Hello all. I've been in some recent discussions on another forum about whether or not Free Will exists and about whether or not Dreams,Lucid Dreams and OBEs are 'illusions'.I put together this argument to defend my position on the reality of what is called here 'Astral'. It might not be perfect and it may have some mistakes and fallacies that I've missed but it's my best shot none the less.( I'm not a philosopher,I work in the Medical field.)Anyway here it is,feel free to poke holes in it or whatever:
The Mind Is Not Equal To Brain Material, it is Real and Variably Separable
Here I have intended to construct a summarized argument for the reality of our mental world(s) as being something existentially separable and not wholly constituted by the material brain. I will not try to rule out the idea of a functional relationship between the material brain and the mind as it is almost indisputable that damage to the material brain affects the mind. Certain idealistic philosophies may account for this fact but I will exclude such arguments and start from the premise that a material world does in fact exist.
I will address the mental states we call Dreams, Lucid Dreams, OBEs, and NDEs and will attempt to counter the conventional assertion that they are “illusions”. First will be a short argument concerning the definition of the word “illusion” itself ,which is usually meant to be something ‘false’ or ‘unreal’ from the material reductionist perspective. In this world view ,the only things that truly exist are interactions and properties of matter-energy and space-time taken to be ‘real‘ and independent of mind. I will not invoke religion, however, in the pursuit of some resolution I will draw from arguments made by both theists and non theists.
Preliminary Argument for the Reality of “Illusions” From a Materialist Premise:
Something that qualifies as ‘real’ is something in consensus agreement.
We generally agree that we each experience private perceptual content.
Private perceptual content is ‘real’
Perceptions of what we call “illusions” occur.
Something that occurs is part of reality.
Illusions are part of reality.
Material brains and their occurring states are ‘real’.
An illusion is a material brain state that occurs. .
Either illusions are real or material brain states are false…
Hence “illusions“ are ‘real‘.
The Mind is Not Equal to Brain Material, it is Real and Variably Separable
1. Excluding ‘direct realism’ it is generally accepted that object perception in the ordinary waking mental state is said to ‘represent’ an ‘external’ object ‘in’ the brain.
2.A ‘mental state’ , is generally discussed as being purely physical ,supervenient upon the physical ,purely mental or some combination. It may be said in any such case that a mental state, is, or can be, about an object. ’Aboutness’ is synonymous with intentionality ,this is the generally accepted definition. The following will attempt to rule out the purely physical and supervenient definitions of an intentional mental state.
3.At a given time in a mental state of object perception, we experience some combination of what John Lock called Primary Qualities ( solidity, extension, motion, number and geometric shape) and Secondary Qualities. ( Color, taste , smell and sound ) [2.]
4. At a given time of object ‘representation’ in a brain one can find single neurons made of biological material in some metabolic, functional and structural state. A neuron participating in the act of object ’representation’ will be receiving chemical and electrical inputs and will be referring chemical and electrical outputs to other neurons and tissue in a comparable situation. Such an event will follow the predictable laws of chemistry and physics that have been discovered thus far.
5. At such a given time in a single neuron‘s state of ‘object representation’ the primary and secondary qualities of the ‘represented’ object are not present. What is present is ,assuming the mind independent existence of the brain and it‘s neurons, is the material state of a neuron described in (4) possessing it’s own primary qualities. The secondary qualities, qualia ,are not present at all.
6.If primary and secondary qualities of an external object are not present in the material state of single a neuron ,which has only it’s own physical state and primary qualities ,then the primary and secondary qualities of the external object are not present in a larger collection of other such neurons in a causal chain. Nor can the external object’s primary or secondary qualities be present or emerge from the act of reference to other neurons as they will each have their own physical states and primary qualities present at the given time.
If a patch of such neurons happen to ‘fire’ in a shape that has some correspondence to the shape quality of an external object as a part of a visual representation, in V1 for instance, it will still be the case that each individual neuron and the collection as a whole will have only it’s own primary qualities present. It needs to be further clarified in this example that our mental state of external object perception is not present ‘in‘ the physical location of V1-we are not specifically aware of our V1 cortical firing patterns as being numerically identical to the shape quality of object perception. The point above is that if an external object’s primary quality of shape is A and the corresponding collection of firing neurons is B then they are not duplicates because they are qualitatively different. If the spatial location and material of an external object of perception is A and the corresponding collection of ‘firing’ neurons is B then they are not numerically identical. The state of an object of perception and a corresponding material brain state are qualitatively and numerically distinct. The individual neurons in such a material brain state are also qualitatively and numerically distinct in relation to each other.
7.A ‘mental state’ is ‘about’ an ‘external’ object because we agree that we perceive things such as the visual perception of a (real) single ,round, red apple.(1a)However, material does not appear to be ’about’ anything other than it’s current physical and primary properties. This same difficulty must arise if one wishes to reduce more abstract intentional mental states such as belief and creativity to material states.
