Note: This essay is essentially as it was written in 1999: revisions have been minor. The treatment of mind and the philosophical background are significantly improved in the essays on being on the website linked immediately above, especially Journey in Being-New World. In these essays the focus is on being and not exclusively on mind. The improvements are due to the placement of the concept of mind in a wider context and to the simultaneous improvement in my own understanding


Outline. Bulleted links (   ) go to the topic in the table of contents. Descriptive links go to the text

  Introduction  |    Revision of May 2003

  Mind and Consciousness  |    Relations among Mind, World and Time  |    Origins of Mind and Consciousness  |    Philosophical Concerns

Bibliography  |  Copyright  |  Footnotes



The Logic of the Arrangement

The Structure of the Set of Problems Constitutes an Implicit Metaphysics

The Website and Plans for Future Development

An In-Process Document

Tentative Status of the Document and Current Studies in Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem

An Invitation to Readers


Revision of May 2003

Status of The Document

1        Mind and Consciousness

1.1        The Concepts of Mind and Consciousness

1.1.1        On Meaning

1.1.2        First Meanings of Mind and Consciousness

1.1.3        Need for Further Analysis of the Concepts of Mind and Consciousness

1.1.4        Evolution of the Concepts of Matter, Mind and Consciousness

1.1.5        Recognizing Mind and Consciousness: the Signs

1.1.6        Confusion between the Signs and the Concepts

1.1.7        The Mystery of Consciousness

1.2        What Is the Extent of the Conscious in Relation to All Mental Phenomena?

1.2.1        All Mental Phenomena Are Conscious

1.2.2        Mental Phenomena Are Either Conscious or Accessible to Consciousness

1.2.3        There Are Mental Phenomena That Are Not Accessible to Consciousness

1.2.4        There Are No Conscious Phenomena

1.3        An Atlas of Mind and Consciousness: Structure, Functions and Dynamics

1.3.1        The Elements of Psychology

1.3.2        Directions and Modes of Development for Psychology

1.3.3        Elements of Mental Processes as a Dynamic System

1.3.4        Psychiatric or Mental Disorders as Variation

1.3.5        Exceptional Abilities and Performance from a Framework of Variation and Nurture

1.4        Direction of Further Study

2        Relations among Mind, World and Time

2.1        Mind and World: Two Problems

2.1.1        Mind and World

2.1.2        The Problem of Mind and Matter: Explaining Mind from Matter or Nature

2.1.3        The Problem of the Structure and Dynamics of Mind

2.1.4        Boundaries of Mind

2.1.5        The Problems of Consciousness

2.1.6        Are there two Problems or One

2.2        The Concept of a Theory of Mind and Consciousness

2.2.1        A Theory of the World

2.2.2        What will or should a Theory of Mind and Consciousness Do?

2.2.3        What Would It Take to Have a Theory of Consciousness?

2.3        Mind and Nature,

2.3.1        Mind from Matter

2.3.2        Physics

2.3.3        Biology and Neuroscience

2.3.4        Anthropology

2.3.5        Physics or Biology?

2.4        Mind, Society and Language

2.4.1        Relates to, Mirrors Psychology in Two Ways

2.4.2        Communication, Mind and Consciousness

2.4.3        Thought as Internal Speech or Dialog

2.4.4        On the Knowledge of Other Minds

2.5        Mind, Machines and Technology

2.5.1        Nature of Machines and Tools - Machines as Objects

2.5.2        Role of Machines - Machines and Tools as Aids

2.6        Mind, Information and Mathematics

2.6.1        Cognitivism and Its Critics

2.7        The Larger Context

2.7.1        Integration

2.7.2        The Ultimate

3        Origins of Mind and Consciousness

3.1        Immediate Origins

3.2        Development

3.3        The Evolution of Life

3.3.1        Adaptivity of Mind and Consciousness

3.3.2        On the Nature of Knowledge from Its Evolutionary Context

3.3.3        Evolution: Bio-psycho-social

3.4        The Physical Universe

3.5        The Ultimate

3.6        General concerns

4        Philosophical Concerns

4.1        The Nature of Problems

4.1.1        Problems in General

4.1.2        Nature and Status of the Problems of Mind and Consciousness

4.2        Ontology, Metaphysics and Being

4.2.1        General Considerations

4.2.2        Specific Ontologies or Metaphysics

4.2.3        Relationship to Special Disciplines

4.3        Epistemology, Explanation and Theory

4.3.1        Modes of Explanation

4.3.2        Scientific and Evolutionary Explanation: Nature and Value

4.3.3        Society and Epistemology

4.3.4        Thoughts on Future Forms of Explanation

4.3.5        Explanans - A Variety of Source Theories

4.3.6        Explanandum: Mind and Being?

4.3.7        A Variety of Positions

4.3.8        A Hierarchy of Neutral Ontologies

4.4        Method: How to Study the Problems

4.4.1        On Constructing New Theories

4.4.2        What Will It Take to Develop a Theory of Consciousness and Mind?

4.4.3        A Variety of Conscious Experience - Mind as Experienced in a Variety of Contexts

4.5        Sources - the Literature, Institutions

4.6        An Approach to a Theory of Mind and Nature

4.6.1        The Ontology

4.6.2        The Program

4.6.3        The Disciplines

4.7        The Problems of Mind

4.8        The Future of Studies in Mind and Consciousness

4.8.1        On Prediction

4.8.2        Value of the Study

4.8.3        What if all Problems of Science and Philosophy Were Conceived and Solved

4.8.4        The Scientific Problems - Physics, Biology, Psychology

4.8.5        Philosophy


I – The Literature

II – Works by Anil Mitra

Copyright, Most Recent Update and Status of the Document

Status of The Document




I have been thinking, writing and reading the literature on consciousness for a while. I have arranged my thought into a set of problems that I want to be reasonably well organized and complete

The field of consciousness research is in flux: proposed solutions to the problems do not have finality at the present stage of development. Indeed one problem is to identify the main issues. I thought it would be useful to publish my reflections in the format of a set of problems. As a catalog of problems, the content of this document is a compilation of viewpoints and issues rather than a development of a single theme from a single point of view

My original intent was to sketch an outline of the modern problems of consciousness and this catalog will reflect that concern. Additionally, there were various reasons to take a broader view. An obvious one is that consciousness is an aspect of mind, which, as a fundamental and main descriptive category [the ontological status of mind is one of the issues considered in this document], provides firmer ground from which to understand consciousness and its relations. Thus, I decided to consider the problems of mind generally while retaining a focus on consciousness

A second reason to take a broader view is as follows. Much of the recent activity and excitement in the theory of consciousness is due to [1] the new models of mind from philosophy, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and proof theory; [2] the promise that ongoing experimental and theoretical neuroscience is detailing places and processes in the organism-brain where micro-physiology meets the classic mental functions such as memory, cognition and emotion; [3] breaking of the materialist-functionalist domination in psychology and philosophy of mind - and a willingness to explore mind itself. Modern physics may also provide critical insight into the mind. This modern activity is very specialized – in a number of ways. The principles of organization and criticism of such activity come in part from general considerations such as are provided by the traditions in psychology and the philosophy of mind. At the same time, the tradition is by no means completed and contains its own cycles of expansion, error and correction; ongoing reflection and analysis will continue to remain productive. Importantly, the new activity in the theory of mind and the continuation of traditional thought should be mutually informing. Therefore, it is important to consider the historical context of the study of mind

The analytical approach should be balanced by experiment. In the case of mind, the study of experience is a form of experiment

The demands of history and of the present may be met through consideration of current and classical problems. The requirements of both theory and experience may be satisfied by considering input from a variety of disciplines and traditions

A personal reason to expand the scope of the catalog is to make it a more complete resource for my broader interests, especially in the theory and nature of being

The Logic of the Arrangement

The logic is expressed in the scheme: Mind; its relations; and criticism

This can be expanded:

[1] Mind, its structure and processes

[2] Relations to the world, dynamics

[3] Origins - immediate, developmental, evolutionary and ultimate, and

[4] Philosophy, questions about the nature of the problems, “meta-questions”

Naturally, the topics overlap

There are many open questions; the main issues are grouped into the four topics and are recounted in section 4.7, under the heading Status of the Catalog of Problems. In the present version of the document, it is the place of mind in the world -and study of the relationship- that forms the organizing principle. An outline of the problems and reasons for its deferment is given in Section 4.7

Because of the interrelations, reflection upon the problems as a group enhances understanding of the individual problems. The broader concerns, ultimate issues, the immediate, and the practical sphere are mutually relevant

A number of primary and supporting themes are developed in stages, interwoven with one another. The supporting themes are related to but do not directly constitute the main subject. These themes are taken up as needed and hence the recurrence. However, recurrence is not repetition and each occurrence may involve a new consideration or point of view. Thus, there is a natural development of some of the supporting ideas in the contexts of their application. It would be useful to gather the different aspects of a topic: Appendix A lists some of the themes and the locations in the document where they are developed

The Structure of the Set of Problems Constitutes an Implicit Metaphysics

The terms ontology and metaphysics are used somewhat interchangeably. However, ontology may be used in reference to an actual or explanatory generative principle behind a metaphysical system

A value of metaphysics is that consideration of a significant problem in a universal setting contributes to understanding of the problem and of the whole. This development does not arise at once but is iterative, reflexive and interactive. Thus, a system of metaphysics and its application arise in interaction

The structure of any problem set that aims at completeness must, in part, imply and derive from an ontology or metaphysics, which may be implicit or pragmatic. Pragmatic, here, may mean a system that is defined by practice rather than as a separate system whether explicit or implicit. My initial plan was to use the tacitly defined scientific worldview that defines the terms of much of the modern discussion on mind. As described above, I have relaxed the original intent; this will place the scientific view in a context. The scheme Mind, Relations and Origins, Reflection or Philosophy assumes a metaphysics of mind-in-the-world. Derivation [see Topic 4] of a set of issues or problems from the interaction of current study and metaphysics is currently implicit in this document

The Website and Plans for Future Development

A primary long-term objective is to develop a site for my work in Being and the Elements of Being

The purposes of the present site for a Catalog of Problems in the Science and Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness are [1] to publish, to contribute, to learn by criticism [2] to experience site development and maintenance - updating, advertising, registering, maintaining correspondence... I chose consciousness because I have been studying and writing about it for a while, because of its pertinence to the larger topic of Being, and because of its current interest

Plans for the present site on mind and consciousness are: tighten the logic and the organization - and, to some extent, bring together themes that weave through the discussion; incorporate material from the spectrum of disciplines labeled cognitive science - especially artificial intelligence [AI] and proof theory, from neuroscience, psychology, philosophy and psychiatry, and other sources - including other cultures and direct individual experience - noted in the document; elaborate and modify the content in response by my own and others’ ideas and criticism and to progress in the field; report on developments and results in a program of study, and research... In planning and working out the present format, I went from the particular [mind] to the general [philosophy, metaphysics]. There is an advantage to the reverse order - general to particular that I have used in other writing - and I may adopt that approach later

Discussion and plans for the site continue in the immediately following comments

An In-Process Document

This document is part of the blurred boundary between formal and informal work that is a byproduct of electronic publication

This is definitely an in-process document. Commentary on others’ work, though critical, is primarily for learning and sharing. Similarly, the cycling through various ontological positions is not subscription to any particular ontology or even to the idea of categorial ontology. This cycling shows the relative nature of categorial ontologies, which is brought out also by noting that a categorial ontology such as materialism has no meaning until the notion of matter has been specified sufficiently so that we know that if other categories turn out to be included, that is not the case because what is called matter actually has the mental residing deep in the recesses of its original nature. One way in which I work through a variety of ontological positions is through commentary on work of other writers; this is effective in that the metaphysical positions of the writers are intended to be instantiated in application. I have not worked out a complete and systematic metaphysics; it is not clear that one would be useful. However, there should be at least a sketch of a complete system of the one world; for I see meaning as neither merely atomic nor merely established by use; rather meaning occurs in the context of, at least, a descriptive system or theory of the one world and the application of the system. The document builds toward an outline of a complete system. This placement within such a complete system would also be a requirement for classification to be the basis of categorial ontology

Upon completion of the document, it has become clear that there are two main problem areas:

Mind - what it is or its nature and its significance; and its relations to the world. Note that the world includes mind. Relations are defining; they include spatio-temporal relations and intensionality

The background of understanding

These two problem areas will guide further development

Tentative Status of the Document and Current Studies in Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem

I hesitate to say that the working through a variety of categorial positions - this includes positions that are asserted or intended to be non-categorial - without presenting any definite position of my own is representative of the field. However, even though I may later make a more definite commitment, I feel that the indefiniteness is rather characteristic of the field of mind-body relations today. My position is definite in that [1] I specify a framework for the formulation of background metaphysics, [2] I specify what makes an intended monism such as materialism truly monistic - I argue that many so-called materialisms or idealisms are too under specified to count as a true monism, and [3] I present alternatives for the way in which the ontological framework may work out - this implies that the current scene is indefinite despite claims to definiteness, [4] I define a program of research - drawing from the current scene and my ideas of effective organization from practical and theoretical / conceptual points of view - at experiential, theoretical and ideological levels

Is the indefiniteness of ontological foundation that characterizes the field of mind-body study, including the origin and structure of consciousness and its place in the realm of mental phenomena, an essential indefiniteness? This is somewhat an open question for me. However, I have been coming to believe that definiteness in metaphysics goes together with detailed work in the study of all known realms of phenomena. Metaphysics is not something that is specified in advance; its specification and elaboration is not separate from the elaboration of the individual sciences and disciplines. This does not mean that metaphysics is without use over and above any appeal that it may have to the human spirit since the process of mutual specification is in the form of dialog. Furthermore, there is no implication that metaphysics is impossible. This is because modes of knowing and knowledge are also part of the equation of discovery. As a rough approximation, one may say that today’s science is - and is informed by - yesterday’s metaphysics. Similarly, our metaphysics, in addition to giving significance to the process of discovery - this has a rather subjective component, may also inform tomorrow’s science and practical knowledge. A framework for this process is given in the previous paragraph

An Invitation to Readers

I welcome commentary - appreciative, questioning, and skeptical - from others


I have cited main references, sources of information and ideas. The text references are collected in a bibliography and links are provided for Internet sites

I am immersed in the cultural milieu and its tradition. I have been reading the popular and technical literature in a number of fields for many years. I have absorbed ideas and vocabulary from these sources. Various conclusions and ways of thought, which might otherwise be original, are have derivation from the cultural environment and likely to be anticipated by others. It does not seem necessary, even if possible, to identify all these influences. However, a general awareness of the influence is healthy and the debt is acknowledged

Revision of May 2003

The site is no longer restricted to the issues of mind and consciousness. As planned, the focus on mind has been expanded to being

The main document for the site is Journey in Being. There, I have collected, conceptually systematized and condensed my thought on mind. I have been fortunate to have found much conceptual clarification especially with regard to the ontological status of being generally and mind in particular, with regard to the mind-matter issue and to the nature and kinds of mental function

However, the document Journey in Being is not dedicated to mind. Its four sections are Knowledge and Action, Experiments in the Transformation of Being, The Variety of Being, and Action and Influence. The first and third sections are pertinent to the present document. Knowledge and Action includes a treatment of mind, consciousness, of various problems especially mind-matter and of the mental functions. The Variety of Being has a discussion of cognitivism and computation in relation to the study of mind and includes a discussion of the ontological status of machines including the question of machine intelligence which is not a controversial topic and of machine thinking and machine consciousness. The treatment there – on mind and machines – goes far beyond that of the present document

Status of The Document

The present document is useful as a source of detail and as a possible foundation – for organization – if I write again specifically on consciousness. With that end in mind and since much content is now in Journey in Being, I have excised a number of parts of present document

The Problems

1           Mind and Consciousness[1]

1.1         The Concepts[2] of Mind and Consciousness

The first meaning[3] of a notion in the context of humankind[4] and culture[5] is through experience and use. The first experience of mind is as experience[6] itself; and later, a name such as “mind” may be used. A tendency to reification may attach a spatial metaphor, e.g., the seat of experience [7] to “mind”. This first meaning will be modified below

Here are two aspects to this. You and I may use the same word but refer to different things. A first step is to make sure that we are talking [more or less] about the same thing. Secondly, although something may exist, our idea or description of it may be adequate or inadequate for the context or purpose. Therefore, it is necessary to go beyond the “first” meaning. How may this be done? What is revealed for “mind”? These questions are addressed in what follows

Regarding mind, without consciousness or sentience, i.e. without phenomenal experience, there is no datum, no subject, and no discussion. The first approach identifies what it is that is [to be] under discussion; it is the occasion for the word “mind” and its meaning

In reflective thought there have been two related senses [Runes, 1983] of this first meaning: [1] The individual mind is the self that perceives, remembers, imagines, feels, conceives, reasons, etc. and which is functionally related to an individual bodily organism. [2] Mind, generically considered, is a metaphysical substance, which pervades all individual minds and is contrasted with matter or material substance. I.e., we can talk of individual minds... and of Mind. The latter appears to be hypothetical. Discussion starts with individual minds

It important to talk about meanings and uses because the correspondence between words, meanings and uses is many-to-many; because any given correspondence is never clear and definite; and because words and meanings are in flux, i.e. in evolution. This does not mean that there should be no sense of focus or concreteness to meaning; words, meanings, concepts and uses cohere or coalesce in more and less well knit groups; meanings and uses remain stable for periods of time that may correspond to phases of history or to the ascendance of a paradigm within which meanings find application. Enlightened dialog about meaning encourages proper but not false clarity, and is a part of the growth of knowledge

It is important to be clear about the meanings of the mind and consciousness [1] because of the centrality of mind, especially of consciousness, to human experience, [2] as part of establishing any adequate theory of mind, and [3] because “consciousness” is used in a variety of related senses. It is thus important to be clear on the meaning used here and it is desirable for that meaning to be the core or primary meaning [in a sense elaborated below] and to have appropriate historical continuity. The difficulty of analytic definitions of mind and consciousness relates to the difficulties associated with establishing their precise nature and boundaries and relations to the world. Regarding the central nature of consciousness and difficulty of definition, the following illuminates the point:

“Consciousness cannot be defined: we may be ourselves fully aware of what consciousness is, but we cannot without confusion convey to others a definition of what we ourselves clearly apprehend. The reason is plain: consciousness lies at the root of all knowledge[8]

The human psychology of language is such that naming something lends concreteness to it; and therefore the naming of mind already contains a latent hypothetical character [9], [10]. This is a source of confusion and error but also of fruitful adventure into the nature of the world. From a practical point of view, we should remember that the form of mind is the form of experience

1.1.1        On Meaning[11]

As suggested above the first meaning of a concept is through experience and use. It is implicit in this thesis that meanings are not given but evolve. It was also implicit that a first meaning of “meaning” is related to experience and use

Here are some thoughts on this issue. As Wittgenstein emphasized, talk of meaning must look to use. This statement is indefinite if the purpose of talk about meaning is to find definite meaning. Meanings have more or less concrete use, first, in close-knit sub-cultures. There is, however, regardless of openness or closed nature of the sub-cultures, an interaction or communication, even when only an indirect one through interaction with the common culture. These interactions are threaded through time. Tracing these processes must be difficult since their time scale frequently exceeds the life spans of individuals and of interpretations. What appears closed over a few years may be open over a generation

A related consideration focuses on the hierarchy of structures through which meaning is elaborated. At the first level, there is experience and use. At another level, there is the class of informally related concepts, meanings and uses. I think of this as a modified first meaning. A second level of meaning of is arrived at through an elaboration of a descriptive world and this includes the possibility of theories. Thus, consciousness, emotion, cognition and so on find enhanced meaning by being placed in relation to one another. In this second level of meaning of a word / concept, we may find that a bit of the meaning of cognition should go under emotion; we may find emotion to be a compound concept. We might find a single or small number of elementary phenomena that constitute the field of mental phenomena. The old meanings are stripped down and built up; some concepts are discarded and new ones arise. Even in the most anti-empirical or extreme rationalist of settings, the process must be informed by the experience - at least at an unconscious level. The metaphor of a collage is appropriate under the following provision. After the collage is constructed, the artist looks at the collage and asks, “Is this saying anything?” In addition, if the answer is “No”, or “Yes, but not quite the right thing!” then the collage may receive additional work or start again with a blank canvas

The first and second levels of meaning correspond roughly to the idea of “sense” and the following levels correspond roughly to “reference”. The relations among these levels correspond, approximately, to a system of relations among sense and reference

A third level meaning of a word / concept or system of words is through the addition of an active and intentional empirical phase to the process of second meaning described above. We now have a system of concepts that stand in relation to one another and a system of description, possibly a theory, that provide understanding or explanation of the world or a more or less coherent sub-domain of facts and patterns. There is attempt to improve the faithfulness of the system of description over the domain and / or extend to domain to which the system applies. This attempt includes explanation of known phenomena and prediction of new ones; new experiments are suggested by the predictions and experiments require further prediction and comparison; and, when the theoretical system is in sufficient disagreement there is the revaluation of that system as described in the previous paragraph

Meanings evolve in mutual relation to other meanings [second level of meaning] and in the evolution of context or application [third level]. The associations of words and meanings also change but words do not precisely follow meanings. Even given a fixed set of meanings, word associations change as the space of the meanings is explored; other influences are sound and custom

These second and third levels of meaning of word / concepts provide second and third meanings of meaning

There is an analogy with axiomatic systems[12]. Consider Euclidean geometry: for two millennia there was an open question and debate about the fifth postulate - the postulate that non-parallel lines meet at exactly one point. The postulate was finally shown to be independent of the other postulates; i.e., the negation of the fifth postulate could be added to the first four postulates without contradiction. This led to the possibility of non-Euclidean geometry. In so generalizing from Euclidean geometry, just one of a number of alternative meanings of “straight line” generalizes appropriately. In further seeking to analyze the nature of the concept of space and its possibilities the idea has been generalized to spaces without metric where relations between points are specified in terms of “continuity.” The various theories of modern geometry and topology have a broad range of application to natural science and within mathematics itself. In the process the definitions of the basic concepts or terms and their meaning is changed. The way in which meanings change in general is similar though not as formal

Alfred North Whitehead, 1929, states this as follows: “A precise language must await a completed metaphysical knowledge.”

From the present considerations, the following can be added to Whitehead’s observation. Meaning cannot be completely isolated from the entire system. However, the act of naming is an act of partial isolation and the process of partial isolation for the purpose of clarification of use and meaning is a process of illumination and, though not complete in itself, part of the expansion of the system, or increase in its faithfulness over, the domain of application. This is a structured affair for a word can have a general meaning within, for example, the English Language - the distinction between formal and informal languages is not significant here - and derivative and specific meanings within specific contexts. When a word / concept is isolated from a special context, its more general meaning may still be available

The process of meaning is not separate from its broadest canvas, yet separation is necessary for the process to go on. This is the case even when the separation is not an analytic operation and is not fully someone’s mental content. The separation may be a process in a small community that is subject to selection pressure. The process, then, is something that occurs with natural language and its use. The canvas of meaning, in the case of natural language, may be so broad as to not come within the scope of most natural users

However, consider Edward Hall’s [1995] description of negotiations in a meeting with tribal leaders in Arizona’s Navajo reservation in the 1930’s. He describes how, before the main discussion, the Navajo leaders provided a careful account of the meanings of the terms to be used. When the natural canvas is not so large, its entirety comes within the scope of users. The distinction between users and specialists, that appears to be a product of civilization and specialization, is not yet fully established

In the academic and other specialist communities such as trade organizations, it becomes the business of the practitioners to work with meanings and the nature of meaning. The distinction between users and specialists [by virtue of coinage, acknowledged expertise, keepers of tradition] becomes formal; expertise is accorded and has some basis in use and institution but does not become absolute. There are tendencies, both institutional and psychological, to make the distinction absolute; however the idea of central store of correct meaning, use and construction is somewhat mythic: at times we behave as though it were real but cannot point to any final arbiter. Even a canonical set of meanings, grammatical and spoken forms is derivative – though not in 1-1 correspondence – from [a] metaphysics. We may regard it as Written that the most secure fortress has begun to crumble even before it is conceived

In the social realm, the construction of meaning transcends discovery: it is also part of the process of creation of “reality.”

What kind of mind would be such that its creation of meaning would be [part of or interactive with] the creation of natural or of universal reality? Is the answer “There is none”? If there were another answer, what would be the nature and meaning of “mind”, “meaning”, and “reality”? What would that mind be? What would be its relation to human minds?

