We have come perilously close to losing our ability to view our world as other than an accident. In this vein we have gone so far as to postulate the existence of an infinity of universes conforming to all possible physical laws and boundary conditions in order to account for the otherwise inexplicable suitability of our universe to the production of complex life forms. This fact of suitability is sometimes referred to as the Anthropic Principle.
An obvious statistical argument would place us among the relatively few universes best suited to abundant, and even to self-conscious life. This sounds like a good deal for us -- a free banquet, it would seem. Perhaps we should leave well enough alone. It is the function of this web site, however, to inquire further into the basis for our existence.
What particularly motivates this inquiry is the peculiar nature of the mind -- especially peculiar from the point of view of scientific materialism. By almost every account, the mystery of the mind is the one abiding mystery of the world, possibly apart from the question of why anything exists at all.
Might there not have been every conceivable physical existence without necessitating the seemingly non-physical existence of the mind or of consciousness? The oddity of mind in an otherwise completely physical universe suggests the definite possibility of at least a quasi-independent, non-physical basis for its existence. This is just the possibility that is pursued in this inquiry.
To make a long story short, give mind an inch and it is liable to take a mile. How so?
Peculiar to the mind is its concentrated productive power. Mind is much more than a mirror of nature. It is the great embellisher of nature. If science is correct, reality is a purely quantitative affair. Our experience of the world is almost entirely qualitative. From whence come these qualities? Even more remarkable is the mind's unquenchable proclivity to create and simply spin out worlds of its own, often with little or no regard to the existing one. This production is ongoing in virtually every state of our variegated consciousness.
The most tangible product of the mind is our technology. But what is the function of technology other than the production and dissemination of virtual or altered realities?
If there were any reason to posit an independent basis for the mind, whatever balance might have originated between mind and matter would remain under constant revision on the part of mind. Whenever and wherever mind is given the opportunity to tilt that scale, it surely will. Matter is passive, just be definition, and mind is not.
Among other things, such considerations provide ample motivation to question the arbitrary Cartesian dichotomy posited between mind and matter that has been the basis of our modern worldview. The seeming artificiality of any rigid distinction between mind and matter should cause us to question under what aegis such a distinction might have been originated or be maintained. Without this additional posit of an external aegis, the original posit by Descartes is suspect.
Greatly abetting this suspicion is the increasingly elaborate mathematical superstructure being discovered by physicists investigating the nature of matter. The involution of matter with math, and of math with the mind, removes a logical barrier between matter and mind. The same suspicion is raised by the quantum, of course. Neutral monism and even panpsychism are increasingly being entertained by serious minded, cautious professionals in response to these and other considerations.
It is not my intent here to throw caution to the wind. It is my intent to anticipate the outcome of such intellectual inquiries. That I should foresee radical consequences stemming from such radical inquiries ought not be particularly surprising. Neutral monism smacks of artificiality almost as much as the Cartesianism it is supposed to replace. I agree with the materialists in acknowledging the reality of a Solomon's choice between materialism and immaterialism. We can't have it both ways. Coherence can and will be given its due. It is simply that the materialists have picked the short straw.
We immaterialists are then faced with the burden of re-explaining the world. Not since Darwin has there been a serious attempt at a coherent alternative. All I can do here is attempt to motivate such effort. The successful motivation of a successful re-visioning of the world will have consequences of 'biblical' proportions, I will claim hereinafter. The 'scare' quotes may be removed when appropriate.
Introduction (part 2) -->