mind is unextended matter

I had a thought the other day which, I suppose, could pass as a rudimentary theory of consciousness. I was thinking of Descartes’ conception of matter as being characterized primarily by extension, and then I started thinking about how many spatial dimensions there are in the universe. They say that the 3 dimension of known space may not be the only ones (time notwithstanding), and that several other dimensions exist but in an “unextended” state (kind of like Oskar Klein’s curled-up dimensions). Well, if matter is defined by extension, then it stands to ask which dimensions it is extended in. Obviously, it seems to be extended in all 3 of the extended space dimensions, but what do we say about its extension in the unextended dimensions?

What I finally said was that if Descartes is right in defining matter as extension, and therefore mind is “unextended”, then perhaps the mind is simply those aspects of the brain which are unextended - that is, those dimensions of the material substance of the brain other than the 3 extended ones.

This is a great theory for monists ironically (ironic because Descartes was the poster boy of dualism), and for materialists. It is a good way of understanding mind as an aspect of matter. It also works well with the seemingly perfect correlation between mental states and brain states - if the extended aspects of our brain go through particular states or activity, the unextended aspects, being intimately connected to the extended states, should undergo corresponding homologuous states or activity.

Anyway, these were just the thoughts I was having the other day. I don’t know if it’ll stick in my mind or not, or whether major flaws will avail themselves sooner or later, but I wanted to post it here to see what other people thought and whether or not I am making serious flaws. So what do you think?

I absolutely agree. “Mind over matter?” more like, “Mind is matter!”

This is why quantum physics has resulted in extreme failures. The scientist is trying to find matter, but where is he looking? He’s looking outside of his own mind. He’s looking outside of his own reality. He’s looking outside of matter, in order to find matter. The scientist is a fool, unknowningly looking for a thing in a place that he cannot find by definition.

Know thyself! Indeed.

Consequently, this is why I loved Spinoza so much. He was/is a fucking genius, among many others.

(I wonder why he wasn’t a woman…?) My mistake, that’s another thread… #-o

The center of the universe exists within the individual and collective selves. It looks to me like Christianity has some Truth to it, despite its shortcomings.

Hi, gib,

A few observations . . ?

What need has a materialist for your hypothesised ‘unextended’ mind? Perhaps it can explain mental phenomena in a way that ‘extended’ matter cannot, but what’s missing on the standard physicalist account, would you say, that your ‘aspect’ theory supplies?

Second, if these aspects you speak of are ‘unextended’, then, by definition, they do not occupy ‘extended’ space as we ordinarily regard it (as 3-dimenstional, like you say). Hence, they can have no location in the world, or in the forest, the White House, or the brain. If the brain did possess such aspects, it would be sensible to ask where they were. But, ex hypothesi, they would not be capable of being anywhere at all.

The alleged correlation between certain brain states and mental phenomena neither has nor needs an explanation in terms of your proposed aspects, nor anything else. The correlation, if it exists, is merely a perceived coincidence or concurrence between two independent chains of events, neither chain being related to the other causally. Of course, if they were, then an explanation of that might be necessary.

You (rightly) mention Descartes’ view, but are you in any better position than he was with regard to explaining the causal link between the mental and the physical using your aspects?

Perhaps you could shed more light on your new theory. I appreciate that it’s only recently occurred to you, and will probably need a lot of refinement.

(A difficulty I have is in seeing how a purely physical account of mind is possible – mainly because I don’t believe there is anything physical!)

Well, admittedly, there are some materialist who believe that the problem of mind and brain can be solved by dismissing mind all rogether (i.e. there just isn’t such a thing), and then there are those who are somehow content to posit that mind just is brain states/activities. These are both absurd, as far as I’m concerned, and needn’t be taken seriously. I do take more seriously (or at least with more respect) those materialists who believe that mind can be reduced to brain states/activity in such a way that we have yet to understand (or may never understand) - at least these materialists understand the difficulty of the problem. My hypothesis is for the latter materialists, for they admit a better understanding is needed. I think the notion that mind is simply the unextended dimensions of matter can help towards this end.

I see where you’re coming from, but I’m not so sure it is sensible to ask this question. It’s kind of like asking where an object’s width is, or its height, etc. Its width and height aren’t in any specific location; its in all places of the object; the object just has width and height. On the other hand, I think it is sensible to ask where specific mental experiences are, like thoughts or emotions, and these have been localized to specific spots in the brain, but this is a question of the particular qualia of mind (which my hypothesis doesn’t account for), not of consciousness in general.

That’s Cartesian dualism, and it suffers a whole boat load of problems.

Yes. I’m way more educated in modern neusoscience and psychology, and I’ve studied much of the philosophy since Descartes, much of which has discreditted his views and made clear some of the basic criteria a thourough and consistent theory of mind would need to meet. These are all things Descartes didn’t know about.

Can you think outside your own views? I mean, can you assess a theory based on its own internal consistency rather than how well it matches up with your own theories or currently accepted facts? I think that’s all that’s required to judge a theory like this. Whether it’s true or not is not something I think can ever be determined.

Sure it can be determined to be true. If it stands the test of time, then you will know.

