Mental experience as intentional inexistence

Every mental phenomenon is characterized by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (or mental) inexistence of an object, and what we might call, though not wholly unambiguously, reference to a content, direction towards an object (which is not to be understood here as meaning a thing), or immanent objectivity. Every mental phenomenon includes something as object within itself, although they do not all do so in the same way. In presentation something is presented, in judgement something is affirmed or denied, in love loved, in hate hated, in desire desired and so on. This intentional in-existence is characteristic exclusively of mental phenomena. No physical phenomenon exhibits anything like it. We could, therefore, define mental phenomena by saying that they are those phenomena which contain an object intentionally within themselves.

— Franz Brentano, Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, edited by Linda L. McAlister (London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 88–89.


Schizophrenia diseases the body and the mind all at once.


Breathing and attention to the breath have measurable impacts on the norepinephrine levels in our brains.

Theory of Mind and Thinking About Being Thought About

Theory of mind seeks to describe the narratives we create to explain our own behavior and to predict the intentions and actions of others. This hypothetical neurosis may account for the majority of the mental activity in very self-conscious individuals, but I doubt it consumes the minds of the highly conscious.

If our modern-day theory of mind revolves around the self as separate from others, if it holds as a premise that our minds derive from separate beings, we face a craggy uphill climb to bliss and unity.

Mind-Brain Delay

Readiness potential is a measure of the activity in the motor cortex and supplementary motor area of the brain leading up to voluntary muscle movement. The cerebral cortex, where the mind is thought to reside by many of our leading neuroscientists, becomes aware of the pending movement about half a second after the impulse in the motor cortex. We could interpret that to mean that the physiological mind is not driving the decision to move, but rather observing it.

So where does the impulse come from?

If this movement is intentionalβ€”based a choice within the set of possibilities available to an actor with free willβ€”then the decision is made in the quantum domain of possibilities, and then actualized here in the manifest domain as an electrical impulse in the motor cortex of the brain.

Your mind, if you are a typical modern Westerner like me, observes your thoughts, feelings, ego (desires, fears, expectations), your predictions of the minds of others, and your perception of your body and the environment around it. It weaves these qualia into a running subjective narrative and streams it live to your consciousness in exchange for the attention you are paying. Your consciousness maintains the ability to set intentions and direct attention inward and outward, and can do so at any moment in the narrative it receives from your mind.

Benjamin Libet, who performed the early experiments that demonstrated readiness potential, explained the presence of a non-physical, unobservable, conscious mental field that monitored brain activities and collected their disparate signals into a coherent experience of the body to which will/intent can be applied to compel conscious action or the manifestion of intentions. The CMF works backward in time, which accounts for the half-second delay between sensory detection and conscious awareness, or between transmitted intention and final conscious execution of that instruction. This behavior lends itself to easily to explanation as latency in transmission between a remote pilot (consciousness) and a drone (the body and its brain as the antenna receiving the signal). Or we could view consciousness as acting backward in time, triggering the readiness potential with the same transmission delay in either temporal direction.


Alan Watts says, "Ego, the self we have believed ourselves to be, is nothing but a pattern of habits." Self-referent behavior activates the nucleus accumbens which is a downstream pathway that receives dopamine from the ventral tegmental area. It also activates the posterior cerebral cortex linking dopamine rewards to that experience of the self.


Unstuck in time and unbound in space

Surely not in my head, swimming in my brain as we like to say. Sure no one has been shown to think or feel or compute or conjugate without their head, but does that logically require that my mind in its entirety resides within my lumpy skull?

I think not. I'll give you 100 to 1 odds my mind is not wholly housed within my brain, and neither is yours.

My mind can time travel, for instance, while my head remains right here, right now. I can project myself deep into my past, hop erratically from moment to moment, and zip into any number of possible futures slaloming around potential choices and playing out conversations, negotiations, and imaginations in any whimsical order as I go.

My personal experience aside, our devout materialist neuroscientists would have you believe (but have utterly failed to explain or prove) that the mind and its faculties are located somewhere specifically in the brain. Quite to the contrary, the best they have been able to offer us is a resonant model of electrical signals measurable with an EEG but indecipherable to anyone including the brain owner being monitored.