Thursday , 14 December 2017
Highlights

MIND, MATTER, AND CONSCIOUSNESS

By MIAN AKHLAQ-UR-RAHMAN

In a contemplative moment, seeking to locate myself, when I reflected, I found myself reclining, in a corner of my mind, my own palace built in the middle of an orchard, my brain. In the world spread out and around my person, I was there in a very limited form in the shape of things that I had produced and which carried my personal stamp and which could be recognized by others as such, while most of my self lay confined within the walls of my own construct, my mind, which was both my palace and my tomb to be. My mind was my abode, it was my comfort and it was my agony.

The brain receives, externally, through the perceptual inlets, the basic blocks of thoughts in the form of shapes, images, sounds, smells, feels, tastes, and internally the urges of the different organs of the body. The brain relates, arranges, and combines these basic blocks according to the a priori code of existence, with this begins thinking and as a result of it mind is born, which continues to grow, becoming more and more capable in the thinking processes. The things and events outside you do not mean anything to you unless you transact with them. The transaction starts when you open your eyes then everything you perceive irrespective of the earlier differentiation of perceptions into things, substances, and events, becomes an event. All these perceptual events are the units of thought.

There is no mind in those forms of existence that have no brain. In these forms the code of existence that we commonly call instincts resides, spread out, in their gross material bodies. Instincts are prior to matter because they are the code, which governs the birth, growth, and formation of matter. This code as it also governs the pattern and process of the creation of matter had to logically precede the matter and not follow it. However this code grew and expanded as it kept and continued accommodating and assimilating the experiences of matter on its voyage of evolution. With the creation of forms of existence that had brains, the general evolutionary experience of existence, we can term it Super Consciousness, generally residing in all existence, also became unconsciously available to the brain. Intuition, though no doubt a mental process, is however not in the manner of what Kant and Allama Iqbal thought of it. It is not a mental process in line with the other mental processes, deduction, induction, computation, calculation, additions, subtraction, exponentiation, and division, it is the momentary probe of the individual consciousness into the realm of super-consciousness which, being the accumulated human experience, instinctively residing in the body, provides it with an answer without involving the computational and the thinking methods of the individual consciousness.

As seeing is a faculty of the eyes and sight a product of this activity, thinking is a faculty of the brain, beginning with simple thoughts, the perceptual inputs, the blocks of thinking, reaching the elaborate ways of arranging, computing, and using these thoughts, and mind is the product of this activity. After it has gained a reflective ability it comments and guides the instinctual drives. Instincts, the survival code resides independently of mind in the instinctual part of the brain. Mind is a product of matter, the way it has come to it through the perceptual inputs. It resides in brain, again a matter and ceases to exist when this host of it dies, except for that part of it that has achieved and acquired some objective independent existence in the shape of objective material products.

Mind is a faculty of the brain, in the same way as the other organs of the body have specific faculties, eyes-seeing, ears-hearing, nose-smelling, skin-feeling, tongue-tasting, heart-pumping, kidney-draining, liver-purifying, stomach and intestines-digesting, bowels-excreting, lungs-breathing. Mind is the accumulated experience of matter, thus subject to matter, however when it grows and abstracts itself it determines the future evolutionary lines of matter. Mind is to brain as sight is to eyes, hearing to ears, smelling to nose, feeling to body, tasting to tongue. Thought is the product of the mind. In my opinion thought is not the process but rather the product of a mental process. The process is indescribable and gains a meaning and description only after it has taken the shape of thought. Mind is the faculty that makes sensations mean something; sounds, good, bad, low; light, sharp, dull: smells, good, bad. Mind is not a static faculty; it keeps growing in relation to the breadth of experience of its host.

