April 26, 2012

Mind Over Matter

Where does mind come from? Our bodies are made up entirely of physical components--molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles. Lurking somewhere in all that is the non-physical property we call mind. How do we get from quarks to questions?

Emergence is one answer. Panpsychism is another. Panpsychism is based on the belief that all physical particles possesses some mental characteristics. Mind is everywhere in matter. Emergence says that not all particles contain mental properties, but when joined together in a system, mental characteristics emerge, be it in the human brain or in a computer's central processing unit. More a mind over matter situation.

Every little piece of matter in the universe can be defined by its charge, either positive or negative or neutral. We all know that opposite charges attract and like charges repel. That determines the ability or willingness of particles to cling to each other. As particles clump together, they gain a distinctive shape. The nature of the shape renders parts of the lump very attractive to other lumps. The billions of transactions that occur inside our body's cells every day are regulated by these shapes.

Suppose that instead of using the word charge, we use the word mind. Each particle has a mind of its own, negative or positive or neutral. The nature of that little piece of the universal mind determines how it links to other particles. Some linkages are favored over others and recur constantly throughout nature in all life forms. In this way you can truthfully say that we do indeed have a mind of our own that is rooted in the subatomic particles that comprise all matter.

One more thing. Physics experiments prove conclusively that light can be either a wave or a particle. In other words, light can either be the ripples caused by dropping a pebble in the water or light can be the pebble. Maybe mind is the same thing, a form of energy that operates as a wave and a particle. It gets even more interesting when you contemplate entanglement, the idea that two particles can enter a state such that when one changes the other automatically changes too, no matter how far apart they might be, hence the notion of entanglement.

If none of this makes any sense to you, don't feel bad. It doesn't make any sense to me either, but somewhere in all this is, I think, the germ of an idea that I find intellectually and emotionally satisfying. I like the idea that all matter is imbued with some aspect of what we call mind. I like the idea that we are all entangled at some level. I especially like the idea of mind as wave and mind as particle, giving us an essential harmony with light.

Carl Jung is quoted as saying that "psyche and matter are contained in one and the same world, and moreover are in continuous contact with one another", and that it was probable that "psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing." Could be he was on to something.

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