Hinduism relationship between mind and matter

Theories of Mind and Consciousness | Metanexus

hinduism relationship between mind and matter

Keep calm (about Hinduism) and ask Devdutt. This can be seen as the fundamental difference between the two. The former speak about how. However, the field of the non-physical entity of consciousness can be is due to the association of consciousness, with physiological brain. Hindu VS Modern Science. A western philosopher was once asked: “What is mind?” He replied, “No matter.” He was asked again, What is matter?” And he.

An example of 1 might be the spirit of a dead person, and a 10 might be a rock. Between these two extremes, though, we have heavier spirits and lighter bodies. When we are mid-range at 5 or 6 on the scale, the difference between spirits and bodies are negligible: According to Conway, it is at this level that body and spirit interact with each other.

Just as a gentle wind can move the massive arms of a windmill, she argues, so too can heavy spirit move a light body. Conway does not commit herself to a specific physiological explanation of how physical brains and spirit-minds interact, but we can speculate.

Perhaps, for example, the electric charges in our brains stimulate an aura of heavy spirit that surrounds our heads. This aura, in turn, interacts with our conscious minds which is even lighter.

On our scale ofthe interaction between my body and spirit might involve interplay between bodies and spirits at the following levels: Muscles and bones medium-heavy body Level 4: Nerves from brain medium body Level 5: Electrical charges in brain light body Level 6: Aura around our heads heavy spirit Level 7: Conscious minds medium spirit The problem with gradualism is that anything we say about spirits would be pure speculation.

Yes, there are heavier and lighter bodies in the physical realm, but our knowledge stops there. We have no experience of heavy spirits, such as auras around our heads, that we can scientifically connect to electric charges in our brains or any other aspect of brain activity. If heavy spirits did exist as Conway describes, they would be physically detectible in some way, but we have not yet identified any.

Until we do, the gradualist solution falls into the category of "an interesting idea" but there is not much we can do with it beyond that. Parallelism All of the above theories of dualism assume that my body and my spirit interact with each other: The dilemma that each of these theories face is explaining the precise mechanism which allows the signals to pass back and forth. But there is an alternative explanation that rejects the assumption that the two realms interact with each other.

According to the dualist theory of parallelism, bodies and spirits operate in their own realms, and have no causal connection or interaction with each other. Imagine, for example, that a parallel universe exists which is exactly like ours, an idea that is often explored in science fiction stories. Assume that it had the same stars and planets, the same physical layout of their "earth", and the same people who behaved exactly like each of us.

Their universe had a George Washington just like ours, and it has a version of me, a version of you, and a version of everyone else in it. The resemblance is so perfect that if you visited that universe you could not tell the difference. We may not understand why this parallel universe even exists, but we trust that it is just the way that the course of nature emerged. Let's now tweak the parameters of these two universes just a little. Suppose that everything in our universe has a slightly blue tint to it that was almost undetectable.

The parallel universe, though, has a slightly green tint to it. Aside from the tiny difference in color tint, the two universes are exactly the same. Let's now make a more dramatic change to the two universes.

Suppose that our universe is composed only of physical stuff, with no spirit component at all. People still walk around, talk with each other and work at their jobs, but it is only their unconscious physical bodies operating.

Turning to the parallel universe, we will make the opposite alteration: While people do not walk around in a three-dimensional physical realm, everything there exists in a strange spirit form: The two universes still run in perfect coordination with each other, its just that ours is made of physical stuff and the other of spirit stuff. This last conception of the parallel universes is the dualist theory of parallelism offered by German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz According to Leibniz, I have an unconscious body that walks around in the physical universe, and a conscious mind in the spirit universe.

Because the two universes operate in complete harmony with each other, there is no need for my physical brain to interact with my spirit-mind. The parallel nature of the universes themselves guarantees that they will operate in perfect synchronization.

Leibniz writes, The soul follows its own laws, and the body likewise follows its own laws. They are fitted to each other in virtue of the pre-established harmony between all substances since they are all representations of one and the same universe.

