Thematic range

Concepts of mind matter relationships

The psychophysical problem, of essential significance for Pauli, has generated rapidly increasing interest together with the renaissance of consciousness research in the 1990s. The widely distributed Journal of Consciousness Studies, founded in 1994, gives a good impression of this trend. The idea of a psychophysically neutral monism with mind and matter as dual aspects, which Pauli favored, represents a seriously discussed alternative to reductionist or materialist accounts in current discussions in the philosophy of mind and psychology. For instance, Jung’s concepts of archetypes and synchronicity, taken quite seriously by Pauli, can be embedded fairly straightforwardly in dual-aspect approaches.

Notions of time and process

Related problems such as panpsychism and the relationship between physical and psychological time are key topics in approaches motivated by process philosophy. In recent years, process-based ontologies have been explored for quantum theory. This includes dual-aspect approaches for decoherence phenomena and the idea of a temporal kind of entanglement between mental and physical states.

Directed mutations and epigenetic inheritance in biological evolution

After more than a century of neo-Darwinian positions in evolutionary biology, often criticized by Pauli, there is now much evidence that genetic inheritance operates with both random and directed mutations. Results from the last 10 to 15 years confirm this visionary conjecture by Pauli and led to comprehensive research programs in many countries. Moreover, there are novel observations concerning epigenetic, behaviorrelated and cultural forms of inheritance, which are insufficiently taken into account in many contemporary debates (e.g. bio-ethics).

The nature of creative insight

The question of the origin of scientific insight occupied Pauli’s thinking over and over again. His idealistic position, inspired by Jung’s archetypes, was that ideas exist primordially in a way that is independent of conscious contents. Mathematicians often describe the moment of insight into the solution of a problem as making contact with this world of ideas, as is documented in historical material concerning scientific creativity. In cognitive neuroscience, insight processes are a timely topic of research, but are usually conceived anti-platonistically. For instance, the Creativity Research Journal publishes results in this area since 1988.

Wolfgang Pauli at the summer school for theoretical physics in Les Houches, Summer 1952

© Pauli Archive, CERN, Geneva

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