Harald Atmanspacher

Harald Atmanspacher
ETH Zurich | ETH Zürich · Turing Center

PhD
Turing Center, ETH Zurich

About

233
Publications
56,828
Reads
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Citations
Introduction
Harald Atmanspacher is affiliated with the Turing Center at ETH Zurich. His areas of research are the theory of complex systems, foundations of quantum theory, and selected aspects of mind-matter research.
Additional affiliations
March 2016 - present
ETH Zurich
Position
  • Member
Description
  • consciousness studies
January 2014 - August 2020
ETH Zurich
Position
  • Management Board
Description
  • quantum foundationsy, contextual emergence, non-commutative psychology, consciousness studies
April 1998 - December 2013
Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas
Position
  • Department Head
Description
  • complexity theory, quantum foundations, consciousness studies
Education
May 1982 - May 1985
October 1980 - June 1982
September 1979 - July 1980
ETH Zurich
Field of study
  • Physics

Publications

Publications (233)
Article
Full-text available
A fundamental but understudied problem in mind-matter research is the understanding of psychophysical correlations, i.e. correlations between the mental and the physical. We discuss five desiderata for viable accounts of such correlations that pertain to their metaphysical commitment, the concepts they appeal to, ways in which correlations can be s...
Presentation
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The conference discusses basic principles and problems of algorithmic knowledge production in contemporary science and society. Witnessed by recent research, quantum algorithms introduce new ways of processing information entirely at variance with traditional classical computation. Also, algorithms are now utilized in proving mathematical theorems....
Article
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The dual-aspect monist conjecture launched by Pauli and Jung in the mid-20th century will be couched in somewhat formal terms to characterize it more concisely than by verbal description alone. After some background material situating the Pauli-Jung conjecture among other conceptual approaches to the mind-matter problem, the main body of this paper...
Article
When constrained by limited resources, how do we choose axioms of rationality? The target article relies on Bayesian reasoning that encounter serious tractability problems. We propose another axiomatic foundation: quantum probability theory, which provides for less complex and more comprehensive descriptions. More generally, defining rationality in...
Chapter
Full-text available
The notion of contextuality in quantum theory expresses that the result of a measurement (e.g. performed by Alice) depends on the experimental context or, more precisely, on other measurements (e.g. performed by Bob). This kind of contextuality presupposes that signals transferring information about Bob’s experiment to Alice (and vice versa) are ex...
Article
A well-known difficulty of the interdisciplinary dialogue beyond the limits of particular disciplines is the lack of common ground regarding their metaphysical and methodological assumptions and commitments. This is particularly evident for the precarious relationship between science and religion. In a 2016 conference entitled “The Many Faces of Pa...
Article
Full-text available
Correlations between observed data are at the heart of all empirical research that strives for establishing lawful regularities. However, there are numerous ways to assess these correlations, and there are numerous ways to make sense of them. This essay presents a bird’s eye perspective on different interpretive schemes to understand correlations....
Chapter
This volume collects prominent voices in the debate on transdisciplinarity in a transdisciplinary manner. Its coincidence of content and form in presenting main papers and critical replies to them from a different discipline allows for a vivid discussion and new insights. These stylistically and thematically divergent contributions are linked by re...
Article
Full-text available
Within a state-space approach endowed with a generalized potential function, mental states can be systematically characterized by their stability against perturbations. This approach yields three major classes of states: (1) asymptotically stable categorial states, (2) marginally stable non-categorial states and (3) unstable acategorial states. The...
Chapter
Full-text available
Early in the last century, it became obvious that operations involved in physical “measurements” or “observations” may exhibit a non-commutative character. Later this insight turned out to be a cornerstone of quantum physics, one of the two major conceptual revolutions in the physics of the 20th century. In other fields, such as psychology, cogniti...
Chapter
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In the mid 20th century, the physicist Wolfgang Pauli and the pschologist Carl Gustav Jung proposed a conceptual framework, not more than speculative at the time, which may help us to clarify psychophysical phenomena beyond what our knowledge about the mental and the physical in separation are capable of achieving. Their conjecture of a dual-aspect...