For example, in the physical universe, my physical body walks through the woods and stands before a hissing rattle snake. The physical perception of this triggers a mechanical reaction in my brain, which causes me to turn and run. At the same time in the spirit universe, my mind has a visual image of my body walking through the woods and seeing a rattlesnake.

I experience the mental sensation of fright and the desire to run. My mind then has a visual image of my body running back down the path. Thus, in the physical universe my encounter with the snake involves only physical stuff with no mental experiences taking place.

At the same time, in the spirit universe my encounter with the snake involves only my mental experiences, with no physical stuff being present.

hinduism relationship between mind and matter

Parallelism is probably the most extravagant attempt by dualists to explain the relation between physical brain activity and spirit consciousness. But the theory has two problems. Like Conway's theory of gradualism, Leibniz's parallelism is pure conjecture with no scientific evidence that a parallel universe even exists.

As clever as parallelism is, we need some reason to think that it reflects the way that things actually are. There is a second and more fundamental conceptual problem with parallelism: Suppose that the physical universe was destroyed in a cosmic explosion, but the spirit universe remained untouched.

Our conscious minds in the spirit universe would continue as if nothing happened. I would still have mental experiences of talking to people, going to work and running from snakes.

What happens in the distant and unconnected physical universe is of no concern to my conscious spirit. The only thing that matters is that my consciousness of the world continues in the spirit universe, which it would with or without the physical universe. Thus, parallelism fails for making the physical universe a useless appendage to the spirit universe. We can construct experiments to investigate the physical world, which we cannot perform on the spirit realm.

The alternative to mind-body dualism is mind-body materialism, the view that conscious minds are the product of physical brain activity, and nothing more. This means that, when we investigate human consciousness, we need to look no further than the physical realm and the operations of the human brain. This is the assumption made by the sciences of biology and psychology when they attempt to unravel the mysteries of the human mind.

It is also the assumption behind cryogenics: I preserve my mind by preserving the chemical patterns in my brain through cryogenic freezing. In this section we will look at defenses of mind-body materialism and different accounts of how our conscious minds are related to our physical brains.

Arguments for Mind-Body Materialism Philosophers since ancient times have defended the theory of mind-body materialism, and we will consider three important contributions. First is by Roman philosopher Lucretius BCEwho presented an argument for materialism from the interdependence of mind and body. Everything we know about our human minds suggests that it is inseparably intertwined with our bodies.

For example, the mind is born with the body, grows with it and becomes weary and worn with age. He writes, As children totter with feeble and tender bodies, they also have weak judgement of mind. Then, as they grow and their strength hardens, their sense is greater and their force of mind is increased. Later, when the body becomes shattered by the stern force of time, and its frame has sunk with its strength dulled, its reason is also diminished, its tongue raves, its mind stumbles, and everything gives way and fails at once.

This interconnection between our minds and bodies cannot be adequately accounted for by mind-body dualism, and the most natural explanation is that our minds are simply parts of our material bodies.

Similarly, declining mental abilities correlates with damage to specific parts of the brain. We are now so confident with the link between brain and mind that say without hesitation and a specific type of brain injury will cause a specific type of mental impairment.

If mind-body dualism is true, then the growth and health of our spirit-minds would be independent of the growth and health of our physical bodies. It is not the case that the growth and health of our spirit-minds is independent of the growth and health of our physical bodies. Therefore, mind-body dualism is false, and, thus, mind-body materialism is true. A second argument was offered by British philosopher John Locke who maintained that, from a religious perspective, mind-body materialism is every bit as good at explaining life after death as mind-body dualism is.

Upon the death of my earthly body, then, God will recreate my mind in a new physical body, and, in that new state, reward or punish me as I deserve. Locke does not address the cloning problem with the theory of the ethereal body that we discussed earlier.

Nevertheless, his suggestion opened the door for many religious philosophers after him to embrace mind-body materialism without feeling like they needed to reject their faith. First, mind is not as private as we might assume, and, at least in theory, you can discover everything relevant about my mind through my behavior or physiological monitoring. Second, mind is indeed localizable, and its location is within the brain. However, neuroscience suggests that it is located within the broader operation of neural activity throughout my brain.

