-1
$\begingroup$

We think anything as real if we can perceive it through our senses. But I think generally speaking, anything is real if it occupies space (ie familiar 3D world/space)& have a 2 way to & fro interaction between it & us. So the latter definition excludes things in the past & future that were or will be real. So what about our thoughts or the mind? Mind is the arena where we have thoughts. The thoughts we have in our mind can be visual/tactile/auditory /olfactory/gustatory, etc. For instance, we can reproduce an image of a real world object in our mind. We know that the imagery is in our mind & not in the real world, though there is an exact replica in the real world. These imageries can be static or dynamic according to we wish. I mean we can even run a movie in our mind in such a way that's virtually indistinguishable from reality. Just think about dreams. Sometimes after waking up, we think the events that occurred in our dreams really did occur. The complicated biological processes happening in our brain cells create what you call as thought. These biological processes can be thought of as an information or information changes. This information hence definitely occupy space. They occupy space in our brain cells. But where does the imagery or the virtual 3-D hologram itself that this information produces exist? For sure this imagery doesn't exist in our familiar 3 dimensions.If it did,it would be real as any other real object. But we know our mental imageries are 3-D.So why I believe these visual thoughts has to occupy some dimension or space? Because we experience it.Experience is mediated through interaction by some signal.Signal can travel through some medium only. By medium I mean space or higher dimensions; not a physical matter substance. So I think even though on how to produce an imagery in the mind is encoded as information in our brain cells, the information about the imagery itself has to geometrically occupy space & time. That space maybe the higher dimensions. Thats why even though we don't feel these visual thoughts to be real, it appears as if they are real.In short I think they aren't real because of my definition I believe of whats real (anything real should occupy our familiar 3D space & have 2 way to & fro interaction). So in short this is what I want to know- is there any evidence in neuroscience that suggests visual thoughts (possibly auditory,tactile,etc) or some aspects of the mind occupy higher dimensions? (Maybe something anomalous that suggests leakage of energy or info)

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Are you at all interested in a neuroscientific perspective of perception, or is this more of a philosophical question? I can migrate your question to Philosophy.SE in case it is the latter. Either way, you will have to structure your thoughts a bit better and try to stick to one question at a time. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Oct 25 at 22:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ “We define anything as real if we can perceive it through our senses.” No, that’s not the way scientists define what is real (in the sense that it does exist). For example, we cannot perceive the weak force, the strong force, many subatomic particles (neutrinos, muons, quarks, etc.), etc. through our senses, but we define them as real entities. The discipline that studies what is real is called ontology. I don’t think we have space to discuss it in detail here. Practically, one can say that something is real (does exist) if that thing has specific properties that are consistent and testable. $\endgroup$ – user287279 Oct 26 at 7:36
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Stack Exchange has a general rule (which you can learn by having a look at the faq) that you should stick to a question in your question. Somewhere around "For sure this imagery doesn't exist ..." you start answering your own question. Therefore, for starters, I suggest you remove everything after that. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Oct 26 at 15:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In addition, on this site, we also expect you to reference prior research for claims upon which your question is based. So spinning off new questions on previously unanswered ones is also problematic. Right off the bat, you state: "generally speaking, anything is real if it occupies space". This is a very philosophical stance to which a whole branch of philosophy is dedicated: epistemology. But, it is not framed in psychology or neuroscience. I still think this is better off on phil.SE. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Oct 26 at 15:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @CuriousMind9 "is there any evidence in neuroscience that suggests ... some aspects of the mind occupy higher dimensions?" No. Higher dimensions are not studied in any cognitive science. Additional dimensions have been proposed in several prominent theories in physics (eg, string theory), but no evidence is available as of yet. Does that answer your question? $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Oct 26 at 21:42
1
$\begingroup$

As pointed out in the comments, there are many different questions in your post, and it lacks a clear focus and structure, plus you introduce many assumptions that I think are incorrect (e.g., the definition of real is not "what we can perceive through our senses").

Having said that, and to cut to the chase, the answer is: yes, our thoughts are real. You seem to accept that thoughts are a sort of information, so thoughts are real to the extend that information is real.

According to Steven Pinker in How The Mind Works (I think it's an excellent book to read for the kind of questions you have), the mind is what the brain does, which includes our thoughts, and it is, essentially, information/logic/processes that arise from the physical structure and physical properties of the brain.

In that sense, you can draw an analogy to a silicon-based computer and the software that's on it (which is physically rooted in the arrangement of electrons in the computer's hardware). Just like a silicon computer, our mind uses symbols to represent the physical world, and these symbolic processes (which are not yet well understood) can also allow the representation of things that don't exist in the physical world.

To use an example from the silicon-computer analogy, think of a video game like World of Warcraft or The Legend of Zelda: the whole game is fully rooted in the physical world (the structure of the hardware, the arrangement of electrons on the circuits, indentations on an optical disk etc.), but the game itself (the software) is the information that is encoded in the physical systems. Furthermore, the game can represent a completely unrealistic world (one could say "imaginary", but that word is closely related to what we're trying to understand, so it's best to leave it out of the explanation). But you could never claim that the software, the game itself, is not real.

In that sense, I would say that thoughts are real, even though they may represent things that are not.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ @Ratler- As you said the game is produced from the electronic circuits,etc ie its rooted in the physical world. What we refer to when we say 'game itself'? I think its the visual changes on the screen. But if you think deeper, even that occupy a space. Its basically photons(particles of light) hitting a fluorescent screen & causing a dynamic pattern. When this pattern changes over time it gives us a sense of movie or game. So the visual changes occupy space on the screen. So its not analogous to visual thoughts we have in our mind. Because 'where' does latter exist? No where physically! $\endgroup$ – CuriousMind9 Oct 26 at 5:38
  • $\begingroup$ ..and so the game itself is real (as it occupies space on the screen).But the imagery it produces in our mind,is that real? That's the issue I am talking about! It exists in our 'mind' which itself in turn has no 'physical' existence or doesn't occupy space. I mean you cant point here or there & show that 'this is my mind'. So if something has no physical existence how can we say its real? $\endgroup$ – CuriousMind9 Oct 26 at 5:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @CuriousMind9 No where physically? Why not in your brain? $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Oct 26 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Bryan Krause- I refer to the image per se of the object in our mind;not the information that produces the image. The image per se appears to us just like the real object.The real object occupies space. The image in our mind appears to do so but not in real world.What we have in our brain is the information in the form of dynamic arrangement of molecules that has the capability to produce the image;not the image itself.I am talking here about the image itself. $\endgroup$ – CuriousMind9 Oct 26 at 17:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @CuriousMind9 Like Steven has said, what you are talking about is strictly in the realm of philosophy. The image in your mind is that: an image in your mind. That's a real thing. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Oct 26 at 17:30

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.