A Materialist Rejection of the View that the Mind is Merely Reactive

A Materialist Rejection of the View that the Mind is Merely Reactive
What we believe today is that everything is physical, our minds are chemicals and electrons whizzing round. One of the implications of this materialist view of the mind is that our minds only react to outside stimuli. This is because of cause and effect. The two basics of cause and effect are that every effect (or occurrence) has a cause. Nothing just happens. The second is that cause and effect have a predictable relationship. Given the same causes, the same effect will follow. Basically because effect follows cause (like chicken and egg), we can in theory keep following back and identify the big bang as the cause of me writing this sentence. Dave discusses cause and effect in the essay (Can we have free will? ? Dave?s theory of destiny / choice duality) However, the theory of destiny / choice duality is still a materialist theory, and surely the tenant that we make no intentional thoughts, but merely respond to experience stands? Two points stand against this position. Firstly, we do not experience the world directly. By the time the qualia caused by the outside world reach our consciousness, they have been filtered through our minds, and in a sense shaped by our experience, prejudices, culture and language, etc.
This is to say that what we consciously experience is filtered and altered by our unconscious minds. My identity is contained in my conscious, higher mind, but information can only reach this part of the brain from the unconscious, reactive animalistic (i.e. evolved longer ago), lower parts of the brain. What I perceive is not what reaches my brain. As such what we experience is at least partly of our own creation, the connections and thoughts that our sense impressions generate also form part of our experience. At least part of the experience that reaches the conscious mind is only indirectly caused by the external world. Thus what we are responding to is in effect unknowable as a significant proportion of it is generated from the mind itself which no one else can have perfect access to. Thus, it must logically follow that the mind cannot be said to be reactive as the theory cannot be proved or disproved if the inputs to the mind are unknowable. Secondly, the output of the mind is not predictable based on knowledge of the inputs (even assuming that knowing the inputs was possible). The system is very complex and largely self-referential so that it is not possible to replicate the same set of inputs to the mind, even with identical external inputs or sense data. If a system is unpredictable, how can it be said that it reacts to the external world? It might be true to say that the external world initiates the system to do something, but even the principle of cause and effect breaks down in a system of this complexity, so the system does not just merely react, but is self-organising. This leads to a whole host of further implications, which may or may not be explained by chaos theory, complexity theory, emergent systems and the potential for quantum to have an control. Using this argument it is possible to take a materialist stance whilst rejecting the implication of materialist monism that our minds are purely reactive. However please note that this is not an argument for intentionality merely a rejection of the determinism implied by being purely reactive.

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