A fourth level of meaning of a concept, as much potential as actual, occurs in the confession of limits to knowledge and is manifest, not by a polite omission from conversation of what we do not know, but by visiting the shadow and dark regions at the edge of the universe of what is known. If such journeys lead us in to the shadow it is the positive shadow of a journey to the center of what we are and not the negative shadow that in exalting limits into absolute boundaries passes as light. In the actual case, the shadow is a continuum from light to dark; however, when limits are made absolute the shadow is seen as dark, something to be avoided

The concepts of mind and consciousness are elaborated in this document, especially in sections 1.1.2, 1.3, Topic 2, Topic 3, and section 4.4.2

1.1.2        First Meanings of Mind and Consciousness         Consciousness

The meaning of consciousness used here is that of phenomenal or subjective experience - to be conscious is to have phenomenal experience. The phenomenal qualities of conscious experience are sometimes called qualia. In the words of Thomas Nagel 1974, a state is conscious if there is something it is like to be in that state

This is the first and core meaning of consciousness. Two ways in which it is the core meaning follow. Firstly, there needs to be a name for the phenomenality that is so central to [human] being in the world; the history of its use makes “consciousness” proper to that task

It follows that the first experience of mind stated above is as consciousness. As a meaning, this is to be modified below

Awareness is related to consciousness. In some uses “awareness” can be substituted for “consciousness” as described above; in related uses, awareness is more and less than consciousness: “I am aware that her spirit is present” includes the possibly of knowledge by inference but “I am conscious of the presence of her spirit” seems to imply direct apprehension. There is a sense used in psychology and cognitive science in which an organism can be aware of something without being conscious of it. There are examples from normal and abnormal psychology. People occasionally become conscious of something that someone said a few seconds after it was said. The delayed response includes knowledge that something had registered without entering consciousness. This phenomenon is a common experience and does not necessarily involve pathology. Another example is “blindsight” in which brain injured persons have awareness without phenomenal awareness of objects in their visual field. This sense of “awareness” is non-phenomenal awareness. Non-phenomenal awareness appears to be real but there is potential for confusion in using “awareness” to refer to both phenomenal and non-phenomenal experience

The second way in which phenomenal experience is the core meaning of consciousness is that there are varieties of other uses that add some ingredient to this core meaning

Consciousness is sometimes used to refer to the following related but distinct ideas: awareness of awareness[13], self-consciousness, conscience, higher consciousness, introspection, and language consciousness

In the modern literature, a distinction is sometimes made between phenomenal consciousness, which is the core meaning that I am using here, and access-consciousness [Block, 1995]. Block defines phenomenal-consciousness as experience and access-consciousness as availability for use in thought or action; access-consciousness may or may not be associated with phenomenal consciousness. So defined, access-consciousness is related but not identical to awareness in the sense of non-phenomenal awareness: although a degree of awareness is present in blindsight, the awareness is not necessarily available for use. The motive for the introduction of access-consciousness appears to be to make valid distinctions and to have a concept of consciousness [or signs of consciousness] available for use in cognitive and functional theories of mental processes. One problem with the use of “access-consciousness” is the associated confusion that the term was supposed to dissipate. This point is discussed further below. A second problem is the question is as to whether access-consciousness is different from phenomenal consciousness [Chalmers, 1997] or whether it is a functional or cognitive characteristic or correlate of phenomenal consciousness. The fact that the awareness in blindsight is both non-phenomenal and unavailable suggests that access-consciousness and phenomenal consciousness are not different, i.e. they are logically distinct [this is expected of corresponding functional and phenomenal terms] but empirically identical [this is desired of corresponding functional and phenomenal notions.] Even if the phenomenal and availability concepts are empirically identical, they are conceptually distinct and this distinction may be useful. I suggest using “consciousness” for its original phenomenal sense [unless it is shown that there is no such thing as phenomenality] and other terms such as “awareness” for the cognitive, functional or behavioral measures of consciousness. A problem with “awareness” is that it, too, comes pre-loaded with multiple meanings. Alternatives are “availability” and “cognitive correlate”. As used in this document, consciousness is phenomenal consciousness

Chalmers [1996] argues that mental terms can have two sets of meanings: a phenomenal meaning and a psychological meaning. The psychological meanings are supposed to be objective: functional, measurable, behavioral, instrumental, pragmatic or operational. Searle [1997] criticizes this view and advocates that there is a single meaning to psychological phenomena - the phenomenal, intrinsic, conscious meaning. Further, if there is only the phenomenal meaning or, more generally the meaning as mental phenomenon, are the functional meanings characteristics or correlates? And, what is the status of the functional and related theories of mind? These issues are taken up in more detail below

As noted by Searle [1997], some cognitivists effectively subscribe to a view that there are no conscious phenomena. A variant is that conscious phenomena are unimportant. Another variant is to redefine consciousness in a way that is not consciousness at all; and, perhaps, to allow for the original meaning but to alter its significance. It is not necessary to think that these views or their motivations or consequences are explicit or intended. An example of the appropriation of “consciousness” is through the idea of “access-consciousness,” noted above. A comparison with “heat” and “temperature” is used as justification by historical analogy. “Heat” used to be used, with confusion, in reference to two separate concepts that are now called “heat” [roughly amount of energy; think of the analogy with a water tank - heat corresponds to the volume of water] and “temperature” [in the analogy, temperature corresponds to pressure; in a tall slender tank the pressure at the bottom is greater than in a squat shallow tank even though the volume of water in the tall tank may be less]. Note that we do not have two similar terms that could have been suggested by the historical development: A-heat [amount] and D-heat [degree]. Rather, there are two separate terms: temperature and heat. Why should we use phenomenal-consciousness and access-consciousness when, in the sense inherent to the meaning of consciousness, phenomenal-consciousness is consciousness and access-consciousness is not consciousness at all? This perpetuates the confusion that it was sought to alleviate. One thing is clear: phenomenal consciousness is here to stay[14] and access-consciousness is confusing and poor etymology

Need for a Catalog of Terms and Concepts

It is clear that there is some need, even in the absence of the functional and related meanings, to clarify terminology and classify concepts. It is not clear that, given the pace of publication, this would contribute to conceptual clarification, which must in part be an historical process. My intent here should be to display some of the variety, to state my choices with reasons and to attempt to be appropriately consistent         Mind

The first experience given above of mind as the place of experience or consciousness is incomplete as a meaning. It may logically or empirically turn out to be the case that mind so experienced includes unconscious processes but, at this point, it is desirable to give a modified first meaning:

Mental phenomena and processes are those phenomena or processes that are conscious or accessible to consciousness

The concept of the unconscious stated below follows from the present concept as a tautology

This “definition”, which derives from a conception of the unconscious as outlined by Searle [1992, Chapter 7] is founded in the following considerations: [1] It is based in the original experience of mind[15], [2] however, mental phenomena as conscious phenomena is too restrictive, [3] to posit unconscious phenomena that are not accessible to consciousness goes beyond the scope of the original meaning and begins to turn mind into something that it is not, i.e. the concept becomes so broad that it begins to designate just about anything. I remain open, of course, to further dialog and refinement in these considerations

I have been talking as though phenomenal experience or accessibility to phenomenal experience is the mark of mental phenomena. Another “criterion” of the mental is intensionality. The way in which a sentient organism takes up a thing in its environment - that environment includes ideas if the organism has them - seems close to what it means to be mentally engaged with something that, as a result of the engagement, becomes an object. There are non-intentional conscious states and unconscious intentional states. So, which is primitive, consciousness or intensionality? Even though intensionality comes close to the core, consciousness, as I said earlier, is the first experience of mind. All intentional states are either conscious or accessible to consciousness. Another possible characteristic of mind is intelligence. It is necessary to be careful what is meant by “intelligence”. As I use “intelligence”, it is adaptation itself adapted or the process of evolution incorporated into the organism. Although this does not imply consciousness or intensionality, it points to them. If one is looking for the origin of the mental in evolution this is one place to look. This is interesting but all these criteria... how do they fit together? The point here: there is an aspect of futility to this kind of debate! The global objective is a process that inherits and modifies systems of understanding, explanation and prediction in the process of use or application. Meanings and primitives are actors in that theatre. This is taken up, first in sections 1.3, 2.1, and 2.2.2 below and subsequently in a distributed way throughout the document

In the next section, I begin to look at broadening the realm of mind and consciousness. In doing so, I am aware that I might make the concept “so broad that it begins to designate just about anything”. This result will be avoided by retaining the present sense of the mental as a special case of any extensions to the sense. Such extensions may occasion refinement and understanding. It will also be proper to show that any extended sense deserves the designation as “mental.” There should be some kind of continuity between the levels of meaning

1.1.3        Need for Further Analysis of the Concepts of Mind and Consciousness[16]

In this section, I am not looking for a refinement of the definition of mind or consciousness. I am not taking the point of view that the ideas of consciousness and mind are adequate but need elaboration and clarification. Rather, I consider that there is meaning of consciousness that includes the meaning considered so far. I am also concerned with justifying this position, with what the broader ranges of meanings and entities may be, and the limits to these ranges         Consciousness

Domain of adequacy of the human experience of consciousness as the concept of consciousness:

Analogy with concepts of matter - modern understanding of matter is significantly evolved from the original immediate experience of what may be called the psychological investment in the permanence of physical reality. The notions of mind and consciousness are quite primitive in their development. This does not mean that the primitive or “folk” notions are invalid. However all notions, primitive, folk, or modern, scientific and philosophical find their validity within a certain context. One of the adventures of human exploration is in the broadening of context, of worldview. The question is open, but I believe that “mind” and “consciousness” are capable of evolving in to greater domains of validity and, as they do so, the concepts will evolve[17]. The modern meanings will not be invalidated within their domain and will find interpretation within the future meanings. Why do I believe this? The following factors contribute: the loose ends in the modern system; extended reflections on mind and consciousness and experimentation with the concepts; the influence of alternative western traditions and eastern traditions; that the notion of the idea need not be the ephemeral, immaterial thing we tend to imagine that it must be; the freedom, and the consequent potential to subsume greater regions of experience, afforded by generalized concepts in my experiments - conceptual and actual[18]...and the resulting ties that are found between the realms of matter and mind in consequence of these explorations. Thus while it is clear that - given the modern concepts of mind and matter and the modern forms of scientific explanation - there should be a tendency to make matter [nervous system] primal in our explanatory systems; this is not required in experimental forms of the concepts         Mind

Domain of adequacy of the human experience of mind as the concept of mind

As with consciousness, the concept [at any stage or level including the meaning or definition by pointing and common sense] has elements of anthropomorphism, is limited; we recognize the co-evolution of meanings concepts, definitions, theory, applications and culture

There is a tendency to argue the limits of understanding based in the anthropic and cultural limits to perception and the anthropomorphic and culture based qualities of the concepts; at the same time, we argue universal limits to universal properties and relations based in the limited conceptions. The resolution is familiar; the criticism of any fundamental meaning requires the criticism of all fundamental meanings; the process of criticism is essentially reflexive

As concepts and meanings evolve they may be held back by the baggage of old associations; while the perspectives of a given time and place, a given cultural niche, imply certain necessary relationships among the ideas e.g. “mind from matter”, there is room for invention and evolution in meaning that alter, invert and introduce new basic relationships, ontological givens. The old givens lose primacy; the old relationships lose their necessity         On the Ontology of Naming

There is a legacy of issues associated with the words “mind” and “matter” and other categories. Contrast and variety provide richness to the world so, certainly, not all of the issues are problematic. The Cartesian tradition, for example, was a source of innovation and progress but, viewed rigidly as an ontological statement rather than as a solution to a problem of a phase of cultural history, has become a block to understanding; it is a favorite scapegoat that is frequently chastised along the path to clarity and further progress in the realm of fundamental ideas in the modern world. The ideas of mind and matter and of the gulf between them are, however, by no means merely of Cartesian origin. I believe that within the milieu of human biological and cultural evolution such a split, though by no means necessary, is natural. That milieu, large as we may perceive it to be, is, from the vantage point of the universality, a niche. Further growth in the realm of ideas would be growth of and beyond the traditional and the modern categories

By the ontology of naming, I mean the tendency to assume an implicit set of categories, regardless of explicit recantation, that is based in human psycho-sociology and is potentiated or exaggerated by naming the categories. So, for example, if I restrict my speech and thought to “I...” “I am...” “I do...” “I think...” i.e. if I allow only categorially neutral nouns and the verbs corresponding to the categories I may avoid the need to explain “mind”, “matter”, and their relationship. I may diminish the force of categorial thinking. I am not suggesting an immediate modification to vocabulary and usage[19]. However, in terms of a hierarchy of increasingly neutral ontologies - or a single ontology in which there are levels of universality - we would eliminate the concepts in question from the higher levels. This leads to the following consideration:

What is a mental act?

The following is not meant to be a definition. It is a reminder that the received categories can be avoided

There are difficulties that arise from supposing that I am a physical entity that thinks. Rather, I exist and live in a field of experience that is populated with discrete-like entities and continuities and painted with qualities. I have varying degrees of control and of causal give and take and other faculties [functions]. For example, I have a certain degree of control over thought but I experience control and flow with physical balance and inertia. I encounter entities that, though possessed of independence, I experience - through perceptive empathy, analogy, and transference - as mirroring my own experience; these are other beings

Do I really need to talk of mental acts and physical entities? Cannot all of experience, being, myth, culture, knowledge and science be situated economically within this framework without reification of contingent categories?

The key is the economic consideration. Brevity and significance may be obtained from naming but reification is a possible price

1.1.4        Evolution of the Concepts of Matter, Mind and Consciousness

This topic includes evolution of words, ideas, definitions, concepts and theories

What is primal, consciousness [mind] or matter? Consciousness and mind are focused in specific forms of matter; matter is everywhere - so matter, it would seem by experience, is primal. But, a re-understanding or re-conceptualization of consciousness may reveal it primal and the possible destiny of consciousness may make it immanent and so primal

...However, mind and matter are projections behind the one universe [the whole of being] that includes the categories of mind and matter as phases of description. Mind and matter refer to no definite [type of] object, use, or meaning therefore there can be no ultimacy to the projections of idealism or materialism[20]

In the following, idealism and materialism will be used only in extended senses to be specified. At the same time I will consider the following alternatives: [1] retreat from the categories or modes, and [2] consideration of a mode, whose nature is not specified in advance but is sought in terms of the condition that it will include the elements of matter, mind; the name of this mode may be Being

1.1.5        Recognizing Mind and Consciousness: the Signs

Needs for a system of signs have included the following:

Reduction. One motivation has been the need to maintain the scientific worldview

Getting a theory. Given the status of modern theories of the material world - primarily the physical and biological sciences it is difficult to see how these could explain mind and consciousness per se. How does my own consciousness, my experience arise from matter that in its fundamental or aggregate descriptions appears to be devoid of mental characteristics. This issue is considered in more detail below. However, if one had a set of signs that necessarily and sufficiently indicated the presence of mind and / or consciousness then the conceptual headache, the “explanatory gap” would be eliminated

The way in which need for recognition arises is as follows:

First, consider a common analogy that is used, i.e., the way in which the wetness of water arises from the properties of the molecules. Wetness is not a property of the molecules; it arises through the interactions of the molecules. The analogy is that, similarly, consciousness is not a property of the material elements of the brain, yet it arises from the interactions. There is however, the following difficulty with this analogy or numerous others that use an analogy from physical properties in the bulk arising from physical properties of the molecules. Although wetness or, more generally, bulk physical properties have an experiential meaning, i.e., I can feel the wetness of water, and I can feel the hardness of a diamond or see a diamond cutter scoring softer materials, these are not the aspects that are directly predicted from the properties of the molecules. Rather, wetness - or hardness - is first translated into physical terms, e.g. surface tension and so on as a measure of wetness, and the prediction is from the microscopic physical properties to the bulk or macroscopic physical property. In the case of consciousness, which is experience itself, what are the corresponding bulk physical or biophysical attributes?

Various measures have been proposed. Mind and consciousness or are nothing but aspects of the underlying biophysical substrate, they are the behaviors, the functional or causal relations, sufficient causal powers. These all suffer from the same problem: given that they are not consciousness itself, how do we know that are sufficient to guarantee consciousness? When the feel of wetness is translated into physical terms we know that materials with the appropriate bulk physical properties will attach to the skin in a certain way, feel a certain degree of consistency...but how would we know that the purported signs of consciousness would guarantee consciousness? No answer is forthcoming and, further, there are reasons that there is no answer. Whereas wetness and other bulk physical properties are clearly physical, this is not clearly the case for consciousness. Whereas the wetness can be described in both subjective and objective terms, this is not the case for consciousness

Therefore, there is a need to know how to recognize consciousness: so that we will know when an explanation or theory is an explanation of consciousness

However, there is a potential circularity to this search for signs. The signs validate the theory and, so, cannot be validated by it. In working with the field, as information is gathered, tentative explanations constructed, applied and modified understanding grows and the signs initially rough and ready are refined through the process rather than predicted by theory. There is an analogy with the development of the concept of force in physics. Newton’s second law of motion relates force and motion and therefore seems to supply a measure of force. However, this would be circular and the measure of force has to come from other effects that are first the rough and ready notion of effort. This notion is then refined through other effects whose measure is reproducible in quantitative terms

The following possibilities arise:

a. An explanation in current biological and physical terms will be given, and


We will recognize at that time that the explanation is indeed an explanation of consciousness; it will be an “aha” experience in the sense that the explanation includes its own verification


By that time, we will have translated the phenomenality of consciousness into a set of sufficient terms that allow prediction from the microscopic level. There are currently, only clues as to how this might happen. A new element to physics, e.g., the requirements for creativity or Penrose’s non-computable quantum gravity, may turn out to be necessary to explain certain characteristics or aspects of mental phenomena. It is not clear, however, how we would get a sufficient set of signs, i.e. a set of signs that would positively identify the presence of mind or consciousness or any of their phenomenal aspects

Difficulty of explanation from the organism to phenomenal experience

At this point, the difficulty should be clear. It should also be clear that the difficulty is not inherent to the ideas of organism, matter, or biology. Rather, the difficulty is a function of our current understanding or worldview in which organisms [as physical and biological entities] do not have mental terms entering into their description. This lack of mental terms, though not necessary, is not ad hoc but is based in a tradition regarding the nature of the entities and the best current biology and physics. If the lack of mental terms of description is not necessary then the entry of mental terms into biophysical explanation may involve nothing more than an alteration of semantic associations. It is not known whether a semantic change would be sufficient or whether some new element would enter into the descriptions and theories. The new element would be both ontologically new [at least relative to the dominant ontology and in terms of precipitating and requiring new semantic associations] and truly empirically new. I now turn to the possible nature of this ontologically new element

b. Some ontologically new element will enter into:

Biophysics; the material level will incorporate mental terms. This may occur at the micro-level. These terms will not necessarily be obviously recognizable, and translation into normal human terms may be necessary


The understanding of mind: the concept of mind will be expanded to include physical, material, or bio - physical terms or elements


The expansion will be for both material and mental modes


A third mode or category will be introduced. However, mind and matter are capable of broad [re-] interpretation and may, essentially, in the future encompass what from the present perspective, would seem to be a third mode. I believe that mind is especially capable of expansion in terms of understanding of what it “is”. Directions of approach, discussed in this document, include expansion of the nature of experience from its present association as intangible, and metaphysically specialized. Some directions of metaphysical generalization may be suggested by the idealist metaphysics of the past. Regarding a third mode, any alternatives that have arisen in the past - e.g. a parallelism that is maintained by an outside power - appear to be mere inventions even if motivated by the problems of explanation. Thomas Nagel [1998] notes that “the great reductive successes in the history of science have depended on theoretical concepts - not natural ones - that replace brute correlations with reductive explanations”, and suggests that a third conception, requiring imagination to conceive, may be possible although presently unimagined, that will directly connect the mental with the physical[21], [22]. Nagel also suggests - he uses the term sympathetic imagination, this goes back to an earlier paper [Nagel, 1974], that a useful preliminary would be a detailed structural phenomenology of experience. Establishment of a third causal / explanatory mode into the mind / body realm would meet a number of the characteristics that measured the success of earlier reductions: synthesis and conceptual integrity - the third mode will subsume matter and mind, reduce to previous systems in their domains of adequacy, agree with previous systems in those domains; and would predict new results, and would likely involve conceptual revolution. In the event of this sort of development, it is not clear, nor does the history of science provide a clear answer, whether the third mode would be given a new name or whether it would be called “mind” or “matter”

A Model for Explanatory Reduction: the History of Electromagnetism

The history of electromagnetism is an excellent model example of new concepts and explanatory reduction through integration of diverse modes into a single new mode rather than of one mode to another. The variety of the concepts and the number of contributors to its incremental history make electromagnetism, perhaps, a better example than Newton’s integration of matter, motion and gravitation. Of course, dynamics and gravitation are part of the background and provide both framework and metaphor during the development of electromagnetic theory. The beginnings of electromagnetism are in antiquity: the observation in nature of electrical and magnetic phenomena. The birth of modern electricity and magnetism has been associated with William Gilbert, 1544 - 1603, physician to both Elizabeth I and James I of England; Gilbert experimented with magnetism and electricity for 17 years; he conceived of the earth as a magnet and had ideas, expressed in different terms, that corresponded to the concepts of charge and of electric field

It is not the purpose, here to provide a history but, rather, to present only some historical elements for the purpose of analogy. On the experimental side there is the discovery of more and more magnetic and electrical phenomena that culminates with the discovery that electricity and magnetism interact: a changing electric field “results” in a magnetic field and vice versa. This already implies conceptual development in the idea of a field of force, first as a conceptual and mathematical device but later as a physical entity in its own right. Mathematics, in turn involves quantification. For example, the observation that there is no electric field inside a charged sphere led, from Newton’s calculation that the gravitational field inside a uniform spherical shell is zero, to the conclusion that electrical charge interacts according to an inverse square law. In turn, there is the quantification of the relations between electric and magnetic phenomena - the laws of Biot-Savart and of Ampere; there is the Ampere’s brilliant work on the interactions between electric and magnetic phenomena; Faraday’s intuitive development of the idea of the field; C. F. Gauss’ and others’ development of the mathematics of fields; the generalizations of the phenomena to be interpreted under the ideas of electricity and of magnetism; and, finally, James Clerk Maxwell’s famous completion of the set of four equations -now called Maxwell’s equations- that finalize the formulation of the classical theory of electromagnetism. This, however, is the beginning rather than the end of a story. The theory so developed shows that light, radio-waves, X-rays, gamma rays are all electromagnetic waves that have the same speed in vacuum: the speed of light that, having been previously experimentally determined, is now also predicted by Maxwell’s theory. These developments weave in various strands of experimental and theoretical work. Earlier the energy of interaction of electric charges had been associated with the electric field; the mathematical development of the consequences of Maxwell’s equations, with proper interpretation, now showed that electromagnetic waves carry energy and momentum - previously thought to be characteristics of matter. Later it was shown that Maxwell’s equations, unlike Newton’s theory of gravitation, do not change their form under what are called Lorentz transformations. These transformations indicate the non-invariance of spatial and temporal relations as viewed by observers moving relative to each other. This is equivalent to Einstein’s special theory of relativity - and is part of Einstein’s theoretical development. This shows why, within the framework of the theory, matter cannot be made to travel faster than light: the interactions between matter are made up of fields that travel at that same universal speed. Within the framework, the speed of light is not a contingent number but a universal characteristic. Meanwhile, there is an ongoing research into the relationships between electricity and life. Nerve-impulses, the elementary processes of the brain and nervous system are electrochemical in nature; and from chemistry: chemical interactions are electrical in nature, i.e., the processes of wet, sloppy, brains and nervous systems “are” electrical in nature. [Of course, this story is incomplete in that, for one thing, the existence of atoms requires non-electrical forces.] There are also the developments of Einstein’s theory of gravitation in which space is capable of interpretation as the matrix of relationships among matter: space, time, and matter [space-time-matter] are coeval. And from the quantum theory of fields light, and electromagnetic waves in general are themselves particulate in nature or at least in manifestations. The ideas have evolved from being inventions of metaphorical convenience to real, material and constitutive of a significant phase of the universe

What is the moral? This is what I take from the history just sketched. [1] The introduction of new concepts occurs roughly in step with experimental discovery; in fact the two are interactive in causal and constitutive ways; [2] The new concepts contain essentially new ideas frequently expressed as variations of old ideas. [3] The new ideas often begin as formal with their status as real requiring interpretation and identification but are later found to be physically real [in the case of physics] and, in the case of fundamental ideas, constitutive of physical reality. [4] Physical objects may be represented by extreme abstraction

There is an issue of recognizing mind and consciousness in entities with which human beings lack sufficient perceptive empathy. This may be significant for recognizing consciousness in other living, artificial [robots, computers] and hypothetical [in thought experiments] species. These questions have significance for theory and for technology. Although intrinsic definitions and criteria are always important, it may not always be possible to implement them - especially for future technology

When working in the immediate realm – with mind and consciousness, as they are understood – the issue of recognition is practically simple: recognition follows from perceptive empathy

The same may be said about the recognition of matter, except that “empathy”, though it could be generalized, should be replaced by sensation. In going beyond the realm of the immediate, matter is recognized by its effects in combination with theoretical understanding...and not alone by sensation. This is the history of the physical sciences

The same must be true for mind and consciousness. Once we go beyond the immediate, the question of recognition becomes significant. The means of recognition begin with the immediate means i.e. perceptive empathy. Enhanced recognition may, perhaps, be developed in analogy with the corresponding experimental and theoretical developments in the physical and biological sciences. What are the effects of mind, what are appropriate instruments - over and above normal perception, and what are the lines of conceptual and theoretical development?

1.1.6        Confusion between the Signs and the Concepts

Two problems can be identified: adequacy and confusion

The confusion is partially due to the desire to get a reduction between mind and its signs

1.1.7        The Mystery of Consciousness         Consciousness as a Problem

There is a common meaning of “mystery” that centers on enigma, inscrutability... This is in contrast to the idea of a problem as something that calls for a solution. There is a problem of consciousness in that a full scientific explanation of consciousness - its existence, its elements, or structure - has not yet been given though there are some tentative and partial explanations. In this sense, consciousness is a problem

There is a range of viewpoints regarding the magnitude and order of the problem. John Searle [1977] regards the explanation of consciousness to be a problem that will be solved as solutions to sub-problems - explaining specific mental phenomena - cumulate; David Chalmers [1996] finds the explanation of subjective experience to be a different and harder [conceptually] problem than the one of scientific explanation of the details viewed as objective phenomena... Chalmers calls the problem of subjective experience the hard problem of consciousness; Thomas Nagel [1998] suggests that resolution of the mind-body problem may require a mode that is neither mind nor matter; Colin McGinn [1991, 1995] appears to think we do not have the ability to explain the mind-matter connection

We are at an interesting point of confluence in the histories of the science of mind and of science itself. Regarding mind it is no longer taboo to speak of mind as mind in the temple; and there are promises of explanation from neuroscience, psychology and philosophy and, perhaps, cognitivism and computer models [see Introduction for some details]. At the same time the explanations are not yet in place and perhaps we have not even got the categories right yet. Seen from the perspective of the history of science, we recognize that the position is a familiar one: there was a point in history when the explanatory apparatus and concept of electromagnetism[23] were not in place; and there was another point when the idea of life and the explanation of its functions and origin were not available. Looking back, we see that these great questions were brought to fruition. We may, therefore, expect resolution to the problems of mind and body. We have “been there before” and the territory should be familiar: since the number of data points is more than one we may be tempted to extrapolate to the present instance. It may be frustrating to our sense of history and confidence that resolution to the problem remains a problem; we are not used to the idea of being in the dark or in the shadows of knowledge. Perhaps we do not even know the meaning of the shadow... but there are three possible meanings that occur to me: there will be no resolution to the problem of mind and body; we are in an incubation period prior to fairly normal resolutions; the resolution will contain surprises not contained in our reading of history

The first and the third possibilities are, for me, the most exciting. The possibility of “no resolution” can only mean to me that we are not in that phase of history - the modern phase; or we are not that species or form of being or part of that universe that will find resolution; but we live in and partake of a Universe in which mind-body is not merely explained - it is realized. The idea of a surprise is rather exciting - even if I am not here it good to think that that fortune may occur in the future         Consciousness as a Mystery

A second meaning of mystery - a truth that can be known only by revelation - is based in religious use. Although we may not subscribe to literal religious meanings, we can experience their sense through awe or wonder. In this second meaning, the mystery of consciousness is the wonder we sometimes feel at our own sentience...and at its varieties and beauty. This is significant in that our experience of wonder may inform us of the importance of consciousness and its study...and provide us with insight - directly in that we may experience consciousness as a connection to the world and indirectly as motivation to experience the varieties of consciousness and its intra / inter relations

In this sense, the mystery is the wonder felt by being about being. A related source of wonder is a human sense of uniqueness of the consciousness experienced by human beings and felt by perceptive empathy to be experienced by other sufficiently similar species

The mystery in the present sense is felt in the immediate or proximate domain but provides a connection with the ultimate         Consciousness as the Place of Meaning

Without consciousness, there is no discussion, no adventure; there is but “blind nature.”

