ETH ZURICH

 

Abstracts
 

  • Alain Connes
    "The nature of mathematical reality and its relation to physics"
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  • Jürg Fröhlich
    "Some high-lights in the scientific work of Wolfgang Pauli"


    I will attempt to present a short summary of some of the main scientific accomplishments of Wolfgang Pauli, comment on his style and on some of the puzzles, in particular concerning the meaning of quantum theory, he has left to our generation.
     
      
  • Domenico Giulini
    "Symmetries in Pauli's work"

    "Symmetry" was one of the most important methodological themes in 20th-century physics and is probably going to play no lesser role in physics of the 21st century. As used today, there is a variety of interpretations of this term, which differ in meaning as well as their mathematical consequences. Symmetries of crystals, for example, generally express a different kind of invariance than gauge symmetries, though in specific situations the distinctions may become quite subtle. I will review some of the various notions of "symmetry" and how they are represented in Pauli's writings on physics.
     
     
  • Joachim Klose
    "Process ontology from Whitehead to quantum physics"

    > read more (pdf 155 kb)
     
     
  • Karl von Meyenn
    "Wolfgang Pauli's Epistemological Conceptions Viewed from the Perspective of His Correspondence"

     
    Pauli grew up under the influence of Ernst Mach, but - like Einstein- he turned away from the radical positivism of most of his contemporaries quite early. Even though he was a rigorous and systematic thinker, he always devoted much attention to paradoxes and to the mystical background of his science. Pauli tried to reconciliate this attitude with both modern physics and Jung's archetypal psychology. While his publications just present the results of more or less longsome searches for insight, his methodical flow of work and the gradual emergence of understanding become visible only in his rich correspondence.

     

Concepts of mind-matter relationships
 

  • Thomas Filk
    "Complementarity and Bistable Perception"
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  • William Seager
    "Pauli and the Unity of Mind and Matter"


    Wolfgang Pauli’s remarks on the nature of mind and consciousness are fragmentary and elusive, but two themes seem clearly to emerge: the desire for some kind of unification of mind and matter, and the idea that in some way quantum physics points the way towards this unity. The unification desire (apart
    from a general allegiance to a diffuse materialism) really stands at odds with the views of most contemporary students of mind and brain. The ‘standard’ view is that mind is an emergent property of purely physical systems, whose physicality is adequately characterized in terms of the network interactions sanctioned by the so-called neuron doctrine. To be sure, the mechanisms of mental emergence – especially in the case of consciousness – remain obscure, but this can be seen as the program of work for a more advanced, but still normal, neuroscience. Pauli’s second theme also meets substantial resistance. The standard view, again, is that while quantum theory of course provides the ultimate basis for all the emergent properties of matter, the special peculiarities of quantum mechanics are, so to speak, screened off by the macroscopic nature of the neural structure which subvene the mental. Just as one can gain a pretty good understanding of the planetary mechanics of the Solar System without delving into quantum theory, so too, the neuroscientific understanding of mind will stem from the network properties of neural interaction (even though it is recognized in both astronomy and neuroscience that planets and neurons are ultimately quantum mechanical).
    The emergence-unity dichotomy is important, and it is worth exploring both sides of it. Emergence comes in a number of forms, more or less radical, and the ways that we could conceive the mental and physical as unified is similarly diverse. I want to focus on this latter issue by first clarifying the concepts of emergence that stand against unification, and then outline some of the options that yield a unified picture of mind and matter. Although it is difficult to determine with any certainty which way Pauli would have leaned, it is possible to find some telling hints in his writings. Finally, I will explore a certain tension that emerges from the combination of what I think would be the unification strategy most congenial to Pauli with his thought that quantum theory itself has something important to tell us about the mind-matter unification project. At bottom, this tension appears because the unification project is drawn both towards and away from a panpsychist understanding of how mind and matter could be unified. While the tension would be dissolved if we accepted that Pauli’s extension of the the complementarity principle to the mind-matter issue was intended merely as suggestive metaphor, I would suggest that Pauli took complementarity rather more seriously than that, and thus the implied tension is real and somewhat disturbing.
     
  • Max Velmans
    "Psychophysical Nature: A View from Psychology and Physics"

    The relation of consciousness to matter and in particular to the brain has been an enduring puzzle in both psychology and physics. Ironically, theories that posit a causal role for consciousness within physics (e.g. in some interpretations of quantum mechanics) tend to be dualist-interactionist, whereas psychological and philosophical theories of the mind/body relationship tend to favor reductionist forms of physicalism or functionalism. There are good reasons to argue that neither of these (opposed) approaches can be made to work. Dual-aspect monism appears to offer a viable alternative, and in this paper I discuss versions of this that have been developed in psychoogy (Velmans 1991, 2002), philosophy (Chalmers 1996), and in physics, in letters by Pauli, recently reported and elaborated by Atmanspacher and Primas (2006). I evaluate the similarities and divergences between these three approaches and argue that two of them offer the possibility of genuine progress and genuine convergence between psychology and physics.

