The Strange Nature of Quantum Perception: To See a Photon, One Must Be a Photon

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This paper takes as its point of departure recent research into the possibility that human beings can perceive single photons. In order to appreciate what quantum perception may entail, we first explore several of the leading interpretations of quantum mechanics, then consider an alternative view based on the ontological phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Martin Heidegger. Next, the philosophical analysis is brought into sharper focus by employing a perceptual model, the Necker cube, augmented by the topology of the Klein bottle. This paves the way for addressing in greater depth the paper’s central question: Just what would it take to observe the quantum reality of the photon? In formulating an answer, we examine the nature of scientific objectivity itself, along with the paradoxical properties of light. The conclusion reached is that quantum perception requires a new kind of observation, one in which the observer of the photon adopts a concretely self-reflexive observational posture that brings her into close ontological relationship with the observed.
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