I wanted to know how physics explain the mind.I will first share my thoughts on whether thoughts are real or that the mind is real (Mind is the arena where we have thoughts).

I think we usually think anything is real if we can perceive it through our senses. So Lets consider the world according to a blind person. Does he sense a pen? Yes ofcourse he can touch it( he can sense it by ther senses as well). Therefore it is real to him. Lets consider a person who cant feel touch. If you give him a pen, he cant feel it. But is the pen real to him? Yes,he can sense it through vision or other senses. Whats the world according to a person who has no senses at all? Well I would say it doesn’t exist at all to him. But just because it doesn’t exist for him, does that mean it doesn’t exist for you? I think the question of whether something is real is a relative question. We have a lot of concepts like various kinds of forces incl strong force,gravity,etc. Well we maybe having natural gravity detectors in our body. What about sensors for strong force,weak force,etc? So I think generally speaking, anything is real if it occupies space (ie our familiar 3D world) & have a 2 way to & fro interaction between it & us. So now the latter definition excludes things in the past & future that were & will be real respectively. There is only a 1 way interaction between things on a time axis; not 2 way interaction. Past can influence present. But present cant influence past. Well there maybe 2 separate specific patterns to & fro along the time axis. Excluding past & future in the definition of whats real is fine & perhaps correct.

So what about our thoughts? The thoughts we have in our mind can be visual/tactile/auditory /olfactory/gustatory/abstract, etc. Note that if I see an object, I am not asking here whether that object is real or not, but that whether the imagery of that object which forms in our mind is real or not. For instance, we can reproduce an image of a real world object in our mind. We know that the imagery is in our mind & not in the real world, though there is an exact replica in the real world. These imageries can be static or dynamic according to we wish. Just think about dreams. Sometimes after waking up, we think the events that occurred in our dreams really did occur ie virtually indistinguishable from reality. The complicated biological processes happening in our brain cells create what you call as thought. These biological processes can be thought of as an information or information changes ie specific changing arrangement of particular molecules. This information hence definitely occupy space. They occupy space in our brain cells . But where does ‘the imagery or the virtual 3-D hologram itself’ that this information produces or that we see with ‘the eyes of our mind’ exist? The visual imagery is itself geometrical information. Whatever produces that is also information. For sure this imagery doesn't exist in our familiar 3 dimensions in which we exist as a physical body. If it did, it would be as real to us as any real object that occupies the familiar 3-D world. But its not. So is the answer nowhere?. If so, thoughts aren’t real -would be the conclusion drawn from that.

I believe that the mental imagery must exist somewhere. Why so? Because we ‘experience’ our thoughts. An experience involves interaction atleast in 1 way. And I think interaction can only occur unless there is a medium for it. By medium, I mean space or unknown/inacessible dimensions or some kind of unknown extension of our observable universe in some unknown sense. How could we experience something that's not present anywhere in the universe? The signal cant reach us through nothing. If you think now that light requires no medium & come to conclusion that information can reach us without even a medium, I would say that light has a medium & that medium is spacetime. And spacetime is something; not nothing. Could we bring in some physically inaccessible 'imaginary' higher dimensions to explain that the imageries(visual thoughts) exists in them? I think yes. We can think that there is a 2 way to & fro interaction between us & our thoughts/mind. We produce our thoughts through biological processes. Our thoughts don’t produce us physically but we experience these thoughts which can be thought of as due to a signal travelling from that imagery to the machinery of our brain. So there is a 2 way interaction here. But because they don't exist in the familiar 3D world, this suggests that our visual thoughts or mental visual imageries are not real (if according to my definition in the second paragraph).That's the reason too why visual thoughts appear to be not real as well.Note again I am not saying here an object I see isn't real. I say that the image of the object that my brain forms in my mind isn't real.Auditory/tactile/etc thoughts could be explained in higher dimensions too because all of these require geometry to manifest.The sound waves exist as patterns in the air in our 3D world.Therefore it needs geometry.You can extrapolate this to other sensory modalities as well.

We usually tend to take it for granted that our imagination world or the mind has no relation with the real universe or are separate from each other. But if you assume that everything in this universe interacts with each other only if there is a medium of any kind between them, isn’t it deducible that our imagination or mind could be a part of a wider/larger universe? ( like the concept that visual thoughts occupy higher physically inaccessible dimensions). It is meaningless to think of time before the beginning of time. Vacuum is something; not nothing. But Nothing is nothing. Imagination is something. Math is abstract but something. I am not suggesting abstract entities are components of higher dimension but suggest that those maybe components of universe in some kind of unknown/undefined extension of our observable universe & that those specific thoughts like visual,etc that requires geometry to manifest, are the ones that would possibly do so in higher dimensions. And its because of that & because of my definition for whats real that the visual imageries are not real. If imagination influences us, there could be a medium potentially through which signal reaches us or the machinery of our brain. If there isn't one, logic tells that we would never know about it.

Finally, I just explored my thoughts in the above.I don't claim anything above to be true & I can be wrong or right. Please share your thoughts on this.

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    "Could we bring in some physically inaccessible 'imaginary' higher dimensions to explain that the imageries(visual thoughts) exists in them? I think yes." This would precisely mean that your answer is NOT according to physics, since this would posit an explanans that is not physically measurable for an explanandum that is physically measurable. This is contrary to everything about physics. A good physicist would never lean on the MYSTERIOUS elements of their discpline (like putative higher dimensions and dark matter) to explain the physical outcomes of everyday observables like human beings. Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 19:01
  • More generally, physics does not solve philosophical problems, it deepens them. If higher dimensions are a thing, these do not EXPLAIN problems about the mind and body, about ideal and real; it exacerbates them. Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 19:03
  • Think about the pattern of explanation you are proposing. "Here are some variables that we can measure and explain sufficiently according to well-understood things like the basic forces and elementary particles. These have been proven to interact with emergent human beings. But here's something we don't fully know how to explain: abstract thought. So to explain that, we'll call on these parts of physics we know almost nothing about, like higher dimensions, dark matter, and quantum hooplah." Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 19:07
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    How would replacing something mysterious like abstract thought with something that is even less well understood explain anything at all? Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 19:07
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    What makes you think that our thoughts are physically inaccessible or have no relation to the real universe? They are formed by interacting with the universe, after all, and people build brain–computer interfaces these days that execute thought commands. So the mental imagery is easily contained in the familiar three dimensions. But, like any complex physical system, it has many more degrees of freedom that can be modeled by extra dimensions, as in neural net models. Dynamics of a double pendulum is already 4-dimensional.
    – Conifold
    Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 9:11

1 Answer 1


Physics as currently taught and practiced does not explain the mind. Questions like this are outside the traditional domain of physics.

It is possible for physicists and nonphysicists alike to speculate on explanations for the mind but there currently are no tools in the physicist's toolbox which would equip him or her to determine what it is.

  • Physics = Science = 1st dimensional logic. So perhaps greater dimensions of logic, not physical dimensions, are required.
    – Simplex1
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 3:39
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    I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 3:57
  • The OP is claiming that access to higher dimensions is required to explain these visual thoughts. You say that physics cannot do this. Physics is using basic logic (FDL). So I assume that if FDL cannot do this, then we need higher dimensions of logic (this is speculative).
    – Simplex1
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 4:20

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