Physical vs. Mental
I used to think there was a true dichotomy between things in the physical world and things that were abstract or imagined. But now I can't seem to understand why I ever thought that way.
I consider the mental to be a subset of the physical world (just as trout are a subset of fish). All ideas, abstractions, imaginings, etc. need a physical medium - whether that be a piece of paper, a computer screen, a hard drive, or a brain. This OP is "mental" but we all understand it exists in the physical world. It's not like they're two independent things.
We all know that an imagined horse is not anything like a real horse. But just because they're vastly different (one being a large creature, the other being a specific brain state) doesn't mean they don't both exist in the physical world.
Anyone have any thoughts or refinements on this?
That is so cool -- I have been having similar thoughts.
Thinking about dementia -- when a person loses their memories, what is left? It seems a person is "made" from their collection of memories.... Yet we don't get many of those memories without experience.
And imagination doesn't compare with reality... Yet when all one has left is imagination or memory.... oop, haha, I think I started falling asleep. I have no idea where I was going with that thought ....
For me this is also connected to our thoughts being physical (e.g. 'made of' physics) and chemical processes.
Some people hear voices that are only created inside their brains. We give them some chemical compounds (aka medicine), their brain chemistry changes, and the voices disappear.
And that is just 1 example of chemicals (or magnetic and electrical fields, vibrations, etc.) changing a person's thoughts and behavior.
Apparently all information (which includes thoughts, memories, knowledge, personality) need some kind of medium to be stored and processed on/in. Whether it is our brain, paper or a hard disk.
Makes me also wonder how spirits are supposed to work? Can information exist outside the realm of physics?
If not, can there ever be an (intelligent) being that is strictly 'spiritual' (whatever that may be), and has no physical aspect that deals with storing and processing information?
I've pondered the same questions AA. I've also never understood how something "non-physical" interacted with the physical world. If our brains are just receivers picking up our consciousness then how is that information being transmitted and how could our physical brains capture it? And how is my body able to tell that spirit that I really like apple pie? Or that my leg hurts?
If we don't understand how consciousness emerges from a brain - how does it make more sense to say it emerges from a soul? What exactly do souls have that can create consciousness? It doesn't solve the problem. It just makes it even more mysterious.
I'm not the first person to raise this point but I think it's a valid one: What does it mean to say something exists outside of space and time. As far as I know, existence is necessary spatial and temporal. How do we tell the difference between something that has zero dimension and "exists" for zero seconds - from things which don't exists at all? Aren't they identical?
I consider the mental to be a subset of the physical world
I think it might be the opposite. The appearance of a physical world is created by consciousness. One of the reasons I believe this is my understanding of what scientists see when observing the smallest particles possible. I've read that subatomic particles only exist as particles while they're being observed and measured by a conscious being. Until then they're just waves of energy. If this is true then it might also be true that the entire material world doesn't exist unless consciousness is observing it. Consciousness may be the primary foundation of the physical world, not a byproduct of it.
This belief is reinforced in my mind because I regularly experience it firsthand while dreaming. When I'm asleep and dreaming, I may see and talk to friends, ride a bike, drive a car, see myself in an entire world. While I'm dreaming it all seems so real as I have no other point of reference. It's only after I wake up that I realize that the entire world I just experienced, including the other people I thought I was talking to, were really just a projection of my own consciousness. It all took place in my mind. What I thought was matter and other "consciousness beings" weren't that at all. How can I know that dreams aren't just an echo of a greater reality that we're experiencing while "awake"? Will I, at some point, awaken to an even greater ultimate reality?
I think it might be the opposite. The appearance of a physical world is created by consciousness.
One of the reasons I believe this is my understanding of what scientists see when observing the smallest particles possible. I've read that subatomic particles only exist as particles while they're being observed and measured by a conscious being. Until then they're just waves of energy.
If not please state a source as I really like this type of stuff :-D
Anyway, as far as I know it's not so much that a conscious being observing the waves changes them into particles. It's just that for some phenomena it's impossible to measure all properties very exact at the same time. And sometimes observing/measuring one of those properties very exact, makes the other one almost impossible to measure or predict.
For instance, the double slit experiment gives the same result if no conscious being is watching them, but it's results are recorded for later viewing.
If this is true then it might also be true that the entire material world doesn't exist unless consciousness is observing it.
Does that mean that the material world you are observing is not the same as the one I am observing?
And we also know that we can take away a person's consciousness by changing his material properties.
E.g. I can remove your consciousness from my world by destroying or damaging your material body.
Or I could pause your consciousness by adding chemicals to your body (anaesthetics), and bring back your consciousness by removing the chemicals.
If the material world follows from our consciousness, I would think that would be impossible?
Btw Paul, you should try some lucid dreaming :-D Apparently there are some techniques to achieve this. I still want to try this someday, would be awesome
Then you can make your own reality, Matrix- or Inception-style.
You'll be able to tell the difference between the reality your (sub)consciousness creates when dreaming, and the one it observes when awake.