By Claus D. Volko
A debate on Facebook dealing with the idea that one could continue living after his/her death if one uploaded the contents of one‘s brain onto a computer has stimulated me to thinking about the relationship between mind and matter. The conclusions I have come up with are far reaching: they explain what probably is the true self of a person, why there probably is a life after death, and all of a sudden, Carl Gustav Jung‘s theory of psychological functions makes sense as I have managed to build a model of the human organism from which most of Jung‘s theory follows per logical deduction.
The first time I read about the idea of uploading one‘s brain onto a computer was about 20 years ago. I immediately rejected the notion that a dead person would continue living if just the contents of his/her brain would be uploaded onto a computer. Even disregarding that a human being also has a body, I simply do not believe that I would consciously experience the thinking process of such an artificial brain or consciously perceive the world the way this artificial brain would perceive it. The reason is simple: I am a conscious being; a being that has self-awareness and knows intuitively: „I am.“ Moreover, I am convinced by intuition that my consciousness is attached to my physical self, most of all to my brain. If the contents of my brain were uploaded to a computer, this would be a kind of clone, a copy of myself, or at least of parts of me, but it would not be me as such. I fail to comprehend why anybody would really believe in the nonsense that a copy of your brain‘s contents residing on a computer harddisk would be you.
However, for various reasons I do not think that my brain is identical with me. Me, that is what in the literature is denoted by diverse terms, such as „soul“, „ego“, „psyche“, „self“, etc. In my opinion, I am the „thing“ (if it is a thing at all) that consciously perceives itself. This is not my brain! My brain is an organ which I can access with my psyche, but it is not identical with my psyche, not identical with me.
One reason why I think so is that when I sleep, I still have perceptions, but neither do they come from my sensory organs, nor is it easy to explain them in the language we use in everyday life as human beings. Dreams often do not make sense, they are illogical. This makes me think that the psyche as such actually is incapable of logical thinking – it needs the brain for that. And that is my view: Our self, let us call it psyche, is attached to our brain. It is not the same thing, it is attached. It makes use of our brain to process information in a structured and reasonable way, yet the psyche is not the same thing as the brain. Apparently, when our body develops in the uterus of our mother as an embryo, our psyche (i. e., us) is somehow attached to our brain. The brain, on the other hand, is attached to the rest of the body, including the sensory organs and the organs by which the environment can be manipulated. Thus, we are able to perceive and manipulate the external, that is, physical world. Our self, our psyche, however, does not reside in this physical world, it is immaterial, out of space. Note that I did not write „outside of space“ since the word „outside“ implies a spatial relationship, which would mean it would somehow have to be in space.
Science mostly deals with the physical world, and as the world-renowned physicist Ed Witten has recently admitted, science „won‘t crack consciousness“ – simply because it is not part of the physical world. In this context, I am fond of the basic idea underlying Vernon Neppe and Edward Close‘s „Triadic Dimensional Distinction Vortical Paradigm“ since it postulates the existence of three dimensions of consciousness in addition to three dimensions of space and three dimensions of time – it is one of the few approaches to rationally investigate the „phenomenon“ of consciousness I am aware of.
To come back to what I was talking about in the paragraph before the previous one: My notion of sleep is that it is a temporary partial detachment of the psyche from the brain. The reason why apparently the human organism demands the self to be partially detached from the brain on a more or less regular basis is unknown to me, but it may be due to physiological processes that require a complete resting of the organism, including the brain. Note that the detachment of the psyche from the brain during sleep is only partial. The fact that dreams are often illogical proves that for some reason, what our self experiences during sleep is not processed by the brain in the same manner as everyday experiences are. However, since at least some basic logic can be perceived most of the time, and since it is also sometimes possible for us to actively make decisions in our dreams and influence the way the dream continues, I propose that this detachment of the psyche from the brain is not complete, but only partial.
Complete detachment is what happens when we die. As medical science defines death to occur when the brain stops working and when this arrest of brain activity is irreversible, it is clear that death implies detachment of the psyche from the brain. Since, however, our selves are not our brains but exist in the immaterial world, it is to be expected that we will experience some sort of afterlife. It is highly unlikely that it will be possible to bring a physically dead person back to physical life since brain death is irreversible, but it may be possible that the psyche somehow gets the opportunity to attach to another brain and so we are born again. As we have no idea how the process of the psyche getting attached to a brain happens, we cannot give a definite answer to the question whether reincarnation is possible.
