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Nonphysical things

  1. Aug 25, 2013 #1
    Does a spiritual, mental, emotional and abstract plane of existence exist in addition to the physical plane of existence, or is everything physical?
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 25, 2013 #2


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    Just do not let this get philosophical. It's all tied to the physical, as in the brain.
  4. Aug 25, 2013 #3
    You can experience things that aren't physical, e.g. dreaming about being on a beach under the Sun. The beach isn't real neither is the Sun in your dream, but you experienced it.

    Everything is relative for Pete's sake. Physical is a word that we use to describe the temporal state of things. Saying everything is physical is ignorance.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  5. Aug 26, 2013 #4
    Your question really isn't meaningful, because you haven't defined what you mean by 'physical'.

    If, by physical, you're referring to the existence of an objective reality - then the answer to your question is probably no. Quantum mechanics seems to suggest that there is no objective reality, and that there do indeed exist things, but which can't be measured.

    For example, when a system is some quantum superposition, both of the possibilities are equally "real", but when you go to measure the system, only one outcome is possible - however that doesn't mean the other outcome didn't exist...

    Additionally, there's the whole EPR paradox, and Einstein's major objection to quantum mechanics was this implication of no objective reality.

    Now, if by physical you mean "something which can be measured", then I would still say the answer is no. Look at mathematical truths, which have yet to be proven or discovered. The fact that [itex] a^2 + b^2 = c^2 [/itex] for a right triangle was always true (in Euclidean space), long before human beings even existed - so in some sense, that truth must have "existed", we just weren't aware of it.
  6. Aug 26, 2013 #5
    I think he was talking voodoo, mate.:tongue:
  7. Aug 26, 2013 #6
    Any questions of existence IMO are meaningless.
  8. Aug 26, 2013 #7
    Yes and questions of uniqueness are kind irrelevant also.:tongue2:
  9. Aug 27, 2013 #8
    "Spiritual", mental, and emotional experiences all take place on the physical plane. All three are neurological/physiological experiences. A "spiritual" experience might be anything from an unexplained sense of well being to a full blown hallucination of heaven or hell, but that experience is being generated by the activity of real, physical neurons, as are mental and emotional experiences. No neurons, no experience. (Well, I shouldn't speak for jellyfish, so, more broadly, no physical existence, no experiences.)
  10. Aug 29, 2013 #9
    I'd say that's a consequence of the definitions of the Euclidean space's objects. And what makes it true in the real world, it's the fact that the real space can be approximated to an Euclidean space in some conditions. It's not a truth that lies in the Platonic World, it's just a (non immediately obvious) consequence of what we defined mathematically.
  11. Aug 29, 2013 #10

    jim hardy

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    What is it that you call the physical plane?
    Electromagnetic? Atoms and waves and things?
    That's about all we are equipped to measure today.

    I guess that's why they call your other plane 'meta-' physical, ie beyond physical..
    Is anything out there?
    Who knows ?

    Pauli and Jung discussed it but so far as I know never produced anything measurable with physical instruments.

    old jim
  12. Aug 31, 2013 #11


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    It's beyond the mission of science - which is the study of objective experience. Does that mean the metaphysical is unreal - no, merely unscientific.
  13. Sep 2, 2013 #12
    Sorry I'm under doctor's orders not to discuss metaphysics
  14. Sep 5, 2013 #13
    I'd say it really depends more on what you mean by "everything". I mean, consider concrete. I think we'd agree that concrete is physically real. What about the word "concrete"? The word "concrete" is more like an idea, which you'd probably either consider to be a non-physical entity, or a sort of collective configuration of physical neurons in people's brains.

    A better example might be whether or not tomorrow has a physical or non-physical existence. I suppose one might argue that the future does not (yet) exist, physically or non-physically, and that the idea of tomorrow is either physical or non-physical as above. Ditto for the past. The difficulty with dismissing tomorrow and yesterday as possible examples of things you and I'd agree exist but which aren't physical is that we can reduce the time span until, in the limit, nothing exists at all, as the present is really sort of a hazily-defined fiction that our brains construct from (outdated) information. Then again, physical existence might just sort of be a condition we ascribe to things that, in the limit, exist in the observed past and expected future as the interval of time vanishes.

    If everything has a physical existence, and something exists, this implies that physical existence has physical existence. If physical existence, an idea, exists as a collective configuration of physical neurons in people's brains, which seems to be the only option, then when we say other things have a physical existence, we're really just saying that they exist in a state such that the collective configuration of neurons in people's brains ascribe the attribute of physical existence to them, through linkages between neurons. Maybe I'm making an error here, but it seems like the given assumptions lead to the conclusion that things physically exist because we agree they do.

    (Either that, or nothing has a physical existence, in which case anybody who claims that something physically exists is doing so in error. But if nothing has a physical existence, and nothing is a collective configuration of physical neurons in people's brains...)
  15. Sep 5, 2013 #14


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    Before we slide into the black hole of philosophy, thread closed.
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