Do really all mental states exist in some universe according to Many-Minds Interpretation?



According to the Many Minds interpretation of quantum mechanics (, the distinction between worlds in the Many Worlds interpretation should be made at the level of the mind of an individual observer. I have read that, in this case, each observer's mental states would be realized in at least one universe. According to the Many Minds interpretation all that matters is the mind and its mental states

When I found about this interpretation I though it was interesting, although I know it has no empirical support yet. But then I thought of something strange that I think would happen if this interpretation was true and I do not know if my idea is correct.

The thing is: When we observe something (e.g. an apple), a set of neurons are activated and they form a mental state representing the observation of that apple. People with mental illnesses (such as schizophrenia) tend to visualize things that do not really exist (for example, if a patient visualizes a monster, the mental states that would correspond to the observation of that monster are activated. Even if the monster does not exist, the mental states corresponding to that observation are activated, and therefore, the patient would really believe that there is a monster in front of it, since that "observation" would be indistinguishable from an observation of an actual thing)

Therefore, if Many-Minds considers that the observer is fundamental and that mental states corresponding to different observations are realized in different universes, then, would a schizophrenic patient's hallucinations actually exist in different universes? I mean, if this interpretation considers that the different mental states corresponding to what we observe actually indicates what is real, then, if a person suffers hallucinations, wouldn't it meant that these "observations" of those illusions could exist in different universes? That when a schizophrenic patient "sees" a monster, that monster could actually exist in some universe (since it corresponds to a mental state of an "observation")?


Posted 2020-06-05T11:45:57.177

Reputation: 283



This is non sequitur. From "Every mental state can exist in some universe", it does not follow that "Any delusional mental state has in fact a real cause in at least one universe". At most, you can infer "There is at least one universe where my mental state is to see an imaginary monster". But obviously you're not in that universe, so why care at all ?


Posted 2020-06-05T11:45:57.177

Reputation: 1 603

2I didn't know the many minds interpretation. It looks fishy from the get go: what happened back when there was no mind to perceive anything happen, which is a time span covering most of the universe existence ? – armand – 2020-11-22T11:29:32.590

yep, that too, though honestly... when I first learned about "intersubjectivity", I felt something became broken inside -- like the capacity to be surprised ever again... or was it my faith in humanity? I can't tell, I just don't care about things anymore... bon appetite? – Yuri Alexandrovich – 2020-11-22T13:29:09.177


This is why the many worlds hypothesis gets the “blank stare response”. Sit for a while and think of all the absurd possibilities that would exist. Anything you can get think of really exists in some universe. Every movie ever made actually happens for real in some universe. There might be a universe where everyone on earth stands up all at once and starts screaming and running around, ripping their clothes off, killing people, etc. States of eternal agony, injustice, and totally evil, hell. Universes where you murder your whole family for no apparent reason. Monsters. Superheroes. They all exist in the other universes. Universes where it just so happens that you are some kind of mutant who doesn’t grow old or die. Universes where I win the powerball every time I play. The absurdities are endless.

Bryan Aneux

Posted 2020-06-05T11:45:57.177

Reputation: 306

hahaha, love the sarcasm -- any constructive suggestions tho?.. maybe? – Yuri Alexandrovich – 2020-11-22T12:31:55.773

... love the name too! – Yuri Alexandrovich – 2020-11-22T12:38:44.440

... and while you are finalizing your response I'd indulge myself -- and only because I'm a huge fan of many-worlds myself -- to recognize, again, that we tend to unduly complicate this great interpretation. Like, if you think about it, MWO would work just as well w/o, the plurality actually happening. I mean just as well for us, but the rest of the many worlds don't actually need to get created... and suffer like this., you know? – Yuri Alexandrovich – 2020-11-22T13:07:02.207

Sorry, I was not meaning to be facetious. It seemed to follow from it. These are all possible worlds. While they may be improbable in this world, they are possible arrangements of matter in the universe. When you get into infinity, then they may be actual. They must love me in the worlds where I win the Powerball every time. :) – Bryan Aneux – 2020-12-10T22:28:41.307

