McGilchrist – Stapp – Whitehead

Just a holding post to capture a three-way link.

Mentioned a couple of posts ago, I was reading some 1900 / 1920 / 1930’s stuff in scientific knowledge – Schlick, Eddington and Haeckel – in which I also mentioned I had picked-up my half-remembered (2011) Henry Stapp.

I suspect I will not complete the early-1900’s Schlick, Eddington and Haeckel but they’re welcome to live in my library of half-read books until some new need arises. 21stC Stapp on the other hand has me hooked.

All these recent reads are arising from the McGilchrist “The Matter With Things” connection, either references of his or those of his readers now engaged in multiple conversations. Although I spotted very quickly the Stapp references to Whitehead (and have since read through them) I had forgotten that the reason Stapp rang a bell as I passed it on the library shelf was precisely because he is a McGilchrist reference.

Stapp “Mindful Universe” is quite recent (2011) more recent than McGilchrist’s original “Master and Emissary” (2009). But Stapp (with his Nobel prize-winning colleague Brian Josephson) was on my radar even earlier, around 2002, with …

“…  the idea from eastern philosophy that in certain states of consciousness the subjective states of mind closely reflect objective reality … and … the parallel between quantum and biological views is not that the former underlies the latter on a human scale, but that both are in fact manifestations of some other underlying physics.”

The Aha! moment that led to (a) my reading Robert Pirsig “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance“, and (b) the credible physicists idea that consciousness might be at least as fundamental as physics. There’s more to life than physical science … and the rest is history as they say.

I’ve now half-read Stapp’s Mindful Universe again, and will complete it this time. I see now the probable reason I quit Stapp originally and forgot what I had read is that early on he has some negative opinion about Dennett based on a pet-hate meme of mine – his early 1991/1994 work only. I have evolved continuously with Dennett (and Hofstadter). Anyway, hurdle overcome. Onward and upward.

McGilchrist and Stapp both positively reference Stapp and Whitehead.

More on Stapp on completion (and his use of quantum Zeno effect).
(Never did do a complete review.)

2 thoughts on “McGilchrist – Stapp – Whitehead”

  1. Interesting reference – I think I’ll have a stab at Stapp, seeing Einstein, Penrose and Whitehead are in the Contents.

    Maybe we should do a reading of Whitehead one day – it’s increasingly becoming pressing as a reference for McGilchrist.

    “between quantum and biological views is not that the former underlies the latter on a human scale” – sounds important. The nature of quantum ontology might not reflect directly “upwards” to biology.

  2. Whitehead I read after Master and Emissary – very important to my metaphysics now – and led me to acknowledge quit a lot of earlier references I’d not properly picked-up on. (As recently as 2019 )

    Stapp proposes quantum mechanisms in the brain that do not depend on the Penrose & Hameroff “orchestration” mechanisms – closer to Al Khalili.

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