Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 8

philosophical-epistemological

CONCEPTS

epistemic structuring of experience

Brain in Mind
The MindBrain Relation with the Mind at the Center
Herbert F. J. Mller A McGill University <herbert.muller@mcgill.ca>
does not ask whether or not the mind is actually connected to, or arises from, the body, only in what way. Without stating so and possibly without being aware of it this implies that mind and body are primarily (ontically) separated (in St. Augustines case, long before Descartes), and that this separation would then have to be overcome in a second step. The starting point of my proposal is this: this is an erroneous question, due to a mistaken premise, and the mindbrain problem cannot be successfully addressed so long as the question is not corrected. The erroneous premise is the assumption or implication that reality is mind-independent; in that case the mind is automatically excluded from reality. This situation requires a re-evaluation of some more general epistemological concepts, which will be undertaken in sections 2 to 6 of this paper. This is followed by a proposal for change in sections 7 and 8, and its application to the mindbrain question (section 9).

R Purpose To show that the mindbrain relation can be understood from a perspective that keeps the mind at the center. R Problem Since at least the time of Augustine, the puzzle of the mindbrain relation has been how the mind is attached to, or originates from, the body or brain. This is still the prevalent scientific question. It implies assumption of a primary (ontological) subjectobject split, and furthermore that subjective experience can be derived from, or even reduced to, a fictitious mind-independently pre-structured reality. This belief in mind-independent reality is closely related to the development and use of language. It in turn means that the mind cannot be real because it cannot be mind-independent and so disappears from discussion, preventing access to the mindbrain question. R Solution The problem requires an epistemology which keeps subjective experience at the center but does not interfere with objective methods. The un-testable proposition of mind-independent structures can be re-formulated as the use of templates for thinking: a method created by humans, a knowable tool, that is, working or as-if ontology-metaphysics. Truth and reality, including the reality of objective brain activity, then become working tools within ongoing subject-inclusive encompassing experience. R Conclusions The traditional mindbrain puzzle is the result of erroneous premises, and can be replaced by the question: how does workingobjective knowledge originate within encompassing experience? This is a novel and contradiction-free approach to studies of the mindbrain relation and related questions. R Key words Mindbrain relation, zero-derivation structuring, subjectobject relation, working ontology-metaphysics,

1. Introduction: The problem with the mindbrain problem


Our work in psychiatry always involves both sides of the mind-body divide. But despite much effort to clarify the nature of the relation between mind and body, this question is still a riddle. Why would this be so, and how can it be addressed? One central unresolved question in understanding the mindbrain relationship is not of experimental type but stems from difculties in the use of concepts. And since everybody uses concepts, this is a problem not only for linguists and philosophers, but also for clinicians and biologists, among others. For empirical and experimental questions in this eld to be seen in a meaningful overall context, the conceptual ones have to be addressed

as well. In particular, the widely used assumptions of a mind-independent reality and of a primary subjectobject split produce difculties, such as a loss of unity of experience, mind-independent ontology and, most importantly for our present discussion, the problem of the mindbrain relation. Since antiquity, the mindbrain (or mind-body) problem has been repeatedly formulated. An early statement is by St. Augustine in the fth century AD, who wrote that the way in which minds are attached to bodies is entirely incomprehensible ( modus, quo corporibus adhaerent spiritus et animalia unt, omnino mirus est, nec comprehendi ab homine potest, et hoc ipse homo est.) Sixteen hundred years later, the prevalent question in science is still: How do physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experience? (Cf. a recent proposal for a decade of the mind; Albus et al. 2007.) One

2. The role of consciousness in nature


One encounters this question quite frequently in discussions, for instance on the Internet: What if any is the role of consciousness in nature? The question comes up in various contexts. As one of many examples, some cosmologists talk about the anthropic principle; however, in effect this amounts not to a discussion of consciousness, but to an inadvertent attempt to reintroduce humans into exclusively-objective science, from which the subject had previously been ejected. To start with, what is commonly called consciousness, and specically its center, ongoing experience, is our only entrance to ourselves and the world. This is a basic con-

30

Constructivist Foundations 2007, vol. 3, no. 1 http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/journal/

philosophical-epistemological
CONCEPTS

epistemic structuring of experience

sideration for constructivism. For the present discussion, I will dene mind or consciousness as identical with presently ongoing subject-inclusive mind-nature-and-all experience (SE), which is to varying degrees a collective experience as well. A characteristic of SE is that we are always caught in its bubble, except during unconsciousness; it is not possible to transcend it. All mind-nature qualities and structures, including the self , originate (are created) and remain within SE, which is not structured except for the results of subject-inclusive operations; the resulting structures are not derived from any pre-existing inside or outside entities. This principle may be called zero-derivation (0-D).1 This encompassing (Jaspers 1947) or central quality of SE is a crucial point of my argument. If it is correct, it follows that objective knowledge happens within subject-inclusive experience, and not vice versa. For instance, specic contents occur inside SE: smell or pain are qualities, objects are gestalt structures, within SE they are not identical with the objectiable events in neural receptors, the spinal cord, or the brain, that are needed for them to occur. Also, SE cannot be one of its own contents, nor can SE be reduced to content. This, I submit, is the central place and encompassing role of consciousness in nature, for both humans and animals.

