Psychic Phenomena

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Psychic Phenomena

Postby albert » Fri Nov 29, 2002 12:03 pm

Does psychic phenomena exist?

If so, will there ever be a physical explanation for it or will it always be in the realm of the supernatural?

Any thoughts on telepathy (mind to mind), clairvoyance (mind over distance), precognition (mind over time), telekinesis (mind over matter) or field consciousness (many minds working together)???
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Postby treysuttle » Fri Nov 29, 2002 4:22 pm

A problem 'more close to home' than even esp is the mind-body problem. Most of us accept that mental life is either contingent or temporarily connected to the physical brain. But there still is no consensus on how thoughts and the body can causually effect one other. This may be the most common 'psychic' phenomenon of all. If you think about it, the whole of civilization is a result of psychic phenomena...minds telling bodies what to do and then molding things in accordance with this.

I don't rule out esp, but it is my understanding that there is little real evidence to support stuff like telekinesis and so forth.

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Postby Johan » Fri Nov 29, 2002 5:44 pm

ESP is the result of the fact that there is no separation in the substance. At this point this effect is a leak from this reality because most human individuals have not this focus, and those who have some control are limited in numbers, and they are not 100%. You can call the human collective a brain with multiple personality disorder, and ESP is what connects the different parts again. ESP is what makes a complex working in harmony as one homogeneity. Have you seen a fry (or shoal, don't know the word) of fish how they act as one body or birds doing the same. When individuals at different edges of the group act simultaneous this can be ESP. I have never tried to communicate with another human in this way when I have been on the one substance consciousness, so I'm not sure. I don't think mind reading is the real function of ESP though, but more like a sideeffect. The meaning is not that all humans should connect their babbling minds, but that it should function as a tool to add homogeneity to the human complexity and development.

It's a mistake to separate mind and body. It's the same mistake as trying to separate energy and matter, or any other duality. There is only one substance, and you can call it matter or consciousness, it won't matter. The fact that there is no real so called matter in the universe is a mindcleaning thought to think over. The matter exist only because of movement. If you stop the movement in sub atomic level matter would no longer exist in front of your eye. This is the reason why the universe can fit in a point zero; the final state of revered creation; the final black hole, and the new beginning.

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Postby treysuttle » Fri Nov 29, 2002 6:16 pm

That it is a mistake to seperate mind and body requires an argument.

On one hand you say there is no real matter and then go on to say that matter exists only because of movement. Those two claims seem to contradict each other, can you explain?

As well, movement is not something in itself, but is the product of something that is moving or in motion...what would this be if it is not matter, as mental phenomena seemingly is not spatially located, which seems to be necessary for something to move?

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Postby Johan » Fri Nov 29, 2002 9:13 pm

Besides the rule: "why make it two when it can be one and more simple" I would make the argument about my theory like this:

First it's a theory; and I can not prove it at this point, I only have personal experiences, that I'm unable to catch on film or any other media and show to you. So I will use the dreamscene as a metaphor for my theory:
The "one substance" is not matter nor consciousness but a synthesis between them. Imagine that you are dreaming. Now imagine that you can explore your dream, or you have so called "lucid dreaming". Now you can start to explore the substance in your dream. You will look up in to the darkness and you ask yourself if the universe is endless. You will start to look in to the smallest part of the Matter, and you will find smaller and smaller objects till a point where you realize that the more you look the mass of the matter gets smaller and smaller. When you get to the point when all substance in the known universe fits in a tennisball and the next step is the point of a needle you give up and say to yourself: we are not dealing with particles here so this must be a dream. If everything is consciousness without the duality of mind and matter there is only one substance and therefore you can replace the word consciousness with the word matter. You should however not say that life is a dream, that would be a mistake. This model just serves as a metaphor to describe the "one substance".

Now to the movement without matter problem: We all learned in school and were all amazed when the teacher told us that solid surface of matter only existed because of the movement of the electrons. Without their rotation object would no longer exist as we could se them. We still have the core with Posetroner and Neutroner (don't know the English words) ETC, but this core would be so small in relation to the electron's tracks that it would disappear in front of our eyes. The next step is to do this again with the subatomic particles ETC, In the end you start to end up with very small amount of real mass. So if you want to say that the substance that "God" have is the size of a tennisball then it's OK, but I found this model a little too.. I'm looking for a word... "somethingthatEinstienwouldhavesaid". I prefer it a little more simple so therefore I'm looking for a solution to remove this tennisball. I agree that it seams like it requires a substance for movement to be even if it only requires the mass inside of a tennisball (give or take a little depending on the size of the universe) for a universe to move. Pick that apart a few more times and it's even smaller, but I agree that it does not dissapear. If you look at it in a VERY strong microscope it will blow up to the size of the original universe again, darn! No I don't belive in particles because it's too absurd, it's as absurd as saying there is a wall somewhere out there in the universe and nothing behind it. (Yes I know about the twisting universe theories).

