A Pluggable Brain And The State Of Reality

Pause for a moment and look. What do you see ? What is the object that you are looking at ? Are you able to define the physical characteristics of the object like color, shape and definition ? Now answer this very Matrix-esque question – is that real ?

Our eyes and hands and other sophisticated sensory receptors are so well advanced and nuanced that it is hardly credible that their signals could be deceiving.  There is no other single entity that can represent us as comprehensive and singular an entity as our brains. Our entire perception of ourselves – as a person with identity and characteristics and morals, and everything outside us – the so-called universe, resides within that small glob of sponge encased inside our skulls. Our brain starts working before we breathe our first puff of air and quite literally there is no escaping it. In an almost fatalistic way, we are our brains and everything else is just trivial detail. Or is it?

Many philosophers, and their books, have posed questions like this countless times and, in the recent years, works of many movie makers focus on this subject as well. Films like Matrix, Butterfly Effect and Inception explore, define and try to deconstruct our whole notion of reality and evidently questions about reality reveal more questions than the answers. Our idea of reality so fixated and solid in our minds that it is comical to think that what we see and perceive could be different from what is. Is something round because we think it is round or is it really round ? It’s easy to dismiss these questions as pointless exercise in philosophy but the under pinning science that leads us to believe and understand reality goes beyond just philosophy. If we can understand how the brain see everything and how it processes that information, we can make the brain work for us and not the other way around.

You know where this heading right? This is when I show you an expert who will question, and possibly disprove, all of our beliefs that I previously stated. This time the expert is David Eagleman and yes, he will disprove our preconceived notions about reality. David Eagleman is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine and a New York Times bestselling author and in this TED Talk he gives a brief but mind-blowing lesson about what is reality and what it means for us and the exciting, and a bit unnerving, future it might hold.

I guess we can all appreciate our brains a little more.


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