The problem of how the mind relates to the body arises only if we presume – as perhaps is only natural for moderns – that bodies are prior to minds. If you think that minds somehow derive or emerge or supervene upon bodies consisting of mindless stuff, then you’ve got a problem: you’ve got to figure out how lifeless mindless stuff generates living minds. It’s an impossible project! Almost always, the effort to square this circle involves a lot of vague grandiloquence and handwaving.
The problem vanishes – is not there to begin with – if you presume the contrary: that bodies derive from mental processes. In that case, the body we now apprehend is as it were the record or fossil of the mental procedures of a moment ago. Just take mentation as fundamental, and bodies as derived from it, and hey presto, no problem.
I admit of course that the notion that the mental is procedurally prior to the corporeal is a stretch at first. I mean, it is one thing to think that my body as I now apprehend it reflects my mental acts of a moment ago – this is after all *exactly what our lives are like* – but what about all those other bodies out there in our sensoria? What about that rock? Is *it* a relic of some mental procedure?
I do not mean to suggest that rocks have inner lives. But then, rocks are more like heaps than they are like entities. Does a heap have an inner life? It seems silly to think so. Heaps do not act. They seek their proper angle of repose, but they are not homeostatic: flatten them, and they do not scramble to regain that angle. They just lie there. They are patient, only. So they are not selves, at all, any more than a dead man’s body is a self. It would seem then that they are not really any such thing as a they, but that rather we only speak of them that way as a heuristic of diction.
So it seems that some “things” in our sensoria are entities, properly speaking, and some – such as heaps, or rocks, or dead human bodies – are not. Instead, heaps and rocks and dead bodies seem to be agglomerations of entities.
They do not, as such, maintain themselves. They weather, or wither.
Interesting then that rocks so often, like the dead bodies of men, are records of the past acts of living organisms. Indeed, it is from rocks that we get the very idea of fossils.
Boulder Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge – and, for that matter, Beethoven’s Ninth and Tallis’ Canon – are not themselves alive. They are relicts of the acts of living creatures, and of their active appropriation for themselves, and thus in their acts, of forms never before realized in the world. No acts of active minds, then no corporeal relicts thereof.
What about the Grand Canyon or the Grand Tetons? Are they mere heaps, or are they corporeal relics – which is to say, bodies – of the acts of active minds?
I don’t know. I’ve lived in the Grand Canyon, and all I can tell you is that watersheds seem to me to be entities, sometimes. They are not *simply* or *only* dead heaps, even assuming that they are that: heaps of tiny relics of tiny little living acts. No, the Canyon herself has moods; I know her. She is not just a heap.
No place, properly so called, can be nothing but a heap. If a there there be, then for it there must be someone who is there.
It gets quickly squirrelly and spooky, I admit. “Primitive” animism, with its dryads and naiads, begins to seem conceivable, or even mere common sense. How can things *not* be alive? Yet this seems to fly in the face of our modern lives, which have the character of a movie projected upon an inert screen – or, as earlier generations stretching back to the Paleolithic might have said, a shadow playing on the wall of a cave.
But is modern life *true*? Does it feel solid and full and right? No; of course it doesn’t. The whole predicament of the modern is that his life feels dead, meaningless, and stupid.
This means precisely that modernism *cannot be correct.* The difference between us moderns and our ancient ancestors is that we have convinced ourselves that the screen upon which the moving image appears to us is in fact totally inert, whereas they remembered it was alive, and had to be if it was to work properly as a screen in the first place.
So, give credence to the pre-modern. Just think of stuff as the product of mental life. The mind/body problem will then vanish. You’ll see. Then, the reenchantment of corporeal reality will commence for you, and you will remember the confidence of your forefathers in their world, and their confraternity with it, and their affection for it.