Newton, Einstein, Wigner, Wheeler, Bohm and Beyond

by Jack Sarfatti


First Draft

I have explained my back-action principle for the post-quantum generation of experiential qualities in terms of Einstein's principle of relativity that there are no “absolute ethers” on any level of physical reality.

By “levels” I mean, essentially, David Bohm's notion of the “explicate order” for classical physics, the “(first) implicate order” for quantum physics, and the “super-implicate order” beyond the first implicate order.

I have also related Einstein's principle to Wigner's action-reaction principle. What do I actually mean by this? Wigner (1) wrote the following definition of what I call “post-quantum back-action” = “Wigner self-reaction of matter on mind”

“The physico-chemical conditions and properties of the substrate not only create the consciousness, they also influence its sensations most profoundly.” - Wigner

What Wigner did not know when he wrote those lines about 1960 is that, in terms of Bohm's theory, with the mind in the implicate order, there is no quantum non-mechanism for the substrate to create the consciousness without violating the normal statistical predictions of orthodox quantum theory. Wigner then completes the “loop” by adding what I call the “Wigner action of mind on matter”. “Does, conversely, the consciousness influence the physico-chemical conditions?” - Wigner

So here we have the basic “Wigner action - reaction principle”. What is its relation, if any beyond superficial metaphor, to Newton's third law of mechanics of equal and opposite reaction to an action?

Wigner also did not know that later on Bohm would come up with a natural quantum non-mechanical organic way for the consciousness to influence the physico-chemical conditions as the gradient flow of those conditions on the quantum information landscape in the configuration space of those physico-chemical conditions that form the material “system point” or “Level 1 “beable”.

Note on “configuration space” in Bohm's theory (2) , Dewdney and Squires wrote:

“The dependence of the motion of the individual components of a composite quantum system on the evolution of the configuration space wavefunction is the ground of the essential unity of all quantum phenomena.”

This is the “essential unity” of the “binding problem” in the mind-matter mystery, i.e., the essential unity in the “occasions of experience” (3). Dewdney and Squires continue:

“Although Bohm's interpretation of quantum mechanics allows for the analysis of a composite quantum system in terms of well-defined and deterministic individual motions of its constituent parts in the usual three-dimensional space, the true arena in which the system's motion is determined (and hence the arena for understanding the system's motion and the interrelations of its parts) is configuration space. This is the essential feature of quantum mechanics which transcends the paradigm of classical physical description and expresses the essential unity of quantum phenomena in the undivided universe.”

(3) From: C. Dewdney and E.J. Squires, “How late measurements of quantum trajectories can fool a detector.” Physics Letters A 184 (1993) 6-11, e-mail from M. Creon Levit, NASA Ames Research Center,

Wigner continues:

“The traditional answer to this question is, “No”: the body influences the mind but the mind does not influence the body.” - Wigner

So here, we have the “one-way” property of Aristotle's “unmoved mover” characteristic of Einstein's notion of the “absolute ether” that violates his principle of relativity. Thus, Einstein wrote (4):

“If Newton called the space of physics 'absolute', he was thinking of yet another property of that which we call 'ether'. Each physical object influences and in general is influenced in turn by others. The latter, however is not true of the ether of Newtonian mechanics. The inertia-producing property of this ether, in accordance with classical mechanics, is precisely not to be influenced, either by the configuration of matter, or by anything else. For this reason, one may call it 'absolute'.” - Einstein

So here Einstein defines “absolute” as the one-way influence i.e., as an action without a reaction (AKA “back-action”). Einstein continues that his theory of gravitation is a “back-action” theory in exactly the sense that I mean it for explaining experiential qualities in the mind. That is, post-quantum theory “removes a defect” of quantum theory found by David Bohm. This “defect” is that the quantum information field guiding the motion of matter in its higher dimensional non-metrical configuration space beyond ordinary metrical space is another “absolute ether”. It is this “defect” that is the deep cause of uncontrollable random quantum chance in actual individual events. Therefore, I argue that this quantum randomness is not fundamental, but is an approximation to a deeper self-organizing spontaneously-sentient intelligent order. In accord with Einstein's Vision, God does not play dice with the universe. The Lord is subtle, but not malicious.

“The general theory of relativity removes a defect of classical dynamics: in the latter, inertia and weight appear as totally different manifestations, quite independent of each other, in spite of the fact that they are determined by the same body-constant, i.e. the mass.” - Einstein

Einstein then discusses how his “equivalence principle” between inertia and mass for an electrically neutral test particle in “free-float” geodesic motion does this and how the inhomogeneous distribution of mass-energy stress causes a variable curving away from the flat space-time of special relativity. Einstein continues:

“The ether of the general theory of relativity therefore differs from that of classical mechanics or the special theory of relativity respectively, in so far as it is not 'absolute', but is determined in its locally variable properties by ponderable matter.” - Einstein

Eugene Wigner clearly saw the need for a post-quantum theory of consciousness. Thus, in dramatic contrast to our direct introspection, from the “common sense” absurdity of coherent quantum superpositions in our ordinary experiences of the outer classical world, Wigner wrote:

“the being with a consciousness must have a different role in quantum mechanics than the inanimate measuring device.” - Wigner

