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SofiaTopia l Intro l Brain l Sensation l Revolution l Epilogue l Biblio

Neurophilosophical Inquiries

© Wim van den Dungen

A Philosophy of the Mind and Its Brain

against materialism & spiritualism
in defence of nondualistic interactionism
case study : the power of suggestion

"Mentality is a real and autonomous feature of our world".
Putnam, H. : "Philosophy and our Mental Life.", in : Moser & Trout, 1995, p.122.

"Philosophy must therefore assume that no true contradiction will be found between freedom and natural necessity in the same human actions, for it cannot give up the idea of nature any more than that of freedom."
Kant, I. : Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, 3:56.

"Observations not only disturb what is to be measured, they produce it."
Jordan Pascual, quoted in Rosenblum & Kuttner, 2006, p.103.

"Although our minds may be essential to the realization of a particular reality, we cannot know or decide in advance what the result of a quantum measurement will be. We cannot choose what kind of reality we could like to perceive beyond choosing the measurement eigenstates. In this interpretation of quantum measurement, our only influence over matter is to make it real."
Baggot, 2004, p.256, my italics.

"All things work together."
Hippocrates : De Alimento, 4.

"The many become one, and are increased by one."
Whitehead, A.N. : Process & Reality, § 32.

The problem, therefore, is not merely that science is being used illegitimately to promote a materialistic worldview, but that this worldview is actively undermining scientific inquiry, leading to incorrect and unsupported conclusions about biological and cosmological origins."

Beauregard, M. & O'Leary, D. : The Spiritual Brain, HarperOne - New York, 2007, p.27.




I : Beyond Materialism & Spiritualism.

1. The Epistemology of Materialism.

1.1 Reduction of the Subject of Knowledge.
1.2 The Naive Inflation of the Real.
1.3 Prospective Materialism.

2. The Metaphysics of Materialism.

2.1 Greek Atomism.
2.2 Objectifying Essentialism.
2.3 Newtonian Physicalism.

3. The Criticism of Materialism.

3.1 Criticism of Observation.
3.2 Criticism of Common Sense Realism.
3.3 Criticism of Materialist Dogmatism.

4. The Epistemology of Spiritualism.

4.1 Reduction of the Object of Knowledge.
4.2 The Naive Inflation of the Ideal.
4.3 Spiritual Obscurantism.

5. The Metaphysics of Spiritualism.

5.1 Greek Pythagorism & Platonism.
5.2 Subjectifying Essentialism.
5.3 Monarchic Transcendence.

6. The Criticism of Spiritualism.

6.1 Criticism of Personal Experience.
6.2 Criticism of Fideist Idealism.
6.3 Criticism of Spiritualist Dogmatism.

7. An Ontology b
eyond Materialism & Spiritualism.

7.1 Criticism : Cutting-Through Appearances.
7.2 Ontology : Panexperiential Occasionalism.
7.3 Functional Domains of Explanation.

II : The Mind/Body Problem.

8. Positions.

8.1 Ancient Egyptian Shamanism : Hylic Pluralism.
8.2 Platonic Dualism & Peripatetic Hylemorphism.
8.3 Cartesian Interactionism.
8.4 Occasionalism.
8.5 Psycho-Physical Parallelism and Panpsychism.
8.6 Physicalism : Analytical Behaviourism and Identity or Central State Theory.
8.7 Eliminativism, Epiphenomenalism and Behaviourism.
8.8 Functionalism.
8.9 Anomalous Monism, Supervenient Emergentism.
8.10 Panexperientalism.

9. Functional Interactionism.

9.1 Solving the Mind/Body Problem ?
9.2 A Triadic Model of What Works.
9.3 How Brain-Mind Interaction Happens.
9.4 The Endlessness of Brain and Mind.

10. Suggestology.

10.1 The Power of Suggestion.
10.2 Spiritual Paths of Suggestion ?
10.3 Aqua Magica : Healing with Dyed Water.

Epilogue : Taking Our Own Power Seriously.



"Our reasonings are grounded upon two great principles, that of contradiction, in virtue of which we judge false that which involves a contradiction, and true that which is opposed or contradictory to the false. And that of sufficient reason, in virtue of which we hold that there can be no fact real or existing, no statement true, unless there be a sufficient reason, why it should be so and not otherwise, although these reasons usually cannot be known by us."
Leibniz, G.W. : Monadology, §§ 31-32, my italics.

In the ontological assumption of naturalism, the world (all possible events) or "Nature" is a single all-embracing spatio-temporal system. Being quasi-determinist and self-enclosed, all events are probabilistically determined solely by other events in Nature, not by an absolute "hypokeimenon" ontologically transcending it.

Until recently, and starting with the Greeks, naturalism was mostly essentialist and concept-realist. Objects had a substantial ground, base or foundation. Concepts conveyed absolute reality. Substance denoted whatever remained identical with itself, i.e. a thing depending upon nothing else for its existence than itself. Conceptual thought had direct access to this ultimate reality, either by remembering ("anamnesis" - Plato) or by abstracting ("intellectus agens" - Aristotle).

Designating one (ontological monism), two (metaphysical dualism) or more (metaphysical pluralism) foundational substances did not alter the view of Nature as consisting of entities inherently possessing their properties from their own side. When this essentialism, to explain Nature as a whole, posited a supreme "substance of substances", it either viewed it as transcending the world (cf. a supreme idea of ideas or an Unmoved Mover) or identical with it (cf. the Stoic "pneuma"). But the notion these sufficient ground existed by its own right, without the need besides itself, remained. In the Greek mind, isolated objects were more important than connected ones. This Olympic mind fed substantialism. Process naturalism eliminates it.

Indeed, with the advent of quantum mechanics, this substance-like view, mostly coupled with a strict causal determinism, was replaced by a process-like view, one embracing relativity, probabilism and a whole spectrum of law-like determinations (like neo-causality, interactionism, holistic determination, etc.). In this non-essentialist approach, all phenomena are impermanent events, arising, abiding & ceasing. Caught in an endless process of ongoing creative becoming, they do not possess an unchanging, self-identical core in and of themselves. Interconnected with all other phenomena, each event is devoid of own-nature, i.e. empty of an essence exclusively attributed to it, characterizing and distinguishing it from all other events in an unchanging, eternalizing way (cf. Emptiness, 2008 & Ultimate Logic, 2009). Things are what they do, not what remains after eliminating the accidents.

The objects of Nature are no longer characterized as substances (or self-powered entities, properties or states), but as processes (P) which go the way of occasions (o1, o2, ... om). Every existing object A or A is characterized by a set of occasions O = {oA1, ... oAm} making A unique. This set constitutes the occasion-continuum of A. Everything outside the occasion-horizon of A does not constitute A. Of course, certain occasions constituting A may also constitute B, while the occasion-continuum of each A remains unique.

Can we do more than accept ox as a logical primitive, a given ? Following Whitehead (1861 - 1947) and his "quantum ontology" :

(a) occasion o
x, an instance of the set of occasions O = {o1, ... om}, is an atomic & momentary actuality characterized by "extensiveness" ;
event e
x, an instance of the set of events E = {e1, ... en}, is the nexus of occasions, and
entity en
x, an instance of the set of entities En = {en1, ... enp}, is the nexus of events, while "entity" and "object" are synonymous.

"The core issue for both Whiteheadian process and quantum process is the emergence of the discrete from the continuous."
Stapp, 2007, p.88.

Entities and events are occasions interrelated in a determining way in one extensive continuum, and an actual occasion is a limiting type of an event with only one member.
Nature is built up of occasions. Events are aggregates or compounds of occasions. Entities are aggregates or compounds of events.

Extensiveness is what occasions
x have in common. This extensive plenum of the continuum of each occasion can be :

(a) spatial : as in the case of geometrical objects ;
(b) temporal : as in the case of the duration of mental objects ;
(c) spatio-temporal : as in the case of the endurance of sensate objects.

Mentality, besides materiality, is an autonomous feature of Nature, one interconnected with matter and information. To comfortably argue the point, one needs to back how the non-material, non-corporeal, non-physical aspects of Nature interact with (co-determine change in) the material operator of spatio-temporal systems composed of occasions, each having material, informational and self-determinative features.

The proposed naturalism is therefore not a materialist naturalism. Neither is it a spiritualist naturalism. Both half-truths are rejected. It stays within the order of Nature, introduces no "transcendent significant" (Derrida), posits no transcendent, constitutive idea beyond the series of natural determinations (Kant) ; not on the side of the material, nor on the side of the non-material operators of Nature, namely information & consciousness. If a supreme "logos" is considered, then merely as an immanent architect, but not as a transcendent creator. Rather a subtle fire than a transcendent spirit, a Caesar of sorts overtowering Nature (monotheism). Valid metaphysics is necessarily immanent. Transcendent metaphysics and its poetry, being non-conceptual and nondual, is, while influencing the subject of experience, ineffable in an excellent & exemplary way. Hence, although transcendence is not rejected and may be cognized, it is deemed non-conceptual, nondual & ineffable.

Materialism is a form of naturalism whereby the spatio-temporal system is identified with matter only, precluding other possible factors or operators within Nature (like the mind). Ontological materialism posits matter as a substance, while process materialism rejects occasions feature anything else besides matter (the latter is merely a logical possibility, for process thought promotes a physico-mental view).

We must distinguish between classical materialism (Democritus, Leucippus, Lucretius, Hobbes, Gassendi) and contemporary materialism. For classical materialism and its essentialism, Nature is nothing but collections of self-contained, indivisible atoms in the void. In the XVIIth century materialism became a form of mechanism. Nature as a gigantic clockwork. The language to describe this became more and more logical & mathematical. Material entities were viewed as solid, inert, impenetrable, conserved, substantial objects, possessing their properties from their own side (inherently) and isolated from other material occasions, events & entities. This own-nature could be conceptually known. These ideas became the cornerstones of the Newtonian worldview. Classical materialism has been proven wrong. Contemporary physics promotes process (not substance), discontinuity (Planck), relativity (Einstein), wave-collapse (Bohr, von Neumann, Schrödinger) and interdependence (Bell). Hence, adjacent materialism holds the view the single material, empirical operator is what a true & complete physical science says about it. This form is called "physicalism".

Physicalism or behaviourism is a materialist form of naturalism claiming all occasions, events, entities, processes, properties, relations and facts are those studied by physics or other physical sciences. The latter are considered to be able "in principle" to develop suitable bridge concepts linking its vocabulary to chemistry and molecular biology, entailing credible approximations of all their established laws. Physicalism is not necessarily essentialist, as functionalism shows. But in all cases, only material occasions are accepted as the fundamental building blocks of Nature.

operator/ontology essentialism process
matter materialism
non-material classical
all stuff hylic pluralism panexperientialism

This table compares, in the context of naturalism, the kind of stuff introduced (material, non-material or both) with the ontology at hand (accepting substances as in essentialism or not, as in process thinking). Let us review these six monisms :

● classical materialism accepts substances (things existing from their own side, possessing inherent nature) and posits a monism : only matter is the fundamental stuff. Contemporary physicalism corrects this : only physical realities as given by physics are the sufficient ground of Nature. The physical universe is mechanical, gravitational, thermodynamical, electromagnetic, relativistic and quantummechanical ;
●  functionalism thinks relationships and so process, change, transformation, but only in terms of what physics has to say. It endorses physicalism and so monism, without accepting essentialism. Non-substantiality or the absence of autarchic, self-powered material monads embraces process, grasped as a dynamical system of functions and interdependent factors, whereas essentialism fixates and eternalizes ;
● classical spiritualism accepts the "substance of substances" (a point at infinity within or without Nature). This actual infinity is the ultimate substance the human mind is able to cognize. Hence, absolute knowledge is possible, for "revealed" to the absolute mind. Matter is created by spirit. Also here a single sufficient ground is conjectured ;
● in the Mind-Only school ("Cittamâtra") of Buddhism (cf. the Yogâcârin School, "practice of yoga school"), absence of inherent existence is acknowledged except for the absolute mind. All phenomena are other-powered, i.e. dependent on conditions & determinations outside them, but the absence or lack of duality between perceiving subject and perceived object is taken to have own-nature ("svabhâva"). Except for the absolute mind, all is other-powered. All phenomena are merely manifestations of this monadic absolute mind ;
● hylic pluralism posits a multitude of substances, a hierarchy organized in static ontological levels (planes, worlds), with at the bottom the coarsest forms of matter and at the top the most refined forms of spirit. Matter is a materialized spirit and spirit spiritualized matter. A single ontological ladder unfolds, a "scala perfectionis" or universal "Tree of Life". While all beings form one continuum, the differences between them is relative ;
● for panexperientialism, espousing process and pluralism, each actual accasion has various aspects or attributes, like matter, information & consciousness. These phenomena or domains are organically organized in ontological strata. All phenomena are made up of occasions, the building-blocks of the organic dynamism of Nature. Because each occasion is executive (hardware), informational (software) and to a degree participatory (userware), it shapes novelty and is an individual. Occasions always interconnect and become events and entities. Thus individualized societies and non-individualized compounds arise. Human consciousness allows for an inner life and conscious experience, manifesting a high degree of freedom and choice.

"The panexperientialist philosophy (...) says that individuals at every level have their own power, so that, although much of the power of the atom is found in its subatomic particles, the atom as a centered whole has power that is not reducible to that of its parts. The same is said of, for example, ordinary molecules, macromolecules, cells, and animals, with the power of the animal as a whole being that of its soul."
Griffin, 1997, p.147.

Applying the last position to neurophilosophy, I argue interactionism hand in hand with monism. The brain is a spatiotemporal material entity, defined by space, time, mass, force, etc. Adding the perspective of organization, it is a compound of matter (hardware) computing code or information (software) attended by the conscious mind (consciousness) or not (unconscious). The human mind (and in a lesser degree the mind of all higher primates) is an extraordinary society of occasions, a temporal, mental entity, determined by sensations, volitions, affects, thoughts & (self) consciousness, a cognizing awareness, capable of solving problems by operating signals, icons and symbols in a well-ordered way, a intentional, percipient participator, a meaningful conscious choice, a wave-collapsing observator, etc. The human mind interacts with the body and its information precisely because, on the most fundamental level, it is not made out of ontologically different "stuff" than the brain. Neuronal events are occasions. Mental intentions are also occasions. That distinct logics accommodate the distinctness between these occasions is clear. But this does not necessarily implies there is an ontological difference (another kind of being, made of different stuff). The key to this interactionism ? All occasions are material, informational & sentient.

Given brain and mind, the central question is how to relate both ? Let us first touch a few logical, epistemological, ontological, physical, phenomenological & ethical issues involved here.


What about the pivotal difference between a monist or a non-monist central axiom ?

Monist logics privilege a single principle or monad. Examples are materialism & spiritualism. The latter understand matter as the lowest degree of spirit, while for the former spiritual activity emerges out of matter. Panexperientialism discovers a deeper layer, for both material (physical) and non-material (non-physical) things are occasions. An occasion is an extensive atomic & momentary actuality caught in process.

Non-monists logics always introduce more than one fundamental ontological principle (a duality, triplicity, quaternio, etc.). Duality, with its powerful reflective capacities, introduces otherness. This is a first step outside the monadic & monarchic continuum, adding alteriority as a new unity. But herein lies the weakness of dual systems : now two principles are generated. How to reconcile their ontological difference in a single Nature ? How can they interact, and if they do, how ? The power of duality is felt in epistemology. Reflection on the structure of thought itself reveals a binary structure, erected on the principles of the transcendental logic of thought itself, the norms of valid empirico-formal propositions and the maxims of an efficient production of knowledge (cf. Clearings, 2006 & Criticosynthesis, 2008). A trinity of factors brings in the first logical closure, and by adding a third principle, duality is not longer "locked" in singular division, no longer the nature morte of the "dead bones" of formal logic, but indeed becomes an "unlocked", plural process capable of thinking the manifold. In many ways, triadism is equipped to deal with manifolds.

Applied to neurophilosophy, monadic logics, like those used in materialist neuroscience, affirm the material brain to be the single last principle. All other operators (like information & consciousness) end when the brain dies. A contrario, spiritual systems will think the brain as materialized spirit, and affirm the "spiritual core" of the mind is the single last principle. Introducing a tertium comparationis, we may apprehend the brain as the executive computer (hardware) processing mental objects (as software) attended or non-attended by conscious choice (userware). These operators are at work on a cosmic level, as well as each and every occasion.

For the monist, the validity of the first principle must be argued well. Can everything be explained by the privileged monad ("matter" in materialism, "spirit" in spiritualism, "occasions" in process thinking) ? If so, then by Ockham's Razor we keep it simple. But if a single case can be found where the principle does not apply, then a forteriori monism is wrong. For the non-monist, in particular the essentialist, the validity of the interaction between ontologically different principles must be strongly backed. How, in this case, can this material brain interact with the distinct and different non-material mind (and thus experience a non-cerebral impact) ?

Logically, monism coupled with essentialism has difficulty explaining the manifold, its multiplicity, variety, differentiation, complexity, richness & interconnectedness. A single static factor lies at the heart of this approach. So certain aspects of the manifold (of Nature) cannot be explained. One either accepts the combination to be a failure or one continues to try to explain the manifold anyway. The combination fails because of essentialism. Thinking a single dynamic factor solves many of the problems. In the West, process-monism is rather recent. Although we find traces of it in Greek philosophy (Heraclites) and a first draught in Leibniz, elaborated by Whitehead.

Logically, substantialism (essentialism) should be avoided. From functionalism we integrate the interconnectedness between phenomena. But not in the exclusive sense of materialist functionalism. There may be other aspects of the same thing also working functionally. Idealist solutions (like Mind-Only) cannot be reconciled with how matter behaves. Panexperientialism couples process with a pluralist view on the distinctness of occasions (not their ontological difference !), embracing, in principle, endless distinguishing attributes, aspects or operators, but reducing these to the three known to function today : matter (hardware), information (software) and consciousness (userware). Regarding the latter, the crucial distinction between consciousness per se and human conscious experience (or inner life) should not be missed. On this planet, the human mind is an extraordinary continuum of occasions, the only one capable of featuring inner life & conscious experience. A single occasion evidences the smallest possible degree of sentience.


Epistemology answers two questions : How is valid knowledge possible ? and How can knowledge be produced ? The first question brings in two disciplines : transcendental logic, uncovering the logical structure of conceptual thought itself, and theoretical epistemology or theory of knowledge, unveiling the normative structure of empirico-formal knowledge and its validation. How a particular research-cell produces such knowledge is summarized by the maxims of applied epistemology. Together, this trinity of factors covers the rationale of valid conceptual knowledge and its production.

Neurophilosophy makes use of the epistemological study of sensation, explaining how sensate objects arise. How do we sensuously perceive, interpret & sensate our outer environment, and what is the role of this in the validity of our knowledge ? This calls for the difference between "naked" and "natural" perception.

Let us consider naked perception first. The receptor organs of the sensory system are fed by impulses based on chemical substances (smell, taste), collisions & frictions (touch), air pressures (audition) and electromagnetic radiation (vision). These impulses are the first cause of perception, nothing else. Stimuli are the direct, external changes caused by a narrow band of material objects on the surface of the receptor organs of the sensory system. This perception is called "naked", because we must assume a direct influence of the outer physical world on the sensitive surfaces of the receptor organs. These organs effectuate a decisive transformation of the signal (called "transduction").

Indeed, in each receptor organ, this transduction is operational  from, on the one hand, chemical (smell, taste, touch), mechanical (touch, audition) or electromagnetic energy (sight) to, on the other hand, encoded sequences of electric voltages running through neurons and their axons and dendrites :

  • smell : transduction of chemical stimuli (odorants) by temporal coding (the timing of spikes) ;

  • taste  : transduction of chemical stimuli by membrane potential changes, either depolarizing or hyperpolarizing (voltage shift) ;

  • touch : transduction of mechanical and chemical stimuli by membrane potential changes & mechanoreceptors (with mechano-sensitive ion channels ?) ;

  • audition : transduction of mechanical energy by a change in membrane polarization ;

  • sight : transduction of electromagnetic radiation by a change in membrane polarization.

This transduction implies an automatic interpretation from receptor organ to thalamus. To do so, evolutionary, biological software is present. This is integrated (a) in the hardware of the receptor organ (transduction), (b) in the peripheral nervous system (coded relays) and (c) in the brain (thalamus).

Natural perception happens at the level of the thalamus, where reptilian & mammalian software takes over. Before entry into the neocortex, this "inner room" or "storeroom" (of a Greek or Roman house) receives the neuronal messages of the five senses. This sensory information is spatio-temporalized, integrated and finally projected into the primary sensory cortex, while the intensity of the flow to and fro the neocortex is monitored and if necessary inhibited. This "automatic" level of perception is called "natural" because our brain shares it with all higher mammals. In humans, the thalamus acts not only as a receptor and an integrator-projector, but also as the initiator of a series of higher cortical functions.

Finally, when all this information is projected in the neocortex by the thalamus, the last level of interpretation occurs, and this one is not automatic. Sensation, the final integration of perception, involves interpretation and construction. Sensation is the result of an active modulation of the perceived inputs. Not only the projected is computed & recomputed, but associated with all known neuronal networks and finally synthesized, labelled & named. Hence, conscious sensation can not do away or eliminate these interpretations, for consciousness has no direct experience of perceptions, but only of sensations.

S(ensation) = P(erception) . I(nterpretation), with I ≠ 1.

The neurophilosophy of sensation clarifies the difference between perception and sensation. The objects we sensate appear as they do because of our interpretation and, as long as conceptual rationality is at hand, this cannot be put to rest or eliminated. This "interpretation" is not something "added" to perceptions, a thing, by some method, to be subtracted. The association areas of the neocortex (receiving the data projected by the thalamus) process the construction in which the sensate objects appear as entities (cluster of events) with accidents (names & labels such as quantity, quality, relation, modality, etc.), i.e. as sensate objects possessed by a subject of experience. Before they "enter" these areas, they have not yet been introduced to the overall modular activity of the neocortex, the concert of interpretations with an attention area mediating the will of the conductor, the pilot, the swimmer, the conscious self. Once this happens, the end relay of perception transforms into sensation and its objects. And with them there is always interpretation (fabrication, naming, labelling) and a subject of experience facing & possessing sensate objects of experience.

These epistemological considerations on perception bring to bare how naive realism, the cornerstone of essentialist materialism, positing the identity between perception and sensation or the reducibility of interpretation is flawed. We have no direct access to any sense datum. It also shows how spiritualism, claiming the mind creates its objects, cannot be reconciled with the fact all sensation is rooted in naked & natural perception, i.e. the recording of something stimulating ...


The metaphysical study of existence or ontology asks  : What is the sufficient ground of all things ? and What kind of things are there in existence ? For the monist, there is only one sufficient ground allowing for various, distinct kind of things. Distinguishing objects does not lead to designating another sufficient ground.

The possibilities of cognition itself determine what can be known. In the past, the view determining how knowledge is possible & how it can be increased was rooted in the sufficient ground given by ontology. Materialism claimed the real to be this "hypokeimenon", while spiritualism affirmed it was the ideal. Hence, the possibilities of cognition were determined by an ontological choice made ad hoc. Criticism has done away with this, showing how epistemology is a normative discipline, not one based on a metaphysical description of the world. It benefits ontology, before engaging in any kind of speculation about the fundamental nature of objects, to first consider the two principles of transcendental logic, namely the division between the transcendental object and the transcendental subject of all possible thought.

Let us consider a few materialist (realist) tenets without the restrictions imposed by transcendental logic.

1. Physical reality is the only reality.
2. Physical reality originates from totally impersonal natural forces.
3. This reality functions without the intervention of any immaterial force of any kind.
4. Life & consciousness emerge in the material universe purely by accident.
5. Every typical "human" feature is determined solely by what happens in the body, in particular the brain, and forces acting on it from the physical environment.
6. When the body dies, consciousness dies.

Applying the principles of transcendental logic, this set of ideas cannot be accepted for the following reasons :

1. Because all possible thought happens in the dynamism between an object of knowledge and a subject of knowledge, the statement only physical reality exists involves a "contradiction in actu exercito", for the subjectivity or community of subjectivities making the statement are kept out of the equation when it is uttered. Like somebody closing a door and saying "the door is open", a logical error is at hand. As there is no "Archimedic point" outside the "concordia discors", or the domain of the interaction between object & subject of thought, one simply cannot make such a statement. Indeed, it presupposes an absolute view, one no thinker is logically and practically able to assume.

The alternative ? Logic forces us to assume both object & subject.

2. Again, how does one know "totally impersonal forces" are at hand ? The same counter-argument works. But there is more. Lots of recent sciences (like cultural anthropology, observational psychology & physics) posit an intimate connection between observer and observed, destroying the "strong" statement physical reality only originated from impersonal forces, i.e. exists without any interference from the side of subjectivity.  Reality operates physical & non-physical entities.

"To perceive a complex means to perceive that its constituents are combined in such and such a way. This perhaps explains that the figure can be seen in two ways as a cube ; and all similar phenomena. For we really see two different facts. (If I fix my eyes first on the corners a and only glance at b, a appears in front and b behind, and vice versa.)"
Wittgenstein, L. : Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 5.5423, my italics.

3. Is the act of observation by itself a material force ? If it were, then it would be possible to describe this act in purely public terms, i.e. exclusively using a third-person language of some kind. But this is not the case. In fact, as the famous "cube" of Wittgenstein (a Gestalt switch) shows, here attention defines observation, and the structure of "my" or "your" attention must contain private indexicals to describe it. If it contains a single private indexical (and in fact it contains more), then one cannot say all observation is purely public and therefore purely physical.

4. Hoyle (1986) concludes random events and change occurrences are insufficient to account for the complexity of living organisms. He compared this chance with the event the junk pieces of a Boeing 747 would completely reassemble by a single gust of wind ! So, we can either choose to investigate the possibility of natural higher-order at work in the universe or believe in the ongoing mathematical miracles of a blind nature morte. Likewise, Maxwell (1831 - 1879) pointed out the contrast between the evolution of species, featuring biological changeability, and the existence of identical building blocks for all observed actual physical entities. Calculate the odds of spontaneous emergence, given the effectiveness of Newton's laws on the mesolevel (the inverse-square law of gravity being optimal for the becoming of the Solar system), our knowledge of what happens in stars (in particular the production of carbon and oxygen) and the cosmology of the Big Bang ! Doing so, a choice has to be made between either a (natural) intelligent design (which does not necessarily imply creationism of any kind) or a monstrous random and blind sequence of accidents producing a gigantic complexity, which seems rather unlikely. Finally, although mathematically, the equations of physics, representing the fundamental architecture of the order of the physical world, also produce outcomes when other quantities of the same natural constants are put in, the world would be lifeless and barren (instead of a haven for incredible complexity) if even a small amount of these values would be changed. This points to the weak anthropic principle : life & consciousness were pre-planned to emerge and the physical world accommodated this.

5. This positions can be attacked by the same logic used above. Human consciousness, intention, intimacy, personal life, "reality-for-me", the first-person perspective etc. all involve private indexicals, i.e. words referring to components of mental states. They imply a special ostensive definition featuring private access only. Moreover, they are completely defined by other words alone and thus private ostension is coupled with semantic isolation. Indeed, these are the only words available to talk about human sentient experience. Hence, unless a human being has actually experienced the referent of one or more private indexical, no understanding of it is possible. The brain however, is described by public indexicals. They too are always definable by description, but never completely by other words alone. Their description requires a normal ostensive definition, i.e. a verbalization including at least one non-private component. Hence, they can be intersubjectively validated, while private indexicals only privately.

This is the symmetry-problem handicapping the reduction of mind to brain. For if mind is fundamentally only brain, then nothing belonging to mind should not belong to brain. If a single instance of mind can be found which cannot be reduced to or be made to "emerge" from brain, then mind involves another distinct (not different) working principle than matter and the brain. And this is precisely the case. Mind is private, brain is public and any reduction is henceforth problematic. Moreover, besides this lack of symmetry between brain and mind, there is a semantic problem. The "meaning" derived from brain is a manifold or plurality, while the mind cannot be apprehended without some experience of unity, of a plurality brought to unity and conscious of itself as a unity. This distinctness points to the presence of at least two ontological operators or aspects, not only one.

6. Of course, if "mind" is but another word, function, secretion or emergent property of matter, then the demise of the manifold defined as "brain" is also the end of the mind and its conscious apprehension of itself. In that case, volition, emotion, thought & (self) consciousness disappear when the lifespan of the brain is exhausted. The mind stops being secreted or determined by the dead brain, and so, mutatis mutandis, the mind stops being mind. If however, the case can be made brain and mind belong to two different sets, worlds, aspects or operators of the same universal occasion-continuum of Nature, then another situation may be at hand. The elements of the brain return to the physical order to be recycled, while the future of the mind may be different. As this moment of consciousness is followed by the next moment, the moment consciousness is not longer interacting with the brain may also be followed by another moment of consciousness, albeit disembodied or subtly embodied.

"When finally a brain stops acting altogether, or decays, that special stream of consciousness which it subserved will vanish entirely from this natural world. But the sphere of being that supplied the consciousness would still be intact ; and in that more real world with which, even whilst here, it was continuous, the consciousness might, in ways unknown to us, continue still."
James, 1989, pp.85-86, my italics.

Let us now consider some spiritualist (idealist) tenets without the restrictions imposed by transcendental logic.

1. Non-physical ideality is the only reality.
2. Physical reality originates from personal natural forces.
3. Physical reality functions with the intervention of immaterial forces.
4. Life & consciousness emerge in the material universe by transcendent design.
5. Every typical "human" feature is determined solely by the universal mind.
6. When the body dies, consciousness survives (there is life after death).

Applying the principles of transcendental logic on ontological speculation, we cannot accept this set of ideas for symmetrical reasons :

1. The object of thought cannot be "taken out" and replaced by a mental monad. Doing so contradicts the fact all possible thought and all possible knowledge are always about something, i.e. must presuppose an extra-mental reality in order to be called "knowledge" at all. Hence, non-physical ideality cannot be the only reality, for then all facts would be solely defined by our theories and in no way possess, so we must assume, the credentials of "reality-as-such" or the absolute state of affairs in the world.

