The Method of Inquiry Used In Evolutionary Mentology

     When we experience a phenomenon indirectly (without direct observation or any record of it) through its manifestations and consequences and become practically and intellectually concerned and inquisitive about it, the question arises of what methodology to adopt for inquiring into it. Man has been confronting such situations throughout history, whether in Sciences or otherwise. For example, when he had to reconstruct the life of some ancient city, which no longer existed and there were no eye witness accounts of it, the question would have arisen of how to conduct that inquiry. Similarly, in Microbiology when viruses and bacteria could not be observed the issue was again of how to think about the phenomenon of infections. The same was the case when Early Greek Philosophers were thinking about the building blocks of natural phenomena, i.e. atoms. Likewise at the outset of our inquiry into the mind we were confronted with the same question. Given the current state of human knowledge about the various mental processes and capabilities, and their connection with the brain, it was not completely possible to observe the mental phenomenon within the existing ‘cognitive framework’. And this problem was compounded by the fact that unless they became sufficiently tangible to us we would not be able to intelligently work on them so as to restructure and change them. At this point we had to explore and apply an effective method of pursuing a tangible grasp of them. 

 

      Basic Premises and Components of Our Method 

 

     The first component of our method, coming from the basic premise of the scientific approach, was that all things in existence are natural processes (existing objectively), and things which are not natural do not exist. Consequently if mental processes exist—and we have indirect evidence of this in the changes they cause in areas of life which are tangible to us—they have to be a natural process. 

The second component was the premise (ensuing from the first one) that all natural processes have to be logical, and anything illogical is neither natural, nor can it exist. Which meant that mental processes were not only a natural process, but also logical. This was the first stage of building up our method.

The second stage was that if mental processes are natural, logical processes they can only be made up of a variety of natural forms which are not yet tangible to us, and also beyond the reach of Particle Physics at present. What ensued from this was that these intangible natural forms constituting mental processes would probably be some pre-big bang massless energy forms akin to string states, etc. While exploring this area we considered (and developed) the ideas that they could be compounds of those intangible energy forms and also hybrids made up of pre big bang constituents and some energy fallouts (like oscillations) of the later post big bang heavier energy forms. This was the third component of our method. The fourth component was, if this is where mental processes are coming from then there is nothing strange about it, because we know that different states in Nature coexist and interact, and different stages does not mean one stage comes to a complete end when the next one begins. There is no mechanical progression in Nature, but only a dialectical one, which is why different states and stages can coexist and interact. So we were not looking at anything static, or in other words at substances which appear as static or inert objects in our cognitive system. Or things such as stones or some minerals buried away somewhere. We were looking at very dynamic and complex weak energy forms, where Nature’s work was in process at a high degree of vitality. Of course Nature’s work is in process even in stones and sand, but not at this very high level of dynamic as in compounds or hybrids of weak energies constituting mental processes. 

 

Having come to the idea of massless energy forms existing in the pre big bang universe we thought of taking one more step in the same direction, which was the fifth component. In locating the beginning of Nature we could not use the method of systematic reasoning, but only speculate in terms of probabilities. So we decided not to go so far back, but start at some point in between phenomena (pre-big bang) such as strings and the beginning of Nature. Here we were not looking for some particle, quantum state, or even at strings, but at something preceding them, which for us would be the beginning (not for our reason but our quest) of Nature. We assumed at this stage we would find an energy form or unit in which the logical process of Nature would exist in a bare (simplest) form, with least amount of complexity. This would enable us to identify its fundamentals as an energy unit. We were not looking for its quantities, directions, or anything measurable in abstract mathematical terms. That was not our job. We were only looking at the basic components of this general fundamental logical process. Thereafter we tried to identify the first packet of these necessary components or essentials. The first component we identified was motion in a state of randomness leading to a state of interconnection and interaction. The second was the emergence of the logic of those specific interactions and interconnections. We also found two other essential components comprising the first basic packet of the general logical process. These were added because we were looking at this process in terms that could explain the known process of evolution in Nature, and yet we did not want to plant anything upon it, but derive its basic logic from a questioning (based on reason) about its manifest reality. One (of these components) was a tendency to evolve to more complex and stable states, and the other was mechanics of preference or one can say process of selection within the process of randomness. These when viewed on the macro scale leading up to contemporary states of Nature could be identified as the evolutionary and the Aesthetic components respectively. Finally it was a question of tracing the logical evolution of that process through different stages generally, and particularly the evolution of living processes (biological and botanical), and more specifically the human stage of evolution leading up to the present. This process inevitably extended to looking at the next (not the last) stage of evolution. From thereon we have been tracing the empirically known evolutionary facts and stages, checking and double checking our steps (going back and forth in that) and finally examining them by carrying out some limited experiments in our own life processes and of our contemporaries. 

