Time, Quantum Mechanics & the Mind-Body Problem

Present status of the work of Jean Schneider
Observatoire de Paris
92195 Meudon

update: 20 May 2015

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  1. Time:
    There is a dimension of time completely left aside by physics: the becoming. Re-analyzed in modern terms, the becoming is entangled with the production of a sign and it deserves the name of `semiotic time'. The study of this dimension of time offers an angle to investigate the Mind-body problem. It reveals that the semiotic time must be discretized.

  2. Quantum Mechanics:
    The `interpretation' of Quantum Mechanics, i.e. the understanding of the state-vector collapse in a measurement process, is one of the major scientific problem of our time. The Semiotic Interpretation of QM pushes further the Von Neumann point of view that `experience only makes statements of this type: an observer has made a certain observation; and never any like this: a physical quantity has [I add: per se] a certain value.)' (Math. Found. of QM p. 420 Princeton U. Press).
    According to this view, the state-vector collapse is not a physical phenomenon, but only the production of a sign, in the sense of Semiotics (the Science of Signs; see for instance the work of C.S. Peirce). This production is impersonnal, not issued from some psychological subject; thus it does not lead to some solipsism (on the contrary, the Subject is an effect of signs).
    The production of a sign always takes some time (see above). Thus the state-vector collapse cannot be instanteneous, a specific prediction of the present model.

  3. Mind-Body Problem:
    On the one hand, Mind is not a substance of some peculiar, subtle, type. It is Ex-pression.
    On the other hand, the Body is not some substantial matter. According to the above interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, the properties of the body are the result of state-vector collapses of several types, i.e. the production of signs. In fact the universe of signs is very rich: a sign can have a conceptual `value' (like in physics), or, for instance, an affective value (like in many human behaviors). In the latter case, the Semiotic Interpretation of QM gives a way to understand how a mental representation can modify the state of the body.

  4. A formal tool: non-stratification
    Some of these ideas can hardly be expressed in plain language. A formal tool, sometimes called `self-referential logic' (Fitch 1974 Elements of Combinatory Logic, Yale Univ. Press), and which I prefer to call `non-stratification' is used to describe the concepts I have developed. It makes use of the idea that an item a can be equal to formal relations R[a] of which a is an element. An account of this tool can be found in some of the papers below.

A first account of this work is published under the title `The Now, Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics' in the book ` Time, Now and Quantum Mechanics ' (M. Bitbol and E. Ruhnau Eds. ISBN 2-86332-152-8 Editions Frontieres, BP 33, 91192 Gif/Yvette Cedex, France).

A presentation was made at the Workshop on `Time, Physics and Psycho-analysis' (New-York, 7 December 1996) ` Time and the Mind/Body Problem: a Quantum Perspective ', published in American Imago, vol 54, p. 307, 1997.


  1. Au-delà de la théorie des systèmes, l'ordre auto-référentiel

  2. Le Temps au Fil des Pages

  3. Temporalité Irréversibilité et Pulsion in "Temps et Devenir - A partir de l'oeuvre de Prigogine - Brans, Stengers & Vincke Eds - Patiño 1988 p. 307

  4. La structure auto-référentielle de la temporalité full text in French - in "La Liberté de l'Esprit", Editions Hachette 1987, p. 135
    Self-referential structure of time - english abstract

  5. Que va devenir le temps? in 34-44,Cahiers de recherche STD. No. "Crise des avant-gardes" no 8, 1981

  6. Constraining the Correlation Distance in Quantum Measurements White paper submitted to the ESA Fundamental Physics Roadmap Advisory Team (2009)

  7. Constraining the correlation distance in quantum measurements from the Moon
    Paper presented at the Workshp Gravitation and Fundamental Physics in Space GPhyS "Kick-Off " Colloquium - Les Houches, Oct. 2009

  8. Comment faut-il comprendre la Mécanique Quantique ? Seminar given at Paris Observatory (December 2004)

  9. On the 'History' of the Universe and the beginning of time in the Proceeding of the Semaine Française de l'Astrophysique 2006.

  10. La fabrique de l'origine (2006)

  11. Quantum measurement act as a "speech act" in Endophysics, Time, Quantum and the Subjective, 2005

  12. La nature n'a pas de passé ni d'origine. Topique no. 73 "A l'origine", 2000 (in French)

  13. L'univers n'a pas d'histoire, le Big Bang n'a jamais eu lieu. (in French)
    in proceedings of L'Origine Primordiale. Paris, July 1998. To be published

  14. Time, the mind/body problem and the semiotic state vector collapse in quantum mechanics.
    in Toward a Science of Consciousness 1998 "Tucson III" , April 27-May 2, 1998

  15. Time and the Mind/Body Problem: a Quantum Perspective
    American Imago, 54, 307, 1997.

    (html version)
  16. La non-stratification (in French)
    im La psychanalyse et la reforme de l'entendement
    R. Lew Ed. Editions Lysimaque/College International de Philosophie. p. 147, 1997
    (Figures to come later on)

  17. The Now, Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics
    in Time, Now and Quantum Mechanics
    (M. Bitbol and E. Ruhnau Eds. ISBN 2-86332-152-8 Editions Frontieres, BP 33, 91192 Gif/Yvette Cedex, France).1994
    (Figures to come later on)

  18. Spiritualisme et science à la lumière de la linguistique

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