    H. Atmanspacher and H. Primas (2006), Journal of Consciousness Studies 13(3), 5-50.
    D. Chalmers (1996),  The Conscious Mind, Oxford University Press.
    M. Velmans (1991), Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14(4), 651-669, 702-726.
    M. Velmans (2002), Journal of Consciousness  Studies 9(11), 3-29, 69-95.

 

Notions of time and process in physics and beyond
 

  • Joachim Klose
    "Process ontology from Whitehead to quantum physics"
     
    Despite the fact that Alfred North Whitehead likely had no knowledge of the new quantum theory of Heisenberg, Schrödinger and Dirac, there seem to be deep similarities between his ideas on process and the concepts of quantum theory. Both Whitehead´s metaphysics and quantum theory itself are related to observations. While the realities that quantum theory deals with are observations by scientists who use the theory, Whitehead´s speculative cosmology is an expansion and generalization of the theory of perception of the British empiricists.
     
    Through his characterization of the basic ideas of scientific development and their consequences for philosophy, Whitehead wants to unify different views of the nature of things and to overcome the dualistic tradition of Cartesianism in the modern age. Four leading ideas have determined the theoretical sciences in the 19th century: atomicity, continuity, energy conservation and evolution. According to Whitehead, the challenge to science was not aimed at introducing these concepts, but rather at fusing them together and expanding their application. Therefore, the cell theory and Pasteur's work were more revolutionary for him than the achievement of Dalton's nuclear theory, "for they introduced the notion of organism into the world of minute beings. . The doctrine of evolution has to do with the emergence of novel organisms as the outcome of chance."

    Up until now, neither individual experiences nor results from the natural sciences have given reason to believe in invariable subjects. On the contrary, the whole being of reality has been in a process of becoming and passing. "On the organic theory, the only endurances are structures of activity, and the structures are evolved." Although Whitehead´s speculative cosmology is based on the results of the theory of evolution, he tries to integrate every experience of reality. Putting the concept of actual occasion at the center of his philosophy of organism, he succeeds in resolving handed down contrasts within a common, unified ground. The world is made of 'actual occasions', each of which arises from potentialities created by prior actual occasions. Actual occasions are 'happenings', each of which comes into being and then perishes, only to be replaced by a successor. These experience-like 'happenings' are the basic realities of nature.
     
    Similarly, Heisenberg said that what is really happening in a quantum process is the emergence of an 'actual' from potentialities created by prior actualities. Within the orthodox Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory, the actual things to which the theory refers are increments in 'our knowledge'. These increments are experiential events. The particles of classical physics lose their fundamental status: They dissolve into diffuse clouds of possibilities. At each stage of the unfolding of nature, the complete cloud of possibilities acts like the potentiality for the occurrence of the next increment in knowledge, whose occurrence can radically change the cloud of possibilities/potentialities for still-later increments in knowledge.
     
    Whitehead´s philosophy of organism offers a starting point for achieving a detailed discussion of distinctions such as causality and teleology, inside and outside, consciousness and matter, object and subject. I would like to introduce his philosophy and compare its results with interpretations of quantum theory. To this end it would be edifying to examine Henry Stapp´s theory of consciousness, which is based on quantum theory. He argues that reality is created by consciousness, as consciousness causes the collapse of the wave function that in turn causes reality to 'occur'. Stapp claims that Whitehead´s metaphysics are incompatible with quantum theory by virtue of Bell´s theorem, thus needing modification. I will criticize this claim and show that it arises because Stapp does not correctly take into account Whitehead´s theory of prehension.
     
     

  • Hans Primas
    "Complementarity of mind and matter"
     
    In his Kepler article, Wolfgang Pauli made the follwing visionary remark: "It would be most satisfactory of all if physis and psyche could be seen as complementary aspects of the same reality." Neither in Pauli's published work nor in his letters there are more details. We are therefore confronted with the following four nontrivial questions: How can we characterize "physis"? How can we characterize "psyche"? What do we mean by "complementarity"? What do we mean by "aspects of the same reality"?

    Even the answer to the apparently easy question "what is matter?" has changed dramatically several times since 1644, when Descartes characterized matter as extended substance (res extensa). Here we adopt Pauli's view: "The answer is energy. This is the true substance, that which is conserved; only the form in which it appears is changing." According to Noether's theorem the conservation law of energy holds if and only if the corresponding equations of motion are invariant under time translations.

    As a consequence we define the material domain as the tenseless domain with its homogeneous physical time, and the mental domain as the tensed domain with a non-homogeneous mental time characterized by a privileged position, the Now. This regulative principle corresponds to Newton's separation into universal laws of nature and intentional initial conditions. If this non-Boolean description of reality is formalized in terms of locally Boolean but globally non-Boolean manifolds, mind and matter appear as complementary and holistically correlated aspects of the same transcendental reality.