…you’ll just probably be “dead” before you see it. :laughing:

Hi gib,

I’m not sure how the term ‘unextended matter’ can be given a sense. Does ‘unextended’ sit happily with ‘matter’?

Neither am I sure that a theory that explains phenomena wholly but is, in some respects, implausible, is any worse than one that doesn’t, and claims that it is put on hold until more is discovered.

Also, I imagine that neuroscience will discover more and more about the brain as research goes on; but, as far as I can see, the question of the mind’s relation to the brain is a philosophical, not a scientific one.

Sure, we can ask questions about the brain’s size, mass, constitution in terms of nerve-cells, and so on, but how (using neuroscience) could anything be said about your ‘unextended matter’ that somehow resides in the brain? How could any evidence support your hypothesis? “Well, the unextended matter is there all right, but don’t look for it – by its nature it’s not discoverable”???

I can entertain physicalist theories of mind well enough (as far as my understanding is capable of running) but, as I think they cannot account for the ‘thing’ I call the mind, I reject them. The problem all such accounts face is explaining qualia.

If your unextended matter can be put to that purpose, and the nature of such an entity can be explained, then there might be a lot more to your theory than I give it credit it for.

I’m listening.



if “mind” were something external from brain activity, why would lobotomies work?


Why, indeed. Tinkering with brains leading to affected minds is a problem for any view which has it that minds and brain are separate, as in the case of Cartesian dualism. I can’t see any problem for some form of monism - materialism or idealism, say. I think gib’s new theory looks dualist. Maybe he can clarify by explaining what, if any, properties his ‘unextended matter’ has, if it is not a Cartesian substance (perhaps it is).

Lobotomies work like light bulbs have different watts. Change something in the material of the light bulb less energy is put out. But, it does not mean there is less energy, its just being controlled by how the matter is arranged. Go in and stir someones brain with an icepick you are just hampering the flow not the amount. What was still is it is just not able to be used in the same way.

I like the OP. Where I have a problem is on hearing that mind as an extension of matter is incapable of extension. Or do I hear wrong? I don’t see any end of these material extensions, just movement through domains of growth or development. I firmly reject any concept of natural, physical processes based on schisms among the domains. A physical explanation of mind and spirit is the most rational way of explaining these phenomena available to us.

Start with: there is no such thing as [matter]…

Anti-matter is more “real” than matter ever will be.

That’s like saying electrons are more real than neutrons, black holes are more real than galaxies and fleas are more real than the dog!

No, whatever has the most “mass” is the most “real”, so the flea analogy is out and the galaxy example is a bad comparison.

Not so. You are attempting to show schisms that do not exist, hence your argument can in no way address the interconnected nature of phenomena wherein our only hope of understanding resides. Disconnects are based on pseudoreason in that they open the door to beliefs in the supernatural. Most religions preach such disconnects. Why do you present them here in ersatz scientific guise? Mass doesn’t define reality; presence does.

Not so for you. The experience exists for me. Your world is your own.

We’ll find out how “pseudoreasonable” I am when science discovers anti-matter, or “dark”-matter, when the machine in Europe starts up again…

Prepare to eat your words. I can’t wait to be right!

Can you get beyond which penis is bigger mentality? [-X I doubt it. And being incapable of seeing more than one side of the issue, I doubt anything you can offer would be relevant to the OP. And no divisive options will offer any serious resolution to the stated problem. You’ll be right when a majority of thinking individuals are wrong.

This strikes at the heart of my hypothesis. It is a theory of how unextended matter can be conceptualized - as mind! Sure, it does stretch our traditional conceptions of ‘matter’, but any monist theory worth its salt is going to have to re-conceptualize matter (and mind) to some extent. These aren’t two different ‘things’ or ‘substances’, but two different states (I suppose) for matter/mind to exist in. To say that this is dualism is like saying that radical materialism is dualist because it supposes that all objects have a front and a back.

Who said it was scientific? Who said it was the final word on the subject? It’s strength is not in its verifiability, but in the fact that it makes sense out of a hitherto incomplete monistic picture of the mind that wants an explanation in terms of matter.

It doesn’t explain why a particular qualia would feel the way it does - that is, for example, why cold feels cold or pain feels painful - but it does account for the “unextended” character of qualia quite nicely. If the brain, along its unextended dimensions, is going to take some form, then qualia is a suitable candidate. My thoughts on the particular quality of a particular qualia are that it probably has something to do with what the brain is doing at those locations it has been determined to correspond to.

Thanks for being gentle.

Tell me if my comment to Remark in my last post sheds any light on your comment:

Nom nom nom, grab your catsup Ierrellus.

If we are considering “unextended” as something that is the opposite ‘to extend’. This suggests in the above context the mind does not ‘extend’ an influence on what we decide to do, which for me is ridiculous… our mind determines how our ‘extended physical body’ behaves, whether we decide to run, walk, speak, shiver, cry… a legal term ‘causation’ leads me to raise an interesting question, where does matter stop? are the signals sent from our brain through our bodies instructing them how to react seperate as ‘mind’ from the connection of signal to limb / organ… i believe not, to transfer from A to B a connection is sustained.