Consciousness entertains both mystery and light and, in consciousness, they find meaning

1.2         What Is the Extent of the Conscious in Relation to All Mental Phenomena?

The prescription, above, that mental phenomena and processes are those phenomena or processes that are conscious or accessible to consciousness provides a definition of the unconscious as those [mental] phenomena or states that are not currently conscious but are accessible to consciousness. This implies that there are no mental phenomena that are not accessible to consciousness, i.e. there are no deep unconscious phenomena or all unconscious phenomena are shallow unconscious phenomena. Identify the shallow and deep unconscious as the regions accessible and inaccessible, respectively, to consciousness

This formulation is as expressed by Searle [1992, Chapter 7]. It states one of the classic characterizations of mind

The Following Possibilities Arise:

1.2.1        All Mental Phenomena Are Conscious

1.2.2        Mental Phenomena Are Either Conscious or Accessible to Consciousness

The shallow conscious is the region of the unconscious that is accessible to consciousness. On this view, the only unconscious mental phenomena are shallow

Unless necessary, I will not assume the following which denies the prescription above

1.2.3        There Are Mental Phenomena That Are Not Accessible to Consciousness

In addition to the conscious and the shallow unconscious, there is a deep unconscious that is not accessible to consciousness. The deep conscious is mental in that it is described theoretically in mental terms...and its existence is inferred by the predictions of the theory. Despite predictions, if the deep conscious implies contradictions and there are alternative explanations of the predicted phenomena we should discard the hypothesis of deep unconscious phenomena

1.2.4        There Are No Conscious Phenomena

This is not an actual position or a position avowedly held by anyone in a serious way. I suppose it would be too much to hope that there is no one working in the field of mind and consciousness explicitly holds that the object of study does not exist but, as pointed out above, there are a number of writers who tacitly hold this view - probably for strategic purposes and in order to uphold a conception of a scientific ideology such as materialism

1.3         An Atlas of Mind and Consciousness: Structure, Functions and Dynamics

The treatment in Journey in Being supersedes the original treatment here. Therefore much material has been excised and useful details retained

1.3.1        The Elements of Psychology[24]         Psychology

Faculties or functions**:

The classic mental functions are emotion, cognition, motivation, and memory

Or, a detailed list:

Sensation, perception and attention, arousal and sleep, dream and hallucination, memory and learning, thinking: iconic and symbolic - section on language below, writing, reasoning, conception, action, feeling, emotions, approval and disapproval, motivation, will and drive

The purpose, here, of a list is not completeness but for use in breaking down before building up. A multi-cultural list may be useful. In seeking what are the “elementary” functions it will be useful [1] to use a list as a source of ideas; [2] to ask, what is the variety of adaptive needs that mind must satisfy - such as faithfulness in perception, freedom in conception, a degree of social binding / bonding in emotion; and [3] to ask what is the shape of the adaptation as realized in mind [intensionality, consciousness]; and [4] to understand how these aspects arise in evolution

On the Nature and Variety of Specific Kinds of Mental State

There is a literature on anger - its nature and its uses and disuses. Some of this literature omits consideration of the idea of anger as a learned response; anger as something that can be conditioned, something that is malleable; and a multi-dimensional continuum of responses with emotional content to some kind of challenge or threat which finds anger as a narrow region in the continuum. Here, I am not addressing what is challenged - the organism or the ego and so on. There is a relative of anger in the continuum that is a sustained intentional summoning of resources that is maintained under control and at an optimum level to meet a threat. This is something that may be, developmentally, something that comes after “pure anger”. But, I am not aware of a word for it. This limitation in common vocabulary is, I think, the result of careless thought and at the same time deprives language users the benefit of ready access a useful response. Multiplied across the finely and multiply dimensioned spectrum of mental states this must be a deprivation for those who might be users rather than generators of language. It is a limitation on the kinds of responses available for individuals; and it is a limitation on the kind of society in which we live; in the present case, a limited concept of anger, which may be valid as a base concept, provides the following alternatives to threat: aggression and victimization. It may be argued that that is the kind of society that we want - that that kind of society is one that is more able to defend itself against various threats. However, that would a statement of value but not a final characterization of the concept of anger and its varieties. These are some of the kinds of thing to seek when stripping down and building up the mental “functions.” This is in part a problem of standardization of language and education and formalization under notions of correctness and uniformity of communication over the need of adaptation and richness

There is no doubt that a richer vocabulary and a reflective adaptation of language would place a wider variety of useful mental responses available in the cultural milieu. One argument against this is the argument from standardization; this is a utilitarian argument and, given the premise, the following questions remain [1] where is the distinction between user and generator, and [2] what level of detail and flexibility is set by utility. The lack of complete distinction between user and generator, i.e., between layperson and expert is a counter to the any argument from “ordinary language.”

The continuum of emotional states and the functionality vs. non-functional issue is analogous to the idea of mental illnesses being relatives of functional dispositions - see section 1.3.4 Psychiatric or Mental Disorders as Variation

Some problems

The binding problem[25]

Is motivation is a separate function

Origin, nature and possibility of knowledge

Development and determinants of behavior


Structure, interactions and dynamics[26]

Macroscopic, microscopic aspects – elements: building up the functions from elementary processes

Mind itself: mind-mind relations and interactions... function as a unit entity

Input, output issues

Body, external world

Characteristics of mind: consciousness, intensionality, belief, purpose, and mood         Iconic Expression

Art, emotion and being in the world

Culture as a “world”         Language and The Symbolic Capability

The distinction between symbolic capability and symbolic systems and performance is significant. The origin and function of the symbolic capability is less contingent that that of specific symbolic systems. I believe the following distinctions are important: origin of symbol systems, language, logic, mathematics vs. origin of symbolic, linguistic, logical and mathematical capabilities


Psychological basis

Language, concepts, creation and communication

Effect on psychological function and on ability and performance         Role and Relations of Consciousness

Some sources of information are Searle [1992], Freud and others on consciousness, intensionality, the unconscious, personality and related topics         Intensionality

See section 3.3 below         The Unconscious

There are forms of the unconscious not clearly specified by the concept of mind as what is in or accessible to consciousness. Consider the idea of the seen but not recognized, or “hearing” something and recognizing that something was said and what it was a few seconds later. This breaks down into two cases. [1] Something was registered neuro-physiologically and presents in consciousness with more than the usual delay; this includes the case where sight and sound are not in synchrony - binding breaks down. This is a simple though interesting case of an unconscious phenomenon. [2] The substance is seen but the form is not recognized. This is a case of interpretation. Application of “unconscious” to the phenomenon is metaphorical. However, this relatively clearly metaphorical case may point to borderline cases that may require additional classification         Personality

First principles         A Special Role for Creativity[27]

The essential element of the creative process is in the production of something that is essentially new, that is not contained in what came before. Creativity is a process in time

1.3.2        Directions and Modes of Development for Psychology         The Ontology of The Functions

This is a topic in philosophical psychology

The Ontology of the Functions would give a basis for the functions in ontology - or show the lack of a basis and need for alternatives. More generally, ontology may inform the various aspects of psychology including, for example, the unconscious and personality

These considerations relate to Kant’s program to develop an understanding of knowledge based on the [common sense but easily minimized] idea that knowledge and its modes are a connection to the world. A modern interpretation is in Hundert [1989]

The application of philosophy has received scrutiny and criticism. A first comment about any critique of philosophy is that the process of application need not be philosophy at all but receives that interpretation in a world of compartmentalized academic departments and disciplines. Thus, since psychology is a mode of relation of organism to world and describes function, psychology must be a function of the world - though not necessarily a simple or direct one-to-one function. Now, since ontology is about the nature of the world it is in a position to inform psychology. This information is productive as far as the ontology is reasonable and not overly insistent on its formal side. It is understood that formal development has roles in the growth of the theoretical disciplines; this affects application indirectly and or potentially. With regard to both reasonableness or faithfulness and adequate but not over-focus on the formal aspects to the detriment of reality the application of philosophy is informative to philosophy itself. This mutual information would be dialog in a less specialized setting         Human Experience as the Starting Point

Accumulated knowledge of the experience - empathy, behavior and experiment; analysis of the idea in reference to other minds, other species, necessary characteristics of mind - adaptation and creativity; comparative analysis of matter and mind; analysis of being…         Mind and World

The fact that mind and consciousness are part of the world suggests their interpretation as modes of relation and sources of action - as adaptation. This obvious idea leads to significant consequences. Intensionality, for example, derives from this idea as an obvious consequence. [Imagination and analysis come together in the obvious. Imagination points out what is obvious – shows up the remote as transparent; analysis shows how the obvious leads to new conclusions. In practice, of course, the interactions between imagination and analysis are interwoven and layered.]

Study of mind needs to incorporate the relations of mind

What are the modes of being in the world?

The world is multi-valent. Freedom can be seen as freedom to adapt - made possible by imaginative abilities both symbolic and iconic. There are also reasons for behavior to be tied in to the natural and social environments. This is a source of faithfulness in perception and emotion including joy and fear:

Free: thought, imagination

Bound: emotion, perception

The distinctions are not absolute. There are adaptive exceptions; and there is “breakdown” in mental disorders. Examples: hallucination, euphoria that bears no relation to the individuals needs and context - these are examples of mental states that should be bound to the environment but have become disconnected from it. Depending on culture, context and cause, hallucination can be inspiration, demon or symptom; euphoria can result in heightened perception and energy or out of control behavior         The Animal World

Use of animal psychology as a way to learn about human psychology requires interpretation

Although the experimental psychology of animal species - domestic and wild - provides some data that is useful in the study of human psychology, the behavior of animals is questionable as a source for theory and concept formation. An exception to this thesis follows

Suppose we want to learn about the ontology of mind - what is the nature of mind, or consider the question of the developmental and evolutionary potential of the human mind. It is useful to be able to place the human case in a continuum. For example, in trying to provide a meaning to conscious that goes beyond consciousness as phenomenal experience by including phenomenal experience as a special case, it may be useful to consider creatures for whom we do - and those for whom we do not - have perceptive empathy. It may be useful to consider the question of consciousness in relation to organisms all the way down the phylogenetic tree         Adaptation

Evolutionary origins

Intelligence as adaptability: the process of evolution appropriated by the organism         Physiological Basis of Psychology

Various systems: nervous and endocrine systems; organs of perception and action; body - immunity, reality [physics] of the body and relation to mental process: time and mood

Physical and chemical aspects of the environment, effect of microorganisms         The Social Dimension

Social factors in psychology

Group action

Special concerns:

Charisma and leadership

Politics and groups         Special Contexts: Application




Clinical psychology


1.3.3        Elements of Mental Processes as a Dynamic System         Metaphor

The function of functions         The Elements

Input-process-output as prototype for perception-thought-action and so on


The properties of the neuron         The System

Build up from elements, the following are mutually interpreting

Nervous system, brain and sub-organs

Mind and function

Society and environment

Dynamics of the body         The Form of the Dynamics

I do not expect the dynamics to take the mathematical form that it does in the physical sciences

The inspiration will include the following: inherited forms of description, analogy with other modes such as biology and physics, actual organisms - the human organism as a being to be conceptually and empirically known…

Sources of information:

Psychology: classical, folk, indigenous and cross-cultural

Organism: endocrine-nervous system, organs of perception and action

1.3.4        Psychiatric[28] or Mental Disorders as Variation         Comments on Variation and Statistics

Discrete is variation due to discrete factors of inheritance and factors of cultural integrity

Continuous variation is due to truly random variation and or summation of many small effects         Role of Culture



“Ill” and “healing” roles

Concept of etiology         Mental Illness and Disorder

The topic of psychiatric disorders is not intrinsic to psychology since culture has an influence. A mental disorder can be seen as a degree of variation of intrinsic psychological factors that has a certain interpretation in a given culture. “Objective” criteria such as degree of subjective distress, or impaired social function sufficient to occasion clinical attention are relative to the norms of the culture. However, it is true that each culture has its own criteria, perhaps implicit and qualitative, for intervention. The criteria for and modes of intervention may be culturally relative but the fact of intervention and its relation to context are not culturally relative

Etiology will be considered later. Without etiology, it is difficult to distinguish a disorder from a syndrome

In what follows, I consider mental disorder as a topic in the variation of psychological factors         Hypotheses Regarding Mental Illness

Mental illness is determined, in part, by variant psychological factors

A proper ontology of psychological function is a prerequisite for a coherent classification of disorders

Variation in cognition

Cognitive capacity: intellectual function, disability

Cognitive process: hallucination, delusion, and paranoia

Variation in action

Capacity - organic basis: Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s chorea

Motor process - neurotransmitter related: Tourette’s syndrome, catatonia

Emotive variation

Emotive capacity and tone: mood disturbance - mania, depression

Emotive process: anxiety

Consideration of agitated vs. melancholic depression leads to a concept of emotion as “frozen” emotion [also, time dimension appears flat], and mania as involving “lability” of emotion; and, consequently, the cycling of Bipolar Disorder, in phases of depression and mania - or both

3. The main functions of emotion, cognition as thought and perception, motivation as intention and action lead quickly to a specification of the major mental illnesses and some of the sub-types

This discussion is a first approximation due to simplicity of ontology and neglect of interaction among emotion, cognition-action and other factors         Interactions: Symptoms of Psychiatric Disorders Are Not Pure Manifestations of Discrete Categories

Schizophrenia has a mood component that is included in the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. This is known through observation and classification and from the improved response of schizophrenia to anti-psychotic medications that also have action upon the serotonin system. Is the mood component direct or secondary? In part, the answer to this question depends on level and mode of description and understanding

Mood disorders may have cognitive disruption or psychosis

Schizoaffective disorder has a mood and a cognitive component. It is not subsumed by either schizophrenia or a mood disorder

Mania exacerbates personality traits. More generally, mood modulates expression

The principle is simple - mental function is not completely compartmentalized; detailed explanation is complex and not fully known. Open questions include interaction of the functions and or their organic / bio-chemical base vs. multi-dimensionality of the organic / bio-chemical base

The issue also raises questions about the nature of emotion, mood and cognition. Are these functions elementary or multi-dimensional; and if multi-dimensional are the elementary functions in a many-to-one or a many-to-many relation with the compound functions? These questions have an ontological component         Further Ontology of Psychiatric Disorders        Psychodynamic aspects

The role of defense mechanisms in the disorders        Organicity

The issue is subtle. In some sense, all disorders have an organic basis. Distinctions are due to three somewhat interactive factors: [1] disorders due to gross organic injury, degradation, or lack of development: [2] disorders whose organic basis may have thought to have been purely psychogenic due to lack of experimental data, inadequate experimental techniques, absence of knowledge of organic mechanisms such as neurotransmitter function; and [3] interaction between mental and organic processes         Psychiatric Disorders and Creativity

Creativity can be generalized to exceptional ability, performance and function

The idea that a relationship exists, examples, and generic explanations are well known


A generic explanation is that mental illness and exceptional performance are both variations from normal function

Heightened sensitivity, expressive ability, motivational and action resources - a particular case of the generic explanation

Defense against or compensation for the burden of mental illness

One explanation / mechanism of creativity is as a compensation for functional deficits. This is different from defense against the burden of mental illness. Compensation for functional deficits is one explanatory factor for the “idiot savant.”

The freedoms that result from mental illness: time, resources, and personal space

Causal Explanations

Variation in characteristics over populations is adaptive due to multi-function, synergy, heightened function, and adaptivity to the future evolution of some phases of social function. The foundation of these points from the framework of variation and natural selection needs review

In some settings it is an advantage to lay low in winter: seasonal affective disorder; emotional binding to one’s social network is adaptive and therefore disruption of the network is likely to be disruptive of mood: depression - or, as a defense, mania; heightened energy in spring - to take advantage of the good weather to do general or seasonal work such as agricultural work - or to undertake a task is valuable: spring fever and mania

These examples are suggestive. The causal relationships come in two flavors: variation in the gene pool is necessary and creates all kinds of variations; and, adaptive variations are selected and [some] disorders are variations or corruptions of adaptations. Konrad Lorenz [1973] has written on the possibility of this kind of relationship. For example, mania can be seen as heightened energy gone wrong

1.3.5        Exceptional Abilities and Performance from a Framework of Variation and Nurture

Section A Special Role for Creativity, above focuses on the essential element of creativity. The focus of the present section is on actual ability and performance         Variation

Comments on variation are in 1.3.4 Psychiatric or Mental Disorders as Variation, above

Two aspects:

Variation in the individual: ability; and variation in performance: navigation in a complex world

These factors make exceptional performance singular, a result of attunement in complex spaces, and likely not susceptible to statistical analysis

It is expected that the dimensionality of exceptional performance is high while the dimensionality of mental disorder is low         The Nature and Literature of Exceptional Achievement

Anecdotal literature is important due to the multi-dimensional nature of processes of exceptional achievement. It is expected that the dimensionality of the “space” of exceptional performance is greater than that of disorders. If ability is seen as an aspect of performance then disorders are in a continuum with exceptionality         Nurture





Development and cultivation over time, and

The essence of peak performance

1.4         Direction of Further Study

The following approach to study defines the Topics:




Thinking about the problems: Philosophy

2           Relations among Mind, World and Time

As for Section 1.3 above, this topic will include structure and dynamics. Structure implies an inclusion of spatial relations and dynamics an inclusion of temporal relations

2.1         Mind and World: Two Problems

The use here is that there is one world. The world encompasses all being. I may talk of multiple worlds; that use is metaphorical

Since mind is in the world, the relation between mind and world include psychology. The functions of psychology are a function of the structure and dynamics of the world

The remaining sections of Topic 2 are special cases of the present section 2.1. The division is not intended to be disjunct [watertight]

2.1.1        Mind and World         Extent and Acuity of Mind

Mind associated with entire world - mind is every where; and, perhaps, concentrated in certain regions - brains, nervous systems... but diffuse over the rest, e.g. like a bell curve


Strictly limited to regions with certain characteristics         Saturation

The original treatment introduced the idea of saturation, the ratio of mind to all being in a region of space. The idea was not intended as precise but for possible future use

Since I have not found a use for it, the treatment is currently eliminated         Interaction


Correlation does not imply interaction. However, correlation forms a framework within which the presence and strength of interaction may be evaluated. Correlation is important [1] in absence of established causal relations, and [2] possible indication for a need for additional factors of explanation

Cause and Identity

In the case of full identity, mind and world are the same thing and, there is, strictly, no interaction. However, in that case there would be interactions within mind that we could label mind-world interaction. In the case of the identity theory, mental processes are supposed to be certain world structures undergoing certain processes. There is an interaction between those processes and the world at large. Furthermore, it is not necessary for the validity of the identity theory for there to be knowledge of what those processes are. Therefore, it may be necessary to use mentalist language and to talk of interaction even though we would know that the language referred to “nothing but” world phenomena

Materialism [the concept is elaborated in section 2.2]: all mind is matter. The identity theory also known as physicalism or central state materialism: mind and mental process are certain forms, structures, and processes of brain

Mentalism / idealism: the world is mind

2.1.2        The Problem of Mind and Matter[29]: Explaining Mind from Matter or Nature

This is an aspect of mind and world

In the modern scientific worldview Mind and World become Mind and Matter or Mind and Nature and the central problem is the origin of mind in matter

The focus is on scientific and philosophical explanation based in modern physics, biology and psychology; this much lies in the tradition that sees mind as being caused by or seated in matter. In the second half of the 20th century, the computer-network-information-processing model also became important. Cognitive science is the recent discipline, dating back to the 1970’s, that studies mind as a system of abstract relations and processes - the information processing model is central - and draws from psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, artificial intelligence, the social sciences and philosophy. That an approach may be labeled modern and scientific does and should not at all mean that there are no current alternatives. However the modern prominence of the scientific view is given; and it is true that this provides the dominant paradigm in the English speaking world

One can, however, practice in the mode that derives mind from or “seats” mind in matter without subscribing to it as an ontology; and one can make parallel practices of alternative modes in the interest of comparative studies - these would, at minimum, sharpen and define the scientific study - and intrinsic studies. There are two alternative traditions: one may be labeled idealism and has two major projects [a] to adequately identify the concept and realms of mind and mental phenomena -- this preliminary project is necessary to give substance to the project of idealism; without it idealism is flat, a merely intellectual pursuit, and [b] to identify the real and being with mind or consciousness. The second tradition includes the names Aristotle, Whitehead, Heidegger and others[30]; it may be labeled the science, theory or philosophy of being. In this tradition, being is most fundamental, but its nature is not specified - it is to be discovered. The philosophies of the east, especially that of India, are especially significant for these alternatives centered approach centered in science and materialism

There is a practical motive for focus on being. This motive draws some inspiration from the great ideas and works but is not directly dependent on them. The motive is as follows. The approach through science and / or materialism frequently does not explicitly recognize the central importance of human experience; some level of denial usually present: consciousness as such is eliminated or reduced, or its cognitive significance is marginal or null, or its existential significance is minimized. The approach through idealism appeals to an apparently unreal category as its ontological foundation, and can be interpreted as antithesis to the scientific worldview that is the fruit of a four century long tradition. I believe that possibilities for idealism and the nature of the idea are significantly under-conceived. Though various misconceptions relating to mind and body, including notions of distinct categories, are customarily attributed to Cartesianism, I believe that the central intuitions regarding mind and body have some adaptive basis. To survive is to survive in some ecological environment; therefore, recognition of the absolute real is not one of the conditions of survival. That is there may be a tendency [but not a necessity] to think in terms of mind and body that does not necessarily require categorial reification

The approach through being cuts through these issues and restores the real. The need for this approach arises in a search for the real, not merely due to 2000 years of categorial philosophy, but also due to the particular circumstances of the history and paleo-history of the present ecological context inclusive of its physical, biological, social and psychological dimensions

These and related comments are not intended as arguments against science, its use, and the scientific worldview. Final judgment, affirmative or otherwise, will be the natural consequence of pushing the limits of explanation [of which prediction is a form] and use as far as possible; the issue of restraint in science is a practical, economic and political one rather than a conceptual one. What I would argue for is, parallel to the scientific endeavor, an openness - also with reasonable conceptual and practical restraint - to varieties of human being and thought that, under the undue influence of what may be called scientism[31], may mistakenly thought to be contrary to the principles of science and reason

Focal approaches to this program - the problem of mind and matter - are conceptual and philosophical. The focus on mind and world and on mind and matter are both of intrinsic interest; and they both provide foundation for philosophical and scientific aspects of:

2.1.3        The Problem of the Structure and Dynamics of Mind

This could be labeled “details” and that should not detract from importance or interest. Scientific explanations include [1] of the interrelations among the elements or features and process of mind, [2] of the features and processes of mind in terms of the underlying physics and biology and in terms of social relations and communication. Human language is significant for human consciousness and psychology

Focal approaches to this program are scientific and analytic. Item 2 [2] can be approached from a scientific [roughly mind from matter] and a philosophical [roughly, mind and world] viewpoint

2.1.4        Boundaries of Mind

Is the mind of an individual in the body or brain; does it extend beyond these organs

2.1.5        The Problems of Consciousness

The problems of conscious arise as a special case of the problems of mind         The Fundamental Problem of Consciousness: Explanation of Phenomenal Experience

This is the problem of explanation of phenomenal experience from matter. The atoms and molecules that “constitute” the nervous system including the brain include no reference to phenomenality or to mental terms at all in their scientific description. How, then, does phenomenal experience arise? The problem has been considered above where it was seen that analogy with the explanation of macroscopic physical properties from fundamental microscopic entities is not at all helpful. Even if the detailed explanation of the causal and external descriptive aspects of mental phenomena is completed, the phenomenality of experience is still left out. Thus, the problem presents an explanatory difficulty

