Update on ...

...is there evidence for the existence of the "soul"?

[Last modified 7/27/97]

There are several aspects of this issue that I hope to address in this piece:

  1. Why is this an issue?
  2. A brief look at the model implied in the biblical word-group for the "inner life" (soul, heart, mind, spirit, self, will, choice) and how this might 'map' to the contemporary research word-group for the same phenomena (consciousness, awareness, unconscious, preconscious, subconscious, volition, attention, etc.)
  3. A statement of the "problem" and statement of the four main options available in trying to come to grips with the data.
  4. A discussion of the 4 main options, with particular focus on the trends within the field.
  5. A look at the more critical data points and arguments supporting the causal efficacy of the mind.
  6. A look at the status of 'dualism' (whatever THAT is now) and the overall state of knowledge in this field.
  7. Comment on The Value of Research under Reductive Paradigms.
  8. Tying it all Together: Musings, Extrema, and Conclusions

[Note: Some of this material will be too technical for the average reader; and some too general for the practitioner in the field. I have deliberately tried to be as broad as I could, without too much detail explanation. The citations will have pointers to the relevant bibliographic resources.]

  1. Why is this an issue?

  2. It's a Humpty-Dumpty kinda thing. Since Rene Descartes split the universe into two realms--the material and the spiritual--no one has been able to put it back together again. Theories that the mind/soul (in the 'spiritual' or 'immaterial' world) was causally efficacious on the body (which was in the material, geometric world) were assumed to be true, but not provable. As natural science pulsed forward (generally under the awesome intellects of Christian thinkers--Newton, Boyle, Kepler, for example), this assumption became increasingly difficult to have confidence in. No 'mechanisms' of interfacing between the mind and the brain (or the soul and the body) could be found.

    Eventually, as the granularity of science got finer, and the applicability of natural 'law' got more pervasive, there seemed to be NO IDENTIFIABLE POINT of contact between the spiritual and the physical. And, in spite of well-meaning theological protests to the contrary, the philosophical and scientific communities began to assume the opposite--that the spiritual COULD NOT interface with the physical. It is only a short step from that position, of course, to ask the rather obvious question--"if we cannot see it, taste it, touch it, measure it, smell it, weigh it--then why in the world should we believe such a 'soul' even exists?!" And, from the standpoint of the physical worldview of the early 20th century, this seemed an almost ironclad and unambiguously decisive objection to the belief in an 'immaterial part of man' (the older definition of the soul).

    In fact, one of the determinative images in both content and in historical placement relative to this issue was developed by Gilbert Ryle in the middle of this century. His illustration of finally driving away the "ghost in the machine" still forms the paradigm for popular pieces and arguments today--in spite of its grossly archaic position (as we shall see below).

    The religious believer, the mystic, and normal 'folks' all generally believed in some type of "immaterial part" of humans--the 'self', although the very terminology used ("part" and "interaction") was conceived of from a 'substance' standpoint. The soul was some kind of cloud-like 'matter' (albeit without any physical properties except the ability to influence REAL matter), and the mind was a constitutive part of this 'soul' thing.

    The religious believer in the Western traditions believed in a soul that can survive the death of the body. As such, it clearly has an 'existence' of its own (even if it is quasi-dependent on some substrate in some cases). It is thus not IDENTICAL to the body, nor is it rigidly EMERGENT from the body. This belief in the causal efficacy of the soul was rather universal, being virtually assumed by everybody as a practical matter: both as an individual trying to better my life and mind, and as a society, holding people legally accountable for their actions. In addition to these practical arguments for the 'existence' of a soul/mind/consciousness (i.e. teleology/introspection, socio-legal theory), many of the revealed religions contained this as a tenet as well. Within Judeo-Christianity the health, direction, longevity of the soul was frequently a major issue of statements by God. The very moral accountability within theological justice was predicated on the causal efficacy of the soul (as it is in our human legal systems). The very difference between the crimes of "Pre-meditated murder" and "manslaughter" makes no sense whatsoever without the practical belief that a person's "inner life" can have "intentions" , make "choices", and select some goals over other goals.

    The belief that a soul or "aware agent" can survive the death of the body is NOT the focus of our study here. It will be sufficient for my purpose to simply provide evidence for the existence of a soul that can survive now! Within the materialist paradigm that was reigning in power in the first half of this century--and even now still has its strong advocates, legacy arguments, and large following--to allow the reality/existence of one solitary something that simply CANNOT EXIST(!) is adequate to demonstrate the inadequacy of the materialist/physicalist position. If it can be demonstrated that phenomenal consciousness can only be explained under an alternate ontology than physicalist, that mental states can measurably and spontaneously change brain/body chemistry, that some contents and/or features of consciousness strongly indicate some kind of dualism, that physicalist theories have major weaknesses or omissions, or that mere will alone can affect the performance of neural and motor systems, or the such like, then the physicalist paradigm will be shown to be fundamentally flawed.

    A visitor to the Tank recently wrote:

    Hi, Glenn! I'm an ex-Christian (now atheist) who ran across your page about the soul. This was actually one of the key factors in my deconversion (that is, when I discovered that we don't have free will). Anyways...

    Duality of body and mind was first thought up by Descartes and even he saw the basic problem with that view, namely how can something which is not material influence something which is? Basic physical law: energy cannot be created out of nothing, ergo: no interaction possible.

    Apart from the rather obvious immediate question as to what this person's prior faith was BASED ON (i.e. a view of psychology RATHER THAN on the historical data about the appearance, disclosure, and subsequent resurrection of the God-man Jesus!), there are several items relevant to our study here.

    The statement shows some of the major issues in this topic: "free" will, the causal efficacy of an immaterial something, and the inviolability of the laws of physics.

    Let me make a quick note here about what is NOT at issue. The Christian faith is in no way dependent on what kind of existence a soul 'has' now--it could just as easily be the case that the mind and brain are identical (Christian Identity Theorists) and that God simply rebuilds the whole system as a unit at the Moral Judgment resurrection at the end of time (Rev 20: Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. ). Under this scenario, 'mentalist' terminology is seen under 'aspect' categories. Indeed, in the excellent book by Stephen Davis on the resurrection [RI], he has separate chapters addressed to Christian Dualism and to Christian Physicalism. [However, let me also point out that while a Christian could certainly be a physicalist with regard to the human soul, it is much more difficult to justify the position of a strict physicalist with regard to angelic intelligences and God!]

    With this framework in mind (pardon the pun and spatial metaphor!), let's dive in.


  3. A brief look at the model implied in the biblical word-group for the "inner life" (soul, heart, mind, spirit, self, will, choice) and how this might 'map' to the contemporary research word-group for the same phenomena (consciousness, awareness, unconscious, preconscious, subconscious, volition, attention, etc.)

  4. In this section I intend to simply sketch out some of the terms in the biblical picture of the 'inner life' and relate those to contemporary categories (which will show up in the actual data and arguments later).

    The subject of the "nature" of the soul in scripture is NOT a very simple one, and exploring the subject is complicated by the fuzziness and overlap of the terms. More rigorous treatments of this in theological works would develop the semantic fields and ranges of each of these terms, but I will settle here for a broad-brush model description.

    The operative terms include: soul, self, mind, heart, spirit, nature.

    These biblical terms have a great deal of overlap, so we should not press the general characterizations above too far. But the model above can be roughly mapped onto contemporary categories (which has its OWN lack of precision!).

    Self might refer to the internal self-maps of Damasio (CS:DEERHB) plus current acquired and survival goals of the individual. Soul, in its narrowest sense, would refer to phenomenal consciousness/awareness. Mind might refer to our modern notion of 'global workspace', with some extensions into unconscious processes, and without losing the phenomenal experience aspect. Spirit would reflect deep motivational structures--setting pervasive goals on the basis of self-understanding (reflecting survival and growth value--broadly considered). Heart would be a very broad notion, certainly entailing many of the unconscious processes and subsystems. [Even the 'blurting' matches the 'liberation' of unconscious action routines-cf. CS:SAC:423-444.] The 'programming' and 'directing' activities can be seen as attention/distribution and priming mechanisms, and the overriding of action routines in process as the veto/executive function of consciousness (see Libet, CS:TSC:342; JCS:1:1:130). "Sinful nature" would refer narrowly to certain de-coupled unconscious drives, that attempt to dominate behavior.

    Thus the biblical usage of these terms has adequate non-technical overlap with our contemporary concepts in the literature.


  5. A snapshot of the "problem" and overview of the options available in trying to come to grips with the data.

  6. The problem might be stated concisely as:

    The universe as we know it is completely determined, completely closed, and devoid of any non-physical objects. Consciousness, of the sort we seem to experience everyday, CANNOT 'fit' in such a universe. We have not been able to account for the subjective experience of awareness (what it is like, a la Nagel). We have not been able to even imagine a way for these mental/phenomenal states to causally 'do something' in this universe. We have not been able to account for why this consciousness-thing is even here (assuming its non-causal status, and the dominant evolutionary paradigm). And we are not sure how to even approach these three questions...
    This view of a closed, mechanistic universe forms one pole of the problem, and the popular, "folk" view of consciousness forms the opposite. The physicalist/materialist view asserts that ONLY purely physical "things" can interact, and that ANY OTHER 'meta term' (such as life, evolution, beliefs, justice, semantics) must reduce down to a mixture of these material 'things'--WITHOUT REMAINDER. On the other hand, the folk view of human psychology is the view that mental states (or intentional states such as 'beliefs', 'wishes', 'decisions') play SOME part in influencing or producing human behavior.

