Consciousness: Where Do Our Thoughts Exist?


Neuroscience has made rapid progress in the last few decades in understanding the mechanics of how the brain processes our thoughts and emotions.  For example, pioneer Richard Davidson has demonstrated that each person has emotional “types” in our brain that is analagous to the Myers-Briggs personality types based on the work of Carl Jung. [Full disclosure: I know Richard Davidson and have the deepest respect for both his scientific work and him as a person.]

While this work is fascinating and extremely worthwhile for better mental, emotional and psychological health, we have made little progress in understanding the origins of consciousness.  Materialists have argued that consciousness is merely the by-product of outputs from the brain.  I have previously argued that the brain is merely a transmitter of the mind which exists independent of the brain and the body.

An article this week in The Epoch Times talks about four non-exclusive ways of understanding the consciousness as part of the physical world:

From the article:

 Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and paleontologist, wrote of a conceptual “noosphere” in the first half of the 20th century. He predicted that at a future stage of humanity’s development a membrane containing our collective thoughts and experiences would envelope the world.

In “The Phenomenon of Man,” he wrote: “Is this not like some great body which is being born—with its limbs, its nervous system, its perceptive organs, its memory—the body in fact of that great living Thing which had to come to fulfill the ambitions aroused in the reflective being by the newly acquired consciousness?”

Many have made a connection between [Teilhard de Chardin’s] noosphere and the Internet. Could the Internet be considered a realm in which our collective consciousness exists?

Bernard Carr, a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Queen Mary University of London, says our consciousness interacts with another dimension. Albert Einstein stated that there are at least four dimensions. The fourth dimension is time, or spacetime, since Einstein said space and time cannot be separated.

Carr reasons that our physical sensors only show us a 3-dimensional universe, though there are actually at least four dimensions. What exists in the higher dimensions are entities we cannot touch with our physical sensors. He said that such entities must still have a type of space in which to exist.

Read Full Article

It is highly unlikely that humanity will ever fully understand the wonder of human consciousness during our lifetimes, but I hope to include some philosophical reflections in the upcoming weeks.

About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog ( explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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9 Responses to Consciousness: Where Do Our Thoughts Exist?

  1. Have been thinking on this a lot lately. There has been a recent study demonstrating thoughts as separate from the brain. It had been posted on The Mind Unleashed FB page, but now can’t remember the study. Fascinating stuff, eh?

    • Hi Noelle:

      Yes, the discussion of consciousness and the interaction (similar or different) between the mind and the brain is absolutely fascinating. If one believes (as I do) that the mind is distinct from the brain that has strong explanatory power for how our perceptions of reality can be distorted through our experiences and lack of spiritual development. Thanks for the heads up on The Mind Unleashed. I will try to find out more about that study.

      W. Ockham

  2. claire46 says:

    Fabulous. Thank you.

  3. Lynda says:

    So very interesting. Thank you.

  4. Lynda and Rosaliene:

    Thank you for the kind words.

    W. Ockham

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