Consciousness?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by christine.P, Jul 20, 2006.

  1. christine.P

    christine.P Bowlacy

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    Can someone help me on this please.

    If human beings are made up of body, mind,and spirit", does each of these have it's own consciousness; or is the mind the only part that carries consciousness?

    Thanks Bow. :)
     
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Conscious, Subconscious, SuperConscious

    The mind is consciousness, the body operates subconsciously, and spirit is super conscious, that which we gather from...yes, no, maybe so?
     
  3. AletheiaRivers

    AletheiaRivers Well-Known Member

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    Interesting question. It's one I think about a lot (of course, I think WAY too much, which has gotten me into trouble). :D

    My perspective is a bit weird, and it's not even a "set in stone" perspective.:rolleyes:

    I view our universe (any universe) as part of God. All matter, inanimate or animate is, for want of a simpler idea, "Godstuff."

    So what makes the animate matter different than the inanimate matter?

    Is a human different than say, a rock, because the human (or dog or tree) has "spirit?" What is "spirit?"

    As a JW I believed that "spirit" wasn't something immaterial that lived inside of the body (and survived death), but rather the "breath of God" that animated the material stuff that makes up me (and the dog and the tree). And in some respects, I still believe that. (I think that God, ummm, vibrates our atoms differently. Heh.)

    So what happens at death? I dunno. :p Recent metaphysical ponderings have me thinking that at death, rather than surviving as a immaterial spirit that only lived in this body for a while, that all that is "me" is changed into something different, something else. Perhaps "I" will be imprinted onto a new state of being?

    So, to get back to your original question, I currently think that our conciousness is part of our mind, rather than part of "the ghost in the machine."

    I'm open to other ideas though. :)
     
  4. taijasi

    taijasi GnĊthi seauton

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    I think this is right-on, wil. Body (even including "emotional"/astral body and lower manas ("mind")) doesn't know that it is an `Individual' - because techically, it isn't. Mind, on the other hand, (Higher Manas) - IS the seat, heart, or "home" of Consciousness (the imparter of this Aspect of our identity). The Greeks called it Augeiodes, the Hindus, `Manasaputra' - son of Mind. It is also the Agnishvatta - Lord of Fire (literally, "sweetened by the fire"). In simple terms, this is the Soul that reincarnates. It is our "superconscious."

    But mind - even as Agnishvatta (immortal Soul) - is not "Eternal," for upon our individual liberation, the Soul moves on. Man, the individual, becomes what he essentially always was (in potential, in Spirit): The Spark Itself. The Superconscious Flame fans into an all-consuming FIRE ... and the barrier between God and Individual disappears. This does not equate Man with God. It simply removes the usefulness on focusing on the differences. :)

    What remains? ... is a being that has entered the Higher Way, and consciousness, then, it is simply a matter of focus.

    That's my musing at the moment ... ;)

    Love and Light
    ,

    Taijasi
     
  5. flowperson

    flowperson Oannes

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    Hmmmm...this IS an interesting question Bow. No wonder you're an artist, you think up questions that often go to the heart of the matter.

    I believe that there is a set of energies, if you will, that animate and "move" our body, mind, and soul in a synchronous mode while we are here on earth and functioning as members of humanity, simply because that's the way G-d arranged it all. Disease, and perhaps death, whether spiritual, mental, or bodily, is what happens when things get out of synchrony in our lives and environments. I believe that this happens more often in urban environments these days because they are inherently not "natural" environments for us to "live" in for extended periods of time and we, as humans, are reacting to that over the generations.

    Whether this set of energies are a "breath" (pneuma) or a "fire" or a combination of both, figuratively is secondary IMHO. They may simply be a way of symbolically representing our intuitive beliefs as to the primary "movers" of life forces on the earth through the movement of sunlight and weather phenomena through our lives in the larger natural environment.

    IMO consciousness is an attribute of all this that could best be defined as "awareness". I also believe that the body and spirit also participate in this awareness on subconscious levels and inform us of the ways in which we should interact with the realities that we are presented with on a moment to moment basis so that our lives might be lived in more wholistic ways.

