since 1965  (really?)

Quantum Consciousness: the Large, the Small and the Human Mind

This course listing applies to a Fall 2011 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Fall 2011
CogSci 98 / 198
2 Unit(s)

Human friendly URL (OBSOLETE)


About the Course:


Class is held in 20 Wheeler every Tuesday from 5-7 PM, starting September 6th and ending on November 29th, 2011. There are 13 days of class, 12 weekly HW assignments, and a 3 page term paper. You may miss 2 homework assignments and 2 days of class.

Class Objectives
This class is an interdisciplinary exploration of the implications of quantum mechanics in developing a science of consciousness & its implications to our worldview. Students will develop a basic framework of quantum mechanics as well a framework for applying that knowledge to questions ranging from the ontological status of consciousness to the existence or nonexistence of free will to the nature of personal identity.  Students will explore these and others questions relating to the intersection between quantum mechanics and cognitive science from various perspectives including philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, computer science, and spirituality.

Course Schedule

9/6 1: Introduction to Quantum Consciousness
Unit 1 - Philosophy
9/13 2: Metaphysics of Mind & Matter: Dualism, Materialism, Superposition 
*Rene Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy 5 & 6 (1641)
*Daniel Dennet Consciousnes Explained Multiple Drafts vs. Cartesian Theatre, The Evolution of Consciousness (1992)
9/20 3: Epistemology of Qualia: Plato, Penrose’s 3 Worlds
*David Chalmers “Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness” (1995) 
*Roger Penrose Shadows of the Mind - Ch. 1 Consciusness and Computation (1994)
*Henry Stapp Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics Ch. 1 And then a miracle occurs... (2004)
Unit 2 - Psychology
9/27 4: Behavior, Animals, Mirror Test, Implicit vs. Explicit, Nonconsciousness
*William James Principles in Psychology Vol. 1 Ch. 9 The Stream of Consciousness (1890)
*Carl Jung Collective Unconscious & Archetypes Sect. The Concept of the Collective Unconscious (1959)
10/4 5: Introspection, Hypnosis, Synesthesia, Psychosomatics, Memory/Perception
*A. R. Luria The Mind of a Mnemonist Ch. 6,7 His Control of His Body/Self (1987)
*Oliver Sacks The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat Ch.3 The Disembodied Lady (1998)
Unit 3 - Neuroscience
10/11 6: Lesions, Nonlinear Dynamics, Neurons, Cortical Columns, Hierarchy
*Antonio Demasio The Feeling of What Happens  Ch. 6 The Making of Core Consciousness (1999)
*V. S. Ramachandran The Tell-Tale Brain Ch. 4 The Neurons that Shaped Civilization (2011)
10/18 7: Chemicals, Neurotransmitters & Exotic Experience
*Alexander Shulgin Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (1990)
*Jeffrey Schwartz The Mind & the Brain Ch. 2 Brain Lock (2002)
Unit 4 - Computers
10/25 8: Turing, Probability & Noncomputation
*Alan Turing “Computing Machinery & Intelligence” (1950)
*Seth Lloyd Programming the Universe Ch. 1 Introduction (2006)
*Roger Penrose Shadows of the Mind - Ch. 7 Quantum Theory and the Brain (1994)
11/1 9: Exponentials, Evolution & the Singularity
*Jerry Fodor What Darwin Got Wrong Ch. 1 What kind of theory is the theory of natural selection? (2010)
*Ray Kurzweil The Singularity is Near Ch. 2 A Theory of Technology Evolution (2005)
*Umesh Vazirani Algorithms Ch. 10 Quantum Algorithms (2008)
Unit 5 - Quantum
11/8 10: Entanglement, Collapse & Orthogonality, Copenhagen vs. Actual Events
*******   RESEARCH PAPER TOPIC DUE   *******
*Brain Greene The Fabric of the Cosmos Ch. 4 Entangling Space (2005)
*Seth Lloyd Programming the Universe Ch. 7 The Computational Universe (2006)
*Henry Stapp Mind, Matter & Quantum Mechanics 2nd Ed. Ch. 4 (2004)
11/15 11: Microtubules & the Binding Problem, Nonlocality in Brain Function
*Stuart Hameroff, Roger Penrose “Orch-OR of quantum coherence in brain microtubules” (1996)
*Mari Jibu, Scott Hagan, Stuart Hameroff, Karl Pribam, Kunio Yasue “Quantum optical coherence in cytoskeletal mictrotubules: implications for brain function” (1994)
Unit 6 - Spirituality
11/22 12: Mysticism: Sufism, Wholeness, Wisdom & Guidance
*David Bohm Wholeness and The Implicate Order Ch. 1 Wholeness & Fragmentation (1980)
*Hazrat Salaheddin Ali Nader Angha Theory "I" Ch. 5 The Recognition and Discovery of "I" (2006)
*Dalai Lama The Universe in a Single Atom Ch. 3 Emptiness, Relativity, & Quantum (2006)
11/29 13: Quantum Zeno Effect: Science, Values & Choice
*******   RESEARCH PAPER DUE   *******
*Jeffrey Schwartz The Mind & the Brain  Ch. 10 Attention Must Be Paid (2002)
*Henry Stapp Mind, Matter & Quantum Mechanics Ch. 10 A Quantum Conception of Man (2004)
*Jeffrey Schwartz, Henry Stapp - “A neurophysical model of mind-brain interaction” (2005)

