[ETA: The OMG TOO LONG I don’t know if I wanna read all that teaser: I have said before it’s impossible to deny the value of the external physical world theory. In one sense it’s true – we have made a lot of scientific progress under that model. However, in comparison to what MRT could have provided and prevented, the overall effect has been disastrous, not just for science, but for the human condition as well.]
External physical world theory is the theory that an objective, physical world exists external of mind that causes a set of subjective personal experiences, thus explaining the difference between experiences we have in common with other people, and experiences that others don’t appear to have access to
For example, difference between the table we experience as we sit together for dinner, and the individual thoughts we have while we eat.
The core of this theory is, or rather was, the existence of matter with innate characteristics which trigger physical states in our bodies to change, which is then translated somehow into mental experience that correlated to a large degree with the same process and experience going on in other people.
This theory is a model used to explain the characteristics of a certain category of mental experience. The success of the theory depends on defining the difference between which experiences are caused by the external physical world, and which are not, as those which are transpersonal – either universally or nearly so, then defining that which does not meet that standard as “not part of the external physical world.”
So, the standard of which mental experiences are considered to be caused by the external physical world is set by deliberately choosing a certain set of mental experiences, with this specific quality, and categorizing them under the “external physical world” label.
This categorization process doesn’t make any experience under that label any less of a mental experience; it merely labels those mental experiences as having an external physical cause. If an experience has all of the same qualities as any other experience in that category (acuity, physicalness, duration, continuity, etc.) except that it is not experienced by other people, or even if it is only experienced by a small group of people, it doesn’t make it into that category and is placed in other categories, such as a delusion or a spiritual experience – or we assume someone is mistaken or lying.
The theory thus defends itself by dismissing all experiences not shared almost universally as “not caused by the external physical world” – or, at least, as some faulty processing of that incoming information, or dishonesty.
The fact that “an external, physical world” is a model meant to describe aspects of mental experience was either never realized, or people lost sight of it long ago. In any event, the model was mistaken for the thing. We either didn’t realize or forgot that what we were necessarily observing, investigating, researching and conducting experiments on the whole time were mental experiential phenomena, not an actual “external, physical world.”
We have a habit of reifying models and concepts to the point of mistaking models for the things themselves.
Take “gravity” for example. Gravity is a model of the behavioral patterns of experiential phenomena, but we mistake it for the thing causing the behavior. We say, “gravity causes X,” but gravity does not and can not cause anything. Gravity is a pattern of behaviors; it is not what is causing the behaviors. The same is true of all things we call “energy,” “forces” and “physical laws.” These are all models and measurements of the behavior of experiential phenomena. Period. Full stop.
“Matter” is also a theoretical concept. We have examined experiential phenomena high and low and have found no “matter” underneath the experience of physicality. There is no matter there. There is no “energy.” There are only patterns in our experiences that we measure, model, and find mathematical equations that describe these patterns.
In quantum physics research, we have found that the essential aspect of our existence is information. Not matter. Not even energy (which is just a reified model anyway). Quantum waves of probability are not waves of “energy” or “matter,” it is algorithmically extending information. There is no ‘matter” or “energy” upon which that information is written or that it is riding outwards on in a wave.
So, what are we actually describing with the scientific process and models, measurements and mathematical equations? What are we investigating the behavior of?
Obviously, we are investigating the behavior of a certain category of mental experiences that meet the essential criteria of being shared with the largest number of people around us. That is literally all we can possibly be investigating, even if we have mistaken an ERT model for the thing. We can’t gather evidence from any external, physical world; we can only gather the evidence entirely housed in our mental experiences.
So, we have mistaken models of the behavior of sets of mental experiences for models of an actual external world because we forgot or didn’t realize “external physical world” was just a label for that set of mental experiences. We convinced ourselves that we were actually investigating a world external of mind when that is literally impossible even in principle.
So, “external physical world,” “matter,” and “energy” are reified models of the behavior of mental experiences.
What does it mean when we say something “exists?” Does the statement, “something exists outside of mind” make any sense? Essentially, we are saying that something we have absolutely no possible access to exists. The models exist – in mind. Imagining such a thing exists – in mind.
Does such an assertion, and belief in it, have any value?
Some might argue that the premise has value in that it led to scientific discoveries and progress. Does that argument have any merit? I suggest the opposite; that this mistaken premise, based on the reification of a model and losing sight of what the model necessarily, actually refers to, can only hinder scientific discovery and progress. And, I argue, it causes much more harm than that.
Whatever model we are operating under, we are still scientifically investigating the same thing: mental experiences. Regardless of what you call what you are doing, you’re still researching, measuring, and modeling mental experiences, or a specific category of mental experiences.
Only, under external, physical world theory, your scientific research is conceptually restricted to only that mental phenomena which meets a very strict criteria, and it can only go so far as the conceptual limits of that theory allow. It interprets the evidence according to that theory and resists evidence that indicates the theory is fundamentally incomplete, or inaccurate.
Perhaps worse, “external physical reality theory” allows for the descent into materialism, which is a scientific, philosophical, moral, ethical, and political disaster.
So, ERT (external physical reality theory) does not provide any positive value or unique pathway to scientific progress because MRT necessarily offers everything ERT offered simply under a different label (category of shared mental experiences), plus access to all other mental phenomena for scientific research and it is not restricted to the highly limited ERT model.
MRT could not have led to materialism. It offers far more potential. It would not have resisted the results of quantum physics research. We would not have mistakenly reified behavioral models. We would have premised from the start that consciousness is an essential aspect of all experiential phenomena. Information would have been at the heart of our research from or near the beginning.
We can see now that scientific theory, research and progress has been hampered up to this point by a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is we are necessarily investigating. This misunderstanding is due to the models of mental experience being reified as things existing independent of mental experience. This misunderstanding has led to the dismissal and suppression of research into other mental experiences, such as remote viewing, psi, telekinesis, telepathy, astral projection, the afterlife, NDEs, etc.
Such a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of what it is we are investigating can only have a deleterious effect on scientific research and progress.
Because it frames our sense of “reality” in terms of a physical world and minimizes or even dismisses our essential internal, mental nature with the imprimatur of “scientific fact,” it can only cause harm to the human condition.
External physical world theory can only be said to have been a total disaster by sending science totally off-track from the beginning, delaying the recognition of fundamental aspects of reality for hundreds of years until it exhausted all “physical reality” possibilities. It is even now attempting to cling to some version of “external reality” even after being forced to abandon the “physical” aspect of the theory, even while the evidence mounts that what we are actually experiencing is completely produced by the conscious observer’s attention on what can only be described as information.
But, even worse, ERT is responsible for an enormous amount of human suffering. KF argues that materialism led to philosophies that caused the death of hundreds of millions and incalculable human suffering; historically speaking, he’s right about that. But materialism didn’t pop into existence out of thin air. External physical world theory birthed materialism. Materialism would not have existed without it.
TL;DR: misapprehending the nature of what we are actually scientifically investigating – mental experience – and transferring the imprimatur of “objective reality” on a hypothetical physical world independent of mind can only have had a deleterious effect on scientific investigation and the human condition. Additionally, it not only opened the door for materialism and all of the disastrous consequences that perspective has wrought on humanity, external physical world theory directly birthed materialism. No such philosophy could have come from MRT.