The following is an edited excerpt from a recent exchange with a good friend — I thought it may be of some interest to readers following the Philosophy and Metaphysics topic:
[i]In MBT you speak often of process and process fractals, and another world MBT has opened for me is that of process philosophy. Lately I’ve been reading much of the founding process philosophers’ work (esp. Bergson & Whitehead). This is the only mainstream philosophy I have come across that is compatible with the ideas in MBT and I am finding it quite interesting and refreshing.
Bergson in particular explores the different kinds of time experienced by matter and by consciousness, which of course is a big part of MBT. He views the body as a “center of action“ that allows us to be embodied and act in the world.
In Book 3 you write: “The past (all stored reality system state vectors, whether we have actualized them or not) is alive, vibrant, available, open to us (for inspection or what-if-analysis) through NPMRn, and fully capable of calculating new realities based upon new initial conditions.“
100 years ago Bergson partially expressed an element of this. He takes process metaphysics to its logical conclusion and contends that memories are not stored in the brain but in the “spiritual world,“ and they are accessed by the actions of consciousness. “Habits stored by repeated actions are amassed in the body (brain); these do not represent the past, they merely act it.“
“We understand then why a remembrance cannot be the result of a state of the brain. The state of the brain continues the remembrance; it gives it a hold on the present by the materiality which it confers upon it: but pure memory is a spiritual manifestation. With memory we are in very truth in the domain of spirit.“
In his view brain damage destroys areas of action (perceiving areas) in the brain which affects memory because the mental action cannot be repeated. From a process-centered view I find this interesting and appealing, and I wonder if you feel this is generally correct for our normal conscious states?[/i]
It certainly appears that Bergson understood much that eludes more contemporary thinkers. The fact that PMR was a subset of NPMR was much more widely understood by the intelligentsia of 100 years ago than it is today is sometimes surprising. His model works in general if not in particular, and may be better than most, but it is still a forced fit.
It can be misleading to model physical and nonphysical realities as two separate, independent realms of existence that are connected by a mystical information exchange — a bleed-through or tunneling between fundamentally different (if not incompatible, contradictory, and mutually exclusive) realities. All existence at the fundamental level is nonphysical, consciousness, or “spirit“. The sense of being physical is created by limiting the perception of consciousness to a subset of the possibilities constrained by a specific rule-set. From the limited viewpoint within this subset, reality appears physical and is obedient to the causality imposed by the rule-set. In MBT we call this subset a PMR; the rule-set represents PMR physics. Like all subsets, PMR remains a part of the superset (which we call NPMR). Any PMR is set apart from NPMR only by the constraints placed upon perception from “within“ the PMR — fundamentally, ALL reality is nonphysical. The sense of “physical“ is a personal point of view from the perspective of a constrained awareness. The set of allowable “physical“ interactions (energy and information exchanges) available to that constrained awareness is further constrained and given consistency by the rule-set.
[i]Bergson does have some appreciation of this - he writes: “One general conclusion follows from the first three chapters of this book (Matter & Memory): it is that the body, always turned toward action, has for its essential function to limit, with a view to action, the life of the spirit.“[/i]
Bergson’s “center of action“ sounds like it is a derivative of what MBT describes as free will intent -- the bridge between physical and nonphysical. Intent, constrained by the individual’s quality of consciousness, chooses what is to be actualized from the possibilities that are available to that individual in the present moment. Thus nonphysical intent picks from the available choices to define the action that animates (gives interactive existence to) physical reality.
[i]Just one more quote that is somewhat related here: “Spirit borrows from matter the perceptions on which it feeds, and restores them to matter in the form of movements which it has stamped with its own freedom.“
Bergson has a poetic sense that helped brand him as a “fuzzy thinker“ by some for his appreciation of intuition, but William James was a great admirer and he did win the Nobel Prize for literature. [/i]
100 years ago, without the concept of digital information, Bergson was looking for THE source of memory. If memory was fundamental to the “sprit world“ (which he correctly deduced), then from his perspective, it couldn't also be in the brain — and visa versa. Shared memory and redundant memory are digital concepts. Think of the brain as containing or representing a constrained subset of the individual’s consciousness. This limited subset is engaged in a game with rules and goals — all focused toward the purpose of generating experience (the best teacher) leading to lower system entropy (improving the quality of that consciousness). Memory can be said to be in the physical brain and also in the nonphysical consciousness — the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive and separate databases — one for thought the other for enabling action. Physical awareness is just a subset of a larger awareness — what one is aware of (remembers and sees) is only a subset of what exists and of what is available. All is just consciousness — this physical/nonphysical thing, brain/spirit thing, is simply a matter of perspective — an imagined duality that exists only to describe limited (constrained) points of view of a single whole thing to people who share that limited view. The data subset and physical awareness ascribed to the brain and the data and awareness ascribed to the “spirit“ do not have to have separate functions, origins, or mutually exclusive jurisdictions. Both are just a constrained views of the whole. The brain is not physical, it only appears to be physical from a constrained viewpoint just as PMR only appears to exist from a limited viewpoint. Memory is shared — it’s all the same memory being accessed through many filters serving multiple functions simultaneously. Whether memory is stored here or there is the wrong question since in the bigger picture here and there are in the same place — different descriptions of the same whole thing as seen through differing filters.
There is no big picture advantage in generating concepts and models to satisfy a belief in a dualistic vision (breaking things into their physical and nonphysical parts and functions) — however, this is what many philosophers and theologians see as their primary function — to pick apart a truth (into arbitrary belief based components) that would be much more valuable seen whole.