So there's this supposedly an 'interaction' problem for substance dualism, that isn't there for physicalism or idealism. I've never understood this.

So as Hume pointed out, we see event a followed by event b. We don't see a link connecting event a and event b. We impute a cause-effect relationship to the two events. All we have are datapoints with event a followed by event b. That's it. Based on that, we create equations that model what happens in the physical world, and we try to falsify those models We don't have an "explanation" of physical causation. We have models/equations... and data fit those equations or don't. We don't ask for further explanations. Why is it problematic if event a has a different ontology from event b?

Imo, we should simply do the same thing we do with physical-physical interactions... take the datapoints of mental events followed by physical events or vice versa... create models and try to falsify them.

There may be other valid arguments against mind-matter interaction, but what I'm attacking here is the kind of a-priori incredulity that's presented in these discussions, as if there is absolutely no mystery as to how matter should interact with matter... but mind interacting with matter is some kind of unbridgeable gulf.

It would be similar to someone asking "How is it that massless photons can have momentum?" I'm not sure what kind of answer would be expected... the laws of physics allow it?

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    According to Descartes they interact. Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 12:03
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    Descartes’ disciples, like Malebranche, did conclude that causality is inexplicable as such and uniformly requires divine intervention. Not an appealing idea in the face of all discovered physical causal laws with no mental-physical ones. The "mental datapoints" aren't forthcoming either due to absence of mental measurements beyond vague introspection (hence Kant's "psychology can never be a science"). And the biggest problems of interactionism are spatial localization and causal closure of the physical (including energy conservation), not incredulity.
    – Conifold
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 13:30
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    The main problem, with some dualist approaches, is that mind and matter are assumed to belong to different categories thus their interaction is almost by definition problematic. For approaches like neutral monism where mind and matter are simply aspects of the exact same thing, their interaction is almost common sense as it is almost inconceivable that the same thing cannot interact and relate to itself
    – Nikos M.
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 18:58
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    I should mention that on an every day level, doctors know that the placebo effect is real.
    – Gordon
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 12:24
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    "There may be other valid arguments against mind-matter interaction, but what I'm attacking here is the kind of a-priori incredulity that's presented in these discussions," <<< This "incredulity" may sound contrary to Cartesian doubt, but it's simply the result of studying physics for thousands of years and observing lots of data in favour of "I can lift an object with my hand" and no data in favour of "I can lift an object with my mind". If you start claiming you can lift objects with your mind, you're of course met with incredulity.
    – Stef
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 12:52

16 Answers 16


The key difference between matter-matter interactions and mind-matter interactions is that we have been able to discover governing relationships (eg Newton's laws, Coulomb's law, General Relativity etc) in connection with the former but not the latter, which as a consequence remains more baffling. We have also been able to reduce matter to a relatively small number of common building blocks, but we have yet to achieve the same kind of breakthrough in understanding the mind. More specifically, we cannot yet figure out exactly how mental processes are linked to physical ones in the brain, although we have plenty of evidence to show that they are linked in some way.

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    Is there even a consensus on what "mind" actually is?
    – Frank
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 17:03
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    @frank, no, if the answers on this site are to be believed! Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 20:03
  • I would say that the mind is the brain's ability to process information. Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 6:33
  • @Frank: If you assume physicalism, the answer is "yes, but..." (type vs. token physicalism, functionalism, etc.). If you assume substance dualism, the answers get even weirder (epiphenomenalism vs. Cartesian dualism, for example). Property dualism takes the easy way out by reducing the "mind" to a mere property of the brain, but IMHO that's still unsatisfactory as a definition. I'm less familiar with idealism, but I would imagine that their definition is all-encompassing and doesn't need to be very elaborate, so maybe they have reached consensus at least?
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 8:48

Mainly because we have no idea how mind and matter are supposed to interact

Causation is understood by many in a way that makes that problematic. This post gives a perfectly neutral definition which would play into your hands:

C causes E if and only if C increases the probability of E in every situation which is otherwise causally homogeneous with respect to E. (Causal Laws and Effective Strategies, 423)

Many authors, including the working group on causality in Kent which I had the honour to attend some talks of years ago, would not consider this a sufficient condition for causation proper as opposed to a figure of speech, though. The main puzzle piece missing for mind-matter-interaction is a plausible mechanism linking C and E.

