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The End of Physicalism

Epistemological, Metaphysical & Neuro-Philosophical Arguments
Against Materialism.

© Wim van den Dungen
Antwerp, 2017


"Philosophy must therefore assume that no true contradiction will be found between freedom and natural necessity in the same human actions, for it cannot give up the idea of nature any more than that of freedom." - Kant, I. : Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals, 1785.

"A few good arguments are better than a thousand books."
- Anonymous.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Abstract
Introduction

I : The Epistemology of Materialism

1.1 The Reduction of the Subject of Knowledge.
1.2 The Naive Inflation of the Real.
1.3 Prospective Materialism.

II : The Metaphysics of Materialism

2.1 Atomism.
2.2 Objectifying Essentialism.
2.3 Newtonian Physicalism.

III : Materialism and the Body/Mind-problem

3.1 Ancient Egyptian Shamanism : Hylic Pluralism.
3.2 Platonic Dualism & Peripatetic Hylemorphism.
3.3 Cartesian Interactionism.
3.4 Occasionalism.
3.5 Psycho-Physical Parallelism and Panpsychism.
3.6 Analytical Behaviourism and Identity or Central State Theory.
3.7 Eliminativism, Epiphenomenalism and Behaviourism.
3.8 Functionalism.
3.9 Anomalous Monism, Supervenient Emergentism.
3.10 Panexperientalism.
3.11 Functional Interactionism.
3.12
A Triadic Model of What Works.
3.13
How Brain-Mind Interaction Happens.
3.14
The Endlessness of Brain and Mind ?

IV : The Criticism of Materialism

4.1 Criticism of Observation.
4.2 Criticism of Common Sense Realism.
4.3 Criticism of Materialist Dogmatism.

Epilogue
Bibliographies


Abstract


Physical theory is valid insofar as matter and material objects go. Despite the grand advances made in physics, chemistry, biology etc., the methodology of physics is not necessarily applicable to the rest of science. Physics is about the laws governing the executive, transmitting, displaying, materializing aspect of what exists. This efficient, material vector is a conditio sine qua non when lawful determinations and conditions of energy (i.e. 12 elementary particles and 4 forces) are at hand. Physicalism, the view only objects defined by physics exist, is wrong. Materialism, the view all of existence solely consists of material stuff, is wrong. Both their epistemology & metaphysics are defunct. Physicalism cannot explain how knowledge and its advancement are possible, nor can it formulate a comprehensive, totalizing view of the world. On the contrary, it has either to reduce all non-material agencies to matter or to eliminate them. It is bound to develop a disdain for the human sciences. In these efforts it does not succeed. Besides material hardware, information (code, architecture, software) and consciousness (participant observation, userware) exists. As individualized domains of actual occasions (sharing a dominant actual occasion), these three cosmic operators are irreducible.

Materialism and physicalism teach the world lacks an active, conscious observer. And if indeed acknowledged (as a kind of emergent property of matter), then any downward causation is denied ; the mind, emerging out of matter, cannot alter matter. In doing so, this bleak view robs humanity of its core assets, freedom and creative advance.

The operators of the world, namely matter, information and consciousness share a common ontological principal : the actual occasion. This basic unit of existence is both efficient (material) as scalar (information & consciousness). This triune panexperientialism
affirms all three are involved in experience.

By claiming the mind is produced by the brain (and not merely displayed by it), materialism downgrades the autonomy of the spirit of humanity, reducing it to an epiphenomenon or eliminating it altogether. Here, an interactionism is defended. The material & informational brain interacts with the mind. The latter exists in a separate domain of actual occasions, one in which the dominant actual occasion is related to meaning, sense, participant observation and creativity. Because this interaction happens by manipulating probabilities, no energy conservation law is broken. Brain and mind are distinct, not different. Both upward & downward causality are possible. When the brain dies, the mind it used to display does not end. The autonomy of the mind is not rooted in the brain, but depends on consciousness itself.


Introduction


"The problem, therefore, is not merely that science is being used illegitimately to promote a materialistic worldview, but that this worldview is actively undermining scientific inquiry, leading to incorrect and unsupported conclusions about biological and cosmological origins."
Beauregard, M. & O'Leary, D. : The Spiritual Brain, HarperOne - New York, 2007, p.27.

Materialism is not the view material things alone make us happy. Many things can make us so, including material things. In the popular mind, materialists only love money and everything it buys. To them, money is the best thing there is. Such convictions & behaviours are mostly coupled with the idea matter is the only thing in existence, the only thing that really works. If so, matter is the only reality. At this point, the sphere of opinions is left and philosophy enters to define, clarify, contextualize and expand.

When one claims matter is the sole existing thing, one commits to monism, the view only a single fundamental thing or ontological principal exists, in casu, matter. This is, as will become clear, a specific metaphysical, in casu, ontological position called "materialist monism". Adhered to by Greek Pre-Socratic like Thales of Milete (ca. 624 - 546 BCE), it explains the world without dependence on anything except matter ("physis").

In the West, a more systematic underpinning of materialism was given by atomists like Leucippus of Miletus (ca. 490 - ? BCE) and Democritus of Abdera (ca. 460 - 380/370 BCE). The latter conjectured the origin of knowledge is given with the undeniable evidence put forward by the senses, the material conditions. Becoming, movement and change are fundamental. Being is occupied space, a plenum. Not a closed unity or continuum, a single Being or Oneness, this fullness is an infinite variety of indivisible particles called "atoms" ("atomos" or "indivisible") ; all things are composed of these corpuscles, infinite in number, tiny, invisible, indivisible, and in perpetual motion. They all  consist of the same kind of matter and only differ from each other in terms of their quantitative properties, like extension, weight, form and order. Remarkably, for Democritus, our perceptions, derived from collisions between the atoms making up perceived objects and those constituting the perceiving subject, do not give us an idea of reality itself, but merely of what we perceive of it. Hence, in this critical stance avant la lettre "appearance" is more certain than "reality" ... clearly a weakness in the argument supporting the real world.

The Renaissance rediscovered Greek materialism, in particular regarding the self-movement of matter and the self-sufficiency of Nature. During the Middle Ages materialism had been outlawed. Christianity embraced ontological idealism, the view a Supreme Spiritual Being created the world "ex nihilo". In this view, matter is a kind of "prison" (cf. Plotinus' "soma sema"). Bruno (1548 - 1600), the martyr for science, pointed to the ceaseless lifelike inner activity of all material things. In the minds of these men of science, there was no doubt : matter is substantial. For Spinoza (1632 - 1677), restating the Brunian thesis, substance is self-subsistent, self-existent, self-moving and self-caused, for "substantia est causa sui". The influence of Spinoza on both Newton (1643 - 1727) & Einstein (1879 - 1955) may not come as a surprise. Einstein's "problems" with quantum theory may well be rooted in his adherence to a single substance à la Spinoza.

Also the East produced its materialists. In the Pāli Canon (Brahmajala Sūtra), we read how the Buddha conversed with smaller groups of materialists (Ajita Keshakambalin) & sceptics (Sañjayī Vairatiputra). He deemed materialism annihilationist, implying their view on what exists verged to either a confused view lacking one fundamental principle or the idea nothing really exists (as in forms of scepticism). Scepticism he saw as an evasive stance akin to eel-wriggling, constantly responding -to keep a wrong peace of mind- to the welter of conflicting views and their arguments, avoiding commitment to any kind of view.

When materialism became empiricist and this trust in the substance offered by the senses needed exegesis, an apparatus of arguments emerged. At this point, materialism developed a specific epistemology, the rudiments of which can be found in the Peripatetic distinction between passive & active intellect ("intellectus agens"). Eventually, materialists included abstracts in their description of matter, thereby inviting contradictions. Since the middle of the 19th century, concomitant with the successes of technology, materialism became fashionable in the physical sciences. It mostly took the form of a monism of matter, considering all non-physical objects as either non-existent, illusionary or simply not there at all. The first rector of the university of Geneva, Carl Vogt, categorically claimed the brain produces thoughts as physical materials in the same way as the kidneys produce urine and the liver bile ...

As quantum & relativity entered, so did chaos & information. A new physical paradigm became necessary, but the 20th century was unable to come up with a coherent view. Quantum & relativity did turn Newtonianism upside down. Absolute became relative. Certainty became probability. Time, space, matter & energy were interconnected and the world became quantum-based, not continuous as in the old days. The schism in physics between relativity and quantum was not bridged. Chaos, the mathematical theory on non-linear process, changed the definition of life, but also covered non-physical entities such as coast-lines, meteorological phenomena and open, dissipative thermodynamical systems. Information theory revolutionized all knowledge by laying bare the source-code of efficient action, in other words, the structure, code or natural architecture of the material world.

Materialist tried to incorporate these "abstracts" into their definition of matter, but how, given matter & information functionally differ, can this not lead to problems ? Related to this is the question whether logical & mathematical objects exist as relatively independent entities or depend on the material substratum carrying them.

In his Tractatus, Wittgenstein clearly distinguished between form and matter.

"2.021 Objects form the substance of the world. Therefore they cannot
be compound. 2.024 Substance is what exists independently of what is the case. 2.025 It is form and content." -
Wittgenstein : Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921.

Matter is devoid of form. Form is devoid of matter. The "abstracts" or natural architectures at work in Nature point to the operator of information, in casu the software of Nature, already present -ex hypothesi- when this universe started. Matter, the hardware, is then merely :

"a collection of relatively independent and unstructured events" -
Feyerabend, P. : Problems of Empiricism, 1981, vol.2, chapter 9, § 6.

For materialists, such a definition is too restrictive. They realize form needs to be incorporated into their ontological principal. If not, monism is in danger and the concept of matter no longer covers enough phenomena. Of course, by assimilating form into matter, they blend two different operators, extending the definition of matter beyond mere elementary particles and forces.

At the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th, materialism became physicalism, the view all entities, properties & relations (facts) are those studied by physics and other physical sciences, in particular chemistry, biology & neurology, but not psychology, sociology & economics. This view is historically derived from materialism, the tenet everything is matter, nothing more. This opinion became prevalent in the 19th century, not in the least because it teamed up with the mentality of the Industrial Revolution, considering the Newtonian paradigm as the complete & final articulation of the laws of physics and of the world at large. To be scientific was conforming to the methods of the physical sciences. The mind was deemed an epiphenomenon, no longer an entity in its own right.

Officially, the current scientific paradigm is physicalist, although the  cracks in the wall are becoming wider. Positivism, logical-positivism & scientism, variations on the theme of physicalism, have tried to banish the subject of knowledge, erecting the edifice of science on inductivism & naive realism alone. But this crude approach has failed. Even a hard core realist like Popper acknowledges the theory-ladenness of observation and rejects inductivism in favour of falsificationism (a scientific theory identifies how it can be rejected or falsified). Refined versions of this novel approach (Lakatos, Kuhn, Feyerabend) have brought the intersubjective, historical & perspectivisitic nature of knowledge to the fore. Object & subject of knowledge are both an integral part of the scientific project, and they cannot be reduced to one another without crippling the possibility & development of rational knowledge. What Husserl identified as the crisis of Western civilization (a one-sided inflation of either the object or the subject of knowledge) ends by confirming all knowledge is relative and historical.

Moreover, due to the explosion of the digital medium, three independent functional domains can be identified, clearly breaking away from the dichotomization of old, rooted in Greek substantialist & concept-realist distinctions :

(1) hardware or "matter" : the quasi unstructured and relatively independent set of 12 elementary particles & 4 forces ruling physical Nature ;
(2) software or "information"  : the highly structured and relatively independent set of codes, architectures, organizations and expert-systems ruled by binary logic and manifesting as the elementary order of "dead" matter (like the structure of atoms, fields and associated forces), the architecture of living matter (like DNA) & the laws found in logic, mathematics and all physical and human sciences ;
(3) userware or "consciousness" : the meaning given to MI-systems, their use based on choice (in terms of various degrees of liberty) and the first-person experience of Nature or "scalar" impact on themselves (autopoiesis) and the whole (teleological determination). In an operational sense, consciousness acts as an interphase, and refers to the power of active imagination, the ability of invent, make up and generate fictitious objects.

It may be conjectured (Metaphysics, 2012) these three functional operators were present when the universe began, while the ontogenesis of the universe may have individualized them sequentially : starting with matter (giving rise to stars), information individualized (as life) and then living systems individualized consciousness (on Earth various degrees of liberty can be identified, ranging from simple organisms to humans). In the human, these three functional operators (or ontological domains of specific functional activity) come together in a way allowing for the highest degree of freedom (of choice).

Physicalism (considering information as a part of matter, which, given their different properties, is obviously wrong) has the mental as its main target. To underpin materialist monism, it must be able to deprive the human sciences of the ontological authority granted to physics, chemistry and biology. Hence, it is called to demonstrate mental events or mentality, the activity of the mind, and the mind itself, are not genuine, independent features (aspects, functionalities) of the world. So we are made to believe the crown of the mind, freedom, is basically (fundamentally) a kind of hallucination, an illusion ("māyā"), play ("līlā") or sublime intelligent concoction of an electro-magnetically wired lump of wondrously coded fat weighing about 3 pounds. The case of physicalism is hopeless if the mind cannot be reduced to some material event, or better, eliminated altogether.

It will be shown such an exorcism of the mind is impossible without introducing unacceptable fallacies and problems. The view held here states matter, information & consciousness are the three fundamental operators of all what exists ; they are irreducible, relatively independent and irreversibly interdependent. They share a common ontological base, namely the actual occasion.

Reducing or eliminating the mental (in casu consciousness to MI-systems) can only be backed if and only if one can make a strong case the mental is nothing more than matter-information or another form or emergent property of such matter-information. Such a strong case cannot be made. Why ? The text, restricting itself to philosophical arguments a priori & a posteriori, identifies logical, epistemological & ontological reasons. Logically, physicalism operates a contradiction in the act. Epistemologically, the resulting "perversa ratio" (Kant) cuts short reason by introducing antinomies. Ontologically, this view causes the ontological illusion the object of knowledge exists from its own side, independent & self-powered. As some of the logical & epistemological arguments against physicalist reductionism or eliminativism are a priori, they cannot be taken out by "future" empirical discoveries of the physicalists (the prospectivist counter-argument physical science will eventually solve outstanding problems in the future fails in principle).

Remark physicalism is as strong (or as weak) as spiritualism (mentalism). Indeed, the rejection of realist physicalism and its monistic ontological materialism is not an endorsement of mentalism and its monist ontological idealism. It is not the case of trying to defend idealism by rejecting realism. Nor should one attempt to end idealism (and its subjectivism) by proclaiming the triumph of realism (and its objectivism). Both are extremes, and what is proposed here is a middle way, a third path. The play of dichotomies, in fact the old Greek difference between idealists like Plato and realists like Aristotle, is no longer accommodated. Instead, a triadism is at hand. The stuff (matter), its form (information) and its meaning (consciousness) are not ontologically different domains, but three distinct functional entities. Process metaphysics identifies an ontological principal shared by all three. This is not matter (or information) as physicalism claims, nor consciousness as mentalism would have it. As will become clear, the actual occasion is what is shared by all things and therefore the conjectured foundation of ontology.

"Time and time again, materialists and spiritualists, realists and nominalists reach back into some sphere of being when they attempt to ascertain and hold sight into the symbolic content either of language or of knowledge, for this insight is that no being is tangible or accessible except through meaning. Hence if we wish to conceive of the concept itself, we must not attempt to clutch it like an object." -
Cassirer, E. : The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, 1957, volume 3, part III, chapter 1, § 2.

Both realist & idealist positions need to be superseded. This can not be done by a descriptive approach, as it were trying to "step outside" the act of knowledge and its subject/object dichotomy and assume a "punctum Archimedis", or hypothetical vantage point from which an observer can objectively perceive the subject of inquiry, in casu, the act of knowledge itself. This was the dream of both physicalism & mentalism. It turns out to be a nightmare. Moreover, it fails on logical, epistemological & ontological grounds. The ground of knowledge is not found outside knowledge. This groundless ground of knowledge is to be found within knowledge itself. It is "delved" by way of a specific kind of reflection, called "transcendental analysis", probing knowledge so it may reveal the conditions making it possible and allowing it to expand.

Very often, the approach of realists & physicalists (and to a lesser degree that of intelligent idealists & mentalists) targets the excesses of spiritualism, and mostly for very good reasons. They do so to show how far knowledge may drift away from truth and how dangerous it is to uphold silly tenets and backward systems of faith. Indeed, in the dogmatic religions ("of the book"), i.e. in Judaism, Christianity & Islam, a brontosauric "ideal" object was invented and dogmatically sanctified. This is the substantialist "God" introduced by the Torah, the New Testament and the Koran, a Caesar of sorts.

"The notion of God as the 'unmoved mover' is derived from Aristotle, at least so far as Western thought is concerned. The notion of God as 'eminently real' is a favourite doctrine of Christian theology. The combination of the two into the doctrine of an aboriginal, eminently real, transcendent creator, at whose fiat the world came into being, and whose imposed will it obeys, is the fallacy which has infused tragedy into the histories of Christianity and of Mahometanism. (...) the deeper idolatry, of the fashioning of God in the image of the Egyptian, Persian, and Roman imperial rulers, was retained." -
Whitehead, A.N. : Process & Reality, 1929, §§ 519-520.

This invention did not fall out of the sky, but was "de manu militari" imposed by Akhenaten (Amenophis IV) on New Kingdom Egyptians (and recuperated by Moses and the Judeo-Christian tradition after him). Later, this view of a singular God granting, as a Caesar, but a limited access to his being, was formalized by Greek thought (also stressing the ontological difference between mortals and the Olympians). With Philo of Alexandria (25 BCE - 50 CE), this "Deus absconditus" or absent God was given a theo-ontological format influencing the development of Judaism (after the destruction of the Second Temple), Early Christianity (in particular Paul) and later Islam (with the rise of the philosophical tradition, the "faylasuf"). In this view, God's essence is exclusively for God to experience (and so he is at the core alone & isolated from creation). His creatures only experience his existence. In Judaism, this is the "shekinah" or "Divine presence" accompanying Israel (and, eventually, the Messiah). In Christianity, these are the "Divine energies" of the Holy Spirit. In Islam, this is the Koran (and, in a lesser sense, the "mahdi", the prophesied redeemer of Shia Islam). To implement this view on so-called "Pagan" thought, monotheism and militarism have always worked together. Why is that ? Could it be this concept of God is so wrong it needs violence & brutality to be upheld ?

Over the centuries, this autarchic Supreme Being has been intellectually "explained" in terms of the Greek substantialist philosophies of Plato and Aristotle and their multiple derivations & variations, and, as Willem of Ockham rightly claimed, thus misunderstood. How can a living God be essentially thus far removed from his creatures ? The fact Greek thought became the standard of intellectualism played an important role in this.

One cannot avoid identifying this God as a self-contained, self-powered and essentially isolated Supreme Being, i.e. as a substance-God. As such, this entity (essentially isolated from its own creation), cannot truly communicate with anything outside itself, thereby condemning the world to the status of a quasi non-entity only able to celebrate this God's Glory. Indeed, in Islam, only Allah exists. Creation is a kind of non-entity, an illusion veiling the necessarily existent ("wajib al-wujud"), or Allah. Although the Deity has been approached as a substantial entity called "God", perhaps process philosophy is better equipped to identify God* for who He is (Does the Divine exist ?, 2005) ? This God* is then remote but also close, transcendent but also immanent, invisible but also visible ... Lord of Possibilities and God-with-us ... He and She.