    The problem is clear: if these mental events are not exactly identical to some physical 'stuff' and/or brain processes, then we have something 'outside' of the physical-material system 'causing' something to occur. If these intentional states are NOT 'outside the system' in some sense, then THEY THEMSELVES are deterministically caused by mindless physical processes (and correspondingly, are in no way affected by independent, conscious processes).

    The Physicalist view maintains that there is only physical causation; the non-physicalist maintains that there is also an agent causation. Hodgson (JCS2:1:206f) describes this type of causation as follows:

    "We think of people as autonomous agents, who decide what to do on the basis of their beliefs, desires, purposes, aspirations, feelings--in short, their reasons. If we want to predict their conduct, we apply our knowledge of their personalities, of the circumstances which face them, and of human nature. If we want to influence them to behave in particular ways, we put forward considerations which we hope they will find persuasive, and which will thus affect their beliefs and purposes, and thereby their actions.

    "This concept of causation is different in several ways from the concept of physical causation. I would point out four in particular:

    1. It presupposes the point of view of a person or agent, who is able to choose between alternatives in deciding what to do.
    2. It uses characteristic mental concepts, such as beliefs, desires, purposes, feelings, etc.
    3. It views a decision as a unique efficacious event, rather than an instance of the operation of general laws.
    4. Unlike physical causes, the reasons which motivate an agent are characteristically inconclusive" [note: this refers to mutually operative and conflicting goals]
    Now, given this thumbnail, what possible 'resolutions' are theoretical options? Let's list a few:
    1. The universe is as we assume, and consciousness--as an allegedly irreducible element in reality-- is an illusion. Our subjective experience is simply not that 'real', and can be exhaustively reduced (without remainder) to purely physical processes or identified co-extensively with known physical processes (Dennett, the Churchlands). There simply IS NO problem here. [Physicalist, Reductionism, Eliminative Materialists, Dual Aspect, Identity theory--most forms]
    2. The universe is as we assume, and consciousness is real, but non-causal. It emerges out of lower levels of phenomena, but cannot feedback into the physical process. [Epiphenomenal]
    3. Our universe is as we assume--but all the determined, closed objects are ALREADY conscious [Process thought, panpsychism].
    4. The universe IS NOT as we assume, consciousness is ontologically real and CAN be causally efficacious backwards/downwards without upsetting the physical laws that we DO accept [Quantum theories, Non-linear Emergence, Dualism].( Penrose/Beck, Alwyn Scott, Eccles)


  7. A discussion of the 4 main options, with particular focus on the trends within the field.

  8. The first thing to notice is that options ONE and TWO assume the closed, mechanist, physicalist universe as a fundamental constraint on any theory of consciousness. IF the 'machine' is ALL THERE IS, then either (1) there can be nothing but 'machines' or (2) any non-machine stuff must be produce-able by machines and be detached from the interactions in/around the machine.

    But it is this closed, mechanist, Cartesian universe that has been disappearing out from under us for the last 75 years! Even though it is the physicist community that has created and chronicled this de-bunking of the materialist-myth, students of consciousness studies are increasingly following suit.

    This is a critical step in understanding the dynamics of the discussion, so I want to document this carefully. Materialism, physicalism, reductionism, and mechanism are simply being abandoned by the scholarly community. Let me produce relevant quotations and references to document this rather critical shift.

    This final quote sums up the point: the older foundation that required some form of reduction, identity theory, eliminativism etc. is simply naïve and abandoned by scientists. The universe is simply not as hostile, sterile, and closed relative to 'other things' as was held at the beginning of this century.

    To further highlight this shift in paradigms, let me simply point out that a recent survey at the 1996 conference in Tucson ("Toward a Science of Consciousness"), held at the University of Arizona, indicated that only 27% of the respondents believed that "there is no other reality than the physical universe". [data from the Consciousness Bulletin, U of Az, Extended University]

    Now, at this point I have shown that there is no NEED for explaining away consciousness; on the other hand, I have NOT given any evidence/arguments FOR the existence and/or causal efficacy of the mind. If we have good reasons to believe that our mental states can have some 'downward causation', then--in the absence of BETTER explanations for that belief--we will be justified (epistemically) in believing in the mind/soul/consciousness.

    Now, getting back to the four options...

    On OPTION ONE--eliminative materialism: If data exists that supports the claim that mental states can produce effects in the brain--and no data exists that provides a BETTER explanation for that data WITHOUT an agent-mind, then eliminative materialism is thereby weakened. Notice now that the materialism must actually provide hard DATA--not just fall back on some allegedly required reductionism due to the closed-universe, folk physics. It will not do to simply assume reductionism or identity--it must now be DEMONSTRATED by the materialist.

    Generally, the EM's accept what I have called 'folk physics' and literally ASSUME WITHOUT ARGUMENT that reductionism MUST BE true. Dennett is of course one of the more outspoken EM's. In a prelude to his presentation at a conference on consciousness, Dennett wrote this (emphasis mine):

    "Old habits die hard, especially habits of thinking, and our 'intuitive' ways of thinking about consciousness are infected with leftover Cartesian images, an underestimated legacy of the dualist past. Of course the brain is the seat of consciousness, and all the phenomena that compose our pre-theoretical catalogue of conscious phenomena are ultimately explicable in terms of the activities in our brains and bodies, but the paths of explanation (or 'reduction') are not as direct as many materialists have supposed."

    "I have tried to show theorists in several disciplines how their presumed-to-be-innocent formulations typically harbour Cartesian presuppositions that still need to be discarded and replaced. "

    Notice that the images of classical matter, reductionism without remainder, and old-style physical monism--ideas which the rest of the world FORMERLY believed and are being quickly abandoned in favor of more current knowledge (as I showed above)--are literally the core of this position!

    Somehow, in this position, our culture still transmits the view of folk psychology, and the goal of the EM is to get us beyond this.

    There are huge problems with this position, the largest of which (IMO) is that it uses the Ostrich approach to the 'hard problems' of consciousness. Dennett's excellent and provocative book Consciousness Explained is often referred to in the field as Consciousness Explained Away, due to the fact it will not even admit the question of 'feel' of experience. His description of the many competing selves will not be very surprising to those of us who live in the world of arbitrating conflicting goals DAILY, and the alleged problem of the Cartesian theater will not impress those of us who were gestaltists all along. And for those of us with "decision making responsibilities" (and/or those of us with research interests in action theory) will recognize the true sterility of approaches that are purely representational.

    Chalmers has noted that there are typically three approaches to this issue: ignore it, explain something else, or retreat to mystery. Dennett falls squarely (indeed, deliberately leads the charge) in the first option!

    Besides, I have always felt uneasy about someone arguing positions like "I have a belief that beliefs are actually illusions" or "I intend to write a book, explaining that intentions are actually illusions". Although there are responses to my criticisms--reductionist or in some cases, even patronizing ones!--I get a distinct sense (or at least an unconscious physical process that activates more neural circuits than do other unrelated physical processes, and hence achieves relative dominance over subsequent processes used to complete the sentence...heh, heh) that the problem is being addressed by calling for 'more sand'.

    There are many, many more issues involved here, and research along materialist paradigms can be very useful (see my later remarks to students), but suffice it to say that the position (at least the Dennett-version, considered an 'extreme' in the field--cf. CS:TSC:619) is:

