A Trans-Temporal Approach to Mind-Brain Interaction
Presented before a gathering that included "sixteen eminent scientists including three Nobel laureats," Thompson's talk addressed contentions involving free will and the laws of physics. He proposes a dualistic approach influenced by concepts emerging from deterministic chaos theory, which can help illustrate how matter affected by consciousness could violate the laws of physics without violating the conservation of energy principle. By introducing the mathematical application known as global non-linear optimization, he suggests that “will” can act in a fashion similar to a sub-atomic constraint, which then automatically affects the workings of nature.
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TRANSCRIPT: Free Will and the Laws of Physics – A Trans-Temporal Approach to Mind-Brain Interaction. San Francisco BI Conference – February 16,1990 / (901)
Tape introduction: The following is a talk by Richard L. Thompson on the topic "A Trans-temporal Approach to Mind/Brain Interaction" delivered at the First International on the Study of Consciousness Within Science, February 17th and 18th, 1990 in San Francisco organized, by the Bhaktivedanta Institute.
Conference introduction: Now we begin the next section of the program, and I have much pleasure in calling upon Dr. Richard Thompson doing his paper "A Trans-temporal Approach to Mind/Brain Interaction"
Thank you very much. Oh, started off nicely by devastating the microphone. There we go. So I also have a book, which I will not mention, so I can follow the standard form here. I thought that I would begin this talk by offering a solution of the problem of free will. In fact, I'll begin by giving what I think might be John Searle's solution to the problem of free will. He'll be able to correct me later to see if I've got it right. Actually, when I heard his presentation on consciousness being an aspect of matter, I was a little surprised because I thought this was a very common idea. For example, there's a friend of mine, a biologist named Martinez Eiches [spelling? - not clear who this person is] who expressed this idea in terms of what he calls "hylozoism." According to his concept, consciousness is matter as seen from the inside and atoms, molecules and all that, that's matter as seen from the outside. So no problem. So that is the, actually a fairly common idea. So in the context of this idea about matter and consciousness, what can we say about free will.
Well, according to his idea, I would have to say I am completely a machine, operating according to the laws of nature. I am this body, this body is made up of little parts, particles or whatever. These parts are interacting according to certain rules given by the laws of physics. And that's the total story. If we accept that view then what can we say about free will? Well, the answer would be, "There's no problem of free will there. I can do what I will, including lift my arm and so forth because, afterall, I am a machine so what the machine does is what I do. So there's no question of any absence of free will. We're simply identifying states of consciousness with states of matter and the problem disappears."
So that is one solution, or at least you could call it a solution. However, there are some who may not be fully satisfied with this particular solution to the problem of free will or, indeed, with this solution of the question of the relationship between consciousness and matter. Actually another good point John Searle made is that it's the question of the fact. What really is the relationship between consciousness and matter? We may be satisfied with a given theoretical viewpoint, but the facts are really the important thing. And what do we do if we're not sure about the facts or, if at the present time, we can't really come to a consensus in which we can all agree about what the facts might be. Well, in such a situation we should at least be open to looking at alternatives to consider different possibilities.
So there's, of course, another possibility to this idea of identifying consciousness with matter. And this is basically the idea of some kind of dualism. The idea in dualism is that there's mental or conscious reality consisting of feelings, states of intentionality, volition, emotions, perceptions of color, of pain, of desire and so on and so forth. All that is in the domain of consciousness or mind. And then there is matter as we know it, which we describe in terms of atoms, molecules, quantum fields, and so on and so forth. So this idea of duality is there. Now in the context of this idea, what can we say about free will, or the concept of free will?
Well, given a dualistic perspective, which, for all we know at the present time, may be the fact of the matter, the question becomes "How can you have an interaction between consciousness, or mind, and matter?" The idea is there is that when I lift my arm it begins with volition, which is an aspect of consciousness or mind. Within my mind I desire to lift my arm and then the physical mechanism goes into operation. And, of course, we're quite sure at the present stage of scientific development that the brain is very much involved with this. My arm moves because nerve impulses went to the muscles. The nerve impulses originated within some cells within the brain. So it becomes a question of the interaction between the brain and this conscious mind. Now that immediately leads to some serious questions.
