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"Rational Scientific Theories from Theism"


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Previous: 25.1 Relations between degrees Up: 25. Mind-body Connections Next: 25.3 Correspondences

25.2 Mind-body connections

When we look at how minds are related to bodies, there are many questions we want answered.25.5We want to know (a) how intentions in the mind must be formed in order to have effects in the body, and (b) how the physical body can be affected by those intentions. We also need to know (c) how the mind can be influenced by the body, for example when it perceives the physical world or when diseases affect the operation of the mind, and (d) what it is about our body that makes it able to influence minds. Is it something in our brains which does this, or does all of our body influence the content of our minds? Are things outside our bodies also related to minds?

Finally, we need to solve what Kim (2001) calls the ‘pairing problem’. How can distinct non-physical minds be connected with distinct bodies if those relations are not mechanical or spatial? If we do not have detailed answers to these questions, we want at least to see the basis on which answers may be found after further investigations in theistic science. The ingredients of many of these answers can be found in the previous chapters of this Part, but here I bring them together.

Intentions affecting the physical
An answer to question (a), which concerns how intentions in the mind must be formed in order to have effects in the body, is straightforward within our generative level structure. The intentions, having been started from some love and developed by means of thoughts and considerations, must be carried forward to the external mind sub-degree 2.3, as described in Table 22.3. More specifically, they must be actualized all the way to the sensorimotor sub-sub-degree 2.33, as listed in Table 22.6. That there is such a level (or module) is a commonplace assumption in psychology. It is called ‘motor’ because it is the last place in the mind where intentions must exist if they are to have neural and then muscular effects in the physical brain and then in the body.

How (b) the physical body can be affected by those intentions is a more complicated question. Neither theistic science nor ordinary science has a detailed answer. When discussing the components of the physical degree in Section 24.1 and again in Section 24.5, we saw that, according to theistic science, there is a sub-degree 3.1 which is concerned precisely with receiving mental intentions into the physical. This is exactly the process that would be forbidden if the physical degree were causally closed, but it is necessary within theism for the reasons given in Section 20.6 with reference to connections between divinity and nature. Theism implies that the conservations of energy and momentum are only approximations that hold when and where there is no reception of intentions. We may wonder whether such reception shows up as discrepancies in the conservation laws or by some other symptom. If we knew, then experiments would be possible to investigate this process, in our brains in particular.

To begin investigating how the physical world may function as not causally closed, I first note that the ‘receptive sub-degree’ 3.1 has its effects on the quantum-field-theory processes in sub-degree 3.2, in particular on the physical field Lagrangian in sub-sub-degree 3.21. I speculate that reception of intentions will show up as local spatio-temporal variations in the coupling constants that appear in the physical Lagrangian. The value of unit electric charge (or, equivalently, the fine-structure constant25.6normally labeled as $\alpha$) could vary by rather small amounts according to received intentions, and such variations would certainly affect the operations of biochemistry and hence of organic physiology.25.7 Local variations of the fine-structure constant should be easily measurable by magnetic resonance imaging if the time resolution of those measurements could be significantly improved. This idea concerning the fine structure ‘constant’ is just one suggestion for what could vary within physics. Other possibilities should also be considered.

Perceptions affecting the mental

We next ask (c), how the mind can be influenced by the body when we (mentally) perceive the physical world. Let us consider perception first, since that is a familiar operation. When we perceive with our senses, with our eyes for example, we come to have ideas which depend on those physical things (light waves, sound vibrations, etc.) that have been perceived. How is this possible?

The process of perception seems difficult within the multilevel structure of generation and selection since the physical degree has no direct causal influence on the mental. Strictly speaking, the causation is always ‘forward’ from the mental to the physical and not the reverse. However, the process of selection, which is also part of the theistic scheme, can be organized so as to give perception, which is the influence of the physical on the mental. Theistic science makes a precise prediction for the manner of operation of the senses in giving input to the mind. The sensory part of the mind must be able to generate the whole (wide) range of possible perceptions, so the physical input may select which ones will actually occur and hence determine which perception will exist in the mind.

Perceptions are formed by senses causing the sensory cortical areas of the brain to have deterministically particular patterns of neural activity, so that these physiological effects can select the subsequent perceptual content of the mind as it generatively interacts with the brain. The process here is rather subtle. The mind must have a general disposition to see/imagine any of its possible percepts; the role of the sensory cortex is to select the particular content. This implies the general psychological principle that ‘we see only what we are capable of and disposed to see’.25.8Since the mind can recognize things (such as a four-leaf clover) that it has never seen before, the ability of the mind to generate possible perceptions must accord with generative rules or procedures and not merely by associations with memories of what has been seen in the past.

There is a physical analogy between mental perception and physical sight here which may prove useful. It develops the idea discussed in Section 14.5. When we see things in the physical world, we use light to illuminate those objects, and our eyes receive the secondary light rays reflected, filtered and selected according to the nature of the seen objects. Our sight can only be accurate if the initial incident light is clear and composed of all colors equally since seeing things in colored light does not give an accurate picture. Similarly with mental perception: there must be received into our mental space a ‘clear light’ that contains all forms and sensations that can possibly be the means of seeing. Our perception depends then on filtering and selecting from this set of all forms, in such a way that what remains is according to the nature of what is seen. With mental perception, this ‘clear light’ must come from loves and wisdom higher in the mind and originally from God (according to Section 14.3). If our interior loves and/or wisdom are not clear but colored, not impartial but prejudiced, then our mental perceptions will similarly be not accurate. There is always the possibility of biassing perceptions whenever specific expectations or prejudices already exist in the mind.

Previous: 25.1 Relations between degrees Up: 25. Mind-body Connections Next: 25.3 Correspondences

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