Michael Lockwood has explored the philosophical implications of several fields of physics, including quantum physics, thermodynamics, and special and general relativity. In his 1989 book, Mind, Brain, and the Quantum: the Compound 'I', Lockwood explores how quantum theory may help to solve the mind-body problem and the problem of consciousness. The connection of quantum mechanics with consciousness began in the early history of quantum mechanics, when a measurement of a quantum system was mistakenly made dependent on the "conscious observer." The connection persists, primarily because both are "mysteries," says Lockwood. (See also John Searle and Peter van Inwagen.) Can it be argued that consciousness is somehow an inherently quantum-mechanical phenomena?In his 2005 book, The Labyrinth of Time, Lockwood re-examines and reaffirms his analysis of time beyond the "tenseless" block universe. He notes that the tenseless nature of time rules out free will for reasons deeper than any determinism. Future events are simply already there, have already happened.
This is a fairly old idea (with little, formerly, to back it up beyond some half-formulated notion that since quantum mechanics is mysterious and so is consciousness, these two mysteries may perhaps be related).In this work, Lockwood examines problems also explored by physicists Roger Penrose and Henry Stapp, and by the Australian philosopher David Hodgson.
Lockwood carefully examines the notion that special relativity can show that the world is deterministic, an idea first proposed by the philosophers C. W. Rietdijk and Hilary Putnam in the 1960's. The idea that a special-relativistic "tenseless" block universe implies a deterministic universe by J.J.C.Smart in 1964. This view denies the openness of the future, which is "already out there." Smart thinks that Einstein's theory of special relativity has rendered obsolete our common sense view of time. Lockwood also subscribes to this view.
Time has become a fourth dimension; and an individual persisting object, such as a human body, is to be conceived as a four-dimensional 'worm', laid out in space-time, each three-dimensional time-slice of which corresponds to the object as it is at a particular moment in its history. (The set of space-time points occupied by this 'worm' — if one ignores the fact that it has spatial thickness as well as temporal length — is known as the object's world-line.) In this conception there is no universal march or flow of time. There cannot be, because there is no universal present; and consequently there is no universal past or future... This makes trouble, incidentally, for a conception of time that many philosophers from Aristotle to the present day have wished to defend, according to which the future is open, partially undefined, in contrast to the past, which is fixed, closed, a fait accompli. The motivation for such a view lies mainly in a desire to defend free will, to enable us to regard the future (in words I once saw in the Reader's Digest) as 'not there waiting for us, but something we make as we go along'. In the context of relativity (as is pointed out by Hilary Putnam), such a view appears not so much false as meaningless.Lockwood also challenges the standard interpreation of quantum mechanics. He finds no good reason for believing in the collapse of the wave function.
I think there are very good reasons for not believing in it. The first is the fact, noted by von Neumann, that there doesn't appear to be anything in quantum mechanics itself to say where, in the measurement chain, the collapse should occur. Some extra deus ex machina is called for; and considerations of theoretical economy suggest that we should avoid introducing such new elements unless we are forced to do so.Lockwood prefers the relative state formulation of quantum mechanics of Hugh Everett, popularly known as "many-worlds," which avoids collapses
I am not claiming that nothing ever happens. Rather the reverse: on a relative state view, absolutely everything that (physically) can happen does happen, in the sense that it is to be found somewhere in the cosmic wave function.
I conclude, therefore, that Einstein, Eddington, and Jeans were right all along, in placing the philosophical construction that they did on Minkowski's work. To take the space-time view seriously is indeed to regard everything that ever exists, or ever happens, at any time or place, as being just as real as the contents of the here and now. And this rules out any conception of free will that pictures human agents, through their choices, as selectively conferring actuality on what are initially only potentialities. Contrary to this common-sense conception, the world according to Minkowski is, at all times and places, actuality through and through: a four-dimensional block universe. The stark choice that faces us, therefore, is either to accept this view, with all that it may entail for such concepts as that of < ahref="/freedom/moral_responsibility.html">moral responsibility, or else to insist that relativistic invariance is a superficial phenomenon — a misleading façade, behind which is a genuine, honest-to-goodness passage of time, in which certain preferred spacelike hypersurfaces successively bear the mantle of objective presentness. Nothing we have so far established prevents us from adopting such a view, even if, from the standpoint of physics, it remains wholly gratuitous. We saw earlier that the implications of the space–time view for our attitudes towards death are in some respects very appealing. By contrast, however, most people seem to want to believe in free will, in a sense that we have shown to be incompatible with the space–time view. Perhaps this is because they are labouring under the misconception that, by 'placing them in the driving seat,' free will, in this metaphysical sense, somehow enhances the likelihood that they will succeed in realizing their goals. But there are no good grounds for believing this. For such free will would be inherently double-edged. Were it to exist, there is no more reason to think that it would increase the rationality of your behaviour than to think that it would decrease it. To be free, after all, is to be free to perform foolish actions no less than wise ones! Moreover, the alternative view that everything that ever has or ever will happen should be regarded as equally real has significant attractions of its own, and ones that are more firmly grounded, philosophically speaking. In fact, the denial of the openness of the future can, paradoxically, prove very liberating. Specifically, those who manage really to take to heart the idea that all events are eternally real will no longer be tormented by thoughts of 'what might have been'; no longer will they be constantly saying to themselves 'If only I had done such-and such'. For they will acknowledge that at no time are future events anything other than actualities lying in store for us. Any lingering inclination they may have to view their past lives as being littered with missed opportunities and avoidable mistakes will be extinguished by the thought that neither the seizing of the `opportunities, nor the avoidance of the mistakes, ever existed as genuine potentialities. It is, as they will now see it, merely our inability, in general actually to foresee the future that blinds us to the fact that it is as much part of reality as are the present and the past.Lockwood also examines the question of time asymmetry between past and future. This is Arthur Stanley Eddington's idea for an arrow of time, a consequence of the growth of entropy that is required by the second law of thermodynamics. He recounts Ludwig Boltzmann's difficulties proving that the entropy must always increase (Boltzmann's H-theorem) in the face of criticisms from Josef Loschmidt (the paradox of microscopic reversibility), Ernst Zermelo (the paradox of eternal recurrence), and others.