And that is why many have problems with mind-matter-interaction: just how, following which laws, is this supposed to happen? How to differentiate properly between correlation and causation? There are, of course, also those who just presume physicalism (explicitly or unconsciously) and thus reject the idea of mind as entity proper in the first place. The strongest argument in their favour, though, is that we have yet to find proper empirical ways to get hold of other people's minds.

These questions are centuries old and yet to receive a proper answer, hence it is problematic to assume mind-matter-interaction.

Edit: It is true that we do not have a satisfactory model/theory/mechanism/explanation for every kind of matter-matter-interaction. That does not invalidate the argument, though: We have them for quite a few kinds and we can measure, in a time-sequence, both supposed cause and effect. We have a hard time (read: no idea how) to measure a decision. And we should be careful to muddle mind-talk with brain activity since it basically presumes physicalism.

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    ". The main puzzle piece missing for mind-matter-interaction is a plausible mechanism linking C and E." So in the case of matter-matter interaction, what is this mechanism? Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 15:36
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    so ultimately all those explanations come down to a set of laws of physics according to which matter behaves. We find the simplest set of laws that cover all our datapoints. We don't ask what is the mechanism by which the laws of physics operate. When newton found the inverse-square law of gravitation, had he found a mechanism? Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 16:14
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    @Frank I am afraid not. That is another thing adding to the problems we have describing. We not even know what we are dealing with, just that there is some subjective/ideal/phenomenal reality for us that seems to be different from the physical world.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 17:09
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    @PhilipKlöcking -- Ameet Sharma's point is that we don't have a causal mechanism for matter on matter interaction either. This makes your objection to the lack of such a mechanism for mind on matter (and vice versa) far less compelling than your answer implies. As a pragmatist myself, I tend to look at causal explanations as only complete to degrees. And matter/matter explanations, while not 100% complete, have considerably more substance than mind/matter explanations. Recasting your answer into relative degree of understanding could address this objection.
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 23:18
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    @PhilipKlöcking -- Why THIS theory matches observed physics, while THAT logically coherent theory does not -- is itself still a mystery. What "puts fire in the equations"? Logically, matter-matter interaction is still a mystery. Yes, we have made steps toward that mystery for matter-matter interaction, but Munchausen says steps will never get us to a logic solution. An alternative to "problematic" could be "the investigation of mind-matter interaction has not yet advanced, unlike the incremental progress made on matter-matter interaction".
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 16:22

I agree, the interaction problem is not unique to mind/body questions. For example, the original materialism posited everything was atoms colliding. However, now we know nothing collides, all particles interact via field effects. We have many very precise measurements of these fields, but what they actually are is a mystery. Same with gravity and quantum entanglement. It seems to me that interaction problems permeate the sciences, and that hasn't held back scientific progress in those areas. No reason then that the interaction problem should hold back using the concept of an irreducible mind, since it is so much easier to make sense of our reality by assuming the mind is a real thing and not an epiphenomenon of the brain.

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    Yes, this is how empiricism works. We accept realities based on the success of the assumption. We THEN try to explore and puzzle out the "why" behind the reality, which we have not been able to make progress with so far with relative to mental causation. But the reality of mental causation is basically undeniable.
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 17:43

So there's this supposedly an 'interaction' problem for substance dualism, that isn't there for physicalism or idealism. I've never understood this.

So as Hume pointed out, we see event a followed by event b. We don't see a link connecting event a and event b. We impute a cause-effect relationship to the two events.

Strict idealism and materialism, that is eliminative materialism and subjective idealism simply eliminate one of the categories so that interaction isn't a concern. There simply isn't the opposite to interact with. Interactionism, which starts with the two categories runs into the potential to run afoul of post hoc logic.

Mental Event 1 occurs. I think I should raise my hand.
Physical Event occurs. I raise my hand.
Mental Event 2 occurs. I think I have raised my hand.

One simply says, see, Mental Event 1 precedes Physical Event which precedes Mental Event 2. That's proof of cause! Except it isn't, because just because an event occurs before another event doesn't mean it causes it. This is the source of the reminder "Correlation isn't causation", and why mental causation (SEP) is controversial.

