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PROThe Origin of
Consciousness
and the
Mind-Body Problem

How the Evolution of


Language Created the
Mysteries of Subjective
Experience, Mind and Self

Jack Friedland
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PRO All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever
without written permission from the publisher, except for passages to be
used in reviews or articles.
For information, contact editor@newgatewaypress.com.
www.newgatewaypress.com
Published in the United States of America by New Gateway Press,
Fountain Hills, Arizona

The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem:


How the Evolution of Language Created the Mysteries of
Subjective Experience, Mind and Self

Copyright 2016 by Jack Friedland

ISBN: (13) 978-0-9642390-6-7 (hbk)


Library of Congress Control Number: 2015907885
1. ConsciousnessMind-Body Problem. 2. Language. I. Title
Includes illustrations, addendum and references.
Distribution: Ingram, Baker & Taylor

Manufactured in the United States of America


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"Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what
no one else has ever thought."

"Problems cannot be solved at the same level of


consciousness that created them."

"Everything should be made as simple as possible,


but not simpler."

Albert Einstein
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Contents
Introduction 1
Part I
Language, Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
Chapter 1 How Language Created Consciousness 7
Section 1 - Biological Awareness 8
Perceptions and Sensations as the Basis of Awareness 9
Our Objective Versus Subjective Experiences 11
Section 2 - The Nature and Functions of Language 11
1 - Labeling and Describing Our Perceptions and Sensations 13
2 - Explaining Our Experiences 15
3 - Communicating Our Experiences 16
Section 3 - From Biological Awareness to Linguistic Consciousness 17
The Evolution of Language 18
Meaning, Language and Consciousness 20
A Functional Definition of Consciousness 21
The Subconscious 23
The Evolution of Language and Consciousness 24

Chapter 2 How the Evolution of Language Created the Mind-Body Problem 29


What is the Mind-Body Problem? 29
The Evolution of Language and the Mind-Body Problem 33
The Scientific Revolution 33
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Ren Descartes and the Mind-Body Problem 35
Creating Reflective and Introspective Vocabularies 37
Reflective Vocabularies 38
Introspective Vocabularies 39
From Subjective Monism to Dualism 40
How Language Reduced the Confusion between Perceptions and Sensations 42
How the Objectification of Our Experiences Ensured Dualism 44
Beyond the Scientific Revolution 46
Summary 48

Chapter 3 From the Dualism of Mind and Body to Physical Monism 51


The Hard Problem of Subjective Experience 52
The Explanatory Gap 54
Language as a Physical Phenomenon 54
Connecting Our Sensations with Our Subjective Experiences 55
From Dualism to Physical Monism 57
PRO Part II
How We Created God and Mind to Explain Our Experiences
Chapter 4 Physical and Metaphysical Explanations 63
Physical Versus Metaphysical Explanations 64
The Source Versus the Causes of Our Experiences 64
Physical Explanations 65
Metaphysical Explanations 65
Vocabularies and Explanations 66
Spiritualistic Versus Mentalistic Explanations 68
Metaphysical Experiences 69
From Spiritualistic to Mentalistic Explanations 70
Postscript - Time and Space as Metaphysical Constructs 71

Chapter 5 God and Mind as Metaphysical Constructs 77


Creating Metaphysical Explanations 78
Labeling and Reification 78
God and Mind as Metaphysical Constructs 79
God as a Metaphysical Construct 79
Mind as a Metaphysical Construct 81
How to Have the Idea of Mind without a Mind to Have the Idea 81
God and Mind as Myths 82
The Difference Between Mind and Consciousness 83
Postscript - The Reality Behind Some Mysteries 84
Part III
How Our Intrapersonal Communications Created the Soul,
Self and Self-awareness
Chapter 6 The Emergence of Intrapersonal Communication 89
Using Language to Communicate Our Experiences 90
Interpersonal Communication: Social Exchanges 90
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Intrapersonal Communication: Our Inner Voice 91
Intrapersonal Communication: Our Internal Dialogues 93
The Physical Basis of Our Intrapersonal Voices and Dialogues 96
Reflective and Introspective Dialogues 97
The Invisibility of Intrapersonal Communication 99
The Invention of Writing 100
The Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions 101

Chapter 7 The Origin of the Soul and the Dialogical Self 105
The Reference Points of Intrapersonal Communications 106
The Soul as a Reference Point for Our Inner Voice 107
The Physical and Social Self Versus the Personal Self 109
The Self as a Reference Point for Our Inner Dialogues 110
Ren Descartes Revisited 112
Why the Soul and Self are Metaphysical Constructs 112
Postscript - Definitions 115
PRO Chapter 8 The Origin and Nature of Self-awareness 117
The Origin of Self-awareness 117
Locating the Source of Our Experiences 118
The Dialogical Self and Self-awareness 119
Self-awareness and the Idea of Mind 121

Chapter 9 Language, Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem 123


The Evolution of Language and Consciousness 123
Summary 125
The Origin of the Mind-Body Problem 126
How the Ideas of Mind and Self Fortified the Mind-Body Problem 127
ADDENDUM: METAPHYSICAL CROSSOVERS 131
How Mentalistic Ideas Replace Spiritualistic Ideas 132
Crossovers Between Metaphysical Categories 133
Crossovers Within Metaphysical Categories 134
Summary 134
EPILOGUE 137
REFERENCES 139
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Introduction

Not chaos, not


The darkest pit of lowest Erebus,
Nor aught of blinder vacancy, scooped out
By help of dreamscan breed such fear
and awe as fall upon us often when we look
Into our own minds, into the Mind of Man

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) The Excursion, Preface

F rom the simple "life is what you make it," to the philosophies of Plato, Kant, and
Nietzsche, we have sought to find answers to ultimate questions such as, What is
reality? What is truth? Does God exist? What is the meaning of life? From the
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first animistic beliefs, to secular philosophy and science, humanity has sought
answers to these and similar questions. Over time, we have asked questions about
who we are and how or why we feel, think, and act in the ways we do. As our self-
awareness has grown over the centuries, such questions have taken on increased
importance. This is reflected in the relationship that we have with ourselves. The
study of human thought and behavior involves holding a mirror up to ourselves. This
mirroring process requires the use of symbolic language which is the basis for our
consciousness. As such, a main objective of this book is to show that consciousness is
not the strange, mysterious phenomenon that philosophers and neuroscientists claim
it to be, but that it can be defined in terms of language, thereby giving it a practical
foundation. Toward this end, we will show how the evolution of language led to the
origin and evolution of consciousness, the mind-body problem, and the mysteries of
mind and self.
2 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO Although many people find the nature of language and consciousness
interesting, the mind-body problem may seem to be an obscure, esoteric subject that
has little relevance to us. However, because the evolution of language and
consciousness led to this problem, understanding it is central to how we see
ourselves, the world, and our place in it.
What makes the evolution of symbolic language and consciousness so
significant is that it ultimately deals with the essence of reality and subjective
experience as well as the ideas of God, soul, self and mind, all of which embody
long-standing philosophical issues. Language is the tool that philosophers have used
over the centuries to try to explain and understand these subjects. Their inability to
having done so has been their intense focus on using language to explain these
conundrums rather than to take a step back and see how the evolution of language has
created them. Since it is so natural for us to use language to explain what puzzles us
rather than to think about how language could be the problem, this is not surprising.
Because the dynamics of language itself are largely invisible to us, they have
remained unexplored and unappreciated.
Fascinated by these issues from an early age, I felt with enough time and
patience I could eventually come to understand the relationships between language,
consciousness and the mind-body problem. Although one could attribute this to
youthful exuberance, I made it one of my lifes goals, and while I often put it aside, I
always came back to it. Because I was determined to follow my intuitions rather than
force a theory into existence, I accepted the fact that the time it would take to
understand these issues would be unpredictable. While there were many dead-ends,
the important insights that occasionally revealed themselves led to this theory.
During the years it took for this book to come together, I sometimes had
doubts about the validity of my conclusions. However, a turning point came in April
of 2014 when I presented them at the Conference of Consciousness in Tucson,
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Arizona. Encouraged by various participants that my ideas were innovative,
extraordinary and even brilliant, I spent another year and a half working to further
organize and clarify them.
There were two objectives to writing this book. The first was to show how the
origin and evolution of symbolic language was the basis for the origin and evolution
of consciousness. Indeed, as we will see, language and consciousness are two sides of
the same coin. The second objective was to show how the evolution of language and
consciousness led to the mind-body problem, which was addressed in Part I,
Chapters 2 and 3.
Chapter 1 sets the stage for both of these objectives by explaining how our
creation and use of language led from biological awareness to linguistic
consciousness. This is based on the first and most basic function of language which is
our capacity to label and describe our perceptions and sensations. Chapter 2 deals
with the origin of the mind-body problem which was based on this capacity. This
Introduction 3
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enabled us to distinguish between our objective and subjective conscious
experiences, and led to our evolution from subjective monism to the dualism of mind
and body. Chapter 3 discusses the hard problem of subjective experience and the
nature of the explanatory gap, both of which prevented us from moving from dualism
to physical monism.
Part II, Chapters 4 and 5 discusses how the evolution of language and
consciousness enabled us to greatly increase our ability to explain our objective and
subjective experiences. This ability to explain our experiences is the second essential
function of language. Chapter 4 addresses how the evolution of language and
consciousness enabled us to create the physical explanations which led to
developments in science and technology, and the metaphysical explanations which
resulted in religion and the humanities. Chapter 5 extends the discussion of
metaphysical explanations by showing how they evolved from the spiritualistic to the
mentalistic.
Part III, Chapters 6,7 and 8 addresses how the evolution of language and
consciousness facilitated our ability to communicate our experiences. This is the third
necessary function of language. Chapter 6 discusses the evolution from social
communication to our capacity for intrapersonal voices and dialogues. Chapter 7
discusses how these two kinds of intrapersonal communication led to the ideas of the
soul and the dialogical self, respectively. Chapter 8 explains how the dialogical self
led to self-awareness.
Chapter 9 summarizes how, through the evolution of language, our capacity
to label and describe, explain, and communicate our experiences created
consciousness. It also outlines how our previous subjective monistic mindset evolved
into a dualistic way of thinking which resulted in the mind-body problem, and why
the next paradigm is physical monism.
Unlike books which drill down to unearth ever smaller bits of knowledge,
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this work focuses on the larger picture of the evolution of language and
consciousness. As such, it is about how language brings our experiences to life by
endowing us with the unique capacity for consciousness. The simple and intuitive
nature of this theory is based on Occams razor; this principle of parsimony has made
the fewest possible assumptions regarding the evolution of language, consciousness
and the mind-body problem.
This entirely new paradigm uncovers previously invisible real world aspects
about the topics explored. As such, there is more to this book than first meets the eye.
To get the most out of this concisely written work, it is suggested that it be read more
than once with sufficient time between readings to allow these ideas to percolate. As
with the proverbial onion, each reading is likely to provide new insights and
perspectives. We will now begin with the nature of awareness, the functions of
language and the origin of consciousness.
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Part I
Language, Consciousness and the
Mind-Body Problem
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Chapter 1
How Language Created
Consciousness

T he purpose of this chapter is to show how the origin and evolution of that most
remarkable cultural toolsymbolic language, led to the origin and evolution of
consciousness which has been the basis of our spiritual, intellectual and cultural
progress over the past ten thousand or so years. Over the last several decades
researchers have focused on the nature of consciousness rather than on the nature of
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mind, with the implication that they have moved from the realm of philosophy to that
of science. However, while the existence of consciousness may be hard to refute, it
has been still harder to define. As such, all they have done is gone from one ill-
defined idea to another. While the origin and nature of consciousness has been of
prime interest to neuroscientists, philosophers and psychologists, their quest will turn
up nothing because like mind, there is no agreement about what consciousness is.
The inability to clearly define consciousness is demonstrated by the fact that
some have claimed that all species possess it, while others have argued that none do.
Some have even gone so far as to suggest that consciousness is inherent throughout
the universe! In this case it would seem they are using the idea of consciousness as a
substitute for the idea of God. However, while there is a logic to this, it still leaves us
in the dark about the nature of consciousness. In essence, trying to understand it is
like looking for a needle in a haystack. What makes this task especially difficult is
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that no one has any idea of what the needle even looks like. Without a clear definition
of consciousness we cannot sensibly study or understand it. Therefore, the main
objective of this chapter is to provide a logical, operational or functional definition
of consciousness which will be based on the origin of symbolic language.
Before we can understand how language created consciousness we must first
define two basic phenomena. In Section 1 we discuss the nature and two sources of
our biological awareness. In Section 2 we address the three functions of language.
This sets the stage for Section 3 where we explain how the first function of language
which is our capacity to label and describe our perceptions and sensations created our
linguistic awareness or consciousness of our objective and subjective experiences.

SECTION 1 - BIOLOGICAL AWARENESS


In the beginning was awareness. At least a billion years passed before
awareness became consciousness. Consciousness is an order of magnitude beyond
biological awareness. To what do we owe this miracle, you ask? The answer is
language. It was no accident that the origin and evolution of language coincided with
the origin and evolution of consciousness. However, we must first begin by defining
biological awareness as the essential quality that defines all living beings. The
difference between inanimate matter and animate beings is the presence of
awareness. This means that all life from single-cell organisms, bacteria, plants,
insects, fish, amphibians, and mammals to humans possess biological awareness.
This brings us to the physicality of biological awareness. Since every living
organism is a unique matter-energy being, each one responds to the external, physical
world and to its own biophysical structure in its own way. In other words, based on
their different perceptual, sensory and motor abilities, each organism interacts with
its external and internal environments differently. Even individuals within the same
species differ as to the degree and contents of their awareness. This is, of course,
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based on differences in their physical structures, chemistry, and environmental
experiences. The physical attributes of an organism, together with its physical
experiences, determine the nature of its awareness.
Awareness is the main biological function of the brain which processes our
perceptions of the external world and the sensations arising from within us. As such,
the brain is a neurobiological structure which acts as a sieve through which pass
various perceptions and sensations that are biologically processed by specific
cerebral structures. By comparing the brain to a sieve, I do not mean it is a passive
structure through which perceptions and sensations indiscriminately flow. Instead, it
is an organ with unique biological characteristics determined by genetic and
developmental factors. These factors influence which stimuli we will be receptive to,
how they will be processed, and what behavioral effects they will have. Awareness,
therefore, involves the selective filtering and processing of events taking place within
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the external environment as well as within our bodies and brains. Our actions are the
physical manifestations of our biological awareness. This brings us to the two sources
of awareness, our perceptions of the external world, and the sensations that arise from
within us.

PERCEPTIONS AND SENSATIONS AS THE BASIS OF AWARENESS


The building blocks of biological awareness come from two distinct sources
which account for all of an organisms experiences. These are all the stimuli or
perceptions that have their origin in the external world and to which an organism is
receptive. It also includes all the stimuli or sensations that are generated by and
within the organism and to which it is receptive. What we share with all forms of life
are these two sources of awarenessthat which comes from the external world and
that which has its origin within the organism. These two sources are the foundation of
biological awareness which define the phenomenon of life. What makes for the
enormous variation in the biological complexity of different forms of life is the
incredible variety of perceptions and sensations to which they respond.

External Perceptions: Internal Sensations:


Our exteroceptive Our interoceptive
perceptions are the basis of sensations are the basis of
objective awareness. subjective awareness.

Sight Feelings

Sound Thoughts and Memories


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Touch Hunger

Smell Intuitions

Taste Dreams

Table 1.1
The Two Sources of Biological Awareness

To better understand biological awareness Table 1.1 defines the fundamental


difference between our externally based perceptions and our internally based
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sensations. However, because The Oxford Dictionary of English 1 defines perception
and sensation somewhat interchangeably, we will instead use the newer and more
accurate terms, exteroceptive and interoceptive, respectively. Exteroceptive is defined
as relating to stimuli that are external to an organism and to which the organism is
receptive. Interoceptive relates to stimuli produced within an organism to which it is
receptive. (Included are our proprioceptive/kinesthetic sensations, and the random
and spontaneous firing of cells at various levels within our nervous systems.) In each
case, the emphasis in on where the stimuli originated fromthe world external to us
versus our internal world. In other words, the things that we see, hear, feel, smell and
taste are the exteroceptive perceptions that originate in the external world. Our
memories, dreams, intuitions, thoughts and the like are our interoceptive sensations
that originate within our physical being. While I will often use the terms perception
and sensation, it should be understood that I mean exteroceptive perception and
interoceptive sensation.
The total content of our biological awareness are the exteroceptive stimuli
coming from outside of us, and the interoceptive stimuli inside of us. Our externally
based objective perceptions are of the physical objects, events, and actions in the
external world. These are based on our organs of perception which involves the
ability to see people, objects and events, hear sounds and voices, touch people and
things, smell odors and taste food. In contrast to our externally based objective
perceptions, are our internally based subjective sensations which are the
physiological and neurological events that arise from within us. These consist of our
thoughts and feelings such as desire, hunger, fear, dreams, intuitions and the like. As
such, awareness is an ongoing biological process which includes the visual, auditory
and tactile events which make up our exteroceptive perceptions, and the thoughts,
feelings, memories, images and so on that constitute our interoceptive sensations.
(These include the many kinds of sensations that emanate from the various organs
within our bodies.) Both observation and logic tell us that these are the only two
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sources from which our experiences can originate.
In summary, our biological awareness is made up of the total of our physical,
external, objective, exteroceptive perceptions, together with all our mental, internal,
subjective, interoceptive sensations. It includes all the physical events that are taking
place within the external environment and all the neurophysiological events within
our bodies and brains. These two sources of our experiences are the basis of our
biological awareness and set the stage for our objective and subjective experiences.

1All definitions used in this book, unless otherwise noted, are from The Oxford Dictionary of English,
Third Edition, Copyright Oxford University Press, 2010. WordWebSoftware.com, 2011.
How Language Created Consciousness 11
PRO OUR OBJECTIVE VERSUS SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCES
Having made the essential distinction between our exteroceptive perceptions
and interoceptive sensations, I must emphasize the fact that our perceptions are the
basis for our objective experiences while our sensations are the basis for our
subjective experiences. The dictionary defines the word objective as not influenced
by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts, and not
dependent on the mind for existence; actual: a matter of objective fact. Conversely,
it defines the word subjective as based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes,
or opinions and as dependent on the mind or on an individuals perception for its
existence.
As a practical example of the difference between objective and subjective
experience, let us say that you and I are looking at the same single-family house. It is
likely that we would both be able to agree on the colors of the house and the number
of doors and windows it has. Using a tape measure, we could also agree as to its
physical dimensions and the size of the property that it sits on. These are objective,
physical attributes about which there would be little disagreement.
However, if someone were to ask us what our subjective impressions,
thoughts or feelings about the house were, it is almost certain that we would have
different responses. One of us might find the house appealing while the other might
not like it at all. Although we could agree on the colors and number of doors and
windows, we would probably differ about how much we liked the colors or the size,
number or placement of the openings. So while we could readily agree on its physical
characteristics, our subjective opinions regarding these attributes are quite likely to
be different based on our personal likes and dislikes. Clearly, the house would
generate two very different impressionsobjective and subjective. As simple as this
difference between objective and subjective experience is to us, it is likely that we are
the only species capable of seeing it. Why? Because we are the only species that can
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use symbolic language to move beyond our biological awareness to a level of
consciousness that enables us to make this distinction, which brings us to the next
subject.

SECTION 2 - THE NATURE AND FUNCTIONS OF LANGUAGE


There is much controversy regarding the origin of language. Because spoken
language leaves no physical traces behind, estimates about when it began range from
over one million years, to less than fifty-thousand years ago. Nor do we have any
idea about how language began. Although there are various theories, without any
hard evidence there is no proof for which might be correct. Fortunately, support for
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the present thesis does not require knowledge about either when or how language
came about. 2
Symbolic language is humanitys crowning achievement, and one which has
an impact on every aspect of our lives. Among the various forms of communication
such as sounds, gestures, and facial expressions, spoken and written language is our
most important form of communication. Using symbols to represent the perceptions
and sensations which make up our experiences is unique to our species. To do so, we
label and describe our perceptions of the people, places, objects, events and actions
within our lives, as well as the feelings, thoughts, memories, dreams, and other
sensations within us. Language is then used to explain and to communicate these
experiences.
The human infant moves from gesturing and making incoherent sounds, to
using simple words. As the child matures, he or she builds a vocabulary using
increasingly complex sentences which facilitates communication with others. To
perform these functions requires our having all the necessary neurophysiological
resources. This includes a supra-laryngeal vocal tract which enables us to pronounce
the dozens of different sounds used to make words, a brain able to discern, process
and remember these words, an ability to structure them into grammatically
meaningful sentences, and a desire to communicate these symbolically defined
experiences to others.
The first step in the evolution of language was our primate ancestors ability
to use simple sounds to represent the most important objects, events and feelings. It
was the vocal cords of our larynx that allowed us to turn simple grunts, squeals and
other sounds into monosyllabic and polysyllabic words. Hence, as our ability for
speech evolved, relatively nondescript sounds became fully articulated, with complex
words used to represent the many objects, events, actions, people and places that
populate our external physical and social environments. In addition, it enabled us to
create words to label specific feelings, moods and emotions. As a result, we were able
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to label, describe and pronounce increasingly more of our exteroceptive perceptions
and interoceptive sensations. As our vocabulary of monosyllabic and polysyllabic
words grew, our cerebral cortex adapted by being able to perceive, sort out, recognize
and recall these words. This led us to denote almost anything and everything we
found of interest in the external world or within ourselves. Perhaps the most
important result of our ability to label and describe our exteroceptive perceptions and
interoceptive sensations was that it created our objective and subjective conscious
experiences, as we will see in Section 3.

2Because our objective will be to examine the larger picture of how the evolution of language led to the
origin and evolution of consciousness, it is unnecessary to discuss the mechanics of language such as
grammar, syntax, phonology, morphology, and related topics. Consequently, the eventual outcome of the
controversy among linguists about whether the grammatical structures of language are genetically
determined or are socially learned makes no difference to the thesis proposed here.
How Language Created Consciousness 13
PRO Although language has a multitude of uses, our interest here is with our
capacity to name or label, describe or define, as well as explain and communicate the
external and internal stimuli of which we have become aware. Our ability to perform
these three functions of language are the most powerful survival mechanism we
possess, as we will now discuss.

1 - LABELING AND DESCRIBING OUR PERCEPTIONS AND SENSATIONS


While linguists do not know when or how language began, what cannot be
disputed is that language requires our capacity to use words to label and describe our
exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations. Indeed, the central purpose,
function and foundation common to all human symbolic languages is our capacity to
both label (name, denote, designate, identify, represent or indicate), as well as to
describe (define, characterize or delineate) our perceptions and sensations. In other
words, it was not only our ability to label or name all the objects, events, actions,
people and places, as well as the feelings, moods and emotions within us, but to also
describe or define them.
However, it is to be noted that it was unlikely that our ancestors in the early
days of spoken language described the things they labeled. In this regard, the first so-
called dictionaries were bilingualtranslations from one language to another
Sumerian-Akkadian wordlists, rather than descriptions of the words they had been
using. Considering the close connection between our ability to both label and
describe our perceptions and sensations, we will usually treat these two functions
together. The importance of this capacity is reflected in that it represents the origin of
both language and consciousness.
Through our use of words, we can label and describe the objects, events, and
actions that are the basis of our exteroceptive perceptions. However, language also
enables us to label and describe our interoceptive sensations, which include our
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visual images and auditory sensations as well as our various feelings, thoughts,
memories, dreams, intuitions and so on. The creation and use of words to do this is
universal in all symbolic languages, and helps us understand our experiences in a
way that is impossible for any other speciesin other words, to not just be aware of
them, but to consciously comprehend and appreciate them.
The terms exteroceptive and interoceptive are perfectly fitting in that they
emphasize the receptive nature of the stimuli that form the basis of our external
perceptions and internal sensations. This ensures that any external or internal stimuli
to which we are receptive can become the basis for our natural inclination to label
and describe them. Once we label and describe our exteroceptive perceptions, they
become our conscious objective experiences. Similarly, by labeling and describing
our interoceptive sensations, they become our conscious subjective experiences.
Clearly, the range of exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations that we
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can represent through symbolic language makes it the most comprehensive and
sophisticated tool for thought and communication to be found anywhere.
This brings us to the creation of new words. It is likely that common objects,
events, actions and feelings were the first things to be labeled, while our motivation
to describe these things led to the creation of new words that expanded our
vocabulary. However, while the creation of completely new words is relatively rare,
modifications of existing words are quite common. As such, etymologists have
identified various methods by which new words or neologisms are created. These
methods include modifying preexisting words as well as adding words from other
languages. Hence, along with our capacity to create new words, our ability to use the
following methods greatly increased our vocabulary, as recorded in dictionaries and
thesauri.
Combining or compounding existing words to make a new word. There are
various ways to do this. For example, the words weatherproof, racetrack, landmark
and self-esteem involve combining two words to make a new one. Another way to
create compound words entails using different affixes such as prefixes like postcard,
multichannel, proactive, exchange, subatomic, unrepentant and so on, or suffixes like
relationship, employable, idealism, happily, mover, lengthen, etc. A third way is to
use Latin or Greek roots to create new meanings. For example, the Latin root to walk
or move was extended or enhanced to the word amble which is to walk slowly or
leisurely. Another example is antidote which derives from the Greek term antididonia
meaning "given against."
Borrowing or adopting words from other languages has been a simple and
frequently used technique for building a vocabulary. Examples of English words that
were taken from other languages include chemistry from the Ancient Egyptian word
khemia meaning transmutation of earth, or soy from the Japanese shoyu, or adagio an
Italian musical term, or alligator from the Spanish el laggard (the lizard), and many
more from various languages.
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Another method used to create new words involves blending which combines
parts of existing words, such as brunch, sitcom, smog, pulsar, motel and infomercial.
Changing the meaning of existing words is also often used. For instance, modern
technology has co-opted the words virus, surf, mouse, net and window to serve its
purposes. Still another method is shortening or clipping words by using abbreviations
such as exam for examination, lab for laboratory or phone for telephone; also
included are the use of acronyms such as NASA, IRS or BBB.
Less frequently used ways to create new words include imitating sounds like
buzz, rattle, hiss and click. The transfer of proper nouns into words known as
eponyms is another occasionally used method that is based on the names of certain
people, places, things or inventions. Examples are sandwich named after the Earl of
Sandwich, or mesmerize named after the eighteenth century German physician Franz
Mesmer, or watt named after James Watt.
How Language Created Consciousness 15
PRO The point is that for every exteroceptive perception or interoceptive sensation
we have, we can theoretically generate a symbol, word or label. I say theoretically,
because not everyone is as sensitive, aware, insightful or attuned to their
environmentally based perceptions or neurologically based sensations as those who
coin new words or variations of existing ones. For example, the different words used
by Eskimos for the different types of snow reflect the exteroceptive receptivity of
those individuals who were sensitive enough to be able to label and describe these
differences. In a similar way, differences between envy and jealousy, analogy and
metaphor, and sympathy and empathy reflect the subtle variations that some
individuals are capable of making regarding their interoceptive experiences.
As such, words may be created by individuals who have perceptions or
sensations that others may not have experienced, or did experience but were unable
or inclined to label and describe them. This is consistent with the fact that while
scores of existing words are infrequently used because they do not resonate with most
people, many new words fail to be widely acknowledged for the same reason. What
determines how widely a new or existing word will be used depends on the number
of people that can relate to the experience it describes.
Additionally, there are many words that are only used by those who work in
specialized fields or occupations. These include the various sciences and
technologies, law, music, the arts, psychology, philosophy and so on. Those
individuals who are not engaged in such activities or have an interest in them are not
privy to the vocabularies used by those who are.
Regarding the evolution of language, thought and consciousness, the
importance of our capacity to create new and modified words cannot be overstated.
This ability to label and describe the numerous objects, events and actions in the
external world, and the many feelings, moods, and emotions within us create our
objective and subjective experiences. This irrepressible tendency first reached its
peak in the 1600s during the Scientific Revolution, about which we will have more to
OF
say in Chapter 2.

