A Classification of the Theories of Thinking Matter

Y. B. Karasik
Thought Guiding Systems Corp.,
Ottawa, Canada.
e-mail:karasik@sympatico.ca

The previous issue of the journal passingly touched upon the topic of thinking and not thinking matter. The topic is not new to philosophy which has already accumulated various views on differences between the two. In this regard it would be interesting to classify these points of view, as well as to track the patterns of their evolution.

Analysis of the philosphical literature reveals that there are five different theories of thinking matter:

  1. The first theory acknowledges the existence of both thinking and not thinking matters. Moreover, the thinking matter is believed to be not reducible to the not thinking one. This theory is shared by creationists, Intelligent Design, etc.

  2. There are variations of this theory according to which God (or Omnipotency) can superadd a faculty of thinking to any matter. And that the faculty of thinking exists on its own and does not need to be associated with matter at all.

    In other words, the matter is always not thinking per se. The faculty of thinking is something not material. It can be added to any matter by God. (John Locke was the proponent of this point of view.)

  3. The third theory postulates that the phenomenon of thinking is explainable by the laws of physics, chemistry, etc. That thinking matter can be built of not thinking one. That there is no thinking but mechanics (or computation). This is mechanistic and materialistic point of view.

  4. The fourth theory resolves the contradiction between the last two by postulating that any matter thinks. Not only "living" matter but even "stones" think ! That there is no not thinking matter. (Dave Scot wrote a humoruous note about this concept: "I dont bother reading further when I encounter statements like those... I hope I havent offended any rocks in so doing.")

    Although there was no philosopher that put it precisely this way, Spinoza wrote something similar:

    (Hopefully Spinoza the rock would not be offended by Dave Scot's comment.)

  5. The fifth theory extends the previous one. It adds the inversion of the postulate of the third theory that there is no thinking but physics. It claims that vise versa there is no physics but thinking. That not thinking is explainable by the laws of physics, chemistry, etc. but vise versa, the laws of physics are derivable from the laws of thinking ! (Chiefly from the laws of productive thinking rather than from the laws of reproductive thinking such as logics, etc.)

    The laws of productive/creative thinking are all but the laws of systems evolution. The laws of physics are the degenerate cases of the laws of evolution. This point of view was presented in "TRIZ and Darwinism" article last month.