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Mind and Matter

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Metaphysics - What is Really Real!

What is Reality?

Next: Are we just lumps of matter?

Is everything mind?

Do I really create my universe?

What's in a Name?


Last modified on: 27-Sep-98.
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That physical objects might not exist as we naively conceive them is one profound question. But the separate existence of mind and matter is equally problematical.

Is everything really mind or matter?

We naively think things are  matter or they are mind. Mental things are thoughts, or ideas. They contrast with matter. The main difference, I suppose is that only I can experience my thoughts, but any material  thing can be experienced by anyone with the sense organs, etc, to perceive it.

Real things have mass, size, locations, etc. Whereas mental things do not - although we do say:

'This thought is weighing heavily upon me',
'I imagined a big house', and
'I think in my head'.

this may be  merely a way of speaking.

We do think in normal life about mind and matter as being ways to talk about thoughts and objects (or processes). But some thinkers deny the existence of  mental events - believing everything is matter. And some deny the existence of  material things - believing everything is mind.

The scientific theory of reality might lead us to believe that we can only know 'mental events', but, just as rationally it  might also lead us to believe that these are really matter.

The problem of mind and matter.

If mind and matter are totally different - how can one affect the other? How can we think 'I'll go to town' and our material bodies actually go to town? How can a thought which is totally different from a physical event affect my actions? Clearly, it could not. Furthermore, if mind and matter are totally separate, then how could we even know of the other? As 'mind' does affect 'matter' and we do experience both mind and matter, then they cannot be totally separate. That is, what we call mind and what we call matter cannot be totally separate 'substances'.

These are some of the reasons why many thinkers believe everything is  either mind or matter but not both. Western society is materialistic, and denies the existence of mind; whereas Eastern society thinks everything is mind.



Last modified on: 27-Sep-98.