So take a full time lucid dreamer make the dreamer have multiple personality disorder and you have a perfect universe, and yes; I'm talking about you... or am I talking to myself... well it's Friday night.

Or maybe not.

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Postby Skeptic » Fri Nov 29, 2002 10:26 pm

If we are all in agreement that our consciousness(mind) is just matter and nothing supernatural, then wouldn't any psychic phenomena have to be natural as well? So if psychic phenomena is natural, then wouldn't we be able to detect some sort of radiance or activity exuding from our brain? I have never looked into this but I would guess that others have and have not found any. Any insight?
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Postby treysuttle » Sat Nov 30, 2002 1:09 am

I would say that even if consciousness itself is not matter, then it is still natural...it just may be that all of nature cannot be circumscribed as physical. We might even be able to infer laws of consciousness, like psychology might offer. We pick up alpha waves from the brain and so forth, but that is not much different from seeing a brain itself, one if still not seeing consciousness, althogh it may also be true that unless the physical matter is organized in a particular way there is no consciousness, but that may not be true as well.
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Postby Skeptic » Sat Nov 30, 2002 4:33 am

Trey, please tell me what you might define as supernatural and what are the boundaries of the natural? If everything is natural then nothing is supenatural. Wouldn't you agree? I have always associated metaphysics with supernatural synonimously. So if consciousness is not physical, I would suggest that it is supernatural. Am I wrong in my definition?
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"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
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Postby Brad » Sat Nov 30, 2002 4:09 pm

That it is a mistake to seperate mind and body requires an argument.


Uh, how about no evidence of a mind ever being without a body? Plenty of stories, plenty of anecdotal evidence, plenty of frauds, but no real evidence unless you think evidence for Bigfoot is evidence.

You also mention that minds tell bodies what to do, but don't bodies tell minds what to do as well? Actually, there's a lot more evidence to support the body and it's surroundings telling the mind what to think than the mind being the one in control. Infant behaviour, speech patterns, DNA, evolution, etc.)

The onus is on metaphysical dualists, it seems to me, to prove their point -- even if they have folk psychology on their side.

The doctrine of one substance in the universe is called monism and it's not new, I've just never really liked the term. It's not a particularly exciting picture. On the other hand, I don't see much point in the supernatural.

As far as ESP is concerned, normal perception, if suitably trained, has a lot predictive power if you give it a chance and that covers precognition, clairvoyance, and telepathy.

Telekinesis? I think we can chalk that one up to adolescent power fantasies.

ESP is all about power, isn't it?
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Postby Johan » Sat Nov 30, 2002 5:58 pm

You can say that a sphere has two sides; up and down. Or you can say that it have endless amount of sides. The fact is that it has no sides, and counting would be wrong. If you shift focus your symbols will get a new meaning. We are not a mind with a body or a body with a mind we are not mind or matter, we are a sphere and we have no sides.

The doctrine of one substance in the universe is called monism and it's not new.
No it's the oppostite to dualism, and I would say that half the bunch of the filosophs are monists and half of them are dualists.

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Postby Skeptic » Sat Nov 30, 2002 6:10 pm

What about pluralists? :wink:
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Postby treysuttle » Sat Nov 30, 2002 8:38 pm

So much, I will try and reply briefly but will give more later.

Metaphysics is those questions concerned with Reality (capital R). What I guess one might call the "big questions". I am not sure one can really pin down a definitive definition, what will be metaphysics for one person might be gibberish for another. At least on one view, taking it back to Aristotle, metaphysics is the study of first principles, specifically those that ground physics (or nature, to think in terms of the literal Greek). Like the nature of causation. Causation is a first principle in physics (arguably) so one would not want to assume its nature if one was going to study causation itself...the meta study of causation for instance.

Yeah, I think everything that is, is natural, no matter how weird it might be. Some might say that if something is not in agreement with the laws of physics then it is supernatural. That is fine for me if that is how someone choses to think about it..and in this sense minds may very well be supernatural.

