Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Dimensional Metaphysics

Originally posted on March 28, 2008

This is a short essay on the plausibility of considering mind to be a dimension, a category of actuality that interpenetrates with all the other dimensions of time, space, matter and energy.

In the last two centuries we have discovered the existence of realms of existence that we hadn’t known about before, that are not included in traditional theologies or spiritual traditions: The macro-universe of billions of galaxies; the micro-universe of cells, viruses, atoms, and sub-atomic particles; the frontiers of unknowing regarding dark matter, dark energy, quarks, and other hypothesized phenomena; the electromagnetic spectrum; and so forth. I think it prideful and presumptuous to assume that we will not continue to discover paradigm-challenging aspects of reality, but while we may anticipate what they might be, it would be folly to think we “know” and more, to think we can predict what the implications of those new discoveries will be!

When Einstein suggested that we think of time as a dimension (a “fourth” dimension), he changed its essential meaning from a way of thinking about our familiar three-dimensional space (i.e., height, width, and depth) to meaning a category of existence that interpenetrates with all other categories. When Einstein further made the E=MC2 equation, he also implied at least two other “dimensions”— energy and mass. Time, space, mass, energy— might there be yet more?

So I want to suggest this idea: The cosmos includes not only three dimensions of space moving through a “fourth” dimension of time, but in addition to space-time, there may be several other dimensions. Indeed, perhaps there is even more yet to be discovered about mass and energy!

One of these dimensions, I suggest, is that of mind. It is one of the most pervasive and obvious phenomena in the world. A number of those who think about quantum physics have come to the idea that how we think about, test, evaluate our measurements of quantum phenomena affects not just our results, but actually in part determines the outcome. Such ideas seem to me to reflect a trend within “hard science” to recognizing the existence of mind as a vital aspect of “objective” reality. I think science is getting ready to entertain the idea that mind is also a dimension, or perhaps several dimensions.

I’ll assert boldly: Mind is! It must be accounted for in a full philosophy, even though at this point we cannot begin to grasp or comprehend all of its depths and manifestations. Indeed, our knowing that we are may be more fundamental than whatever we think about what we consider to be “hard” reality, objective truth, “out there-ness” irrespective of our thoughts or feelings. Yet many scientists dismiss it.

Admittedly, if you can’t measure or register it, replicate the phenomenon, it becomes difficult to say anything meaningful about it, or anything with certainty. Yet we must always differentiate between the impossible and the merely very difficult. Because science cannot at present sense or measure mind to any great degree, that hardly leads to the conclusion that mind doesn’t exist, or that mind doesn’t exist beyond ordinary consciousness, or that mind doesn’t exist apart from separate brains. (We should not blandly assume that brains are computer-transmitters; it might be equally plausible that brains are receiver-antennae. What brains receive and process may be the influence of “higher mind” on and through it. As an analogy, our cells and tissues may receive nerve and hormonal messages from the higher organism that they can only appreciate and implement within the range of their own responses.)

At present, this idea that mind may be a dimension seems far-fetched, but that is because we live in a dominant world-view that hardly believes in mind beyond (1) the mind of the separate individual and (2) the mind of God—and perhaps some subsidiary spirits, such as Jesus, Mary, and some saints and angels. Consider that mind might exist independently of particular bodies, and possibly at multiple levels of more complex organization (just like our bodies exist at the levels of atoms, molecules, cells, tissue, organs, systems, and organism). Go a little further and then consider that mind as a phenomenon may be as complex and multifaceted as energy (there are many types of energy, remember), and that mind might be yet another dimension!

Freud and some others around the late 19th and early 20th centuries have suggested the existence of an “un-conscious” dimension of mind that is profoundly influential, and since then a number of people have sought to map the elements in this domain and note how they interact. Others have noted the inter-personal nature of the mind, how it doesn’t operate as a solitary computer-transmitter, but rather is inextricably embedded in a complex matrix of minds. Jung opened the door to spiritual and psychic frontiers, and his writings hint at different levels within the so-called “un-conscious” domain. The integration of Eastern psycho-spiritual traditions opens other doors to other “levels” of mind, and research into psychedelic phenomena, shamanism, dreams, and other aspects of mind further elaborate the complexity of the mind field.

Yet the increasing complexity be found in the domain of mind may be no more odd than the way we seem to find increasing complexity in all other frontiers—in biology, ecology, animal behavior, cell biology, embryology, astronomy, astrophysics, sub-atomic physics, and so forth.

Related to mind but also independent of individual minds are other categories:
– Mathematics—the amazing regularity of the relations in and among the elements in seemingly insentient phenomena;
– Vibratory harmonics—the way that much of the cosmos is moving in space in a vibratory fashion, back and forth, in and out, with various rhythms from the incredibly fast to the incredibly slow (and that these movements often harmonize with mathematical regularities—and more, such harmonies, when expressed as sound, register in mind as “music”!)
– Mass in Time, Space, Energy tends to move towards more complex organizational states, in spite of the seeming “Law” of entropy—the tendency of things to die, scatter, disintegrate, melt-down. This tendency was noted by the mystic-philosopher-paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin in the 1930s.
– Entities seem also to exhibit creativity, sensitivity to others, feelings, and so forth. (This tendency was noted by the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead and others, in the late 1920s.)
(What other dimensions might you want to suggest?)


That mind may be a dimension as fundamental as space and time is new only in that it brings an ancient idea into the language of modern science (i.e., the term, dimension.) Traditionally, mind has been an inextricable aspect of the workings of the cosmos—but such ideas were so encrusted with superstition, occultism, and other dogmatic ideas that they were all dismissed as folly in light of the more evidence-based and rationalized new religion of “scient-ism.” (Scient-ism is the term for the tendency to think that science has all the answers, or could theoretically provide those answers—answers about meaning, morality, excitement, love, understanding, etc. It is a type of folly because it tries to apply a small part and a methodology of a small part in order to apprehend the whole. It is like the proverbial blind man who thinks that by apprehending the skin of the elephant, and (in this modern example) doing an exhaustive analysis of the skin, that conclusions could be appropriately drawn as to the nature of the whole elephant. It is painfully reductionistic in this regard. Science, on the other hand, can be humble and allow itself to be a very useful tool, but one that, like other tools and sets of tools, recognizes its appropriate applications and limitations.)

The implications of all this is that we open to the many frontiers that are exploring the nature of consciousness (in its broadest sense), as exemplified by, for example, the many different activities of the Institute of Noetic Science; the different kinds of articles in the Journal of Consciousness Studies; and so forth.  Enough for now, your comments are welcome.

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