Mind and body are different ontological categories. How do they interact?

  • substance dualism
  • substance pluralism - doesn’t restrict the amount of ontological categories to only two

In this theory created by Steve Patterson, mind and body do not directly interact. They simply effectively interact. The state of one affects the state of the other.

State is the condition of A at any given time.

This theory has the following properties:

  1. All ontological categories could intract with each other.
  2. Two-way causality: physical affects mental and vice versa.
  3. It doesn’t require free will.
  4. It doesn’t break the laws of causality. It could broaden the laws of physics.

To explain the theory, it is imperative to remove mind first from the equation. Then, break down physical phenoma into its fundamental form.

An object is simply units of matter arranged in a particular way in a particular part of space.

When an object moves, what really moves is the units of matter.

Physical movements are not random. There follow a predictable and observable pattern.

Physical movements are predictable because there are laws of physics which govern their behavior.

Laws have a real existence.

There are two different ontological categories:

  1. Physical phenomenoa
  2. Laws which govern them

Physical phenomena

  • series of states
  • each state contains a particular arrangement of atoms in space
  • change between states happen according to laws

Any given state is determined by its previous state. State 1 input State 2 output.

The laws of physics are like a mathematical function. These are like codes in a computer determining how inputs relate to outputs.

Input state + Laws of Physics Output state


  • non-physical
  • may be its own ontological category
  • glue between physical states and the laws of physics

Physical states are concrete. Information about physical states are abstract. Information doesn’t necessarily imply consciousness.

Things don’t need consciousness to process information.

  • Computers don’t need it.
  • Universe don’t need it.

Information can be processed without consciousness.

We can expand the laws of physics to include laws of mental representation.

The universal function involves the informational criteria for generating both physical outputs and mental outputs.

Note: It’s not the physical state that generates the mental phenomena. It’s INFO LAW MENTAL STATE.

Pattern and info about the brain generates consciousness.

Brain state + Law of Physics (Mental representation) Consciousness

Brain doesn’t directly generate consciousness.

Body affects mind, but via an abstract mechanism, not physical or mental.

The inputs of the universal function can be mental or physical.

Mental (Info) Law Physical Laws of Physics Laws of Universe (Including mental phenomena)


Patterson, S. (2019, February 1). Mind-Body Dualism | Solving the Interaction Problem. Steve Patterson. http://steve-patterson.com/mind-body-dualism-solving-problem-interaction/