SE

ongoing subjective experience The ongoing experience of individuals and, via communication, largely also of communities. This is more or less synonymous with terms such as mind, awareness, or consciousness. SE encompasses all mental structures: of self, of world, of all. They are created within it. But SE cannot become completely structured because it cannot be a structure within itself.

0-D

zero-derivation structuring of experience Mental qualities and structures, including word-gestalt concepts, are created within ongoing experience, without derivation from, or reference to, any preexisting structures inside or outside the individual. Due to the effects of communication, in particular of verbal communication, many structures concern common (communal) experiences, in addition to those of individuals. The difference between automatic and deliberate structures is not fundamental. But only some of the structured entities are invented as deliberate-only structures.

MIR

mind-independently pre-structured reality and truth and working-MIR Traditional beliefs claim the existence of experience-transcending, pre-existing, metaphysical-ontic, or absolute, entities. These can be neither proved nor disproved. But MIRs can be transformed from mind-independent entities into mental tools. In the 0-D structuring view such ctitious ontological (metaphysical) units are subject-inclusive operational entities: working-, as-if-MIR, which are mental tools, similar to language or mathematics, rather than MIRs in the traditional sense. In order to allow access to the mindbrain relation question, this transformation must be complete, without MIR remnants, to prevent relapse into MIR argumentation. Working-metaphysics-ontology is a generalization from the concept of working hypothesis.

Table 1. Abbreviations used in this article.

3. Animals and their world


It is relevant to our topic that animals use selfand-nature qualities and structures. They use a fundamental but pragmatic self-environment separation: as if they lived in a mindindependent world but a world which is specically their own (von Uexkll; cf. Horvath 2001) and which they create. So too do humans. But in every instance, the separation between subject and object is pragmatic or operational. It does not imply the existence of a primary (or ontic) subject or object, nor a primary or ontic subjectobject split. The bio-psychic functions of animals are sufciently stable; thus they do not have a need to postulate, for the sake of stability, the existence of a mind-independent world-initself. And they do not use language, which would give them the means to do so.

4. Language and the mindbrain question: Asymptotic transcendence and emcompassment


The conceptual mindbrain relation difculty is related to a chain of effects of the human invention and use of language as a new instrument. In comparison with non-verbal animals, language use 1. enables a great increase of possibilities for individual and collective thought and action, but this is accompanied by 2. uncertainty of what to think and do, and thus 3. a need for certainty-mechanisms. That is answered by

4. assumptions of mind-external certainties (reality, MIR, onta), which have long been used in the form of a word-image-conceptual scaffolding to stabilize subject-inclusive operational structures, which were felt to be unreliable, vague, or arbitrary. But this procedure leads to a belief in a primary or ontic subjectobject split, and causes an inversion of thinking, where mental tools are assigned a role of external, sometimes absolute, authority over thinking. Then the word-image certainties can also become barriers that 5. restrict freedom of exploration, including in particular a 6. disappearance of subjectivity, which in turn 7. prevents the study of the mindbrain relation. Some of these factors, insofar as they affect the understanding of the mindbrain relation, will be briey discussed in the following.

2007, vol. 3, no. 1

31

philosophical-epistemological
CONCEPTS

epistemic structuring of experience

Because MIR-belief (for instance of theistic or naturalistic type) is a consequence of language use, the use of MIR introduces an emphasis on word-concept dynamics, which functions in addition to, and supplements, the older functions of instinctual and gestalt patterns. An appreciation of these dynamics is relevant for the understanding of the epistemological aspect of the mindbrain relation. Words and gestalt-experience are asymptotic to each other, as manifested in transcendence and encompassment.
4.1 Transcendent meaning of words