Poster
Full-text available
The Science of Consciousness (TSC) 2019 is the 26th annual international interdisciplinary conference on fundamental questions and cutting-edge issues connected with conscious experience. TSC is the largest and longest-running conference of its kind, with key areas such as philosophy of mind, cognitive neuroscience, anthropology, biology, physics,...
Article
Full-text available
Aim The present study utilizes perceptual hysteresis effects to compare the ambiguity of Mona Lisa’s emotional face expression (high-level ambiguity) and of geometric cube stimuli (low-level ambiguity). Methods In two experiments we presented series of nine Mona Lisa variants and nine cube variants. Stimulus ambiguity was manipulated by changing M...
Data
Data file containing percept responses and averaged reaction times (+ standard deviations) of the individual participants and experimental conditions. (XLSX)
Article
Full-text available
Walter Freeman was a pioneer of novel and viable enquiries to understand our brains and minds, without much concern about whether or not his points of view matched established mainstream positions. Alongside his successful career as a neurobiologist, he was curious and forceful enough to pick up and work with ideas, concepts, and tools from areas a...
Article
Full-text available
In the mid 20th century, the physicist Wolfgang Pauli and the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung proposed a conceptual framework, not more than speculative at the time, which may help us to clarify psychophysical phenomena beyond what our knowledge about the mental and the physical in separation are capable of achieving. Their conjecture of a Dual-Aspec...
Article
A well-known difficulty of the interdisciplinary dialogue beyond the limits of particular disciplines is the lack of common ground regarding their metaphysical and methodological assumptions and commitments. This is particularly evident for the precarious relationship between science and religion. In a 2016 conference entitled “The Many Faces of Pa...
Article
The Necker-Zeno model of bistable perception provides a formal relation between the average duration of meta-stable percepts (dwell times T) of ambiguous figures and two other basic time scales (t0, ΔT) underlying cognitive processing. The model predicts that dwell times T covary with t0, ΔT or both. We tested this prediction by exploiting that obs...
Chapter
It is widely accepted that consciousness or, more generally, mental activity is correlated to the behavior of the material brain. Since quantum theory is our most fundamental theory of matter, it is a legitimate question to ask whether quantum theory can help us to understand consciousness. There are three basic types of corresponding approaches: (...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of contextual emergence has been proposed as a non-reductive, yet well-defined relation between different domains of description. It yields a formally sound procedure to translate between descriptive domains in an overall consistent fashion, which has been successfully applied in numerous examples. In this article I want to explore its...
Article
Full-text available
A characteristic feature of complex systems is their deep structure, meaning that the definition of their states and observables depends on the level, or the scale, at which the system is considered. This scale dependence is reflected in the distinction of micro- and macro-states, referring to lower and higher levels of description. There are sever...
Chapter
It has been an old idea by Niels Bohr, one of the architects of quantum physics, that central features of quantum theory, such as complementarity, are also of pivotal significance beyond the domain of physics. But Bohr?and others, such as Wolfgang Pauli?never elaborated this idea in concrete detail, and for a long time no one else did so either. Th...
Chapter
Reproducibility is a particularly difficult issue in interdisciplinary research where the results to be reproduced typically refer to more than one single level of description of the system considered. In such cases, it is mandatory to distinguish the relevant attributes or observables of the system, depending on its description. Usually, different...
Chapter
From an engineering perspective, it is well known that numerous problems hamper the control and prediction of complex systems that are essential for the reproducibility of their behavior. The concept of complexity and the study of complex systems represent an important focus of research in contemporary science. This chapter presents many definition...
Article
This commentary adds some ideas and refinements to the inspiring discussion in a recent paper by Connolly () that makes use of a dual-aspect framework developed by us earlier. One key point is that exceptional experiences (of which synchronicities are a special case) cannot in general be identified with experiences of non-categorial or acategorial...
Conference Paper
The scientific description of any system depends on the target properties of that description. A detailed, fine-grained account of all individual constituents of a system differs from that of properties at larger scales of granularity, up to the system as a whole. All these level-specific descriptions can be compatible or incompatible with one anot...