2 - EXPLAINING OUR EXPERIENCES


Symbolic language is our most powerful tool to explain, predict, understand
and control our world and, hopefully, ourselves. This brings us to the second major
function of language which is our capacity to explain our exteroceptive perceptions
and interoceptive sensations. By using language to label and describe our perceptions
and sensations, we transform them into our objective and subjective experiences,
respectively. Once this is done, the next great leap in the evolution of language and
consciousness is to explain these two types of experience.
Central to the process of explaining our experiences is that we must find their
causes. This requires the capacity to answer questions, solve problems and resolve
conflicts. Examples of questions that might be asked include simple ones such as
16 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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what, when, where or who, as well as more sophisticated inquires such as how or
why. There are two types of explanations we use to explain our experiences. Physical
explanations which focus on how things happen, and are the basis of science and
technology. Metaphysical 3explanations which ask why things happen are often used
in religion and the humanities. The first is connected with our ability to explain our
objective experiences, while the second is related to our capacity to explain our
subjective experiences. Creating explanations for what goes on around and within us
enables us to plan before we act and to modify our behavior as necessary. A key
turning point in the evolution of language and consciousness occurred when we went
from using the metaphysical idea of God to explain our experiences to the
metaphysical idea of mind to do so. These ideas will be developed in Part II.

3 - COMMUNICATING OUR EXPERIENCES


The third primary function of language is to communicate our experiences.
Being such social creatures, perhaps the most important reason to learn and use
language is to communicate with others. Even our desire to explain our experiences
could be said to take a back seat to our need to communicate with our cohorts.
Consistent with this is that in labeling and describing our perceptions and sensations,
there had to be a basic agreement about which words stood for which experiences.
Furthermore, it has been our greatly increased capacity over the last several hundred
years to label and describe our perceptions and sensations that we can now
communicate about many more things than ever before. 4
Our methods of communication have grown rapidly over the centuries.
Beginning with writing, and then moving to the printing press, the telegraph, the
telephone, radio, television and finally the Internet, our ability to communicate in
more ways and places, and with more people is unprecedented.
However, what has been much less discussed are the ways we communicate
OF
with ourselves. Having become so focused on the different methods and devices used
to communicate with others, the ways we talk to ourselves has been limited to a thin
sliver of psychological research and a few self-help books. Nevertheless, the ways we
communicate with ourselves has profound psychological and philosophical
ramifications. The two types of inner speech or intrapersonal communication I am
referring to are our internal voices and our internal dialogues. These internal
conversations have had the unintended consequences of creating the metaphysical
reference points of the soul and the dialogical self. Although the process whereby this

3The word, metaphysical is defined throughout this book as transcending physical matter or the laws of
nature. Consequently, whatever is metaphysical can be considered hypothetical or speculative.

4 While language clearly enables us to convert our perceptions and sensations into a large and complex
variety of thought and behavior, there are other forms of communication that are nonlinguistic. Indeed,
we can express ourselves through the arts, music and sports.
How Language Created Consciousness 17
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occurred has been largely invisible, its emergence, as we will see in Part III, greatly
contributed to the evolution of our consciousness. This has been especially true of our
internal dialogues which have rapidly developed in both depth and frequency over
the past several centuries.

SECTION 3 - FROM BIOLOGICAL AWARENESS TO


LINGUISTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
To grasp how language created consciousness, we must make a clear
distinction between consciousness versus biological awareness, the latter of which
was previously defined as the sum of all the exteroceptive perceptions and
interoceptive sensations to which all species physically respond. Hence, the nature
and level of an organisms awareness is determined by its biological characteristics
and complexity. For an organism to survive, it must be responsive to both what goes
on in the external environment as well as the sensations of hunger, thirst, fear, pain
and so on within itself. While biological awareness differs greatly between species,
the kind awareness we are interested in is the one that distinguishes humans from all
other species, namely linguistic awareness or consciousness.
At the most basic level of biological awareness are tropisms which are the
turning of all or part of an organism in a particular direction in response to an
external stimulus. Tropisms occur within plants that respond to water and light, or
viruses that respond to specific chemicals, cells or tissue types. Temperature, touch
and sound are other stimuli to which various organisms respond.
The next level of complexity are fixed action patterns which are relatively
rigid behaviors that are triggered by specific objects or events within the external
environment. Once an organism is set off by a specific stimulus, its behavior follows
a predictable sequence of actions from beginning to end. Fixed action patterns are
hard-wired and instinctive. Examples of such patterns can be found in the unique
OF
kinds of webs that different spiders spin. They also occur in the dances that bees
perform to communicate the location of food to other bees. They can be found in the
retrieval of eggs that roll away from birds that build their nests on the ground. Most
of the stimuli that produce these innate behaviors are initiated by external factors, and
are found among most insects, fish, birds, reptiles and mammals. They are also found
in the grasping and suckling instincts of human infants. Both tropisms and fixed
action patterns automatically enable a species to carry out many of the basic
biological functions necessary for survival.
The next level of behavior involves an actual process of learning called
operant conditioning (also referred to as instrumental learning). Here the focus is on
how various rewards or punishments effect behavior. Much of what we humans learn
is through operant conditioning; this process involves largely random environmental
stimuli or events which serve to reward or punish our responses to these stimuli or
18 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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events. According to Edward Thorndikes Law of Effect, behaviors that are followed
by pleasing consequences tend to be reinforced or repeated, while those that are
followed by pain or unpleasantness are usually not, thereby learning which situations
or conditions to seek out and which ones to avoid. In other words, through trial and
error our physical and social environments teach us the consequences of our actions.
From tropisms, to fixed action patterns, to operant conditioning, behavior
grows in complexity and flexibility. However, the most complex and flexible of all
learned behavior is our capacity for symbolic language. Although language is also
subject to the principles of operant conditioning, our capacity to use it gives us the
flexibility to create, direct and modify our behavior in ways that transcend operant
conditioning. For an organism to be able to label, describe, explain and communicate
its objective and subjective experiences requires a level of awareness that only
language can provide. Without words, our thoughts would be little more than a
stream or jumble of sensations, images, impressions, feelings and so on; we would be
aware, but not conscious.
To give an example of the difference between biological awareness and
linguistic consciousness, let us take an object like a chair. To a dog, a chair is a
nondescript thing that exists in its awareness, and while it may serve as a place to rest
or an object on which food is found, its experience of the chair is largely limited to
how the dog uses it. This is not to say that the dog is oblivious to the chairs physical
characteristics. While the dog may be well aware that it is different from other chairs,
it cannot categorize or describe the differences. To a conscious person, however, the
chair is more than just an object. Beyond our ability to label it as such, we can also
describe its color, size, shape, style, the materials it is made out of, and the various
ways it can be used or modified. It is obvious that our experience and understanding
of the chair is far more comprehensive than it is for the dog. The dog is biologically
aware of the chair while we are linguistically conscious of it. As we noted at the
beginning of this chapter, consciousness has been so broadly defined that it is
OF
impossible to study it objectivity; as such, a very specific functional definition will be
essential. However, to provide one that makes sense we must take a brief look how
language evolved.

THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE


Chart 1.1 is a variation of one developed by psychologist Robert Plutchik in
1980 which he called the Wheel of Emotion. It shows the connections of various
emotions. It is the basis for how our ability to label and describe our interoceptive
sensations create our subjective conscious experiences; this results in the
development our subjective vocabulary, hence the caption used. Beginning with six of
the most basic emotions at the center, or first level of the chart, these emotions are
expanded on at the second level, and more so on the third. As we were becoming
How Language Created Consciousness 19
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increasingly more attuned to our interoceptive sensationsto what and how we were
feeling, new words were created and our subjective vocabulary grew. Our conscious
subjective experiences expanded along with our language.

OF
Chart 1.1
How Our Ability to Label and Describe Our Interoceptive
Sensations Builds Our Subjective Vocabulary

A similar process occurs with our exteroceptive perceptions where the


building of our objective vocabulary involves labeling and describing the objects,
events, actions, people, places, methods, processes, concepts and so on that facilitate
our objective conscious experiences. Over time our tendency to label our
exteroceptive perceptions leads us to describe them, thereby expanding the number
of words used for our objective experiences. For example, once we labeled an object
like, say, a tree, we were then motivated to describe how it was different from a
flower or a rock. Our tendency to describe the tree led us to label and describe its
20 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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salient features, such as it being rooted in the ground, has branches and leaves, what
its colors are and so on.
This transformation from exteroceptive perception to objective experience or
interoceptive sensation to subjective experience is true for any perception or
sensation we can label; we tend to follow what we label with a description of what
we have perceived or sensed which builds both our vocabularies. This brings us to
how meaning, language and consciousness are connected.

MEANING, LANGUAGE AND CONSCIOUSNESS


While meaning can be conveyed through actions, there is no better tool with
which to do so than through symbolic language. Indeed, it is a given that the
underlying objective of using language is to convey meaning. Our intrinsic
motivation and ability to label and describe our external, objective perceptions and
internal, subjective sensations naturally gives them meaning. Language enables us to
define what we mean with a level of exactness not possible in any other way. In
addition, it permits us to communicate much more complexity than any other form of
communication. Furthermore, since our primary objective in using language is to
communicate what we are thinking or feeling, there is an inextricable bond between
language and meaning, which, together, define what it means to be conscious as
opposed to simply aware. How accurately we can convey what we mean depends on
how well we use language, and on our listeners capacity to understand what we say
or write.
The ability to label and describe our perceptions and sensations is just the
beginning of giving meaning to our experiences. It is natural that as our vocabulary
expands, more grammatical and syntactical structure is needed to give meaning to our
communications. Consequently, as language evolves from infants using sounds and
single words to convey what they need and want, to young adults using sentences of
OF
growing length and complexity, our ability to convey meaning likewise grows in
specificity and sophistication. The correct use of grammar, syntax, semantics and
morphology facilitates meaning and, therefore, communication. Communicating
meaning is also extended by using metaphors and analogies. This is especially true
for abstract notions such as justice, love, beauty, freedom and so on.
Because each individual experiences the world differently, meaning will vary
from one person to another. Meaning will also vary within the same individual as he
or she develops. Evidence for its variability can also be found in the changes that
words undergo over time. Clearly, our use of language to create meaning promotes a
rich, conscious understanding of the world and ourselves.
How Language Created Consciousness 21
PRO A FUNCTIONAL DEFINITION OF CONSCIOUSNESS
The case I wish to make is that our ability to acquire and use symbolic
language gave us consciousness, without which we would only possess biological
awareness. It is often recognized that consciousness separates humans from other
species. In reviewing many of the definitions given for consciousness, we will find
that most at least imply the use of language. Because consciousness includes our
feelings, thoughts and capacity for introspective self-awareness, language must be a
part of how it is defined. Indeed, how would it be possible to understand why or how
you feel, think or act without language? The fact that our capacity for language is so
readily taken for granted has led to our omitting it in formulating theories about the
origin of consciousness. It is interesting that the first known use of the word
consciousness according to Merriam-Webster was in 1629 which was about the same
time that language was rapidly evolving.
The importance of the evolution of language cannot be overstated, for it is
what has turned the relatively simple biological awareness of our distant ancestors
into the complex linguistic awareness or consciousness that we possess today. It is
language that transformed the raw, basic awareness of our exteroceptive perceptions
and interoceptive sensations into our conscious objective and subjective experiences.
Initially, the perceptions and sensations that we labeled and described dealt
mainly with the physical environment and our basic emotions such as fear, anger, joy,
sadness and so on. As language evolved, our capacity to label and describe our
exteroceptive perceptions became the basis for our objective conscious experiences.
Likewise our ability to label and describe our interoceptive sensations became the
basis for our subjective conscious experiences. Hence, the difference between an
exteroceptive perception and an objective experience is that the former has not been
labeled and described while the latter has. The same holds true for our interoceptive
sensations and subjective experiences. In essence then, the contents of our biological
OF
awareness are our exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations. By using
our ability to label and describe our perceptions and sensations, they become the
objective and subjective experiences that make up the contents of our consciousness.
There are obviously many things of which we are aware, but without words
to label and describe them we remain unconscious of them. For example, most of us
at one time or another have seen an object, the nature or purpose of which was
unknown to us. Without any idea of what the object was or its function, we were
largely ignorant of its practical or potential application. However, once labeled and
described, we were able to become conscious of both what it was and the ways it
could be used. Consequently, as language continued to create consciousness, their
evolution increased as ever more of our perceptions and sensations were labeled and
described. This linguistic process resulted in words that could then be catalogued in
22 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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dictionaries with their spelling, pronunciation, meaning or description, parts of
speech, examples of usage and likely origins.
This brings us to a functional definition of consciousness. To understand the
mystery of how we became linguistically aware or conscious, we need to recognize
that it was our capacity to label and describe both our externally based perceptions,
and our internally based sensations. Put a bit differently, consciousness is created by
our ability to label and describe the contents of our biological awareness, the two
types of which are our exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations. This
transforms them into our conscious subjective and objective experiences. In other
words, consciousness is biological awareness which has been qualitatively reshaped
and extended by language.
The more of our perceptions and sensations we can label and describe, the
greater will be our linguistic awareness or consciousness of them. Whether we do this
by creating entirely new words or modifying existing words by the methods
previously mentioned makes little difference. The main point is that language turns
our biological awareness into consciousness, thereby making our linguistic
experiences, conscious experiences. Furthermore, it is the physical nature of
language that makes consciousness an authentic, functional phenomenon. By
functionally defining consciousness as biological awareness that has been physically
transformed by language, it becomes a valid and useful concept.
In his book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral
Mind (1976), Julian Jaynes claimed that ancient people were unconscious and that
they experienced auditory hallucinations that came from the brains right cerebral
hemisphere which they took to be the voices of gods. According to Jaynes, stress,
upheaval, and catastrophe drove humanity to consciousness through the developing
connection between the left and right cerebral hemispheres; this enabled them to
recognize these voices as coming from themselves, thereby resulting in
consciousness. Social and environmental disasters may well have played a role in the
OF
emergence of consciousness. However, I believe his mistake was in attributing its
origin to the breakdown of the bicameral mind (i.e., the growing connection between
the two hemispheres of the cerebral cortex), which strikes me as a somewhat
contrived explanation. On the other hand, the idea that humanitys road to
consciousness began with the evolution of language is simple, direct and intuitive.
Since most of the charts in this book show a progression from a lower to a
higher state of being, they should be read from the bottom up. For example, Chart 1.2
shows the progression from the awareness of our exteroceptive perceptions and
interoceptive sensations to our ability to label and describe them, which leads to our
conscious objective and subjective experiences.
There is obvious value in replacing the idea of consciousness as a mysterious
phenomenon, with the functional definition of consciousness as biological awareness
which has been qualitatively enhanced by symbolic language. This will become
How Language Created Consciousness 23
PRO Consciousness
The linguistic consciousness of our objective
and subjective experiences.

Language
The evolution of our capacity to label and describe
our perceptions and sensations.

Awareness
The biological awareness of our exteroceptive
perceptions and interoceptive sensations.

Chart 1.2
From Biological Awareness to Linguistic Consciousness
clearer as we move through the coming chapters. Furthermore, in consideration of
how we have defined awareness, language and consciousness, we will from now on
refer to biological awareness as being nonlinguistic and linguistic awareness as
consciousness. Linguistic consciousness will occasionally be used to emphasize the
direct connection between language and consciousness. Indeed, as defined and used
here consciousness is synonymous with symbolic language.

THE SUBCONSCIOUS
OF
While we are on the subject of defining consciousness, a word needs to be
said about the nature of the subconscious. All of us have been, at one time or another,
hungry, anxious, sexually aroused or tired without being linguistically aware or
conscious of these sensations. Although they may be no more than vague stirrings or
nondescript feelings and sensations which live in a sort of twilight zone, we are
nevertheless able to act on them. Consistent with our definition of consciousness as
linguistic awareness, the subconscious contains our prelinguistic sensations. In other
words, consciousness includes the contents of our subconscious. These sensations lie
just below our conscious or linguistic awareness, and include our intuitions, dreams
and even creative thoughts.
Various ways that our subconscious, prelinguistic feelings or sensations
might come to the surface are through relaxation techniques such as mediation,
prayer, brain-altering substances and sleep. Some forms of psychotherapy such as
24 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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free association and hypnosis may also bring the subconscious into linguistic
awareness. In addition, age, wisdom or necessity can cause us to become conscious
of various sensations and experiences that may have been dormant for many years.
Although there is much speculation regarding the exact nature of our subconscious,
there is little question that prelinguistic awareness is a real phenomenon.

THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE AND CONSCIOUSNESS


As we have seen, the foundation, indeed the very purpose, essence and
evolution of language involves the ongoing process of applying specific sounds or
words to the external and internal stimuli to which we are exposed. After all, our
primate ancestors use specific sounds to warn their cohorts of an external danger like
a venomous snake, versus a large predatory bird or a stalking tiger. They also use
specific gestures and sounds to express their internal desire for food, versus sex or
grooming. Our ability to build our vocabularies is logically based on this ability to
create specific words for our various perceptions and sensations. The more of these
we can label and describe, explain and communicate, the more conscious we become.
Using symbolic language to label and describe our exteroceptive perceptions and
interoceptive sensations creates our objective and subjective vocabularies and causes
our consciousness to expand.
Conscious experiences are linguistic experiences. If being conscious means
being linguistically aware, then the more linguistically aware we are, the more
conscious we are. It is the size and makeup of our vocabulary that largely determines
our level of consciousness. As our vocabularies have grown, so has our
consciousness. Hence, language, together with our upright stance which freed our
hands, enabled us to perform many complex tasks, both physical and mental. This led
to changes in our physical and social environments, and to further changes in
language and consciousness.
OF
The transformation of biological awareness into linguistic consciousness
helped us achieve the remarkable advances that ensured our ascendency over all
other species. Our exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations form the
basis of our biological awareness which, when represented by and expressed through
spoken and written language, results in consciousness. Hence, the evolution of
language and consciousness was based on our capacity to label and describe our
perceptions and sensations. This was and continues to be accomplished by creating
new words for these external and internal stimuli as well as by using the methods
previously discussed to modify existing words. Once language was used to transform
our perceptions and sensations into our objective and subjective conscious
experiences, we could then explain and communicate them to others.
Consciousness is biological awareness which has been qualitatively reshaped
and extended by language. Specifically, language and consciousness evolved through
How Language Created Consciousness 25
PRO
our growing ability to label and describe our perceptions and sensations. This
allowed us to explain our objective experiences through science, and our subjective
experiences through the humanities. As mysterious as the origin of language has been
for linguists, our ancestors capacity to label and describe their perceptions and
sensations had to be part of this process. While we cannot make a definitive
statement about when language created consciousness, it is likely that, except for
periods of the rapid growth, consciousness emerged gradually as language evolved.
As for periods of sudden growth, there were two times over the last five
thousand years that major changes in language resulted in radical changes in our
consciousness. The first time was when writing was invented, as discussed in Chapter
6. The second period of rapid and lasting change took place in Europe during the
Scientific Revolution, addressed in Chapter 2. Other language based changes in
consciousness took place as a result of the more recent Agricultural and Industrial
Revolutions, as noted in Chapter 6. While these advances were driven by a relatively
small number of pioneers, their influence on the linguistic consciousness of millions
of people well into the future was profound.
Going back to the distinction between consciousness and mind at the
beginning of this chapter, we noted that the study of consciousness took precedence
over the idea of mind which was viewed as a more philosophical notion than
consciousness. Although the important difference between these two ideas is further
discussed in Chapter 5, it needs to be pointed out that unlike the metaphysical idea of
mind, consciousness is based on the physically real phenomenon of language, thereby
defining it in practical terms. In this regard, defining consciousness as a function of
language is that it enables us to bring this previously mysterious phenomenon into the
realm of science. Hence, rather than trying to study the ambiguous notion of
consciousness, we can focus on the nature of language which can be experimentally
observed, studied and understood.
To summarize, over the centuries the evolution of language was not only a
OF
consequence of our increasing ability to label and describe our exteroceptive
perceptions and interoceptive sensations, but to also explain and communicate our
resulting conscious objective and subjective experiences. It is this capacity that leads
from the various kinds and levels of biological awareness that broadly characterize
the cognitive lives of all living creatures, to the cultural, spiritual and intellectual
linguistic awareness that defines our existence as human beings. Indeed, our capacity
to label and describe our perceptions and sensations gives us that unique sense of
reality we call consciousness.
As we have seen, the functional definition of consciousness is to be
linguistically aware. Hence, the evolution of language is the evolution of
consciousness. Therefore, being linguistically aware or conscious raises our
biological awareness to a whole new level of understanding and sophistication. As
such, the evolution of language facilitated our ability to explain our objective and
26 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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subjective experiences which expanded our consciousness. In addition, it has led to
the creation of our personal, dialogical self as well as to the phenomenon of self-
awareness which was further proof of our evolving consciousness. We will now
explain how the evolution of language and consciousness led to the mind-body
problem and, in so doing, attempt to dissolve it.

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Chapter 2
How the Evolution of Language
Created the Mind-Body Problem

T here are many people who are interested in the subject of consciousness, the
origin and nature of which has received considerable attention in the popular press
over the past several decades. Few, however, are acquainted with the mind-body
problem which has been largely limited to the province of philosophers,
psychologists, and neuroscientists. The mind-body problem involves the distinction
between our subjective, mental experiences, and our objective, physical ones.
OF
Understanding this difference can influence how we see ourselves and the world.
Hence, the origin of the mind-body problem marked a major turning point in the
evolution of language and consciousness. As we will see, the reason the mind-body
problem could not be solved is because its origin in language is so profoundly simple.

WHAT IS THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM?


Referred to by Schopenhauer as the "world knot," the mind-body problem
became a major impediment to realizing a full and resilient scientific culture. The
mind-body problem or duality is about how our mind which represents our
subjective, seemingly nonphysical experiences can be logically connected to our
objective, physical body. In other words, how the nonphysical mind can effect the
physical body or, conversely, how the physical body can influence the nonphysical
30 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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mind. This makes the relationship between mind and body a mystery which has been
impossible to solve scientifically or philosophically.
Although we could say that mind and body are just two different terms for
the same thing, the question then is why are they seen as different? The clue here is
that mans early beliefs held that we were created with a body and a soulan idea
similar to modern dualism which draws a distinction between the physical brain and
the subjective mind. However, while dualism appeals to many individuals, it is
unscientific and therefore rejected by many academics.
Although the mind-body problem was formalized by Ren Descartes in the
1600s, many people even today either do not recognize its existence or else find it
obscure. This is because many have not given much thought to the two sources of
their experiences, namely their exteroceptive perceptions of the objects and events in
the external world, and their interoceptive sensations of the thoughts and feelings
within them. What makes this problem important is that our capacity to make and
understand this distinction represents a significant leap in the evolution of our
consciousness, much as it did for the philosophers of the 1600s. As such, this chapter
will show how the evolution of language and consciousness is the larger picture into
which the origin of the mind-body problem fits.

Body: Mind:
Our exteroceptive Our interoceptive
perceptions are the basis sensations are the basis
of our physical, objective of our mental, subjective
experiences. experiences.
Sight Feelings
OF
Sound Thoughts and Memories

Touch Hunger

Smell Intuitions

Taste Dreams

Table 2.1
The Two Sources of Our Experiences
How the Evolution of Language Created the Mind-Body Problem 31
PRO In Chapter 1, Table 1.1, we set the stage for the distinction between mind and
body by having defined biological awareness as consisting of our exteroceptive
perceptions and our interoceptive sensations which, once labeled and described,
became our objective and subjective experiences and established the origin of
consciousness. Table 2.1 takes this ability to label and describe of our biological
perceptions and sensations a step further, enabling us to see the world in two
distinctly different wayssubjective and objectivewhich is the essence of the
mind-body problem.
The picture of reality as viewed by science is that the universe consists of
nothing but physical matter and energy that physical laws can, or will eventually be
able to explain. However, while we have been largely successful in regarding the
world as a machine that obeys laws which can be discovered, our capacity for
objective observation, analysis and explanation could not be productively extended to
understanding the nature of our subjective, mental experiences. So while the brain
could be scientifically studied and explained, the mind could not. The reason is that
the mind is a phenomenon that does not possess physical attributes to which physical
laws can be applied.
This raises one of the most basic questions in philosophy, namely the nature
of reality. Is reality the objects and events we perceive in the external world, or is it
the subjective experiences that arise from within us? Clearly, our perceptions of the
world lead us to believe that it is made up of physically real objects and events.
Coexisting with these externally based experiences are our internal thoughts, feelings
and sensations that we also take to be real. The dilemma is that while the physical
existence of our subjective thoughts and feelings are seemingly impossible to prove,
they are, as private phenomena, irrefutable. Although we cannot provide any
scientific evidence for them, they undeniably exist. While we can point to objects and
events in the external world to demonstrate the reality of our objective experiences,
OF
this is impossible to do with our subjective experiences. It would seem then that
reality is both physical and objective as evidence from the external world indicates,
as well as nonphysical and subjective, as our self-awareness unquestionably
demonstrates.
The mind-body or the mind-brain problem, as it is sometimes referred to,
came into existence through the awareness by some individuals that subjective
experienceas embodied by mindcould have no place in the physical world
without creating a rift in our understanding of reality. Thus, the mind-body problem
was the result of the growing contradiction between our externally observable and
measurable perceptions, versus our internally experienced and subjectively felt
sensations. In other words, as we became increasingly aware of the physical reality of
the external world on the one hand, we became increasingly aware of our subjective
thoughts and feelings on the other.
32 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO The world contains
objects, events, people
and places. I
experience all of these
things through my I think and feel joy and
senses, and realize pain, love and fear,
that these perceptions happiness and sorrow,
are occurring to me. disappointment and
They are my objective pleasure. I directly
experiences. experience these sensations
as arising from within me.
They are my subjective
experiences.
OF
Figure 2.1
Becoming Aware that Reality has Two Faces
Forced the Mind-Body Problem into Existence

The mind-body problem is, therefore, based on the sense that our subjective
experiences represent a different kind of reality than our objective experiences.
Indeed, it appears almost inconceivable that reality is not split between our objective
and subjective experiences, thereby making the mind-body problem seemingly
impossible to solve. Given that there is general agreement in the scientific
community that the neurological processes occurring within us are physical events,
How the Evolution of Language Created the Mind-Body Problem 33
PRO
how then did our resulting subjective experiences become experienced as different
from our objective ones? In other words, what could have led us to see reality as split
between the external world of objects and events versus the internal world of
thoughts and feelingsbetween the physical and the mental? Does it have to do with
how our brains process these two different kinds of experience? From a Darwinian
point of view, what might be the advantage, if any, of seeing the world in these two
different ways? Indeed, what quirk of nature would cause us to believe that reality is
split in this manner? Could it be that this difference is an illusion or delusion? How
did this problem arise and why does it persist? To answer these questions and unravel
this conundrum, we will now discuss the evolution of symbolic language.

THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE AND THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM


In the previous chapter, we saw that the evolution of language led us from
biological awareness to the linguistic consciousness that our experiences came from
two sourcesour exteroceptive perceptions of the external world of objects, events,
and actions that create our objective experiences, and our interoceptive sensations
which include our inner world of thoughts, feelings, memories and so on that
constitute our subjective experiences. Specifically, we saw that our capacity to label
and describe our biological perceptions and sensations are the basis of our objective
and subjective experiences which led to our knowledge of the world and ourselves.
This means that there are two types of linguistic awareness or consciousness: The
first are our perceptions of the external objective world, while the second are our
inner subjective sensations. It was this basic distinction that created our linguistic
awareness of the mind-body problem. It has been our capacity to label and describe
our perceptions and sensations for so many generations that we have eventually
become linguistically aware of the difference between what happens to our bodies
versus what occurs within them. 5 This resulted in a split between the physical body
OF
and the metaphysical mind which left the worlds best thinkers baffled.

THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION


It was mainly during the second half of the twentieth century that with the
development of new technologies to study the human brain, we started to believe we
would soon understand consciousness and the mind. Yet over the last decade or so
this belief has been seriously questioned. The reason for this is that the mind cannot
be explained in scientific terms because it is not a physical phenomenonas such, it
must be addressed philosophically. As previously noted, the emphasis was then taken

5 Understanding the difference between what happens to us (our objective experiences) versus what
happens within us (our subjective experiences), is an important point that we will touch on again here
and in Chapter 8 with the emergence of self-awareness.
34 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO
off trying to explain mind, and redirected toward attempting to explain the nature of
consciousness which was thought to be more amenable to the new tools and methods
being developed to explore the brain. However, although scientists thought they
might eventually be able to explain consciousness, their inability to agree on a
functional definition of consciousness made this goal impossible to reach.
To understand how the mind-body problem came into existence, we must go
back to the Scientific Revolution of the 1600s. It is well known that this was a time
of rapid and profound growth in the physical sciences of astronomy, biology,
chemistry, physics and mathematics. This sudden and intense accumulation of
knowledge over such a short time had never occurred before, and took place mainly
in France, Italy, Germany and England. These advances eventually transformed
mans previously held view of nature and of himself.
While the religious and philosophical works of that era focused mainly on
subjective states of mind, the rapid development of scientific knowledge fueled by
Francis Bacons work in the early 1600s marked the beginning of the Scientific
Revolution. Bacons promulgation of empiricism and the scientific method created an
objective framework for studying the physical world. A vast increase in the number
of new words used to label and describe new ideas, methods of observation,
innovative measuring procedures and devices greatly expanded the linguistic
awareness of their objective experiences. Their focus on measurable observations,
well thought-out experiments, inductive reasoning, mathematical analysis and logical
conclusions created many powerful new theories in new fields of exploration.
What was especially important about these highly innovative advances in
science and mathematics was that they not only expanded the linguistic awareness of
scientists and philosophers objective experiences, but also greatly increased the
linguistic awareness of their subjective experiences. In other words, the philosophers
of that timeespecially Descartes, became increasingly conscious of their own
OF
subjective thoughts and feelings. What created this new, higher level of
consciousness was the rapidly growing contrast between their objective and
subjective experiencesa divide that the evolution of language was creating. Hence,
it was no coincidence that the linguistic awareness of our subjective selves began to
grow around this time.
This expanded focus on the external world which characterized the Scientific
Revolution had the unintended effect of calling more attention to ones personal,
subjective experiences. As a result, our subjective experiences that had once been so
inherent, natural, unquestioned, and therefore largely invisible to humanitys thinking
before the 1600s was now beginning to enter our linguistic awareness and become
explicitly acknowledged. By making the thinkers of that time much more consciously
aware of their own subjective, personal experiences, science, knowledge and reason
began to replace religion, superstition and myth. In essence, the rapid evolution of
language during the Scientific Revolution created the linguistic awareness of the
How the Evolution of Language Created the Mind-Body Problem 35
PRO
difference between objective and subjective experience as reflected in the mind-body
problem. The thinkers of that time became increasingly conscious of their subjective
experiences, especially in contrast to their objective ones, thereby creating a split in
how they came to see reality. This forced the most enlightened individuals to see both
the world and themselves each very differently than they previously had. In other
words, they were inclined to see themselves as individuals who are distinct from the
world rather than an inherent part of it as they once did.

REN DESCARTES AND THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM


To further comprehend the origin of the mind-body problem, we must take a
brief look at the history of this split between external, objective and internal,
subjective experience. The first indication that reality was seen as split goes back to
the time of Plato who recognized a difference between the soul or spirit and the
material world. Platos Theory of Forms, also known as his Theory of Ideas makes a
distinction between the material world of substance which is constantly changing,
and the world of Forms or Ideas which are abstract, universal properties that remain
constant such as beauty, soul, courage, color and so on, and which were considered
the most fundamental forms of reality and knowledge. This raised the problem of
universals which in Platos time was similar to the mind-body problem in Descartes
time. Just as the early philosophers were trying to determine the relationship between
physical objects and their universal properties, later thinkers were trying to
understand the relationship between the physical body and mind. Hence, Platos
distinction between the world of physical substance and that of abstract universal
forms or ideas was the forerunner of the mind-body problem.
Although thinkers over the past several hundred years came to see the mind
and body as distinct phenomena, there is little evidence that those before Plato saw
any split in reality. In other words, although this difference between the external and
OF
internal source of our experiences is real, before Plato people were unable to make
this distinction. Indeed, what characterized the thinking of many before Platos time
(as well as for many afterwards) was their confusion between their outer and inner
experiences. Some of these confusions involved mistaking dreams for reality and
words for actions, while superstitious thoughts and beliefs in totems were further
evidence of their muddled thinking.
Humankinds previous inability to make the distinction between the external
physical world and their inner subjective experiences can be defined as subjective
monism. In essence, subjective monism means that almost everything is experienced
subjectively, thereby creating a mindset of pervasive egocentrism. Although from the
time of Plato on philosophers became increasingly aware that some of their
experiences came from the outside world while others arose from within themselves,
36 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO
subjective monism was the ruling paradigm and humanitys basic way of thinking, as
further discussed on page 40.
It was Descartes who fully brought this distinction to a head. His recognition
of the difference between his outer physical being his inner mental thoughts was a
product of his increased linguistic awareness or consciousness which enabled him to
see reality as split between what he perceived and what he sensed; between what he
could see, hear, smell, taste, and touch versus what he could feel, think, imagine,
decide and dreambetween his perceptions of the world around him versus the
subjective sensations within him. This distinction became formalized as the mind-
body problem.
So obvious was Descartes linguistic awareness of his subjective thoughts
and feelings being distinct from his experiences of the external world, that he made it
a central principle of his philosophynamely, that the one thing he could be
completely certain of was his capacity to doubt and, hence, to think and that his
ability to do so was the basis of his physical existence. This realization was expressed
in Descartes statement, I think, therefore I am which made thought the foundation
of his corporeal being. Furthermore, he mistakenly attributed his capacity to think to
God, since at that point he was unable to find a more rational or scientific
explanation. In other words, while his considerable consciousness allowed him to
discern this split in reality, he did not possess the level of linguistic awareness
necessary to explain his subjective experiences more objectively.
As powerful as the Scientific Revolution was, Descartes use of God to
explain his subjective thoughts and feelings was not unusual. Indeed, most of the
philosophers and scientists during that period continued to believe in the existence of
an all-powerful deity which they used to explain their subjective experiences of
which they were becoming increasingly conscious. It was as though a light from a
powerful yet mysterious source illuminated what had been there all along, but had
OF
been as invisible to these philosophers as it had been for their ancestors.
The philosophers inability to find a physical or scientific explanation for
their subjective experiences caused them to use the idea of God to explain them. As a
result, many prominent individuals such as Bacon, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus,
Newton and Leibniz continued to believe in a higher power. So while the Scientific
Revolution caused these individuals to become linguistic aware of their subjective
experiences, they remained unable to determine their source and therefore attributed
them to God.
Descartes was alive at the right time to unwittingly promote what turned out
to be an apparently unbridgeable schism between ones objective and subjective
experiences. This divide was not only created by the evolution of language, but
became increasingly reinforced by its continuing growth. Indeed, over the last several
centuries we have added tens of thousands of new words to label and describe all the
exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations of which we were becoming
How the Evolution of Language Created the Mind-Body Problem 37
PRO
aware. Over time, this process further magnified the difference between our external
and internal experiences, making this split more obvious and frustrating our best
attempts to solve it. It is no surprise that we reached the twenty-first century
throughly stymied by this mystery of subjective experience and our inability to solve
the mind-body problem. To further understand the origin and nature of this problem,
we must address how the evolution of languagespecifically our capacity to label
and describe our perceptions and sensationsled to our reflective and introspective
vocabularies.

CREATING REFLECTIVE AND INTROSPECTIVE VOCABULARIES


As we have seen, the most basic function of symbolic language is our ability
to label and describe our exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations. Not
only does this capacity give meaning to our objective and subjective experiences, it is
essential if we are to be able to explain and communicate them. By expanding our
consciousness, it fed our tendency to label and describe still more of our perceptions
and sensations which led to the growth of our reflective and introspective
vocabularies.
It is well known that language changes over time. This is reflected in the
growth of our vocabularies which, for many centuries, grew slowly. However, once
the Scientific Revolution began, it was as though we became language junkies,
labeling and describing the many perceptions and sensations of which we were
becoming aware, thereby resulting in many new words. The Encyclopedia Americana
noted that our vocabulary has grown from the 50,000 to 60,000 words in Old English,
to 650,000 to 750,000 in todays unabridged dictionary. In addition, Robert McCrum,
William Cran and Robert MacNeil note in their The Story of English that while the
Oxford English Dictionary lists about 500,000 words, an additional half-million
technical and scientific terms remain uncatalogued. Beginning with the Scientific
OF
Revolution, many of these words were used for the new scientific and technological
discoveries, inventions and methods being developed.
Along with the vast increase in our vocabularies, the Scientific Revolution
also led to changes in the meaning of words. This fact has been especially well
illustrated by Owen Barfield in his book, History in English Words, where he
discusses the origin of various words from different historical periods. For example,
the Scientific Revolution influenced how the word metaphysics became redefined.
Before the revolution, scientific matters were a part of metaphysics known as natural
philosophy. It was only after this revolution was well under way that these matters
were called science rather than philosophy, at which point metaphysics was redefined
as dealing mostly with philosophical issues.
The Scientific Revolution was not only responsible for scientifically based
new words, but subjectively based ones as well. Hence, to understand the origin of
38 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO
the dichotomy between mind and body, we must look at how the evolution of
language led to the creation of two broad but distinct and continually expanding
vocabularies into which our words fallreflective and introspective. Reflective
vocabularies are made up of words used to label and define events, objects, actions,
people, places, and things in the external world. Introspective vocabularies consist of
words used to represent and describe our thoughts, feelings, emotions, dreams,
intuitions, and other sensations within us. Our capacity to label and describe our
external perceptions enable us to build our reflective vocabularies, while our ability
to do the same with our internal sensations allow us to construct our introspective
ones. It is probably not a coincidence that the word nomenclature, which means,
The devising or choosing of names for things, esp. in a science or other discipline
came into being in the early 1600s.

REFLECTIVE VOCABULARIES
The dictionary defines the word reflection as involving serious thought or
consideration but does not specify whether the serious thought or consideration
refers to things in the external world or our inner world. Consequently, many people
use the words, reflection and introspection interchangeably. However, as defined and
used here, reflection refers to thought or consideration regarding the external world.
As such, we create our reflective vocabularies by naming and defining the various
exteroceptive perceptions that make up our externally based objective experiences.
Hence, the basis of our reflective vocabularies are our perceptions of what occurs
outside of us and includes the objects, events, actions, people, and places and the
relationships between these physical things.
Reflective vocabularies include words that name, describe, examine,
interpret, explain, and evaluate various ideas and phenomena that take place in the
physical world and consequently provide extensive and detailed descriptions of our
objective experiences. Such vocabularies are also used to explain how things work
OF
and are therefore the basis for the advances in the physical sciences and technology.
While their use may result in high levels of linguistic abstraction, their focus is on the
external, physical world.
These include words that refer to the design, construction and operation of
homes, factories, ships, airplanes, vehicles, engines, electronic circuits, models of
atomic particles, chemical molecules, and so on. Other examples are words that
identify and describe the movements of dancers or athletes or the moves made by
chess players. Words that name our reflective experiences are water, telescope, steps,
X-ray, molecule, labor, theory, ball, ceremony, table, share, and games. While
reflective vocabularies are clearly essential to technologically advanced societies, this
is considerably less true for our introspective vocabularies.
How the Evolution of Language Created the Mind-Body Problem 39
PRO INTROSPECTIVE VOCABULARIES
Language not only allowed us to name and define the perceptions that make
up our objective experiences, but also the sensations that make up our personal,
subjective thoughts and feelings. The dictionary defines the word introspection as
the examination or observation of one's own mental and emotional processes.
These are our thoughts, feelings, intuitions, emotions, moods and so on that make up
our subjective experiences and is the definition we will use here. The focus of
introspection is mainly on the self and our internal sensations as opposed to the
external world. It involves the examination and contemplation of ones self, as
opposed to extrospection which is the observation and thought about things external
to ourselves. As such, introspective vocabularies are created by naming and defining
the various interoceptive sensations that constitute our subjective thoughts, feelings
and other internally based experiences.
It is through introspection that we come to understand our personal lives
our thoughts, feelings, and actions. To do this requires the ability to accurately label
and define our subjective, interoceptive sensations. For example, a pain might be
described as dull, sharp, intermittent, burning, pulling, and so onall of which
denote and clarify what we might be feeling. Such vocabularies are the basis of the
arts, music, literature, religion, as well as some areas of philosophy, psychology and
the social sciences. Words that represent our introspective experiences are doubt,
regret, amazement, guilt, hope, shame, gratitude, envy, disappointment, anger, worry,
confusion, pleasure, and confidence. Our introspective vocabularies provide deep and
rich accounts of our subjective experiences.
The difference between our reflective and introspective vocabularies is that
our increasing awareness of our exteroceptive perceptions expanded our reflective
vocabularies, while our growing awareness of our interoceptive sensations increased
our introspective vocabularies. Furthermore, because reflection deals with the
OF
external world, it is about practical matters on which our physical survival depends
and is therefore more commonly used than introspection. Indeed, when we add all the
things we have discovered in our natural environment, together with everything we
have created, our reflective vocabulary will be much larger than our introspective
one. This is demonstrated by the many specialized dictionaries developed and used
by the various sciences and technologies as compared with the number that exist for
the religion and the humanities. 6

6 This distinction between reflective and introspective language and thought is reminiscent of C.P.
Snows essay, The Two Cultures, in which he discussed the differences between the two cultures of
modern societyscience and the humanitiesand, specifically, the inability of their practitioners to
communicate with each other.
40 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO FROM SUBJECTIVE MONISM TO DUALISM
Physical monism is the natural state of the universe, whereas subjective
monism is the natural state of living beings. All animate beings, from their origin as a
species to their existence as individuals, live in a physically monistic world that they
experience subjectively. Subjective monism is a form of egocentrism (defined as
being centered in or arising from a persons own existence or perspective) where
everything is experienced subjectively.
There is little question that we are, always have been, and always will be
subjectively egocentric beings. Subjective monism is defined by our inability to make
the distinction between our external versus our internal experiences, thereby
experiencing everything subjectively. In other words, for tens of thousands of years
our true cognitive state of existence has been as intuitive, instinctive emotionally
subjective beings. Subjective monism best describes this previously perpetual and
limited state of awareness.
The question is if this is what and who we are and always have been, how did
we go from subjective monism to the dualism of mind and body which has been the
ruling paradigm for the past several centuries? To understand the origin of the split
between the mind and body, we must explain how the evolution of language led us to
become linguistically aware or conscious of our previously all-encompassing
subjective state of being.
While the seeds of dualism go back to Plato, it did not really become a
serious philosophical paradigm until the Scientific Revolution when Descartes drove
a wedge between his external and internal experiences with his declaration, I think,
therefore I am. The effect of this assertion was to create the subjective, mental and
the objective, physical realms of experience. This reinforced the growing
discontinuity between mind and body which became formalized as the mind-body
problem. Had it not been for the huge leap in our scientific nomenclature and thought
OF
during this period, we would have remained locked into experiencing almost
everything subjectively, but without ever having realized it. In other words, the
reason our subjective state was invisible to us was that we had not previously been
linguistically aware or conscious of it.
The very existence of the mind-body problem demonstrates that at some
point in our evolution we began to become linguistically aware of our ever-present
subjective state. The question is, how did we come to realize our subjective side if we
had nothing to compare this state of existence with? The simplest and most direct
answer is that we would have had to become more linguistically aware of our
objective experiencesand this is exactly what happened as a result of the sudden
and rapid increase in scientific terminology and thought during the 1600s.
In Chapter 1 we saw that it was not just objects, events and actions in the
external world that we were able to create symbols or words for; over the centuries,
How the Evolution of Language Created the Mind-Body Problem 41
PRO
we also became increasingly proficient at labeling and describing our feelings,
dreams, memories, thoughts and other interceptive sensations. We also saw that this
capacity to label and describe our exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive
sensations ledthrough the development of our reflective and introspective
vocabulariesto the evolution of consciousness. Just as our reflective vocabularies
represent and define our exteroceptive perceptions which create our objective
experiences, our introspective vocabularies label and describe our interoceptive
sensations which create our subjective experiences. This was how the evolution of
language led to the evolution of consciousness; and as our vocabularies grew, so did
our consciousness. Hence, the extent and type of vocabularies we use determine the
level and nature of our consciousness.
However, it was only when both our vocabularies grew and reached a certain
level of diversity, range and depth as happened during the Scientific Revolution that
we realized that our experiences were coming from two different sources. In other
words, it was the evolution of our reflective and introspective vocabularies that
enabled us to become much more conscious of the difference between our
experiences of the external, physical world versus those of our internal, subjective
world. This strengthened our conviction that reality has two facesthe physical and
the mental, forcing the mind-body problem into existence. What made this problem
so difficult to unravel was that the process of how the evolution of language created
the split between mind and body was largely invisible.
Over time, the evolution of this capacity to identify and define our
perceptions and sensations gave us the ability to reflect on the external world, and
introspect about our inner one. This led to considerable growth in the linguistic
awareness of our subjective experiences in juxtaposition to our objective ones. What
eventually brought our conscious awareness of our early ongoing subjective state of
being into existence was our rapidly growing consciousness of the physical world as
OF
created by our increasing ability to name and describe what was in it. This
unexpected growth in science created a sharp contrast to our emotionally based
experiences which increased our linguistic awareness of the difference between our
externally based perceptions and our internally based sensations. Our increasing
consciousness eventually reached a tipping point where we became able to see the
difference between our objective versus our subjective experiences which caused the
dualism of mind and body.
The goal of science is to eventually be able to explain everything by careful
observation, experiment and logical analysis. Although it recognized that dualism is
inconsistent with this goal, it nevertheless became, by default, the accepted paradigm
over the past several centuries. What is ironic about this is that it was the rise of the
Scientific Revolution that created dualism to begin with. The fact that physical
science has been unable to explain the origin and nature of the mind or consciousness
has frustrated many and caused them to question the limits of science. We will now
42 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO
take a closer look at how the evolution of language led us from our mostly subjective,
monistic way of thinking to our current dualistic state of mind which involves seeing
reality as divided between our objective and subjective experiences.

HOW LANGUAGE REDUCED THE CONFUSION BETWEEN


PERCEPTIONS AND SENSATIONS
As we have seen, the connection between our biologically based
exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations and our objective and
subjective experiences is language. In other words, our capacity to use language to
label and describe our perceptions and sensations enables us to transform raw stimuli
from the external world into our objective experiences, and to turn our bodily
sensations into our subjective experiences, thereby making us linguistically aware of
the difference between these two types of experience.
Nevertheless, while we are generally aware of this difference, it often
difficult and sometimes impossible to distinguish between what takes place in the
external world versus what arises within us. The reason for this is that our
perceptions of the objects, events and actions in the external world are processed as
sensations within our nervous system; this means that there is no clear neurological
boundary between perception and sensation. The point is that if our perceptions of the
external world are turned into the internal sensations of personal experience, we
cannot really say where the physical environment ends and the personal self begins.
To be more specific, this occurs because our exteroceptive perceptions and
interoceptive sensations exist on the same biophysical continuum, often making it
difficult to tell where perception ends and sensation begins. In other words, we
cannot always determine the source of our experiences. This can lead to confusions
between dreams and reality, words and actions and even ourselves and others. This,
of course, is the essence of subjective monism.
OF
It is well known that infants and young children receive a continuous stream
of stimuli from both the external world and their internal sensations, but are unable to
make a clear distinction between them. Even among modern adults, the inability to
clearly distinguish between our perceptions and sensations can make it quite difficult
to distinguish between our objective versus our subjective experiences. While it is
usually clear to us that the source of our objective and subjective experiences is
different, this is not apparent to young children; this makes it difficult to distinguish
between what is happening to them versus what is happening within them. This can
lead to some of their perceptions being experienced subjectively, while some of their
sensations are experienced objectively. In other words, their internal sensations might
be projected out into the world, while what is external could be experienced as
personal and subjective. Such confusions can also occur among adults. The
psychological terms for them are projection (externalization) which is the
How the Evolution of Language Created the Mind-Body Problem 43
PRO
unconscious transfer of one's own beliefs, thoughts, attitudes or emotions on to other
people, animals and even objects, or introjection (internalization) which is the
unconscious incorporation of the beliefs, attitudes and behavior of others into ones
self. This makes the realization that ones experiences comes from two different
sources difficult to grasp, causing the individual to be subjectively one with his or her
environment.
Nor could our early ancestors readily make this distinction. Just as with
infants and young children, all of humanitys experiences had, from the beginning,
been registered subjectively. This subjective mindset which was common during
early human civilization began to change as language evolved. As a result, the ability
of later generations to make the distinction between their external perceptions and
internal sensations only emerged after the evolution of language reached a certain
level. The greater our linguistic ability to distinguish between the source of our
experiencesour perceptions versus our sensationsthe more likely we are to
understand the difference between what is happening to us versus what is happening
within us and, consequently, to make the distinction between our objective, as
opposed to our subjective experiences. In other words, it was the evolution of
language that enabled us to make this distinction with ever greater clarity.
Specifically, it was our evolving capacity to accurately label and describe our
exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations that promoted the growth of
our reflective and introspective vocabularies and gave us the perspective needed to
make the linguistic distinction between our objective and subjective experiences. As
our vocabularies evolved, we were able to determineoften with great accuracy
the source of our experiences and, hence, the difference between what happens to us
versus within us. As such, we became increasingly able to identify and understand the
difference between our external, objective, as opposed to our internal, subjective
experiences. It is, therefore, clear that without the evolution of language it would
OF
have been an almost impossible to unravel our subjective selves from our physical
and social experiences.
As our explorations, knowledge, and understanding of the world and
ourselves grew, so did our linguistic awareness of this distinction thereby forcing us
to see the world in dichotomous terms and making the mind-body problem inevitable.
It was only through our steadily increasing capacity to name and define our
perceptions and sensations that we could become conscious of this dichotomy, and of
the intellectual quagmire it created. The more our vocabularies expanded, the greater
this divide became and the deeper we sank into the confusing duality of mind and
body. 7

7 As common sense would tell us, the capacity to make this distinction varies from one person to
another and is based largely on the depth and diversity of each individuals reflective and introspective
vocabularies.
44 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO While the sudden evolution of language during the 1600s greatly amplified
the difference between our externally based, versus our internally based experiences,
it was mostly philosophically minded scientists like Descartes who were struck by
this distinction. Even to this day, the mind-body problem remains an enigma for those
individuals who are linguistically aware that their experiences originate from two
different sources. We will now look at how the evolution of language and
consciousness solidified our belief that reality was split between the physical and
mental realms of being.

HOW THE OBJECTIFICATION OF OUR EXPERIENCES ENSURED DUALISM


Before the Scientific Revolution, any significant linguistic awareness of our
subjective thoughts and feelings would have been unlikely. The ideas of external
versus internal, objective versus subjective, or physical versus mental were largely
alien to people who did not possess the comprehensive vocabularies that were rapidly
evolving during that period. As the linguistic awareness of our objective experiences
continued to increase from the Scientific Revolution on, it called greater attention to
our subjective experiences and how different they were from our objective ones. This
had the effect of opening a whole new world of subjective experience and knowledge
that had been largely invisible to us, because we previously had little to compare it
with.
To better appreciate how our expanding linguistic awareness of our objective
experiences led us, by comparison, to become more linguistically aware of our
subjective ones, we can use the metaphor of the distinction between day and night.
We know that day can best be defined and understood when compared to its opposite,
which is night. Without both, all we would know is one, and that one would be so
taken for granted that it would be linguistically invisible to us, just as our subjective
experiences had once been. In other words, as we became increasingly consciousness
OF
of our objective experiences, we started to become more linguistically aware of our
subjective sensations. As such, it was through the evolution of reflective vocabularies
that we began to see our subjective experiences more objectively.
Another, more accurate metaphor is what a fish might experience when it is
momentarily taken out of the water and then develops a newfound awareness of the
water when returned to it. Just as the fish could only become aware of its natural
watery environment after being removed from it and then put back in, we could only
become linguistically aware of the subjective existence we had been largely
immersed in once we became more fully exposed to the external physical world as
occurred in the 1600s. The experience of the fish being out of water could be equated
to our increased experience of the external physical world, while its re-submergence
was like our stepping back into our subjective world, at which point we became
linguistically aware of these sensations in a way and to an extent that was not
How the Evolution of Language Created the Mind-Body Problem 45
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previously possible. In other words, the more conscious we became of the external
world, the more conscious we became of our subjective experiences. This forced us
to distinguish between what happens to us versus in us, thereby setting the stage for
dualism.
Of course it is certainly true that before the Scientific Revolution we had
been aware of our relatively simple subjective emotions such as joy, sadness, fear
and so on. However, it was in response to our growing awareness of our objective
experiences as demonstrated by the growth of our reflective vocabularies that we
became increasingly conscious of our subjective sensations. This led to many
previously unacknowledged interoceptive sensations to became labeled and
described. This fostered a greater awareness of our subjective experiences as
manifested by the more words we could create to represent, describe and express our
subjective states. This expansion of our introspective vocabulary was reflected in the
creation of such words as nostalgia, ennui, somber and empathy. These and similar
words generated a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.
Our increasing capacity to compare our objective experiences with our
subjective experiences helped us clarify and objectify both types of experience. As
we became ever more conscious of our subjective experiences when compared to our
objective ones, we could see them as categorically different. As our ability to clarify
and objectify both types of experience grew, our linguistic awareness of our
subjective sensations expanded which caused the split between body and mind to
widen and make dualism a forgone conclusion.
This growing linguistic awareness enabled us to transcend our previously
persistent and pervasive subjectivity, thereby making us much more conscious of our
subjective experiences than we had been before Descartes time. This linguistic
process eventually permitted Descartes to step out of his previously encapsulating
subjective mindset and finally see the difference between his objective and subjective
OF
experiences. As a result, Descartes and others could now question the source and
nature of their subjective experiences.
The shift from our previously tenacious subjective monism into dualism was
our linguistic awareness of the difference between our objective, versus our
subjective, personal experiences. Once language evolved to a certain point, we
became sufficiently conscious of our subjective experiences by comparison to our
objective ones, and through clarification and objectification, to linguistically
acknowledge the difference between these two states of being.
As this distinction became increasingly apparent, the divide between the
world and ourselves grew to such an extent that we inadvertently found ourselves
living in what seemed to be two separate realities. While this contributed to a
qualitatively rich understanding of both our objective and subjective experiences, it
created an unresolvable rift in our picture of reality. Consequently, knowledge in the
1600s began to split into two spheresscience and technology, as opposed to
46 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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religion and philosophy. It was at this point that we moved from the first stage of
consciousness which was subjective monism, to the second stage of consciousness
which is dualism.
The evolution of language created a situation where we were compelled to
see ourselves in dualistic terms. As such, the mind-body problem is an emergent
epiphenomenon which resulted from our linguistic capacity to distinguish between
our objective and subjective experiencesan anomaly due to the evolution of
language and consciousness. Because of this duality, we are no longer the purely
subjective creatures we once were, but now see ourselves as practical, scientific and
objective, as well as emotional, spiritual and subjective beings. We are, in other
words, creatures who now think in dualistic terms.
Read from the bottom up, Chart 2.1 outlines the evolution from subjective
monism to dualism in three simple steps. The first step of subjective monism began
with our inability to distinguish between our exteroceptive perceptions of the external
world and our interoceptive sensations that derive from within us. The second step
was our evolving capacity to label and describe both types of awareness, thereby
enabling us to expand, clarify and objectify our objective and subjective experiences.
The last step was our ability to see that the source of our externally based experiences
was physical, while the source of our internally based experiences was metaphysical,
thereby creating the duality of body and mind.

