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Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer (The Frontiers Collection) 2nd ed. 2011 Edition

16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-3642180750
ISBN-10: 3642180752
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Editorial Reviews


From the reviews:

"Stapp's book is a bold and original attack on the problem of consciousness and free will based on the openings provided by the laws of quantum mechanics. This is a serious and interesting attack on a truly fundamental problem."

Tony Leggett, Physics Nobel Laureate (2003)

"In his new book, Stapp insists that the "causal closure of the physical", in particular concerning quantum theory, is an untenable myth. He elaborates on ideas of Bohr, von Neumann, Heisenberg and, from a philosophical point of view, James and Whitehead to sketch a complex picture in which the physical and the mental are emphatically conditioned by each other. Stapp's wide-ranging proposal offers stimulating reading, a strong sense of conceptual coherence and intuitive appeal, and empirical predictions that deserve to be refined and tested."

Harald Atmanspacher

A highly readable book of genuine wisdom by one of the foremost minds for our generation. The paradoxical enigma of consciousness and matter has been tackled by virtually every modern philosopher and many scientists as well. Unfortunately most philosophers have grounded their thinking in century old physics while most scientists fail to understand the nuances of philosophical thought. Here a foremost quantum physicist speaks to us not only from a profound understanding of physics, but with a sophistication about consciousness and philosophy of mind that few short of William James and Alfred North Whitehead have sustained. The result is a radical rethinking of issues as fundamental and vital as free will, ethics, the mind-body problem, and the dimensions of human nature itself.

Allan Combs, CIIS

Editor of Mind in Time: The Dynamics of Thought, Reality, and Consciousness

"Stapp has devoted some of the 17 chapters of the book to arguments for the need to use quantum theory in neuroscience, explanations of his theory, and discussions of the consistency of his theory with the ideas of William James and Alfred Whitehead. … This book has been written in a style that is clearly meant to make the book widely accessible… . Henry Stapp’s theory is worthy of attention, and this book provides a good introduction to it." (Imants Barušs, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 21 (3), 2008)

"In this book Stapp tackles the ‘mind-body problem’ (or rather the ‘mind-matter’ problem). … The book is certainly an enjoyable read (I read it in one sitting) … . Philosophers of mind should read this book because it frequently discusses elements of the contemporary debate in novel ways, and may trigger some entirely new debates. It will also provide a nice entrée into quantum theory … . Those interested in the philosophical foundations of physics will no doubt find it enjoyable … ." (Dean Rickles, Mathematical Reviews, Issue 2008 g)

From the reviews of the second edition:

“The aim of this book is to explain to educated lay readers various twentieth century developments in science from the viewpoint of both a quantum physicist and a philosopher, and to touch upon the social consequences of some (alleged) misrepresentations of contemporary scientific knowledge that continue to hold sway. … the author’s visionary ideas, original proposals and explanations, his speculations, and his wide spectrum of knowledge as displayed in the present book, made this collection of essays a highly captivating, inspiring and educating read.” (Werner Kleinert, Zentralblatt MATH, Vol. 1243, 2012) 

From the Back Cover

The classical mechanistic idea of nature that prevailed in science during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was an essentially mindless conception: the physically described aspects of nature were asserted to be completely determined by prior physically described aspects alone, with our conscious experiences entering only passively. During the twentieth century the classical concepts were found to be inadequate. In the new theory, quantum mechanics, our conscious experiences enter into the dynamics in specified ways not fixed by the physically described aspects alone. Consequences of this radical change in our understanding of the connection between mind and brain are described. This second edition contains two new chapters investigating the role of quantum phenomena in the problem of free will and in the placebo effect.

See all Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: The Frontiers Collection (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 2nd ed. 2011 edition (June 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3642180752
  • ISBN-13: 978-3642180750
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

118 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Wigner's Girlfriend on January 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Mindful Universe" by Henry Stapp begins with the sentences, "This book concerns your nature as a human being. It is about the connection of your mind to your body."

When I first read that I thought, "Oh, sure, what would a physicist know about that?" I read the book anyway, and I'm glad I did. It is without a doubt the best, most comprehensible, most useful book about modern physics I've ever read.

First Stapp lays out the basic discoveries and their ramifications that led to the overthrow of 'classical physics' in a way that is easily understood. He then goes into the 'orthodox interpretation' of modern physics as laid out by von Neumann and others. This has provided me with an understanding of modern physics that is both intuitive and actually useful to my everyday life.

