ANIL MITRA PHD, COPYRIGHT © May 5, 2006
5/5/2006 1:06 AM
The first emphasis for this site [a satellite site to the Journey in Being website] is my work and essays in the philosophy of mind. Currently there is no attempt to provide comprehensive links or review of the field; there are, however, a few secondary links in Some Resources. The essay The Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness, 1999, also linked below, has a review of the literature with emphasis on mind-body problem for consciousness and, also, has a representative bibliography.
This site may be viewed either as an independent site or as a sister site to my primary site and interest in the exploration of being by thought and action. I have long had an interest in the philosophy of mind and the recent field of consciousness studies. I have written a number of essays on mind that are philosophical in its critical and imaginative senses. Most of the essays and notes linked below are my work. I have included [links to] related topics and resources; links to other sites are included in these secondary pages. So as to avoid proliferation, links are organized in the sections starting at, below.
May 5, 2006: the latest version of Journey in Being is complete. I started work on the rewrite in October last year after return from a trip to the Trinity Alps where I had some excellent and fortunate insights into the nature of existence and of being. A central concept was that of nothingness. The idea had been percolating for a number of years but it was during the recent trip that I saw how to understand the concept: it is not and cannot be an extrapolation of the known world – sensible or conceptual – but is independent of it. For a quick introduction to the highlights see the Prologue to Journey in Being. My entire range of thought was at once broadened and set upon a secure foundation; I was able to bring together in one place my entire previous range of thought in one place. Specifically I received insight into the nature of mind, its functions and the mind-matter issue that goes far beyond what is described below [written in September 2001.] As a result of these developments, I have achieved the plans described below in a way that far exceeds my expectations and renders many of the documents out of date. For each document, I have made a note of its status and the status of its contents. Therefore, while many documents are dated they are not misleading in relation to the present state of my thought
A recent exciting development – in Mind and Metaphysics, an outline essay of this writer – is a resolution approach for the mind-body problem and what is called the “hard problem” of philosophy of consciousness. These problems refer to an explanatory gap – the difficulty of explaining the existence of mind from the material nature of the body. Some writers hold that these problems, if accessible at all, are inaccessible to humans; others say that the philosophical problem is empty – the solution reduces to a series of scientific problems or dissolves in an analysis of language. What is significant here is the specific set of insights described below and detailed in Mind and Metaphysics – obviously nature itself recognizes no gap; and there is a tradition of mind/body studies. The key ideas to the present development are as follows. First, the concept of matter is incomplete – the history of ideas has not come to an end; also, it is a case or reification to hold, as is customary, that “matter” refers to some definite kind of being – and therefore explanations will be in principle; argument from the conditions of existence and of sentience is used to identify and conceptualize the aspects of the incompleteness that are essential to the discussion. Second, whereas mind is a manifestation of certain forms of matter in aggregate, descriptions of matter can yield only descriptions – descriptions of behavior, of thoughts, of conscious and other mental events and phenomena. Third, there is no “first person” description [What is it like to be an electron?] of matter, that is, we do not have access to the “viewpoint of an electron” [the use is metaphorical]. The conclusion is that explanations, deductions or computations from descriptions of matter will give rise only to descriptions of mental phenomena from the “outside”. However, we can talk metaphorically of the “viewpoint” of an electron or a neural cell and so see, from the external perspective, how mind – subjectivity, intensionality – is a manifestation of matter-in-aggregate. The result is a resolution of the classical mind body problem of philosophy which is shown to rest upon confusion of modes of description and modes of being. Further, the “hard problem” of consciousness is a form of the mind-body problem and is, therefore, dissolved. The details are in Mind and Metaphysics, linked below.