    1. ALTOGETHER unnecessary with the radical changes in the views of physical reality;
    2. counter-intuitive and counter-experiential;
    3. too limited in scope to answer the 'questions'. The phenomenal sense of 'epistemic closure', for just one example, on a philosophical argument is more like a qualia than a representation [You could not even decide on the materialist position without a phenomenal experience];
    4. cannot deal with the neurological data that supports some kind of quasi-dualist position;
    5. cannot account for the innate character of the belief in subjective mental states (as evidenced in infant/childhood cognitive research);
    6. is logically fallacious in denying the stream of consciousness because of no central theater--there are more options than that [see Stapp's presentation of the Heisenberg/James model as a better explanation of the anti-Theater data, CS:MMQM:23-28; see fellow-representationist Tye's rejection in CS:TPC:7]
    7. is possibly self-refuting as a position; cannot account for Incorrigibility [CS:JCS_3.3.228-229] nor provide a meaningful response to the Bafflement Argument [CS:JCS_3.4.355ff]
    8. cannot adequately deal with the issue of semantics (a la the Chinese Room deal of Searle's);
    9. is weakened at pivotal points by fallacies of equivocation around key terms in the field [e.g. CS:TCM:189-191];
    10. is at odds with observed neurophysical data [CS:TSC:308-309. re: synchronicity and the MDM, and Libet in CS:TSOC:107 re: retroactive masking affects] and even mistaken about classical physical principles [CS:TSC:620. re: the energy required to change acceleration]; and
    11. even disclaims that it is 'more scientific' than Cartesian dualism(!)--consider his quote on p.455 [CS:CE:455]
    12. "I haven't replaced a metaphorical theory, the Cartesian Theater, with a nonmetaphorical ('literal, scientific') theory. All I have done, really, is to replace one family of metaphors and images with another, trading in the Theater, the Witness, the Central Meaner, the Figment, for Software, Virtual Machines, Multiple Drafts, a Pandemonium of Homunculi. It's just a war of metaphors, you say--but metaphors are not 'just' metaphors; metaphors are the tools of thought."
      [Given the problem the EM has with small-scale semantic objects in Searle's Chinese Room, do I need to point out that this use of metaphor--the GRANDADDY of semantic problems!--suggests that I am uneasy about "I am using metaphors to argue that a primarily syntactical explanation of consciousness will show that higher-order semantic constructs defined by syntactic irrationality (i.e. metaphors) reduce down without remainder to syntax"? The issue of how the mind processes metaphors is incredibly complex, but certainly is more difficult for a mind-as-pure-syntax-processor approach. A syntax processor would recognize the classic example of a nonsense sentence of category mistakes ("green ideas sleep furiously") as exactly that--and never be able to see a metaphorical sense to it. I, on the other hand, as one who has gone to bed at night with a novel, but postponed idea, and troubled by the unresolved cognitive puzzles in it, toss and turn all night as the idea fumes around in my head, have NO trouble recognizing a blatant fact of my existence in that puddle of category mistakes! [For some of the subtleties associated with this, see PH:MAT:42-57 (re:linguistics) and 307-328 (re:psychological processes)]
    This position, also, is shacked by the rather arduous tasks of explaining how the folk theory is (1) ubiquitous to, and deeply held at a practical level by the vast majority of peoples and cultures, and ALL legal systems; (2) present at some level in various primates (see below); and (3) how this folk psychology is apparently innate in the young child (as opposed to arising from later 'brainwashing' from our 'dualist past').

    Let me make this last point clear.

    Research in infant cognition (CS:WIK) documents that children display knowledge of others' subjective mental and intentional states quite early:

    1. "This work showed that children, even three-year olds, understand the difference between desire and belief. They can anticipate people's actions on the basis of desires and beliefs and coordinate the one with the other. At three, it is not difficult for them to know that it is necessary to take beliefs into consideration in order to explain how an organism satisfies its desires. In the course of other, more difficult experiments, the stories were written in such a way that the children could only infer the character's beliefs, which were not explicitly mentioned. Even then, three-year-old children had no problem." (p116)
    2. "We can, therefore, legitimately suppose that, by about two and a half or three years, children already attribute subjective mental states to other people. In order to make decisions about behaviors and responses, they rely on conjectures about the subjective mental states of others." (p.118)
    3. "The evidence suggest that children, no matter how young, attribute subjective mental states to their fellow humans. However, a skeptical reader could point out that there is no evidence showing that they possess a naïve psychology before the age of three or four. This is an important objection. But we could counter it by saying that the differences that exist between the newborn and the three-year-old are most probably not due to a learning process, but to growth. The argument bearing on the poverty of the environment applies better here than in any other area. Rather than assuming that families teach babies the concepts of desire, intention, and belief, which we have never succeeded in doing in the laboratory, it seems more practical to think that humans beings, even at their youngest, naturally possess a concept of what a subjective mental state is, and that they use it to characterize themselves and others. Children's games confirm this by showing that they use theories that are natural and thus universal, rather than learned." (p.119)



    Since the vast majority of 'stuff' and behaviors in a child before the age of four is CRITICALLY important to their survivability and thrive-ability, the presence of a folk psychology argues for its importance and for its innate origin. This is NOT simply some 'dualist legacy' that we have 'absorbed'!

    "We humans seem geared from the start to deal with each others' intentions, at least to be enormously sensitive to them in their various guises. Positivist philosophers, like Dan Dennett (1991) may be embarrassed by human intentionality, deep-freezing them as an 'intentional stance,' but 18-month-olds are not the least so. I refer again to a Meltzoff (1995) finding. Infants imitate the intended behavior of an Other and not its surface properties. In brief, if the outcome of an adult's act is thwarted, infants of 18 months will imitate it as if it had been carried through right to its goal. Human infants do easily and naturally (and to the delight of their caregivers) what Kanzi (the bonobo) does stumblingly, and only if he has the luck of being raised by that gang of very human and dedicated graduate students and post-docs at Georgia State." [italics his. Jerome Bruner, "Human Infancy and the Beginnings of Human Competence", in Unraveling the Complexities of Social Life: A Festscrift in Honor of Robert B. Zajonc, John Bargh and Deborah Apsley (eds), Amer Psych Asso:2001, p.137.]
    Since my intention for this piece is to focus on the data that is most difficult to interpret apart from some semi-dualist position, I have not gone into much detail on EM (or this various forms) here, nor have I interacted with the position at any significant level in this paper. [And, needless to say, I have not discussed the considerable positive contributions to the field that EM has made.] Nonetheless, the reader should be able to see that the EM position is NO LONGER arguing from a position of strength in mainstream consciousness studies, and that the consensus views are moving into more radical territory to explain the phenomena of the mind. [For an in-depth review of CS:CE, see Roskies and Wood, The Sciences, May/June 1992.]

    On OPTION TWO--epiphenomenalism. This is the view that something conscious 'emerges' from the non-conscious, but that it cannot 'do anything'--it is acausal relative to the brain. In this model, the mind has absolutely NO FUNCTION and no way to 'contribute' to the individual or to history.

    As you might expect from this description, this position is generally being abandoned due to question about how such a mind could originate. Popper was one of the earliest critics of this position, noting that, operating under the evolutionary paradigm, a non-causal something CANNOT originate. If it adds nothing to the individual or community survival (requiring some type of causal import), then evolutionary theory says it CANNOT develop (or if it DID accidentally develop once, then it would not be 'selected' for survival, since the trait contributes nothing to preservation).

    "Popper has had to justify his pluralism against conventional monist theories such as that mental events are brain processes which would take place anyway whether conscious or not. His argument is essentially an evolutionary one. If the processes would take place anyway consciousness would never have evolved. It must confer a biological advantage." [CS:JCS_2.2.189]
    This criticism can be expanded considerably, and is done so by scientists Hut and Shepard in JCS:3.4.315:
    "If conscious experience does not causally affect the course of those physical processes (epiphenomenalism), then: (a) Why does it seem that I can control my own actions (free will)? (b) What function does consciousness serve; and why would it have evolved? (c) What causes some physical bodies (namely, other persons) to make those physical acts (of speech, writing, or typing) that express the (hard) problem of consciousness (including the problems of 'solipsism', of the existence of 'other minds', of whether robots could feel pain, or whether your experiences of red and green are the same as mine or just the reverse, etc.)?"
    This last point is known as the Bafflement argument. If some entity expresses 'bafflement' about its conscious states, then--by virtue of the fact that it expresses 'bafflement'--those mental states 'caused' something! In other words, the mental state of 'bafflement' CAUSED ME (as a contributing cause--not sole cause, of course) to do something--in this case, to write about how baffled I am. If one mental state or awareness-content can have a causal effect, there is no reason to assume that others could not as well.

    The 'intuitive' sense is that options ONE and TWO are simply wrong. We DO seem to differentiate between mental states and physical states, and we DO seem to be able to re-order our physical worlds based on mental events. But option two--asserting that mind IS SOMETHING--is quite weakened by its lack of a plausible genesis account.

    To this lack of a theory of origins, must be added the sheer anomaly in the universe such a one-way relationship would represent! The Nobel prize-winning physicist Eugene Wigner, reflecting on the connection between consciousness and the physical world, observed, 'if mind could not affect the physical world but was only affected by it, this would be the only known example in modern physics of such a one-way interaction'" [cited CS:TSOC:152].

    On OPTION THREE--panpsychism. This is admittedly one of the stranger views, maintaining that the impossible gap from non-consciousness to consciousness is in fact NOT EVEN THERE. If consciousness exists--in some spectrum of intensity/quality--in EVERYTHING, then how to get a conscious brain is not as quite daunting as first appears. If the rocks have some level of sentience or semi-consciousness--and yet they conform to physical 'law' quite obediently, then why would we have a problem with a brain doing the same thing?