How in the world can the mind, conscious mind, if we postulate that there might be such a thing, interact with the brain? We run into problems involving the laws of physics. The basic problem we come up here with is the following thing: The laws of physics seem to give us seamless continuity in the patterns of cause and effect which determine all different phenomena occurring within nature. There's no convenient gap in the chain of cause and effect. In classical physics, for example, we can express the laws of physics in terms of differential equations, in which you advance the physical states of the system going by infinitesimal increments of time, using an equation to determine how things change from increment to increment. So this is deterministic and there seems to be no room there for introducing any kind of intervention of will or consciousness, volition, within the physical system. And it doesn't get any easier if we go to quantum mechanics. Now in quantum mechanics we introduce the idea of chance. As Henry Stapp was telling us, in quantum mechanics you have in the typical formulation, a wave function which represents, at least Heisenberg took it to represent, potentiality. This wave function represents different probability amplitudes for different configurations of matter. Essentially, for all the different waves, matter might be combined, you have a complex number which is a quantum mechanical amplitude.
As time passes these amplitudes change according to the Schrodinger equation, which is a deterministic mathematical equation. So the amplitudes are changing continuously in time, but they come to represent different macroscopic states of affairs. This is known, famous as the Schrodinger cat paradox. The set of amplitudes can diverge so that you can have non-zero amplitudes representing the configurations corresponding to a live cat and to a dead cat. So your quantum mechanical description is simultaneously telling you that you've got a live cat and a dead cat in one and the same place. It's one and the same cat. So this seems very difficult. This is one of the mysteries of quantum mechanics that has been debated since the very early days of the quantum theory.
So in the quantum theory what do you do about that? There are two approaches to this, as Henry Stapp was pointing out; a epistemological and ontological. I'm going to discuss these matters more a little bit later on. But basically you have to make some choice and you make the choice by taking the square of the absolute value of your amplitudes of the different configurations you have and normalizing them appropriately and interpreting those as probabilities. Then by pure random chance you pick a solution. So that's what you have in the case of quantum mechanics. You have stochastic process. So there also it's a bit of a problem to introduce any concept of free will into the system. The reason is, you might say well we have freedom here because there are different options that the system can follow and the system collapses to follow this option or it collapses to follow that option, but it does say, at random....... (you need to fix your mike, what do we do?)
So in the collapse of the wave function, which occurs stochastically or in a random way, it's also hard to see how you can bring in free will. Consider the idea of tossing a coin simply by chance. Let's say it’s 50/50 chance heads or tails. So you have independent identically distributed random variables describing how the coins are going to go. What free will is there there? The target [? - 12:06] occurs according to deterministic rules of statistics which give you the rule that on the long run, you're going to have 50% heads and 50% tails. You need the law of large numbers there. The sequence head, tails will be about 25% of the time. The sequence heads, heads, tails, heads would be one over two to the fourth percent of the time and so forth.
So that is a completely statistical process and there's no question of free will there unless you want to simply say well that's free will. It really doesn't correspond to the idea that the mind, the conscious entity ...[13:04 - break in recording] … value of size squared, the amplitude squared. So then that becomes of quantum mechanics. It's not quantum mechanics anymore. What becomes of the very meaning of the probability amplitudes. They become meaningless. You've got a totally different theory. So it's a real problem to try to introduce any idea that freedom of the will on the part of the mind, the conscious entity, can influence the effects going on in nature within the framework of the quantum theory as it stands. So that's true for the classical theory. It's true for the quantum theory. Those are all the theories we have. So how are you then to introduce this idea of free will into the modern scientific picture of the world, given to us by physics?
So I would propose, in order to do it, if you want to do it at all, you'd have to introduce some new physics. There's really no way around it. Now the question is, What sort of new physics should you introduce? There are various levels of change you could consider contemplating making in the laws of physics. Very prominent physicists have contemplated such things. For example, Eugene Wigner proposed replacing the collapse of the wave function with some nonlinear function which represents the action of consciousness. I don't know if he ever carried through that program in mathematical detail, but that would be quite a radical change in the whole theoretical structure. Then, of course, there's also the question of the magnitude of the changes that you would postulate in the action of matter. Just consider the history of the action of matter as time unfolds. We can measure to what extent that follows the laws of physics. The way you could do it is you could plot, this is simplistic, but plot, you could think, well one thing to do is to allow for some really big deviations to occur, something really radical. The laws of physics says it goes like this and the actual fact of nature is it goes like this. That would be a really radical change. There's the question of conservation of energy. Perhaps the kinds of changes you would need to make in the laws of physics you would need to make to allow consciousness to have control over the evolution of the system would involve the violation of conservation of energy by some measurable amount. That's another idea.
