Within this website I explore whether there is a spiritual realm, a supernatural realm, containing God, mind, souls, consciousness with its contents (ideas, emotions, love, reason, etc) — this, from a purely philosophical and unreligious point of view.
In this article, I first assume there is a spiritual realm so as to explore the implications; then I present my conclusions elsewhere.
The signal flow in a neuron:
cell body (soma) -->
axion terminal (terminal button) -->
neuron or gland or muscle
The connectome (neural network) of the brain:
I couldn't go outside for a couple of weeks because of the smoke from the wildfires, and so my usual patterns of sitting in such and such a chair (the one I am sitting in now as I write this) and playing the usual games with my dogs; these were interrupted. As I would sit here in the past, before the fires and smoke, observing the familiar forest around me, there was a certain subjective feeling that went along with it, a "feeling of being".
But now, these subjective feelings have vanished and it's as if I'm sitting here for the first time. Like when you visit a strange cold dark new city for the first time, disoriented and lost and alone.
So here's what I think is happening:
Assume that memories are movements of electrons traversing through patterns of locations in the neural network of the brain. As they flow through the connections of axon terminals to dendrites of neighboring neurons, a certain electrostatic field is generated which triggers the memory (in the spiritual realm). With regular use, the connections remain. But with disuse, the connections begin to change and some even vanish. The memories fade and need to be reconstituted, but this time they are different somewhat, generating new subjective feelings, a new "feeling of being".
As a non-theist materialist, I must conclude and assume that consciousness exists within reality, within the universe, as a "thing" in is own right, similar to the manner in which energy, entropy, information, and time (for example) are "things" in their own right. (I realize that energy and entropy have been observed and measured, but that there is no way known to measure consciousness.)
As we move through life and time, our subjective feelings are continually changing, and we are continually adapting. The problem is: when we cling tightly to the specific subjective feelings we are familiar with — we must gracefully let them fade.
All things must pass, all things must pass away. (George Harrison)
I foolishly purchased a package of snack bars which turned out to have a lot of sugar. And I am foolishly eating many of them per day instead of limiting to one every few days. The difference in my mental functioning is very noticeable.
My mind is racing with ideas and thoughts. This is a familiar feeling since for most of my life I ate too much sugar.
It's odd that a physical chemical can have such a big effect on the mind. It's easy to understand how materialist/physicalist atheistic scientists can assume that the subjective experience of consciousness and its contents are physical, not outside the physical realm in a spiritual realm.
Reminds me of stories of people who have had various kinds of brain damage and how their conscious experience and their behavior changes.
I just had a delicious grilled cheese sandwich. When I was done, I wanted another one. I didn't just want some more nutrients, but, rather, I specifically wanted a grilled cheese sandwich, just like the one I just had.
Weird that a grilled cheese sandwich interacts with your mind and brain, inserting itself like a virus. The desire system of the mind gets hijacked specifically by the craving for a grilled cheese sandwich.
And once when I was fasting, I had cravings for various specific foods which I ate just the day before. I can imagine someone starving desiring a milk shake or hamburger or whatever, even though they merely need nutrients or they will soon die.
How can the brain generate the various kinds of conscious experiences that are so different and distinct? For example: the mental map in 3-D of our surroundings, emotions, awe, pain, and on and on. So many different distinct kinds of conscious feelings and perceptions. How could they all originate from neural network circuits in the brain?
As long as we allow that the universe provides for whatever it is that conscious experience is, there is no need to assume the existence of a spiritual realm.
I chanced upon an article about some volunteers who took LSD and had their brains scanned. Certain parts of the brain were over-stimulated explaining the effects of LSD. I was thinking the whole time that, why is it a good thing to alter your brain functioning like this?
This article offered the hope that such changes to the brain were good in some way, perhaps spiritually valuable, perhaps allowing you to discover some significant truth about reality, improving your life and functioning. This seems misguided. Maybe there would be some benefit for specific brain disorders, but that is the limit of the benefit.
During wakefulness, the brain interaction of each neuron at the biochemical level releases various molecules and consumes other molecules. The flow of blood restores the balance of molecules, but this takes time. Over the day, undesired molecules linger and affect the brain's functioning. The sleep period provides time for the blood to reestablish the proper concentrations of the various molecules.
I'm not proposing that this is the only purpose of sleep.