    The ancient Egyptians had a handle on this way of thinking in the past with their beliefs in the "ka" and "ba" attributes of each human's journey through life.

    flow....:) .
     
  6. Eudaimonist

    Eudaimonist In Galt We Trust

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    Speaking from a very different metaphysic, I think that human individuals have a unitary nature, and so we are whole entities that have both material and conscious aspects (or properties), and can't be bifurcated into different "parts" in this way. It seems to me that splitting up human nature creates just the sort of problem as wondering if all the various parts have their own consciousness.


    eudaimonia,

    Mark
     
  7. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    IMO: The body is a "machine", with the brain being the "hardware/wetware" that controls the body. The mind is the programming (some of it ROM some of it subroutines, other parts of it RAM). The Spirit, I think is the etheral essence of a human. The spirit is the end user of the body and the mind, which provides input/stimuli to the spirit, and allows the spirit to interact with the outside world.

    Consciousness, is a matter of degrees of awareness (100 or more), that the "Spirit" can experience through the physical body and mental mind, that it is housed in and makes use of (while the spirit is attached to that body and has that mind to run the body with). When we "shut down" the mind, we still seem to have an awareness of self, but the edges of the boundaries as a spirit begin to blur. I believe our ability to call up and express outwardly "memories" is a function of the mind and it's influence on the body. However I also believe that memories and emotions originate from the spirit, not exclusively the mind. They are simply manifested through the mind to the body.

    So, I believe that Consiousness is soley the propriatary domain of the Spirit. In short, it is one of two things one takes with them when they die. I also believe the Spirit is soley responsible for the actions of the body (under normal conditions), but I also believe there are times when the mental programming can go haywire, and the Spirit if not strong enough in will power, can't control and is not responsible for certain behaviors...

    I do not believe in a "super consiousness", unless that is the conscious tapping into a cosmic consiousness. In other words, alone we have no super consiousness, rather it is a counduit to the universal consciousness we seem to sense but do not access often. As far a subconsciousness, I think that is merely the consciousness we have, at a degree lower than animation of the body, however the body and mind do have limited autonomous abilities without the guidance/input of the Spirit...a preprogramming if you will that the body and mind will carryout in absence of active spiritual control.

    (for example, a sleep walker, that follows a repetitive pattern "programmed" by the spirit). There is always an underlying reason why people "sleep walk".

    Now why, you might ask would we not know this if the spirit is ours to begin with? I think our spirit is made up of two parts. One is ourselves (our own entity), and the other part is something else, a power source, or a piece of "God" that makes us who we are. It is also that "sliver" of something else that gives us the potential for the concept of "immortality". As long as we have it, we exist in a living state (spritually). Should we lose it, then we are truly gone from existence. We are no more.

    my "thoughts"

    v/r

    Q
     
  8. soma

    soma Well-Known Member

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    I feel there is one ocean of pure consciousness so everything in that ocean is and has consciousness. Spirit, super consciusness, pure consciousness, God the Father are the ocean or are aware of it 100%. The ice bergs in the ocean are creation, our bodies and minds are pure consciousness also because ice is made up of water, the same material as the ocean of pure consciousness. Therefore, I agree that the only difference is the degree of awareness.
     
  9. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    You mean, I had to write all that, to express what you did, in less than a paragraph? I must reign in my overly verbose tendancies, or in other words KISS (keep it simple, stupid). :eek:

    Nicely done.

    v/r

    Q
     
  10. soma

    soma Well-Known Member

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    I like what you wrote it triggered my reply and my reply would not make sense without your explanations. Thanks for the support, it helps to melt the ice.
     
