Posted by: Jack | December 20, 2006

The Human Brain vs. Reality

As the most intelligent species on this planet, humans often assume our brains possess the necessary means to understand the fundamental truths about the world around us. There is a term for a relevant concept I’ve read about but I forget what its called. Basically it states that there is no way to confirm what existence is like for another being/creature/object. Or an even simpler way of saying it: You can’t really put yourself in someone else’s shoes. An example of this that everyone has probably encountered is the vision/color debate: what you see as red might appear entirely different to someone else but there is no way to discover the difference and so on.

Getting back on track, because we can not have the perceptions of another projected onto us, we cannot conceive of what it would be like to truly have a higher level of intelligence. This applies to all beings of lesser intelligence too and using our superior intelligence we can see how it would be true of an animal such as a dog. A common example of another related truth is that try as you might, you will never be able to teach calculus to a dog. The creature just doesn’t have a brain that can process that kind of abstraction. But the point more relevant to my current idea is that the dog will also never know it is failing to learn calculus, nor will it even know that you are trying to teach it calculus. It won’t understand how it could benefit from knowing calculus and most importantly of all, it won’t recognize that its not smart enough to understand calculus.

Now carry the same idea over to humans. It is more than likely that there are truths about our universe that we cannot understand and would not even have the brain power to consider. Although our ability to mathematically apply logic to a theory is extremely powerful, the processes of the untrained human brain are often very illogical or what is better referred to as counter-intuitive. The easiest example of this is mathematical probability. Calculating odds on something like the flip of a coin is something that anyone can do after a brief tutorial. But even the trained brain still tries to hang onto the belief that if the coin has turned up tails twenty times in a row, the odds of landing on heads next time are greater than they were on the last flip.

Now thats just one very simple example that is relatively inconsequential (unless you are a gambler) but faulty logic presents itself as “intuition” every day. There are even numerous fields of profession that rely on this flaw in our ability to critically process information.

For anyone who’s still reading, hang in there because I’m getting to my real point. This whole concept is the basis for my spiritual agnosticism. The typcial questions asked regarding our existence are how and why. How did our universe come to be and what is the point? These are considered to be the important questions by many philosophers. And as is typical in philosophy, it is often concluded that we will not figure out the answers to these questions, ever. But I say, what if we are like the dog and calculus. What if the how and why are so far beyond our ability to conceive? What if, at the level of true explanation of the universe, how and why are irrelevant?

There is supposed to be merit in the pursuit of truth, but is there merit in pursuing an end which you already believe you can’t reach?

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Responses

  1. Very interesting. Well written, really has me thinking. Stumbled across this article by accident but was well worth the read. Thank you

  2. Jack i live in toronto, and ive met real muderers. Jack, the key element is destruction, human nature is to kill. This is no lie i swear, the more u destroy is the more your soul becomes good and the more control u have over your brain. You can say what you want or think what you want but what i tell you now is very real just beleive me. NO THOUGHT IS THE BEST THOUGHT


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