 

Elaboration of the general method we used for inquiring into mental processes the first stage of this method is that one comes up with explanations about the unobservable phenomenon based upon imagination, reasoning, and ideas. One creates an idea based reality about it as opposed to observation or fact based reality. It could be way off or completely baseless and false, which is not a problem because one can eliminate a particular mistaken ‘idea reality’ from the limited number of idea realities one generates, by testing or applying it along with looking at other manifestations of the phenomenon in question. To begin with we focus upon a few of these manifestations on the basis of which we draw inferences and pull in some imagination and reasoning to come up with an idea based reality. While trying to apply it as a tool of prediction if it does not work, then we know our ideas were mistaken. Meanwhile we gather some more indirect observations about it and again start rethinking. This is the tortuous process or the practiced model of thinking applied while inquiring into a directly unobservable or intangible phenomenon.  

 

As one proceeds with this thinking process, one can accelerate the process of weeding out mistaken idea based realities by setting up experiments oneself (which would reveal more indirect manifestations) instead of waiting for manifestations which refute or contradict them. Such experiments enable us to see if this idea reality can be verified, and is repeatable or not. The purpose of this entire exercise is to reinforce and supplement one’s limited observation of the few manifestations of that phenomenon. 

One has to go through a similar exercise with the reasoning process applied in piecing together an explanation and understanding based upon one’s ideas. Because we must remember that in this method we are employing both observation and reasoning. The process of reasoning can be improved by adopting the historical approach wherein we trace the functioning and trajectory of the predecessors of the current phenomenon. To take a simple example, if one is observing the moon in summer then one goes back to see what it was like in winter. Or one tries to experience it in one geographical location and then travel to some other place and see it from that standpoint. So here one is enriching one’s reasoning by pulling in facts from its known history. 

 

Where a phenomenon’s history is not known, as in the case of mental processes, then one can at least observe it indirectly in the form of its manifestations, from different standpoints. For instance, through a child’s and then an old person’s mental processes, or the mental processes of people belonging to different classes and so on so forth. Furthermore, one can also trace the history of some individual; his childhood, ancestry, etc., and get more observations. From this one can get a variety of indirect observations coupled with reasoning which draws inferences from the history of an individual’s mental process manifestations. If we have few observations (of the variety of manifestations) the reasoning employed is simple but with a large number of observations the process of reasoning gets enriched and complex. Because one has to then come up with reasons that explain all those varieties we have observed. For an understanding to be correct or correspond to factual reality of a phenomenon it must satisfactorily explain all its manifestations. Only then will it be a true understanding of that phenomenon. For observing and knowing mental processes this is precisely what we had to do. We realized there was a general factor that was common to all manifestations of individual and collective human conduct, i.e., the contemporary human mind, which now needed to be understood in much greater depth. Because mental processes had begun to malfunction more and more and we were able to see its manifestations in different areas. This compelled us to try and understand their proper functioning for coming closer to the factual reality of what they are and how they operate. Even though, as mentioned before, we were also confronted with the challenge of understanding them without being able to cognize them directly. In this context we used the historical method to see where else the mental processes existed apart from human beings. We found evidence of their existence both in animals and botanical living processes. The increasing knowledge from Life Sciences about our own and other species’ biological functioning further narrowed down the area of inquiry, particularly where it started informing us of the close connection between observable biological and the unobservable mental processes. By employing a process of better and more complex reasoning we were able to get indirect evidence of what connections in fact existed between these two processes, the nature or form of those connections, how they were functioning and if they had some role in evolution of living forms. Apart from getting more and continuous information from Life Sciences, we have also been taking knowledge inputs from Brain Sciences, which includes Cognitive Sciences, and Neurosciences. Alongside these we have also employed analogies from the Computer Sciences and Artificial Intelligence to get further indirect observations of mental processes.  

