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Grib, Andrej A. “Quantum Cosmology, the Role of the Observer, Quantum Logic."

The central argument in Andrej Grib’s paper is that temporal existence, i.e., movement through time, allows the human mind to obtain information about the universe governed by quantum physics. The universe is characterized by non-standard logic (non-Boolean logic), whereas we interpret the universe in terms of ordinary (Boolean) logic. Thus we must experience events successively as past, present and future in order to gain knowledge of the objective but incompatible (non-commuting) character of nature. Using this basic argument, Grib speculates about World Consciousness and suggests how quantum cosmology can provide plausibility arguments for Orthodox Christian theology.

Grib begins by describing several key interpretations of quantum physics. According to Niels Bohr, complementary quantum phenomena lack independent reality since the measurement apparatus and the quantum object form an indivisible whole. John Von Neumann interpreted the collapse of the wave packet during measurement as a process without a physical cause. Instead it is due to the consciousness of the observer, conceived as an abstract self. For Fritz London and Edmond Bauer the key feature of consciousness is introspection, not abstract ego, giving the problem a more objective character. Eugene Wigner developed this argument further by proposing that any living system could have the capacity to collapse the wave function.

The next step in Grib’s account was taken by John Bell whose famous theorem forces us to chose between idealism (in which quantum objects with non-commuting properties only exist when observed) and realism (in which quantum objects with non-commuting properties have a qualified existence independent of observation). Still the latter is far from ‘naive realism’ for, even admitting the qualified existence of quantum objects (objects characterized by non-Boolean logic), the existence of macroscopic objects in nature (objects characterized by Boolean logic) is the direct result of observation.

Grib now turns to the problem of quantum cosmology where, as a quantum theory, one faces the fundamental problem of measurement: who is the observer? Clearly to speak here about a “self-originating universe” and an “objectively contingent universe” is misleading, since the existence of the universe per se now requires an “external observer.” Grib proposes that we opt instead for the qualified existence afforded by quantum logic and apply this to cosmology. Thus, given that quantum logic involves conjunctions and disjunctions which do not satisfy the distributivity law, in order for our (Boolean) minds to grasp the (non-Boolean) quantum cosmos we must experience the world through temporal sequence. Each event in the sequence is a different Boolean substructure (which is accessible to us) of the overall non-Boolean universe (which is not accessible). Thus the temporality of the world arises out of our mental processes, which integrate our Boolean experiences with physical, non-Boolean, structures.

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