I'd like to do some brainstorming on the premise that the mind is not physically reducible. For my stance on that premise, please see my other thread (1: Not Materially Reducible). I'm not opposed to discussing and debating that premise. But I'd like to do that in that thread, if we could. I would like to keep this thread focused on brainstorming about how this premise is achieved.
Of course, I expect anyone participating here also believes the mind is not materially reducible. Or maybe thinks this would be fun regardless!
At this point, I think the actual answer would seem outlandish. We would probably need to learn quite a bit before we could make sense of it. Will we ever understand how light, even a single photon, can be particle or wave, depending on how it is observed? Who knows. The mind is surely dependent on the brain for it's very existence. Maybe the mind *is* the brain, somehow free, at least partially, of the rules.
So I don't suspect for a second to find any answers to this riddle. I don't think I've come up with the answer to one of the universe's greatest mysteries. Heck, one is from a fantasy book I wish I was writing. (I am not author-material.) So I won't be heartbroken if anyone points out a problem. Of course, I think anything is fair game, since we don't have a clue about how consciousness is achieved. Still, saying why this or that idea, mine or anyone else's (I sure hope I don't sit here talking to myself!), couldn't work is fine, since it will help refine ideas. Part of the scientific method is scrutiny and criticism, after all.
But I don't think the scientific method can take us very far. We can't really test any idea anybody throws out there, and we can't examine something that is not materially reducible in any of science's traditional ways. But I figure we either ignore the topic, or we talk about it.
So then, I have three ideas ("theories" is entirely out of line, and even "hypothesis" is going overboard) about how the mind can be irreducible.
1) Panpsychism. Not my idea, obviously. But I thought I'd throw it out there. Unarguably, matter is conscious. We are made of matter, after all. So maybe our level of consciousness is possible because all matter has some kind of ... proto-consciousness, which manifests in different ways, depending on the complexity of the hunk of matter in question. David Skrbina said:
Certainly anything like the human mind requires a human-like memory, but this is relevant only for complex organisms. It is not reasonable to demand that atomic particles have anything like the memory capability of the human being, or even any physical instantiation of something like memory. Minds of atoms may conceivably be, for example, a stream of instantaneous memory-less moments of experience.
Maybe not even that. Who knows.
2) Quantum Mechanics. The universe is built on a foundation of elementary particles that do not follow the laws of physics. Some effects come before their causes. Some effects have no cause. Is it any wonder if something in the macro world does not follow the laws of physics? Of course, how quantum mechanics could be the direct building block of the mind is beyond me. I just thought it was an interesting idea.
3) This one is from my never-to-be fantasy book. The strings of string theory are more akin to concepts than anything else. That is, the "stuff" they are made of is the same stuff thought is made of. No reason their truest nature couldn't play a role in the things that are made out of them. And if the things made our of them are of sufficient complexity, those things can have qualities that are filled with thought.
So there's your have it!
Again, I sure hope I don't end up sitting here talking to myself! Lol