Exploring Non-locality in Psychology


In this article, we explore non-locality in the context of General Psychology. First, we introduce some key historical debates concerning the epistemological and ontological character of non-locality. These debates lead us into a discussion about the issue of measurement in science and its relation to subject and object. This discussion is exemplified through Zeh’s concept of decoherence and Goethe’s theory of light (his Farbenlehre). The overall goal is thus to qualify how a distinction between locality/non-locality can be viewed as a philosophy of science theme which is relevant to General Psychology. Finally, this distinction is illustrated with Mammen’s concept of choice categories and Engelsted’s concepts of interface and interspace, which, ultimately, call attention to an ontological absence that characterizes non-locality. We suggest this ontological absence be further investigated from a semiotic point of view in future research concerning the general psychological nature of non-local phenomena.

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  1. 1.

    For example in his 1949 response to Einstein (Bohr, 1998).

  2. 2.

    Since the quantum description violates the locality criterion and therefore we cannot be sure that it informs us of any physical feature.

  3. 3.

    Actually, considering the other half of the famous quote makes this perfectly clear: “I, at any rate, am convinced that God does not throw a dice, nor does God employ methods of telepathy” (Einstein in a letter to Max Born 1924, published by Irene Born 1971).

  4. 4.

    It is important that the reader be aware that in this section we are not so much concerned with quantum physics as we are concerned with the range of epistemic potentials offered by the legitimacy of operating with non-locality in scientific theories.

  5. 5.

    Reason will confabulate its experiences if it does not truly presuppose the suppositions of its observations, as Hegel philosophized over 200 years ago (Hegel, 2005, p. 168–205).

  6. 6.

    By the term “re-framing” we do not suggest that decoherence can explain superposition or entanglement, that is, we do not suggest that decoherence offers an alternative theory to interpretations of the measurement problem. Rather, the concept of decoherence offers a different perspective than that of the measurement problem by focussing on the boundary between quantum and non-quantum effects, instead of portraying the quantum effects as a reality which is somehow disturbed by our peeking.

  7. 7.

    This is a critique which has been furthered by the father of modern phenomenology Edmund Husserl (1859–1938). Husserl claimed that the dualism between world and perception leads to a naturalistic attitude, whereby phenomena are treated as obvious and objective happenings in the world, which then secondarily strikes perception, like an impulse appearing on a radar-screen (see Moran, 2008 for a walkthrough of Husserl's critique of naturalism).

  8. 8.

    Giving primacy to the subjective experience blocks the road to scientifically analysing how something emerges—thus, in Goethe’s theory, the emergence of the subjective perception that results from the light-dark boundaries, intensities, and hues that gives way to colour, remains philosophical and is somewhat mysteriously contained in what he terms Polarität (polarity), a phenomenological set of principles that help us form an immediate and direct perception of the world (such as yellow-blue, light-dark, repulsion-attraction, and God-world).


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Ebbesen, D.K., Olsen, J. Exploring Non-locality in Psychology. Hu Arenas (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42087-021-00189-z

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  • Non-locality
  • General psychology
  • Quantum Theory
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Metaphysics