So this is one kind of change in the laws of physics that you might contemplate. That’s one alternative. Perhaps it's even true that these things happen. This could be considered. But what I'm going to do in this talk is to consider another alternative, how you might modify the laws of physics. According to this alternative, you only make exceedingly small changes. So can we do this in such a way as to allow consciousness in a dualistic concept of mind vs. matter to control the physical system. So, in order to explain that, I want to introduce a few ideas here. I made a few pictures. First, one thing that I'm going to be....a general picture for you to visualize in the course of this talk is the following:
This is a total spacetime picture of what you have in classical physics. Basically, what we have is time on one axis here and configuration space on the vertical axis.Configuration space means all the coordinates defining the situation in the physical systems. You could have many Avogadro's numbers worth of coordinates in a realistic system. So, then there's the path, or history, of the system.This path indicates what happened in the course of time as events unfold within the physical system. So this is a classical picture and I'll show you a quantum mechanical picture a little bit later on.
The first thing I want to do is talk about a new development that has occurred within classical physics. This is something that has been discovered recently by numerical studies because somehow by analysis mathematicians missed it for many centuries, at least since Newton. So this is the idea of what is called deterministic chaos. Deterministic chaos is a common name which is used, but the real term one might want to use for this is exponential amplification of very small effects. What is discovered is that in nonlinear systems in physics is, if you make an exceedingly small change in some parameter within the physical system, you can have that an exponential amplification of the difference between that and what it was before, so that the path followed by the system changes radically within a very short period of time. For example, you could change something in position by ten to the minus thirtieth power centimeters. This is a classical system. We're not talking about the uncertainty principle here. You change it by ten to the minus thirtieth power centimeters and in a millisecond the thing could be moving off by one centimeter. This kind of thing can happen in what is called deterministic chaos. It turns out that deterministic chaos is an extremely common feature of classical physical systems. I've listed a few here. For example, a pin ball machine, which is significant because we just saw a picture on the screen of a kind of pinball machine; atoms in a liquid, that's like a super pinball machine with atoms bouncing together; turbulence; and many other examples can be given. So what this does is suggest one immediate naive idea of how you can have consciousness controlling a physical system without really violating the laws of physics by too much. (laughter in the audience) The answer is: make these very tiny changes in a system in which there is deterministic chaos. Let the natural exponential amplification, determined by the nonlinear laws of the classical system, amplify the effects to a large scale and there you are. Actually, this idea, deterministic chaos, is very interesting in terms of the laws of thermodynamics.
As you may know, the second law of thermodynamics says "Information is always being lost in the physical system." Actually, it's not really always being lost. Macroscopic information is continuously being reduced to microscopic, unmeasurable, information because the counterpart of exponential amplification is exponential damping, just the opposite effect. So the second law of thermodynamics is saying macroscopic information is becoming continually becoming microscopic so you can't measure it anymore. Thus, it is lost. Well, the counterpart is that if you have microscopic information that is there that happens to be of an orderly nature then that can amplify and produce macroscopic orderly effects. So all you have to do is explain how you could get the microscopic, that is atomic level, orderly information, into your system. Actually you can do mathematical simulations with systems that have deterministic chaos. Normally, the problem with this microscopic information is that it's random.
It's simply a random sequence of tiny pulses. The result is that when it amplifies to a large scale you just get a large-scale random effect and that's where the name deterministic chaos comes from. So the problem is how could you get the orderly information? If you postulate that the conscious self can inject, on an extremely tiny scale, orderly patterns of information into your system, then you can get large-scale systematic purposive action according to the will of the conscious system. This will not violate laws of conservation of energy by any measurable degree. We're postulating extremely small changes that you couldn't measure. It will, however, violate the second law of thermodynamics because, instead of random information being amplified up you're saying it's non-random. This violates the second law of thermodynamics and, in fact, I think it would be fair to say that, if you can at all suppose that the conscious self can exert control over physical systems, that must violate the second law of thermodynamics.
At least to some extent. So that's the price you have to pay. O.K. so this is a model showing one way in which you could have the conscious self controlling matter without having to make some really drastic change in the system like moving something like this and violating the conservation of energy drastically. But there is a problem with this model. And the problem very simply is this: You would have to postulate that this consciousness has super intelligent, computational power on the level of Laplace’s imaginary super calculator, who can predict the future of the universe. The reason is that it's very hard to determine mathematically how you would have to introduce these tiny perturbations your systems at one time so that at a later time you get the desired macroscopic effects. It's a really difficult mathematical problem to do that and you'd have to postulate that somehow the conscious mind is solving that problem all the time in order to manipulate matter. This would be a very awkward model. So I propose a solution to that.
