Philosophy: toward a dawn of a new day

A. Consciousness

A1. The consciousness enigma. Being Conscious is the central fact of personal existence. Yet, to date, attempts to account for what consciousness is and what it does have failed. This issue is addressed below.

A2. A criterion of physicality. The physical is publicly observable. Your dentist can see your aching tooth but not your toothache. The tooth, being publicly observable is physical; your toothache, being private, is not. Such observations are deemed objective. In contrast, a toothache, being private is considered subjective.

A3. The tabula rasa assumption. The most basic assumption that underlies present-day theories of knowledge is that sensations are imported into the brain, none innate (Locke 1689).

A4. Sensations are innate. Recent findings in neuroscience demonstrate that information from the senses to the brain is devoid of qualitative attributes. Sensations are innate and are evoked by the brain.

A5. An epistemological consequence. Making explicit the epistemological implications of the fact that sensations are innate would constitute the most fundamental advance in knowledge since Locke introduced the tabula rasa assumption. Consider one such implication.

B. The physical is inferred from the mental

B1. Sensations are private. The fact that sensory qualities are not received from the senses nor from the external world through the senses determines them to be private, subjective, phenomenal or mental.

B2. Knowledge of the physical is inferred from sensory information. Knowledge of the physical is inferred from sensory information that is innate, private, and thus mental.

B3. A proof that consciousness exists. The above subsection B2 confers epistemological priority on the mental relative to the physical. It constitutes a proof that non-physical consciousness exists. It is the first to do so.

C. The Mind matters

C1. Imagining selectively activates the brain. Brain-computer interface prostheses (BCIs) for persons paralyzed from the neck down are based on the fact that performing, as well as imagining, a voluntary movement creates a characteristic pattern of activation in the motor cortex.

C2. Selective brain activation by imagination is exemplified by BCIs. The BCI detects the activation pattern of the motor cortex, identifies the intended movement, and initiates commands to the servomechanism, to fulfill the desired movement be it control of an electric a wheelchair or moving a cursor on a computer screen.

C3. The mind affecting brain and behavior is commonplace. The brain is physical, while imagination is not. The fact that imagination activators the brain show that the mind affecting the brain is common places.

D. The conscious brain does things that the non-conscious brain cannot.

Exemplified below are some things that the conscious brain can do that the non-conscious brain cannot.

D1. Qualia. The physicist’s description of nature is devoid of qualitative attributes of sensory modalities of exteroception (Locke’s secondary qualities). Yet, these are the qualities through which we know the physical world. Such qualia provide us the simplest representation of the outside world.

D2. Perceptual binding. A percept combines several sensory modalities and submodalities, each of which is represented in a different part of the brain. There is no known location in the brain that represents a percept. Thus, ordinary perception does not correspond to any brain location. What the mind does simply, neuroscience cannot explain yet other than the synchronous activation of these multiple brain loci.

D3. Concepts. Theoretical physics is formulated by use of mathematical concepts and operations. For example, the concept of triangularity or of a regular polygon is not an object locatable in space or available for public observation. It is generally accepted that concepts are not physical. Neither are they arbitrary or a mere linguistic convention. Recent neuroscientific evidence indicates that there are innate brain mechanisms that convert percepts into concepts.

E. Conclusions

E1. Innate sensations prove that the physical is inferred from the mental.

E2. Qualia, percepts and concepts exemplify the advantage of consciousness.

E3. The mind affects the brain and behavior.

E4. The mind and matter are different aspects of the same more basic reality.

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