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Mental Relativity
and Abortion

by Melanie Anne Phillips

Strong arguments are made on both sides of the abortion issue, but the focus of the debate revolves around a definition of where life begins. The pro-choice argument is weakest when attempting to select an arbitrary point at which to legislate that life begins. The pro-life argument is weakest when attempting to define life as starting at the moment of conception. Clearly, life cannot be said to exist on one side but not the other of an arbitrary line. And just as clearly, a four-celled zygote is not a thinking human being.

What does Mental Relativity offer as a means of defining where life begins? First, it is necessary to define life itself. Is life biologic or mental? Mental Relativity sees these as two distinct yet oft connected phenomenon. Few would argue that a fetus has no biologic life. An amoeba may be said to have biologic life, yet the state of its awareness or lack thereof has remained an unanswered question.

So, the real issue is not to define life in its broadest sense, but rather to determine the point at which an organism can be said to be aware. In order to resolve the issue of when awareness begins, we must define awareness. Mental Relativity sees the mind as having a biologic framework in which to operate, much as a computer has an operating system that allows for programs to be run. Without an operating system, there can be no programs. The body itself is only the computer, the physical matrix in which an operating system may be maintained.

In human beings, the Brain Operating System (or BOS) is installed in the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy. There are two types of BOS: the spatially oriented BOS or SBOS, which is intrinsic to males and the temporally oriented BOS or TBOS, which is intrinsic to males. Before a BOS is installed, no programs can be run. This means that neither experience nor observation can be organized in order to form a mind until the operating system is in place.

The selection of BOS is accomplished by a hormonal flush. Prevailing theory asserts that fetuses of both chromosomal inclinations develop in a female form until various hormonal flushes trigger male development for different parts of the body at different times in the pregnancy. The unanswered crucial question is whether the brain has a female or TBOS operating system that is converted to SBOS by the flush of testosterone or if it has no operating system until it either receives or fails to receive the hormonal flush within the trigger window.

Mental Relativity cannot determine which of these two proposals is the true biologic functionality of this process, but can define the conditions in each that would foster mental life

If the mind is non BOS until the window of opportunity for the system trigger, than no mind exists until the triggering has occurred. In this instance, the period before triggering would create a brain capable only of assimilating instinctual information at a pre-conscious level, and incapable of supporting any internal thought. Under these conditions, although physical, biologic life would exist, consciousness or self-awareness would not. The fetus would respond to stimulation by virtue of the instinctual imprint on the developing brain, but there would be no internal consideration connected to it. Prior to the triggering, observation or experience would have no lasting effect, as the brain would have no sentience program to organize, pattern, store, or recall the data. So, if no operating system exists prior to triggering, mental life cannot be said to exist until the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy when it occurs.

Certainly, if left to its own devices, the fetus will continue to grow into a fully sentient human being. Therefore, arguments may be entertained that the abortion of a pre-sentient fetus is still the taking of a life, as it removes biologic life and the potential for mental life. And yet, mental life does not yet exist and the fetus itself is little more than a self-sustaining organism at that moment.

Should it be shown that a female TBOS operating system exists prior to the trigger point, then mental life exists from the moment the operating system comes on line. One must propose some sort of "critical mass" theory in order to explain how a disorganized arrangement of brain cells would reach a certain size and then spontaneously begin operations as a sentient system. Although not impossible, this scenario is not likely.

Nevertheless, even in that case, a point might be determined at which the size and consistency of the developing brain reaches the critical mass of self-awareness, and conscious thought begins. One would suspect that the moment of self-awareness would not occur much earlier than the trigger point for selection of an operating system, as any data experienced or stored would become inaccessible to a mind that shifted from TBOS to SBOS: the systems are that incompatible.

So, even if it is shown that the TBOS is present before the 12 to 14 week trigger point, it would not, in a system as efficient as the human body, precede it by much. It would seem reasonable that conscious thought then, cannot exist much prior to the 10th week of pregnancy.

Certainly, much more study is necessary to fully resolve the issue, and the concept of the potential for mental life in an organism left to its own devices must be addressed. Aside from these though, and in terms of the moment at which Mental life begins, Mental Relativity predicts that no consciousness can exist much before the 12th week of pregnancy.

Copyright Melanie Anne Phillips

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