Essays, Analyses and Meditations

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Beyond Consciousness

  • Philosophers have routinely assumed that there is matter and there is mind, implying that there is nothing else.
  • We humans have the presumption to think that consciousness is the only thing in the universe that is not material, "qualitative", not measurable.
  • We don't quite know what causes consciousness, but let's assume (with John Searle) that "brains cause minds": but what makes us think that, say, crystals don't cause some other qualitative phenomenon that doesn't have a name because we don't have it? Brains "experience" the material world.
  • Other things may have other kinds of qualitative phenomena that don't belong to the material universe, phenomena for which we don't have a vocabulary because we cannot possibly know that they exist. Trees may not be conscious because they don't have a brain made of neurons, but their structure may yield some other kind of non-material phenomenon.
  • There might well exist an infinite number of non-material phenomena in this universe, one of which is consciousness (caused by brains and only by brains).
  • Brains do not cause all the other non-material phenomena, and therefore brains don't know that all those non-material phenomena exist and that they share the same universe with consciousness.
(See my book on consciousness)