The fundamental theologies of the dogmatic God of the theist religions, called into existence to convert and then to control & indoctrinate, led, as "militant atheists" (like Dawkins and C°) and materialist atheism alike cannot stop to point out, to a vast number of intellectual absurdities, moral atrocities, truth-concealing strategies and a socio-pedagogic catastrophe. They rightly do so. But as physicalism is their main weapon, atheism and materialism get confounded (as if one could not criticize the dogmatic religions on the basis of a sane idealist position). The silliness of the dogmatic religions does not back materialism or physicalism. It merely shows the defects of a hypertrophy of backward spiritualism. Process thought evidences one can embrace the truth-ideal of science and at the same time accept a process-theology devoid of the dogmatic trappings of fundamental theology, be it Hindu, Jain, Judaic, Christian or Muslim.

Buddhism evidences non-theism and a trans-theist religious mysticism (based on ethics, meditation & wisdom). This is not necessarily divorced from a scientific perspective, quite on the contrary. It offers a science of mind and holds views more or less in harmony with contemporary psychology, cosmology and physics (quantum theory). The logic of its view on consciousness is open enough to accommodate rebirth (while materialism excludes this in principle).

Atheists & physicalists alike have good reasons to attack irrationality as long as they also criticize the irrational way they themselves at times have approached peripheral subjects such as parapsychology, astrology, magic, alchemy, homeopathy, mystical experience, altered states of consciousness and the like. Some for example study "self-realization", but beforehand explicitly affirm not to have experienced any altered state of consciousness. They practice no yoga, do not meditate, never pray and have "humanist" and "secular" lives. Such absence is then called "objectivity", as if one would be able to write a really serious book about fine wines without ever tasting wine. Or astrology is ridiculed without giving proper arguments. Only seldom are these matters treated with serenity & dignity. In this way, these so-called critics unmask themselves to be sceptics, dogmatics or cynics and hardly serve reason at all.

"The evidence for Extra Sensoric Perception (ESP) and Psychokinesis (PK) -and I have presented only brief summaries of a few examples of it- seems to be adequate. Serious attention to the evidence should be convincing to all except those who are irreversibly committed to the worldview of materialism and sensationalism, according to which ESP and PK are impossible in principle."
- Griffin, D.R. : Parapsychology, Philosophy and Spirituality : a Postmodern Exploration, State University of New York Press - New York, 1997, p.89.

Meta-studies in parapsychology (evidencing paranormal phenomena like telepathy, precognition, telekinesis etc.) are deemed irrelevant because no explicative theory exists, but such an abstract framework is not sought, nor are young scientists informed about wide gaps in the paradigm ... Why ? Because all available experiential evidence at least suggests such a theory would imply causality and other forms of lawful determination between events not only to exist between material stuff, but also between the mind and matter (undermining the materialist dogma of upward determination only). This evidence also points to the very distinct characteristics of both operators, making it unclear how mind can be an emergent property of matter, and unlikely that the mind can be reduced to the brain. Here the sociology of scientific practice outweighs the epistemology of scientific methodology.

"The evidence summarised in this chapter represents what must be the most convincing case that can be made for the basic astrological premise, that there is a connection between the affairs of man and the positions of the planets at the time of birth." -
Eysenck, H.J. & Nias, D.K.B. : Astrology. Science or Superstition ?, St.Martin's Press - New York, 1982, p.209.

To seriously & freely study the periphery of the current paradigm, and this with an open, critical mind (which is not dogmatic, nor sceptical and certainly not disdaining) is sometimes understood as opening Pandora's box, inviting irrationalism, and this while the whole stance taken is an epitome of irrationality, displaying the fear of paradigm-conflicting discoveries. Contemporary atheists & materialists manifest the same symptoms as Galileo's cardinals. They suffer from the Bellarmine-effect, draining reason from the impulse to freely continue to investigate & speculate beyond the border of the conventional, the accepted and the common.

At times the Bellarmine-effect is also at work within the domain of science itself. In biology, neo-Darwinism has recently been challenged. Indeed, the notion of "variation" as "random mutation" is consistent with the denial of purposeful design, making natural patterns without inherent plan (Monod, 1970). Recently, a progressive metamorphosis, with the emergence of increasingly complex and intelligent species in a step-wise, sequential pattern was proposed (Joseph, 2002). Indeed, large-scale protein innovation (Aravind, 2001), so-called "silent genes" (Henikoff, 1986, Watson, 1992), the precise regulatory control of genome novelty (Courseaux & Nahon, 2001) and the overall genetically predetermined "molecular clockwise" fashion of the enfoldment of the human being (Denton, 1998), etc. underline the evolutionary metamorphosis theory of life and intelligent design (weak anthropic principle).
According to Darwin's evolutionary theory, phenotypic variation originates from random mutations independent of any outside selective pressure. This independence is a crucial theoretical condition, dividing Darwin from Lamarck.

"However, recent findings suggest organisms have evolved mechanisms to influence the timing or genomic location of heritable variability. Hypervariable contingency loci and epigenetic switches increase the variability of specific phenotypes ; error-prone DNA replicases produce bursts of variability in times of stress. Interestingly, these mechanisms seem to tune the variability of a given phenotype to match the variability of the acting selective pressure. Although these observations do not undermine Darwin’s theory, they suggest that selection and variability are less independent than once thought." -
Rando, O.J. & Verstrepen, K.J. : "Timescales of Genetic and Epigenetic Inheritance", in Cell, vol 128, 655-668, 23, 2007, my italics.

Do famous evolutionary biologists regularly and with the same bravado with which they attack irrational beliefs put to the fore this evidence contradicting the independence of selection & variability ? They do not. They affirm they do not seek a Darwinian society, but find evidence backing the actual freedom of humans difficult to propagate if it conflicts with their own theoretical dada's. Indeed, rhetoric tactics forbids them to discuss the frailties of their own position in the debate, while this is precisely what, according to Popper, authentic science should be doing. The sociology of science differs from the philosophy of science.

In previous studies (Clearings, 2006, The Book of Lemmas, 2014), both idealist & realist ontologies were rejected. Unavoidably, they ground reason in something outside it. The fundamental antinomy of reason between the mental & the extra-mental cannot be superseded in an Olympic descriptive approach of the questions of being & knowing, be it in terms of sense-data (as in the project of physicalism & scientism) and/or mental events (as given by the languages of all participating sign-interpreters with their theories, hypothesis & opinions). Both "the real" and "the ideal" are necessary regulative ideas of formal & critical reason, and so are constantly at work in philosophy & science. However, they do not constitute reason. As one cannot step outside the duality of object & subject, in a normative approach to these matters, one probes to find the unavoidable conditions in logic, epistemology, ethics (Behaviours, 2006) & aesthetics (Sensations, 2007).

What are the objects of such a normative approach ? Transcendental logic unearths the principles of thought we cannot reject without using them in the act of rejection itself. Theoretical epistemology, reflecting on the act of knowledge, discovers the norms organizing it. If these are taken out, one cannot longer explain, without introducing antinomies, how conceptual knowledge is possible or expandable. Hence, science would have no organizing set of rules. Moreover, rejecting these norms is not  possible without using them ; they are a priori. Practical epistemology finds the maxims of the production of knowledge used by the members of a given research-cell. Contrary to logic & theoretical epistemology, these maxims are not only a priori, but also a posteriori, reflecting the opportunistic logic of researchers in a given historical context.

From a neo-Kantian perspective, the three disciplines of normative philosophy are theory of knowledge, ethics and aesthetics. Logic, theoretical epistemology and practical epistemology answer the question : What can I know ? Critical ethics seeks out the constituents of good behaviour (What must I do ?), whereas critical aesthetics unveils the unavoidable (in terms of the excellent and the exemplary) in beauty (What can I hope for ?). Normative philosophy unveils the necessary rules of reason. Breaking these handicaps both (descriptive) philosophy (metaphysics), as well as science. If one does not clearly define reason, irrationality cannot be identified and avoided.

Because the tenets of physicalism have bearing on the question of the relationship between the brain and the mind, the neurophilosophical ramifications of a materialist approach of the brain are scrutinized and found problematic. The various positions are criticized and arguments developed to back an interactionist & pan-experiential model. Only interactionism is able to sustain a non-reductionist & non-eliminative view enabling the harmony between all possible scientific endeavours in general and between the physical and the human sciences in particular.


1. The Epistemology of Materialism.


The ideal epistemology of materialism is a realist theory of knowledge devoid of a subject of knowledge actually adding something to what is known. It presupposes a "real" world "out there", i.e. independent from the mind and so existing from its own side. It is believed this real world primarily informs the mind by way of the evidence of sense-data. This empiricism accepts our senses to actually represent the world as it is. By trial-and-error (experimentation) science is able -on the basis of inductive reasoning- to theoretically describe this world in an objective language. Scientific method is a proven way to describe the real world as it is. Only what this method has shown to "exist" does actually exist, for only then can it be said to be based on evidence. Devoid of this "positive" evidence, claims of existence cannot be backed (cf. positivism).

Although, to undermine this view, strong counter-arguments may be presented on every step of the way, let us focus the attack on the main point of contention to be raised against this Baconian ideal : the supposed passivity of the subject of knowledge, i.e. the idea the observations made by scientists are not theory-laden, or (as a lesser variant), that this theoretical constructedness of knowledge has no bearing on the objective certainty of the knowledge materialists claim to acquire. And why ? Because it can be eliminated.

"... observations, and even more so observation statements and statements of experimental results, are always interpretations of the facts observed (...) they are interpretations in the light of theories. This is one of the main reasons why it is always deceptively easy to find verifications of a theory, and why we have to adopt a highly critical attitude towards our theories if we do not wish to argue in circles : the attitude of trying to refute them. " -
Popper, K. : The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 1959, chapter V, § 30, note 3.

The epistemology of materialism, looking at the possibility of knowledge from an ontological vantage point outside knowledge, is the story of how the conditions on the side of the object of knowledge are reified (substantialized) into "real" objects existing with inhering properties in a "real" world "out there". This supposed reality becomes the exclusive ground of knowledge, justifying concept-realism (the idea our scientific concepts are merely the representations of reality). The facts, the something at hand, is substantialized, reified, "eternalized" and inflated into a real, objective world "out there" effectuating change by way of physical laws, and this independent of the subject of knowledge. So the latter can merely act as a passive (empirical) registrar of these facts. If however the subject of knowledge is not found to be passive but active (as is indeed the case), then the pivot of conventional materialist epistemology is out of joint. And it is.

One may try to recuperate it by allowing the subject to be active, but claiming the scientific method is a special procedure resulting in an objective description of the world (logical-positivism). Such claims are all very well possible, but is their backing strong enough to survive criticism ? How such a special "objective" language can be arrived at on the basis of an intersubjective scientific discourse changing over time (and so historical) is not clear. Both in logic and fact the claim is unfounded.

Materialist epistemology will be analyzed in terms of how the subject of knowledge is treated, how the real is ontologized and how materialism intends to solve all present & future problems.

1.1 The Reduction of the Subject of Knowledge.

To be able to explain the world as a system of physical objects, ontological materialism has to either eliminate the subject of knowledge or reduce it to a passivity unable to infringe upon the supposed monarchic objectivity of the real world. Both options run into so many problems, materialist scientists often accept one of both ad hoc. In doing so, do they fare any better than Galileo's cardinals ? I think not.

Most serious materialists understand one cannot eliminate the subject of knowledge without violating the logic of the transcendental subject of all possible thought. This logic states one cannot think thought without a thinker (someone actually thinking) and without what this thinker possesses (an actual object of his or her thought). Subject & object are called "transcendental" (not "transcendent") because, as Kant stipulated, they make thought possible, are necessary conditions to make it happen.

Suppose we say thoughts are not thought by someone, then who is uttering this supposition ? Clearly someone ! Suppose we say thought is never not about something extra-mental, then even this thought (affirming thought has no genuine object) has an object and so a logical fallacy is at hand, in particular the contradictio in actu exercito (like somebody saying "This door is closed." while actually opening it). Such a fallacy is self-defeating, for the argument establishes the non-existence of the object of the argument.

Only those less trained in these logical & epistemological subtleties make bold statements to the effect that because everything is material the subject of knowledge does not "really" exist, but is merely an illusionary appearance or epiphenomenon. These people are not at all careful, nor do they realize their statement undermines itself, for how to take serious someone making the claim the speaker is illusionary ?

Exorcizing the subject from the act of knowledge (reducing it to some extra-mental object of knowledge), makes valid knowledge impossible. The discourse of reason ends, for there is no longer any subject ! As in fact the presence of the subject of knowledge is always the case, the attempt at elimination is absurd. Most materialists "solve" the issue by not eliminating the subject, but by claiming it is primarily passive. It exists, but does not add anything to the act of knowledge and merely turns the passively received sense-data in an objective, theoretical language. This is a reduction of the actual epistemic capacity of the subject of knowledge. Scientific language is then a representation of the real world ("adequatio intellectus ad rem"), i.e. there exists a definite correspondence between objective theory and facts (reality). If not one-to-one, then in another capacity.

"To the materialist trend of empiricism, the inner world of sensations merely reflects the external world, without adding anything of its own, save the eventual distortion of the image." -
Bunge, M. : Causality and Modern Science, 1959, 6.1.6.

Wittgenstein wrote :

"To perceive a complex means to perceive that its constituents are combined in such and such a way. This perhaps explains that the figure can be seen in two ways as a cube ; and all similar phenomena. For we really see two different facts. (If I fix my eyes first on the corners a and only glance at b, a appears in front and b behind, and vice versa.)"
Wittgenstein, L. : Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 5.5423, my italics.

Naive realism, in which the existence of the world is prior in time to the existence of ideas about the world, calls for inductivism, the idea a limited number of crucial observations allows for a generalization. Logically impossible (one can never justify the jump from a per definition finite set of particular observations to the infinite set given by a universal like a law), it implies, in terms of the practice or method of science, theory results from experimentation.

"On the contrary, the theoretician must long before have done his work, or at least what is the most important part of his work : he must have formulated the question as sharply as possible. This it is he who shows the experimenter the way. But even the experimenter is not in the main engaged in making exact observations ; his work, too, is largely of a theoretical kind. Theory dominates the experimental work from its initial planning up to the finishing touches in the laboratory." -
Popper, K. : Op.cit., 1959, chapter V, § 30.

The elegance of this view is shattered when we realize a totally passive Lockean subject of knowledge is unable to abstract anything (even Aristotle had to introduce an "active intellect"). Indeed, to "abstract" is a mental activity and theories do not just "pop-up" from sense-data. Moreover, to say this-or-that event is a "sense-datum" and something else is not, calls for theoretical constructs and the latter are definitely not sense-data ... A logical circularity undermines the argument, and we are back at realizing a purely passive subject of knowledge cannot be found. Therefore, a reduction of the subject to the object causes more problems than it solves. Together with the view eliminating it altogether, it leaves the question how knowledge is possible open ... and if we do not know how knowledge is possible, then how can we demarcate valid from invalid knowledge ? We cannot.

Materialist epistemology, and descriptive epistemologies in general, have a foundational intent. They seek a self-sufficient ground for the validity or truth of propositions. They do not develop enough critical sense to grasp this postulate of foundation runs into unavoidable logical problems.

According to Sextus Empiricus, it was the sceptic Pyrrho of Elis (ca. 365 - 275 BCE) who taught conflicts between two (or more) criteria of truth automatically lead to an apory or an antinomy, i.e. a contradiction posed by a group of individually plausible, but collectively inconsistent propositions. The truth of a given criterion can only be argued using true propositions. But, whenever a given criterion is justified, a petitio principii or circular argument is involved. Discussions about the criterion of truth are therefore thought to be unending and without solution.

Much later, the problems of foundational thinking were summarized by the Münchhausen-trilemma (Albert, 1976). Its logic proves how every possible kind of foundational strategy is necessarily flawed. The trilemma was named after the Baron von Münchhausen, a fictional German nobleman who tried to get out of a swamp by pulling at his own hair !

Every time a theory of knowledge accommodates the postulate of foundation, three equally unacceptable situations may occur. A justification of proposition P implies a deductive chain A of arguments A', A", etc. with P as conclusion. The question before us is how extended must A be in order to justify P ?

regressus ad infinitum : there is no end to the justification, and so no foundation is found (A', A", etc. does not lead to P) ;
petitio principii : the end P is implied by the beginning, for P is part of the deductive chain A. Circularity is a valid deduction but no justification of P, hence no foundation is found ;
• abrogation ad hoc : justification is ended ad hoc, the postulate of justification is abrogated, and the unjustified sufficient ground (A' or A" or ...) is accepted as certain because, seeming certain, it needs no more justification. Scientists often do not realize their affirmations are indeed ad hoc, and backed by nothing else than their authority or the institutional power they hold. As such, they are not doing better than the religious authorities of old they so much despise ... It is not the case that because the positions of some protagonist is silly, one's own view is valid.

The Münchhausen-trilemma is avoided by stopping to seek an absolute, self-sufficient ground for knowledge and science. This happens when one accepts, as Ockham already had noted, genuine science is terministic. In mathematics and physics, major changes have happened since Newton, and who is able to disprove the revolutions of tomorrow ? Hence, the categorical system cannot be absolute, although some of its general features are necessary in a normative way (for we use them when we think).

As the subject of knowledge is not passive but active, the Kantian distinction between objects-for-me ("Ding-an-sich") and objects-as-they-are ("Ding-für-uns"), i.e. between phenomena and noumena is pertinent. The theory-ladenness of observation makes impossible a direct, one-to-one relationship between our senses and our mental picture of the world based on it. Our knowledge is also the result of our own theories and these are inevitably and irreducibly embedded in our history, culture & civilization, in other words, they are relative and reflect a certain perspective, but never an Archimedean vantage point, i.e. an absolutely correct view. Pure objectivity (subjectivity) is non-existent. The incompleteness of our theories bars us against making pretentious, definitive statements of fact about anything. Just as the spirit of the Renaissance taught, scientific knowledge remains open ... there is always something new to learn. A new perspective is always possible and what we deem "evidence" is not absolute, but relative.

1.2 The Naive Inflation of the Real.

The object of knowledge, identified with the real-as-such, is directly accessible. The outer world informs our senses unambiguously. This is the core of the epistemology of physicalism, a materialist positivism. Take away obvious errors in observation (like optical illusions and the like) and direct empirical access to the real world is given.

This take is called "naive" because no critical study of the conditions allowing knowledge to rise is made. It is simply assumed sense-data correspond with a reality characterized by inherent properties existing from its own side and independent of the mind observing it. Naive realists cling to this mistaken belief because they fear the relativism of scepticism. Emotionally, they need a firm ground and consider science and objectivity to equal absolutely certain knowledge. Hence, all mental factors need to be eliminated or reduced to material factors. Their view on science is Newtonian, and so they believe universal, complete, consistent and absolutely certain knowledge is possible. Properties (like space & time) are always the same and exist outside the mind. Were this not the case, science, so they conjecture, would be plunged in the swamps of the many subjectivism. Doubt in the "hard data" of the senses is to them pathological. Theoretical connotations, theories, metaphysical backgrounds, ideas, notions, values etc. are not considered as co-constitutive of facts. Facts are monolithic and in all ways extra-mental.

