Welcome to mindtheory.net. 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 essence, the theory is as follows:
1. From the physical properties of the mind , it can be concluded that 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 those of the information-processing processes of the brain, it can be concluded that the mind is the composite of information-processing processes of the brain (Figure A). To explain the phenomenon of the mind, therefore, a novel separate entity (Figure B) is not needed.
Because the mind is an information-processing entity, it is an informational entity – an entity that is composed of information and/or information processing; it is 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 those of special kinds of neural process signaling patterns, it can be concluded that qualia are special kinds of neural process signaling patterns. To explain the phenomena of qualia, therefore, no novel separate entities are needed. (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 those of a special kind of reentrant signaling state, it can be concluded that consciousness is a special kind of reentrant signaling state. Like qualia, to explain the phenomena of consciousness, no novel entities are needed – consciousness is just a (special kind of) reentrant signaling state.
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. The fact that qualia and conscious awareness and experiences of the qualia 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, or over the whole brain scatteredly indicates that they are not randomly occurring phenomena but are evolved functions of the nervous system. (Chapter 5 & Chapter 6)
7. 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 have 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. Also, 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.
Similarly, it can be concluded that consciousness (conscious awareness and experiences) has physical effects.
Therefore, qualia and consciousness are evolved neural functions that have physical effects. (Chapter 5 & Chapter 6)
8. Because a function requires resources in building, maintaining, and operating and may have some negative effects, if its overall effects do not help increase the survival chance of the animals that have the function, those animals and the function will become extinct in the evolutionary process. The fact that qualia and consciousness still exist today indicates that they have been selected to remain in the evolutionary process. This means that their overall effects must help increase the survival chance of the species that have them. Qualia and consciousness, in the form that they are: phenomenal qualia and phenomenal consciousness – with phenomenal characteristics, thus are evolved functions to help increase the survival chance of the species, including humans, that have them. This is the scientific answer to the hard problem of consciousness: why and how there is consciousness in the form of phenomenal consciousness. (Chapter 5 & Chapter 6)
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.
N.B. The theory has been published and is available in a hardcover form.
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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