Research Article: Physics Must Evolve Beyond the Physical

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This article recognizes Henry Stapp’s contribution to physics. Henry Stapp is a Spirit of Rustom Roy Award Recipient (2012)

Abstract: Contemporary physics finds itself pondering questions about mind and consciousness, an uncomfortable area for theorists. But historically, key figures at the founding of quantum theory assumed that reality was composed of two parts, mind and matter, which interacted with each other according to some new laws that they specified. This departure from the prior (classical-physicalist) assumption that mind was a mere side effect of brain activity was such a startling proposal that it basically split physics in two, with one camp insisting that mind will ultimately be explained via physical processes in the brain and the other camp embracing mind as innate in creation and the key to understanding reality in its completeness. Henry Stapp made important contributions toward a coherent explanation by advocating John von Neumann’s orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics. von Neumann postulated that at its basis, quantum mechanics requires both a psychological and physical component. He was left, however, with a dualist view in which the psychological and physical aspects of QM remained unresolved. In this article, the relevant issues are laid out with the aim of finding a nondual explanation that allows mind and matter to exist as features of the same universal consciousness, in the hope that the critical insights of Planck, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, von Neumann, and Stapp will be recognized and valued, with the aim of an expanded physics that goes beyond physicalist dogma.