So, all one has to do is show that Mental Event 1 causes the Physical Event. This is the problem Descartes bumped up against, because brain events are not mind events, it's not possible to lump them in the same category. Even with the modern notion of neural correlates of consciousness, it's not possible to say that brain events cause mind events. The question is one of metaphysical necessity, and everyone and their brother has a proposed solution. Note, that it's a metaphysical problem, because tightly construed, the relationship is about the relationship of the physical to the non-physical.

And that is why many have problems with mind-matter-interaction: just how, following which laws, is this supposed to happen? How to differentiate properly between correlation and causation? - Philip Klöcking

This is why Philip K. is offering that there is no model for interaction. Unlike a physical-physical event, where we can say atoms do this or electromagnetic energy does that or the ribosome causes such and such, there's no consensus on how a thought which is intangible interacts with the hand. The reasonable thinker cannot deny the brain and mind are very strongly linked, but no one has yet garnered wide-spread support for how. Rene Descartes famously and simply said it happens in the pineal gland because God wills it, and was done. Modern philosophers, following Gilbert Ryle, tend to just proclaim it as a mistake of language use, that is, a category mistake. David Chalmers puts forward naturalistic dualism which leads to philosophical zombies. And most people on this board are probably capable of elaborating and defending their own take on the matter.

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    "Mental Event 1 precedes Physical Event which precedes Mental Event 2. That's proof of cause! Except it isn't, because just because an event occurs before another event doesn't mean it causes it." So in the physical-physical case, how do we overcome this issue? Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 19:26
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    Well, today, much physical causation is inferred from very strong cases of correlation, particularly with the use of linear regression. As correlation approaches +1, correlation is taken to be causation. There are a number of techniques, and Judea Pearl has a book on the statistical basis for inferring causation.
    – J D
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 20:47
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    So, 'correlation isn't causation' is cautionary, not absolute; the nature of physical causation itself. See both The Metaphysics of Causation (SEP) and Probabilistic Causation (SEP) for a good start.
    – J D
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 20:49
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    There is a massive correlative relation between my intention to move my hand, and my moving it. Wrist ties, sleep paralysis -- the rare exceptions generally require an explanation themselves. The correlation argument does not justify ANY questioning of mental causation.
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 23:23
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    I explored mental causation in more depth i a side discussion on another answer, and the discussion may be of interest to you: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/142739/…
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 19:39

Not everyone has an "inner monologue" or ability to vividly imagine things: this is known as aphantasia. At an imaginary-angled diagonal from that, there are also people who are pain-asymbolic, conscious of the raw qualia of pain but not its prescriptive "illocutionary force" (this would be like perceiving a patch of color, but not the patch-as-extended, but only the pure "quale" of the color, perhaps).

There is an epistemic possibility, then, that some people relate to their own minds in a primarily discursive rather than perceptual manner, as it were. This could inspire philosophical intuitions about the difficulty of harmonizing mind and matter in either direction: people with vivid phantasia/symbolia conditions might note yet that they seem able to cause inner representations at will, while external matter is more recalcitrant; on the flip side, some aphantasians might get the impression that their minds "just are" discursive/nonperceptual forces, and the lack of perceptual integration between the "faculty" of discursion and the faculty of material perception would seem to them as though it were an "unbridgeable gulf."

Of course, even more obversely, some phantasians/aphantasians might come to other conclusions based on the relevant strains of introspection (I personally, as a phantasian with a stereotypical "overactive imagination," find myself wondering how the mind couldn't be a form of matter, rather than how it could be).

But now there are options in cosmology/physics and related metaphysics where the interaction between types of matter "proper" is either noncausal-in-the-commonsense-manner (because the common concept of causation is suspect/suppressed), or "holographic", etc., so from the perspective of these options, either the question of one type of matter interacting with another isn't well-formed in the first place, or is perhaps just as mystifying as the question of a mental type of substance (as matter, maybe, e.g. as a "Rusakov field", though note that that hypothesis is actually a piece of a fictional setting) interacting with matter. In terms of quantum field theory, maybe the issue could be framed as a comparison/contrast between explaining how a primarily mental field couples to/decouples from the other fields, and explaining how those other fields couple/decouple to/from each other; we have some mathematical sense of how the hypothetical inflaton field dissolved in stages to become the multitude of elementary fields we now believe in, but so far no theory, really, of an elementary consciousness field, much less how such a thing might have "broken off" from the others at this date.


