Western Science and Materialism

By: Richard Boyd Copyright © 2021 June 28, 2015 no comments

Western Science and Materialism

The philosophy of Materialism dominates and underlies western science and medicine. This outdated view of reality still prohibits certain experiments being conducted, certain research being funded, and certain phenomena being considered real or worthy to be investigated.

A consequence of this assumption of reality has been the separation of mind and body, matter and energy, and the consequential dualism, reductionism, and reliance on quantitative measurement as the only acceptable determinant of experimentation.

The 17th century saw the Newtonian universe concept accepted as the primary truth of science. This model sees the universe as a complicated but mechanistic reality where all matter could be broken down into smaller and smaller components (reductionism), and where spirit did not exist.

Spirit had previously been separated out from matter by Rene Descartes, who in a bizarre contradiction stated spirit lay outside science as an honoured element, yet it did not exist within science. This illogical proposal is part and parcel of the Newtonian universe concept which still dominates Western scientific and medical thought even today.

In the Descartian view the body of man is infused with a rational soul (which lies outside science), and that gives rise to thought, consciousness and Descarte’s motto “I think, therefore I am”.  Descartes view required a complete separation of spirit and matter, and spirit was disowned as outside the consideration of science and matter.

In this view that still holds adherents today, mind is output from, and shorthand for brain, and so spirit has no place in this model. The implication is that a complete knowledge of all biological mechanisms and body components will eventually lead to remedies for both body and the mind.

This theory has problems as under Descartes there is no interaction between the realms of mind and body and so this whole philosophy is flawed. Western science then tried to wallpaper over the cracks in this theory by reducing mind to an epiphenomenon, which again is disguised vocabulary for reintroducing spirit back into body, which contradicts Materialism.

Science also attempts to overcome its mind-body problem by referring to a term called “emergent properties” or “emergent force” of complex systems to explain mind, consciousness and spirit. Here the mind is an emergent property of the electrical-biochemical processes in the human cerebral cortex.

Again a wallpapering occurs as science cannot define or explain the concept with fact or reason. Science still however creates a bucket outside science into which it tips all “outside science“ phenomena, and this is called variously supernatural, paranormal and superstition.

Science today still refuses to consider the question of spirit as a scientific matter of enquiry as spirit either doesn’t exist or exists outside science. Despite this declaration the problem and manifestations of spirit do exist and must be continually rejected as paranormal, supernatural or superstition.

Reductionism breaks all our sciences down into increasingly foundational building block sciences as follows. Biology reduces to chemistry which reduces to matter physics and then quantum or subatomic physics. However science also accepts that matter can be animate or inanimate.

How can this notion be true as it is a DesCartesian dualism in reductionistic science. If there is no spirit, if mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain, and if the brain is biology, and biology reduces to chemistry which reduces to physics, then what is the scientific difference between animate and inanimate matter?

Can the laws of physics be different in human brains as to rocks or trees? A basic contradiction now exists between acceptance of animate and inanimate matter in science on one hand, and a universal reductionism process that does not separate the two types of matter, and which honors E=MC squared, where matter is just a configuration of energy.

There cannot be a scientific difference between animate and inanimate matter with E=MC squared, yet science tries to hold a failed model together via including and excluding spirit when it suits its arguments and propositions from time to time.

Philosophically the scientific position must mean that dead and alive people are essentially the same with no scientific difference, and so in a sense we are all dead. Modern science disallows the existence of a “life force” either within or outside current physics but maintains its distinction between animate and inanimate matter.

Qualitatively speaking we all know instinctively that the idea that dead and alive people are essentially the same, or that we are all dead is not true. Science accepts that some things are alive and some are dead, but yet reduces everything back to inanimate particles and subatomic states, where no other “force” exists outside the 4 fundamental forces of physics (the strong and weak nuclear forces, gravity, and electromagnetic fields).

Neuroscience now challenges Descartes and his world of the BodyMind split as it can show immaterial thought such as imagination and visualisation does change the structure of the material brain, which just cannot be under Materialism. The plasticity of the brain and how the mind creates and affects this plasticity, which is now a fundamental tenet of Neuroscience, exposes the flawed and unsustainable argument of a wholly mechanistic brain.