BEYOND THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION


To appreciate the importance of the Scientific Revolution in expanding our
consciousness to the point of creating the mind-body problem, we will now take note
of the two cultural and social movements that followed it. The Enlightenment or The
Age of Reason began in the mid 1600s and coincided with the Scientific Revolution
heralded a whole new way of looking at the world and ourselves. As a result, many
OF
traditional ideas were questioned and replaced by new insights regarding the universe
and man's place in it. The Enlightenment started to replace faith, tradition and
superstition with reason, logic and evidence. By emphasizing skepticism and
individualism, the Enlightenment acknowledged and supported our accomplishments
in science and technology.
The Enlightenment lasted until about 1800, after which the Romantic Period
or Age of Reflection with its focus on humanitys subjective nature took precedence.
Romanticisms recognition and celebration of our emotions, intuitions and
imagination was a reaction to the Enlightenment. Romanticism was a natural and
even predictable rejection of the rapid development of science and technology, and to
the Industrial Revolutions that were created by the Scientific Revolution. However,
with its emphasis on subjective experience it might have more accurately been called
the Age of Introspection. The Romantic Period led to a sharp growth of introspective
How the Evolution of Language Created the Mind-Body Problem 47
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vocabularies from 1800 on. This evolutionary unfolding of introspective thought
resulted in the subsequent flowering of the humanities and the development of the
social sciences.

The Dualism of Mind and Body


Dualism was created through our ability to see that
the source of our objective the source of our subjective
experiences were physical. experiences were metaphysical.
This led to the growth of This led to developments in
science and technology. religion and the humanities.

Consequently, the evolution of language created the dichotomy between our


objective physical (body), and subjective metaphysical (mind) experiences.

The Evolution of Language


The rapid evolution of language during the Scientific Revolution
enabled us to label and describe...
our exteroceptive perceptions, which our interoceptive sensations, which
led to the development of our led to the growth of our introspective
reflective vocabularies. This enabled vocabularies. This enabled us to
us to realize that these experiences realize that these experiences were
were happening to us, and were happening in us and were
therefore objective. therefore subjective.

Subjective Monism
OF
The two sources of our biological awareness are our exteroceptive
perceptions of objects, events, actions, etc., and our interoceptive
sensations of happiness, pain, joy, and so on.
Before the Scientific Revolution this distinction could not be clearly made,
thereby causing us to experience almost everything subjectively.

Chart 2.1
How the Evolution of Language Created Dualism - From Subjective
Monism to the Split between Mind and Body

From the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment to Romanticism there


was a trajectory that began with an increased understanding of the physical world, to
an appreciation of this emerging form of knowledge, and then to a newly apparent
48 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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linguistic awareness of our subjective nature and experiences as reflected in our focus
on literature, art, music, religion, philosophy and history. Consistent with this thesis,
both the Enlightenment and Romanticism were natural outcomes of the Scientific
Revolution.
Regarding our previous metaphor, the period during which the fish was out
of the water and became aware of its natural habitat was like our experience during
the Scientific Revolution which made us more aware of our subjective nature. Then
when the fish was back in the water, it likely retained a memory of its experience of
being out of it. The fishs memory of this experience could be compared to our
extended awareness of the external world as represented by the Enlightenment. Still
further, like the fish becoming aware of the difference between being in, as opposed
to being out of the water, and appreciating being in it, we came to understand and
appreciate the subjective side of our existence as realized during the Romantic
Period. Thus, both the Enlightenment and Romanticism represented major shifts in
the intellectual and emotional development of those individuals who understood the
powerful distinction between their objective and subjective experiences and the new
dual reality it conveyed.

SUMMARY
In Chapter 1 we saw how the evolution of language was based on our
capacity to label and describe our exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive
sensations, thereby creating our objective and subjective conscious experiences. In
this chapter we discussed how this process expanded, clarified and objectified our
experiences which enabled us to make the distinction between what happens to us
versus in us, leading to a growing level of linguistic consciousness. Indeed, it took
thousands of years for our capacity to label and describe our perceptions and
sensations to reach the point where we became linguistically aware of the difference
OF
between our objective and subjective experiences and, as such, the difference
between mind and body. In other words, the origin of the mind-body problem was our
capacity to label and describe our exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive
sensations. This enabled us to distinguish between our objective and subjective
experiences, which led us to believe that reality was split between the physical body
and the metaphysical mind. It was, therefore, the evolution of language that brought
us from subjective monism to the duality of mind and body.
There can be little question that the emergence of the mind-body problem
reflected a major shift in the evolution of our language and consciousness. This shift
required the linguistic awareness that our experiences came from two different
sourcesan awareness that only began around the time of Plato, after which it took
another two millennium to be fully recognized by Descartes. What made this problem
so difficult to transcend was that our acknowledgement of this mental-physical divide
How the Evolution of Language Created the Mind-Body Problem 49
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was so historically recent. Nevertheless, by understanding how the evolution of
language created the linguistic awareness of our subjective experiences and that they
differed from our objective ones, the mystery of the mind-body problem dissolves.
Our linguistic awareness of the difference between our objective and
subjective experiences determines our core beliefs and, consequently, our social,
emotional and intellectual place in the world. This awareness varies from strong
subjective monism to a level of dualism which characterizes the most philosophically
minded individuals. While the latter are clearly able to recognize the difference
between the two sources of their experiences, they can still comprehend and
appreciate their biological connection to other people and species as well as their
physical place in the world and the universe.
Lastly, since it was the objective of this chapter to show how the evolution of
language and consciousness led from subjective monism to the paradox of dualism,
we can now take the next logical step in this journey which will be to replace dualism
with physical monism.
OF
OF
PRO
PRO
Chapter 3
From the Dualism of Mind and
Body to Physical Monism

I t is not my intention to discount or refute the validity of our subjective


experiences, as they are personal and physically real. Instead, my purpose is to show
that no matter how idiosyncratic and mysterious these experiences are, they can be
understood by explaining the nature and evolution of language. My objective in this
chapter will be to explain how our subjective experiences are connected with
language and, in so doing, replace the metaphysical dualism of mind and body with a
OF
physical monistic, scientific understanding of reality.
At the core of the mind-body problem are two closely related aspects. The
first is the hard problem of subjective experience or qualia. Raised by David
Chalmers in his book, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory
(1996), this problem is based on our inability to explain why our phenomenological
sensations such as memories, hunger, sadness, colors and so on feel the way they do.
Even if it were possible to explain our subjective states in objective terms, we would
still be left with the feeling that these experiences are uniquely our own and cannot be
shared with, or fully understood by others. It has been correctly pointed out that even
if we were to one day discover exactly which biological structures, pathways and
cells are involved in specific thoughts, feelings and other sensations, it will never
take away that special inner quality and richness that make these experiences seem so
unique and personal to us.
52 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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and neuroscientists call the explanatory gap which was first raised by Joseph Levine
in 1983. This gap involves trying to explain how physical properties can create our
seemingly nonphysical subjective or phenomenological experiences. As such, the
explanatory gap is the space between how our personal experiences feel and what
their source or causes might be. Put a bit differently, how do our subjectively
experienced feelings come into existence in a physically determined world? To
scientifically explain and close this gap requires finding the physical basis for these
experiences.
Both Chalmers and Levine were essentially looking at the same
phenomenon, but each with a slightly different emphasis. The difference is that the
hard problem is about why our subjective experiences feel the way they do. The
explanatory gap is about how our supposedly nonphysical subjective experiences can
result from physical causes. Because the emphasis of Chalmers question is on why, it
is more philosophical than Levines question which focuses on how, which is more
scientific. Our inability to close this gap created the hard problem. Having previously
explained how the mind-body problem came into existence, we can now look at the
hard problem of subjective experience or consciousness.

THE HARD PROBLEM OF SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE


The raw inner feelings and thoughts that make up our subjective
phenomenological experiences are referred to by philosophers as qualia. The Oxford
Dictionary of English defines qualia as a quality or property as perceived or
experienced by a person. Choosing to ignore our subjective states as B.F. Skinner
did by emphasizing the importance of physical behavior at the expense of thought,
feeling and sensation clearly did not solve this problem. Nor have neuroscientists,
philosophers, or psychologists been able to solve it. What then is the source or
OF
essence of our subjective experiences? This question is at the heart of the mind-body
problem and its answer lies in the evolution of language. The answer to what causes
the feelings or qualia that constitute our subjective experiences is our linguistic
awareness of theman awareness that did not exist to any significant degree before
the mind-body dichotomy emerged in the 1600s.
As previously discussed, it was through our growing ability to use language
to turn our exteroceptive perceptions into our objective experiences and our
interoceptive sensations into our subjective experiences that we became increasingly
conscious that their source was different. This greatly increased our capacity to
become linguistically aware of the external world and, by contrast, called more
attention to our subjective inner world. It is this process of realizing that the source of
our objective experiences is different from our subjective experiences that leads us to
feel them as being qualitatively different. Even if we are not linguistically clear of
From the Dualism of Mind and Body to Physical Monism 53
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this difference, our ability to sense or feel that it exists is sufficient for the mind-body
problem to emerge. Hence, the phenomenon of qualia can occur with our objective
experiences as well as with our subjective ones.
Going back to our metaphor in the previous chapter, just as the re-submerged
fish would experience its natural watery habitat in a new way, we too became newly
conscious of our subjective experiences once their existence was made known by
comparing it to our objective experiences. In other words, once the fish is back in the
water that it had previously so taken for granted, it would likely feel different in it
just as our subjective experiences now do as the result of our greater linguistic
awareness of our objective experiences. It was language that made us conscious of
the difference between our objective and subjective experiences.
By understanding how the evolution of language created the split between
our objective and subjective experiences and why the latter were therefore
experienced differently, we could see how the hard problem of subjective experience
or consciousness came into existence. The very fact of just knowing that the source
of our subjective experiences lies within us is enough to make them feel different
from those experiences that originate outside of us. This comparison inevitably
caused us to experience our subjective thoughts and feelings in a uniquely different
way; namely as mysterious, ineffable, and inexplicable. As such, we came to regard
our subjective experiences with a wonder and reverence that could not be
scientifically explained.
In Chapter 1, we defined consciousness as being based on the physical
phenomenon of symbolic language. One important reason for doing this was to
remove the subjective phenomenological aspect so commonly attributed to
consciousness. It is obvious that if we define consciousness as having subjective
qualities, we inevitably validate the mind-body problem. This problem, however, is
based on an illusion. To solve the hard problem of subjective experience or
OF
consciousness, which is the basis of the mind-body problem, we must understand that
the evolution of language did not create two distinct realities, but only the illusion
that two different realities existed. This illusion was created through our capacity to
label and describe both our exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations
which then led us to believe that the source of our resulting objective and subjective
experiences was differenta belief that is certainly correct. However, while the
source of our objective experiences is clearly different than our subjective ones, the
idea that the source of our objective experiences is physical while the source of our
subjective experiences is not physical is an illusion. In other words the natural,
evolutionary unfolding of language did not create two different realities, but instead
created the illusion that there existed a physical reality and a nonphysical or
metaphysical reality which made the split between body and mind inevitable. Hence,
the real illusion is not that our experiences come from two different sources which
they indeed do, but rather it is in thinking that the source of our objective experiences
54 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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is physical while the source of our subjective experiences is nonphysical or
metaphysical. To quote Chalmers, The really hard problem of consciousness is the
problem of experience. He then says, It is widely agreed that experience arises
from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why or how it so arises.
Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? What Chalmers
missed is that the physical processing that leads to a rich inner life is the use of
physical language which is what gives meaning to our experiences and our lives.
Having explained the origin of the mind-body problem and why the hard
problem of subjective experience occurred, we can now show how language not only
physically connects our interoceptive sensations with our subjective experiences, but
our exteroceptive perceptions with our objective experiences. This will enable us to
close the explanatory gap and to move from dualism to physical monism.

THE EXPLANATORY GAP


Once the dichotomy between objective and subjective experience became
disconcertingly clear, philosophers from Descartes forward were saddled with the
task of trying to determine how physical events can create seemingly nonphysical
subjective phenomenological experiences. Unlike the causes of their objective
experiences which were often physically observable, this was not the case with their
subjective experiences which were thought to be nonphysical or metaphysical. The
problem is how do we scientifically explain our subjectively felt experiences of
pleasure, memory, dreams and so on if we cannot connect them to anything physical?
This inability to determine the physical causes of our phenomenological experiences
created the explanatory gap.
It is important to point out that just as our exteroceptive perceptions are the
biological causes of our objective linguistic experiences, our interoceptive sensations
are the biological causes of our subjective linguistic experiences. In other words, just
OF
as our exteroceptive perceptions are the physical basis of our objective experiences,
the sensations, emotions, memories, images, moods, thoughts, feelings, beliefs,
intuitions, illusions, dreams, and so on that we experience are neurophysiological
events occurring within our brains and are the physical basis for our subjective
experiences. However, since these experiences or qualia are not experienced in the
same way as our objective experiences are, the question is what connects the
biological reality of our interoceptive sensations to our seemingly nonphysical or
metaphysical subjective experiences? Again, this connection is language.

LANGUAGE AS A PHYSICAL PHENOMENON


According to Pavlov (1928) the external physical environment constitutes a
"first signal system," while symbolic language constitutes a "second signal system."
To be more specific, the objects, events and actions in the external world constitute
From the Dualism of Mind and Body to Physical Monism 55
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the first signal system, while the words we use to represent the external physical
world constitute the second signal system. Although we spend much of our lives
responding directly to the first signal system of the external world, a large part of
how we think and what we do revolves around the second signal system which are
our symbolic representations of it. Furthermore, as a second signal system, words not
only enable us to represent our exteroceptive perceptions of the external world, but to
symbolize our interoceptive sensations as well.
The main point here is that just as the first signal system of perceptions and
sensations is physical, the second signal system of symbolic language is also a
physical phenomenon. Hence, as the basic physical units of language, words exist as
external as well as internal, physical entities. Words used to label, describe, explain
and communicate our experiences are the physical basis of language. We can speak,
hear, read and write them. Expressed through speech and writing, words are the
behavioral expressions of our biological perceptions and sensations and our
resulting objective and subjective linguistic experiences. As neurological events
within our brains, words facilitate our conscious awareness and, therefore, have
powerful physical effects on our emotions and our bodies. Whether spoken covertly
or overtly, or expressed in writing, words are physical entities that have very real
neural, behavioral and social consequences. Words clearly serve as the physical
causes and effects of our thoughts, feelings and actions.
Words not only represent physical objects, events, processes and phenomena,
but because they are the physical manifestations of language, they are just as real as
our biological perceptions and sensations. So while words represent various physical
external and internal events, words are also physical events in their own right.
Because words are physical symbols which exist in our physical and social
environments there is a continuity from what happens in the external world to the
physical perceptions and sensations that make up our biological awareness, and
OF
through our capacity to label and describe our biological perceptions and sensations,
to our conscious objective and subjective experiences, respectively. Hence, the
spoken and written words we use to express our objective and subjective experiences
are the physical basis of our consciousness. What makes consciousness a valid
phenomenon is its definition as biological awareness that has been transformed by
the physical phenomenon of language. Although language physically links our
biological perceptions to our objective experiences, we will now focus on how it also
links our biological sensations to our subjective experiences.

CONNECTING OUR SENSATIONS WITH OUR SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCES


As we have seen, the first signal system is the external physical world and
our internal biological sensations, while the second signal system is our creation of
physical symbols or words which represent the objects, events and actions in the
56 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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external world and the feelings, thoughts and memories taking place within us. In
other words, symbolic language is the physical connection that links our
exteroceptive perceptions with our objective experiences, and our interoceptive
sensations with our subjective experiences. Again, it does so by enabling us to label
and describe our biological awareness of our perceptions and sensations, thereby
creating our conscious objective and subjective experiences. However, because we
take this process so much for granted, we fail to realize that our conscious
experiences are linguistic experiences.
The fact that we have been unaware that language objectifies and transforms
our interoceptive sensations into our subjective conscious experiences has led to an
exploratory gap between the phenomenological nature of these experiences and what
their source or causes are believed to be. Our inability to see how language connected
these sensations or qualia with our subjective experiences led us to believe that the
latter were somehow unique. It is language that has been the invisible missing link
between our interoceptive sensations and our phenomenological experiences.
As an example, let us say that we are observing a red sunset. Both our
sensation of the sunset and our linguistic awareness of it are neurobiological events,
albeit of a different type. However, both are physically real events. The difference
between our sensation of the red color and its linguistic representation is that the
latter is a symbolic description of the former. This would apply to any interoceptive
sensation which we might label and describe.
To take another example, let us use the subjective experience of thirst. First,
the sensation of thirst is triggered by a combination of external and internal factors.
Next, this sensation often results in our becoming linguistic aware of our need to
drink something. However, while our biological need for something to drink is
distinct from our linguistic awareness of this need, what we have here are two
physically related eventsour neurophysiological sensation of thirst, and our
OF
subjective linguistic awareness of this sensation. Our sensation of thirst is one
biologically corporeal event while the act of labeling this sensation is another,
linguistically physical event. So while we can clearly make this distinction, the fact is
that our interoceptive sensation of thirst as well as the words we use to label it both
exist on the same physical continuum, thereby eliminating the explanatory gap.
The same may be said about our other interoceptive sensations such as
thinking, feeling, believing, planning, expecting, remembering, reasoning, intending,
desiring, imagining, hoping, creating, deciding, reflecting, knowing, judging,
predicting and so on. These neurophysiological events can all be labeled and
described, which turns them into our subjective linguistic experiences. This physical
connection between our interoceptive sensations and our phenomenological
experiences is manifested through our speech, auditory and association areas of our
brains as well as our resulting spoken and written communications.
From the Dualism of Mind and Body to Physical Monism 57
PRO Our capacity to objectify our interoceptive sensations through language is the
key to closing the explanatory gap. This objectification is possible when the words
we use are agreed upon and understood by others. For example, if you and I are
looking at a blue crayon in a box with many colors, it is reasonable to assume that we
are both having a similar neurophysiological, objective experience. Since the words
we use to label and describe the color blue are just as physical as our interoceptive
sensation of it, our physical experience of this color is likely to be similar. The same
principle would apply if the box contains many shades of blue. If each one has a
different name or number, we only need to linguistically agree on which shade refers
to which label or number to be reasonably certain that we are having a similar
objective experience. Nevertheless, our experience might be altered by the fact that
what the blue color subjectively means to each of us is likely to vary based on our
individual preference and previous experiences with it. It is for this reason the
subjective, phenomenological experience of a color is likely to be different for each
of us, as would be any other experiences.

FROM DUALISM TO PHYSICAL MONISM


We have previously seen that our recognition of the difference between
subjective and objective reality naturally led to dualism. Dualists hold that reality is
both physical and metaphysicala position which cannot be scientifically supported.
Physical monists take exception to dualism because it contradicts the idea that all
phenomena can, at least theoretically, be explained in physical terms. However, our
failure in solving this decidedly unscientific split in reality reinforced our current
dualistic picture of reality.
This paradigm provides a transition from metaphysical dualism to scientific
or physical monism, and is based on the premise that we, like all species, are energy
beings that function according to physical principles that can be discovered,
OF
observed, and studied. This however requires that we place our subjective
experiences on a scientific foundation. The first step in doing this is to recognize that
all our experiences have external, physical, or internal, biological causes, and that our
subjective experiences are just as physically real as are our objective experiences.
However, it is not just our objective and subjective experiences that are physically
real, but so too are the words we use to label, describe and communicate them. As
such, there is a natural physical continuum from biological awareness to linguistic
consciousness which effectively dissolves dualism. This is consistent with the fact that
the distinction between our biological sensations and the linguistic awareness of our
subjective experiences parallels that between body and mind, respectively. Hence,
our interoceptive sensations and the words we use to label and describe them, are
two sides of the same physical monistic coin. Once we understand that there is a
physical connection between our words and the sensations that our words represent,
58 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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physical monism can replace dualism. While our emphasis has been on our
interoceptive sensations, our exteroceptive perceptions are also neurobiological
events that are turned into our objective experiences through language and are
therefore consistent with physical monism.
In summary, the explanatory gap was due to our inability to see the
connection between our experiences and language. By recognizing that our
experiences arelike our linguistic representations of themphysical, we can
transcend our current dualistic picture of reality. This enables us to move from
metaphysical dualism to physical monism as represented in Chart 3.1, and to
establish a more scientifically oriented worldview.

Our the physical


perceptions words we use to
and sensations label and describe Physical
which are + our perceptions
and sensations
monism
neurobiological
phenomena

Chart 3.1
Our Perceptions and Sensations Together with the Physical Words
We Use to Label and Describe them Leads to Physical Monism

We have discussed how the evolution of the first function of language which
is to label and describe our experiences created a level of consciousness that led to
the mind-body problem. However, this is not all. We have also made immense strides
OF
in being able to explain our experiences. In Part II we will show how the evolution of
this second function of language which is our need to explain our experiences greatly
increased our consciousness. As we will see, this evolutionary advance was based on
our capacity to generate physical and metaphysical explanations for our objective and
subjective experiences.
OF
PRO
OF
PRO
PRO
Part II
How We Created God and Mind to
Explain Our Experiences
OF
OF
PRO
PRO
Chapter 4
Physical and Metaphysical
Explanations

T he second most significant development in the evolution of language and


consciousness is our ability to explain our experiences. Where Chapter 1 was about
how our evolving capacity to label and describe our perceptions and sensations
created the linguistic awareness of our objective and subjective experiences, this
chapter is about how we use this awareness to explain these experiences. This was
the next great leap in our linguistic intelligence.
OF
It is only natural that once we have labeled and described our experiences,
that we then try to explain them. This is because we are often motivated to explain
what is important to us. Our desire to explain our objective and subjective
experiences is so natural that it is usually taken for granted and, therefore, ignored in
formulating theories about human nature. Indeed, our attempts to explain the world
around and within us is so basic that it tends to be largely invisible as a subject of
discussion. However, whether this tendency to explain our experiences should be
considered as a biological drive or simply a powerful desire is an open question.
What is clear is that this drive or desire varies in strength from one individual to
another as expressed by the actions we each take to satisfy our needs and wants. Our
survival and well-being to some extent depends on our capacity to explain our
experiences which help us better understand and control our environments.
64 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO PHYSICAL VERSUS METAPHYSICAL EXPLANATIONS
There are two types of explanation we use to make sense of our
experiencesphysical and metaphysical. Of course our ability to explain our
experiences first involves being able to label and describe them. This requires the
ability to create and use words to ask and answer questions which is how we generate
explanations. However, to understand this process we must first discuss the difference
between the sources as opposed to the causes of our experiences. We will then
discuss the differences between physical and metaphysical explanations.

THE SOURCE VERSUS THE CAUSES OF OUR EXPERIENCES


We are continually subject to many kinds of situations, both pleasant and
unpleasant, the causes of which vary greatly. Our ability to increase our pleasurable
experiences and avoid unpleasant ones requires the ability to explain which causes
lead to pleasure and which ones to discomfort. However, while our inability to find
the cause(s) of an experience can be very unsettling, there is little we can do about it
until we locate its source. Once the source of an experience is determined, it is
natural for us to try to explain its cause(s). Unlike our objective experiences the
source of which is external and observable, the source of our subjective experiences
are often not apparent. This makes them more difficult to explain.
Clearly, if we are wrong about the source of an experience, we will certainly
be wrong about its cause(s). Therefore, the first step is to determine whether the
source of an experience is in the external world or within our bodies/brains. Once we
have this information, we can then attempt to discover its specific cause(s). Our
ability to accurately determine the cause(s) of an experience influences the extent to
which we can predict it and take effective action to control its occurrence. The key to
finding the correct explanations for our experiences requires asking the right
questions.
OF
Some questions that might be asked include simple ones such as what, when,
where and who. More sophisticated inquires ask how or why. Asking how questions
involves seeking and hopefully finding the cause(s) of how things happen. This leads
to the creation of physical explanations. The second type of question is why things
happen which often leads to the creation of metaphysical explanations. The reason
for this is that why questions seek purpose rather than cause(s). The philosophical
term for this is teleological which the dictionary defines as the explanation of
phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes. People often
seem more interested in asking why rather than how questions which may be a
holdover from that stage in childhood when we mostly asked why questions. Physical
explanations are used to understand the external physical world while metaphysical
explanations are often used to better help us understand ourselves. It is also to be
noted that over time physical explanations tend to replace metaphysical ones. For
Physical and Metaphysical Explanations 65
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example, when our ancestors were unaware of how birds fly or why the sun rises or
sets, it was metaphysical explanations that were used. As we acquired more
information and knowledge, they were replaced by physical explanations 8

PHYSICAL EXPLANATIONS
Because language is the perfect medium for creating ideas, explanations, and
theories, it enables us to analyze, predict, and control our physical and social
environments. The goal of conducting scientific experiments is to find physical
explanations. These are based on our capacity to observe the causes of the events we
want to explain. The more readily we can observe the cause of an event, the more
likely we are to be able to predict it and possibly control its outcome. Therefore, our
ability to develop theories and models of the real world leads to advances in science,
technology, medicine, engineering, the social sciences, and other disciplines. The use
of scientifically based explanations was especially prevalent during the Scientific
Revolution and was the basis for both the Agricultural and the Industrial Revolutions
about which we will have more to say in Chapter 6.
Although physical explanations have scientific validity, they often fail to
have the universal appeal of metaphysical ones. Hence, the type of explanation we
use is often determined by the emotions and prejudices behind the kinds of
experiences we are trying to understand. Furthermore, because the answers to many
of our questions do not come easily, we often invent explanations that are
emotionally satisfying rather than scientifically plausible. This brings us to
metaphysical explanations which are often based on speculation, hope, tradition, or
wishful thinking.

METAPHYSICAL EXPLANATIONS
OF
To see why we might create a metaphysical explanation, let us say that we
have an accident that causes a pain in our shoulder. Of course it is logical to attribute
our pain to the accident, logically leading to a physical explanation. This would likely
cause us to see a medical doctor. However, what if our shoulder hurts without our
having had an accident? Our first response would be to ask why we have the pain?
Not knowing the source of our pain, we would likely resort to a metaphysical
explanation, and possibly visit the nearest shaman to have it exorcised. Any relief
from the treatment provided might reinforce this metaphysical explanation.

8 There is a distinction between the supposed origin of an event versus its supposed cause(s). Origins
refer to the beginning or first cause of a phenomenon. Seeking origins encourages metaphysical
explanations, whereas looking for cause(s) of a specific event tends to encourage practical or scientific
explanations. The more distance in time and/or space between an event and its cause, the less accurate
our explanations are likely to be. This is why religious philosophies that focus on origins or first causes
are inaccurate, while the physical sciences that tend to deal with existing causes are more accurate.
66 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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Alternately, we might attribute our suffering to god punishing us for having
committed, or thought about committing some transgression. This belief might lead
us to get rid of our discomfort through some form of penitence. The point is that if we
hope to eliminate our pain, we must have a correct explanation for it. If there is no
clear physical explanation, we are likely to use a metaphysical one and seek a remedy
based on this belief. However, if the source of our pain is obvious, such an
explanation would be of little help.
A physical explanation might be used for a subjective experience because it
makes sense. For example we might be feeling sad or depressed about having lost a
close relationship. Knowing the source and cause of our sadness enables us to explain
it in physical terms. However, if these feelings are instead the result of a chemical
imbalance within our brain that we are unaware of, we might be more inclined to
seek a metaphysical explanation for them.
Metaphysical explanations sometimes reflect our emotional need to believe
in something greater than ourselves, thereby making us eager to accept dubious
answers to age-old questions. Our need for answers led us to create spiritual entities
that were deemed to have dominion over the physical world and all humankind. This
caused the emergence of a variety of prophets and religious leaders who claimed to
have the answers many were seeking. This resulted in the building of religious
institutions, some of which became internationally recognized highly structured
hierarchies. Others took the form of small local cults with a single charismatic leader.
The explanations embraced were reflected in the collective consciousness of various
families, cultures and societies.

