Re: Spirit, conciousness, free will and infinite nesting

From: Saj Malhi <>
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 23:08:20 -0000

>> > As far as I am aware the fastest neurons in the body conduct
>> messages at
>> >around 170 mph. How do you reconcile this with the 'infinite nesting'
>> >theory? Or, more fundamentally, the very fact that the two ends of the
>> >'chain of command' you have postulated are indeed communicating somehow
>> (as
>> >we are living testimony) surely precludes an infinite number of levels
>> since
>> >this would mean that:-
>> >a). the transmission velocity is infinite and we therefore perceive
>> things
>> >instantly (not the case)
>> >b). the transmission velocity is finite and we therefore don't perceive
>> >things at all (not the case).
> [JB--] There could be an infinite chain of transmission with a
>finite time at each level and a finite total time, for example if the time
>at level n is 1/2^n seconds, the total time would be 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + ...
>1 second.

I accept your demonstration of how an infinite series can sum to a finite
number but I still feel that on a purely practical level you should
reconsider the infinite nesting hypothesis. How can you fit infinite levels
of perception, assuming they have a real physical presence (and if not, then
how are they represented?), within the confines of a human skull (I realise
there are mathematical shapes that have an infinite circumference
encompassing a finite area but I do not think this will be a valid analogy
since the brain is not an ideal (ie. virtual) geometric object)? How do you,
under this theory, explain the small but definite time delay between a
stimulus and its conscious perception? Is it your assertion that this delay
is only the time it takes for the neuron to transmit the impulse from the
point of contact to the first of your 'perceptive levels', and that from
there the transfer of information through the infinite hierarchy is actually
instant (and therefore exceeds the speed of light)?

> [JB--] It's important to understand the difference between spirit
>and mind.
> Spirit is a metaphysically transcendental concept related al least
>to consciousness which is an evidence, and probably also to free will (if
>exists), and perhaps also to creative intelligence.
> Mind is the physical activity of the brain, the mental computations
>like manipulations of numbers, which are done by physical processes of our

I see no reason to introduce 'spirit' and 'mind' as two distinct concepts
because the ideas are already well represented in the notions of 'mind' and
'brain'. The brain is obviously an object, something that can be taken out
of the body and spread onto slides for our delectation, as can any other
organ such as the heart. However, we can also view these organs 'in
action' - we can monitor their electrical activity. Surveying the ECG of
someone's heart does not elevate it to a transcendental metaphysical state,
and so similarly nor should surveying an EEG. After all, no physician can
claim to look at the series of spikes and read the patient's mind. He is
still only looking at the brain, but an electrical interpretation of it. The
mind therefore remains a distinct entity and is not the physical activity of
the brain. It is somehow a sum of the neuronal processes but is not in
itself a neuronal process. There is therefore no need in this argument for
the concept of 'spirit'.
 An important point concerns the creative intelligence, which could
>be defined as the ability to perceive the regularities (see
> :
>Metaphysical reflections <reflres.htm> - Perceptions, regularities and
>The only true reality is the present perception of our mental state which
>contains the memories of our past sensations and actions. Everything else
>mental construction. Perception is a transfert of information from a
>perceived reality to a perceiving spirit. Then it assumes the existence of
>spirit <>.
>The informations that we perceive are not random, they contain
>Mathematically, that means that these informations could be described by an
>expression smaller than the one describing them trivially. For exemple, the
>sequence "ABCABCABCABCABCABCABCABCABCABC" which contains 30 characters can
>be described by the expression "ABC repeated 10 times" which contains only
>21 characters. Perceived regularities permit us to suppose that raw
>perception is the unfolding of a smaller germ (as
>"ABCABCABCABCABCABCABCABCABC" is the unfolding of "ABC repeated 10 times")
>and that there exists an outside world which gives our perceptions
>on the actions that we give it. This outside world is not directly
>accessible but only through this information exchange.
>From this information exchange, we build a mental representation of this
>outside world. So, for example, the child examining his memories realizes
>that each time that he raises an object and drops it, he saw it go down. He
>deduces that objects spontaneously tends to go down. So he introduces in
>mental representation the concept of gravity force. In the same way, the
>physicist builds this mental construct further in a more precize and
>quantitative way, noticing that this object follows a trajectory of
>z = 1/2 g tē + z0. So he builds what he calls the laws of physics, but
>are in fact only mathematical models describing more and more precize
>approximations of reality, but always approximatives and limited to a
>validity domain depending on the experimental conditions from which the
>theory has been built.
>The regularities of our perceptions appear to us with such a strength that
>we forget that we perceive only perceptions, that the physical universe,
>space, time, matter... are only mental constructions.

Mathematics is an interpretation of the natural world, a means of
translating what we peceive into something we understand. As with any
interpretation then, it is limited by the one's level of comprehension.
Hence in your example, the baby and the physicist perceive the same
phenomenon but at different levels of comprehension. It is not difficult to
argue from this that our apparent (or perceived) reality is wholly dependent
on our level of understanding. Hence, though I largely agree with your
comment "the only true reality is the present perception of our mental
state" I would put it a slightly different way - "The only true reality for
an observer is the present interpretation (within the context of his
knowledge) of his perceptions."

>This ability of perceiving regularities is also required for the
>transfinite iteration of reflection principle (see
> to produce a
>sequence of transfinite ordinals getting bigger and bigger without being
>limited by a given ordinal. For this we need to perceive the regularities
>a sequence of ordinals x1, x2, x3... and to recognize that there is a f
>that xi = f(i), and then skip to x omega = limit of f(i). We must avoid the
>trap of thinking that we are in a creative process producing x1, x2, x3...
> (see also (in

Frankly, you have completely lost me here!

> Is this creative intelligence a feature of the spirit or of the mind
>? I am not very sure about it.
> According to Hofstadter (Godel, Escher, Bach), this is an activity
>of the mind, subject to godelization, therefore limited, like any finite
>system (formal system, machine), but in the case of the brain the limit is
> Another possibility would be that the ability of manipulating
>mathematical objects like transfinite ordinals is a feature of the mind,
>the enlightment of the recognition of the regularity may come from the
>spirit, and our limitations might come from the limitations of the mind for
>understanding complex mathematical objects.

I am inclined to agree with your final point here, that we (ie. our minds)
are limited in our understanding of the world due to the limitations of the
brain in processing the interpretation we use, ie. mathematics. Furthermore,
the fact that we are aware that we do not understand certain phenomena
suggests this limitation is indeed more in the brain than in the mind.
>Jacques Bailhache
>Y2K Centre of Expertise (BRO)
>DTN: 856 ext. 7662
>Tel: +32-2 729.7662, Fax: +32-2 729.7985
>Visit my home page :
Received on Wed Jan 27 1999 - 15:11:04 PST

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