On demand Workshop

The Experiencing Subject

Our scientific paradigm is so consolidated that it in many camps functions as a whirlpool that drags everything into it. Since presumably nothing can explain everything this leaves the door open for exploitation of the cracks between the paradigmatic world view and the reality (given that the reality cannot be explained in its totality). This creates tension that cannot be monitored from within the paradigm.

Plan B

Michael Cain’s character Professor John Brand in the movie Interstellar has a Plan A for the survival of mankind. If that doesn’t work he has a backup Plan B. Plan A is the wanted one whereas Plan B saves some astronauts and a lot of fertilized eggs.

Today we have a scientific culture that functions as our Plan A. That culture states that everything in one way or the other is physical. A recent shift in our language is the move from “my thoughts are in my mind” to “my thoughts are in my brain”. If we have thoughts and everything in the end is physical it is natural to think that one’s thoughts are in one’s brain.

In preparation for the defense of my master thesis (Gamper 2019) I played with an application of it and found that it provided an ontologically neutral view of the scientific object. I had introduced the concept of causal objects and it applied for any kind of object (with a causal background). In my preparation I saw that separate ontological fields could be joined by something I called interfaces (2017). Accordingly, everything in the end may be physical – or not. I thought this eventuality was very interesting.

Plan B is to investigate this possibility and see where it may lead. One thing is established, though, and that is that the mind can be a substance of its own. Provided that there can be interfaces between ontological domains.

Variation 2

Deep down, if everything is physical, our sense of self, our dreams, our wandering thoughts, simply are illusions, they don’t exist as sense of self, as dreams, as wandering thoughts. This idea is neatly captured in the descriptive operational definition. The belief in the operational definition guaranties that you only can know what you can measure. And you can only measure what is physical. In Gamper (2021) I looked at this from the point of view of biology. According to this view we only can know of measurable features of biological objects. At closer inspection, however, this leaves biology in the hands of chemistry. This may be as it should be but I introduced a non-chemical biological kind of energy that challenges the Plan A scenario. Purely biological energy may be irreducible to chemical and/or physical energy but that would take something concrete to be accounted for. In Gamper (2021) it is pictured that a non-physical subject has non-biological energy that is dependent upon the described non-chemical biological energy. The conceptual template for this undertaking is the “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences” (Wigner 1960) put on the potential interface between the body and the mind. This is the variation, that physical things are in mathematical dimensions and in non-mathematical physical dimensions and that the subject is in biological (/physical) dimensions as well in as non-biological/physical mental dimensions.


Gamper, J. Biological Energy and the Experiencing Subject. Axiomathes 31, 497–506 (2021).

Gamper, J. Blocking the Vagueness Block – A New Restricted Answer to the Special Composition Question. Philosophia 47, 425–428 (2019).

Gamper, J. On a Loophole in Causal Closure. Philosophia 45, 631–636 (2017).

Wigner EP (1960) The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences. Commun Pure Appl Math 13:1–14.

/Johan Gamper

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