Homework (*)

You are assigned to read one primary source article/chapter per week. Please download all readings. Read all the abstracts and look at the pictures. Pick one of the two/three papers to read and complete the online questionnaire every week found at:

Required Textbook
Roger Penrose The Large, the Small and the Human Mind (1997)
The pdf version will be available on the course website. You have all semester to complete the selected chapters (1-3). There will be periodic discussion pertaining to this text, and participation is required.


You are allowed to miss two days of class. The University’s DeCal policy is to fail with three absences. We will excuse an absence only if you have a credible reason and inform us via email BEFORE class. Furthermore, attendance will be taken near the end of the class. If you need to leave early please talk to us, or you will not get credit for that day’s participation.

Term Paper

Cite at least 3 sources and answer one of four prompts to be assigned mid-semester. 3 pages minimum, double-spaced with appropriate citations (MLA or APA). You must turn in a paper topic by Nov. 8th & the final draft is due Nov. 29th, the final class. Figures and diagrams are encouraged (although do not count towards the page length).

Before you submit your paper, you MUST attend office hours to discuss your paper topic with the facilitators. OH will be announced when the research paper is assigned.

Grading: Pass/No-Pass
If you do ten of the twelve homework assignments, miss two or fewer days of class and submit a satisfactory term paper, then you pass the class.

To be enrolled, show up on the first day of class. If you cannot make it, you must email us before class. Otherwise, you will not be considered. If more people show up on the first day than room capacity, a statement of interest will decide acceptance into the class.
There are NO prerequisites for this class. All majors are encouraged to enroll.
Twenty lower division seats & fifteen upper division seats.

Motivation for the Course

On May 11, 2011 the D-Wave One was released for commercial purchase. This $10 million quantum computer is the first product to utilizes the phenomenon of quantum coherence & natural quantum computing to solve simple search problems in polynomial time. Current technology, integrated circuits, have computational power from maintaining solid-states; digital computers have reached their physical limit in the past decade. With the advent of quantum computation, humanity must ask itself, from what does this computational power arise? Experiments such as the double-slit experiment & liquid helium II reveal a deep mystery, yet unanswered in quantum mechanics, entanglement. However, this underlying connectedness is contrasted by the measurement problem, or how do superposed states collapse into classical, measurable states? As we search for a theory of everything (TOE), we must explain consciousness, knowledge, the physical world, the Big Bang, etc.

Daily Class Schedule
 0. Intro Video Before Class Starts (Symphony of Science)
 1. Announcements
 2. Key Terms (previous weeks, HW readings)
 3. Homework discussion of topics pertaining to today’s lecture
 4. Lecture
 5. Yoga & Bathroom Break
 6. Discussion of lecture and homework preparation

How to Enroll:

We still do not have a course time or place. It will probably be either Tuesday, Thursday or Friday between 4-8. This is a two hour class. To be considered for enrollment, show up on the first day of class (once we know when and where). DeCals start the second week of classes.

Course Contact: QuantumDeCal AT

Faculty Sponsor: Prof. David Presti

Time & Location:

ClassStephen Boynton
Justin Riddle
3820 WheelerTu 5p-7p9/06full

Uploaded Files:

Syllabus: QCFall2011Syllabus.pdfAug 4163kbAdobe PDF (Viewer)View Download

Course info last modified August 19, 2011. This page has been viewed 6300 times.

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