To progress further in discovering what the nature of existence is, it is now necessary to pose questions about things which are not obvious or immediately evident. This requires the use of language and logic to reveal the sometimes invisible, soundless, or untouchable connections between sensory impressions. For this purpose I must examine the senses and not the other modalities, because they convey the sensory world to the mind.
Do our senses make sense? Can our experiences be explained?
It must be proven that sensations within a sensory field that take place actually have causes and are not simply unexplained existences or brute facts. If they did not have causes then there would be no necessary logic to any sensation: objects could change in appearance or tactile feel continuously, events would not be replicable and the sensations preceding any chosen sensation could constantly change over time. The very fact that a sensation can be repeated by repeating the sensations that came before it shows that later sensations have causes. So, the causes of my sensations must either be previous sensations in the very submodalities they appear in alone, or, in possible addition, unperceivable, non-mental causes. Sensations are known to cause each other, because sensations can be remembered as memories, which are themselves sensations, and memories can cause emotions which are other sensations. Memories and emotions can also cause imaginings, and so on. Therefore, it is certain that sensations have causes. The question remains whether the causes of sensations are only other sensations, which follow a logic, or whether they are caused by unfelt causes which also follow a logic in addition to those preceding sensations.
It is the reproducibility of sensory impressions that prove that they have causes which exist and proves the existence of a sensory world with constant laws, whether that world contains un-feelable causes or not. This does not fall to post hoc ergo propter hoc, because in repeating particular sensory elements and then observing that others follow it, I am not only observing one thing follow another and then falsely attributing causation: I am repeatedly performing an action and then observing the effects in comparison to (repeatedly) not performing that action at all and observing the difference in effects between the two scenarios. It should also be acknowledged that all sensations, whether individually repeatable or not, definitely exist. They exist because we perceive them.
One might object that true replication is impossible, since every occurrence is unique. In the words of Hume “this idea of a necessary connection among events arises from a number of similar instances, which occur, of the constant conjunction of these events; nor can that idea ever be suggested by anyone of these instances, surveyed in all possible lights and positions. But there is nothing in a number of instances, different from every single instance, which is supposed to be exactly similar”. I actually can perform two actions which are exactly similar, with the level of detail my senses can provide me. I can repeat an action where my sensual experience of it before, during and after the action are sensually indistinguishable. In addition, if Hume’s argument were accepted, then no causal laws could be accepted as fact, meaning that forming beliefs about the world beyond that would be impossible.
As an example of one specific sensation causing another, consequent sensation, I could sit on a chair in front of a desk, with a candle on it. I pick up a lighter to ignite one of them. At this point my sensations are as follows: I feel the pressure of my buttocks, back and feet on the chair and floor, I see a candle on a desk and the wall behind them, and my body, and I don’t hear much apart from a high pitched buzz inside my head. If I now reach out and light the candle, the yellow flame on the candle wick will appear, it is quite bright and it emits warmth, I can hear it, although it is quiet, however the feeling of my body on the chair hasn’t changed. Meanwhile, another candle on a desk beside me doesn’t have a flame, and nor does is it emitting light, warmth or any sound. I can do this repeatedly with the same results. This proves that the flame, along with the light and warmth it emits, but not the feeling of my body on the chair, was caused by me lighting the candle, because the exact same conditions lacking only that factor of me lighting the candle did not produce the effects of the candle’s flame. This is how causation is proven, not merely by one sensation following another. To be even more specific, at the level of submodalities, I could coat the wick of a third candle in barium chloride, a white solid, and light it, causing a bright green flame, rather than the previous candles white-yellow, to burn. I can further demonstrate this by sprinkling barium chloride into the first candle, which then briefly burns green, showing that the conditionality of the green flame depends on the addition of the barium chloride. Therefore, if a change in a submodal sensation has a sensory cause, it can be identified.
In order for it to be proven that the reasoning employed here does not prove that specific sensations cause other specific sensations, it would have to be shown that a particular sensation is a causeless effect. Also suitable would be an effect which did not reappear upon the restoration of its antecedent causal sensation. Someone might argue that one’s life itself is a causeless effect, or the ringing in one’s ears, since nobody experienced a sensation before their first sensation, but this can be disqualified on the basis of the belief that if I take my own life, my sensations disappear with it.