    As an explanatory expedient, this is an obvious option, but it has not met with much success for a number of reasons:

    1. It is radically counter-experiential. Most of us do not have any experiential data to support a belief that our shoes are watching us, that the cold pizza has an 'inner life', or that the sofa has beliefs and desires.
    2. It really doesn't solve the problem of human consciousness. William James attacked this view by pointing out there is still no answer to the generation problem herein. Panpsychism says each element is 'conscious' or mental; it offers no explanation on how these elements would/could combine into the new, rich, complex--and seemingly integrated--consciousness we enjoy [cited by Seager, in JCS:2.3.280-1].
    3. We still have the same problem for the elements--how did THEY 'get to be' mental? Why would consciousness 'evolve' in a rock or a liter of water?
    4. As one writer suggested, this kind of a world could be intrinsically difficult and have a different level of predictability that we currently see:
    5. "Yet another serious problem arises upon considering the role of mentality in the workings of the world. One might expect that a fundamental feature as significant as consciousness should take some part in the world's causal commerce. But if it does play such a role, then we should expect it to turn up in our investigation of the physical world; we should expect, that is, to see physically indistinguishable systems at least occasionally diverge in their behavior because of the lurking causal powers of their mental dimension. In that case, our physical picture of the world is radically incomplete and many would find this extremely implausible. I often have to worry about whether my car will start, but I thankfully don't have the additional worry about its failing to start even when there is absolutely nothing mechanically wrong with it but just because it 'feels like' staying in the garage today!" [CS:JCS_2.3.281]
    Panpsychism is not a very popular option, although there is a very refined version of it--process philosophy--that does attract some modern thinkers.

    On OPTION FOUR--a "new and bigger" view of reality This view holds that we need to incorporate the newer scientific findings of physics, systems, biology into the 'substrate' of the universe, and that such a modified substrate provides requisite avenues for downward causation by the mind. In some cases we have to adjust paradigms 'upward', making our current universe a derivative-subset or disintegrated case of larger-scale hyperdimensional structures (as is being done in the Theories of Everything research endeavors). In ALL cases of these alternative scenarios, the mind is causally efficacious ("downward") on the human organism.

    I intend here to demonstrate--by survey--how robust this research is; the sheer range of these proposals is impressive (and a measure of the dissatisfaction with the reductionist/physicalist paradigm). I cannot interact with these here, but will comment on some of the more mainstream ones.

    1. There are many, many suggestions for where quantum effects influence the brain: Beck/Eccles (pre-synaptic vesicular grid), Stapp (calcium ions), ion channels (M.J. Donald), microtubules (Hameroff). [CS:JCS_1.1.100-102]
    2. Hameroff, in his review of the book by Jibu/Yasue (Quantum Brain Dynamics and Consciousness: An Introduction) points out that quantum explanations are many [CS:JCS_3.5-6.529]:
    3. "A progression of quantum models ranging from Bohr, Schrodinger, Pauli, Umezawa and Bohm in the past, to Penrose, Eccles, Beck and Stapp today also address perplexities such as the nature of experience, free will, non-computable processing, a flow of time and pre-conscious to conscious transitions. Obvious questions include how organized macroscopic quantum processes could possibly occur in the brain, and how they might relate to known neural activity. While some quantum models are biologically vague, others are fairly clear, though unproven. For example Beck and Eccles have proposed that the probabilistic release of neurotransmitter vesicles from axon terminals is influenced by quantum uncertainty. In the Hameroff-Penrose model, quantum coherence occurs in neuronal microtubules (isolated by actin gels) and is sustained on the order of tens to hundreds of milliseconds until self-collapse (a 'conscious event') occurs. Along somewhat similar lines, an approach called quantum field theory considers quantum coherent water dipoles in the brain's neurons and glia."
    4. Some quantum approaches to consciousness introduce gravity effects into the mix (e.g. Penrose, Diosi) [CS:JCS_1.1.20-21]
    5. Hameroff sees quantum effects in the coherence of microtubules [CS:JCS_1.1.91-118, et.al.]. "Quantum coherence in cytoskeletal microtubules and associated water within each of the brain's neurons may be a bottom level from which consciousness can emerge...Emergence implies a qualitatively new property or phenomenon which appears at a hierarchical level above the level at which rules of interaction are implemented" (p.91). This applies quantum effects at the nanometer scale.
    6. N. Herbert has argued that matter consists of fleeting vibratory patterns in a vast field of consciousness; that a universal mentality interpenetrates the physical world. His phrase 'quantum animism' suggest that every quantum wave contains consciousness. This quantum/mental realm interacts with the physical world in our brains [Elemental Mind: Human Consciousness and the New Physics, Dutton/Penguin:1993].
    7. Nunn, Clarke, and Blott showed that EEG's collapsing the q.field at the brain hemisphere level affected task performance in test subjects! [JSC:1.1.127ff].
    8. Clarke invokes quantum process, but not at the small-scale sites of others (e.g. microtubules, neurons)--he goes for the ENTIRE brain: "The total quantum state of the human brain, in all its complexity, is potentially the ground within which mind can operate, is potentially the carrier of the mind." [CS:JCS_2.3.239]
    9. Non-linear systems theory is increasingly used in understanding complex biological phenomena. In [CS:JCS_2.4.373f], Brian Goodwin gives a report about a conference in 1995 in these terms:
    10. "There are several conceptual innovations in biology that are helping to mediate this transition, and they were extensively explored at the meeting. These include the developments in nonlinear dynamic modelling that form the mathematical foundations of the 'sciences of complexity', including deterministic chaos, fractals and self-similarity, strange attractors, the sudden transitions from chaos to order and the discontinuous bifurcations from one type of order to another that occur in complex systems, of which organisms are paradigmatic examples. The models of living process that are emerging from the use of these concepts to interpret experimentally observed behavior are leading towards the recognition that organisms are simultaneously complex and ordered, creative and intelligible, but above all they represent a distinctive type of being with agency and autonomy. This creates the space required for experience, qualities, and the first-person mode of being in the world."
    11. Pribram proposed in 1971 that mental representation occurs holographically by interference of coherent waves (Languages of the Brain).
    12. Hardcastle argues that the real information-bearing states are the aggregate patterns--NOT the cell/neuron. "Although the EEG can only reflect the aggregate behaviour of individual neural activity, it is possible that the patterns it reveals concerning the relative density of the underlying activity are in fact the relevant information-bearing states in the system, and that therefore the details of the individual neuronal events are not important in that regard. That is, the decomposition and localization of psychological information-processing events would bottom out at a level above the individual cell." [CS:JCS_1.1.81]. He maintains that this statistical aggregate is adequate to solve the binding problem for feature primitives. (p.83).
    13. Some of the coherence may occur below the level of the synapse, as Hameroff points out [CS:JCS_1.1.98f]:
    14. "Reductionists tend to overlook the fact that neurons are alive and most views of the hierarchical organization of the brain stop at the synapse as the fundamental switch, analogous to states or bits in computer. The complexity of neurons and their synapses, however, are closer to entire computers than individual switches. This implies the mechanism of consciousness may depend on an understanding of the organization of adaptive ('cognitive') functions within living cells.

      "Like the rest of our cells, neurons are eukaryotic cells which, unlike prokaryotic bacteria, have a true nucleus and cytoskeleton and exhibit mitotic cell division. Single eukaryotic cell organisms (protozoa) such as paramecia show remarkable, seemingly intelligent abilities with the benefit of a single synapse!...

      "As Sherrington observed, the cytoskeleton may act as the nervous system of single-cell organisms. Paramecia, for example, can apparently learn, remember, and exhibit adaptive responses such as avoidance and habituation which involve movement performed by coordinated actions ('metachronal waves') of hundreds of hair-like appendages called cilia"

      Hameroff's point is simply this: the simplest form of intelligence we know of does NOT depend on neural resources to do intelligent things--the cytoskeleton (present in all neurons) already HAS a rudimentary adaptive/cognitive capability.
    15. J Watterson argues that consciousness arises from coherence in brain assemblies, found in protein 'behavior'. "Proteins occupy the mesoscopic level of existence, between the chaotic molecular world below and the ordered biological world above." He argues that water--under certain conditions--can give rise to structures that resemble proteins in size, form, and function. [CS:CRA:124]
    16. Richard Warner argues that we need NEW conservation laws in physics(!) [CS:JCS_3.3.222ff] to accommodate consciousness, but actually, this is probably no longer necessary. As Alwyn Scott points out in JCS:1.2.254, the law of conservation of energy--long considered the main show-stopper for dualism--does NOT apply in the case of nerve impulses on an axonal tree:
    17. "The Hodgkin-Huxley equations, which describe the dynamics of the nerve impulse on an axonal tree, are not, after all, constrained by the conservation of energy. Instead this is a system of nonlinear diffusion equations which--like a lighted candle--balances the rate of electrostatic energy release from the membrane to the power that is consumed by circulating ionic currents. Since the electrodynamics of an individual neuron is not constrained by the first law of thermodynamics, there is little reason to expect this law to constrain a system at higher levels of organization."
      However, Beck/Eccles had demonstrated that even in their dualist explanation [CS:HSCB], energy WAS conserved (in spite of the classical objection that dualism was killed by this requirement of conservation). It might also be worthy to remember that living organisms are 'exempt' from these laws (and 1st and 2nd laws of thermo) as open systems [see CS:TIC:85]. To prove this that I am an open system, for example, I will take a break now and go eat an Oreo cookie. ...(pause, predatory crunching sounds of ingestion, series of small gulplets)...See, I am an open energy system.)]
    18. There are numerous attempts to make something other than mind OR matter 'more fundamental' or 'basic' in the universe. Suggestions include 'information'--generally a special kind of information called "Shannon information"--( cf. JCS:2.2.216, 257), 'meaning' (Hardy, CS:CRA.110), or 'experience' (Chalmers). Although I certainly agree with these, the main problem with these positions--as attempts to solve the problem-- is that they presuppose agents anyway: information requires informants and informers, 'meaning' requires a 'meaner' and assumes at least an ideal 'mean-ee', and 'experience' (in the sense of awareness) requires an 'experience-or' (JCS:2.1.83; JCS:3.1.73). The result is that the "net" may be the same. And if Kant was correct, 'information' is too impoverished to do the trick anyway(JCS:2.2.271).

