Dual Aspect Theory Explained

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How does the universe exist for each one of us? Is it a solely physical concept, where our bodies interact with other elementary elements to create an existence? Or is there a mental component to the universe as well, distinctive from the physical world, but coexisting with it to create a unique living existence.

The Dual Aspect Theory proposes that the mind and the body are two different entities that are radically different. The mind and the body are effectively the same substance, but still different. Two individual parts, but one whole.

Can Life Be Like a Rope?

Imagine that you have a rope in your hands. Let’s say there are three strands that have been woven together. That weaving process has created one rope. It can be used for many different purposes.

Now let’s say you begin to take that rope apart. You will end up having three individual strands in your hands. Each can act as its own individual rope. Those strands are not as strong individually as they are together, but they still provide function.

This is the concept of the Dual Aspect Theory. The mind is one strand and the body is another strand. When woven together, they create a singular existence. Both operate independently of one another, but work together to create a stronger, unified outcome. The mind could be pulled from the body or the body from the mind, but each becomes weaker when that action is taken.

Is There Evidence of the Dual Aspect Theory?

The mind-body problem has plagued philosophers for several centuries. In the past, theories often involved religious intrusion to create cohesion between it and the secular world. For that reason, an effort to show that humanity could reflect the Trinitarian belief structure in a similar way with a connection between the mind and body was formulated.

Those who preferred monism, or a direct mind-body connection, often attempted to exclude religious thought from their theory and that create an equal, but opposite effect.

Thanks to modern medical science, however, we can see that there is evidence both for and against the Dual Aspect Theory. We have seen individuals who exist in a vegetative state, their bodies alive and cared for, but no mental awareness of their current situation. We have also seen individuals who are highly active mentally, but become “body locked.”

Locked-In Syndrome is a condition where an individual is fully aware and has their full mental capacity, but cannot communicate verbally or move because of a nearly complete paralysis of all virtually all voluntary muscles. With this condition, only vertical eye movements and blinking tend to occur. Complete locked-in states where the eyes are also paralyzed are possible too.

What Does This Mean for the Human Brain?

When you hear about someone having a “higher state” of thought, that expression has more truth to it than many may know. When an individual is in a vegetative state that is persistent, the upper portion of the mind is damaged, while the lower portion is spared.

For those who become locked-in, the opposite occurs.

This creates a dual state of existence that can be viewed as a whole or individually. The body experiences one facet of life, while the mind experiences a different facet. They can be combined or kept separate. Sometimes that separation is involuntary, but under the Dual Aspect Theory, we could also consciously choose to experience only one or the other.

It is why the expression “mind over matter” has come about. If a person sets their mind to something, the result can be transcendent over the physical world. An individual can also give in to the stimulation their physical body is giving them, allowing the mind to take a back seat to the physical cravings that are being experienced.

It goes beyond willpower or a decision to ignore the pain that is being experienced. It is a relationship that is distinct, but inseparable unless there is an event that causes the separation. You must make a choice to unravel the rope to create distinct parts. For the mind-body connection, it remains together unless there is a choice or event that causes it to become separated as well.

Is there an order to the universe that is also woven into our thought processes? Are we just a small part of an infinite structure? Or are we just a physical representation of natural development and the mental aspect of our existence is an extension of that process? Those are the questions that must be answered.