VOCABULARIES AND EXPLANATIONS


As we have seen in Chapter 2, our ability to label and describe the external
world is the basis of our reflective vocabularies. These vocabularies are, in turn, the
OF
basis of our physical explanations. Conversely, our ability to label and describe our
inner world is the basis of our introspective vocabularies which are used to construct
our metaphysical explanations. This expansion of both our vocabularies permitted us
to build both kinds of explanations which grew in number, depth, and sophistication
and significantly increased our level of consciousness. Charts 4.1 and 4.2 show how
this process unfolds. Chart 4.3 summarizes this process by showing how our use of
reflective dialogues created physical explanations used in science and technology,
and how our use of introspective dialogues enabled us to generate metaphysical
explanations used in religion and the humanities. Having made the distinction
between these two kinds of explanations, we will now discuss the difference between
our spiritualistic and mentalistic explanations.
Physical and Metaphysical Explanations 67
PRO Physical explanations

Reflective vocabularies and dialogues.

Our biological capacity to use language to label and describe our


exteroceptive perceptions create our objective experiences of
objects, events, actions and so on.

Chart 4.1
The Continuity from Objective Experiences
to Physical Explanations

Metaphysical explanations
OF
Introspective vocabularies and dialogues

Our biological capacity to use language to label and describe


our interoceptive sensations create our subjective experiences
of feelings, thoughts, intuitions and so on.

Chart 4.2
The Continuity from Subjective Experiences
to Metaphysical Explanations
68 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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used in science and technology.
Metaphysical explanations
such as god and mind.

Reflective vocabularies Introspective vocabularies


and dialogues are the and dialogues are the
basis of our objective basis of our subjective
experiences experiences

Symbolic language

Chart 4.3
From Symbolic Language to Physical and
Metaphysical Explanations

SPIRITUALISTIC VERSUS MENTALISTIC EXPLANATIONS


Whether we possess a biological need or just a powerful desire to believe in
transcendental spirits is an open question. What is not in question is the peace of
OF
mind and comfort that metaphysical explanations provide. Indeed, given our strong
inclination to explain the mysteries around and within us, it is little wonder that we
go to great lengths to find answers, however questionable or outright erroneous they
might be. As such, we may settle for whatever explanations are offered by others or
conjured up by our imaginations. This has led us to create two types of metaphysical
explanations; spiritualistic as represented by the idea of god 9 and similar entities, and
mentalistic as represented by the idea of mind. Both have been used to explain
experiences that we could not readily explain by observation, reason or logic. Our
spiritualistic and mentalistic explanations serve our need to understand our
experiences and feel safe in the world.

9 It is to be noted that I am defining god in the broadest, generic terms which includes all animistic,
polytheistic, and monistic gods.
Physical and Metaphysical Explanations 69
PRO Our use of why questions generate metaphysical explanations. For example,
the idea of god is often used when we ask why the universe, the earth, animals,
humans and so on exist. Likewise, when we ask why we feel, think, and act the way
we do, the idea is created. Since metaphysical explanations such as god and mind are
used in asking why rather than how, the issues of cause and effect are rarely
addressed. As such, spiritualistic explanations are used to try to understand many of
our objective and subjective experiences, while mentalistic explanations are
employed to comprehend our mostly subjective experiences.
To further understand the difference between spiritualistic and mentalistic
explanations, let us go back to the pain in our shoulder. Without recourse to a
physical explanation, we will tend to rely on a metaphysical one. We can, however,
choose between using a spiritualistic or mentalistic explanation. If we believe that the
source of our pain is spiritual, we might seek the help of an exorcist or priest. If our
pain subsides or disappears shortly afterward, we would be inclined to believe that
their mystical explanation and resulting treatment was valid.
Alternatively, if we believe that our pain is psychosomatic, we might seek
psychological counseling thereby using a mentalistic based, rather than a spiritualistic
based solution. Hence, the difference in how we treat our discomfort is largely based
on what we believe is causing it. As our consciousness grows, so does our ability to
employ mentalistic explanations in place of spiritualistic ones. Although the source or
cause(s) of many of our subjective feelings, thoughts, moods, intuitions, dreams and
so on are often obscure, once we become linguistically aware of them we will tend to
use the idea of mind as the correct explanation, metaphysical though it may be.
The kinds of spiritualistic explanations that we created to make sense of
many of our experiences were gods, the soul, and supernatural, transcendental forces,
powers, deities, and entities such as ghosts, devils, angels, demons, phantoms, and
the like. These spirits took such forms as apparitions, voices, tactile sensations and so
OF
on. Our mentalistic explanations included mind, the self, psyche and consciousness.
Hence, the metaphysical idea of god represents the height of our spiritualistic
explanations, while the metaphysical idea of mind represents the pinnacle of our
mentalistic explanations.

METAPHYSICAL EXPERIENCES
Whether we use spiritualistic or mentalistic explanations depends on our
level of consciousness. However, this is only one factor that influences which
explanation we use. The types of experiences we are trying to explain is also
important. As such, we might attribute certain subjective experiences like intuitions,
dreams, feelings, apparitions, unusual sensations and so on to spiritual entities.
Conversely, we might attribute other commonly experienced feelings such as hunger,
a toothache, reoccurring thoughts and memories and so on to mental processes.
70 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO Furthermore, the intensity of an experience may determine whether we
regard it as a spiritual or mental one. For example, emotionally intense experiences
tend to engender spiritualistic explanations. Such expressions as "Oh God" are often
used when we are experiencing either extreme pain or extreme pleasure. It would
seem that even among atheists the idea of god is alive and well in spite of their
protests to the contrary.
Other, less intense experiences may lead to either spiritualistic or mentalistic
explanations. Sources of discomfort such as the uncertainty of not knowing what the
future holds for us or our loved ones can lead to either explanation. Similarly,
answers to the meaning of life or the origin of the universe are found in both religious
and secular philosophies.
Unusual, unpredictable or infrequently experienced events such as visual or
auditory hallucinations usually engender spiritualistic explanations. This includes the
seemingly real visual or auditory appearance of a recently departed close relation, out
of body experiences or the ethereal adventures reported by people who have had
near-death experiences. Although it is difficult to objectively explain such
experiences, they are certainly real to those who have them. However, since such
events do not lend themselves to scientific investigation, many scientists have
questioned their validity. The reluctance of science to address such unique, personal
and subjective experiences is unfortunate. Since the strength of the scientific
paradigm lies in its focus on events that can be replicated and measured, it tends to
ignore experiences that we may only occasionally or unexpectedly have. As such, we
can either continue to explain these phenomena in metaphysical terms, or else
discount their existence altogether.
While scientifically valid explanations will eventually be found by
researchers willing to study these phenomena, metaphysical explanations that focus
on why rather than how will continue to provide comfort to many who find such
OF
expositions emotionally satisfying. Erroneous though they are, there is little reason to
think they will disappear from our lives anytime soon.

FROM SPIRITUALISTIC TO MENTALISTIC EXPLANATIONS


We previously said that our ability to make the distinction between what
happens to us, versus what happens within us is based on our level of linguistic
awareness. Hence, if we think, feel, or believe that the source of a subjective
experience is in the external physical world, we will regard it as happening to us and
therefore explain it by recourse to externally based metaphysical spirits. However, if
we regard the source of that subjective experience as being internal, we will see it as
happening within us and explain it by using the internally based metaphysical idea of
mind. In other words, as our linguistic awareness grows, so does our tendency to see
Physical and Metaphysical Explanations 71
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the source of our subjective experiences as being internal rather than external and to
explain them in mental rather than spiritual terms.
Motivated by our desire or need to explain and understand some of our
objective experiences and most our subjective ones, we created imaginary forces,
deities, or processes, all which serve to explain what otherwise seems unexplainable.
These explanations have historically been the result of what we believe is the source
and/or cause(s) of our experiences. As such, god and mind represent two
consecutively evolving, often overlapping, but distinct ways of understanding our
experiences. As the universally created and accepted explanations, the idea of god is
used to explain both our objective and subjective experiences while the idea of mind
mostly serves to explain our subjective ones.
While the spiritual or religious individual uses god to explain the seemingly
impenetrable, the scientist does much the same when he or she defaults to the idea of
mind as a means to understand what is unknown about ourselves. Although these
metaphysical explanations address vexing questions and appear to fill gaps in our
knowledge, they are nevertheless speculative and usually wrong. Having discussed
the differences between our physical and metaphysical spiritualistic and mentalistic
explanations, the next chapter will explain why god and mind are metaphysical
constructs.

POSTSCRIPT - TIME AND SPACE AS METAPHYSICAL CONSTRUCTS


The ideas of god and mind are not the only metaphysical abstractions we
have created. The abstract ideas of time and space are also human creations. The idea
of time comes from our ability to measure the interval between any two (or more)
events in the external world. Time is the measurement of fixed, regularly spaced
events that have been designed (sundials, mechanical or digital watches, clocks, etc.),
or are based on natural repeated events such as atomic clocks. It is the consistency of
OF
these intervals that are what we refer to as time passing. For example, we can
measure the time between the beginning of a rainstorm to its end. However, if we
want to measure an amount of time before the storm or after it, we would need some
event to serve as a marker by which to do so. There must be at least two physically
definable events to measure this metaphysical idea we call time. Time comes into
existence as a metaphysical abstraction when we measure the interval between two
specifically defined events.
But is it really time we are measuring? Is time a real thing in the external
world, or is it a construct that we have formed based on our observations of specific
sequentially occurring events? Since we cannot only think, talk and write about time,
the fact that we can also physically measure it leads us to believe that in some way it
is a physically real phenomenon. As a result, some have entertained the absurd idea
of time travel as though time is something that can be physically manipulated. What
72 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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can be manipulated are the events or the devices we decide to use to measure time.
The fact that time seems to stand still when we are having certain experiences and
speed up when we are having others demonstrates its subjective nature. Because time
is an abstraction, it changes according to what we use to measure itour subjective
experiences or physical instruments that measure consistently spaced intervals. When
we talk about time passing, what we are really talking about is the passing of
events, not time.
What about the idea of space? Unlike the measurement of time which
involves the interval between two or more events, the measurement of space involves
measuring the distance between two or more objects. As such, the measurement of
space uses a predefined distanceinch, foot, yard, mile, and so on. The three
dimensions of height, width, and depth of a physical object clearly occupies space.
Without the existence of objects there can be no way to measure space. Space comes
into existence as a metaphysical abstraction when we measure the distance between
two specifically defined points on two or three dimensional objects. Furthermore,
because space is defined by the characteristics of the objects in it, space cannot
possibly be empty. Indeed, as physicists know, space is filled with matter and energy,
be it visible or dark.
The fact that the events and objects we use to measure time and space are
physical has led many to assume that time and space are also physical. However, it is
our ability to make these measurements that create the metaphysical abstractions of
time and space. In other words, the abstract ideas of time and space are derived or
extracted from these measurements. The results of these measurements are what we
call time and space. So while time and space use physical events and objects to
measure these abstract notions, neither time nor space exist as either events or
objects.
At their most fundamental level, time and space can only be measured by the
OF
physical presence of events and objects. Time and space are metaphysical
abstractions that have been created out of such measurements. In other words, it is
the act and result of measuring the interval between events or the distance between
objects that creates the abstractions of time and space. Time and space do not exist
independently of our measurements of them. The point is that while neither time nor
space are physical phenomena, neither can be measured without the physical
existence of events and objects. Time is, therefore, functionally defined by our
measurement of events, while space is functionally defined by our measurement of
objects. As such, time and space reificationsabstract constructs that do not
physically exist.
Because modern science has enabled us to measure very distant events
events which require light-years to reach our eyeswe have created the metaphysical
idea of space-time. In measuring the speed of light, we are really measuring two
things simultaneously. One is the measurement of the interval between when photons
Physical and Metaphysical Explanations 73
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travel from the beginning of a second to the end of that secondwhich constitutes
the two events. The other measurement is the distance it takes for the photons to
move from point A to point Bthe two objectswhich is 186,000 miles. As useful
as the space-time idea is in modern physics, we must not lose sight of the fact that
however much this idea helps us better understand the universe, time and space are
metaphysical abstractions and nothing more.
My reason for comparing the ideas of time and space with those of god and
mind is to show that a stronger case can be made for time and space being real
phenomena than god or mind. This is because time and space can be measured by
physical instruments whereas god and mind cannot, thereby making it easier to
believe that the former possess physical attributes than does god or mind. Although
neither time nor space are more real than god or mind, the difference is that some
metaphysical ideas more readily lend themselves to quantification than others.
However, we could claim that some natural phenomenon such as the rising of
the moon or the sprouting of a tree was due to god, thereby supposedly proving his
or her existence. In a similar way, we could functionally define and measure mind
based on the ability to remember a series of numbers or words. However, while
memory can be physically measured, it is memory that is being functionally defined
and measured, not mind. Neuroscientists who expect to find physical evidence for the
existence of mind are as misguided as those physicists who believe that time and
space are real phenomena simply because they can be physically measured.
Now it may of course be said that we could functionally define time as the
physically measured interval between two events, and functionally define space as
the physically measured distance between two (or more) objects; this would be
similar to our having functionally defined consciousness as the physical
manifestation of language, as we did in Chapter 1. This is perfectly acceptable for
both time and space as well as for consciousness as long as we do not confuse the
OF
functional definition of these abstract metaphysical constructs with the physical tools
being used to measure these constructs. Indeed, even consciousness is a metaphysical
abstraction which we functionally defined in terms of the physical phenomenon of
symbolic language. Without having created this definitional formality in the first
chapter, consciousness would be as devoid of real meaning as is the idea of mind.
In summary, time and space, like god, mind and consciousness are
metaphysical constructs that help us explain and make sense of the world. While
these constructs refer to physical phenomena, the constructs themselves do not create
the phenomena. In other words, events cannot create time, nor can time create events.
Events can only be used to measure time which can vary depending on the events
used. If we change the events we use to measure time, it is the measure of time we
change, not time itself. Likewise, objects cannot create space, nor can space create
objects. Objects can only be used to measure space which can vary depending on the
nature of the objects used. And if we change the objects we use to measure space, it is
74 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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the measure of space we change, not space itself. A similar argument holds for god,
mind and consciousness. Lastly, time, space, god, mind and consciousness are
metaphysical explanatory ideas and are therefore different from physical explanations
where the real, tangible causes and effects of various phenomena can be physically
observed, specified and studied.

OF
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Chapter 5
God and Mind as
Metaphysical Constructs

I n the previous chapter we saw how the evolution of language and consciousness
led from the development of spiritualism to mentalism or from the idea of god to the
idea of mind. We also saw that why we were driven to create these two metaphysical
ideas was to explain our experiences. In this chapter we will discuss how these two
abstract explanations were created. In doing so, we will show how these widely
accepted metaphysical constructs are mythical beliefs. Although the evolution from
OF
god to mind represented a step toward greater consciousness, it reinforced the
metaphysical side of the mind-body problem, thereby making it that much more
difficult to resolve. The last section of this chapter addresses this part of the mind-
body problem.
While I questioned the existence of god from the time I was an adolescent, it
took me years to see that mind, like god, was a metaphysical idea that did not refer to
anything in the physical world. In making this connection, I began to see that both
ideas arose from our motivation to explain the source and/or causes of those
experiences which we could not readily explain in more practical, objective, or
scientific terms.
Many thinkers have regarded the soul as the forerunner of the self. Few,
however, have seen god as the antecedent of mind. Just as the soul is logically
connected to the self, so is the idea of god connected to the idea of mind. In other
78 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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words, just as the soul can be seen as an earlier version of the self, the idea of god can
be viewed as the forerunner of the idea of mind, in terms of using these ideas to
explain our experiences. Indeed, just as there is an intuitive connection between the
soul and the self, there is a similar connection between god and mind which is
discussed in the Addendum on Metaphysical Crossovers. However, our objective of
this chapter will be to show that the ideas of god and mind were created by our
motivation and capacity to explain our experiences, which is the second important
function of language.

CREATING METAPHYSICAL EXPLANATIONS


The word metaphysical refers to that which is transcendental or beyond
physical reality. Hence, metaphysical explanations refer to entities, processes or
phenomena that are immaterial, transcendental or supernaturalthings that do not
exist in the physical world. The metaphysical explanations found in every civilization
throughout the ages provide clear evidence that we are highly motivated to explain
our experiences. This is seen in children who often ask why about things. As adults,
our desire to explain and understand our experiences result in the use of metaphysical
constructs such as god and mind. This is especially true when objective explanations
are emotionally unacceptable or practically unavailable.
Because language is so malleable, we can manipulate it to satisfy our needs
and wants. This flexibility has enabled us to create words that refer to imaginary
entities or processes for which there are no physically existing referents, thereby
leading to metaphysical explanations which help us make sense of the world and our
place in it. Since our motivation to explain our experiences is so powerful, we create
explanations even if they are illogical, irrational or based on fantasy.
Since metaphysical explanations allow us to transcend our human
limitations, we are able to feel empowered in times of personal or collective crises.
OF
Although our belief in such explanations are supported by nothing more than need,
faith, hope and superstition, our emotional attachment to them makes them difficult
to dispel. Although we like to think that such explanations reflect reality, this is rarely
the case. And even though we might be aware that they are empirically unsound, we
continue to use them. Just because these explanations consist of physically real words
does not mean that the knowledge they impart is valid. Comforting though they may
be, they fail to accurately explain our experiences. By their very nature, metaphysical
explanations are hypothetical and speculative. Let us take a brief look as how such
explanations are generated through labeling and reification.

LABELING AND REIFICATION


While many words refer to real objects, events and actions, other words
represent abstractions such as perfect, absolute, infinity, ideal, angels and the like.
God and Mind as Metaphysical Constructs 79
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However, while such words refer to phenomena that we may believe really exist, it is
the words that physically exist, not the phenomena to which they refer. Our
occasional tendency to confuse words with the reality of what they represent is
largely due to our desire to create explanations and the sense of control and emotional
satisfaction that often comes with their use. However, when we create labels to
explain rather than simply describe our experiences, we unwittingly become victims
of our need to understand them.
The line between labeling and explaining an experience can be easily blurred
when our motivation to understand it is strong, but its cause is obscure or difficult to
observe. In these situations, our tendency to create and use labels and/or descriptions
as explanations may be hard to resist. Hence, in our zeal to explain an experience, we
may do no more than simply label and/or describe it. The problem with this is that we
fail to acknowledge the possible cause(s) of the experience which is, of course,
necessary to explain it.
As an example of using labels to explain a phenomenon, we might call
someone eccentric, autistic or schizophrenic and then assume that the label and/or
description of their behavior in fact explains it. However, simply labeling and even
describing these behaviors do not explain their cause(s) which may be genetic,
developmental and/or environmental. The fact is that neither labels nor descriptions
are explanations, and any attempt to use them as such leads us to neglect or bypass
the often demanding task of finding their actual causes.
A second way that metaphysical explanations are created involves our use of
reification. To reify something is to make what is abstract, real and concrete and,
therefore, treat it as if it had a physical existence. Treating an abstraction as
something real is referred to as the fallacy of reification. However, although it is a
fallacy, our tendency to use reification demonstrates our need to explain our
experiences, the causes of which are unclear or invisible. Just as with creating labels
OF
that refer to nothing in the real world, reification also ensures the creation of
metaphysical explanations. In summary, labeling and reification are used to explain
those experiences, the real causes of which we either are, or wish to remain
linguistically unaware. Let us take a closer look at god and mind as metaphysical
constructs.

GOD AND MIND AS METAPHYSICAL CONSTRUCTS

GOD AS A METAPHYSICAL CONSTRUCT


Since it is easier to see god as a metaphysical construct than it is to see mind
as one, we will begin with the idea of god. The reason for this is that the idea of god
historically preceded that of mind as an explanation for many of our experiences.
Hence, we can see the ethereal, intangible nature of god more readily than the
80 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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metaphysical nature of mind to which we generally attribute the qualities of memory,
feeling and thought.
Although the word god means different things to different people, we will
generally define god as an all-powerful, supernatural, immortal, intangible,
metaphysical spirit, entity, or being that is deemed to exist outside the laws of nature
and who, according to some, created these laws. God is also seen as an entity through
which we can explain the unknown, and with whom we may communicate. God is
seen as the creator of the universe, of life and miracles. Although religious people
almost invariably believe in some kind of god, one need not be religious to do so;
indeed, a belief in a god appears to exceed the number of people who are religious.
While our desire to explain the world and our place in it drives our belief in
god, there are other reasons that support this belief. These range from feeling socially
connected to others who share these beliefs, to a sense of comfort that a greater
power is watching over us. It also offers salvation, the promise of heaven and an
easing of our fear of death. Our ability to believe in spirits that exist nowhere but
inside our heads, and our incentive to do so is that it brings a sense of control over
our lives; this makes such beliefs powerful and easy to appreciate.
Nonetheless, as emotionally satisfying as this may be, there is no proof that
god exists. However, there is no proof that god does not exist. The fact is that we can
neither prove, nor disprove the existence of god. Furthermore, if the evidence we use
to prove the existence of god is our belief in god, then we will simply go around in
circles. The question then is in what sense does god exist?
As we have seen, words are physically real representations of our
exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensationsof objects, events, entities,
processes, and experiences. However, while words are real, we can create words for
things that do not physically exist. Indeed, to help us explain our experiences, this is
exactly what we have done. Although it is impossible to prove or disprove the
OF
physical existence of god, the idea of god as expressed in physical words clearly
exists. The point is that while there is no physical basis for the existence of god, there
is a physical basis for the idea of god.
This distinction between the existence of the idea of god as a spoken and
written symbol, versus the physically real existence of god is the key to understanding
what is a common confusion between the existence of words, versus the existence of
what the words represent. So while we cannot prove or disprove the existence of god,
it is obvious that the word and the idea of god does exist, as the evidence is all around
us and has been for thousands of years. Other than as an imaginary entity used to
explain many of our experiences, the existence of god is highly questionable. Let us
now see how this argument applies to the idea of mind.
God and Mind as Metaphysical Constructs 81
PRO MIND AS A METAPHYSICAL CONSTRUCT
The etymological root of the word mental is man, or "one that thinks." The
dictionary defines the word mind as the element of a person that enables them to be
aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel. This definition
strongly implies that we are linguistically aware or conscious of our objective and
subjective experiences. While this provides us with a definition of mind, it does not
explain what mind is. In other words, is mind an entity, a physical process or a
metaphysical idea? Furthermore, what proof, if any, is there for the existence of
mind?
Because it is impossible to define mind as a physical entity or process, we
must begin with the only physical evidence we have for its existence. This is the
word, mind. The point is that mind, like god, does not possess any physical attributes
other than as a spoken or written symbol representing an idea. Put a bit differently,
the only objective, physical evidence we have for the existence of mind is as a word
which symbolizes an idea. The idea that the word mind stands for is that it is an
explanation or container for our thoughts, feelings, dreams, intuitions and other
experiences which we believe exist within us. The fact is that there is no evidence
that mind is anything other than an explanation or container for the various
perceptions and sensations of which we have become linguistically aware or
conscious. Hence, the same claim we made for the metaphysical idea of god can be
made for the more recently evolved idea of mind.
Our motivation to understand our experiences led us to create the
metaphysical idea of mind to explain them. However, by taking this position, we are
confronted with the following dilemma: If mind is nothing more than a metaphysical
construct, how can we have the idea of mind without having a mind to have the idea?

HOW TO HAVE THE IDEA OF MIND WITHOUT A MIND TO HAVE THE IDEA
OF
How, you may ask, can any ideaslet alone the idea of mindexist without
a mind to think them? If the idea of mind exists, doesn't this prove the existence of
mind? Although this seems logical, closer examination reveals that this question
raises the very issue we are dealing with, namely our inclination to believe that
metaphysical explanations can explain reality.
Before we can solve the paradox of having the idea of mind without having a
mind to have the idea, we must first discuss the nature of ideas. While many other
species have feelings, dreams, memories, and so on, it is only within humans that
these neurological sensations can be symbolically represented and expressed as ideas.
This means that these ideas are not the result of our minds, but of our capacity to
represent, through language, the physical reality of our exteroceptive perceptions and
interoceptive sensations. Hence, these linguistically expressed ideas not only exist as
neurological events, but as spoken and written behavioral events. The point is that
82 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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our idea of mind is not created by the mind, but by our capacity for symbolic
language, without which the abstract idea of mind could not exist. Once we recognize
that there is no evidence for the existence of mind as anything other than a linguistic
explanation for our thoughts and feelings, we can begin to see mind as the
metaphysical construct it is. Hence, as counterintuitive as it may at first seem, the
existence of ideasthe idea of mind includeddoes not prove the existence of mind.
To possess ideas without having a mind to possess them, the only thing we need is
linguistic awareness.
If ideas are defined as products of mind, then the belief that mind exists will
likely be accepted as fact. In other words, if we define mind as the mechanism by
which our thoughts, feelings, intuitions and so on are processed, its existence
becomes a forgone conclusion. However, the mistake of defining mind based on what
the physical brain does fails to convey that it is the idea of mind rather than mind
itself that exists. However, if ideas as well as thoughts, feelings, memories, intuitions,
dreams, and so on are acknowledged as neurophysiological events, then they will be
seen as the products of brain, not mind. Because it is both the linguistic awareness of
our perceptions and sensations as well as these perceptions and sensations
themselves that are real, the metaphysical idea of mind can be explained as the
product of our brains. 10
While some theories view mind as a single entity or process, others regard
mind as the summation of many sub-processes that, to varying degrees, are
independent of one another. However, if mind only exists as a metaphysical
explanation for our experiences, such theories must be about how the brain rather
than how the mind functions. It is only by recognizing that mind is nothing more than
a symbolic metaphysical construct that reflects our capacity to use language to
explain our neurobiological experiences, that will extricate us from this mind versus
brain conundrum.
OF
GOD AND MIND AS MYTHS
To varying degrees we are all motivated to explain our experiences, the
source and/or cause(s) of which are often invisible or unclear. Our innate desire to
understand our experiences lead us to create explanations for them. As we have seen,
the metaphysical entity we call god and the metaphysical process we refer to as mind
serve to explain our experiences. While the metaphysical construct of god evolved to
explain the universe and other mysteries, the idea of mind was created to explain our

10 We may note the word, endeiktic as defined by Peter A. Angeles in the Dictionary of Philosophy
(1981 Harper & Row) as "indicative words, signs or symbols whose referents are not observed or
experienced in a direct way." For example, words such as soul, spirit, substance, mind, are
considered ... inaccessible to empirical testing or experience."
God and Mind as Metaphysical Constructs 83
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thoughts, feelings and other mostly subjective experiences. The truth, however, is that
both god and mind are myths.
Before and even after the Scientific Revolution, many of our experiences
were explained by recourse to spiritual entities. Over time, our belief in mind
gradually began to replace our belief in god as a way to explain them. This was
reflected in our mentalistic vocabulary which began to take precedence over our
spiritualistic one, at least among some individuals and cultures. As a result, our belief
in the existence of mind became as powerful and all encompassing as our earlier
belief in the existence of god had been.
Just as god is a mythical entity, mind is a mythical process. In other words,
god and mind are spiritual and mental abstractions that do not refer to anything in the
world of matter and energy. Nonetheless, once they are created, there is a clear belief
that what they refer to must exist. As such, they take on a life of their own and have a
real influence on our behavior, our physical environments and our social lives.
Myths though they are, the ideas of god and mind have come to represent
universal truths which have exerted powerful forces in human affairs; this was and
continues to be demonstrated by the profound and far reaching effects of the wars
fought and the institutions built in their name. Their influence is reflected in the
various religious, social and educational institutions and organizations that define our
cultures and societies. Nevertheless, as strong as our beliefs in god and mind are, they
exist only as linguistic ideas which are expressed as neural as well as spoken and
written events.
Given that god and mind are myths, their definitions will vary from one
individual or culture to another. How they are defined reflect who or what we believe
is the source and/or causes of our experiences. Whether we attribute our experiences
to god or to mind not only depends on the experiences we are attempting to explain,
but on our cultural traditions and level of linguistic awareness or consciousness.
OF
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MIND AND CONSCIOUSNESS
In Chapter 1 consciousness was functionally defined as the linguistic
awareness of our exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations by which
they become our objective and subjective experiences, respectively. As a result,
unlike the metaphysical idea of mind, consciousness is based on the physical reality
of language. Furthermore, defined as linguistic awareness, consciousness can
represent just about any function that can be attributed to mind. For example, we saw
that when our exteroceptive perceptions are labeled and described, they become the
basis of our reflective vocabularies, our objective experiences and our physical
explanations. Similarly, when our interoceptive sensations are labeled and described,
they become the foundation of our introspective vocabularies, our subjective
experiences and our metaphysical explanations. Through our reflective vocabularies,
84 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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we can become conscious of most things that arise in our objective, practical lives,
while our introspective vocabularies enable us to become conscious of much that
occurs in our subjective, emotional lives. Since most of our thinking is linguistically
mediated, this definition of consciousness is quite comprehensive.
Once our subjective experiences were clarified, expanded and objectified
through language, we came to regard them as a unique property of mind; this
reinforced the idea of mind as a valid explanation for our experiences even though it
explains nothing. The point is that if we did not functionally define consciousness in
terms of language, consciousness would be like the idea of mindjust another
metaphysical construct used to explain phenomena that we cannot otherwise explain.
On the other hand, the real phenomenon of linguistic awareness or
consciousness can explain everything that we might attribute to the metaphysical idea
of mind. This means that our functional definition of consciousness can encompass
all the activities, functions and processes that have been associated with the mind,
thereby making the latter superfluous. We therefore no longer need to rely on the
metaphysical idea of mind to explain the source of our feelings, thoughts, memories
and other (mostly) subjective experiences, as much of this will become increasingly
explained by science as the necessary tools and methodologies become available.
Like our belief in god, our belief in mind has persisted even though there has
never been any evidence for its existence. However, the more we try to define it in
physical terms, the more apparent it becomes that it is a metaphysical construct.
Indeed, what physical attributes could we attribute to mind on which a scientific
theory might be built? The answer of course is none. The fact is that mind is little
more than an explanatory construct.
Having discussed how the evolution of the second function of language
which is to explain our experiences led to the creation of the metaphysical ideas of
god and mind, our next objective is to discuss the evolution of the third function of
OF
language which is our capacity for intrapersonal communication. This process first
led to our inner voices and the metaphysical idea of the soul, and then to our internal
dialogues and the dialogical self. The latter culminated in our capacity for self-
awareness. These ideas will be explored in Part III.

