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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Understanding Consciousness: The Distinction Between Mind and Brain

In my last article, Psychiatry, Mind-body Dualism and Sensation, I went through allot of content in a very short writing. In this one, want to be a little more concise and deal less with the whole of consciousness and thought and more with the parts. 

I said that for the relationship to exist between practitioner and client to exist in psychiatry, there are only 3 options that can exist for thought: Matter causes consciousness; matter is in lockstep with consciousness and matter and consciousness are both separate from each other; or matter and consciousness are exactly the same thing from different perspectives. I argue that it is the last option that is the truth. 

The reason for this is that matter (causal aspect of world) and consciousness (perspectival aspect of world) have nothing in common. They are two fundamentally different kinds of qualities. One is 3rd person observable and the other is necessarily first person. 

I should say something about the necessity of first person in consciousness. In order to feel as a person, you must experience as if you were that person. The only way to experience something as that other person or conscious being, you must become that person. And, obviously, you are not observing them any longer; instead you are them. The causal aspects (matter and energy) are observable in some way. They effect the world around them in way that affects us in a sensory way.

Consider the brain stripped of all its sense organs and stripped of thought only allowing it consciousness. It is obvious at this point that the only thing that the brain is conscious of is itself. And, now, remember that there is the necessary distinction between consciousness and matter, a distinction of internal perspective and external perspective, first person and third person. 

So, the first 2 options---mind and body in lockstep and body causing mind---cannot work and only the last option works: mind (consciousness) and body (Material, causal world) are the same thing from different perspectives. Because consciousness and matter are so fundamentally different, one can not cause the other. Because matter can cause a change experience, there is some relationship between consciousness and matter. Because it is not a causal relationship, and because the degree of difference is one of perspective, and because consciousness changes in the form (thought) because of changes in material,  consciousness must be the material's perspective of itself---the same things from different views.  

If as I say in the last post, that possibly everything---at least certain kinds of material---have two perspectives, material and mental, and it is the material the changes the mental, then we shouldn't be looking for consciousness in the brain. We should be looking for the memory of consciousness instead. We should be looking for a place in the brain where change and stability create the memory of consciousness. When we find that point where the changes from new associations and sensation, meet stability, we have found the place where we get the memory of consciousness. 

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