The world is matter and matter alone. Where is the mind situated in this world? It is a process of matter. Perception and conception are processes of matter.
Yesterday, I talked about the Avicenna’s Flying Man experiment. It seems quite a strange thought experiment. But let’s modify it and try to come up with a better conclusion.
Imagine pure space with no objects – including no you, the observer – within it. Nothing. No matter. No energy. Nada.
Even if you, by some impossible reason, can be an observer within this space – let us call you, The Insubstantial Eye – you cannot “know” space. You have no points of reference. Even if you move “through” space you will not know whether you are moving or whether you are stationary.
In other words, space is not knowable without objects. This is what I mean by space is inferred from the relationship of objects.
Avicenna was an Arabic philosopher who lived from 980 to 1037. He followed the Greek wisdom, consciously rejecting Islamic theology. He wrote in “On The Soul” the following thought experiment:
- If I were blindfolded and suspended in the air, touching nothing …
- I would not know that I have a body.
- But I would know that I – my “self” or “soul” exists.
- So, my soul is not a body, but something different.
- The soul is distinct from the body.
Suppose you are in absolute empty space. There would be no light, sound, smell, taste, sense touch. Suppose there are no sensations, would you know what you areor where you are? The jump from Proposition 2 to Proposition 3 is a large one that cannot be proven.
Suppose that it is true, then one must ask, “what is the body for,” if the self or soul can survive in such a state. It also begs the question does that mean there is a place as absolute empty space, where such a soul can exist?
Of course, Avicenna did not have the benefit of knowledge that we have today of human physiology. We know the brain gives us the sense of self.
Let’s modify the experiment and take two people.
One is born with everything to be a human, except for the input of sensation. Would he or she know of his or her existence? The perceptual brain would be running but with no information of the world or self.
Another person came into the world the same way, had one day of sensation before all senses were taken away. Would he or she know of his or her existence. Now, at least this person has had some input. This input is processed by the brain, trying to make sense of the experience. From the available information the brain would try to sense of the world, perhaps seek out more information from the senses, try to turn it back on.
To know the self requires that we know the existence of the “other”, some thing of the external world.
Coma patients are a bit like the second person. They are temporarily (or until death) not aware of the “outside” world, even though they are alive and function as long the body is nourished and the brain is undamaged. This shows clearly we only have access to the outside world though the senses. While this coma patient has no more sensory input he or she still has perceptual and conceptual input. Thoughts may continue because there is “something there” to think about. Unlike the first person in the thought experiment there is no seed of information to start perception and conception.
Perception and conception can only start when some input is given. That input, it seems, is from sensation or sense data.
I define process as action. Process occurs for all objects. What is traditionally called state is reality an action, a process. All states are in reality actions, that is, there is no state, only actions. This is the strict sense of the definition of state. A state is conceived only as relative to more active processes of other objects. A state is a conceptual and linguistic construct. The reality is
There is no external world. It is a categorical mistake. There is neither an “outside” for objects nor an “inside” for a self. It is a perceptual, conceptual illusion created by the process of an object.
Perception is the physical process of certain types of objects. Perception like knowledge and conception are not objects in themselves but seem to exist as an illusion due to the continued process within an object. Once the process ends the perception ends. The final end of the perception for an object is called death.
Modern science tells us that space is energy. This makes sense with Einstein’s equation – E=mc2 – where mass and energy show a mutual and direct relationship. Since space seemingly “replaces” an object in a position it can be treated like an object. Further, nothing violates this. A “position” in space is either occupied by space-energy or object-mass. And multiple objects never occupy the same position. The proposition is, a position is occupied by either an object-mass or an object-space.