I have called this The Fundamental Problem of Consciousness. Churchland [1996] says explicitly and Dennett [1991 and in An Exchange With Daniel Dennett, Appendix to Chapter Five, Searle 1997] says, in essence, that there is no fundamental problem in the sense specified here. Churchland and Dennett say, in effect, that there is no problem of phenomenal experience over and above the problem of the scientific explanation of the causal and external descriptive aspects of mental phenomena. Searle [1992, 1997] writes that there is a problem of explaining phenomenal experience in that materialism, behaviorism, functionalism and all scientific explanations to date have left out the phenomenal aspect. The scientific explanations include the works of Crick [1994], Edelman [1992], and Penrose [1994]. It seems to me that Searle’s assessment is correct. Searle [cited above] says up front that “consciousness is a natural biological phenomenon” and that “We will understand consciousness when we understand in biological detail how the brain does it”; he calls this “biological naturalism.” This defines Searle’s program and he elaborates it in some detail. I am not doing justice to Searle’s arguments here but it seems to me that it suffers from the complaint that Searle uses on the materialist-functionalist approaches. The complaint is that, after the description is complete, the phenomenal aspect is [will be] left over. However, see remarks under The Explanation of Phenomenal Experience below. Biological naturalism appears to be a reasonable way to approach understanding and explaining consciousness and, regardless of ideology, it is one of the main current approaches[32]. If we regard the physics [and physical science] of the brain to be an aspect of its biology then biological naturalism is the way to explanation from natural science. However, I believe an explanation is needed to show why biological naturalism is not a variety of materialism or another categorialism. Assume that the brain causes the mind. Then, since nature causes the brain, in evolution, nature causes mind. Even if biology is not reducible to physics, biology may be caused by physics and in that sense, physics causes the mind and consciousness. Further, it is Searle’s [1992, 1997, 1998] quite reasonable position that the mental and the physical are not categories - that something is physical does not mean that it is not mental - and mind is instantiated in certain forms or arrangements of matter [nervous systems and so on]; and, since mind is then latent in all matter, this would appear to be a form of pan-psychism. Whether mind is latent in matter depends on concepts of mind and matter; future reconceptualization may find what was considered latent to be actual in the new system of understanding. Note, here, that there is a difficulty in talking of mind, matter as given when the concepts are tentative and concrete when the concepts are abstract. It would also seem that, on the irreducibility of mind, Searle is implicated in a dualism. Searle’s motivation is the need to avoid mistakes that result from using Cartesian categories but it is not clear that he succeeds in avoiding ontological “confusion” altogether. This is not surprising given that we may still be struggling with a reality that is inadequately described by present concepts regardless of whether those concepts describe categories. Further, even in the realm of the world as is currently known, it is not at all certain that the way from natural science supplanted by reason and analysis will not require additional new ontological elements to provide the necessary explanation. Chalmers [1996] argues that the physical level does not entail consciousness and that new natural laws will be needed to make the connection between phenomenality and the biophysical level. Thomas Nagel [1974] has argued a somewhat similar position in that explanations of phenomenal experience do not have the causal necessity of explanations in the natural sciences. More recently, Nagel argued [1998] that the explanatory connection between mind and body would be through a third, inclusive, mode. Nagel directs his skill at carefully defining gap in the connection between mind and matter: “We conceive the body from outside and the mind from inside, and see no internal connection, only an external one of correlation or perhaps causation. But in spite of the vividness of the intuition, I believe that it reflects our conceptual limitations rather than the truth: The difference between the modes of conception is so great that there is every reason to suspect that we would be unable to see an internal necessary connection even if there were one.” Thus, it is likely insufficient to merely loosen up the categories so that bodies can be physical and mental at the same time. Nagel’s arguments are insightful and persuasive - the argument for a third mode appears to be sufficient but, perhaps, superfluous in that the necessity of a third mode is not clear even though a good case has been made. A similar point of view is found in Mitra [1998c] where possible needs for additional ontological elements - also emphasized in the current document - are pointed out. See the discussion[33] for a consideration on the issue of need for a new ontological mode. Colin McGinn has well known position[34] is that consciousness lies somewhere in the range of being opaque to human powers of understanding and explanation to requiring a major change in the scientific view and explanatory modalities

The Explanation of Phenomenal Experience:

I began by considering an explanation of phenomenal experience a different order of problem than the scientific problem of mind and consciousness. However, my views are not currently as definite. I see the following options:


A scientific explanation of the details of mental phenomena will be an explanation of consciousness. The result may require no more than an altering of meanings; or the explanation of phenomenality will be entailed, in a way not yet seen, by the explanations of the details

Such explanations may require the identification of sufficiently central mental phenomena distinct from but, perhaps, implicitly related to phenomenal experience. Candidates are intensionality and creativity. On the physical side, we ask: What property or process of matter will entail the mental phenomenon or phenomena in question? I argued[35] that creativity requires an indeterminism that generates essentially new structures as stable variations from the old. This is related but not identical to Penrose’s suggestion that a non-computable quantum gravitational theory is a candidate to explain the non-computable powers of the human mind. I believe that my proposal is more central and capable of broader interpretation. I want to repeat the point that a physical explanation is not a non-biological explanation; and that this particular physical explanation is a partial one that needs to be complemented by other biological elements


If phenomenality does not yield to scientific explanation from current or future physics and biology, or if such explanation is shown to be impossible, then some ontologically new element will be needed. I should add that I do not see how explanation from future science will be shown to be impossible since the physics of the present already contains ontologically different elements than the physics of the 19th and previous centuries. Thus, a physics or biology of the future may provide the necessary ontology. As I have argued below in detail, the new element may come from physics and biology, or from the mental side in terms of an expansion of the concept of the idea, i.e., the concept of the phenomenal, or may be some new element that is neither material nor mental. The distinction between a new element and an element that is an expansion of the mental is not clear         The Problem of the Scientific Explanation of Consciousness

This is the problem of explaining the powers of consciousness. It requires an elaboration of the various features of consciousness and an explanation in scientific and material terms - this does not, of course, imply materialism

This problem is a chapter in the scientific explanation of mind and mental phenomena, section 2.1.3 above

2.1.6        Are there two Problems or One

It may turn out that the resolution to the consciousness-substrate [matter / body / brain / information] problem will come from detailed scientific studies In this view there is essentially one problem or problem complex. In contrast the - perhaps dominant - view ascribes special difficulty, even impossibility, to an explanation of the subjective aspect of consciousness and so regards the consciousness-substrate issue as a separate problem and, perhaps, more difficult than an explanation of the structure and dynamics of consciousness. This position does not minimize the difficulty of an explanation of structure nor does it eliminate a need for conceptual or philosophical analysis in that explanation

2.2         The Concept of a Theory of Mind and Consciousness

The purpose of this section is to consider what it would take to have a theory of mind / consciousness. It is necessary to first identify what a theory of mind / consciousness should do[36]; what aspects should it explain?

Since mind is part of the world a theory of mind is part of a theory of the world. A more specific reason to consider the idea of a theory of the world, taken up in more detail in Section, is that in the absence of a world specification other concepts such as materialism, idealism and supervenience cannot be specified with sufficient precision to render them definite in a theoretical or a utilitarian sense. Therefore, first consider:

2.2.1        A Theory of the World


Establishes the main elements / processes / phenomena in the world and their interactions and relationships. Although it may be considered desirable to have conceptual unity, this may not be possible. A simple case of conceptual unity would be the situation in which all elements are of the same type and interact on the same level so that all descriptions of basic types and interactions are at the same level. It is a requirement that a theory, as part of its nature as a theory, will reduce the amount of data to specify all the facts, i.e. some facts will be predicted / explained by other, basic, facts such as low level facts or boundary or initial conditions; it is desirable that the theory introduce understanding. The theory may explain the existence of elements on the same level or relationships among them; this is a form of prediction; hitherto unknown elements may be predicted and facts hitherto unknown to be possible or not even conceived may be shown to be possible

May, in specific contexts or local environments, allow explanation / prediction in some detail of phenomena and processes from a limited set of data about the phenomenon. Such data include boundary and initial states. Boundary states represent the interactions with the rest of he world and initial states summarize the history of the environment in a statement about the configuration at a specific time. It is clear in general, and this is true in physics, that such prediction of the world as a whole and / or for all time forward from the remote past [the “origin” of time] is associated with special problems


May establish universal primitives [from which, by definition, in terms of the theory, the existence, prediction and explanation of all other elements is possible...]

… And / or, relative primitives that are universally primitive relative to a broad enough basic class or basic category of elements which is then, by assumption of the relative primitive condition, a closed system and the restriction of the theory to this system which, again, by assumption a closed theory

… And / or, conditional primitives that are, in the absence of specific interactions with elements from outside the class, primitive relative to a broad enough conditional basic class or conditional basic category. The class defined by a set of conditional primitives is not closed and the theory of this class, the restriction of theory to the class, is not a closed theory. Examples of interactions with elements from outside the class are initial conditions [includes immediate origins], boundary conditions [communication?], and input-output [perception or sensation and action]

Materialism: the concept of matter contains a set of universal primitives. What is matter? Matter is tangible or sensible, pervasive etc. As noted in Section 4.8 below, however the concept is to be explained by starting with the first experience of matter - commonsense, supplemented by the best knowledge of the day, i.e., science in the light of philosophy. It is important to specify what information is to be used in an explanation of what matter is or else the concept has no definiteness. In the future matter may assume may turn out to have primitive concepts of mind; this is not contradictory of common understanding of mind because it may be that only in certain combinations would the aspect or “property” of mind become manifest just as any number of material phenomena manifest only in certain combinations of matter. Thus, matter or materialism, defined in terms of any future physics has insufficient definiteness to have significance

In analogy to the distinction between logical and methodological behaviorism, we could specify a logical materialism and a methodological materialism. Logical materialism would be the position that only matter exists, and all other levels of language are abbreviated versions of the language of matter. Methodological materialism would be a research program based on the physical and biological sciences. A few marginal purists might object to physical cosmology as being rather speculative, and diehard chauvinists might object to inclusion of “living” matter. It is safe to say that the bulk of academic scientists and philosophers in the English speaking and the Scandinavian countries c. 2000 A. D. are practicing methodological materialists[37]. This would be true even of the faculty in psychology and social sciences even though those disciplines would have their own specialized disciplinary research programs         Requirements for a Complete Theory of the World

A Complete Theory of The World [TOW] would:

Be more specific and concrete in the details and kinds of events etc

Be demonstrably about everything

Desirably be unified, homogeneous

But, we do not have a complete could we know that all the practical categories of our universe [nature, society, mind...] were included in any proposed TOW?

That would be a positivism, not a strong one in terms of a set of atomic facts, but a weak one based, for example only, on something sprawling like the fundamental theories of modern physics

But, in a practical sense, what would it take to have a Complete Theory of the World?

Look to physics. Although I do not subscribe to the idea, why, arrogance and sanguinity aside, would physicists or metaphysicians claim that they had a Theory of Everything?

The physicists would be encouraged by the fact that much of the natural world is subsumed by physics; cosmology shows something of origins

The metaphysicians would be encouraged by having a theory of a theory of what it takes... that would be learnt other experience with specific systems which would:

Explain everything

Exclude all else

A theory of the world, then, would include:

A theory of explanation, and

A theory of origins

This would be in a practical sense and would not have anything positivist about it

However, modern science and academics including philosophy, is not, according to its own canon, in a position to give the world a complete theory of itself. A theory of the world, then, seems impossible except for the principle of ignorance - which is skeptical not only of possibilities but also of limits - promotes that impossibility to remoteness!

We thus begin to see[38] the appeal and the remoteness of any physicalism / materialism... and, again, the logic of the outline of this essay

The ultimate Theory of Everything... is also a Theory of No-Thing... not in the sarcastic sense of explaining nothing but in that it explains origins from no-thing

The metaphysical outline of such a theory is not as hard to appreciate as is commonly imagined - the remoteness of the “context” being a positive [due to the freedom] as much as a negative factor [due to difficulties of imagination and consistency.]         Models of Causal Relationship and Explanation: Supervenience

The topic of causal explanation is taken up, in general, in section 4.3. This is an appropriate place to consider the concept of supervenience, introduced by G. E. Moore [1922] in the context of ethical theory. Supervenience has been recently taken up as a tool to analyze the relationship between consciousness and matter, especially in Chalmers [1996]. Supervenience comes in a number of flavors with technical definitions but I will focus on the main kinds and on meanings. B supervenes logically on A if A-properties determine B-properties. For the purpose of this definition, A-properties include laws relating elements within domain A but not laws relating elements of A to elements of other domains. If, in addition to A-properties, additional causal laws relating A and B are required to determine B-properties, the supervenience of B on A is said to be causal or, in appropriate contexts, natural

Is consciousness determined by physics, i.e. would all the facts of physics - the positions of all particles, the spatial distribution of all fields etc. over all time - determine the facts of consciousness? If consciousness is logically [constitutive supervenience] supervenient on the physical then facts about consciousness are physical facts and it would be logically contradictory for the physical facts to be given and the facts about consciousness to be undetermined for the facts about physics would be both determined and not determined. Note that physical laws, expressly microphysical laws, are for the purposes of the concept of logical supervenience, included among the physical facts and this is probably a good thing. Natural supervenience of consciousness on the physical obtains when, in addition to physical facts and laws, natural laws - connecting consciousness to physics - are necessary to determine the facts about consciousness. These natural laws are not physical laws. The argument is that given two physically identical individuals it is logically possible for them to have different conscious states though, in our world, given our world’s natural laws, the physical facts determine the facts about consciousness and so physically identical individuals [identical configuration of particles and fields in identical environments from time minus infinity] have the same conscious experience

Now this argument is clearly equivalent to the claim that consciousness is not physical. Why is consciousness not physical? Of the following points, the first two are from Chalmers, 1996:

“The best evidence of contemporary science tells us that the physical world is more or less causally closed: for every physical event there is a physically sufficient cause.” [p. 125]

Physics could be defined so that phenomenal experience counted as a physical property - and on this reading, the natural laws relating consciousness and the rest of physics would be physical laws, but “On a more natural reading of “physics” and “physical,” experience does not qualify. Experience is not a fundamental property that physicists need to posit in their theory of the external world; physics forms a closed, consistent theory even without experience.” [p. 128]

One could appeal to the intuitions that consciousness is not spatial. But, what is the location of the spin of an electron? In the background of these considerations is the counter-intuitive quality of the notion that consciousness is physical. These arguments could be drawn out. However, these intuitions are very contingent on the modern worldview and, if revisions to that view as outlined in the following paragraphs occur, there would be a change in the worldview and the contingent intuitions

Now, the claim that physics is closed and consistent is very strong despite its not having a clear meaning. Does this mean that non-physical causes do not have physical effects or that physical events have causes that are known to the physics of today? Does it mean that mental causation is physical causation? For now, I will focus on the following concern

As I emphasize subsequently, “What would a mental characteristic [consciousness] look like at the microscopic - quantum - level?” I.e., what will be the shape of consciousness at the micro-level? What this amounts to is that it is possible that consciousness is supervenient on the physical as defined in current physics but is not seen there precisely because the connection has not been established. This is a possible outcome until the contrary is established. Also note, as elaborated in this document, that explanations from biology and from physics are fully compatible in a number of ways; importantly, explanations from biology and physics should be complementary with biology providing both general framework and details and physics providing some fundamental ontological elements. It is possible that, as a result of future developments, physics will entail phenomenal consciousness as a fact - while biology will provide the main characteristics, functions and details. Once the entailment has been established it will be possible to see consciousness in physics, to recognize the shape of mind and consciousness at the microscopic level. This may require an altering of the semantics; I have pointed this out elsewhere in this document

Two additional comments, also repeated in this document, are pertinent. These considerations point to the vagueness or, more precisely, the indefiniteness of the concept of materialism, i.e., of physicalism when the concept of matter, i.e. of physics is not carefully specified. What is the logic of a specification of physics? Secondly, without precise specification of what physics is over and above “physics is what the best physicists do” the notion of the physical or the material and of logical supervenience on the physical is indefinite and, therefore, devoid of significance. Therefore, concepts of physicalism / materialism require precise specification in addition to conceptual definition. This specification would include a detailing, at least in principle, of what kind of entities and class of laws are to be admitted. This specification is just as important - for the present purposes - as a careful working out of the concepts of supervenience [on the physical]

Now return to the question:

2.2.2        What will or should a Theory of Mind and Consciousness Do?         Within the Framework of “Methodological Materialism”

[Methodological Materialism is used playfully in that it is not intended as a coinage, and seriously in that it points to a pervasive and inescapable influence. The influence is, of course, not absolutely inescapable; however, the pervasion of the materialist orientation of science - to the scientist or philosopher hoping to do constructive work in mind-body relations is like the ocean to sea-creatures.]

Establish mental elements / processes / phenomena as a conditional basic class; includes theory, dynamics, explanation, structure, prediction, and reduction within mental phenomena. The idea of reduction includes the possibility of levels of mental phenomena and the possibility of micro and macro phenomena. Elaborate. This is of course the program of psychology

Explain and predict the existence of mind and consciousness in principle based on material underpinnings - the physical and biological sciences, their built in predictive theories, and the general principles of deduction, i.e., logic. This is not to imply that induction, intuition, and heuristic reasoning will not play important, if auxiliary, roles

Similarly, explain and predict the details of the program of psychology

The program within the framework of methodological materialism includes the case of property dualism except that this case requires specification of additional mental-material relations that may be established empirically and, perhaps, appeals to logic and theory. The case of substance dualism is not included but that case would also require the establishment of mental-material relations as prerequisite to a theory of mind

Includes eliminative materialism as a special case. Eliminative materialism says anything only if mental terms can be eliminated altogether though they may be retained for convenience as a kind of shorthand. The radical case would eliminate mental terms due to their supposed retrograde status

Use of abstract relations as a substitute for mental terms requires an additional class that is arguably basic but would appear to be conditionally basic. This has been identified as the program of cognitive science. Examples are behaviorism, functionalism including computer functionalism. It has been argued that when this class of theories is required to have justification, or provide explanation of the existence of mind and consciousness and explanation of the details of psychology - even in principle - the theories must themselves be elaborated in greater and greater amounts of detail until they reduce, in the end, to materialism. Thus, the theories that are cognitivist in this sense may be and have been called surrogates for materialism         Open-ended Permissive Methodological Materialism

As noted, it is very hard, regardless of ideology, for a practicing scientist or philosopher when doing science or the philosophy of science to not be a practicing materialist. However, this does not require commitment to materialism. This lack of commitment may be due to an open attitude, ideology, or from understanding the evolution or history of ideas. Thus, even while maintaining continuity with the tradition of, e.g., physics, there is no prediction, without entertaining elements of rationalism, of the nature of fundamental entities of physical science beyond the immediate future. The immediate future can be interpreted as the era of the current ontological paradigm. Beyond this era, the fundamental entities of physics may then turn out to include idealistic / mentalist elements or even be entirely idealistic; and the evolution of science may require this. This appears, of course, to be counter-intuitive[39], against the modern scientific worldview        Practices within Methodological Materialism

Within the framework of the practice the following sub-practices may occur. The apparent contradiction is allowed in view of the dominance of practical or methodological materialism and various reasons to consider alternatives

Non-categorialism: no categories posited; continue research into mind-mind and mind-matter relationships; see what results may come including the possibility of a posteriori establishment of categories. This is the practical case

Complementary idealism: a complementary approach that allows expansion of the meaning and domain of idealistic / mentalist elements by examining the nature of the ideas and by analogy with the history of the idea of matter. Essentially an idealist / mentalist program but recognizes the dominance and significance of the modern paradigm. Motives are the open-ended nature of the history of ideas, and indicators - not proof - that the modern paradigm may have limits that are shown up by the analysis of mind in terms of that paradigm. One can practice this approach consistently within materialism as interpreted immediately above - undoubtedly many academic philosophers maintain this practice without explicitly admitting the case. The end result may be idealism / mentalism but, as I have pointed out a number of times, that future idealism would be significantly more robust than idealism is commonly conceived to be         History of Knowledge Approach[40]

A practical approach seeks to most effectively be part of the patterns of the history of knowledge. In ordinary science[41], the pattern is one of problem solving and “ordinary” scientists do not ask deep questions about the nature of their subject. Here is one musing on an approach in the face of paradox. While heeding the progress of knowledge and science, the approach would not espouse any radical monism or categorialism; nor would it radically espouse any anti-categorialism; nor would it reject the practice of a monism or a dualism; but this is only a first approximation for the approach would not radically reject radicalism for which there may be a time and place; this is not mere eclecticism; it embraces history; and history embraces and sheds all these positions

2.2.3        What Would It Take to Have a Theory of Consciousness?         Within the Modern Scientific Framework

This is essentially a matter-centered approach

Objectives of a theory of mind… The following is a summary of considerations above. A theory of mind will explain and predict the existence and details of mental phenomena from the structure of the organism, especially the structure of the nervous system, in the environment

Objectives of a theory of consciousness… It will elaborate the place of consciousness in mind; and will similarly explain and predict the existence and details of conscious phenomena...”

Should the theory be causal? This is desirable in that it will be further confirmation, and continuation of the scientific worldview. I have argued that the theoretical gulf may be unbridgeable[42] except that the way out may be an unforeseen aspect or product of the explanation or be a result of a simple evolution in meanings. However, if these possibilities do not arise, the gulf may be unbridgeable within the scientific view. That would mean a limitation to either human powers of explanation or the mode of explanation, i.e., primarily the scientific view and its paradigmatics. It remains true that the nature of the gulf and what it will take to bridge are open questions

Alternatively, the theory may be merely correlative and predictive. In this case, a “bridge” is necessary to take the place of causal explanation. A bridge could be a system of signs - behavior, functional relations; David Chalmers has proposed bridging laws on account of his conclusion that mental facts are not reducible to physical facts. Note that some physical theories that started as correlative but acquired causal status later. Because of their power, universality, multi-level aspect, and promise physics has gotten used to regarding its theories as causal. Should biology and explanation based in biology be different? Note, however, that the introduction of field theories in fundamental physics contributed significantly to a foundation of the concept of causality in local interaction

The following is an analogy that may be useful for merely predictive theories. Force is the factor that “binds” matter and motion in physics; force is interaction between particles of matter. What are the factors of interaction that bind mind, matter and their “motion” or change in cause and affect? A first answer is simple: perception and action, or the afferent action in which matter affects mind in perception and the efferent action in which mind affects matter in action

What are the parameters of explanation?


Structure, dynamics: level of detail... begin with simple creatures, gross level features

Micro mental features... are there such features? If lucky, as in physical science, there will be some simple features at a micro-level that aggregate to the same feature at the macro level

Input-output: perception, action



Brain and nervous system

Other organ systems: endocrine

Microscopic level: cells



Macro-level features include biological ones... and any physical characteristics that affect function of the nervous system

Micro-level features include those that may be required by mental processes that do not have analog in functional biology. An example is the requirement of creativity that some basic process should be non-deterministic[44]         Sufficient Conditions for an Explanation of Mind from Body or Matter

Two approaches:

Experiment with a variety of necessary conditions, i.e., list significant characteristics of mind and mental phenomena. An explanation of each of these aspects is necessary. At some point in the cataloging of explanations, it may turn out – after the fact – that an explanation of mind or consciousness has been given

Ask what would be sufficient

One approach:

Characterize what is to be explained: mind, consciousness

Explain the characterization. This may be harder than the individual explanations in [1] but easier than the process of [1]         Alternatives to Materialism        Kinds of alternatives        Enlarge the class of phenomena to be considered mental


Monism: mind meets matter, bridging. Mind and matter subsumed in a more comprehensive category. Although the conceptual gap is large, the actual gap in the immediate domain may turn out to be small when the bridge is adequately made:

By extension of meaning and reference

Parameterized and mirror ontologies

Non-categorialism: no categories posited; continue research into mind-mind and mind-matter relationships; see what results may come including the possibility of a posteriori establishment of categories        The problem of idealism

What are the difficulties?

Idealism in the mentalist sense is counter-intuitive: mind, idea, will appear as immaterial; some ideas are ephemeral

Violates common observation: mind is always observed with very specific forms of matter in a nested hierarchy: organism - metazoa - organisms with nervous systems - animals with brains

Other minds; solipsism

Counter-scientific: nothing in the traditional scientific worldview [particles, atoms, chemicals...] display, according to the canons of scientific description, anything with a mental character. Note, however, the beginnings of mind-like behavior in quantum mechanics. Even though there may be debate about the claimed qualities, whether they manifest at a macroscopic level, the mental characteristics purportedly explained... the debate is not even conceivable in classical mechanics. There is however, the following question: What would a mental characteristic “look” like at the microscopic - quantum - level? In this connection, also see section

A private conversation[45] revealed the following difficulty. I was describing an experiment with a view in which the concept of idea was structured and broadened to include characteristics of matter; a number of the problems of idealism tentatively overcome. The following problem was raised: in moving to a new ontology or metaphysics, it seems that the old categories of mind and matter would be inadequate; the new description should arise fresh from the mind of the thinker. There are, of course, a number of examples from science where revolutions resulted in a mix of fresh and old vocabulary. However, the old vocabulary usually has a new, even radical, interpretation. This is better than mere newness for, although interpretations change, meaning maintains continuity and so the new ideas maintain continuity with the old. For example, the same physical quantity may occur in new and old physical theories. In cases where the old use has meaning, the new use reduces to the old. This is significant, since the classical ideas are close to intuitions and direct measurement, and allows for a degree of meaning and measurement. In non-classical situations, the radical aspect may become manifest

What are the requirements of an adequate idealism or mentalism [46], [47]

Resolution of the difficulties: a variety of kinds or level of mind or mental phenomenon - a continuum ranging from ephemerality and immateriality to hard surfaces, fists and grime... and from global origins to discrete particulars, including other minds, in the present

Reinterpretation and subsumption of the scientific worldview within the parameters of the idealism; the result would be so successful as to become obvious; be a “paradigm” and foster “research programs” [Lakatos, 1978]

Would this require a revision of physical science?