2. The fact physical reality has its own domain is clearly demonstrated by the advancements in science, in particular physics, chemistry, biology & cosmology. Here, natural forces are at work (at least at the macro- and mesolevel of existence) independent & separate from any conscious observer. While on the microlevel the observer, by the very act of observing, participates in the collapse of the wave-function (cf. Bohr, Van Neumann), it is not the case the observer determines what is present before the collapse or is able to cause a particular outcome after the collapse. The observer merely "makes" reality to actualize, but not what kind of reality.

3. Although one should not a priori deny the possibility of co-determining non-physical agents like information & consciousness, the principle of parsimony forces us not to multiply entities when simpler explanations are possible. Besides material execution (matter), we may -in the case of human beings- reckon with theoretical abstraction & validity (theory - information) and percipient, sentient participation (consciousness).

4. Creationism goes one step too far. Although a natural higher-order intelligence can be rationally explained (cf. Ockham on the First Conserver or Kant on the "architect" of the universe), one logically cannot step outside the natural order and posit a transcendent Being (a Creator-God) without seriously crippling reason and moving beyond discursive thought. On purely fideist grounds one may believe as one pleases, but this does not necessarily produce correct & valid thinking, quite on the contrary. The debate regarding intelligent design must, as Kant clearly pointed out, stop at the natural order and never move beyond it. We should therefore not try to explain the world from a transcendent perspective, one per definition no concept can cast, but limit ourselves to explaining the natural order in natural terms.

"The utmost, therefore, that could be established by such a proof would be an architect of the world, always very much hampered by the quality of the material with which he has to work, not a creator, to whose idea everything is subject. This would by no means suffice for the purposed aim of proving an all-sufficient original Being. If we wished to prove the contingency of matter itself, we must have recourse to a transcendental argument, and this is the very thing which was to be avoided."
Kant, I. : Critique of Pure Reason, B653.

5. Clearly the brain influences the mind. There can be no discussion about that ! Although the driver of a car is not the car, the way the car moves about influences the driver and his decisions. An ongoing interaction is at hand, not a unilateral causation (from mind to brain, or from brain to mind). Stating the mind always takes precedence over the brain (denying downward causation) is neglecting the fruits of hard scientific labour and cannot be justified. But logically too there are problems. Only by negating the facts of natural evolution can one blind oneself for the fact so many human features are close to primate behaviour. If the universal mind would be the "model" used to profile humans, then clearly this mind is also reptilian & mammalian ?

6. Considering the possibility consciousness may switch from "body" after ending its interaction with its brain (accepting the driver leaves the car and asking what happens next) is not the same as "filling in" what happens after the demise of the brain with stories of an afterlife resembling this-life. How many religious systems have not viewed the afterlife in terms of what we know of our life here on Earth ?

"Let us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there is great reason to hope that death is a good, for one of two things : - either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by the sight of dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. For if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams, and were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I think that any man, I will not say a private man, but even the great king, will not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if death is like this, I say that to die is gain ; for eternity is then only a single night. But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this ? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below, he is delivered from the professors of justice in this world, and finds the true judges who are said to give judgment there, Minos and Rhadamanthus and Aeacus and Triptolemus, and other sons of God who were righteous in their own life, that pilgrimage will be worth making. What would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer ?"
Plato : Apology, 32.

These considerations show how both ontological materialism and ontological spiritualism, being extreme, antinomic positions, are off-track. Materialism cannot explain the presence of the mind, in particular consciousness, and spiritualism cannot explain the executive effectiveness of matter. Accepting all occasions as individuals endowed with (potential) materiality, code & sentience allows one to think process & multiplicity, as well as explain interactionism without the use of different ontological principles, but adhering to one only, namely occasions and their multiple distinct aspects.


Is it surprising, given the long dogmatic hold of Catholic spirituality on free study and the success of physics since Galileo, Kepler & Newton, XIXth century science embraced a metaphysical research program dedicated to materialism ? Despite German Idealism and Protest Philosophy, Marxism and logical positivism followed their lead. The success of the Industrial Revolution spawned a belief in endless growth and the end of human suffering thanks to technology. Mental events were but "superstructures" erected on a materialist base, and in such a view, "downward causation", or mind influencing body (brain) was impossible. The Newtonian model reduced all determinating factors (lawful relationships between events) to causality, absolute time, absolute space and an "atomic" perspective. Newton himself knew this worldview conflicted with the nature of light (was it a particle or a wave ?), as well as with his own law of gravity. For not only was F = G m1.m2/r²  not a causal law (but one based in interaction or a mutual, simultaneous influence), but, more disturbingly, how could F travel in a vacuum ? Newton rejected "actio-in-distans", but found no better conjecture.

The two "clouds" seen by Lord Kelvin in 1900 in a lecture entitled "Nineteenth-Century Clouds over the Dynamical Theory of Heat and Light", proved to herald the end of classical physics. The fact the speed of light was a constant (Michelson-Morley experiment) and the discrete, jump-like nature of the radiation spectrum of a black body (with no optical emission), respectively heralded special relativity and quantum theory. A constant light speed made the "ether" impossible. This was a special medium supposed to be at rest with respect to absolute space (of which it was the materialization). In 1887, it became clear there was no "ether wind", i.e. the velocity of the laboratory had no effect on the measured speed of light. Moreover, in Newtonian physics, the distribution of the luminous energy as a function of the frequency (or wavelength) or spectrum of radiation, was conceptualized as continuous, and so jump-like radiation in "quanta" did not fit in.

Classical physics had used visual concepts like position, velocity, space, time, force ... Mathematics had provided added precision but this without altering their common sense meaning, one close to our experience of the meso-level of reality. With the work of Maxwell, these visual concepts began to be replaced by more abstract notions, like that of an electric or magnetic "field". The mathematics involved here was more than merely a translation of our common view, but the only form making these new concepts explicit. Maxwell's physics became a series of mathematical relationships among quantities, describing their connections and their dynamics. Mathematical language started to take precedence over other forms of common sense understanding. The "two clouds" pointed to two phenomena making things much worse.

Special relativity, discovered by Einstein in 1905, rejected both absolute time & absolute space. Distance (space) and the passing of time depended on the motion of the observer measuring them ! Moreover, although Einstein's relativistic theory of gravitation explained the great question unresolved by Newton (namely how the force of gravity propagates in a vacuum), it did so by introducing concepts inaccessible to common sense. Gravitation propagates gradually at the speed of light, and it does so in space-time, an entity connecting space & time as a result of motion. Mass was reduced to being a "curvature" of this space-time. All came down to non-Euclidian geometry.

Given space and time had never been clearly understood and the relativistic effects only happen at great speeds, relativity seemed to invite us to retain a common sense view, one in which matter could still be seen and touched. Indeed, in Einstein's special and general relativity, physical objects continued to possess their properties inherently (independent from observation) and each object was Einstein-isolated from other objects. But the notion objects could be positioned in absolute space & time was relinquished. Distance and time depended on the observer ...

Quantum mechanics had to relinquish both, introducing the observer and non-locality. Doing so implied the "very small" was ruled by a set of laws contradicting our common sense view on physical objects.

"Let us only add that, despite the many efforts to discredit it, quantum mechanics has always come out on top, and that today it may be considered as a completely accurate theory, even when experiments involve distances between particles of one-billionth of an angström, or energies thousands of time that of the proton's mass energy. The agreement between theory and experience has in certain cases reached over ten significant digits, a precision unequaled in any other scientific domain."
Omnès, 2002, p.146.

Although it took the best part of the previous century to decide whether quantum theory could be replaced by a theory deemed "more complete" (read : less weird), by the beginning of the '80 non-locality had been experimentally demonstrated (Aspect) and so "saving" the classical view on physical reality, devoid of non-locality, was made contra-factual. The principle of superposition (saying a elementary particle is scattered over the experimental setup as a whole) and non-locality (positing interconnectedness) invites an interpretation reintroducing the observer as well as action-at-a-distance. In other words, physical properties are co-established by observation and not a single physical object is isolated from other objects. Despite the many efforts to discredit quantum theory, it is considered to be a completely accurate theory.


Traditional philosophical phenomenology (Husserl, Heidegger) feels called to go back "to the things themselves", the true nature of phenomena. Because this is viewed in terms of  an "eidos" or essence of something existing inherently, it remains essentialist (substantialist). Put aside this epistemic claim of conceptual access to the absolute nature of things, viewed substantially, the importance given to intention & the "first person" perspective can not be overlooked.

Indeed, private indexicals, i.e. words referring to components of mental states always involve an ostensive definition featuring private access only. This special definition, precluding public access, makes private access unique. The semantic isolation of these indexicals reflects the intimacy of the first person perspective. Each and every observer is a unique vantage point. Unless a human being has actually experienced the referent of one or more private indexical, the experience cannot be conceptualized. To be intersubjectively validated, public indexicals always refer to at least one non-private component. The second and third person perspectives are intersubjective & social communities of sign-interpreters.

Clearly most if not all of mental life is described by private indexicals. A refined description of this inner experience conveys the contours of the immediate intimacy between the conscious observer & participator and its objects. This personal experience is valid in terms of relevance, not significance. But precisely here (auto)suggestion & placebo may be used to the advantage of the wellbeing of individuals.

Although each personal experience is unique, phenomenology may discover common patterns of existential functioning. These point to a common heritage, evolution and autoregulation in the domain of consciousness itself. The latter is viewed as an infinite continuum of interconnected streams of consciousness, each with its own dynamics, ongoingly participating with the whole.

Phenomenology as the study of the first person perspective, of its intentionality, introspection, attention, (self)awareness & cognition, helps to clarify state & contents of human consciousness. Taking personal life serious, it elucidates origin, process and aim of the percipient participator. This is the "userware", deciding when, why & how to use information ("software") to manipulate matter ("hardware"). Active in a domain (or subworld) of its own, human consciousness interacts with both matter & information. These factors or operators are irreducible to one another. They are each independent aspects of the same occasion-continuum. Each works by its own kind of determinations & conditions. Human consciousness differs from all other known types of consciousnesses in terms its inner life & conscious experience. It slowly emerged, constituting its own "realm" or "world" within the occasion-continuum of Nature.


Even if we reject Nature to possess an inherent sense of justice, fairness & goodness, then we must at least accept the possibility of an actual conscious choice. If the word "conscious" is taken serious, then one must, and not only in principle, be able to choose without outside determinations. Suppose this is rejected, then a sense of goodness -as necessitated by ethics- cannot be established. Freedom of choice is a moral imperative.

One cannot designate free choice without introducing a non-determined factor. For even in its probabilistic, conjectural format, science works with lawlike determinations and conditions. The choice suggested by ethics must then fall outside these and if the world is deemed to be only material & informational, then one cannot grasp what the status of that choice might be. Only by accepting moral choice belongs to the world of human consciousness and the first person perspective, able to interact and so influence the other operators, can an "inherent" sense of justice be given its place. Nature is just, perhaps not in terms of matter & information, but surely insofar as consciousness, as creator of meaningful self-determination, is at work. This naturalism rejects an ontological difference, integrating the three known distinct operators in a single spatio-temporal natural system, with a single first ontological principle of process : all things are occasions. Moreover, within the domain of consciousness it is crucial to distinguish between human and non-human consciousness. Although we may, following Leibniz, designate potential, sleeping & dreaming states of consciousness to other individualized societies (like atoms, molecules, minerals, crystals, plants & animals), only human consciousness has inner life and conscious experience.

Let me briefly summarize the salient points of process ontology.

Actual occasions are the final things of which Nature is made up. They are also called "drops of experience, complex and interdependent" (PR, 27). In process thinking the notion of "substance" (monad) is changed into that of "actual occasion". Substances (monads) are closed, self-referential, and with inhering qualities. Occasions are open and other-powered, existing interdependently. They are also called "individuals". Organic process philosophy abandons the substance-like notion of actuality. Because the characteristics of an actual occasion are reproduced in a prehension, togetherness among actual occasions is possible. This fact is called a "nexus", the coming together of a multitude of actual occasions.

Immediate actual experience can thus be grasped by way of these three : actual occasions, prehensions & nexus. Occasions are extensive, atomic and actual. They feature spatiality, temporality (duration) and spatiotemporality (their extensive continuum), cannot be further divided (their atomic nature) and constitute immediate actual experience (they exist in the moment). Prehensions exhibit the most concrete elements in the nature of actual entities. Because all actual occasions prehend other actual occasions, they are all part of the universal process. Involving each other by reason of their prehensions, real, individual and particular togetherness is possible. These facts of togetherness are nothing more than societies of actual occasions.

For Whitehead, the ultimate metaphysical principle is "the advance from disjunction to conjunction" (PR, 32). Because of their prehensions of each other, actual occasions always come together, and this togetherness brings about the production of novelty, for actual occasions are disjunctively "many" in process of passage to conjunctive unity. "The many become one, and are increased by one." (PR, 32). This production of novelty by togetherness (resulting from the prehensions of actual occasions) is "concrescence", whereas "creativity" is the principle of novelty. "Creativity introduces novelty into the content of the many." (PR, 31). Hence, an actual event is a concrescence of actual occasions, and an actual entity is a concrescences of actual events. At each step of this increased togetherness, creative advance is at hand. And because actual occasions prehend other occasions, all actual occasions form facts of togetherness and produce creative advance & novelty.

This complex network of interrelated occasions, events & entities forms societies or interrelated actualities or individuals. On the one hand, societies of individuals are formed unaware of their own individuality. Examples of these nonindividualized societies are rocks, stars, oceans, cars, nation states, etc. These are merely compounds. Although the individuals forming these do experience themselves as a unity, the aggregate itself does not. A star does not grasp itself as a star. On the other hand, societies of individuals are formed in various degrees aware of the individuality of the whole. Examples of these individualized societies are minerals, plants, animals, humans. In the case of humans, two extraordinary features are added : conscious experience & inner life.

Although all individuals experience a certain degree of unity, including actual occasions, particles, atoms, molecules, etc., not all society of individuals experience this sense of unity. This because no dominant occasion can be identified. Panexperientialism posits all individuals have a degree of self-determination, spontaneity and experience of unity, but some cannot -being part of a nonindividualized society- extend this beyond the confines of their own individuality. Remember : the molecule in a rock thrown at a cat is more analogous with the cat than with the rock ... Panexperientialism does not attribute consciousness to all concrescences (as in Spinoza's panpsychism), but only to individuals (actual occasions) and individualized societies of individuals. In doing so, it does not designate the same degree of consciousness to all individuals and individualized societies. It singles out human consciousness as the most complex society, one able to develop a first person perspective (inner life) and a direct conscious experience of itself and its environment.

"Evidently, there are enormous gradations between consciousnessess, depending on the elaborate or primitive nature of the structure on which they can learn : the set of impressions which an ant or a microscopic animal or a plant receives surely show much less variety that the sets of impressions which man can receive. However, we can, at present, at best, guess at these impressions. Even our knowledge of the consciousness of other men is derived only through analogy and some innate knowledge which is hardly extended to other species."
Winger, 1967, p.182.

Finally, returning to actual occasions, and precisely because of their prehensions causing creative, interdependent togetherness, we may posit each actual occasion to exhibit limitless potentialities of which three are known : each actual occasion has the potential to (a) execute, effectuate and compute (matter), (b) organize, abstract and validate (information) and (c) project self-determination, prehension and unity of experience. These operators, aspects or attributes of each actual occasion bring about its creativity, spontaneity or novelty. Of course, the degree with which this is realized depends on the complexity of the togetherness. If, to paraphrase Leibniz, in a single actual occasion, these aspects are merely potential, they "sleep" in nonindividualized societies, "dream" in certain individualized societies (like plants), are "awake" in others (like animals) and may be conceptualized in the most evolved (like humans).

As all phenomena, entities or objects (whether mental, informational, or material) are fundamentally actual occasions prehending other occasions, the interaction between the various aspects of occasions, events & entities is less problematic than in the case of metaphysical dualism. Indeed, in process ontology the distinctness of the attributes is not rejected, but there is no ontological difference. If this were not the case, as in dualism, then it becomes highly problematic how two (or more) different kinds of things (not aspects of the same thing) can communicate. How can the non-material mind interact with the material brain if both matter & mind are different substances, i.e. made out of different "stuff" ? As the act of prehension is fundamental to each and every actual occasion, the prehension of the brain by the mind and the prehension of the mind by the brain poses less difficulties.

The core issue to be solved is to stay in tune with thermodynamics. This is difficult (but not impossible) when the interaction is viewed in terms of the manipulation of the energy of the brain. Avoiding this, we may conjecture the ongoing prehension of the brain by the mind to happen by way of probability-fields altering the likelihood of certain neuronal events (in particular large, interconnected populations or modules of neurons) As these fields (like the photon) have no mass, there can be no infringement of the law of energy-conservation. The ongoing impact of the living brain on the mind can be viewed as the power of its physical inertia on the possibilities of the mind to read neuronal events or change them by way of altering the probabilities of certain features of the neuronal societies populating the brain (in particular at the synapses). Of course, other conjectures  can be made, but the "problem" facing ontological dualism (namely bridging the gap between distinct and different entities) is not at hand.

Panexperientialism also offers a way to integrate the results of parapsychological research (in particular ESP and PK) and psychosomatic science, while offering vistas to understand hypnosis, (auto)suggestion & placebo (nocebo). Moreover, in terms of OBO's (out of the body experiences), and life after death, it also allows fruitful speculative insights.



The world (all possible actual occasion, events & entities) or "Nature" is a single all-embracing spatio-temporal system. Nature is quasi-determinist self-enclosed, meaning all events are determined solely by other events in Nature.


Matter is the sole "stuff" out of which Nature is made. Matter is the set of spatiotemporal physical objects possessing mass, energy and force (ontological realism).

essentialist materialism

Material objects possess their properties from their own side.

physicalism (behaviourism)

Physicalism or behaviourism is a materialist form of naturalism claiming all occasions, events, entities, processes, properties, relations and facts are those studied by physics or other physical sciences.

logical positivism (logical empirism or neo-positivism)

Neo-positivism combines empiricism, rooting valid knowledge of the world in observational evidence, with deductions in epistemology and mathematical and logico-linguistic constructs. It is materialist, validating knowledge by way of a correspondence theory of truth.


The way the material universe works is only explained by efficient causation effectuated by way of push. There must be a physical force and a material medium through which this force travels.


Functionalism always relates, connects or associates a non-analytical object with other synthetic objects in a functional, efficient way, i.e. one involving an effective determination or lawful connection of some kind (like efficient causality).


Spirit (mind) is the sole "stuff" out of which Nature is made. Spirit (mind) apprehends its object directly, without using means, or by ideal concepts creating their objects (ontological idealism).

essentialist spiritualism

Spiritual objects possess their properties from their own side.

hylic pluralism

The world-system is a layered manifold of occasion-continua, each with their own degree of freedom, order & material executants. These societies interact and form an ontological hierarchy or pluriversum of coarse, subtle and very subtle beings. Human existence as we know it manifested on the coarse plane of this gigantic manifold. More subtle levels of existence are possible.

process philosophy

Nature is a manifold of actual occasions, ongoingly entering by prehension in each other's evolution, causing concrescence and fostering creative advance. There are no substances and no "substance of substances", only processes.


The universe works and a unity of creative togetherness, creating strands of interrelated occasions, events and entities. The total organization of Nature rather than the functioning of individuals is the determinant of life processes.


All individuals, starting with actual occasions, experience themselves and their environment in varying degrees. As they form larger wholes functioning as aggregates of individuals, individualized and nonindividualized societies of actual occasions emerge. The former experience themselves as a unity, the latter not. Panexperientalism only refers to individuals and individualized societies.

ontology (immanent metaphysics)

The study of being qua being. This branch of metaphysics deals with untestable but arguable propositions about why there is something rather than nothing, about the origin of the cosmos, about life and about consciousness. It is called "immanent metaphysics" because these propositions never move outside the confines of the world-system, i.e. do not posit transcendence.

occasions, events, entities

Actual occasions are the "stuff" constituting all things. They are actual, not abstract, atomic, not plural and feature spatial, temporal or spatiotemporal extensiveness. An event is a concrescence of occasions. An entity is a concrescence of events.


Prehension is the capacity of all individuals to enter in the process of other individuals, either by sensoric, non-sensoric or mental ways. Non-sensoric prehension is the fundamental capacity of actual occasions to be together with other occasions, events & entities.


The togetherness of two or more occasions is more than merely the addition of another relation between occasions, but a creative interaction resulting in a larger, richer whole. This creative entry of occasions in the ongoing process of other occasions feeds the creative advance of Nature.

ontological operators

Each occasion and so every  event & entity, operates three irreducible aspects of existence : matter (hardware), information (software) and consciousness (userware). The first is physical, the last two non-physical.


Each occasion, in accord with physics, operates a series of energetical events and physical objects characterized by mass & momentum.


Each occasion, in accord with logic, system-theory & functionalism, operates a series of codes, theories, notions, ideas or information.


Each occasion, in accord with panexperientialism, operates a degree of self-determination, spontaneity and experience of itself as a whole. While this sentience is operational in occasions and individualized societies of occasions (like atoms, molecules, plants, animals, humans), it is not in nonindividualized societies (stars, oceans, rocks, tables, cars, etc.). Human conscious experience is a rare, refined kind of consciousness.


The human mind and its living brain are two distinct but not ontologically heterogeneous occasion-continua mutually influencing each other. Because all occasions operate three ontological operators (albeit not with the same complexity, order and degree of conscious experience), the interaction between mind and body is non-dualistic.

I : Beyond Materialism & Spiritualism.

Let ab initio, free study in general and the metaphysical background of neurophilosophical research, study & reflection, be as uncommitted as possible. This means ontological operators, or aspects of actual occasions, events, entities & states of existence should not beforehand be reified into substances, i.e. ontologized. Ontologizing the conditions of the possibility and advancement of knowledge also leads to epistemologies unable to think the possibility of knowledge without logical self-defeat (cf. Clearings, 2006). Likewise, the prolegomena to any possible metaphysics receives from the normative disciplines (the "hard core" of philosophy) the directive to consider the totality of what exists, without focusing on the existence of the occasion from its own side, inherently itself, above any possible determination & conditioning. Metaphysics must consider process before essence, becoming before being.

To achieve this, avoid both poles of essentialism : ontological materialist & ontological spiritualism. Avoidance means one is aware of the extremes, but remains focused (also thanks to this awareness), in the "middle way". This is the way of how things appear when they are merely observed withough the presence of any world-thought or image-thought in the field of consciousness (as seen from the moment hic et  nunc), allowing the vision of their interconnectedness & non-locality (not being fundamentally ontologically separated from other previous, simultaneous and future moments) to transpire. This view does not isolate the thing "as it is" and "what it does", but attends to what it does, discovering how things emerge from what they did, do and will do, the continuum of becoming. This process-based metaphysics was developed in the East, in particular in Taoism & Buddhism.

A remarkable synthesis is forthcoming, one integrating matter, information & consciousness. Although in this synthesis, physicality remain fundamental (cf. the role of "efficient causation", encompassing all known conditions & determinations pertaining to an occasion), the role of consciousness (the subjective factor) is not denied, but integrated in these objective conditions (cf. the role of "final causation" in self-determination, creativity, valuation and the experience of conscious unity, entering efficient causality & producing novelty).

"The subject reflects the world in a specific activity, reproducing objective phenomena in subjective forms (knowledge). While the subject can only know its own products, the very process of subject-mediated world transformation is objective, and the universality of the subject ensures that there is nothing in the world that could not be involved in the subject's activity."
Ivanov, P.B. : "Consciousness as a Relation between Material Bodies.", in : The Ontology of Consciousness, MIT - Cambridge, 2008, p.253.

Let us argue this Middle Way, using epistemology, metaphysics & criticism.


1. The Epistemology of Materialism.

Can materialism be coupled with non-substantiality, i.e. with the process-nature of all things ? Or, does singling out matter (or physical objects) always lead to the notion the "stuff" defining matter exists from its own side, own-powered, i.e. autarchic and with an inhering nature ? Suppose criticism prompts materialism to divorce essentialism, is process-materialism then possible ? This would be a view embracing non-substantiality and the primacy of matter. Historically, materialism never explained itself that way. In the West, and this until the quantum, substantial physical objects were always viewed to exist from their own side only.

In process metaphysics, material process alone is "efficient". But without "finality", it would be "vacuous", without real novelty. As this conflicts with observation (cf. Progine and the negentropy in complex, chaotic dissipative systems), another type of causation must be present. Is this physico-mental instead of physical tout court ? Moreover, mentality not being supervenient as it was in reductive or eliminative physicalism. Because of downward causation, final causes entering efficient causes, and of upward causation, efficient causes changing the impact of valuation, a more balanced view results.

"The panexperientialist version of physicalism can affirm this belief because its 'physical entities' are physical-mental entities, and because there are various levels of such entities, one level of which is that of the dominant occasions of experience constituting the human mind."
Griffin, 1998, p.237.

The epistemology of materialism, explaining itself as an ontological materialism, is the story of how the conditions on the side of the object of knowledge are reified to become the exclusive ground of knowledge, justifying concept-realism. The facts, the something at hand, is substantialized, reified, "eternalized" and inflated into a real, objective world "out there" effectuating change by way of physical laws, and this independent of the subject of knowledge, merely acting as a passive (empirical) registrator.

1.1 Reduction of the Subject of Knowledge.

To be able to explain the world as a system of physical objects, ontological materialism has to either eliminate the subject of knowledge or reduce it to a passivity unable to infringe upon the supposed monarchic objectivity of the real world.

Most serious materialists understand one cannot eliminate the subject of knowledge without violating the logic of the transcendental subject of all possible thought. Only those less trained in these subtleties of epistemology make bold statements to the effect that because everything is material the subject of knowledge does not "really" exist, but is merely an illusionary appearance. These people are not careful. To identify the subject as such, valid knowledge becomes impossible. Hence, most materialists agree the subject of knowledge is primarily passive. How a totally passive subject of knowledge is able to abstract anything becomes unclear (even Aristotle had to introduce an "active intellect").

1.2 The Naive Inflation of the Real.

The object of knowledge, identified with the real-as-such, is directly accessable. The outer world informs our senses unambiguously. Even Kant retained a kind of quasi-causal relationship between things-as-such and the cognitive apparatus. The notion observation and its theoretical connotation are simultaneous eludes them.

"The hardest of hard data are of two sorts : the particular facts of sense, and the general truths of logic. (...) Real doubt, in these two cases, would, I think, be pathological. At any rate, to me they seem quite certain, and I shall assume that you agree with me on this. Without this assumption, we are in danger of falling into that universal scepticism which, as we saw, is as barren as it is irrefutable."
Russell, B. : Our Knowledge of the External World, Mentor - New York, 1956, p.60.

Theoretical connotations, theories, metaphysical backgrounds, ideas, notions, values etc. are not considered as co-constitutive of facts. Facts are monolithic and in all ways extra-mental. This position leads to untenable logical problems. For one, the view is self-defeating, for the naive realist is unable to explain how he is able to validate naive realism. Meta-objective problems are not seen.

1.3 Prospective Materialism.

In a superinflation of ontological materialism, the proposed success of the view is promoted well over its possible expiration date. For although one may posit a naive access to the real, one cannot therefore possibly know what future research & experiment will discover. Perhaps matter is not the sole substance after all ? Perhaps there are no substances at all ? Perhaps matter is merely one of the operators, factors or elements running the system proposed by naturalism ? etc. Of course, if physical objects are viewed as solely determined by their initial position and momentum, then -theoretically at least- all that can possibly be known about these objects will eventually be known. For then, all possible futures only depend on what is known on the basis of the initial condition, the momentum and its differential equation. The logic of prospective materialism works because it is a gross reduction of contributing factors.

"Promissory materialism is a peculiar theory. It consists, essentially, of a historical (or historicist) prophecy about the future results of brain research and of their impact. This prophesy is baseless."
Popper & Eccles, 1981, p.97.

Prospective (or promissory) materialism also claims all problems facing materialism today (like validation, intentionality, conscious experience, free choice etc.) will also be solve in the future. And this only by positing a sufficient physical ground. As this, per definition, cannot be demonstrated today, why bother ? Perhaps this will not be the case.

Let us observe what there is to be observed.

2. The Metaphysics of Materialism.

The metaphysics of materialism is a series of untestable but arguable statements affirming matter (or physical objects as described by physics) is the fundamental "stuff" of Nature.

2.1 Greek Atomism.

The fact objects can be split into smaller objects and the latter can be divided up again, etc. forces one into considering the ultimate division, i.e. one leading to an object no longer divisible. This is the "atom". Visualized as an inert, solid, impenetrable object existing from its own side, i.e. as a substance, all things are then said to be made up of atoms. All objects are merely aggregates of colliding atoms.

Greek atomism was assimilated to Newtonian physics. Only at the end of the XIXth century became it clear atoms had to be divisible. Moreover, as the radiation of dark objects showed, the continuity-hypothesis associated with the Newtonian approach of radiation could not be maintained. This lead Planck to reluctantly introduce the "quantum". The framework of classical physics (the equations of Newton and those of Maxwell) could not be reconciled with a planetary view on the atom (a nucleus, composed of neutrons & protons, around which electrons revolve). Indeed, the speed necessary for an electron to stay in a stable orbit around the nucleus (like a planet around its Sun) would cause it to radiate and so loose energy, triggering the collapse of the orbit, making the electron crash against the nucleus. In the classical theory, electrons would be stable only for only a billionth of a second !