Also your point about arrangements of matter in the brain creating possible realities. Check out the many minds interpretation of QM in David Albert's book Quantum Mechanics and Experience. If that's the case then the possible realities of experience may also be endless. Even in this world. – Bryan Aneux – 2020-12-10T22:32:17.593

These are all possible worlds -- yes, they are possible. But it doesn't mean they actually exist. Like, MWO doesn't require the other branches to actually exist -- as opposed to simply being possible. – Yuri Alexandrovich – 2020-12-11T01:22:53.940

As for many minds / intersubjectivity delusion -- the reason ppl fall for it is very real, but it doesn't make it any less delusional – Yuri Alexandrovich – 2020-12-11T01:31:59.860

Yes, there are many different interpretations of it. Could we say that they don't fully exist unless there exists some conscious entity that is aware of it or has experience of it? Experiencing it makes it real for the person. Others may not be aware of it or experience it, but it is real for the person. Reality is something created by our brains. – Bryan Aneux – 2020-12-11T06:59:18.760

How the universe actually is can only be known indirectly through experience after some processing through our neural network and making assumptions based on that. That is not to say that there isn't some underlying existence following laws that creates it, or that we cannot know or extrapolate some of those laws from what we observe, but it remains elusive.. – Bryan Aneux – 2020-12-11T06:59:28.520

Well, don't you think it's funny? Whatever is the subject of our inquiry, it takes maybe 6 questions to deconstruct it all the way down, to the nature of reality. A happy end of sorts, because we can finally agree that we know nothing, and we never will... so what's the point? in anything, really.. – Yuri Alexandrovich – 2020-12-11T10:09:50.297

Luckily, we always knew the solution to that problem:

– Yuri Alexandrovich – 2020-12-14T06:21:18.687

@BryanAneux Are you discussing the many worlds interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics (as your answer states) or the many minds interpretation? If the former, you've mischaracterized it. The MWI does not hold that "[a]nything you can get think of really exists in some universe," nor that that all possible arrangements of matter exist in some universe. It's not even necessarily true in that there would be an infinite number of worlds among the many worlds (this depends on whether the universe is finite in size and whether spacetime has minimum length/time scales). – jwimberley – 2020-12-24T15:54:56.523

@BryanAneux There are some hypotheses in physics which do seem to imply that any possible arrangement of matter exists some"where." One is the hypothesis that the universe is infinite in extant in the familiar three dimensions; it's not clear whether that would ever be provable but might be disprovable, I think. Others are multiverse theories in which our universe is one of a number of universes exploring a number of possible laws of physics (same rules but different numeric parameters, typically). – jwimberley – 2020-12-24T16:00:00.950

@YuriAlexandrovich "MWO doesn't require the other branches to actually exist" If you're talking about the many worlds interpretation of QM, no -- it absolutely asserts that the other branches are as real as our "own" branch. Otherwise it would be vacuous. – jwimberley – 2020-12-24T16:00:57.717

@jwimberley, i have a question for you.. Have you ever wondered why they came up with MWO interpretation in the first place?.. And if not — why not? – Yuri Alexandrovich – 2020-12-26T00:07:14.710

Sorry if any misunderstanding. As I learned about it there were several interpretations or variants that were of the the Many Worlds type, of them the Many Minds interpretation was only one of several presented in Albert's book, which I don't believe as I recall was a view that he endorsed. I suggested it as reading per the OP interest in the possible impact of mental states. – Bryan Aneux – 2020-12-26T05:26:21.220

There are many different possible interpretations for the same data of QM which tell very different stories about the universe, and yes it has, as I understand it, which could be incorrect, created an interesting dilemma or doubts about our ability to settle it, although various people continue to assert the merits of various approaches over others. – Bryan Aneux – 2020-12-26T05:37:00.370