BOX 1: ON TRANSCENDENT TEMPLATES


For instance the word stone(s): [I can use it now to conceptualize and communicate an ongoing experience of seeing or handling a stone; but [it also can imply an innite (asymptotic) process of me getting to know one stone; [it can mean all possible stones anywhere and at any time, and which are either: [known by someone (human or animal); or also those [never known by anyone. This last is an important aspect, because the operational transcendence of present experience due to the use of word-templates may prompt a leap of faith that word-gestalt concepts (ideas) either are, or refer to, postulated transcendent mind-independently pre-structured real (MIR) and true entities; and belief that such ctitious realities can be known. This equals traditional metaphysics or ontology: the belief in a pre-structured mind-independent world, often also with a built-in constancy of entities. Strictly speaking, MIR-belief means a view without an observer, a view from nowhere (Nagel 1986), which is in wide use despite being selfcontradictory. It also implies belief in an ontological (primary) subjectobject split. That they refer to never-experienced entities is the result of an efcient ction. A template, i.e. a structure that is formed and used within ongoing experience, is extrapolated in order to anticipate non-experienced situations, and that works quite well in many situations.That in turn may lead to postulating a pre-structured and pre-existing (transcendent, noumenal) world. Even though ction, it works for many (not all) situations. But as mental tools, words and concepts do not have to imply transcendent ontological beliefs (cf.Vico 1710;Wittgenstein 1945).To the extent that one works with operational structures, the MIR scaffolding can be dismantled. It is desirable to do so because of the side-effects of MIRbelief.Without the ctitious (being) aspect, transcendent concepts are human templates, tools for structuring, handling, and exploration, similar to concepts in mathematics and logic. But even when MIR has been accepted to be impossible, the desire for MIR-belief tends to be strong and keeps coming back, and then the mind is excluded from reality. This relapse (or conict) occurs in many world-views, not only in empiricism, materialism, or positivism. For instance, in spite of their commitment to a phenomenological-existential orientation, Husserl, Heidegger, and also Jaspers paradoxically tried to provide an ontological foundation for their views.The following quotation from Merleau-Ponty (1981, p.330) is a further example of MIR re-surfacing in the course of a phenomenological effort. Even if in the last resort I have no absolute knowledge of this stone, and even if my knowledge regarding it takes me step by step along an innite road and cannot ever be complete, the fact remains that the perceived stone is there, that I recognize it, that I have named it and that we agree on a certain number of statements about it. Thus it seems that we are led to a contradiction: belief in the thing and the world must entail the presumption of a completed synthesis and yet this completion is made impossible by the very nature of the perspectives which have to be inter-related, since each one of them, by virtue of its horizons, refers to other perspectives, and so on indenitely. There is, indeed, a contradiction, as long as we operate within being, but the contradiction disappears, or rather is generalized, being linked up with the ultimate conditions of our experience and becoming one with the possibility of living and thinking, if we operate in time, and if we manage to understand time as the measure of being. This illustrates the conict between (i) a phenomenological description of an asymptotic approach of ongoing experience to a transcendent word-concept meaning on the one hand (even if my knowledge regarding it takes me step by step along an innite road and cannot ever be complete) which could perhaps alternatively be viewed as a process of active construction plus problems in the use of concepts due to the asymptotic relation between experience and concepts and (ii) transcendental MIR-belief on the other (belief in the thing and the world). This contradiction then prompts (iii) an attempt to reconcile the two, by understanding time as the measure of being.The latter opinion is largely based on Heidegger, and did not become clear to me.

Word meanings are tools that transcend (i.e., they go beyond, and are therefore underdetermined by) any ongoing individual or collective subjective experience, including structured gestalt-experience. Object-persistence is a synthetic activity which subjects acquire early in life (Piaget). In combination with the inter-individual meaning of words it prompts a synthesis that goes further, the construction of a persistent reality that goes beyond individual as well as collective structured experience. This can then result in the explicit or implicit assumption that wordgestalt experiences are or represent a mindindependent reality (MIR), a transcendent or noumenal world. This is a constructed untestable ction, but a leap of faith to it works in many situations, as attested by its use since the time of Plato (see Box 1 for details). It is commonly realized that MIR is not testable, and is actually impossible, and one should avoid resorting to it. But something like it is needed for coherent function. Also, the strong wish to rely on an imagined prestructured outside reality may lead to a disregard of this impossibility. The results are, despite the impossibility of MIR, maintenance of, or a relapse into, MIR-belief and an ontological subjectobject split. In that case the mind (subject-inclusive experience) vanishes from reality, even when the mind is the topic of primary interest (as for instance in Cricks Astonishing Hypothesis). That in turn prevents access to the mindbrain relation problem.
4.2 Encompassing experience

Conversely, the ongoing unitary experience (of one or more experiencers), with its unstructured center, encompasses is wider than any possible word-concept or combi-

32

Constructivist Foundations

philosophical-epistemological
CONCEPTS

epistemic structuring of experience

nation of concepts that are structured (created) within it. Concepts are sometimes used in attempts to handle the mind, for instance in an objective manner. But the encompassing mind cannot be completely grasped by any concept(s) (see Jaspers 1947. However, Jaspers himself went only part-way and still maintained MIR-belief; cf. Mller 2007b). This second asymptotic relation may (and often does) prompt attempts to structure the not-yet-structured part of experience (for instance in religious or scientic beliefs). But this structuring cannot be completed in a selfconsistent manner, because something quite central in SE always remains unstructured. Attempts to structure experience completely, for instance theistic ones, are necessarily selfcontradictory. And also, as Feyerabend (1999) has pointed out, all rational structures have limited ranges of validity. That rules out the possibility of self-consistent theories of everything. Other attempts to deal with this incompleteness of mental structures may involve postulating a world spirit, use of mysticism, meditation, and related techniques.2 All these can be helpful steps so long as they do not result in obfuscation and the solution is not sought outside SE. Here as well one needs to maintain the originally unstructured subjectinclusive experience and operation at the center, and certainly so if the goal is to study the mindbrain relation. A zero-derivation-compatible idea like nirvana can better deal with the conceptual difculties.