When quantum theory saw the light, the atom was further divided in electrons, protons & neutrons. It took only a few decades to discover these could be further split too. Today, a whole array of elementary particles adorn the equations of physics. They are so elusive and transient, one cannot longer visualize them. They spring out, interact and then return to the quantum vacuum field. Indeed, before they are observed, they are in a state of quantum superposition (eliminating any possibility to grasp them conventionally), and depending on how they are measured, they manifest different properties ...

Despite these recent developments, matter -viewed as stuff which kicks and kick back- remains the cornerstone of materialism, albeit not in its atomic form. All atoms are impermanent.

2.2 Objectifying Essentialism.

Besides atomism and/or the focus on material events, materialism embraces objectivity at the expense of the subject and is mostly (if not always) essentialist, considering material events as possessing their properties from their own side, isolated from (but interacting with) all other events.

These isolated material objects with their inhering properties constitute reality and this reality is objective, i.e. not influenced by subjective considerations. Moreover, a direct access to this reality is provided by our senses, delivering data to the mental objects of the categorical scheme of cognition, producing its empirico-formal statements of fact (propositions).

The truth or validity of statements of fact is organized by way of the correspondence theory of truth according to which valid knowledge corresponds with reality-as-it-is. Verification is inductive or falsificationist, but in both cases facts are extra-mental, bearing nowhere the seal of our theories, theoretical connotations, ideas or notions. The subject of knowledge is either illusionary or reduced to a passive registrator & organiser (as in neo-positivism).

Although realist objectivism has been comprehensively criticized elsewhere, let us consider the case of the sense-data theory, claiming all valid knowledge is based on the "hard data" given by particular "facts of sense". Empirical justificationism posits these "sense-data" as "certain, context-independent & neutral". However, claiming something is certain involves a valuation which can never be a sense datum. The same can be said of the so-called "neutrality" of the "sense-data" and their supposed "context-independence". How can this be known ? Not by way of sense-data and so the justification of knowledge on the basis of sense-data alone can not be accomplished. As there are no context-independent sense-data, this form of justificationism (based on naive realism) is self-defeating.

2.3 Newtonian Physicalism.

In Newton's system, materialism, realism and objectivity come together. With his idea of absolute time and absolute space, Newton's observer has no impact on the flow of time or the structure of space. The world is an object "out there" in which the observer operates as a "ghost in the machine". The gigantic clockwork of this mechanism is independent from the observer and the physical conditions defining him or her (like mass & momentum). The reference-system is absolute.

With special relativity, absolute space and absolute time were abolished. With the quantum, continuity had to be relinquished, for Nature jumps. With chaos theory, high-order determinism emerged, and non-linear systems were discovered everywhere. In fact, linear systems, insensitive to small changes, are the exception. Recent physical theories predict even protons, after a very long time, eventually decay, eliminating the idea of material stability. All material processes are impermanent.

Applied to psychology, the Newtonian view can do no more than search for ways to explain mental objects in terms of physical ones. The brain secretes thoughts like the kidneys urine ... This reduction leads to an impoverished view on subjectivity, as shown in Freudianism and behaviourism (to mention two conflicting theories of mind). Although the scientific study of conscious experience is still in its infancy, a few important points are clear : (a) material events are public whereas mental events are private, (b) material events define a manifold whereas mental events emerge as part of an experience of unity, and (c) objectivity & subjectivity are necessarily linked, causing contradictions in any system trying to operate only one (reducing or negating the other).

If physical and mental events are characterized by a different semantic field and are not symmetrical, it may be the case they cannot be reduced to one another. This is the point made by panexperientialism, positing an occasion-monism, but attributing to each occasion three irreducible ontological operators. Insofar as information can be related to the structure of matter, a kind of hylemorphism pertains. Glyphs (signs in the form of signals, icons & symbols) can be defined as well-formed states of matter, intimately linking matter & information. But this functional approach is not an exhaustive definition of information, leaving out the existence of purely abstract objects, like those pertaining to mathematical spaces (extensively used in quantum theory). Taken together and viewed functionally, matter & information constitute the "form" side of all occasions. Panexperientialism needs to explain how this form aspect interacts with the sentient aspect. This leads to an interactionist explanation of the communication between, on the one hand, consciousness, and, on the other hand, matter and information. This is not an interaction between two different kinds of things (or substances), as in ontological dualism, but merely two distinct aspects of a shared substratum, as in ontological monism.

3. The Criticism of Materialism.

"The principal argument against materialism is not that illustrated in the last two sections : that it is incompatible with quantum theory. The principal argument is that thought processes and consciousness are the primary concepts, that our knowledge of the external world is the content of our consciousness and that the consciousness, therefore, cannot be denied."
Winger, 1967, pp.176-177.

In a general sense, "criticism" is a philosophical approach of epistemology focusing on putting down proper divisions, frontiers, limitations between the two sides of the transcendental logic defining the a priori principles governing the possibilities of conceptual thought. Criticism avoids affirming one principle at the expense of another (as in dogmatism), and also avoids negating one of both principles (as in scepticism). Avoiding the extremes of dogma & skepsis, criticism proposes a three-tiered model of the possibilities of knowledge : (a) principles of  correct conceptual thought (transcendental logic), (b) norms of valid knowledge (theoretical epistemology) and (c) maxims of effective knowledge-production (applied epistemology). Given epistemology is not a descriptive but a normative discipline, throughout this model, ontological illusion is avoided. In other words, these principles, norms & maxims are never considered as the sufficient ontological ground of knowledge. Not reified, they are merely discovered by thought reflecting on its own conditions & possibilities.

A crucial argument against the reduction of all events to the physical, is the resulting impossibility to posit principles of valid inference, for the latter a forteriori do not belong to the domain of the material (but to the realm of logic, theory or information). Physicalism is therefore self-defeating. It cannot claim to be supported by rational arguments, for the latter -if materialism were true- do not exist. Indeed, particles & forces do not deal with validity. This is a stronger version of the weaker argument, already formulated in Greek philosophy, stating the claim all things are merely material cannot be made by a purely material entity (for sentience does not belong to matter). Making such a claim involves a "contradiction in actu exercito". Hence, either one accepts materialism and then one has to refute rational argumentations and their logic & principles of validation, or one has to accept materialism cannot be true and so is incomplete, calling for another aspect covering its own validation (not of matter as a single monad, but merely as the executive aspect of reality, one working hand in hand with a "logos" distinct from material conditions).

3.1 Criticism of Observation.

"Quantum theory has observation creating the properties of microscopic objects. And physicists generally accept quantum theory applies universally. If so, wider reality is also created by our observation. Going all the way, this strong anthropic principle asserts the universe is hospitable to us because we could not create a universe in which we could not exist. While the weak anthropic principle involves a backward-in-time reasoning, this strong anthropic principle involves a forms of backward-in-time action."
Rosenblum & Kuttner, 2006, p.206.

In the XXth century, observational psychology, linguistics, cultural anthropology, comparative studies, but also (transcendental) logic & theoretical epistemology discovered the subject of knowledge cannot be eclipsed. Observation happens in the framework of theories, theoretical connotations, ideas & notions. Both are simultaneous. It is not the case sensoric data are first and theories later. The subject of knowledge is a sign-interpreter, and the community of sign-interpreters co-define what is consider a fact and what not. Hence, facts are not exclusively extra-mental, but hybrids with two facets : one theoretical, and another, so we must assume, extra-mental. Besides experiments, testing and observation, scientific research also calls for theoretical work, argumentation and a provisional consensus. Especially in quantum physics this is the case, for without the theoretical twists and turns of mathematics, a lot of particles & relationships between particles would never have been discovered.

3.2 Criticism of Common Sense Realism.

Common sense realism presupposed a direct access to reality-as-such. However, this is a metaphysical claim, not a scientific one. Moreover, it cannot be properly argued. It is metaphysical because it can only be backed by arguments, not by factual evidence. There is no "Archimedic point" or ideal vantage point "outside" the dialectic between object & subject. All what happens takes place as an occasion part of the field of consciousness. So nobody is able to directly observe the subject of knowledge has this assumed direct access to reality-as-such. How could this be observed without this being the observation of a particular subject ? Moreover, how to argue this. In order to identify this "direct access", the distinction between "direct" and "indirect" must be made, and this is not based on empirical observation but on logic. Consider these points.

Firstly, transcendental logic shows one cannot eclipse the subject of thought without introducing contradictions. The reduction itself shows the presence of an active subject, not a mere passive registrator. Secondly, theoretical epistemology discovers how facts are co-determined by theories and so are not monoliths but hybrids. Thirdly, applied epistemology finds how the production of knowledge is co-defined by the opportunistic, local rules-of-thumb of the research-cell competing with other researcher facilities.

"It appears that there exists only one concept the reality of which is not only a convenience but absolute : the content of my consciousness, including my sensations."
Winger, 1967, p.189.

The neurological study of perception clarifies the distinction between pre-thalamic perception and post-thalamic sensation. All perceptions have to be multiplied by a wide array of interpretations before they can be identified by the subject of knowledge as sensations. Hence, a direct access between the subject and "its" perceptions does not exist. While the sense organs themselves alter the impulses they receive into perceptions, the latter are again altered and pre-processed by the relays to the neocortex. Finally, when projected in the neocortex by the thalamus, these pre-processed afferent impulses are computed by primary & secondary sensory areas before being named, labelled and identified by the subject of knowledge. Naive realism is therefore to be abolished.

3.3 Criticism of Materialist Dogmatism.

Rejecting the fundamental argument against materialism (the fact it eliminates the possibility of validating itself, i.e. is self-defeating) leads to dogmatism. This is affirming the position ad hoc, without any good reason, even quite on the contrary. Often this dogmatism is fed by promissory materialism, the view all problems will be solved by future materialist research anyway. Clearly a rational person has to refute this position thoroughly. It is based on bad argumentations, rejects clear normative principles, norms & maxims and runs against what is known from observational psychology and the neurology of perception. It can only be maintained by coupling it with authoritarianism, and this is exactly what has happened. In that case, the difference between materialist science (scientism) and fideist religion is small. Both adhere to their positions without any evidence and reject good arguments because they cannot accommodate the cherished ideas. As such, both exemplify they own weakness, herald of their final demise.


4. The Epistemology of Spiritualism.

It goes without saying spiritualism faces the same problems as materialism, albeit reversed. While materialism does not wish to attribute an irreducible status to the subject of experience, spiritualism tries, in vain, to assimilate or eliminate the object of experience, i.e. the fact valid empirico-formal knowledge must be knowledge about something extra-mental. The third person is not just a linguistic category for plural, non-dual communication between minds. Its public feature reflects (a) the intersubjective (already given with the second person) and (b) objective facts, deemed to represent reality-as-such.

Ontological spiritualism is in flagrant opposition with the tenets of Western physical science. Neither can it be reconciled with the physico-mental (or psychophysical) view of process metaphysics. In the latter, physical objects are not reduced to the mental, but viewed as an independent, causative, irreducible & autonomous physical societies of actual occasions. Ontological spiritualism has been (a) historically very prominent (from the beginning of civilization in the Neolithic and earlier -Shamanism- to the advent of the Renaissance) and (b) lurks as a danger, a trap not to be fooled by again.

The rejection of an independent mentality leads to a "vacuous", nature morte of "disjecta membra". So to avoid this absurdity, the mind needs to be reintroduced. But this does not mean the physical is denied to play its role as some extra-mental thing. The subject is not made to constitute the object. Denying this leads to the horror chambers of falsehoods, the "scandal" (Kant) of philosophy.

Briefly exploring this option, in particular the points to guard against.

4.1 Reduction of the Object of Knowledge.

Idealism, in its classical ontological form (Fichte, Schelling & Hegel), or in its more sophisticated format (Frankfurter school), denies the object of knowledge to exist without the subject. An epistemology without an object ensues. The truth of propositions does not in any way depend on an objective state of affairs identified as an extra-mental, empirical physicality, but merely on the consensus established between all involved sign-interpreters of what they call "physicality" or "fact", whatever that is. As knowledge is deemed to be exclusively symbolical, i.e. dependent on language, theories, ideas, notion, etc., it is considered besides the point to propose any direct access to "reality", as in empirism or realism. Hence, all valid knowledge is historical & relative. How avoid scepticism ?

Either reality-as-such is directly ontologically dependent on the conditions of the mind, for the absolute spirit (absolute subject) creates and then confronts Nature (as in Hegelianism) or this reality of otherness is deemed inaccessible to knowledge, for the latter is merely an intersubjective convention or language-game. Accepted is the tenet saying third person knowledge always calls for valid empirico-formal propositions informing us only about reality-for-us. This kind of "pure" transcendental idealism was aimed at by Kant, although -to fire up the categorial scheme- he had to designate a "quasi-causal" influence on the senses. In a transcendental, consensus theory of truth, knowledge happens in language systems, and only argumentation & consensus drive the theory of truth validating propositions. But, the critical theory of truth at hand, is not a "pure" transcendental theory, it is  not a description, but a norm assuming facts do possess the credentials of reality-as-such.

Clearly both ontological and epistemological idealism cannot avoid a fundamental contradiction. If all knowledge is merely intra-mental or part of an intersubjective communication leading to conventions, then "reality" is reduced to an (inter)subjectivity. Facts are merely theory-driven. What we experience as factual evidence is nothing more than paradigmatic knowledge established on the basis of subjective mentation (either on a gigantic scale, as in ontological idealism, or epistemologically, as a consensual theory of truth). But how can knowledge not be knowledge about something and remain knowledge ? How to couple this "insight" with the evidence of science and our common sense ?

The idea of conceptual knowledge is based on critical, normative epistemology, and its principles, norms & maxims must confirm both object & subject of thought. Do otherwise entails a fundamental contradiction. The subject of thought is also an object possessor and not only an intersubjective language-producer. Conceptual, scientific knowledge must always be about something outside the realm of the mind, for if this were not the case, then how  can one say it refers to a state of affairs ? Although we may (and must) reject the possibility concepts directly represent reality-as-such, we cannot (without eliminating the possibility of thinking knowledge as knowledge about something) accept knowledge to be merely an intersubjective convention. It must also be knowledge about an extra-mental something, albeit so must we think to safeguard the possibility of conceptual knowledge itself.

The nugget of gold found in realism (knowledge is about something) cannot, without severe problems, be eliminated by idealism. The nugget of gold of idealism (knowledge is sign-based & intersubjective) cannot, without contradiction, be eliminated by realism. The "concordia discors" of conceptual thought is the "factum rationis" one cannot escape.

4.2 The Naive Inflation of the Ideal.

Inflation of the subject is ontological and epistemological. In the former case, the object is constituted by the subject, in the latter, the possibility of knowledge is grounded in the subject of knowledge, the intersubjectivity of the community of sign-interpreters.

In ontological idealism, the object-possessor becomes an object-creator. The object is only a form of subjectivity, a "projection" of the subject-as-creator. Eventually, this supreme subject may be is identified with the Divine. Then it is placed outside the world, transcending its conditions & determinations. Concrete reality is downgraded. The process of becoming, with its variety, differentiations and constant changes, are merely reflections of the eternalized, unified and substantial "ideas" (as in Platonism).

In a "pure" transcendental epistemology, the definition of reality and facts depends on linguistic conventions. Theoretical structures constitute the "reality" captured. If reality-as-such is considered at all, then it remains unknown. Knowledge is purely intersubjective, and so consensus constitutes truth. Observation and its theoretical connotation are not simultaneous. What we observe "appears" because of prior (inter)subjective structures. Theoretical connotations, theories, metaphysical backgrounds, ideas, notions, values etc. are considered as constitutive of facts, monolithic and intra-mental.

This position leads to untenable logical problems. For one, the view is self-defeating, for the naive idealist is unable to think knowledge as about some real thing extra-mental. Hence, this cannot be knowledge at all, but merely a gigantic form of subjectivity.

4.3 Spiritual Obscurantism.

Religious systems often cherish ontological idealism. It can be found in Ancient Egypt, in Hermetism, in Brahmanism and in the three "religions of the book". God created the world "ex nihilo", i.e. without being limited by any "outside" conditions. As an absolute, free Spirit, God -by His creative command- made the laws of Nature as well as all outer objects.  His transcendent omnipotence sustains the world. As a Caesar of sorts, this monotheist God could change the laws of Nature whenever He likes (miracles). Hence, the independent study of reality was deemed unnecessary & heretical, for God revealed what He expected from His human creatures and the only thing necessary was to comply. With deism, a correction was introduced : God no longer changed the laws of Nature !

This fideist mentality led and leads to obscurantism. Not only does it hinder the free study of the world and its objective conditions (often contradicting revelation), but it also narrows down the spiritual emancipation of humanity, reducing "my" spiritual responsibilities to those of "our" religion. In this way, "my Lord" is replaced by "our Lord" and the personal relationship with the Divine is forced, often "de manu militari" within the narrow confines of spirito-communal dogma's invented by a male elite to indoctrinate the community and safeguard its political, economical and social power. Free, laic thought was and is the direct enemy of this spiritual obscurantism and we may thank the great thinkers of the European Enlightenment to have liberated us from our chains and the limitations we ourselves enforced upon our mentality.

Historically, realism and materialism can be explained as extreme reactions against this blatant, mind-wrecking ignorance. But as we always remain dependent of what we reject, the time has come to free ourselves from the limitations we self-imposed when fighting this sordid obscurantism. Has it not been overcome by contemporary science & philosophy ? The advancement of science will precisely be determined by the measure with which it is able to move ahead without being encumbered by rejecting spiritual obscurantism and without pulling down its critical safeguards. To reject both ontological materialism and ontological idealism is the core feature of this measure. The task is to foster the correct, open limitations (criticism), and to reject the emphatic "yes" (dogmatism), as well as the enforced "no" (scepticism).

5. The Metaphysics of Spiritualism.

Grosso modo, the metaphysical view embraced by spiritualism is not satisfied by merely designating a universal mind or "logos", but it tries to describe this in terms of an inherent order, structure, architecture etc. organizing the world. This supreme mind and its order exist inherently, from their own side. The material world is a mere reflection, densification, or manifestation of this primordial spiritual mentation. The first texts proposing such a view were composed in Ancient Egypt (cf. the Memphis Theology at the end of the Ramesside Period). In Greek philosophy, two proponents of this view influenced the Western mind for centuries : Plato (428 - 347 BCE) & Pythagoras (ca. 580 BCE, island of Samos, Ionia - ca. 500, Metapontum, Lucania). Before Thomas of Aquinas (ca. 1225 - 1274), Plato had a very prominent impact on Plotinus (240 - 270 CE), neo-Platonism and Augustinian thought, whereas Platonism itself was strongly influenced by the Eleatic school (cf. Parmenides of Elea, ca. 515 - 440 BCE, a pupil of Xenophanes, ca. 580/577 - 485/480 BCE). The latter was inspired by Pythagoras.

Why these systems are classified as "spiritualist" is because they not only identify the non-physicality, but attribute to it a fundamental role, and this to the point of letting Divine thought & speech create all things.

Shabaka Stone : LINE 53 (Memphis Theology)
(hieroglyphs in red are reconstructed)

"There comes into being in the mind. There comes into being by the tongue. (It is) as the image of Atum.  Ptah is the very great, who gives life to all the gods and their Kas. It all in this mind and by this tongue."

"Heart" may be translated as "mind" and "tongue" as "speech". The simultaneity of the mental (subjective) and the material (objective) sides of the cognitive process, is indicated by the use of symmetrical writing (cf. the use of a double column at the beginning of the text).

The "heart" of Ptah is not yet a Greek "nous" devoid of context, i.e. an abstract, rational Platonic Mind. It is too early for that. Rather, the contents of mind (meaning of the words uttered) simultaneously move Ptah's tongue (the words uttered). Formal and material poles come together in Ptah's continuous actions, the overseeing "Great Throne" of Ptah.

The mental process suggested here is ante-rational & proto-rational, and aims at establishing a solid case for the ongoing creative speech and ontic supremacy of Ptah as "the very great" (while allowing, consistent with henotheism, other deities to exist as such "in" Ptah).

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made."
Gospel of John, 1:1-3.

In a philosophical discourse, the spiritualist ontologies propose an absolute subject (Schelling). One of the consequences of this absoluteness, is its capacity to encompass the object of knowledge exhaustively. As in Anselm's ontological proof, the notion existence in reality is greater than existence in the understanding alone, leads to the tenet the absolute subject creates the object. This asymmetry downgrades physicality & its becoming, turning it into an illusion ("mâyâ"), a mere shadow, reflection or echo, passively receiving the influence of the sculptor. Underneath these options, a prejudice against constant change, dynamism & transformation is felt. Coupled with an Olympic spirit, a substance-based absolute subject sees the light. The commoners are looked at from a very high vantage point. They seem little moving points. One does not realize each perspective is relative.

In a static spiritualism (Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Augustine, Spinoza)
, the absolute subject is an eternal, self-referential, isolated, singular Divine "substance of substances" or "idea of ideas". This "summum bonum" is the most abstract capstone of a hierarchy of ideas. For in Platonism, in tune with the Greek sense of autarchy, the ontologically superior is also morally better. In the monotheist theologies, this static absolute subject is equated with God, thus emphasizing the question how one can relate to such a remote God ? Mystification, Divine grace nor blind faith make the critical mind rest.

In a dynamic spiritualism (Heracleites, Qabalah, Hegel, Bergson), the absolute spirit, in order to ultimately spiritualize, freely externalizes non-physical Nature. A dialectic process is thereby defined, implying an eternal return of the same and an itinerary, or the stages of a process. As Nature plays her part and plays it well, this spiritualism embraces the physical. It is not hostile to Nature and willingly integrates becoming. It remains a form of spiritualism (and not for example process thinking) because the absolute subject remains before the object, bringing in an asymmetry. In spiritualism, the whole immanent process of Nature and spirit must be understood as embraced or taking place in an ontological realm transcending Nature. Nature is not self-sufficient. Without the transcendent God-as-Creator, not a single physical phenomenon would exist. When thinking in terms of process, Nature is a self-sufficient system, the sole realm of actual occasions, of concrete things. There is no other realm than Nature, than actual occasions. This does not preclude Nature operates distinct ontic levels, allowing one to distinguish between concrete and abstract. But these are not two different ontological planes. The abstract level, side, aspect of Nature transcends the concrete (the spatiotemporal), but not Nature herself.

5.1 Greek Pythagorism & Platonism.

With Pythagoras of Samos , the son of an engraver of gems, we encounter the first Greek "school" of thought, a teaching in which religion, mysticism, mathematics and philosophy were allowed to interpenetrate each other and orchestrate a totally new symphonic whole, one having a decisive influence on Greek thought as well as on Greek architecture. This school was so unique, that Pythagorism may well be called the second major orientation in pre-Socratic philosophy next to Milesian materialism as a whole. Unfortunately, none of the writings of Pythagoras have survived, and Pythagoreans invariably supported their doctrines by indiscriminately citing their master's authority. It is difficult to distinguish his teachings from those of his disciples, neither legends from historical fact.

However, he is credited with the theory of the functional significance of sacred numbers in the objective world and in music (obtained by stopping a lyre string at various points along its length - the octave (2: 1), the fifth (3: 2) and the fourth (4: 3)). Other discoveries attributed to him, like the incommensurability of the side and diagonal of a square, and the Pythagorean theorem stating the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle equals in area to the sum of the squares of the other two sides (well-known in Egypt and Mesopotamia), were probably developed only later by the Pythagorean school. 

The teachings drew a large following in the Greek colony of Croton in southern Italy, were he went to live. A kind of Freemasonry "avant la lettre" rose among the aristocracy. It was a fraternity with Pythagoras as its "master". Its members had a lot of political power (based on "areté" and "ponós", excellence and effort), but were eventually massacred in a riot long after Pythagoras had died. The followers spread the principles and caused Pythagorism (or "Pythagoreanism") to become part of the Greek world. Iamblichus quotes his master, who had said : "number is the rule of forms and ideas, and the cause of gods and demons".

The problem of describing Pythagorism is complicated by the fact the surviving picture is far from complete, being based chiefly on a small number of fragments from the time before Plato and on various discussions in authors who wrote much later - most of whom were either Aristotelians or neo-Platonists. In spite of these historical uncertainties, the contribution of Pythagorism to Western culture has been significant and therefore justifies the effort, however inadequate, to depict what its teachings may have been.

The character of original Pythagorism is controversial, and the conglomeration of disparate features it displayed is intrinsically confusing. Its fame rests, however, on some very influential ideas, and likely most of these prevailed in the school of Croton :

  • the metaphysics of number and the conception reality, including music and astronomy, is, at its deepest level, mathematical in nature : Pythagoras' sufficient ground is not a cosmic substance but an inner organization or structure coupled with a liberating, salvic intentions, albeit ascetical & philosophical ;

  • the use of philosophy as a means of spiritual purification : a lover of wisdom is more than an intelligent person aware of problems and their solutions, for his pursuit of wisdom must be a window to the immortal soul, the light of which draws him near to the original and fundamental level of reality : the mathematical order of being whispering a hidden, mysterious language of silence, with a code available to the initiate only ; 

  • the heavenly destiny of the soul and the possibility of its rising to union with the Divine : Pythagoras is not satisfied with the mundane, immanent perspective, for the Pythagorean philosopher is before all the rest a lover of unity and its experience, implying transcendence, trance, osmosis etc. ; 

  • the appeal to certain symbols, sometimes mystical, such as the "tetraktys", the Golden Section, and the harmony of the spheres : symbols are the residue of spiritual experiences and contain a code to trigger co-relative experiences later ; 

  • the Pythagorean theorem : mathematics and the solution of particular problems are the "purest" way to encounter the immortal soul, for its language is that of sacred number ; 

  • the demand members of the order shall observe a strict loyalty and secrecy, the order is a private affair and has no "outer order".

For Plato, strongly influenced by Pythagoras and the Eleatics, there is a real, Divine world of ideas "out there" or, as in neo-Platonism, "in here", a transcendent realm of Being, in which the things of this fluctuating world participate. Ideas are the unchanging aspects of a thing.

Obviously then, truth is the remembrance ("anamnesis") of (or return to) this eternally good state of affairs, conceived as the limit of limits of Being or even beyond that. These Platonic ideas, like particularia of a higher order, are no longer the truth of this world of becoming but of another, better world of Being, leaving us with the cleaving impasse of idealism : Where is the object ?

The Platonic ideas exist objectively in a reality outside the thinker. Hence, the empirical has a derivative status. The world of forms is outside the permanent flux characteristic of the former, and also external to the thinking mind and its passing whims. A trans-empirical, Platonic idea is a paradigm for the singular things which participate in it ("methexis"). Becoming participates in Being, and only Being, as Parmenides of Elea (ca. 515 - 440 BCE), inspired by Pythagoras and pupil of Xenophanes (ca. 580/577 - 485/480 BCE) taught, has reality. The physical world is not substantial (without sufficient ground) and posited as a mere reflection. If so, it has no true existence of its own (for its essence is trans-empirical). Plato projects the world of ideas outside the human mind. He therefore represents the transcendent pole of Greek concept-realism, for the "real" moves beyond our senses as well as our minds. To eternalize truth, nothing less will do.

5.2 Subjectifying Essentialism.

Besides focusing on the structure of the ideal mind or community of minds, spiritualism embraces the subject of knowledge at the expense of the object and this in an essentialist way, considering the absolute spirit as existing from its own side, isolated (but interacting with) all other minds.

Ontologically, the object is created, generate or produced by the absolute mind, and so reduced to a mere illusion. An subjectifying essentialism emerges. The absolute mind constitutes reality and only the mind. The truth or validity of statements is not dependent of something outside the mind, but wholly determined by this "Divine mind" or, in a more intersubjective approach, the "consensus omnium".

The monotheisms, Platonizing their revelation, embrace this kind of view willingly. God, as an absolute, perfect spirit isolated from the world, is a self-sufficient fountain of truth. Empirical data have a lesser status, in any at all.

5.3 Monarchic Transcendence.

In the henotheism of Ancient Egypt, the radical ontological difference between the creating and the created can already be found. The former (natura naturans), consisted of the light-spirits of the gods and royal ancestors (the "akhu"), residing in the circumpolar stars, untouched by the movement of rising and setting, shining permanently from above. These spirits did interact with their creation (natura naturata) by means of their "souls" ("bas") and "doubles" ("kas"). The Bas represented the dynamical, interconnective principle, ritually invited to descend and bless creation by way of the offerings made to their Kas. These resided on Earth in the cult-statue hidden away in the dark "naos" or "holy of holies" of the Egyptian Temple. Only the king or his representatives could enter this sacred space and offer the world-order ("Maat"). This exclusivity was the result of the fact gods only communicate with gods and the king was the only "Akh" or deity actually living on Earth. So he alone could make the connection. The transcendent nature of the deities, their remote presence as well as their exclusive mode of interaction, point to a mentality stressing their monarchic transcendence, and, mutatis mutandis, the ontological difference between the eternalized world of the deities and the chaotic, everchanging world of man.

In the Cannibal Hymn, the deified king is described as :

"He has revolved around the whole of the Two Skies.
He has circled the Two Banks.
For king Wenis is the Great Power that Overpowers the Powers.
King Wenis is a Sacred Image, the most Sacred Image 
of the Sacred Images of the Great One.
Whom he finds in his way, him he devours bit by bit."
Cannibal Hymn, Utterance 274.

The Greeks, no doubt also influenced by Ancient Egyptian thought, confirmed this state of affairs. The ontological difference between the world of becoming and the world of being was preluded by the views of Anaximander and Parmenides, and finally synthesized by Plato. The world of being consisted of unchanging, inherently existing "ideas", constituting the entities populating the world of becoming, radically separated from the former. Only the elite of contemplative philosophy had access to this world of being ... With the ontology of the One (Plotinus), this radical transcendence was finalized. Self-sufficient and autarchic, the One is a "substance of substances". Its Olympian nature is beyond any doubt.