    19. [Notice here, by the way--to give a brief commercial for the Christian worldview(!)--is that this problem was literally precluded by the way the universe was formed. In the biblical account, God did not take some physical non-semantic 'stuff' and recombine these brute existence elements; rather, HE spoke the universe into existence. The universe was 'information', semantic, and subjectively experienced BEFORE it was 'objectified'! (Note: actually, it is better than that--as a subjectively/objectively integrated community of conscious agents--the "Trinity"-- intersubjectively experienced the universe, which is what we call 'objectivity' in third-person scientific terminology! The nature of the creative act created adequate levels of objectivity for our lives and our sciences!) It was representational data BEFORE it became termina of relationships in the universe. But more on this later...chuckle]

    20. Some actually approach the problem with a dynamic framework instead of a static one. So Ralph Ellis [CS:JCS_3.2.188] refers to consciousness as a process and not as a thing. The old saying of Hebb (probably) that "the mind IS what the brain DOES" is close to this, although I think modern understandings of process would probably have a little more Gestaltist or Platonic 'mystery' involved.
    21. Susan Greenfield [CS:JCM] puts forth the position that consciousness is 'composed of' groups of neurons forming temporary gestalts---'clouds in the brain' . These use arousal mechanisms to affect the chemistry of the brain (the release of the amines). Other gestaltists in approach are Freeman, Skarda, and possibly Cairns-Smith [CS:EVM:173-179,187]
    22. McGinn argues that mind is non-extended and non-spatial, as does Clarke [CS:JCS_2.3.226-229; 231ff]
    23. Clarke alludes to the many hyper-dimensional theories, but differentiates his by the non-locality of mind [CS:JCS_2.3.231] :
    24. "In particular there is such a prevalence of authors arguing that mind is located in some higher dimensional space that I need to make a sharp distinction between these authors; and my own views. To begin with let me stress that I am not arguing that mind is extended; rather I am saying that it is not located in space at all. Next I want to go even further, claiming not only that mind is not located in ordinary 3-D physical space but that it is not located in a higher dimensional space and it is not located in a generalized space, for most of the generalized concepts of space that I shall describe shortly."
      He literally argues that mind is essentially different from matter (p.240): "On this view mind is not extended, because the fundamental quantum world from which mind emerges is prior to space and time."
    25. Saul-Paul Sirag (physicist) drawing upon contemporary research in unified field theories, argues that our observable universe is merely a degenerative case of a higher, hyperdimensional hierarchy of universes. He argues specifically for a universal spectrum of consciousness through the dimensional axis. [CS:TSC:580ff].
    26. Research in the ischemic brain (induced through acceleration) has led to a thermodynamic field theory of consciousness and loss of consciousness [CS:TSC:170f].
    27. P.L. Stocklin has argued that the brain generates billions of broadband electromagnetic waves at microwave frequencies, resulting in the formation of standing waves. These waves are affected by incoming stimuli, resulting in state switching and generation of additional sequences of waves. This might be termed the electromagnetic macromechanism.[CS:CRA:p.119] (Notice that is looks like mind-as-process instead of mind-as-substance.)
    28. D. Bulkley argues that it is the electromagnetic micro-mechanism which has been ignored in this field. "Our 300 year-old biochemical model of life has been crippled from the start by being unable to see its electromagnetic microstructure....A list of 250 serious problems, warning signs and 'impossible' contradictions to the Life-as-Chemistry paradigm has also been ignored". He counsels us to return to electromagnetic biology and that consciousness can be understood as 'the manifestation of the unitive resonances" in the infrared. [CS:CRA:121].



    What can be seen from this survey, is that the solutions fall into a few categories:
    1. Consciousness might arise from brain-centric quantum effects (e.g. Stapp, Penrose-Hamerhof), generally involving coherence effects [e.g. JCS:1.1.92]. There is a tremendous amount of work going on in this area.
    2. Consciousness might arise from nonlinear dynamics effects in which the whole is NOT reducible to the parts [CS:TIC:117-118]. In this approach, massive coherence between elements at one level gives rise to a 'whole' (agent) at the level above it (Alwyn Scott in JCS:3.5-6.484-491 argues that Quantum approaches are linear, whereas systems dynamics approaches are non-linear). Even those closest to physicalist paradigms (e.g. Crick and Koch) point out that the issues are at a system level, instead of a molecular level [CS:JCS_1.1.15].

    3. [Coherence effects show up in both of the preceding options. Coherence 'occurs' when some number of elements in a 'system' (it only takes 1 in 10,000 elements in a superconductor to generate that macro-level behavior shift!) behave the same--giving rise to new characteristics at the macro level. Typical examples given are lasers, superfluids and superconductors (JCS:1.1.92), other Bose-Einstein condensates (such as super magnets, JCS:1.1.103), and various crystalline structures.]

    4. Consciousness is already 'here', being from-below-reality (e.g. consciousness as a 'part' of large-scale/universal quantum processes), from-above-reality (e.g. hyperdimensional theories), or from-within-reality (e.g. paleo-dualism of Eccles, liberal naturalism of Rosenberg, or naturalistic dualism of Chalmers). In some case the interface between consciousness and brain processes is specified as quantum mechanics; in other cases it is left undetermined.)



    So, what we have seen so far in this piece:
    1. Materialism is simply inadequate--from the standpoint of modern physics.
    2. Reductionism is therefore misguided (at best).
    3. "Bigger" views of the universe have emerged, and are being accepted/developed by the academic community.
    4. These "bigger universes" include fundamental mechanisms (non-mystical ones!) for mind to 'exist' and to interact with 'matter'.

    The next step is to examine the data that effected such a large paradigm shift--the data that supports some level of downward causal efficacy of the mind.


  9. A look at the more critical data points and arguments supporting the causal efficacy of the mind.

  10. This data comes from a very wide range of research. The arguments will range from neurobiology to philosophy to mathematics to psychology. They are not all of equal weight nor credibility, but as a cumulative case, the data is rather overwhelming.

    1. Let's start with the grossly obvious--our personal experience. That I can create radical imaginative structures, move my arm at will, make choices and put them into practice, be influenced to action by things I read, be aware that I am aware, initiate unconscious memory retrieval processes by merely focusing on features of the whole, do pop-psychoanalysis of my friends, have inner-child therapy experiences, feel the difference in my mental functions when I am on antihistamines, and experience paradigm conversions are primary data that must be explained. This data is simply too powerful and impressive to be either denied or explained away via simplistic axioms of reducibility. There is a growing agreement that this data is of a primary, irreducible nature that has forced us to expand our horizons [e.g. JCS:1.1.9; ] Flanagan and Polger put it well [CS:JCS_2.4.321]:
    2. "It may well be, we suspect it is the case, as a matter of contingent fact, that for human beings consciousness does facilitate learning, that it does radically influence behavior, that it does influence higher-level thought processes"
    3. We have an incredibly powerful belief in the explanatory power of the existence of other minds and intentions [CS:JCS_1.1.55]:
    4. "It would be difficult to overestimate the power and finality that an intending human has as an explanation of some state of affairs in which we find the world...Insofar as humans are taken as a first cause when a crime, accident, or other event has been traced to an intending human, our search for explanation normally stops."
    5. Phenomenal awareness MUST contribute to the felt character of perception (i.e. be a partial 'cause' of it)--the information feed we get from the outside world is simply too crude to account for the richness of our experience [CS:JCS_1.1.67]
    6. For a catalog of items that cannot be plausibly explained under other approaches, see the classic by Popper and Eccles, The Self and its Brain, cited approvingly by Beloff in JCS:1.1.35.
    7. We learn so much faster in consciousness than the brain can physically develop physical connections! [CS:JCS_1.1.72] (The brain 'seems' to get 'caught up' during sleep, when the events of the previous day are replayed at 10x the speed, assumed to be for consolidation into long-term memory. See CS:CRA:p87)
    8. We know from non-linear systems that emergence can exercise downward control in OTHER systems. If consciousness IS such a system, then there is no theoretical objection to downward causality--indeed, given the definition of such systems, it would be EXPECTED. [CS:JCS_1.1.92] And, indeed, this is exactly what we find at the nervous system and other metabolic levels.(For an detailed treatment of various non-linear effects in the nervous system, see Kelso [CS:DPSOBB, chapter 8], where he describes nonlinear effects at the microscale, mesoscale, and macroscale levels. Also see Mainzer on subcellular and metabolic oscillation phenomena, CS:TIC:91.)
    9. We have studies of neuronal changes induced by mental processes (with the interface mechanism unspecified) [CS:JCS_1.1.124]: "for example, neural activity (as indicated by measurements of regional blood flow or metabolic rate) has been shown to increase selectively in the supplementary motor area (SMA) when the subject is asked to imagine moving his fingers without actually moving them."
    10. The studies of neuronal timing by Libet has demonstrated that conscious will exerts a veto effect on action sequences initiated at an unconscious level [CS:JCS_1.1.130; CS:TSC:342f]. In other words, an unconscious process may get a muscle ready to move, but when that readiness becomes 'visible' to the conscious mind, that conscious mind can let the action continue, or shut it down! Elsewhere [CS:TSOC:113], Libet explains the implications of this veto-power, over against those who would ASSUME that even the veto was "upwardly caused":
    11. "It has been argued that the appearance of the conscious veto would itself require a prior period of unconscious neural development, just as for conscious intention; in such a case even this conscious control event would have an unconscious initiating process. However, conscious control of an event appears here after awareness of the impending voluntary action has developed. Conscious control is not a new awareness; it serves to impose a change on the volitional process and it may not be subject to the requirement of a preceding unconscious cerebral process found for awareness. In such a view, a potential role for free will would remain viable in the conscious control, though not in the initiation, of a voluntary act. These findings taken together have a fundamental bearing on the issues of voluntary action, free will and individual responsibility for conscious urges and actions."
      In case you didn't get that--the veto cannot have antecedent unconscious processes (before it becomes aware), since it only appears in as the initiated action has ALREADY become aware--it controls with a go/no-go decision THEN.