In order to introduce that solution I'm going to bring in another concept from physics and… This is the idea of global nonlinear optimization. It's a general numerical technique. In this technique you have some system in which there are a lot of constraints on a solution. These constraints may conflict with one another. And what you want to find is the best solution that satisfies all the constraints as well as possible, although you can't satisfy them all perfectly. So I give here a very simple example, which I'll refer to later, of a spring with some rubber bands and nails here. You can see what would really happen in nature with this model. The rubber bands contract, the spring is flexible and it relaxes into something that satisfies all the constraints as well as it can. The rubber bands want to contract completely and so forth, the spring wants to stay straight, but then you get a compromised solution. And there are numerical techniques by which you can work out what this would be.
So what I want to introduce is to introduce this concept of global nonlinear optimization into the physical picture. So, to do that, let me go back for a moment here to this picture in classical physics. It turns out that already in classical physics we have something very much like this concept of global optimization. And that is called the principle of least action. This is a very old idea in classical physics, but basically there is a function representing constraints on how the physical system should move. And if you optimize that function globally over the whole history of the system, between times A and B, let's say, you get a solution which is the classical path, the classical physical path that that system would follow. So the proposal that I would make then is simply the following:
We will introduce the idea of will, or volition, into the physical system in the following way. Now, in this concept we have to regard volition, or will, in a dualistic fashion. Volition is not part of the path that is drawn here. The path represents the spacetime history of the physical system. All the ordinary actions of cause and effect occurring within the physical system are represented within that path. We want to represent how volition on the part of the mind, the conscious entity, could change the path. So the proposed solution is the following.
Let us suppose that at different times in history we have different volitions. Now these can be volitions occurring in different people and, of course, one person wills many different things at many different times. So I would have to have millions and billions of w’s here. I've just drawn three for simplicity. So the idea then is to do the following thing. For each volition we shall suppose that within the brain of the individual who is willing there is a pattern corresponding to what he would like to have happen. Now how this all works out in terms of mechanisms of the brain is a very, very complicated issue and I'm not even going to try to address that, but the idea is the mind is different from the brain in this picture. The mind has its idea of what it wants. And there's a mismatch between the pattern that's in the brain and what the mind wants. So, according to this idea, that represents a constraint on the system at that particular time. The will is, that the pattern within the brain would approximate, as closely as possible, what I want. So the idea is the action of will within the system is to try to minimize that. So what we do in this global picture, and this is where the title of the talk comes in, is propose that the different wills correspond to constraints. The laws of physics, as given by the classical action principle already, corresponds with a set of constraints. And what nature does is do a global optimization on that to give you the actual path.
Now let me explain a little bit what this implies. First of all, the key point to note is that because of the phenomenon of deterministic chaos, the physical system is actually very flexible. You might think that if you apply an extra constraint to the path of the physical system it may have to be a very powerful constraint in order to get that physical system to shift so as to follow that constraint. However, this phenomenon of deterministic chaos has the effect that the system is very flexible. It's easy to get it to satisfy various different constraints. So let me give you a simple outline picture of could happen, let us say, within the brain when you will to move your arm. And, once again, I'm not at all going to talk about what happens with the different neurons and synapses. It's a super complex system. But one thing to say, for sure, about that system is that it's highly nonlinear practically everywhere within the system. So what happens then is this.
At a given time you will to do a particular thing. According to this theory, the spacetime system responds to that will by giving you a path so that, at the time that you will it, the behavior of the system approximates, as closely as possible, to what you wanted. Since the system is continuous and has to satisfy the constraints imposed by the action principle in classical physics, it's not that the system goes along in its ordinary way and, when your will comes in, suddenly BANG, it jumps up like that. That would be a gross violation of the laws of physics. Rather, it continuously moves up. What happens in effect is you have this amplification of very tiny effects, but the very tiny effects are not, in this case, produced by the conscious self somehow figuring out what they ought to be and making them happen so that then the system behaves in the desired way. It all happens automatically. In fact, if you gave me the mathematical problem how would you determine what the very tiny effects would be which would give rise in a given set of nonlinear equations to a particular thing at a particular time and particular configuration. Then I would try to solve it using a global nonlinear optimization method. That's the method I would use on a computer if I wanted to solve that problem. So I'm proposing that nature does that.
