think about it. think about what? think about the very act of thinking. how can thinking be? how could it occur? how is it generated? and where does it reside? in your brain? but your brain is nothing more than some carefully arranged collection of atoms. how can some carefully arranged collection of atoms produce thoughts? or rather, how can these collection of atoms be thoughts? is there any difference between the two? what kind of ontological justification can be given to the notion of thought, other than of course, it seems to exist so powerfully in each and every one of us. but other than that, how could such an unaccountable phenomenon coexist in our world, along with chairs, houses, bodies and, well, brains? a chasm of insurmountable nature seems to lurk right at the heart of the issue and the problem is only going to get worse as we dig deeper.
well, it could be said, thoughts are, after all, private. they are subjective. and since we are so used to the conundrums of human mentality, we could, tentatively, grant them some obscureness and instead try to deal with objective phenomenons and see where those will lead us regarding the subjectivity. a complete non-sequitur, but that’s life, who am i to complain.. alas it turns out, as has long been acknowledged, we are rendered none the wiser with this rather forced gambit. the infamous meeting of objective and subjective seems inevitable, if we are to account for human mentality. a rose, for instance, is just objective an item as the next one, but boy does it cause trouble to minds that are determined to grasp its genuine nature. a rose is red. so far so good. but what is red? the way we perceive a red’s redness is what we call red. but then the question becomes what is a red’s redness? does our perception play an epistemological role in this process? or in what sense does it correlate to any property a rose might have per se? in other words, is this alleged redness reside in us, or in the rose, or maybe in both of us? do we in any way alter this redness when we contemplate it or is there an essence for redness, ineffable and unalterable, independent of the observer’s mental machinery? in any case, let’s not digress, where does this redness reside? in our brains? well brains sure seem to be devoid of anything even remotely resembling what might be called redness of red. brain is just a super-society of mindlessly interacting neurons. could redness somehow arise from this intense activity? no matter how far one stretches his credulity, there seems no obvious way that the notion of redness is even relevant to the inner workings of a brain. or is this not the correct way of looking at the whole experience? if so, what is the correct of way of looking, and why is the wrong way of looking seems so pervasive? will the answer to that question be gradually accumulated as our understanding of the physical nature increases, or will this duality between the subjective and the objective remain unbridged no matter how complete our data of objective gets? an important and fascinating question, if there ever was one, no matter what the answer turns out to be. surely there will come a time when the proposed answer to that question will be unambiguous and convincing. but in the mean time, we can proceed and ask, where does this tentative duality leave us with regard to our true inner nature? that is to say, to carry our inquiry to its logical conclusion, where does it leave us with regard to the “self”? where does it leave “you”?
who are you? have you ever asked yourself that question; who am i? surely you have. to whom did you address the question? how did you decide to whom to address the question to? And what answer did you come up with? your name? some distinguishing property of yours? but these are not “you,” these are what are ascribed to you, by your immediate surroundings. they are no more “you” than your car is “you”. who is the real you, the single, continuous, persisting, everlasting self that you wake up in the morning for, dedicate a whole life time to live up to its desires, base your body’s entire actions in accordance with its rationales? who is that? who is this person that is reading this sentence? who is it that is trying to understand what the hell am i talking about? surely you exist, don’t you? but in what form? and where do you reside? in your body? but i bet you don’t feel like a body, you feel like you are over and above it and own your body. which sounds more compelling, “I’m my body” or “I owe this body”? surely you, the real you, is not, in any realistic sense, your body. Well, maybe then you are your neuorons? after all, that’s where all the mental activity seems to be generated. And since you (whoever you are) seem to be strongly correlated with your brain’s activity, maybe you are what makes up your brain. But, again, you brain is nothing more than a bunch of neurons. sophisticated though their outcome, you, may be, they are just mindless automata, obeying rather simple rules with mindboggling speeds. Attributing your self to these mini-gadgets is no more meaningful than attributing your self to electrons. Are you then, maybe, “networks” of these tiny little structures, once stipulated enough complexity somehow culminate you? well, you tell me? do “you” feel like a network of neurones? when you look at your loved one, does the ontology of your material make up ever cross your mind? do you ever conclude that you, and your loved one, is nothing more than mere matter-in-motion, in perpetual alternation at physical laws’ volution, till stated otherwise, only seemingly regulated by some vague concept of “you”? a mere “yes” as the answer of this question would change the whole course of philosophy and cognitive science in ways unimagined. but i bet your answer is, in fact, no. and to complicate things even further, there is an even empirical twist to this otherwise rather philosophical argument. it turns out, the brain is a massive parallel proccesor, which, by definition, has no central place where all the information comes together to create a self and project the experiences of the body to that self. in other words, there is no homonculus to which all this show is presented to. every mental event happens all over the brain, or rather the brain all over as such, is needed for the mental events. so, there is no one home. lights are on, but the house is vacant. “you” are nowhere to be found.
so, what is going on here? who am “i”? where the hell am i? in a neuron, in particular networks of neurons, or along some fuzzy alternation among networks of neurons? what could it even mean to conclude that i am nothing but some regularity of neural networks? that is not a self, that’s a non-self. do “i” even exist? can “i” be just an illusion, a by-product of this brain’s enormous computation capabilities? now how could this be? could it work? could this body even manage to exist without me? can i be that deluded? but wait a minute, concepts like delusion would only make sense if ascribed to a self, don’t they? therefore if this “self” is an illusion, if it doesn’t exist, how can it also be deluded? but is “non-existent” and “illusion” synonymous? could “i” be illusory but nonetheless exist? regardless of that, can my entire premise of existence be “that” off the target? was this body aiding and abedding a non-existent or illusory entity all its life? does this “i” person even have any control at all over this body’s behaviours, or both “i” and my behaviours (which determines all my social conducts!) are stemming from the same abstruse source? if so, could “i” be accountable for any of my behaviours? or was buddha on to something when he said,
Actions exist and even their consequences too, but the person who acts does not.
does my puzzlement purely results from a prior misconception of how nature works and therefore should be deemed unjustified? did my uninformed predispositions about this body’s mental machinery led me this impasse? maybe. but is getting rid of “me” viable? is that kind of existince worth pursuing? how could this body, with its mentally decapitated framing, even begin to make sense of a meaningful life? would meaning have a meaning without a central meaner? beyond “me”, does anything matter? when matter meets mind, do “i” perish into oblivion and irrelevance?