TED Conversations

Pabitra Mukhopadhyay


This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Mind exists outside of physical world - will you agree?

Mind exists outside of physical world and can influence the physical states of brain altering behaviour in a way not fully understood by cognitive sciences that tend to avoid the idea of existence of qualia. Will you agree to such a claim?

Is there any way one can argue 'scientifically' in favor of an individual (human) mind, a group mind or mind of living systems other than organisms?

If one cannot, Andrew Soloman's brilliant experience will be no more than an art.


Closing Statement from Pabitra Mukhopadhyay

Sorry, it took me awhile to write a closing statement.
It had been a great debate and I thank all who contributed for and against the OP. Despite strong and forceful arguments against the idea, I conclude that there IS a strong possibility that mind does exist outside of physical world. I would clarify my position by defining 'Mind', 'existence' as widely as possible and 'physical world' as objectively as possible.
In passing I will mention that Carlos's assertion that brain functions do not fall within quantum scale just as a figure of measurements is not possibly correct. I shall also thank Brenden Maloney for pointing out the recent success of Anirban Bandyopadhyay, PhD, at the National Institute of Material Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan (and now at MIT) on quantum vibrations in 'microtubules' in brain neurons upholding Hammeroff-Penrose Orch OR hypothesis.
Mind, in its most social meaning is acquired from environment. It's functional manifestation in brain does not prove its residency there.
Unless otherwise convinced in future, this debate made me accept the OP as true, at least for now.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 13 2014: Pm are you saying mind can exist without a brain

    to me realm of consciousness, mind, ideas, meaning, feelings, is immaterial but still requires a material brain to support the process of thinking, imagining, feeling.

    damage the brain and you may damage the mind and other functions such as muscle control.

    I don't know if we will be able to predict or model all the elements of mind, we have a lot to learn. but making speculative assertions based on ignorance is often a logical fallacy.
    • thumb
      Jan 13 2014: No. I have explained before that I am only saying that neuronic brain is not the only organ that can give rise to mind. For humans (and most animals with something of a brain) mind and its function are emergent qualities of the architecture of brain (and I have this feeling, not substantiated yet, that this quality is not a designed end of brain). For plants it may be kind of hormonal sentience.
      But that does not necessarily mean that mind and its function can be reduced to anything physical, like neurons.

      It is essential for us to know if mind body question is reducible to any material basis. We do not spend money or time anymore to predict the radioactive decay of an atom.
      • thumb
        Jan 13 2014: Hi Pabitra,
        I think you can look at the brain like an antenna with a switch board.

        You talk so inferior of plants thinking. Attach a lie detector to a plant and it will react like any other animal. This has been tested already.
        Of course if it all 'stems from a brain' where is the brain in a plant ;-)?
        • thumb
          Jan 13 2014: You got me entirely wrong my friend. I do not talk inferior about plants thinking. I am updated with works of Jagadish Chandra Bose on plants plus gone through the book 'The secret life of plants' by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. Have also seen the documentary by the same name.

          Unfortunately this book and the movie is dabbed as pseudo-scientific.
      • thumb
        Jan 13 2014: Thanks for clarification pm.

        we seem to agree there is at least a connection between mind and brain, at least in some cases.

        to me it seems most likely thoughts result from physical processes.

        Others speculate that the brain odds receiver of thought from some spiritual or supernatural realm.

        do you agree that the brain is active when we think and feel and dream and pray and meditate?

        It's probably impossible to determine if there is some supernatural connection, but from my understanding of what we currently understand it seems most likely mind and consciousness is just a natural phenomena from brain processes.

        I'm open to any compelling evidence that indicates otherwise but not aware of any yet.

        I'm comfortable with the mind being a physical process of the brain. I don't see a need to jump to supernatural expansions just because it is complex and not fully understood by humans at this time.
        • thumb
          Jan 14 2014: We are walking on a thin like here Obey :)
          Of course there is a connection between mind and a brain. I am not certain that only organisms with brain have mind.
          Thoughts result in the mind when physical processes are perceived. A test tube nurturing living cells in it (a lot of physical processes) does not think about it.
          I think brain is always active as long as there is enough oxygen supplied to it and its cells are alive. Even in coma, the brain stem maintains vital functions of the body. It is only at certain state of function it allows thoughts, emotions and inspirations emerge from it. And all those are contained in something called mind - the processor and the storage.
          I have no interest in the supernatural. I believe the emergent quality that is mind of a very complex physical system that is brain is quite in the realm of natural. It's just non-material and needs some advanced treatise.
          I am very unsure if mind is a physical process of the brain. At least such claim is logically untenable. had it been so, there would have been a theory of mind, an understood and generally agreed with dynamics or mechanics of it with mathematical formulation of it.
          At best I can agree that mind may be an emergent property of the physical processes in the brain.
      • thumb
        Jan 15 2014: Hi pm I guess there is a continuum of mind across different species and over the evolution of modern humans.

        Most would agree the great apes have some sort of mind.

        fish might have something that meets a reasonable definition of mind, to a lessor extent.

        as for plants, I don't know. I suggest being careful not to project human qualities onto something that may be unconscious reaction to external stimulus. I'm not sure if plants are self aware in any meaningful way.I guess the flip side is not ruling out possibilities that might be very different to the human example.

        For example of conscious life evolved elsewhere it might be completely different to local animals.

        as for the immaterial aspects of mind, the way I look at it is day when we dream or imagine some fantastic scene, e.g. we are flying through space, w aren't actually flying through space, it's just like a movie, it's a projection s supported by physical processes, neurons are firing generating the image and perceiving the image in our minds, for me no issue accepting that mind is based on physical processes, as far as we can tell.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.