Wigner, in his analysis of his “friend”, then argues that orthodox quantum theory requires that our experiential qualities are somehow bogus, or “tricks of the mind”. That is quantum theory requires us to renounce our experiences at face value as some kind of illusion, some kind of passive epiphenomenon, or to adopt solipsism. However,

“All this is ? logically consistent so long as I maintain my privileged position as ultimate observer. ? to deny the existence of the consciousness of a friend to this extent is surely an unnatural attitude, approaching solipsism, and few people, in their hearts will go along with it.” - Wigner

Wigner thinks that orthodox quantum theory's “weakness” is in not having a clear way for thought to influence matter. Wigner accepts that matter influences consciousness although he never shows how quantum theory explains that. In fact, the reality is reversed from the way Wigner understood it when we look at this problem in Bohm's ontology where matter is in the explicate order and mind is in the implicate orders beyond space-time. It is easy, within orthodox quantum theory to see how the implicate influences the explicate, i.e. how mind influences matter. However, this influence is “one-way”. Thus, Bohm and Hiley (2) show that the quantum field is an absolute ether in Einstein's sense:

“unlike what happens with Maxwell's equations ? the Schrodinger equation for the quantum field does not have sources, nor does it have any other way by which the field could be directly affected by the conditions of the particles. This of course constitutes an important difference between quantum fields and other fields? the quantum theory can be understood completely in terms of the assumption that the quantum field has no sources, or other forms of dependence on the particles.” (p. 30)

This one-way absolute ether of quantum information means that there is no two-way spontaneous self-organization possible between the implicate and the explicate orders. One consequence of this lack of sources in the quantum field is the inability to use nonlocal quantum connections as a faster-than-light communication channel.

“any attempt to send a signal by influencing one of a pair of particles under EPR (Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen) correlation will encounter the difficulties ? If for example we tried to 'modulate' the overall wavefunction so that it could carry a signal in a way similar to what is done by a radio wave, we would find that the whole pattern of this wave would be so fragile that its order could change radically in a chaotic and complex way. As a result no signal could be carried.” p. 284

How do we modulate an electromagnetic field to send a signal? Clearly, we do it by controlling the electrons that are sources of the field. Well we cannot do that ordinarily in inanimate quantum matter with quantum waves in configuration space. When it does happen in animate post-quantum matter, the fifth phase of matter, it generates experiential qualities.

The key to using nonlocal quantum connections for faster-than-light (FTL) and backwards-in-time (BIT) communication is to replace the one-way action of the absolute ether of the quantum information field on its attached matter with a two-way action/reaction feedback-control loop. The quantum information field in configuration space then becomes controllable just like the Maxwell electromagnetic field in ordinary space. This is the beginning of post-quantum theory and the end of quantum theory.

So the key is action/reaction. Let's see what John Archibald Wheeler thinks of that (5).

“One of the pillars of physics is Newton's third law. A common way to state it is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Another way to say it is that forces come in balanced pairs. ? In its modern, general form, Newton's third law applies to all interactions of one thing to another. It tells us that anything that affects something else must, in turn, be affected by that something else. Paul Hewitt ? has expressed the idea in engaging human terms: 'You can't touch without being touched'.” p.p.234-5

Here you have the basic principle of “back-action” of the post-quantum theory, which is really Einstein's principle of relativity somewhat disguised, i.e. ” anything that affects something else must, in turn, be affected by that something else“.

All that remains to be done is to recognize that in Bohm's ontology there is an explicate order and a whole sequence of implicate orders. Newton and Einstein were only working in the explicate order, but their principle is universal and applies also to the implicate orders of quantum information and beyond. What you do not get from Henry Stapp's “pragmatism” based on Bohr's Copenhagen Interpretation is that the field of quantum information is a bona-fide physical object in its own right. This is quite divorced from statistical consequences based on “ensembles”. It applies to unique complex objects like living mind-brain systems that span both the implicate and the explicate orders. Returning to Wigner

“The second argument to support the existence of an influence of consciousness on the physical world is based on the observation that we do not know of any phenomenon in which one subject is influenced by another without exerting an influence thereupon.”

So here, you have this common theme of “action/reaction” running through the history of physics from Newton, Einstein, Wigner, Wheeler, Bohm right to my back-action principle of post-quantum theory for the generation of experiential qualities. To say that post-quantum theory has no connection with the rest of physics is absurd.

By the way local gauge invariance is also a back-action theory because the compensating changes allowing arbitrary phases at each local point that generate the force fields are back-actions on geometry just like gravity is a back-action on geometry. So this is the post-quantum theory of everything including consciousness.

  • Remarks on the mind-body question, Eugene Wigner in “Quantum Theory and Measurement”, ed. Wheeler and Zurek (Princeton).
  • David Bohm and Basil Hiley, The Undivided Universe. See also vigier/slides/vigier.htm
  • Henry Stapp, Matter, Mind and Quantum Mechanics
  • Albert Einstein “On the Ether” (1924) in “The Philosophy of Vacuum” ed. Saunders and Brown, (Oxford)
  • John Archibald Wheeler (with Ken Ford), “Geons, Black Holes & Quantum Foam

Category Physics

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