This site is the principal site for “The Basic Theory of the Mind”, which is a physical theory about the mind and its phenomena, such as consciousness and qualia. It also involves related matters, including the hard problem of consciousness, different qualia, p-zombies, free will, and determinism. The purpose of this site is to propose ideas about the mind and related matter systematically in the form of a physical theory.
The mind is one thing that has always fascinated and puzzled us. It is the only thing that we can be certain of existing, yet we do not know exactly what it is, why it occurs, and how it occurs. This is in contrast to things outside the mind, such as houses, cars, and even other people, which we cannot be certain that they really exist – they may be just illusions – yet we know what they are, why they occur, and how they occur. Fortunately, we now have a wealth of scientific evidence and concepts that are complete enough to form a theory that can answer this great puzzle.
In summary, the following can be proved with scientific evidence:
1. The mind is part of the functioning brain. It is not a functionally separate entity from the brain, but it is not identical with the brain, either. (Chapter 1)
2. From the physical properties of the mind and of the information-processing processes of the brain, it can be proved that the mind is the information-processing processes of the brain.
To explain the phenomenon of the mind, therefore, a novel entity is not needed; only the correct point of view to see the unobvious part of the obvious entity is (Figure A). The mind is an information-processing entity. It is an informational entity, not a conventional physical entity (or mechanical entity) like mass, energy, or force. That is why it is so different from the conventional physical entities. (Chapter 2)
3. Qualia or mental phenomena that we can consciously experience in our mind, such as the vision of a house, the sound of a song, and the odor of a rose in our mind, are neural-process associated physical phenomena.
They are governed by physical laws and are physically predictable. (Chapter 3 & 4)
4. From the physical properties of qualia and of special kinds of neural process signaling patterns, it can be proved that qualia are special kinds of neural process signaling patterns. To explain the phenomena of qualia, no novel entities are needed. Qualia are just under-recognized parts (the signaling-pattern parts or the informational part) of the well-recognized physical entities (the neural processes). (Chapter 5)
“If we look around and consciously experience the visual qualia occurring right in front of us now, with the fact that the consciousness can experience the visual qualia and that the only things the consciousness neural process is capable of reading are signaling patterns of neural processes, it is inescapable to conclude that we are, in fact, experiencing the signaling patterns of neural processes!”
Because neural process signaling patterns are neural process information, qualia are special kinds of neural process information. Like the mind, they are informational entities, not mechanical entities. (Chapter 5)
5. From the physical properties of consciousness and of a special kind of reentrant signaling state, it can be proved that consciousness is a special kind of reentrant signaling state: it is the composite of all special reentrant signaling states.
Because a neural process signaling state is the neural process information, consciousness is a special kind of neural process information. Like the mind and qualia, consciousness is an informational entity, not a mechanical entity. (Chapter 6)
6. Because a neural process that performs a certain function without qualia occurring and a neural process that performs the same function with qualia occurring have different information in the processes, they require different signaling patterns. Therefore, they have different physical effects on other neural processes, at least from the different effects of different signaling patterns. Qualia thus have physical effects.
In addition, because qualia induce the consciousness neural process to create conscious awareness and experiences of themselves and because the consciousness neural process is a physical process, qualia cause changes in a physical process and thus have physical effects.
It can be proved similarly that consciousness (conscious awareness and experiences) has physical effects. (Chapter 5 & 6)
7. The fact that qualia and conscious awareness and experiences of them occur in only the final-stage sensory perception and the highest-level cognitive and executive neural processes, which are the latest-evolved neural processes, and never occur in more primitive neural processes, such as the brainstem, cerebellum, and basal ganglia, indicates that they are results of nervous system evolution. (Chapter 5 & Chapter 6)
8. The fact that it took more than two billion years after life had appeared on earth and hundreds of millions of years after the nervous system had developed before neural processes that were advanced enough to create qualia and consciousness could emerge into existence also means that qualia and consciousness came into existence because of no other cause than evolution. (Chapter 5 & Chapter 6)
9. The fact that qualia and consciousness still exist today indicates that they have been selected to remain in the evolutionary process. This means that they must have effects that help increase the chance of survival of animals that have them. Qualia and consciousness thus are the evolved functions to help increase the chance of survival of animals, including humans, that have them. (Chapter 5 & 6)
The mind, qualia, and consciousness are just evolved informational entities to help increase the chance of survival.
Therefore, “we” are here to increase the chance of our own survival
… and our own species.
“You” are here to increase the chance of your own survival
… and your own species.
The above summarizes the principal concepts of the theory but is just part of the theory. Other subjects of the theory include subsidiary theories, different qualia, p-zombies, self, free will, and determinism. The complete content of this site consists of Preface, Introduction and Definitions, Chapter 1 to 12, Conclusions, and Glossary.
Keywords: Mind, consciousness, qualia, the hard problem of consciousness
N.B. The hard problem of consciousness is answered in items 5 to 9.
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