Is the sensory world fully explained by our sensations?
I should ask whether I ever experience anything which cannot be true. That is to say, does the sensual world ever present a sensation which is unexplained by other sensations? If discovered, this would show that causes of a non-sensual nature exist. This would be proven to occur if one of my submodalities had a sensation which could not be detected and therefore cross-checked by another one of the senses, and if there were no sensations reproducibly preceding or following that particular sensation. There are only a few modalities within which I know this to happen: vision, pain, and touch. Tactile, or particularly, painful sensations can arise with no clear indication of any contact with the body. It can be argued that these sensations have an unknown medical reason, especially if they are felt within the body. Painful twitches with no seen, heard or felt cause often appear in the skin. This happens with no obvious sensual cause before the twitch, nor with any following sensual consequences. But this phenomenon could still be caused by unfelt microscopic incidents alone, and therefore if correct would not be a case of our senses providing an unexplained sensation.
The same applies to the visual field, within which spots can appear with no apparent cause, nor have any effects on the visual modality, nor on other modalities. In addition, dreams are experiences involving many of the modalities, including all of the sensory modalities, primarily vision, which occur within the mind during sleep but have no effect on experiences during wakefulness. However, these experiences are much less vivid, less detailed and more easily forgotten in comparison to sensory experiences. Events which are perceived in a dream are found not to have happened upon waking. Additionally, events within the dream only have short term effects on each other within the dream, if any. The lack of reproducibility and consequences for visual spots and dreams creates a delineation between them and the sensory world. Taken together, these observations show that dreams are not experiences which follow the same logic as sensory impressions and represent false information about the world which the senses inform us of. Therefore, visual spots and dreams are examples of our senses evincing a sensation unexplained by other sensations and could appear due to causes which are not submodal sensations and exist below the lower limits of the senses.
Further, if I look at rows and columns of black squares on a white background, then I will see grey circles between the black squares. When I try to look at them, they disappear and appear elsewhere. Here we have an example where I can reproducibly move grey circles around a grid simply by moving my eyes. But nowhere else do I know of a situation where my decision to look around an object continually morphs that objects appearance. Normally, by moving my position, I see a different side of an object, but the side I am looking at is not influenced by moving my eyes over it. The only way that would be possible is if my intention to move my visual sensory field has an effect on sensations within that field beyond simply changing my position. How can looking around a static object cause the visual sensations that I see within that static object to change? This must be an example of a flaw in the visual modality, of sensations following unestablished, rogue laws. In addition, if the colour of the black squares are changed, or if they are moved, this effect disappears, and because the grey spots can’t be verified by the other modalities, it is not believable that moving the visual field produces a change in the object being looked at. This means that either my visual senses can and do show my mind unexplained phenomena if the only thing which exists are sensations themselves.
We are then faced with the conclusion that this visual illusion must be an example of a sensation that does not follow the same logic as other sensations within the very same modality. The cause of the illusion could be unfelt, microscopic, non-submodal causes.
Thus far I’ve established that our sensations have causes, that sensory causes can be identified by subtraction and re-addition of antecedent sensations, and such causes could include a cause different in nature to sensations, that some sensations are unexplained by the senses and that the cause of unexplained sensations could be microscopic events that we cannot feel.
It is important to clarify what a philosophy supposing that only the sensations we feel compose the world would posit. This would argue that when a sensation occurs, such as seeing a rock hitting another that the sensation of being knocked would act on the rock as well as the visual field of the observer. That sensation then leads directly to a decision being made by the observer, also a felt sensation, to speak about seeing the rocks, then leading to the sensation of commanding one’s lips to move and feeling them move and hearing one’s own voice, which another person also sees and hears. So sensations would have to be omnipresent, present in objects acting on each other and observable by any number of observers, and able to transmute into other submodalities, in order to fully explain the world.
Do causes that are not sensations exist?