"The hardest of hard data are of two sorts : the particular facts of sense, and the general truths of logic. (...) Real doubt, in these two cases, would, I think, be pathological. At any rate, to me they seem quite certain, and I shall assume that you agree with me on this. Without this assumption, we are in danger of falling into that universal scepticism which, as we saw, is as barren as it is irrefutable." -
Russell, B. : Our Knowledge of the External World, Mentor - New York, 1956, p.60.

Naive realism and the inductivism to which it is coupled, leads to untenable logical problems. Logically, the view is self-defeating, for the naive realist is unable to explain how he is able to validate naive realism. How would he or she proceed to do so ? Which sense-datum would be advanced to "prove" the tenet ? There is none. The validation of the view is based on mental factors and as all science is deemed to be based on extra-mental factors, the validation is impossible. By its own account, naive realism fails and adhering to it is a form of belief, not a valid epistemological stance.

Epistemologically, subject (theory) and object (fact) always walk hand in hand. This implies that what we call "a fact" is not a monolith but a hybrid, consisting of a theory-dependent and, so must we assume, a theory-independent aspect. The sense-data of the naive realists cannot be found. What is found are facts the community of sign-interpreters for the moment hold for true. They do so on the basis of theoretical (argumentative) and experimental reasons appearing in the cultural context they are working in. There is no "universal scientific language", only a shared intellectual discourse prone to change over time. This scientific discourse not only depends on mental factors, but also on facts bearing -so must we assume- the letters of recommendation of reality-as-it-is. We must assume this for we have always done so and without this assumption objective knowledge is impossible. Is it not remarkable these materialists seek a foundation as solid as the dogmatic foundations of the faiths they seek to reject ?

Let us be clear critical thought does not endorse ontological idealism. Despite the fact one cannot eclipse the subject of knowledge (the mental factor), all knowledge is always about some thing and this object of knowledge must be extra-mental if this "some thing" actually means what it means, i.e. something definitely not defined by our mentalities. In other words, the object of knowledge requires there must exist properties not requiring "the expression of the fact that they are thought about" (Whitehead, A.N. : The Concept of Nature, 1920, chapter 1). That we must think this shields criticism from a metaphysical idealism à la Berkeley in which the object is factually constituted by a solitary (super)self or by intersubjectivity, thereby eliminating any genuine sense of objectivity, thereby plunging epistemology in a comparable catastrophe.

In critical thought, the truth or validity of knowledge is not its alleged "correspondence" with the real, but the coherence between all possible theories and experiments concerning it. Not a realist correspondence between real facts and passive mind, nor an idealist "consensus omnium" between an active mind and facts constituted by mind are valid theories of scientific truth. The latter is the product of two processes acting simultaneously : argumentation & experimentation.

"The imaginal, heuristic point of intersection between the Ideas reality & ideality is a knowledge-leading & knowledge-regulating fiction which guarantees the progress of knowledge without ever constituting knowledge itself. If it does, then it misleads knowledge, thus curtailing its unity & progress."
- Rules, 1999, 30.

Observational psychology evidences how in every observation the facts observed rise simultaneous with or happen within the theoretical connotation allowing the observer to identify them. The sense-data theory makes no sense. Take away the intersubjective framework (or fundamentally change it) and other facts may emerge. Of course, some facts do exhibit strong tenacity and their firm grip defies too much theoretical variation. These strong facts define the core of the current scientific paradigm. Today, the Big Bang (cosmology), the predictive power of Schrödinger's equation (quantum physics) and evolution (biology) are such strong facts. But the predictive power of these theories does not preclude the possibility of a better future explanation (another theory) opening new horizons revealing facts of the same or with a stronger profile. In no way do these strong facts allow us to draw conclusions beyond their explanatory horizon.

1.3 Prospective Materialism.

Compared to the authoritarian & magisterial dogmatism of Scholasticism the method of science was revolutionary. From the Renaissance onward, human thinking slowly emancipated and liberated itself from the shackles of religious-based thought. The Newtonian paradigm was the grand outcome of a total change of perspective. Understandably, Newtonian scientists were not without pride. For Lord Kelvin physics was complete ... But these sociologies of science, prompting emotional elation and pride, are bad councillors. They give rise to unwarranted expectations, and precisely these projections hinder the open and critical approach of what happens at the periphery of the current paradigm.

In a superinflation of ontological materialism, the proposed success of the view is promoted well over its possible expiration date. For although one may posit a naive access to the real, one cannot therefore possibly know what future research & experiment will discover. Perhaps matter is not the sole substance after all ? Perhaps there are no substances at all ? And what if no substance at all can be found, but only processes ? Perhaps matter is merely one of the operators, factors or elements running the system proposed by naturalism ? etc. Of course, if physical objects are viewed as solely determined by their initial position and momentum, then -theoretically at least- all that can possibly be known about these objects will eventually be known. For then, all possible futures only depend on what is known on the basis of the initial condition, the momentum and its differential equation. But how many systems operate like that ? Can the initial position be truly known ? Do systems not always work in concert or togetherness with others ? The logic of prospective materialism works because it is a gross reduction of contributing factors. At this point, so engrossed in their materialism, scientists become prophets ...

"Promissory materialism is a peculiar theory. It consists, essentially, of a historical (or historicist) prophecy about the future results of brain research and of their impact. This prophesy is baseless."-
Popper & Eccles, 1981, p.97.

Prospective (promissory or prophetic) materialism also claims all problems facing materialism today (like validation, intentionality, conscious experience, free choice etc.) will surely be solve in the future. And this only by positing a self-sufficient physical ground. As this, per definition, cannot be demonstrated today, why bother ?


2. The Metaphysics of Materialism.


"The doctrine of the philosophy of organism is that, however far the sphere of efficient causation be pushed in the determination of components of a concrescence -its data, its emotions, its appreciations, its purposes, its phases of subjective aim- beyond the determination of these components there always remains the final reaction of the self-creative unity of the universe. This final reaction completes the self-creative act by putting the decisive stamp of creative emphasis upon the determinations of efficient cause." - Whitehead, A.N. : Op.cit., 1929, § 75.

In Metaphysics (2012) and Book of Lemmas (2014), an elaborate analysis of what critical metaphysics is all about was made. Earlier studies were in Dutch, prompting Clearings (2006). Earlier, in Rules (1999) the following succinct description can be found.

"42. Metaphysics is speculative & theoretical knowledge on being (ontology), the cosmos (philosophical cosmology), man (philosophical anthropology) & God (philosophical theology). Metaphysics may be divided into :
- valid metaphysics : arguable ;
- invalid metaphysics : unarguable.
43. Distinguish normative philosophy from theoretical metaphysics using the coercive necessity of the rules of the game fixed by the former by reflecting on the conditions of the possibility of the logical (correct), the epistemological (true), the esthetical (beautiful) & the ethical (good) conduct of humanity. Together, normative philosophy & valid metaphysics make out the field of philosophy.
44. Metaphysics can never be completely driven out from the field of knowledge. This means that the field of the paradigm of knowledge equals the sum of scientific statements and valid metaphysics.
45. Valid metaphysics inspires the sciences (heuristics & "ars inveniendi"), promotes openness & pluralism (it is better to think more possibilities than only a few) and hence stimulates a critical interdisciplinary dialogue.
46. An invalid metaphysics is characterised by :
(a) an incorrect, inefficient & contradictory formal language or syntax, and/or
(b) the unilateral hypertrophy of object and/or subject or semantics, and/or
(c) the impossibility to judge done statements (pragmatics).
47. These characteristics are also valid for our understanding of "irrationality". Hence, all invalid metaphysics are irrational."
-
Rules, 1999, rules 42 to 47.

Critical metaphysics depends on the work of normative philosophy. Knowledge is grounded in knowledge itself. Truth, goodness & beauty are defined in a normative way. Contrary to pre-critical metaphysics, normative philosophy does not provide a self-sufficient ground for knowledge, behaviour and esthetical appreciation. Divided in immanent & transcendent metaphysics, the former argues and has "totality" as its leading, regulative idea. It stays within the boundaries of what science considers to be "the world". The latter is beyond argumentation and has "infinity" as aim. One may ask whether it can be called "philosophy" at all ...

The metaphysics of materialism is a series of untestable but arguable statements affirming matter (or physical objects as described by physics) is the fundamental "stuff" of Nature. This matter-stuff is described as a substance existing from its own side, independent of the observer.

Can materialism be coupled with non-substantiality, i.e. with the process-nature of all things ? Or, does singling out matter (or physical objects) as the only ontological principal (as in materialist  monism) always lead to the notion this "stuff" defining matter exists from its own side, self-powered, i.e. autarchic and with an inhering nature, i.e. in Newton’s words, "massy, hard, and impenetrable" ? Suppose criticism prompts materialism to divorce such essentialism, is process-materialism then possible ? This would be a view embracing non-substantiality hand in hand with the primacy of matter. This would imply matter does not consist of an independent, self-contained "core" or "stuff".

Historically, materialism never explained itself in that way. In the West, and this until the quantum, physical objects were always viewed to be substantial, and therefore exist from their own side (cf. Spinoza's definition of "substantia"). They exist "on their own" and inherently possess the reason for their existence (their "mass" determined by the Higgs-boson). In this view, science merely characterizes its basic entities (12 elementary particles and 4 forces) extrinsically, in terms of their relations to other entities. It does not tell us what the ultimate units of Nature are like in themselves (as Searle claims). It merely reveals those aspects of those entities its methods have been suited to reveal, but these may well be (and no doubt are) abstractions from the full reality of those entities.

For process metaphysics, material process is "merely efficient". Even if we include abstractions (like the laws governing the structure of the atom, for example the Pauli-exclusion principle) into the definition of matter (turning physical objects into matter-information aggregates), then this is deemed to only represent the vector of efficiency or horizontal impulse (explaining the trajectory in time of these physico-informational systems). However, this vector is material, not informational. Information has different properties altogether.

In process thought, like Wittgenstein in his Tractatus, matter and form are clearly differentiated. Matter is a relatively independent and largely unstructured totality of particles, fields & forces. Information is already an "intelligent" structure imposed on this. The atom itself is already a highly organized aggregate, a matter-information system (MI-system). In such a system, the efficient vector is the material "stuff" (the elementary particles like electrons, neutron and positrons), whereas their organization already reveals the activity of information (architecture). This information is not physical and moves beyond the mere horizontal impulse, it manifests a certain finality (an aim instantiated as a general organization). But what about the 12 elementary particles ?

Indeed, for process metaphysics, this horizontal vector alone is insufficient to explain the overall organisation of these aggregates, certainly not when they turn into societies by becoming aware of their own organic organization and relative autonomy (which of course only happens in very complex systems). As societies, they even move beyond the information giving them their form, for with a conscious choice they are able to transform both their material & informational operators. The horizontal vector involves matter and matter only.

For Whitehead, without "finality", matter would be "vacuous", without real novelty. To accept novelty and its creative advance by increased togetherness, is to understand experience, and the latter is always a fusion of efficiency & finality. Whitehead does not attribute to efficiency (or matter) alone the capacity to generate new forms, and this even if we consider small changes over a period of millions of years (as evolutionary biologists claim). Efficiency alone is not responsible for evolution. The latter is a creative advance resulting from efficiency & finality walking together. Without finality, matter is a "vacuous actuality", totally devoid of experience. But such a situation is a non-existent abstraction (like square circles or married bachelors), for in actuality, all aggregates exhibit matter (the efficient vector) as well as information (form) and consciousness (meaning, choice). The last two operators constitute the scalar vector, at work on a vertical plane (perpendicular to the horizontal momentum).

These metaphysical speculations are in tune with the observations made by Prigogine about the activity of negentropy in complex, chaotic dissipative systems, be they atoms or human societies. His work suggests another type of auto-organisation must also be present and at work in Nature.

"Dans le contexte nouveau de la physique des processus irréversibles, les résultats de la biologie ont évidemment une signification et des implications très différentes. Certes, les seules lois macroscopiques universelles sont bien les lois qui décrivent l'évolution vers le désordre, vers les états d'équilibre ou les états stationnaires proches de l'équilibre ; mais ces lois physiques ne constituent pas le contexte par rapport auquel le vivant doit se définir : non pas parce qu'il est vivant mais parce que, physiquement, il ne remplit pas les conditions sous lesquelles ces lois sont pertinentes. (...) l'alternative dressée par Monod entre un monde animiste, qui depuis toujours attendait l'apparition de l'homme, fin et clef de son évolution, et le monde silencieux où l'homme est étranger, n'est plus nécessaire. L'homme dans sa singularité n'était certainement pas appelé, ni attendu par le monde ; en revanche, si nous assimilons la vie à un phénomène d'auto-organisation de la matière évoluant vers des états de plus en plus complexes, alors, dans des circonstances bien déterminées et qui ne semblent pas d'une rareté exceptionelle, la vie, elle, est prévisible dans l'Univers, y constitue un phénomène aussi 'naturel' que la chut des corps graves."
-
Prigogine, I. & Stengers, I. : La Nouvelle Alliance, Gallimard - Paris, 1979, p.193.

Is this finality physical, informational & mental instead of physical tout court ? In this case, mentality is not supervenient as is the case in reductive or eliminative physicalism. Because of downward causation, final causes enter efficient causes, and thanks to upward causation, efficient causes change the impact of valuation.

"The panexperientialist version of physicalism can affirm this belief because its 'physical entities' are physical-mental entities, and because there are various levels of such entities, one level of which is that of the dominant occasions of experience constituting the human mind."

Griffin, 1998, p.237.

Since the Age of Enlightenment, materialism has based its metaphysics on three pillars : atomism, empirical objectivism & Newtonianism. From the end of the 19th century onwards, these three ideals have been eroded. But again, take heed, the downfall of materialism is not the advent of a new kind of mentalism or spiritualism.

2.1 Atomism.

The fact objects can be split into smaller objects and the latter can be divided up again, etc. forces one into considering the ultimate division, i.e. one leading to an object no longer divisible. This is the "atom". Visualized as an inert, solid, impenetrable object existing from its own side, i.e. as a substance. All things are then said to be made up of atoms. All objects are merely aggregates of colliding atoms ; the view of Democritus and his school.

Greek atomism was assimilated to Newtonian physics. Only at the end of the 19th century became it clear atoms had to be divisible. Moreover, as the radiation of dark objects showed, the continuity-hypothesis associated with the Newtonian approach of radiation could not be maintained. This lead Planck to reluctantly introduce the "quantum". The framework of classical physics (the equations of Newton and those of Maxwell) could not be reconciled with a planetary view on the atom (a nucleus, composed of neutrons & protons, around which electrons revolve). Indeed, the speed necessary for an electron to stay in a stable orbit around the nucleus (like a planet around its Sun) would cause it to radiate and so loose energy, triggering the collapse of the orbit, making the electron crash against the nucleus. In classical physics, electrons would be stable only for only a billionth of a second !

When quantum theory saw the light, the atom was further divided into electrons, protons & neutrons. It took only a few decades to discover these could be further split too. Today, 12 elementary particles adorn the equations of physics. They are so elusive and transient, one cannot longer visualize them. They spring out, interact and then return to the quantum vacuum field. Indeed, before they are observed, they are in a state of quantum superposition (eliminating any possibility to grasp them conventionally), and depending on how they are measured, they manifest different properties ... the traditional (common sense) split between an object and is observer no longer holds (the so-called "quantum enigma").

Despite these recent developments, matter -viewed as stuff which kicks and kick back- remains the cornerstone of materialism, albeit not in its atomic form. All atoms are impermanent.

2.2 Objectifying Essentialism.

Besides atomism and/or the focus on material events, materialism embraces objectivity at the expense of the subject and is mostly (if not always) essentialist, considering material events as possessing their properties from their own side, isolated from (but interacting with) all other events.

These isolated material objects with their inhering properties constitute reality and this reality is objective, i.e. not influenced by subjective considerations. Moreover, a direct access to this reality is provided by our senses, delivering data to the mental objects of the categorical scheme of cognition, producing its empirico-formal statements of fact (propositions).

The truth or validity of statements of fact is organized by way of the correspondence theory of truth according to which valid knowledge corresponds with reality-as-it-is. Verification is inductive or falsificationist, but in both cases facts are extra-mental, bearing nowhere the seal of our theories, theoretical connotations, ideas or notions. The subject of knowledge is either illusionary or reduced to a passive registrator & organiser (as in neo-positivism).

Although realist objectivism has been comprehensively criticized elsewhere, let us consider the case of the sense-data theory, claiming all valid knowledge is based on the "hard data" given by the "facts of sense" (cf. A Neurophilosophy of Sensation, 2003). Empirical justificationism posits these "sense-data" as "certain, context-independent & neutral". However, claiming something is certain involves a valuation which can never be a sense datum. The same can be said of the so-called "neutrality" of the "sense-data" and their supposed "context-independence". How can this be known ? Not by way of sense-data and so the justification of knowledge on the basis of sense-data alone can not be accomplished. As there are no context-independent sense-data, this form of justificationism (based on naive realism) is self-defeating.

2.3 Newtonian Physicalism.

In Newton's system, materialism, realism and objectivity come together. With his idea of absolute time and absolute space, Newton's observer has no impact on the flow of time or the structure of space. Moreover, matter, time & space were independent factors. The world is an object "out there" in which the observer operates as a "ghost in the machine". The gigantic clockwork of this mechanism is independent from the observer and the physical conditions defining him or her (like mass & momentum). The reference-system is absolute.

With special relativity, absolute space and absolute time were abolished. Energy (matter) and spacetime are joined. With the quantum, continuity had to be relinquished, for Nature jumps. With chaos theory, high-order determinism emerged, and non-linear systems were discovered everywhere. In fact, linear systems, insensitive to small changes, are the exception. Recent physical theories predict even protons, after a very long time, eventually decay, eliminating the idea of material stability. All material processes are impermanent.

Applied to psychology, the Newtonian view can do no more than search for ways to explain mental objects in terms of physical ones. The brain secretes thoughts like the kidneys urine ... This reduction leads to an impoverished view on subjectivity, as shown in Freudianism and behaviourism (to mention two conflicting materialist theories of mind). Although the scientific study of conscious experience is still in its infancy, a few important points are clear : (a) material events are public whereas mental events are private, (b) material events define a manifold whereas mental events emerge as part of an experience of conscious unity, and (c) objectivity & subjectivity are necessarily linked, causing contradictions in any system trying to operate only one (reducing or eliminating the other).

If physical and mental events are characterized by a different semantic field and are not symmetrical, it may be the case they cannot be reduced to one another. This is the point made by panexperientialism, positing an occasion-monism, but attributing to each occasion three irreducible ontological operators : matter, information & consciousness. The first operator makes out the efficient vector, the last two the scalar vector. Insofar as information is related to the structure of matter (and thus not wholly abstract), a kind of hylemorphism pertains. Glyphs (signs in the form of signals, icons & symbols) can be defined as well-formed states of matter. But this functional approach is not an exhaustive definition of information, leaving out the existence of purely abstract objects, like those pertaining to mathematical spaces (extensively used in quantum theory). Taken together and viewed functionally, matter & information constitute the "insentient" side of all actual occasions. Panexperientialism needs to explain how this aspect interacts with sentience, with consciousness. This leads to an interactionist explanation of the communication between, on the one hand, consciousness, and, on the other hand, matter and information. This is not an interaction between two different kinds of things (or substances), as in Cartesian ontological dualism, but merely two distinct aspects of a shared substratum, as in ontological monism.

Let us analyze this in terms of the relationships between the brain and the mind.


III : Materialism and the Mind/Body Problem.


"Mentality is a real and autonomous feature of our world". - Putnam, H. : "Philosophy and our Mental Life.", in : Moser & Trout, 1995, p.122.