  11. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    naturally we Buddhist types have a whole lot of literature on this specific phenomena. not to put too fine a point on it, however, this is the crux of the tradition.

    in any event, i suppose that the most common understanding of consciousenss that i am aware of is this:

    consciousness is a non-obstructing phenomena, it is non-material and has the quality of luminosity, that is, it reflects any object by arising in the aspect of that object.

    consciousness is like a crystal stone; while the crystal is resting on a colored surface, you cannot see the real untinted clarity of the crystal, but once you take the crystal away from the colored surface, you can percieve its actual clarity.

    luminosity, or the natural clarity of the mind, is something which cannot be fully explained in words. if one were to engage in the Buddhist praxis, after some attainment, you would experience and eventually be able to say "Ah, THAT is the luminous nature of mind!"

    metta,

    ~v
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2006
  12. flowperson

    flowperson Oannes

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    Namaste Vaj:

    One hears a lot about the concept of "transparency' these days in the news to identify actions by governments and businesses that are intended to make them more open to public knowledge. While we are all familiar with the hypocrisy connected with that usage of the term, would you describe your usage of luminosity and crystal clarity as metaphor for the same understanding, only as applying to the mind of humans ? Are you saying that looking into a clear and luminous mind is to experience transparency ?

    I have always believed that "transparent change" denotes good actions, and "opaque repetition" denotes bad actions. It would seem that the concept of "clarity" vs. "opacity" are critical touchstones when we critically and objectively examine the world and other beings in it as it/they appear to be to us.

    I believe that this would also connote the Hindu concept of "maya" or illusion. A very good illusion would appear to have luminosity and clarity and be transparent in its nature, but continued critical observation might prove it to be otherwise. Or are you saying that the clarity and luminosity attributes are only internal to the mind, and not attributes that might attach to objective realities?

    Hope I didn't make my questions too confusing, but that's the sort of traps one falls into when addressing subject/object issues.

    Peace...flow....:)
     
  13. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste flow,

    thank you for the post.

    not really as it isn't really a matter of public knowledge. the metaphor is meant to be indicating the nature or essence of consciousness, as near as i can make out :)

    interestingly, this is what humans are, in our view :)

    in this metaphor it is limited to the nature or essense of consciousness. the "mind" has a bit of a broader understanding in our tradition to include the fields of sense consciousness and so forth.

    there needs to be a common framework of understanding in such discussions so as not to get trapped by the words used to communicate the ideas. to paraphrase an old Buddhist adage:

    rabbit traps are to catch rabbits.
    when you catch the rabbit the trap is forgotten.

    fish traps are to catch fish.
    when you catch the fish the trap is forgotten.

    words are to communicate ideas.
    when the idea is grasped the words are forgotten.

    show me someone who has forgotten words,
    for that is a person with whom i'd like to speak.

    metta,

    ~v
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2006
  14. Caimanson

    Caimanson Mind or spirit?

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    Not sure I'm threading on the right path with this, here I go.
    One thing I realised not that long ago is that you feel with your body, not your head, incuding emotional feelings.
    Some modern psychotherapies, acknowledge that we communicate with our bodies, and that mental and physical disorders are intimately interrelated, so you can work with the body to treat the mind and vice versa. For example they go to the extent of saying that if your emotional self awareness is limited then most probably your body awareness will also be restricted.
    Is not unusual that physical disciplines like Taichi or Feldenkrais which put a lot of emphasis on body awareness, end up enhancing the mind-body planes of awareness into a single whole (spirit too?).

    On a different line, I recently saw a documentary about various heart transplant recipients that adopted parts of the personality of the donor, without previously knowing anything about the donor! So something in the heart seems to have memory and intention.
    Some scientists that are taking this phenomena seriously, are investigating the nature of the heart beyond a pump. They have realised that it has a very complex nervous system, and the strongest electromantic field in the body behind the brain, and tested that for certain stimuli (for example disgusting images) the heart seems to react before the brain, and in fact trigger a response in the brain.
    Part of the argument is the age old use of the heart as a metaphor for love, passion, etc. suggests it could be evidence of what we intuitively know.
    It could be phoney research, but it shows that we still know very little about the mind.