ment because he had not discovered, but rather positively asserted (posited), his existence. And then he generalized it (cogito), and further extended his ontological assertion to the world (res extensa), complete with a primary subjectobject split. Thus he looked for a mind-independent certainty (but certainties without doubt can be dangerous). However, Descartes actually secured his assertions with a theistic hedge: God is benevolent and would not permit us to be deceived. He thus maintained a unitary framework in the background, and some form of encompassment. However, later on this backup was usually not maintained in realism (empiricism, positivism, etc.). If Descartes had said propono atque semper dubito that he posited himself and the world while keeping his doubt alive some problems of empiricism might have been avoided. Doubt (skepticism) has an important function in the conduct of life, and trying to abolish it (because it can be unpleasant) can be dangerous, similar to the problems resulting from loss of pain and other sensations in some illnesses. While sufcient reliability is an important requirement for efcient function, it needs to be controlled and balanced by doubt (navely, or in the form of deliberate skepticism). The ontological problem can manifest itself in different ways.
5.1 Solipsism

confusion, the term solipsism is better avoided. In this connection one should note that, like objects, the self (I, as a soul, as a mind, as a person different from the environment and from other persons, as a very important or as a failed and miserable person, etc.) is a construction. The self is not handed to us in prefabricated form either (Hume and Kant, among others, said they could not nd a solid subject inside themselves in the way they found a stone outside). The self is also not identical with the encompassing ongoing experience; on the contrary, we have to actively build, posit, and maintain our selves inside experience, and if we dont do this adequately, we may be in trouble.
5.2 Belief in mind-independent reality

5. Problems resulting from the assumption of a primary subjectobject split


The language-induced leap of faith to an assumption of a primary or ontological subjectobject split and to MIR-belief (see 4.1 above) causes the mindbrain problem, and leads into other dead ends as well. There have been various formulations of this split, but it is of interest to discuss this on the basis of Descartes proposition, because of his historical inuence on science. Descartes wanted to overcome doubt and achieve certainty, basing himself on dubito ergo sum, which was already an over-state-

A frequent objection to constructivist proposals is that they are solipsistic. The apparent reason is that constructivism asserts subject-inclusion as an essential feature of ongoing experience, and thus of reality (see Table 1, section 2, and following sections). This critique neglects that in constructivism both others and the world are also always parts of experience. A pragmatic (functional, methodological) solipsism does not imply that the world is an extension of the subject (cf. Rollins 1976). It is a trivial practical step which everyone takes, and is also fundamental for 0-D, namely: one can only start from ones own experience. On the other hand, ontological solipsism views the subject alone as real and treats nature as its product, but this is rarely taken seriously. The present paper does not argue for ontological solipsism, nor does constructivism in general. But to avoid

In contrast, an often only implicit belief in static ontological mind-independently prestructured external reality (MIR) is common. Here objects, particularly ordinary solid objects, are thought to be more real (or manifest) than other entities (actually, this rather concerns chiey the corresponding visual and other gestalt-structures, which are assumed to be, or to refer to, MIR). From here start empiricism, materialism, and exclusive objectivity, all of which exclude subjectivity from reality. They ascribe mindexternal authority to mental tools, leading to an inversion of thinking, which is assumed to be directed by ctitious outside agents (Mller 2005). Scientic objectivity usually implies a primary subjectobject split and traditional metaphysics, but not inevitably so, because objectivity can instead be used as a pragmatic tool: working-objectivity (see 8.2 below; for other details, see Box 2).
5.3 Dualism

More explicit ontological dualistic positions (i.e., subject plus world) are also not clear. They imply belief in two realities, without unity, and their common basis in experience is lost. Or one talks about dual aspects of reality, but the operational (subject-inclusive) meaning remains unclear: are they aspects-in-themselves? The materialist aspects are said to exist past each of our deaths; but do they persist past the death of everyone? If so, this indicates MIR-belief.

