The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Neutral Monism

Philosophers have been debating for centuries whether there are two substances or there is only one substance, whether dualism or monism are the right model for the world. Bertrand Russell reached the conclusion that, if there is a substance, it is neither mental nor material, but, best of all, is to assume that there is no substance at all. His ideas have been largely neglected, which is surprising since his ideas are the only ones in the entire philosophy of mind to be truly based on an understanding of Physics.

Russell simply took Einstein literally: if space and time are inseparable, if matter is energy, if everything is relative to the observer, then both matter and mind are meaningless oversimplifications of reality. Matter is less material than Newton thought, and the spirit is less spiritual than Berkley thought. Neither truly exists as a substance. They are rather different ways of organizing space-time. What truly exists is "events". I am a cluster of space-time events that sticks together for a little while.

The same argument can be seen from the viewpoint of perception.

Sensations are both material and mental. A sensation is part of the object that can be constructed out of it. A sensation is part of the mind in whose biography the perception occurred. An object is defined by all the appearances that emanate from the place where it is towards minds. A mind is defined by all the appearances that start from objects and reach it. If we represent the universe as a network of interactions between many objects and many minds, an object is the collection of all its outputs, a mind is the collection of all its inputs. An object is not the generator of such outputs and a mind is not the receiver of such inputs.

The difference between matter and mind is simply the "causal" relationships that are brought to bear.

There is no substantial difference between matter and mind. They are built out of the same stuff, which is neither material nor mental (it is "neutral").


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