While, admittedly, much of this is speculation (although justified by evidence), what I actually consider a revolutionary insight is that distinguishing the triality of psyche, brain and body explains the Jungian Personality Theory, or Jungian Function Theory. In case you do not know this theory, there is plenty of material about it available on the Internet, including my own homepage. Basically it tries to explain why human beings are different and proposes eight psychological functions which allow to categorize humanity into sixteen personality types.
The brain can effect the psyche and the body, and it is itself affected by the psyche and the body as well. When the brain casts an effect on the body with the intention to manipulate the external (physical) world, this is what Jung called extraverted thinking or extraverted feeling.
Note that I do not distinguish between thinking and feeling since I believe that these two things are mainly two sides of the same medal. What Jung called thinking is more objective and grounded on ratio while what he called feeling is more subjective and grounded on emotions. However, as most psychologists are convinced these days, there is no dichotomy between ratio and emotionality; all people express both things and let both things influence their decisions, although some may more often employ the former and others more often the latter. Thus, these two psychological functions could be subsumed under the term „extraverted judging“ or, as I call it, „acting“.
If the brain casts an effect on the psyche, this is what Jung called introverted thinking or introverted feeling, and I just call it „thinking“. This is the instant when the brain processes information, regardless of their source (from intuition or sensing, to use Jung‘s terminology – more on that later), and presents the conclusions to the psyche.
In fact, the brain serves two proposes: to process information so that the psyche can make sense of it, and to process information in such a way so that it can be communicated to others. This is why both computational and language skills are properties of the brain.
When the brain is fed with information about the external world gathered with our sensory organs, that is what Jung called sensing, and I call it „perceiving“. By contrast, intuiting according to Jung, which I call „generating ideas“, is about coming up with non-obvious things that do not have their roots in the outer world, but rather in the world of our dreams and fantasy.
As the picture shows a perfect human being works in a loop. He might be starting with perceiving, followed by thinking. Then comes generating ideas and, finally, acting. In addition, there are two shortcuts: Generating ideas and thinking form a short loop, as well as perceiving and acting. Note that each „rational“ function (to use Jung‘s original terminology) is followed by an „irrational“ function and each „irrational“ function by a „rational“ one, i. e. they alternate.
It may be possible that a human being has all four functions developed to a high degree; that would be most desirable. However, it is to be assumed that most human beings have developed only one or two functions and use the other functions rarely. Anyhow, assuming that all human beings have more or less developed two functions gives us eight possible psychological types (in contrast to Jung‘s sixteen types the number is only eight since we do not differentiate between what Jung called „thinking“ and „feeling“):
A1. Generating ideas and occasionally thinking about them. These people constantly come up with new ideas and from time to time use their brains to process these ideas. Myers-Briggs type: ENxP.
A2: Thinking and occasionally generating ideas. These people process all information they have very thoroughly. Their source of information primarily comes from their own world of fantasy. Myers-Briggs type: INxP.
B1: Perceiving the world and occasionally taking action. These people enjoy the physical world with all of their senses. Occasionally they actively take part in the action. Myers-Briggs type: ISxJ.
B2: Acting in the world and occasionally seeing what‘s happening. These people manipulate the world more instead of just watching what is going around them. Myers-Briggs type: ESxJ. C1: Generating ideas and occasionally implementing them in the external world. These people are what one would call artists. Myers-Briggs type: INxJ.
C2: Acting in the world based on occasionally generated ideas: These are the entrepreneurs, those who have ideas and work hard on putting them to practice. Myers-Briggs type: ENxJ. D1: Perceiving the world and occasionally thinking about it. Such people may be called inspectors, directors, or spectators. Myers-Briggs type: ESxP.
D2: Thinking and occasionally taking a look at the world: The people who are into solving practical, hands-on real-world problems, such as engineers. Myers-Briggs type: ISxP.
I happen to be type A2 myself while my best friend, who happens to be a woman, is type B1. These two types are pretty much complementary to each other. All the two of us have in common is a well-functioning brain. (Intelligence tests measure a property of the brain, not of the psyche!) This confirms the common observation that it is opposites that attract each other in romantic relationships.
I am proud to have more or less deduced Jungian Personality Theory from a very general metaphysical hypothesis about human nature and thus more or less proved the validity of Jung‘s theory provided that the given metaphysical framework is right, at least to the degree it is required to be right in order to logically deduce the statements about Jung‘s theory I made.
Thanks to the debaters in the Facebook group „The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe“, which deals with a „Theory of Everything“ invented by Christopher Langan, for inspiration (a process that is all about communicating ideas to others).
