Mental states are generally seen as immaterial states, although the question of their substance is disputed. Is it a supernatural or inexplicable byproduct of nerve cells? How could a disembodied substance that exists only in our imagination affect our body at all? Can mental images alone cause us to break out in a sweat? Experience shows that this is indeed possible. We can feel sad when we think of something sad, and we can feel happy, when we think of something pleasant. Our entire physical system reacts when we grasp a state of affairs, for example, when we are told a joke. Could a neural network recognize the intellectual ambiguity of a joke in a tenth of a second, causing us to spit coffee over the table in a fit of laughter? Can a punch line be calculated? Surely not.
Understanding takes place on a mental level, about which we do not know how it exists and what it consists of. To clarify these questions, we must first of all take a closer look at our existence, namely the world in which we live. We understand the world as broadly including the universe as a whole, our earth and ourselves. The term “ourselves” is of course meant to include our culture. Culture is that which humans have themselves created and determined. The rest is matter, which we can perceive and shape but cannot determine. So when we speak of the world in a broad sense, this refers to the following two basic structures:
1. The material world, which we can perceive, experience and shape in its external forms with our senses. 2. The immaterial world, which can be neither perceived nor experienced, consisting only of answers that we give ourselves.
This text deals with the question of how we can recognize these different worlds, how mental states arise and why they are indispensable.