 

 

Directed mutations and epigenetic inheritance in biological evolution
 

  • Richard Jorgensen
    "Evolutionary Diversification of the Epigenome and Paragenetic  Processes in Eukaryotes and Their Potential Role in Ontogenic Memory  and Directed Evolution"
     
    The origins of epigenetics lie in the conceptual and experimental  work of several early geneticists, including Morgan, Waddington,  Brink and McClintock. However, their important concepts and  discoveries were misunderstood and overlooked due to the appeal of  the simpler concepts of gene regulatory mechanisms proposed by Jacob  and Monod for prokaryotes. Once the much greater complexities of  eukaryotic gene regulation began to be understood in the 1980's,  there began a slow, gradual rebirth of epigenetic research in  eukaryotes. With the advent of genomics, detailed information on the  complete complement of chromatin proteins has become available in  diverse organisms. Analysis of chromatin reveals striking, non-random  diversification of these fundamental components of the epigenome  among plants, animals and fungi. I will discuss these differences in  terms of the diverse biology of these organisms, and speculate, with  emphasis on higher plants, on the potential contribution to  information processing, transmission, and memory during ontogeny, as  well as for the directed transmission of information across generations.

 

The nature of creative insight
 

  • Günter Knoblich
    "Cognitive and Neural Bases of Creative Insight"


    Why do solutions to difficult problems often occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and involuntarily? Countless anecdotes dating back to Archimedes suggest that important mathematical and scientific insights occurred out of the blue. Should we believe these subjective reports or do they reflect famous scientists' attempts to mystify their discoveries? Although creative insight is very hard to address in experiments, psychologists have tried for almost a century to get a grasp on this elusive phenomenon. I will give an overview of the main results obtained in this research. In a nutshell, the results suggest that unconscious perceptual and memory processes sometimes help us think or even lead to a breakthrough when our systematic attempts to solve a difficult problem fail. Some of these processes seem to occur preferably while we sleep. These results seem to be compatible with Wolfgang Pauli's view that the unconscious plays a major role in scientific discovery. However, most cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists would disagree with the notion that insights are somehow retrieved from a world of pre-existing ideas. Instead, they believe that unconscious processes can affect a problem solver's conception of a problem. This, in turn, opens up new paths that can lead to an unexpected solution. I am afraid that if Wolfgang Pauli was alive he wouldn't be happy with current research on creative insight.
     
     
     
  • Arthur I. Miller
    "When Pauli met Jung - and what happened next"
     
    At a key time in his scientific development, Pauli was undergoing analysis by C G Jung. What can we learn about Pauli's discovery of the exclusion principle from Jung's analysis of his dreams? How do Pauli's and Jung's views on the nature of scientific creativity square with current research on unconscious thought and its role in creative thinking? In my discussion I will include my own model of the role of unconscious thought in creativity - Network Thinking.
     
     
     
  • Rafael Nuñez
    Where does mathematics come from?
    Pauli, Jung, and contemporary cognitive science


    The brilliant physicist Wolfgang Pauli was seriously involved with investigations in natural philosophy. Many (often unpublished) manuscripts and an abundant correspondence with prominent scholars of his time reveal his thoughts on causality, consciousness, the relationship between physics and psyche, and the complementarity of mind and matter, among others. Pauli's philosophical investigation was highly influenced by the work of the Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, especially through the analyst's notions of "archetype" and "collective unconscious." In this talk I will address some of Pauli's views on the nature of mathematics as seen through his analysis of Kepler's scientific theories and in his rich correspondence with Jung between 1932 and 1958. Inspired by Jung's archetypes, some of Pauli's ideas appear to be idealistic (platonistic) to a degree that is not compatible with contemporary findings in the cognitive science of human imagination and abstraction, while others, which criticize the extreme use of formalisms that ignore meaningful psychological contents, appear to be in line with the contemporary scientific investigation of human concepts and their neural realization in the brain. Mathematics indeed provides a very intriguing case for studying these questions, since, on the one hand it deals with purely imaginary entities (e.g., a Euclidean point has only location, but no extension(!), and, as such, it cannot be found anywhere in the entire universe!), and on the other hand, mathematics provides extremely stable patterns of true-valued inferences (i.e., theorems) that once proved, stayed proved forever (e.g., the Pythagorean theorem). In approaching the question of the nature of mathematics (and of the mind) scholars of the time of Pauli and Jung still heavily relied on the method of introspection (i.e., after-the fact conscious self-reflection on one's own thought, intuition, perception, dreams, memory, and so on). Today we know that the method of introspection not only is highly unreliable but also it is extremely limited in scope (e.g., it cannot provide access to underlying brain function or highly unconscious spontaneous motor activity such as visual saccades and speech-gesture coordination). I will analyze these issues by looking at contemporary work in the cognitive science of mathematics and the embodied cognition of human everyday abstraction. I will defend the argument that bodily-grounded human cognitive mechanisms underlying everyday abstraction (e.g., conceptual metaphors, metonymies, blends, fictive motion, and so on) play a crucial role in making mathematics possible. I will illustrate my arguments with examples drawn from the empirical investigation of human abstract conceptual systems involving continuity in calculus, axiomatic systems, and the neural basis of everyday spatial construals of time as seen through studies of metaphorical meaning via functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) in the brain.

Telegramme sent on June 14 1954 from physicists Fred Reines and Clyde Cowan to Wolfgang Pauli announcing the detection, for the first time, of neutrinos. They were awarded the Physics Nobel Prize in 1995 for this discovery.

© Pauli Archive, CERN, Geneva

 
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