David Scharf | Two Dogmas of Materialism

Materialism, as a philosophy of mind, is the thesis that consciousness and mind are entirely dependent on the brain, they could not exist without the brain and, in its strongest form, consciousness and mind are held to be reducible to the brain and its electro-chemical processes. But even its most steadfast proponents acknowledge that materialism cannot account for the fact of consciousness and that it involves extremely unpalatable consequences for our sense of autonomy and moral responsibility. Moreover, close analysis shows that the cognitive dissonance inherent in materialism makes it virtually untenable as a coherent theory of mind. How then should we account for its resilience as the default mainstream theory in contemporary neuroscience, cognitive psychology and the philosophy of mind?

This resilience stems from the seeming plausibility of two central dogmas. First, that impairment to critical brain regions causes a degradation of corresponding cognitive function and that this proves that mind is dependent on the brain. Second, the physical domain is presumed to be causally closed, which is taken to imply that mind is either reducible to the brain or else epiphenomenal and irrelevant. In this paper, I propose to show that neither of these dogmas stands up to critical scrutiny, and that the result of this scrutiny can help delineate the outlines of a transmission model of the mind/brain interaction, in terms of quantum field theory.

In my concluding section, I discuss the consciousness-based paradigm as the proper framework for resolving the mind-body problem. This paradigm is preferable to neutral monism for a variety of reasons. Moreover, it provides a theoretical background for understanding mental causation, spatiotemporal anomalies uncovered by advanced physics, and for a variety of psi phenomena and instances of synchronicity.

Bio: David Scharf is a professor of physics, and chair of the physics department, at Maharishi University of Management. He has a Ph.D. in the philosophy of physics from Johns Hopkins University.

Recorded at the Society for Scientific Exploration Conference in Broomfield, Colorado 2019.

Special thanks to our Patreon Explorers for providing the support we need to keep our video content freely available online: Dr. CMC Toporow, Kathleen Erickson, Mark Crewson, Mark Urban-Lurain, Roger Nelson, Gene Thomas, and Sandy Wiener.

Want to support our commitment to open access scientific research? Become a patron yourself: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=23234339

Or take your support of our 501(c)(3) nonprofit even further by becoming an SSE member: http://www.scientificexploration.org/join

The SSE provides a forum for original research into cutting edge and unconventional areas. Views and opinions belong only to the speakers, and are not necessarily endorsed by the SSE.

Published on March 4, 2020