I have discussed at some length with my friends the value of physical actions. My contention is that thoughts that are not expressed in physical activity and therefore influence the external world in some way don’t really exist in a meaningful way. Those thoughts and potential physical actions go to the grave with that thinker’s death. My companion has asserted that a thought that does its thing within a brain influences every thought that will ever be thought by that brain and therefore any action that that person performs in the future will be influenced by that thought. To which I retort that what they assert is insignificant because it is like me moving the philosopher’s cup of coffee sitting on the table before us, which will influence gravity a little and that will change things on the opposite side of the Earth. We both grant that each of those tiny events and thus influences do exist in physical reality, but it is obvious that any movement of my cup across the table isn’t going to create a discernible effect anywhere outside of this room. And every thought that flits by one’s brain and finds itself reaching into a consciousness isn’t going to have a discernible effect on the person having the thought, or anyone else.
Now just suppose we were having this conversation in a remote cabin in the woods and after moving the philosopher’s cup under discussion we locked up the cabin and went back to our city lives. Wouldn’t that cup just sit there until our next visit unless someone came in and moved it? And, if we returned next year and the cup was still sitting there with dried residue of coffee, wouldn’t that cup stimulate us to restart this conversation? Thus, that dirty cup sitting there will have more influence on that conversation at that future time than if we cleaned up the cabin before we departed.
Even mundane physical acts have the potential to create future effects, whereas mental thoughts that are unexpressed in some external way lose all power to motivate anything, even a mouse, even a microbe.
For our existence to have any meaning we must do something external.