The Fundamental Principles of the Universe and the Origin of Physical Laws by Attila Grandpierre

5. A proposed solution of the mind-body problem

5.1. On the freedom of our will

It is a fact that philosophers continue a long and apparently endless dispute on questions like the existence of free will. Approaching from the past to the present, it seems that more and more dominating is the view that human will is mechanically, or physically determined. Augros and Stanciu (1985, 10) wrote: “In fact, if one assumes a rigorous materialism, any influence of the mind or will on the brain must be denied. Material changes cause thought, not the reverse. Nineteenth century mathematician W. K. Clifford in a lecture on science puts it succinctly: “If anyone says that the will influences matter, the statement is not untrue, it is nonsense”. Richard Dawkins, in the Selfish Gene (1976, 21), proposes that man is not a cause but an effect, and that life and mind are merely the outcome of genes. Biologist E. H. Mercer (1981, 1) agrees: “Most scientists in practice behave as if they believed that only matters of convenience or convention separate physics from biology; or put it in another way, they act on a belief that there is really only one science” (physics).

The problem of free will may be exemplified in the followings. A mother with her child is at the pavement. She warns her child: beware the traffic before you step on the road! Trying to analyse this general practice of mothers, I could not escape the impression that the mother warns her child because she believes that the repeated warnings will elicit the attention of her child, with the result that the grown-up child will be able to cross the road safely. This belief is not problematic from the point of view of everyday practice and beliefs. Although this practice is implicitly based on the reality of free will which is able to exert material influence on the body, this is not problematic since it is a widespread view. Practically, a mother who do not warn her child and explains her practice on the basis of the illusory nature of free will, would count as abnormal and manifesting acutely dangerous behaviour. Apparently, the case seems to be different if it is viewed from the teacher’s desk of a physicist. The physicist could explain and defend his view against the common sense pointing out that free will is connected with the notion of an immaterial, ghostly mind, and immaterial ghosts cannot elicit material effects. History has shown that ghosts do not exist –  he may add, too.

Now my point is that in vital affairs our everyday practice is better founded than the physicist’s argumentation. The physicist’s argument is false since implicitly he assumes the causal closure of physical causes. In the light of the everyday experience in vital affairs like crossing the roads, I can deduce that the causal closure of physical causes has to be a false view. Biological, and conscious, mental causes should be real agents and initiate material effects. The physical causes are open towards biological and mental agents. The many centuries debate on free will actually may be resolved.

The reality and material influence of an ultimately immaterial agent may be regarded as proven. Another proof is offered by the well-known empirical fact of responsibility. If our bodies would work governed only by objective, physical laws, than noone could be responsible for her/his deeds. But it is an empirical fact that all cultures are based on the concept of responsibility. Actually, a more strong evidence is also offered for us by the recognition that it would be impossible to build up an organised society without the notion of responsibility. Not only the criminals could reject their punishments, but every child could reject their bringing up. If a consequent control group could arrest every people who applies the notion of responsibility in her/his behaviour, no people would be allowed to go their working place and they should wait until their bodies raise them and carry them away. No people can expect salaries at the end of the weeks or months since their bosses cannot say: I know that you worked here therefore I decide to pay you your salary. This would be a ghost in action. Actually, no one could be allowed to move by our own will, and so we should not decide to go to the kitchen to eat something. Responsibility is a universal and fundamental fact of every human civilisation. But the concept of responsibility is based on the notion that our thoughts are responsible for our behaviour. Therefore, the universal fact of responsibility rejects rigorous materialism and physicalism, although – due to the freedom of will from its own reality– one cannot expect that the overly long dispute on the existence of free will will cease from now on. Such ideas of Marx’s as “it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness” may show up in a different light.

5.2. The freedom of our thoughts

It is a fundamental fact of (at least) the human life that we can think freely, we can think what we want. A closer scrutiny reveals that this freedom of thoughts on a short time-scale is practically constrained to the realm with which we are already familiar. We can think on birds, on mountains, on love, on sunshine – because we learned their notion. Nevertheless, this “constrained freedom” may be enlarged with a thorough, systematic study, with careful attention directed towards the immanent laws of our thoughts and our whole reality. Therefore, the constrained, local freedom of thought may turn into a global, universal freedom with the help of a universal, reliable knowledge. Popper (1994, 63) recognised that the products of human mind, especially the theories are real existents, because we can exert influence on our theories and our theories influence our factual behaviour. In this way, substantial knowledge is the ontological condition of the freedom of our consciousness.

5.3. On some cases demonstrating the material influences of consciousness

It may still seem that the material influence of consciousness could be something hazy, nebulous idea far away from our real everyday practical lives. Actually, it is not known any factual measurement or experiment in which the material influence of consciousness was measured. In this case, it would be advisable to refresh our thinking with a few new examples demonstrating the palpability of the mental effects on our bodies.

It is a widespread experience that we could willingly accelerate or decelerate the timing of falling into sleep. Now since such a macroshift in our bodily state is certainly related with significant changes in the energetics of our organism, we could deduce from the fact of willingly influence of falling into sleep that our mind is capable to exert real influence on our material energies moving our bodies. A more remarkable example may be when an addict smoker willingly stops smoking. Going into extremities, it is practically possible that even heroin addicts may willingly decide to stop the use of the drug, despite of the terrible sufferings of the organism experiencing definite and energetic material automatisms like spasms and cramps. Comparing the material influence of our consciousness to such bodily energetics as related to cramps, we may led to a recognition that consciousness is able to exert a finite and measurable influence on our own body.

I pointed out that the outer material effects of consciousness are physically measurable and they may be amplified in proportion to the second power of the number of participants (Grandpierre, 2001).

5.4. Some consequences of the free will and freedom of thought

The real material influences of consciousness, the freedom of thought and free will shows the independence of self-consciousness from its biological roots. Besides these facts, it is a general empirical observation that humans are attracted to develop and deepen our knowledge. Curiosity is a natural givenness and a basic drive of human activity in general.

We can conclude that above the ontological levels of physical matter and biological organisms one may recognise a third, independent, autonomous ontological level which is able to govern the biological and physical behaviour. Therefore, we accomplished the task of determining the ontological structure of the universe. I introduce the notation writing universe with capital letter (Universe) when life and mind are also included, while using the small letter (universe) to denote only the material universe, being coherent with the present-day materialistic notation. We found that the Universe has a three-levelled structure and determined that each of these three levels are ultimately determined and governed by their ultimate principles. These ultimate principles are universal, extend to the whole Universe, since their nature is principal, i.e. spiritual, and so they exist behind space and time. All the material forces, subtle biological modifications and more subtle influences of consciousness originate from the principal realm.

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