    Alvaro
     
  15. flowperson

    flowperson Oannes

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    Namaste Vaj:

    Thank you for the wisdom which proverbs and poetic phrasings always say best.

    peace...flow....:)
     
  16. Marietta

    Marietta Well-Known Member

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    All that exists is consciousness/energy and the body is merely consciousness expressing itself. Matter is merely a holographic projection of our thoughts. Each dimension is created by the consciousness stationed on dimensional band above it.
     
  17. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    So we are halographic projections (dreams) of a consciousness above us?
     
  18. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Then, we are spatial in our very consciouness? And Einstein is wrong about matter being a lower frequency of energy? I ask, because you state that consciousness/energy exists, but that matter is a holographic projection of energy (if I read that you perceive thought to be energy, which I happen to agree with). Something has to give here. Either matter is energy, or it is a holograph (hollow 3D illusion, or visual manifestation that does not really exist).

    What do you mean by "dimensional band above" concerning consciousness? And how does "consciousness" have anything to do with dimensional (space/time)?...? Or dimensional personality traits? Or?

    You need to get a little deeper and spell things out a bit on this, If you have time.

    v/r

    Q
     
  19. flowperson

    flowperson Oannes

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    There was an obscure book written in the late 1980's titled, The Holographic Universe, by Michael Talbott. It was thoroughly reviled by conservative science, which told me there was probably some truth in what was revealed in the book. The researchs of two scientists, Pribam and Bohm are extensively analyzed and described in it. The conclusions expounded and speculated upon by Talbott are suggested in Marietta's above post. But of course none of it is as yet proven, or if it has been, has not been made public because of its potential for profound disruption of accepted beliefs, IMHO.

    In a book I'm reading now on quantum gravity by Lisa Randall, Warped Passages, she mentions holographic phenomena as a possible explanation for the basic latticeworks of the universe. She is one of the world's leaders in theoretical research regarding quantum phenomena. I have also purchased another copy of Talbott's book on holograms as a new paradigm to describe universal structures and plan to reread it after I digest Randall's work. Maybe I'll write a book report on the issue at some point in the future, but who's got the time for that stuff these days. Since I work a 50 hr week I have a hard time finding any spare time.

    If any of you wish to read both books and beat me to it, please proceed. I'm really interested in this stuff.

    By the way, welcome to CR Marietta ! I'm looking forward to more of your posts.

    flow....;)
     
  20. DrFree

    DrFree In Pluribus Unum

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    Christine,

    I was intrigued by your plea:

    The words "human beings are made up of body, mind, and spirit" connote a (perhaps partial) list of ingredients used in a recipe by some super-chef. It implies that body, mind and spirit are different substances or elements which together compose a person. I suggest that this is probably not the right interpretation.

    For comparison, consider the classical list of elements of matter -- earth, water, air and fire. Today, scientists don't regard these as constituents of matter; rather, they refer to the elements in the Periodic Table as the proper list of potential ingredients. Nonetheless, the ancient analysis remains true in the following sense, all of the ingredients of matter are in one of the following phases: solid (earth), liquid (water), gas (air), plasma (fire).

    Another example, (US) states are made up of Congressional districts, counties, school districts, and fire districts. But this is not a partition of the state into distinct constituents, because the different types of districts overlap. The political behavior of any of these types of districting requires looking at the state from different perspectives, and taking into account different factors.

    So while I agree that people have bodies, minds and spirits, I regard each of these as a different way of looking at a person.

    One misconception often held by people who follow your analysis is that body (matter) is inert, inactive, requiring the action of mind, spirit or external force to do anything. This view of matter is strongly reinforced by the visual world in which we live. In that world things stay put unless someone acts on them. Nonetheless, that view is in error. Matter is active.
    • Subatomic particles are in a constant flux of changing interactions.
    • Except in temporary thermodynamically stable situations, atoms move around among molecules and structures following well known laws of behavior.
    • Organic chemical interact with one another in living bodies in remarkab le ways.
    • The various organs of the body perform their functions naturally, normally without our intervention.
    • Ecological processes change the biosphere as various species refine their strategies for survival.
    • Geological processes change the face of the planet.
    • Astronomical processes change the universe in which the planet is located.
    Every one of these levels of matter is in constant flux, following its own laws, and affecting the environment of all the other levels. Isn't it strange that matter (body) is apparently so docile only at our level of perception? Maybe that simplicity was necessary for awareness of the world to evolve. If we had been inundated by stimuli of all of these changes at all of these levels, we (our brains) might not have been able to create a sufficiently simple model of the world for us to begin building a framework for understanding. Fortunately we are separated from the complexity at smaller and larger levels by radically different timescales. Smaller processes occur too fast; larger ones, too slow for us to notice until we are sophisticated enough to measure with instrumentation and clocks.