The flaw in this model can only be resolved by introducing what has been called Animism, or the idea that a force called spirit or life force exists in all energy and matter (the 2 configurations or states of the foundation of everything else in the universe). The concept means that either one of the 4 existing forces in physics, or an additional force in physics which I shall refer to as a ’life force” is found in all energy and matter phenomenon.

This idea does not imply everything has consciousness or mind as a human manifests. It does imply a unity connecting all events, objects and phenomenon in the universe, and discredits materialism, reductionism, dualism and Cartesian problems at the primacy or foundation level of all reality.

This unacknowledged property or variety of one of the 4 existing forces in physics, or a fifth force is the reality that science, medicine and psychiatry have tried to introduce to their current materialistic model as “emergent properties” or “emergent force” of complex systems, despite having no explanation for their basis for existence.

Within Materialism that drives our science, medicine and psychiatry, there is no mechanism by which “consciousness” can “emerge” as a force or property from the human cerebral cortex part of the brain, anymore than it can from a single atom of iron. It has never been proven, tested or scientifically proven, only postulated to overcome a flaw in the model of materialism.

Likewise science must eventually discard Psychiatry, Psychology, and Psychotherapy as “Psyche” does not exist, only the brain and its biological functions exists. Given the acceptance of the sciences of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Psychotherapy, and the verifiable and clinical evidence of the normal workings and dysfunctional patterns of the mind, we cannot dismiss the mind as some convention or emergent property or force.

While we continue to struggle with a flawed Western model of science, medicine and reality, it makes sense to consider the implications of a unity, an interdependency, and relationship between the body and the mind, where an existing force, or a fifth force in physics, a “life force” is postulated as part of our reality. Einstein spent the last part of his life searching for a Unifying law in physics as he felt that it was the only logical premise for reality.

Body Psychotherapy is not Einstein but we note that Animism is an accepted reality in nearly all traditional cultures, shamanistic traditions, and many religions throughout the ages. Materialism and its related concepts is a recent product of 17th century and beyond thought.

Recent quantum physics theory demonstrates that traditional Materialistic laws of physics apply to matter above sub-atomic level, and more esoteric and unusual principles apply at the most fundamental level of sub-atomic physics. The answer of a unifying force is likely to live in this sub-atomic realm.

These principles do not support the premise of a mechanistic universe at its energy or quantum level, but indeed a possible unification and rudimentary form of “consciousness”, or properties within an existing force, probably the electromagnetic force (EMF) recognised by conventional science and physics.

In his book “Decoding Reality: The Universe as Quantum Information”, respected physicist Vlatko Vedral, proposes that the basis for the universe, based on its smallest identifiable basis, is in fact information, and acts as a quantum computer. In this proposition, the universe is a dynamic, emerging, ever-changing and governed by quantum laws that are now being used by scientists in quantum computers.

Basically an electron has been found to store and flips “bits” much like a classical computer stores information either as a bit “0” or as a bit “1”, in an on or off state. In quantum computers an electron can simultaneously hold both the “0” and “1” state at any one time, whereas in classical computers its an either/or choice.

His argument follows that of Seth Lloyd in his book, “Programming the Universe”, and he entertains the notion that the human mind via its observer effect on subatomic life, could be influencing the outcomes or information reality at this sub-atomic level. This means at a broader level, we would be in fact affecting reality and what arises or is created in the universe by this proposed process.

It remains only a model and a theory at this stage but it shows how the sub-atomic world and quantum laws may yet change our notions of reality. It is the premise of Body Psychotherapy, that science will evolve to a point of finding and accepting a unifying principle.

This might be found within EMF fields or possibly a fifth force in physics, but regardless its discovery  will overturn the Materialism dogma and its associated dualism, reductionism and Cartesian concepts.

As a psychotherapy tradition we are interested in the mind, but in particular in the concept of the essential unity and interdependency of the mind and the body. Our Body Psychotherapy operates from this principle and approaches the dilemmas of our clients from a holistic perspective.

We believe that the human body and mind are bridged in part by an electromagnetic energy field (EMF) or life force that is yet to be proven.  We operate with the Body, Mind and Energy System of our clients based on Eastern and Western philosophies, and whenever possible updating our knowledge in the various sciences practiced today.

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