TED Conversations

Pabitra Mukhopadhyay


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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.

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    Jan 15 2014: Pabitra,

    The 'freak that defies logic" & "divinity" & "non-materialness" are totally irrelevant. Inside their frame of reference they make "sense" ,but objectively they are meaningless.

    At present there are many known unknowns Dark Matter, Quantum gravity , how to get congress to work here in the USA. There are no "new" parts of nature that we have not found yet that can exert any influence in our everyday life-No new particles or "forces" relevant to our daily living,there is room for new discoveries and such. But none of these are presently needed to understand how molecules and atoms work.

    How do I know that the Transcendental "Pukka particle" that is "immaterial" and has an interaction with the human brain as to create conscience & divinity etc. doesn't exist?
    Well all these statements are trying to say something. So we make a little Feynman diagram showing a proton (P) moving in the axis of time and the Transcendental Pukka particle (TPP) interacting with the proton (P) and TPP goes its own merry way, if that is so I can rotate the same diagram 90 degrees -and still be within the realm of reality. And when looked at it that way the TPP should be created in high energy collisions, that is I could smash protons to get TPP's; If indeed such a strong interaction actually happens that it would have an effect in brains- it would have been created & detected by now- and we have not. There is a possibility that TPP's may exists but if they do , they don't act strongly enough to be relevant. So you cant blame a TPP if you are having a "bad hair day".

    It's all electrons, Quarks with mass from the Higgs field interacting via gravity, EM & the nuclear forces-that is our everyday world.

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      Jan 18 2014: Carlos,
      Object has no meaning. Its the subject where the meaning lies. I agree that there are many known unknows in science. My question is whether mind is in that list. And if it is, which branch studies it and where exactly we stand in terms of a theory of mind.
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        Jan 19 2014: Pabitra,
        The conceptual distinction between "knowers" & the "thinkers"and -of course- the objects-what "they" know or think about, may paint themselves into a corner for subjects can themselves be objects of thought and knowledge. I leave that to the Metaphysics Department.
        What is working for me is the traditional subject-object relationship that you may typically find in the philosophy of naturalism.In physics reality is described (& uncontroversially agreed upon) as existing independent of observation. You ask"Mind exists outside of physical world and can influence the physical states of brain..." hence I gave you the little Feynman diagram above. I'm not an expert on metaphysical models of cognition but I gather that you are presenting the mind as a nonphysical substance like Descartes or Plato. If so any action of a nonphysical mind on the brain would entail the violation of physical laws, Also-I ask- if the mind exists independently of physical reality it must be explained how physical memories are created about consciousness(in our brain, that is),in other words how the material and immaterial are able to interact hence my other post.
        The problem is that if there is something totally nonphysical causing a bunch of neurons to fire, then there is no physical event which causes the firing. This means that some physical energy is required to be generated against the physical laws of this universe — this is by definition a miracle- and there can be no scientific explanation of (repeatable experiment performed regarding) where the physical energy for the firing came from.
        How the mind works is not totally known, but this lack of knowledge should not be a platform for the "non-physical mind"(whatever that is) or the "supernatural"(go figure).
        Imo it looks as if the path to the non-physical is -for now- unknowable and irrelevant to explain our everyday world.
        I like the movie "Inception" - The mind creates & perceives fooling itself into a facsimile.


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