Book
This book reflects on the significant and highly original scientific contributions of Hans Primas. A professor of chemistry at ETH Zurich from 1962 to 1995, Primas continued his research activities until his death in 2014. Over these 50 years and more, he worked on the foundations of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, contributed to a number...
Book
This book constitutes the thoroughly refereed post-conference proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Quantum Interaction, QI 2015, held in Filzbach, Switzerland, in July 2015. The 20 papers together with 2 invited keynotes presented in this book were carefully selected from 27 submissions. Quantum Interaction has developed into an emerg...
Article
Perception of ambiguous figures is unstable and alternates repeatedly between possible interpretations. Some approaches to explaining this phenomenon have, so far, assumed low-level bottom-up mechanisms like adaptation and mutual inhibition of underlying neural assemblies. In contrast, less precise top-down approaches assume high-level attentional...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The concept of complementarity in combination with a non-Boolean calculus of propositions refers to a pivotal feature of quantum systems which has long been regarded as a key to their distinction from classical systems. But a non-Boolean logic of complementary features may also apply to classical systems, if their states and observables are defined...
Article
Full-text available
The emergence of mental states from neural states by partitioning the neural phase space is analyzed in terms of symbolic dynamics. Well-defined mental states provide contexts inducing a criterion of structural stability for the neurodynamics that can be implemented by particular partitions. This leads to distinguished subshifts of finite type that...
Book
"A comprehensive, insightful treatment of the reproducibility challenges facing science today and of ways in which the scientific community can address them." Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication, University of Pennsylvania. "How can we make sure that reproducible research remains a key imperative of scientific...
Chapter
Full-text available
The concept of contextual emergence has been proposed as a nonreductive, yet well-defined relation between different levels of description of physical and other systems. It yields a formally sound and empirically applicable procedure to translate between descriptive levels in an overall consistent fashion. This will be discussed for the contextual...
Article
The essays by Tougas and Willeford address, among other things, a number of ways to understand causation, which play crucial roles in the framework of thinking proposed by Pauli and Jung. The intention of my following reply is to say a few words about how these options are related to one another within our reconstruction of the Pauli-Jung conjectur...
Article
Full-text available
This brief essay replies to Carvalho's exposition of a formal approach to the concept of the unconscious which is originally due to Ignacio Matte Blanco (1908-1995), a psychoanalyst from Chile. It's a challenge - first because I have been largely unfamiliar with the details of Matte Blanco's approach, and second because the space available for this...
Article
Full-text available
The problem considered is how to map the concepts of Quantum Theory (QT) to elements of a psychological experiment. The QT concepts are "measurement," "state," and "observable". The elements of a psychological experiment are trial, stimulus, instructions, questions, and responses.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We compare some basic inequalities due to Bell and others, originally proposed to test hidden variable models in quantum theory, and explore their implications for mental systems. We find that violations of such inequalities outside quantum systems may exceed the quantum bound. We propose (conscious or unconscious) priming as a most intuitive and p...
Article
The dual-aspect framework which Jung developed with Wolfgang Pauli implies that psychophysical phenomena are neither reducible to physical processes nor to conscious mental activity. Rather, they constitute a radically novel kind of phenomena, deriving from correlations between the physical and the mental. In synchronistic events, a particular subc...
Article
Full-text available
Two operations, e.g. measurements, successively applied to the state of a system are said to be non-commutative if the sequence of their application makes a difference for the final result. Non-commuting operations play a crucial role in quantum theory, where they are intimately related to concepts as central as those of complementarity and entangl...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of reproducibility is widely considered a cornerstone of scientific methodology. However, recent problems with the reproducibility of empirical results in large-scale systems and in biomedical research have cast doubts on its universal and rigid applicability beyond the so-called basic sciences. Reproducibility is a particularly difficu...