By the time that such a view became established the changes in physics and psychology would likely be such that any further changes at that point might well be trivial and, practically, not recognized even if conceptually significant         A Third Level of Meaning: Mind and Consciousness

Relationships to the world provide a third level of meaning. I have discussed the idea of a field of concepts at a number of points in this document. The idea is that a structured system of concepts, in which the meanings of the individual terms are not completely separable, is for description of the world. Thus, the meanings of mind and consciousness are not completely separable from their place in the world. Thus, relationships to the world provide a third level of meaning

2.3         Mind and Nature[48], [49]

2.3.1        Mind from Matter

As noted in section 4.2.2 Searle [1992] has an interesting account of the history of materialism in which the underlying motives and the status of materialism are considered. Searle firmly believes that categorialism is confused and at the seat of much of what he identifies as the confusion in the philosophy of mind. Of course, materialism or physicalism and its relative, functionalism, continue to thrive in the literature. There is no need to recount the 20th century history of materialism; Searle’s work just cited includes an excellent account of that history. However, it is of interest to consider one recent contribution to the materialism

Michael Tye [online] argues in favor of physicalism. Reference is made to “Mary’s story” due to Jackson [1982]. In the thought story, Mary lives in a black and white world but learns about color from books and reading. She learns the names and physical properties of color and light and becomes an expert in color. One day she experiences color and learns new facts about color that her knowledge of physics did not give her and could not have given her. The conclusion is that since she acquires new knowledge through experience her earlier physical knowledge is incomplete and therefore physicalism is false. This is the “Knowledge Argument” against physicalism. This is where Tye begins his account. He considers the “Ability Hypothesis” - the standard physicalist response to the knowledge argument: What Mary learns from experience is not “knowing that”, it is not information; rather, it is “knowing how”. Tye finds this argument to be inadequate because the Ability Hypothesis does not give a satisfactory account of “knowing how”. I refer the reader to Tye’s article for details. He argues, despite the Knowledge Argument and the inadequacy of the Ability Hypothesis, that physicalism can be justified anyway. I take the essence of Tye’s position to be the following: The new experiences Mary undergoes and their introspectible qualities are wholly physical and they are new knowledge even though she knew all the pertinent real-world physical facts. In other words although the experiences and introspectible qualities are physical, they cannot be imparted through the kind of formal education that Mary had while she was captive

The discussion is interesting and Tye’s final claim is that “the Knowledge Argument can be answered.” Although this an argument against an argument against physicalism, is this an argument for physicalism? I think not, for the fundamental problem of materialism remains: mental phenomena are still there and not reduced to matter after the material level descriptions are spelled out

2.3.2        Physics

2.3.3        Biology and Neuroscience

Neuroscience is a major element in the circle of fields that will provide a scientific explanation of mind and consciousness         Locus of Consciousness         Detailed Relationship: Mind and Brain

Extended or functional brain

Neurophysiological, endocrine systems

Organs of perception and action

2.3.4        Anthropology

The contributions of anthropology include natural explanations of human consciousness

2.3.5        Physics or Biology?

The claims of biology are obvious from a consideration of neuroscience and the occurrence of consciousness in organisms but not in rocks. Of course, this is based in the primitive conception of consciousness but this is consistent with the materialist perspective. Additionally, the project to explain the functions of mind in detail must draw significantly from neurophysiology

In opposition to the claims of biology consider that creativity - the creation in time of the new, of what is not contained in what came before - requires [an element of] indeterminism. This follows from the fact that determinism is the doctrine that the future is determined by the past. Indeterminism does not arise at the “gross” biological level of description but, rather, at the atomic or sub-atomic levels, as described by quantum theory. Thus, a physical level is required to explain the origin of consciousness in matter

Against indeterminism, it has been argued that “randomness” produces chaos, not the organization seen in mind, and is so no better than a sterile determinism. Here is the counter to the argument from sterility: In the beginning, there is a random variation from nothingness. Otherwise, however, the variations of indeterminism are trials that occur from a structured world and unstable variations are self-eliminating while stable variations [existence] persist. The argument may be extended to mental creativity and applies to choice and ethics

The process of creation in mental activity involves recombinations of ideas and sparks of new ideas. The analogy to evolution is obvious. A spark may also trigger a recombination. Organic [living] matter focuses the physical processes in mental action. By extension, groups of neurons, groups of organisms are also focal agents

Thus, a complete scientific explanation may include elements of physics and biology. Physics will provide certain key types of foundational process that are required by the nature of mind; additionally the physical sciences may enter in a mundane role in that the physical and chemical properties of the organism and its brain enter into the determination of mental character. Biology will enter by selecting, amplifying, the fundamental physical processes and translating them to a symbolic level - and providing aspects of interpretation of that level; additionally neuro-anatomy and neuro-physiology will - and do - play roles in explaining the variety of mental function

2.4         Mind, Society and Language

2.4.1        Relates to, Mirrors Psychology in Two Ways

The functions of psychology are functions of the structure and dynamics of the world, which includes society

Confirmation or affirmation of an individual’s sense of what is real through dialog and social interaction

2.4.2        Communication, Mind and Consciousness

Learning, modeling

An example: a parent’s influence on my being in the world: beauty, joy and work

The milieu of ideas

Exposure to the milieu: new ideas, the tradition and the literature

Exposure to the milieu: criticism

The milieu of the journey

Sustenance of individual being

Mutual and group action; common endeavor

Mutual charisma. The mutual charismatic influence of, e.g. a dedicated group; this is pragmatically, if not conceptually, more inclusive than what is thought of as charisma in religion, politics, and leadership - and in cults; mutual charisma - is a give and take charismatic influence among a group that includes the one way charismatic influence as a special case

Mutual sustenance. This refers primarily to being as being but includes, also, a range of factors such as emotion, respect, competition, affirmation; and, secondarily, material factors of survival

2.4.3        Thought as Internal Speech or Dialog

“Thought as speech” is not “thought is speech”, i.e. the former is the reasonably obvious assertion that one mode of thinking is through silent processing of speech associations. “Speech” can be generalized to hearing and to all sense modes

Thought as internal speech or dialog brings into focus a relationship between communication and thought, between being social and being mental

2.4.4        On the Knowledge of Other Minds

This is a classic problem in philosophy. There are two reasons for its inclusion here. As one of the standard problems in the philosophy of mind, it may contribute to the understanding of the whole. Second, there are some considerations on the question of other minds that inform the problems that are most directly of interest to me: the nature and structure of mind and consciousness, the relationships among minds - especially in a society, the mind-body problem in its generic and detailed senses. This, rather than standard considerations, is the main purpose to inclusion of a discussion of other minds: the considerations that follow question the status of other minds - the nature of their otherness - rather than their existence         Reasons for Inclusion of The Problem        General Reasons

As for many special or seemingly special problems, considerations of the individual problems are mutually informing and contribute to understanding the whole which in turn provides frameworks for the individual problems and the question of what are the main individual problems

By reflection on problems that question commonsense it is not necessarily the intent to question commonsense in its day to day application, but to continue knowledge - as for example in science, the claims of religion, of myth and mysticism - beyond its everyday application        Illumination of Specific Problems

Other problems receive illumination in at least two ways. First, the question of other minds fills in some gaps in the reasoning that goes into the other problems. Second, the problem of other minds occasions and sometimes requires answers and reflection on other issues. These ways are specific cases of the interactivity of problems

The following problems or points are illuminated:

Mind - body

Here are some points of proof. Since the problem of other minds arises from the asymmetry between the knowledge of my mind and the knowledge of other people’s minds the question is how to translate the asymmetry into symmetry. For example, like effects imply like causes. [What is the epistemic status of the claim that “like effects imply like causes”? 1. As in all epistemic considerations, the universe of facts is conflated with the universe. That those two universes may be identical is not a given. 2. The universe or a part of it is divided into cause and effect. That division is not necessary. There is no single way to make that division. 3. Can two systems of causes – or effects – be identical? That question is practically open due to the considerations in [1], immediately above. The question is also theoretically open since identity would be known from a principle such as the Leibnizian principle of the “identity of indescernibles”. In practice, this principle or some alternative is assumed or part of the background of action much in the same way that causation, time and space are part of the background. 4. It is therefore, questionable whether identical effects imply identical causes [A]. 5. The question of whether like causes imply like effects is subject to all these limitations and the additional one that it follows only plausibly from [A]. Such principles are not certain but must be assumed or are tacitly part of the background or framework of action

Nature of knowledge - natural [defined below] and analytic [in the general sense of knowledge by careful thought.]

The spectrum of mind: as I reason from similar effects to similar causes, I may also reason from observing a continuum of effects to a continuum of causes. I.e., in looking at creatures arranged according to some phylogenetic tree [different concepts of phylogenetic relationship lead to somewhat different classifications] I see degrees of similarity in appearance and molar behavior. I can conclude that there are degrees of similarity among the nature of experience [level of consciousness...] and mental capabilities. The conclusion is, of course, not at all specific; and it does not give me detailed data on the qualities of the experience of non-human organisms. Is specific and qualitative data accessible? How?

The problem of relationships among minds; what or where is the boundary between minds of distinct individuals?        Some Specific Illuminations

Sheds light on the fundamental problem of consciousness

The problem of other minds is, in part, a problem in the social aspect of mind         The Problem        The Source

Saturday, July 24, 1999. I have been thinking about the problem of other minds today. Now I am at work, there is a break in the action, the evening is winding down, and I am sitting in an office by myself. I can hear my coworkers and friends engage in casual talk. I am automatically attributing conscious feeling to them, not only to their words but also to a sigh, a murmur, and a laugh. It is almost as though I experience their experience, feel their feeling. It feels a little like being in their conscious space. But, on reflection, I know that I am not feeling their feelings. When they go away, I am left, while awake, with only my own conscious experience. My own mind occupies, for me, a singular position. It is, in a sense, my private universe, most present and most immediate - there is nothing more immediate from which I infer it. My experience is primal, others’ experience is assigned - or, because of the structural and behavioral similarities, inferred from like effects to like causes. This, except when I am being analytical, is not conscious, requires no noticed effort and yet it is there: I do not feel their feeling, I do not experience their experience. Yet, I do not doubt that others have experience, and in a good sense, I know that they have minds. Still, it is something I need to know. I do not need to know that I have a mind; the phenomena come first and the labels, “mind” and “mental”, come afterward when I recognize that the world is not made up entirely of [my mental or phenomenal] experience. There definitely is a difference between my experience of others and my own experience

This is the source the problem of other minds. There are a number of issues        The Issues - A Preliminary Version

What is the sense in which I know that others have minds; and how do I come to have that knowledge - or, how do I come to have natural confidence in the awareness of other minds?

Given that there is a sense in which I do not know that other minds exist - I think it is more accurate to say that the knowledge is of another grade than the knowledge of my own mind - how can I prove, or show that other minds exist? Why would I want to do this? It is not that I am insecure and want to be sure. Rather as I am questioning the nature of mind, I come naturally to ask other questions and reflection on those questions informs the original questions. Further, as noted above, in going beyond the realm of the day-to-day, natural knowledge and natural confidence may lose their applicability

I can take a Kantian approach and ask: Given that I know that minds exist what does that tell me about the instruments of knowledge, about my mind and about mind in general?

I can question the nature of the doubt. Given that it takes so little for a friend to evoke a feeling: that, in absence of reflection, I feel that I feel their feeling, am I perhaps missing something, being overly analytical, if I insist that I must doubt the reality of their experience        Further Reflection on The Problem

Why am I so sure of the separateness of the experience of others from my own experience? My first response is that just as it is natural to hold that others have experience that is identical in kind to my own experience, it is also natural to hold that their experience is separate from mine

As I noted above, when my associates go away, I am left with my own my mind. Further, it is natural to associate mind with body. Therefore, separate bodies imply separate minds. When my body dies, my experience ceases but others’ experiences continue... I am listening to my friends again - they are American. I grew up in India but have spent most of my adult life in America. When I arrived in America, I found it difficult to associate feelings to subtle behavior - I could recognize the main emotions of joy, anger and so on - but, in time, I learned the associations. Probably, all “empathy” is learned and is not a direct sharing of experience

I think of someone I have never met, say the President of The United States. I have no idea what the President is currently thinking or feeling. Our minds are clearly separate. [That is good.]

Yet, if I am in the business of doubting, I should doubt all appearances. When I do meet someone, I come away from the meeting with some feeling of or regarding his or her feeling. Clearly, there is deep empathy between people who are close. The literature is complete with examples of shared experience such as shared psychotic disorders[50]. Consider the case of my own experience. Is that experience attached to the atoms that make up my body? No, it is only through the confluence of the atoms, molecules, and cells, in development that I have the ability to have and recognize experiences. The experiences are instantiated in situations. True, my body is separate from others’ bodies but not absolutely separate. That feeling separateness is an element of natural knowledge, good for many first purposes, but not absolute. Therefore, perhaps, experience is not fully separate; perhaps I can and do have a degree of the experience of others. Perhaps the notion of absolute separation is a reification of the everyday experience of separateness heightened by a psychological and biological need for separateness and possibly by an emphasis on materialism

In arguing the case for shared experience, I am arguing the following: [1] sharing of experience in the sense that your experiences are my experiences would, in general, only be to a degree. Given sharing of experience, it is reasonable to expect not only that it is a matter of degree but that the degree will be a variable, i.e., a function of a number of factors that include shared history, the current situation and, perhaps, time scales - what is diversity and separateness on a short time scale may be a unity and commonality on a longer time scale; and [2] in seeking understanding of mind beyond the everyday, that I consider the possibility and follow the evidence. How will I follow the evidence? In the way that all theories follow evidence: there is no deduction from facts to theory. Rather, a theory is inducted from experience; the induction is an at least semi-heuristic process; the status of the theory is then tentative; explanations are given, predictions are made and compared, theory is adjusted         The Issues

The issues are as above but modified by the consideration of shared experience. The modified issues or parts of issues are italicized:

What is the sense in which I know that others are separate and have minds; and how do I come to have that knowledge - or, how do I come to have natural confidence in that awareness of other minds?

What is the degree of separation and sharing; upon what parameters - interpersonal, situational, and historical in the sense of personal history - does it depend? In what sense, and to what degree, is the idea of a complete compartmentalization of experience good and the basis of a program of understanding

Regarding mind, what do I know exists? Reflection shows that at the extreme level of doubt, I can have good reasons to doubt not only others but also the connection of an organism or continuity to this experience that I call mine. What, then, is the status of the [in this sense hypothetical] entities that “I” call “me” and “others”

I can take a Kantian approach and ask: Given that I know that other minds exist - i.e., that there is structure over and above experience - what does that tell me about the instruments of knowledge, about my mind and about mind in general

What is the status of doubt and criticism and what is the nature of the knowledge that is the positive product of the “negative” process of doubt and criticism?

Comment: for practical purposes my position is well defined: you and I are quite real; I can empathize with you and the simple explanation is that I assign feelings to you on the basis similarity. For “final” purposes, I do not doubt the occurrent reality of our existence but I find no reason to rule out shared or joint experience. A practical reason to question the nature of the existence of your or my mind is that I can learn something by elaborating reasons and refutations

The question does not doubt other minds but asks how “other” are they? Over time all things dissolve, mingle. What is the significance of this confluence in the actual present? Is the present -are we- opaque to it or merely insensitive to it?         Lines of Approach to The Problem of Other Minds

The foregoing considerations do not question the existence of other minds so much as examine their status. Given the natural idea that other minds are real, how can one show or explain this in light of the difference in status between my mind and others’ minds? The difference between the idea of showing [demonstration] and explanation in the present context is that we want an explanation of what we already believe to be true; further, in so far as the “thesis” of other minds requires proof, absolute proof is not forthcoming and, instead, explanation must suffice. An alternate way of putting this is that any proof is likely to depend on more or less reasonable assumptions rather than concrete and absolute facts. One could then ask what is the point of the consideration. It is that, firstly, in traversing the circle of important questions, one comes back to the start with greater understanding of the parts and the whole, and, secondly, in exploring beyond the familiar environment of our day to day experience - this varies with culture and history - thought, understanding, explanation alone will not answer all questions. We will also have to experiment, experience the world, live, die - and our actual lives and deaths, in addition to the lives and deaths of our ideas, are a foundation for our successors. Explanation and thought provide direction to the search and give meanings to our lives and their endeavors        Perceptive Empathy

How do I know that other persons are conscious? An answer that I have given is “perceptive empathy”. But, perceptive empathy is not sufficient; the question is how do I know? Perhaps the question can be recast: how do I know or why may I believe that perceptive empathy constitutes knowledge?        The Limits of Criticism

First, note that I can question even my own mind. When I am in a reflective mood I may question the existence of other minds, but my own phenomenal experience may present as constituting the whole universe. It is this apparently most real of things that is most worthy of criticism

Here are some considerations from “brain-in-a-vat” types of arguments. How do I know I am not just a brain suspended in a vat with my experience being the result of stimulation by electrical impulses? I suppose I could not prove or disprove this - as noted above phenomenal experience is fundamental in its nature and proof from something more fundamental is not to be expected. Suppose that I am a brain in a vat. I cannot know that, I can at most believe it. The supposition that I am a stimulated brain in a vat is not really different, apart from mythical content, than the supposition that I am an idea in the mind of God, or that the universe is supported on the back of a turtle. The “arguments” against “supernatural” fantasies include the argument from natural knowledge on the practical side in combination from the principle of economy of hypotheses or Occam’s razor on the conceptual side. It is the idea that I am a brain in a vat that would require an explanation; the idea that I am part of nature needs no explanation even though we like natural explanations. In fact, the reason that the brain in a vat explanation of experience requires an explanation is that it seems that it is far more complex than the natural picture of mind and experience as a product of nature. The principle of explanation in the natural picture is simple: mind is a result of nature. In the unnatural picture, the explanation is complex: how is the natural case simulated? This is much more complex than the fact that nature “exists”: we must know its detailed patterns of behavior. The point I want to make here is not that there is an argument that shows that that my experiences are not the product of a scientist stimulating a brain. It is, rather, to remind myself that as long as I am questioning the natural knowledge of the fact of other minds I can also question the nature of my own mind. There is also the following consideration: What is it that is being questioned by the brain-in-a-vat argument? It is that the content of my mind may be an illusion. But, one of the contents of my mind, if not of anyone else’s, is that I have a mind. Surely, not even the brain-in-a-vat problem questions the fact of experience itself; it is just the fact that there is a “me” connected to my experiences that is questioned. That the “me” of my experiences is, at minimum, nothing other than a set of experiences that have a certain coherence in the present and over time. Doubt is a form of experience

Failure to explain other minds is not an inherent limit to human knowledge; but a limit to certain modes of knowledge and imposed requirements on those modes

There is an analogy with physics, the familiar example of the prediction of a bulk property, e.g., wetness, from the microscopic properties. What do the physical properties at the macroscopic level predict about the consciousness? We do not have such a prediction, of course, but if we did, we would note that the prediction from physics does not show that water is not conscious but the prediction is of certain properties, which together with the natural belief that there are no further properties is interpreted as absence of consciousness. The point is that we need not make excessive demands on the scientific mode of explanation        Cause and Effect

Like effects imply like causes

The causal powers of the individual: Assigning too much causal power to self: the argument against solipsism, which is similar to the brain-in-a-vat argument

Like causes imply like effects

From the similarity of the nervous systems and of the sense / perception organs the best, though not necessary, conclusion is the similarity of experience. That behavior and language are similar and, though communication of experience is difficult if not impossible, groups function as though experience had been communicated... the best conclusion from this is support for the similarity of experience

Similarity of experience is also the simplest conclusion and, as shown below, dissimilarity of experience would, in some cases, require complex translation mechanisms that would, on the similarity hypothesis, be altogether unnecessary        Occam’s Razor: The Principle of Economy

As long as I am unable to distinguish additional hypotheses from What-I-See-Is-What-I-Get, then there is absolutely nothing I can do with the knowledge although I can do things with the thought about the possibility of that knowledge. Thus, the natural knowledge that I have a mind and, indeed there is an I connected to this coherent system of experiences and that there are other minds that are like mine - all this is [or, is usually taken to be] the epistemically economical case        The Similarity of Experience

The issue being discussed is similar to the following common puzzle. How do I know my experience of red is the same as your experience of red? The point is familiar: your experience of blue might be like my experience of red and your experience of red like mine of blue and there would be no difference in behavior. So how can we know that our experience of the same “color” is the same color experience?

Consider the following: my experience of “red” with my left eye is a little different than with my right eye. There are many factors that affect my experience of color that I omit from discussion in the interest of simplicity. Therefore, I do not expect that my experience of a given pigment will be exactly the same as yours. All I need to know that our experiences of red are more alike than my experience of red and of blue

I think the principle of economy applies in the present case: why, lacking reasons, should our explanations be indirect when the direct case: like objects [causes], like experiences [effects] is neater, simpler?

Consider the following. Assume that you and I know both Arabic and English. It is possible that your experience of English is like my experience of Arabic. That seems unlikely because language is so intricate; but let us ignore the empirical objection. What would it take for my experience of Arabic to be like your experience of English? Then when you are talking and experiencing English I am hearing and experiencing Arabic. There must be, over and above the language mechanism, some complex English-Arabic translation going on. It is simpler for us to be having like experiences. Perhaps your experience of blue is like my experience of Arabic... it is a lot simpler for that to not be the case. There is something that is the same: the vibration of the air... and it is much simpler for our experiences to be similar when the vibrations are the same

This discussion is somewhat an aside but the similarities with the problem of other minds are that [1] it appears difficult to prove the obvious about appearances, and [2] the argument for the obvious is that otherwise underlying nature would be much more complex than it needs to be, given the surface phenomena

This should not be taken as support for the position that the obvious is true. Rather, I would assert that there is a tenuous relation between obviousness and economy of explanation and that, lacking imperatives to the contrary; it is practical to take the economical view. I agree, of course, that doubt is one imperative as are faithfulness, adequacy, and certain aesthetic criteria        The Argument from Natural Knowledge

Further, I can ask the Kantian question: “Given that I naturally believe that, and act as though other people have minds, what is the foundation of the belief?” The question is improperly posed from the point of view that I use. When I say, “believe” and “act as though” I am subscribing to the idea that epistemology is before the world. That is not the case. The world exists before phenomenal experience. Therefore, I should ask, “What is the real foundation of my knowledge?” or “What is the real foundation of the psychology of knowledge?”

I am, of course, not at all questioning epistemology. I am questioning or commenting on its relations and uses. There is something that we can call natural knowledge. It is on the border between the very tied in knowledge of the animal, which in some senses is not knowledge at all, and the institutional sense of knowledge which is the sense in which knowing is taken temporarily out of its binding to the world as part of a way of adapting natural knowledge to a wider range of environments and situations. Therefore, knowledge becomes an object and can be studied...and this is the process called epistemology. Of course, the idea of epistemology and founding can be applied to natural knowledge for the purpose of understanding it and clarifying its nature. There may even be a role for providing a foundation to natural knowledge and altering it; however, it needs to be remembered that this process is hypothetical in nature, i.e., just as the concept of physical reality does maintain balance and contact with what is being conceptualized so the foundation of natural knowledge must maintain balance with natural knowledge        Society and Evolution

Evolution channels intelligence, subjectivity; these are the conditions of survival and abundance: adaptation includes adaptivity and this is the process of evolution itself taken over by the organism

In social evolution, behavior cultivates and confirms [a] consciousness as such, and [b] the mode in which we know it. This much is known to other species possessed of consciousness in their way and to humans in the human way. It is known without having to have a department of knowledge over and above the process of being, without a department presided by chairmen or priests. It is known to primitive humankind who knows nothing of modern biology, psychology or philosophy

In a society of organisms the instruments of mutual perception are at the same time the instruments of adaptation. This is the confluence of organism and society in the production of consciousness and knowledge of consciousness. Such knowledge is perceptual and natural rather than conceptual and explicitly fabricated

A conscious robot would likely be one that would, in addition to design and fabrication, would co-evolve with humans and co-define the specific environment of our mutual mental, conscious space[51]. It would be a hybrid of nature and human design        Mysticism

We are part of a differentiated world and in my present differentiated state I do not see - but may possibly infer - the unity, connection and integrity. That the mystics and visionaries experience such unity does not count as proof in the skeptical case         What Has Been Learned

What other kinds of natural knowledge do we have? Reality, causality... What is the limitation of natural knowledge? Is it as limited as we critically believe it to be - to the domain of humankind’s adaptive niche[s]? Is institutional knowledge - academics and so on - the natural extension?

What makes for a real world - things or other minds? Are other minds things? The last question is not meant to be ontological in nature; it is a reminder that “things” is more general and, therefore, a natural answer to the first question is “things”. So, what is its point? Firstly, my mind exists in a field of minds; the social experience reminds me that the social realm is the “lens” through which I receive much of my information about the world. That this does not imply that that experience is therefore diminished or “relative” does not make the point unimportant. Secondly, that my own mind is also a field; and, finally, it raises again the question of the ontological status of mind for, despite the pull of the scientific worldview, it is hard to get away from the idea that in the question of mind itself it is hard to “get outside” and “look in.”         Relation to The Problem of Phenomenal Experience

In the problem of mind-body, grant that mind and consciousness arise from the atoms as organized in the body, the nervous system and brain in particular

The analogy with other the other minds problem is as follows. We cannot have the experience that the other mind is having - and so the problem of the other mind. However, we can infer the presence of the other mind; in the case of natural knowledge, no “inference” is necessary. Similarly, we cannot see mind in atoms [if its not there then there is no mind-body problem that is being resolved] - but we can infer its presence in the atoms and their relationships. Can we go beyond this and say we have natural knowledge of the presence of mind in the atom / relationship?

What are the implications for physics and biology?

One can see physicalism as a doctrine or alternatively as a statement that there is no fundamental work to do beyond physical science

2.5         Mind, Machines and Technology

Computers and networks have a dual role as objects and as machines. In Mitra [1998f,] I considered a design of software systems as an aid and as having a degree of independence in generating concepts. I concluded that success was most likely to be through a combination of evolution and design and in application, initially, in tasks to which high speed information processing is adapted. In Mitra [1997] and subsequently, I considered that optimum development of computer applications would be through evolution and design of both hardware and software; that co-evolution with designers and users would be an optimal path to the possibility of machine intelligence and consciousness

2.5.1        Nature of Machines and Tools - Machines as Objects

Machines have designated functions but also their own existence as objects in co-evolution

Co-evolution of designated function, the object aspect of machines, and technology in its political [including military], economic, and social [including education, research[52], and mass technology[53]] aspects is the optimal source of human-machine potential

2.5.2        Role of Machines - Machines and Tools as Aids

Tool, dynamics, machines that simulate and do human work

Computers, mind and consciousness

2.6         Mind, Information and Mathematics

Includes artificial intelligence, computer functionalism and cognitivism: the elements of mind or surrogates for materialism?

Are the abilities of the mind disproof of [1] Strong Artificial intelligence, [2] Weak Artificial Intelligence, or [3] Cognitivism?

2.6.1        Cognitivism and Its Critics

The work of Bernard Baars, Ned Block, Noam Chomsky, Patricia M. Churchland, Daniel Dennett, Fred Dretske, Jerry Fodor, Ray Jackendoff, George Lakoff, William Lycan, David Marr, Zenon W. Pylyshyn and others

The Critics: John Searle, Roger Penrose

2.7         The Larger Context

Is there a larger context? Being, consciousness, mind[54] ...and universe

2.7.1        Integration

Integration of the foregoing modes: mechanisms of consciousness may integrate physical and biological elements or psychological and social elements. See the section 2.3.5 Physics or Biology?