8. As well it is that material brain states cannot both at once symbolically represent objects of perception and perceive them. A single neuron or a collection of neurons can not be said to know what it is that they represent without presupposing the conscious mental property of ’aboutness’ ,the very thing that material reductionism denies the ’real’ mental existence of. Brain material would have to transcend it’s own micro and/or macro scale state to know what it signifies. (4-7)
9.Mental states do interpret representations ,symbols and meaning.  Therefore ,following from (1-8) the mind is not exclusively the material or processes of the brain. Mind must ‘transcend’ the supposed ‘symbolic‘ or ‘representational’ states of brain matter ,if it does not then we can not reach out to, or know the external world. If the external world is ‘real’ then mind is ‘real’.
10.The experiential content of Dreams, Lucid Dreams, OBEs and NDEs generally do not have immediate local counter parts present in the external world to modify physical sense organs. There are no external objects present to ‘represent’ or ‘symbolize’.
11. The mental states of (10) are often said to be constructed from material brain states associated with memory in order to account for the absence of external material objects.
12.The relevant material brain states appealed to in (11) do not have bits of qualia physically and locally present. The relevant areas of brain material possess only their present physical states which do not reach into the past or the future. They possess only their present arrangements of primary qualities as is the case with other referent material brain regions correlated with Dreams, Lucid Dreams, and OBEs (4-7) NDEs. are an exception as evidence exists for the complete absence and/or drastic reduction of material brain activity during said experiences. Such mental experiences have been reported to possess veridical content. 
13.Aditionally, the problem is even more acute for materialism because the process in (11) requires intentionality, belief, interpretation-meaning and intrinsic creativity. If there are no external objects present for material to be ‘about’ then material brain states must play the intentional roles of both (creative) symbol-signifier and the (mental) roles of experiencer ,interpreter and believer while possessing only their individual physical states and primary qualities in the total physical absence of qualia. Given that mental states are ‘real’ (9) excluding their existence would require matter to ’transcend’ itself to itself -which is meaningless- while possessing the properties of mental interpretation, intentionality, belief and creativity which are not intrinsic to matter and are said to either not exist, or remain causally impotent according to materialism. Materialism is then required either accept the reality of nonmaterial conscious mental states or redefine mental categories as physical categories which would entail abuse of the language of physics.
14. An even deeper problem occurs for strict materialism when it is considered that the mental states of Dreams, Lucid Dreams, OBEs, and NDEs can hold veridical content not drawn from personal memory and conventional sensory input. This is only controversial if one is unfamiliar with the numerous reports of such occurrences or if one has not had a personal experience .  
15. Given that such private perceptual content does occur and that private perceptual content is ‘real’ under the materialist premise (1a-3a) and given that the material substrate associated with memory cannot provide an explanation for the occurrences stated in (14) without accusations of fraud, delusion or coincidence, we can reasonably claim that mental states are variably separable from material brain states. (4-14) In other words: If mental state A does not qualitatively or quantitatively correspond to material state B ,or there is no material state B to speak of then it is reasonable to say that they are existentially separate entities.
16. Applying consistent and equal treatment to both object perception of the consensus external world and private object perception related to the mental states called Dreams, Lucid Dreams, OBEs and NDEs I believe it is justified to claim that “if the external consensus world qualifies as ‘real’ then so is the case for the phenomenological worlds experienced in Dreams, Lucid Dreams, OBEs and NDEs.” How it is that we perceive the external consensus world is not fully explained or understood and so is the case for the ungrounded mental worlds of perception. There is however, no good justification I can see to dismiss such private mental experience as “Illusions“.(1a-15)
Hence: The mind is not equal to brain material, it is real and variably separable.
If we are “just what it’s like to be a material brain” then why do we not experience the primary qualities in the brain?
If consciousness is a causally impotent by product of brain material and processes how then could it be naturally selected?
Is the true nature of reality mental, physical or some combination?
How does the conscious mind reach the world?
 One could argue that ‘mental’ states are qualitatively different from material brain states while they are also ‘supervenient’ upon material brain states. This is ‘property dualism’ and in such a case from the materialist perspective, the qualitative experience of an illusion, or a qualia ,has no possibility of having casual efficacy upon the material of the brain. It is because of this that the above argument also applies to property dualism. See Peter B. Lloyd’s book “Consciousness and Berkeley’s Metaphysics” for a detailed argument.
‘Substance dualism’ however, is a different situation into which I leave the possibility open. There is mounting evidence that qualia do in fact affect the course of material brain states. See:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17349730
As to how the ’substances’ interact is another issue which does in fact have possible solutions despite the common objections about the conservation of energy and open vs. closed systems.
One could also argue that illusions and conscious minds in general are ‘emergent phenomena’ that arise from material brain functions and complexity. The situation still reduces back to the argument above because of the following: Consciousness can't arise from a physical system as described by conventional physics because emergent phenomena can still reduce to their physical components.' Wetness' reduces to H2O molecules that are always present in the liquid phase of water. A brick house is built from individual bricks. Heat involves the vibration of individual atoms and molecules at the macro and micro levels. Ant colony behavior reduces down to the behavior of each ant. If consciousness "arises" then that would be unlike any other emergent property and would therefore be extraordinary. Similar appeals to functionalism, complexity or information can be said to presuppose consciousness.
Color and taste are among primary properties in physical science. I believe this is a bit contradictory as recent research does not yield the presence of qualia in the brain.
See this book: http://xianphil.org/book_gsm.html and this: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/chinese-room/#5.2
May 28th 2012