Dr. Borchardt:

In TSW, you describe consciousness as matter in motion (i.e., what the brain does). This makes perfect sense as every thought results in a physiological reaction.
What perplexes me, however, is how a thought can be deliberately focused to achieve a particular result (for example, mentally telling yourself to calm down).
I am also wondering whether dreaming is the brain's way of continuing the same type of matter in motion while our body is at rest.
Is there a correlation to our evolved state? I know my dog has dreams. But, I don't suspect that he is capable of directing his conscious thoughts deliberately as I do.

Frederic Frees


Good question. This goes back to the basic deterministic assumption that there are causes for all effects. With the assumption of INFINITY, the regression goes back forever and the progression will go forward forever. Thus, there are causes for your focused thoughts, just as there are causes for your unfocused thoughts. Those who believe in free will generally tend to lose sight of the causes of focused thought, as if thoughts could pop into one’s brain without cause. Not only is this wrong, it is completely useless in “directing” one’s focus. Part of the “feeling of freedom” that we cherish is the ability to “control” our thoughts by changing our environment—a happy macrocosm produces happy thoughts; a sad macrocosm produces sad thoughts, etc. (This is why I try to act happy all the time; it makes the people around me easier to live with.) Focusing one’s thoughts may involve one neuron (the submicrocosm in this case) and knowledge stored in an adjacent neuron (the submacrocosm in this case). The electrical discharges between neurons are inevitable.

Like everything else in the universe, the submicrosms within the brain are continually in motion. Dreaming and worrying seem to be examples of the brain’s inability to stop its own motion at will. Some forms of meditation may get close to putting a stop to unwanted thoughts, etc., but complete success would mean no brain activity whatsoever, otherwise defined as death. Animals, having less complex brains, nevertheless have a rudimentary consciousness, along with the necessary continuation of brain activity exhibited as the dreaming you mentioned. The more advanced levels of thought require language and the written word, of course, but animals nevertheless can interpret the activities of the macrocosm with great success. As in our own case, the “feeling of deliberate direction of thought” probably is a necessary part of that success, but it would not be uncaused by what went before.

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