The 'hard problem' and the quantum physicists. Part 2: modern times

Christopher U.M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This is the second part of a review of the work of quantum physicists on the ‘hard part’ of the problem of mind. After an introduction which sets the scene and a brief review of contemporary work on the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) the work of four prominent modern investigators is examined: J.C. Eccles/Friedrich Beck; Henry Stapp; Stuart Hameroff/Roger Penrose; David Bohm. With the exception of David Bohm, all attempt to show where in the brain’s microstructure quantum affects could make themselves felt. It is reluctantly concluded that none have neurobiological plausibility. They are all instances, to paraphrase T.H. Huxley, of a beautiful hypothesis destroyed by ugly facts. David Bohm does not attempt to fit his new quantum physics to contemporary neurobiology but instead asks for a radical rethink of our conventional scientific paradigm. He suggests that we should look towards developing a ‘pan-experientialism’ or ‘dual-aspect monism’ where consciousness goes ‘all the way down’ and that the ‘hard problem’ is not soluble within the framework of ideas provided by ‘classical’ natural science.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-63
Number of pages10
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • quantum theory
  • consciousness
  • NCC
  • hard problem
  • microtubules


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