Piero Scaruffi
(Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy of Nature

Click here for the essays that appeared in my book "Synthesis" (2009)
  • The mental cannot arise ex nihilo from the non-mental
  • Cognition is pervasive in nature
  • The mental is a property of matter, of all matter
  • Everything has a "mental" aspect, although it is likely that only in the configuration and structure of the human brain that "mental" aspect yields the human form of mental life (consciousness, emotions, the self, etc)
  • Just like electricity and liquidity are macroscopic properties that are caused by microscopic properties of the constituents, so consciousness is a macroscopic property of our brain that is caused by a microscopic "mental" property of its constituents
  • The human mind is the product of the co-evolution of memes, language, tools, emotions and brains.

  • Relativity Theory is about the universe, about the dimensions of existence
  • Quantum Theory is about the human world of objects, about the world of "sizes"
  • Relativistic spacetime is the equivalent of an ocean, and quantum values are the equivalent of the ripples caused by an object moving through the ocean of spacetime: Relativity is the theory about the ocean, and Quantum Theory is the theory about the ripples
  • Quantum Theory describes the ripples caused in spacetime by energy-matter in motion
  • Einstein's equations describe how spacetime warps because of matter. Schroedinger's equations describe the ripples caused by such matter.
  • Spacetime is the continuum that energy-matter interacts with
  • Quantum values are the results of measuring the ripples caused by that interaction
  • Spacetime has an atomic structure, just like matter. There are indivisible units of spacetime. This also removes once for all Zero's paradoxes.

  • Imitation, not innovation, is the fundamental social instinct
  • Ignorance, not knowledge, is the natural state of humans
  • Western democracy ("one person one vote") tends to become the rule of the mediocre (if they are free, they want to be ignorant)
  • The remedy is a "democracy of the wise": each voter counted proportional to her/his knowledge

  • For thousands of years the human mind has created by imitating nature. Cars have four wheels because mammals have four legs. Planes have two wings because birds have two wings. However, during the 20th century the human race has transitioned into the age of abstraction. Nature is no longer the model. Quantum Theory, Relativity, abstract painting, avantgarde music, the computer, the Internet are not modeled after nature. They represent a new stage of the human mind.

  • Greed is unique to the human species: other animals content themselves with what they need in order to survive. Humans are never satiated. We work even if we already have enough food, clothing and housing. There is basically no end to human needs because the needs of a human being change as previous needs are satisfied, whereas animal needs are always the same. Marketing (the creation of new needs) makes sense only for the human species. Civilizations are the product of this endless quest for more. Greed is the fundamental force that set the human species apart from the other species.

  • Different threads of history: territorial annexation (Rome, Mongols, Arabs, Britain, France), economic domination (Athens, Venice, USA), competent isolationism (Tang/Song China)
  • New civilizations are born "at the edge of the world":
    • When the world was Egypt and Mesopotamia, the new civilization was born in Greece
    • Greece and Achaemenian Persia: Rome
    • Rome and Sassanid Persia: Arabs
    • Arabs and Song China: Mongols
    • France and Holy Roman Empire: Britain
    • British Empire and Germany: USA

  • Humans have always been puzzled by change: everything changes all the time (matter), but something does not change (form)
  • Human civilization is about things that do not change: building immortal things (whether a piece of furniture or a building or a road)
  • Unlike natural environments, human civilization requires continuous maintenance
  • Ultimate products of human civilization, that defy change: books, photographs, films

  • The human mind grasps more easily the concept of infinite than the concept of finite. We had no problem accepting that the universe is infinite, but now we have trouble accepting that it is finite. We ask "if it is finite, what is beyond it?", i.e. we want to make it infinite.

  • The mystical experience corresponds (roughly) to a paralysis of the neocortex. Both hallucinogenic drugs and collective hysteria cause a paralysis of the neocortex.
  • The neocortex is the evolutionarily newer part of the brain, that is (mostly) unique to humans. The older part of the human brain is very similar to the brains of the other mammals, and the very old part of the human brain is still basically the same brain of reptiles.
  • Thus a human brain whose neocortex is disabled behaves largely like the brain of a mammal.
  • If that "is" the mystical experience, then the mystical experience must be widespread among animals, and, since there is no neocortex to balance it with a rational experience, it is fundamentally the "only" state of their mind.
  • Basically, not only do cats "experience god", but they do it all the time. They constantly live in an hallucinated present.
  • The effect of the neocortex is to make sense of the mystical experience like it makes sense of everything else that happens. Thus humans create very complex rituals and religions, which other animals don't.

  • Metabolizing information is the real issue of the digital age. The speed that we can absorb information is much faster than the speed at which we can process it. The Internet browser (the person who browses websites on the Internet) is a massive consumer but a poor producer. The Internet browser mostly lets the random access to websites (frequently driven by search-engine rankings) shape her/his understanding of the world, i.e. her/his psyche. As a whole, society's psychology is shaped by the websites we access and the interactions that follow. We are approaching the day when we will simply download our life from the Internet just like today we download songs and films.
  • When the USA opened new land to colonization, the goal was to get as large a piece of land as possible, and then make it lucrative. In the digital age the goal is to get as high a page-ranking as possible, and then make it lucrative. The race for geographical territory has been replaced by a race for attention.
  • We still have to find meaning in the physical and biological sciences. The biological sciences present the human body as an information-processing system (e.g. the brain). But where does knowledge come from? The biological sciences present the species as an information-processing system (DNA). But where does purpose come from? The physical sciences present the universe as a colossal machine. But where does our consciousness come from? The digital sciences present the noosphere as a colossal web of interconnected pieces of information. But it's ultimate function so far has been to create a new market for modern capitalism. The sciences are still unable to bridge the semantic gap. In fact, that gap is increasing.
(Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )