16 October 2012

An argument for the action of a soul in the physical world.


  1. If an abstraction has no physical component - this is because, physically speaking a pattern in nature has no special significance in and of itself.
  2. Then the act of instantiating an abstraction in the physical world will happen without a physical cause*
  3. Therefore all recognized abstractions in our physical reality do not violate any physical law.  (Like the conservation of energy etc.)
  4. And substance dualism is plausible and even a necessary property of reality.

The only logical contention is to proof that non physical abstract entities are real and I contend that they are real, because a denial would make reason impossible.

It might be useful to understand that abstractions can be completely defined as an entity representing something else in general and in particular something other than itself that is completely universal.  In the case where an abstraction represents something else in general it seems to be required to keep the causal chain open to the point where a universal are implied,  otherwise an infinite regress will follow.  Examples of universals include things like numbers and the person defined as the uncaused entity with intentionality as a property.

There is an unreasonable objection to premise 2 from naturalists by insisting the interaction to be physical.  How can an interaction between physical and abstract be considered to be only physical?  By definition it cannot, it is an interaction of its own type.  From this it logically follows that physical science cannot scrutinise it because it falls outside its reach (...however, what can be investigated by science is the physical chain of events resulting from this interaction.) .  Embodied minds might have an opportunity to scrutinise this body/mind interface and maybe some day find the means to create artificial intelligence**.

Notes on abstractions and definitions of information:

I think there might be value in the investigation of the difference between seeing information as 
  1. the causal relationship of matter and
  2. seeing information as an instantiation of an abstraction. 

I will call the first interpretation the "physicist's information" and the latter "real information",  The difference between the two is intentionality. The physicist's information has no intentionality as it simply is the product of the flow of nature, but "real information"  has intentionality that can consistently be discerned by minds individually and collectively. The "physicist's information" cannot extend beyond the most fundamental physical interactions, but "real information" has no causal bound to the abstractions that can be instantiated.  There might even be an abstraction in the form of the unified field theory or artificial intelligence, that will by definition be an abstraction of mind, because the "physicist's information" does not have the property of containing a theory or intentionality.

Let us test this contention by proposing a natural extension of the "physicist's information" beyond the most fundamental physical interactions. One might argue that what minds experience as unbounded ability to generate abstractions is in fact a natural extension of fundamental interactions to include specific interactions from which a mind can emerge. This notion is fatally flawed without intentionality, because of the unbounded potential of all the interactions that can be realised.  You can describe intentionality as the ability to select specific relationships from an unbounded set of possible relationships.  Are there any physicalist that would propose a selection method in nature?  I would like to hear about such a mechanism.

* Energy interactions as defined by quantum mechanics, currently the most accurate description of the physical world, allow for non classical interactions.
** For example, taking the measurement problem of quantum mechanics into account this should not be problematic.  Some might say that the problem only exist because a purely materialist view of the observer are presupposed.  If the observer do not have the property of superposition or entanglement then the measurement problem disappear.  There are other efforts to overcome the measurement problem and some employ a multi-verse hypothesis.  I urge anyone interested to read at least Chapter 6 'The Measure of All Things: Quantum Mechanics and the Soul' by Hans Halvorson, published in The Soul Hypothesis: Investigations into the Existence of the Soul.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Soul-Hypothesis-Investigations-Existence/dp/1441152245

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