2.7.2        The Ultimate

For now, some brief notes:

In the current literature, there are papers that make reference to papers on death [Lanier, 1997] and mysticism [Foreman, 1998]

Mysticism implies the question of being: of what kinds of knowledge is the whole human being capable

Death raises the question: what aspects of common beliefs and attitudes, including those that may tacitly or otherwise inform the academic community as such, are facts, what are inferential, what are conceptual, and what are extrapolations

3           Origins of Mind and Consciousness[55]

The sections are related; they are not watertight compartments

3.1         Immediate Origins

Immediate “origins” are the included in Topic 2; they are a link between Topics 2 and 3

3.2         Development

Development from cell to adult: what can be learnt about mind and consciousness?

3.3         The Evolution of Life[56]

The evolutionary, or more generally the genetic[57] aspect, concerns origins of mind, consciousness in the origin of life through selection and as adaptations

3.3.1        Adaptivity of Mind and Consciousness

We may consider mind and consciousness as adaptability of the organism; and evolution internalized as mind, consciousness, and intensionality. A problem is to work out an evolutionary theory of this process

An example: Intelligence - provided the term is appropriately understood…

…Intelligence as the focus of world or universal processes [dynamics, evolution] in individuals that [1] receives and seeks [perceives] data about its world and its processes [that includes the individual and its acts]; processes [imagines, thinks...] the data with some degree [small, large] of delay; and acts upon its world, [2] and applies the process [1], i.e., that process is reflexive

In this sense intelligence is the adaptation of adaptivity - the internalization or interiorization of the process of evolution through natural selection; i.e., the relation to the environment, including the self[58] -environment, is internalized in the organism. This is a strong candidate for the origin of intensionality; and, likely, the seeds of consciousness[59]! Further this should likely point to the origin of intensionality and consciousness in embryology and or development

3.3.2        On the Nature of Knowledge from Its Evolutionary Context

Knowledge as adaptation; i.e. knowledge functions as a map of world and environment

Knowledge as an object; removed from its place as relationship... experiment with ideas; return to use and application; and selection

3.3.3        Evolution: Bio-psycho-social[60]

3.4         The Physical Universe

Physical origins of universe, mind

Considerations include the relation of physics to biology. The physical “world” was established before origin of life. Also see section “2.3.5 Physics or Biology?” regarding roles for physics and biology in explaining mind and consciousness


Some general issues

3.5         The Ultimate

Self-creation of being

From nothing / no-thing

3.6         General concerns

What are the proximate, evolutionary - or genetic - and ultimate questions regarding mind and consciousness, life and the physical universe and their relationships? Where in the material and biological evolutions is the origin of mind?

How far does this line of thinking go toward the ontology of mind and consciousness? The explanations of the structure of minds and the phenomena of consciousness in terms of matter and nervous systems, and organisms and their ecology including social relationships?

Is that not begging the question? That is, should we assume that mind and consciousness have origin in matter and life...that the causal or ontological relation is from matter to mind? Alternatively, is mind coeval with matter? On the other hand, is there some other relationship? In addition, do mind and matter exhaust the fundamental ontological categories?

4           Philosophical Concerns

While earlier sections are philosophical in nature, the present section takes up a number of philosophical issues in themselves

The purposes of this topic are to gather in one place and to emphasize the reflective aspect of what may be partial and scattered in the previous topics. Philosophy, here, is understood to include [1] the tradition of philosophy as a store of ideas, corrections and worked out positions [2] the process of reflection with a view to breadth and criticism. The latter naturally includes of thinking about thinking

4.1         The Nature of Problems

4.1.1        Problems in General

What is a problem?

Essential vs. artifactual problems… The contexts of nature, society, mind, and the universal

Immediate vs. ultimate issues… Spatial and temporal dimensions… Relations between the immediate and practical and the ultimate…

What makes a set of problems whole or complete? Is it possible to select or derive a complete set – and if so, how can that be done? If not, what methodology makes a set of problems reasonably complete

4.1.2        Nature and Status of the Problems of Mind and Consciousness

What are the cultural features that make for a problem of consciousness? The scientific [philosophical] problem of consciousness is artifactual in that science and philosophy are products of culture. The problems are essential as elements in the history of science and philosophy

What is the status of the idea of consciousness in a variety of cultures?

What is the degree to which the problems of consciousness and mind and their relationship to matter are causal, ontological and merely artifactual and explanatory?

What is the significance of the issue of a distinction between a philosophical and a scientific problem for explanation of consciousness, mind and their features? What would be the embedding of the problems if they are not distinct?

4.2         Ontology, Metaphysics and Being

4.2.1        General Considerations         Metaphysics and Epistemology

Ontology and epistemology are related. Ontology informs epistemology in that knowledge, knowers, and the objects of knowledge are part of the world. Indeed, ontology raises the following questions [1] To what degree does the common assumption of a division in the world – of knowledge and its relations into knower and known – represent the actual state of affairs. Further, that putative divide has relations to the following common distinctions: inner vs. external experience, realms, and mind vs. world. [2] What is the status of “established” knowledge as an institution that can stand, say, as truth or correctness, independently of the ongoing process and interactions [history] of knowers in a society, knowledge and objects? [The likely answer is that there is a degree of independence.] The question of independence of knowledge can be asked about the various levels, modes and disciplines of knowledge. [The likely answer is that there are varying degrees of independence.]

Epistemology, in turn, since it includes analysis of claims to knowledge, sheds light on ontological claims. Briefly, ontology begins when a claim is made about the nature of he world; epistemology begins when an attempt is made to justify that claim

The relationship between mind and world is ontological. From a practical point of view, [a] much of the difficulty of ontological issues is due to reification of inherited or otherwise posited categories. This does not minimize the spirit of ontology but speaks to a need for a practical focus. Therefore, [b] the bulk of the ontological concerns are considered in Section 4.3 below, on epistemology. The epistemological interpretation of ontology gives foundation to this approach         Metaphysics, Epistemology and Description

Consider the issue of materialism. Before addressing that issue, something must be said about the nature of matter. For example: I can knock on a door - a door seems very material to me. I see the door, and its location according to sight agrees with the data from touch and sound; and its solidity according to my knuckles is confirmed the sound of the knock. But, I cannot knock on a thought or an emotion. Therefore, mental phenomena are not material. Are atoms material in nature? I cannot knock on an atom. Now, instruments and concepts come into play. Atoms have physical properties that result in aggregates of atoms having solidity. Atoms have location in space and duration in time. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that an atom is material in nature. The idea that aggregates of atoms - in the form of organisms - have ideas and emotions is not unreasonable even though it may turn out to be an inadequate if not totally invalid explanation

Therefore, the issue of categorial ontology reduces, in part, to level and mode of description

In addition to substance and property dualisms, it is reasonable to refer to a third, practical or descriptive dualism. This form of dualism is due to neither categoriality nor irreducibility but merely reflects an agnostic stance that is based in current lack of knowledge         Problems in The Philosophy of Mind

Some standard problems in the philosophy of mind[61]: free will, mind-body, other minds, personal identity, computationalism or cognitivism         Varieties of Metaphysics

Empirically, metaphysics is under specified. This can be useful:

Translation among alternate metaphysics

Multiple hierarchies of successively neutral ontologies with neutral apex

Parameterized ontologies; continuous, discrete and mirror         General Comments

Experience is objective even though it is known subjectively

The statement of a set of problems tends to define an implicit ontology - even in the presence of a stated one

Issue of ontology and illusion

4.2.2        Specific Ontologies or Metaphysics


What is materialism[62]?

Searle’s extended commentary on materialism in the philosophy of mind - [Searle, 1992, Chapters 1, 2 and 9; especially Chapter 2, “The Recent History of Materialism”]

Computer functionalism and Strong AI

Matter causes mind. Commonsense suggests:

Matter appears to be pervasive

Mind is always associated with certain organizations of matter: brains, nervous systems

But, are nervous systems necessary for mind or consciousness?


Dualism: property dualism and Cartesianism


Theory of Being; this is an approach to ontology

General Concepts

The referent of the concepts of mind and matter as indeterminate[63]; history, historicity and analysis of the concepts; mind as the broader category; mind as primal, idealism - possibilities for the concept of the idea; the theory of being

Consider hierarchies of ontologies each with successive degrees of freedom with a tolerant neutralism at apex. I use the word tolerant to mean that the neutralism can be definite but also form a framework for alternative viewpoints

4.2.3        Relationship to Special Disciplines

What is learnt by combining general considerations on the nature of being with the established disciplines such as physics and biology?

Specifically, consider the following issue. Considerations from theoretical physics - the fundamental theories, cosmology, the physics of matter - can be used, on the assumption of the validity of the theories and of physicalism, to show very general features about the nature of mind and consciousness. To what extent can these general features be deduced from a theory of being that starts with a minimal set of assumptions or conditions such as:

Generation from non-existence

Structure is possible

Creativity and generation - implied by the above

Facts and patterns - their existence but not the detailed nature is determined by the above

Selection of self-replicating patterns

Sentience - is it necessary to stipulate this?

4.3         Epistemology, Explanation and Theory

4.3.1        Modes of Explanation



The concept of causality may be seen as being on the border between ontology and epistemology. There are reasons to subscribe to causality of a general form; at least in the most general case of “something from nothing,” the something is potential in the nothing; laws derive from this relation. Thus causality, at least a form of it, can be seen as purely ontological in nature. However, that a causal relationship exists is, in more specific contexts, an epistemological judgment. Here, since I am concerned with causal explanation, I include cause under epistemology rather than ontology

The problem of judgment may be regarded as Hume’s problem of induction. The answers given by Kant and Schopenhauer - that mind brings its forms of judgment to the world, and by Popper - that knowledge, science are not the result of induction from the world but the result of hypotheses that are tested are admirable. While Kant’s answer is idealist and Popper’s is realist, both are transcendental arguments. Darwinian concepts close out the loop: the world is impressed upon the [deep] character of the mind in biological evolution and similarly upon science in the growth of knowledge. In what follows, I entertain and elaborate a finite or real time argument regarding the role of knowledge

How is a causal relationship distinguished from a mere correlation? Finally, judgment is involved but what are the elements of this judgment? Suppose that, in a certain context, a quantity x correlates with a set of factors f. Then the relationship may be contingent upon other factors F that completely define the context and, therefore, no other factors. In that case we may be disposed to say, given the premise that x is dependent only on f and F...that f and F cause x. That is, a causal relationship is not contingent. When applied to an actual situation, there are two problems with the form of this argument: [1] in a practical situation we want to know that there are no further factors beyond f and F, and [2] we would like to know how or why f and F cause x. The first problem may be tentatively resolved by experimenting in a large variety of situations. However, resolution of the second problem would eliminate the need to independently resolve the first. The second problem includes the one of knowing why the relationship necessarily holds - why it is causal. A specific relationship based on universal behavior of all being [matter] would satisfactorily explain the necessity...but, at least in a scientific or rational paradigm, we do not know anything that is truly universal - how could we? There are, however, laws and theories that come close to being universal in that they explain the behavior of what are considered to be [a small number of] fundamental constituents [e.g. of matter] and in that their applicability has been confirmed, to date, over an extensive range of conditions and a wide variety of kinds of behaviors and phenomena. There are also theoretical features that encourage us in our confidence in the laws, concepts and theories: simplicity, elegance, consistency, and generality. The idea of generality includes, as a structured case, the subsumption of other theories with relatively specific ranges of application; this is the idea of unification. Thus, our confidence in the atomic and evolutionary theories mentioned below. When all is said and done, there is no absolute necessity to these laws and theories; but we have the confidence of repeated success over the variety of conditions; we have the simplicity and unity that comes from the introduction of concepts that over the history of science / knowledge integrate and subsume prior concepts over greater domains of application; and: here we are, we can only do the best that is available in the here and now. The psychological confidence we may have in the fundamental theories is pragmatic from a variety of critical viewpoints and uses; but it is not absolute and so the element of judgment remains

In admitting the non-absolute character of the fundamental theories, we come from a skeptical position partly motivated by a desire for ultimate truth and certainty over the entire universe. I want to briefly look at an alternative. This alternative comes from the knowledge that we are organically integrated into the world, part of that world. The possibility of knowledge, in an organic sense, rather than in a sense of external criteria, springs from that organic embedding. Therefore, knowledge that beautifully captures and binds together in dynamic integrity classes - or classes of classes - phenomena is a likely integration into the organic structure of the world. Thus, while the structure that is so known is a phase or a niche and therefore the knowledge is not final, that knowledge is more than a beautiful correlation... indeed; we find dissonance in the idea of beauty in correlation. Further, the niche of our adaptation is embedded in the universe [think of the origin of humankind in the story of life, of life in geology, of the earth in the universe]. Therefore the knowledge in question, the great unifying theories of nature, while not capturing the whole of the universe bear its signature

One strand of thought in the history of the philosophy of science is the idea that the meaning and truth of the language and theories of science are relative to culture and social values. It is not the intent here, even if I were capable of it, to do justice to that idea and its alternatives. I want to briefly draw attention to criteria of scientific truth or validity: how do data, laws and theories gain acceptance? That, of course, is complex involving ideas, experiment, the community of science in its various intra- and extra-relations. What I want to focus on is one of the guiding ideas behind acceptance. This is the idea of certainty, of absolute verifiability; and the other side of that coin, that a single disagreement with experiment falsifies a theory while no finite number of points of agreement with experience ever finally validates theories. Practice is more complex and multivalent, yet the idea has currency and has been one of the philosophies of science of this [soon to be the previous] century, presented and re-presented in various forms and degrees of sophistication with varying degrees of acceptance. What is the source of the idea? There is no single source but a matrix of interrelated factors. There is the ideal: to know the world... and how could an idea with points of disagreement with nature count as knowledge? There is the aesthetics of the idea: the beauty of nature will be matched by the beauty of ideas, and one factor of beauty is the idea of points of contact. There is power: exact knowledge is power - power over nature, economic power, and political power. And, power over nature is not mere control; by knowing nature’s intimate secrets, captured by ideational structures that match the subtlety of nature’s own relations, does not finite man, for a moment, bring himself into contact with infinity? The foregoing complex is interactive and based in instincts that are before modern culture. Practicing in that mode, one element of which must be tied into power and control, science is forced to pace itself as dictated by nature on its own terms: there is a final goal but the progress toward that goal must be as though there were an infinite amount of time in which it is to be accomplished. Further, the desire for complete and certain knowledge leads to the establishment of external criteria, criteria that are outside the system of the knower and the known; ways to verify science - with or without the vocabulary of verification and truth in symbols [humankind’s strength and failing] and formal relations. All this is well and good; there is a magnificent edifice of knowledge, a vision of the future, and an intertwined history with our technology and political economy. I am an admirer, an occasional practitioner and a frequent beneficiary of the system. However, is that the way of the world? We have been informed by certain priests of knowledge of our lonely, alien, marginal status on a far outpost of the cosmos. But, is not our being centered in the being of the universe, our atoms forged in stars? Is it not true that we, our minds, our knowledge are part of the world? There is also beauty in our being and the integration of that being into the world whose order is both chaos and structure. What if God invented herself, visited earth and, holding audience at the edge of the waters of Lake Baikal[64], proclaimed that man did indeed have the possibility of a magnificent destiny but that he would have to take risks. There would be no guarantee except that there was no final insurance, no absolute certainty of the outcome. Humankind would have to live with its being rather than merely with its ideas. In contrast to Karl Popper’s thought that, in science, progress is achieved through the death of old ideas rather than the death of persons we would have to re-invent the art of dying - and therefore of be-ing - in order have an even chance at arriving at destiny. That fully being in the world is destiny... It is not my point that this is some imaginary or ideal alternative to science; the reasonableness to the fashion of progress in science is not under scrutiny. Rather, I am looking at science in a different way: the idea is that of being in the world, of science as a way of being in the world. What would science be like in a world like ours in that the possibilities are great but unlike ours in that we knew that we knew certainly that there was a finite time[65] in which, perhaps, to achieve an infinite destiny? The idea is that the beautiful theories of science are not mere instruments, not mere formal relations and while they are not absolute and not final they do, in fact, bear the signature of the absolute. This is suggested by science itself: the more that is learned, the more we discover the presence of the distant and the remote in our immediate world and immediate being. I am not suggesting that these attitudes are unheard of but only that they are discounted in various “official” versions of the nature of science. More importantly, I link this organic attitude to a sense that humankind’s duration is finite regardless of actual duration. And, in analogy with biological evolution where there is a variety of species occupying a variety of niches, a connection between science and being can be seen to be true without requiring marginalization of other modes of knowledge and culture. Thus, the theories of natural science are both less than and much more than formal and certain knowledge of the world

We have confidence that a relationship is causal to the degree that it is predicted in detail on the basis of a few fundamental entities - thus enhancing our confidence in the absence of stray influences - under the action of a few simple, elegant, consistent laws and theories that have been repeatedly confirmed in a range of conditions, behaviors and uses

Theory and Prediction

Both correlative and causal theories can be predictive



…see section

4.3.2        Scientific and Evolutionary[66] Explanation: Nature and Value

There appears to be a problem with evolutionary explanation in general and, in particular, with evolutionary explanations of mind and consciousness. My general position is that we should not be seeking stand-alone explanations based on evolution or evolutionary theory. Rather, evolutionary and other forms or modes of explanation are mutually reinforcing         What is Evolutionary Explanation?

Firstly, evolutionary explanation appeals to the facts and theories of evolution[67] as a system of causal explanation and analogy

Secondly, it is necessary to know whether evolutionary explanation is some special kind of explanation or an instance of causal explanation. There is a history of thought regarding this and related issues. I want to indicate a view that shows that evolutionary explanation is an instance of causal explanation based on the introduction of concepts and repeatedly confirmed theory that show patterns to the data, permit explanation and prediction. Biological [and geological] evolution appears to present a special problem in that it refers to the remote past. There is, of course, a body of data regarding the operation of selection over observed periods but this does not cover all phenomena, especially those of macroevolution. We can look at the causal relations of the theory of evolution as follows. The facts and predictions of evolution are facts and predictions in the present. Although the geological data, for example, may be thought of as a record, they are also facts observed in the present: such and such a skeletal structure with certain characteristics is found in a certain place and bears similarities and dissimilarities to other finds. One of the concepts introduced is that of the record as a mapping of physical time. Naturally, it helps that the “fossils” are arranged in a simple sequence in geological strata. Together with this and other concepts, a theory of evolution is able to do its work. Thus, evolutionary theory is seen as introducing order and regularity into the facts as seen in the present. One of the concepts orders the geological data as a record of change; the gaps in the record - not as serious as is sometimes claimed - similar to the gaps in any set of finite data. This is simplification, of course, and the gaps are conceptually filled out by the other kinds of data         Evolutionary Explanations of Mind and Consciousness

It has been claimed that there is a problem with evolutionary explanations of consciousness, e.g. Chalmers [1996]. A generic reply to criticisms of evolutionary explanation refers to the previous point that evolutionary explanation occurs together with other modes of explanation. However, Chalmers’ specific objection is that natural selection cannot distinguish a conscious individual from his zombie twin - this follows from Chalmers’ argument that consciousness is not logically supervenient on the physical and, therefore the presence of consciousness introduces no behavioral or physical difference. Therefore, according to Chalmers, consciousness is not subject to selection pressure

I argued, in section, that the concept of the physical is under-specified. Inadequacies in our present understanding that are consistent with consciousness freewheeling [my term] “inside” bodies have been pointed out by Nagel, 1998. A simple argument, S, against the idea of physically identical individuals with different conscious states: given the hypothesis, the concept of the physical must be such that the physical world is not causally closed. Alternatively, although there may be a planet Z in which there is a zombie that is physically identical to an earth-man, that is possible on the assumption that planet Z has natural laws that are different from the laws on earth [and our universe]. However, on earth, two altogether physically identical individuals, since they are subject to the same natural laws, would have identical mental states. Thus, it does not follow that the presence of consciousness introduces no behavioral difference or that causal interactions of A and z [A] [A’s zombie twin - on the counterfactual assumption that there could be one on earth] are identical. Arguments against the causal efficacy of mind from conservation of energy etc., do not at all disprove S. Further, there are many physical causes that produce physical effects without affecting the energy of the sub-systems, e.g., centripetal force in circular motion, motion of charged particles in magnetic fields

The following consideration is also pertinent. The existence of a zombie twin in any universe depends on the possibility of the separation of the state of the universe from the laws of the universe

Consider the case that the universe is created from nothing - this possibility is discussed in more detail in section 2.3.5. It is then reasonable to hold that laws and the objects and phenomena described by the laws are created together. There is a bit of a paradox in the previous statement - in that laws are symbolic expressions while entities exist - that will be resolved. Another way of saying that laws and entities are created together is that the distinction between law and entity, between pattern and fact is not as absolute as it is sometimes thought to be. As entities somewhere on an idealized continuum between the extremes of absolute fact and absolute pattern, sentient agents such as human beings have factual and patterned properties. Living in a world of facts, we deduce patterns or approximations to patterns - see, also, the discussion of laws in section 4.4.2. Thus, we observe and express patterns as laws. This resolves a number of puzzles. First, Laws are not symbolic; it is only our expression, law, that is symbolic; note that humans do perceive some patterns; note also that in the question of perceiving those patterns that have symbolic content there is the issue of to what extent culture is responsible for educating perception in or educating perception out. That is, human beings can perceive Law or, at least, approximations thereof. However, it may be safe to assume that, regardless of culture, existent beings do not directly perceive Ultimate Law. This resolves the “paradox” just noted. Another puzzle that is being addressed is the issue of the nature of mathematical truth: what is the role of Platonism? The model of human beings needing to discover laws [what is created is the symbolic expression that would match Law] leads to the idea of a Platonic Universe of Ideas behind the world of entities and facts; the Platonic Manifold approximates an aspect or part of the One Universe

The final puzzle concerns the possibility of zombies. From the foregoing, it is not clear that a human could have a zombie twin in any universe         What Are the Limits to Understanding and Explanation?

A consequence of current paradigms, or

Modes of explanation, or

Inherent in humankind’s abilities, or

Inherent in being

4.3.3        Society and Epistemology

One reason that a scientific-philosophical theory and explanation of mind and consciousness is considered a problem is the confluence of factors that make a solution seem possible. The main factors, as pointed out in the Introduction, include new models of mind, new data on the nervous system, and, perhaps in consequence, willingness to explore mind as mind

To what extent are the problems artifacts of our worldview, the current state of science, and our theoretical and practical categories of thought?

4.3.4        Thoughts on Future Forms of Explanation

Ideas and extrapolations, e.g., 1. Progression of civilizations, 2. 19th through 21st centuries         Explanations Based on Remote Worlds

In the literal sense, there is one world; I am using “world” metaphorically in the title of this section to refer to, e.g., paleo-history. All worlds, remote and proximate, constitute the one actual world

“Remote worlds” are worlds “behind” the world - hidden worlds. Of course, I am using “behind” and “hidden” metaphorically. Remote worlds are real but are also useful principles of understanding and explanation

Scientific revolutions are often associated with introduction of a remote world

Extrapolation based on remote worlds may be based on the increasing penetration into remote worlds over the history of knowledge and experience. It will be useful to consider other forms of logic of extrapolation

The idea is that explanation from remote worlds, given adequate development, on the model of evolutionary explanation, is not based in any literally remote objects. Rather, the remoteness, even though it may appear perfectly natural - especially after development, is introduced as one of the main concepts along with the theory. As seen from the list of remote worlds, the paleo-history of evolution is not the only example of a world introduced as an explanatory device or paradigm

A list of remote worlds

Worlds that are remote in time - paleo-history, the cosmological past and so on, the distant past and future

Worlds that are remote in space - the New World in the time of Columbus, the universe...especially the part of the universe whose remote light has not yet reached earth,

Microscopically remote worlds. These are also spatially remote. The worlds of the atom, and the cell - at least before the electron microscope; the worlds of elementary particles and their constituents... and macroscopically remote worlds - a “supra-organism”

Worlds that are remote to our forms of being and modes of perception. The worlds of ultraviolet light and ultrasonic frequencies are perceptually remote but, in the 20th century, conceptually familiar. The general concept of being [Mitra, 1998]; a hypothetical third modality that integrates and has access to both mental and physical phenomena [Nagel, 1998]; these are conceptually remote in the late 20th century industrial world and seem to be perceptually remote,

The Freudian worlds of the unconscious, and of personality - id, ego, superego

4.3.5        Explanans - A Variety of Source Theories

Chalmers [1996, Introduction] talks of respecting science, and Searle [1996, Chapter 4] reports we have no option but to accept the scientific worldview - it is not optional for “reasonably well educated citizens of the present era.” Searle refers specifically to the atomic theory of matter and the evolutionary theory of biology that “are in large part constitutive of the modern worldview.”

The following related considerations now arise:

While these theories may well account for the immediate issues, we want to be able to talk about ultimate issues. If one is uncomfortable with or has arguments against the ultimate, it may be regarded as a process, a progression rather than finality. The minimum that we require of our intellectual apparati is a loosening of parameters and assumptions before we tighten again

The atomic and evolutionary theories are neither individually necessary nor jointly sufficient to explain consciousness. This remains true if we include the other modern standard theories

Multiple hierarchies of constraints on nature are provided by loosening known limiting conditions in varying degrees along a number of dimensions. We consider these in parallel; this provides a freedom of understanding without sacrifice of accuracy

Inversion of the explanatory roles between mind and matter

What does the element of creativity require for the fundamental theories? This is similar to, though simpler and more general than, the introduction by Penrose [1989, 1994] of considerations on the non-algorithmic processes of mind

The conditions of a being facing existence - the imperatives of a finite individual faced with the task of infinity. This task is necessary owing to the contingent nature of and incomplete knowledge regarding limits. However, more than being necessary, it is the response of an individual or group to the mystery of experience

The humanities

4.3.6        Explanandum: Mind and Being?

To what extent are the explanations for mind and consciousness also explanations of being? The start is with definition of consciousness by example [ostention]; then develop relations among consciousness, mind, brain / nervous system [matter]. The approach is a bootstrap through a circle of issues that may constitute a field. Definition, theory and use interact

4.3.7        A Variety of Positions

There are various positions that can be taken either as a research program or as defining the ontology of mind. I have argued above that, since these positions essentially take the signs of mind as mind itself, the do not properly define an ontology. Regardless, the various positions may contain useful ideas, may organize and motivate useful research. Such positions are the behaviorism, central state materialism - the identity theory, token-token identity theories, functionalism, and cognitivism

I do believe that, as ontologies, these theories or positions are surrogates for materialism; and that when they are pushed to explain the facts of mind they must logically retreat into ordinary materialism

In terms of rounding out a variety of positions in a logical manner, Broad[68] has provided an excellent model. That work deserves attention for its clarity, breadth, logic and openness. I plan a review. As noted earlier, my focus is Mind and World rather than Mind and Nature; I should review whether there is a difference between Broad’s meaning and use of “nature” and my intentions for “world.”