It seems to me on those issues in which we cannot have empirical knowledge, we must rely on our reason. Seperation of mind and body seems to be just such a question. What kind of evidence would support seperation of mind and body? If the mind is not a physical entity, then no amount of physical evidence is going to substantiate it...see what I mean. Descartes lists around 3 or 4 arguments in favor of mind-body dualism. Mind-reductionism is based on the view that if you can find what link there is between a mental process and a physical process then we can eliminate the mental process as having substantial reality itself (there are other grounds also, but that seems to be the main idea behind it what is going on) . But mind-body dualism does not claim there is not a link...only that they are different kinds of things....even if the mind does not persist after death...mind-body dualism is compatible with minds not surviving death and even the extinction of minds at physical death...for example, epiphenomenalism. All one needs to show that mind-body dualism is true is to show that in fact minds and bodys have properties that are incompatible with them being the same kind of thing.

Sure, bodies effects minds also.

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Postby Brad » Sat Nov 30, 2002 10:22 pm

I suppose you don't find two different language games for describing the same thing very persuasive?

We can call this non-reductive monism/Naturalism/Physicalism if you want.

The difficulty in all of this is in qualia (raw feels), but what if these were more a habit of action or a habit of description for exacty the brain functions we can see when playing with the brain? One is a physical description, the other a description developed over time in a historical/social/cultural system.

What was the line from Wittgenstein: "So what would it look like if the world revolved around the sun?"

Or something like that.
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Postby treysuttle » Sun Dec 01, 2002 12:28 am

I am not a dualist but I am not a physicalist either. I guess I would be neutral monist as things presently stand.

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Postby Skeptic » Mon Dec 02, 2002 11:35 pm

Trey stated:
Some might say that if something is not in agreement with the laws of physics then it is supernatural. That is fine for me if that is how someone choses to think about it.


This is how I choose to think of it, else the word supernatural is worthless. So when I refer to this term, that is what I mean. Supernatural means non-compliant with the humanly developed/percieved laws of physics. Simply put, until we know (and can explain) how it works it is supernatural.

Trey stated:
Metaphysics is those questions concerned with Reality (capital R). What I guess one might call the "big questions". I am not sure one can really pin down a definitive definition, what will be metaphysics for one person might be gibberish for another. At least on one view, taking it back to Aristotle, metaphysics is the study of first principles, specifically those that ground physics (or nature, to think in terms of the literal Greek). Like the nature of causation. Causation is a first principle in physics (arguably) so one would not want to assume its nature if one was going to study causation itself...the meta study of causation for instance.


As you said, there is not a universal definition that has really been pinned on this term. Meta means after, so 'after physics' or as I usually think of it as 'beyond physics'. So anything that is beyond the physical elements of energy and matter or as you said the origin of the principle of causation that we find in physics. So I kind of think of metaphysical as a non-physical form of being.

So if there is any form of psychic phenomena, we would have to classify it as non-physical as we can find no physical evidence to support such a theory. So if we were to say that the phenomena was non-physical then that would mean that part of our physical self must interact with the non-physical, right? As you suggested, maybe our consciousness is non-physical and our brain interacts with it, but it stands by it's own laws rather than the laws of physics. Is this what you were insinuating?

If this were true then you are also insinuating a sort of solipsm or that matter maybe manipulated freely by our consiousness, thus the physical laws are really illusion. If this is so, then why don't we see contiuous chaos? or why am I unable to manipulate the physical upon command? Have I just not learned to facilitate this part of my brain? (or should I say has my mind not learned to facilitate this part of my brain to facilitate that part of mind to interact with non-bodily matter?) Am I confusing you yet? b/c I am on the verge of confusing myself. :)

Trey stated:
What kind of evidence would support seperation of mind and body? If the mind is not a physical entity, then no amount of physical evidence is going to substantiate it...see what I mean.


Sure, but if you are suggesting that there is a link then we must infer that there is evidence as there would be physical results of the minds manipulation of matter. They would just be unexplainable events that we would have to assign as caused by an unkown non-physical source, right? I can find no reason to believe that there is any non-physical form that manipulates the physical, although I must admit that I am quite stumped as to what caused the physical to be in the first place.
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Postby treysuttle » Tue Dec 03, 2002 3:39 am

Yeah, I was not quite seeing what you were saying there.

Thats dandy, as long as you keep in mind that physics is a historical project that is in flux...todays supernatural is tomorrows natural. The philosphical point would be to know what is really supernatural...as opposed to what might be believed to be supernatural but is not.

