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Open AccessArticle

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

1
Department of Philosophy, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA 17022, USA
2
Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
3
Department of Physics, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA 17022, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Entropy 2020, 22(5), 551; https://doi.org/10.3390/e22050551
Received: 29 February 2020 / Revised: 11 May 2020 / Accepted: 12 May 2020 / Published: 14 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Models of Consciousness)
Herein we are not interested in merely using dynamical systems theory, graph theory, information theory, etc., to model the relationship between brain dynamics and networks, and various states and degrees of conscious processes. We are interested in the question of how phenomenal conscious experience and fundamental physics are most deeply related. Any attempt to mathematically and formally model conscious experience and its relationship to physics must begin with some metaphysical assumption in mind about the nature of conscious experience, the nature of matter and the nature of the relationship between them. These days the most prominent metaphysical fixed points are strong emergence or some variant of panpsychism. In this paper we will detail another distinct metaphysical starting point known as neutral monism. In particular, we will focus on a variant of the neutral monism of William James and Bertrand Russell. Rather than starting with physics as fundamental, as both strong emergence and panpsychism do in their own way, our goal is to suggest how one might derive fundamental physics from neutral monism. Thus, starting with two axioms grounded in our characterization of neutral monism, we will sketch out a derivation of and explanation for some key features of relativity and quantum mechanics that suggest a unity between those two theories that is generally unappreciated. Our mode of explanation throughout will be of the principle as opposed to constructive variety in something like Einstein’s sense of those terms. We will argue throughout that a bias towards property dualism and a bias toward reductive dynamical and constructive explanation lead to the hard problem and the explanatory gap in consciousness studies, and lead to serious unresolved problems in fundamental physics, such as the measurement problem and the mystery of entanglement in quantum mechanics and lack of progress in producing an empirically well-grounded theory of quantum gravity. We hope to show that given our take on neutral monism and all that follows from it, the aforementioned problems can be satisfactorily resolved leaving us with a far more intuitive and commonsense model of the relationship between conscious experience and physics. View Full-Text
Keywords: neutral monism; panpsychism; strong emergence; hard problem; explanatory gap; delayed choice quantum eraser; quantum entanglement; conscious observer; no preferred reference frame; constructive explanation; principle explanation neutral monism; panpsychism; strong emergence; hard problem; explanatory gap; delayed choice quantum eraser; quantum entanglement; conscious observer; no preferred reference frame; constructive explanation; principle explanation
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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.

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