“To the mainstream materialist way of thinking, only the physical is real. Anything nonphysical is at best an artifact, at worst an illusion.” The Mind and the Brain, Schwartz & Begley
Some neuroscientists have fallen into the trap of thinking that since the brain can be mapped there is nothing beyond the physical gray matter of the brain that impacts human behavior. In other words, human behavior is hard-wired into a physical machine called the brain. But this explanation does not explain how each person experiences life differently, how we have full-blown and felt mental states when we see the color red – and these states or experiences are not the same. The brain as machine does not capture the variety, depth, and mood of the internal human experience.
In The Mind and the Brain, authors Schwartz and Begley point out that simple physical devices, such as cameras, can be programmed to send messages when color or sound detection is perceived, but none of these mechanical responses can be called conscious. “Consciousness is more than perceiving and knowing; it is knowing that you know.” (p.25)
The question becomes, how can neuroscience explain consciousness? How is it that human beings know that they know and, for all apparent purposes, cameras do not? There must be another element, an unseen factor, that influences the human experience.
Since science or western study of knowledge (epistemology) assumes that the physical world is more real than the nonphysical one, we are left with a serious dilemma: how does neuroscience study the mechanism of consciousness?
If you are forever a practical person, how does this intellectual conversation apply to me getting to the grocery store before the storm tonight? Then bear with me a moment longer; remember when we couldn’t see germs?
At one time germ theory was the crazed thinking of a lone man, who died undiscovered. He could not show the physical proof of germs and so society went fifty more years and countless more deaths before science had a way to encounter germs. Once the discovery was embraced, human beings changed their behavior. My own children do too. They learned about germs in school and now they won’t let me sip from their cups or kiss them on the lips: “yuck mommy, germs!”
More importantly, they wash their hands – what a god send!
So what would happen if the medical community embraced consciousness? How would you change the daily activities of your life if you saw consciousness as real, true, and impactful?
Join us at the end of the month to find out. Dr. Dicken Bettinger will share wisdom and insight into the nature of being human. Join us for a public talk, Beyond Overwhelm workshop or Parenting from Common Sense Workshop.