POSTSCRIPT - THE REALITY BEHIND SOME MYSTERIES


While neither god nor mind exist as anything more than metaphysical
constructs or myths, there is little question that what does exist are various physical
forces or forms of energy that we cannot experience, the reason being that we lack
the perceptual organs to do so. As such, we are linguistically unaware of them. In
other words, just as there are forms of matter in the universe that are unknown to us,
it is certain that there are forces and energies of which we are physically and, hence,
linguistically unaware. For example, the postulated existence of dark matter and dark
God and Mind as Metaphysical Constructs 85
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energy of which much of the universe is believed to consist may be the basis for, or
causes of, some of the phenomena that we have been unable to objectively explain
and, as a result, see them as mysteries. It is possible that what we take to be god or
mind are these energies or forces of which we are unaware or conscious.
However, just because we are unable to detect the cause(s) of these
phenomena does not mean that we cannot become linguistically aware of their
effects. Indeed, it may be that at least some of the mysteries we experience are due to
our not knowing the causes of the effects we observe. Since the causes of many of
our experiences are invisible, it is natural that we would create metaphysical
explanations for them. In so doing, we create myths to explain the real, but unseen
physical forces or energies that very likely exist, but which we cannot prove. In other
words, when we experience an event, the cause of which is unknown, we may invoke
the idea of god or, perhaps, that of mind. By attributing these mysterious forces to
speculative or metaphysical phenomena, we try to convince ourselves that we have
explained them when all we did was create meaningless simplifications. Since our
creation of god and mind stem from our motivation to explain our experiences,
neither are unlikely to pass into history any time soon.
OF
OF
PRO
PRO
Part III
How Our Intrapersonal
Communications Created the Soul,
Self and Self-awareness
OF
OF
PRO
PRO
Chapter 6
The Emergence of
Intrapersonal Communication

T he next and last function of language we will explore is communicating our


experiences. While our ability to use language to communicate with others is
essential to human cultures, societies and civilization itself, it is our ability to use
language to communicate with ourselves that is the basis of this chapter. The
evolution of linguistically communicating with ourselves is an important aspect in the
evolution of consciousness. This was a two-step process, the first of which was social
OF
or interpersonal communication. This led to the second step which was intrapersonal
communication, the latter of which involves two distinct stages. The first stage is our
inner voices which are mostly involuntary and random. The second stage is our
internal dialogues which are intentional and focused. As important as social
communication is, our main interest will be on the two ways we communicate with
ourselves. So being, this chapter is about the dynamics of intrapersonal linguistic
communication, rather than language per se.
Our inner voice and inner dialogues represent two clearly distinct levels of
linguistic awareness or consciousness. While the emergence of our inner voice
represents an important development in our evolution of language and consciousness,
a truly monumental event was the emergence of our internal dialogues. So important
was this elaboration of our inner voice that we will discuss the two primary kinds of
90 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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internal dialogue. These are reflective and introspective dialogues which are logically
based on our reflective and introspective vocabularies discussed in Chapter 2.
This chapter will set the stage for Chapter 7 where we will discuss how the
evolution of intrapersonal communication led first to the metaphysical idea of the
soul, and then to the personal or dialogical self. Chapter 8 will show how the
dialogical self created the unique experience of self-awareness.

USING LANGUAGE TO COMMUNICATE OUR EXPERIENCES


Communication is so important, that many species are capable of several
forms. Sounds, gestures, posturing, facial expressions and even scents are commonly
used by species to convey information about a myriad of emotional and motivational
states necessary for survival. However, humans are the only species that create and
use symbolic language to communicate with each other. Although infants begin to
communicate by using sounds, gestures and facial expressions, speech is their first
truly sophisticated method of communication.
The flexibility of using symbolic language to represent a multitude of
objects, events, and actions in the external world, as well as a myriad of thoughts,
feelings and sensations within us, enables us to communicate an enormous range of
experiences. Our ability to create labels to describe, evaluate, analyze, categorize,
explain and understand our experiences enables us to communicate on a level no
other species can match. This allows us to cooperate and to compete with each other
in highly complex ways which enhance our ability to survive as individuals and as a
species, which brings us to interpersonal communication.
INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION: SOCIAL EXCHANGES
Our need to communicate is based on our need to connect and relate to others
socially, emotionally and intellectuallyall of which attests to just how truly social
OF
we are. Social communication has not only been the key to our survival, but to our
outstanding success as a species. As the basic units of linguistic communication,
words are used to represent objects, places, events, thoughts, feelings, and so on,
thereby facilitating our connections with others. Our ability to communicate our
experiences enables us to transfer information, knowledge and even wisdom to other
individuals as well as future generations, all of which has been central to our social,
intellectual and cultural evolution.
Social or interpersonal communication involves two or more individualsa
speaker and one or more listeners. Biologically speaking, it requires that neural
activity from the speech areas of the brain be transmitted to the speakers vocal cords,
which is then conveyed to the ears of others through spoken words. Hence, social
communication involves overt vocalizations, or speech, directed to others. As a
result, the question of who is speaking and who is listening does not arise, as it is
The Emergence of Intrapersonal Communication 91
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obvious who and when each is speaking and who and when each is listening.
However, as we will see, this is not true with our intrapersonal communications.

Thanks for asking, Bob.


Hi, Jim.
How are you Everyone's fine. Its good to
and your see you again. It's been
family doing? a long time.

Figure 6.1
Our Social Communications

What makes symbolic language such an extraordinary means of


OF
communication it that it enables us to communicate not only with others, but with
ourselves. The question then is, how did we go from a species that created language
for social purposes, to one that uses words to communicate with ourselves? Indeed,
how did we go from a highly successful, socially outgoing species to a
contemplative, reflective, and introspective one? As we will see, the development
from social communication to our inner voice and then on to internal dialogue
reflects our evolution from an externally focused social creature to an inner directed,
cultured and thoughtful being. To understand this shift, we must discuss the nature of
our inner voice which is the first level of intrapersonal communication.

INTRAPERSONAL COMMUNICATION: OUR INNER VOICE


Psychologist Jean Piagets observations of young children showed that
talking aloud to one's self precedes covertly talking to one's self. He called this
92 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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phenomenon egocentric speech, where children vocalize to themselves without any
attempt or interest in communicating with others. In other words, children go through
a relatively brief period during which they overtly speak to themselves. This period
of egocentric speech marks the transition from social communication to the first level
of intrapersonal communication which is covertly expressed speech. Further support
for this idea is found in the work of Vygotsky who, according to Maruszewski,
believed that egocentric speech constituted an intermediary stage between social and
intrapersonal speech. Hence, the internalization of speech logically began with the
overtly expressed words of young children, which later turned into their covertly
spoken verbalizations. In other words, as children develop, their overt egocentric
speech becomes the basis first for their inner voice and later for their inner dialogues.
For both children and adults alike, these voices are mostly involuntary,
spontaneous verbal chatter which is mostly random, unfocused, disorganized,
unclear, rambling, fragmented thoughts engaged in with varying frequency
throughout the day. The content of our inner voice may range from such things as
what we had for breakfast, to remembering how our mother reprimanded us when we
were seven years old. Their basis is the many perceptions and sensations which
continually run through us. ("I'm hungry, thirsty, tired, sexually frustrated, etc." "I can
finally leave for the movies." "I must get up to go to work." I hope John comes
home for lunch. "I should do my homework." "Im sad about Sharon." "I wonder
what the weather will be like tomorrow.") In other words, because much of what we
say to ourselves arises from a preverbal or subconscious level, they reflect our needs,
desires, feelings, emotions, moods and so on.
Our inner voice expresses not only what we are currently experiencing,
feeling or doing, but may be about previous or anticipated events or situations. They
include linguistically represented images, feelings, memories, dreams and so on that
pertain to the past, present or future. Regarding the past, they may be about things we
OF
did and felt either good or bad about, or things we did not do and may have had
regrets about, or not. Our inner voice may be about events that we are afraid might
happen and worry about. They may also be about things to which we are looking
forward. In addition, some of our inner voices may be little more than subtle
whisperings that occur occasionally or continually. Some might be intermittently loud
while others are repeated over and over like a broken record inside our heads.
As adults, there are reasons not to overtly speak our inner voice. First, there
is little point in talking to people who are not present. Second, it is not always
advantageous to say what we are thinking to those who are present. Third, it might be
advantageous to use our inner voice to help us carry out some new or unfamiliar task.
Often, our inner voice is simply the result of habit or excess energy. It is important to
understand that its use is the default way of thinking for most individuals. We will
The Emergence of Intrapersonal Communication 93
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now address the second type of intrapersonal communication which is the deeper,
more complex process of internal dialogue. 11

I must get to work on time today/Sidney will


be out/I hope the car heater works/darn tooth
is hurting more/get milk on the way home/call
Tom to get the name of his dentist/running
late again/

Figure 6.2
OF
Our Inner Voice

INTRAPERSONAL COMMUNICATION: OUR INTERNAL DIALOGUES


Piaget also discovered that behind a young child's egocentric speech lies an
egocentric mindset where the child sees the world only from his or her own
perspective, and is unable to see it from any other persons point of view. For
example, when Piaget asked children to describe the shape of an object from the
physical position of someone sitting ninety degrees from them, they instead described

11 Although reference is sometimes made to inner voice, inner speech, or self-talk, these expressions
have previously been used in nebulous ways. In other words, formal distinctions have not been made
between them. There are, however, extremely importantindeed, pivotaldifferences between our
inner voice and our inner dialogues.
94 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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the object from their own perspective. Hence, they were unable to imagine how that
object would appear from the other persons viewpoint. To accomplish this not only
requires the ability to use language to describe an object, event or experience, it
requires the use of internal dialogue which is largely nonexistent in the egocentric
child.
As a childs brain develops, his or hers ability to use inner dialogues evolves,
which leads to more sophisticated and complex levels of thought. Unlike our inner
voice which involves one-way communication, internal dialogues are two-way
conversations we have with ourselves. This makes them a much more advanced form
of thinking. For example, such dialogues often involve an internal question and
answer discourse, which are used to explain and understand various physical and
mental phenomena or processes. Inner dialogues are used to think through issues with
varying degrees of complexity, and may address virtually anything regarding the past,
present, or future.
The driving force behind the use of intrapersonal dialogues is our need to
figure things out; to explain how or why something does or doesnt occur, works or
fails to. Inner dialogues are motivated by our need to answer questions, solve
problems and resolve conflicts. The thought process behind explaining, planning,
analyzing, deciding, predicting, creating theories, inventing new tools, devices,
processes, and procedures and discovering new ways of doing things, all require the
use of internal dialogues. Our ability to have a two-way conversation with ourselves
is essential to accomplish these tasks. Unlike our inner voice, inner dialogues involve
voluntary, intentional, focused, organized and clear thinking.
Concerning our survival as individuals and as a species, internal dialogues
serve several major functions. For one, it helps us think things through without
immediately reacting to a difficult situation or being unduly influenced by others. For
another, it enables us to sharply focus on the complexities of whatever issues are at
OF
hand and planning strategies that may allow us to gain considerable advantage over
others. The importance of using inner dialogues to see and understand the
consequences of our actions and those of others have led to a considerable increase in
the number of people who have acquired this ability.
The content of our inner dialogues can range from the most trivial or
mundane to the most significant or profound, from the simplest to the most complex,
and from the most detailed to the most general of subjects. Internal dialogues enable
us to address every topic we can imagine from the origin and nature of the universe
to the meaning of life. They are also used to think about how and why we and others
feel, think, or act in certain ways. Most of the advances in science, technology,
medicine, law, social policy, economics, art, music, literature, philosophy,
anthropology, psychology and a multitude of other disciplines depend on our capacity
for intrapersonal dialogues. As such, they have played and will continue to play a
central role in the evolution of human intelligence and consciousness.
The Emergence of Intrapersonal Communication 95
PRO I wonder why Ted wants to give me the ABC
corporate account. Maybe its because he thinks
we might otherwise lose their business, and he
knows their owner likes me. I will speak to Ted
and see what I need to do to keep them on board.

Figure 6.3
Our Internal Dialogues
OF
We might wonder at what point in history internal dialogues first appeared.
Because there is so much variation in their level, frequency and content between
different individuals, this is difficult to determine. Although it is likely that some
individuals possessed this ability well before the beginning of the written word, the
invention of writing clearly required the use of inner dialogues as we will see later in
this chapter.
To summarize, our inner voice is simple, spontaneous, unstructured verbal
chatter which is arbitrary, impulsive, instinctive and informal. Because our inner
voice does not involve the kinds of analysis, explanation or understanding that our
intrapersonal dialogues do, it is therefore passive. Indeed, compared to our inner
voice, our inner dialogues are reasoned, logical, explicit, productive, deliberate and
structured. As such, they are carried out on a much more linguistically active
96 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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conscious level. Consequently, they are the key to understanding all the areas of life
to which they are applied. It may also be noted that while the terms inner voice and
internal dialogue have been used by many, none to my knowledge have defined and
explained the important differences presented here. Considering how dissimilar our
inner voice is from our inner dialogues regarding how we think, this is unfortunate. 12

THE PHYSICAL BASIS OF OUR INTRAPERSONAL VOICES AND DIALOGUES


As we have seen, social communication involves vocalization between two
or more people, while our inner voice is a private event that only exists within our
brain. Social or overt vocalization requires movements of the lips, tongue, and vocal
cords, whereas with our inner voice these movements are muted or absent. While
social communication requires that overt vocalizations travel from one's mouth to
another's ear, our inner voice involves only the transmission of neural impulses
within the brain. Once this happens, speech no longer has to be vocalized to hear it
it now becomes possible to hear one's own words without externalizing or vocalizing
them. An analogy to this process would be the ability to internally visualize a picture,
pattern, or some physical action without drawing or performing it.
Our inner voice is a maturational, neurological process involving connections
between the speech, auditory, and association areas of the brain, creating the
experience of inner speech. It is likely that neural sensations within our speech areas
are transmitted to the auditory structures that are normally responsible for processing
externally heard words. The areas included in this process are probably Broca's
speech and Wernicke's auditory regions, both of which are usually located in the left
cerebral hemisphere. In addition, the content of our inner voice depends on
motivational factors, previous experiences and other influences. They represent the
first stage in the evolution of intrapersonal communication and consciousness.
As compared with our inner voice, the second stage of our intrapersonal
OF
communication and consciousness are our internal dialogues. These involve a much
more complex and greatly expanded use of the language and association areas of the
brain. The unfolding of internal dialogues involve extremely subtle, yet important
neurological changes which lead to a major transformation in our thoughts, beliefs,
and behavior. Unlike our inner voices, our internal dialogues are characterized by a
two-way communication process that involves an extended, complex network of
speech, auditory, and association areas of the brain. Not only are Broca's and
Wernicke's areas likely involved, but so too are the temporal lobes and possibly the
parieto-occipital region. The prefrontal lobes, where decision making and abstract
reasoning take place are certain to be active during internal dialogues. In addition, the
greater the number of connections linking these with other cortical areas, the more

12 For a fuller discussion of the types, levels and dynamics of inner speech, see The Invisible
Intelligence: How We Think, to be released mid 2016.
The Emergence of Intrapersonal Communication 97
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complex ones internal dialogues are likely to be. However, as sophisticated as our
internal dialogues may be, the nature and level of activity in these areas will almost
certainly be influenced by the limbic system or emotional brain. Although the
structural details and connections of internal dialogue remain to be identified, their
implications are, as seen by our recent evolution, remarkable. Indeed, once
intrapersonal dialogues emerge, a quantum leap in our linguistic consciousness
occurs as reflected in the rapid evolution of our intelligence and culture.
In summary, it is important to understand that both our intrapersonal voices
and inner dialogues are real neural events that reflect the nature and complexity of
our linguistic consciousness. Indeed, A.N. Sokolov and his colleagues have shown in
Inner Speech and Thought, that inner speech cannot only be observed, but
experimentally manipulated.

REFLECTIVE AND INTROSPECTIVE DIALOGUES


Just as our capacity to label, describe, and explain our experiences continued
to evolve, so did our ability for intrapersonal communication. The path that this
process took was from our inner voicewhich was almost certainly the predominant
form of thought for thousands of yearsto our internal dialogues which became
deeper and more frequent over time. These dialogues not only resulted in the rapid
and incredible scientific and technological progress that has taken place over the past
several centuries, but also in the development of the arts and humanities. In other
words, our inner dialogues enable us to reflect on objects and events outside
ourselves, as well as to introspect on the feelings and thoughts within ourselves. This
brings us to our use of two kinds of intrapersonal dialoguesreflective and
introspective.
In Chapter 2 we discussed reflective and introspective vocabularies.
Connected with these two vocabularies are our reflective and introspective dialogues.
OF
Logically enough, reflective dialogues use reflective vocabularies, while
introspective dialogues require an introspective vocabulary. Going a step further, our
reflective vocabularies and dialogues focus on the external world, while our
introspective vocabularies and dialogues deal with our inner lives. 13 As common
sense tells us, some people are more reflectively conscious of their physical
surroundings, while others are more introspectively conscious of their own subjective
states and/or those of others.
Reflective dialogues are used to plan a strategy on a baseball or football field
or to choose what move to make in a game of chess. They include deciding what
steps to take to prepare a meal, or to design and built a piece of furniture. They

13 The basis of our physical explanations are our reflective dialogues, while the basis of our
metaphysical explanations are our introspective dialogues, both of which were discussed in Chapter 4.
98 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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involve deciding where to go on a fishing trip, when to go and what items to take.
Reflective dialogues are also used to make economic predictions, invent new tools
and technologies or create new scientific theories. Because reflective thought deals
with practical matters, it is much more commonly used than introspective dialogues.
Introspective dialogues are about how we think, feel, and act, or to
understand how others think, feel, and act. They are, therefore, used whenever we try
to take the personal or subjective perspective of another person and imagine what he
or she might be feeling or thinking in various situations. Introspective thought is the
basis of ideas in the humanities, psychology, the arts and certain branches of
philosophy. Furthermore, as we will see in Chapter 8, it is primarily our introspective
dialogues that are the basis of our self-awareness.
Evolutionarily speaking, both our reflective and introspective dialogues
represent our highest levels of thought, intelligence, and consciousness. As such, our
use of these dialogues can change our lives in fundamental ways. It could be argued
that we are still undergoing these changes as the recent growth of average I.Q. scores

Intrapersonal dialogues are intentional,


focused conversations that are
reflective or introspective.

Inner voices are an extension of egocentric


speech, and are usually involuntary,
spontaneous and random.
OF
Egocentric speech involves talking to ones
self and is usually involuntary and random.

Social (overt) communication involves


talking to others and is mostly voluntary.

Chart 6.1
From Social Communication to Intrapersonal Dialogue
The Emergence of Intrapersonal Communication 99
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seems to indicate. As a huge step above ones inner voice, the level, frequency and
content of ones internal dialogues set individuals and cultures apart from one
another. Moving from the bottom up, Chart 6.1 shows the path from social
communication to reflective and introspective dialogues.

THE INVISIBILITY OF INTRAPERSONAL COMMUNICATION


Among our most profound accomplishments is our capacity to make what
was previously invisible to us visible and, in retrospect, even obvious. By becoming
linguistically aware of what had once been invisible, we can use this knowledge to
our advantage. For example, once we discovered the nature and characteristics of the
air around us, it became possible to develop technologies that could harness these
properties for flight. The same was true for electrical energy, and our discovery of the
earth's many buried natural resources.
In this regard, our move from social communication to our inner voice is
more visible than the shift from our inner voice to our inner dialogues. This is
because the former involves going from an external event to an internal one, while
the latter involves a subtle change from one internal process to another. Although this
shift has been imperceptible and largely unnoticed, it has had revolutionary
consequences. Indeed, our inner dialogues are perhaps the most invisible and,
therefore, unacknowledged and unappreciated form of high-level thinking there is.
There can be little question that our capacity for internal dialogue represents a major
achievement in the evolution of language, consciousness and intellect.
Even though our intrapersonal communications are invisible to others, they
are obviously very real to us. However, whatever we covertly say to ourselves can be
spoken or written, thereby making these communications visible and real to others. In
other words, both speech and writing are the behavioral manifestations of our
neurological capacity for both our inner voice and our inner dialogues. It is also
OF
important to note that when dialoguing with others, our emphasis is on the act of
communicating, whereas in dialoguing with ourselves, our focus is on thinking.
The invisibility of our intrapersonal communications resulted in our taking
them so much for granted that we failed to make the basic distinction between our
inner voice and our inner dialogues. The fact that this distinction was overlooked by
most psychologists and philosophers is ironic in that they would be the ones who
would tend to make the most use of inner dialogues. Indeed, so natural and
entrenched is the use of reflective and introspective dialogues, that most academics
have failed to see them as the basis for their advances in the physical sciences and
technology, as well as in the social sciences and humanities.
It was our capacity for internal dialoguesespecially our reflective ones
that led to the most obvious changes in language and consciousness. Indeed, the
importance of our reflective dialogues cannot be overestimated, for were the basis for
100 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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the invention of writing as well as the Scientific Revolution and the Agricultural,
Industrial and Technological Revolutions that followed it.

THE INVENTION OF WRITING


In discussing the connection between the evolution of language and
consciousness, we would be remiss if we did not touch upon the invention of the
written word. There is little question that the creation of writing was one of
humanitys most important intellectual achievements. Critical to the emergence of
modern civilization was the ability to pass information down from one generation to
the next through writing; our present knowledge base is largely built and
communicated through written language. This was markedly accelerated by the
relatively rapid development of new technologies from the printing press on which
made it possible to convey information and knowledge to others who could build on
what they acquired.
It is widely believed that writing began with the simple record keeping of the
Sumerians in Mesopotamia. Their use was largely practical in that it enabled them to
keep track of the goods and services they exchanged with each other. Tokens or
stones of a certain type, shape and pattern inscribed on them served this function for
some time. From these early forms came the making of pictographs to represent
various objects and events. However, while pictographs served as representations of
physical experience, it was not conducive to representing ones subjective
experiences. Nor, for that matter, were hieroglyphics.
Since the Greeks were probably among the first to use introspective
dialogues to any significant degree, it was natural for them to improve on the
Phoenicians invention of the alphabet. This enabled them to represent their
introspective experiences more precisely and effectively than using pictographs or
earlier alphabets. Their motivation to use written language to communicate their
OF
subjective as well as their objective experiences likely encouraged them to develop a
system in which the sounds they made could be turned into specific phonemes of
letters to make words.
We previously discussed the invisible nature of intrapersonal communication.
However, it must be noted that it is not just intrapersonal speech that is invisible.
There is an invisible aspect to social communication as well. This aspect becomes
apparent when we recognize that speakers transmit sounds or words through their
vocal cords which are then invisibly conveyed through the air to the ears of their
listeners. The point is that although the air is a physical medium through which
spoken words can be heard, the words are visually invisible. The ability to take
invisible spoken words and transform them into visually written symbols required a
high capacity for inner dialogue. Indeed, the ability to take the auditory phenomenon
of speech and invent a visual method to represent the sounds of individual words
The Emergence of Intrapersonal Communication 101
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required the kind of thinking that only deep dialogues, both internally and outwardly
expressed could make possible. Specifically, the invention of the alphabet required
the ability to linguistically reflect on our invisible speech and develop a method that
enabled us to create written symbols that consistently represented our spoken words.
This ongoing process involved the ability to objectify and then convert a continuous
stream of invisible sounds into a visual medium of individually distinct written words
that represented these sounds.
This objectification of spoken language led, over many generations, to a
progression of orally shared internally mediated dialogues that were used to create an
increasingly elegant and highly efficient form of written communication. As such, the
evolution of writing was a consequence of many individuals, all of whom possessed
varying capacities for both reflective and introspective dialogical thought. As our
ability to write grew, we could express ourselves in both speech and writing with
greater proficiency and clarity.
Cultures that invented writing had an obviously strong advantage in the
development of science, technology and the humanities over cultures that had not, as
manifested by the Scientific, Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions that followed.
The invention of writing was a major turning point in the evolution of language,
consciousness and civilization.