Think about this. What if mental phenomena, in themselves, are not physical, but they superviene on the physical. What I mean by this is that while mental phenomena may not follow the laws of physics themselves, physical phenomena does, and mental phenomena is tied to physical phenomena in such a way that they are 'along for the ride' for lack of better terms at the moment. Here is kinda how it would work I suppose. You have m1 mental phenomena, it happens, and because mental phenomena themselves do not follow any laws, or the laws of physics anyway so we will reject a 1 to 1 correspondence in causation, then it is completely open as to what mental phenomenon would follow...any possible mental phenomenon could follow (possible here being quite 'big' of course given the circumstances). But that is an ideal way of looking at it, in reality, lets say that mental phenomenon does not happen unless it is linked to the physical phenomenon that makes it possible..i.e. mental phenomenon is not physical but arises from particular organizations of matter. As we all know, or have strong evidence to believe, what mental phenomenon happens seems to a great deal contingent on what physical organization is taking place. Lets take p1 as a physical phenomenon...like a certain brain state...lets say given the laws of physics that p2 would follow from p1. Because what mental phenomenon happens is contingent on what physical phenomenon happens...then m2 might follow from m1 not because of laws tied up in mental phenomenon but because of laws tied up in physical phenomenon.

The idea is not that strange...we actually accept it regarding a lot of things...stomach aches superviene on the organization of certain biological 'atoms', the meaning of words superviene on physical letters and/or physical soundwaves (which themselves are purely physical and have no meaning in the sense that the words do...but meaning is to a great degree contingent on them), colors perhaps, actually...the list could go on and on. The merit I think of the view would be that mental phenomenon could both be explained and be predictable based on the physical but metaphysical may not be reducible to the physical. Of course, like with many philosophers, if you just have a hardcore gut feeling that materialism is correct, then this theory wouldn't satisfy you no matter its explanatory power. It does however seem to be the way we do brain/mind science. We associate mental phenomenon with corresponding physical phenomena and attempt to predict what will happen to mental phenomenon based on changes in physical phenomenon...like psychoactive medicine.

That is one possible scenario that would explain why, even if mental phenomena are not physical and do not obey the laws of physics in themselves, nonetheless do not happen purely at random or are just a chaotic flux.

As far as the mental effecting the physical, I have a greater problem with that than with the physical effecting the mental, because I believe pretty strongly that if some kind of dualism is true, then something like the theory above is probably true...the mental is a result of the physical and what happens in the mental happens because of what is happening in the physical. What this might mean though is a rejection of a certain conception of freewill...but that in itself of course wouldn't make the theory false.

I will point out though there are more 'complex' theories based on the principles above that do make room for mental effecting the physical.

I don't think the laws of physics are not real and I don't reject mental states either...they just have to be explained, either in terms of the physical or in some other way.

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Postby Skeptic » Sun Dec 08, 2002 1:36 am

I think I understand what you are saying and I apologize for my ramblings but this subject is just really hard to clearly put into words (as I can see you are finding your own difficulties).

The dualism that you are speaking of is similar to the concept of what some might call the 'body' and the 'soul'. Am I right? The mental phenomena is non-physical and the body is the physical.

Because what mental phenomenon happens is contingent on what physical phenomenon happens


What is the point in differentiatiing if the mental phenomenon is 'completely' contingent on the physical? My point is that it is not necessary to define something that has no independent attributes.

Of course, like with many philosophers, if you just have a hardcore gut feeling that materialism is correct, then this theory wouldn't satisfy you no matter its explanatory power. It does however seem to be the way we do brain/mind science. We associate mental phenomenon with corresponding physical phenomena and attempt to predict what will happen to mental phenomenon based on changes in physical phenomenon...


This is where you lose me. So are you just suggesting dualism as a way to further examine the mental phenomena or are you really suggesting that the mind is of different substance than physical matter?

that if some kind of dualism is true, then something like the theory above is probably true...the mental is a result of the physical and what happens in the mental happens because of what is happening in the physical. What this might mean though is a rejection of a certain conception of freewill...but that in itself of course wouldn't make the theory false.


Why does that necessarily reject free will? I see no possibility for free will in any scenario.

I apologize as I am really trying to understand what you are saying, but you are not explaining very clearly. I am, however, very interested in your perspective. Would you mind trying again?

(Is there anybody else that is understanding Trey, that would be willing to translate?)
Last night as I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky, I thought to myself,
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Postby treysuttle » Sun Dec 08, 2002 7:32 am

To say that one thing is contingent...or depends on something for its existence, doesn't imply that which is contingent doesn't have properties of its own...different from that which it is contingent upon, nor does it imply that they are the same kinds of things. Meaning...at least regarding a written words for example, is contingent upon the physical letters...but the properties are surely not the same...the meaning of 'cat' is not the meaning of 'c' 'a' 't' or even the sum...as of course the meaning can superviene on any letters that a group denotes.

