to be in a superposition of states because the behavior of quanta is
predictable only in a probabilistic, statistical sense. When an
observation is made, the superposition is resolved into a single
coherent state. The observation has to be made by a conscious
observer. But what do we mean by a conscious observer?
Scientific materialism: Here, consciousness is an epiphenomenon of
the fundamental physical realm. Quanta exist in the physical realm.
How can an epiphenomenon of the physical realm collapse probabilistic
superpositions in the realm it is dependent upon? How can an
epiphenomenon act backward in time to collapse a superposition .3
seconds ago (the time required for the sensory input of the
observation to reach conscious awareness in the mind of the
observer)? We have a paradox.
Cartesian dualism: Consciousness is independent of the physical
realm. It appears that the mental and physical realms interact only
in human souls. Consciousness is not typically imputed to other
living beings. So, presumably, only a human observer can collapse a
quantum superposition. But how does that work? Light reflected from
the inside of the box, carrying the information about whether the cat
is alive or dead enters the eyes of the observer. Consciousness gets
the information .3 seconds later. How can consciousness reach back in
time and affect an outcome that was encoded in light .3 seconds ago?
Normally, the consciousness of the observer can only affect the
observer. How can it affect a separate process (the experimental
Monistic idealism: In this paradigm, the outcome is fixed ahead of
time. Universal consciousness determined the outcome from the
beginning. At the present, it acts through the observer to observe
the predetermined outcome. There's no superposition, no paradox, no
need for multi-world explanations, no need for hidden variables.
Everything is held in consciousness and is simply played out.
Suppose we try scientific materialism and cartesian dualism with a
fixed future. That would allow us to avoid the superposition of
states and the need for consciousness to collapse it.
In SM, where is the information about future outcomes recorded? The
behavior of particles is encoded in the patterns that govern them --
Newton's laws, Boyle's law, quantum theory, etc. But since quantum
theory is statistical and probabilistic, full predictability is
lacking and there's nowhere to put information about future outcomes.
In the SM universe, the future can't be fixed.
In CD, we can put the information about future outcomes in the mental
realm, but we still have the issue of accounting for how the realms
interact. How would the future outcome recorded in the mental realm
affect the physical? Furthermore, how do we explain phenomena in the
mental realm? So CD gives us a place to store outcomes, but leaves us
with explanatory problems, and we still have to give up free will.