Claus D. Volko – email@example.com – http://www.cdvolko.net/
Addendum I (March 16th, 2018)
The article I wrote yesterday, of course, only scratches the surface. The more you think about the hypotheses in question, the more you come up with even more questions.
One of them is whether the psyche can also die. We defined death to be the moment when the brain stops working, this being an irreversible process. Now brain death often organs as a consequence of organ failure, i. e. when the body is seriously damaged. In theory, however, it may happen that only the brain itself dies, while the body is initially not damaged and only deteriorates as a consequence of not having a working brain any more. In theory, it might be possible to preserve the body by attaching another brain to it within a short time.
In general, we should think of the relations between the brain and the body on the one side, and the brain and the psyche on the other, as symmetrical. So perhaps it would also be possible to happen that the psyche dies because it does not find another brain to be attached to in time. It might also be that just like malfunctions of the body causing the brain to die, malfunctions of the psyche might also cause the brain to die. In other words, just like the body can be primarily damaged (by forces from the physical world), the psyche can also be primarily damaged (apparently by forces from the immaterial world, or the world of imagination).
This also casts light upon the role of sleep. As mentioned before, sleep means detachment of the psyche from the brain. Assuming that things are behaving in a symmetrical manner, it is to be expected that during sleep, also the body is in some way detached from the brain. As mentioned before, sleep might help the body to regenerate. Likewise, it might also be helping the psyche to regenerate.
As all of us know, the body is dependent on energy intake, which we get by eating, drinking and breathing. A part of the oxygen and glucose the body takes in is forwarded to and used by the brain. What is the „currency“ of the psyche? There must be a parallel to nutrition. Perhaps the psyche needs to be fed with ideas from the world of imagination on a regular basis, and the brain also requires some of these ideas to be forwarded to itself.
In any case, assuming symmetry, it is impossible to view the brain and the body as part of the physical world and the psyche as part of the immaterial world. It is more likely that the brain is both part of the physical and the immaterial world, thus keeping symmetry. It seems that medical scientists, who perceive the brain to be an organ just like the bodily organs, actually see only one aspect of the brain. There must also be something immaterial to it „existing“ in the world out of space.
The hypothesis that the psyche and the brain need intake of a source of „energy“ that seems to be ideas, dreams, and fantasy also serves to explain what psychosis (schizophrenia) is and why it occurs. Psychosis is the analogon to famine and thirst: While famine and thirst cause the body to stop working correctly, since it is in acute need of energy, psychosis causes the psyche to stop working correctly. In this context, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder might really be just two sides of the same medal, as suggested by my late friend and mentor Dr. Uwe Rohr, a medical scientist. Schizophrenia might be what occurs when there is a lack of the substrate needed for logical reasoning, while bipolar disorder might be the effect of a lack of the substrate needed for emotionally intelligent behaviour.
So, psychosis is a state of emergency that occurs when the „nutrition“ of the psyche has been absent for a longer time. It is highly probable that sleep is required for the psyche to „hunt“ in the world of imagination for new ideas. After all, patients complaining of psychotic episodes regularly report having slept very little for a couple of weeks before psychosis became manifest. The hypothesis that the psyche and the brain require a second type of nutritional goods next to food, water and oxygen, which make the body and the brain thrive, also explains why it is possible that people die of sleep deprivation.
All of this having been said, it is now even possible to make a synthesis of my metaphysical views with the „model approach for stress-induced steroidal hormone cascade changes“, a theory of medical science that has been invented by Dr. Uwe Rohr and me, about which we made a publication together back in 2016.
Dr. Uwe Rohr viewed stress and immunity to be antagonistic. He was of the opinion that some steroidal hormones were released as a reaction to stress occurred and had the side-effect that they suppressed immunity against diseases such as infections and cancer, while others were released as a reaction to a disease challenging the immune system and had the side-effect that they suppressed the elevated physical performance enabled by the stress hormones.
Now we can view immunity as a mechanism that temporarily shuts down the body that is threatened by (physical) disease while keeping the axis between the brain and the psyche intact, thus increasing mental performance, while stress can be viewed as a mechanism that temporarily shuts down the psyche that is threatened by (mental) disease while keeping the axis between the brain and the body intact, thus increasing physical performance. It perfectly makes sense.
The fact that Dr. Uwe Rohr believed in the possibility of converting stress hormones into immunity hormones (and vice versa) shows that the hormone system actually is not a part of the body, but as the entity mediating between the body and the psyche, which we called the „brain“ – probably this is an oversimplification and actually the brain is just a part of this entity.