Ask a number of people for their definition of consciousness and you will receive a number of different definitions based on the perceptual bias of
their weltanschauung (world view). I was no exception to this, but in pursuance of a plausible hypothesis that answered the age old philosophical
‘mind/body’ problem – how mind relates to body, I realised that an explanation of what consciousness is and how it arises would be integral to
The perception of our own individual consciousness is a self-evidential condition affirming our own individual existence. While we perceive ourselves
in a state of consciousness we are self-affirming our own ‘being’, our own individual ‘aliveness’. However, being in a state of consciousness
is not just about being awake and sentient, it is about having a ‘quale experience’ of the external world, the experience of ‘feeling’ what
things in nature are ‘like’, and it is this part of the consciousness puzzle, the qualitative aspect of nature and existence that will be the last
to fall to understanding. The Australian philosopher David Chalmers correctly identified this as the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness. (1)
What I am presenting here is not a scientific theory, but a hypothesis that brings about a ‘new’ understanding of consciousness that readjusts the
kaleidoscope of consciousness theory to a more correctly orientated direction; a resetting of the compass if you will. It does not answer the hard
problem, but may open up unthought-of avenues for further investigation and analysis.
I want to begin by restating the mind/body problem, and to zoom in on what its problem really is, to identify the real error. The real problem isn’t
about how mind and body relate, but about perceiving how they do. Rather than looking for ways of relation, let us instead look at the ways of how we
Mind is said to be ‘immaterial’, whereas the body is ‘physical’. The latter is open to analysis and investigation, whereas the former isn’t
so inclined. How can something immaterial affect and be affected by something that is physical, and vice versa? This question is central to the
mind/body question, and is the reason why it has never been answered.
The error lies in the use of the word ‘immaterial’ and the thinking that mind is immaterial. Of course, if one is going to doubt that mind is
immaterial then the other option is that mind is physical, the perceiving of which seemingly discounts this. If one was to discount both possibilities
for mind, the question becomes does mind exist at all? However, perception says that it does, or rather that something we equate to mind does. What do
we mean by immaterial?
The English Oxford dictionary gives the following definition…
adjective 1, unimportant under the circumstances; irrelevant: the difference in
our ages is immaterial. 2. Philosophy: spiritual, rather than physical: we have immaterial souls.
Origin: late Middle English (in sense 2): from late Latin immaterialis, from in- 'not' + materialis 'relating to
…so, according to the Oxford dictionary, immaterial means not being material, having no substance or matter.
This definition is helpful, as it removes the error from the mind/body question, but to see how it does we have to further investigate why something
considered ‘immaterial’ cannot relate to anything at all.
Why do I have a problem with the word ‘immaterial’? It’s because of the way I have come to think about it. I view immateriality has having no
properties of interaction. If something can immaterially exist, it will be the last subjective expression of the complex processes and dynamics that
bring it forth, and if this is so, it will not require interactive properties, because there will be no higher process or dynamic to interact with.
Viewed in this way, immateriality is not an object or thing, but a condition. Immateriality is the inverse perception of physicality. We can conceive
things to be immaterial because we firstly perceive things physical.
Space is immaterial, but the only reason why we can perceive space is because of the content in it. Space is spatial-ized by its content, but if space
had no content we would not be able to perceive space, and have no conception of spatiality. These are the actual relations, relations of
In this context we can set a new relation for mind and body. We can say that mind is the quale experience of being conscious. We do not have a mind
that is conscious, but a conscious we experientially perceive as mind. This is why the mind/body problem has never been solved. The mind truly is as
immaterial as empty space, because it is nothing more than a mental mirage. It is not a ‘thing’, it is a perception. The philosophical question of
how mind relates to body is answered…it relates only as a perception.
What we need to explore now is how consciousness arises out of the various processes and dynamics internal and external to the human body and brain?
This is what this hypothesis contends itself with in part 2 (coming over the next few days).