Both Augustine (first third of the 6th century – 604) and Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274) accepted this view and adapted it to Christian theology. The ultimate God-as-substance created the world "ex nihilo", and was believed to be the ontological "imperial" root of all possible existence. This God is distinct (another thing "totaliter aliter") and radically different (made of other kind of "stuff" as the world). By identifying the mind of God with Plato's world of ideas, the Augustinian Platonists had to exchange Divine grace for enlightened, intuitive reason. Thomist Peripatetics introduced perception as a valid source of knowledge and so prepared the end of fundamental theology, the rational explanation of the "facts" of revelation.

For Thomas Aquinas, the relation between God and the world is a "relatio rationis", not a real or mutual bond. This scholastic notion can be explained by taking the example of a subject apprehending an object. From the side of the object only a logical, rational relationship persists. The object is not affected by the subject apprehending it. From the side of the subject however, a real relationship is at hand, for the subject is really affected by the perception of the object. According to Thomism, God is not affected by the world, and so God is like a super-object, not a subject (ps.-Dionysius would say a "hyper-object") ! The world however is affected by this object-God, clearly not "Emmanuel", God-with-us. Hence, the relationship between God and the world cannot be reciprocal. If so, the world only contributes to the glory of God ("gloria externa Dei"). The finite is nothing more than a necessary "explicatio Dei". This is the seen as the only way the world can contribute to God.

In this line of reasoning, the monotheist God, like a Caesar of sorts, is omnipotent and omniscient. This means God knows what is possible as possible, what is presently real as real and also the future of what is real (predestination). Moreover, God can do what He likes and so is directly responsible for all events (cf. "insh'Allah"). These views make it impossible not to attribute all possible evil, like the slaying of the innocent, to God ! Such a theology turns the good God into a brutal monster or proves the point He cannot exist (cf. Sartre). Finally, free will cannot be combined with this view of God as the sufficient condition of all things, for freedom only harmonizes with a view of God as merely the necessary condition.

This radical ontological difference between God and the world influenced the Cartesian ontological rift between the material body and the incorporeal mind. Indeed, the latter was deemed to be able to understand God. If not, Descartes (1596 - 1650) would not have been able to back his fundamental intuition "ego cogito sum" with his proofs of God, and a "malin genie" could have tricked him after all ... As the mind had this contemplative capacity (we find in Plato, Plotinus and Augustine) to directly (intuitively) access the radically transcendent "mind of God", it could a forteriori not be made of the same "stuff" the world  (body, brain) was made of. Hence, ontological dualism (positing two ontologically different substances) was inevitable. Clearly both mind & brain were then posited as distinct entities, but on top of that they were also considered different in nature.

With the failure to explain "intuitional knowledge" (cf. Spinoza's "verum index sui"), Kant's rational distinction between a constitutive (ontological) and a regulative (epistemological) use of the ideas of reason & the disruptive inflation caused by German Idealism (triggering Protest Philosophy, Marxism and Positivism), a direct (non-physical) access of the mind to absolute truth was deemed impossible. In this context, epiphenomenalism (reducing to mind to a by-product of the brain) rose. Hence, the study of the mind was deemed impossible without the study of physiology and the brain (cf. Freud). Making mind part of Nature implied materializing it !

Contemporary neurological materialism is the XXth century adaptation of this. With a new ontology and an alternative definition of "mind", such radicalization is perhaps unnecessary ... Crucial here is to understand that while mind and body are distinct entities, they are made of the same ontological stuff. So mind and body are not ontologically different.

6. The Criticism of Spiritualism.

6.1 Criticism of Personal Experience.

Thinking the possibility of valid scientific knowledge, or a third-person perspective on the world, does not eliminate personal experience, but neither does it inflate it. Although a third-person view is based on a set containing the first-person perspectives of individual observers communicating what they experience, the intimacy and so private nature of the observation of each empirical ego can per definition not be open to scrutiny, except by introspection and autoreflective activity. These two mental operations indeed offer ways to alter inner states of mind, experiencing these changes directly & intimately. While this can be communicated, no other subject devoid of the same results of introspection will truly understand what is being said. Likewise, if one has never tasted honey, no description of the experience will suffice to communicate what it is like. Individuum est ineffabile.

The distinction between reality-for-me and reality-for-us is pertinent. Science deals with the latter. But also intersubjectivity is not enough. For if we identify valid knowledge with intersubjective consensus, the objectivity of knowledge can no longer be thought. If all we know is merely intra-mental, then there is not such a thing as knowledge about something. And if knowledge is not that, then knowledge can no longer be called "knowledge" at all. Hence, while subjectivity is a necessary condition, it is not sufficient to explain the possibility & expansion of knowledge.

Idealism reifies the subjective conditions of knowledge to the point of allowing these to constitute objectivity. While the consensus catholicus is a regulative idea, one helping the intersubjective dimension of knowledge to take shape, it does not define what valid or true conceptual knowledge is all about.

6.2 Criticism of Fideist Idealism.

Of course, faith in the conditions imposed by a supposed Supreme Spirit cannot satisfy rationality, based on communication, argumentation and the establishment of a reversible consensus.

While we should not dismiss the experience of mystics, and should accept the "visio Dei experimentalis", one cannot move a step further and a forteriori welcome the conceptual superstructures erected on such a personal experience. Any conceptual structure must be open to argumentation and rational validation. If not, it should be dismissed as invalid metaphysics.

6.3 Criticism of Spiritualist Dogmatism.

Dogmatism is merely the emphatic confirmation of an absolute spirit at the expense of the objective data offered by, so must we assume, extra-mental reality. The assumption that facts must, besides theory-dependent, be somehow extra-mental, i.e. possess a theory-independent side, is rejected on descriptive grounds (as in Hegel's dialectical, phenomenological process of the Spirit and its Nature).

But the assumption is normative. Criticism does not affirm or claim facts are extra-mental, but can do nothing else but normatively assume this to be the case. Not to do so would cripple our understanding of the conditions of possible conceptual knowledge and its development. How can knowledge be possible if it is not about something else than the subject ?

Dogmatic affirmation mostly takes the form of a community of "blessed" individuals able "by Divine grace" to understand this Supreme Spirit. This empowers them to enforce their view upon the members of their spiritual community, if not on humanity at large. The "language of science" is not a "sacred" language, one spoken by "high priests". The language spoken by science & normative philosophy must be open, critical and flexible.

Valid conceptual knowledge is hard to get. This fact humbles the scientist as well as the philosopher.

7. An Ontology beyond Materialism & Spiritualism.

To ask metaphysics to empirically prove its speculative insights, is like asking a dentist to transplant a heart. Metaphysics does not deal with experiments, tests and the validation of propositions by way of facts. The only two ways to validate its speculative statements are logical clarity (correctness or well-formedness) and argumentative backing. Its aim is not to conquer new factual ground, but to encompass as many valid speculations & scientific facts as possible to formulate a comprehensive view or Gestalt on all possible objects of thought. And should it surprise valid metaphysics, while allowing speculation, backs its arguments with science ?

Besides offering a grand synthesis, metaphysics is the "heuristic assistant" of science. Working in the background, metaphysics formulates a research programme inspiring scientific research to venture into new domains and try out novel connections between its objects. Invalid metaphysics will do poorly at this, leading science away from new crucial experiments. Valid metaphysics is the wise guide of science. It accommodates the manifold of scientific knowledge by devising a synoptic, unified, detailed, descriptive and explanatory account, providing a comprehensive framework for understanding the world and our place within it.

Insofar as this object is "merely being", metaphysics is ontology, the speculative study of being qua being. As ontology, metaphysics is immanent, meaning it stays within the confines of the "world" or "Nature". Moving beyond this, as in transcendent metaphysics, posits a transcendence, an actual infinity, inviting paradox and other inconsistencies into conceptual thought. As a non-conceptual approach, its core is nondual and ineffable (although, this much can be said, cognitive in an unsaying, mystical way). Together, immanent and transcendent metaphysics encompass the totality of all possible things.

Immanent metaphysics poses four fundamental questions : Why something rather than nothing ? Why the universe ? Why life ? Why consciousness ? Answering these four by way of a single well-formed set of interconnected statements backed by scientific fact and arguments, is the aim of ontology.

In the present context, two opposed metaphysical options have been scrutinized and found mistaken. Irrespective of the historical reasons why these extremes saw the light, we cannot accept these monisms because they fail to incorporate all possible known facts. This is their limitation and hence their insufficient capacity to answer the fundamental questions of ontology. Materialism is unable to explain the self-evident private nature of personal experience. The elements of its set are all public ! Moreover, personal experience is unitary, while the disjecta membra of matter (at least on the macro- and mesolevels) define a manifold. These a-symmetries make it impossible to accept materialism as a valid metaphysical system. Likewise, spiritualism is unable to explain the self-evident influence of public events on private life. The elements of its set are all private (subjective) or social (intersubjective). Knowledge can no longer be thought, for it is never about something but always in some way about "me" or "us". Moreover, the same a-symmetries hurt the system : here we have a unitary experience unable to explain the manifold.

It seems as if this antinomy points to a lack of depth & extension in both positions. They fail to find a common denominator for both mind & matter and so continue to create conflicts at the surface. They lack a broad perspective allowing both mind & matter to co-exist, and so are forced to either completely reduce the other polarity or reject it as illusionary and so unworthy of consideration. In both cases, their view on the world is crippled and the resulting metaphysical background is unable to invite new experiments & the articulation of a better scientific theory.

Both materialism & spiritualism are invalid metaphysical research programmes. As such, they hinder the advancement of science. They should be replaced by a more comprehensive view.

7.1 Criticism : Cutting-Through Appearances.

On both sides of the cognitive spectrum encompassing object & subject of knowledge, reification causes extreme positions to engage. Insofar as the logical condition of simplicity is satisfied, these extremes are monisms (for only one fundamental principle is imputed), entertaining reductionism (for one side of the spectrum is explained by the other side). In a more confused logical choice, both sides are acknowledged, triggering ontological dualism.

The last option faces the task to explain how different kinds of stuff interact ? Given no common denominator is in place, different entities a forteriori have no doors. Then how to bridge the ontological difference and maintain Nature is a single substance ? The communication between fundamentally different kinds of things possessing their properties inherently is bound to be problematic.

But monism itself is not deep and extended enough to sufficiently grasp the totality of Nature. Logical simplicity (numerical singularity) needs semantic fields to become operational. By reifying the two sides of the transcendental conditions of conceptual thought itself, these traditional answers did nothing more than skim the surface, uncomfortably satisfied with the chosen view.

Ontological materialism posits a real object, ontological idealism an ideal subject. The real object causes real influences, the ideal subject constitutes its object. Both grounds (real objective or ideal subjective) are self-sufficient and possess their nature or essence from their own side. Materialism looses sight of the theory ladenness of observation. Idealism becomes more self-engrossed, forgetting knowledge must also be about something else than mentalities.

Two reification are to be abolished : the extreme of positing sense-data as the bedrock of science & knowledge and the extreme of attributing object-constituting characteristics to ideal, (inter)subjective formations. A deeper stratum of experience must be found to counter both claims, namely Nature as a material substance versus Nature as substantially mind. One must cut-through the appearance of the world as a material entity as well as the mirage of the world as the product of mind.

Cutting-through is deontologizing both sides of the cognitive spectrum. Ultimate logic teaches there are no substances. All objects of perception/sensation and all subjective states are impermanent, transient & ever-changing, caught in ongoing process of interdependent happenings or occasions. When both the experiencing "I" and the experienced "other" are without permanent, eternal & never-changing inherent properties, cutting-through means apprehending all entities as made up of actual occasions, atomic & momentary actualities characterized by "extensiveness".

To understand what these actual occasions are, one has to prioritize activities over substances. The contrast between process & substance is rather considerable. In the categories of Aristotle, substance, quantity, quality & relation exist inherently. Likewise, space, time, matter & momentum are absolute. In essentialism or substance philosophy, discrete individuality & separateness are linked. A fixity within a uniform nature defined unity of being. This allows for descriptive & classificatoric stability & passivity.

Process categories bring in process, quantitative features, topicality & relational interconnections. Spatiotemporal location and inner state are relative. Not a single property exists form its own side, self-powered.  Here, interactive interrelatedness, wholeness and self-determination are linked. Novelty goes hand in hand with unity of functional typology (law). Productive fluidity & agency (activity) ensue.

7.2 Ontology : Panexperiential Occasionalism.

In the organic totality of Nature, an actual occasion is the smallest unity of process. Each momentary occasion extols a perpetual va-et-vient between two modes of existence : an objective mode, in which it only exists for others ("esse est percipi"), and a subjective mode of existence, in which the actual occasion is none but subjective experiential properties ("esse est percepere"). In the first, objective mode, a physical experience is at hand, explained in terms of efficient causation. In the second, subjective mode, a mental reaction ensues, bringing about final causation.

"... if we consider processes of collapse as representing the objectivized aspect of actual entities, the agreement between Whitehead and quantum mechanics is perfect."
Malin, Sh. : "Whitehead and the Collapse of Quantum States.", in : Eastman & Keeton, 2003, p.80.

Actual accasions, contrary to Leibnizian monads, do communicate with other actual occasions. In terms of logical order, an actual occasion "begins" with an open window to the past, showing previous events, the efficient causation of the past world on it. Next, it reponds to (a) this past actuality but also to (b) its own inner & dynamic current ideality drawing possibilities out of what was received and weighting the options in order to favour a single outcome. By doing so, the actual occasion exercises final causation, showing self-determination, spontaneity & self-determination. The difference between efficient and final causation is analog to the difference between actual and potential in quantum mechanics, brought about by the "collapse" of the wave-function (Heisenberg, von Neumann), turning an infinite number of possibilities into a single one.

While taking a decision ends subjectivity, the actual occasion does not perish. Its end as subjective experience is the beginning of its existence as efficient cause on subsequent occasions, being the physical past entering their event-horizon. Actual occasions are therefore never in "one place" or "solitary", but a forteriori enter in each other's process (togetherness) and so define continua of occasion-streams. They are interconnected momentary events, not isolated (Olympic) enduring substances.

"The past actualities generate potentialities for the next actual occasion, which specifies a new space-time standpoint (region) from which the potentialities created by the past actualities will be prehended (grasped) by the current occasion. This basic autogenetic process creates the new actual entity, which, upon its creation, contributes to the potentialities for the succeeding actual occasions."
Stapp, 2007, pp.91-92.

The panexperiential dimension of process thinking is precisely the presence of final causation. Because of this inner, non-physical mode of existence, each occasion has a degree of consciousness (self-determination, spontaneity & novelty). This is not the same as saying occasions have an "inner life" in the way humans experience this. The subjective mode of actual occasions rules a weighting procedure effectuating a decision. And as the outcome of each occasion is richer than what physically, by way of efficient causation, entered its window of past actualities, novelty is possible. Only when very complex societies of occasions are individualized (as in humans), can a degree of freedom be maintained to allow for a genuine "inner, sentient life". Moreover, as compounds of actual occasions (like rocks & artefacts) do not share a conscious experience of unity, individualized societies of actual occasions (like minerals, plants, animals, humans) do. So this is not a panpsychism.

7.3 Functional Domains of Explanation.

"Whilst levels of organization refer to divisions within a specific explanatory domain (the physical), domains of explanation distinguish description (comprising both theories and data) of irreducible but interdependent faces of a single underlying reality."
Jamiesson, 2007, p.136.

The two modes of an occasion encompass its three known aspects. These appear as integrated explanations of the functioning of the organic totality known as "Nature". They refer to specific descriptions (of theories and data) of irreducible but interdependent facets of each occasion.

Efficient lawfulness and the objective mode of each occasion call for the physical aspect of matter, while final causation and the subjective mode call for the aspect of abstract validation (information) and a degree of participatory self-determination (consciousness). These define ontological boundaries, allowing for a better understanding of ongoing process. They are not principles, or worse, substances, but merely aspects explaining physical objects, informational content, its value, and states & contents of consciousness.

matter : sub-atomic, atomic, molecular, cellular, physiological, societies of actual occasions or the domain of the physical ;
information : embodied or disembodied notions, ideas, languages, logics, theories about actual occasions or the domain of the informational
consciousness : the self-determination, spontaneity, novelty & participatory grasping of actual occasions or the domain of the conscious.

The consciousness domain is organized in degrees of freedom, beginning with that of each individual occasion and all individualized societies of occasions. Hence, subatomic particles, particles, molecules, tissues, natural kingdoms (mineral, plants, animals, humans) all possess a degree of consciousness. While sentient, they do not entertain an inner conscious life comparable to that of humans on this planet. Such an intimate development of consciousness calls for a high-order complexification of mental occasions, one producing the complex, non-linear subdomain of human inner life. As on this planet this distinct type of sentient life is rare, all human life is by nature precious. But all other complex individualized societies of occasions do experience themselves as a unity run by a hierarchy, and so fall within the field of panexperientialism.

Mere aggregates or compounds of occasions are not sentient. So traditional panpsychism, stating all possible things have a subjective mode, is avoided. Although the individuals part of such an aggregate do experience a degree of self-unity, the aggregate itself does not. Rocks, rain, rivers, oceans, streets, cities, provinces, countries, continents, planets, artefacts, etc. are insentient. Lacking any self-conscious finality, they are ruled by efficient law. There is no ontological difference though, for both aggregates and individualized societies are merely actual occasions, ongoingly oscillating between objective (efficiency) & subjective (aim), and described in terms of their material, informational and conscious properties. In aggregates, fomed by the natural togetherness of actual occasions, actual occasions form events & objects barren of the experience of unity.  Every actual occasion happening in such a compound remains interlocked with all co-relative occasions, and this without a single dominant actual occasion or set of dominant actual occasions "leading the way". Because ontic hierarchy is absent, aggregates are not sentient, while their constituting occasions are (at their level).

A contrario, in individualized societies of occasions, interdependence and complex relationality engender negentropic dissipative systems. The most intricate of these is able to give a high-order degree of finality to the impulses of past efficient processes. Here human conscious life enters the picture, with each human being experiencing him or herself as a unity. Nothing precludes the presence of more complex levels of consciousness, nor of other means to embody consciousness (cf. subtle, yet unknown, non-physical bodies, like the subtle "sheets" of the Indian yoga tradition). Hence, process ontology has no a priori regarding togetherness, interrelatedness & concrescence. Of course, the question remains whether speculations about non-physical life can be argued with a comfortable measure of validity ?

II : The Mind/Body Problem.

In general philosophy, the "mind/body problem" refers to the relationship between the human brain and the human mind. There is a problem because mental phenomena (occasion, events, entities, objects) seem to be sui generis, unique in their characteristics, irreducible and not explicable in terms of physical phenomena only. Moreover, both phenomena seem to interact causally, nomologically and explanatorily.

Carnap (1891 - 1970) and others argue such a problem does not exist, for the human mind is nothing else than the human brain. So discussing the relationship is a priori unnecessary. The same logic applies if on argues the brain is merely a reflection of the (ideal) mind, but this position, although logically possible, is deemed untenable. The advances in physics, biology & neurology seem to rule it out.

The "mind/body problem" must be situated in the context of the preciousness of human life. The complexity of the operational domains explaining the human being is extraordinary. To try to explain the facts of this individualized entity is not an easy task, if at all possible. In any case, process philosophy has a very subtle, deep & extended view on this. In what follows, each time the words "mind" and "brain" are used, the case of the human mind and the human brain is at hand. In a panexperiential view, designating finative considerations to all actual occasions, this distinction is not unimportant.

We are not looking at an ontological difference between mind and brain, but wish to understand their distinctness in the ongoing world-process. Both are individualized societies forming explicatory domains to grasp the human being as an organic whole. The human being is an individualized society of individual objects, events & actual occasions. As a single entity, each human is a "world" consisting of material, informational and sentient events. As each actual occasion has two modes of existence, so has the human being : an objective, physical existence processing efficient lawfulness (matter) and a subjective, mental existence, dealing with knowledge & principles of validation (information) and conscious experience (consciousness), i.e. the power to produce changes in itself and let these enter the existence of other occasions.

The "brain" is the name for the efficient, complex physico-informational object displaying (transmitting) the activity of human consciousness. The "mind" is the name for the final decision taken on the basis of all available knowledge and made by a percipient participative self, a focus of consciousness existing in its own inner, private, cognitive & conscious life. This free choice individualizes the non-physical (finative) actual occasion needed to grasp what human life is all about, namely the "mind".

As brain and mind are both societies of actual occasions, the interaction between both is not an interaction between two different substances, but merely a  mutual exchange between distinct operational domains, encompassing the physical (matter) and non-physical (information & consciousness) modes of occasions. The notion "information" includes  the regulative idea of a super-system of expert-systems (all possible knowledge) and a weighting of possible choices. The notion "consciousness" calls for an actual choice favouring the actual possibility with the highest probability in terms of (a) the reinforcement of the experience of conscious unity and (b) the greatest harmony for as many societies of individuals as possible.

8. Positions.

Before formulating the panexperiential interactionism, let us summarize the various positions.

8.1 Ancient Egyptian Shamanism : Hylic Pluralism.

The ante-rational stance of Ancient Egyptian cognition makes it impossible to rationally explain their view on the body and the spiritual elements caught in its "net". In various texts they mention elements such as the "ka" (double), "ba" (soul), "ib" (heart), "khaibit" (shadow), "akh" (spirit) and the like. In the Pyramid Texts they play an important role in the process of transformation & ascension of the divine king. In the Amduat, the "ba" of Re travels through the Duat to seek replenishment (in the 6th Hour of the night). One interesting text explains how a mad Egyptian viewed his "ba". This is the "Discourse of a Man with his Ba",  a manuscript from the Middle Kingdom (XIIth Dynasty, ca. 1938 - 1759 BCE), translated & discussed elsewhere.

Especially the "ka", "ba" and "akh" are crucial elements. While the body is alive, the "ka" and "ba" are "caught" in its net, but when it dies, they are released. During life, a man makes sure his "ka" was "pleased", for this element would become the crucial object of offering after death. While alive, it is content when one lives "in accord with Maat", the principle of cosmic harmony (cf. Ptahhotep and the sapiental literature). As soon as the physical body is shed, the "ka" escapes and can be satisfied by mummification, funerary offerings and (voice) offerings made in front of the "false door" by those alive. When the "ka" is thus replenished, the "ba" is gratified and its dynamic task of reconnecting the deceased with his or her spiritual core ("akh") can commence. But before this happens, the "mind" (will, intention, consciousness) of the deceased, its "heart" ("ib") must be weighed against the Feather of Maat. If found heavier, it is devoured and the process of transformation can not begin. Helped by the "negative confession" (enumerating the faults not done by the deceased) and protective magic (placing a scarab beetle over the heart left in the mummy), this balance is found perfect, and the deceased may regain its divine states as a spirit ("akh"). This luminous spirit either abides -in the case of a commoner- in the Lunar heaven of Osiris (the highest state in the Duat) or, for royalty, in the Solar heaven of Re (the circumpolar stars).

In this scheme, the distinction between the physical body and what could be called "spiritual principles" is apparent. The afterlife depends on the latter. But even during life on Earth, these register ("ib") and sustain ("ka") the moral psychological and spiritual activities of the human being. It cannot be said the "ka", "ba" and "akh" are non-corporeal or immaterial. Rather, a hierarchy of states prevails, each being composed of intermingled physical and "spiritual" stuff. Ante-rational hylic pluralism, also found in Shamanism, is at hand. While a rational discourse on these elements is absent, it is clear the functional distinction between, on the one hand, the physical body, and, on the other hand, the "ka", "ib", "ba" and "akh" is acknowledged. The impact of a "heavy heart" and a revolted "ka" on this-life too.

8.2 Platonic Dualism & Peripatetic Hylemorphism.

The doctrine of Plato (
428 - 348 BCE) defines a strict ontological divide ("chorismos") between two separate worlds, namely a perfect word of being and an imperfect world of becoming. Material processes belong to the latter, and the soul of man to the former. Knowledge is remembering ("anamnesis") what was encountered before being embodied. In this ontological dualism, the relationships between mind and body are far from ideal, for the body is the "prison" of the mind or soul, the true, immortal person (a view elaborated upon by Plotinus and the neo-Platonists). In death, mind and body, made of ontologically different stuff, separate. The latter decomposes into its original elements, but the mind or soul, not being a material compound, does not. This provides hope for survival of the person after the death of the body.

Although Plato gave dualism an extended treatment, it was Pythagoras who was the first to posit the transmigration of the soul, i.e. the view the soul is immortal and only temporarily bound up with the body. Purified after its separation from this transient physical dwelling, the soul returns to its heavenly abode or transmigrates into another body. Here, the ontic distinctness of body & mind is affirmed hand in hand with their ontological difference.

For the purposes of understanding the psychology of Aristotle (384 - 322 BCE), his hylemorphism is crucial. From its inception, it exploits two distinct but related notions of form : in the first, "form" is the essence of the material compound whose form it is, and in the second, it is the accident of its subject. The soul is an essential form, whereas perception involves the acquisition of accidental forms. Entelechy ("entelécheia") is then a fullness of actualization requiring an ongoing or standing investment of effort in order to persist. It is opposed to energy ("energeia") which is the activity of actualization not necessarily completed. Entelechy is associated with fullness of form, and potency is associated with material stuff which potentially has the form.

Hylemorphism (or "matter-formism") is a compound word composed of the Greek for matter ("hulê") and form or shape ("morphê").  The notions of "form" and "matter" are developed within the context of a general theory of causation and explanation. When we wish to explain what there is to know, for example, about a bronze statue of Hermes, a complete account necessarily alludes to at least four factors : the matter of the statue, its form or structure, the agent responsible for that matter manifesting its form or structure, and the purpose for which the matter was made to realize that form or structure. These four factors are the four causes ("aitiai") :

the material cause (causa materialis) : that from which something is generated and out of which it is made, e.g. the bronze of the statue ;
the formal cause (causa formalis) : the structure realized by the matter, in terms of which it becomes something determinate, e.g. the Hermes shape by virtue of which this quantity of bronze is said to be a statue of Hermes ;
the efficient cause (causa efficiens) : the agent responsible for a quantity of matter receiving form, e.g. the sculptor who shaped the quantity of bronze into its current Hermes shape ;
the final cause (causa finalis) : the purpose or goal of the compound of form and matter, e.g. the statue created for the purpose of honouring Hermes.

When introducing the soul as the form of the body, which in turn is said to be the matter of the soul, Aristotle treats soul-body relations as a special case of a more general relationship existing between the components of all generated compounds, natural or artificial. Aristotle regards the body as the matter of a human being in the way the bronze is held to be the matter of a statue of Hermes. The following analogies run through his psychology : soul / body = form / matter = Hermes-shaped statue / bronze. But it is difficult to fully appreciate this analogy. Indeed, while bronze can exist as an indeterminate lump, being potentially but not actually the statue of a Deity, the body is not so much stuff lying about waiting to be enformed or animated by a soul. Rather, human bodies become human bodies by being ensouled.

It is not necessary to ask whether soul and body are one, just as it is not necessary to ask whether the wax and its shape are one, nor generally whether the matter of each thing and that of which it is the matter are one. For even if one and being are spoken of in several ways, what is properly so spoken of is the actuality."
Aristotles : De Anima, ii 1, 412b6-9.

Aristotle does not eschew questions concerning the unity of soul and body as meaningless ; rather, he suggests they are readily answered or somehow unimportant. If we do not spend time asking whether the wax of a candle and its shape are one, then we should not exercise ourselves over the question of whether the soul and body are one ...

It should be emphasized, however, Aristotle does not decide the question by insisting the soul and body are identical, or even "one" in some weaker sense. This he denies. He rejects materialism. The form of the body is not material, just like the candle is not the wax. Instead, just as one might well say the wax of a candle and its shape are distinct, on the grounds the wax could easily exist when the particular shape is no more, or, less obviously, the particular shape of the candle may survive the replenishment of its material basis, so one might equally deny the soul and body to be identical, i.e. of the same nature or made of the same "stuff".

Another way of appreciating this is to consider the question of the separability of the soul from the body, a possibility embraced by ante-rational thought (cf. supra), Pythagorism and substance dualists from the time of Plato onward. Aristotle answers : if we do not think the Hermes-shape of this particular statue persists after its bronze is melted and recast, we should not think the soul survives the demise of the body. Hence : "It is not unclear that the soul -or certain parts of it, if it naturally has parts- is not separable from the body." (De Anima, ii 1, 413a3-5). So, unless we are prepared to treat forms in general as capable of existing without their material bases, as does Plato and ontological dualism with him, we should not be inclined to treat souls as exceptional cases. Hylemorphism gives us no reason to treat souls as separable from bodies, even if we think of them as distinct from their material bases.

However, Aristotle does not appear to think his hylemorphism somehow refutes all possible dualism. For he appends to this denial of the soul's separability from the body the observation some parts of the soul may in the end be separable after all, since they are not the actualities of any part of the body (De Anima, ii 1, 413a6-7). This view prefigures his complex attitude toward mind ("nous"), a faculty he repeatedly describes as exceptional among capacities of the soul. It is this faculty which, in his theory of knowledge, is linked with the "intellectus agens", the active intellect "abstracting" the essence of an object, and this by using the manifold gathered by the passive intellect on the basis of the senses.

But in general, the Hermes-form is the actuality of the bronze statue, since its presence explains why this particular quantity of matter comes to be a bronze statue of Hermes as opposed to some other kind of artefact. Looking at soul-body relations as a special case of form-matter relations references the soul as an integral part of any complete explanation of living beings in general. So Plato and other dualists are right to stress the importance of the soul in explanations of living beings. But their commitment to the separability of the soul from the body is unjustified merely by appeal to formal causation.

Aristotle allows the soul to be distinct from the body, namely as its actuality, but this does not provide the ground for supposing the soul can exist without the body, i.e. it does not justify the ontological difference between body & mind. His hylemorphism embraces neither reductive materialism, nor Platonic ontological dualism. Instead, it seeks to steer a middle course between these alternatives by pointing out these are not exhaustive options.