Article
Full-text available
In the philosophy of mind and in psychology as well as cognitive science, the program of naturalizing the mind is conventionally understood as the attempt to reduce whatever appears mental to physical explanations. In recent decades this has become a central motif in cognitive neuroscience and consciousness studies, where it features as the reducti...
Article
Full-text available
Dual-Aspect Monism à la Pauli and Jung Dual-aspect monism and neutral monism offer interesting alternatives to mainstream positions concerning the mind – matter problem. Both assume a domain underlying the mind – matter distinction, but they also differ in definitive ways. In the twentieth century, variants of both positions have been advanced by a...
Book
This book constitutes the refereed proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Quantum Interaction, QI 2013, held in Leicester, UK, in July 2013. The 31 papers presented in this book were carefully selected from numerous submissions. The papers cover various topics on quantum interaction and revolve around four themes: information processing...
Article
Full-text available
Quantum cognition research applies abstract, mathematical principles of quantum theory to inquiries in cognitive science. It differs fundamentally from alternative speculations about quantum brain processes. This topic presents new developments within this research program. In the introduction to this topic, we try to answer three questions: Why ap...
Article
A novel conceptual framework for theoretical psychology is presented and illustrated for the example of bistable perception. A basic formal feature of this framework is the non-commutativity of operations acting on mental states. A corresponding model for the bistable perception of ambiguous stimuli, the Necker-Zeno model, is sketched and some empi...
Article
Full-text available
One among many misleading quotations about the alleged mysteries of quantum theory is from Feynman (1965): "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." Today we know that quantum theory describes many aspects of our world in a fully intelligible fashion. Pothos & Busemeyer (P&B) propose ways in which this may include psycho...
Article
We present a typology of mind-matter correlations embedded in a dual-aspect monist framework as proposed by Pauli and Jung. They conjectured a picture in which the mental and the material arise as two complementary aspects of one underlying psychophysically neutral reality to which they cannot be reduced and to which direct empirical access is impo...
Article
Full-text available
Exceptional experiences (EE) occur frequently within the populations of many countries and across various socio-cultural contexts. Although some EE show similarities with mental disorders, it would be a mistake to identify them in general as disorders. In fact, the vast number of individuals reporting EE includes subclinical and completely healthy...
Article
Full-text available
Quantum entanglement relies on the fact that pure quantum states are dispersive and often inseparable. Since pure classical states are dispersion-free they are always separable and cannot be entangled. However, entanglement is possible for epistemic, dispersive classical states. We show how such epistemic entanglement arises for epistemic states of...
Article
Full-text available
This chapter analyzes the different ways to describe brain behaviour with the goal to provide a basis for an informed discussion of the nature of decisions and actions that humans perform in their lives. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 2 outlines a number of concepts exhibiting how many subtle details and distinctions lie behind the br...
Chapter
This contribution reflects on Nicholas Rescher’s discussion of “process and persons” in his book Process Metaphysics. Its main purposes are to offer conceptual commentary on some of Rescher’s terms, and to suggest some options for process thinking more radical than Rescher’s, partly motivated by recent developments in science and philosophy. First,...
Article
Full-text available
In the mid 19th century, the physicist Wolfgang Pauli and the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung developed a philosophical position for the mind-matter problem that is today called dual-aspect monism. They conjectured a picture in which the mental and the material arise as two complementary aspects of one underlying psychophysically neutral reality to w...
Article
Full-text available
A novel conceptual framework for theoretical psychology is presented and illustrated for the example of bistable perception. A basic formal feature of this framework is the non-commutativity of operations acting on mental states. A corresponding model for the bistable perception of ambiguous stimuli, the Necker-Zeno model, is sketched and some empi...
Article
Full-text available
Dual-aspect monism and neutral monism offer interesting alternatives to mainstream positions concerning the mind-matter problem. Both assume a domain underlying the mind-matter distinction, but they also differ in definitive ways. In the twentieth century, variants of both positions have been advanced by a number of protagonists. One of these varia...
Article
Full-text available
Mental and neural states are related to one another by vertical (synchronic) interlevel relations and by horizontal (diachronic) intralevel relations. For particular choices of such relations, problems arise if causal efficacy is ascribed to mental states. In a series of influential papers and books, Kim has presented his much discussed "supervenie...