Searle’s position was noted above- brains cause consciousness, i.e. consciousness is a biological feature of the brain. I have sympathy with this viewpoint; and with the scientific worldview and elimination of Cartesian categories that go toward making it plausible and reasonable. However, since I do not know what the future will bring...and out of my interest in evolutionary and, especially, ultimate issues I see an essential need to step back. The principle was outlined above. The more general viewpoint provides freedom to search and experiment with ideas and possibilities but do not prevent work with the more immediate, scientific, practical problems regarding which we may adopt that set of more specific views that are consistent with the scientific endeavor and encourage correct thinking in that regard

Specifically, I see a need to step back in the following ways:

Regarding mechanisms, causality and explanation: step back to correlation. Although a correlation is not an explanation - at least it does not attain the status of a fully satisfactory explanation - it allows for numerous directions of development corresponding to possible inadequacies of any actual specific view. This is not to require but to allow that relationships may be merely correlative

Regarding necessity step back from full correlation - mind and consciousness is always associated with brains: step back to degree of correlation; allow, for association of mind with objects other than brains as we know them. This is not pan-psychism for it allows for varying degrees of correlation between mind and various material – physiological and biological – structures. We expect the correlation to be high for nervous-endocrine systems; we allow other possibilities to arise in future development; we do not stipulate that correlation is mere correlation, i.e. we allow for causal explanation

Regarding ontology there are varying levels of neutrality and starting with the highest level of neutral ontology there are various directions in which to commit. This allows for expansion of the concepts of mind and matter in the direction of a neutral metaphysics and subsequent introduction of explanation in terms of real causal relationships

The determinations of history pay little respect to the necessary logic of the past...and the present is the past of some future evolution. This is contrite if I take it to mean that the work of today and its antecedents are irrelevant. The approaches suggested above permit respect of and work with the received paradigms and an embrace of the future

These various steps in the direction of generality allow for various logical [inclusivity, reduction] and natural [on the basis of natural law] relations between mind and matter...or, more generally, between mind and world

4.3.8        A Hierarchy of Neutral Ontologies[69]

4.4         Method: How to Study the Problems

4.4.1        On Constructing New Theories

Focusing only on the theoretical side, there is a dual problem in that one is simultaneously searching for new concepts and new explanations. The actual problem is usually simpler in that the search is often stepwise [concepts, then explanations, then concepts] and incremental

This lessens but does not eliminate or minimize the work of creative construction of concepts and theory. It is necessary to keep in view a circle or field of concepts, relationships and facts

4.4.2        What Will It Take to Develop a Theory of Consciousness and Mind[70]?

This is a continuation of the earlier discussions of sections 2.2.2 above [What Will or Should a Theory of Mind and Consciousness Do?] and 2.2.3 above [What Would It Take to Have a Theory of Consciousness?]; and notes[71], [72]


WORLD: concept, theory of; then Being: nature, society, mind, and the unknown; then Mind – an atlas; The Character of Mind


Consciousness as phenomenal experience

... this idea is the starting point for consideration of consciousness in this document. It is what is to be explained by a scientific theory. One of the functions of reflective and analytical thought may be to round out an idea and give support - in the form of both elucidation and careful criticism of scientific work. Another role is to relate the prosaic and the mundane - which is not to say trivial or not exciting - to a larger picture of what the object of reflection may be and relations to being as a whole. The nature of consciousness remains an open question:

As place of meaning [i.e., significance...]

As locus of the real [as opposed to what exists]

The mystery:

What are the place, source and destiny of my consciousness?

What is the relation between consciousness and the universe? What sources for this knowledge? Sources from intuition, the traditions - western philosophy, literature and mysticism; India and the east; primal cultures; animal world

What is the intuition sometimes dispelled by the light of science and rationality of the sometimes-felt utter centrality and fullness of my own conscious, aware presence? If the universe may exist without mind, what does it mean that, without mind, there would be nothing that knows the universe and there would be no part of the universe that is known? Through mind, the universe knows and through consciousness, the universe is aware - of itself? That is not fully metaphorical... what is its significance? On the interpretation of the main scientific view, the origin of mind and consciousness was not designed, was not necessary; the evolution of the universe is mechanistic. Yet that same universe is sentient, is conscious through its parts - our minds. Though the origin of those minds may have been through mechanism, the minds themselves are capable of plans, designs, being aware of options, making choices and changes. Through its parts - through minds - the universe, also, is capable of making plans, designs, being aware of options, making choices and changes. On the mechanistic view, a universe that was not capable of design evolved to become capable of design. In a way, that is more remarkable than if the process of the universe were teleological from its “origin.”

Now there is some difficulty in the transition from the parts to wholes being capable of making local plans and choices; and there are various interpretations of teleological-like processes actually being the working out of mechanism. In view of those kinds of explanation and of the success of its explanatory and predictive power in the physical sciences and in functional and evolutionary biology, mechanism is a practical paradigm. However, necessary extrapolation to the whole also has difficulties and is something regarding which [necessity] we should remain silent. The difficulties include extrapolation of the concept of law, in view of the idea of law as created in creation as much or more than creating creation, to the whole - regardless whether law be mechanistic or otherwise. Then, creation requires indeterminism and, though determinism and mechanism are not the identical, indeterminism can precipitate the breakdown of mechanism. This is, it seems, the local analog of creation creating laws - which are then read by minds

We come back to the central point of the mystery. What is my consciousness? What is our mutual sentience? What does it mean that the universe has eyes [mine] that see, hands that do, mind that thinks and knows? On the atomistic view, what are the properties of the smallest parts that make these things possible? On the evolutionary view, when and how did these emerge from potentiality? Or are the characteristics of seeing, knowing, conceiving, choosing, and doing... most fundamental, most present from the moment of or before creation in the womb of potentiality? We can live with paradigms without being chained to them. For anyone who wants to know what is real, especially about their own being and the being of the universe, these must be pressing questions

Mystery in the sense here is related to the sense of awe and wonder noted earlier but is different. It signifies: possibly, hints of depth, qualities, vistas, worlds unknown - but felt as a presence like the source of the Nile in a quiet moment of reflection at night before the day of the outset of a journey to the source. This a is third sense of mystery - something that is intuited, felt as larger than the existent present, but not fully conceived or contained in the finite present


Very briefly, intensionality is the property of mind that relates the subject to the world. This semi-academic characterization indicates the importance of intensionality: relationship to the world is central to the organism’s survival and being in the world. I want to elaborate this, briefly, in a somewhat non-academic but real way. Consider a hunter that is locating prey; there is general awareness of the whole terrain and the presence of the hunter itself and potential presence of prey, there is a general alertness that immediately directs attention to even small signs and changes without loss of the general awareness, an ongoing processing of the information that translates into action: action in check or action initiated. The mind / brain of the hunter is very tied in and responsive to its world in a continuum of gross and detailed levels. Although physical objects have physical relationships such as force and contact, physical relationships - at that level of description - lack the detailed, multi-level, scanning, responsive, wait-or-act aspects of the hunter that is so tied into the world. I want to generalize, and say that in normal cases for sufficiently developed species, the relationship of the subject to the world, i.e. intensionality, is always very tied in at a continuum of levels of detail and attention even when the general level of attention to the immediate present is not as high as in the case of the hunter and the field of awareness expands from the scene of the hunt to the global environment. In states of relaxation, as attention attenuates, intensionality remains keyed in at the continuum of levels in what approaches a state that may be thought of as “on idle”

Consider the following hypothetical evolutionary sequence: fundamental particles - atoms, molecules - replicators, symbiosis - cells, animalia, symbiosis - multicellular organisms - nervous systems, vertebrates - differentiation from stimulus-response to emotion, cognition and so on, e.g. Maturana and Varela [1987] ... and finally, on one branch of the phylogenetic scheme, mammals, humankind. The intensionality at the higher levels presumably developed from physical relations and their integration at the low levels. One theoretical function of recalling the evolutionary sequence is the reminder that there is much opportunity for development, by way of layering and looping, of the singular aspects of intensionality from physical interactions and relations. An analogy is the development of limbs, eyes and brains i.e., the evolution of “complex” mental features such as intensionality is similar in its incremental physiological and functional path to that of complex physiological features. This is a possibility argument rather than a proof or detailed explanation. Another theoretical function, and the primary point of the present evolutionary reference, is that the very tied in nature of intensionality is a keying in over a range of levels. In other words, the rudiments of mental characteristics begin very early in evolution and the properties of the features at the human level derive from the integration of the levels. These remarks do not directly affect the concept of intensionality as a “high” level phenomenon; rather they show how that phenomenon may be understood in terms of the physiological levels. When puzzling about how something physical can be “about” anything, the first step to resolution may be through the detailing of those levels. In the present case it is likely that questions of ontology - such as what kind of ontology at the physical level is necessary for a given ontology at the mental level of description - can successfully separated from questions of detail when there is sufficient working out of detail

Similar remarks can be made about consciousness

Consciousness and intensionality together in that consciousness enhances the acuity and variety of the intentional relationship. For example, consciousness is significant in redirecting or reeducating intentional structures as needed. Consciousness is significant in creating and making choices

Process: evolution, dynamics...includes action

Relationship: physical, biological; intentional [this is not meant to imply that intensionality is not part of nature]; meaning, knowing and knowledge




Conceptual - on construction and creation of a system of interrelated concepts: analysis of the concepts, formulation of a complete field, covering. Formulation of fields of ideas or concepts through consideration of circles of connected issues

Some approaches: clarification of ontological and epistemological issues, cognitivism and AI, through physics, through biology and neuroscience [of course], through psychology and psychiatry: the mental phenomena in normal and exceptional function and in disorders, through social relations and language, through direct experience of the global and the detailed “anatomy” of consciousness, intensionality and the unconscious and their relations to the world

Theory: science, computer and network science, information processing

Experiment, experience and field study in the disciplinary areas: neuroscience, psychology, and examination of contents and processes...also see disciplines in section 4.5

Tools: synergistic and evolutionary experiments with computer hardware and software

Simulation: computer

A Program - see section 4.6.2

Design and derivation of a system of problems… Necessity… Practical and philosophical - theoretical, ontological – considerations…

Enumeration of levels and elements of description… A variety of levels and their circles, elements and interrelationships; and integration of the levels

4.4.3        A Variety of Conscious Experience - Mind as Experienced in a Variety of Contexts


Experience and its varieties

The adventures of experience and transformation

The individual and the absolute

A variety of contexts


Individual – what is the role of individual and of communicated and shared experience in “inner” and “outer” worlds?

Children, development

Men vs. women

Those who hold experience as fundamental vs. those who hold properties as fundamental - materialists, eliminativists, physicalists, behaviorists, functionalists

Sub cultures in the modern world

Other cultures and civilizations; modern, ancient and prehistoric

Primal cultures, hunter-gatherer

Other species

Relation including pro / con, if any, to the issue of pan-psychism

4.5         Sources - the Literature, Institutions

Modern study of mind and consciousness

A variety of modern disciplines and schools:

Neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry, anthropology and sociology, the strands of Western philosophy such as the analytic and the various continental traditions... What can we learn from the recorded Western tradition from its origins through today?

History of western traditions

What does the Western tradition teach us about consciousness and mind? What are its fundamental insights and approaches?

Analytic and continental thought

Literature, mind and philosophy

Myth and religion

Non-western traditions

What can we learn from other world traditions throughout history?

The key literature[73]


4.6         An Approach to a Theory of Mind and Nature

The following approach is based on various threads above: the idea of a theory of the world, a suggestion of an analogy with the introduction of force in physics - made for the purposes of the illuminating way in which theories and concepts are introduced rather than for any concrete analogy from the structure of the theories of physics; suggestions as to additional empirical, conceptual and ontological elements needed for a theory of a relationship, rather a dynamic and integrated system, of mind and organism including reference to Thomas Nagel’s thoughts on requirements for a new integrating ontological element

4.6.1        The Ontology

What is the factor of interaction of mind and matter? Asking this question does not imply a dualism. Rather, if it is dualistic to talk of mind and matter, then the question asks: What factor introduces unification?

The factor may be evident in the following interactions:

Mind - matter [at the boundaries or instruments of perception and of action]

Mind - mind [force is originally a concept but appears, in modern fact, to have “material” existence]

4.6.2        The Program[74]

Begin simply:

Unit mental activities: with both bound and free aspects

Details of ontology and phenomenology: 1. The unconscious, 2. Simple organisms, 3. Complex organisms as compound organisms with a single “focus”, 4. Interaction of minds

Simple system or organism

Stimulus-response… bound [deterministic] and free response combined in structured process

Build compound systems from simple ones[75]



The search is a dual search

…in that there is experiment with aspects of [1] Mind to explain and [2] Organism to explain

4.6.3        The Disciplines

Select specific topics that together form a promising connected program. Include experiment, theory and exploration         Primary Disciplines

Of the modern academic disciplines, I regard philosophy, neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry to be primary to the study of mind and consciousness         Secondary Disciplines

Supporting disciplines are sociology, anthropology, general functional and evolutionary biology, computer and information science, artificial intelligence and robotics, logic, computability and proof theory

4.7         The Problems of Mind

As I said, my original intent had been to compile a logical catalog of the problems of consciousness and I then expanded this to cover mind. “Logical” meant that the list would be complete; that the problems would fit together coherently; and that the arrangement of would be derived from the structure of the subject. This latter was taken to mean that mind would be understood in terms of its inner relations and its relations to the world; this “first principle” is also the basis of completeness and of coherence of fit. As noted earlier, the outline of topics is derived from and is intended to satisfy these conditions

After thinking on the problems and developing the list, my view on what is most fundamental has changed. There is, in an important sense, one problem:

The Problem of Mind

Scientific and philosophical issues remain important but there is no lack of work in these areas. Regarding the known universe as broken up in to two modes of description “matter” and “mind” - regardless of ontological status, note that knowledge of the nature of matter at the turn of the millennium is far in advance of its status at the first major flowering of thought in Western Civilization. The same is not true of mind even though this is not to say that more complete, more rational and depth knowledge has not been established. However, this knowledge is not of mind as mind

The Primary Problem: to Understand Mind Itself, in Itself

The Main Problem as I Have Come to see it, is to Understand Mind Itself, in Itself

This includes the main characteristics of mind especially consciousness, the unconscious and possibly intensionality

In an immediate sense, we know what mind and consciousness are

Going beyond the immediate, there are two related questions. First: what is the relation of mind and consciousness, to the universe extended in space and time - generally, and for individual minds? I.e., is mind peripheral [though not epiphenomenal] or central? This touches the question of the nature of individual death. Second: what is the concept of mind over and above the fact of mind? When attempting natural explanations of mind, consciousness, intensionality, and creativity - what is it that is being explained? It is possible that the human [or life on earth] experience of mind is very special and slanted, that this is a main source of difficulty in explanation; and that a general concept of mind will make explanation more direct. The issue relates to whether the human mind as an example of mind is adequate to the purpose of developing a theory, whether the example will need expansion as a concept, or whether some new ontological element will best close the explanatory or theoretical circle


There are sources of knowledge from the east, from the west in the form of mystic experience and from science. There are also sources from tribal peoples. These may or may not contribute

The Study

It may be that humankind is at specific stage in evolution of mind. But, knowledge and the issues cannot be resolved without investigating mind itself. The studies will be experimental but supported by science and concept formation and analysis. These investigations may not resolve the scientific issues but they should show what it is that science is to explain. The investigations would also shed light on whether the concept of mind can be generalized and known in a way that would permit the connection to the body be known in a form that is causal and necessary. And, they might eliminate or reduce the need for actual evolution to know the potential for mind. This knowledge itself would be a form of evolution and of expansion of mind though not of a species by natural selection

Details of the Problem

The problem includes the nature of mind itself; the depth and immersion of mind in nature; the detailed structure; and the place of mind in the world. The latter includes the possibility of mind as expanded generalized to include the world; this possibility follows from expansion of the scope of what is the nature of the mental in the direction away from ethereality toward hard surfaces [and the modern interpretation of matter that shows hard surfaces to be appearance] and from the fact that, whereas matter appears to be more general in the direction of extension, mind is more general in the direction of intention. Investigation of this possibility may show whether mind, in appropriate abstraction, is sufficient or whether some new modality is necessary to encompass mind and matter


I have begun studies, as alluded to in this document, on the empirical side in to the nature of mind and its relations and on the theoretical / conceptual side as support for the experiments and in to the conceptual and ontological issues just described

Plans are outlined in the Introduction and detailed in the document

The Mind-Body Problem

I think the relative significance of the Mind-Body and Nature of Mind problems will be determined by historical development. The two problems are woven together. I emphasize the Problem of the Nature of Mind because of its importance and relative neglect - and because of what I think to be its centrality to human being if not being itself

Status of the Catalog of Problems

Although not as important as I had conceived it to be, a catalog remains important as pointing to a research program

The topical outline defines the main problems or problem themes, which include various sub-problems. The following list is not complete:

1. Nature of mind and consciousness: character and concepts of mind; nature and concepts of consciousness, intensionality and the unconscious; atlas; methods of study including disorder and exceptional performance. 2. Relations to the world: problem of phenomenal experience vs. problem of detailed explanation; are there two problems or one. Physical aspects: ontological elements of mind possibly requiring fundamental physics. Biological: development, function, neuroscience and the following important issue: depth of integration of mind, especially of consciousness and intensionality in biology - body - and specialized structures: brain, nervous and endocrine systems, organs of perception and action. This question may be more significant than question of the “locus of consciousness”. Social: elaboration of previous point, including language, due to social needs and relations. Technology - artificial minds: programs or hardware [or both]; and design or evolution [or both] - and “design for evolution”. Consider the possible co-evolution with human / society. Symbolic forms: language; the themes of cognitive science; Turing machines; proof theory: symbolic requirements for mind and consciousness; Strong and Weak AI; ultimate or unknown aspects. 3. Origins: possibility and role of evolutionary explanation; evolutionary explanation of the depth of integration of mind in biology; other levels: physical, social... 4. Reflective considerations including philosophy: the problem of the nature of mind; and the questions of ontology; theory of mind and consciousness: objectives, requirements, method and program; the problem of recognition of mind and consciousness; the problem of study and sources of information; problems in the philosophy of mind; artifacts, problems and mysteries; nature of [human] being in the world; role of mind and consciousness

4.8         The Future of Studies in Mind and Consciousness

4.8.1        On Prediction

The intent of the section is not as presumptuous as its title may indicate. It is not the intent of this section to predict the outcome of the philosophical, scientific and other endeavors that are the focus of this document. I do not see - or desire to see - myself as a futurologist. Looking at the present we can see it contains what would be surprises to anyone living before 1900. The future will contain surprises and we may appreciate them should we be there to do so. However one can outline some possibilities of the lines of approach as currently seen; and, at least within a given conceptual framework, some logical alternatives can be listed

This starts with a consideration of the question: What is matter? To answer, start with the “first experience” of matter - common experience or common sense extended by the best knowledge of the day. Today, regarding matter, the best knowledge of matter is scientific knowledge in the light of philosophy. The “light of philosophy” may be interpreted to include conceptual clarification, sufficient consistency, comparison against the received tradition of related attempts, and appropriate conceptual generalization. As noted earlier, allowing consideration of “the future of science or knowledge in general” is does not provide any definite meaning

The mind-body problem and the related problem of the origin of phenomenal consciousness will be resolved when mind and matter “converge.”

Understanding of matter has evolved significantly; the concept of mind has not similarly evolved. The two may converge. If after sufficient time convergence has not occurred will conclude that the problem is insoluble - or that there is something inadequate about the paradigm of scientific explanation. We may need to shift the focus of conceptual change to mind and mental phenomena

4.8.2        Value of the Study

What are the values of the field of endeavor that may be described as mind and consciousness research? This would include philosophy of mind, philosophy and experiments with being, psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science including information-theoretic and artificial intelligence approaches, the conceptual underpinnings in biology and physics

The values could be classed as intrinsic and practical

The intrinsic values include the sheer interest, the intellectual and implied human adventure; and - this is not separate from the interest - the knowledge into our own nature and the nature of the universe in which we live

The practical values include theoretical implications for a variety of related intellectual and theoretical disciplines; and the consequences for personal and social life. The most obvious of the latter are the technological implications and applications; there is a clear secondary potential that the “related disciplines” will also affect personal and social life.” Although physics, biology, psychology, philosophy, social science, mathematics have their own research programs there is the potential that the interdisciplinary research that brings the various disciplines into confluence will have detailed and fundamental consequences for the shape of science and related view of the world and for the disciplines with consequent applications. If knowledge is adaptation, tying in to the world then knowledge of the main instrument of knowledge is further immersion in and expansion of evolution. A catalog of the possibilities would be entertaining and be useful in terms of suggesting lines of development; this is frequently done in the technical and popular literature. I am not sure that the catalogers, despite impressive imaginative powers, allow themselves the breadth of possibility afforded. For example, what is learned about mind might be useful in psychotherapy. And, the development of technology might, instead of whetting our appetites for a robotic future, re-inform us of, and perhaps educate us in, the importance and nature of human values

4.8.3        What if all Problems of Science and Philosophy Were Conceived and Solved

The text of this section has been eliminated as not providing illumination

Arguments in Journey in Being show that the idea that all problems will someday be conceived and solved is not absurd. This might entail that some concerns that we call problems are not actual or real problems

4.8.4        The Scientific Problems - Physics, Biology, Psychology

I want to repeat a point made earlier. It is that fundamental contributions may well be made by all fundamental sciences. There are debates in the literature about, for example, the relative primacy of physics and biology. Frequently these are based on a mistaken reading of claims. Suppose a writer espouses a belief that physics will be fundamental to understanding the origin of consciousness. This has been interpreted as a claim that biology will not be fundamental

However physics and biology may both be fundamental. Psychology may enter in a fundamental way by showing and elaborating some fundamental characteristic of mind and consciousness and their processes. Physics may then enter; as the science of fundamental entities and processes, it would provide some key element that underlies the fundamental psychological process in question. Biology would enter by showing how this physical element is captured, amplified, translated to the symbolic or other appropriate level; and, perhaps, by showing the evolutionary and developmental origins of the biological function. The example sketch that I have given of such a development is that of creativity, which is also a key element in defining the nature of mind, and of physical, evolutionary and perhaps developmental processes

4.8.5        Philosophy

Philosophical contributions include the following

Support for the scientific program

Fundamental concerns

Fundamental concerns include clarification and expansion of the nature of mind and matter and their relationship. A related issue is disentangling ultimate distinctions and distinctions that are dependent on current states of knowledge, e.g. the issues of dualism vs. monism; and, since we do not know more than we know, how can this question be approached

Writers from various fields have commented on the relative positions of philosophy and the disciplines. As examples Rorty [1979] would limit the influence of philosophy to “edification”; and Richard Feynman[76] was suspicious of philosophers who would instruct physics or who drew philosophical conclusions from modern physics. However, it seems to me that we do both science and philosophy, i.e. we have endeavors one of which is reflection regarding the endeavors - this is characteristic of the human enterprise - or experiment. Who undertakes these endeavors, and whether a practitioner from one discipline may comment on another discipline, and the laws of commentary are not as important as the existence of dialog[77]


IThe Literature

American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994

Baars, Bernard J. [1996]. Understanding Subjectivity: Global Workspace Theory and the Resurrection of the Observing Self, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 3, No. 3, pp. 211-16

Baars, Bernard J. [1998]. A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness, Published by Cambridge University Press, 1988-1998, Electronic version published by the author

Block, Ned [1995]. On A Confusion About A Function Of Consciousness

Broad, C. D. [1925]. Mind and Its Place in Nature

Chalmers, David [1996]. The Conscious Mind

Chalmers, David [1997]. Availability: The Cognitive Basis of Experience? Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Churchland, Patricia S. [1996]. The Hornswoggle Problem

Crick, Francis [1994]. The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search For The Soul

Dennett, Daniel [1991]. Consciousness Explained

Edelman, Gerald [1992]. Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of Mind

Feynman, Richard [1963]. Lectures on Physics

Feynman, Richard [1965]. The Character of Physical Law

Forman, Robert K. C. [1998]. What Does Mysticism Have To Teach Us About Consciousness? Journal of Consciousness Studies, 5, No.2., 185-201

Freeman, Walter [1995]. Societies of Brains: A Study in the Neuroscience of Love and Hate

Hall, Edward T. [1995]. West of the Thirties: Discoveries Among the Navajo and Hopi

Hundert, Edward M. [1989]. Philosophy, Psychiatry and Neuroscience: A Synthetic Analysis of The Varieties of Human Experience

Jackson, F. [1982]. Epiphenomenal Qualia, Philosophical Quarterly, 32, 127-136

Kuhn, Thomas [1962]. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Lakatos, Imre [1978]. The Methodology of Research Programmes

Lanier, Jaron [1997]. Death: The Skeleton Key Of Consciousness Studies? Journal of Consciousness Studies, 4, No.2., 181-5

Lorenz, Konrad [1973]. Behind The Mirror: A Search for a Natural History of Human Knowledge

Maturana, Humberto R. and Francisco J. Varela [1987]. The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding

McGinn, Colin [1991]. The Problem of Consciousness

McGinn, Colin [1995]. “Consciousness and Space,” Journal of Consciousness Studies 2., pp. 220-30

Moore, G. E. [1922]. Philosophical Studies

Nagel, Thomas [1974]. What Is It Like to Be a Bat

Nagel, Thomas [1993]. Review of John Searle’s The Rediscovery of The Mind, 1992 in New York Review of Books, March