    Once we recognize that matter is active, not inert, it is easy to conclude that life is a special kind of active matter, with very complex processes, in which multiple levels of organization interact. One consequence of those interactions is natural selection and its effect on species survival and evolution.

    With this background, I assert that a person is a living organism (body), all of whose actions (activities, behavior, processes) involve the interaction of that person's physical and biological systems both among themselves and with other objects, living and otherwise, in the environment. All of those processes operate within the framework of natural laws that the systems and subsystems at all levels.

    But this does not yet answer your question. Where do mind and/or spirit fit into this complex of systems? There are two classical answers:
    1. Mind and/or spirit are distinct substances which in some way reside within our bodies and interact with the physical parts of ourselves to govern some higher parts of our behavior. This interpretation is often called dualism.
    2. Mind and/or spirit are aspects of our living bodies, manifesting themselves in the way we behave within the framework of our normal, visual universe. This interpretation is often called materialism.
    I myself have never seen a satisfactory argument for dualism. Spiritual substances have never cropped up in lists of the things found in scientific analyses of the body. Although absence of proof is not proof of absence, I find the difficulty of discussing how spiritual/mental substance interacts with physical substance utterly overwhelming in the absence of any science of the behavior or spiritual/mental substance.

    I am therefore, provisionally, a materialist: I equate the person with his or her living body. But I reject the word "mere" that is often used to castigate that equation. The person is not mere matter, for as we have seen matter is not mere inactive stuff. People think, hope, start, stop, choose, talk and do a whole lot of other things, all of which involve complex interactions of systems and subsystems within their bodies, and some of which have significant ramifications within the social systems of which they are a part.

    The worthwhile question to be asked is not whether our minds are matter, but whether our minds matter. If our bodies physical systems following physical laws, are we not mere machines following inexorable laws that determine precisely what we do? Materialists have often accepted, even embraced, this conclusion; they have become mechanists.

    One who did not was Roderick Chisholm of Brown University. I did graduate work under Chisholm, but knew of him from undergraduate work when I encountered an article by him in Sydney Hook's Determinism and Freedom in the Age of Modern Science, a delightful book that remains in my collection after many decades. Chisholm was superb at precise articulation of philosophical issues. His formulation of this issue of materialism can be paraphrased as follows:
    1. Either our actions are completely determined by the natural laws that apply to the situations in which we find ourselves (i.e., by their causes), or they are not.
    2. If they are so determined, then what we do at any given point is not in our control unless we were in control of those causes. But since the same argument applies to the causes, we find ourselves in an infinite regression, leading ultimately to determining situations over which we are clearly not in control.
    3. If they are not so determined, then what we do is not determined by the situations in which our actions take place, i.e., they are a matter of chance, and again we are not in control of our actions.
    4. We are responsible for our actions only to the extent that we control what we do.
    5. Therefore, whether determinism is true or false, we don't control our actions, and cannot legitimately be held responsible for them.
    Chisholm's version of the argument is much more articulate, and deserves reading in full, as do many of the articles in Hook's volume.

    Chisholm believed that the argument in the form he gave it was valid: if the premisses are true, the conclusion must be true. Since he could not accept the conclusion, he spent much of his career looking for ways to reject one or other of the premisses.

    What he was working on at the time I knew him was agency theory: people control their behavior even though what they do is not strictly determined by what goes on in their brains or elsewhere in their bodies. Chisholm did not rely on any form of dualism (i.e., mental substance) to justify this claim. What he used was an epistemological argument, i.e., an argument based on what we can know about human decision.