Third, assuming that intentionality is a genuine feature of the conscious mind, it begs the question to say that no purely material thing is capable of intentionality. We may have already reached the point in neuroscience to say with confidence that at least one type of material thing is capable of intentionality, namely the human brain, and at least some animals as well. It remains to be seen whether artificial intelligence can develop to a point where we can say this about a second type of material thing, namely, a sophisticated computer.

PHILOSOPHY - Mind: Mind-Body Dualism [HD]

Even if the case for materialism looks stronger than that of dualism, this does not completely solve the mind-body problem: The hard problem of consciousness noted at the outset of this chapter remains: The conscious experience of pain is a good example. If I drop my cell phone and break the screen, it does not feel pain.

Dualism (Indian philosophy) - Wikipedia

But if I trip and break my leg, I surely do. Even if we know all of the physiological details about pain perception, we are less clear about how my conscious experience of pain emerges from my physiology. Much of the modern discussion of the mind-body problem focuses on this issue. That is, it assumes that materialism is true, but seeks to address the hard problem of how a conscious experience like pain can be a product of brain activity.

We will next look at four closely-related theories that attempt to solve this problem: Behaviorism The first materialist theory is behaviorism, which connects mind with observable human behavior. Suppose that you were assigned the task of explaining how an ATM machine works. You have no instruction manual for it, and you are not allowed to disassemble the machine to analyze its parts.

All that you can do is observe how it operates. You put in your ATM card, hit some numbers, and wait to see what happens. That is, you input a stimulus into the machine and wait for a response.

You vary the stimulus each time and note how this affects the behavior of the machine. Punching in every conceivable set of numbers, you eventually learn how the machine works, based entirely on how the machine behaves after different stimuli.

The behaviorist theory of the human mind follows this approach. Nature has not given us an instruction manual for how the mind works, and we are limited with how much we can learn by opening up a person's skull and poking around inside. What we can know is your observable behavior and how you respond when exposed to different stimuli.

I hand you a bag of potato chips, and I see how you respond. I then hand you a bag of dog food and see how you respond. The more experiments that I conduct like this, the more I know about your behavioral dispositions, that is, the ways that you tend to behave. Eventually, I am able to form conclusions about even your most hidden mental states. Happiness for you involves your behavioral disposition to smile and be friendly to other people, whereas sadness involves your behavioral disposition to frown and withdraw from other people.

In short, the behaviorist view of the human mind is that mental states are reducible to behavioral dispositions. This theory was originally forged by psychologists in the early 20th century who wanted the field of psychology to be more "scientific", like the field of biology which deals only with observable facts about the world.

The most extreme versions of behaviorism are thoroughly materialist: British philosopher Gilbert Ryle felt that the psychological theory of behaviorism could help solve the philosophical puzzle about the relation between the mind and body. Critical of Descartes, Ryle argued that the old dualist view rested on a faulty conception of a ghost in the machine. The "ghost" component of me presumably involves my innermost private thoughts that occur within my spirit-mind.

Only I have access to them, and outsiders cannot penetrate into my mind's concealed regions. The "machine" component of me involves my physical body, which is publicly observable and outsiders indeed can inspect. On this view, according to Ryle, A person therefore lives through two collateral histories, one consisting of what happens in and to his body, the other consisting of what happens in and to his mind. The first is public, the second private.

The events in the first history are events in the physical world, those in the second are events in the mental world. Descartes' error, according to Ryle, was the assumption that the human mind is private — completely hidden from outside inspection. Ryle argues instead that my mind is not really private: All of my so-called "private" mental states can in fact be analyzed through my public behavior, and are nothing more than predictable ways of acting.

Take, for example, my belief that "it is sunny today. For Ryle, though, this belief only describes dispositions I have to behave in specific ways, such as wearing sunblock, going swimming, and saying "it is sunny. One criticism of behaviorism is that some of my mental events really do seem completely private to me.

Suppose that I step on a nail, which causes me great pain. The behaviorist watches how I react and makes lists of behavioral dispositions that I display. I say "ouch", I have a look of anguish on my face, I stop what I am doing and tend to my injury, I am irritable towards others.