In order to find out whether unfelt causes are the causes of sensations, both reproducible and non-reproducible, I must ask if I do not perceive something which can be proven to exist. Are the sensations I experience within the modalities the only things which exist? Do my senses show me all of the world, or are there things my senses do not show me?
The sun produces three sensations in me: light, warmth and its own image, a bright ball in the sky. If I stand in the sunlight for extended periods of time each day, my skin will turn red and then get darker. However if I sit in the light and warmth of a campfire, in a cave or in a tepee, then my skin will not get darker. Even if I sit in the shade of a tree, and still feel warm and see the suns light, and peek through the tree leaves at the sun, my skin will still not turn dark. So there must exist something I do not perceive in the sunlight which is turning my skin dark, which is creating the sensation of my skin turning dark.
If I hide food somewhere nearby, and tell my hound to search for it, he will begin sniffing and find it, while I cannot smell the food at all from where the hound and I are. Therefore there must be odours in the air that are not producing sensations within my olfactory field, but are within that of the hound.
When I was younger, there was a birdsong that I could hear, but no longer can, even when the bird is present. I have also lost the ability to hear certain high-pitched whistles, but when I ask a younger person to listen for the birdsong or very high pitched whistle, they tell me they can hear it. Therefore, the sound must still be there, as I heard it before, but I no longer hear the sound in my auditory field.
I could pick up an iron nail and tightly wrap it with copper wire, and dip one wire into a solution of zinc in sulphuric acid and the other wire into a solution of platinum in nitric acid, and the nearby iron nut would fly through the air and stick to the iron nail. Yet in doing this, I do not see any contact between nail and nut that could possibly make the nut move, and I do not hear or feel anything leading to the sensation of the nut moving. I can do this repetitively, and none of my modalities show me any connection between the sensation of the wires being put into solution and the nut moving to the nail. Therefore there must be something I cannot perceive, something unseen, unfelt and unheard, causing the nut to move when I do this action, something non-mental.
The nut moving can be shown not to be a causeless effect because I can repeatedly perform the action of dipping the wires into the chemical solutions and always get the same result.
Thus, since it has been shown that there exist sensations which have no sensory explanation if other sensations are the only causal factors, and that inducible, replicable sensations exist which clearly have an immediate cause which is not sensory, then there must exist non-mental causes of sensations.
The legitimacy of asserting or deducing a causal factor that I cannot immediately feel may be questioned. Yet the above reasoning clearly proves that without doing so, we cannot explain certain occurrences that we experience. The only additional complication accrued by asserting that the cause of the metal nut’s motion was non-mental is that I could not see the thing that was moving it. It is not a substantial assertion to claim that there are forces driving our sensory impressions that we cannot see, hear or feel, and the verbalization of those forces is no less valid than our verbalization of the sensations we directly experience.
There are things that we don’t immediately feel, but arguably are felt by other beings. This means that a cause being unfelt is not proof that the cause is non-mental. I would argue back that there will still be undeniable examples of unfelt causes of sensations for any particular individual. For example a pigeon has the sensory power of magnetoreception, but the pigeon will not be able to see all the hues of colours that I can, and that leads us to the question of why I can see them and the pigeon not, and why can the pigeon feel what’s causing the metal nut to move and I cannot? If the conclusion that non-mental causes exist is disallowed, then this would suggest two types of mental activity: that which is felt and that which is unfelt for any particular being. If causal factors can be identified which nobody and nothing can feel, neither I nor the pigeon, then the reason for referring to those unfelt causal factors as mental is lost, aside from ephemerally asserting that they represent the inner workings of a mind orchestrating our separate sensual realities, but this is unsubstantiated. The question of what kind of causal factors exactly they are, then appears.
Do laws of sensations apply to all persons, where are my sensations located and are those sensations and the mind separate entities?