2007, vol. 3, no. 1

33

philosophical-epistemological
CONCEPTS

epistemic structuring of experience

BOX 2: MIR-BELIEF: FUNCTIONS AND PROBLEMS


Because of the prevalence of the belief in a pre-manufactured (ready-to-wear, so-to-speak) and thus to-be-discovered reality, a more detailed discussion of the functions and side-effects of MIR-belief shows that: Objective thinking works in case structures that can be stabilized by a structure-constancy function, which develops within SE early in life (Piaget 1970). Contrary to the usual MIR-belief, the object-constancy is not externally built into the postulated MIR items but inferred from the use of successful (mostly visual) gestalt structures (cf. Mller 2007c). Brains, neuronal discharges, or cats can mostly be treated as if they were mind-independent, neglecting the subject. But for the self, feelings, holograms, quanta, which can less easily be treated as if they had a constancy built in mind-externally (or also mind-internally), the subject needs to be explicitly in the picture. Some of the latter structures can be grasped by mathematics, but problems result if thinking remains MIR-gestalt-based (cf. Schrdingers cat). Objectivity is useful in many areas, but it is neither fundamental nor the only universal tool; it can be counter-productive in some elds, such as art, religion, the mindbrain question, and perhaps in particle physics. Mind-independent implies mind-inaccessible (Platos cave parable), and thus actually mind-free. Because the mind cannot be mind-independent, it cannot be mind-independently real. This is self-evident and might be called trivial if it were not so routinely overlooked. Subjective experience vanishes from thought and discourse. It is said to be unnecessary, unreal, identical with brain activity (for instance in notions like the mindbrain, or the embodied mind) or with some other (objective physical, or religious) entity or process. Or else it is thought to somehow emerge from matter, including recently in relation to sub-atomic particles, usually in an implicit pursuit of something like objective subjectivity. Much effort has been and still is being spent on such notions, for instance by some well known scientists and philosophers. Subjective meanings, goals, and values are excluded. Intention without an intender becomes intention-in-itself, a bow-less arrow. The unity of experience is disrupted.

stability expected from it, which works best if MIR is believed without doubt. The imagined MIR-world is said to be represented, intended, referred to, given, self-evident, manifest, revealed, etc. And because traditional metaphysics is expected to provide this needed stability (certainty), attempts to simply abolish it (or even only to de-emphasize it) tend to end in relapse back into the same or another form of MIR-belief if the origin of metaphysics in the subjectobject split is not addressed. The second horn of the dilemma: one cannot study an extrapolated nature-in-itself because it is a fiction. Only experience, action, and human-created tools (e.g., qualities, gestaltformations, words, numbers, concepts, theories) are available for examination (cf. Vico 1710). And furthermore, mind and reality cannot be independent of each other. Traditional MIR-belief, for instance in the form of subject-exclusive objectivity, cannot deal with the mindbrain question, etc., because the mind cannot be mind-independent.

7. Proposal: Working metaphysics-ontology


This method addresses the objectivity dilemma as the central problem. The concept of working metaphysics-ontology is generalized from working hypothesis, an accepted tool in science. It accepts metaphysics (ontology) as a necessary and useful working tool, but not as representing, or otherwise relating to, something outside SE. In other words, instead of pointing to a (ctitious) xed prestructured content, working-ontology is a method for which the word-image contents are working tools (similarly to mathematical tools, for instance). Working metaphysics-ontology starts before the subjectobject split: the subject is therefore always included, and all mental mind-nature qualities and structures are understood to be working tools, templates, within SE; they are not given or manifest entities. But mental tools, including all pre-verbal qualities, pre-verbal concepts, and word-concept structures, for dealing with the subjectinclusive mind-nature experience, can be viewed as if they were mind-independent (as-if-MIR). (Vaihinger 1911 presented an incomplete proposal to that effect).

5.4 Other views

Or else the question of ontology is shelved as unsolvable or nonsensical, which in theoretical physics may result in the admonition to shut up and calculate (this may be a consequence of the relevance of the mathematics tool in particle physics, which is more helpful here than the gestalt-formation tool; cf. Mller 2007c). In biological and clinical studies the corresponding attitude to put this topic on hold is also quite prevalent. For many questions it is safe to do so. It avoids the difculty of static MIR, but at the cost of shunting the question of reality and truth, and the mind brain question as well. Others suggest that the physical world is numbers, words (language), or ideas; or else conversely that these mental tools are physically real, whatever that may be intended to mean. This ontological assertion is not functional, but can be rendered operational.

6. A dilemma for objectivity (for traditional metaphysics-ontology)


An asserted or implied language-induced belief in a primary subjectobject split, followed by objectivity (MIR-belief; see 5.2 above), produces a conict between the wish for certainty and the impossibility of knowing or testing ontological ctions. It results in a dilemma for objectivity and thus for science, if science is seen as an exclusively-objective undertaking (until now this is the prevalent opinion). This prevents possibilities of scientic studies of consciousness. The rst horn of the dilemma: the postulated external certainty of word-image MIRontology is posited and used because of the

34

Constructivist Foundations

philosophical-epistemological
CONCEPTS

epistemic structuring of experience

Realism, materialism, metaphysics-ontology, MIR Subjective experience Origin of structures inner often neglected or denied