Minds of course have a very essential property that brains do not have...they can only be experienced in the 'first person'...only I can experience my thoughts...although anyone with appropriate instruments and technology can in principle experince my brain processes.

Soul is a very fuzzy word in philosophy. I prefer to talk about mental experiences...and I assume for the sake of argument that you understand by this pretty much the same as I do....one's thoughts primarily...imagination, memories, beliefs, so forth. I actually do not identify the soul with mental processes, although many philosophers have I suppose.

The freewill issue in the model I gave is as follows. If what mental experiences happen is contingent on what physical processes take place, and physical processes happen only in accordance with the rigid laws of classical physics...then there is no freewill...everything that is thought is thought only as a product of matter following the necessity of physical laws.

I have never really been able to seriously entertain the idea that we do not have some degree of freewill. For me it has always just been a matter of trying to explain how freewill is possible. Of course though, if someone sincerly tells me that they do not think they have any freewill...then I will not argue with them...just consider myself fortunate that I am not them.

Yeah, I have great trouble expressing my ideas sometimes. I just keep trying to get them clear with other people's help.

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Postby Skeptic » Sun Dec 08, 2002 10:37 pm

Yeah, I have great trouble expressing my ideas sometimes. I just keep trying to get them clear with other people's help.


No, I think that you do a wonderful job of expressing your ideas. This just so happens to be a subject that is hard to express with common language. You did, however clear everything up with this post. Thanks. I just wasn't quite sure if we were talking on the same plane.

To say that one thing is contingent...or depends on something for its existence, doesn't imply that which is contingent doesn't have properties of its own...


Now that I understand what you are saying, this makes perfect sense. Our 'consiousness' is contingent upon the 'physical' but possibly has it's own set of natural laws and it's own set of characteristics.

Minds of course have a very essential property that brains do not have...they can only be experienced in the 'first person'...


From a monistic perspective I suspect that 'consiousness' is only an illusion. But I very clearly see where you are going with this now from a dualistic perspective.

Soul is a very fuzzy word in philosophy. I prefer to talk about mental experiences...and I assume for the sake of argument that you understand by this pretty much the same as I do....


Exactly, but I am willing to label it consiousness if you want to. The only difference though is that I imagine the soul might be able to exist independently of the physical (but that is an entirely different topic).

The freewill issue in the model I gave is as follows. If what mental experiences happen is contingent on what physical processes take place, and physical processes happen only in accordance with the rigid laws of classical physics...then there is no freewill


I see what you are saying. Works the same way in a monistic model as well. Determinism.

I have never really been able to seriously entertain the idea that we do not have some degree of freewill. For me it has always just been a matter of trying to explain how freewill is possible.


Yes, I have often thought of this during free will discussions. See if you can follow me here. Let's suggest that the mental phenomena (non-physical) did have some influence over the physical. Let's also say that the non-physical laws were not based on causal architecture (kind of hard to imagine). It would be possible for some sort of free-will to exist. Right? It is just really hard to imagine a "non-causal architecture". Do you see what I am saying?

But where would you draw the lines? If the mental phenomena (non-physical) has influence over the physical, where does this influence stop, at the body? at our observable surroundings (telekinesis)? other peoples minds and body's (telepathy)? or do we have absolute control over everything (we are God)? How much "free" will do we have? (this is where I was going with my earlier posts but I kind of got ahead of myself.)
Last night as I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky, I thought to myself,
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Postby treysuttle » Sun Dec 08, 2002 11:01 pm

I don't really advocate the model that I gave you...it was mostly just an example of how one kind of dualism might work...while retaining some intuitive ideas that we have...like that what happens in the mental is a result of the physical. Like I said, I am more of a neutral monist I suppose. As far as causation and freewill...there is evidence in physics that events on the subatomic level sometimes happen randomly, which opens the door for freewill. As well, one might reject a 1 to 1 stimulas-response model and instead opt for a range of possible effects given a cause. What is significant to me is that I experience myself as being a chosing agent in many of my actions and because some other beings seem to be much like me in many respects, I generalize that they are probably the same...and therefore I hold them responsible for actions unless there are mitigating circumstances.

Of course the determinist might say that all this is an illusion...and then I will say ok, I disagree but that is the beauty of it all.

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