An objection might be that more complex, long-term, unexplained experiences exist, such as the appearance of a person from nowhere, who speaks to the subject, then disappears. Experiences such as these occur in people with mental illnesses, so since different people have different sensations does this not mean that different people’s senses follow different logics, and there may be no underlying rules common to different subjects? No: these hallucinations will still have few if any, reliable, antecedent feelings that could be inferred as a sensory cause, and they have no consistent subsequent sensations other than their mere memory and emotional reaction, showing that they are rogue sensations not following the dependable rules of the modalities. Indeed, if such hallucinations were commonplace, there would be no way of establishing concrete rules of our senses, making philosophy impossible. It could be countered that subjects of these hallucinations just experience a different reality. This would depend on how one defines reality, but it remains that these hallucinations won’t have reproducible effects.
It could be suggested that anything imaginable that could be real, could also be explained as following a law of some description. But I would reply that explaining a law depends firmly on being able to repeatedly induce sensations. If one’s world is merely a set of sensations appearing and disappearing without any pattern in relation to each other, then one cannot attribute a law.
If I were to remove a piece of my skull in front of a mirror and insert my finger or an electrode inside I would experience sensations not dissimilar to the false-positive sensations mentioned earlier, or indeed epilepsy. I am stimulating unsolicited sensations at their most direct level, which shows that my brain is the real source of my sensations and that there is no underlying, inaccessible reality from which my reality is being orchestrated in front of me, such as having a non-mental soul or having my “real” mind plugged into a simulation. Because otherwise, the question of how I would be able to interrupt the flow of sensations from the simulation or soul into my mind would go unanswered. Unless, such an ability to hijack my sensation-experiencing capabilities is programmed into my soul or the simulation I’m living, in order to fool me into thinking my brain-orchestrated reality is the real one. But there is no evidence of this, and therefore amounts to mere creative scepticism. It also asserts that non-mental causes (e.g. the soul or source of the simulation) exist.
Sensations are admittedly not separate from the mind perceiving them, because if I were to become blind or deaf, I would still be able to see bits of colour and hear ringing and I would also be able to see and hear in my dreams. Endogenous sensations exist, even when the senses are cut off from the sensory world. In addition, the causes and effects of such feelings from the outside world do not change and are repeatable, which encourages the idea that the sensory field itself which feels the sensations is constant, although their acuities do change with age. Hence, sensations are not separate from the sensory field in which they appear, but because the sensory field does not itself change in the short term, while the sensations do, this does not lead to the conclusion that only sensations exist and does not mean that mind necessarily does not exist as an independent substance.
So far I’ve established that our sensations have identifiable causes and that those causes can be unfelt, the brain is the source of sensations and sensations are not separate entities which act on the mind.
Are all, not only some, sensations caused by something unfelt?
Does the invisible force moving the nut account for all of the examples of sensory false-negatives that I have given? Does it explain why the hound can smell something that I cannot, why I lose my hearing and why my skin turns brown in the sun? Do unfelt causes also explain the specks of colour that often appear in my vision along with the black-and-white grid illusion? So, the two options available from here are firstly that either unfelt causes only explain those sensations which cannot be explained by other sensations and sensations which appear to be felt for no discernible sensory reason and that all other sensations can sufficiently be explained by their preceding, spatiotemporally-conjoined sensation. Or, secondly, that unfelt causes of the nature of that causing the nut to inexplicably move are in fact the immediate cause behind each and every sensation.
As stated earlier “Upper magnitude limits on the submodalities are bound by pain. Pain begins before the upper limit of a submodality is met”. To elaborate, the brightest object I can look at is the midday sun, and while it is painful to stare at, and I involuntarily look away, I cannot imagine a brighter object. If I press down on my hand with an object, the feeling of my hand touching something only becomes more intense to a point, after that it just becomes painful, without the feeling of being touched increasing any further. An example without pain would be for me to prepare tea, and to add sugar, and taste. I taste a pleasant sweetness in the tea, so I add another two spoons of sugar, and taste again, so that it tastes strong, and less pleasant. Now, I can actually fill the tea with sugar, and taste, so that it tastes so sweet that I also feel an accompanying sense of revulsion, but the tea could not possibly taste more sugary. Clearly, then, the senses have their limits in the intensity of their sensations. But we know that sensations have causes, so are their causes also so limited? This would not make sense, since I can add still more sugar, making the tea taste more revolting but not sweeter, I could look at a brighter object than the sun, so that my eyes become scarred, but it might not look any more bright than the sun did, and I can press so hard on my hand that my hand is destroyed, and I would feel more pain but not more a sensation of touch before my hand is crushed. However, other objects clearly are acted on by causes greater than which I can feel. For example, a tree can fall and knock another tree, so that the second tree is also broken, but if I were to place my hand in between the two where the second tree is knocked, then I would simply feel a maximum amount of pain and a maximum amount of pressure, which I can also feel from a knock on my hand which is incapable of breaking the tree. Hence, my sensation of pressure cannot inform me of the magnitude of all causes, causes must exist for all sensations that are too great for us to sense.
