Contemplating so-called "physical" effects vs non-physical

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Here's a little contemplative exercise which I think may be helpful for those of you who are currently materialistic in your outlook (meaning, you believe in some objective reality, unbending rules of physics, a universe that exist outside your mind, the whole shebang), but who are either leaning toward or are curious about a less materialistic outlook.


This is a personal, intimate exercise, so purely intellectual analysis is not interesting or useful here.


First produce what you consider a physical effect. For example, maybe move your arm around for a bit. And pay attention to how everything feels. An arm is something that follows laws of physics according to convention. So for example, you cannot accelerate your arm faster than the speed of light, and you must overcome inertia of the arm to move it, and you have to resist the pull of gravity, and so on. This is why we might say an arm is a physical object. Paying huge amount of careful attention, in a calm, cool and collected contemplative frame of mind, move your arm about feeling everything as carefully as possible. Or perform something else that you consider to be a physical effect, like maybe tense up your tongue or something, the idea is the same.


Second, produce what you might consider a non-physical effect. Most of the committed materialists rail against fantasy and magical thinking. So that means materialists would consider something like daydreaming or fantasizing to be a non-physical effect. It's private and cannot be observed by others, where if a third party were to tap the brain, even brain waves are not the same thing as the qualities of your fantasies... so if you imagine a juicy apple, there are no juicy brainwaves, they're just numerical frequencies, and juiciness of an imaginary apple is a private quality that's not possible to experience for an outsider first hand. Also imaginary apples do not abide by rules of physics. They don't need to resist gravity. They can move around faster than light, and so on. Because objects of imagination do not have to follow rules of physics, we can consider them non-physical effects. As well we can consider them purely subjective effects vs moving an arm which has a subjective and a supposedly objective side to it.


So engage for a little while in producing non-physical effects and like before, pay very very careful attention to what's happening and how it is happening.


Now ask yourself some questions about the causal context which gives rise to these effects!


So possible considerations might be:


Am I using my brain to move my arm? (physical cause to physical effect)


Am I using my immaterial mind to move my imaginary apple around? (non-physical cause to non-physical effect)


Am I using my brain to both move my arm and move my imaginary apple? (physical cause to both physical and non-physical effects)


Am I using my immaterial mind to produce both physical and non-physical effects? (non-physical cause to both physical and non-physical effects)


When you ask these questions, please experiment and feel, don't just intellectualize. Also, the point of these questions is to investigate causal context, so there is no need to limit yourself to just these. Instead any question that is relevant to investigating causal context should be investigated.


Now ask yourself some follow ups:


If you think that the cause is physical, ask yourself what physical parameters it has, and then how something that's bound by physical parameters can produce effects that are not bound by physical parameters. Don't just intellectualize. Move that imaginary apple around as you contemplate. Feel it, don't just think it.


And ask yourself other questions in similar manner.


Ask yourself if there is one causal context or two or some other arrangement. On what grounds would you think so? Again, don't just analyze intellectually. Move your arm around and move your imaginary apple around to feel everything first hand.


If you think there are multiple separate contexts, is there something that unifies them? Can you move from one context to another deliberately if you think there are numerous contexts? Again, feel this out, don't just intellectualize.


The point of this exercise is exploration and familiarization.

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