In general philosophy, the "mind/body problem" refers to the relationship between the human brain and the human mind. This is deemed "a problem" because mental phenomena (occasion, events, entities, objects) seem to be sui generis, unique in their characteristics, irreducible and not explicable in terms of physical phenomena only. Moreover, both phenomena seem to interact causally, nomologically and explanatorily. Clearly some do not agree and consider mental events fundamentally material and just another way to describe phenomena exclusively dependent on physical objects.

Carnap (1891 - 1970) and others argue the problem does not exist, for the human mind is nothing else than the human brain. So discussing the relationship is a priori unnecessary. The same logic applies if one argues the brain is merely a reflection of the (ideal) mind, but this position, although logically possible, is deemed untenable. The advances in physics, biology & neurology seem to rule it out.

The "mind/body problem" must be situated in the context of the preciousness of human life. The complexity of the operational domains explaining the human being is extraordinary. To try to explain the facts of this individualized entity is not an easy task, if at all possible. In any case, process philosophy has a very subtle, deep & extended view on this. In what follows, each time the words "mind" and "brain" are used, the case of the human mind and the human brain is at hand. In a panexperiential view, designating finative considerations to all actual occasions, this distinction is not unimportant.

We are not looking at an ontological difference between mind and brain à la Descartes, but wish to understand their distinctness in the ongoing world-process. Both refer to individualized societies forming explicatory domains to grasp the human being as an organic whole, namely matter (hardware), information (software) & consciousness (userware). The human being is an individualized society of individual objects, events & actual occasions. As a single entity, each human is a "world" consisting of material, informational and sentient events. As each actual occasion has two modes or vectors of existence, so has the human being : an objective, physical existence processing efficient lawfulness (matter) and a subjective, mental existence, dealing with principles of intersubjective validation & knowledge (information) and conscious subjective experience (consciousness), i.e. the power to produce changes in itself and let these enter the existence of other occasions. Matter is the efficient vector, information & consciousness the scalar, finative vector.

The "brain" is the name for the efficient, complex physico-informational object displaying (transmitting) the activity of human consciousness. It is more than just "matter", but a compound object, as much (if not more) defined by the information (architecture) it exhibits than the atoms, fields & forces at work in it. The "mind" is the name for the final decision taken on the basis of all available knowledge (information) and made by a percipient participative self, a focus of consciousness existing in its own inner, private, cognitive & conscious life. This free choice individualizes the non-physical (finative) actual occasion needed to grasp what human life is all about, namely the "mind". As subjective focus, it refers to something more than just matter & information (intersubjectively shared knowledge). Unlike the latter, outer operators, it is an inner operator generating meaning (moving beyond shared intersubjective knowledge, for basically personal, intimate and first-person defined). Consciousness is a First Person Perspective, intersubjectivity a Second or Third Person Perspective.

As brain and mind are both societies of actual occasions, the interaction between both is not an interaction between two different substances, but merely a  mutual exchange between distinct operational domains, encompassing the physical (matter) and non-physical (information & consciousness) modes of occasions. The notion "information" includes  the regulative idea of a super-system of natural & artificial expert-systems (all possible knowledge) and a weighting of possible choices. The notion "consciousness" calls for an actual choice favouring the actual possibility with the highest probability in terms of (a) the reinforcement of the experience of conscious unity and (b) the greatest harmony for as many societies of individuals as possible.

Before elaborating upon this panexperiential interactionism, let us summarize & discuss the various other, in my opinion, wrong positions in this important debate. But as in a ladder of tenets, they elucidate the proposed panexperientialism.

3.1 Ancient Egyptian Shamanism : Hylic Pluralism.

The ante-rational stance of Ancient Egyptian cognition makes it impossible to rationally explain their view on the body and the spiritual elements caught in its "net". In various texts they mention elements such as the "ka" (double), "ba" (soul), "ib" (heart), "khaibit" (shadow), "akh" (spirit) and the like. In the Pyramid Texts they play an important role in the process of transformation & ascension of the divine king. In the Amduat, the "ba" of Re travels through the Duat to seek replenishment (in the 6th Hour of the night). One interesting text explains how a mad Egyptian viewed his "ba". This is the "Discourse of a Man with his Ba",  a manuscript from the Middle Kingdom (XIIth Dynasty, ca. 1938 - 1759 BCE), translated & discussed elsewhere.

Especially the "ka", "ba" and "akh" are crucial elements. While the body is alive, the "ka" and "ba" are "caught" in its net, but when it dies, they are released. During life, a man makes sure his "ka" was "pleased", for this element would become the crucial object of offering after death. While alive, it is content when one lives "in accord with Maat", the principle of cosmic harmony (cf. Ptahhotep and the sapiental literature). As soon as the physical body is shed, the "ka" escapes and can be satisfied by mummification, funerary offerings and (voice) offerings made in front of the "false door" by those alive. When the "ka" is thus replenished, the "ba" is gratified and its dynamic task of reconnecting the deceased with his or her spiritual core ("akh") can commence. But before this happens, the "mind" (will, intention, consciousness) of the deceased, its "heart" ("ib") must be weighed against the Feather of Maat. If found heavier, it is devoured and the process of transformation can not begin. Helped by the "negative confession" (enumerating the faults not done by the deceased) and protective magic (placing a scarab beetle over the heart left in the mummy), this balance is found perfect, and the deceased may regain its divine states as a spirit ("akh"). This luminous spirit either abides -in the case of a commoner- in the Lunar heaven of Osiris (the highest state in the Duat) or, for royalty, in the Solar heaven of Re (the circumpolar stars).

In this scheme, the distinction between the physical body and what could be called "spiritual principles" is apparent. The afterlife depends on the latter. But even during life on Earth, these register ("ib") and sustain ("ka") the moral psychological and spiritual activities of the human being. It cannot be said the "ka", "ba" and "akh" are non-corporeal or immaterial. Rather, a hierarchy of states prevails, each being composed of intermingled physical and "spiritual" stuff. Ante-rational hylic pluralism, also found in Shamanism, is at hand. While a rational discourse on these elements is absent, it is clear the functional distinction between, on the one hand, the physical body, and, on the other hand, the "ka", "ib", "ba" and "akh" is acknowledged. The impact of a "heavy heart" and a revolted "ka" on this-life too.

The influence of Ancient Egyptian funerary anthropology on Greek religion and philosophy has, in the Hellenocentric approach of the academia, been sidetracked. But as the Greeks themselves acknowledged, it is pertinent.

3.2 Platonic Dualism & Peripatetic Hylemorphism.

The doctrine of Plato (
428 - 348 BCE) defines a strict ontological divide ("chorismos") between two separate worlds, namely a perfect word of being and an imperfect world of becoming. Material processes belong to the latter, and the soul of man to the former. Knowledge is remembering ("anamnesis") what was encountered before being embodied. In this ontological dualism, the relationships between mind and body are far from ideal, for the body is the "prison" of the mind or soul, the true, immortal person (a view elaborated upon by Plotinus and the neo-Platonists as "soma sema"). In death, mind and body, made of ontologically different stuff, separate. The latter decomposes into its original elements, but the mind or soul, not being a material compound, does not. This provides hope for survival of the person after the death of the body.

Although Plato gave dualism an extended treatment, it was Pythagoras who was the first to posit the transmigration of the soul, i.e. the view the soul is immortal and only temporarily bound up with the body. Purified after its separation from this transient physical dwelling, the soul returns to its heavenly abode or transmigrates into another body. Here, the ontic distinctness of body & mind is affirmed hand in hand with their ontological difference.

The impact of Platonism on Late Hellenism and the Judeo-Christian tradition was tremendous. It also influenced Islamic philosophy considerably. In later phase, it was replaced by Peripatetic thought.

For the purposes of understanding the psychology of Aristotle (384 - 322 BCE), his hylemorphism is crucial. From its inception, it exploits two distinct but related notions of form : in the first, "form" is the essence of the material compound whose form it is, and in the second, it is the accident of its subject. The soul is an essential form, whereas perception involves the acquisition of accidental forms. Entelechy ("entelécheia") is then a fullness of actualization requiring an ongoing or standing investment of effort in order to persist. It is opposed to energy ("energeia") which is the activity of actualization not necessarily completed. Entelechy is associated with fullness of form, and potency is associated with material stuff which potentially has the form.

Hylemorphism (or "matter-formism") is a compound word composed of the Greek for matter ("hulê") and form or shape ("morphê").  The notions of "form" and "matter" are developed within the context of a general theory of causation and explanation. When we wish to explain what there is to know, for example, about a bronze statue of Hermes, a complete account necessarily alludes to at least four factors : the matter of the statue, its form or structure, the agent responsible for that matter manifesting its form or structure, and the purpose for which the matter was made to realize that form or structure. These four factors are the four causes ("aitiai") :

the material cause (causa materialis) : that from which something is generated and out of which it is made, e.g. the bronze of the statue ;
the formal cause (causa formalis) : the structure realized by the matter, in terms of which it becomes something determinate, e.g. the Hermes shape by virtue of which this quantity of bronze is said to be a statue of Hermes ;
the efficient cause (causa efficiens) : the agent responsible for a quantity of matter receiving form, e.g. the sculptor who shaped the quantity of bronze into its current Hermes shape ;
the final cause (causa finalis) : the purpose or goal of the compound of form and matter, e.g. the statue created for the purpose of honouring Hermes.

When introducing the soul as the form of the body, which in turn is said to be the matter of the soul, Aristotle treats soul-body relations as a special case of a more general relationship existing between the components of all generated compounds, natural or artificial. Aristotle regards the body as the matter of a human being in the way the bronze is held to be the matter of a statue of Hermes. The following analogies run through his psychology : soul / body = form / matter = Hermes-shaped statue / bronze. But it is difficult to fully appreciate this analogy. Indeed, while bronze can exist as an indeterminate lump, being potentially but not actually the statue of a Deity, the body is not so much stuff lying about waiting to be informed or animated by a soul. Rather, human bodies become human bodies by being ensouled.

"
It is not necessary to ask whether soul and body are one, just as it is not necessary to ask whether the wax and its shape are one, nor generally whether the matter of each thing and that of which it is the matter are one. For even if one and being are spoken of in several ways, what is properly so spoken of is the actuality." -
Aristotles : De Anima, ii 1, 412b6-9.

Aristotle does not eschew questions concerning the unity of soul and body as meaningless ; rather, he suggests they are readily answered or somehow unimportant. If we do not spend time asking whether the wax of a candle and its shape are one, then we should not exercise ourselves over the question of whether the soul and body are one ...

It should be emphasized, however, Aristotle does not decide the question by insisting the soul and body are identical, or even "one" in some weaker sense. This he denies. He rejects materialism. The form of the body is not material, just like the candle is not the wax. Instead, just as one might well say the wax of a candle and its shape are distinct, on the grounds the wax could easily exist when the particular shape is no more, or, less obviously, the particular shape of the candle may survive the replenishment of its material basis, so one might equally deny the soul and body to be identical, i.e. of the same nature or made of the same "stuff". So hylemorfism is not a form of materialism.

Another way of appreciating this is to consider the question of the separability of the soul from the body at death, a possibility embraced by ante-rational thought (cf. supra), Pythagorism and substance dualists from the time of Plato onward. Aristotle answers : if we do not think the Hermes-shape of this particular statue persists after its bronze is melted and recast, we should not think the soul survives the demise of the body. Hence : "It is not unclear that the soul -or certain parts of it, if it naturally has parts- is not separable from the body." (De Anima, ii 1, 413a3-5). So, unless we are prepared to treat forms in general as capable of existing without their material bases, as does Plato and ontological dualism with him, we should not be inclined to treat souls as exceptional cases. Hylemorphism gives us no reason to treat souls as separable from bodies, even if we think of them as distinct from their material bases. So must we conclude the afterlife is impossible ?

Aristotle does not appear to think his hylemorphism somehow refutes all possible dualism. For he appends to this denial of the soul's separability from the body the observation some parts of the soul may in the end be separable after all, since they are not the actualities of any part of the body (De Anima, ii 1, 413a6-7). This view prefigures his complex attitude toward mind ("nous"), a faculty he repeatedly describes as exceptional among capacities of the soul. It is this faculty which, in his theory of knowledge, is linked with the "intellectus agens", the active intellect "abstracting" the essence of an object, and this by using the manifold gathered by the passive intellect on the basis of the senses.

But in general, the Hermes-form is the actuality of the bronze statue, since its presence explains why this particular quantity of matter comes to be a bronze statue of Hermes as opposed to some other kind of artefact. Looking at soul-body relations as a special case of form-matter relations references the soul as an integral part of any complete explanation of living beings in general. So Plato and other dualists are right to stress the importance of the soul in explanations of living beings. But their commitment to the separability of the soul from the body is unjustified merely by appeal to formal causation.

Aristotle allows the soul to be distinct from the body, namely as its actuality, but this does not provide the ground for supposing the soul can exist without the body, neither does it justify the ontological difference between body & mind. His hylemorphism embraces neither reductive materialism, nor Platonic ontological dualism. Instead, it seeks to steer a middle course between these alternatives by pointing out these are not exhaustive options. This introduced many complexities ...

When Thomism integrated the Peripatetic view, the notion the soul came to its end with the demise of the body had, in view of survivalist Christian theology, to be "corrected". This was done by supposing that after death the soul became the form of a subtle, spiritual body (the same is proposed in Hindu & Buddhist Tantra). Thus hylic pluralism saved the day. During the Middle Ages, variants of Platonism are Peripatism were developed, but basically nothing new was added to the discussion. We have to wait for the Renaissance for this, a new spirit of inquiry giving rise to Modernism.

3.3 Cartesian Interactionism.

René Descartes (1595 - 1650), the first modern philosopher, shaped the current understanding of the mind/body problem. He clearly & distinctly conceived his mind to exist without body and his body without mind, and concluded they must be separable, different, irreducible "natures" or substances. Matter was extended, mind not. Mind was non-physical and so different from matter.

As the body, like a clock, was a complex mechanical device of sorts, the mind became a kind of "ghost in the machine".

For Descartes in Le Monde, a rational view on how body & soul, the spatio-temporally extended and the merely temporally extended, indeed form a unity can be arrived at by studying both independently. He wrote : "and finally, that I show You how these two Natures have to be joined and united in order to compose humans who resemble us." -
Adam & Tannery, 1964-1974, XI, p.120.

Cartesius seeks the interaction between the physically extended ("res extensa") and the non-physical ("res cogitans") in the pineal gland. But as in this crucial argument, the presumed interactions, like a Deus ex machina, happened by way of a special ontological category acting as their justifiable bridge, the reasoning was flawed (logically, because of Ockham's Razor, and scientifically because the pineal gland houses no "spirit-beings").

Often ridiculed because of this weak conjecture to back a central question, Cartesian interactionism became a bad start for interactionism as a whole. Later rationalists like Spinoza (1632 - 1677) & Leibniz (1646 - 1716) avoided interactionist strategies ... In this way, they did not need to explain how non-extended substance contacts extended substance (and this in the context of a mechanistic physics in which causation is by contact).
Popper (1981) tried to clarify why rationalism & materialism are incompatible, for the distinction between the extended thing ("res extensa") and the thinking thing ("res cogitans") is fundamental to science.

Recently, the question of how body and mind interact is replaced by asking how interaction is possible without energy ? As the laws of thermodynamics apply, the non-physical, to have impact, is supposed to expend energy and so add energy, violating its principle of conservation. Although this problem has been addressed without violating energy-conservation, a definitive solution, no doubt inspired by the Copenhagen interpretation of the Schrödinger equation of quantum theory, identifies the "activity" of mind as a mere weighting of propensities, making certain outcomes more likely than others.

This involves a rearrangement of the physical order by a change in its underlying propensity-structure of possible outcomes, not by any actual physical occasions (always in need of energy). Hence, this phenomenon can only occur in large populations driven by statistical laws and a chaotic phase-space allowing for the Butterfly-effect (small causes, large effects). What happens in neurons and at their synapses being a very suitable candidate for this conjectured propensity-bridge or immaterial "liaison" between the brain and the mind. But other, even more subtle neuronal structures have been proposed. The mind "scans" the brain, makes a choice and alters by making certain outcomes more likely. It interacts with the propensity-field (cf. Popper) of the brain at any given moment. So likelihood is the occasion allowing mental and physical entities to interact (cf. Panexperientialism).

3.4 Occasionalism.

Occasionalism, using the three Cartesian substances "matter", "mind" and "God", elaborates upon the consequences of ontological dualism, oddly claiming finite things can have no efficient causality of their own. Substances cannot be the efficient causes of events. In ontological monism, the question how two or more substances relate is a non-issue, for only one substance prevails. But as soon as the numerical singularity of the fundamental principle (the monad) is relinquished for dualism (the dyad), thinking change and interrelatedness brings on the question how different kind of things relate ? Occasionalism rejects the possibility of any kind of relation whatsoever. Different substances can a priori never bridge their natures. This is a strong point (also found in Buddhist Madhyamaka). As long as we try to think interaction to occur between different substances, logic fails.  If all physical & mental phenomena are merely "occasions" or substances acting on their own, devoid of any interconnectedness and efficient power, then they cannot interact with other thus isolated phenomena.

Physical "stuff" cannot act as cause of other physical "stuff", for no necessary connection can be observed between physical causes and their physical effects (a view returning in the writings of David Hume, for whom causality and other lawful determinations are merely psychological habits). Moreover, mind and brain are so utterly different, the one cannot affect the other. Hence, a person's mind cannot be the true cause of his hand's moving. The mental cannot cause the physical and vice versa.

Ergo, as events do exist, they must be caused directly by God Himself. For what God wills has to be taken to be necessary.

This remarkable view, first propounded by the tenth-century Muslim thinker al-Ash'are, can be found in the writings of Cartesians Johannes Clauberg (1622 - 1665), Arnold Geulincx (1624 - 1669) and Nicolas Malebranche (1638 - 1715). It shows the difficulties of substantialism as well as the need to explain away the difficulties with a phantasm. And who in those days would have dared to question God's omnipotence ?

3.5 Psycho-Physical Parallelism and Panpsychism.

In Spinoza's Short Treatise on God, Man and his Well-Being, the ontological dualism of Descartes is rejected and replaced by a single substance in its various states or modes. Nature (or God), possessing and infinite number of attributes, is "seen" by human beings as a unity of what is extended (matter) and what thinks. Of the infinite attributes of God, humans are only able to grasp two ... Understanding interactionism cannot be explained in the context of essentialism, Spinoza writes : "if there were different beings in nature, the one could not possibly unite with the other" (Short Treatise, I, 2). True indeed. Substances are distinguished by their attributes. As no substance can be constituted by any attribute unless constituted by every attribute there is, there can only be one substance and it must be "absolutely infinite".


Matter has an "inside" aspect with a consciousness-like "quality", in other words, both run parallel like the outside & inside of an eggshell. Matter and soul are the outside and inside aspects, or attributes, of one and the same unique & singular substance, i.e. "Nature", which is the same as "God".

"... all things are animate in various degrees." -
Spinoza : Ethica, II, XIII Scholium.

