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Cosmology, Quantum Mechanics & Consciousness Message Board › The nature of "freewill"

The nature of "freewill"

A former member
Post #: 138
Well that’s a mostly unhelpful response, more facetious than felicitous. I had suggested that we try to get to a meeting of minds. But instead, disappointingly, your response contains all the worst ingredients of your style: flailing my comments into little strips of disjointed quotations, dropping in a big load of irrelevant diversionary material, evading the question, and more. Never mind, I think that your style is just a game for you, like doing crossword puzzles. So I will continue.

About the book: I have not heard of Roland Omnes (apart from your previous mentions) and I have no plans at present to buy and read his book. From Google this individual seems to be a relative non-entity. I see that he is associated with the study of quantum decoherence and with an associated quantum interpretation called ‘consistent histories’. If you asked me a question I wouldn’t tell you to go off and buy a book. No, I would try to be more helpful and answer the question. Otherwise what is the point of discussing things with people on a message board? Why not tell everyone to go off and read books instead?

More than once (though not as many as the 40 repetitions to which you lay claim) I have said that you haven’t answered my question. If you understand the question and if you have the book by Omnes then kindly look in his book and see if it deals with my point. To re-state again, the question is: how does decoherence explain the appearance of effective eigenstates from the uninterrupted development of Process 2 via the Schrodinger equation? Bear in mind the point of the question is that mathematically this appears not to be feasible.

You make a big joke out of my phrase ‘your interpretation’. So, if the interpretation is not your own invention it must be one of the recognised ones as quoted in Wikipedia or Stanford Enc. Which is it? Is it the no-collapse ‘decoherence interpretation’, as to which Stanford Enc says: “Unfortunately, naive claims of the kind that decoherence gives a complete answer to the measurement problem are still somewhat part of the ‘folklore’ of decoherence, and deservedly attract the wrath of physicists (e.g. Pearle 1997) and philosophers”

Is your interpretation the same as ‘consistent histories’ with decoherence, following Roland Omnes?
Is it an ‘objective collapse theory’ as implied by this passage from your recent posting? “ would prefer to see some as it were signed authoritative published claim which says exactly what l’m saying but independently of my say-so, so here’s a brief extract from the relevant passage of Wikipedia ........................Objective collapse theories differ from the Copenhagen interpretation in regarding both the wavefunction and the process of collapse as ontologically objective..........
At times you seem to support all three of these, though they are not all compatible.

Finally, in passing, the other interpretation of QM that I noted yesterday was not ‘many minds’. Your guess at my thinking was wrong, as usual! It was relational quantum mechanics.
lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 210

For those who might be personally averse to themselves making the effort to explore the immense informative reserves of the internet in order to investigate leads, words and phrases, and heavily dropped hints, this link might be useful. (Posted also on the Back to some real quantum mechanics .. thread):

Roland Omnès
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Roland Omnès
Born Roland Omnès
18 February 1931 (age 81)

Residence France

Citizenship France

Nationality France

Fields Theoretical physics
Quantum Mechanics

Institutions Université Paris-Sud XI

Roland Omnès (18 February 1931) is the author of several books which aim to close the gap between our common sense experience of the classical world and the complex, formal mathematics which is now required to accurately describe reality at its most fundamental level.


• 1 Biography
• 2 Philosophical work
• 3 The new 'Copenhagen Interpretation'?
• 4 Bibliography

Omnès is currently Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics in the Faculté des sciences at Orsay, at the Université Paris-Sud XI. He has been instrumental in developing the consistent histories and quantum decoherence approaches in quantum mechanics.

Philosophical work
In his philosophical work (especially in Quantum Philosophy), Omnès argues that:

1. Until modern times, intuitive, rational thought was sufficient to describe the world; mathematics remained an adjunct, simply helping to make our intuitive descriptions more precise.

2. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we arrived at a Fracture between common sense and our best descriptions of reality. Our formal description became the truest picture (most consistent with how things are, experimentally) and common sense was left behind. Our best descriptions of reality are now incomprehensible to common sense alone, and our intuitions as to how things are, are often negated by experiment and theory.

3. However it is, finally, possible to recover common sense from our formal, mathematical description of reality. We can now demonstrate that the laws of classical logic, classical probability and classical dynamics (of common sense, in fact) apply at the macroscopic level, even in a world described by a single, unitary wavefunction. This follows from the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics, with no need for extralogical constructs such as wavefunction collapse.

We will never, Omnès believes, find a common sense interpretation of quantum law itself. Nevertheless, it is now possible to see that common sense and quantum reality are compatible with each other: we can enter the world at either starting point, and we will find that each leads to the other: experiment leads to theory, and the theory can now recover the common sense framework in which the experiment was conducted (and in which our lives are lived).

The new 'Copenhagen Interpretation'?
Omnès' work is sometimes described as an updating of the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics. This is somewhat misleading. The relationship between the two accounts is as follows:

The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics (argued for most centrally by Niels Bohr) tells us to "shut up and calculate". It says that there are certain questions we simply cannot ask, and that there are inexplicable rules which we have to apply in order to get from a quantum description of reality (which we know is experimentally correct to at least 10 decimal places of accuracy) to the reality of our day-to-day, common sense lives (which seems self-evidently correct, and yet is apparently in contradiction with quantum law).
Omnès tells us that we no longer have to shut up in order to calculate: there is now a self-consistent framework which enables us to recover the principles of classical common sense - and to know, precisely, their limits - starting from fundamental quantum law.

The work Omnès presents in his books was developed by Omnès himself, Robert B. Griffiths, Murray Gell-Mann, James Hartle, and others.

The Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (Princeton University Press, 1994) - a technical exposition of Omnès's account, for physicists.
Understanding Quantum Mechanics (Princeton University Press, 1999) - a somewhat less technical revision and updating of the above work, also intended for physicists.
Quantum Philosophy: Understanding and Interpreting Contemporary Science (English Edition - Princeton University Press, 1999); (French Edition - Gallimard, 1994)
Converging Realities: Toward a Common Philosophy of Physics and Mathematics (Princeton University Press, 2004) - Here Omnès presents, in detail, his position on the relationship between mathematics and reality which he started to develop in Quantum Philosophy.

Hope this helps! I will address current concerns/misgivings in due course, when I have the time and energy, but there unfortunately does seem to be some mileage in the adage: "You can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

Incidentally, here is an excellent professional mathematician's review of Omnès' first significant blockbuster The Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and it is surprisingly good at capturing the main theoretical thrust both of Omnès' general Weltanschauung and his specific proposals to harmonise the orthodox, bare-bones postulatory structure and mathematical apparatus of QM with the classical-like appearance of the world of our everyday, "commonsense", macroscopic experience. The reviewer makes it clear that significant problems remain, but as many of you as (the few who are reading this!) must by now realise, I think that some variant of the decoherence approach holds out the best prospect for reconciling this fundamental schism within current, "fundamental" physics, and Omnès remains a highly significant figure in the field's development. Work still in progress, then!

The web address of this review:­



lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 213

Trying again! .. to paste in full the link to the book review. ( angry ):­
lan B.
user 10895495
London, GB
Post #: 214

Since the imbecilic programmers of this disastrous Meetup Group software clearly don't care one iota about the needs and intenjtions of any correspondents who like myself appear to be too witless and ill-of-luck to wander into its tormenting clutches, l'm going to try yet another wheeze. I'm going to paste in the address in 3 parts. (Interested readers will need to employ the initiative of actually "sticking them back together" in order to create their own link):­


A former member
Post #: 140
Thanks but I had no problem, and indeed had already found this review on the web some time ago. My full reply is on the other QM thread where this conversation belongs.
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