THE AGRICULTURAL AND INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTIONS


The invention of writing accelerated the evolution of our linguistic awareness
by expanding our capacity to label, describe, explain and communicate our
experiences. As our increasingly frequent, deep and sophisticated inner dialogues
became expressed in speech and writing, the creation of knowledge from one
generation to the next grew in fields from agriculture to modern technology.
However, it was during the Scientific Revolution that our capacity for reflective
OF
dialogues really flourished. These dialogues were, in turn, employed during the
Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions.
The first phase of the Industrial Revolution took place in Britain from the
mid 1700s to the early 1800s. It was characterized by the production of iron and the
use of water power and steam. As energy production became increasingly reliant on
coal, advances in manufacturing from hand to machines became possible. The second
phase occurred from the mid to late 1800s. As a continuation of the first phase, it led
to considerable refinements in mining and metallurgy, machine tools and agricultural
equipment, transportation and housing and chemicals and textiles. New developments
were also taking place in the production of electricity, oil and assembly line
manufacturing, all of which greatly expanded in the 1900s.
Bypassing the Neolithic Revolution which involved a shift from hunting and
gathering to the first experiments in farming, many of the really important advances
102 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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made during the Agricultural Revolution occurred toward the end of the second phase
of the Industrial Revolution, which spread from Britain to Western Europe and
America. So while the Agricultural Revolution initially preceded the Scientific
Revolution, the latter eventually came to have a strong influence on the former once
the production of iron enabled the building of steam powered machines to replace
human labor in the fields.
The third phase of the Industrial Revolution began during the 1900s and were
made up of a series of Technological Revolutions. These included transportation,
telecommunications, artificial intelligence, information collection and dissemination,
medicine and many other fields. Revolutions that took place almost simultaneously
during the twentieth, and into the twenty-first century, were the Atomic Age, the
Space Age, the Digital Revolution and the Information Age. What these revolutions
had in common was that they were driven by relatively rapid increases in our
reflective dialogues, thereby proving our expanded capacity for objective thought.
Many of the advances made during the Scientific Revolution as well as the
Industrial and Technological Revolutions that followed were achieved by innovative
individuals in new and evolving fields. Nevertheless, in noting the importance of
individually generated reflective dialogues, I do not mean to make light of the
collaborative dialogues with others in the making of many scientific and
technological breakthroughs. While progress continues to be made by individuals,
groups of specialists who share their thoughts and creations with others can facilitate
the reflective dialogues of everyone.
Having discussed the nature of intrapersonal dialogue and its role in the
invention of writing and the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, we will now
discuss the third feature of the evolution of language and consciousness which is the
origin of the metaphysical ideas of the soul and the self.
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Chapter 7
The Origin of the Soul and
the Dialogical Self

I n Part II we saw that one aspect of the evolution of language and consciousness
was our inherent motivation to explain our experiences using the metaphysical ideas
of god and mind. Just as the idea of god was the precursor to the idea of mind, this
chapter will show how the idea of the soul logically preceded the self. In so doing,
we will build on the fact that the ideas of both the soul and the self have their origin
OF
in our capacity for intrapersonal communication.
The previous chapter discussed the evolution from interpersonal social
communication to the two types of intrapersonal communication which are our inner
voice and internal dialogues. As we will now see, our inner voice led to the
metaphysical idea of the soul, while our inner dialogues resulted in the metaphysical
idea of the personal or dialogical self. The origin and nature of self-awareness will be
discussed in Chapter 8.
The term dialogical self was, to my knowledge, first used by the Dutch
psychologist Hubert Hermans and co-authors, H.J.G. Kemper and R.J.P. Van Loon in
their 1992 paper The Dialogical Self: Beyond Individualism and Rationalism,
American Psychologist, 47, 23-33. Their use of this term is, however, quite different
from the way it will be used here. Their idea is that the dialogical self is expanded to
include others in society who then hold various positions within the mini-society of
106 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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the self. Alternatively, my use of the term, dialogical self is that it is completely
internal and does not include or extend to others. Defined here, the dialogical self 14
is nothing more than an internal point of reference, be it the speaker or listener
through which our intrapersonal dialogues manifest themselves. This makes these
dialogues both simpler and deeper than Hermans definition.

THE REFERENCE POINTS OF INTRAPERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS


My clue to the origin of the dialogical self began one day while perusing the
Barnes & Noble bookstore in New York City where I spotted a book that instantly
captured my attention. Its title was Inner Speech and Thought by A. N. Sokolov,
noted previously on page 97. This work started me thinking about the dynamics of
intrapersonal dialogues. I eventually came to realize that such dialogues logically
required that both a speaker and/or a listener be internally represented. Indeed,
according to the most basic principle of communication whenever one has a
dialogue, there must be a speaker and a listener, for that is what defines a dialogue.
Let us examine this more closely.
As we saw in the previous chapter, social communication requires the
presence of both a speaker and a listener. Social communication requires that there be
two peopleone speaking and another listening. Because the speaker and listener of
our social communications are in the external world, it is clear, from moment to
moment, who is the speaker and who is the listener. The main difference between our
social communications and our intrapersonal ones is that our spoken verbalizations
are externally expressed physical events while our inner voices and dialogues are
internal neurophysiological events. This means that once our inner voices and inner
dialogues emerged, a whole new world of conscious experience opened to us.
Hence, while social communication existed for thousands of years, the
emergence of the historically recent and highly unusual experience of intrapersonal
OF
communication logically demanded that we create internal points of reference to
identify the speaker of, and the listener to, them. In other words, once our overt
vocalizations became internalized and covertly expressed, we needed internally based
points of reference to refer to who was speaking, and who was listening to these
internal conversations.
The point is that like our social communications, both our inner voice and
covert dialogues are subject to the same logical constraint, namely that there be a
speaker and/or a listener. The problem is that in our covert, intrapersonal
communications, neither the speaker nor the listener are externally present. In other
words, once intrapersonal communication emerges, the speaker and listener of these

14Wherever the word personal self, or subjective self appears, it is defined as the dialogical self. It does
not refer to the physical self or the social self.
The Origin of the Soul and the Dialogical Self 107
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inner communications are no longer external entities, but internal phenomena for
which we naturally seek labels. But what labels do we apply to the speaker and/or
listener of our inner voice or inner dialogues? In other words, when our
communications are internal, as happens with our inner voice or dialogues, who are
the conversationalists? Who is the speaker of and who is the listener to our
intrapersonal communications? Indeed, who is it that speaks when you "talk" to you,
and who is it that "listens" to you when you do so? In essence, what do we call the
speaker of our intrapersonal communications, and what do we call the listener? In
attempting to answer this ontological question, it becomes increasingly clear that we
must use internal points of reference to label or identify who is speaking and who is
listening when our communications are intrapersonal.
As we will see, it was the idea of the soul that became the reference point for
those individuals whose primary mode of thought was limited to their inner voices.
However, as our linguistic awareness increased, we began to realize that these
communications were mostly coming from inside of us. This paved the way for our
intrapersonal dialogues to emerge, thereby giving birth to the dialogical self. In other
words, as the internalization of speech continued to evolve, we evolved from thinking
that the voices we were hearing were from outside of us, to recognizing that we were
the ones producing them. It was at this point that our externally experienced voices
became the self created inner voices from which our internal dialogues eventually
emerged.
As a result, the reference point of the spiritual soul was created as the basis
for our naturally emerging inner voices, while the reference point of the personal, or
dialogical self was created in response to our emerging inner dialogues. Therefore, as
our social communications grew from internal voices to internal dialogues, so did the
reference points we needed to conduct our intrapersonal communications. This was
reflected in, and consistent with, the evolution of our consciousness from spiritualism
OF
to mentalism.

THE SOUL AS A REFERENCE POINT FOR OUR INNER VOICE


The soul is defined as the spiritual or immaterial part of a person that is
regarded as immortala spiritual entity that is thought to inhabit the body. The soul's
presumed attributes and supposed connection with the body varies, depending on
how it is viewed by a specific religion or individual. The soul is usually conceived as
being internal, but with the ability to leave the body under certain conditions.
As we discussed, the egocentric speech of children noted by Jean Piaget
involves overt vocalizations which, as we mature become our covert, inner voice.
Earlier we defined our inner voice as involuntary, spontaneous verbal chatter which is
unfocused, disorganized, rambling, fragmented thoughts that may arise from a
preverbal or subconscious level and which reflect our biological perceptions and
108 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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sensations. When first experienced, it was logical to conclude that our inner voices
were thought to have an external source because they seemed to be occurring to us
rather than being produced within us.
However, with the emergence of our inner voice comes a problem that does
not exist when we physically communicate with other people. When our inner voice
first emerges, it is only natural to ask: Where are these voices I hear coming from?
In other words, who is the speaker? (Because of the nascent nature of these voices,
the question of who the listener might be is not yet considered.) It is important to
note that before the emergence of our inner voice, our idea of the self was limited to
our physical being as conveyed by others or reflected in, say, a pool of water.
However, once we became capable of inner speech, we were inclined to believe that
these voices were coming from some externally based animate or inanimate object or
event rather than from within our own head. It stands to reason that if we are
linguistically unaware of the origin of our inner voice, we will tend to view the
speaker as being external and be naturally prone to seek an external source for it.
We previously discussed the point that our early ancestors suffered from the
inability to grasp the difference between what was occurring to versus within them.
This led to their subjective, monistic mindset which caused them to confuse their
imaginations, dreams, and fantasies with reality. Being unable to make this
distinction, it was natural for them to externalize their inner voices and believe that
they were coming from their leaders or gods or from inanimate objects such as idols
and totems. In other words, since early man did not possess the level of linguistic
awareness necessary to explain the source of his inner voices, they were usually
attributed to various metaphysical phenomena.
However, being uncertain about where in the external world these voices
might be coming from led some skeptical individuals to question their source. This
eventually led to the creation of an entity or phenomenon that could explain this
OF
apparent connection between the external world and ones being. The idea of the soul
became the entity that fit this need for an explanation. Hence, the soul became
regarded as the reference point for, or source of, our inner voices. In other words, our
inner voice was interpreted as our soul speaking.
It was our ancestors need to identify the source of these voices that
eventually created the metaphysical idea of the soul. This represented an important
advance in humankinds early philosophical beliefs which were first animistic and
then theistic. The attribution of aliveness or spirit that is common to animistic
thought led to our need to explain the source of our inner voices and other sensations
not yet recognized as emanating from within us. Initially, these voices and sensations
were ascribed to various external forces or numen (a spirit or divine power presiding
over a thing or place), leading to many of the diverse ceremonies and rituals seen in
various religions. Once the idea of the soul emerged, the degree to which it was
The Origin of the Soul and the Dialogical Self 109
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viewed as anchored within the individual depended on the extent to which the source
of ones inner voices were believed to be internal versus external.
Although the perceived source of one's internal voices is important, so too is
their content. Hence, if the content of someones externalized voices is perceived as
strangethat is, if we cannot find any basis for it in our own experiencewe might
view that person to be out of touch with reality or at least eccentric. In other words,
they might be attributed to sources that are socially accepted or to ones that are not.
For example, when internal voices emerge within a child's brain, he or she may
attribute them to socially acceptable spirits, or to mythical entities that the childs
imagination conjures up. As long as they are attributed to spiritual phenomena that
are common to the childs culture, he or she is considered normal. However, if the
child attributes them to, say, an imaginary playmate, most adults will attribute this to
an overactive imagination that the child will eventually outgrow. In other words, once
a certain level of linguistic awareness has been reached, one is not so easily misled
into believing that their inner voices are coming from external sources.
To summarize, the emergence of our inner voice led to the metaphysical
entity we call the soula creation used to explain the source of these voices. The
idea of the soul was not only used to explain these seemingly floating or transient
voices, but other sensations, the source of which we were also uncertain. In other
words, the reason we held to our early spiritual beliefs was our inability to attribute
our inner voices and other sensations to our personal, dialogical self, as this idea had
not yet evolved. However, once our capacity for internal dialogue emerged, these
early spirits gave way to the idea the personal or dialogical self. In other words, while
spiritual explanations were used throughout the centuries to explain our inner voices
and other sensations, our growing linguistic awareness eventually enabled us to
realize that these voices and sensations were coming from within our brain, self, or
mind. It was only with the emergence and evolution of our internal dialogues that our
OF
linguistic awareness of where our inner voices were coming from started to become
apparent. As our inner dialogues evolved, so did our consciousness of our personal
sense of self. The resulting evolution of language and consciousness led to a more
rational explanation for the origin of our inner voices.

THE PHYSICAL AND SOCIAL SELF VERSUS THE PERSONAL SELF


To better understand how the personal, dialogical self came into existence,
we will first define the physical and social selves. The physical self is an entity with a
unique set of physical attributes. These include ones height, weight, color of skin,
hair, eyes, and so on. Other attributes might include ones physical presence and
actionsconfident, aggressive, quick, shy, loud, and the like. Studies in
developmental psychology have demonstrated that young children can be
linguistically aware of their physical being without being aware of their inner,
110 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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personal self. So where did the idea of a personal self come from and how does it
differ from the physical self?
The difference between the physical self and the personal self can be
understood by comparing a monkey seeing his physical body reflected in a mirror,
with a person having an internal dialogue. The monkey can become aware of its
physical self by making novel faces and movements in the mirror and observing his
reflections. As such, the monkeys thoughts are limited to his externally reflected
physical actions. On the other hand, humans can, through successive inner dialogues,
build upon previous thoughts and feelings until these dialogues eventually create a
level of self-awareness that leads to the idea of a personal, dialogical self.
What about the difference between ones social versus ones personal self?
We should note that in some societies or cultures, physical and social boundaries
between strangers and one's own group are sharply defined, acknowledged and
adhered to. Since the individuals that make up these groups are often less cognizant
of their personal, individual selves, they are likely to have difficulty establishing
personal distance from others. In other words, less self-aware individuals are more
likely to establish or join specifically defined groups with which they can identify. In
so doing, they will tend to emphasize social, ethnic, class, cultural, religious and
other differences to distinguish and partition themselves from others. As such, the
customs, rituals and rules created by such groups serve as a strong barrier between
those who are part of the group versus those who are outside of it. By closely
identifying one's self with a specific religion, nation, ethnic, or social group, such
individuals can experience a socially unique and heightened sense of identity.
Conversely, the more one recognizes one's self as a unique and distinct being, the less
one needs the contrived divisions of religion, culture, nationality or other boundaries.
Indeed, such artificial boundaries and partitions are less important to individuals who
are more self-aware.
OF
THE SELF AS A REFERENCE POINT FOR OUR INNER DIALOGUES
To understand the personal self as a reference point for our inner dialogues,
we need to go back for a moment to Julian Jaynes thesis in The Origin of
Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind discussed in Chapter 1.
There is little question that Jaynes was correct in thinking that early man lacked a
personal sense of self, and that their inner voices were initially experienced as
auditory hallucinations. However, unlike Jaynes, I believe it was the subsequent
emergence of internal dialogues that heralded the origin of the personal self and
facilitated the evolution of consciousness. While I believe that Jaynes was right about
the historical trajectory of the personal self, I believe he was wrong about the
mechanism by which it evolved.
The Origin of the Soul and the Dialogical Self 111
PRO While the idea of the soul goes back at least several thousand years, the idea
of the personal, dialogical self was relatively undeveloped before the 1400s, but
became quite apparent in the 1600s. Our already existing capacity for inner speech
provided a natural extension for the emergence of the personal, dialogical self which
was the next logical step in the intellectual evolution of our consciousness. Insofar as
our inner dialogues require a higher level of neurophysiological maturation, they
represent a major advance in human thought and intelligence.
As we saw, just as there is both a speaker and a listener in our social
communications, so too it is logical to have both a speaker and a listener in our
intrapersonal communications. While the speaker of our inner voices was thought to
be the soul, the question of who the listener was, was an open one. At some point,
however, our ancestors likely felt compelled to label the listener which, at the time,
would logically have been god. This would conveniently result in a conversation
between ones soul and ones god. Furthermore, since both the soul and god are
metaphysical constructs, there is no clear definition for either one; this would make
such conversations quite flexible, so that the soul and god could switch roles between
speaker and listener as one chose. Sometimes the soul would speak while god
supposedly listens, while at other times god is assumed to speak while ones soul
listens.
It is likewise true that our use of internal dialogues logically requires that
there be both a speaker and a listenera necessary condition which is basic to the
structure of how a conversation is defined. This makes it a bidirectional process.
Hence, once we ask who is speaking and who is listening when our conversations are
internal, it is axiomatic that internal points of reference which denote and represent
the speaker of, as well as the listener to, our intrapersonal communications be
created. This forces the personal, dialogical selfan internal, conversational self
into existence. Furthermore, since the dialogical self serves as a reference point for
OF
our inner dialogues it is, unlike the soul, anchored solely within the individual.
Hence, the internal reference points or symbolic labels needed to conduct our
inner dialogues are the self and mind. In other words, just as the soul and god serve
as speaker of and/or listener to our inner voices, the self and mind serve the same
speaker and/or listener functions for our inner dialogues. Indeed, since our inner
dialogues are occurring within us rather than to us, it is only natural that our personal
self and mind would be the obvious symbolic points of reference for our internal
dialogical communications.
It is important to note that a theory of the personal self should, ideally,
explain certain inherently contradictory aspects of the self. Such aspects are the selfs
uniformity, solidity and permanence on the one hand, and its diversity, flexibility and
transience on the other. A relatively fixed attribute of the personal, dialogical self is
its being a durable and constant point of reference for our intrapersonal dialogues. On
the other side, its dynamic aspect can be attributed to the many varied interoceptive
112 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
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sensations that occur within us. As such, the ever-present nature of our intrapersonal
dialogues constitutes the basis of its constancy and stability, while its adaptable and
fleeting nature can be explained by the variability of our thoughts and feelings.

REN DESCARTES REVISITED


Although the question of which is more real, the external physical world or
our inner feelings and thoughts, goes back to the Greeks twenty-five hundred years
ago, it was not until Descartes that a clear distinction was made between objective
and subjective reality. Its initial effect was to place greater emphasis on one's
subjective experiences than on ones physical experiences. What Descartes in essence
did was to use his subjective state of doubt to prove his existence as a physical entity.
To make this point more explicit, were I, for the sake of argument, to refute
the existence of my physical self, I would still be left with my subjective experiences.
Now while I might invoke metaphysical explanations to explain the source of these
experiences, any attempt to dismiss the existence of my physical self would clearly
be an exercise in futility. This is because without my physical self, my personal,
dialogical self could not exist. By emphasizing his inner subjective experiences,
Descartes assumed the existence of his physical self, for without a physical self,
having thoughts, feelings, doubts and so on would be impossible.
However, by using his capacity for internal dialogue and the resulting
experience of his dialogical self to prove his existence, Descartes was reasoning
backwards. Descartes failed to see that it was his existence as a physical self which
was the basis of his feeling, thinking personal self. In other words, his inability to
recognize his own capacity for internal dialogue reinforced the invisible nature of his
personal, subjective self. As a consequence, he attributed the source of his subjective
experiences to God. Furthermore, Descartes belief that his thinking self was
transcendental to his physical self strengthened the already dichotomized worldview
OF
that began with Plato. Consequently, Descartes fostered the growing split between the
physical and mental spheres of existence, thereby solidifying the mind-body problem.

WHY THE SOUL AND SELF ARE METAPHYSICAL CONSTRUCTS


Our increasing use of intrapersonal dialogues caused the idea of the soul to
gradually become replaced by the idea of the self. This resulted in our coming to see
ourselves as unique individuals with our own thoughts and feelings. The idea of the
self as an entity having specific sensations and experiences of which we are
conscious can only develop through the process of intrapersonal dialogue. It is
through such dialogues that we are able to recognize that our thoughts, feelings,
moods, sensations, and other internal states belong to, and exist entirely within us.
Nevertheless, the existence of the soul continued to be supported by many individuals
who used it to explain at least some of their voices, sensations and experiences.
The Origin of the Soul and the Dialogical Self 113
PRO What we believe to be the source of our experiencesbe it the soul or the
selfis largely congruent with our level of linguistic awareness. The soul was
created to explain the presumed source of our inner voices that we were not yet
aware, or at least convinced, were internally based. This was because they were
sometimes perceived as floating or transient, and were therefore considered neither
fully internal nor external. However, once our inner dialogues emerged and became
deeper and more frequent, we had little choice but to create a fully internal entity
with whom we were communicating. That entity became the personal, dialogical self.
The ascending communication hierarchy from the soul to the self is depicted in
Charts 7.1 and 7.2. 15

With internal dialogue the point of


reference is the dialogical self.

With inner voice the point of


reference is the soul.

With social communication the point of


reference is the physical self.
OF
Chart 7.1
How the Emergence of Intrapersonal Communication Created the
Need for the Soul and the Self as Metaphysical Points of Reference

15 It should be noted that the explanation given here for the origin of the soul is that there was a direct
connection between humanitys early voices and the birth of the soul. An even stronger argument could
be made for a direct connection between our intrapersonal dialogues and the origin of our personal self.
However, it might be claimed that the origins of the soul and self were different from what has been
described here. As such, one could argue that these connections were indirect, and that our voices and
dialogues did not create the ideas of the soul and self, but only reinforced their existence.
114 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO METAPHYSICAL THOUGHT AND BELIEF

Mentalism
THE IDEA
OF SELF
EMERGES
Monotheism

Polytheism THE IDEA


OF SOUL
EMERGES
Animism
n

e
e

gu
tio

ic

lo
a

Vo
ic

ia
un

D
r
ne
m

al
In
om

rn
te
C

In
al
ci
So

Levels of Communication

Chart 7.2
The Metaphysical Reference Point Used Reflects Our
OF
Level of Intrapersonal Communication

The physical self is the external point of reference for our physical existence
and actions, our social interactions, and even our intrapersonal communications.
Nevertheless, the soul is the metaphysical reference point for our internal voices and
other sensations, just as our personal, dialogical self is a metaphysical reference point
for our intrapersonal dialogues.
As such, the soul and the self are imaginary entities with which we are
conversing during our intrapersonal communications. In other words, both the
spiritual soul and the dialogical self are nothing more than metaphysical reference
points for our inner voices or dialogues, respectively. Although they are necessary,
the reason that the soul and self are metaphysical is that they possess no real,
The Origin of the Soul and the Dialogical Self 115
PRO
physical existence. Instead, they exist as nothing more than mythical straw menas
the speaker of, and the listener to our intrapersonal communications. They are no
more than illusions created to speak for and listen to us. The reason the metaphysical
nature of the soul and the self have been largely invisible has been our difficulty in
recognizing that these were logically necessary reference points which enabled our
intrapersonal communications to take place.
Nevertheless, while the soul and self are metaphysical constructs, the inner
voices which led to our idea of the soul, and the internal dialogues that gave birth to
our idea of the self are real neurobiological events and experiences. In other words,
while our inner voices and dialogues are most certainly real, their emergence forced
the metaphysical ideas of the soul and self into existence. This led to the unique
situation where the reality of our intrapersonal communications created the
imaginary reference points of soul and self. Imaginary though the dialogical self is,
the inner dialogues which created it are as real as the self-awareness that these
dialogues eventually made possible, as we will see in the next chapter.
POSTSCRIPT - DEFINITIONS
In Chapters 4 and 5 we discussed why god and mind are metaphysical
constructs used to explain many experiences that could not be more readily explained
in objective or scientific terms. In Chapters 6 and 7 we talked about how the soul and
the self are used as reference points for our inner voice and our inner dialogues,
respectively. As such, while god and mind are rationally based metaphysical
explanations for our experiences, the soul and dialogical self are logically based
metaphysical reference points for our interpersonal communications.
However, it is possible and perhaps likely that our inner voice may also have
led to the idea of god speaking, while our inner dialogues created the impression that
it was our mind talking. In other words, just as the idea of the soul complements the
idea of god, the idea of the self complements the idea of mind. It would make sense
OF
that the soul and god communicate with each other just as the self and mind form a
complete conversational unit with both speaker and listener. Hence, our inner voices
could be the soul and god communicating with each other, just as our inner dialogues
would be carried out by our self and mind. We can, of course, use either the soul or
god to represent either the speaker of, or the listener to, our inner voices. Likewise,
we can use the self or mind to represent either the speaker of, or listener to, our inner
dialogues. Such flexibility is the result of the soul and self as well as god and mind
being metaphysical constructs, or myths. 16 This makes their definitions all quite
fluidan issue addressed in the Appendix on Metaphysical Crossovers.

16 Interestingly enough, the fact that the ideas of the self and mind are so closely connected has led us to
erroneously see each as proof for the existence of the other, rather than as the metaphysical constructs
they are.
OF
PRO
PRO
Chapter 8
The Origin and Nature
of Self-awareness

A s we saw in the previous chapter, our dialogical self is a metaphysical


reference point for our intrapersonal dialogues and is, consequently, a mythical entity.
The same, however, cannot be said for the inner dialogues that created the dialogical
self. Internal dialogue is a real neurophysiological phenomenon, and so too is our
linguistic self-awareness to which these dialogues give rise. This chapter will explain
the relationship of the dialogical self to self-awareness which can be considered the
OF
apex of consciousness. We will close with a brief discussion of the relationship of the
dialogical self and self-awareness to the idea of mind.

THE ORIGIN OF SELF-AWARENESS


It could be said that self-awareness represents the most recent advance in the
evolution of consciousness. Defined by the dictionary as conscious knowledge of
one's own character, feelings, motives, and desires self-awareness is the basis for
our personal identity. While modern dictionaries are replete with words that have self
as their prefix, the word self did not come about until the late 1600s. The lack of self-
awareness before the European Renaissance was consistent with a meager sense of
individuality. Self-awareness is essential to the writing of autobiographies and the
individuality that such personal profiles express; the word autobiography did not
118 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO
even appear until the early 1800s. Like our intrapersonal dialoguesespecially our
introspective onesself-awareness varies in depth from one individual to another,
and is more prevalent today than five hundred years ago as the evolution of human
civilization shows. However, before self-awareness becomes possible, it is first
necessary be able to determine the source of ones experiences.

LOCATING THE SOURCE OF OUR EXPERIENCES


It is recognized that infants come into the world without a personal identity
which is largely established by their early experiences. The words and actions of
other people strongly influence the childs developing intrapersonal communications
and, in so doing, molds their self-concept. However, for children to develop self-
awareness they must be able to distinguish between what is happening to, versus
within them; this requires that they possess the vocabularies and dialogues necessary
to express their awareness of this distinction.
Before the emergence of self-awareness, people could not readily
differentiate between their externally or objectively based experiences as opposed to
their internally or subjectively based ones. As we discussed in Chapter 1, the two
sources of all our experiences are our perception of objects, events, and actions in the
external physical world, and our sensations of feelings, thoughts, memories, images,
dreams, desires, intuitions, and so on within us. However, in Chapter 2 we discussed
that because perception and sensation exist on the same neurological continuum, it is
often difficult to tell where perception ends and sensation begins. As a result, we may
not be able to determine between the perceptions that are happening to us, versus the
sensations that are happening within us. In other words, we cannot always pinpoint
the source of our experiences.
As we have seen, this uncertainty is greatly reduced as our capacity for
words that label and describe our various experiences grow. This enables us to
OF
compare our subjective sensations with what we are perceiving in the external world.
Indeed, this distinction between our objective and subjective experiences becomes all
the more obvious in building and comparing our introspective vocabulary with our
reflective vocabulary. The more inclusive our vocabularies, the more likely we are to
distinguish between what is happening to us versus within us; a dynamic which, by
its very nature, encourages the development of self-awareness.
Once this difference in the source of our experiences manifests itself, the
evolution of self-awareness is facilitated by the growth of our interoceptive
vocabularies which promotes our sense of individuality. Consequently, the extent to
which self-awareness develops varies according to our linguistic awareness of the
difference between our objective and subjective experiences, and the level of
introspective thoughts. Chart 8.1 shows these relationships.
The Origin and Nature of Self-Awareness 119
PRO serves to increase our reflective
and introspective vocabularies
and their resulting dialogues,

which increases
our capacity to
determine
what happens
to versus in us,
thereby
First, our growing ability to promoting our
compare our objective self-awareness.
perceptions with our
subjective sensations,

Chart 8.1
How Our Ability to Distinguish Between Our
Objective Perceptions and Subjective Sensations
Builds Self-awareness
OF
THE DIALOGICAL SELF AND SELF-AWARENESS
We previously defined the dialogical self as the metaphysical entity to which
we refer when we are communicating internally. However, if the dialogical self is
nothing more than a phantom entity with which we are communicating when we talk
to ourselves, what is self-awareness? Psychologists and philosophers have long
regarded the origin and nature of the personal self and self-awareness as mysteries.
While both appear to be tied to the notion of mind, their connection has been largely
a matter of speculation. Putting their connection to the mind aside for a moment, we
will look at the link between the dialogical self and self-awareness.
As discussed in Chapter 7, the origin of the personal self as opposed to the
physical or social self is internal dialogue. Indeed, we saw that the very use of
internal dialogue forces the personal self into existence through our need for a
speaker of and/or listener to these dialogues. In other words, our objective self-
120 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO
awareness is based on observing our physical bodies and actions, while our subjective
self-awareness is the result of identifying our feelings, thoughts, and so on as
belonging to us. As such, our self-awareness is based on the subjective experiences
we have become conscious of having within and about ourselves. Our ability to do
this is, of course, based on our capacity for introspective dialogue. It is our
introspective dialogues that turn the awareness of our physical selves into the
complex self-awareness that defines our subjective existence. Hence, the more
developed our introspective dialogues, the more evolved will be our personal,
subjective sense of self and, therefore, our self-awareness.
It is no coincidence that both the dialogical self and self-awareness are
historically quite recent events. However, asking which came first, the dialogical self
or self-awareness, is a chicken versus egg question. This is because our dialogical
self and our self-awareness are both based on our capacity to distinguish between our
objective, as opposed to our subjective experiences which is based on the
comprehensiveness and depth of our introspective vocabulary. The growth of our
self-awareness parallels the growth of our introspective vocabularies and dialogues,
both of which reflect the level at which we think and act. It is the linguistic awareness
of our subjective thoughts and feelings as well as our recognition that it is we who
are having these experiencesthat these experiences are taking place within usthat
self-awareness emerges.
The self in self-awareness is the metaphysical reference point for our inner
dialogues, while our awareness refers to our thoughts, feelings, impressions,
sensations, and so on that we recognize as internal. While the dialogical self is a
metaphysical reference point for our intrapersonal dialogues, self-awareness is our
capacity to be linguistically aware that our thoughts, feelings and sensations come
from within and are a part of us. Self-awareness is our linguistic, conscious
realization that our subjective experiences are internal. Hence, there is a clear
OF
distinction between the dialogical self which is a metaphysical reference point for our
intrapersonal dialogues, and self-awareness which is the result of these inner
dialogues. This makes our dialogical self and self-awareness intricately entwined.
Furthermore, because the dialogical self serves as an immutable reference point for
our self-awareness, both support our belief in the real existence of our personal self.
A high level of linguistic awareness enables us to see what is happening to
versus within us; this creates greater self-awareness and is the way we come to better
know ourselves. To see ourselves as distinct individuals not only requires an
awareness of our thoughts and feelings, but an awareness that our thoughts and
feelings are ours and ours alonethat we own them as current usage might put it.
Being conscious that our thoughts and feelings belong to us conveys the sense that
our experiences, temperament and personal attributes make us different from others
and in so doing defines our individuality. This gives us a sense of control over what
we think and feel and, hence, the experience of free will.
The Origin and Nature of Self-Awareness 121
PRO It is a mixed blessing that modern man possesses a level of self-awareness
that early humans did not have. For example, it sometimes leads to a kind of self-
centeredness that may result in alienation from others and from the natural world.
This inability to see ourselves as part of nature is further exacerbated by the fact that
the physical environments in which we currently live and work are almost entirely of
our own making. The concrete jungles we call cities have largely replaced the woods
and fields in which we previously lived. So steeped in these recently created
environments, we seem to have lost our place in the larger scheme of things. On the
positive side, our growing self-awareness has allowed us to look at our thoughts,
feelings, emotions and other subjective experiences in a more objective way, thereby
helping us make constructive changes in how we think, feel and act.