Of course I should address the objection here that nature would not do that by a process of following an algorithm as we would do on a computer. I'm simply proposing that the actual path followed in nature corresponds to what you would get by performing such an optimization. So what is the point of all this? What I'm trying to outline here and show is that it is possible to consider that a conscious self, distinct from the material system, could influence that system in such a way as to make things happen within the system, according to its will and, at the same time, you don't do much violence to the laws of physics. What I essentially have to do here is No. 1, take into account the idea of deterministic chaos and No. 2, modify the principle of least action by adding these extra constraints corresponding to the volition of the system. Now, in terms of the actual details of what may happen that is involved with this, say within the brain, I would point out that this is fully compatible with many, many different models. For example, you may have a certain model of how synapses work within the brain. There are certainly many different nonlinear effects involved there. The picture we saw earlier of the little vessel, which is separate from the membrane merging into it and then opening out into the intercellular space, that's all kinds of nonlinearities there. So there are many different particular realizations of this general model that I am proposing. So this is an idea. So thus far I have described this idea in terms of classical physics. But, of course, we're not dealing with a world of classical physics. We have to talk about molecules and atoms and so forth if we're going to speak of the brain. So we certainly have to deal with quantum physics. So what do we do then to deal with quantum physics?
Well, the same basic model can be carried over into the domain of quantum physics and, at this point to discuss this, the presentation draws very close to the presentation given by Dr. Stapp. First point that is needed in discussing quantum mechanics is that you have to have a quantum mechanical ontology. The standard approach in quantum mechanics is to say "Never mind what is there. We just do calculations and compare the results with experiment." And, of course, there you don't even have matter, what to speak of mind. So it's hard to talk about the relation between the two. So you need an ontology. I will describe very briefly how you carry over this picture into the Heisenberg ontology, outlined by Henry Stapp.
I have another picture just to give a sort of general idea of that. What we're going to do is replace this smooth continuous path in classical physics by something a little fuzzy. In quantum mechanics basically things become fuzzy. So, as I described, in terms of this idea of the cat paradox, in quantum mechanics things...if you just left them run according to the Schrodinger equation they get very fuzzy. So you have to edit the wave equation in quantum mechanics and you do this by collapsing the wave equation. So these lines, the vertical lines I've drawn here, represents the successive collapses of the wave equation, of the wave function, which is in between the lines evolving according to the Schrodinger wave equation. So, basically, what you postulate is that there is an actual history of real events in which you have successive collapses of the wave function. So what is really there is the actual history of real events and that defines a somewhat fuzzy path, not sharp like the classical path, but a fuzzy path and quantum mechanical interference effects allow these fuzzy paths to do many different things, such as represent molecules, molecular bonding and so many different things.
So you can see how you could go over from this basic picture which I described to you in terms of adding simply the rule of nonlinear optimization to the classical laws of physics to doing a similar thing in the quantum mechanical case. Now I would propose, in fact, that this is how one could resolve the question of free will in the model introduced by Dr. Stapp because he was introducing the idea that each collapse corresponds to an actuality of feeling or perception. This is all related to the Heisenberg's interpretation the wave function and so forth. But the question then is "Does that make you a stochastic automaton? Is it you're just moving essentially at random like a computer program which you put in a random number generator to determine decisions or can you actually act according to your will?"
So what I'm proposing here is that by adding this feature of the nonlinear optimization rule, which is a very small addition to the laws of physics, it is possible to have a model in which all the known physical phenomena still take place, but you can have a will of a non-physical conscious entity directing and influencing the course of behavior of matter. So that is the basic model that I wanted to introduce. (How much time do I still have? ... Four minutes. Thank you.)
So I will close by pointing out a very interesting thing, as it seems to me. And that is that this model has some automatic empirical consequences which we can deduce from everything that I've said thus far. In fact, the model has the consequence that the kinds of effects reported just now by Robert Jahn could broadly be expected to occur. Now, I can't even begin to address all the very subtle fine points in the different phenomena that he was describing; different signatures of different operators and so many different effects that are there. But at least on a broad level you would expect the kind of thing that he is describing. So let me explain why that is. Imagine once again this idea of nonlinear optimization. It's easiest to think of this in terms of the classical model. What you can do is I showed him that spring diagram before is imagine this classical history to be a kind of spring or slinky spring-like thing and your deforming or bending it by imposing these different restraints.
