates Axiom 2 (NPRF) and does not produce the QM outcomes.

**Figure 10.**A spatiotemporal ensemble of 8 experimental trials for the spin triplet states showing Bob’s outcomes corresponding to Alice’s $+1$ outcomes when $\theta ={60}^{\circ}$. Spin angular momentum is not conserved in any given trial, because there are two different measurements being made, i.e., outcomes are in two different reference frames, but it is conserved on average for all 8 trials (six up outcomes and two down outcomes average to $cos{60}^{\circ}=\frac{1}{2}$). It is impossible for spin angular momentum to be conserved explicitly in each trial since the measurement outcomes are binary (quantum) with values of $+1$ (up) or $-1$ (down) per no preferred reference frame. The “SO(3) conservation” at work here does not assume Alice and Bob’s measured values of spin angular momentum are mere components of some hidden angular momentum (Figure 9). That is, the measured values of spin angular momentum are the angular momenta contributing to this “SO(3) conservation.”

**Figure 11.**

**Comparing special relativity with quantum mechanics according to no preferred reference frame (Axiom 2)**. Alice and Bob both measure the same speed of light c regardless of their relative motion per NPRF, therefore Alice(Bob) may claim that Bob’s(Alice’s) length and time measurements are erroneous and need to be corrected (length contraction and time dilation). Likewise, because Alice and Bob both measure the same values for spin angular momentum $\pm 1$$\left(\frac{\hslash}{2}\right)$ regardless of their relative SG magnet orientation per NPRF, Alice(Bob) may claim that Bob’s(Alice’s) individual $\pm 1$ values are erroneous and need to be corrected (averaged, Figure 7, Figure 8, Figure 9 and Figure 10). In both cases, NPRF resolves the mystery it creates. In SR, the apparently inconsistent results can be reconciled via the relativity of simultaneity. That is, Alice and Bob each partition spacetime per their own equivalence relations (per their own reference frames), so that equivalence classes are their own surfaces of simultaneity and these partitions are equally valid per NPRF. This is completely analogous to QM, where the apparently inconsistent results per the Bell spin states arising because of NPRF can be reconciled by NPRF via the “relativity of data partition”. That is, Alice and Bob each partition the data per their own equivalence relations (per their own reference frames), so that equivalence classes are their own $+1$ and $-1$ data events and these partitions are equally valid.

**Figure 13.**The interference pattern of Figure 12 can be destroyed by scattering photons and using those scattered photons to determine which slit the particle went through on each trial.

Case (a) Same Settings | Case (b) Different Settings | ||||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Alice | Alice | ||||||

R | G | R | G | ||||

Bob | R | 1/2 | 0 | Bob | R | 1/8 | 3/8 |

G | 0 | 1/2 | G | 3/8 | 1/8 |

**Table 2.**Summary of outcome probabilities for instruction sets. We are assuming the eight possible instruction sets are produced with equal frequency.

Case (a) Same Settings | Case (b) Different Settings | ||||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Alice | Alice | ||||||

R | G | R | G | ||||

Bob | R | 1/2 | 0 | Bob | R | 1/4 | 1/4 |

G | 0 | 1/2 | G | 1/4 | 1/4 |

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Silberstein, M.; Stuckey, W.
Re-Thinking the World with Neutral Monism:Removing the Boundaries Between Mind, Matter, and Spacetime. *Entropy* **2020**, *22*, 551.
https://doi.org/10.3390/e22050551

**AMA Style**

Silberstein M, Stuckey W.
Re-Thinking the World with Neutral Monism:Removing the Boundaries Between Mind, Matter, and Spacetime. *Entropy*. 2020; 22(5):551.
https://doi.org/10.3390/e22050551

**Chicago/Turabian Style**

Silberstein, Michael, and William Stuckey.
2020. "Re-Thinking the World with Neutral Monism:Removing the Boundaries Between Mind, Matter, and Spacetime" *Entropy* 22, no. 5: 551.
https://doi.org/10.3390/e22050551