|ZiF INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH WORKSHOP|
|Endophysics, Time, Quantum and the Subjective|
|January 17-22, 2005 / Bielefeld / Germany|
SkyEurope Airlines (Slovakia)
|OBJECTIVE||PROGRAMME||INVITED SPEAKERS||OTHER PARTICIPANTS|
|TRAVEL INFO||VENUE & VICINITY||TALKS' ABSTRACTS||ZiF|
Modern physical theories are based on reductionist and exo-physical points of view. The reductionist point of view lies in the assumption that a few simple fundamental laws, valid always and everywhere in the universe, are able to account for all the observed and predictable phenomena. The exo-physical point of view is implicit in the assumption that each human being is able to achieve a complete description of the external world independently of the other human beings and irrespectively of their interaction with the world itself. Classical physics assumes, in addition, the existence of an independent reality, the properties of which are directly measurable. These paradigms led, on the one hand, to the remarkable progress in sciences and technology, apparent from an amazingly high level of control of natural phenomena. Yet, on the other hand, they gave rise to an ever-increasing discrepancy between our immediate experience of the reality and the physical formalism.
One of the most striking and pronounced facets of this duality concerns the nature of time. Time, as we perceive it, exhibits a non-trivial internal structure, consisting of past (events that have happened) and future (events that will happen), the two domains being separated from each other by a unique moment of the present, the event that is happening at that moment. This time seems to "flow," to proceed at a steady pace from the past into the future - thus apparently manifesting an arrow pointing in one direction. Physics, however, tells us a completely different story. For not only are its fundamental equations time reversible, i.e. they do not distinguish between past and future, but the very concept of the present, the "now," has no proper place in physical law. A host of fundamental questions naturally emerge: Why does there exist such a puzzling discrepancy between the two aspects of time? What does that imply? Can the two concepts be ever reconciled?...
Another illustration of the point where the exo-physical paradigms seem to be seriously at odds with the nature of scientific inquiry is furnished by quantum mechanics, whose interpretation has been an unceasing subject of serious debates for a long time, triggered by the famous paradoxes of Einstein, Schroedinger and others. Here, the crucial role of the subject/observer manifests itself at (at least) three fundamental levels: 1) The properties of a phenomenon depend on the modality of its observation; i.e., the nature of the observed object is either entirely wave-like or entirely particle-like, depending on the experimental setting; 2) The prediction of an outcome can only be made in probabilistic terms, and 3) The description of a phenomenon can only be made after the process of measurement (the so-called "collapse" of wave function).
The third issue, where the exo- vs. endo- controversy is perhaps most pronounced, is the concept of subjectivity and what can be considered as its three fundamental dimensions, viz. intentionality, self-awareness and inter-subjectivity. Here the most pressing questions are: Can subjectivity and consciousness be naturalized, i.e., explained on the basis of those paradigms and models that natural sciences, physics in particular, currently use and accept? Is it ultimately possible to account adequately for the puzzling discrepancy between the first-person perspective and the third-person observable behaviour? What is the role of "anomalous/peculiar" experiences (i.e., psychopathology) in our understanding of Nature?
It has been suspected by a few but very prominent authors (e.g., Wigner, Eccles, Penrose and Davies) that the above three riddles are intimately connected. Time is the most basic element of any process. Hence, if it is still poorly understood, the difficulties in understanding the problem of measurement and "collapse" in quantum mechanics, as well as the age-old hiatus between brain mechanisms and conscious experience, may gain a new light when sudied in this triple context.
In our opinion, the current stalemate situation in physics is just a result of the utter negligence of the role the endo-physical, first-person perspective should play in the development of physics. We believe that this role is a decisive one in order to get deeper insights into the nature of time, quantum theory and the scientific appropriation of the subjective alike. The workshop is designed to provide, for the first time in many years, an in-depth interdisciplinary dialogue and debate along these closely interconnected issues.
Uploaded on July 2, 2004; last modified on December 23, 2004.
Back to Index Page