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Elemental Mind: Human Consciousness and the New Physics Paperback – November 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (November 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452272459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452272453
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,810,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Building on the insights in his Quantum Reality , Herbert proposes that mind, instead of being localized in our brains, is a phenomenon as deeply imbedded in nature as light or electricity. Three basic features of the universe predicted by quantum mechanics--randomness, the interconnectedness of all phenomena, and thinglessness (quantum objects do not possess attributes of their own)--were rejected by Albert Einstein, but to Herbert, a Stanford-trained physicist, each of these features of matter is a manifestation of a corresponding basic trait of mind: free will, deep psychic connectedness, and ambiguity. A skillful popularizer, Herbert scrutinizes recent brain research, reviews highly conjectural quantum models of mind, and outlines his own theory of "quantum animism" in which mind permeates the world and interacts with matter at the quantum level, which, if true, might help explain paranormal phenomena.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A physicist's daring investigation of mind and its relation to matter. According to Herbert (Quantum Reality, 1985, etc.), the famous ``Turing test''--in which a computer is considered to be conscious if it can talk like a human being--``misses the point.'' The true measure of consciousness is ``inner experience,'' which robots and computers just don't have. But what is inner experience--and how does it arise? In this wide- ranging study, Herbert looks at consciousness from ``inside'' (our felt experience of sensations, emotions, memory, etc.) and ``outside'' (how scientists perceive the brain). Two basic models arise: monism (matter and mind are one) and dualism (matter and mind are separate). Although Herbert never baldly states his position, he enthuses at length over a new twist on dualism that he calls ``quantum mind.'' Drawing on subatomic physics, he finds the mind to possess free will and ``connectedness'' with other minds. A fistful of odd experiments back up his argument, ranging from the famous Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment--which seems to demonstrate the reality of nonlocal connections--to his own invention of a ``metaphase typewriter'' driven by quantum events, through which ``discarnate beings'' can send messages to the human sphere. Future experiments, Herbert suggests, might include telepathy machines and spirit communicators--all logical, if startling, extensions of the basic premise that mind is as fundamental and free as matter. Leading edge or lunatic fringe? Opinions will differ, but Herbert proves to be a reliable guide on this journey through the looking glass. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By D. W. Casey on November 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
Nick Herbert's Elemental Mind makes an interesting supposition -- that the mind, or consciousness, is a force that interacts with the world, like gravity or electromagnetism. He makes a pretty good argument that ESP and Telekinesis would prove that this is so; unfortunately, his examples (the typewriter open to the quantum void and the branching photon experiment) don't seem to show any evidence that the greater supposition is correct. The book is very interesting, though, and leads one into all manner of speculation about how peculiar the quantum universe and though actually are. A well written, entertaining, and informative book.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
When read along with Herbert's previous book, Quantum Reality, this text makes a good case for invoking quantum physics to explain the relation of mind and matter and also in explaining some of the more convincing experiments in parapsychology (effects of consciousness on random number generators) which suggest a non-locality of mind. If more people took such ideas seriously and devoted time and research to them, understanding of the mind and a true theory of consciousness might be forthcoming.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steve Sommers on January 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
Nick Herbert certainly knows his stuff. He does a very good job of explaining the current models of quantum physics and the problem of conciousness and observation that occur in these models. It is a fascinating and difficult topic, which people need to understand as best as it can be understood.

Where I quarrel with Nick Herbert is that he is too even-handed. He presents all of the alternatives, and then frustratingly enough -- doesn't pick one. Yes, it's wonderful to know all the thoughts on the subject, but as the author I rather wanted him to give his best guess on what was really going on.

Well, worth reading, but you just don't get a strong conclusion at the end.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alex Tolley on March 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book as a result of a blog discussion by Rudy Rucker who was favorable to the idea of a quantum description of the mind as expressed in this book. The book covers some quantum theory, but the link to the mind is so tenuous it is almost non-existent. Even some of the experiments described, whose results could be interpreted very differently, have now been disproved. The result is that a quantum explanation for thought is at best, not even close to being a useful hypothesis, at worst just not required as a replacement for more "prosaic" biological explanations.

Roger Penrose might have kick started this as a popular idea, but Herbert's book doesn't really add to the discussion by shedding any useful light on it.
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