The New Book by Jeffrey Laird
Our minds are not in our heads
Our minds are in the world
Theory of Portalism Video Library
This is a series of seven videos that explain the fundamentals of the theory of mind called Portalism. Although the information in the book goes into much more detail and example, this video series presents the basic concepts of Portalism in a generalized context with greater accessibility for the non-philosopher.
It is recommended that they be viewed in order 1 through 7.
Jeffrey Laird is a retired cartographer and technical consultant in geographic information systems technology, with BA degrees in Geography from George Mason University and Philosophy from the University of New Orleans. By virtue of his previous professional experience, as a philosopher of mind he offers a new perspective on the enigma of consciousness as observed through the lens of the mapping scientist. Originally from Washington, D.C., he now lives in Frankfort, KY, USA.
The Theory of Portalism
The mind is not the brain. The locus of consciousness is in the world. Portalism embraces radical phenomenal externalism and presents a contemporary form of dualism that rejects materialist assumptions of mind/brain identity.
As a philosophy of mind, Portalism breaks with traditional thinking in two significant ways: first by holding that consciousness is in fact a fifth fundamental force of nature endowed with behavioral attributes not unlike that of gravity, and second by arguing how consciousness inheres in all living organisms regardless of their biological sophistication. Portalism responds to the traditional arguments against dualism and answers those questions that inhere in all philosophies of mind, revealing the theory's plausibility through its exceptional explanatory power.
Portalism compels us to reject traditional monist theories about the nature of consciousness and boldly enter into a new way of thinking about our own reality.
Excerpt 1: Portalism's Concept of Temporality
“The physical, objective realm ages, we confront it every day in the mirror, but the mind, dwelling in the subjective realm, is, was, and always will be, changeless. I, as mind, do not move through time, as from some beginning toward some end. I, as mind, am stationary, while it is time that flows through me. Mind does not move through anything; only physical things can move. As a localization of the ubiquitous force of Consciousness, the possibility of mind always already was, the missing piece being ‘which’ mind, in terms of the individuality of the localization. While mind is being, time is only an idea, and as such it has no essential nature. While mind is subjective and ontologically irreducible, time is only a condition of appearance.”
The Concept of the 'I' and the 'Self'
How does the ‘I’ originate? When a portal connects to the horizon of Consciousness, a singular localization of consciousness is autogenically disclosed as mind, wherein the ‘I’ is made manifest as awareness of the world is brought forth. The world cannot simply be experienced; it must be experienced by something. Thus I am the first person perspective of mind and the agent of my subjective experience. The ‘I’ is being-in-the-world, the world being necessary to the existence of ‘I’. The ‘I’ is phenomenal consciousness, the mind’s awareness of the objective world and its contents.
Then what is the difference between the ‘I’ and the ‘self’? Although Portalism holds that consciousness inheres in all biological systems throughout the zone of life, as far as we know only human minds are sophisticated enough to be aware that they are aware, to turn reflexively inward and thereby attain consciousness of themselves, and it is within this mode of conscious awareness that the ‘I’ discloses itself to itself, enabling the ‘self’ to become manifest. If I am typing on my keyboard, the I is conscious of what is being typed, while the self is aware of the intentionality of my act of typing. The self thinks about itself, reflects upon its acts, its desires, and its beliefs. It formulates and strategizes, it creates and composes, it reasons, it decides, and it feels. When I am speaking to another person, I might say something stupid and embarrass my-self – as the agent I do the talking, but it is the self that feels the embarrassment. I might win a trophy, but it is the self that feels the pride. I might attend a funeral, but it is the self that feels the grief. I might see a child walking out in front of a car, but it is the self that decides to act, pulling it out of harm’s way. It is the ‘I’ that encounters things in the world, while it is the ‘self’ that thinks about them. As Jean Paul Sartre tells us, “The I is the producer of inwardness.”
But the reality is that the I and the self, as intuitive as it may be to believe that they exist, are no more than illusions. These terms are not things-in-themselves, but are only words descriptive of the mind’s intentional focus at any given instance. All we are is mind, and regardless of whether we are phenomenally being-in-itself, or reflexively being-for-itself, these perspectives are only different states within a single, subjective totality – a mind.
In effect, when we are moving about the world in our default mode of ‘everydayness’, we are in phenomenal consciousness where there is no place for the ‘self'. We are essentially outside of our-selves in the mode of becoming-the-world. Imagine that you are walking to 7-Eleven to buy some beer. As you stroll through the shopping center you see the items in the shop windows, the cars parked neatly in their spaces, you hear birdsong and the hum of people talking as they pass by. When you eventually arrive at 7-Eleven you reach out to push open the door but it is locked. In effect the door has suddenly become a problem that must be dealt with using thought and reason, and you are jolted into self-awareness. It is the ‘I’ that phenomenally encounters the locked door in the world, but the self that reflexively thinks “Now what am I going to do?”
Praise for Portalism
Very well written, striking the right balance between technical rigor and accessibility. It's an enjoyable read.
Dr. Bernardo Kastrup,
Author of Why Materialism is Baloney
With a philosophy of mind that turns away from convention, Jeffrey Laird insists the mind is not the brain, and makes a trenchant contribution to today’s vital debate about the nature of consciousness.
In what is a hefty in weight, solid in matter, and yet thoroughly engaging , Portalism: An Externalist Theory of Consciousness is one of those books you will soon find yourself engrossed for the duration.