In light of neurodiversity more broadly, consider the "argument from queerness" against "moral realism" (in a Platonic/Moorean sense). Mackie said that "objectively prescriptive realities" are too weird to be real in the "world as we know it" (although then Christine Korsgaard pointed out that the objective side of any human being's existence is tantamount to the existence of objectively prescriptive entities). But anything can seem weird if you're paranoid enough (just think of the epidemic in America of people being manipulated by a global death cult into fearing vaccines because "isn't it weird how people are dying suddenly?"; and they say many other things, mere coincidences betimes, are too weird to be coincidences (while they ignore, deliberately or not, the fact that the description "died suddenly" has been in operation for years and years on end, e.g. think of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

So one person might think it's weird that particles can be entangled, weird enough that the phenomenon merits being compared to something "spooky" no less. Another person might think the concept of God is really weird (and it can be), and wonder about how God can interact with a world so different from It. Another person might think the Big Bang was weird, or that the accelerating expansion of the universe is weird, or so on and on.

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    An autistic that have aphantasia said that his mind looks like bulbs system, when a bulb turn to light he understand what is this feel. But he can't to remember image of his wife - voice, face features. He never have inner vois monologue. Some people can have inner and have like kids out of loud monologue, some have dialogue, and more categories. But imagination and fantasia not same abilities. i thought about it and i found some cognitive 'limits', and yesterday i read in Plato's Timaeus close same: 35-36 about the soul creating - the soul structure can be it perception 'limits' Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 6:54

Mind is software, the brain hardware. Back in 1973, when I used to write drivers for hardware on an HP2100 minicomputer, we had hardware instructions that wrote to devices and read from them (I/O operations): this was the basis of hardware/software interaction (hardware/hardware interaction was done by electric circuits).

We have no idea what the brain's I/O look like.

  • I think your analogy is slightly misleading. I see the mind as the programmer who decides everything that the hardware does. Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 6:36
  • @PerttiRuismäki I don't see this as an analogy: the mind is literally software. Moreover the programmer doesn't usually interact with the hardware, except in a trivial way: she presses keys on the keyboard, but there are many layers of software in between. Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 7:18
  • What is the thing that decides what the human hardware does? It is the human mind. What is the thing that decides what the computer hardware does? It is the human mind again. Computers cannot write their programming by themselves. Human-written instructions are needed. Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 7:59
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    "What is the thing that decides what the computer hardware does?" You must be more successful that me when it comes to staring at at a computer an willing it to do something. In my experience it all comes down to having the right software. Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 8:10
  • Of course the human mind does not directly control the computer. The human mind only decides what the computer should do and writes these decisions in the software. Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 8:31

I am not sure if I have an answer as much as some considerations you can make about this topic.

Who saw the event A?

First I want to talk about what it means to observe events A and B. If the sun rises after a cold morning, the white frost on grass will start melting, like it does outside my window now. You'd infer that the warmth melts the ice. A person could make a claim that it was perhaps their thought of warmth that melts the ice, but is that something you have observed? You need to observe the events to investigate their relationship. I'd find it difficult to argue that one can be sure to be observing events in their own mind, let alone any other.

Does mind cause anything?

Another thing to consider is what you consider mind to matter interaction. If I chose to pick an apple, that was an event that my mind was very much involved in. And there is for sure very no inherent incredulity to it. Yet is not generally what you probably mean by mind to matter interaction. So clearly, the notion is not that there is inherent reason to think mind cannot cause things to happen.

Again, the incredulity is only present when there is no way to observe that anything within ones mind is even the cause of another event - or that it happened at all.

What even is a cause?

And with that, I will leave you with a puzzle of sorts.

A car is driving down a road. There is a stop sign at a crossroad and the car stops. Was it the sole of the driver's shoe, the drivers mind or perhaps the stop sign itself that stopped the car?


The interaction problem was brought to René Descartes' attention by his pupil, Princess Elisabeth. Her argument is that of all material phenomena heretofore observed, it has always been matter on matter and so how does mind and matter interact? HRH Elisabeth's point was that no one had ever seen mind affect matter and no, me being able to move my body is not an instance of mind-matter interaction because that would be beggin' the question - there's no solid proof that mind is immaterial.

