This for me is the Big One. Mind and brain, inner and outer, subjective and objective. Science does not start with numbers. It does not start with observations. It starts with the person doing the numbers and the observations.
But which part of the person? The mind or the brain? Are they the same or are they different? There are three basic options:
1. Mind is an aspect of matter. Whenever the mind does something so does the brain (portions light up in scans). The two are therefore identical.
2. Mind is an aspect of matter but in ways we cannot precisely define.
3. Mind is not an aspect of matter. It can behave independently.
Options 1 and 3 are both pretty extreme. Let’s get some aliens to explain.
These aliens, let us say, are studying life on Earth and, owing to peculiar limitations, must restrict themselves to a short section of the M1. They find as a consequence that ‘life’ is metallic, four wheeled and fast moving. On further scrutiny they find a four-limbed organic ‘thing’ within the metal frame. To clarify this they use jargon like ‘person’ and ‘vehicle’ before coming up with three options:
1. The person is an aspect of the vehicle. Whenever the person does something (turns the wheel, presses the brake) so does the vehicle. The two are therefore identical.
2. The person is an aspect of the vehicle but in ways they cannot precisely define.
3. The person is not an aspect of the vehicle. It can behave independently.
Option 3 is unpopular with alien orthodoxy. Nonetheless, some mavericks try extending the scope of their studies. They find a service station and observe the four-limbed organic things climbing out of the four-wheeled metallic ones. "Aha!" they announce. "Separate entities!"
"Not so," reply the voices of orthodoxy. "Proper experiments require laboratory conditions. Our laboratory is the M1. Your observations cannot be admitted."
"Excuse me," suggests a hesitant junior, "I once saw a vehicle pull onto the verge and a person climb out."
"Anecdotes cannot be admitted," reply the voices of authority. "Proper experiments must be repeatable. We see no people climbing out of vehicles."
And so on. The analogy is inexact as analogies inevitably must be, but is it fair? Does science place obstacles in the way of non-physical data? And if so, are we as a society being fooled into accepting the latest "faith"?
A few statistics. The Society for Psychical Research was founded in London in 1882. In the following 100 years its presidents included 19 Professors, 10 Fellows of the Royal Society, 5 Fellows of the British Academy, 4 holders of the Order of Merit and 3 Nobel Prize winners (Charles Richet, Henri Bergson and John William Strutt). It would be hard to dismiss all of these as cranks, fools or charlatans.
This does not, of course, prove anything, but it might suggest the whole topic of Mind and Matter deserves careful, unprejudiced investigation.
May I invite you to make certain purchases? (I may? Why, thank you...)
(a) The Salamander Stone (by my most excellent and trusty pal, Mrs Me) from one of these outlets:
Direct from the publisher, Burst Books: click here
Amazon UK: click here
(b) The Two Worlds of Wellesley Tudor Pole (by Mrs Me’s most excellent and trusty pal, Me):
Amazon UK: click here
Amazon.com (US): click here
(You’ll be getting both of them? Well, that is an admirable choice, if I may say so...)