Keith Parsons recently wrote:
neurons are classical not quantum objects
What's Parsons attempting to say here? Is he referring to classical mechanics in physics as opposed to quantum mechanics?
If not, I'm not sure what he's talking about.
But if so, then presumably he's attempting to say something like (in his own clumsy way) the physiology of neurons or neurophysiology isn't best explained by quantum mechanics, but rather by classical mechanics?
If so, for starters we can say that, generally speaking, quantum effects are more pronounced the smaller an object is. But just because neurons (i.e. nerve cells) aren't, say, atomic or subatomic particles doesn't necessarily mean QM has zero effect on neurons. A quantum effect could still be present but simply not observable. At least not by our current instruments or technology.
Further, neurons are obviously comprised of smaller constituents which could be measurably subject to QM (e.g. perhaps some proteins, perhaps the electron transport chain in the mitochondrial membrane).
Besides, isn't Parsons a reductionist who also subscribes to emergent phenomena in their lower level constituents? If so, wouldn't Parsons think lower level constituents in neurons could influence the higher level neurons themselves in some fashion?
Also, even if we don't head down to a low level like the atomic or subatomic level but instead stick with the molecular or cellular level, we know nerve signals are transmitted via nerve cells or neurons electrochemically (i.e. via electrical action potentials and chemical neurotransmitters). And I don't see why certain events in this electrochemical transmission process between neurons couldn't be explicated in terms of QM? (Well, maybe only if the time scale isn't short enough.)
Of course, none of this is at all to suggest I agree with the position that QM fully explains consciousness. Rather, I'm just responding to Parsons on his own terms.
This article from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy may also be of interest to some.