When Thomism integrated the Peripatetic view, the notion the soul came to its end with the demise of the body had, in view of survivalist Christian theology, to be "corrected". This was done by supposing that after death the soul became the form of a subtle, spiritual body.

8.3 Cartesian Interactionism.

Descartes (1595 - 1650), the first modern philosopher, shaped the current understanding of the mind/body problem. He clearly & distinctly conceived his mind to exist without body and his body without mind, and concluded they must be separable, different, irreducible "natures" or substances.

As the body, like a clock, was a complex mechanical device of sorts, the mind became a kind of "ghost in the machine".

For Descartes in Le Monde, a rational view on how body & soul, the spatio-temporally extended and the merely temporally extended, indeed form a unity can be arrived at by studying both independently. He wrote : "and finally, that I show You how these two Natures have to be joined and united in order to compose humans who resemble us."
(Adam & Tannery, 1964-1974, XI, p.120).

Cartesius seeks the interaction between the physically extended ("res extensa") and the non-physical ("res cogitans") in the pineal gland. But as in this crucial argument, the presumed interactions, like a Deus ex machina, happened by way of a special ontological category acting as their justifiable bridge, the reasoning was flawed (logically, because of Ockham's Razor, and scientifically because the pineal gland houses no "spirit-beings").

Often ridiculed because of this weak conjecture to back a central question, Cartesian interactionism became a bad start for interactionism as a whole. Later rationalists like Spinoza (1632 - 1677) & Leibniz (1646 - 1716) avoided interactionist strategies ... In this way, they did not need to explain how non-extended substance contacts extended substance (and this in the context of a mechanistic physics in which causation is by contact).
Popper (1981) tried to clarify why rationalism & materialism are incompatible, for the distinction between the extended thing ("res extensa") and the thinking thing ("res cogitans") is fundamental to science.

Recently, the question of how body and mind interact is replaced by asking how interaction is possible without energy ? As the laws of thermodynamics apply, the non-physical, to have impact, must expend energy and so add energy, violating its principle of conservation. Although this problem has been addressed without violating energy-conservation, a definitive solution, no doubt inspired by the Copenhagen interpretation of the Schrödinger equation of quantum theory, identifies the "activity" of mind as a mere weighting of propensities, making certain outcomes more likely than others. This involves a rearrangement of the physical order by a change in its underlying propensity-structure of possible outcomes, not by any actual physical occasions (always in need of energy). Hence, this phenomenon can only occur in large populations driven by statistical laws and a chaotic phase-space allowing for the Butterfly-effect (small causes, large effects). What happens in neurons and at their synapses being a very suitable candidate for this conjectured propensity-bridge or immaterial "liaison" between the brain and the mind. The mind "scans" the brain, makes a choice and alters by making certain outcomes more likely. It interacts with the propensity-field (cf. Popper) of the brain at any given moment. So likelihood is the occasion allowing mental and physical entities to interact (cf. Panexperientialism).

8.4 Occasionalism.

Occasionalism, using the substances "matter", "mind" and "God", elaborates upon the consequences of ontological dualism, claiming finite things can have no efficient causality of their own. Substances cannot be the efficient causes of events. In ontological monism, the question how two or more substances relate is a non-issue, for only one substance prevails. But as soon as the numerical singularity of the fundamental principle (the monad) is relinquished for dualism (the dyad), thinking change and interrelatedness brings on the question how different kind of things relate ? Occasionalism rejects the possibility of any kind of relation whatsoever. Different substances can a priori never bridge their natures. All physical & mental phenomena are merely "occasions" or happenings on their own, devoid of any interconnectedness and efficient power, utterly incapable of changing themselves.

Physical "stuff" cannot act as cause of other physical "stuff", for no necessary connection can be observed between physical causes and their physical effects (a view returning in the writings of David Hume, for whom causality and other lawful determinations are merely psychological habits). Moreover, mind and brain are so utterly different, the one cannot affect the other. Hence, a person's mind cannot be the true cause of his hand's moving. The mental cannot cause the physical and vice versa.

Ergo, as events do exist, they must be caused directly by God Himself. For what God wills has to be taken to be necessary.

This remarkable view, first propounded by the tenth-century Muslim thinker al-Ash'are, can be found in the writings of Cartesians Johannes Clauberg (1622 - 1665), Arnold Geulincx (1624 - 1669) and Nicolas Malebranche (1638 - 1715).

8.5 Psycho-Physical Parallelism and Panpsychism.

In Spinoza's Short Treatise on God, Man and his Well-Being, the ontological dualism of Cartesianism is rejected and replaced by a single substance in its various states or modes. Nature (or God), possessing and infinite number of attributes, is "seen" by human beings as a unity of what is extended (matter) and what thinks. Understanding interactionism cannot be explained in the context of essentialism, Spinoza writes : "if there were different beings in nature, the one could not possibly unite with the other" (Short Treatise, I, 2). Substances are distinguished by their attributes. As no substance can be constituted by any attribute unless constituted by every attribute there is, there can only be one substance and it must be "absolutely infinite".
Matter has an "inside" aspect with a consciousness-like "quality", in other words, both run parallel like the outside & inside of an eggshell. Matter and soul are the outside and inside aspects, or attributes, of one and the same unique & singular substance, i.e. "Nature", which is the same as "God".

"... all things are animate in various degrees."
Spinoza : Ethica, II, XIII Scholium.

Psycho-physical parallelism (or dual aspect theory) regulates the world of attributes, both in the Divine substance and in its derived modes. The attributes of thought and extension are irreducible and so any transition from one to the other is impossible. Still, the series of phenomena manifesting themselves in thought coincides perfectly with the series of phenomena of extension. So the order of ideas coincides with the order of bodies. This coincidence is rooted in the unity of substance of which such phenomena are the modes, appearances or manifestation. Given the irreducibility of thought to extension, no interaction between soul and body is possible ; but granted psycho-physical coincidence or agreement, every manner of being and of operation of thought finds its equivalent in the being and operation of extension. Spinozistic parallelism is a panpsychism, for amorph aggregates like a rock are also in some way "conscious". Mind is the idea associated with a body, and all bodies have a mental aspect.

So with this parallelism, an identity of order or correspondence between modes of different attributes is at hand. These modes of different attributes have not only the same order and the same connection, but the same being ; they are the same things, namely modes of the one substance, Nature (God). Attributes are really distinct, parallel series that have no causal action between them. There is no causal connection between the modes of one attribute upon modes of another. There is identity of order and connection between modes of different attributes. Because attributes constitute one substance, corresponding modes differing in attribute form one modification.

"Thus the organic body of each living being is a kind of Divine machine or natural automaton, which infinitely surpasses all artificial automata. For a machine made by the skill of man is not a machine in each of its parts. For instance, the tooth of a brass wheel has parts or fragments which for us are not artificial products, and which do not have the special characteristics of the machine, for they give no indication of the use for which the wheel was intended. But the machines of nature, namely, living bodies, are still machines in their smallest parts ad infinitum. It is this that constitutes the difference between nature and art, that is to say, between the Divine art and ours."
Leibniz, G.W. : Monadology, § 64.

Breaking away from monism (Spinoza, focusing on God), dualism (Descartes, focusing on the "res cogitans"), Leibniz's strikingly systematic metaphysics posits a pluralism of substances. Inspired by physics, he focused on the "res extensa". For Leibniz, "monads" (mentioned for the first time in a letter to Fardella in 1696) are singular, partless substances. There are an infinite number of monads or "points", and they are all substantially identical (pluralism) and unextended intensities or "souls". But in terms of quality and force, each monad is unique (having its own unique logical combination). In the "first monad" (or God) are found all possible "letters" in all possible logical combinations. Although inspired by physical atomism (dividing matter in smaller and smaller parts to arrive at the "atom"), Leibniz does not -contrary to Hobbesian materialism- designate a final term to this series of divisions of matter. The continuity among existing things is not based on indivisible material quantities, but on indivisible non-material monads.

In the Lehsätze über die Monadologie published in 1720 by Köhler (based on Leibniz's Opus Magnum, his Essay on Theodicy of 1710), these immaterial monads are independent, unique, singular, all-comprehensive and imperishable. Each monad remains what it is, nothing can be added to it or taken away from it. It has no "windows" (§ 7), meaning nothing can enter it or go out from it. Each is unique because each possesses a rich qualitative structure of accidents giving it its own nature, and this by a unique combination of properties and its own logical sequence of development. Hence, each monad is a living being permanently actualizing in itself a unique structure, lawfulness, active force or design (§ 11). This uniqueness of each monad is not a universal or "essence" of a species (as in the "causa materialis" of Scholasticism), but the result of an active force attributed to each monad. This vitalism is associated -not with Cartesian mechanistic linear impulse-, but with a higher "kinetical" force (cf. Huygens E = m.v²). Matter is dynamical & energetical.

So in this monadic immaterial sufficient ground of empirical reality a dynamical "force active" is present. Not quantity is what changes all the time, but quality, in other words, this vital force. This force serves a double purpose : (a) the realization of increasingly complex forms of material organization (the evolution of matter) and (b) an urge towards apperception, i.e. the reflective knowledge of the monad of its own inner conditions. Each monad is constantly changing from one state to the other, and this by virtue of the alteration of its inner properties and relationships with the other monads. This interconnection with other monads is happens by virtue of the immanent law within each monad (regulating series or "series operationum"), for each monad is a mirror of the whole world ("esse partes totales").

The substantial form is a teleological principle, in that every substance "sings" its part in the universal harmony by knowing & intentionally following its part of the universal "score". This part corresponds to its complete individual concept, built into its substantial form. Hence, each monad is self-referential, lonely and without any real connection with other monads. None of them acts on another, and so all substances are causally independent from each other. Only the first monad acts on the monads, causing their existence, though their actual states are produced by their own natures. The first monad created an infinite set of monads whose natures are so harmonious each successive state of a monad (though determined by the nature of each individual monad alone), mirrors the corresponding states of all other monads.

Monads are imperishable because something without parts cannot be destroyed. They appear and disappear "in one piece", while all other entities do so in pieces (§§ 4 - 5). Monads are literally "automatons", i.e. something moving on its own accord. Appearing realities are merely phenomena of the spiritual monads. These divisible bodies are organic wholes animated by monads. They are the outer side of the implicate "plenum" constituted by these immaterial monads. This leads to hylozoism. All things are alive, for in all things immaterial, spiritual monads enter. And vice versa, for the indivisible appears as divisible. This outer, divisible side is not substantial (as Descartes & Spinoza thought). Divisible matter is reduced to being a mere representation (§ 61) of the indivisible, spiritual monads. Matter is unable to think itself, and so materialism is self-defeating.

"If there is no other principle of identity in a material body than the properties just named (i.e. extension, form & movement), then not a single body would exist longer than a moment."
Leibniz, G.W. : Metaphysical Treatise, 1686, § 12.

As a function of their qualitative ability to "perceive", i.e. move from one situation of properties & combination to another, and "apperceive", i.e. know by way of reflection their inner conditions, a hierarchy of monads can be defined (starting with totally unclear to more or less clear, ending in absolutely clear). This hierarchy of being has six tiers : (1) inorganical aggregates (unconscious perceptions), (2) sleeping monads like plants (unconscious perceptions), (3) dreaming monads like animals (sensation & memory), (4) perceptive monads like humans (little conscious or very unconscious), (5) apperceptive monads like humans (rational souls & spirits) and (6) God the "monad monadum" or "primitive monad" (§ 47), the sufficient ground of everything, possessing a completely clear concept of all the actual and all the possible (§ 43), a monad able to oversee in a single thought all possibilities in all possible combinations.

Rather than by way of the hand of God and His "continuing miracle", as in occasionalism, mental and bodily processes correspond not because they interact, but because they are fortuitous, having no cause. Agreement exists just as two clocks would be in agreement if they had been started at the same time and were accurate enough. The perfect correlation between mind and body was ensured by God at the beginning of time in a "pre-established harmony".

A modern version of parallelism is "neutral monism", found in Hume (1711 - 1776), Mach (1838 - 1916) and Russell (1872 - 1970). There is only a physical ordering of "neutral" things or events and a mental ordering of the same things or events. The things or events considered "physical" or "mental" are in fact named as a function of the context in which they are conceived. There is only an epistemological difference, not an ontological one. "Physical" means something coming within the scope of physics and "mental" is explained with the help of psychology and human activity. There are only two realms of theories, two systems of ordering things. Every element belongs to both orderings, but it is possible an element belonging to the body does not belong to the mind. The main point claims the physical world and the mental world are merely theoretical constructions of the fundamental "stuff" : "the given". One may of cause criticize this position by observing these allegedly neutral given is only called "neutral", for in truth they are "mental", i.e. procedures, constructions or theoretical manipulations of physical objects.

The doctrine of panpsychism or hylozoism is very old. Plato & Aristotle reports Thales taught "Everything is full of gods" (Laws, 899b, De Anima, 417a7). Even Democritus regarded the psyche as a very special kind of matter. With the moral theory of the soul, hylozoism became discredited. Nevertheless, Plato calls the universe "a living body endowed with a soul" (Timaeus, 30b/c). Widespread among Renaissance thinkers like Campanella & Bruno, panpsychism received its classical form by Spinoza & Leibniz (cf. psycho-physical parallelism).

We should distinguish between classical hylozoism, attributing life, mind and consciousness to all material objects, and a contemporary form accepting actual occasions also possess a mental mode, while aggregates of occasions, as mere collections of occasions, do not. This allows one to say a rock is insentient, while atoms, molecules, plants, animals & humans have, in varying degrees, the ability of self-organize, trigger novelty and experience unity. This distinction is crucial to understand the panexperientialism of Process Philosophy.

8.6 Physicalism : Analytical Behaviourism and Identity or Central State Theory.

"... a physicalist has only two genuine options, eliminativism and reductionism."
Kim, J. : "The Myth of Nonreductive Materialism.", in : Moser & Trout, 1995, p.134.

The following positions (8.6 - 8.9), in one form or another, embrace materialism (physical behaviour), and so reject, render passive or reduce sentience (mental events).

Physicalism, a revised form of materialism, replaces "matter" by "all objects covered by physical theory", either in actuality (incomplete) or prospectively (complete). Applied to the issue at hand, it says mental phenomena are just a special case of physical phenomena. Moreover, it breaks away from essentialism. Human beings are physical organisms with two distinctive kinds of states : physical and mental. Its two versions are Analytical Behaviourism and the Identity theory.

In Analytical Behaviourism, mind is only (actual or potential) behaviour of body, and so mind = physical behaviour. Behavioural analysis should not contain unanalyzed mental items. However, this ideal condition can not be met, for a residue of such items will always be left, causing more behavioural analysis (infinite regression). This cripples the argument. Moreover, insistence on reducing mental states to behavioural patterns or dispositions to engage in such, makes one deny the existence of an "inner" subjective state, as well as first person knowledge regarding mental states. This results in an anthropology & psychology unable to encompass free choice, freedom and other crucial human values. Denying black swans exist, Analytical Behaviourism is blind to what is obvious.

For Analytical Behaviourism, each mentalistic statement is equivalent in meaning to a statement referring to patterns of behaviour or dispositions to behave. It rejects mental events and properties are involved in causal explanations of other mental events and physical events. It considers it "a category mistake" to say mental events "causes" behaviour, since mentalistic statements do not describe the neural happenings causing the behaviour. They merely describe either patterns of behaviour or dispositions to behave (Ryle, 1949). This highly implausible, crude form of Analytical Behaviourism eliminates the importance of consciousness, intention and inner life. It cannot explain the presence of these central phenomena. Neither does it explain how neuronal statements are able to solve problems involving mentalistic statements. The fact these problems also involve the conscious interpretation of neuronal statements, the whole exercise is hardly convincing and somewhat circular & self-defeating (by way of a contradictio in actu exercito).

entral state theory is a physicalist modification of parallelism : there exists an "identity" between mental processes and certain brain processes. Every mental state is identical with some physical state, in particular various sorts of neural states (Smart, 1962). This is not a logical identity, but a single class of material properties describable by means of two different vocabularies, just as the planet Venus is both "evening star" and "morning star", two different appearances of the same material object (linguistic parallelism). In other words, while mental predicates differ in meaning from behavioural and physical predicates, they refer to neurophysiological properties, and so descriptions of mental events refer to neurophysiological events. By finding the "bridge laws", mental and physical predicates can be connected. Mental events may cause material events, for neurophysiological events cause behaviour. Mental properties enter into the laws explaining behaviour because they are neurophysiological properties and these enter into laws ...

This leads to a problem about the properties of mental states. Suppose pain P is identical with a certain firing N in the brain. Although P is the very same state as the firing N, we identify P in two different ways : as the actual pain P and as the neural firing N. Regarding the mental state P, two sets of properties emerge : mental properties when identified as P and physical properties when identified as N. A kind of dualism at the level of the properties of mental states arises. So identifying mental states with physical states does not eliminate the fact mental states have mental and physical properties ! In other words, the two vocabularies do point to different properties. Mental states can be divided in propositional attitudes having content ("I have the thought that it will rain.), intentionality and sensations. The above problem is most pressing for sensations, for even if mental states are all identical with physical states, the former appear to have non-physical properties. For Smart the distinctive properties of sensations are "neutral" as between being mental or physical. However, since thoughts and sensations are distinctively mental states, it perforce has some characteristically mental property and this is lost if we construe these properties as "topic-neutral". Although one may construe intentional properties as wholly physical, it is unlikely some properties will not turn out to be non-physical, even we recast the identity theory as asserting mental states are identical with bodily states.

Another problematic consequence of the strong central state theory is that members of different species do not share mental properties. This can be solved by weakening the identity claim. Instead, every instance of a mental state is identical with an instance of some bodily state, of some type or other. Instances of a single mental state might then be identical with tokens of distinct bodily types (the token Identity theory - Armstrong, 1968 & Lewis, 1972). However, if physical-state types do not correspond to mental-state types, this theory is false. For Davidson (1970), an event token only belongs to a mental type relative to background assumptions about mentality, whereas tokens of physical events are independent of such a background, a claim easily criticized (for even experiments have metaphysical backgrounds).

If mental events are just brain processes, then they must have the physical properties brain events have. Given the binding problem (the conscious experience of unity versus the manifold of neuronal happenings, free choice versus determinacy) and a-symmetry (the privacy of consciousness & intention versus the public nature of neurophysiological properties) this is not the case. Indeed, if this supposed identity would be the case, then brain events must have mental properties by virtue of which the mental events with which they are identical are the kinds of events they are. Then no differences could in any case be identified.

Another problem is the absence of the supposed bridge-laws after many decades of central state conjectures. The theory also fails to explain how neurological events & properties exemplify consciousness and intentionality. A complete understanding of neurophysiology (by itself a very difficult goal to achieve), leaves the qualitative character of both unexplained (cf. Nagel, 1974 & Jackson, 1986). And precisely this inner, private conscious life is the one individuals directly experience. So one fails short in addressing the most important fact : reality-for-us is impossible without reality-for-me. Finally, how to explain intentional states neurophysiologically ? A concept of something, say X, refers to a semantic field defined by the person thinking the concept and the various features of his or her environment. Two people could be exactly alike in terms of their neurophysiology and nevertheless think, believe and so on different concepts, for these are causally connected to different semantic fields (cf. Putnam, 1967).

8.7 Eliminativism, Epiphenomenalism and Behaviourism.

Eliminativism (Rorty, 1979) bluntly denies mental events & properties are instantiated. There are no such properties at all. Mentalistic statements are like mythical, fantastic & fictional statements. Like statements designating supernatural powers, they are false. Nothing has mental properties, for all things are merely physical. Hence, identity cannot be established, for "mental" and "physical" are incompatible terms. This proposal depends solely on whether or not one holds the mental as non-physical. This can be avoided by saying current "folk psychology" is a mistaken & defective conception of the mental (Churchland, 1981). Of course, this does not show mental states do not exist, nor that a better psychology cannot be found. Eliminative arguments always require some special way to define the mental, one not in line with what is commonly understood by them. Without this, it turns into an Identity theory.

Moreover, by denying inner life, Eliminativism works with nothing more than physical behaviour. But logically, it fails to show its truth-value. For to justify itself, eliminativism must appeal to mental principles, norms & maxims of validation. So to prove itself correct, it must use what it denies. A completely self-defeating strategy. Of course, the wrong view has the merit to invoke a radical revision in our habitual conception of ourselves.

In Epiphenomenalism, one does not wish to move to the extreme of eliminating the mental, avoiding being ridiculed by any self-defeating mental slapstick. The mental is a necessary by-product of the physical. Accepted as real, it is made totally passive and trivial. Mental events and states figure in causal relations as effects only, ever as causes. It is never the case, for example, that a state causally results in a happy mood in virtue of falling in love ...

Behaviourism, the psychological version of physicalism, claims there is nothing to the mind but the subject's behaviour and dispositions to behave (cf. the stimulus-response model, leaving out internal process). This total repudiation of the inner leaves out something real and important. Even behaviourists themselves agree an "intractable residue" of conscious mental items, bearing no clear relations to behaviour of any particular sort, abide. Finally, it is possible two people to differ psychologically despite total similarity of their actual and counterfactual behaviour ...

8.8 Anomalous Monism, Supervenient Emergentism.

For Anomalous Monism (Supervenient Emergentism), t
here are only material substances, but they possess physical properties and mental properties (Davidson, 1970). It accepts materialism, but rejects the type-identities assumed by the Identity theory, i.e. mental versus behaviour types. Mental events are token-identical to physical events, i.e. individual instances. They are therefore subsumable under physical laws. They depend on the physical but are not reduced to it. Mental properties supervene on (come on top of) a more basic physical, subvenient, basal, ultimately physical phenomenon. There can be changes in the supervenient mental phenomena if and only if there are corresponding changes in the basal phenomena, and not vice versa. Supervenient phenomena emerge from, and are asymmetrically dependent for their existence upon the basal structure. There is upward causality, no downward (hence, mind does not change brain). How mental phenomena, which differ from physical ones, can emerge from the basal material reality is unclear. Again, the distinction between first  and third person perspectives yields an unsatisfactory view on consciousness. But there is more.

Although mental events are not reduced to material events and this view endorses the irreducible nature of mental properties, these properties or predicates have no role in laws, so they are epiphenomena. Perhaps this view is incompatible with there being no account of the physical basis of intentionality. Whatever the case, none is provide. If supervenience is accepted, then how come there is no physical account of intentionality ? How can one posit that changes in consciousness are only possible if and only if there are neuronal changes and not explain the physicality of intentionality ?

8.9 Functionalism.

In functionalism, the notion of the mind as an entity, as a substance, is rejected. The mind is a function of the physical brain. The function y = f(x) = x² allows one to derive values of y with any given x. A function is not physical in nature (for it can be specified abstractly), neither is it non-physical, for it resists classification. In order to explain mental states, they are reduced to input/output structures. However, genuine thoughts have meaning and intentionality, whereas the words displayed on a screen as I type this out have meaning to us as userware but not to the "functional" computer. This is the problem of Machine Functionalism, describing human brains at three levels : (a) neurophysiological, (b) machine-program or computational and (c) everyday mental (folk-psychological).

Functionalism is compatible with physicalism, but, unlike Behaviourism and the Identity theory, it does not necessarily entail the physical nature of minds, for it might be the case minds are non-physical and functional (as long as they realize the relevant programs). In a physicalist view, functional states (the mental) are always realized in physical mechanisms. Different physical states may realize the same functional state (solving one of the problems of the Identity theory). If mental events are functional properties, then unless there are some "special" considerations to be made about them, then in terms of causation they are at the same level of non-mental functional properties, say, being an eye. Insofar as mental properties are functions of physical entities, then physicalist functionalism works. But consciousness and intention do not seem to be functional properties. The latter implies these properties are exemplified, which is not the case for consciousness. It seems not instantiated by anything (cannot be found) and so cannot be a functional property. The only things found is a transient empirical ego, but not the conscious experience of unity founding personhood.

Regarding intentionality, the question is how physical states can be sensitive to the semantic sensitivity of intentional states in a way conceptual thought clearly is ? Moreover, as the process of reasoning from evidence has (so far) resisted computational commands (and some claim consciousness will never be computed), and changes of mind involve changes in the relevance relations among mental events (the weighting of probabilities), physicalist functionalism comes in troubled waters.

If the restrictions imposed by Machine Functionalism are lifted, and mental states are accepted as non-physical and not always realized in physical mechanisms (but possessing their own psychic mechanism), then physical states can be functions of mental states (downward causation) and mental states can be functions of physical states (upward causation). With mind = f(body), the influence of the brain on the mind is restricted to causal efficiency by way of changes in executional (computational) and so energetic capacity. With body = f(mind), the mind relates to the brain via final causality, weighting possibilities and deciding for the most likely outcome (free choice). This does not involve any energy, for the process only entails a change in the valuation of possible outcomes in large populations of neuronal events. The mind influences the brain without adding or taking away energy from it, but merely makes certain physical outcomes more likely than others. This psychophysical functionalism can be integrated in a process-based approach of Nature.

If brain and mind are two distinct domains of causation (physical, efficient and mental, finative), i.e. distinct actual occasions, then the organic organization of the human being as a whole, its unity, is a functional interactionism, beginning with conception and ending with the demise of the physical body. The end of this mutual functionality between brain and mind is not the end of the distinctness of these actual occasions. The "end" of the physical body is an "entry" into the stream of efficient causation of new material occasions (recycling). This endlessness is the recurrent return of the same (eternity). The moment the mind stops being a function of the brain and the brain a function of the mind, that moment of consciousness is then followed by another moment of consciousness, one in which the mind enters it own beginningless stream of consciousness. This endlessness is everlastingness. This entry is not necessarily disembodied, for one may assume it enters a functional relationship with more subtle forms of support.

8.10 Panexperientalism.

"Each portion of matter may be conceived as like a garden full of plants and like a pond full of fishes. But each branch of every plant, each member of every animal, each drop of its liquid parts is also some such garden or pond. And though the Earth and the air which are between the plants of the garden, or the water which is between the fish of the pond, be neither plant nor fish ; yet they also contain plants and fishes, but mostly so minute as to be imperceptible to us."

Leibniz, G.W. : Monadology, §§ 67-68.

Panexperientalism embraces process metaphysics ; processes rather than things represent the phenomena encountered in Nature. Process has primacy and priority over things. Strict process ontology rejects substances and so is not essentialist. For substantialist, the principle "Operari sequitur esse" holds. This means every process is owned by some substance. Here one thinks substance first and then views change as accidental to it. Process thought inverses the principle : "Esse sequitur operari" ; things are constituted out of the flow of process. So things are what they do. Change is thought first and things are momentary arisings, abidings & ceasings of dynamical units. A process is an integrated series of connected developments coordinated by an open & creative program. It is not a mere collection of sequential presents or moments, but exhibits a structure allowing a construction made from materials of the past to be passed on to the future. This transition is not one-to-one, not merely efficient, for the internal make-up of its occasions shapes a new particular concretion, bears finality allowing for creative advance or novelty.

Actual occasions, the units of process, are Janus-faced : they take from the past and, on the basis of an inner, finative structure, transform states of affairs, paving the way for further processes. They are not merely product-productive, manufacturing things, but state-transformative. Although indivisible, actual occasions are not "little things", but a differential change "dt" explained in terms of efficient & final causation.

Heraclites, thinking process first & foremost, avoids the fallacy of substantializing Nature into perduring things like substances. Fundamentally, everything flows ("panta rhei") and although Plato disliked this principle ("like leaky pots" - Cratylus, 440c), he accepted it insofar as the "world of becoming" goes. Aristotle too saw the natural (sublunar) world exhibit a collective, chaotic dynamism. Change is fundamental, and the latter is the transit from mere possibility (potency) to the realization (act) of this potential, and this to the point of perfection ("entelecheia"). This makes Peripatetic thought pervasively processual. Of course, both Plato & Aristotle accepted the presence of substance, either as a fundamental transcendent reality or as inherently natural & biological (cf. hylemorphism). And both, although in a different way, accept the Greek prejudice for Olympic states (cf. Plato's "world of ideas" and Aristotle's view on contemplative knowledge/life, the "active intellect", the "Unmoved Mover" and the "actus purus").

The standard bearer of process metaphysics in modern times is of course Gottfried Wilhelm Freiherr
von Leibniz. The fundamental units of Nature are punctiform, non-extended, "spiritual" processes called "monads", filling space completely and thus constituting a "plenum" (cf. supra). These monads or "incorporeal automata" are bundles of activity, endowed with an inner force (appetition), ongoingly destabilizing them and providing for a processual course of unending change. And it was in the writings of Leibniz that Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947), the dominant figure in recent process thought, found inspiration. Like Leibniz, he considered physical processes as of first importance and other sorts of processes as superengrafted upon them. The concept of an all-integrating physical field being pivotal (cf. the influence of Maxwell's field equations). But unlike Leibniz, the units of process are not substantial spiritual "monads", but psycho-physical "actual occasions".

These are not closed (not self-sufficient like substances), but fundamentally open to other occasions, by which they are entered and in which they enter. Thus their perpetual perishing is matched by their perpetual (re)emergence in the "concrescence" of new occasions. Like Leibniz however, these occasions "prehend" (Leibniz spoke of "perception" and "apperception") their environment and this implies a low-grade mode of sentience (spontaneity, self-determination and purpose). They are living & interacting units of elemental experience. They are part of the organic organization of Nature as a whole, but constitute themselves an organism of sorts, with a constitution of its own. Nature is a manifold of diffused processes spread out, but forming an organic, integrated whole. As was the case in the ontology of Leibniz, macrocosm and microcosm are coordinated. Not because each actual occasion mirrors the whole, but because they reach out and touch other occasions, forming, by way of complexification, aggregates and individualized societies of occasions.

