As I understand it, one response to quantum immortality thought experiments is that we haven't yet escaped the instant of death, and it's of little relevance anyway, because that instant is small enough to mean that the remaining life-form would be absurdly brain-damaged, etc.. Maybe I've misunderstood.

However, that got me wondering whether the many world interpretations of QM should imply panpsychism. That, given the consciousness, etc., that survives is almost nothing, it might be attributed to something other than a functioning brain. Or it might go the other way, and the claim that what survives is something so powerful that we are or will be in some sense super-human.

My reasoning here is very weak. But surely someone has worked out whether the MW interpretation of QM might make more sense in those sorts of unusual and extra-scientific contexts. So who, if anyone?

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    You might like to check out 'The World According to Quantum Mechanics: Why the Laws of Physics Make Perfect Sense After All' By Ulrich Mohrhoff. Panpsychism takes various forms so I wouldn't comment on that, but as well as covering the maths Mohrhoff gives the interpretation that would allow QM and the Upanishads to co-exist happily. – user20253 Sep 30 '18 at 12:26
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    Consciousness does not exist at the quantum explanation level, 'observer' only means interacted with, joining two systems into a combined state. What does exist, are things that change probabilities - and it can easily be seen that consciousness must be some kind of shorthand for that (see Integrated Information Theory). The nature of the early universe means everything is entangled newscientist.com/article/… We could see mind as inherent, but emergent. Pansychism as a future rather than current state. – CriglCragl Sep 30 '18 at 14:11
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    In case you haven't read it already, you may want to check Panpsychism is crazy, but it’s also most probably true, an article written by Philip Goff, an associate professor in philosophy. – OpaCitiZen Jan 24 '19 at 16:12

Wikipedia describes quantum immortality or suicide as the following:

In quantum mechanics, quantum suicide is a thought experiment, originally published independently by Hans Moravec in 1987 and Bruno Marchal in 1988 and independently developed further by Max Tegmark in 1998. It attempts to distinguish between the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics and the Everett many-worlds interpretation by means of a variation of the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment, from the cat's point of view. Quantum immortality refers to the subjective experience of surviving quantum suicide regardless of the odds.

Max Tegmark claimed this was the only way he knew (page 5) to test the many worlds interpretation although the researcher taking the place of the cat would not be able to tell anyone the result since the living researcher would be in a superposition that did not experience the gun firing.

The Copenhagen interpretation, or more generally some single-world interpretation rather than many worlds, would offer panpsychism the most support, because a single-world interpretation would require the wave function to, at least metaphorically, collapse.

If one interprets the wave function collapse as a choice of one alternative from many then one could argue that there is a conscious agent of some sort involved making that choice. From there one might be able to argue for panpsychism. With many worlds the wave function does not collapse and so there would be no reason to introduce the idea of agents making choices.

The idea of a choice suggests free will. John Conway and Simon Kochen in their Free Will Theorem claimed that if we have free will then so does a quantum system. Starting from this paper one might find a way to argue for panpsychism.

See also Shimon Malin's Nature Loves to Hide for an intuitive overview of quantum physics. Malin appears to favor the idea that a wave function collapse involves a choice. He also brings in Whitehead and Plotinus. This might be another way to argue for some kind of panpsychism, but it could go well beyond panpsychism.

It is not clear what is going on in a quantum system. Calling the system a wave when one is not looking at it, but a particle when a measurement has been made seems wrong. Saying there are many worlds to cover up the indeterminacy in the wave model seems even worse. Saying there are agents making choices at the quantum level (panpsychism) seems hard to believe.


Conway, J., & Kochen, S. (2006). The free will theorem. Foundations of Physics, 36(10), 1441-1473.

Malin, S. (2002). Nature loves to hide: Quantum physics and the nature of reality, a Western perspective.

Tegmark, M. (1998). The interpretation of quantum mechanics: Many worlds or many words?. Fortschritte der Physik: Progress of Physics, 46(6‐8), 855-862.

Wikipedia, "Quantum suicide and immortality" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_suicide_and_immortality

  • hey frank, thanks for your reply, etc.. not sure i get it, or if my question is just bad in the 1st place, maybe that's why the former. best – user34654 Aug 31 '18 at 14:00

Panpsychism is the idea that all things have a 'psyche'. QM could be seen as implying this, but the idea is denied by those who explore consciousness. They say, rather that all things are not really real and exist in consciousness, or are consciousness.

Thus it is not things that have psyche's but the psyche that has things. This view, as Hermann Weyl notes, allows us to make sense of non-locality and other weird quantum phenomena. It is a more profound and effective idea than panpsychism.

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