Psycho-physical parallelism (or dual aspect theory) regulates the world of attributes, both in the Divine substance and in its derived modes. The attributes of thought and extension are irreducible and so any transition from one to the other is impossible. Still, the series of phenomena manifesting themselves in thought coincides perfectly with the series of phenomena of extension. So the order of ideas coincides with the order of bodies. This coincidence is rooted in the unity of substance of which such phenomena are the modes, appearances or manifestation. Given the irreducibility of thought to extension, no interaction between soul and body is possible, nor is it necessary. Granted psycho-physical coincidence or agreement, every manner of being and of operation of thought finds its equivalent in the being and operation of extension. Spinozistic parallelism is a panpsychism, for amorph aggregates like a rock are also in some way "conscious". Mind is the idea associated with a body, and all bodies have a mental aspect.

So with this parallelism, an identity of order or correspondence between modes of different attributes is at hand. These modes of different attributes have not only the same order and the same connection, but the same being ; they are the same things, namely modes of the one substance, Nature (God). Attributes are really distinct, parallel series that have no causal action between them. There is no causal connection between the modes of one attribute upon modes of another. There is identity of order and connection between modes of different attributes. Because attributes constitute one substance, corresponding modes differing in attribute form one modification.

In Leibniz' Monadology we find the following passage :

"Thus the organic body of each living being is a kind of Divine machine or natural automaton, which infinitely surpasses all artificial automata. For a machine made by the skill of man is not a machine in each of its parts. For instance, the tooth of a brass wheel has parts or fragments which for us are not artificial products, and which do not have the special characteristics of the machine, for they give no indication of the use for which the wheel was intended. But the machines of nature, namely, living bodies, are still machines in their smallest parts ad infinitum. It is this that constitutes the difference between nature and art, that is to say, between the Divine art and ours." -
Leibniz, G.W. : Monadology, § 64.

Breaking away from monism (Spinoza, focusing on God), dualism (Descartes, focusing on the "res cogitans"), Leibniz's strikingly systematic metaphysics posits a pluralism of substances. Inspired by physics, he focused on the "res extensa". For Leibniz, "monads" (mentioned for the first time in a letter to Fardella in 1696) are singular, partless substances. There are an infinite number of monads or "points", and they are all substantially identical (pluralism) and non-extended intensities or "souls". But in terms of quality and force, each monad is unique (having its own unique logical combination). In the "first monad" (or God) are found all possible "letters" in all possible logical combinations. Although inspired by physical atomism (dividing matter in smaller and smaller parts to arrive at the "atom"), Leibniz does not -contrary to Hobbesian materialism- designate a final term to this series of divisions of matter. The continuity among existing things is not based on indivisible material quantities, but on indivisible non-material monads.

In the Lehsätze über die Monadologie published in 1720 by Köhler (based on Leibniz's Opus Magnum, his Essay on Theodicy of 1710), these immaterial monads are independent, unique, singular, all-comprehensive and imperishable. Each monad remains what it is, nothing can be added to it or taken away from it. It has no "windows" (§ 7), meaning nothing can enter it or go out from it. Each is unique because each possesses a rich qualitative structure of accidents giving it its own nature, and this by a unique combination of properties and its own logical sequence of development. Hence, each monad is a living being permanently actualizing in itself a unique structure, lawfulness, active force or design (§ 11). This uniqueness of each monad is not a universal or "essence" of a species (as in the "causa materialis" of Scholasticism), but the result of an active force attributed to each monad. This vitalism is associated -not with Cartesian mechanistic linear impulse-, but with a higher "kinetic" force (cf. Huygens E = m.v²). Matter is dynamical & energetical.

So in this monadic immaterial sufficient ground of empirical reality a dynamical "force active" is present. Not quantity is what changes all the time, but quality, in other words, this vital force. This force serves a double purpose : (a) the realization of increasingly complex forms of material organization (the evolution of matter) and (b) an urge towards apperception, i.e. the reflective knowledge of the monad of its own inner conditions. Each monad is constantly changing from one state to the other, and this by virtue of the alteration of its inner properties and relationships with the other monads. This interconnection with other monads is happens by virtue of the immanent law within each monad (regulating series or "series operationum"), for each monad is a mirror of the whole world ("esse partes totales").

The substantial form is a teleological principle, in that every substance "sings" its part in the universal harmony by knowing & intentionally following its part of the universal "score". This part corresponds to its complete individual concept, built into its substantial form. Hence, each monad is self-referential, lonely and without any real connection with other monads. None of them acts on another, and so all substances are causally independent from each other. Only the first monad acts on the monads, causing their existence, though their actual states are produced by their own natures. The first monad created an infinite set of monads whose natures are so harmonious each successive state of a monad (though determined by the nature of each individual monad alone), mirrors the corresponding states of all other monads.

Monads are imperishable because something without parts cannot be destroyed. They appear and disappear "in one piece", while all other entities do so in pieces (§§ 4 - 5). Monads are literally "automatons", i.e. something moving on its own accord. Appearing realities are merely phenomena of the spiritual monads. These divisible bodies are organic wholes animated by monads. They are the outer side of the implicate "plenum" constituted by these immaterial monads. This leads to hylozoism. All things are alive, for in all things immaterial, spiritual monads enter. And vice versa, for the indivisible appears as divisible. This outer, divisible side is not substantial (as Descartes & Spinoza thought). Divisible matter is reduced to being a mere representation (§ 61) of the indivisible, spiritual monads. Matter is unable to think itself, and so materialism is self-defeating.

"If there is no other principle of identity in a material body than the properties just named (i.e. extension, form & movement), then not a single body would exist longer than a moment." -
Leibniz, G.W. : Metaphysical Treatise, 1686, § 12.

As a function of their qualitative ability to "perceive", i.e. move from one situation of properties & combination to another, and "apperceive", i.e. know by way of reflection their inner conditions, a hierarchy of monads can be defined (starting with totally unclear to more or less clear, ending in absolutely clear). This hierarchy of being has six tiers : (1) inorganical aggregates (unconscious perceptions), (2) sleeping monads like plants (unconscious perceptions), (3) dreaming monads like animals (sensation & memory), (4) perceptive monads like humans (little conscious or very unconscious), (5) apperceptive monads like humans (rational souls & spirits) and (6) God the "monad monadum" or "primitive monad" (§ 47), the sufficient ground of everything, possessing a completely clear concept of all the actual and all the possible (§ 43), a monad able to oversee in a single thought all possibilities in all possible combinations.

Rather than by way of the hand of God and His "continuing miracle", as in Occasionalism, mental and bodily processes correspond not because they interact, but because they are fortuitous, having no cause. Agreement exists just as two clocks would be in agreement if they had been started at the same time and were accurate enough. The perfect correlation between mind and body was ensured by God at the beginning of time in a "pre-established harmony".

A modern version of parallelism is "neutral monism", found in Hume (1711 - 1776), Mach (1838 - 1916) and Russell (1872 - 1970). There is only a physical ordering of "neutral" things or events and a mental ordering of the same things or events. The things or events considered "physical" or "mental" are in fact named as a function of the context in which they are conceived. There is only an epistemological difference, not an ontological one. "Physical" means something coming within the scope of physics and "mental" is explained with the help of psychology and human activity. There are only two realms of theories, two systems of ordering things. Every element belongs to both orderings, but it is possible an element belonging to the body does not belong to the mind. The main point claims the physical world and the mental world are merely theoretical constructions of the fundamental "stuff" : "the given".

Discussion :

One may criticize the former position by observing these allegedly neutral "given" is only called "neutral", for in truth they are "mental", i.e. procedures, constructions or theoretical manipulations of physical objects.

The doctrine of panpsychism or hylozoism is very old. Plato & Aristotle reports Thales taught "Everything is full of gods" (Laws, 899b, De Anima, 417a7). Even Democritus regarded the psyche as a very special kind of matter. With the moral theory of the soul, hylozoism became discredited. Nevertheless, Plato calls the universe "a living body endowed with a soul" (Timaeus, 30b/c). Widespread among Renaissance thinkers like Campanella & Bruno, panpsychism received its classical form by Spinoza & Leibniz (cf. psycho-physical parallelism).

We should distinguish between classical hylozoism or panpsychism, attributing life, mind and consciousness to all material objects, and a contemporary form accepting a single actual occasion possesses a mental mode (the scalar vector of information & consciousness), while aggregates of occasions, as mere collections of occasions, do not. This allows one to say a rock as rock is insentient, while atoms, molecules, plants, animals & humans have, in varying degrees, the ability of self-organize, trigger novelty and experience unity. This distinction is crucial to understand the panexperientialism of process thinking.

3.6 Physicalism : Analytical Behaviourism and Identity or Central State Theory.

"... a physicalist has only two genuine options, eliminativism and reductionism." -
Kim, J. : "The Myth of Nonreductive Materialism.", in : Moser & Trout, 1995, p.134.

The following positions (3.6 - 3.9), in one form or another, embrace materialism (physical behaviour), and so reject, render passive or reduce sentience (mental events).

As explained above, physicalism, as a revised form of materialism, replaces "matter" by "all objects covered by physical theory", either in actuality (incomplete) or prospectively (complete). Applied to the issue at hand, it says mental phenomena are just a special case of physical phenomena. Human beings are physical organisms with two distinctive kinds of states : physical and mental, the latter depending on the former. The two mainstream versions of physicalism in terms of the body/mind-problem are Analytical Behaviourism and the Identity theory.

• In Analytical Behaviourism, mind is seen as merely (actual or potential) behaviour of body, and so mind = physical behaviour. Behavioural analysis should not contain unanalyzed mental items. However, this ideal condition can not be met, for a residue of such items will always be left, causing more behavioural analysis (infinite regression). This cripples the argument. Moreover, insistence on reducing mental states to behavioural patterns or dispositions to engage in such, makes one deny the existence of an "inner" subjective state, as well as first person knowledge regarding mental states. This results in an anthropology & psychology unable to encompass free choice, freedom and other crucial human values. Denying black swans exist, Analytical Behaviourism is blind to what is obvious.

Each mentalistic statement is equivalent in meaning to a statement referring to patterns of behaviour or dispositions to behave. This view rejects mental events and properties are involved in causal explanations of other mental events and physical events. It considers it "a category mistake" to say mental events "causes" behaviour, since mentalistic statements do not describe the neural happenings causing the behaviour. They merely describe either patterns of behaviour or dispositions to behave (Ryle, 1949).

This implausible, crude form of Analytical Behaviourism eliminates the importance of consciousness, intention and inner life. It cannot explain the presence of these central phenomena. Neither does it explain how neuronal statements are able to solve problems involving mentalistic statements. The fact these problems also involve the conscious interpretation of neuronal statements makes the whole exercise hardly convincing and somewhat circular & self-defeating (by way of a contradictio in actu exercito).

The position has been left by psychologists & philosophers alike.

Central State Theory is a physicalist modification of parallelism : there exists an "identity" between mental processes and certain brain processes. Every mental state is identical with some physical state, in particular various sorts of neural states (Smart, 1962). This is not a logical identity, but a single class of material properties describable by means of two different vocabularies, just as the planet Venus is both "evening star" and "morning star", two different appearances of the same material object (linguistic parallelism). In other words, while mental predicates differ in meaning from behavioural and physical predicates, they merely refer to neurophysiological properties, and so descriptions of mental events refer to neurophysiological events. By finding the crucial "bridge laws", mental and physical predicates can be connected. Mental events (just another set of words for physical factors) may therefore cause material events, for neurophysiological events cause behaviour. Mental properties enter into the laws explaining behaviour because they are neurophysiological properties and these enter into laws ...

This leads to a problem about the properties of mental states. Suppose pain P is identical with a certain firing N in the brain. Although P is the very same state as the firing N, we identify P in two different ways : as the actual pain P and as the neural firing N. Regarding the mental state P, two sets of properties emerge : mental properties when identified as P and physical properties when identified as N. A kind of dualism at the level of the properties of mental states arises. So identifying mental states with physical states does not eliminate the fact mental states have mental and physical properties ! In other words, the two vocabularies do point to different properties.

Mental states can be divided in propositional attitudes having content ("I have the thought that it will rain.), intentionality and sensations. The above problem is most pressing for sensations, for even if mental states are all identical with physical states, the former appear to have non-physical properties. For Smart the distinctive properties of sensations are "neutral" as between being mental or physical. However, since thoughts and sensations are distinctively mental states, it perforce has some characteristically mental property and this is lost if we construe these properties as "topic-neutral". Although one may construe intentional properties as wholly physical, it is unlikely some properties will not turn out to be non-physical, even if we recast the identity theory as asserting mental states are identical with bodily states.

Another problematic consequence of the strong Central State Theory is that members of different species do not share mental properties. This can be solved by weakening the identity claim. Instead, every instance of a mental state is identical with an instance of some bodily state, of some type or other. Instances of a single mental state might then be identical with tokens of distinct bodily types (the token Identity Theory - Armstrong, 1968 & Lewis, 1972). However, if physical-state types do not correspond to mental-state types, this theory is false. For Davidson (1970), an event token only belongs to a mental type relative to background assumptions about mentality, whereas tokens of physical events are independent of such a background, a claim easily criticized (for even experiments have metaphysical backgrounds).

If mental events are just brain processes, then they must have the physical properties brain events have. Given the binding problem (the conscious experience of unity versus the manifold of neuronal happenings, free choice versus determinacy) and a-symmetry (the privacy of consciousness & intention versus the public nature of neurophysiological properties) this is not the case. Indeed, if this supposed identity would be the case, then brain events must have mental properties by virtue of which the mental events with which they are identical are the kinds of events they are. Then no differences could in any case be identified.

Another problem is the absence of the supposed bridge-laws after many decades of central state conjectures. The theory also fails to explain how neurological events & properties exemplify consciousness and intentionality. A complete understanding of neurophysiology (by itself a very difficult goal to achieve), leaves the qualitative character of both unexplained (cf. Nagel, 1974 & Jackson, 1986). And precisely this inner, private conscious life is the one individuals directly experience. So one fails short in addressing the most important fact : reality-for-us is impossible without reality-for-me. Finally, how to explain intentional states neurophysiologically ? A concept of something, say X, refers to a semantic field defined by the person thinking the concept and the various features of his or her environment. Two people could be exactly alike in terms of their neurophysiology and nevertheless think, believe and so on different concepts, for these are causally connected to different semantic fields (cf. Putnam, 1967).


3.7 Eliminativism, Epiphenomenalism and Behaviourism.

Eliminativism (Rorty, 1979) bluntly denies mental events & properties are instantiated. There are no such properties at all. Mentalistic statements are like mythical, fantastic & fictional statements. Like statements designating supernatural powers, they are false. Nothing has mental properties, for all things are merely physical. Hence, identity cannot be established, for "mental" and "physical" are incompatible terms. This proposal depends solely on whether or not one holds the mental as non-physical. This can be avoided by saying current "folk psychology" is a mistaken & defective conception of the mental (Churchland, 1981). Of course, this does not show mental states do not exist, nor that a better psychology cannot be found. Eliminative arguments always require some special way to define the mental, one not in line with what is commonly understood by them. Without this, it turns into an Identity Theory.

Moreover, by denying inner life, Eliminativism works with nothing more than physical behaviour. But logically, it fails to show its truth-value. For to justify itself, Eliminativism must appeal to mental principles, norms & maxims of validation. So to prove itself correct, it must use what it denies. A completely self-defeating strategy. Of course, the wrong view has the merit to invoke a radical revision in our habitual conception of ourselves.

In Epiphenomenalism, one does not wish to move to the extreme of eliminating the mental, avoiding being ridiculed by any self-defeating mental slapstick. The mental is a necessary by-product of the physical. Accepted as real, it is made totally passive and trivial. Mental events and states figure in causal relations as effects only, ever as causes. It is never the case, for example, that a state causally results in a happy mood in virtue of falling in love ...

Behaviourism, the psychological version of Physicalism, claims there is nothing to the mind but the subject's behaviour and dispositions to behave (cf. the stimulus-response model, leaving out internal process). This total repudiation of the inner leaves out something real and important. Even behaviourists themselves agree an "intractable residue" of conscious mental items, bearing no clear relations to behaviour of any particular sort, abide. Finally, it is possible two people to differ psychologically despite total similarity of their actual and counterfactual behaviour ...

3.8 Anomalous Monism, Supervenient Emergentism.

For Anomalous Monism (or Supervenient Emergentism), there are only material substances, but they possess physical properties and mental properties (Davidson, 1970). It accepts materialism, but rejects the type-identities assumed by the Identity Theory, i.e. mental versus behaviour types. Mental events are token-identical to physical events, i.e. individual instances. They are therefore subsumable under physical laws.

Mental events depend on the physical, but are not reduced to it. Mental properties supervene on (come on top of) a more basic physical, subvenient, basal, ultimately physical phenomenon. There can be changes in the supervenient mental phenomena if and only if there are corresponding changes in the basal phenomena, and not vice versa. Supervenient phenomena emerge from, and are asymmetrically dependent for their existence upon the basal structure. There is upward causality, no downward (hence, mind does not change brain).

How mental phenomena, which differ from physical ones, can emerge from the basal material reality remains however unclear. Again, the distinction between first  and third person perspectives yields an unsatisfactory view on consciousness. But there is more.

Although mental events are not reduced to material events (but viewed as so-called "emergent properties" of matter) and this tenet endorses the irreducible nature of mental properties, these properties or predicates have no role in laws, so they must be epiphenomenal ! Perhaps this view is incompatible with there being no account of the physical basis of intentionality. Whatever the case, none is provide. If supervenience is accepted, then how come there is no physical account of intentionality ? How can one posit that changes in consciousness are only possible if and only if there are neuronal changes and not explain the physicality of intentionality ? The reason seems evident : both are distinct operators and consciousness, just like matter and information, explains its own operations.


3.9 Functionalism.

In Functionalism, the notion of the mind as an entity, as a substance, is rejected. The mind is a function of the physical brain. The function y = f(x) = x² allows one to derive values of y with any given x. A function is not physical in nature (for it can be specified abstractly), neither is it non-physical, for it resists classification. In order to explain mental states, they are reduced to input/output structures. However, genuine thoughts have meaning and intentionality, whereas the words displayed on a screen as I type this out have meaning to us as userware, but not to the "functional" computer, who merely uses software running on hardware. This is the problem of Machine Functionalism, describing human brains at three levels : (a) neurophysiological, (b) machine-program or computational and (c) everyday mental (folk-psychological).

Functionalism is compatible with Physicalism, but, unlike Behaviourism and the Identity Theory, it does not necessarily entail the physical nature of minds, for it might be the case minds are non-physical and functional (as long as they realize the relevant programs). In a physicalist view, functional states (the mental) are always realized in physical mechanisms. Different physical states may realize the same functional state (solving one of the problems of the Identity Theory). If mental events are functional properties, then unless there are some "special" considerations to be made about them, then in terms of causation they are at the same level of non-mental functional properties, say, being an eye. Insofar as mental properties are functions of physical entities, then Physicalist Functionalism works. But consciousness and intention do not seem to be functional properties. They seem not instantiated by matter (cannot be found as a material entity) and so cannot be a functional property.

Regarding intentionality, the question is how physical states can be sensitive to the semantic sensitivity of intentional states in a way conceptual thought clearly is ? Moreover, as the process of reasoning from evidence has (so far) resisted computational commands (and some claim consciousness will never be computed), and changes of mind involve changes in the relevance relations among mental events (the weighting of probabilities), Physicalist Functionalism steers in troubled waters.