While all of these observations may be accurate, the behaviorist has left out one critical element: The experience of pain is mine alone, and, while outsiders can see how I react to pain, they cannot access my pain. In addition to pain, I have many other experiences throughout the day that seem private, such as seeing a bright light, or hearing a song. These experiences involve more than the behavioral dispositions that I display.

Thus, the behaviorist theory fails because it pays too much attention to the observable part of me while dismissing what goes on inside of me. Identity Theory A second materialist approach to the mind-body problem is identity theory, the view that mental states and brain activities are identical, though viewed from two perspectives.

Like behaviorism, it is a materialist view of the mind insofar is it maintains that mind is essentially physical in nature. But, while behaviorism focuses on observable physical behaviors, identity theory targets the physical human brain. There are two components to identity theory, the first of which is the contention that consciousness is an activity of the human brain. While brain science is still in its infancy, theories abound describing where specific mental states are produced in the brain.

Suppose, for example, that I place you in a brain scan machine that displays your neural activity. I give you a math problem to solve, and neural activity increases in one part of your brain.

I have you listen to music, and neural activity increases in another. Through experiments like these I identify your conscious experiences with specific brain activities. While philosophers are less concerned with the physiological details of brain activity, what is philosophically important is the suggestion that we can identify specific mental states with specific brain activities.

The second part of identity theory is the contention that mental phenomena can be viewed from two perspectives. Suppose that you are looking at a sunset. On the one hand, you have the visual and emotional experience to what you are viewing.

On the other hand, there is the bio-chemical activity within your brain, which would involve the language of brain sections and firing neurons. The event described in both cases is exactly the same, and it is just a matter of viewpoint. This is analogous to how the terms "President of the Senate" and "Vice President of the United States" both have different meanings, yet refer to the same thing.

Take, for example, John Adams. As the first "Vice President of the United States," he had a specific job description, most notably to take over if the President died. As "President of the Senate" he had the job description of presiding over the Senate. Both of these roles describe the identical person, namely John Adams, but from his different job descriptions.

There are two problems with identity theory. First, the descriptions that we give of mental experiences and brain activities are so radically different, and even incompatible, that they do not seem to refer to the same thing.

Suppose that I am watching the sunset; I first describe it from the perspective of my mental experience and then from the perspective of the brain scientist who conducts a brain scan on me. From these two viewpoints, I will have two incompatible lists of attributes, based on the three features of mental experience that we noted earlier: Mental Experience of Watching a Sunset I privately experience it It is not localizable in space It is about something Brain Activity Triggered by Watching a Sunset It is publicly observable It is localizable in space It is not about something As indicated on the above list, my mental experience of the sunset is a private experience within my own consciousness.

I might display some behavior, such as saying, "Now that is beautiful! Also, I cannot point to a location in three-dimensional space where this experience takes place. Finally, my mental experience is also about something, namely, about the sunset itself.

The three features of my brain activity, though, will be the exact opposite of these. My brain activity is publicly observable by scientists. My brain activity is localizable in space: My brain activity is not "about" anything; it is simply some biochemical reactions that occur.

The point is this: The fact that they are so contradictory implies that they are really different things. The second major problem with identity theory is that it restricts mental experiences to biological organisms with brains.

The central contention of identity theory is that mental states and brain activities are identical. Isn't it possible, though, that non-biological things could exhibit mental consciousness? Science fiction abounds with such creatures: It seems a bit chauvinistic for us to say that mental experiences will only result in creatures that have biological brain activity in the way that we humans do.

Identity theory, then, is a very narrow way of understanding mental states. But philosophers sympathetic to identity theory have responded to these criticisms by creating two offshoot theories: We turn to these next. Eliminative Materialism Suppose that instead of saying "I am experiencing the sunset" I said "I am having brain section 3-G neural states regarding the sunset.

The theory emerged in response to the first problem of identity theory, namely, that our descriptions of mental experiences and brain activities are inconsistent with each other.