      [Note: I have some hesitation about accepting Libet's conclusions that ALL voluntary actions arise before awareness. The nature of his experimental procedures are such that I find it impossible to agree that the voluntary movements were 'completely' voluntary (i.e. non-primed). The description of the instructions to the subjects about the voluntary actions probably start EMG-measurable influences in ME the reader! It's sorta like the old impossible instruction: "Do NOT think about elephants!" This is not to detract from the experimental procedures, but rather to caution on some aspects of interpretation.]

    12. The paranormal (e.g. ESP, telekinesis) is best explained under an efficacious mind theory. Although my skepticism shows a bit here, there is nonetheless a growing body of statistical evidence (esp. meta-level analysis, cf. JCS:1.1.36; 1.2.222) in support of this kind of phenomena. I also find in very interesting that the oft-cited Turing test for differentiating between 'natural' minds and 'artificial' minds included this element! (most discussions do not take this element of Turing seriously, and apologize profusely for him in this area!). If even a fraction of this data is true, then [CS:JCS_1.1.36]:
    13. "If it is the case that a mind can, on occasion, extract information from an object other than its own brain and, if it is the case that a mind can influence intentionally the behavior of an object other than its own brain, it would be futile to doubt that a mind can interact with its own brain in the ordinary course of life."
    14. We don't know what pain really is, but we still research analgesics!!! We believe, somehow, that other people's reports of phenomenal characteristics (e.g. pain and suffering) is real enough to warrant both research as well as massive benevolent activities. [CS:JCS_1.1.140]
    15. The concept of an inner self is found in children before the age of three [CS:JCS_1.2.3]. Folk psychology is probably present from birth (see data given above). Young kids distinguish between 'mental' and 'physical' at a VERY early age [ JCS:3.1.61]. "Infants' emerging concepts of others, the self, and social relations my reflect a beginning awareness of the mind, which blossoms into a theory of mind during the preschool years" [CS:CD:188]. Certain simian groups (chimps, orangutan, some gorillas; but not gibbons, baboons, monkeys) have a definite sense of self [CS:CD.205]. Bonobo apes have been known to develop a 'theory of the mind' similar to that of children [CS:JCS_3.3.280]

    16. This is rather strong evidence that concepts of mind are NOT acquired but are part-and-parcel of our very nature, and therefore makes a contribution to our survival, development, and/or actualization.

    17. The Bafflement argument (noted above) is really difficult to explain, since it is immediately 'mental' by its very nature. If something "causes" bafflement, then it must be "Causal" in some sense. Consider how this is expressed by philosopher of science Elitzur in JCS:2.4.355. He discusses the situation in which we ask a computer 'what is consciousness?' If the machine responds with something like "the range of my internal processes, namely, the complex pattern of electric currents running within my wires, that are accessible to my direct self-observation" then we would suspect that no 'phenomenal awareness' was there. But suppose the computer came back with this:
    18.  "Consciousness is the range of my internal processes, namely, the complex pattern of electric currents running within my wires, that are accessible to my direct self-observation. Yet, there is more to it--there is more to my seeing, recognizing, remembering, etc. that I cannot convey by this definition. Do you understand what I am talking about?"
      We would be forced to admit that something 'else' was in there as well. In other words, the something else CAUSED the machine's bafflement--a distinctly causal force.

      And what is really fascinating about this argument, is that it is being accepted--VERY RELUCTANTLY--by a materialist [p.357]!

      "If I may be allowed to close with a personal note, I feel there is hardly a reason to rejoice over this conclusion (note: that human bafflement over the mind is evidence of a causal influence of mind). I have always been a materialist, and I would hate to provide arguments in favour of any sort of dualism. Moody seems to be less troubled. Others might claim that the Bafflement Argument does not lend support for dualism. I hope they are correct."
    19. The conscious mind seems to build an expectancy model for each action it 'approves'. This representation/model is pushed-down to act as a feedback-control, as in a servo-mechanism. There are fully developed models for this feedback process, sometimes invoking what is known as efference copies. [For a discussion and references, see JCS:3.2.139-157] There is a tremendous amount of observational data to support the selective and feedback control 'causal' effects of consciousness. It is often understood as exercising this control via sheer frequency of activation of consciously-represented states [CS:SAC:486-490].
    20. We have experimental data that show how volition/will can affect phenomenal experience in visual perception [Helmholtz]. "He showed that if the eyeball is moved passively, the world seems to move, whereas active movement of the eyes does not give that illusion. So he concluded that vision has a component in it which reflects the action of willed movements." The only difference is the will in the test--a mental choice made a considerable difference. [CS:JCS_3.2.175]
    21. Learning, as an intentional process, initiates hormone secretion of the x-amines. It literally drenches the brain in the chemicals necessary to record and integrate, in the various subsystems, the content that is being attended to, with intentions of memory. [CS:JCS_3.2.177].
    22. There is a technical argument from Incorrigibility [CS:JCS_3.3.227]. It is a bit convoluted, but it runs something like this:
      1. Some statements about mental states ("I am in pain") are incorrigible (i.e. impossible to be wrong).
      2. Only statements about my mental states are such--they are mind-dependent statements.
      3. Mind-dependent statements presuppose mind.
      4. Therefore, both mind and relevant mental states 'exists'.
    23. It is widely known that psychosomatic effects are very, very real. The mechanisms are not even remotely understood--although there are several models of how this works-- but the correlation between the mental states and predictable body changes is undeniable. In CS:TSOC, Psychology professors Sheikh, Kunzendorf, and Sheikh (Marquette U) describe (and give the literature citations for) a wide range of somatic consequences of consciousness. Although they also describe the effects of meditation, biofeedback, and hypnosis, I want to list the bodily changes documented in experimental and/or clinical situations caused by the use of simple mental imagery ALONE. In most cases the DEGREE of 'causation' is DIRECTLY related to the VIVIDNESS of the image. When the mind visualizes certain scenes, changes in the following bodily conditions can be seen (pp.145-149):
      1. heart rate
      2. diastolic blood pressure
      3. systolic blood pressure
      4. vasomotor activity (both constriction and dilation)
      5. curing of warts
      6. enlargement of breasts(!) [also used hypnosis]
      7. skin swelling (visualization of poisonous plants)
      8. blistering of skin (visualization of burns)
      9. external bleeding reduction
      10. sexual response and arousal
      11. free fatty acid concentration
      12. cholesterol levels
      13. salivary flow
      14. gastric acid production
      15. dilation of the pupil
      16. electrical activity of the retina
      17. reflex movements of the eye
      18. voluntary movements of the eye
      19. process of visual space accommodation (near and far stimuli)
      20. electrodermal activity
      21. galvanic skin response
      22. electrodermal habituation
      23. frontalis EMG (electromyographs, dealing with muscle collectives)
      24. "visual images of a pencil produced EMG activity in the right arm"(!)
      25. "visual images of the letter 'P' led to EMG activity in the lip" (!)
      26. facial corrugator EMG activity
      27. "helpful in disinhibiting the 'frozen' body part in clients with Parkinson's disease" (p.148)
      28. immune system functioning.
      29. "In healthy subjects, images of 'white blood cells attacking germs' increased neutrophil adherence, lymphocyte counts and salivary immunoglobulin A concentration, whereas images of an unresponsive immune system produced less neutrophil adherence and lower lymphocyte stimulation of immune response." (p.149)
      30. increase in natural killer cell function
      31. cancer elimination(!)
      32. cancer remission
      33. cancer stability
      34. healing of burn wounds, ulcers, vaginitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis

      The authors of the chapter state (p. 152):

      "The foregoing review makes it abundantly clear that consciousness is not a mere epiphenomenon, a derivative of physiological processes, and in itself of no functional significance. As the Nobel prize-winning physicist Eugene Wigner, reflecting on the connection between consciousness and the physical world, observed, 'if mind could not affect the physical world but was only affected by it, this would be the only known example in modern physics of such a one-way interaction'"
      [Hmmm....Wigner's quote makes me wonder if the reductionist/materialist isn't asking us to believe in something that never occurs in nature anywhere else? Asking us to believe CONTRARY to all we know about science and observed reality, that this relationship is sui generis?!]
    24. The placebo effect is a rather staggering example of the power of mental states over the body. It differs from imagery in that, as based on expectancy, it does NOT work on children, whereas imagery DOES (p.172). Patrick Wall (Physiology, Univ. of London) discusses this strange phenomenon in CS:TSOC:162-180. The placebo effect is where a person BELIEVES a medical intervention (e.g. surgery, medicine, ultrasound procedure) was administered, but where it was NOT, but STILL RESPONDS FAVORABLY to the 'fake' treatment! The types of people that response to 'bread pills' instead of medicine are NOT of a uniform personality type (p.169), and the ranges of placebo effectiveness varies from 0% to 100% (p.168). The key element is expectation, called by various terms: belief, faith, confidence, enthusiasm, response bias, meaning, credibility, transference, anticipation (p.172).

