I thought I'd use this site to ask for some dissertation-related advice. I'm currently beginning to work on an undergraduate dissertation in which I'm hoping to explore a few things relating to what some people are calling the ontological turn in anthropology.
Beginning with E. Viveiros De Castro's thoughts on 'taking seriously' the ontologies of the Other, I want to offer my own serious consideration of quantum mechanics, particularly the application of quantum computing to artificial intelligence and consciousness. In doing so, I want to examine the convergences between VDC's cosmological perspectivism and what I see as a sort of multinaturalism inherent in quantum physics. I realise that VDC has urged anthropology to challenge the thoughts of those who are 'close' to us intellectually, but my line of argument is that quantum mechanics still remains as a highly contested field in the physical sciences. Moreover, as I believe Matei Candea argued (my apologies if I'm wrong), where exactly we draw the line between exo- and endo- anthropology seems open for debate.
Before I embark on what will inevitably be a monumental pile of reading, I have a few brief questions on which I'd be interested to hear your thoughts and advice:
1) I want to take both Amazonian perspectivism and quantum mechanics seriously. If I'm employing this term in the same sense as Viveiros De Castro (at least as I understand it), does it make sense for me, as a thought-experiment, to use one to articulate or express the other?
For example, is it anthropologically PC to create a quantum-mathematical model of the 'Amazonian' cosmos as a means of testing its viability? Conversely, should I, according to VDC's logic, be able to take Amazonian perspectivism as a means of measuring the viability of quantum mechanics and of expressing it in vernacular terms, especially as applied in computing and the creation of artificial consciousness? (I am hoping to undertake some 'fieldwork' on AI computer scientists in the coming months).
I'm not saying that either approach will produce particularly illuminating results for quantum physicists or scholars of Amazonian thought, however my hope is that it will shed some light on the usefulness of 'ontology' as a concept in anthropology, as well as the interoperability of what we might call different ontologies.
2) Could anybody recommend previous examples in anthropology where cultural ideas have been modelled or expressed mathematically? If my understanding of VDC's article is correct, then I don't see what the issues of comparing ontologies in this way could be, but I would very much appreciate it if someone could point out any obvious pitfalls or dangers in doing so. Bearing in mind of course that I'm posing such a comparison as a thought experiment more than anything else.
I would very much appreciate your thoughts and comments, as it'll help me to refine my thoughts and hopefully confine my dissertation within the 10,000 word limit...