Zero-derivation structuring, working-metaphysics-ontology, as-if-MIR the only available starting-point, encompasses all structures; some structures are also inventions

structured within individual found pre-structured; experience, for example the they are unimportant and can working-self; not based on prebe neglected existing structures working-structures within individual and social experience, persistence in found pre-structured, mindindependent, but according to experience of others, as-if mindindependent, not based on prenave realism can be known existing structures much agency is ascribed to mental tools: (ctitious) outside entities all agency is that of the self within SE SE is in charge of throw-away tools

outer

Agency

Reality and truth

working structures, may be certied mind-independent; but according to nave realism as working-reality by trust in their reliability; as-if mind-independent can be known no transcendence: working templates are structured within experience, some templates, however, may be treated as if they transcended experience working-structures; some can be treated as if they were mind-independent working-structures; as-if mind-independent

Transcendence of experience

implied or asserted

Metaphysicsontology Matter

implied or asserted

the most real part of reality

Other persons

others are our structures (similar to self or objects) though mainly not available for consensual our inventions; validation, but their they structure a large part of our existence may be a problem experience, via verbal and non-verbal communication

Table 2. Summary of differences between realism and 0-D structuring of experience In this framework: B working metaphysics-ontology replaces static metaphysics-ontology; B mind-nature tools are our products, including socially constructed ones, not based on any pre-existing structures; but B the tool-structures are viable only within the constraints (feedback) of ongoing experience, which is structured with their help; and B the subjectobject split is pragmatic (operational), not ontic. This operational (or 0-D structuring) view eliminates, for instance, the contradiction described by Merleau-Ponty (Box 1), since we understand that we are positing working concepts, instead of trying to approach an unreachable MIR. There is a difference between structuring and inventing or creating or causing. This is

decisive for questions such as: do we only structure the world, or do we also create it? The conation of the two is not compatible with the 0-D-structuring view. (i) We do not create the acoustic nerve or the planet Jupiter; there is no place for invention, since there are reliable earlier spontaneous (non-deliberate and non-verbal) subjectinclusive structures, such as visual-gestalt forms. Deliberate verbal structures are, or can be, added to them in order to include them in deliberate world-and-self-and-all structures. (ii) But we have to invent structures where working-structures are needed or desired, but no earlier spontaneous structures are available: to create a song, to structure our identity or self (to a degree), a political constitution, or a religion, etc. This does not imply that the former, (i), are pre-structured (ontic MIR-) objects: they require our structuring mainly non-deliberate, but also deliberate and can then be treated as as-if- or working-MIR (the latter, (ii), can too). All of reality is our subject-inclusive structure, within the limits of operational possibilities: the structures do not arise by themselves. But only some of it is our creation in the sense that we make it. The traditional way to distinguish between these two kinds of structure is to assume that the non-invented ones are mind-independently pre-structured. But, as just discussed, there is no need for MIR-ontology-realism; it is replaced by von Glasersfelds criterion of the viability of the structured items, as per feedback during use of the structures. To repeat: all of reality is our structure and must be able to pass the feedback test, but we invent only some of it. To address the mindbrain relation, the change to working-metaphysics-ontology has to be complete; ontic MIR needs to be abandoned entirely and permanently, because otherwise a relapse into MIR is likely to occur. The MIR-belief tends to dominate unless it is renounced. And no variety of realism or materialism, even if it is modied or mitigated in one way or another for instance dual aspect views can deal with the mindbrain question, because materialism implies belief in mind-free MIR. Traditional metaphysicsontology abolishes the subject. Seen from 0-D, traditional metaphysics, such as MIR-objectivity or materialism, is in

2007, vol. 3, no. 1

35

philosophical-epistemological
CONCEPTS

epistemic structuring of experience

effect an incomplete (or shortcut) form of working metaphysics. For many purposes this traditional shortcut is sufcient, and more practical than explicit working metaphysics but there needs to be an awareness that it is a shortcut and make-believe. It implies a temporary bracketing of the subjects operations, not mind-independence of reality.

8. Some general effects of the change to working-metaphysics ontology


Reality, truth, facts, and knowledge are the result of investment of trust in the qualities and structures which one uses. This statement may strike some scientists as strange. But one should consider that one would not use mathematics or genetic analysis without (implicit or explicit) belief or trust that they work properly no less than a pilot trusts his airplane to function, or than you assume that you will not be hit by an asteroid in the next ten minutes. This investment of trust enables qualities and structures to serve as basis and aid for thinking and action. Examples are ideas, working truth and reality, which are used for action at the believers risk and responsibility. Such trust carries with it some implications.
8.1 Validation and viability

side-MIR ction into a subject-inclusive operational tool. Despite its self-contradictory nature, MIR has had a long life (of about 2500 years), but due to conceptual problems in several areas we are now, more than before, faced with the realization that, at least in some practical inquiries, it is non-functional. In principle, nave MIR-belief is always a shortcut for working MIR.
8.2 Operational World

