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Unifying external and internal reality

The world seems objective. A chair, a tree, a glass of water all seem to be physical things that we can feel, sit on, climb or drink. We translate our immediate experience into a sense of external reality automatically without thinking about it. We see a chair. We do not see a complex geometric shape and deduce that there must be a chair five feet in front of us.

There is an unconscious process of deciding a particular shape is a chair. The result enters consciousness when some part of our brain has decided that is a chair. We see the chair as a unity or gestalt and not a pattern of color. Only when that unconscious process is confused do we see a pattern that we cannot make out.

We construct a sense of objective reality for practical reasons. We interact with the external world to get what we want and need. We focus our conscious energy on novel or problematic events. We evolved ways to automatically deal with the routine and mundane. The external world of objective reality seems natural and necessary. We do not think about it.

The objective external world and experiential inner world seem radically different. Connecting the two has been a deep problem in philosophy for centuries. Is there some special soul stuff that translates the physical processes of our body into the inner experience of making love?

Des Carte speculated that the pineal gland, as the only part of the brain not part of a symmetrical pair, provided the connection between the body and soul. As we understand more of the brain we see no evidence for a special connection to soul stuff. All that we experience internally seems to be reflected in physical brain structures and dynamic neural processes. Experiments have shown that certain parts of the brain are active when we think about certain things without any external stimulus. Our internal states seem to have a measurable physical existence.

The brain is made of the same atoms and molecules as everything else. Our neurons are elegant but simple switches. They are more complex than the binary switches used to build computers, but fully comprehensible as physical and chemical processes. So where does the magic inner world that makes up the ultimate and only reality for each of us come from?

Physical brain structures seem to be capable of fully reflecting the structure of our internal experience. As the devices we use to observe the functioning brain improve in sensitivity we should be able to establish this as a scientific fact. For now all the evidence points in this direction. So I assumed that our conscious experience is the existence of structures in the brain. There is nothing special about these physical structures. Immediate conscious experience is not simply associated with physical structures. Immediate experience in some form is the essence and totality of the existence of physical structure and structure is the only aspect of existence that can be communicated. This is the Totality Axiom.


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