Article
Full-text available
Temporally non-local measurements -- single measurements yielding information about the state of a system at different instances-- may provide a way to observe non-classical behaviour in mental systems. The signature for such behaviour is a violation of temporal Bell inequalities. We present such inequalities applicable to scenarios with two altern...
Article
Full-text available
This contribution addresses major distinctions between the notions of determinism, causation, and prediction, as they are typically used in the sciences. Formally, this can be elegantly achieved by two ingredients: (i) the distinction of ontic and epistemic states of a system, and (ii) temporal symmetry breakings based on the mathematical concept o...
Article
Full-text available
This article emphasizes how the recently proposed interlevel relation of contextual emergence for scientific descriptions combines 'bottom-up' and 'top-down' kinds of influence. As emergent behaviour arises from features pertaining to lower level descriptions, there is a clear bottom-up component. But, in general, this is not sufficient to formulat...
Article
Sequential measurements of non-commuting observables produce order effects that are well-known in quantum physics. But their conceptual basis, a significant measurement interaction, is relevant for far more general situations. We argue that non-commutativity is ubiquitous in psychology where almost every interaction with a mental system changes tha...
Chapter
Full-text available
This article focuses on the thesis known as the causal closure (or causal completeness) of physics (CoP)-that all physical events can be fully explained by physical causes governed by the fundamental laws of physics. This thesis raises well-known questions central to free-will debates about the nature and possibility of the "mental causation" of ph...
Article
Full-text available
Observations of the behavior of a multimode continuous-wave dye laser around instabilities are interpreted using the concept of pragmatic information. It is demonstrated that this concept contains aspects of two different approaches toward the description of self-organizing system, namely, those of synergetics and of nonequilibrium thermodynamics....
Article
The main body of quantitative information about galaxy statistics is obtained from correlation studies. It has recently turned out that a modified correlation formalism can provide details about large-scale structure in the galaxy distribution, which are obscured by artefacts of the conventional correlation function. The modified pair correlation f...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Entanglement is a well-known and central concept in quantum theory, where it expresses a fundamental nonlocality (holism) of ontic quantum states, regarded as independent of epistemic means of gathering knowledge about them. An alternative, epistemic kind of entanglement is proposed for epistemic states (distributions) of dynamical systems represen...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
It is shown how the concept of Bell inequalities may be used to decide whether "superposition" states exist in mental systems. For this purpose a generalized form of temporal Bell inequalities, originally developed for two-state systems, is derived for systems with any finite number of states. We propose options for testing violations of these ineq...
Article
The concept of temporal nonlocality is used to refer to states of a (classical) system that are not sharply localized in time but extend over a time interval of non-zero duration. We investigate the question whether, and how, such a temporal nonlocality can be tested in mental processes. For this purpose we exploit the empirically supported Necker–...
Article
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Continuing previous studies, we present further results about the behavior of small abstract networks during supervised learning. In particular, we show that constraints on the complexity that a network is permitted to assume during learning reduces its learning success in ways that depend on the nature of the applied limitation. Moreover, we show...
Article
Full-text available
We propose a distinction between precategorial, acategorial and categorial states within a scientifically oriented understanding of mental processes. This distinction can be specified by approaches developed in cognitive neuroscience and the analytical philosophy of mind. On the basis of a representational theory of mental processes, acategoriality...
Chapter
Full-text available
We discuss a specific way in which the notion of complementarity can be based on the dynamics of the system considered. This approach rests on an epis-temic representation of system states, reflecting our knowledge about a system in terms of coarse grainings (partitions) of its phase space. Within such an epistemic quantization of classical systems...
Article
Full-text available
Scientific research takes place in the field of tension between accepted coherent knowledge and not-understood, not-integrated fragments: between orthodoxy and anomaly. Orthodox knowledge is characterized by laws and norms which can be conceived formally (deterministic or statistical laws), methodologically (criteria for scientific work), or concep...

Projects

Projects (9)