My imagination provides me with a means of predicting the future by means of my memory, but what if asserting the existence of unfelt causes provides me with the ability to make extremely accurate predictions about my sensations in the future? My senses tell me which rock is heavier than another and which out of two sticks is longer, but in order to speak accurately about objects, I must be able to tell exactly how heavy the rock is and exactly how long the stick is. Thus, rocks and sticks must be counted in amounts of an unchanging weight or length. Measurement allows far greater precision to our descriptions of events than our senses allow, and if my predictions are correct in what can be precisely and repeatedly measured, then whatever I am basing my predictions on must be correct, since precisely measuring our observations creates far greater variety in our descriptions than does our experiences without measurement. To measure is basically to compare to a constant.
So, are all sensations caused by unfelt causes? In order to find out if the sensation of seeing one object hitting another is caused by unfelt causes, let’s look at more trees falling onto the birch tree and see if we can predict which ones will and which ones won’t break it in two. I can measure the velocity with which the tree is toppling by measuring the distance between the two trees when stationary and when in collision and by dividing this by the amount of time that passes between those two points. I can also estimate the period of time over which the toppling tree loses its velocity due to colliding with the birch tree to be almost instantaneous: less than a second. I can also measure the force the falling tree exerts on the birch tree by strapping a rope around it as it topples and attaching this rope to a spring scale, showing me the force in Newtons. Now, when I estimate the change in velocity upon collision, which is roughly equal to the velocity the tree is falling with because it loses most of its velocity on impact, I see that by multiplying the moment of time of collision (less than a second), by the force in Newtons and dividing by the change in velocity upon impact we get a number which is inherent to every tree. I can use this equation to predict exactly which trees will and will not break the birch tree, they all fall with almost the same velocity and those that can produce more than 20,000 N of force will break the tree, but whether they produce that much force depends on a quantity inherent to the tree – its mass. Therefore, I can predict whether a sensation will happen based on a proposed, unfelt, mathematical property.
It might be said that mass is in fact my sensation of the weight of an object and therefore it’s a sensation and not an unfelt cause. It actually isn’t weight because weight is the moment of an object: its mass multiplied by the force of gravity. Therefore my sensation of weight will correlate with an objects mass, and within a limited range I may learn how to estimate the magnitudes of moments created by certain masses, but very light or heavy objects I will not be able to feel the weight of, and therefore their masses to me will be insensible. Despite this, for those very same objects with masses too heavy or light for me to feel, I can still use these proposed non-mental properties to accurately calculate the forces they exert on other objects when moving at certain velocities, and therefore will be able to predict not only whether or not distinct sensations will happen, but how they will happen.
Similarly, I can deduce the wavelength of light using a single slit chamber, the charge of an electron using an oil drop experiment, the flowing current in a wire by its deflection of a magnetic compass or the voltage produced by a voltaic pile using an electrometer. All of these examples allow me to infer the precise value of a proposed, unfelt quantity purely from my sensory perception of lengths and weights, aided by a ruler or weighing scales.
Proposing such purely-unfelt properties allows me to build an electric circuit with an output I can feel such as a lamp or heater, or to calculate the energy released from two burning powders and the colour of light with which they burn. Even extremely distant phenomena can be predicted, such as as-yet unobserved celestial bodies in the night sky which are then found to exist by asserting the existence of these unfelt properties. One might believe that current, charge and voltage are in fact felt, because feeling an electric shock is unpleasant in its own way. But all an electric shock feels like is some very fast vibration inside the body and some pain; so current, charge and voltage are non-mental qualities. It could also be asserted that wavelength of light is merely a more precise elucidation of the properties of colour and therefore is a sensible property, because as the wavelength of a shining light increases it goes from red, through yellow and green to blue. But this is not so because there are wavelengths of light we cannot see. This is the same proof why mass, velocity, and force are not reducible to the submodal sensations that inform us about them.