    25. Wall contrasts this with the phantom limb effect--where a state is CREATED for one that exists. In the case of a placebo, a state (of pain) is UNCREATED (p.178):

      "I consider the placebo effect to be equal but opposite to the phantom in defining the operation of the brain. In one a state is created (note: the phantom limb, in which a person still 'feels' the missing limb), in the other a state is abolished. In the placebo response, there is no known mechanism and no evidence that the activity of the afferent peripheral nerves is changed in any way. Yet the state of the brain is radically changed to a new state. It must be emphasized again that this change is not limited to conscious perception. A patient whose severe cancer pain disappears in response to a placebo not only states verbally that the pain has gone but also shows appropriate changes of blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, gut motility, pupil size, etc. This complete pattern of body and mind alteration differs from some cases of hypnotic suggestion where the verbal report may conflict with autonomic body system changes."
      This is a staggering reality (Wall proposes a clever conflict-resolution understanding of the phenomena), and one that constitutes hard data for the view of 'downward causation'.
    26. Some working models of scientific approaches to consciousness ASSUME that the conscious mind and the unconscious mind have areas of overlap AS WELL AS areas of independence. In other words, the conscious mind can exert influence WITHOUT using the unconscious mind (which is generally considered the more 'physical' of the two)! This argued in detail--with specific data--in the introduction sections of CS:SAC:19ff. The authors--Jacoby, Yonelinas, Jennings (McMaster)--are all specialists in process-disassociation and used that approach to test hypotheses of independence, redundancy, or exclusivity between Unconscious and Conscious processes. Their data clearly supported the independence hypothesis--that some conscious processes seemed to operate apart from unconscious processes. Much of their data comes from cross-modality memory research, with tests in fame recognition and fragment completion.
    27. The strange data of 'verbal slips' is evidence that the conscious mind can exert executive control (via priming) over conflicting goal-completion activities by the subsystems (generally unconscious). "Whereas unconscious action routines are fast and effective in predictable situations, consciousness in needed to combine multiple automatisms into a single, coherent action plan, without internal competition, and thereby supports flexible action in the face of novelty." [CS:SAC:423f].
    28. Eccles cites the work of Corbetta (via PET) that voluntary top-down visual searches have been shown to activate the neocortex at will [CS:HSCB:174f]. From Corbetta: "attention enhanced the activity of different regions of extrastriate visual cortex that appear to be specialized for processing information related to the selected attribute...Physiologically, neural activity is increased in extrastiate regions specialized for processing information related to the selected visual attribute. These enhancements reflect cognitive (top-down) control of visual processing"
    29. The phenomena of latent touch and expected sensations make massive brain changes. Eccles describes the experience in CS:HSCB:99]: "When one is at absolute rest in a darkened silent room, it is possible to engage in some specific thinking. For example, one can concentrate attention to a fingertip in order to detect a minimal touch that is expected. This attention causes neural activity in rather large areas of the brain..." (Areas 'excited' by the readiness were the postcentral gyrus of the cerebral cortex, and the midprefrontal and parietal areas--involving tens of thousands of dendrons!)
    30. The fact that psycho-pharmaceuticals are MUCH more effective when used with therapy (a radically 'mentalist' approach!) is a strong argument for the causal efficacy of the mind [CS:CRA:p95]. So, Schechtman (Univ. of Ill at Chicago):
    31. "The most successful uses of psychoactive drugs indicates a need for psychotherapy, and suggests an account of psychological illness that involves a complicated interaction between both psychological and physical factors."
      Indeed, if folk psychology is wrong (meaning there are no intentional states), then the implication for clinical psych is rather odd: "If eliminativism is right, then much of what goes on in clinical psychology is bound to be useless. People's problems can't be remedied by removing irrational beliefs or making them aware of subconscious desires; there are no such things." (Stich, CS:DTM:116).
    32. Deshmukh (Neurology, Univ. of Fla) argues that the brain-mind can voluntarily activate or inhibit cortical areas [CS:CRA:100], even allowing the inhibition of the executive cortical functions (such as task monitoring):
    33. "The human brain-mind is capable of voluntarily activating as well as inhibiting various higher cortical functions such as movements, speech, head-eyes-body orientation, sensory perception, remembering the past and anticipating the future, facing and reacting to the current environment cognitively, emotionally as well as physically. The activation of a specific cortical area manifests in a specific conscious activity, whereas the inhibition of a specific cortical area manifests in a specific conscious quiescence..."
      It should be obvious from the breadth and depth of the data and arguments given above--experimental, clinical, introspective, observational, theoretical, philosophical, anthropological, dynamical, neurological, paranormal, developmental, functional--that there is STRONG support for the view that the mind is "downwardly" causal on the brain/body.

      So, what we have seen so far in this piece:

      1. Materialism is simply inadequate--from the standpoint of modern physics.
      2. Reductionism is therefore misguided (at best).
      3. "Bigger" views of the universe have emerged, and are being accepted/developed by the academic community.
      4. These "bigger universes" include fundamental mechanisms (non-mystical ones!) for mind to 'exist' and to interact with 'matter'.
      5. There is a large body of diverse data that supports the view that mind ACTUALLY DOES exert downward causal action on the brain-body.

      Actually, we could stop here--we have shown that (1) 'classical matter' is not ALL THERE 'is'; and (2) that something ELSE interacts with 'classical matter' as it appears to us. This amounts to some kind of 'mind' or 'soul' already--whether it is identified with quantum effects, non-linear dynamics, other fields, higher dimensions, or ghosts is simply immaterial (pardon the pun). But, since this smacks of what has historically might be termed 'dubious dualism', it may be pertinent to comment on the status of dualism and the status of knowledge in the field.


    34. A look at the status of 'dualism' and the overall state of knowledge in this field.

    35. As you can see, there are some rather fundamental shifts going on in this area, and it is appropriate to ask about the status of older-style dualism. But before I jump into that, let me simply point out that we are just learning in this arena. The old reductionist optimism--that we would be able to unambiguously associate specific neural states to ALL qualia, subjective experiences, intentional states, and executive functions of the consciousness, thereby 'explaining' the latter by the former--has become more of a 'old religion' than a well-grounded prediction. Those closest to the data, the neurologists and physiologists, are the ones describing our limited progress in this descriptive task. To be sure, great and useful progress has been made in associating SOME neuro-data with SOME psycho-data, but the hope of exhaustively and precisely identifying a specific neural state with 'a vision of Pearl's pickup truck'.

      There are actually several problems in this area:

      So, we certainly need to be somewhat humble in this field, and recognize that the 'seemingly simpler' answers of materialist reductionism are not a safe haven anymore. A dogmatic position on ANY front is very unwarranted.

      This does not mean, however, that researchers do not have strong opinions and positions in the field! But in the absence of clear consensus and unambiguous findings, all too often position-leaders will fall back on pre-theoretical commitments, paradigm commitments, or simple faith (e.g. in introspection, in reductive science, in extrapolating normal mental functioning from diseased/aberrant mental functioning).

      This is widely recognized (and often bemoaned):

      Guzeldere in surveying the current trends [CS:JCS:2.2,112-143] notes:

      "It seems that the opposing attitudes towards consciousness stem largely form pre-theoretical, though (or perhaps therefore) deep-rooted and very strongly held, intuitions." [p.127]

      "The eliminativists charge the defenders of phenomenal consciousness with believing in a fiction and creating a philosophical problem out of it. In return, the eliminativists get charge with holding the most preposterous philosophical fancy." [p.138]

      "Unfortunately, the dialectic of the debate seems to be at an impossible impasse: the contention is at the fundamental level of taking for granted versus denying the existence of a feature of mentality which can at best be defined ostensively...This is unfortunately the kind of philosophical junction at which most worthy disagreements hit rock bottom, and recede into a matter of faith" [p.138]

      J. Shear also highlights how big the 'gap' is [CS:JCS:198]:
      "Such past successes [of reductionism] have led many influential defenders of the standard paradigm to insist that, whatever the conceptual difficulties, consciousness and its phenomenal content will ultimately turn out to be explicable as and reducible to purely physical phenomena, even if we cannot now foresee how this will happen. However, to others the gap between the qualia-free material world of the physical sciences and the qualia-filled contents of phenomenal awareness at present remains so great that this insistence appears to be little more than an act of faith"
      And finally, Craig DeLancy [CS:JCS:4.5-6.492]:
      "That we are not yet close to a working theory of consciousness--that we are even unsure of what kind of theory a theory of consciousness might ultimately be--has as a consequence that much of the debate about consciousness is reducible to a disagreement of brute intuitions."
      Now, given this turbulence, re-evaluation, and re-definition going on the field, what is the status of DUALISM?