For example, my mental experience of the sunset is private, but my brain activity is publicly observable. The eliminative materialist's solution is to junk all of our folk-psychology and commonsense notions of mental experiences and adopt the more scientific language of brain activity.

The conflict disappears once we have dispensed with talk about mental experiences that are "private" or "non-localizable" or "about something". Human history is scattered with bizarre prescientific theories that captured the imagination of people at the time, but which we now reject as false. Alchemy is one example — the "science" of turning lead into gold. Belief in ghosts is another. These and thousands of other theories have been debunked over the years in favor of more scientific theories of how the world operates.

According to eliminative materialists, folk-psychology descriptions of mental experiences are just like these. At best they are misleading, and at worst downright false.

Does Hinduism have anything to say about mind, perception and cognition?

In either case, they are destined for the intellectual garbage dump. Some defenders of eliminative materialism seem to suggest that we are not really conscious at all, or that some major aspects of our alleged conscious mental states do not actually exist. That is, I may not be any more conscious than a dead human body, in spite of all the words I use to describe my mental states. However, most discussions of eliminative materialism are not as frightening as this. It is not necessarily an attempt to deny or "eliminate" our mental experiences themselves.

Rather, it is an effort to eliminate outdated folk-psychology ways of describing mentality. As neuroscience progresses, they claim, we will have a much clearer picture of how the brain operates and eventually adopt the more precise scientific language of brain states.

It is not like the government or some science agency will force us to adopt this new scientific language. According to eliminative materialists, we will naturally move towards this clearer description of brain states and reject the mumbo-jumbo of mental experience. There are two central contentions of eliminative materialism: As to the first contention, eliminative materialism may be correct.

Many of our folk-psychology notions of mental experiences are misleading and others are false. In our normal conversations we have mastered maybe a few dozen concepts relating to the mind, such as knowing, wishing, believing, doubting, sensing.

But there are probably thousands of distinct mental states with subtle differences that we cannot grasp through pure introspection. We have limited abilities to anatomize the minute workings of our minds by simply sitting down and reflecting on our thought processes. While it may seem to me that my mental experiences are "private" or "about something" or "non-localizable", I may not be capable of accurately making those assessments.

It is thus possible that our folk-psychology notions of mental experiences are as erroneous as theories of alchemy. As to the second contention: Probably not, since this would require memorizing a flood of technical terms for the thousands of subtly different brain states that we have. Getting through the day would be like taking a neuroscience exam. Hunger distinguishes the living from the non-living. Jiva seeks food and so need sense organs gyan indriya and action organs karma indriya.

Fear is obvious in animals more than plants as prey avoid being consumed by predators. Neither the fixed tree achara nor the moving animal chara wants to be consumed bali. Yet both yearn for food bhoga. Thus, life feeds on life jivo jivatsya jivanam as stated in the Bhagavata Purana.

This creates the law of the jungle matsya nyaya taking shape where the mighty feed on the meek. Hunger and fear distinguishes the organic from the inorganic. Hunger and fear is what creates the animal and plant kingdoms of nature. It is what creates the herd, the hive and the pack. It is what creates the food chain and the pecking order. The observer rishi thus appreciates the diversity of nature and the cognitive principles underlying it.

This nature when domesticated and controlled and improved upon creates culture. Culture is all about domesticating fire yagna-sthaladomesticating water using ponds kunda and pots kumbhadomesticating the plants kshetradomesticating the animals vahana and domesticating humans dharma such that they reject the law of the jungle, and use their strength to protect the weak, and their wealth to feed the hungry.

Only when we have excess resources, when we are well-fed and secure, do we seek to nourish our other senses with song and dance and entertainment. And through them seek meaning about the deeper issues of life. Culture is all about domesticating fire, domesticating water using ponds and pots, domesticating plants, domesticating animals and domesticating humans [Credit: Rig Veda introduces us to our mind brah-manaSama Veda introduces us to the domesticating process as it distinguishes between forest aranya and settelment gramaYajur Veda introduces us to relationship as it focuses on yagna, the "exchange" ritual where something is given svaha to the gods in the hope that they will give us what we desire tathastu.

hinduism relationship between mind and matter

Europeans called this "exchange" sacrifice, resulting in a total misunderstanding of this fundamental human ritual, for the past years. Any economist will tell you that exchange creates a fair society based on reciprocity; sacrifice simply leads to exploitation. Atharva Veda spoke of daily mundane life with codes of conduct and spells to attract fortune and be rid of misfortune.

