April 27, 2017

Science is the business of finding the most parsimonious and consistent explanation or reason for observations

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“Though I haven’t been reading a lot lately, I enjoy the works of Sri Aurobindo. I started off with ‘Letters on Yoga’. His style of writing can put one’s doubts to rest even as they are reading something really difficult. He has explained a range of concepts like consciousess and human behaviour, which I try to follow in my life. I also read a lot of books on theatre and acting. I appreciate author Jerzy Grotowski’s works including ‘Towards A Poor Theatre’. I also like Peter Brook’s writings and ‘The Empty Space’ by him is another favourite.”

Barry Urie Apr 27, 2017
I really liked this 'Interactive Physics' article 'Theory of Everything, Mapped' in Quanta Magazine by Natalie Wolchover. Thought some in the group may appreciate it also.
Barry U. 

Computationalism, may be of any sophisticated degree, represent only a slice of human mind.  A large territory of our mind still remains unexplored. It is not possible to even enlist, parameterize, quantify and measure  all the "elements"  which constitute mind, if we take reductionist view of the mind. Only some of the aspects of mind can be represented by computationalism and computers. Therefore none of the comutationalism or computers or AI can represent human mind in toto.

Second aspect is that human mind  and consciousness are distinct entities Consciousness is  the one due to which brain and mind get functioning ability to perform. And these functions are also experienced/perceived by consciousness. So whatever little part of the mind has been mapped in computers via brain is not consciousness but that part of the mind and brain which is "computable".

Mind and brain are also distinct entities. It is not necessary that all the territory of the mind is necessarily reflectable at the brain

Vinod Sehgal


Since without consciousness, none is of your existence. Yours very "you" and mine  very "me" exist as long as consciousness remains manifested. Had we derived our existence out of physical body/matter, even in deep coma/sleep, ours "I" would have existed and we could   observe and describe environment and body in coma/deep sleep. But this this does not happens. Please ponder over for some time and things will be clear.

Vinod Sehgal


For you consciousness is the proper functioning of the body/matter  Well, It could be, though it is a very peripherial and shallow view of the consciousness. But whether body/matter exist  or not (at least for you) itself is authenticated or evidenced by your consciousness, What is the logic or evidence  that in the absence of you ( i.e your consciousness),  body/matter has any existence? I  had highlighted on this aspect in detail in my previous email.

Secondly, in Science whenever there is difference in interpretations we go in for empirical experimentation. In the matter of consciousness, any empirical experimentation is not feasible to conduct any empirical experimentation. But subjective spiritual practice following the discipline of Samaadhi of a no of people since millennia has provided a subjective evidence that  our existence i.e our consciousness is derived from realms other than our physical body.

Vinod Sehgal

priyedarshi jetli Apr 26, 2017

I just don't see how the existence of a consciousness or the existence of a non physical mind follows from my existence. It is not a hypothesis that everyone will accept. And as you say it cannot be established. So, it is a mere dogma. That is my point.


Edwards, Jonathan Apr 27, 2017
Dear Vinod,
As a life long scientist I have never ever come across anyone using the term ‘reductionism’ except by philosophers who want to belittle science. And I never thought that what I was doing in science was ‘reducing’. I think reductionism is what non-scientists think science must be about in the way that non-car designers think that understanding cars consists of unscrewing the parts. Science is the business of finding the most parsimonious and consistent explanation or reason for observations at whatever scale suits the job. That means finding laws of regularity in dynamics. I cannot see what that has to do with ‘reducing’. It certainly has nothing to do with saying things like ‘mind is nothing but matter’.

And as I said, your queries are not legitimate because they are reductive. You want a smaller scale mechanism. I do not think science is naive to postulate that there is a level beneath which there isn further mechanism. We may not have identified that level correctly - people are still shifting about on that. But to posit a level beyond which there is no further mechanism seems entirely parsimonious since the alternative is that there is an infinite regress of further theories we will never be able to work through. Moreover, we have very good epistemic evidence for there being a level beyond which there is no mechanism - what is called the quantum level, which can be at any spatial size but is the level of the dynamic indivisible. 

So your string of questions have no answers and need no answers. They are an attempt to run off on an infinitely regressive  wild goose chase. They are distinctly naive stuffiest or materialist in motivation.

There are certainly repeating cyclical variations in field values associated with modes of excitation. But these field values relate to probabilities of actualisation of exemplars within an ensemble and so are not ‘ups and downs in real spacetime’. The relate to something much more abstract. Sadly, physics as described in the popular media is a travesty of the real subject. 


Tusar Nath Mohapatra 
Dear JE,

Your attempt to draw attention to Leibniz is certainly admirable but I'm not sure whether your claims are valid. However, reading Sri Aurobindo's The Life Divine can surely give you an alternative perspective to examine your convictions. Thanks.

Apr 26, 2017

Dear PJ,

I don't know if you are aware of Sri Aurobindo. His The Life Divine is considered a very authoritative work that deals with the Dogma question you raise here. Hope, you read it sometime. Thanks.

Apr 26, 2017

Sri Aurobindo wrote extensively on Consciousness a century back but referring to his Ontology is being avoided in these conversations. He provides a much advanced point of departure to study this problem which, I hope, can help in resolving many difficult dilemmas. Thanks to everyone participating in these discussions.

Tusar Nath Mohapatra
Apr 20, 2017

priyedarshi jetli Apr 26, 2017

Thanks for the reply and sorry for the delay as I was off for a couple of days. Plato was more of a journalist of philosophy, presenting all the views up to his time. In the Theaetetus he first rejects the hypothesis that knowledge is simply perception. Then he moves on to identifying knowledge with belief or opinion, but since this would make all false beliefs knowledge, he builds in the qualification of true belief. Now, true belief being knowledge would make knowledge a lucky affair. Plato believes that the notion of knowledge should involve some hard work and that is why the condition of account or justification is added. In mathematics this would be a proof and you know how difficult proofs are to come by. Did Fermat know his last theorem since he could not prove it. Well, he said that he had a proof but did not pen it down before he died. I would say he knew it even if he did not have a proof. And he knew it in a way I could know it even if I can understand and reproduce the proof that has now been found. I have to read your comments on computability more carefully. I tend to agree with you on these. Of course Plato even rejects true account with a belief as being sufficient for knowledge which would eventually lead to Gettier's paper in 1963.

Interestingly in the Meno, earlier than Theaeteus Plato also suggests that knowledge needs a tethering down, a justification or an account. However, for action, which is the main concern of Socrates at least, true belief is sufficient for the knowledge required to perform the morally correct action.


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Perhaps all this Western enthusiasm of finding a better way will eventually lead it onto the same path pointed to by India’s spiritual tradition. While that would be the best and likely safest outcome for the world, it would be a very long and roundabout way of getting there, with a greater than necessary indulgence in ignorance.
(1) See work being done by The Neurohacker Collective, Quantified Self and Flow Genome Project.
(2) ‘The Ideal of the Karmayogin’, Sri Aurobindo, Essay from the ‘Karmayogin’, June 1909
(3) ‘Man – Slave or Free?’, Sri Aurobindo, Essay from the ‘Karmayogin’, June 1909
Shruti Bakshi is a finance professional holding an MBA from INSEAD and an MPhil in Finance from Cambridge University. Having spent a decade living and working in Europe, she now resides in Gurugram. She writes on spirituality at https://stumblingintolife.com Twitter: @shruti_paris.

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