Abstract Details

Idealism and Space-time: Relativistic Constraints on the Interface Between Mind and Physical Construct Within Mental Monism  Peter Lloyd (School of Computing, University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom)   C3

Mental monism (historically known as subjective idealism, or immaterialism) is garnering increasing interest (e.g. Chalmers 2018), and it is timely to drill down into the consequent problems that arise from the interface between the mental world and the physical construct. A powerful (but not widely known) argument that has been advanced by Lockwood (1984,1989) and others is this: if a conscious mind is situated in (physical) time then it must also be situated in (physical) space, because space and time are inextricably bound in space-time. In mental monism, however, it is a fundamental premise that the entire physical universe, including physical space, is a construct that is formed by mind. Thus, the mind cannot be situated in space, but rather the opposite. Therefore, the converse of Lockwood's space-time argument applies: if the conscious mind is not situated in space, then it cannot be situated in time either. Hence, mental monism requires that mental time and physical time be decoupled. This paper will evaluate this argument and consider how we are to understand its ramifications. In particular, we will examine a proposal (Lloyd, 2019) that this decoupling of mental time and physical time provides a solution to the 'faster-than-light trap'. For, it is a well-established consequence of Special Relativity Theory that travel beyond the speed of light is impossible. Yet - if, in the framework of mental monism, conscious minds are not situated in space, then communication between them need not traverse any spatial distance and therefore need not take any time. Mental monism therefore allows, in principle, the possibility of instantaneous communication between minds. That in turn appears to imply the possibility of instant communication between brains, which we know to be impossible. Can the decoupling of mental and physical time provide a way out of this impasse? I shall argue that it does, but at the cost of imposing a preferred inertial frame of reference on the universe. My conclusion is that the Theory of Special Relativity does pose specific challenges to mental monism, but that these challenges can successfully be met. REFERENCES: [1] Chalmers, David (2018). "Idealism and the Mind-Body Problem", in Seager, W. (ed.) The Routledge Handbook to Panpsychism, London: Routledge. http://consc.net/papers/idealism.pdf. [2] Lloyd, Peter B. (2019), "Panpsychism and Mental Monism: Comparison and Evaluation", https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332978948_Panpsychism_and_Mental_Monism_Comparison_and_Evaluation. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.30580.60806. [3] Lockwood, Michael (1984a), "Einstein and the identity theory", Analysis 44.1, pp 22-25. [4] -- (1989). Mind, Brain, and the Quantum: The Compound I, Oxford: Blackwell.