9. Conclusion: Brain in mind


The mind does not emerge from the brain, because it encompasses (knowledge of) the brain. Everything we know of the brain originates and remains in undivided subjective individual and collective mind-and-natureand-all experience. And so does everything else we know: feelings, self, nature, others, religion. There is no brain-in-itself. When we talk of the brain we mean our knowledge of brain structure and function (which originates and stays inside encompassing subject-inclusive mind-and-nature experience). Thus the brain is in the mind, the mind (individual and collective subjective experience) cannot be explained or understood in terms of brain function. In an objective view, mental function (including SE) depends without question on brain function, and this objective dependency does not change in 0-D. But from here it neither follows that subjectivity can become objective (as implied in the formulations of Augustine and of many others), nor that it should be discarded (as some exclusive-objectivists propose). In each case objective thinking would attempt to remove its own starting basis: objectivity is a specialized instrument within encompassing SE, it is not the only (fundamental and universal) tool, nor can it be a mind-less one. To ask how the mind (SE) can be found in a ctitious postulated primary ontological (i.e., mind-free) reality is a non-starter. Phylogenetic and ontogenetic development of the human mind is a meaningful topic of objective studies (within primary SE) but cannot explain the encompassing aspect of SE. Self and nature become knowledge of self and knowledge of nature, by means of the qualities and structures we originate. Examples of right questions are: How do self-structures and knowledge including brain science originate in experience, and how do they relate to each other? In which circumstances is it safe to use as-if-MIR tools in mindbrain studies, and when is it necessary to insist explicitly on phenomenology? How do brain events, development, education, social factors affect SE? How are events in SE reected in brain function?

Belief is not enough. The structures need continuous testing by persistent doubt (skepticism) and feedback. Criteria for validity (or viability, as von Glasersfeld terms it) are their performance in ongoing and past experience, and expectations for the future (in science and in all other elds including religion). This validation process is the basis for trust in qualityand structure-aspects of experience (of selfand-world), which then replaces nave MIRbelief (and ontology). This viability becomes the de-facto denition of reality in the working view: it is the operational version of reality and truth, facts, and knowledge. It allows us to stop paying lipservice to the notion of an external reality and truth, of which we have to say in the same breath that it is unknowable. The result is not one of resignation or agnosticism (being unable to know or deny the existence of MIreality), but of changing the inaccessible out-

Traditional pre-established sources of authority including MI-reality and truth are no longer needed (nor available), they are replaced by convergence on practices. Truth and facts are rules for action, they are not static ontological assertions (only working ontology is accepted). A schema for this could be: if you do A, including using specied working assumptions and other tools, you will nd B, and with probability, C. In this way, successful science stabilizes practices, but it does not need, nor can it provide, static metaphysics or ontology (as it is implied in an exclusivelyobjective view of science). On the contrary, it tends to de-construct them, and replace them by working (or as-if) assumptions. Since all mind-nature-and-all qualities and structures are posited, traditional MIR-ontological evidence based on them can only be circular (it requires an ontological leap of faith). In 0-D, the leap of faith is replaced by viability. But it appears that 20th century philosophy of science has largely neglected Nietzsches (1888) insight about the Twilight of the Idols, Gtzen-Dmmerung : Die scheinbare Welt ist die einzige, die wahre Welt ist nur hinzugelogen , that the apparent world is the only one, and the true world is only added to it in a lie. And he preferred the Heraclitian view of the owing world to a static one. To emphasize the subjects role, we may say that: the only world is the working-world we build within the ow of experience. The terms working or operational describe the situation better than apparent (scheinbar), with its aura of unreality or even make-believe. Words, numbers, concepts, and theories need no static ontology. They are instruments, tools and support structures, and help to deal with the side-effects (such as instability and arbitrariness) of the great adaptability and variability of human thinking.

36

Constructivist Foundations

philosophical-epistemological
CONCEPTS

epistemic structuring of experience

This I submit is a contradiction-free view of the mindbrain question (and actually the only one I am aware of). The problem of the objective origin of consciousness cannot be solved, but it can be dissolved.

The most difcult practical aspect of this proposition is to remain aware that all tool structures serve the mind, the subjective experience agent with its unstructured center, despite the ever increasing number of

available tool structures. These are throwaway implements (or ladders as Wittgenstein (1922) called them), not meaningful in themselves but of operational value for subjects and their worlds.3

