ANALYTICAL ARGUMENTATION AND THE THEORETICAL FOUNDATION OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH II: THE EFFICACY OF THE MIND IN GENERAL
by TITUS RIVAS
1. Mental memory and its efficacy
After I have established the analytical necessity of the efficacy of consciousness, I will now go on to consider if the mind is also efficacious in its unconscious or subconscious and dispositional aspects. This is less obvious than it seems. For one thing, many scholars seem to argue that consciousness is all there is to the non-physical mind. All the rest of what is called mental, would in fact be nothing but structural and physiological properties of the brain. It is only after these properties have caused subjective experiences that we may speak of anything mental, according to these writers. In other words, the efficacy of mind would completely equal the efficacy of consciousness.
I personally do not believe that this is the correct view. Actually, I hold that it can be established analytically that there must be a purely mental (as opposed to cerebral) memory, which does not equal brain "engrams" or any other kind of hypothetical cerebral memory bank.
As we have already seen in the first part of this series, consciousness must have an impact on the conceptualization process that leads to a concept of consciousness. In other words, there is a concept based on the introspection of consciousness that maps the specific qualities of conscious experience. Therefore, this concept of consciousness must contain representations of all the special properties that are typical of consciousness. All of these characteristics (so called "qualia") are of course non-physical, such as intentionality, feelings, sensations, the subjective vision of colours, etc. None of these characteristics could therefore ever adequately be described in a quantitative, mathematical language, like the one which is used for the physical sciences.
Which leads to a very exciting insight. If the special qualitative characteristics of consciousness can never be described in a physical language, neither can they be represented in a physical medium. This point is easily misunderstood. I do not wish to state here that qualia are non-physical, because that has been obvious from the very beginning. Instead, I conclude that not only conscious qualia themselves, but also the conceptual representation of conscious qualia must be non-physical. Now, as the brain is just a physical, albeit mysterious, organ it can in no way contain representations that are not physical themselves. Therefore, there must be a mental memory, which contains conceptual non-quantitative representations of conscious experiences. The mind does not only contain consciousness, but also the manifold conceptual representations thereof. As we can see whenever we are talking about concepts of consciousness, this mental memory must be just as causally efficacious as consciousness is. Some may object that any part of the mind probably has its counterpart in the brain. Now, even if I would accept this "dogma" (which I do not), I cannot see how this would beat my argument. This is because even if there would be a cerebral counterpart to mental memory, it still would be mental memory and not its hypothetical counterpart that would be the active party whenever we would think about concepts of consciousness. None of the distinctive characteristics of consciousness can be represented in a cerebral memory, so that this hypothetical memory can never be the source of concepts of consciousness. In other words, if there is a counterpart of mental memory in the brain, this counterpart will be very unspecific as compared to mental memory and therefore secondary rather than primary within the memory process. It will be reigned by mental memory, rather than being equally important.
2. Parapsychology and the efficacy of mental memory
Many paranormal phenomena concern subconscious processes as well as conscious ones. Therefore, it is important for parapsychology to know that such subconscious processes should be considered causally efficacious.
The existence and efficacy of mental memory is also important for survival research. Because mental memory is not the same as a possible cerebral memory, there can be no a priori objection against the idea of its survival after death (Rivas, 1991). Furthermore, as mental memory is as such causally efficacious, it is to be expected that if it survives brain death, it will continue to have an impact on reality after this event. This realization is important for such fields as the study of mediumship and for rein-carnation research.
Finally, as I have explained some years ago in a Letter to the Editor, the existence of a mental memory is important for the conceptualization of the process of telepathy. If there is more to memory than brain engrams, telepathy can't be just the clairvoyant "reading" of neurological patterns in the brain. Even if we would take seriously the hypothesis of a cerebral counterpart for each and every mental memory, it is in mental memory where the real representations are to be found and not in the brain which would only contain neural codes that could never exhaustively represent concepts of consciousness. In other words, the brain engrams would never provide enough information to exhaustively reach an idea of the original concepts in the other subject's mind. Thus, telepathy must be a separate process in its own right which has to consist of the direct interaction between two minds.
- Eccles, J.C. (1980). The human psyche. New York: Springer.
- Gauld, A. (1982). Mediumship and survival: A century of investigations. Londen: Paladin (Published on behalf of the SPR).
- Popper, K.R., & Eccles, J.C. (1977). The self and its brain. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
- Rivas, T. (1990). Letter to the Editor. JSPR, 56, 821,312-313.
- Rivas, T. (1991). The logical necessity of the survival of personal memory after bodily death (lecture). Rajsamand (India): Conference on the survival of human personality.
- Rivas, T. (1993). De mysterieuze relatie tussen hersenen en geest. Prana, 78, 69-74.
This paper was published in The Paranormal Review, 11, 34-35, 1999. It is the sequel to part I, Arguments for the Causal Efficacy of Mind.