Well, the nature of this path if we visualize it as a kind of spring is that in some places it's stiffer than in other places. And, naturally, it's going to bend more in the flexible places. The flexible places correspond to the areas where you have deterministic chaos as a strong element of the physical interaction. And the inflexible region corresponds to clock-like mechanistic behavior. One thing about a clock, the mechanism of a clock, is that there's no deterministic chaos there. Otherwise, the clock couldn't keep time. So some patterns of physical interaction are not very flexible. Others are. So if you perform the nonlinear optimization the system is going to bend in the area where the flexibility is. So let me just apply that to this random event generator study which was just described to us.
Let us suppose that a person does will for this generator to give more high numbers than low numbers. So he's willing a certain in the model I described...his desire represents high numbers and what his brain actually reports is something else. And that's a constraint. You want to bring those together, minimize them, bring them together. But it's hard just to make the brain jump to a different thing. That would be a big violation of physics. It's hard also to make the LED display on the machine jump to a different number. That would be another big violation. Similarly, all the way back to practically all the electronics in the machine because this is a very deterministic machine [that] I saw [(?) wording unclear - sentence structure]. It's not quantum. The electronics are meant to behave deterministically. So all the way back within the machine everything is very rigid and inflexible until you reach the specific phenomena of the . . . that generate the randomness. Now in the case of electronic light noise, there'd be very tiny molecular Brownian motion type things which are ultimately very quantum mechanical.
So that's where the flexibility is. So what you'd expect to happen then, given this model, is that there would be changes, micro changes, in the randomness there which would give rise to effects corresponding to the will of the operator. The basic point I want to make here is that on first seeing the results reported by Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne, it may seem that "Well, this is far-out. This is really weird. How could such a thing be? How could there actually be evidence strong enough along these lines to make us overthrow, or over turn, all our ordinary conceptions so that we can accept such evidence as valid? Isn't it better just to think, 'Well, there's gotta be something wrong and forget about it.' "
So what I would propose is that actually if you look at it in the context of this model which was actually devised on the basis of the study of the free will problem, you can see that it's not such an unusual thing for these kinds of phenomena to occur. There not necessarily so anomalous. So my main point in introducing that idea is to actually try to encourage research into these kinds of phenomena and research into the idea that there may actually be such a thing as actual interaction between the conscious self and physical reality. The ideas are not so bizarre or so far-out. They don't require such a radical change in what we're accustomed to thinking of that these ideas are unconscionable.
So, with that I will conclude. I must have used up the remaining four minutes. (Applause)
Question (read by Thompson): Well, the first question I have. "What if you started with the premise that consciousness was holistic by nature, how would these fit or interfere with your trans-temporal approach to mind/brain interaction?"
Answer: That is an interesting question. Saying consciousness is holistic by nature one is referring there, I believe, to the idea that there is a kind of global consciousness. It's sort of almost customary in these highly scientific discussions not to mention words like "God", but one may as well notice that that's what's being referred to: a global all-pervasive consciousness. So how would that fit into this approach I'm presenting here or how would that interfere with it. I would propose that that fits in perfectly well. What I have been discussing here is the idea of the interaction between the individual conscious self, which we are thinking of in a dualistic sense here, and the brain of that person. Of course, there are many people and that means there are many individual conscious selves. But there can also be a universal conscious self. That is also possible. And that forms the subject matter of religion, theology, metaphysics and so forth. One way to look at this whole presentation is that it allows a place or a relationship to exist between hard science, physical science, and religion, in which the two are not necessarily seen as mutually exclusive. So that's one kind of consequence for these ideas.
You might ask "Well, what about the will of the holistic consciousness? Could that includes matter?" Well, perhaps it could. That, of course, is a whole subject to go into in theology and metaphysics.
Q: Here's another question. "How can the will caused by a brain function cause a change to the same brain function?"
A: So the idea here is that will, as I'm presenting it in this model, is part of something distinct from the brain. Now I can see that what we are willing at any particular time indeed has an awful lot to do with what's going on in our brain. For example, if I'm thirsty then I will to go and drink water. Now how did I will that? Well, my body is indicating thirst. That was reported to the brain through nerve impulses and, according to this idea, in addition to this process of volition that I've been talking about, you also have to have another process which I haven't talked about, namely that the conscious self has to pick up information from the brain so as to find out what the brain is, the state of the brain is. So, according to that idea, the conscious self would have to pick up that information and translate that into it's desire. That would be the basic concept in the dualistic picture. It's very interesting to go into the whole question of what is involved in this process of perception, but I can't even begin to go into that aspect right at the moment.