If brain is not there the mind is not there, the relation is reciprocal. Mind as accumulated evolutionary experience, abstracted and residing in the brain, guides the matter on its evolutionary path and reciprocally the matter keeps expanding it with its objective experience. Mind and matter are not different; mind is the faculty of matter, the brain. Mind becomes adult when it gains the ability of objectively reflective observation. This abstraction of it is the sign of adulthood. Mind cannot exist without brain, a matter, and matter is mastless and rudderless without mind, its principal faculty, the two are essential to each other and inseparable. The primary and ultimate existence is where the mind and matter completely merge into each other, the stages of the grossest mind and the subtlest matter. Reality is objective and universal, our ideas are individualistic interpretations of the objective reality. All the ideas combined would be a wholesome and complete interpretation of the total objective reality. Imagination is the creative element of mind, it follows thought not precedes it. Experience is the faculty of Existence and everything that exists has that faculty, but thinking is, however, a faculty of the mind, and objective thought and reflective is an exclusive faculty of the human mind residing in the human brain. Independent of brain, thought cannot exist except in the shape of writings, paintings, artifacts, architecture and other products, material, of human thought. If it is not externalized in some shape it dies with its host the brain, never ever again to see the light of existence. Thoughts of all the men born on earth contributed to the formation of the present world.

Mind is the product of our sensual experience of the matter that surrounds us, with deduction, induction, calculation, intuition, speculation, intuition, imagination, abstraction, and generalization being different mental processes applied on the sensual experience, knowledge, for its categorization, indexation and formulation. However, despite the fact that mind is a product of matter, it after abstraction becomes an independent power that becomes the cause, motive and moving force behind human actions, which acting on matter, the material world, brings changes in it in accordance with human ideas and conceptions and thus furthers the evolution of the material world.

Human mind, abstracted as human thought, available to human beings, recorded and preserved on tablets, in writings, in shapes and artifacts created by man, also assimilating through sensual experience of the material world the purpose of existence, is now an independent power and driving force behind human activity and as it is growing it is continuously creating the material world and shaping and forming it in accordance with the human desires.

The objective material world, including the physical body and its different parts and organs and their respective functions, is the source of sensations, which are processed by the mind and shaped into thoughts, subjective products. It is a voyage from Material Objectivity to Ethereal subjectivity.

There is no mechanism in the mind that should block some and allow other thoughts to enter the mind. Perceptions originate thoughts in the conceptual areas of the mind. To stop the thoughts from appearing in the mind the perceptual inlets have to be blocked and the relation and connection between the perception and conception is severed. Then only an instinctual awareness will remain, a raw conceptual field unable to produce anything unless the seeds of perception are sowed in it. So with the perceptual senses and the instinctual awareness intact you cannot stop any thoughts from sprouting in the mind. It is for the mind to shape, form and reform these thoughts from the data already available in it, and then spell these out in words, spoken or written, inventions, creations, artifacts, actions. The process described is very mechanical, and we have seen that most of the times the progress of thought from naivety to maturity has a simultaneous objective manifestation, in the shape of the progress of an object form its raw form to its highly developed shape, the internal process of thought and its objectification progressing simultaneously one taking place in the mind and the other in the objective real tangible world.

The brain has stored in it the Instinctual code of conduct carrying functional instructions for all the organs of the body. The application of these codes of conduct is independent of the mind. Mind becomes aware of these when the instinctual feedback coming to the brain from the different body organs report some exception, whether a malady or a malfunction. Mind also become aware of these instincts when these relate themselves to the objective world through the perceptual organs. Further, the brain receives, as input, the objective world that the perceptual organs pass on to it. All these inputs of the brain are processed by the mind to produce the innumerable varieties of thought. Image is a pictorial thought. Feelings are descriptions of instinctual incidences.

When mind becomes adult, at a stage in its evolution, it reaches a reflective moment and, through the objective world reflects upon itself, and becomes conscious of its existence, of its individuality. This is the birth of Consciousness. Consciousness begins and develops with its transaction with the world through its perceptual and conceptual faculties, without this transaction the body simply exists and it is not thought or consciousness that sustains your life, but simply existence, a yet undetermined force or faculty. As Elan Vital, what I call the life force, resides in the physical body and its glands and different organs, Consciousness, the psychic essence of the body that we call the Being, resides in the brain, a physical container, and Mind the abstracted garb of it. Thinking and thus consciousness getting their inputs through the perceptual senses, indexed with the five perceptual organs of the human body.

