DOI: 10.14704/nq.2008.6.3.177

Consciousness, Situations, and the Measurement Problem of Quantum Mechanics

Michel Bitbol


There are two versions of the putative connection between consciousness and the measurement problem of quantum mechanics: consciousness as the cause of state vector reduction, and state vector reduction as the physical basis of consciousness. In this article, these controversial ideas are neither accepted uncritically, nor rejected from the outset in the name of some prejudice about objective knowledge. Instead, their origin is sought in our most cherished (but disputable) beliefs about the place of mind and consciousness in the world. It is first pointed out that these common beliefs about mind and consciousness arise from reification of situated first-person experience. Then, situatedness is shown to be a constitutive part of any exhaustive treatment of quantum measurements. It turns out that the alleged connection between consciousness and the measurement problem is a symptom of (i) the ineliminability of our being situated from the end-product of science, and (ii) our difficulty to express correctly this being situated.


Quantum mechanics; consciousness; situatedness; phenomenology; naturalization, transcendental epistemology, measurement problem, objectivity, wave-packet collapse

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