      Well, the first thing that comes to MY mind is that 'dualism' simply changed its public relations firm and won acceptance!

      Strangely enough, the way this was accomplished was simply by defining reality 'bigger'. As one allows consciousness or mind INTO 'nature' as a fundamental 'thing' itself (with causal powers), the dual-worlds were simply collapsed into one 'bigger' world that has both elements in it! Dualism (in most, but not all, senses of the term) was simply given a new name, such as "naturalistic dualism" (Chalmers) or "liberal naturalism" (Rosenberg).

      No one puts this as clearly as Todd Moody, in responding to someone's 'fear of dualism' [CS:JCS_2.4.371]:

      "It's true that I am not troubled by this, in part because I don't find such a sharp line of demarcation between dualistic and materialistic metaphysics in the first place. If we cannot escape the conclusion that the physical description of the world is incomplete (as Elitzur states and many others agree), the main thing is to try to find a more complete one and not worry about whether it resembles previous versions of materialism or dualism"
      It is very difficult to avoid this conclusion of 'emergent dualism' (chortle, chortle)with all the proposals floating around (reviewed above). The mind as 'immaterial'--in the sense of classical matter--is also accepted as a brute fact! Consider some of the statements and concessions (bold, my emphasis; italics, their emphasis): What can be seen from these sample quotes is that 'dualism' has been grafted back into the universe. The basic obvious reality of downward causation of a mind-not-physical (in the classical sense) has finally been noticed! The tendency to reductionism is shown to be without warrant in view of the data. In fact, it is beginning to be questioned as simple 'cultural baggage'! Compare this insightful--albeit disturbing--quote about Harmon's contribution to CS:TSC, in CS:TSC:726]:
      "Appropriately, the most ambitious chapter of this section is the final one by Willis Harman. Is the conceptual framework of science sufficiently broad to encompass the phenomenon of consciousness, he asks, or must it be somehow enlarged to fit the facts of mental reality? Attempting an answer, he considers the degree to which science can claim to be objective and to what extent it is influenced by the culture in which it is immersed. Those who disagree might pause to consider the religious perspective from which modern science has emerged.

      "There is reason to suppose that the roots of our bias toward determinism lie deeper in our cultural history than many are accustomed to suppose. Indeed, it is possible that this bias may even predate modern scientific methods. In his analysis of thirteenth-century European philosophy, Henry Adams (1904) archly observed: "Saint Thomas did not allow the Deity the right to contradict himself, which is one of Man's chief pleasures." One wonders to what extent reductive science has merely replaced Thomas's God with the theory of everything.

      "The question of scientific objectivity becomes more compelling when one considers that doubts about the reductive paradigm are by no means new. William James (1890), Charles Sherrington (1951), Erwin Schrodinger (1944, 1958), Karl Popper and John Eccles (1977)--among others--have insisted that the reductive view is inadequate to describe reality. This is not a fringe group. They are among the most thoughtful and highly honored philosophers and scientists of the past century. How is it that their deeply held and vividly expressed views have been so widely ignored? Is it not that we need to see the world as better organized than the evidence suggests?

      "Take the matter of "downward causation" to which Harman gives some attention. Why should this be an issue in brain dynamics? As Erich Harth points out in Chapter 44, connections between higher and lower centers of the brain are reciprocal. They go both ways, up and down. The evidence (the scientific evidence) for downward causation was established decades ago by the celebrated Spanish histologist Ramon y Cajal, yet the discussion goes on. Why? The answer seems clear: If brains work like machines, they are easier to understand. The facts be damned!

      This is a telling criticism, and one that SEEMS to be softening in the contemporary scene.

      So, what we have seen so far in this piece:

      1. Materialism is simply inadequate--from the standpoint of modern physics.
      2. Reductionism is therefore misguided (at best).
      3. "Bigger" views of the universe have emerged, and are being accepted/developed by the academic community.
      4. These "bigger universes" include fundamental mechanisms (non-mystical ones!) for mind to 'exist' and to interact with 'matter'.
      5. There is a large body of diverse data that supports the view that mind ACTUALLY DOES exert downward causal action on the brain-body.
      6. Dualism (the recognition of the ontological 'reality' of the mind/consciousness/soul) is growing in acceptance, influence, and becoming a dominant paradigm in several models and approaches.


    36. Comment on The Value of Research under Reductive Paradigms..

    37. I just wanted to make a comment here about the various research paradigms.

      Although I have defended a specific research/ontic paradigm here, I do not want to discourage researchers (who share my opinions) from working WHOLEHEARTEDLY under leaders in OTHER paradigm communities. I would not hesitate in the least to undertake graduate level research under Eliminative Materialists, for example. And my basic reason is my understanding of how scientific progress is often achieved. I see the universe as unified, but robust. As such, we can study a subject under various perspectives and under different sets of operating assumptions. Since experimentation is often a "hold-one-variable-still-and-wiggle-the-other" method, reductionism (which holds one variable 'still') can still yield important insights by penetration into the 'other' variables.

      I have never really believed in the reality of the square root of a negative one, but that has never stopped me from using i in solving higher math problems!

      By focusing on different variable sets (e.g. cognitive processing, neurophysiology, psycho-pharmaceuticals, philosophy, psychology, etc.), significant learning can occur in those clusters. Then, perhaps an integrative approach can begin to synthesize this information for usefulness to all.


    38. Tying it all Together: Musings, Extrema, and Conclusions

    39. The above data should be adequate to demonstrate the change in modern perspectives on this question. The world seems to be getting more 'realistic' in its appraisal of what is 'real' and what is 'not'. In some cases of the above 'explanations' for consciousness, it appears that we might be simply explaining one obscurity (i.e. consciousness) by another obscurity (i.e. quantum models), or one inexplicable reality (consciousness) by another inexplicable reality (e.g. emergence of macro-characteristics in non-linear dynamics systems). The Christian theist finds some amusement in these scenarios. The quantum one--in which an observer is required--has a rather staggering possible implication, as noted by physicist John Gribbon in Schrodinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality (p. 15-16):

      "Take the Copenhagen Interpretation literally, and it tells you that an electron wave collapses to make a point on a detector screen because the entire Universe is looking at it. This is strange enough; but some cosmologists (among them Stephen Hawking) worry that it implies that there must actually be something 'outside the Universe' to look at the Universe as a whole and collapse its overall wave function" [Note: Gribbon lists himself in the footnote as another who 'worries' about the same thing!]
      The Christian cannot help but chuckle to himself.

      And as for non-linear "emergence" programs, the amazing resurgence of various forms of Platonic thought required to make gestalten-approaches work this powerfully, makes the Christian theist marvel at the 'triumph' of the 'eternal ideas in the Divine mind'. We are back to some kind of Ultimate Gestalten Reference point for Predication...The Christian cannot help but chuckle to himself.

      Neurobiology has carved out a place for 'free will'; coherence theories have reinstated the 'unitary agent'; and the executive function of consciousness as a decision-process selecting between multiple conflicting goals has re-legitimized the basis of our legal system--the folk psychology of intentions and motives. We are responsible (although embedded) action-agents, praiseworthy and/or blameworthy after all...The Christian cannot help but chuckle to himself.

      What's going on?! The frontiers of science keep running into "God"? Even astrophysics--huge in scope, and 'bigger than consciousness'--has run up against what it calls the Anthropic Principle (of various forms). Craig [RF:119] describes Robert Jastrow's (of Nasa) musings on this:

      "The book of Genesis declares, 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.' For thousands of years, muses Robert Jastrow, people who have believed this statement have known the truth which scientists have discovered only within the last fifty years. For the rationalistic scientist (and, we may add, philosopher), the story ends, smiles Jastrow, like a bad dream:
      'He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries'
      The Christian cannot help but chuckle to himself...

      This of course is NOT a 'victory' for the Christian (since they certainly didn't effect the change in the marketplace of ideas, to say the least!) , but is rather a sobering 'call to action' for the serious Christian thinker. It is time to re-engage in the programs of study which now have 'axioms' that are thawing out. It is time to push these new models for implications and possible testing/validation procedures.

Many other, more recent resources can be found in the Books in the Reference Abbreviations link in the footer--the books with CS: as prefix have to do with Consciousness Studies.
[ .... hmosoul.html ........  ]
The Christian ThinkTank...[https://www.Christianthinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)