Nagel, Thomas [1998]. Conceiving the Impossible: The Mind-Body Problem

Penrose, Roger [1989]. The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics

Penrose, Roger [1994]. Shadows of The Mind: A Search For The Missing Science of Consciousness

Rorty, Richard [1979]. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature

Rosenfield, Israel [1993]. The Strange, Familiar, and Forgotten: An Anatomy of Consciousness

Runes, Dagobert D. [1983]. Dictionary of Philosophy, rev. ed

Searle, John R. [1992]. The Rediscovery Of The Mind

Searle, John R. [1997]. The Mystery of Consciousness

Searle, John R. [1998]. Mind, Language and Society: Philosophy in The Real World

Tipler, Frank J. [1994]. The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead

Tye, Michael [online]. Knowing What It Is Like: The Ability Hypothesis and the Knowledge Argument

Whitehead, Alfred North [1929]. Process and Reality

II – Works by Anil Mitra

Selections from the following essays may be found online at http: / /

1987: Evolution and Design

1995 – 2000: All previous documents on computation / mind have been absorbed to The Variety of Being, comments below

1997: All previous documents on computation / mind have been absorbed to The Variety of Being, comments below

1995-1998: Reference to this older version of the present essay has become unnecessary

1998: [a] Being, Mind and The Absolute: Relationships among consciousness, mind and nature; approaches from science, from mind-in-the-world, and from the idea of absolute being

1998: [b] Being and The Elements Of Being: A Personal and Universal Account

1998: [c] Neuro-Psychology: Mind and Brain, A summary of Susan A. Greenfield’s 1997, The Human Mind: A Guided Tour

2000: Computers, Being and Minds

2000: Kinds of Knowledge

2001: On Mind and Metaphysics – a new concept for the present essay

2001: The Philosophy of Mind – Author’s website for the philosophy of mind and related topics

2001: The Potential of Being – latest versions of Being and the Elements of Being

2003: [a] The Variety of Being – incorporates all previous work on computation: practical uses, simulation of and implications for study of mind and being. this essay goes beyond consideration of computation to a consideration of the variety of being – actual, hypothetical and potential. The significance, here, is that evaluation of computer as mind / being becomes an issue of analysis rather than merely one of intuition

2003: [b] Journey in Being – main essay of the Journey in Being Website. The analysis of consciousness and mind supersedes and is far in advance of the present essay. The present essay is maintained because [1] It will form the basis of any future essays that focus on the philosophy of mind / consciousness, [2] It contains useful detailed information, and [3] out of personal interest, as a record of the progress of my own thought. Such interest is useful to the author since a variety of lessons emerge from a review of the progress of an individual’s thought. Especially, I learn from the progress of my thought where it may go next. I learn, generally, about the potential for greater breadth and depth of the conceptual foundation. I learn, specifically, that the relatively parochial interpretation of the concepts in the present essay have a universal interpretation and that much can be learned about the parochial and the universal as a result of allowing the study of both levels to interact at intuitive and rational levels

Copyright, Most Recent Update and Status of the Document


Status of The Document

The present document is useful as a source of detail and as a possible foundation – for organization – if I write again specifically on consciousness. With that end in mind and since much content is now in Journey in Being, I have excised a number of parts of present document


[1] The entire treatment of mind and consciousness is abbreviated and incorporated in Journey in Being where it is much improved. The treatment of here reflects my understanding as of 1999; that understanding was marked by a number of difficulties including a number that corresponded to the state of the literature. These include the mind-matter problem, the problem of causal efficacy of mind and other problems not commonly recognized such as reification and demarcation in the study of matter and mind. The problem of reification is that of assuming that the concepts and categories of understanding describe a real state of affairs. The related problem of demarcation is that there should be and is a definite boundary such that for a category and any process or event it can be said that it does or does not fall within the given category. It is not being said that there are no categories with definite boundaries; however, the claim is that this is not the case for mind or for matter. The nature of the problems, arguments that they are problems and resolution is in Journey in Being

[2] It is generally accepted that a precise definition, e.g. in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, is difficult if not impossible. The purpose of this discussion of concepts is to point out, from among various senses of the words, which sense is being used here. Among the various difficulties of definition and meaning is the fact that meaning is realized in a context and that advance specification is a preliminary task - so that discussion can begin; and it is the discussion, in combination with application and review that elaborates meaning. These thoughts are elaborated in what follows, especially in section 1.1.1 On Meaning, below

[3] Extended talk, names, concepts, theories come later as a second approach, a counterpoint to and elaboration of the first

[4] I do not want to limit this to “human culture”

[5] There is in all fundamental concepts, no doubt, an inheritance from pre-human evolution. For example concepts of space derive, in part, from vision. But the pre-human development of vision, though it occurred in the same general environment, was successively, adaptive in a number of different niches

[6] Experience, as understood here, is phenomenal experience. Experience is not restricted to experience of the “external physical” world; this is implied by the statement “The first experience of mind is as experience itself...” The objects of mental experience include the physical [and living] world, other minds [this is not to affirm or deny direct experience of the contents of other minds], and things that are neither clearly physical nor clearly mental such as propositions and their relations. Additionally, experience includes active modes such as willing and volitional action

[7] I want to emphasize that there is no special significance to this particular reification that assigns to mind the property of location or the property of being a container. Other aspects of reification are extension, substantiality... Such tendencies to reification are, likely, one of the roots of the idea of substance. I also emphasize that a reification need not be actively expressed in words; it may be automatic and iconic

[8] Sir William Hamilton, Lectures on Metaphysics, I, 191, quoted in Dagobert D. Runes, Dictionary of Philosophy, rev. ed., 1983

[9] Among the psychological “investments” in language, concreteness is a low order phenomenon. The latent concreteness lies in the minds of users of language

[10] Before concluding that mind is not real, observe that the same considerations apply to “matter”

[11] There is an improved treatment of meaning in Journey in Being

[12] Primitives, rules of sentence formation, axioms, rules of derivation and the body of the system that is a filling out of “Platonic space”: definitions, concepts and theorems. As pointed out next, this system co-evolves as a whole

[13] Is there such a thing as awareness-of-awareness or is it really awareness of prior awareness even if of just a fraction of a second ago? Some writers argue that awareness of awareness is necessary for consciousness. Some issues that support consideration of this idea have to do with reducing the subjective to the non-subjective, with the origin of subjectivity, with the conditions for subjective experience, and with conditions that make consciousness reportable. Another argument is that the field of perception includes the organism which is factored out by object constancy; or: the field of awareness includes the aware-organism [the words are compounded to signify that awareness is a condition of being an organism and not a mere property of organisms] which is factored out by a psychology of reality of the environment; in questioning this position it is easy to be misled by the discreteness of the individual senses and modes of perception into neglecting the binding of the world into a unit experience. The arguments have strength but are not fully persuasive. Reflexive consciousness is not required by the concept of consciousness. I leave the question open and, as warranted, to be taken up at a later time

[14] I can imagine the following give and take dialog: but machines will outlast humankind; and the system of universes of which our universe is a speck will outlast machines; but Platonism lies behind the universes; and nothingness and its potential produce the Platonic forms and the universes

[15] To have mental phenomena it is not necessary, on this account, to be able to talk about or otherwise refer to the phenomenon of experience. However, to have a concept of, or to be analytical about mind, it is necessary to be able to make reference. This phenomenon is part of the motivation to require awareness of awareness as a criterion of the mental

[16] The following considerations are enhanced in Topic 2

[17] The evolution of mind and consciousness may be described, here, as having two interactive modes of phases. The first may be described as “exploration” and one aspect of this phase is, roughly, the growth of concepts. The second phase may be described as “growth” or “becoming” and may include transformation of being, additional modes of perception, thought and action – here, “thought” is used in its most general sense as including linguistic and iconic modes and feeling. In the second phase, concepts may follow growth

[18] To be described later. These include the dynamics of the real

[19] Naming has uses; it encourages reflection about the named object. It is easy to imagine that naming mind has a role in encouraging reflection over reaction

[20] Meaning of this thesis and elaboration are given below. See, especially, section 2.2 The concept of a theory of mind and consciousness

[21] I suggested, in Mitra 1995-1998, that the resolution to the problems of the will include a neutral monism

[22] In Mitra [1998b], I consider the possibilities of idealism; I use idealism in the sense of a metaphysics founded in ideas as real. As I argued, this would require a significant expansion of the concept of the idea. The development focuses on the concept of the idea and the distribution of consciousness in the individual and the world. At present, I would generalize the focus on consciousness to a focus on mind. In Mitra [1998c], I adopted a more neutral stance; I took being as the fundamental entity. The neutrality arises in that the nature of being is not completely specified in advance; it is to be discovered. The development is through the idea of being and its initial specification in the form of human being, the concept of levels of being as a continuum or series, the transformations and dynamics of being, relationship between being and time, relationship between concept of being and concept of mind. Obviously, these ideas have a connection to Heidegger’s thought

[23] Examples from physics can be multiplied: space-time, the character of matter at the atomic and sub-atomic levels

[24] I understand psychology to include the phenomenal as well as the behavioral, external, and the functional aspects...I am not partial to a system of two meanings based on a divide between the phenomenal and the externally observable and I do not subscribe to the idea that the externally observable is the sole source of objectivity or measure of ontological status

[25] For approaches to the binding problem, see Searle [1998] and Mitra [1998d]. Note that generic resolutions are given in Journey in Being

[26] I believe that there is scope for study variety of experience, including forms that are not usually recognized. I am not referring to paranormal phenomena. One of my concerns has been the details, including unconscious or near unconscious processing, that enter into the relation of mind and body in somatic illness and in healing and other transformations in the areas of discovery, development of abilities, performance at levels that utterly surprise the performer - the question of limits. The study in question also refers to non-pathological mental states of identity or entry in to an environment, the dynamics of the relationship, and the reality limits to the boundary of the resulting state. There is a literature, western and other, on the relationships and dynamics

[27] The following aspects of creativity are significant: [1] What is the essential accomplishment of a creative process as creative process, i.e. without reference to the possible functions of creativity? Possibilities include combinations of essentially new ideas or new recombinations of other ideas. The idea of the essentially new is that of what is not contained in what came before. What is the significance in static and dynamic universes? [2] What are the elementary processes...where is the spark of a new idea or recombination and how is it scanned? It is this element – not complex, compound, or higher creativity – that is the one of immediate interest. The focus is on the new, especially the essentially new. [3] A theory of creativity that includes a role for the essentially new. This must require indeterminism but need not require an abandonment of the idea of causality. Even in the case of something from nothing, there is causation in the sense of the something having been potential. [4] What are the key physical and biological processes that allow for indeterminism over and above given structure and that provide new structure first by indeterministic variation and then by selection of new structure that is compatible with given structure

[28] The discussion is not a commentary on any system of diagnosis, especially that of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, currently DSM IV TR, published by the American Psychiatric Association [1994]. In the later editions, DSM adopted an a-theoretical approach to cover the psychiatric and economic spectrum, because there is no complete theory or ontology of disorders, to facilitate communication among clinicians of different theoretical orientation, and to provide consistency and continuity of treatment

[29] The mind-body problem

[30] Mitra [1999] mentions Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, the Scholastics, Eckhart, Leibniz, Jonathan Edwards, Avicenna, Hegel, Fichte, Brentano, Whitehead and the philosophy of organism, Heidegger, Martin Buber, Santayana, Sartre, Jaspers, Lovejoy, Bonhoeffer, Borges, Marcel, Maslow

[31] I conceive scientism to be the position that regards a rigid interpretation of received science to be the only real

[32] A main competitor - if not the main competitor - is materialism in its varieties; they include physicalism - also called centralism and the identity theory because the assertion is that mental states are physical states of the brain, behaviorism, and functionalism including computer functionalism

[33] Therefore, here is a possible [partial] answer to the Great Question of Being and Thomas Nagel’s [1998] inclusive modality. If the objective were to proliferate ontologies, one could call this Evolutionary Naturalism

[34] ... within the scientific view that embraces an, at least, implicit materialism. The following is somewhat repetitive of comments in section 2.1.5. These arguments, though originally arrived at independently, are not at all new. Regarding the unbridgeable character of the gulf, my thoughts are closer to the position of Thomas Nagel [1974] than the position of Colin McGinn [1995, for example.] Nagel’s difficulty is the one of relating the qualitative, interior aspect of phenomenal experience to the exterior aspect of the physical world. McGinn’s Problem or part thereof, is the opaqueness to the human mind of the gulf between the non-spatial character of consciousness and the physical world. A radical resolution of McGinn’s Problem would be the introduction of a new modality that is beyond or subsumes mind and matter and so relates the spatial to the non-spatial modes; if McGinn’s position is correct, some kind of radical resolution is needed. Searle [1992, Chapter 4] has produced some arguments as a rebuttal to McGinn; these arguments focus on stating explicitly the metaphysical assumptions made by McGinn. Here are some further details:

Searle’s Criticism of Nagel

Nagel according to Searle. Nagel says causal explanation in natural science, e.g. the liquidity of water under certain conditions of temperature and pressure from the molecular structure has causal necessity - it follows from the properties of the molecules including physical laws and the conditions: given the data, non-liquidity is not possible and inconceivable

Nagel argues, in contrast, that we can conceive of how, for an individual in pain, there could be another individual in an identical neurophysiological state who would not be in pain. Therefore, given the difficulty if not impossibility of experiencing someone else’s experience, the limitation is one of the powers of conception within the modern worldview and using the modern scientific conceptual apparatus

Some observations:

The causal explanation from molecules to liquidity is an entailment - logically necessary - if the conditions, the molecules, and the laws are assumed. Non-liquidity is not possible given these assumptions

As I observed above, with adequate powers of computation, future physics and biology might similarly entail phenomenal experience. This might even be true for the present biology and physics in that we may be unable to recognize the shape of the mental at the physical level including that current quantum mechanics - including measurement - is probabilistic in an indeterministic sense

Searle argues in the following vein: that the big question is a sum of little questions, some of which have already been answered; and that resolution of a sufficient number and variety of little questions is anticipated. It seems that interpretation of physical and biological signals as mental would be required

Note the similarity between Nagel on the necessity of explanation with natural science and Kant on the synthetic a priori that we currently regard as synthetic [empirical, causal] but not a priori [constitutive, necessary]

Nagel [1993] on Searle

In a mostly appreciative review, Thomas Nagel has the following criticism of Searle’s position that brains cause consciousness. According to Nagel, there is a problem a physical explanation of subjectivity that has to be imagined from the inside. On this point Nagel agrees with Searle though, unlike Searle, Nagel has argued that the problem is more one of limits to powers of concept formation. Nagel believes that the problem implies that “we really do not understand the claim that mental states are states of the brain”

On comments on others’ works

In reading others’ works my understanding may be mistaken; apologies, if due, are tendered. I may have commented on positions that writers may no longer hold. I do not want to hold others to views that they may have modified or abandoned. There is something to be said for the flexibility as well as the ability to defend a position. My purposes in reference are to present a development - if only fragmented - and to credit some of my main sources

[35] The following aspects of creativity are significant: [1] What is the essential accomplishment of a creative process as creative process, i.e. without reference to the possible functions of creativity? Possibilities include combinations of essentially new ideas or new recombinations of other ideas. The idea of the essentially new is that of what is not contained in what came before. What is the significance in static and dynamic universes? [2] What are the elementary processes...where is the spark of a new idea or recombination and how is it scanned? It is this element – not complex, compound, or higher creativity – that is the one of immediate interest. The focus is on the new, especially the essentially new. [3] A theory of creativity that includes a role for the essentially new. This must require indeterminism but need not require an abandonment of the idea of causality. Even in the case of something from nothing, there is causation in the sense of the something having been potential. [4] What are the key physical and biological processes that allow for indeterminism over and above given structure and that provide new structure first by indeterministic variation and then by selection of new structure that is compatible with given structure

[36] David Chalmers [1996, Introduction]: “Ultimately one would like a theory of consciousness should do at least the following: it should give the conditions under which physical process give rise to consciousness, and for those processes that give rise to consciousness, it should specify just what sort of experience is associated. And, we would like the theory to explain how it arises, so that the emergence of consciousness seems intelligible rather than magical. In the end we would like the theory to enable us to see consciousness as an integral part of the natural world”

[37] A reading of some of the main writers in the field confirms this. What I mean is that they are materialists of the methodological and practical kind - or of some stricter kind. The majority falls in to one of the following classes: [1] Espouse the modern scientific worldview whose elements are essentially material, [2] Are sympathetic to the materialist viewpoint, or [3] Are not necessarily sympathetic to the materialist view, but find it so persuasive that they are drawn into some kind of dualism. The dualists usually accept that mental phenomena are determined by the state of the physical level but it is either beyond human powers or impossible in principle to determine the relationship. A seeming exception may be ideas like those in Chalmers [1996] who espouses a property dualism. Chalmers finds that mental facts are determined by physical facts together, in the case of consciousness, with additional laws that are not physical laws and that “bridge” the gap between mind and matter. The facts regarding consciousness might be different, according to Chalmers, in a different universe that is physically identical laws but has different bridging laws. In our universe, however, conscious and all other mental phenomena are determined by the physics

[38] The point to metaphysics is as much to illuminate and structure our ignorance as much as to quiet our doubts

[39] Mind is found to be associated only with very specific forms of matter that is arranged in a hierarchy that is a result of evolution

[40] Late night musings

[41] Thomas Kuhn [1962]. Reference to this classic work does is not at all a subscription to its theses. The purpose of the reference is, in addition to acknowledgement, a specification of meaning

[42] See previous footnote

[43] Gerald Edelman [1992] presents a multi-layer theory involving neurons, groups of neurons, and maps that are sheets of neurons for which the points on the sheets are systematically related to points on a sheet of receptor cells or another map. On this kind of theory input-output is not a simple 1-1 correspondence. Explanation of the qualitative aspect of experience is still a problem

[44] See previous footnote

[45] Alex Bentley

[46] In Mitra [1998b], I consider the possibilities of idealism; I use idealism in the sense of a metaphysics founded in ideas as real. As I argued, this would require a significant expansion of the concept of the idea. The development focuses on the concept of the idea and the distribution of consciousness in the individual and the world. At present, I would generalize the focus on consciousness to a focus on mind. In Mitra [1998c], I adopted a more neutral stance; I took being as the fundamental entity. The neutrality arises in that the nature of being is not completely specified in advance; it is to be discovered. The development is through the idea of being and its initial specification in the form of human being, the concept of levels of being as a continuum or series, the transformations and dynamics of being, relationship between being and time, relationship between concept of being and concept of mind. Obviously, these ideas have a connection to Heidegger’s thought

[47] See Mitra [1998b, c] for approaches to consciousness through idealism and through being

[48] The project to explain mental processes and their variety in physical and biological terms does not eliminate the need for psychology. First psychology provides a catalog of the variety. Second, psychology provides through mechanisms and theory the fundamental features of mind as mind and their dynamics. These are, of course, of intrinsic interest. Additionally explanation from physics, biology or neuroscience to psychology may be made more efficient, perhaps possible, when cast in the form of an explanation of the theoretical structure of mind as seen in psychology

[49] What is the status of Penrose’s [1989, 1994] search for new physical elements to explain consciousness? What is the status of Penrose’s claim that the current pre-gravitational quantum mechanics is computable? Does this imply determinism? Will the new element be truly indeterministic as needed by the requirement of creativity? What are the key levels of explanation according to Penrose [1994], Crick [1994], Edelman [1992], Strong AI...and their synergies? Is psychology causally dependent - this does not mean explanatory reduction - on these levels? What is the role of the brain regarded as a whole a la Rosenfield [1993], Freeman [1995]? Relative to mental phenomena, are there important elements of physiology in addition to the neural - central and autonomous -, the endocrine and the immune systems? What are the other systems that show traces of mind - for example learning in skeletal and muscular development? What can we say about mind in organisms without what we recognize as a neural system?

[50] These are mentioned as possible signs of shared experience rather than proof. The simple explanation is that the sharing is empathetic

[51] More late night musing. This suggests the following metaphor: God did not rest on Sunday. If there is a God, she is not resting; we are her process

[52] An example is the education and research functions of universities

[53] Mass technology includes commercial, consumer, and grass roots aspects. Consumer technology is a source of innovation and robust function. The grass-roots function includes the explicit contribution of users-as-developers and the implicit contribution of use as test and experiment

[54] These are bound together and complete and therefore form the parent essay, problem set, and Website

[55] I have been interested in the following topics for a long time: evolution with focus on mechanistic, Darwinian evolution; design as the goal directed thought and behavior [action] of conscious agents; knowledge as a case of design; relations between conscious and mechanistic evolution; role of deterministic and non-deterministic processes in evolution in nature and in human creative processes; evolutionary explanation; use of evolutionary models in design and planning. These topics came together in Evolution and Design, Mitra, 1987

[56] See section What Is Evolutionary Explanation?

[57] This is not a reference to molecular or Mendelian genetics...or to the Biblical sense of Genesis. As used here, on the assumption of origins, life and consciousness originated and evolved over time; this is the domain of the genetic. As used here, “genetic” is more general and neutral than “evolutionary.” The idea of evolution includes that of series that exhibits continuities; for this series to satisfy the requirements of a causal explanation, it must follow some theory of evolution

[58] Because self is not not-environment... It would be better to call the external environment the external environment rather than the environment; there is an unnecessary tendency to polarization of words, of which there seem to be examples without end, that heaps, because of a desire to make distinctions without wholes and an occasional utility, unnecessary confusion on to the users of words

[59] Therefore, here is a possible [partial] answer to the Great Question of Being and Thomas Nagel’s [1998] inclusive modality. If I wanted to proliferate ontologies, I could call this Evolutionary Naturalism

[60] Includes diachronic approach to study of mind, society and language

[61] The mind-body problem is the focus of the present document; the problem of other minds and its significance is discussed in section 2.4 Mind, Society and Language; the discussion on creativity in section A Special Role for Creativity and some subsequent sections has implications for free will

[62] Some concepts of materialism and other ontologies are developed throughout the document

[63] See: What Is A Mental Event?

[64] Lake Baikal is in Eastern Siberia. It is the deepest continental body of water on Earth, with a greatest depth of 5,314 feet, an area of 12,200 square miles [31,500 square km] and a length of 395 miles. Baikal contains one-fifth of Earth’s surface fresh water - 5,500 cubic miles. The lake and surrounding mountains support a range of animal life including the sturgeon, the Baikal seal, pika, Siberian chipmunk, reindeer, elk, fox, brown bear, stoat, weasel, wolverine, moose, otter, Baikal hair seal [abundant along the lake shore], and musk and red deer. Bird species include white-tailed eagle, rock ptarmigan, grouse, oriental cuckoo, warbler, and tit. Some plants are rhododendron, cedar, poplar, spruce, fir, larch, and lichens that cover rocks and cliffs at higher elevations. The region is subject to pressure of economic development

I chose Lake Baikal as a place of beauty and myth. The lake features in the mythology of the native Buryats. It is a place in the natural world and in conscious “space”. While teacups and thermostats are, no doubt partly due to their simplicity, worthwhile objects for philosophical reflection, it is also good to have in mind, lest we unintentionally trivialize the nature of being, places that have power in the space of the human mind

[65] We do not know that we have an infinite amount of time but such scenarios can be imagined. Approaching a science fiction-like account is the Robots ‘R’ Us kind of view from Frank Tipler [1994]; and there is the multi-cultural eternal return theme that, to have meaning, requires an integration of the returning consciousness over time. The moral to the Goddess on the edge of the lake story is that investment of belief in science is proper; the moral to the infinite time scenario is that incremental progress is not improper

This is indicative of an emerging theme: that while we lean much from formal and “flat” reflections there is no need to live exclusively in a flat world

[66] Also, see Topic 3, especially 3.3 The Evolution of Life, above

[67] The data include the geological record, geographic distribution, comparative biochemistry and various other measures of similarity and difference. The theoretical aspects include, of course, natural selection and the theories of variation and inheritance; and various mechanisms and concepts such as selection of adapted offspring from excess, gradual evolution of complexity through adaptive intermediate stages, punctuated equilibrium, occurrence of singular events and filling of ecological niches, mechanisms of speciation

[68] Broad, 1925, Chapter XIV, Status and Prospects of Mind in Nature, contains an analysis of seventeen types of theory including the rational formulation of the types and the reduction by analysis to a smaller number of reasonable types and Broad’s own preferred “Compound Theory.”

[69] The concept, motivation and use are implicitly developed in this document. Actual comments are scattered. Actual working out may be useful. See Broad [1925]

[70] Writers such as John Searle, David Chalmers, Francis Crick, Roger Penrose, Daniel Dennett, Bernard Baars [1996, 1998] are among many who have defined programs of research. These writers cover a range of philosophical positions and research programs. Some of the main works are listed in the bibliography

[71] I believe that there is scope for study variety of experience, including forms that are not usually recognized. I am not referring to paranormal phenomena. One of my concerns has been the details, including unconscious or near unconscious processing, that enter into the relation of mind and body in somatic illness and in healing and other transformations in the areas of discovery, development of abilities, performance at levels that utterly surprise the performer - the question of limits. The study in question also refers to non-pathological mental states of identity or entry in to an environment, the dynamics of the relationship, and the reality limits to the boundary of the resulting state. There is a literature, western and other, on the relationships and dynamics

[72] David Chalmers [1996, Introduction]: “Ultimately one would like a theory of consciousness should do at least the following: it should give the conditions under which physical process give rise to consciousness, and for those processes that give rise to consciousness, it should specify just what sort of experience is associated. And, we would like the theory to explain how it arises, so that the emergence of consciousness seems intelligible rather than magical. In the end we would like the theory to enable us to see consciousness as an integral part of the natural world”

[73] Various resources: bibliographic, online; personal collection; literature on the philosophy of mind

[74] Also see comments in The Website and Plans for Future Development and An In-Process Document in the Introduction; and sections 1.3 An Atlas of Mind and Consciousness: Structure, Functions and Dynamics, and 2.2 The Concept of a Theory of Mind and Consciousness

[75] Edelman 1992

[76] Many writings including The Character of Physical Law, 1965 and Lectures on Physics, 1963

[77] This problem may be addressed by making some changes of emphasis in education which need not be extensive but might require changes in general values and bureaucracy in order to be effective