Notes
This paper is modied from my presentation at the Douglas-McGill Symposium on MindConstructionBrain on 28 Sept. 2001; it was also posted for discussion in the Karl Jaspers Forum (KJF, <www.kjf.ca>) as Target Article 45. Following the posting in the KJF, WA Adams has presented a spirited defense of the dualist point of view. This led to a fruitful discussion; see C3, R1, C23, and R2 to TA45 in KJF. It also triggered discussions with a number of other participants,

such as Bone, van der Meijden, Fisher, von Glasersfeld, McCarthy, Freeman. There were further comments on TA45 by almost 20 contributors; it is not possible to summarize these discussions in the space available here. 1. Cf. also my other Target Articles (TAs) 1, 24, 32, 57, 78 and 93 in the Karl Jaspers Forum and the radical constructivism of von Glasersfeld (TAs 17 and 43 in KJF), von Foerster, Watzlawick, and others. 2. All mental structures, both spontaneous and deliberate ones, arise within the unstructured center of experience; without (1945) Phnomnologie de la perception. Gallimard: Paris. Mller, H. F. J. (2000) Concept-dynamics and the history of reality, subject, and the encompassing. Target Article 24 in the Karl Jaspers Forum. Retrieved from http:// www.kjf.ca/24-TA1.htm on 26 Aug 2007. Mller, H. F. J. (2005) People, tools, and agency: Who is the kybernetes? Constructivist Foundations 1(1): 3548. Mller, H. F. J. (2007a) Epistemology returns to its roots. Constructivist Foundations 2(2): 7280. Mller, H. F. J. (2007b) Jaspers on mind, reality, and communication. Retrieved from http://www.kjf.ca/93-R16BEA.htm on 26 August 2007. Mller, H. F. J. (2007c) 0-D rooting of images and superpositions. Retrieved from http:/ /www.kjf.ca/96-C3MUL.htm on 26 August 2007. Nagel, T. (1986) The view from nowhere. Oxford University Press: Oxford. Nietzsche, F. W. (1994) Der Fall Wagner. Gtzen-Dmmerung. Nietzsche contra Wagner (Edited by P. Ptz). Goldmann: Munich. Orginally published 18881889. Piaget, J. (1970) Lpistmologie gntique. Presses Universitaires de France: Paris. Rollins, C. D. (1976) Solipsism. In: Edwards, P. (ed) Encyclopedia of philosophy, Vol. 7. MacMillan: New York, pp. 487491. Vaihinger, H. (1922) Die Philosophie des Als

the subjects activity (human or animal) there would be no structures of either type. (For more detail see my TA1, Table I, in the Karl Jaspers Forum). 3. Many of the points made in this article are not new, but some that have been neglected need to be re-emphasized. I also believe that my overall approach to the mind brain relation is novel. In view of the central importance of the mindbrain question, a satisfactory approach to it might be considered a test requirement for the adequacy of epistemological views. Ob, 7th and 8th edition. F. Meiner: Leipzig. Originally published in 1911. Vico, G. (1710) De antiquissima italorum sapientia. Indici e ristampa anastatica (Edited by Giovanni Adamo). Leo S. Olschki: Firenze. Watzlawick, P. (ed.) (1985) Die erfundene Wirklichkeit. Wie wissen wir, was wir zu wissen glauben? Beitrge zum Konstruktivismus. Piper: Mnchen & Zrich. Wittgenstein, L. (1922) Tractatus logicophilosophicus. Routledge & Kegan Paul: London. Wittgenstein, L. (1953) Philosophical investigations. Blackwell: Oxford. Received: 18 November 2006 Accepted: 31 October 2007

References
Albus, J. S. et al. (2007) A proposal for a decade of the mind initiative. Science 317: 1321. Augustine (Fifth century AD) De civitate dei, XXI, 10. Retrieved from http:// phil.et.keio.ac.jp/person/nakagawa/ texts/august/cd/cd21.html on 26 August 2007. (I am indebted to D. Pivnicki for this reference). Crick, F. (1994) The astonishing hypothesis. The scientic search for the soul. Charles Scribners Sons: New York. Feyerabend, P. K. (1999) Conquest of abundance. A tale of abstraction versus the richness of being (Edited by Bert Terpstra). University of Chicago Press: Chicago. Glasersfeld, E. von (1991) Knowing without metaphysics: Aspects of the radical constructivist position. In: Steier F. (ed.) Research and reexivity. Sage Publications: London, pp. 1229. Horvath, P. (1997) Jakob von Uexkll. Von Mckensonnen und Umweltrhren. Retrieved from http://members.surfeu.at/ patrick.horvath/uex.htm on 30 June 2006. Jaspers, K. (1991) Von der Wahrheit. Piper: Munich. Originally published in 1948. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1981) Phenomenology of perception (Translated by Colin Smith). Routledge and Kegan Paul: London, Henley. French original: Merleau-Ponty, M.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Herbert F. J. Mller, born 1924 in Cologne, studied medicine at the University of Cologne (Dr. med., 1951). Medical internship and postgraduate training (psychiatry, neurology, electroencephalography) in New Jersey, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Dsseldorf, and at McGill University in Montreal (Associate Prof. of Psychiatry). Now retired from clinical work at Douglas Hospital, Montreal.

2007, vol. 3, no. 1

37