A few centuries later ...

The law of conservation of energy aka The first law of thermodynamics becomes really, really important. All brain activity (thinking/feeling) can be fully explained within a physical framework i.e. there's no unexplained energy that needs to be accounted for, one way of doing that would be hypothesizing another nonphysical/immaterial source of the energy excess.

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    Princess Elizabeth was a sharp cookie. BUT, her (and Descartes, and Leibniz's) model of causation requiring contact between solids -- has long been refuted by physics. We don't have a good replacement, so there is a degree of incoherence in our understanding of "cause", but the princess's objection is no longer valid physics.
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 23:38
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    Relative to conservation of energy, cosmologists have not been constrained by that for most of the last century. Both Inflation and the Steady State model violated it. See this PSE question and answer: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/494408/…
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 23:39
  • @Dcleve, I'm surprised to hear that. I'll need to update me files. Gracias.
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 5:29
  • @AgentSmith, we don't need to change the energy content of a physical system to change it. A physical system can have an infinite number of possible configurations with the same total energy. So a mental event could just change the configuration of a physical system without any change in its energy content. We'd still have a violation of causal closure, but the energy conservation objection doesn't make much sense to me... Also QM leaves physical events underdetermined. This leaves room for mental causation without violating causal closure. I don't know if this is how it happens. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 11:51

The issue with trying to use science as described to tease out the rules of mind-matter interaction is collecting the data points of the mind. We have no measurement devices to take data like we do for matter. So we have no input for any equations. To cannot attempt to analyze and determine what the rules for interactions are. We have ? -> something we can measure.

Phycologists and neurobiologists are trying to use FMRIs to measure brain activity, and using people's own descriptions of what's going on in their mind to try to understand the potential mechanism of the arrow. So their studies will look like unverifiable description of what's going on in the mind -> measured brain activity

This is probably as close as anyone has gotten to analyzing how the mind can affect matter. However, these studies can only go off of the descriptions of what's going on in the mind, and as such cannot (yet) answer questions like "Is the mind separate from the brain?".

Eventually, it may be possible to have studied the brain so thoroughly that the mind can be fully explained via matter interactions. Or conversely, we may discover new "physics" that point to something that is not currently considered matter influencing what is currently considered matter. When physicists find systematic differences from the expected behavior, they will create new models and theories to explain those differences. At that point, the definition of what's "real" tends to expand. For example dark matter and dark energy are now considered real. So, it's possible that through advances in science, we'll add soul particles or something to our list of fundamental particles. For now however, there's insufficient data representing a deviation from the expected behavior to justify including soul particles as anything but a hypothetical.


Put aside "how" matter influences matter.

The question is whether the laws of physics (as we know them) leave any room for "mind" to influence matter.

If you believe that mind can influence matter, then you should be able to devise an experiment where the act of willing something creates an effect which is currently unexplainable using physical laws.

For example, in a comment you speculate "QM leaves physical events underdetermined. This leaves room for mental causation without violating causal closure". While QM does leave physical events underdetermined, if "mind" is going to be able to selectively bias the statistical results in favor of one option over another, then we should be able to devise an experiment where we can see this statistical difference.

Everything we observe so far indicates that the laws we have discovered explain why things move the way they do with astounding levels of precision. The effect of the "mind" must be so minuscule as to cause changes which are so small that they fall below our current measurement capabilities. This seems like a "mind of the gaps".

If your version of the mind is compatible with physical laws, so that you do not believe that a mind will ever have an effect on matter which cannot already be explained using the physical laws, then I do not think you believe that mind can influence matter.