Stapp has managed to do something amazing -- he teaches us what modern physics really says about the nature of the universe and our role in it, without dumbing it down and without the jargon and mathematics that make so many of the other books I've read so difficult. And what modern science really says is very different to what most books and mass-media articles present. Be ready for a reality shift.

In Chapter 6 "The Effectiveness of Conscious Will and the Quantum Zeno Effect" Stapp explains how this modern physics applies to the mind-brain connection in a way that fits well with experience. I've never understood modern physics like that.

The last sentence of the chapter "Conclusions" is, "The falseness of that deviation of science (the classical ideal of a mechanical universe) must be made known, and heralded, because human beings are not likely to endure in a society ruled by a conception of themselves that denies the essence of their being."

I would like to say this: Stapp makes good on the promise of the first sentence of the book and I understand and agree with the last. Fantastic book.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Nova137 on November 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Review of "Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer" by Henry P. Stapp. Published by Springer as part of their Frontiers Collection. It is relatively short at 198 pages including a Preface, 13 main chapters making up part I, 4 chapters making up part II, 7 Appendices making up part III, References and Index.

In the Preface, Dr. Stapp summarizes his book thusly:

1. Mind matters/I matter. Mind<--->Body matters.
2. Classical view of reality is fundamentally incorrect.
3. Quantum view of reality encompasses classical physics in the limit where Planck's Constant goes to zero.
4. Actual hard science considers us natural phenomenon. Worst case scenario is we are considered "automaton". Quantum theory rejects this now falsified relic of classical physics.
5. New physics does this by placing consciousness back on the table.
6. Why this is so important? Because classical physical theory still drives decisions of governments, schools, courts and medicine.
7. Aim of book is to explain the new science and its social consequences.

One thing I must say about Henry P. Stapp is that he has been at this from the beginning of his career. His doctoral thesis in particle physics working on proton-proton interactions led to his post-doctoral work under Wolfgang Pauli. During this time (c. 1958) he wrote an article entitled, "Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics." Thirty-five years latter his book of the same title was published under the same Foundational Series as the book here being reviewed.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andy Ferguson on February 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book offers the strongest defense of the Copenhagen interpretation I've read to date. Interestingly, that point of view retains a surprising degree of support among physicists, even though the Many Worlds view has gained a lot of popularity. After reading this book I have a new respect for the idea that the world, in some strange sense we don't quite understand, its created by our mind.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Katherine on November 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have found this book to be very well written and thought provoking. I love a book that makes you think and that brings up points of view that perhaps you haven't considered before. This book certainly makes you ponder how your thoughts actually affect the Universe, excuse me, Multiverse. No longer are we just passive bystanders but rather hopeful co-creators. This is on a grand scale as well as a micro scale. So go ahead...stretch your brain a might hurt at first to use muscles that you might not have used in a long while (trust me I know!) but you'll thank me later!(lol)
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Stephen P. Smith on January 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stapp (page 20) writes on Heisenberg`s appreciation of actions at the level of Planck`s scale: "The aspects of nature represented by the theory are converted from elements of being to elements of doing. The effect of this change is profound: it replaces the world of material substances by a world populated by actions, and by potentialities for the occurrence of the various possible observed feedbacks from these actions. Thus the switch from being to action allows - and according to orthodox quantum theory demands - a draconian shift in the very subject matter of physical theory, from an imagined universe populated by allowed possible physical theory, from an imagined universe consisting of causally self-sufficient mindless matter, to a universe populated by allowed possible actions. A purported theory of matter alone is converted into a theory of the relationship between matter and mind."

Stapp (page 23) writes about the limitation of the classical physics approach, or approximation: "there is no need for, and indeed no room for, any effect of any probing action. The uncertainty -arising from the non-zero size of the quantum cloud - that in the unapproximated theory needs to be resolved by intervention of some particular probing action is already reduced to zero by replacement of Planck`s constant by zero. Thus all effects upon the physically/mathematically described aspects of nature`s process that are instigated by the actions freely chosen by agents are eliminated by the classical approximation. Consequently, any attempt to understand or explain within the framework of classical physics the physical effects of consciousness is irrational, because the classical approximation eliminates the effect one is trying to study.
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Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer (The Frontiers Collection)
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