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Bernhard Riemann, the Ear, and an Atom of Consciousness

Bell, Andrew; Davies, Bryn; Ammari, Habib

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Why did Bernhard Riemann (1826-1866), arguably the most original mathematician of his generation, spend the last year of life investigating the mechanism of hearing? Fighting tuberculosis and the hostility of eminent scientists such as Hermann Helmholtz, he appeared to forsake mathematics to prosecute a case close to his heart. Only sketchy pages from his last paper remain, but here we assemble some significant clues and triangulate from them to build a broad picture of what he might have been...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorBell, Andrew
dc.contributor.authorDavies, Bryn
dc.contributor.authorAmmari, Habib
dc.date.accessioned2023-08-21T22:50:14Z
dc.date.available2023-08-21T22:50:14Z
dc.identifier.issn1233-1821
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/296704
dc.description.abstractWhy did Bernhard Riemann (1826-1866), arguably the most original mathematician of his generation, spend the last year of life investigating the mechanism of hearing? Fighting tuberculosis and the hostility of eminent scientists such as Hermann Helmholtz, he appeared to forsake mathematics to prosecute a case close to his heart. Only sketchy pages from his last paper remain, but here we assemble some significant clues and triangulate from them to build a broad picture of what he might have been driving at. Our interpretation is that Riemann was a committed idealist and from this philosophical standpoint saw that the scientific enterprise was lame without the "poetry of hypothesis". He believed that human thought was fundamentally the dynamics of "mind-masses" and that the human mind interpenetrated, and became part of, the microscopic physical domain of the cochlea. Therefore, a full description of hearing must necessarily include the perceptual dimensions of what he saw as a single manifold. The manifold contains all the psychophysical aspects of hearing, including the logarithmic transformations that arise from Fechner's law, faithfully preserving all the subtle perceptual qualities of sound. For Riemann, hearing was a unitary physical and mental event, and parallels with modern ideas about consciousness and quantum biology are made. A unifying quantum mechanical model for an atom of consciousness-drawing on Riemann's mind-masses and the similar "psychons" proposed by Eccles-is put forward.
dc.description.sponsorshipOpen Access funding provided by ETH Zurich.
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.publisherOficyna Akademicka
dc.rights© 2021 The authors
dc.rights.urihttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
dc.sourceFoundations of Science
dc.subjectBernhard Riemann
dc.subjectHearing
dc.subjectManifold
dc.subjectMind-mass
dc.subjectPsychon 
dc.subjectConsciousness 
dc.subjectQuantum mechanics
dc.titleBernhard Riemann, the Ear, and an Atom of Consciousness
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolumeOnline
dc.date.issued2021
local.identifier.absfor500204 - History and philosophy of science
local.identifier.ariespublicationa383154xPUB21214
local.publisher.urlhttps://link.springer.com/
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationBell, Andrew, College of Health and Medicine, ANU
local.contributor.affiliationDavies, Bryn, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich
local.contributor.affiliationAmmari, Habib, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage855
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage873
local.identifier.doi10.1007/s10699-021-09813-1
dc.date.updated2022-07-24T08:19:15Z
local.identifier.thomsonIDWOS:000679265300001
dcterms.accessRightsOpen Access
dc.provenanceThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
dc.rights.licenseCreative Commons Attribution licence
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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