  • I'm not a physicist, so don't know the details. But why should an effect of mind "bias the statistical results" ? I mean it seems like there'd be an infinite number of ways to have a set of events that maintain the same statistics. I'll give a contrived example. Say someone is throwing a random die. The probability is 1/6 that he gets any particular number. He maintains the 1/6 statistics... however we see one or more patterns that indicate the guy is controlling which die comes up. Now this would be detectable if we knew what to look for, but a mere statistical analysis wouldn't be enough. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 13:29
  • eg: Someone rolls out the digits of pi in sequence. This is obviously detectable, but a mere statistical analysis of the digits doesn't give you that information. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 14:16
  • Another example... public key cryptography... again, I'm not expert... but I assume the data that is transmitted from sender to receiver appears pseudorandom on a statistical analysis. But obviously the data is meaningful. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 14:33
  • @AmeetSharma If a person is controlling a die to make the output appear random while still ensuring that the outcome of the game moves in their favor, then we can certainly notice that and develop a test (especially if we have the cooperation of the person) to confirm it or deny it. Similarly if the mind is able to subtly influence the outcome of quantum observations so that they appear random, but in fact ensure particular outcomes (like your hand pushing a button) we have reason to suspect the game is rigged and can develop a test to confirm or deny that. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 14:53
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    @AmeetSharma I am not aware of any physical laws which your proposed mechanism would violate (but I am also mostly ignorant of QM). So, if you would like, set up such an experiment and see what results you get. My own strong hunch is that you will not get positive results. However, if you do it could be revolutionary: it would mean that we need new physical laws to explain a new observable phenomenon. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 15:46

I can see no problem with matter affecting mind. Our senses read and input information about the physical things around us. In our minds we build a mental model of our physical surroundings and deal with that.

But mind affecting matter is a little problematic. We know it happens, our minds do control our muscles, but we have no explanation or even a description for how this happens. Psychology tells us how we make decisions to act. Physiology tells us how the brain makes the muscles act. But we have no idea how the idea about an action is converted into neural signals controlling the muscles, how the mind changes the configuration of matter in the brain.

  • Both directions o mind/matter interaction are mysteries. The "hard problem of consciousness" is that even materialists face this interaction problem, and are currently stumped by it.
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 23:26
  • What is the problem with information input? Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 4:49
  • How does inert matter create information, and then how is information accessed by mind? You now have added a matter/abstract interaction, then an abstract/mind interaction. How do any of them work?
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 6:01
  • @Dcleve Inert matter does not create information. Only minds can create information and that is the mind-to-matter problem. I have added nothing. You added the "abstract". I don't know why and I still don't know what is the problem with sensory input. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 7:54
  • Information is not matter, so minds creating information is not a mind to matter issue. And "they just do it" is not a mechanism. I agree it is the case that "they just do it", but that is a different question.
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 8:44

I was driving a car down the road and there was some crowd aside the road. Light reached my eyes at speed c, a matter-matter interaction. I 'saw' the crowd, analysed the situation in an instant of subconscious, matter-mind interaction. I applied brake and stopped, mind-matter interaction.

Human mind is fully inclusive of physical reality. And everything we can imagine is real as Picasso said. I think, therefore I am.

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    Your brain did all the work. The mind just took credit. That doesnt seem fair. : (
    – J D
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 23:54
  • That our minds interact with matter, in both directions, is basically undeniable for an empiricist. The only thing that is "problematic" is that physicalists assert a dogma "the causal closure of the physical" which does not allow what we experience to actually happen. Hence, for ideological reasons, they deny the obvious.
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 23:29
  • @Dcleve While some physicalists are dogmatic, others are merely skeptical of the ontologic distinction: as the mind seems to be interacting with and participating in the physical world, what does it even mean to say it is not a physical phenomenon? I feel this issue is driving the current enthusiasm, among those opposed to physicalism, for panpsychism, but it is not clear that it preserves the distinction.
    – sdenham
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 13:47
  • @sdenham, "what does it even mean to say it is not a physical phenomenon?" It means that mind cannot be described with the standard vocabulary of physics... descriptions of particles fields, mass, charge angular momentum. How can something like "understanding the pythagorean theorem" be reduced to physical events... or "seeing red". That's what's meant when philosophers say we can't reduce mental states to physical states. Now if the word "physical" is expanded to include new vocabulary that could adequately describe mental states, then it might make sense to say mental states are physical. Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 16:07
  • @AmeetSharma This is the sort of thing that feeds into the skepticism of the ontologic distinction. You begin by defining physical phenomena as those that can be described with the current vocabulary of physics, but you end by proposing that this vocabulary could change in the future, and perhaps in a way that would appear to both do away with the ontologic distinction and quite possibly establish that the mind presents no counterexample to the causal closure of the physical.
    – sdenham
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 21:43

To enlarge upon the argument that there is no plausible mechanism for mind influencing matter, the study of the workings of the physical universe have placed extremely rigid constraints upon the dynamical form that any such mechanism might possibly take.