 

The Evolutionary Sciences also have a crucial role in our inquiry. Through them we were able to discover that there was in fact a history of mental processes. A history which revealed to us the logical connection or commonality between all stages, from the observed biological processes down to their beginnings i.e. the organic molecule processes. Which meant that history did not only include earlier species but also earlier forms of matter. A similar connection could be seen between organic and inorganic molecules, and then further back between inorganic forms and the energy states which caused the big bang. This provided us with a macro picture of the evolutionary process beginning way before the big bang. Which in turn enriched the factual evidence of not only the indirect manifestations of mental processes but most importantly their components and structure which could now be logically connected to this macro picture. At the same time we could also see another phenomenon emerging from the observation of this historical perspective; the macro time scale ‘fundamental logic of Nature’ which had been behaving in certain respects in a consistent manner through a variety of forms and species for over 14 billion years. This (phenomenon) reinforced our reasoning in attributing continuation of the same fundamental process to the emergence of mental processes as a phenomenon in Nature. Now we could locate the mental processes within it. Not just as an item but as an integrated part and process of that macro reality without any break or violation of that uniformity of logic and process. At this stage when we are looking at this macro reality as a phenomenon in itself we might be tempted to view it in terms of macro space and time. This would be an error we must avoid. Because both these concepts of time and space are not factual but only idea realities which exist in the form of a priori concepts. They are both just tools of measurement and should be seen as such. It is only when we have removed these arbitrary impositions of time and space from our view of Nature that we will be able to see how it actually exists and functions in the form of processes, which in turn are a product of and operate in terms of the logic of their constituents. As a result, we will begin to see a process of reasoning and logic which applies to a very large number of processes including our mental processes.  With this we have an intellectual or a kind of verified reasoning framework (if not verified observations) within which we can begin to examine and understand mental processes. Once we have this framework then facts do not present the same problem as they do in its absence. Without it we are actually at sea and can neither control the direction of the boat nor of the waves and the wind. But with the availability of this firm framework we have some roots of understanding mental phenomena without direct cognition. Then we can begin to hypothesize on a stronger basis and go back to focusing repeatedly upon the better known connection between our biological and mental processes. At this stage we will also be developing our hypotheses through inputs from Brain Sciences. And afterwards proceed to check them by setting up specific experiments within ourselves and with each other. We would then be in a much better position to design experiments for verification and see whether these hypotheses are predictable and repeatable or not. By now our work of trying to understand mental processes would have reached a far more advanced level. 

 

The above is the method and process through which man, over millennia, has in fact progressed from theories based upon idea realities and their very early premature (and at times distorted) forms, to verified scientific theories based upon factual realities. Hitherto this progression took thousands of years. But today in the case of mental processes due to exponential development (specifically in the last fifty years) of technologies, Computer Sciences, Biological Sciences, Brain and Mind Sciences, Astrophysics and Particle Physics, we can move much faster from idea based reality to fact based reality than ever before. The task at hand is to continue bridging the gap between these two realities through the above elaborated method of inquiry. 

                                                        

Notes

i.  These indirect manifestations indicate to us a source from which they arise.