A Philosophical Approach to Aspects of Memory and Consciousness
John Norman Hansen*
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park Maryland, 20742, USA
Science in the modern age advances by the scientific method, which involves the experimental testing of hypotheses, continually revising them to better fit experimental observations. Nearly all articles in scientific journals report results of experiments that test hypotheses, that were in turn tested by earlier experiments. That means that the experiments that come next are based on those that have gone before. A flaw is that it does not provide a route to provide hypotheses that are completely new, and not inspired by previous hypotheses and experimental results.
Centuries and millennia ago the primary means of discovery was Philosophy, which was based on the premise that the path to knowledge is to start from fundamental axioms and through a logical process of pure reason, arrive at explanations of everything. I thought it possible that by invoking a philosophical approach one might discover sui generis concepts that would be a source of novel hypotheses that were not inspired by previous hypotheses. Inspired by Rene’ Descartes’ ‘I think therefore I am,’ I chose instead ‘That which cannot be observed does not exist.’ Following a logical path from there was easy, and I was surprised how many novel concepts emerged. Unlike most philosophical ideas, some of these concepts were subject to experimental tests. One was that a thought exerts a physical force, and a collection of our thoughts could provide a measurable force. This led to the design of a pendulum that was able to detect and analyze the substantial forces that surround a subject. These experiments would not have been done without the idea that thoughts exert a physical force. Another novel concept is that translocation of objects is a complex process that resembles a chemical reaction. This was used to derive an equation that embodies the laws of motion and defines terms for inertia and momentum. The concept was expanded by an argument that it could be possible for objects to accelerate and slow down without having to overcome inertia and momentum.
Other concepts were related to memory and consciousness and suggested completely new ways by which the brain forms and recalls memories. There are many studies of the brain, and these are designed to test current hypotheses. Instead of performing new experiments, one could take those experimental results and see which hypothesis better explains them. Examples are provided that the show the philosophical hypothesis is the better one.
Many concepts were discovered that are not described here. It is likely that many are incorrect, but perhaps some are not. Those that are correct could provide previously unavailable hypotheses that could drive discovery new directions. If this approach bears fruit, it may be useful to merge classical philosophical approaches with modern scientific methods. It may be a way to recover some of what was lost when the Library of Alexandria was burned.