If the restrictions imposed by Machine Functionalism are lifted, and mental states are accepted as non-physical and not always realized in physical mechanisms (but possessing their own psychic mechanism), then physical states can be functions of mental states (downward causation) and mental states can be functions of physical states (upward causation). With mind = f(body), the influence of the brain on the mind is restricted to causal efficiency by way of changes in executional (computational) and so energetic capacity. With body = f(mind), the mind relates to the brain via final causality, weighting possibilities and deciding for the most likely outcome (free choice). This does not involve any energy, for the process only entails a change in the valuation of possible outcomes in large populations of neuronal events. The mind influences the brain without adding or taking away energy from it, but merely makes certain physical outcomes more likely than others. This psychophysical Panexperiential Functionalism can be integrated in a process-based approach of Nature. The "I" is merey designated on the basis of ever-changing material & mental aggregates.

If brain and mind are two distinct domains of causation (on the on hand physical & efficient and on the other hand mental & finative), i.e. distinct not different actual occasions, then the organic organization of the human being as a whole, its unity, is a Functional Interactionism, beginning with conception and ending with the demise of the physical body. The end of this mutual functionality between brain and mind is not the end of the distinctness of these actual occasions.

The "end" of the physical body is an "entry" into the stream of efficient causation of new material occasions (recycling). The endlessness of matter & information is the recurrent return of the same (eternity). Cosmologically, the latter leads to the hypothesis of an eternal multiverse. The moment the mind stops being a function of this brain and the latter a function of this mind, that moment of consciousness is followed by another moment of consciousness, one in which the mind enters it own beginningless stream of consciousness, a continuous stream of final causation. The endlessness of the mind is everlastingness. This entry is not necessarily disembodied, for one may assume it enters a functional relationship with more subtle forms of support (as in hylic pluralism). Physical death is then a gate, leaving a gross material support for a subtle one.

3.10 Panexperientalism.

"Each portion of matter may be conceived as like a garden full of plants and like a pond full of fishes. But each branch of every plant, each member of every animal, each drop of its liquid parts is also some such garden or pond. And though the Earth and the air which are between the plants of the garden, or the water which is between the fish of the pond, be neither plant nor fish ; yet they also contain plants and fishes, but mostly so minute as to be imperceptible to us." -
Leibniz, G.W. : Monadology, §§ 67-68.

Panexperientalism embraces process metaphysics ; processes rather than substances represent the phenomena encountered in Nature. Process has primacy and priority over things. Relations have primacy over what is related. Existing things are basically happenings, not static "material points" or substances existing from their own side (be they material, informational or sentient). Hence, as all things change, all things are impermanent and caught in continuous becoming with others (togetherness).

Process ontology rejects substances and so is not essentialist. For substantialist, the principle "Operari sequitur esse" holds. This means every process is owned by some substance. Here one thinks substance first and then views change & relationships with other things as accidental to it. Process thought inverses the principle : "Esse sequitur operari" ; things are constituted out of the flow of process. So things are what they do.

Change is thought first and things are momentary arisings, abidings & ceasings of dynamical units always interwoven with others (i.e. other-powered instead of self-powered). A process is an integrated series of connected developments coordinated by an open & creative program of efficient & final determinations. It is not a mere collection of sequential presents or moments, but exhibits a structure allowing a construction made from materials of the past to be passed on to the future. This transition is not one-to-one, not merely efficient, for the internal make-up of its occasions shapes a new particular concretion, bears finality allowing for creative advance or novelty. This thanks to the scalar vector at work in every single actual occasion. Not matter, information or consciousness are fundamental. The actual occasion, the unit of process, is the ontological principal shared by all existing things.

Actual occasions, as explained, are Janus-faced : they take matter from the past and, on the basis of an inner, finative structure composed of information & sentience, transform states of affairs, paving the way for further processes. They are not merely product-productive, manufacturing things, but state-transformative. Although indivisible, actual occasions are not "little things", but a differential change "dt" explained in terms of efficient & final causation.

Heraclitus, thinking process first & foremost, avoids the fallacy of substantializing Nature into perduring things like substances. Fundamentally, everything flows ("panta rhei") and although Plato disliked this principle ("like leaky pots" - Cratylus, 440c), he accepted it insofar as the "world of becoming" goes. Aristotle too saw the natural (sublunar) world exhibit a collective, chaotic dynamism. Change is fundamental, and the latter is the transit from mere possibility (potency) to the realization (act) of this potential, and this to the point of perfection ("entelécheia"). This makes Peripatetic thought pervasively process-like. Of course, both Plato & Aristotle accepted the presence of substance, either as a fundamental transcendent reality or as inherently natural & biological (cf. hylemorphism). And both, although in a different way, accept the Greek prejudice for Olympic states (cf. Plato's "world of ideas" and Aristotle's view on contemplative knowledge/life, the "active intellect", the "Unmoved Mover" and the "actus purus").

The standard bearer of process metaphysics in modern times is of course Gottfried Wilhelm Freiherr
von Leibniz. The fundamental units of Nature are punctiform, non-extended, "spiritual" processes called "monads", filling space completely and thus constituting a "plenum" (cf. supra). These monads or "incorporeal automata" are bundles of activity, endowed with an inner force (appetition), ongoingly destabilizing them and providing for a processual course of unending change.

It was in the writings of Leibniz that Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947), the dominant figure in recent process thought, found inspiration. Like Leibniz, he considered physical processes as of first importance and other sorts of processes as superengrafted upon them. The concept of an all-integrating physical field being pivotal in his view on matter (cf. the influence of Maxwell's field equations, in particular the "scalar", part of the wave). But unlike Leibniz, the units of process are not substantial spiritual "monads", but psycho-physical "actual occasions".

Indeed, Whitehead is not a materialist, for although matter first individualized, with information individualizing out of it (and consciousness out of matter and information), particles, fields & forces are not the ontological principal. The primordial plasma at work seconds after the Big Bang was
already a complex phenomenon, not a simple building-block. Taken on its own, it is a set of actual occasions determined by a dominant efficient vector, but nevertheless also characterized by information (quasi latent) and sentience (latent), i.e. a certain (lowest possible degree of) finality. With the Big Bang, all three operators came into existence, matter being dominant, soon followed by information (the first architectures in the "primordial plasma") and much much later by consciousness. It took stars like our Sun (ca.5 billion years a old) to bring about the first chemical structures preparing life (ca.3.5 billion years ago Sun-worshipping single-celled organisms came about) and the individualization of information into a relatively independent & irreducible functional domain. On planet Earth, the stand-alone cycle of human consciousness began relatively late (ca.2.5 million years ago we find the earliest samples of chipped pebbles, the work of Homo habilis, but we have to wait untill ca. 600.000 years. to see  proto-Neanderthal traits).

Actual occasions, unlike monads, are not closed (not self-sufficient like substances), but fundamentally open to other occasions, by which they are entered and in which they enter. Thus their perpetual perishing is matched by their perpetual (re)emergence in the "concrescence" of new occasions. Like Leibniz however, these occasions "prehend" (Leibniz spoke of "perception" and "apperception") their environment and this implies a low-grade mode of sentience (spontaneity, self-determination and purpose). They are living & interacting units of elemental experience. They are part of the organic organization of Nature as a whole, but constitute themselves an organism of sorts, with a constitution of its own. Nature is a manifold of diffused processes spread out, but forming an organic, integrated whole. As was the case in the ontology of Leibniz, macrocosm and microcosm are coordinated. Not because each actual occasion mirrors the whole, but because they reach out and touch other occasions, forming, by way of complexification, aggregates and individualized societies of occasions.

Panexperientialism is not a panpsychism. Everything is not alive. While individual occasions, which are not substantial, thing-like, but the common unit of process, possess, besides a physical, objective mode (efficient causation in terms of matter), also a mental, subjective, experiential mode (final causation in terms of information & consciousness), non-individualized aggregates or mere compounds of these occasions do not and are therefore insentient (like rocks). The presence of these rules out panpsychism, i.e. the claim all things are alive.

Moreover, the mental mode of a single actual occasion has the lowest possible degree of freedom. This low-order experience should not be compared with the activity of societies of occasions like the high-order conscious experience of human beings, nor even with atoms or molecules. Only when an actual occasion, by entering into another actual occasions (adding its concretion or internal make-up to others), helps bringing actual occasions together, can the creativity of the sea of process eventually bring about individualized societies consciously experiencing their own unity (as in atoms, molecules, minerals, plants, animals, humans, ...). Here the process of evolution is at work, producing more complex organizations of actual occasions, interpenetrating each other. But this evolution is not only ruled by laws of efficiency, but also by finality.

Even at the level of quanta, a strict division between matter and the other two operators is pertinent.

"... every quantum event is associated with an element that cannot be adequately conceptualized in terms of the precepts of classical physics, but that resides in a realm of realities that are not describable in terms of the concepts of classical physics, but that include our conscious thoughts, ideas, and feeling." -
Stapp, 2007, p.98.

This does not imply mind determines what kind of reality we perceive.

"Although our minds may be essential to the realization of a particular reality, we cannot know or decide in advance what the result of a quantum measurement will be. We cannot choose what kind of reality we could like to perceive beyond choosing the measurement eigenstates. In this interpretation of quantum measurement, our only influence over matter is to make it real." - Baggot, 2004, p.256, my italics.

For Panexperientialism, "physical entities" are always physico-mental (or, what comes down to the same, psycho-physical). Focusing on efficient causation, and the emergence of an independent mental out of the physical, actual occasions are physico-mental. But insofar as final causation is concerned, and because of the downward causation effectuated by high-order minds on physical processes, actual occasions are psycho-physical.

The organic togetherness of actual occasions has various levels, ranging from a single actual occasion, to events, entities, insentient compounds and individualized societies with varying degrees of freedom. On Earth, the highest level is the dominant occasion of sentient experience constituting the human mind. As even a single actual occasion, with at least an iota of self-determination, provides the lowest-level example of the emergence of a higher-level actuality (namely the creativity resulting from the incorporation of the decision characterizing its mental mode in the efficient causality entering another actual occasion, appropriating data from its vicinity), we may understand, in comparison, brain cells as highly complex centres of experiential creativity.

So in terms of efficient causation, we may say the mind emerged from the brain. But in terms of final causation, we may say the possibilities offered by the brain are "weighed" and then chosen by the mind (emerged from the brain). Moreover, the emergent property (the mind as an actual entity in its own right), is able to  exert a causal influence (final & efficient) of its own. Mental causation is not epiphenomenal, for besides the upward causation from the body to the mind, there is the self-determination by the mind, and on the basis of this, downward causation from the mind to the body. This is possible because mind and body are not two different kind of things, but both highly complex individualized and distinct societies of actual occasions, linked in a functional and interactionist way. All what exists (all what works) shares the actual occasion, the ontological principal of ontology.

3.11 Functional Interactionism.

As Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860), in his The World as Will and Representation, Whitehead understands human experience as constituting the model or ideal type of the processes characterizing Nature in general. The full subjective immediacy of the human living experience is taken as the starting-point. We then entertain an ontological hierarchy, stretching from a single actual occasion, and its extremely low-grade subjective mode, to the full-blown conscious & living experience of a human being. This makes it easier to postulate experience beyond the human, not ending evolution with human actuality.

Of course, in terms of the relation between mind and body, human experience remains fundamental. The mind/body problem has to be addressed in anthropocentric terms, for on our planet, humans are the only ones evidencing the conscious experience of an inner life.

In a panexperiential approach, mind (consciousness) and brain (matter & information) constitute distinct societies of individuals. On a neurophysiological level, the brain is a highly complex & creative organism dominantly constituted by matter & information. On a cognitive level, the mind too is such a living organization, dominantly constituted by the inner, intentional life of consciousness. Although the mind emerged from the brain, it also realizes its independence from it. Maybe physical death, the perishing of the brain, makes the mind enter another stage of its constant evolution ... But at conception, the opposite is at hand, for brain & mind are temporarily fused. And just as a child grows up, becoming an individual, so the mind emancipates or emerges from the living brain. Both are not made out of different stuff, but exhibit the bi-modality typical for all actual occasions. Both are only distinct entities, each with their own functional processes.

The evolution of the human mind is highly determined by memory just as the individualization of a child is determined by language & knowledge. As ontogenesis mimics phylogenesis, at first, in the mythical state of cognitive development, the mind and the body intimately cohabit. Body-awareness and consciousness of self form a unity. The awakening of an individual sense of identity, crucial in the process of individualizing "my" human mind, is not determined by the coordination of bodily movements (only offering a dim, reflex-bound, opaque sense of selfhood, as found in animals), but by the introduction of semiotic factors. Signals, icons and symbols, i.e. meaningful glyphs or embodied information, "awaken" the sense of selfhood and trigger the start of an actual living conscious experience (cf. the stage of the mirror - Lacan). Because the human body, with its dormant, potential sense of selfhood, is spoken to as an "I", the crucial factor enabling the individuation of the mind to start is actualized. By giving me "a name", mental coordination is no longer solely defined by bodily coordination, but individualize as a function of the presence of language in the direct environment. The surplus of neurons can be brought down and their inner interdependence increased.

Out of the living brain the mind emerges and immediately starts its downward causation, reorganizing the brain. The child is also the teacher of his parents. Insofar as the child is not spoken to, is not given a name, the brain solidifies its efficient causations, and the mind is not given the tools to emerge & emancipate and so cannot enter its final causations in the stream of experience of the brain. As a result, the brain remains primitive and the mind "locked" up in and by it ... Only its physical demise may allow this mind to enter another stream, but then without having profited from individualized mental experiences.

The challenge is to understand the brain as a whole as the "matrix" or executive, transmitting, displaying apparatus of the mind and the neocortex as executing human consciousness. On this new cortex, there is -at birth- lots of "empty space" to be filled in by our parents, peers and teachers. These influences allow the mind to form an individualized society of actual occasions dominated by a single actual occasion, namely selfhood, a first person perspective. All mental occasions "happen" in the field of which this ego is the centre. When individualized (at the age of 12 when the "corpus callosum" is finished and formal reasoning is possible), the mind starts to change the brain by way of downward causation. Then, by ourselves, we realize the "freedom" to "think for ourselves" ... Usually, lots of changes have to be made to allow our brain to be the proper conduit for who we are (in the C-domain). The individualized mind, by virtue of its subjective mode, introduces new actual occasions not present in the "matrix" of the brain. Crisis, catastrophe and turbulence force the brain to face these "new aspects" of how we shape ourselves. Each time, we force our brain to act according to our conscious choices (just as our brain forces our muscles with efferent enervation). This process only ends with physical death. At every age, the brain is reorganized by the downward causation effectuated by the mind, and the mind adapts to the upward causation stemming from the brain. This is a functional interactionism, for during life, the mind is a function of the brain (upward causation) and the brain is a function of the mind (downward causation).

The crucial factor in downward causation is the emancipation of the mind by open semiotic factors. Thanks to language subjectivity turns into intersubjectivity. Insofar as the mind is given no view or the wrong view, it cannot by itself emerge as an individualized society of actual occasions, for it cannot compensate for processes of efficient causation inherent in the brain. Our mother needs to feed her child properly for it to develop a strong immunity and a high intelligence (or ability to trigger creative advance).  Although the brain is also involved in final causation, this mainly leads to the integrity of the physical. And so the mind is necessary to trigger change (downward causation by way of final causation). Likewise, although the mind is also involved in efficient causation, this mainly leads to the integrity of the particular "stream of consciousness" of which a given mind is the momentary caretaker. And so the brain is necessary to consolidate the executive functions (upward causation by way of efficient causation). This mutual, functional interactionism between body & mind is at work from the moment of conception, until the demise of the physical body.

Under "open" semiotic factors is understood the correct view allowing for the emergence of an individualized mind. This view is one teaching process instead of substance, i.e. dynamic interdependence instead of static isolation. Insofar as educational systems do not provide this, but nurture an essentialist view, the mind is kept engrossed in the brain and its ability to develop a strong grip on its final causation and so be very creative is crippled, resulting in more suffering. The importance of a good education can therefore not be stressed enough. This is however not like acquiring the antics of a social class, but learning to emancipate from the forces that nurture us and this in a way teaching the mind how to use its inner force to be creative (i.e. make use of its ability to self-determinate novelty). Such depends, not on a university degree or a high IQ or EQ, but on an awareness of how things truly are, i.e. empty of inherent existence (void of substance) and universally interdependent.

The emergence of the mind from the brain does not necessarily imply the brain "happens" first and is the sole efficient cause of the mind (as in Supervenient Emergentism). As if the mind has to be constructed ab ovo. The mind, as a separate, individualized mindstream has its own causalities, both efficient & final. The moment the mind "enters" or "connects" with the fertilized ovum, was indeed preceded by another moment of its own, individualized stream. Apparently, entry into a new physical vehicle, in casu, a very small and still undeveloped one, (temporarily) disables the mind of accessing these previous memories. Although not spatial, any connection the mind makes with a physical object, has an impact of its grip on the history of its own temporal extensiveness. Becoming embodied again brings about a darkening, one covering certain past memories and pushing them into the depths. They are however not lost, and can be retrieved by adapted spiritual exercises like meditation (Yoga) and certain guided visualizations (Qabalah).

Anchoring the mind in a gross physical vehicle is not meant to allow it to have an overview of these previous instantiations of mind. So it seems the mind is a kind of "tabula rasa", influenced by nature (body) and nurture (environment) only. This reduction allows it to really identify with what happens to it while interacting with the growing body, temporarily unencumbered by previous histories. A similar process happens with dream-recall. Only by training the mind to store in the body what happens to it in dreams is such recall as well as lucid dreaming possible. Like with altered states of consciousness, the physical body acts as a valve, reducing the total available input to what is necessary on the physical plane of reality, limiting what comes through the "doors of perception" (Huxley). If this were not the case, a cacophony of memories would ensue and building a "fresh" empirical ego would be impossible.

The experience of great meditators does however shed another light. In the East, with a collective mindset not a priori rejecting the possibility of previous moments of consciousness before conception (not limited by a materialist metaphysical background viewing the soul as created at conception), the recovery of these memories sometimes happens spontaneously and/or can be trained, as in the case of the Buddha, who's awakening went hand in hand with him remembering all his "previous lives", i.e. the memories of all the moments of consciousness of his mindstream.

For monists like logical positivists, materialists, physicalists etc., there is no mind/body problem, for there is no mind or it is irrelevant. The problem is "solved" by eliminating or incapacitating the mind. This is merely a dogmatic ad hoc solution, a way to more problems.

For dualists, accepting the ontological difference between both, any solution will pose a fundamental problem, for how can two different kinds of stuff or substances work together without a "tertium comparationis" ? How to introduce the excluded third ? This must be a kind of "mixture" of both "mental" and "physical" and so the problem of how these two components of the mixture "work together" returns. A new mixture can be proposed, etc. Here we have a regressus ad infinitum. So if "solving" the problem means explaining how two different substances work together, then we may safely regard it as unsolvable. This is the nugget of truth physicalists have correctly identified.

In general, monists are right in claiming a single fundamental category suits the unity of science best. Logically, monism also offers the most elegant form for a possible ontology. But they are wrong in eliminating, reducing or crippling the mind. Although it dispenses them from the need to explain how body & mind communicate, it also impoverishes their explanation of the world, in particular the exceptional nature -at least in this Solar system- of the human phenomenon. The mind is to be considered as factual as the brain. Its distinct features, namely intimacy, privacy, first person perspective, unity of conscious experience, percipient participation etc. cannot be found in the brain and its overt, public, third person perspective, manifold of neuronal events and computational features. This is the nugget of truth mentalists have correctly identified.

