Monday, 10 October 2011

Does it matter what goes on in people's minds?

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There are two answers:

1. Not at all.

2. More than anything.

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The modern idea:

1. Most of modern life is predicated on the belief that what goes on in people's minds matters not at all. That is the perspective of bureaucracy.

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2. But there is another modern line of thought, which is the idea that what matters is pleasure, or rather its reverse: suffering.

According to modern idea number 2., people's minds are the most important thing in the world insofar as they suffer, and the imperative is to alleviate this suffering.

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Suffering is, however, conceptualized as confined to the mind of the sufferer (which for this view means confined to the brain of the sufferer).

So, for others to know about suffering, and act upon that knowledge, that suffering inside the brain must be either explicitly communicated ("I am suffering") or be inferred (from behaviour and knowledge).

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2. The  Christian idea:

What goes on in people's minds matters more than anything.

And, in order for this to be true, the Christian cannot (consistently) believe that thought is confined to the mind or the brain.

For the Christian; Love, or pride, must have general and direct effects on reality.

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A Christian cannot believe that the Love of Jesus Christ is something which only has an effect on reality indirectly - e.g. by being communicated to other people, or by being inferred from a person's behaviour.

Love must operate directly. Therefore, and this is the big jump, I suggest that the Christian (as a Christian) cannot believe that the human mind is restricted to the human brain.

The Christian cannot, that is, believe that the operations and effects of the human mind are ultimately subjective and encapsulated, are radically confined to the human skull; cannot believe in a sealed-off mind operating only via the senses and actions.

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Somehow (and there need not be an explicit hypotheses how this works) the Christian must believe that the human mind (what goes-on in the human mind) extends beyond the human brain and (somehow, and this need not be explicit) links-up with reality - with God, and with other human minds as in the mystical Church.

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Therefore the Christian must 'believe' (by which I mean not that this specific and explicit belief be always or ever present in consciousness - but that this state of affairs must underpin, must be the implicit basis for, Christian life) that the human mind is able to interact with reality directly: must believe that the human mind can (in some way) be affected by reality and itself affect reality.

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So, for the Christian, what goes on in peoples' minds (in each person's mind) matters more than anything; consistent with the fact that what goes on in peoples' minds (each person's mind) potentially affects everything.

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4 comments:

Gabe Ruth said...

Have you ever read anything over at One Cosmos? A commenter here mentioned it, and I've been reading along. The pace is fast and the tone is sort of insider lingo-y, but this post reminded me of it (the good parts of it).

postgygaxian said...

I don't have a copy of Berkeley in front of me, but I would argue on Berkeleyan/Platonistic lines that what goes on in the minds of individuals is more real than what goes on in their bodies.

I tend to work with the notion that the universe is made out of consciousness. Thus what goes on in people's heads seems much more directly connected to reality than what goes on in matter.

Dale said...

----... we cannot take the influence exerted by either a morbid or a wholesome mental life seriously enough. The worst delusion of the materialistic thinking of the past decade [i.e. the 1920s!] is its almost complete loss of reverence or fear of the mighty, invisible power of "mere" ideas. Even a morbid imagination that remains limited to fancies and desires is a terrifying, living power, that can torment and enslave its victims to a fearful degree, creates an atmosphere around itself and infects and poisons others, as it tremendously increases the power of evil in the world, while in a blessed way, all pure, wholesome thinking and feeling, even when it happens in the most obscure places, spreads irresistibly and bears its certain fruit.------

Adolf Koberle, The Quest for Holiness, 1936

Kristor said...

One of the more straightforward implications of quantum non-locality is that nothing has merely local effects. On the contrary, effects extend indefinitely far from the loci of their origination. But this is to vitiate the notion of simple location altogether.