Volition and Perception, A Reductive Definition of Mind

This is a summary of my latest theory on the relationship between mental and physical phenomena.

I propose that quantum events are the ultimate fundamental building blocks of all reality. Specifically, when quantum collapse transforms a superpositional state into a specific physical particle. This has been pretty well established scientifically for all physical phenomenon. The inherently random potential of a quantum event is limited or constrained in its uncertainty by how the physical universe shapes the particular superposition of a particle as dictated by the laws of physics. All physical events can ultimately be reduced to countless iterations of this single process.

I believe that all mental events are ultimately reducible to the same basic process of quantum collapse, and that hugely complex mental constructions like the human mind are simply the surprising results of an unimaginably large number of these events occurring in proximity to each other. Thus physical and mental events are ultimately interchangeable. They’re merely two different ways of describing the same thing. Thus quantum events can be described in two seemingly discrete ways but which ultimately directly correlate to each other. The two fundamental mental correlates of quantum events are volition and perception. The inherently random potential of a quantum event manifests mentally as a tiny instance of what ultimately becomes familiar to our minds as volition, and the limitations or constraints that shape the superpositional field are the primitive pieces of what we ultimately call perception.

The part of our brains responsible for our conscious mind–the part where our sensations and conceptions (our brain states, in other words) are imposed upon our minds in the form of perception and conversely, where unpredictable, volitional acts of will in our minds impose physical states on our brain–must consist of a never ending field of overlapping superpositions whose shape is directly correlated to the neural activity (perhaps via electromagnetic values) of various parts of our brain. The stronger the influence of various brain states on the quantum mental field of superpositions, the more perceptual the event will be, and the weaker the influence and therefore the more chaotic and Uncertain the events in the quantum mental field are, the more volitional the event will be.

This explains lots of things about why mental phenomena occur in the way they do, and may even give insight into fields such as artificial intelligence and mind interactive technologies. It also explains why the subject of qualia seems so surprising and perplexing to understand. Let’s look at a phenomenon that illustrates perception. As an example, we’ll use the experience of visually perceiving a red circle on a black field. If we were having this visual experience and consciously focusing on it as completely as we can, our mental experience at that time will have certain behaviors that are understandable from a ‘Volition and Perception’ perspective. This event would be almost completely perceptual and minimally volitional, which is why we have basically zero conscious control over the nature of the phenomenal experience, why such a highly deterministic shaped mental field is more vivid and detailed than any mental field lacking such an abnormal level of determinism. The qualia that arise from this mental state seem so baffling simply because the shape of the mental field that it creates is created entirely externally. In other words, qualia, by their nature are mental events which could never occur without being specifically imposed by forces outside the mind. It’s no wonder then, that they seem to arise in our minds in a mysteriously arbitrary way.

One of the main predictions that might be made from this theory is in the creation of artificial intelligence. In order to create a machine with a truly subjective, experiential mental existence, it must–according to this theory–have an interactive quantum field. We could make simulated artificial minds by substituting the quantum uncertainty aspect with a deterministic random number generator and in theory never be able to notice the difference, but such deterministic minds would be philosophical ‘zombies’. Only minds made with an actual interactive quantum field generator that reliably interacted with the various cognitive states of the rest of the artificial brain would be a genuine mind with truly subjective experiences. If this is the case, it’s easy to see why we’re making such little progress in AI. We generally try to limit or eliminate random or unexplainable cognitive processes in AI. And even if we make something sophisticated enough to where every basic process had an element of uncertainty, we’d probably use deterministic random number generators rather than interactive quantum field engines to provide the uncertainty.

This would also seem to suggest that any successful attempt at making a true artificial mind would result in a mind that could not be perfectly controlled or programmed. The more volitional the consciousness was, the less programmable or predictable it would have to be and vice versa. In other words, the more consciousness a machine possesses, the more it behaves like a person than a machine.

This is just a basic explanation of my theory of mind, but it covers all the core ideas. The main reason why I like it so much is it seems to have an intuitive elegance to it. Also, it allows for all existing physical and psychological facts to remain unchanged since all it claims is a dualistic connection at the smallest and most fundamental level of reality and leaves all higher order phenomenon the same. The other posts on this blog are mostly elaborations, explanations, and examples based on the core idea described on this page.

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