It must be added that there are some such postulated properties that I can feel, such as moments and lengths. The reason why these are physical, non-mental properties is because they can take on values of themselves that I cannot feel. I cannot feel the moment of a crushing weight that destroys my hand or the tiny moments bacteria produce on my skin when they touch me, just like I cannot see lengths smaller than 0.2 µm. These properties, that are both felt and unfelt, as well as those that are always unfelt, I refer to as physical properties.
It is known that objects less than 0.2 µm apart or smaller than 0.2 µm cannot be seen, because light itself cannot resolve below this distance. Arguably, a bumble bee with a microscope could see in finer detail than this, because it can see some ultraviolet hues, but then there will still be a limit, and no creature can see the shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet because hardly any of it penetrates the Earth’s atmosphere. In further speculation, a reptile can see infrared hues, it can see heat, so it has a higher upper limit of frequency of light compared to us humans. But it will still have an upper limit, and there won’t be any creature that can see above this limit because seeing microwaves would be biologically useless. Additionally, a pigeon won’t be able to feel the magnetic pulse created by a collapsing star, since it will be too great for the pigeon to distinguish, further emphasizing that there are unfelt causes.
An objection might be that other creatures perceive differently the physical properties we perceive, such as birds seeing lengths differently due to the architecture of their irises. This is not known for sure and is therefore speculative, but it remains true that I can successfully predict future sensations for the bird based on calculations that treats length and other properties as mathematical values.
If I were to take ketamine my perception of angle and length would become distorted, with objects becoming bizarre in shape, and also appearing either far tinier or larger than they should be in relation to myself. Further if I were to suffer damage to my posterior visual cortex I would become unable to see moving objects (akinetopsia), instead seeing the same stationary object multiplied through the line of its motion. These are the very senses I believe represent physical objects the closest; yet they, and indeed all of the ways I feel the world, are dependent on what is happening to the brain and therefore are completely variable. Someone might argue that this means that all is in fact sensation, that there is no consistent way of viewing the world other than as sensations succeeding one another and even the way I perceive those sensations is constantly changing. But if I can reliably induce a specific change in my perception which reverts over time, or even if it is permanent due to the damage being permanent, it shows that those sensations have causes, without it disclosing if those causes are just other sensations or unfelt causes. It also does not disprove that within my usual state of mind, I can prove that there are unexplained sensations if I assume that only sensations exist, that there clearly are experiential causes I cannot feel and that I can predict future sensations by proposing properties I can’t feel. Whether other animals see this way is unknown, but it remains true that I can make these deductions in my normal state.
Because I can use a purely postulated, mathematical value of a physical property to predict the appearance of a sensation that I can measure, both mathematically and judge with my bare senses, it does not matter that my only conception of such values to which I have assigned values to are in my sensual imagination. Such predictive power is proof that they exist just as much as my immediate sensations do.
The very fact that I can vary a physical property of a causative object, such as the weight of a falling tree, from a value below the limits of my senses, through those that I can directly feel, and up to and above those I cannot feel, and then use them to precisely predict the resultant sensations shows that physical properties causally underpin my sensations. Additionally, assigning a number to an unfelt cause, through calculation and algebra back to a length or weight scale, such as that unseen cause moving the nut, is the only way I can precisely predict how the nut will move and how my future sensations will change. This proves that the attributed mathematical aspect of physical properties is appropriate. Earlier the question was raised as to what the nature of these unfelt causes is, now I can conclude that they have a mathematical nature.
Clearly then, all of our continually changing experiences can not only be accurately described, but predicted if the objects of our experiences have non-mental, physical properties possessing mathematical quantities. Yet this fails to describe the relationship between our unfelt and our felt realities.