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Quantum Mind and Social Science

Details

  • Page extent: 366 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.52 kg

Paperback

 (ISBN-13: 9781107442924)

There is an underlying assumption in the social sciences that consciousness and social life are ultimately classical physical/material phenomena. In this ground-breaking book, Alexander Wendt challenges this assumption by proposing that consciousness is, in fact, a macroscopic quantum mechanical phenomenon. In the first half of the book, Wendt justifies the insertion of quantum theory into social scientific debates, introduces social scientists to quantum theory and the philosophical controversy about its interpretation, and then defends the quantum consciousness hypothesis against the orthodox, classical approach to the mind-body problem. In the second half, he develops the implications of this metaphysical perspective for the nature of language and the agent-structure problem in social ontology. Wendt's argument is a revolutionary development which raises fundamental questions about the nature of social life and the work of those who study it.

• Proposes a radical new way of thinking about social science that addresses a number of long-standing philosophical debates • Clear and readable prose which makes potentially daunting material as accessible as possible • Draws on quantum theory, philosophy of mind, philosophy of biology, philosophy of language, and social theory

Contents

1. Preface to a quantum social science; Part I. Quantum Theory and its Interpretation: 2. Three experiments; 3. Six challenges; 4. Five interpretations; Part II. Quantum Consciousness and Life: 5. Quantum brain theory; 6. Panpsychism and neutral monism; 7. A quantum vitalism; Part III. A Quantum Model of Man: 8. Quantum cognition and rational choice; 9. Agency and quantum will; 10. Non-local experience in time; Part IV. Language, Light, and Other Minds: 11. Quantum semantics and meaning holism; 12. Direct perception and other minds; Part V. The Agent-Structure Problem Redux: 13. An emergent, holistic, but flat ontology; 14. Toward a quantum vitalist sociology; Conclusion.

Reviews

'Wendt's second monograph has been eagerly anticipated. Was it worth the wait? Of course. Beautifully written and painstakingly argued, Quantum Mind and Social Science explores the potential impact that advances in quantum mechanics may have on the social sciences. Notwithstanding the fact that this is probably one of the best introductions to quantum mechanics I have read, the book also raises a series of pressing questions about how a careful engagement with quantum mechanics might alter how we think about social science and social practice … This is a book of speculative grand theorising that is sadly lacking in the social sciences today.' Colin Wight, University of Sydney

'Alexander Wendt, one of the leading and most original voices in International Relations, has now produced what may be his most daring effort yet. In Quantum Mind and Social Science Wendt argues for a new kind of physicalism that encompasses elements of mind all the way down to the quantum processes governing elementary particles. For most social scientists, all that Wendt takes us through will be a revelation. Wendt's discussion of this material is just fabulous, the best lay discussions of the issues I have seen. Whatever one thinks of the final thesis, the journey here is definitely worth the ride.' Douglas V. Porpora, Drexel University, Philadelphia

'This book is very well written and engaging and introduces some very controversial new ideas. The author takes a courageous stance on a number of deep and difficult issues in philosophy of mind. Some of these ideas may ultimately not be supported, and some others may engage never-ending debates. But if even one of them turns out to be right, then the book will have made a great contribution.' Jerome R. Busemeyer, Provost Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington

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