This is not a panpsychism. While individual occasions, which are not substantial, thing-like, but the common unit of process, possess, besides a physical, objective mode, also a mental, subjective, experiential mode (final causation), non-individualized aggregates or compounds of occasions do not and are therefore insentient (like rocks). The presence of these rules out panpsychism, i.e. the claim all things live. Moreover, the mental mode of a single occasion has the lowest possible degree of freedom. This low-order experience should not be compared with the activity of societies of occasions like the high-order conscious experience of human beings. Only when an actual occasion, by entering into another actual occasions (adding its concretion or internal make-up to others), helps bringing actual occasions together, can the creativity of the sea of process eventually bring about individualized societies consciously experiencing their own unity (as in atoms, molecules, minerals, plants, animals, humans, ...). Here the process of evolution is at work, producing more complex organizations of actual occasions, interpenetrating each other.

"... every quantum event is associated with an element that cannot be adequately conceptualized in terms of the precepts of classical physics, but that resides in a realm of realities that are not describable in terms of the concepts of classical physics, but that include our conscious thoughts, ideas, and feeling."
Stapp, 2007, p.98.

For panexperientialism, "physical entities" are always physico-mental (or, what comes down to the same, psycho-physical). Focusing on efficient causation, and the emergence of an independent mental out of the physical, actual occasions are physico-mental. But insofar as final causation is concerned, and because of the downward causation effectuated by high-order minds on subtle physical processes, actual occasions are psycho-physical.

The organic togetherness of actual occasions has various levels, ranging from actual occasions, events, entities, to insentient compounds and individualized societies with varying degrees of freedom. On Earth, the highest level is the dominant occasion of experience constituting the human mind. As even actual occasions, with at least an iota of self-determination, provide the lowest-level example of the emergence of a higher-level actuality (namely the creativity resulting from the incorporation of the decision characterizing its mental mode in the efficient causality entering another actual occasion, appropriating data from its vicinity), we may understand, in comparison, brain cells as highly complex centres of experiential creativity. So in terms of efficient causation, we may say the mind emerged from the brain. But in terms of final causation, we may say the possibilities offered by the brain are "weighed" and then chosen by the mind (emerged from the brain). Moreover, the emergent property (the mind as an actual entity in its own right), is able to  exert a causal influence (final & efficient) of its own. Mental causation is not epiphenomenal, for besides the upward causation from the body to the mind, there is the self-determination by the mind, and on the basis of this, downward causation from the mind to the body. This is possible because mind and body are not two different kind of things, but both highly complex individualized societies of actual occasions, linked in a functional and interactionist way.

9. Functional Interactionism.

As Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860), in his The World as Will and Representation, Whitehead understands human experience as constituting the model or ideal type of the processes characterizing Nature in general. The full subjective immediacy of the human living experience is taken as the starting-point. Replacing this anthropocentrism brings in human experience as quintessential, and natural process as enfeebled. We can then entertain an ontological hierarchy, stretching from a single actual occasion, and its extremely low-grade subjective mode, to the full-blown conscious & living experience of a human being. This makes it easier to postulate experience beyond the human, not ending evolution with human actuality.

Of course, in terms of the relation between mind and body, human experience remains fundamental. The mind/body problem has to be addressed in anthropocentric terms, for on our planet, humans are the only ones evidencing the conscious experience of an inner life.

In a panexperiential approach, mind and brain constitute two distinct societies of individuals. On a neurophysiological level, the brain is a highly complex & creative organism. On a cognitive level, the mind too is such a living organization. Although the mind emerged from the brain, it also realizes its independence from it. Maybe physical death, the perishing of the brain, makes the mind enter another stage of its constant evolution ... But at conception, the opposite is at hand, for brain & mind are temporarily fused. And just as a child grows up, becoming an individual, so the mind emancipates or emerges from the living brain. Both are not made out of different stuff, but exhibit the bi-modality typical for all actual occasions. Both are only distinct entities, with their own functional processes.

The evolution of the human mind is highly determined by memory just as the individualization of a child is determined by language & knowledge. As ontogenesis mimics phylogenesis, at first, in the mythical state of cognitive development, the mind and the body intimately cohabit. Body-awareness and consciousness of self form a unity. The awakening of an individual sense of identity, crucial in the process of individualizing "my" human mind, is not determined by the coordination of bodily movements (only offering a dim, reflex-bound, opaque sense of selfhood, as found in animals), but by the introduction of semiotic factors. Signals, icons and symbols, i.e. meaningful glyphs or embodied information, "awaken" the sense of selfhood and trigger the start of an actual living conscious experience (cf. the stage of the mirror - Lacan). Because the human body, with its dormant, potential sense of selfhood, is spoken to as an "I", the crucial factor enabling the individuation of the mind to start is actualized. By giving me "a name", mental coordinations are no longer solely defined by bodily coordinations, but individualize as a function of the presence of language in the direct environment. The surplus of neurons can be brought down and their inner interdependence increased. Out of the living brain the mind emerges and immediately starts its downward causation, reorganizing the brain. The child is also the teacher of his parents. Insofar as the child is not spoken to, is not given a name, the brain solidifies its efficient causations, and the mind is not given the tools to emerge & emancipate and so cannot enter its final causations in the stream of experience of the brain. As a result, the brains remains primitive and the mind "locked" up in and by it ... Only its physical demise may allow this mind to enter another stream, but then without having profited from individualized mental experiences.

The challenge is to understand the brain as a whole as the "matrix" or "mother" of the mind and the neocortex as the executive organ of human consciousness. On this new cortex, there is -at birth- lots of "empty space" to be filled in by our parents, peers and teachers. These influences allow the mind to form an individualized society of actual occasions dominated by a single actual occasion, namely selfhood, a first person perspective. All mental occasions "happen" in the field of which this ego is the center. When individualized (at the age of 12 when the "corpus callosum" is finished and formal reasoning is possible), the mind starts to change the brain by way of downward causation. Then, by ourselves, we realize the "freedom" to "think for ourselves" ... Usually, lots of changes have to be made to allow our brain to be the proper conduit for who we are (in the C-world). The individualized mind, by virtue of its subjective mode, introduces new actual occasions not present in the "matrix" of the brain. Crisis, catastrophe and turbulence force the brain to face these "new aspects" of how we shape ourselves. Each time, we force our brain to act according to our conscious choices (just as our brain forces our muscles with efferent enervation). This process only ends with physical death. At every age, the brain is reorganized by the downward causation effectuated by the mind, and the mind adapts to the upward causation stemming from the brain. This is a functional interactionism, for during life, the mind is a function of the brain (upward causation) and the brain is a function of the mind (downward causation).

The crucial factor in downward causation is the emancipation of the mind by open semiotic factors. Insofar as the mind is given no view or the wrong view, it cannot by itself emerge as an individualized society of actual occasions, for it cannot compensate for processes of efficient causation inherent in the brain. Our mother needs to feed her child properly for it to develop a strong immunity and a high intelligence (or ability to trigger creative advance).  Although the brain is also involved in final causation, this mainly leads to the integrity of the physical. And so the mind is necessary to trigger change (downward causation by way of final causation). Likewise, although the mind is also involved in efficient causation, this mainly leads to the integrity of the particular "stream of consciousness" of which a given mind is the momentary caretaker. And so the brain is necessary to consolidate the executive functions (upward causation by way of efficient causation). This mutual, functional interactionism between body & mind is at work from the moment of conception, until the demise of the physical body.

Under "open" semiotic factors is understood the correct view allowing for the emergence of an individualized mind. This view is one teaching process instead of substance, i.e. dynamic interdependence instead of static isolation. Insofar as educational systems do not provide this, but nurture an essentialist view, the mind is kept engrossed in the brain and its ability to develop a strong grip on its final causation and so be very creative is crippled, resulting in more suffering. The importance of a good education can therefore not be stressed enough. This is however not like acquiring the antics of a social class, but learning to emancipate from the forces that nurture us and this in a way teaching the mind how to use its inner force to be creative (i.e. make use of its ability to self-determinate novelty). Such depends, not on a university degree or a high IQ or EQ, but on an awareness of how things truly are, i.e. empty of inherent existence (void of substance) and universally interdependent.

The emergence of the mind from the brain does not necessarily imply the brain "happens" first and is the sole efficient cause of the mind. As if the mind has to be constructed ab ovo. The mind, as a separate, individualized mindstream has its own causalities, both efficient & final. The moment the mind enters the fertilized ovum, was indeed preceded by another moment of its own, individualized stream. Apparently, entry into a new physical vehicle, in casu, a very small and still undeveloped one, disables the mind of accessing these previous memories. Although not spatial, any connection the mind makes with a physical object, has an impact of its grip on the history of its own temporal extensiveness. Becoming embodied again brings about a darkening, one covering certain past memories and pushing them into the depths. They are however not lost, and can be retrieved by adapted spiritual exercises like meditation (yoga) and certain guided visualizations (qabalah). But anchoring the mind in a gross physical vehicle is not meant to allow it to have an overview of these previous instantiations of mind. So it seems the mind is a kind of "tabula rasa", influenced by nature (body) and nurture (environment) only. This reduction allows it to really identify with what happens to it while interacting with the growing body, temporarily unencumbered by previous histories. A similar process happens with dream-recall. Only by training the mind to store in the body what happens to it in dreams is such recall as well as lucid dreaming possible. Like with altered states of consciousness, the physical body acts as a valve, reducing the total available input to what is necessary on the physical plane of reality, limiting what comes through the "doors of perception" (Huxley). If this were not the case, a cacophony of memories would ensue and building a "fresh" empirical ego would be impossible.

The experience of great meditators does however shed another light. In the East, with a collective mindset not a priori rejecting the possibility of previous moments of consciousness before conception (not limited by a metaphysical background viewing the soul as created at conception), the recovery of these memories sometimes happens spontaneously and/or can be trained, as in the case of the Buddha, who's awakening went hand in hand with him remembering all his "previous lives", i.e. the memories of all the moments of consciousness of his mindstream.

9.1 Solving the Mind/Body Problem ?

For monists like logical positivists, materialists, physicalists etc., there is no mind/body problem, for there is no mind or it is irrelevant. The problem is "solved" by eliminating or incapacitating the mind. This is merely a dogmatic ad hoc solution, a way to more problems.

For dualists, accepting the ontological difference between both, any solution will pose a fundamental problem, for how can two different kinds of stuff work together without a "tertium comparationis" ? How to introduce the excluded third ? This must be a kind of "mixture" of both "mental" and "physical" and so the problem of how these two components of the mixture "work together" returns. A new mixture can be proposed, etc. Here we have a regressus ad infinitum. So if "solving" the problem means explaining how two different substances work together, then we may safely regard it as unsolvable. This is the nugget of truth physicalists have correctly identified.

In general, monists are right in claiming a single fundamental category suits the unity of science best. Logically, monism also offers the most elegant form for a possible ontology. But they are wrong in eliminating, reducing or crippling the mind. Although it dispenses them from the need to explain how body & mind communicate, it also impoverishes their explanation of the world, in particular the exceptional nature -at least in this Solar system- of the human phenomenon. The mind is to be considered as factual as the brain. Its distinct features, namely intimacy, privacy, first person perspective, unity of conscious experience, percipient participation etc. cannot be found in the brain and its overt, public, third person perspective, manifold of neuronal events and computational features. This is the nugget of truth mentalists have correctly identified.

We seek logical elegance, lack of prejudices, no dogma's and a critical openness & flexibility integrating, by way of argument, as many phenomena as possible, including those disciplines existing at the periphery of the current scientific paradigm (like astrology, magic & alchemy), as well as those phenomena science cannot presently explain (like acupuncture, homoeopathy, etc. & parapsychology, in particular telepathy & telekinesis, but also poltergeist, out-of-the-body, near-death-experience and the like). If metaphysics has to banish possibilities ab initio, then one better stops speculating. Of course, accepting to critically study these phenomena with an open mind is not the same as endorsing any multiplication of entities a priori.

To understand how Process Philosophy addresses the interaction between brain & mind, three points have to be made clear : (a) fundamentally, all things are the outcome of process, (b) body and mind are both "in process" and so not ontologically different, but only ontically distinct, (c) all things, besides exerting efficient causation, also have an "inside", capable of internal relatedness (final causation). Accepting process as fundamental can be assisted by the paradox of essentialism or substance metaphysics. Indeed, it is impossible to specify exactly what a substance is without having recourse to process. Substances are individualized by two kinds of properties, namely primary properties describing substance as it is in and by itself and secondary properties, explaining the impact of substance upon others as well as the response invoked from them. The problem is one cannot explain what primary properties are over and above what substances do in terms of their discernable effects. What remains when we eliminate all processes, everything related to actions ? Is there a "thing" in and by itself left over ? Or are all things merely the products of what happens ? Process thought simplifies matters by a one-tier ontology. The designated identities are the outcome of process and there is no mysterious "essence" over and above these processes. While it is possible to conceive "unowned" process (like in the phrase "it is getting warmer"), it is not possible to think substance without relying on processes, to designate a thing detached from process ...

Hence, both brain and mind are merely process and so both do not possess, as ontological dualism proposes, an essence from their own side, independent from what they do. In this way, Process Philosophy joins what the Buddhadharma proposed a few millennia ago, namely the emptiness of all phenomena and the ultimate logic making this clear.

Furthermore, the presence of final causation is crucial. Suppose it is rejected, as in physicalism, then the "stuff" out of which the world is made is, in Whitehead's words "vacuous". Then it becomes inconceivable how evolution could bring about higher-level actualities, for "there is nothing to evolve, because one set of external relations is a good as any other set of external relations" (Whitehead, A.N. : Science and the Modern World, § 107). Final causation brings in creativity, the ability of actual occasions to add the result of their own self-determination & spontaneity to the sea of process, and so creatively enter later occasions. Without it, there is only a set of external structures, but never a hierarchy with dominant occasions or individualized societies of actual occasions.

As most, if not all, recent scientific research has a materialist or physicalist metaphysical research program working in the background (influencing the "ceteris paribus" clause), consciousness is, at best, accepted but regarded as a by-product of the brain (i.e. caused, generated, produced, made, constructed, secreted, invented by the CNS, something merely supervenient). As nowhere in the brain a "central control ganglion" has been found, indeed current neurological research rather points to the model of multiple plastic neuronal networks, the "binding problem" remains and clearly is the fundamental practical problem facing physicalist neurology. Where in the brain is the "I think", the unity of apperception, confirmed by a logical, transcendental and phenomenological approach of the first person perspective, produced ? Why is there unity rather than constant and overall variety ? This conscious experience of unity is not found in the brain because it is not part of the brain. It is the main feature of the individualized society "mind", instantiating a string of moments, a stream of states of consciousness.

Like naive realism, materialism and physicalism repress the fact observation is theory-laden. Subjectivity can not be eclipsed without eliminating the possibility of knowledge itself. Eliminating subjectivity entails the end of freedom, change and ethics. Is materialism not refuted by the subjective energy invested by materialists in materialism (cf. the "contradictio in actu exercito") ? The mere presence of cultural forms (the fact they are designated or posited as such by the subject) refutes the theory (i.e. a cultural form itself) saying only physical forms exist. Again the self-defeating streak of this kind of reductionism.

9.2 A Triadic Model of What Works.

General process ontology posits bi-modal actual occasions with their three functional domains as the ground of all possible phenomena, existing things, objects, entities or items. Each actual occasion has a physical (efficient, objective) and a mental (finative, subjective) mode. The arising of actual occasions is caused by previous actual occasions, and this entry of past actual occasions in what happens hic et nunc is by way of efficient causation. The abiding of each actual occasion is its internal structure, causing choice, decision or self-determination  and finally entry into another actual occasion.  When this happens, the actual occasion ceases, but this perishing brings about an efficient influence on the next actual occasion, and this influence has integrated the work of final causation.

Each actual occasion has three
distinct operational domains, encompassing the physical (matter) and the non-physical (information & consciousness) modes of occasions. These domains explain the operation of three functionally different societies of actual occasions, namely matter, information and consciousness.

The domain of "matter" calls for efficient causation entering each actual occasion from past actual occasions, acting as its initial condition. The domain of "information" is the totality of choices available to each actual occasion, i.e. all weighed, possible knowledge this and no other actual occasion can choose from. Finally, the domain of "consciousness" calls for an actual choice or decision favouring the actual possibility with the highest probability in terms of (a) the reinforcement of the experience of unity and (b) the greatest harmony with other actual occasions.

Specific process ontology applies the scheme of general process ontology on non-individualized compounds or aggregates of actual occasions and individualized societies of actual occasions. In terms of the neurophilosophy of process, three
irreducible domains or operators are constantly at work in the individualized societies at hand, namely the brain (matter & information) and the mind (consciousness). These are derived from cybernetics, information-theory and artificial intelligence :

  • hardware or matter : the mature, healthy, triune human brain is able, as a physical object dominantly ruled by efficient causation, to process, compute and execute complex natural (innate) & artificial (learned) algorhythms and integrate all kinds of neuronal activity - the developed, individualized mind is able to be open to the efficient causation resulting from previous moments of consciousness ;

  • software or information : the inherent and acquired software (wiring) of the brain, its memory & processing speed (in this "programming phase", the first five years are crucial) - the individualized mind is an expert-system containing codes or knowledge to choose from when solving problems ;

  • userware or consciousness : the mature brain works according to its own final causation, making choices to guarantee its organic functioning as a manifold and affect necessary changes in its environment - individualized consciousness or mind instantiates unified states of consciousness (moment to moment intentional awareness) as a percipient participator interacting meaningfully with its brain and the physical world.

9.3 How Brain-Mind Interaction Happens.

"Thus contemporary physical theory annuls the claims of mechanical determinism. In a profound reversal of the classical physical principles, its laws make your conscious choices causally effective in the physical world, while failing to determine, even statistically, what those choices will be."
Stapp, 2007, p.VII

The neocortex is a plane of ca.11 m² filled with ca. 20 billion neurons (of a total of ca. 100 billion neurons), forming ca. 240 trillion synapses, with lots of association areas to be used for higher-order functions such as abstract thought and melodic synthesis. We know the neocortex is also involved with critical, creative and unitive modes of thought. Are these part of the "liaison brain" (Popper & Eccles, 1981), the neural machinery responsible for the interaction with consciousness, and its mental and intentional states ? It seems unlikely consciousness is in liaison with single neurons (Barlow, 1972), because these are too unstable (cf. the statistical, population-bound, "democratic" dynamics of the neuron).

hemispheral interaction - sensory system- liaison brain
Popper & Eccles, 1983, p.375 - with reference to Popper's worlds :
world 1 = physical objects ; world 2 = conscious I - world 3 = mental objects ;
world 1 = matter ; world 2 = consciousness - world 3 = information

"In our present understanding of the mode of operation of neural machinery we emphasize ensembles of neurons (many hundreds) acting in some collusive patterned array. Only in such assemblages can there be reliability and effectiveness (...) The modules of the cerebral cortex are such ensembles of neurons. The module has to some degree a collective life on its own with as many as 10.000 neurons of diverse types and with a functional arrangement of feed-forward and feedback excitation and inhibition. (...) By definition there would be restriction to the modules of the liaison brain, and only then when they are in the correct level of activity. Each module may be likened to a radio transmitter-receiver unit. (...) It can be conjectured that the self-conscious mind scans this modular array, being able to receive from and give to only those modules that have some degree of openness."
Popper & Eccles, 1981, pp.366-367.

Interactionists conjecture the mind is actively engaged in reading out from the multitude of active centres at the higher order levels of the CNS, namely special "liaison" areas of the neocortex, i.e. neurons characterized by a special property (to be defined in terms of electro-magnetism or the superimposition of probability-fields with no mass). According to conscious intention, the mind selects and integrates its selection from moment to moment. This means the mind has a superior interpretative and steering role upon the neural events. Because of the "binding problem" (multiple regions of the brain are simultaneously combined into a single experience), the unity of conscious experience is not provided by the neural machinery, neither by the liaison areas of the neocortex.

To affirm the irreducible nature of consciousness (C), its status as "logico-functional primitive", one needs to consider freedom, or the ability of an individual to behave in a creative, purposeful, non-random way, which is not determined by physical law, and, mutatis mutandis, without neurophysiological constraints. Materialism is unable to explain freedom, downgrading its crucial importance in sociology, politics, economics, law, ethics, etc. Freedom falls outside the closed, finite "black box" of the physical categories of determination used by physics. As mathematics, consciousness exists in its own "world", "domain" or "realm", in this case, as a spatially non-extended and abstract temporal field (mind-set or mind-map) able to influence, and this in an ongoing way, major neurological processes.

The principle of the conservation of energy, a consequence of the homogeneity of spacetime, implies any change requires an expenditure of energy. Causal effect implies the event must make a difference every time it occurs. This difference is the "material" factor relaying the effect. If matter acts on mind, energy would disappear. If mind would act on matter, energy would be added. An immaterial mind can only move matter by creating energy, i.e. adding energy to the whole. Interactionists like Popper & Eccles (1981) were not impressed by this line of argument, because their argument relied on quantum-mechanical indeterminism to allow non-material events to act on matter. This loophole, of a kind of "one-to-one" interaction is however uncertain.

"It is shown that the magnitude of the disturbance required is significantly greater than allowed for under quantum-mechanical uncertainty. It is concluded that violations of fundamental physical laws, such as energy conservation, would occur were a non-physical mind able to influence brain and behaviour."
Wilson, 1999, p.185.

Beck and Eccles (1992) recently proposed mental intentions act through a quantum probability field, altering the probabilities and thus the material outcome. In fact, it was Eddington (1935) who first speculated the mind may influence the body by affecting quantum events within the brain, in particular a causal influence on the probability of their outcome.

Recently, Mohrhoff (1999) questions whether Heisenberg's indeterminacy will suffice and conjectures electromagnetism to be a more likely candidate because such a field is a summary representation of effects on the motion of particles.

"There is no reason whatever for having probabilities determined twice over, once during their deterministic evolution by the physically determined vector potential, and once at the end through a superimposed probability field generated by the self."
Mohrhoff, 1999, p.182, my italics.

As quantum nonlocality manifests in very small and cold artificial worlds, nobody considered it possible non-local interactions possible in the relatively large and hot brain.

"The strange superpositions of quantum theory, that would allow simultaneous 'occurring' and 'not occurring' - with complex-number weigting factors- would, accordingly, be considered to play no significant role."
Penrose, 1994, p.348.

In the 1970s, nanometer-sized cylindrical structures called "cytoskeletal microtubules" were discovered in brain neurons. In 1994, the anesthesiologist Hameroff proposed they could be involved in quantum effects.

"If it turns out that this is even partly correct, or if this proposal merely helps others think about how quantum processes in the nervous system may be related to consciousness, it opens the theoretical door for explaining how nonlocal effects may manifest in consciousness. And if it turns out that nonlocality does play a role in the workings of the brain, then something like 'quantum telepathy' would no longer be such a strange prospect."
Radin, 1997
, p.319.

Earlier, Popper (1982) speculated about propensity fields (cf. his propensity interpretation of the equation of Schrödinger, called in to solve the particle/wave paradox) and considered these to be as real as particles, gravity or electromagnetic fields, i.e. to be "kickable" (by changing experimental arrangements) and "kick back" (by changing the outcome of what eventuates : particle or wave). These fields, like the photon, have no mass and so there is no possible violation of energy conservation.

If consciousness itself is a set of propensities (virtualities, potentialities or possible meaning) existing as a "field" in a non-spatial complex "realm", then interactionism proposes mental states, in particular by way of their final causation, calculate (intent) certain probabilities and co-determine, through the ongoing "superimposition" of the likelihood of an intended design & architecture, the overall parameters of the activity of the "liaison brain" (causally open to non-material shifts in valuations, propensities or probabilities). The non-material mind becomes physically effective by modifying the electromagnetic interactions between constituents of the "liaison brain", and this at the end of every vector.

mind & brain interacting
Popper & Eccles, 1983, p.360.

Eccles rejects the idea the interface between mind and brain is the field potential generated by all neural events. In his modular view, specific ensembles of neurons (modules with as many as 10.000 neurons), each act as a radio transmitter/receiver unit. The mind's attention works on these cortical modules with slight deviations. The mind scans the cortex for "open" modules and modifies its behaviour by these slight deviations. If probability fields are taken in, these deviations are then caused by recalculating the chances and superimposing this probability field at the end of each vector eventuating a physical potential in deterministic evolution.

"It is proposed that the self-conscious mind is actively engaged in searching for brain events that are if its present interest, the operation of attention, but it also is the integrating agent, building the unity of conscious experience from all the diversity of the brain events. Even more importantly it is given the role of actively modifying the brain events according to its interest or desire, and the scanning operation by which it searches can be envisages as having an active role in selection."
Popper & Eccles, 1983, p.373.

The second question, namely Where does the interaction happen ?, kept Descartes busy for many years, and he found no satisfactory solution. One was to conjecture the soul operated through the pineal gland, found in the limbic system ! The soul supposedly gave this gland a tiny push, which was thought to be magnified by a chain of physical causes and effects. The nerves were small tubes in which "animal spirits" moved. They were physical in nature, composed of highly "rarefied blood". Descartes choose this gland because it is very light and mobile, hence a suitable sensitive instrument responsive to the minute pushes of the soul. Besides the notion small deviations are necessary, Descartes' solution failed because the pineal gland is occupied with another task (namely with the production of hormones).

The mode of interaction proposed by Eccles is based on the idea a degree of correspondence (not identity) exists between the experiences of the mind and the events in the "liaison brain", the area of the brain actually interacting with the mind. 

The active role of consciousness (of subjectivity) is acknowledged. The mind selects & integrates the modules of interest (attention) and integrates all neuronal activity to provide for the unity of conscious experience. For Eccles, the "liaison brain" is the dominant hemisphere of the neocortex, in particular the linguistic areas, as well as a large area of the prefrontal cortex. Some modules are "open" to the world of mind and it is through them the mind influences the probability field determining their activity. A change in attention will make some activities less probable and put others to the fore. Because "closed" modules can be influenced by "open" ones, they may be opened by means of impulse discharges along the association fibbers from the "open" modules. Again, small changes may cause large shifts in the total activity of the neuronal networks at hand (cf. chaostheory). As consciousness may also direct its attention to parts of the "old cortex" (such as the limbic lobes, or more deeper, the ganglia in the brainstem), conjecture the mind may directly influence the three levels of the brain. The older the structure, the less likely this influence will be unmixed with other, purely neuronal mechanisms.

From a panexperientialist view, the interaction between the brain and the mind is a large-scale example of what happens when the final causation at work within a single actual occasion enters the stream of efficient causation of another actual occasion. The crucial factor is the assignment of a coefficient to elements of a frequency distribution in order to represent their relative importance, in this case a series of possibilities defining a propensity-field. In large statistical populations, this favours the outcome of some, and this is the "influence" sought. Although not infringing on the First Law of Thermodynamics, is nevertheless plays a crucial role in what happens in the brain.

Nobody is claiming the "solution" to mind/brain interaction has been found. Although panexperientialist interactionism offers a wide range of ontic possibilities, stays within the confines of a well-formed logical monism, an immanent metaphysics and the fundamental concerns of science, in particular regarding producing facts about physical (sensate) objects and formulating empirico-formal propositions, it still has to answer what kind of processes drive the distinct characteristics of the actual societies of occasions called "brain" and "mind" ? In the West, neurology and the science of mind are only now starting up. China, India and Tibet explored the mind in width & depth. Ancient Egypt contributed enormously, but, as a cultural form, unfortunately died out.

9.4 The Endlessness of Brain and Mind.

Materialism envisions a bleak nature morte, a view of the universe ending in the dissolution of its "disjecta membra". This "vacuous", disconnectedness of things can already be found in the parallel trajectories of the primordial atoms proposed by the Greek atomists. The same problem arises. Lucretius
(99 - 55 BCE) speaks of a mysterious "clinamen", a minimal indeterminacy in the motions of atoms.

"The atoms, as their own weight bears them down
Plumb through the void, at scarce determined times,
In scarce determined places, from their course
Decline a little- call it, so to speak,
Mere changed trend. For were it not their wont
Thus wise to swerve, down would they fall, each one,
Like drops of rain, through the unbottomed void ;
And then collisions ne'er could be nor blows
Among the primal elements ; and thus
Nature would never have created aught."

Lucretius : On the Nature of Things, Book II, Poem (Leonard).

This "swerve" causes the parallelisms (given by the weight of the atoms) to be broken, triggering collisions of atoms and from there the formation of aggregates and finally the whole of Nature. Contemporary physics also has this problem : how to explain complexification, without hierarchy (or operational distinctness) and the latter without a final causation, introducing a subjective "mode" in the metaphysics of physical objects ? Why avoiding this indispensable category of  final determination besides efficient causation ? The physical, as an individualized society of actual occasions, is entered by efficient causation (arises), confronts internal knowledge and experience and weighs possibilities (abides) and then perishes after having made efficient causation more complex, richer, more creative (ceases). This novelty enters the subsequent actual occasion, in this case, the physical society of occasions, the sea of material process. This vast field interconnecting all actual physical occasions happening in the universe at a given instant, is not a void filled with pockets of energy, but a vast process instantiating physical objects. Insofar as this process as a whole is concerned, both efficient & final causation are at work in each instance of this ongoing symphony of material happenings. So each "end" of an occasion (each perishing) enters the "beginning" of another. The universe is an organic "plenum", for there is not a thing not touching (entering) another thing. Because of final causation, this new beginning is not only a quantitative integral of the efficient energy differentials, but also a qualitative reorganization of the probabilities involved with each energy differential at any given moment, making some outcomes more likely and thus, over time, actual and so entering the sea of efficient causation ...

Before discussing the end of the brain and the mind, let us focus on the end of each instance of process in the body and the end of each instantiation of a state of consciousness. Although, due to the unity of conscious experience, we have the impression our state of mind is an unbroken continuum, this is actually not the case. The "I" designated a moment ago is not the same "I" designated now. And although, due to memory and habitual processes (of identification, disidentification and designating inherent existence of object & subject), our identities do seem to possess stable structures, when we look closer these are merely the result of rapidly overlaying discrete moments, creating the illusion of continuity. Just as  24 frames per second generate the illusion of continuous motion in a movie, the rapid succession of moments of consciousness produce the same fabricated sense of a stable identity. Between two consecutive moments of instantiated states, a "gap" or "interval" is present. As only advanced introspection is able to reveal this, most of the time this "void" is not observed.