We seek logical elegance, lack of prejudices, no dogma's and a critical openness & flexibility integrating, by way of argument, as many phenomena as possible, including those disciplines existing at the periphery of the current scientific paradigm (like astrology, magic & alchemy), as well as those phenomena science cannot presently explain (like acupuncture, homoeopathy, etc. & parapsychology, in particular telepathy & telekinesis, but also poltergeist, out-of-the-body, near-death-experience and the like). If metaphysics has to banish possibilities ab initio, then one better stops speculating. Of course, accepting to critically study these phenomena with an open mind is not the same as endorsing any multiplication of entities a priori.

To understand how Process Philosophy addresses the interaction between brain & mind, three points have to be made clear : (a) fundamentally, all things are the outcome of process, (b) body and mind are both "in process" and so not ontologically different, but only ontically distinct, (c) all things, besides exerting efficient causation, also have an "inside", capable of internal relatedness (final causation). Accepting process as fundamental can be assisted by the paradox of essentialism or substance metaphysics. Indeed, it is impossible to specify exactly what a substance is without having recourse to process. Substances are individualized by two kinds of properties, namely primary properties describing substance as it is in and by itself and secondary properties, explaining the impact of substance upon others as well as the response invoked from them. The problem is one cannot explain what primary properties are over and above what substances do in terms of their discernable effects. What remains when we eliminate all processes, everything related to actions ? Is there a "thing" in and by itself left over ? Or are all things merely the products of what happens ? Process thought simplifies matters by a one-tier ontology. The designated identities are the outcome of process and there is no mysterious "essence" over and above these processes. While it is possible to conceive "unowned" process (like in the phrase "it is getting warmer"), it is not possible to think substance without relying on processes, to designate a thing detached from process ...

Hence, both brain and mind are merely process and so both do not possess, as ontological dualism proposes, an essence from their own side, independent from what they do. In this way, Process Philosophy joins what the Buddhadharma proposed a few millennia ago, namely the emptiness of all phenomena and the ultimate logic making this clear.

Furthermore, the presence of final causation is crucial. Suppose it is rejected, as in physicalism, then the "stuff" out of which the world is made is, in Whitehead's words "vacuous". Then it becomes inconceivable how evolution could bring about higher-level actualities, for "there is nothing to evolve, because one set of external relations is a good as any other set of external relations" (Whitehead, A.N. : Science and the Modern World, § 107). Final causation brings in creativity, the ability of actual occasions to add the result of their own self-determination & spontaneity to the sea of process, and so creatively enter later occasions. Without it, there is only a set of external structures, but never a hierarchy with dominant occasions or individualized societies of actual occasions.

As most, if not all, recent scientific research has a materialist or physicalist metaphysical research program working in the background (influencing the "ceteris paribus" clause), consciousness is, at best, accepted but regarded as a by-product of the brain (i.e. caused, generated, produced, made, constructed, secreted, invented by the CNS, something merely supervenient). As nowhere in the brain a "central control ganglion" has been found, indeed current neurological research rather points to the model of multiple plastic neuronal networks, the "binding problem" remains and clearly is the fundamental practical problem facing physicalist neurology. Where in the brain is the "I think", the unity of apperception, confirmed by a logical, transcendental and phenomenological approach of the first person perspective, produced ? Why is there unity rather than constant and overall variety ? This conscious experience of unity is not found in the brain because it is not part of the brain. It is the main feature of the individualized society "mind", instantiating a string of moments, a stream of states of consciousness.

Like naive realism, materialism and physicalism repress the fact observation is theory-laden. Subjectivity can not be eclipsed without eliminating the possibility of knowledge itself. Eliminating subjectivity entails the end of freedom, change and ethics. Is materialism not refuted by the subjective energy invested by materialists in materialism (cf. the "contradictio in actu exercito") ? The mere presence of cultural forms (the fact they are designated or posited as such by the subject) refutes the theory (i.e. a cultural form itself) saying only physical forms exist. Again the self-defeating streak of this kind of reductionism.

3.12
A Triadic Model of What Works.

General process ontology (Metaphysics, 2012) posits the bi-modal actual occasion (with both its efficient & scalar vectors) with their subsequent three functional domains of actual occasions (each with its own dominant occasion) as the ground of all possible phenomena, existing things, objects, entities or items : matter, information & consciousness. Each actual occasion has a physical (efficient, objective) and a mental (finative, subjective) mode. Matter is objective (outer), information intersubjective (natural & artificial) and consciousness subjective (inner). The arising of actual occasions is caused by previous actual occasions, and this direct, horizontal, efficient entry of past actual occasions in what happens hic et nunc is by way of efficient causation. The abiding of each actual occasion is its internal, vertical, finative structure, implying information facilitating conscious choice, decision or self-determination and finally entry into another actual occasion. When this happens, the actual occasion ceases, but this perishing brings about an efficient influence on the next actual occasion, and this influence has integrated the work of final causation.

Each actual occasion has -ex hypothesis- three
distinct operators, encompassing the physical (matter) and the non-physical (information & consciousness) modes of actual occasions. These explain the operation of three functionally different societies of actual occasions, each with its own dominant actual occasion, namely matter, information and consciousness.

The domain of "matter" (the executive, displaying, transmitting function) calls for efficient causation entering each actual occasion from past actual occasions, acting as its initial condition. The domain of "information" (the judicial function) is the totality of choices available to each actual occasion, i.e. all weighed, possible knowledge or information this and no other actual occasion can choose from. Finally, the domain of "consciousness" (the legislative function) calls for an actual choice or decision favouring the actual possibility with the highest probability in terms of (a) the reinforcement of the experience of unity and (b) the greatest harmony with other actual occasions.

Specific process ontology applies the schema of general process ontology on non-individualized compounds or aggregates of actual occasions and individualized societies of actual occasions. In terms of the neurophilosophy of process, three
irreducible domains are constantly at work in the individualized societies at hand, namely the brain (matter & information) and the mind (consciousness). These are derived from cybernetics, information-theory and artificial intelligence :

  • hardware or matter : the mature, healthy, triune human brain is able, as a physical object dominantly ruled by efficient causation, to process, compute, execute, transmit and display complex natural (innate) & artificial (learned) algorhythms and integrate all kinds of neuronal activity - the developed, individualized mind is able to be open to the efficient causation resulting from previous moments of consciousness ;

  • software or information : the inherent and acquired software (wiring) of the brain, its memory & processing speed (in this "programming phase", the first five years are crucial) - the individualized mind is an expert-system containing codes or knowledge to choose from when solving problems ;

  • userware or consciousness : the mature brain works according to its own final causation, making choices to guarantee its organic functioning as a manifold and affect necessary changes in its environment (it has, so to speak, "a mind of its own") - individualized consciousness or mind instantiates unified states of consciousness (moment to moment intentional awareness) as a percipient participator interacting meaningfully with its brain and the physical world.

3.13 How Brain-Mind Interaction Happens.

"Thus contemporary physical theory annuls the claims of mechanical determinism. In a profound reversal of the classical physical principles, its laws make your conscious choices causally effective in the physical world, while failing to determine, even statistically, what those choices will be." -
Stapp, 2007, p.VII

The neocortex is a plane of ca.11 m² filled with ca. 20 billion neurons (of a total of ca. 100 billion neurons), forming ca. 240 trillion synapses, with lots of association areas to be used for higher-order functions such as abstract thought and melodic synthesis. We know the neocortex is also involved with critical, creative and unitive modes of thought. Are these part of the "liaison brain" (Popper & Eccles, 1981), the neural machinery responsible for the interaction with consciousness, and its mental and intentional states ? It seems unlikely consciousness is in liaison with single neurons (Barlow, 1972), because these are too unstable (cf. the statistical, population-bound, "democratic" dynamics of the neuron).

hemispheral interaction - sensory system- liaison brain
Popper & Eccles, 1983, p.375 - Popper's worlds are : world 1 = physical objects world 2 = conscious information - world 3 = mental objects or :
world 1 = matter - world 2 = consciousness - world 3 = information

"In our present understanding of the mode of operation of neural machinery we emphasize ensembles of neurons (many hundreds) acting in some collusive patterned array. Only in such assemblages can there be reliability and effectiveness (...) The modules of the cerebral cortex are such ensembles of neurons. The module has to some degree a collective life on its own with as many as 10.000 neurons of diverse types and with a functional arrangement of feed-forward and feedback excitation and inhibition. (...) By definition there would be restriction to the modules of the liaison brain, and only then when they are in the correct level of activity. Each module may be likened to a radio transmitter-receiver unit. (...) It can be conjectured that the self-conscious mind scans this modular array, being able to receive from and give to only those modules that have some degree of openness." - Popper & Eccles, 1981, pp.366-367.

Interactionists conjecture the mind is actively engaged in reading out from the multitude of active centres at the higher order levels of the CNS, namely special "liaison" areas of the neocortex, i.e. neurons characterized by a special property (to be defined in terms of electro-magnetism or the superimposition of probability-fields with no mass). According to conscious intention, the mind selects and integrates its selection from moment to moment. This means the mind has a superior interpretative and steering role upon the neural events. Because of the "binding problem" (multiple regions of the brain are simultaneously combined into a single experience), the unity of conscious experience is not provided by the neural machinery, neither by the liaison areas of the neocortex, but fabricated by the mind itself.

To affirm the irreducible nature of consciousness, its status as "logico-functional primitive" (like matter & information), one needs to consider freedom, or the ability of an individual to behave in a creative, purposeful, non-random way, which is not determined by physical law, and, mutatis mutandis, without neurophysiological constraints. Materialism is unable to explain freedom, downgrading its crucial importance in sociology, politics, economics, law, ethics, etc. Freedom falls outside the closed, finite "black box" of the physical categories of determination used by physics. Just like matter & information, consciousness exists in its own "world", "domain" or "realm", in this case, as a spatially non-extended and abstract temporal field (mind-set or mind-map) able to influence, and this in an ongoing way, major neurological processes.

The principle of the conservation of energy, a consequence of the homogeneity of spacetime, implies any change requires an expenditure of energy. Causal effect implies the event must make a difference every time it occurs. This difference is the "material" or efficient factor relaying the effect. If matter acts on mind, energy would disappear. If mind would act on matter, energy would be added. An immaterial mind can only move matter by creating energy, i.e. adding energy to the whole. Interactionists like Popper & Eccles (1981) were not impressed by this line of argumentation against interactionism, because their argument relied on quantum-mechanical indeterminism to allow non-material events to act on matter. This loophole, of a kind of "one-to-one" interaction is however also uncertain.

"It is shown that the magnitude of the disturbance required is significantly greater than allowed for under quantum-mechanical uncertainty. It is concluded that violations of fundamental physical laws, such as energy conservation, would occur were a non-physical mind able to influence brain and behaviour." -
Wilson, 1999, p.185.

Beck and Eccles (1992) recently proposed mental intentions act through a quantum probability field, altering the probabilities and thus the material outcome. In fact, it was Eddington (1935) who first speculated the mind may influence the body by affecting quantum events within the brain, in particular an influence on the probability of their outcome.

Mohrhoff (1999) questions whether Heisenberg's indeterminacy will suffice to back interactionism and conjectures electromagnetism to be a more likely candidate because such a field is a summary representation of effects on the motion of particles.

"There is no reason whatever for having probabilities determined twice over, once during their deterministic evolution by the physically determined vector potential, and once at the end through a superimposed probability field generated by the self." -
Mohrhoff, 1999, p.182, my italics.

As quantum nonlocality manifests in very small and cold artificial worlds, nobody considered it possible non-local interactions possible in the relatively large and hot brain.

"The strange superpositions of quantum theory, that would allow simultaneous 'occurring' and 'not occurring' - with complex-number weighting factors- would, accordingly, be considered to play no significant role." -
Penrose, 1994, p.348.

In the 1970s, nanometre-sized cylindrical structures called "cytoskeletal microtubules" were discovered in brain neurons. In 1994, the anaesthesiologist Hameroff proposed they could be involved in quantum effects.

"If it turns out that this is even partly correct, or if this proposal merely helps others think about how quantum processes in the nervous system may be related to consciousness, it opens the theoretical door for explaining how nonlocal effects may manifest in consciousness. And if it turns out that nonlocality does play a role in the workings of the brain, then something like 'quantum telepathy' would no longer be such a strange prospect." -
Radin, 1997
, p.319.

Popper (1982) speculated about propensity fields (cf. his propensity interpretation of the equation of Schrödinger, called in to solve the particle/wave paradox) and considered these to be as real as particles, gravity or electromagnetic fields, i.e. to be "kickable" (by changing experimental arrangements) and "kick back" (by changing the outcome of what eventuates : particle or wave). These fields, like the photon, have no mass and so there is no possible violation of energy conservation.

If consciousness itself is a set of propensities (virtualities, potentialities or possible meaning) existing as a "field" in a non-spatial complex "realm", then interactionism proposes mental states, in particular by way of their final causation, calculate (intent) certain probabilities and co-determine, through the ongoing "superimposition" of the likelihood of an intended design & architecture, the overall parameters of the activity of the "liaison brain" (causally open to non-material shifts in valuations, propensities or probabilities). The non-material mind becomes physically effective by modifying the electromagnetic interactions between constituents of the "liaison brain", and this at the end of every vector.

mind & brain interacting
Popper & Eccles, 1983, p.360.

Eccles rejects the idea the interface between mind and brain is the field potential generated by all neural events. In his modular view, specific ensembles of neurons (modules with as many as 10.000 neurons), each act as a radio transmitter/receiver unit. The mind's attention works on these cortical modules with slight deviations. The mind scans the cortex for "open" modules and modifies its behaviour by these slight deviations. If probability fields are taken in, these deviations are then caused by recalculating the chances and superimposing this probability field at the end of each vector eventuating a physical potential in deterministic evolution.

"It is proposed that the self-conscious mind is actively engaged in searching for brain events that are if its present interest, the operation of attention, but it also is the integrating agent, building the unity of conscious experience from all the diversity of the brain events. Even more importantly it is given the role of actively modifying the brain events according to its interest or desire, and the scanning operation by which it searches can be envisages as having an active role in selection."
Popper & Eccles, 1983, p.373.

The second question, namely Where does the interaction happen ?, kept Descartes busy for many years, and he found no satisfactory solution. One was to conjecture the soul operated through the pineal gland, found in the limbic system ! The soul supposedly gave this gland a tiny push, which was thought to be magnified by a chain of physical causes and effects. The nerves were small tubes in which "animal spirits" moved. They were physical in nature, composed of highly "rarefied blood". Descartes choose this gland because it is very light and mobile, hence a suitable sensitive instrument responsive to the minute pushes of the soul. Besides the notion small deviations are necessary, Descartes' solution failed because the pineal gland is occupied with another task (namely with the production of hormones).

The mode of interaction proposed by Eccles is based on the idea a degree of correspondence (not identity) exists between the experiences of the mind and the events in the "liaison brain", the area of the brain actually interacting with the mind. 

The active role of consciousness (of subjectivity) is acknowledged. The mind selects & integrates the modules of interest (attention) and integrates all neuronal activity to provide for the unity of conscious experience. For Eccles, the "liaison brain" is the dominant hemisphere of the neocortex, in particular the linguistic areas, as well as a large area of the prefrontal cortex. Some modules are "open" to the world of mind and it is through them the mind influences the probability field determining their activity. A change in attention will make some activities less probable and put others to the fore. Because "closed" modules can be influenced by "open" ones, they may be opened by means of impulse discharges along the association fibbers from the "open" modules. Again, small changes may cause large shifts in the total activity of the neuronal networks at hand (cf. Chaostheory). As consciousness may also direct its attention to parts of the "old cortex" (such as the limbic lobes, or more deeper, the ganglia in the brainstem), conjecture the mind may directly influence the three levels of the brain. The older the structure, the less likely this influence will be unmixed with other, purely neuronal mechanisms.

From a panexperientialist view, the interaction between the brain and the mind is a large-scale example of what happens when the final causation at work within a single actual occasion enters the stream of efficient causation of another actual occasion. The crucial factor is the assignment of a coefficient to elements of a frequency distribution in order to represent their relative importance, in this case a series of possibilities defining a propensity-field. In large statistical populations, this favours the outcome of some, and this is the "influence" sought. Although not infringing on the First Law of Thermodynamics, is nevertheless plays a crucial role in what happens in the brain.

Although panexperientialist interactionism offers a wide range of ontic possibilities, stays within the confines of a well-formed logical monism, an immanent metaphysics and the fundamental concerns of science, in particular regarding producing facts about physical (sensate) objects and formulating empirico-formal propositions, it still has to answer what kind of processes drive the distinct characteristics of the actual societies of occasions called "brain" and "mind" ?

3.14 The Endlessness of Brain and Mind ?

"Un point vivant... Non je me trompe. Rien d'abord, puis un point vivant ... A ce point vivant, il s'en applique un autre, encore un autre ; et par ces applications successives il résulte un être un, car je suis bien un, je n'en saurais douter (En visant cela, il se tâtait partout). Mais comment cette unité s'est-elle faite ... Tenez, philosophe, je vois bien un agrégat, un tissu de petits êtres sensibles, mais un animal ... un tout ... ayant la conscience de son unité. Je ne le vois pas, non je ne le vois pas." -
Diderot, D. : Le Rêve de d'Alembert, Paris - Gallimard, 1935, p.677.

Traditional materialism à la Monod envisions a bleak nature morte, a view of the universe ending in the dissolution of its "disjecta membra". Either the universe ends with a Big Crunch or a Very Long Evaporation. This bleak "vacuous", disconnectedness of things can already be found in the parallel trajectories of the primordial atoms proposed by the Greek atomists. But the same problem arises. Lucretius (99 - 55 BCE) speaks of a mysterious "clinamen", a minimal indeterminacy in the motions of atoms (!) necessary to understand how they coagulate into objects.

"The atoms, as their own weight bears them down
Plumb through the void, at scarce determined times,
In scarce determined places, from their course
Decline a little- call it, so to speak,
Mere changed trend. For were it not their wont
Thus wise to swerve, down would they fall, each one,
Like drops of rain, through the unbottomed void ;
And then collisions ne'er could be nor blows
Among the primal elements ; and thus
Nature would never have created aught."

Lucretius : On the Nature of Things, Book II, Poem (Leonard).

This "swerve" causes the parallelisms (given by the weight of the atoms) to be broken, triggering collisions of atoms and from there the formation of aggregates and finally the whole of Nature. Contemporary physics faces the same problem : how to explain complexification without hierarchy (or operational distinctness) and the latter without a final causation, introducing a subjective "mode" in the metaphysics of physical objects ? The argument from time may be invoked (take enough time and complexification is understood), but it is not a strong one. How did the natural constants emerge ?

Why avoiding the indispensable category of final determination besides efficient causation ? The physical, as an individualized society of actual occasions with matter as dominant occasion, is entered by efficient causation (arises), confronts internal knowledge and experience and weighs possibilities (abides) and then perishes after having made efficient causation more complex, richer, more creative (ceases). This novelty enters the subsequent actual occasion, in this case, the physical society of occasions, the sea of material process. This vast field interconnecting all actual physical occasions happening in the universe at a given instant, is not a void filled with pockets of energy, but a vast process instantiating physical objects. Insofar as this process as a whole is concerned, both efficient & final causation are at work in each instance of this ongoing symphony of material happenings. So each "end" of an occasion (each perishing) enters the "beginning" of another. The universe is an organic "plenum", for there is not a thing not touching (entering) another thing. Because of final causation, this new beginning is not only a quantitative integral of the horizontal efficient energy differentials, but also a qualitative, vertical scalar reorganization of the probabilities involved with each energy differential at any given moment, making some outcomes more likely and thus, over time, actual and so entering the sea of efficient causation ... The same analysis can be made for information, the individualized society of actual occasions with information as dominant occasion and consciousness, an individualized society of actual occasions with sentience as dominant occasion.

