Is Human Consciousness Electromagnetic?

Could the thorny question of human consciousness be answered by simple electromagnetic waves? One improbably dualist scientist believes so.

They suggests the human mind is a combination of physical matter and electromagnetic field. This is a big question, and the proposed answer here is controversial.

The University of Surrey’s Johnjoe McFadden Research

The University of Surrey’s Johnjoe McFadden “posits that consciousness is in fact the brain’s energy field,” the university says in a statement, making McFadden’s dualism a question of matter and energy, the institution says—not the classic “body and mind” distinction. Throughout history, philosophers around the world have tried to account for the special-seeming nature of human beings within the world or even, some fear, the entire universe.

From where does our robust self-awareness and sentience arise? People who believe everything is physically present and cause are known as materialists. Meaning there’s nothing extra that can’t be measure—what you see and touch is what humans are. Dualists instead believe there’s something extra.

The mind, dualists say, is separate in some way. That could mean a separate, immeasurable, living soul that lives after death, or it could be as “simple” as the hotly contested idea of qualia: the hint at an extra color humans can’t see, for example, as that relates back to consciousness.

What kind of claim arises

Basically, he doesn’t believe the physical structures inside the brain account for how information extends through our “minds” and form integrated ideas. That, he says, must be happening within the added medium of the brain’s electromagnetic field.

And all of this, McFadden claims, is support by experiments on the nature of brain activity. This sounds wild—it genuinely is wild—but McFadden is a molecular geneticist and is following a centuries-old tradition of introducing the absolute latest knowledge into a new theory of what makes us human.

That means as long as the human brain is alive, it generates an electrical glow, real human stuff is happening. And the best part is that his theory is testable in the laboratory.

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