    (The form I will give that argument is my own extension of his work. Much of what I learned from him was said in class, and the years are too long to offer textual support for what I concluded from those teachings.)

    Mechanism is commonly defended by using Occam's (or Ockham's) Razor: don't multiply objects beyond necessity. In other words, as long as competing theories account for the same phenomena, the simpler is to be preferred. Mechanists appeal to this principle in their claim that since materialism can account for the same behavior, it has pride of place over the more complex dualism. Chisholm's argument addresses this particular aspect of the mechanistic argument.

    Given all we know about the brain and other parts of a person's body, we can predict and explain what that person can or might do, but we cannot with accuracy predict or explain when he or she will do it. If on the other hand we supplement our explanation with information about that person's psychological states (e.g., what he or she intended or wanted or hoped or feared), we can predict with far greater accuracy what he or she will do. In other words a theory of behavior that includes reference to psychological states is (currently) better at predicting behavior than any theory that does not, i.e., than any mechanist theory.

    Psychological theories of the kind Chisholm referred to have a common thread: they explain behavior using evidence that essentially refers to people as the subjects of sentences about the world ("Smith tried to ...", "Brown asserted that ...", etc.) Such theories include people as objects that are essential to their explanations. Any attempt to reduce those evidentiary statements to statements solely about the bodies of those people immediately loses the predictive power of the theories.

    Now, as I said, this is purely an epistemological argument. It follows the standard rules for comparing two proposed scientific theories, and concludes that by those rules psychological theories which refer essentially to people have better predictive power than theories that don't. Occam's Razor cannot be used to eliminate people from the list of essential entities in the universe, because our best theories of human behavior make essential reference to them.

    Note however that Occam's Razor does at this time seem to justify excluding minds, spirits or souls as separate substances from the scientific explanation of human behavior: there is no cogent theory of behavior that explains behavior in those terms.

    But this epistemological theory calls for an ontological explanation: what in the heck does it mean for people to perform actions that are not made to happen by underlying physical processes?

    The general form of this ontology is emergentism. This is the theory that sometimes when new levels of organization arise, the behavior at the higher level, although consistent with the laws at the lower level, is not fully reducible to those laws. Events that are relatively improbable at the lower level, might be highly probably at the higher.

    To put it another way, systems can take on a life, a pattern of behavior, of their own, making things happen that are essentially unpredictable in the chaos of the lower level. (Compare Doug Hofstadter's discussion of a conversation with an anthill, not with the ants, in his Godel, Escher, Bach.)

    One interpretation of Chisholm's argument is that people are emergent systems, who bring things about that would be physically improbable.

    I'm inclined to think that mechanistic rules were too strict for pre-humans to survive in competition with other life forms. Humans (and others) evolved with competing internal systems, each of which told them to do certain things in certain circumstances. All too often those internal systems conflicted with one another. (Do I keep the prey and eat, or do I run away from the predator that wants it?) Consciousness evolved principally as a way to resolve those conflicts by enabling choice among alternatives when there was no determining grounds for any one of them.

    But what does that have to do with minds and spirits? They are not separate things with their own consciousness. The language of mind and spirit and consciousness is one of our ways of expressing those psychological attributes that are critical to our recognizing the person as an emergent entity. They refer not to elements or substances in the body, but to emergent characteristics of the body and its behavior. in that language mind and spirit and consciousness are subtly different but heavily overlapping.

    What is remarkable about the current systems theoretic view of the universe is the concurrent and interacting evolution of systems at multiple levels. If an explanation of the relationship between mind and body is to be found, it is likely to be there.

    Respectfully,
    Jim

    PS. It should occur to you that consciousness and choice might also emerge at higher levels than the one where people are agents. For example, Lovelock and Margolis assert that the earth (Gaia) is a living organism. Might not Gaia develop a form of consciousness. Some interesting issues would be involved in that discussion.
     

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