Before discussing the end of the brain and the mind, let us focus on the end of each instance of process in the body and the end of each instantiation of a state of consciousness.

First the mind. Although, due to the unity of conscious experience, we have the impression our state of mind is an unbroken continuum, this is actually not the case. The "I" designated a moment ago is not the same "I" designated now. And although, due to memory and habitual processes (of identification, disidentification and designating inherent existence of object & subject), our identities do seem to possess stable structures, when we look closer these are merely the result of rapidly overlaying discrete moments, creating the illusion of continuity. Just as  24 frames per second generate the illusion of continuous motion in a movie, the rapid succession of moments of consciousness produce the same fabricated sense of a stable identity. Between two consecutive moments of instantiated states, a "gap" or "interval" is present. As only advanced introspection is able to reveal this, most of the time this "void" is not observed.

Although sensate experience is a "stream" and not a sequence of static frames, direct observation hic et nunc is ephemeral & anecdotal (individuum est ineffabile). One cannot conceptually hold on to it, it comes, stays a few moments and ceases. By fast repetition, the steady illusion of an identical object is created. In fact, conscious sensation (experience, observation) and its conceptualization (form) are fabricated. In conscious sensation, conceptual frames and perceptions are simultaneous (so they cannot be isolated). But while this unity is fabricated, it happens based on consciousness itself, and is not generated by the brain.

Likewise, due to the organic integrity of the body, resulting from its efficient & final causations, the life of our cells, tissues, organs & physiological processes also seems stable and in "one piece", while -even on the most fundamental level of our physical reality- physical operations are quantized and in every cell of our body countless physical, chemical and biological changes happen all the time. So both body and mind only seem stable, self-identical continua, while in reality they are like continua of successive, ever-changing moments, with millions of cells perishing and coming into existence.

So both body & mind "end" and are "reborn" constantly. This happens so fast nothing of it is actually realized. Physical death is only a privileged ending, one severing the functional interaction between the body & its mind. For we constantly die and are constantly reborn. The beginning of each moment contains the efficient causation of the previous moment. This is its "matter". Each moment, as an actual occasion, has an internal structure composed of a set of data weighed as a function of possible outcomes. This is its "information". Then a decision is made in terms of the most likely outcome. This self-determination is its "consciousness". With this choice, the internal structure of final causation perishes, but as this choice singles out one possible outcome among a large number of possibilities, the transient structure of final causation enters the next moment as its "matter" or efficient causation, making this moment richer and more complex, allowing for novelty. Between this perishing and the (re)emergence in the "concrescence" of new occasions, i.e. between these two moments an interval occurs. This "gap" is not a mere nothingness, but the link between these moments and the absolute continuum of all phenomena, the primordial field or set of all possibilities. This situation at the level of two actual occasions also holds true for more complex individualized societies of actual occasions.

The end of the brain is the point the efficient causation of that given physical object, having emerged from the (micro-level) universal energy field and having abided for some time (a lifespan on the meso-level), enters the individualized society of material actual occasions. The brain is "returned to the elements", its component factors being diffused, recycled and made useful to similar material societies of actual occasions, including minerals, plants and animals. But the end of the brain is also the point a life-span of final causation (of this brain and of this mind with this mind), creating novelty, a unique mental view (based on lived knowledge) and a unity of conscious experience based on decision-making are passed on to the physical domain. Of course not as individualized conscious experience of selfhood, for this kind of inner structure was never the case for the brain, a physical manifold, but only for the mind, a (fabricated) mental unity. The final causation of matter results in an increased creative capacity of "elemental" matter to embody, execute and compute information & consciousness more efficiently in the future. This fertilization of matter is, captured in a metaphor, the "spiritual" survival of the material brain (cf. the Stoic "pneuma") ! The endlessness of the brain is the recurrent process of recycling. In a very large sense, this happens with the universe as a whole, returning to the multiverse while informing it about what has happened, enabling it to manifest a better universe in the future.

Does the mind have a beginning ? Has it an end ? When the efficient & final causations of the brain end, the efficient causation of instances, durations, moments of consciousness, the thrust of one instantiation of mind following another instantiation of mind, no longer happens in interaction with this and no other brain. But this thrust is not dependent of this. Perhaps the interaction with the brain slowed the mind down, making it adapt to the sluggish nature of inertia ? When the functional relationship between both ends, mind as it were "steps out of the vehicle", is liberated out of the "net of  the body" and follows the thrust of its own domain of actual occasions, its own individualized mindstream. If this is the case, then there is no first moment of mind and no last moment of mind. As on a line, both beginning and end stretch into infinity, and only a series of moments on a line pertain. The line becomes a circle.

"Surely, an awareness of our immortality changes our concept of who we are, and what the world is. This is a major change, a veritable transformation, since the still dominant materialist view does not allow for the existence of an immortal mind. But if that view were correct, consciousness could not persist beyond the body, and evidence that is does would be an enigma. But the evidence is robust, and the dominant view is likely to be mistaken. Our consciousness does not dissapear when we die." -
Laszlo, E. & Peake, A. : The Immortal Mind, Inner Traditions - Rochester, 2014.

The end of the mind's communication with its brain, is like an adult departing from a parent or a grandparent. A lifespan of intimacy with the brain and its body is "collected". It became part of the information giving form & order to the inner structure of the mind. Could it be that having lost its physical body, consciousness "projects" an ideal body (based on the gathered information) as an imaginal body, with (subtle) physical, emotional, volitional & mental features ? Is this dream-body serving as vehicle for the disembodied mind ? This conjecture leads to the "material" survival of the mind. As the fabrication of the unity of conscious experience is the core business of the mind, this survival implies an individualized stream of consciousness, no longer an empirical ego, the mere "earthly" caretaker of moments of volatile mind/brain interaction, but a spiritual self surviving the demise of the body.


IV. The Criticism of Materialism.


"The principal argument against materialism is not that illustrated in the last two sections : that it is incompatible with quantum theory. The principal argument is that thought processes and consciousness are the primary concepts, that our knowledge of the external world is the content of our consciousness and that the consciousness, therefore, cannot be denied." - Winger, 1967, pp.176-177.

In a general sense, "criticism" is a philosophical approach of epistemology focusing on putting down proper divisions, frontiers & limitations. This can be between the two sides of what transcendental logic defines as the a priori principles governing the possibilities of conceptual thought, namely the (transcendental) object & subject of knowledge. The subject of knowledge is an object-possessor. Without it, no knowledge is possible. But neither is an object without a subject knowledge, as materialism (physicalism) maintains (reductively or eliminative). Criticism puts down the decisive dividing characteristic between science & metaphysics, namely testability. Science is always based on both argumentation (defining theory-formation) & observation (experimentation, testing). Metaphysics is based on argumentation only, it lacks testability. But even within metaphysics itself, criticism distinguished between immanent metaphysics (the totality of the world only) and transcendent metaphysics (the world and the beyond of the world, the infinite).

Criticism, unlike dogmatism and scepticism, avoids affirming one principle at hoc at the expense of another (as in dogmatism), and avoids negating all principles (as in scepticism). Avoiding the extremes of dogma & scepsis, criticism proposes a three-tiered model of the possibilities of knowledge : (a) principles of  correct conceptual thought (transcendental logic), (b) norms of valid knowledge (theoretical epistemology) and (c) maxims of effective knowledge-production (applied epistemology). Given epistemology is not a descriptive but a normative discipline, throughout this model, ontological illusion is avoided. In other words, these principles, norms & maxims are never considered as the sufficient ontological ground of knowledge. Not reified, approached and developed along strict nominalist lines, they are merely discovered by thought while reflecting on its own conditions & possibilities. Criticism also argues such a three-tiered model for the other two normative disciplines : ethics & aesthetics.

A crucial argument against the reduction of all events to the physical, is the resulting impossibility to posit principles of valid inference, for the latter a forteriori do not belong to the domain of the material, but to the realm of logic, theory or information, implying consciousness, an active observer possessing and object. So how can we say materialism is valid if its validation is not material ? In a way this relates to the age-old conflict between mathematics and physics, between, on the one hand, a conscious invention of mathematical objects and their relationships, and, on the other hand, material objects (molecules, particles, subatomic objects, fields, forces, etc.) behaving in regular way. The activity of inventing new architecture (new code, better information, more precise expert-systems, upgraded software, more valid theories, etc.) refers to the non-extended, first-person perspective of the mind of the inventor. The information itself refers to the second-person (the research-cell, the common language) and third-person perspective (the scientific community).

The point here is that physicalism is self-defeating. If all things are merely composed of matter, then the validation of the statement "all things only consist of matter and/or are based on matter" should be so too. But this is not the case. Without the presence of a subject of knowledge, an observer, no one is there to validate materialism. And this observer cannot be material, for consciousness is not extended, nor spatial, whereas matter is both. They do not share common functional ground (although  they are both communities or domains of actual occasions). To state the observer is an emergent property of matter is not helpful either, for how the extended causes the non-extended to emerge is unclear (if not a priori impossible to explain).

Physicalism cannot claim to be supported by definitive arguments, for the latter -if materialism were true- could not exist. The transcendental object is extended and spatio-temporal. The transcendental subject is non-extended, non-spatial but temporal. Indeed, molecules, particles, waves, fields & forces do not deal with validity. This is a stronger version of the weaker argument, already formulated by the Greek philosophers, namely that the claim all things are merely material cannot be made by a purely material entity (for sentience, reflection, the act of cognition etc. do not belong to what matter does). Making such a claim involves a "contradiction in actu exercito".

Hence, either one accepts materialism and then one has to refute strong arguments based on logic & principles of validation, or one has to accept materialism as such cannot be true and so must be incomplete, calling for another aspect covering its own validation. This means matter or hardware is the executive aspect of reality, one working hand in hand with a "logos" distinct from material conditions which it displays, transmits or materializes. This information is a set of algorithms, the architectonic aspect of reality. It represents the activity of private first-person subjects (consciousnesses, inventors) "frozen" in the expert-systems of software. It contains natural & cultural codation. Conjunct with the observer (userware), it allows for validation. This validator is the sentient aspect of reality, of all what is. So materialism per se is indeed wrong, but the importance of matter to execute, display, compute, transmit or materialize anything is not.

4.1 Criticism of Observation.

"Quantum theory has observation creating the properties of microscopic objects. And physicists generally accept quantum theory applies universally. If so, wider reality is also created by our observation. Going all the way, this strong anthropic principle asserts the universe is hospitable to us because we could not create a universe in which we could not exist. While the weak anthropic principle involves a backward-in-time reasoning, this strong anthropic principle involves a forms of backward-in-time action." -
Rosenblum & Kuttner, 2006, p.206.

In the XXth century, observational psychology, linguistics, cultural anthropology, comparative studies, but also (transcendental) logic & theoretical epistemology discovered the subject of knowledge cannot be eclipsed. Observation happens in the framework of theories, theoretical connotations, ideas & notions. Both are simultaneous. It is not the case sensoric data are first and theories later. The subject of knowledge is a sign-interpreter, and the community of sign-interpreters co-define what is consider a fact and what not (for example, parapsychological phenomena are considered by some as of no importance not because these things do not exist, they definitely do, but because they cannot yet be understood within the available theories). Hence, facts are not exclusively extra-mental, but hybrids with two facets : one theoretical, and another, so we must assume, extra-mental. Besides experiments, testing and observation, scientific research also calls for theoretical work, argumentation and a provisional consensus. Especially in quantum physics this is the case, for without the theoretical twists and turns of mathematics, a lot of particles & relationships between particles would never have been discovered.

So we cannot say knowledge is possible without an observer. Nor can we say the observer is merely passive, registering reality. Nor is the observer a kind of emergent epiphenomenon. And obviously knowledge is impossible without an object. Like matter, information and consciousness are definite domains of actual occasions, each with its own dominant actual occasion, defined by specific logical & functional properties and typical relationships. For matter, this dominant occasion is energy (particles, waves, fields, forces). For information, it is binary logic as the basis of all architecture or code. For consciousness, it is the complex (paradoxical) choice for meaning and sense on the basis of participant observation.

These three operators of reality are irreducible and distinct (not different), but share the same common ontological principal : the Janus-faced actual occasion, simultaneously efficient and scalar, both objective (energy-based) as well as subjective (information-based, public and mind-based, private). These three factors : energy, code and mind are present in all things all the time. Moreover, they have always been there, even in the eternal multiverse (as the mere possibility of their existence).

The criticism of observation is simply this : materialism cannot accept and take serious the act of observing without somehow contradicting itself, for observation, and the validation based on it, do not share the properties all other material events share. A demarcation must be drawn between saying all observation is material and saying observation is impossible without matter. The former is not true, the latter is.

4.2 Criticism of Common Sense Realism.

Common sense realism presupposed a direct access to reality-as-such. However, this is a metaphysical claim, not a scientific one. Moreover, it cannot be properly argued. It is metaphysical because it can only be backed by arguments, not by factual evidence. There is no "Archimedean point" or ideal vantage point "outside" the dialectic between object & subject. All what happens takes place as an occasion part of the field of consciousness. So nobody is able to directly observe the subject of knowledge while it has this assumed direct access to reality-as-such. How could this be observed without this being the observation of a particular subject ? Moreover, how to argue this ? In order to identify this "direct access", the distinction between "direct" and "indirect" must be made, and this is not based on empirical observation but on logic.

Consider these points.

Firstly, transcendental logic shows one cannot eclipse the subject of thought without introducing contradictions. The reduction itself shows the presence of an active subject, not a mere passive registrator. Secondly, theoretical epistemology discovers how facts are co-determined by theories and so are not monoliths but hybrids. Thirdly, applied epistemology finds how the production of knowledge is co-defined by the opportunistic, local rules-of-thumb of the research-cell competing with other researcher facilities.

"The etymology of the word 'fact' reveals a fact as 'that which has been made' in accord with its root in Latin facere, to make." -
Knorr-Cetina, K. : The Manifacture of Knowledge. An Essay on the Constructivist and Contextual Nature of Science, Pergamon Press -Oxford, 1981, p.3.

"It appears that there exists only one concept the reality of which is not only a convenience but absolute : the content of my consciousness, including my sensations." -
Winger, 1967, p.189.

The neurological study of perception clarifies the distinction between pre-thalamic perception and post-thalamic sensation. All perceptions have to be multiplied by a wide array of interpretations before they can be identified by the subject of knowledge as sensations. Hence, a direct access between the subject and "its" perceptions does not exist. While the sense organs themselves alter the impulses they receive into perceptions, the latter are again altered and pre-processed by the relays to the neocortex. Finally, when projected in the neocortex by the thalamus, these pre-processed afferent impulses are computed by primary & secondary sensory areas before being named, labelled and identified by the subject of knowledge. Naive realism is therefore to be abolished.

The criticism of common sense realism draws a line between claiming our senses do register reality as it is and affirming we must assume the sensitive areas of our senses get stimulated by reality as it is. We cannot directly observe whether the latter is the case or not, but we know without object of knowledge, all knowledge would be mental and we would then contradict ourselves (for according to transcendental logic, knowledge always happens between a knower and a known). In other words, we have no other option than to accept universal illusion could be the case. Gross common sense realism is wrong, critical realism is not.

4.3 Criticism of Materialist Dogmatism.

Rejecting the fundamental argument against materialism (the fact it eliminates the possibility of validating itself, i.e. is self-defeating) leads to dogmatism. This is affirming the position ad hoc, without any good reasons, quite on the contrary. Often this dogmatism is fed by promissory materialism, the view all problems will be solved by future materialist research anyway. Clearly a rational person has to refute this prophetic position thoroughly. It is based on bad argumentations, rejects clear normative principles, norms & maxims and runs against what is known from observational psychology and the neurology of perception. It can only be maintained by coupling it with authoritarianism, and this is exactly what has happened (cf. the role of the materialist "thought-police" in the academia). In that case, the difference between materialist science (scientism) and fideist religion is small. Both adhere to their positions without any evidence and reject good arguments because they cannot accommodate the cherished ideas. As such, both exemplify they own weakness, herald of their final demise.

The criticism of materialist dogmatism distinguished between an ad hoc statement about the sole importance of matter and the view matter, together with information & consciousness, is always an irreducible part of the equation of reality. The absence of materialist dogma does not call for idealist dogma. It is not the case only two solutions are at hand : materialism or mentalism. This old dualism needs to be superseded by triadism. Rejecting materialism does not turn criticism into an idealist system. Criticism rejects materialism and accepts matter. It rejects idealism and accepts information and consciousness. It does not reduce or eliminate any crucial operator, but proposes continuous and multiple interactions between these three.


Epilogue


While it is true that formulating a single ontological principal serves parsimony, materialism is not a viable philosophical position. Mentalism, the opposite, is not a tenable either. Like epistemological realism and epistemological idealism (rooting the possibility of knowledge in reality or ideality respectively), both define an ontological antinomy, to be avoided by a common ground. In this case, both materialism and spiritualism share the actual occasion, characterized by efficiency & finality.

The singular, momentary actual occasion x has differential extension. Every possible property, attribute or aspect characterizing it represents a process, not a substance or ¬ x. Thus, x is to be written as xΔ,with Δ representing, for all possible properties ∫p of this instance x of the set of all actual occasions, the totality of its differential extensions. If time is the only property of x, then x.Δdt prevails.


Efficiency refers to matter. Finality to information and consciousness. These are the three fundamental domains of actual occasions operating the cosmos. Each of the cosmic operators has one dominant type of actual occasion. Material actual occasions emphasize energy and so hardware (12 elementary particles, waves, fields & 4 forces), information deals with order, code, architecture, law and so software, whereas consciousness is mainly about cognition, meaning, choice, participation, observation or userware. Note that in this definition, matter does not include order or code. The reason this is not the case is simple : information does not share the same properties as matter.

Physical theory is correct insofar as material actual occasions go. But physics should not be extended to all of science. Physics refers to the efficient, executive, precipitating, transmitting, displaying, materializing aspect of what exists. This vector is a conditio sine qua non when the actual material & efficient determinations (like causes, interactions, etc.) and conditions are at hand. Information, while possibly expressed by states of matter (glyphs, or signs) and as such part of physics, is itself not material, but a form, code or software. And the properties of software are not identical to those of hardware. Software is an expert-system which, when encoded in hardware, enables a given user to solve problems when necessary. It is the result of (cosmo)biological evolution (natural code) and cultural development (acquired code). Consciousness is a cognitive process using free choice.

The end of physicalism and materialism is not the end of physics or physical inquiry, quite on the contrary. Ending physicalism is ceasing the hold of a wrong metaphysical view on scientific inquiry. By having a framework to understand possible interactions between the cosmic operators, what happens at the periphery of each operator can be investigated (interactions between matter & information, between matter & consciousness and between information & consciousness). Consciousness can be approached in a sane and to-the-point way. Its unique features can be acknowledged and studied without being problematic or worse, reduced or eliminated. In this way, science, freed from materialism & physicalism, is able to take the human fact serious.


Bibliographies


www.sofiatopia.org/equiaeon/philobiblio.htm
www.maat.sofiatopia.org/egyptbiblio.htm
www.neuro.sofiatopia.org/brainbiblio.htm
www.bodhi.sofiatopia.org/bodhibiblio.htm


                 

 

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