SELF-AWARENESS AND THE IDEA OF MIND


As we have seen, the dialogical self is a metaphysical and, thus, a mythical
entity with which we communicate. Conversely, the feelings, thoughts, memories,
dreams, intuitions and so on that make up our self-awareness are certainly real.
Therefore, the nature and extent of our self-awareness can be defined by the content
and depth of our subjective experiences. So while the dialogical self is nothing more
than a mythical reference point for our inner dialogues, self-awareness is a real
phenomenon which can be expressed through spoken and written language. So too,
of course, are the inner dialogues that create our self-awareness.
The origin of our personal self was our capacity for intrapersonal dialogue
a capacity that gave us the self-awareness which, in turn, defines our personal self.
However, once self-awareness emerges, the dialogical self becomes both the object
and subject of its own linguistic awareness. In other words, our capacity for self-
awareness enables us to stand outside our physical selves and to see our subjective
experiences more objectively. Therefore, it has been the real existence of
OF
introspective dialogue and resulting self-awareness that have led us to believe that
the self and mind are also real phenomena. However, if our introspective dialogues
and self-awareness are both real phenomena, doesnt this prove that mind exists?
Although our introspective dialogues and self-awareness may be viewed as the result
of mind, the answer is no. The reason is that the mind is nothing more than a
metaphysical construct. When discussing the entity that processes our introspective
dialogues and the self-awareness that results from them, it is the brain, not the mind
that does the work. The mistaken idea that mind exists unfortunately reinforced the
duality between mind and bodya duality which we have endeavored to replace
with physical monism. We will now summarize the main ideas regarding the origin
and evolution of language and consciousness and the mind-body problem.
OF
PRO
PRO
Chapter 9
Language, Consciousness
and the Mind-Body Problem

T here were two objectives in writing this book. The first was to explain how the
evolution of language led to the origin and evolution of consciousness. To
accomplish this, the book was divided into three parts, each of which corresponds to
a specific function of language, the evolution of which relates to the origin and
evolution of consciousness. By providing a functional definition of consciousness
based on language, we were able to establish a practical foundation on which to
OF
explore the mysteries of subjective experience, the mind and the self.
The second objective was to explain the origin of the mind-body problem, a
conundrum which grew out of the evolution of language. Because philosophers failed
to understand that it was the nature and evolution of language itself that created this
mystery, they remained locked in this paradox. By explaining how our evolving
ability to label and describe our perceptions and sensations created this duality, we
could dissolve it.

THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE AND CONSCIOUSNESS


Regarding the first objective, Part I attempted to show how, thousands of
years ago, consciousness grew out of our capacity to label and describe the contents
of our biological awareness which are our exteroceptive perceptions and
interoceptive sensations, thereby creating the linguistic awareness of our objective
124 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO
and subjective experiences. As a result of this growing awareness, we eventually
became conscious of the fact that the source of our subjective and objective
experiences was different, thereby creating a split in our sense of reality. This gave
birth to the mind-body problem. As discussed in Chapters 2 and 3, this problem
represented a turning point in the evolution of language and consciousness.
The continued evolution of our capacity to label and describe our perceptions
and sensations led to our growing ability and motivation to explain our objective and
subjective experiences which greatly expanded our level of consciousness. As
discussed in Part II, this surge in the evolution of language and consciousness was
our creation of words to not only label and describe what happens in our lives, but to
explain how and why they do so. This led to our creation and use of physical
explanations which focus on how things occur, and metaphysical explanations which
center on why they do. The first resulted in robust and sophisticated physical and
scientific explanations, while the second resulted in our spiritualistic and mentalistic
explanations which contributed to religion and the humanities. Our physical
explanations enabled us to objectively understand the external world, while our
metaphysical explanations allowed us to comprehend and appreciate the origin and
nature of our subjective experiences.
Part III discussed the third aspect of the evolution of language and
consciousness which was the two types of intrapersonal communication. These were
our inner voice which led to our spiritual soul, and our inner dialogues which created
our personal or dialogical self. As our linguistic awareness grew, so did the level of
these communications. First came our inner voices with the metaphysical idea of the
soul serving as a reference point for them. Next emerged our inner dialogues with the
metaphysical idea of the self functioning as a reference point for them. Hence, the
mysteries of the soul and self were explained as essential reference points for our
intrapersonal communications. In addition, we saw how our introspective dialogues
OF
are the basis of our self-awareness which stands as a pinnacle in our evolution of
consciousness.
In the trajectory of the evolution of language and consciousness, the idea of
the soul has been slowly replaced by the idea of the self while the idea of god has
been gradually replaced by the idea of mind. The important difference between the
soul and the self, and god and mind is that the soul and the self are based on our need
for points of reference for our intrapersonal communications, while god and mind are
based on our drive to explain the source and/or causes of our experiences. These
relatively recent changes clearly reflect the ongoing evolution of our language and
consciousness.
Language, Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem 125
PRO SUMMARY
It is the above three functions of language that link it to the evolution of
consciousness. Language and consciousness evolved through our growing ability to
label and describe our exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations. This
enabled us to physically explain and communicate our objective experiences through
science and technology, and metaphysically explain and communicate our subjective
experiences through religion and the humanities. Moreover, the fact that languages
vary in the size and sophistication of their vocabularies, the number and level of the
explanations they use, and the extent to which they use social communication versus
internal voices or dialogues, reflect the level of consciousness reached by diverse
individuals and civilizations. The more of our perceptions and sensations we can
label, describe, explain and communicate, the more conscious we become.

How the evolution of the three to the origin and evolution of


functions of language led from... consciousness...

our initial capacity to the origin of our


label and describe our linguistic awareness or
experiences to... consciousness.

our ongoing capacity to difference between our perceptions


label and describe and sensations and to the
our experiences to the... mind-body problem.

our ongoing capacity to explain metaphysical constructs of


OF
our experiences to our god and mind.

our ongoing capacity to the metaphysical reference points


communicate our experiences to... of the soul and dialogical self.

Table 9.1
The Relationship Between the Three Functions of Language
and the Origin and Evolution of Consciousness
126 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO These three functions of language ledeach in their own wayto the origin
and evolution of consciousness. First, our ability to label and describe our
perceptions and sensations led from biological awareness to the origin of linguistic
consciousness. Second, our motivation to explain our experiences led us to create the
metaphysical ideas of god and mind. Third, our need to communicate our experiences
led to the metaphysical ideas of the soul and self as reference points for our
intrapersonal communications. Table 9.1 shows how the evolution of these three
functions of language led to the origin and evolution of consciousness.

THE ORIGIN OF THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM


It was during the evolution of language and consciousness that the mind-
body problem emerged. The origin of this problem was our already highly evolved
ability to label and describe our perceptions and sensations. As we have seen, our
perceptions of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell have their basis in the external
world, whereas our sensations of feelings, thoughts, memories, intuitions, dreams and
so on have their basis inside of us. Our ability to label and describe these perceptions
and sensations led to the growth of our reflective and introspective vocabularies
which, during the Scientific Revolution resulted in the crystallization and
objectification of our objective and subjective experiences, and the contrast between
them. As such, we became increasingly able to identify which experiences originated
in the external world and which ones arose from within us.
In other words, through the evolution of symbolic language we eventually
reached the point at which we could distinguish between our objective versus our
subjective experiences. This obviously created the unnatural dichotomy between
body and mind. This split in our consciousness forced us out of our long history of
subjective monism and into the mind-body dualism that we have been currently
immersed. However, once we were able to see and acknowledge that this problem
OF
was a product of the evolution of language, we could dissolve it. In essence, the
origin of the mind-body problem was our capacity to label and describe our
exteroceptive perceptions and interoceptive sensations. This enabled us to distinguish
between our objective and subjective experiences, which led us to believe that reality
was split between the physical body and the metaphysical mind.
The hard problem of subjective experience was fundamental to dualism. It
manifested itself in the sense that our subjective feelings or qualia were impossible to
explain objectively. This was due to our previous inability to recognize that the
source of our objective versus subjective experiences was different. However, once
we became sufficiently proficiency at being able to label and describe both types of
experience, we became linguistically aware enough to realize this difference. This
strengthened our already embryonic bifurcated picture of reality, and reinforcing the
discontinuity between mind and body.
Language, Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem 127
PRO Our next logical step was to move from our dualistic mindset to physical
monism. This brought us to the explanatory gap which was created by our previous
inability to explain how the physical symbols of language could connect our
biologically based interoceptive sensations to our uniquely personal, seemingly
nonphysical subjective experiences. The solution to closing this gap was to realize
that since words are the physical manifestations of language, both the words we use
to label and describe our interoceptive sensations and our resulting subjective
experiences are physically real phenomena. Our linguistic awareness of this
connection enabled us to extricate ourselves from the explanatory gap and to see the
world in physical monistic terms rather than remain trapped in the dualism that has
molded our thinking over the last four centuries.

HOW THE IDEAS OF MIND AND SELF FORTIFIED THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM
Once we saw how the evolution of language and consciousness created the
duality of mind and body, we still needed to address the origin and nature of the two
other related aspects of this problem which were the ideas of the mind and the self.
To understand how these two ideas enhanced and perpetuated the mind-body
problem, we had to examine the two other functions of language which are to explain
and communicate our experiences, which were dealt with in Parts II and III,
respectively.
In Part II we saw that our motivation to explain our experiences led us to
create the metaphysical construct of mind. This idea was used mostly to explain
many of our experiences, the source and nature of which we could not readily
determine. This difficulty clearly exacerbated the mind-body problem. If this
situation was not enough of an obstacle, the coup de grce occurred with the mystery
of the self which also left philosophers in the dark and reinforced the split between
mind and body.
OF
This brought us to Part III where we saw that our inner dialogues served as
the basis for the metaphysical idea of the personal dialogical self. The idea of the
dialogical self was a logically natural way to label the speaker of, or the listener to,
our intrapersonal dialogues once the evolution of language brought these dialogues
into existence. The connection between the self and mind is that since both are
metaphysical constructs that are compatible with our use of internal dialogues, there
was a natural tendency for the self and mind to communicate with each other as
discussed in Chapter 7 and again in the Addendum which follows.
Furthermore, as we became linguistically aware or conscious of our
subjective experiences, the idea of mind as more than just a receptacle for memories
became defined as the entity through which these experiences were processed. As the
dialogical self emerged, a logical connection with the idea of mind was formed.
Indeed, what could be more natural than having a personal self which is possessed of
128 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO
thoughts and feelings, all of which are processed by this thing we call the mind? As a
result, once the dialogical self became established, its connection with the idea of
mind became inevitable and reinforced the split from the body. Self and mind
therefore became enduring and seemingly intractable mysteries.
Although the metaphysical constructs of the self and mind were created
through the evolution of language and consciousness, and were commonly used to
explain our intrapersonal communications and experiences, in no way negates the
fact that both are myths. So while all our thoughts, feelings, memories and so on are
physically determined (although not necessarily determinable), the ideas of the self
and mind which we have used to explain them have no basis in the physical world.
The point is that while the biological awareness our exteroceptive
perceptions and interoceptive sensations are as real as the words we use to label and
describe them, the metaphysical ideas of self and mind are myths. While neither the
self nor mind exist, what does exist are our inner dialogues which created our idea of
the self, and our motivation to explain our experiences which created our idea of the
mind. Hence, the physical basis for our inner dialogues and our objective and
subjective experiences is a brain that can process symbolic language.
Finally, the three parts that make up the mind-body problemnamely the
mysteries of subjective experience, the mind and the self are all connected in a way
that made sense of our inner lives. Starting from the bottom, Chart 9.1 summarizes
the evolution of language and consciousness from subjective monism to physical
monism.
OF
Language, Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem 129
PRO Language, Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem (Chapter 9)
The basis of the mind-body problem is our linguistic awareness of the difference
between our objective and subjective experiences which led us from subjective
monism to dualism. We also saw that our subjective experiences and our linguistic
awareness of them are both physical phenomena. This closed the explanatory gap
and enabled us to move from dualism to physical monism.

Self-awareness (Chapter 8)
Self-awareness is based on our capacity to distinguish between our objective and
subjective experiences and to recognize that the latter occurs within us.
Self-awareness is the pinnacle of our introspective dialogues.

Intrapersonal Communication (Chapters 6 and 7)


Our capacity for intrapersonal communication led to the ideas of the soul and the self.
The soul is a metaphysical reference point for our inner voices, while the self is a
metaphysical reference point for our internal dialogues. Both are mythical entities.

Metaphysical Explanations of God and Mind (Chapters 4 and 5)


God was used to explain our objective and subjective experiences, while mind is used
to explain our mostly subjective experiences. Both are mythical constructs.

From Dualism to Physical Monism (Chapter 3)


The hard problem is based on our ability to be conscious of the difference between
the source of our objective and subjective experiences. The explanatory gap is based on
our inability to see that it is language that connects our biological perceptions and
sensations with our physically real objective and subjective experiences.

The Mind-Body Problem - From Subjective Monism to Dualism (Chapter 2)


OF
Our capacity to label and describe our objective and subjective experiences are the basis
of our reflective and introspective vocabularies. This enables us to distinguish
between what happens to versus in us, which is the basis of the problem of
subjective experience and dualism.

Awareness, Language and Consciousness (Chapter 1)


Our perceptions and sensations are the basis of our biological awareness. Language
builds on these to create our objective and subjective experiences.
Consciousness is functionally defined as biological awareness reshaped by language.
Chart 9.1
The Evolution of Language and Consciousness
and the Origin of the Mind-Body Problem
OF
PRO
PRO
Addendum:
Metaphysical Crossovers

A s previously discussed, the confusion between our objective and subjective


experiences has its roots in our lack of a comprehensive vocabulary and our resulting
inability to distinguish between what is happening to versus within us. Although the
degree to which we can make this distinction influences which metaphysical beliefs
we will more readily embracespiritualistic or mentalistic oneswe often use the
terminology from both belief systems. This is because the ideas of the soul, self, god,
and mind are all metaphysical, making it impossible to define them as precisely as we
can with physical objects, events or actions. This opens the door to our using these
ideas in place of one another.
Consequently, this addendum addresses how the metaphysical reference
points of the soul and the self can be used in place of one another based on their both
being on the same intrapersonal communication continuum. In a similar way, the
metaphysical explanations of god and mind can be used in place of one another
because both of these ideas are on the same explanatory continuum. These two types
OF
of crossovers are possible because of a natural fluidity between spiritualistic and
mentalistic ideas which comes from their both being metaphysical in nature.
Two other common crossovers noted are between the two spiritualistic ideas
of the soul and god, and between the two mentalistic ideas of the self and mind. In
these instances, soul and god are on the same spiritualistic continuum, while self and
mind are on the same mentalistic continuum, thereby making these metaphysical
crossovers or substitutions logical and likely.
To appreciate the nature of these crossovers or substitutions, the first section
will begin with a discussion of how mentalistic ideas tend, over time, to replace
spiritualistic ones. The second section will discuss crossovers between the soul and
self, and between god and mind. The third section will discuss substitutions between
the soul and god, and between the self and mind.
132 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PROHOW MENTALISTIC IDEAS REPLACE SPIRITUALISTIC IDEAS
It was due to the natural evolution of language and consciousness that over
the centuries a belief in animistic spirits was gradually replaced by a belief in
supernatural, immortal, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient beings. Still later,
the metaphysical constructs of the self and mind took precedence. Just as spirits,
souls, and gods were used to explain many of our experiences, the source and/or
causes of which we were uncertain, the self and mind are now sometimes used to
explain them. However, even in modern times which set of beliefs we use partly
depends on the kinds of experiences we are trying to explain and partly on our level
of linguistic awareness. So just as there are some people who will use the idea of god
to explain some experiences, there are others who will use the idea of mind to explain
them. In other words, because our use of self-referring ideas was a natural outgrowth
of the evolution of language, we are more likely to use mentalistic terminology.
As our linguistic awareness grew along with our vocabulary, we began to see
that our sensations were different from our perceptions. As our recognition of this
difference developed, a change in the metaphysical ideas we used to explain our
experiences occurred. This led from our believing in a multitude of externally based
spirits and deities to believing in our internally based beliefs of self and mind. In
other words, with our increased linguistic awareness that the source of our feelings
and thoughts was internal rather than external, the mentalistic ideas of the self and
mind became the explanations of choice. Nevertheless, due to the difficulty in giving
up our long-standing spiritualistic beliefs, self and mind have only partly replace soul
and god. Furthermore, uncertainty regarding the basis of some of our experiences can
create a tendency for earlier beliefs to reappear, especially in times of social pressure
or personal stress. Hence, when our need for an explanation is high but our capacity
for clear and rational thought is compromised, we may occasionally fall back into
spiritualistic or even animistic thinking.
OF
We have seen how the explanations of god and mind and the reference points
of soul and self are all metaphysical constructs. There are two important attributes
that allow them to be interchangeably interpreted and used. The first is that they all
seek to understand those experiences that we cannot explain in more objective terms.
The second attribute is that they are all metaphysical notions that do not relate to
anything in the physical world as borne out by their typically broad, vague
definitions. These two characteristics provide a flexibility which enables these ideas
to be used in place of one another. Because soul, god, self, and mind are all poorly
defined metaphysical constructs, any one of them can be used to either explain our
experiences or to represent the speaker of, or the listener to, our intrapersonal
communications, depending on our preference. As such, there are two ways that these
metaphysical ideas can be used interchangeably; the first is as crossovers or
Addendum: Metaphysical Crossovers 133
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substitutions between metaphysical categories, while the second is as crossovers or
substitutions within metaphysical categories.

CROSSOVERS BETWEEN METAPHYSICAL CATEGORIES


The fact that the thesaurus largely defines the soul and the self in terms of
one another would indicate that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between
these two metaphysical reference points. This is because while the inner voices which
led to the idea of the soul, and the inner dialogues which resulted in the idea of the
self are on two different levels, they are on the same intrapersonal communication
continuum. This enables these two ideas to be used interchangeably. For example, we
may refer to the soul as the spiritual self and the mental self as possessing a higher
intelligence. Such crossovers between the metaphysical reference points of soul and
self are not only possible, but fairly common.
Likewise, there are times when the metaphysical ideas of god and mind
might be used interchangeably. While these two ideas are also on two different levels,
they are both on the same explanatory continuum. This may result in such
expressions as a personal god or a universal mind. The first defines god as dwelling
within us while the second defines mind as a universal phenomenon. Similar parallels
may also be drawn between conscience and consciousness, with the former more
closely related to god and the latter to mind.
We previously discussed why it is necessary to have a speaker and listener as
points of reference for our inner voices and dialogues. If the soul or self are
communicating with us, who exactly is it that is speaking and who is it that is
listening? We might claim that it is our soul or self that speaks, or that our soul or self
listens. But since the speaker and/or listener of our intrapersonal communications are
nothing more than metaphysical reference points for these communications, they too
can be used interchangeably.
OF
However, who you might ask, is on the other side of these internal
conversations? The answer is that since god and mind are metaphysical explanations,
in the case of the soul, it might be god, while for the self it might be mind.
Furthermore, because of the mercurial nature of these four metaphysical constructs,
we can even make the claim that it is our soul or self that is speaking while god or
our mind is listening. Conversely, we could say that it is god or our mind speaking,
and our soul or self that is listening. The fact that the ideas of the soul and god are so
fluid accounts for the ease with which we can alter the roles of speaker and listener.
The same holds true for the ideas of the self and mind where either can refer to the
speaker or listener. It is also to be noted that our inner voices could be regarded as
coming from the soul or god, while our inner dialogues could be thought to come
from our self or our mind. This brings us to crossovers or substitutions within
metaphysical categories.
134 The Origin of Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem
PRO CROSSOVERS WITHIN METAPHYSICAL CATEGORIES
Crossovers within metaphysical categories are based on the fact that the idea
of the soul is connected to the idea of god, and that the self is connected to the idea of
mind. God is the metaphysical explanation we use for what is otherwise unknown or
incomprehensible about the universe, while the soul is the metaphysical entity we use
to explain the voices that we experience as happening to us. However, because god
and soul are both metaphysical constructs without clearly defined boundaries, they
can be used interchangably. This means that we can view god as the entity that speaks
or listens to us, and soul as the explanation for the thoughts and feelings that we
believe are happening to or in us.
Likewise, the mind is the metaphysical explanation we refer to as the source
of our feelings and thoughts, while the self is the metaphysical reference point we use
for our inner dialogues. And as with god and soul, because mind and self are also
ambiguous metaphysical ideas notions, they too can be used interchangeably. In other
words, we can attribute our intrapersonal communications to our mind, and our
subjective thoughts and feelings to our self. Our use of such expressions as speaking
our mind or listening to intuitions makes this point, as does letting ourselves feel and
think a certain way.
Another way of looking at the difference between self and mind is to say that
our self is the entity to which we attribute our personal experiences, while our mind is
the process through which these experiences are conducted. Conversely, we could say
that our mind is the entity that speaks and/or listens to us, while it is our self that
processes the thoughts and feelings that are happening within us. We could also
express this relationship by regarding the self as the agent that experiences our
thoughts and feelings, and the mind as the agency that processes these experiences.

SUMMARY
OF
Spiritualistic ideas can be used interchangeably with mentalistic ideas. For
example, the idea of the soul can be used in place of the self, or vice-versa. This is
possible because the soul and the self are on the same intrapersonal communication
continuum. Likewise, we can substitute the spiritualistic idea of god with that of the
mentalistic idea of mind as well as the other way around. This crossover is possible
because the ideas of god and mind are on the same explanatory continuum.
These possible crossovers are depicted in Table A and reflect the flexibility
with which spiritualistic and mentalistic explanations and reference points can
change places with one another. Hence, just as the ideas of the soul and god can serve
as entities with whom we can communicate as well as explanations for our
experiences, so too can the ideas of the self and mind. In other words, any of these
four metaphysical constructs can serve as explanations for our experiences or as the
reference points of our intrapersonal communications. This is because they are all
Addendum: Metaphysical Crossovers 135
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ambiguously defined, making such substitutions possible and often likely.
Nevertheless, it is generally true that god and mind are the default explanations that
most of us give for our experiences, while soul and self are the default entities who
are thought to be having these experiences.

As metaphysical As metaphysical
reference points for our explanations for our
communications... experiences...
soul or self are god or mind are
usually primary, usually primary,
while god or mind are while soul or self are
usually secondary. usually secondary.

Table A
The Use of the Reference Points of Soul and Self
Versus the Explanations of God and Mind
OF
OF
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Epilogue

Our ability to become conscious of the world and ourselves by making the
invisible visible as Darwin, Freud, Einstein and others have done increases and
deepens our sense of wonder. However, to acquire such knowledge obliges us to
sacrifice some of the mystery that defines our uniqueness as a species. Nevertheless,
this loss is more than offset by the recognition that we possess the extraordinary
capacity for symbolic language which enables us to describe, explain and
communicate the contents of our biological awarenessa feat no other species has
been able to match. This unique faculty has led us to understand the origin and nature
of our objective and subjective experiences, thereby greatly amplifying our
appreciation of who we are and of the universe we inhabit.
Having described how consciousness and the metaphysical ideas of god,
mind, soul and self were the result of the evolution of language, we can begin to
uncover the physical underpinnings of human feeling, thought and behavior. Instead
of believing in imaginary spirits or mechanisms to feel secure or special, we can
begin to look at ourselves as a purely physically evolving species. In so doing, we
can relegate our nebulous metaphysical notions to history and make our quest for a
robust scientific culture possible.
It has long been obvious that we are predisposed to look at the world as good
OF
versus bad, black versus white, right versus wrong, internal versus external and so on.
We would therefore be naturally inclined to see reality in dualistic rather than
monistic terms. Mistaken though it is, dualistic thinking provides a greater sense of
comfort than does a monistic worldview. Whether we are able and willing to embrace
physical monism over metaphysical dualism remains to be seen. We should, however,
be grateful for the gift of language which has enabled us to more fully appreciate the
wonders that life has to offer.
OF
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PRO References
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Friedland, Jack. The Invisible Intelligence: How We Think. New Gateway
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Hermans, Hubert. The Dialogical Self: Beyond Individualism and
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Levine, Joseph. Materialism and qualia: the explanatory gap. Pacific
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McCrum, Robert. The Story of English, with co-authors William Cran and
Robert MacNeil. New York: Penguin, 1992.
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Pavlov, I. P. Conditioned Reflexes. G.V. Anrep, Editor. Oxford University
Press, 1927.
Piaget, Jean. The Language and Thought of the Child. New York: The New
American Library, Meridian Books, 1955.
Plutchik, Robert. Emotions and Life: Perspectives from Psychology, Biology,
and Evolution. American Psychological Association (APA), First edition, 2002
Snow, C.P. The Two Cultures. Rede Lecture, 1959.
Sokolov, A.N. Inner Speech and Thought. New York: Plenum Press, 1972.
Thorndike, E.L. (1901). Animal intelligence: An experimental study of the
associative processes in animals. Psychological Review Monograph Supplement 2:
1109.
Vygotsky, Lev. Thought and Language. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The
MIT Press, 1986.
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Dear Reader,
A Personal Request

I want to thank you for buying my book, and hope you enjoyed it. It is
especially gratifying to connect with those who enjoy this subject. However,
in presenting a new paradigm, mistakes are inevitable and related issues tend
to get overlooked. As such, I am sure you can understand how important it is
to get feedback from discerning readers like yourself. I would therefore be
grateful for any suggestions, observations or comments you might like to
share. I can be reached at jack@adeeperintelligence.com. In addition, if you
have the time and inclination to post a review on Amazon, it would be much
appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read The Origin of
Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem.
Sincerely,
Jack Friedland
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