Those physical constraints definitively rule out whole realms of possible mechanisms, in the sense that if such a mechanism did indeed exist, that existence would necessarily require the breaking of physical and mathematical laws long known to be true and accurate.

  • Your claim that physics laws are unbreakable is very false. pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.93.25.14256 All "laws" in physics are just descriptions of symmetry, and all symmetries spontaneously break. Physics laws are only regularities.
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 5:58
  • @Dcleve, are you a physicist? Try breaking Maxwell's laws of electromagnetism. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 6:41
  • If you are certain that symmetries do not spontaneously break, and the gauge symmetry theory is incorrect, you are welcome to publish your insights. I will go with David Gross and his PNAS paper until then.
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 7:15
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    @Dcleve You're off-topic, or in other words: balderdash. Physical laws "break" when you push them into areas where they couldn't be tested before. If "mind" was anything else than matter, that would mean that in your brain, reality diverts from those laws by orders of magnitude above our current error limit in an area where they have been thoroughly tested. In any area relevant to OP's questions, we know our physics to be correct == unbreakable.
    – Karl
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 8:54
  • @Karl Your claim is refuted by section 5 of the SEP article on scientific reduction: plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-reduction Global reductionism has failed in many applications and is now rejected by all but a small minority in philosophy of science. Your belief that physics excludes mental agency was shared by all the contributors to "The Myth of an Afterlife" except for one, the editor, who consulted two physicists who both said "no". amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R10Z02T2ZEYPFY/…
    – Dcleve
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 14:59

Thy mind hast cognitive limits, because psyhe serves as his (not an act or examine) but art tool. Plato in Timeus a part about psyhe structure.

We represent the world as a reflection picture, where thy mind is an artist, and psyhe is thy brush tool.

People have different psyches; it can be separated by an inner voice peculiar properties. All people have a different inner voice (or haven't) you can ask your familiars and friends - many have not the same as thine.

And it is not falsity - it is reflection, but thou must distinguish whose this reflection, thine or not thine. If it is not thy reflection and you make reflection at already reflected something - that mean thou hast falsified. But the real world is not false: it cannot lie, for the liar is only thyself.

All the false borders are inside thy mind, not in the real world.

  • 1
    No one uses them. But thy is your, thou is you, and thine is yours. 'Must' was used regularly in place of 'Have to', and 'hast' is second-person, not 'havest' Hochdeustch still uses 'hast' and 'mussen'
    – J D
    Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 14:38
  • thanks, i use and do mistakes) Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 14:48

I feel this question tends to be too abstract. If I am interpreting it well, sounds as if Psychology was more engaging than Physics as the former implies sort of double-focusing.

In recent times, Psychology is leaving place to Neuropsychology which is a more fact-based science -- as the VERY weird fact is how ever we could accept a science that did not take in account its main Object!

To reply short, the main point is not really if Mind and the Universe were things apart. The main point (for a human being) is how much Mind is free to have insights on this Universe. Hope to touch your question.

  • 1
    Welcome to SE. You raise some interesting points. But. It is very important to answer the question. It is perfectly OK to criticize it in a helpful way, but your critique is far too brief to be helpful. You need to explain why it is too abstract and why it is unimportant. But you seem to use that criticism to substitute your own question for the point that is under discussion. There may well be a good point here, but it needs a separate question.
    – Ludwig V
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 9:46

I think the key thing here is that nothing is given easily to Mankind. There must be an Other. An opposition. A struggle. See: Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition. Glenn Alexander Magee. Free download at Internet Archive Community Texts. The book is about far more than Hegel.

See Nicholas of Cusa in book above. God creates with his mind alone. Whereas we create only images or ideas of things. God creates an actual world, we create a mental world, a world of ideas. We can, however, through physical labor, bring our ideas to fruition in reality with exactitude, through our use of mathematics. See book above.

I think Gauss, for one, would agree with this, as he literally labored in the physical world. He also possessed innate Gestalt. Sudden insight into the problem as a whole.

This idea of internal relations can also be seen in Nicholas of Cusa. Everything is related to everything else, as a Whole. This then can be extended much later to entanglement/spooky action at a distance. Here see perhaps David Bohm.


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