Consciousness that keeps on growing with human experience, has two parts, the one that is always available to the thought indexed with the current experience for to be used in different thinking processes as the history of human experience, and the other residing in the instinctual part of the brain constantly being passed out to the instincts for their correction, improvement, and elaboration. Their basics remaining the same the instincts keep continuously increasing the instinctual potential of the human being. As Elan Vital, as the whole is different from its parts, Consciousness is a composite indivisible entity though having innumerable small parts as its components. Consciousness as a faculty of mind is a continuous process of experiencing, learning, and on the basis of it continuously changing and adapting to the new vistas, visions, and realities. Life is a dynamic entity moving on and learning and continuously assimilating and adapting to the new realities and thus ever growing and taking newer and newer shapes.

Consciousness, again, is in every respect a product of the physical body; the external world that has passed through the five portals of the physical self and after subjective qualifications now resides in the physical brain. Consciousness dies with the death of its physical host, the brain, if it has any life after that, it is in the shape of its products, writings, inventions, buildings, etc. Consciousness, specific to an individual, is individuality conferred upon, otherwise a generality, life. This generality, life, is neither born nor dies, it is God, the light of the universe, residing in the physical body as an essence.

I agree with William James that experience is the primal stuff and subject-object relation and consciousness are derivatives, however, I do not agree with Berkley and Hegel that what is not experienced is nothing, on the ground that the whole world is an experience and each one of us is directly involved with that part of it which is available to him perceptually, temporally, spatially, and conceptually. What we do not experience directly passes on to us, being the experience of other individuals differently placed than us, as secondary and indirect experience. All experiences are the basic units which when reflected upon become the conscious data on which our thought processes are built. Just like our pre-natal history is pure simple unqualified experience, untrammeled by perception, conception, or the contemplative ideals of consciousness.

Experience, without our objectively being aware of it resides in our body, mind and body being two processing units of the whole, the body acts on it and the mind part of the body processes it, reflects on it, codifies and categories it, slowly shaping and forming them into objective abstraction, which we find as inventions, concepts, notions, and creations on our objectively-experienced world.

William James is right that experience is the primary stuff there is no mind before it. It does not with all its stuff exist as an a priori. The first experience is the first thought and the first block of the later to be an entity, mind. The first experience when it gets stored in the brain it performs two functions first as the first block of the mind, and second, as the a priori data reflecting upon, guiding, and judging the second thought. Then begins the long journey of the development of consciousness with its different sections, a priori section, that is the general part picked out of experience and working as general judgments, basic guidelines for further experience and categorization, and the a posteriori section, the one currently in transaction with the world. Inductive Reasoning and Deductive Reasoning are parts of Consciousness that keeps developing, becoming sharper and sharper on its evolutionary way to God knows what. Every consciousness has two parts; first specific and individual to the host, and the second associated with the world and passed on to it as deeds and transactions, or as writings, sayings, and other pieces of human endeavor.

Reason is an integral and internal faculty of existence, whether the holder is aware of it or not. Consciousness, however, is a reflective awareness of self-existence and its components, placements, and relations. Only the human beings, that too the recent ones are blessed with this faculty. It is the transcendent development of existence, a stage in the evolutionary life of Being, an endeavor to be a Being from a Non-Being. Consciousness, we can say is Reflective Reasoning, a stage in the development of Reason where the self is posited as the object of Reason.

When the flame of life extinguishes, the brain dies and its occupant the consciousness residing comfortably in the mind, irretrievably descends into an impregnable darkness. Only a few lucky ones of all get the opportunity of transmuting a part of there selves into some objectively tangible form, writings, architectures, painting, memoirs, philosophies, etc, while all the rest, from small to great minds, each having innumerable adornments, earn their fate, the Ultimate Oblivion. Ghalib, “Not all but some in the shape of tulips and roses have risen”, “Now hidden in dust what faces there must have been”(Sub kahan kuch lala o gul mayn numayan ho gayeen- Khak may kiya surtayn hoon gi key pinhan hoo giyan.)

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