The fifth Veda was Natya-shastra, of stories, songs, art and performances, of aesthetic experiences rasa and emotional churning bhava that makes us truly cultured. All conversations of rasa, bhava and indriya where sensations are registered, and chitta where emotions are churned, take us to the body.

And traditionally, Indians visualised the body as a series of layers or sheaths or circles kosha such as anna-kosha circle of fleshprana-kosha circle of breathindriya-kosha circle of senseschitta-kosha circle of emotionsbuddhi-kosha circle of intelligence.

Body being seen as a series of concentric realms maps itself to the various activites of yoga that seeks to uncrumple the mind chitta-vritti-nirodha. Here the body is seen as having a physical layer sthula sharira and a psychological layer sukshma sharira and an external "karmic" layer of the world around us karana sharira full of objects and relationships, some that we call our own mine and some that we do not call our own not mine, yours, his, hers, theirs.

Deep within, and far beyond, is the aatma, the formless nirakar and attribute-less nirgun conceptual reality that we refer to in English as spirit and soul, and which perhaps under increasingly Islamic and Christian influence of the last 1, years, we identified as God.

The eight-fold path of yoga was a systematic journey from outside to inside, from social body through physical body into psychological body as revealed by the steps of yoga such as yama relationship disciplineniyama self-disciplineaasana posture disciplinepranayama breath trainingpratyahara sense disciplinedharana mind expansion to develop perspectivedhayna mind contraction to develop focus and finally samadhi mind discipline to let go of things having realised the self does not does seek property.

Thus, everything is connected. But what distinguishes humans from the rest of nature? This question is key to Indian thought. The oldest Indian philosophy is known as enumeration sankhya, or samkhya. It lists basic categories of the world. It distinguishes humanity purusha from nature prakriti. Under prakriti, it lists the non-congitive bhuta and all constitutes of cognition indriya, chitta, buddhi, manas.

What is purusha then?


It is identified with the formless nirakara attribute-less nirguna: Buddha rejected this category. He focussed on emptiness shunya. Shankar saw aatma is everything, completeness purna or infinity ananta.

This remains the fundamental difference between Buddhism and Hinduism. Tantra notices that there is a pattern within diversity. From creatures microbes with senses without emotions, to creatures lower animals with senses and emotions, but not intelligence, to creatures higher animals with senses and emotions and intelligence, but not imagination, and finally creatures humans with senses, emotions, intelligence and imagination.

It acknowledges that in humans, you have something that no other animal has - the ability to conceptualise abstract thoughts, analyse, hypothesise and create knowledge that is transmitted over generations. Thus over generations, a family of chimpanzees does not change much, but a family of humans does change, because of the transmission of conceptualised knowledge. And all this happens because of imagination. Human birth manushya-yoni is special.

It is significant that imagination is not given much value in either philosophical as well as scientific conversations.

Dualism (Indian philosophy)

Until recent times, imagination was a bad word. But rooted in imagination is humanity. In fact, in ancient Tantra, we realise siddha magical powers is about seeking things that we can only imagine - ability to fly, walk on water, change size and shape and weight at will, and attract, manipulate and dominate everything around us.

Classically, in tribal society, knowledge systems tend to tilt towards stagnation. In non-tribal societies, there is a shift towards development. Two things emerge, the tribal nishadha who goes to the forest and the dharma-establishing king Prithu who governs a society based on varna-ashrama-dharma, four-fold division of society acknowledgement of political and economic hierarchy in social groups and phase of life acknowledgement of social dynamism through old age and death.

This is different form modern society where development means improving material reality rather than psychological reality. Today development is all about things rather than thoughts, about creating effectiveness and efficiency in the world around us, rather than about becoming caring and compassionate.