A vs B and why that model’s time has passed.
I started my classes again today. The first up was “Philosophy of Mind.” The professor seems to be very into this topic, and for starters made it very intimidating. It’s not that the material is un-readable, but his harsh grading system (A/F) is a little disconcerting. Nevertheless. What is the philosophy of mind? From what I heard today, it’s the study of the mind/body “problem.” That is, how does consciousness arise in the body? Does it? Do we have free will, or if everything is physical, then is choice an illusion? There are many other questions that come up with this topic. We are going to be focusing on the “mind-body” split and how many philosophers chose (no pun intended) to answer it. Some go for the determinist view, the physicalist argument (No free will). Others go for the opposite view: All is mind. Then there are others who attemp to create a middle way, or balance between the perspectives. I personally agree with the third way, but the philosophy of integral has definitely had an influence in me in this respect.
While in class, I couldn’t help but remember the name of a chapter in Grace and Grit by Ken Wilber, “Mind-Body Drop!” A buddhist teacher used this as a koan, or a pointing out instruction for his students. The third topic I’d like to see in this class (though it wasn’t in the syllabus), would be- is there anything more? When mind-body drops, what is left? Or, as the Zen masters might say, what is your original face, before your parents were born?
So this is what we’re focusing on: The mind/body problem. I’d like to think of us as mind-bodies. We are both biological and mental. Being a fan of quantum physics and all related research, I’m somewhat aware that we are learning more about the mind potentially (pun not intended, again) being quantum-related. That is, some aspects of our consciousness can be explained through quantum science. I need to look up the article, but I recently read that protons move roughly around or beyond the speed of light. This would have profound insights into consciousness and how we experience it.
But, back to the class, “Philosophy of Mind.” I’m going to try not to raise too many questions based on things I’ve read outside of the class. For instance, we know with quantum science that the universe is certainly not deterministic. In fact, it’s all about potential and probability collapsing into our experience. The mind is as much a creator of reality as it is a subject to it. That is, we are biological indeed, and all laws of the universe apply to us, but the brain helps create the experience of reality. It’s our way of interacting with the world, and it has gradually adapted and complicated over the eons.
I wasn’t aware of this, but the term “science” was hardly used before the scientific revolution. Before then, it was called “natural philosophy.” Philosophy was a part of science, and vice versa. So, I see that as an example of yin-yang relationship that I’d like to see in mind-body theories.
From what I know, the problem with the ‘physicalists’ or extreme ‘reduction’ is that it cannot yet account for the very basic experience of consciousness. It just can’t explain why on earth we’d have this awareness.
So, to express my final thoughts on this subject (for now, of course), seeing modern philosophy as a series of “dichotomies” has inherently limited it to dualism, when it has so much more potential. The “problem” of inner mind and outer world can be dispelled, I think, with a third view. Instead of “either/or” let’s look at how “both/and” is possible. Instead of night or day, we have night and day. Life and death are intrinsic, and so why not body-mind? These are all just words, but they point to something more. I think this could be seen as an evolution from traditional philosophy (of dichotomies) to eteology, or the study from beingness. It could be said, the phrase, “I think, I am,” is not digging deep enough. Instead, “I am, I think, I feel, I see,” could help us gain more insight. The space between the words gain importance in an “integral” attitude. The connectivity, the complimenting of once opposing views are deeply valued. Seeing the flex-flow evolution of memes, consciousness and perspective- this is the future of so many things, including philosophy.
And so, maybe I’ll mention these ideas in class, but either way, I hope to see them in our lives. The tool of stepping back from dualistic thinking does not leave us with idiocy, but the profound silence of transcendent and transrational consciousness.