Monday, March 28, 2011

Mind/Body Problem - a New Twist

One of my correspondents has pointed out that I have missed a key point in my earlier discussion concerning the Physicalist/Dualist interpretation of the mind/body problem. As you recall, I tried to summarize the two camps as being either Physicalist, wherein consciousness is explained by only involking the electrical and chemical physical activities of the brain and associated neurological components, and the Dualist camp wherein these same proceses occur, but a new Mind substance also exist=s that is not physical. The Dualists have two things going on: "brain things" as pointed out by King Julian in the movie Madagascar, and an additional consciousness thing that is what we call the Mind, in common sense terms.

My correspondent pointed out that I had missed the fact that physical things were actually energy things, not inanimate physical matter only. e=mC2, and all that. Mass and energy are equivalent, so that a physicalist is actually one who may be saying that consciousness arises not from "simple" chemistry and electrical impulses, but by the transfer of energy only. If we look at this at the level of the neuron and synapse, instead of talking about Ca pumps and membrane permeabilities we should really be talking about energy transfers. Mind is energy. Matter is energy. All there is is energy.

There is apparently a school of thought around this idea, which I have not yet discovered or studied. As with many things that are initially counter-intuitive, there is also a grain of truth here, and teasing it out may take some time. I may need to read something about this in order to acquire the ternimology to talk about it with some sense. My university education is 30 years old at this point and is aging. However, this seems less like a problem in education and more a problem with interpretation. How do we interpret the world around us? Yes, atoms make up the world of the physical, and yes, atoms are made up of smaller particles/waves that have dual physical and energy characteristics. Yet, at the HWI (human/world interface) where I live physical objects are real, and non-physical things are different than that. Invoking an energy explanation of Mind seems like a back-door approach, trying to get around the physicalist/dualist dichotomy using trickery rather than argument.

Help me out. Is there an argument here that I haven't seen yet? Help me get the idea of "matter as energy" as an explanation of the existence of Mind in the front door of this discussion, and justify having us pull up a chair at the table for it.

1 comment:

  1. I could mess this subject up without much effort and even with a lot of effort I would leave out some crucial matters. But there is an easy way to get access to this subject from one of its advocates. Amit Cogswami a retired physics prof from U of Oregon has a film called the Quantum Activist that available for viewing on Netflix and Roku. It's 77 minutes and is more cogent and complete than I can do.

    There is web site called Quantum Activist that gives titles of his several books on quantum physics and mechanics in addition to books on monistic idealism. I have read two of his books and I still reeling. This is so opposite to everything I ever thought I knew that it may be correct.

    After you've seen the film let's have talk.