My assumption is that mind or consciousness is not generated from the brain. I assume the inverse, namely, that the brain (and matter more generally) is an emergent property of consciousness. One might call this a non-materialist or idealist perspective since it does not assume that mind can be reduced to matter. This approach suggests that “matter” and the material world exist within mind or consciousness. It views consciousness as primary over matter; therefore, consciousness is not contained within the body. The “body” is something consciousness generates.
Each of us experiences an intimate model of this every night as we create a world within our consciousness — our dreams. The people, places and things which are our dream objects exist only within our dream consciousness. From our dream self’s perspective, our dream objects seem fairly real and solid albeit with the strange twist of our dreaming physics.
This approach does not mean that we can dismiss the laws of physics in our waking life; nothing practically changes. Objects still feel solid and real, and a fall is still going to hurt. However, it may be an approach that helps better explain the strange physics at the extreme macro and micro ends of the observable universe. It may also open up greater acceptance and understanding of parapsychology’s research. As physicists search for the fundamental building blocks of matter, they aren’t finding them; but they are finding that measurable matter may need consciousness to be realized.
The 1925 discovery of quantum mechanics solved the problem of the Universe’s nature. Bright physicists were again led to believe the unbelievable — this time, that the Universe is mental. According to Sir James Jeans: “the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter… we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.” But physicists have not yet followed Galileo’s example, and convinced everyone of the wonders of quantum mechanics. As Sir Arthur Eddington explained: “It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character.” (R. C. Henry, “The Mental Universe”; Nature 436:29, 2005)
Our only way of knowing this world continues to be through our five senses, through our observations. As always, we will continue to experience those observations mentally — through consciousness where all things “really” exist.
John R. Lucy, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice at Decatur Psychology, LLC.