Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mental Properties vs Physical Properties

A brief list of the properties of the mind and the properties of matter, and thus the jumping off point of mind/body problems, dualism, etc. Mental events would be such things as beliefs, desires, fears, pains, and sensations. Matter would be fundamental particles.

1. Mental events do not have spacial dimensions. Matter has spacial dimension.
2. It is logically possible for mental events to exist without matter. It is logically impossible for matter to exist without matter.
3. The existence of the mind is not doubtable (since, if you are doubting, you have a mind that is doing the doubting). The existence of matter is doubtable (we could be living in the Matrix).
4. Mental events deal with abstract objects (when we think of circularity, for example). Matter is always particular objects (this circle, that circle), but never abstract.
5. Mental events are not divisible (you cannot have 1/3 of a belief). Matter is divisible.
6. Mental events are private to the person who has them. Matter is in principle observable by anyone.
7. Some mental events have qualitative properties (for example, that the color red looks like this). The physical color red, however, has wavelength and frequency, but no qualitative property.
8. Mental events have "aboutness" (a thought or belief is about something). Matter does not have any aboutness unless we ourselves ascribe aboutness to it (for example, an electron pulse in a computer does not mean "1" until we assign that meaning to it).
9. Some mental events have exactness (for example, when we think of circularity, we are thinking of exact circles). Matter is never exact (no physical circle will be perfectly round).
10. Some mental processes are determinate as to what function is running (when you are adding, you are really adding and not doing something else). No physical process is determinate as to what function it is running (multiple mutually exclusive functions are compatible with a physical process).


  1. Martin,

    Great blog!

    How do I subscribe by email?

    I cannot figure out how to receive this blog. This stuff is too good too miss.

    Thanks very much,

    --Wm. Brown
    Forest, VA

  2. Thanks for the compliment!

    I'm not sure what you mean by subscribe by email. All I'm aware of is subscribing by RSS, for which you need an RSS reader.