Although sensate experience is a "stream" and not a sequence of static frames, direct observation hic et nunc is ephemeral & anecdotal (individuum est ineffabile). One cannot conceptually hold on to it, it comes, stays a few moments and ceases. By fast repetition, the steady illusion of an identical object is created. In fact, conscious sensation (experience, observation) and its conceptualization (form) are fabricated. In conscious sensation, conceptual frames and perceptions are simultaneous and fastened (so they cannot be isolated).

Likewise, due to the organic integrity of the body, resulting from its efficient & final causations, the life of our cells, tissues, organs & physiological processes also seems stable and in "one piece", while -even on the most fundamental level of our physical reality- physical operations are quantized and in every cell of our body countless physical, chemical and biological changes happen all the time. So both body and mind only seem stable, self-identical continua, while in reality they are like continua of successive, ever-changing moments.

So both body & mind "end" and are "reborn" constantly. This happens so fast nothing of it is actually realized. Physical death is only a privileged ending, one severing the functional interaction between the body & its mind. For we constantly die and are constantly reborn. The beginning of each moment contains the efficient causation of the previous moment. This is its "matter". Each moment, as an actual occasion, has an internal structure composed of a set of data weighed as a function of possible outcomes. This is its "information". Then a decision is made in terms of the most likely outcome. This self-determination is its "consciousness". With this choice, the internal structure of final causation perishes, but as this choice singles out one possible outcome among a large number of possibilities, the transient structure of final causation enters the next moment as its "matter" or efficient causation, making this moment richer and more complex, allowing for novelty. Between this perishing and the (re)emergence in the "concrescence" of new occasions, i.e. between these two moments an interval occurs. This "gap" is not a mere nothingness, but the link between these moments and the absolute continuum of all phenomena, the primordial field or set of all possibilities. This situation at the level of two actual occasions also holds true for more complex individualized societies of actual occasions.

The end of the brain is the point the efficient causation of that given physical object, having emerged from the (micro-level) universal energy field and having abided for some time (a lifespan on the meso-level), enters the individualized society of material actual occasions. The brain is "returned to the elements", its component factors being diffused, recycled and made useful to similar material societies of actual occasions, including minerals, plants and animals. But the end of the brain is also the point a life-span of final causation (of both brain & mind), creating novelty, a unique mental view (based on lived knowledge) and a unity of conscious experience based on decision-making are passed on to the physical domain. Of course not as individualized conscious experience of selfhood, for this kind of inner structure was never the case for the brain, a physical manifold, but only for the mind, a mental unity. The final causation of matter results in an increased creative capacity of "elemental" matter to embody, execute and compute information & consciousness more efficiently. This fertilization of matter is, captured in a metaphor, the "spiritual" survival of the material brain (cf. the Stoic "pneuma") ! The endlessness of the brain is the recurrent process of recycling.

Does the mind have a beginning ? Has it an end ? When the efficient & final causations of the brain end, the efficient causation of instances, durations, moments of consciousness, the thrust of one instantiation of mind following another instantiation of mind, no longer happens in interaction with the brain. But this thrust is not dependent of this. Perhaps the interaction with the brain slowed the mind down, making it adapt to the sluggish nature of inertia ? When the functional relationship between both ends, mind as it were "steps out of the vehicle" and follows the thrust of its own domain of actual occasions, its own individualized mindstream. If this is the case, then there is no first moment of mind and no last moment of mind. As on a line, both beginning and end stretch into infinity, and only a series of moments on a line pertain.

The end of the mind's communication with its brain, is like an adult departing from a parent or a grandparent. A lifespan of intimacy with the brain and its body is "collected". It became part of the information giving form & order to the inner structure of the mind. Could it be that having lost its physical body, consciousness "projects" an ideal body (based on the gathered information) as an imaginal body, with physical, emotional, volitional & mental features ? Is this dream-body serving as vehicle for the disembodied mind ? This conjecture leads to the "material" survival of the mind. As unity of conscious experience is the core business of the mind, this survival implies an individualized stream of consciousness, no longer an empirical ego, the mere "earthly" caretaker of moments of volatile mind/brain interaction, but a spiritual self.

10. Suggestology.

Suggestion is a mental operation inducing changes in the body & the brain. When this mental operation involves using physical aggregates to embody suggested contents, a "placebo" is at hand. This takes the form of a healing object or a substance to be consumed.

"Lord, I am not worthy to receive You under my roof, but only say the word and my servant shall be healed."
Gospel of Mathew, 8:8.

o establish the efficacy of pharmacotherapy as a meaningful alternative, the medical profession uses a 30% "placebo threshold"  (ca. 30% of medical interventions work only due to expectancy). How this happens is not further explained. In fact, this 30% threshold may well be an average suggestibility level one could optimalize by seeking individual criteria. Of course, this would imply integrating the mind within medicine, leading to a medical profession seeking to optimalize downward causation, before administering "hard" chemical compounds. At present, this runs against the commercial interests of the contemporary pharmacological industry and their "media" (money & power).

Hypnotherapy, based on suggestion, may produces significant symptom reduction or accelerate healing (well over 30% of cases). Simply subjective expectations cannot account this. There is more going one than mere susceptibility. The "placebo effect" can be seen "at work" via neuroimaging. Mental objects and functions, properly induced, may cause changes in the immune system and in neuronal states. These changes then take effect in the whole body. Suggestion, one of the cornerstones of successful education, is therefore the "locus typicus" of downward causation. Instead of neglecting using the mind, suggestology should empower the medical profession. Another example of how a too narrow metaphysical background (in this case materialism & physicalism) limits the development of knowledge.

The Bulgarian psychotherapist Georgi Lozanov, defines "suggestology" as "a science for developing different non-manipulative and non-hypnotic methods for teaching/learning of foreign languages and other subjects for every age-group on the level of reserve (potential, unused) capacities of the brain/mind." (www.lozanov.hit.bg). In the context of the present neurophilosophical study, the word "suggestology" takes a different broader meaning, one focusing on the power of suggestion as a tool to change physical and mental processes by means of mind-to-mind and mind-to-brain manipulations. The latter are an example of "downward causation", the ability of the mind to alter the brain. Insofar as this knowledge of how to successfully suggest constructive change is applied to learning and education, the word "suggestopedia" will be used.

Mind-to-mind manipulation is two-tiered : either a mind implants a suggestive command to the same mind (auto-suggestion) or another mind does so (suggestion). Likewise, mind-to-brain manipulations either involve the same person influencing his or her own brain or another doing it. These procedures may be enhanced by biofeedback, monitoring when the best physiological window of approach is available (GSR measures relaxation, HRV measures coherence of the electromagnetic field produced by the heart, and EEG allows to determine the presence of Beta, Alpha, Theta & Delta-waves, and train the trance-entry & trance-abiding frequencies). Biofeedback also offers the possibility to train certain physiological states, increasing the likelihood of the presence of a set of physiological conditions empowering the impact of (auto)suggestion (scripting).

The crux of the matter is the functional interaction between two distinct but not different  individualized societies of actual occasions : the brain and the mind. Considered two-ways, states of mind influence the physical characteristics of the body and the brain and biological conditions of the body influence states of mind. To insist there can be no downward causation from the mind to the brain is not the outcome of an analysis of the ontic distinctness of both societies, but of their supposed ontological difference, a view backed by the closedness of the material domain, satisfying the first law of thermodynamics, energy-conservation. Such a difference presupposes a ontological rift between brain and mind.

Stemming from Descartes (and Plato), this outdated difference is a non-issue in process thought. Firstly because there are no substances, for things are what they do, and secondly because panexperientialism is a monism. Of course historically speaking, Descartes' physics of push- and pull, nor Newton's gravitational interactionism were sophisticated enough to explain the functional interactionism between these two distinct occasions. Descartes decided for the pineal gland because he was seeking a place so sensitive a small push could alter its condition. This change in condition would then be the first cause of a efficient, material chain. In this very sensitive area, so he assumed, interaction could take place. This "intuition" of his did not backfire, for even today one may ask how non-physical occasions may alter physical occasions, and look for a condition smaller than allowed for under quantum-mechanical uncertainty ...

The first step in a broader conceptualization of the categories of fundamental physical objects, came with the characterization of electricity & magnetism. Indeed, since Maxwell the idea of "field" entered the conceptual apparatus of physics. Place & momentum of the object "electromagnetic field" could be calculated using four partial differential equations. With the notion of "field", the classical (Newtonian) set of fundamental physical objects finally contained more than merely pushing objects (Descartes) & interacting objects (Newton, Leibniz), but also spatially diffused objects (Maxwell). But in the context of Newtonianism, these objects were measured with certain standards, using an absolute spatiotemporal frame and a continuity-hypothesis. An absolute observer existed and Nature did not exhibit fundamental discontinuities (cf. the role of the ether medium). They could still be visualized.

In the XXth century, the physics of the very large and the very small, rejecting absolute space, absolute time and embracing a quantized Nature, added two more fundamental physical objects : those travelling at very high speeds and those extremely small. They call for a relativistic & probabilistic formalism. The smallest material objects (subatomic particles, atoms) are probabilistic and the fastest are spatiotemporally relative (whether they are particles or galaxies). In his philosophy of physics, Popper expanded the notion of "probability" to "propensity", and conjectured the existence of non-physical propensity-fields (m = 0) able to kick in physical rearrangements between material occurrences. These fields explain how final causation (information & consciousness, i.e. available data, probability & a decision) enters the ocean of efficient causation by deciding and thus superimposing the propensity-field corresponding to this conscious choice on what follows.

What distinguishes making noise from sounding music ? The first is a mere "vacuous" repetition of the same, unable to introduce hierarchy, meaningful interactions between hierarchies and all the other subtle and very subtle features between occasions in process. Contrary to noise, music is the flow of well-formed sound, allowing, by careful choice and very subtle modulation, an endless variety of timbres, expressions, styles, etc. Every note condenses a conscious choice, breathing it to the next, and so directly influencing the subtle & very subtle expression of the whole. The joint creativity of all players, performs the symphony of the infinite sphere of all occasions.

10.1 The Power of Suggestion.

In a very general way, psychology defines "suggestion" as the process of inducing a thought, feeling, need, state of mind or action in a receptive person and this without using persuasion and without giving rise to reflection in the recipient. A suggestion is successful if and only if after induction the desired effect has been realized in the recipient. Defining suggestion as a process makes it possible to analyze it in terms of successive moments or instances. As several types of suggestions are at hand, we should first establish a common ground. Let this be the waking state of mind.

Waking suggestion is the process of induction in the waking state in the absence of causing a hypnotic state or a deep trance. These suggestions are given in precisely the same way as "hypnotic suggestions", i.e. suggestions given when the person is in a state of hypnosis, and may also produce strong effects. Although many theories about increasing the effectiveness of suggestion are available, a few common points emerge :

● Coupling suggestion with emotion drives them much deeper and adds power to them. This implies one has to know what specific emotions to use for each subject.
● Wording suggestions in the active present increases their potential.
● Custom-made suggestions are far more effective than a run-of-the-mill script. Again, one has to know what to customize in order to be effective.
● Repeating suggestions has a cumulative effect.

If suggestions are given without the person noticing them and/or without having told they would be given, they are subliminal. If they occur in the specific context of hypnosis (from the Greek word "hypnos", or "sleep" + "-osis" or "condition"), then they are hypnotic suggestions. With hypnosis, the subject is brought in a wakeful state of diminished peripheral awareness but focused attention and heightened suggestibility. This state is usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction, which is commonly composed of a series of instructions and suggestions. Used in the context of healing, this becomes hypnotherapy. The hypnotic state is not to be identified with trance per se, for the latter denotes a variety of processes, involving ecstasy & altered states of mind, occurring involuntarily or not. The word "trance" is from the Latin verb "transire", or "to cross, pass over". The homonym "entrance" as a verb and noun points to trance as a threshold, a conduit, a portal and/or a channel. As hypnosis also involves a transition from waking to hypnotic state, it also contains elements of trance. But a full-blown trance (or deep trance) is more like a form of rapture, confronting the mind with another kind of reality altogether (as in Shamanism & mysticism).

From a neurophilosophical point of view, let us define a successful suggestion as one addressing, soliciting and bringing about the concert of the three aspects of the one mind. Intending to work with them is addressing their existence. Interacting with each in a proper way is soliciting them. Aligning them triggers their unison. What I would like to call the "Three Minds Suggestion" addresses the verbal, the sentient and the guarding aspect of the mind.

To understand what is meant, let us associate these three functional aspects of the one mind with their executive physical areas, namely the brain, the heart and the intestines. The presence of independent neurons in the heart and in the intestines has recently been attested. The heart has a "little brain", with a two-way communication between the heart and the brain, influencing each other. The same seems to be true between the immune system and the gut, pointing to three "brains" : one located in the head, one in the heart area (heart & Plexus Solaris) and one in the gut (navel area). This division is in harmony with the anatomical features of the Autonomous Nervous System (ANS), functioning outside the control of conscious will.

Three distinct clusterings of neurons can be identified : cranial (upper), thoracolumbar (middle) and sacral (lower or caudal). The middle component makes up the bulk of the sympathetic nervous system, whereas the cranial and sacral component is parasympathetic, with axons projecting in nerves arising from either extreme of the CNS. The tenth cranial nerve, the vagus, contains the largest parasympathetic efferent neuronal outflow from the brain, as well as a sizeable number of afferent neurons, connected to the sensors of the internal organs. This "great wanderer" courses through the thorax into the abdomen, innervating many tissues throughout the body.

Taoism clearly makes this distinction, poetically referring to these aspects of mind as "Elixir Fields" (Lower, Middle and Higher) and the "Three Treasures" (Body, Mind & Spirit). Indeed, t
he traditional way Taoists investigate Ch'i (or lifeforce) in the human system, is to explain the difference between Body Ch'i, Mind Ch'i and Spirit Ch'i, the Three Treasures (Jing, Ch'i & Shen).

Body Ch'i is "jing", productive energy. It is the most subtle aspect of the physical system, equivalent to neurotransmitters, hormones, DNA, sperm and egg. The body is local, material and operates through physiological interactions.
Mind Ch'i is simply called "ch'i" or lifeforce and refers to the psychological system. Mind Ch'i is somewhat local, immaterial and works through memory, emotions, thoughts, intuition & creativity.
Spirit Ch'i is "shen", spiritual energy, is transcendent, non-local & boundless. Being perfect, it is completely healthy, now and forever. It is used to help heal the mind and the body. It merges with the Tao.

Each of these Treasures is associated with a physical "Elixir Field". In Chinese, "Tan T'ien" means "Elixir Field". It is a place where the energies of our own body, of the Earth, nature & the universe come together. These fields interact with the
neuronal clusterings mentioned above (the cranial, thoracolumbar & sacral).

the Lower Elixir Field (Earth Treasure) : situated between the navel, the "kidney center point" or "gate of life" (in the spine between the second and third lumbar) and the prostate gland (top of cervix between the ovaries), this Elixir Field is the center of the physical body and its strength. It is also called "medicine field", "ocean of Ch'i", "sea of energy", "cauldron" or "navel center". Associated with the "jing", the productive energy of the physical system, and the Body Ch'i, it serves as the source of the lifeforce or "ch'i", related to the Mind Ch'i.
the Middle Elixir Field (Life Treasure) : situated around the heart area and the Plexus Solaris, this field has as main task to collect, store, calm and refine the lifeforce ("ch'i") mainly resulting from the transformation of refined productive energy ("jing"), but also from food & air. This heart Elixir Field is the residence of consciousness. In Chinese, the concepts "mind" and "heart" are not differentiated. The concept "xin" (pronounced "shin") embraces both and so we may say it is the mind of the heart or "Heart-Mind". The Chinese characters for "thinking", "thought", "intent", "virtue", "listen" and "love" include the character for "heart". This reminds us of the all-embracing influence of the heart in Ancient Egyptian life & afterlife. The Life Treasure Elixir heals affective and mental disorders. To work with this Elixir Field may well be the central key of spiritual growth, for when the Mind Ch'i is clear, the spirit ("shen") is revealed and a total integration happens, creating balance and radiation ("Jing Shen").
the Higher Elixir Field (Heaven Treasure) : situated between the brows, this "Tan T'ien" collects, stores, calms and refines the Mind Ch'i or "ch'i" rising from the Middle Elixir Field. Here Mind Ch'i is transformed into spiritual energy ("shen") and then integrated in the primordial, universal Ch'i of the Tao itself. The mind is emptied of concepts (the monkey mind is made dormant, ending all word- and picture-thoughts, and the duality of subject & object is gone.

So far Taoism. Translating, designate three aspects of mind to be associated with the cranial, thoracolumbar & sacral areas in the body characterized by major, independent neuronal activity : the central nervous system (CNS) or brain, the heart and the intestines (cf. The Window of the Good Heart, 2009).

waking mind
monkey mind
conscious mind
intentional mind
instinctual mind
from word thoughts to observation integrating observation, gut-feeling and intent from instinctual to iconic feeling

The specific task of the head-brain consists in computing conceptual thought, designating labels to inner and outer phenomena. By doing so the fundamental impermanence of events is halted and concealed by the illusion of ipseity, own-power or selfhood, attributing inherent, independent existence to sensate and mental objects. The root cause of ignorance and of all our afflictive states is therefore to be found in this head-brain and the co-relative states of mind computed (processed) by it, i.e. word-thought (and in a lesser degree picture-thought). This is called the "monkey-mind" because it jumps from object to object, grasping these with the ignorant superimposition of inherent, substantial existence. Never satisfied and very active, it cannot be satiated. To render it dormant, it must be keep busy doing an exhausting task.

The pivotal construction computed by the monkey-mind of the head-brain is the sense to inherently possess an empirical ego, an "I" identifying with sensate states (I see, I hear, I touch, I smell, I taste), volitional states (I do, I don't do, I remain indifferent), affective states (I feel good, bad, neutral) and mental states (I think this-or-that). This empirical ego is reified into a monolith at the center of consciousness, but is not consciousness itself. The end of the monkey-mind turns the waking mind into a watchtower, merely observing something is there, nothing more, not generating judgments, appreciations, condemnations, laudations, etc. Adding nothing and eliminating nothing, a mere interconnected stream of actual occasions is observed. This is wakefulness.

A successful suggestion is impossible as long as this monkey-mind, jumping from this-to-that, is not silenced and the role of the upper, conceptual mind not reduced to that of a mere observer.

The specific task of the gut-brain is acquiring information about the immediate, mediate and general environment. It is a kind of wordless "radar" brain, extracting information involving the overall security and survival capacities of the system. It does not operate with symbols, but with signals and (simple) icons. Silencing the monkey-mind bring about a calmness, an absence of word-thoughts & picture-thoughts. This is like an open space created to successfully implant the suggestion. But is the area secure ? As long as the gut-brain does not issue an "ok" signal, openness is not coupled with inner receptivity. The filters cannot be on high alert. A relaxed mode (a rest and digest response) is necessary. So the radar screen of the gut must not detect any dangerous unidentified object. This relaxation is generated as a function of the trust the suggester has in his or her abilities. The instinctive mind, measuring hierarchy, automatically responds to self-reliance, authority & good management. Without the aura of professionalism, the gut-mind cannot be tricked. In autosuggestion, the question is more of creating a suitable environment. This relaxes the gut-mind and turns higher receptivity back on.

A successful suggestion is impossible if the gut-brain feels insecure, forced to defend itself against what is perceived as a possible threat.

• The specific task of the heart-brain involves integrating & harmonizing the messages received by the head-brain and the gut-brain. It accepts them, compares them and then balances them. Here real sentience or consciousness appears (I am aware of myself). This is felt rather than conceptually known (trying to do so generates the monkey-ego). The field of consciousness if felt as a wordless kind of prehension of the totality of one's existence, defining one's overall wellbeing, happiness, joy and potential to love and be loved.  Conscious choice emerges out of this field, intimately linking it with conscience & intention.

The heart-brain has two operational levels : a subtle level based on attraction, repulsion and neutrality (used to deal with head & gut) and a very subtle level of superconscious states of mind (envolved in the direct experience of the process-nature of all phenomena, the so-called "Clear Light" of the mind).

"... for what the natural light shows to be true can be in no degree doubtful ..."
Descartes : Meditations, III.9, my italics.

The heart-brain has two dynamic states : a coherent state, allowing it to embrace the totality of the field of consciousness, integrating and balancing out all objects appearing in this mirror of consciousness, and an incoherent state, reflecting conflicts between the three brains and an absence of alignment, causing stress.

A successful suggestion is impossible if the heart-mind is not coherent (all-embracing), pulled as it were between concepts (brain) and gut-feelings (intestines).

So the Three Minds Suggestion must first prove the content of the suggestion to be no threat. This can be done by showing it eliminates obvious harms, like suffering, danger or enemies. This disarms the gut-mind, no longer blocking higher sensitivity. After having first tricked the monkey-mind into doing some silencing work, making the head-mind merely observant, the suggestion is then repeated. This allows the brain to mindfully witness what is being suggested without adding anything to it (and thus altering it). Finally, a third repetition is directed to the heart, allowing it to integrate the induction. This is done by coupling the suggestion with happiness, well-being and peace.

10.2 Spiritual Paths of Suggestion ?

Let us broadly define "spirituality" as "living with the Divine spirit", the most subtle aspect of human consciousness. This life stretches from living in the absolute, to profound & everyday mystical experiences, over deep religious experiences, to common spirito-communal feelings & the repeated awe felt in the face of the wonders of Nature.

In most organized spiritual paths, i.e. in world religions like Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity & Islam, this existence with "the Divine spirit" results from salvation, bringing about the positive state of "being saved", at least implying one is preserved from harm. Organized religions, spiritual communities, lodges etc. each develop their own ideology & traditions. The five world religions were founded by mystics, and then made "sacred" and eternalized by their companions & followers. Not the seers of India, nor Abraham, Jacob & Moses, Gautama, Jesus or Muhammad wrote down the revelation they got ! This happened after they stopped having direct physical influence, i.e. by others !

Studying and comparing the religious superstructures built upon the spiritual experiences of these founding mystics, one indeed finds a "nugget of gold" they all share : a longing for peace ! Indeed, overall differences and conflicts animate the interactions between them, often causing terrible, devastating and merciless wars. Given the static nature of the ideological framework invented to organize the mass of believers, contemporary "interfaith dialogues" seldomly touch fundamental issues, circumventing them to focus on matters of social & economical organization, trying, at grass root level, to keep the obvious conflicts at bay. An organized interfaith debate is absent. Moral issues replace the fundamental point, namely the nature of the Divine. As humanism proves, morality has no need for a revealed Deity. The role of religious systems as moral safeguards is over. Lots of good people do not adhere to the God of Abraham. Lots of good people do not adhere to the Divine, in whatever form. Thinking this over, leads to the question of the necessity of the proposed model of the Divine ? This remains undebated. For discussing dogmatic differences only lead to conflicts ... The role of clearly understanding the true rapport between humanity and the Divine is subjugated to the historical intactness of the "magister fidei", whatever it says.

An obvious example : How can a discussion between Christianity & Islam on basic tenets be possible ? For Christianity (put aside the hermeneutical problems regarding the authenticity of this tenet), the Divine, "Son of God" status of Jesus of Nazareth is the most important salvic issue (cf. Christology & Christocentrism in orthodoxy). If Jesus Christ is not God-the-Son, then He cannot have saved us, which He did. In Islam, the "no second" doctrine is implied by its first pillar of submission, the "shahadah" : "there is no God but God". Logic is clear : either God has a Son or God has no son. Either Jesus Christ is just an exceptional human being (a "prophet" as Islam claims), or Jesus Christ is more than just a very good human being, He is "God" in the same essential way as the Father and the Holy Spirit are "God" (cf. Trinitarism accepted by all branches of Christianity). It can't be the case both ways. If God-the-Father has Jesus Christ as His Only Son, then "God-the-Father" is not the "Allâh" of the Koran. Not only would to claim so be illogical, but even unarguable, for a radically different use of the words "God-the-Father" and "Allâh" emerges, as well as a different salvic intent, the core-business of religious organizations. Let us add a Hindu to this debate. His religion multiplies the possible theophanies of the One Deity ("Brahman"), introducing a dazzling henotheism. Bring the issue before a Buddhist, and the very nature of the object, the Deity, becomes the issue, no longer how this is viewed (singular or plural, on the basis of this-or-that sacred "revealed" text.

Can one discuss all of this without infuriating dogmatic thinkers ? At the end of the day, what is the truth of the matter ? This question philosophy pursues. But here religious organisations return the believer to him or herself. Perhaps this is how it should have remained from the start ...

To better grasp the issue, study (a) the emergence of traditions in general and (b) the way specific religious traditions are generated. A sketch.

The Emergence of a Tradition

Given are :

  • sensations s in time & space happening to a subject x with mindgrid mg ;

  • a singular, differential sensation s of a particular fact f by x or s(x)f ;

  • a string of differential sensations P of facts f, f', f"... f n over time (.dt) by x or P(x)f.dt = s(x)ft1, s(x)f' t2, s(x)f"t3 ... s(x)f ntn+1

  • an ungoing process of sensations over time (.dt), shaping a perception-bank B concerning P(x)f.dt or BP(x)f (1 ... n).dt.

Let concept C be a mental construct.

(1) Each s(x)f is an elemental building block of C :

In s(x)f, f is not written as f(x), for no fact can be totally subjectified. A fact is always about something (extra-mental). The more symmetrical & free the multiple & varied intersubjective discourses are, the better a consensual interpretation of facts ensues (intra-subjective). A fact is always theory-laden. No fact can be totally deobjectified or desubjectified (cf. Clearings, 2006).

(2) Hence, s(x)f depends on fact f and the mindgrid mg of x or s(x)f = mg(x)f which also applies to (a) a string of sensations with co-relative mindgrids : P(x)f.dt = mg (x1)f, mg' (
x2)f', ... mgn (xn+1)f n and (b), over time, a perception-bank : BP(x)f (1 ... n).dt.

(3) The generalization C arrived at by a particular subject x on the basis of the given perception-bank BP(x)f
(1 ... n).dt  is a general notion combined over time.  As it is not logically possible to justify when the jump from the particular to the universal is to be made lawfully, the logical genesis of the concept remains a priori incomplete. Comparison (i.e. convention) alone explains why singular sensations become strings. The only know direct singular instances, nothing more. Hence, even valid conceptual knowledge is provisional, relative, fallible, historical, impermanent and transient. What can we do more than consider it, for the time being, as valid and so certain to a certain degree and for all practice purposes ... ? (cf. Clearings, 2006).

(4) The original concept C is communicated to other subjects and confronted with other people's sensations of facts. This is the open, intersubjective community of sign-interpreters and symbol-generators. Through dialogue & argumentation a  string of consensual, intersubjective concepts C
(1 ... n) regarding BP(x)f (1 ... n).dt arises.  These weave into the history of science and philosophy and all known informational (mental) objects. The movement from C to C', C" ... C n is the evolution of a concept. If the process of sensation stops, the evolution is halted and gradually the original meaning of the original C withers. The concept is polluted and finally totally petrified & sclerotized.

(5) Over a period of time, the process of ungoing sensations coupled with quasi permanent intersubjective confrontations define a constellation of consensual general notions C
(1 ... n) forming a tradition. These are institutionalized thought-forms and excellent expert-systems. But the ultimate tradition is not found in the world or in spirito-social organizations, despite how beneficial these may be to a lot. Each individual being unique, the land of truth of each sentient being is pathless.

The Emergence of a Religious Dogma

The basic mysticological rule is consistent with the direct experience of radical otherness,  purifying, actionalizing (integrating) and totalizing this "life with the Divine spirit". Some of the features of this direct spiritual experience are universal, irrespective of their superstructuring into a religious ideology.

a human subject < >> the Divine (!)

< or :
(1) in 4 nominal dimensions of space-time aspiring to transcend (cf. "ascendat oratio") ;
(2) only an initiatoric procedure exists without an adjacent probable ;

On the one hand there is a spiritual longing and a traditional "method" accepted as a valid way to communicate with the Divine.

>> or :
(1) more than 4 dimensions of space-time answering the call (cf. "descendat gratia")
(2) the subjective answer has objective validity ;

On the other hand there is a supernatural event (a higher-order nexus of actual occasions) identified as "Divine".

< >> or :
(1) direct, immediate, individual experience
(2) purifying, actionalizing, totalizing, but in essence ineffable & paradoxal
! : this rule is coherent

The set of rules invented by the theologers :

(1) a human subject = founder < >> the Divine (!)

Here we have the case of a mystic founding a new religion.

(2) the founder(s) = the sacred symbol (?)
(3) believers < the sacred symbol >> the Divine (??)

? : this rule is questionable but acceptable
?? : this rule is questionable & unacceptable, for incoherent

Ideally, the authentic elocutions & actions of a founding mystic (1) become the sacred symbols of the tradition initiated by the first direct witnesses or companions of the founder (2). These symbols encompass a model of the world, a theory on man, ethics & the afterlife and a salvic road, defined as the "right path". This superstructuring is also and always spirito-political, i.e. meant to organize the mass of believers then and there. Finally, this led to indoctrination, suppresion of free study and hallucinating "our Lord" instead of inviting "my Lord" (cf. Ibn al-'Arabi). Mostly, and this within a couple of centuries after the founder's death, a large number of texts, "traditions" and sectarian beliefs see the light. At some point, some texts, and "traditions" are canonized, and a real "sacred" tradition ensues. A lot of this may be purely legendary & mythical. Canonizing certain texts leads to banishing heretical texts as wrong choices. The war of the words ensues. Apparently the West has shed enough blood over words. Conflicts are solved by constant compromize & slowly changing conventions. Historically, the "sacred" traditional testimony is always questionable because quickly after a founder's physical death corruption occures, redundancy & conflicts rises, schisms are proclaimed & battles unleached. The exact details of what happens can not be traced. Especially the "religions of the book" (Judaism, Christianity & Islam), promoting a revealed tradition (one set in place for ever and ever by the God of Abraham), face the hermeneutical problem founding fathers like Jesus and Muhammed wrote not a single letter of their sacred text, the pivot in any revealed religion.