One way of expressing these ideas is to refer to the problem of the mind-body problem. This problem comes about and is defined as follows. When we talk of a mind-body problem or, for consciousness, the explanatory gap or the hard problem, we are thinking that we have a definite view of the nature of matter and a definite view that mind falls in a category other than that of matter. I assert that there is no definite category that is given once and for all that falls under the label “matter.” We are encouraged by the practical, predictive, explanatory and conceptual power – and elegance – of the natural sciences to suppose that there is a definite thing – matter. This is an illusion bred by familiarity and that same success. To simplify, consider that my first, intuitive, concept of matter is that which is tangible or, more generally, accessible to the senses… and that the second, theoretical, concept of matter is the one given in the natural sciences especially in physics. Neither of these concepts is definite. There is no reason to suppose, given the history of physics, that what is given by the senses – even if that were some definite category – is completely defined by even – or especially – by the most comprehensive physical theories e.g. some rendering of quantum-gravitational formalism. This limitation applies not only to the details but the very nature of matter – think of the advance from classical to post 1905 physics. The physics of any era is the outermost boundary of our physical vision and it is, therefore, impossible to have, within that framework, any real idea of what lies or may lie beyond. Thus, not only is there a mind-body problem but there is a body-matter problem: the body is not completely or finally given to our natural and technically enhanced instruments of cognition. Little surprise or paradox, then, that there would appear to be a mind-body problem where we are in no real position to assert that such a problem exists. Further, the essays listed below, address the problem of any putative categoreal distinction between mind and matter.
1. “Write a set of Mind Words similar to other word systems” was one of the original objectives when Philosophy of Mind was established in September 2001. In the last year this has been done – the words being written down in the Trinity Alps in October 2001. The words were organized into a set of words describing or referring to theory of mind and a second set naming or describing mental experience and action. All word systems have been collected together in Words, Language, and Metaphysics.
2. Review and continue to craft the formulation of Mind and Metaphysics. Round out deficient areas of Problems of Consciousness and incorporate it in Mind and Metaphysics. Links to these essays are given below.
3. I am interested in basic and imaginative analysis in the philosophy of mind and in research in the scientific and computational aspects. This interest is secondary to my current focus in the exploration of being. However that frequently brings me back to reflection on mind – recent examples are the exciting upgrade of Mind and Metaphysics and the establishment of this site.
an outline for the philosophy of mind with treatment of the roles of metaphysics and epistemology; and a new treatment of the “hard problem of consciousness” and mind-body issues. Mind and matter are found to be identical – different and exhaustive aspects [or ways of seeing-experiencing] of being. 2002 update: this essay is in transition as defined in Metaphysics and Outline of the New Metaphysics. There is a supplement in The Fundamental Problem of Metaphysics and its Resolution that that establishes exciting new results in metaphysics. First, the “fundamental problem” – often taken to be the question of existence: why is there something rather than nothing – is not given by fiat but is, rather, established in its fundamental nature. The fundamental problem is that of presence – literally of [the existence of] presence to and in the world. The prototype for presence is sentient action and there is some affinity with Heidegger’s Dasein. The elements of presence pervade the world; this requires a generalization of the meaning of presence and, given that, is demonstrated. The significance of philosophy of mind is that presence is refers to the phenomenality of mind without being understood as an object.–
1998– a summary of Susan A. Greenfield's 1997, The Human Mind: A Guided Tour with comments by Anil Mitra including some observations on object constancy and the binding problem. The interest of the book is “…my impression is that she has shown how, in the minute details of function, modern neural science has begun to reveal a meeting ground – the places where mind meets brain.”
1978-2001– this is not an essay on the philosophy of mind. It is, rather, a collection of accounts of dreams. There are some reflections on the nature of dreams and some implications for the nature of the human mind and abilities.
Words, Language and Metaphysics – a theoretical and experimental exploration of interactive and generative relationships among language, mind, concepts and world. The essay includes consideration of a variety of word systems.2001 – this essay has been absorbed as a section of
2000 – brief comments
A Map of Mind – rough notes from the Trinity Alps, October 2001
since 1985 – a somewhat sprawling set of bibliographies for a variety of projects compiled by and useful to the author
1999 – an eclectic set of works from the history of civilization
ESSAYS IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF BEING – INCLUDED AS SUPPORT FOR THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND
2001 | – a vision of Being and – human – possibility. The journey starts with the life-quest of an individual. Seeking to understand and realize what is possible leads through the accumulated learning of human traditions to the universal. That learning and its extension are important but action is necessary to complete the cycle of learning and transformation. The process of thought and action leads to a transformation of being: what were thought to be limits are transcended. This version of is designed to be accessible to the general reader
– see description, above.
MISCELLANEOUS NOTES ON BEING AND METAPHYSICS 1999-2001 – AND A SURVEY
1994 – on the naturalness of Kuhn’s ideas
1988 – based in the works of others but useful – updated for 2003 with new content, format and sections on recent and current philosophy, the future of philosophy and transcendental logic
I invite contributions – ideas, articles, criticism, collaboration, funds, and other resources.