Preface to the First Edition
The mind has always been a great puzzle for those who try to comprehend it. What is it? Is it a separate entity from the brain, or are they the same entity? Why are there the mind, the consciousness, and the phenomena called qualia? What is the purpose of having them in this universe? How do they occur? And many other questions.
Fortunately, for centuries, a lot of neuroscientists and other scientists and researchers in related fields have gathered a lot of information related to these questions, and they and many philosophers have formed a lot of useful ideas and theories regarding these questions. So, we now have a wealth of scientific evidence and concepts that are complete enough to form a theory that can resolve this great puzzle.
I think that many concepts in this theory, such as that the mind is closely associated with the brain and that mental phenomena are closely related to neuronal functions, have been around in the scientific community and have been the bases for experiments regarding the mind and mental processes for a long time. However, they have never been proved explicitly and rigorously. Also, although there are many scientific theories about some important aspects of the mind, such as about qualia and consciousness, there has never been a basic theory that systematically deals with the fundamental nature of the mind as a whole. Therefore, I consider that it is necessary to prove the basic concepts about the mind as a whole scientifically and state them definitely as a theory with organized theorems so that they can be understood clearly and quickly and can be the targets for further scientific investigations. By doing this, some new concepts such as that mental processes are the information-processing processes of neural circuits and that qualia are some forms of neural signaling patterns have emerged. They are found to be the keys to understanding the important issues such as the nature of the mind and the hard problem of consciousness. Also, I think that an explicit theory will help future generations and new investigators in this field quickly get the idea of what the current scientific concepts regarding these matters are, what concepts are still incomplete, and what remains to be done. In addition, I hope that this theory will help the general public understand the concepts easily in a short time and that they will become more interested in this important issue of life.
This theory is a physical theory, not a philosophical or psychological theory. Its main objectives are to answer the questions, based on scientific evidence, of what the mind and its associated phenomena, such as qualia and consciousness, are, why they occur, how they occur, and other related questions. It is a basic theory that deals with only the fundamental concepts; it does not answer the specific questions such as what exact neural circuits create qualia and consciousness or what the exact characteristics of signaling patterns that can create them are. However, at present, great advances are being made regarding these specific questions, and one can find the present or potential answers in the current literature in cognitive neuroscience and related fields.
Whether this theory is correct or not remains to be verified by experiments. Nevertheless, whether the theory is finally proved to be correct, partially correct, or incorrect, I really hope that it will lead to discussions and experiments that will help advance our understanding of the mind.
Dr. Chirapat Ukachoke
October 18, 2018
Preface to the Second Edition
It has been over five years since the first edition of this theory was published. Many things have changed in the meantime. On the part of the scientific world, there has been a remarkable outpouring of literature, both philosophical and physical, on the mind, consciousness, qualia, and related issues. Also, there has been a concurrent, interesting evolution: Recent literature has become more and more experiment-based instead of mainly argument-based. This certainly is a good development because it has generated many testable concepts and theories regarding these matters, and being able to test them helps us make corrections and improvements, resulting in better and more accurate concepts and theories. As for this theory, although the number of published articles on these matters has been increasing almost exponentially and even though it is becoming impossible for anyone to keep up with all of them, I have tried to use as many of them as I can as references to ensure that the theory is based on current scientific evidence and concepts to a feasible extent. I also hope that these references will be helpful for readers who are interested and would like to get more information from the literature.
On my part, because of the added literature and continued study of these subjects, I have gained a deeper understanding of them. This has made me appreciate the inherent equality between the non-material mind and material brain more and comprehend the nature of the mind and its phenomena better. Accordingly, several modifications and refinements have been made to the theory. The way Theorem I is stated in this new edition reflects these realizations—it does not assert that the mind is part of the brain as it did in the first edition. All other theorems remain the same except for slight changes in the phrasing of Theorem IV and Theorem V to state each theorem in a more basic form but with unchanged essence. All the definitions of all terms also remain essentially the same, with only slight adjustments in the wording of some of them. Two noteworthy changes are that the definition of a quale has been modified to reflect its connection with consciousness better and that the definition of information has been adjusted to provide a more accurate description of what it means in this theory. Lastly, the name for qualia that manifest themselves variably among people has been changed from “different qualia” to “variable qualia” to characterize their nature more accurately.
Regarding the content of the theory in this new edition, “a point-of-view approach,” which is a new and easier-to-understand way to investigate and explain how non-material, phenomenal qualia and consciousness can occur in a material, non-phenomenal physical system (the brain and its neural circuits), has been added. Also, a new chapter, Extra Chapter I, has been created for “information” to delineate the derivation of its definition and discuss its nature, which is crucial to solving the puzzles about qualia and consciousness. As for the arrangement of other chapters, the chapter on consciousness has been expanded and split into two chapters to accommodate new content, while those on minor theorems have been grouped into one. Because of their details and importance, the explanatory gap and the hard problem of consciousness have gotten new chapters, one for each matter. On the other hand, variable qualia and p-zombies have been moved from Chapters 9 and 10 to Extra Chapters II and III, respectively, because they are not content of the theory proper.
As remarked in the first edition, this is a physical, not philosophical or psychological, theory. Its main objectives are to answer, based on scientific evidence, the questions of what the mind and its unique phenomena—qualia and consciousness—are physically and ontologically, why they occur, how they occur, and other related questions. As a physical theory, it provides scientifically testable predictions so that its concepts and theorems can be objectively verified and duly refined further. However, it does not aim to answer specific neuroscientific questions, such as what exact neural circuits and processes generate qualia and consciousness, which are the problems many scientists worldwide are actively investigating. It is a basic theory that deals with only the fundamental concepts, which are still not well established.
Overall, this second edition investigates the matters more thoroughly, with additional evidence and means of investigation. Accordingly, I hope that it will provide the scientific community with new, useful concepts and better ways of tackling and unraveling these matters, which are among the most important puzzles in science.
Dr. Chirapat Ukachoke