Traditions are collective phenomena, whereas spirituality is personal. Religious organizations are public, while authentic encounter with the Divine spirit are private and hidden. Salvation is within, not without. No doubt, this direct experience can be shared, as monasticism evidences, but a community does not replace mystic experience, the extraordinary direct encounter with radical otherness in the deepest and most subtle confines of the spirit of consciousness. Touching the most intimate core of a conscious unity of experience, the awareness of a differential-point-in-process, the Divine becomes a datum of experience.

Studying the cognitive manipulations of mystics, we discover a common procedure at work in their theological superstructures, one in which suggestion is amply present. In the monotheisms, this mystical ideology, it must be said, often conflicted with the fundamental theologies based on the correct exegesis of the "sacred" texts. The latter stressed the difference between common man and God, whereas the mystics bridged the gap. In monotheism, it happened that mystics testifying to have united with the essence of the Divine, were persecuted and/or executed, their work condemned (cf. Jan of Ruusbroec). But it also occurred they could freely express themselves (cf. Beatrice of Nazareth).

In the Three Minds Suggestion used in mystical traditions, i.e. the operational ideologies dealing with the direct experience of the Divine, the threat is first identified : fallen nature, original sin, temptation, suffering, cyclic existence, negative karma, the devil, death etc. From this core danger one seeks to be saved, at least protected against. The gut-brain is addressed. By neatly defining what is the greatest survival-threat, the proposed salvic procedure assumes a higher iconic status, one radiating more trust. To eliminate the threat, the procedure, ritual or gesture invokes a sacred symbol, a sacred word, a sacred form (icon) and/or a special signal.

Inventing a sacred symbol (designating it using a basis of designation) is a head-brain procedure, involving the fusion of a word-thought and an image-thought. The monkey-brain is silenced by introducing a ritual gesture embodying the meaning of the sacred symbol. This is strongly impregnated upon the mindstream (initiation), maintained (through daily, monthly & yearly repetitions), and given an itinerary (rites of passage). Running the imperative logic of the ritual based on "revealed text" and "symbolic images", exhausts the money-brain, bores it to sleep, making the conceptual mind merely observant. At this point (after the law), the "grace" of the relatedness of the heart (very much connected with the limbic system and the right hemisphere) is brought into play, for freedom from suffering is the hope of salvation.

This relatedness is thanks to a Deity or Deities, a teacher (like the Buddha), a convenant with the Sole God, a Saviour, a series of prophets or a personal mystic "interphase" with the Divine, one's own spirito-surreal "psychic mechanism" or "spirit-automatism". Traditional Christian & Muslim theologies project the ultimate relatedness with the Divine in the afterlife, while Hinduism & Buddhism do not exclude a this-life spiritual realization, liberation or awakening (Judaism does not either, but this Jubilee of Jubilees begins with the coming of the Messiah).

These suggestological features of mystical & religious experiences, explain why religious language is a very powerful suggestive tool, as well as a treasure-house of suggestive scripts. Understanding the semantic fields operated by each religion allows one to grasp how the mystics used this language to induce a direct experience of the Divine. How they worked with the three aspects of the mind to bring about the "one mind".

How can suggestion help the spiritual emancipation of the individual ? Is there a specific surreal "psychic mechanism" for mystical & religious experiences ? Can this be assisted by suggestions ? Which script is the most likely to help ?

Of all traditional world religions, Buddhism and Jainism are truly open to free study. They have no revealed texts and no Divine founder. A Buddha is not a Deity. The "Deities" mentioned in the Buddhadharma are not to be confused with the Western Deities or with the Sole Deity, existing substantially (cf. On the Deity, 2009). They are merely higher meditational states of the Buddha-mind. For a Buddhist, the remark the Buddhadharma is a perfected treasure-house of salvic suggestions has interest. Saying the "technology" ("skillful means" or "upâya"), used in meditation, recitations, rituals & ceremonies, is like a neatly elaborated protocol of autosuggestions is not shocking. Buddhists accept higher states of consciousness to be neurologically correlated. They know these can be identified, monitored & trained. They know wrong views (especially religious ones) obscurate ultimate truth.

"As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it (on a piece of touchstone), so are You to accept my words after examining them and not merely out of regard for me."
Buddha Śâkyamuni, Jñânasara-samuccaya, 31, my italics.

Readers interested in studying how a science of Buddhism may see the light, are referred to : www.bodhi.sofiatopia.org.

Mindful of Willem of Ockham's refusal to explain God using Greek universals, ask whether a wrong view may hamper access to the Divine ? Will spiritual suggestion work irrespective of religious superstructure & ideology ? Can for example a static God be properly worshipped ? How can God entertain any relationship with His Creation if this is only a "relatio rationis", not a real or mutual bond ? If, from the point of view of the world, God is only an object, then no experience of God is possible. The world only contributes to the glory of God, for God is not affected by what happens in the world.

Whitehead rejects this notion.

"So long as the temporal world is conceived as a self-sufficient completion of the creative act, explicable by its derivation from an ultimate principle which is at once eminently real and the umoved mover, from this conclusion there is no escape : the best that we can say of the turmoil is, 'For so he giveth his beloved - sleep.' This is the message of religions of the Buddhistic type, and in some sense it is true."
Whithead, A.N. : Process and Reality, 1929, § 519.

Buddhism too rejects the Greek essentialist view of the Divine. Such a view puts people to sleep. All they are told to do is to be totally passive in the face of God, unable to contribute anything to Him. An encounter "face to Face" is impossible, except to obliterate the creature. God is a Caesar of sorts. An Olympic entity removed from the world. Like Pharaoh, when You meet His Eye, you die. Identify this as the wrong view infesting monotheism since its theologies incorporated Greek substantialism. Again Ockham was right. To multiply the unnecessary complicates the elegance and economy of thought.

Process Philosophy has both a theist and a naturalist wing. The former see God as a major player in the world, accounting for its order, creativity, intelligibility and teleology. The latter explain these in a nature-immanent way, viewing the world as a self-sufficient whole. Whitehead, who belonged to the first group, rejects the unilateral God, embracing a non-substantialist reciprocity between God and the world. For him God, functioning within Nature, guides things into "the creative advance into novelty". For Hartshorne (1987 - 2000), God is a world-separated Being participating experientially in everything happening, resonating with it in "experiential participation" ...

Although the word "Divine" could also have been chosen, an impersonal prejudice would have been implied. The God of Process Philosophy is both impersonal and personal. Sharing many features of the semantic field of the Supreme Being as found in many religions, He differs radically on one crucial point : this God is not a "Substance of substances", but a Divine Process. This God is a He and a She, only for convenience sake addressed as "He", "Him" and "His".

Basic Categories of Process Ontology

All of

actual world real, concrete
actual entities
as Process
the One abstract
actual entity
eternal objects infinite
not actual
merely potential

Besides real, concrete spatiotemporal actual entities, i.e. physical compounds or physical & non-physical societies of actual occasions, Nature also encompasses three abstract formative elements escaping space & time : creativity, eternal objects & God. Creativity is formless, eternal objects are pure possibilities. These are not actual, but merely potential. God however, is actual and escapes the spatiotemporal order. He is an exception.

"God is the principle of concretion ; namely, he is that actual entity from which every temporal concrescence receives that initial aim from which its self-causation starts. That aim determines the initial gradations of relevance of eternal objects for conceptual feelings ; and constitutes the autonomous subject in its primary phase of feeling with its initial conceptual valuations, and with its initial physical purposes."
Whitehead, A.N. : Proces & Reality, § 374.

God is a non-spatiotemporal actual entity giving relevance to the realm of pure possibility in the becoming of the actual world. God, both potential & actual, is the meeting ground of the actual world & pure possibilities. Together, the realm of abstract possibilities and the actual world are all of reality or Nature.

"I suggest the that the answer to the question : 'Why does God initiate processes of collapse ?' is this : This function of the collapse is to simplify. If there was no collapse, each and every interaction would have made the universe immensely more complicated, and this trend toward increasing complexity would have continue unchecked."
Malin, Sh. : "Whitehead and the Collapse of Quantum States.", in : Eastman & Keeton, 2003, p.82.

God is related to the realm of actualities in two ways :

(1) The Primordial Nature of God.

"Viewed as primordial, he is the unlimited conceptual realization of the absolute wealth of potentiality. In this aspect, he is not before all creation, but with all creation."
Whitehead, A.N. : Proces & Reality, § 521.

Among the formative elements, God is an actual entity ; the eternal objects & creativity are not. He belongs to the actual world, they remain merely potential, formative. God is the anterior ground guaranteeing a fraction of all these possibilities enter into the factual becoming of the spatiotemporal world. Without God, nothing of what is possible, can become some actual, concrete thing, change and create (add to reality). The universe, its order and creativity are the result of a certain valuation of possibilities. However, God is not the universe, nor its order (derived from eternal objects) or the creativity at work in actual entities (their final causation entering subsequent efficient causation). All actual occasions, belong to the actual world and are therefore concrete. Among actual occasions, God is the one exception, for He is an abstract actual entity, while creativity & eternal objects are non-actual, formative elements and all other actual entities are concrete.

  • concrete actual entities (the actual world) : all what exists in the world of facts and events, all concrete actual occasions, except God ;

  • abstract actual entity (the abstract) : God as the One is the only abstract actual entity, "the organ of novelty, aiming at intensification", the Artist making a beautiful world more likely ;

  • potential eternal objects (the potential Realm of Possibilities) : selfsame, "pure" forms outside the stream of actual entities, organizing them ;

  • creativity : the formless "matrix" of all things, the principle of the continuous becoming of novel unity and creative advance out of multiplicity, the work of final causation entering subsequent occasions.

Primordially, God is the instance grounding the permanence and continuous novelty characterizing the universe. This primordial nature of God is completely separated from the actual world. For although an actual entity, God's activity is "abstract", namely in the esthetic (artistic) process of merely valuating possibilities, which are no fictions. So God is engaged in the factual becoming of the actual entities, but He should not be conceived as a concrete actual entity, a fact among the facts. His is the sole abstract actual entity.

God's primordial nature is transcendent and does not touch the concrete world. This is God as the Lord of All Possibilities. It offers all events the possibility to constitute themselves. If not, nothing would happen. Possibilities, although highly abstract, are no fictions, and enter concrete entities (cf. Popper's propensity-fields). Although there is no imaginary heavenly (Platonic) museum displaying the statue of David before Michelangelo fashioned it, the latter did not invent the material, the possibility allowing him to do so. So the fact of this formless creativity receiving definite form is attributed to God as Principle of Definiteness. By way of conceptual valuation, God imposes harmony on all endless possibilities, for actuality implies choice & limitation. But as all order is contingent, lots of things always remain possible. Whitehead never speaks of God as the "Creator of the Universe" (too suggestive of the total dependence of the world). The "ideal harmony" is only realized as an abstract virtually, and God is the actual entity bringing this beauty into actuality, turning potential harmony into actual esthetic value. But clashes occur all the time.

Taking into account everything given in the field of existence of all actual events, God's highest purpose for each is for it to contribute to the realization of the purpose of the whole, namely the unity of harmony-in-diversity.

God does not decide, but lures, i.e. makes beauty more likely. There is no efficient causality at work here, but a teleological pull inviting creative advance. Given the circumstances, a tender pressure is present to achieve the highest possible harmony. God is the necessary condition, but not the sufficient condition for events. Classical imperial omnipotence is thus eliminated. But also absolute omniscience. God knows all actual events as actual and all possible (future) events as possible. He does not know all future events as actual. This is a category mistake. God cannot hamper creativity itself. At least in philosophy, giving metaphysical complements to God is relinquished.

God's purpose for each and every event, given all determining conditions, is contributing to the realization of the purpose of the whole universe, the harmony-in-diversity. God is the unique abstract actual entity making it possible for the multiplicity of events to end up in harmony. This aspect of God is permanent, eternal and not linked to time or space. It is a permanent property of reality, resulting in a uni-verse. Call this aspect "Godhead".

(2) The Consequent Nature of God.

Besides being an abstract Godhead, God is also a Divine Consciousness prehending all events. This is His consequent nature. Call this aspect "Lord".

"Love neither rules, nor is it unmoved ; also it is a little oblivious as to morals. It does not look to the future, for it finds its own reward in the immediate present."
Whitehead, A.N. : Proces & Reality, §§ 520 - 521.

God's "consequent nature" is God's concrete, super-conscious presence in the universe, actually being near all possible events and valorizing them to bring out harmony and the purpose of the whole. God, with infinite care, is a tenderness loosing nothing that can and wants to  be saved. Because He is not the universe, not creativity and not concrete, God has not the potential to "intervene" and "set things right" as an Imperator could. But His super-consciousness is everywhere all the time, able to lure new possibilities into actuality, i.e. indirectly promoting certain causal efficiencies effectuating unity and benefitting the whole. God's experience of the world changes. It always grows and can never be given as a closed, finite whole. God is loyal and will never forsake any event.

These two aspects of God, called "primordial" & "consequent", are not two parts or elements, but two ways of dealing with the world. Primordially, God is always offering possibilities and realizing unity and order, and this in all possible worlds. Consequentially, God takes the self-creation of all actual events in this concrete universe into account, considering what they realize of what is made possible. These two ways, initiating & responding, permanent & alternating reflect God's bi-polar approach of the actual world, and of every actual occasion happening in it ...

Although Buddhism is generally regarded as "atheist" or "non-theist", this merely points to the absence of an inherently existing Supreme Being or Beings, not to the rejection of the Divine, a fact easily missed. God as an eternalized supersubstance is rejected, not the existence of a Supreme Being. For Mahâyâna, all Buddhas are Supreme Beings and they all share a common ground Buddhist Tantra allows us to identify with God (giving the Vajrayâna a "monotheist" streak). Indeed, the God of Process Philosophy and Vajrayâna's Âdi-Buddha share core features. Both represent a class of exceptional, unique & dynamic phenomena. God being the sole abstract actual entity, whereas the Âdi-Buddha is the only Buddha to represents the experiential content of the "Dharmakâya", the realm of awakened suchness. This primordial Buddha is also called "Samantabhadra", "He Who Is All-Pervadingly Good", "He Whose Beneficence is Everywhere" or "Vajradhara", "the Dharma-Holder". This ultimate Buddha of Buddhas represents the wisdom of suchness taught & directly experienced by all Buddhas, i.e. the universal living insight into the unity of sameness & difference, the experiential unity of ultimate (genuine) truth (reality) and conventional (apparent) truth (reality).

The God of process is another way to present the three Bodies of the Âdi-Buddha.

The Truth Body of the Âdi-Buddha, the "Dharmakâya" is a formless, undifferentiated, nondual field of creativity, out of which all possibilities may arise. But in itself this Body is unmoved and has no motivational factors to allow the Form Bodies to arise. The latter are "spontaneous" emergences. Likewise, the creative field and God are not causally related. God does not create this field, nor is this field defined by what God wants. Since beginningless time, the Truth Body is given, just as the unlimited field of creativity.

The Form Bodies, in particular the Enjoyment Body ("Sambhogakâya") are ideal forms emerging out of the Truth Body for the sake of compassionate activity. God makes certain definite forms possible by valuating the endless field of creativity using the key of unity & beauty. In Process Philosophy, compassion is subsumed under beauty, for how can ugliness and disorder be compassionate ? The Form Bodies are the two ways the Âdi-Buddha relates to ordinary, apparent events ("samsâra") : the Enjoyment Body is the ideal "form" with which the endless possibilities are given definiteness (God as primordial), while the Emanation Body is the ideal "event" bringing this form down to the plane of physicality and concrete, "luring" Divine consciousness (God as consequent).

It goes without saying differences between both concepts remain. They do belong to entirely different semantic fields. But these correspondences are mentioned to make clear the fundamental conflict between Buddhism and monotheism is not the presence of a Supreme Being, but Divine essentialism, i.e. turning God into an unmoved Mover, a "Substance of substances" ...

10.3 Aqua Magica : Healing with Dyed Water.

"I will please the Lord in the land of the living."
Psalm 114:9.

In the early XIIIth century, "placebo" was the
name given to the Rite of Vespers of the Office of the Dead. It was so called from the opening of the first antiphon, taken from Psalm 114. These prayers intended to please them. Indeed, the future indicative "I shall please" of "placere" ("to please") is "placebo".

Likewise, healers try to please the patient by restoring health. Usually, a direct causal relationship has been established between, on the one hand, medical methods and their application and, on the other hand, their effect on the positive, healing result. If this relationship is unknown, the word "placebo" is used. The "placebo-effect" (as a concept commonplace in medicine since 1784) is
the tendency of any medical treatment, even an inert or ineffective one, to exhibit results simply because the recipient believes it will work. So this is a dummy medicine, one containing no active ingredients, an inert treatment. The antipode of a placebo is a "nocebo" ("I will harm") from the Latin "nocere" ("to harm").

In a materialist frame of mind, placebo's are identified as self-deception. They are supposed to have no "objective" effect. However, this position has become untenable. Placebo's work even if the patient is unaware he or she is given one. They work in severe cases (lack of insulin, cancer tumours). They can even produce the same side-effects "normal" medicines have, provided the patient is aware of these. When the placebo is given by a person in authority firmly convinced of his or her power to heal, the condition of its possible effect has been met. Moreover, this effect can be increased by manipulating format. Very big, very small, colourful or bitter pills enhance the effect. Injections too are very powerful placebo's, especially painful ones. Personal expectations to be healed are not always a contributing factor (while being fearful is). But the confidence radiated by the healer seems determining. For materialism, the placebo is a kind of fraud precisely because it implies downward causation. Those honest enough to accept its existence are forced into incoherent statements, like describing it as a way the brain "manipulates itself". This is nonsensical, for the effect is triggered by the recipient's mental state. The process initiated by the brain to heal itself is a normal healing response, not the placebo effect ! The key issue here is the fact mere suggestion can work.

Let is consider the "art of the placebo", producing measurable physiological responses solely through the use of their verbal competencies. This art actually invites the placebo and tries to optimalize it. This happens by accomplishing two tasks : (a) by suggestive induction, the natural healing capacity of the body is triggered and (b) by repetition, a higher-order competence is put in place.

The first task addresses the immune system. It goes hand in hand with a relaxation response and a coherent electromagnetic heart-field. When the human system is in a coherent mode, increased synchronization happens between the two branches of the ANS, and entrainment between heart rhythms, blood pressure oscillations and respiration is evidenced. These oscillatory subsystems all vibrate at the resonant frequency, which, in humans and many animals, is approximately 0.1 Hz or oscillations in a ten-second cycle.

"Coherence confers a number of benefits to the system in terms of both physiological and psychological functioning. At the physiological level, there is increased efficiency in fluid exchange, filtration and absorption between the capillaries and tissues ; increased ability of the cardiovascular system to adapt to circulatory demands ; and increased temporal synchronization of cells throughout the body. This results in increased system-wide energy efficiency and conservation of metabolic energy. These observations support the link between positive emotions and increased physiological efficiency that may partially explain the growing number of documented correlations between positive emotions, improved health and increased longevity."
McCarty, R. : The Energetic Heart : Bioelectromagnetic Interactions Within and Between People, Institute of HeartMath - Boulder, 2003, p.5.

A coherent mode is a smooth, sine-like pattern in the heart rhythms and a narrow-band, high-amplitude peak in the low frequency range of the HRV (heart rate variability) power spectrum, at a frequency of about 0.1 Hz. A coherent mode reduces the activity of the sympathetic branch of the ANS. This branch speeds heart rate, constricts blood vessels and releases stress hormones like adrenaline, noradrenalin and cortisol. The production of cortisol reduces DHEA production, an essential "vitality" hormone produced by the adrenal glands, reducing aging, stimulating the immune system, lowering the cholesterol levels and promoting bone and muscle deposition.

"A healthy reserve of assets results in vitality, adaptability, resiliency, creativity, and a steady improvement in a healthy quality of life - psychologically and physically. (...) It is not hard to see (...) that people who are typically angry, hostile, and aggressive tend to have increased rates of heart disease and premature death later in life."
Childre & Martin, 1999, pp.94-95.

But when the heart is operating in a disordered mode (low coherence), an incoherent electromagnetic signal is broadcasted throughout the body and out into our milieu.

Repetitio est mater studiorum.
Latin Proverb

"If rewards are withheld or provided immediately following an action, all subsequent behavior can be modified and directed via association or through the pairing of various stimuli (e.g., a bell followed by food) with certain natural responses (e.g. hunger). Even psychotic, criminal, or other type of behavior can be either created or extinguished in this manner. As a form of therapy, this has been referred to a behavior modification."
Joseph, 1992, p.1

The second task is the result of repetition. This builds new neuronal pathways and activates underused networks, strengthening them as they respond to the new demands. This improved competence is not only reflected in self-healing, for this art of pleasing can address many issues, ranging from bad health to all possible mental afflictions. It may also assist spiritual emancipation. The many cyclic processes witnessed in spiritual disciplines, involving countless repetitions, generates a "daemon" or "spiritual entity", one assisting the mind with finding ways to reduce suffering. The frontal explanation given to this ("Shekinah", "jivâtman", "Buddha-nature", "Christ within", "blessing of Allâh" etc.) is of lesser importance than the intimate relationship established between waking consciousness and this "inner voice", suggesting ways to health, happiness and spiritual emancipation.

"As more and more information is assimilated and learned, more and more cells become associated and interlinked, thus enabling mental processing to become more complex and elaborate. (...) By repetition and practice it becomes easier to perform a certain action until it finally becomes like a reflex as it takes very little to trigger a response. Indeed, this is how some habits are formed. Pratice makes perfect."
Joseph, 1992, pp.264-265.

Another aspect of the science & art of suggestion, in particular related to placebo, is the use of a material substrate to boost the process of suggestive induction. From the healing water altars & stelae in Ancient Egypt, the "magic" of Nordic, Greek, Hebrew, Arab, Indian, Tibetan & Chinese talismanology, the salvic "power" of the Christian Eucharist, to the small colourful sugar pills of our medical doctors, suggestions work better when they are associated with a material substrate kept near the body or assimilated by it. The former method brings attention regularly back to this object and what it represents, thereby reinforcing the embodied intent. The latter realizes the most intimate relationship possible, for by consumption the intent is actually "taken in" by the aching body.

So the many methods of "superstition", while having no causal efficiency, may at times possess causal finality. They may influence the mind and its self-determining potential. And let us remember : the only thing really needed for suggestion to work is not the expectancy of the recipient, not his or her degree of gullibility, susceptibility or lack of education, nor his or her belief in the salvic power of this-or-that person or ritual, but the felt authentic belief of the one who administers in what is said ("the incantation"), done ("the ritual activity") and/or given ("the talisman"). A doctor who fails to trigger a placebo effect on his patients better becomes a pathologist ...

Developing ways to empower contemporary incantations, rituals & talismans is the consequence of attributing effective power to downward causation. For if one can fool oneself into health, happiness and spiritual blossoming, why take pills or seek out priests, rabbis, imams, medical doctors or psychotherapists ?

Epilogue : Taking Our Own Power Seriously.

"Therein is the secret of cheerfulness, of depending on no help from without and needing to crave from no man the boon of tranquility. We have to stand upright ourselves, not be set up."
Marcus Aurelius : Meditations, book 3, 5.

We have been disenfranchised. The tools to call in our own spiritual bloom, psycho-mental health or good death have been made dormant. So-called "specialists" have taken over. When we want God to love us we seek out priests, rabbis or imams. If we seek enlightenment, we run after arhats, bodhisattvas or tulku lamas. When we are sick, we go to the medical doctor and expect some "on the spot" treatment to eliminate "the cause" quickly. Likewise, when we are spiteful, hateful, worried, depressed, sad, fearful or angry, we seek out psychological council or psychotherapy. We have learned to stay under the wings of mother- and father figures our whole lives. We have been pampered into leaving others take care. Jiddu Krishnamurti was right saying it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

To this XXth century materialist science has added the disempowering & nonsensical belief we are only a body ruled by conditions & determinations we cannot influence, trapped in the "net" of physical existence by blind chance and deterministic physical process. We are told our conscious life does not really exist and if it does, it cannot alter the "destiny" encoded in our genes, nor the conditioning of our nurture. It all goes from the body to the mind. We ourselves can do nothing. Just as in the good old days of the religious crack-pots, we are made to believe only outer help can save us and make us happy and healthy ; satisfying the gods, belonging to a certain chosen group, consuming Christ, reiterating prayers, etc. If we exist at all, we are supposed to do little more than follow the advice of those intelligent enough to understand the efficient causalities and so capable of assuaging us. Thanks to blind capitalism, our physical and mental condition is bought from economical agents claiming to possess the keys to all kinds of material success. By becoming rich, we impoverish. By only trying to make ourselves happy, we end up crying more.

This sordid picture is slowly changing. The near future will tell whether we are already too late or not. But even in the case of a catastrophic emergency, problems need to be addressed. People are turning to alternative views, more focused on "energy, balance & flow" rather than material substances, manipulations & interventions. A return to a neo-humanistic spirituality is on its way. It becomes clear materialism is a dead end, like jumping on one leg instead of walking. Physicalism is left, for one eye one sees no depth. Meditation and self-help are becoming increasingly important.

The Academia should not lag behind because of a monolithic paradigm, indoctrinate by materialism, physicalism, scientism & reductionism. Lack of free study must be eliminated. Science & philosophy are not the handmaiden of world capitalism. Future costs of wrong decisions are seldomly accurately calculated and usually run extremely high. When the blind lead the blind, all fall into the abyss. Luckily, the historical record shows humanity is able to face its own ignorance and correct it. Even a virulant sceptic like the late Carl Sagan of Cornell University, debunking alien abductions, channelers, faith healers and most other New Age claims, found himself able to accept new evidence and so at least foster the serious study of difficult evidence or peripheral events.

"At the time of writing there are three claims in the ESP field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study : (1) that by thought alone humans can (barely) affect random number generators in computers ; (2) that people under mild sensory deprivation can receive thoughts or images 'projected' at them ; and (3) that young children sometimes report the details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation."
Sagan, C. : The Demon Haunted World, Random House - New York, 1995, p.302.

What does it mean to take ourselves seriously ?

The organic whole of actual occasions, the universal sea of process, extended from the extremely small to the humongous, is both physical and non-physical. Both domains have distinct properties, consisting of actual occasions defined in efficient & final terms. The efficient terms can be identified, following the classical interpretation of physical formalism, as the quantum mechanical collapse, turning potentiality into actuality. But before this collapse, physicality and non-physicality form a potential whole.

The non-physical encompasses two domains, information (the world of embodied & disembodied mental, abstract, theoretical objects, Popper's World 2) and consciousness (the world of the percipient participator endowed with conscious choice and so self-determination, Popper's World 3). The physical (the world of matter, Popper's World 1) is the domain of objects with mass & momentum. By acknowledging these domains, the non-physical is not made part or reduced to matter. Hence, the question of the functional role of the non-physical on the valuation of possible physical outcome, can be posed. This is not only accepting the importance of the non-physical (as some physicalists willingly do), but also stressing downward causation is as important as upward causation. Downward causation is not adding or taking away physical energy (cf. the First Law of Thermodynamics), but merely rearranging physical patterns by way of propensity-fields, who -like photons- have zero mass. This involves decisions & choices influencing the final outcome of certain processes predominantly determined by efficient causation. Especially in highly integrated and complex individualized societies of actual occasions (like the three brains of the human body), where the Butterfly effect is ongoing (cf. Descartes' search for a "sensitive area") and statistical processes abound, can -ex hypothesi- the influence of propensity fields be strong.

The first step in regaining ground for humankind is observing the impact of the mind on the body. The inalienable first person perspective or "reality-for-me" is a real, irreducible and private sense of identity and the seat of intentionality, understood as the confrontation with otherness, but also as a vital inner "prise de conscience". This impact views volition as a nondetermined cause : the superimposition of propensity-fields generated by the mind does not violate physical conservation laws, but co-determines the final momentum of matter & information and this hand in hand with the deterministic evolution of the physically determined vector. This leads to freedom & responsibility, for only because the "I" have (relative) meaning, can "my" body be made accountable for past deeds.

The creative presence of human consciousness on this planet has added to reality and has allowed countless cultural forms to be added to the natural structure of our Solar system. This consciousness is a kind of physical force on its own. It made possible the reflective & reflexive meaning arrived at when the historical process of the ongoingness of being is understood, and wisdom is aspired. Creativity is adding new events to the universal process. This is also an ongoing perishing, for because of their complexity, many societies experience friction, turbulence & conflict. Because the efficient causality of certain processes are not understood and so mismanaged, ecological, economical, social & political catastrophes are unleashed. These wrong valuations have very costly cumulative effects, as climate change shows.

So by accepting the exceptional nature of the human being, one couples freedom (and downward causation) with responsibility (and personhood). The human needing liberation from the chains of organized religions. This was the final outcome of the Age of Enlightenment. Today, we must free ourselves from the chains of materialist, physicalist science, promoting an untrue, decadent caricature of man. This alternative views does not reject evolution (for man's body emerged from ape), but merely acknowledges the irreducible functional distinctness of the mental, of consciousness, of intent, of free choice. Replacing the churches with the science of matter did not entitle materialist science to mimic the church in terms of rejecting stuff ex cathedra. But it did.

Science of matter and science of mind must walk hand in hand. This brings about the greatest scientific revolution of all times. Hear Ye !

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initiated : 07 XII 2009 - last update : 04 VII 2015 - version n°1