Sunday, April 7, 2024

Brain in a vat: Is the world real or a simulation?

What is the mind? Is the mind a function of the brain or an attribute? Does the mind survive the death of the brain? What role do the more than 100 billion neurons, which exist in the mature human brain, play in the manifestation of the mind? Do we make our choices on the basis of chemical and electrical reactions in the brain or do we use free will?

If we are making our choices on the basis of the material reactions inside the brain, then we don’t have free will, and it is theoretically possible to coerce people into making certain choices by tinkering with the brain's electric and chemical processes. But if the mind is independent of the brain's material processes, then there is the possibility of free will.

The connection between the mind and matter (brain) is the oldest problem of religion and philosophy. For thousands of years countless sages and philosophers in civilizations and cultures have come up with theological doctrines, arguments and thesis to explain the relationship between mind and matter. But in our time we see these works as nothing more than mythologies, fantasies and fictions.  

We don’t know what is the real connection between mind and matter. We don’t know how we make choices. We don’t know what we are referring to, when we speak the word “I”.

In our time, philosophers, scientists, neurologists and bio-technicians have been grappling with the problem of the brain in a vat, which enjoins you to imagine that you are a brain in a vat connected to a computer program that can simulate any kind of experience. This implies that the world we are experiencing is not real, it is a matrix or simulation. 

Modern scientists and philosophers cannot prove beyond doubt that the universe is real and not a simulation caused by the brain’s processes.

This brain in a vat problem is not a new innovation. Some aspects of this problem was foreseen by the ancient sages and philosophers, who theorized that the body is a vessel made of clay whose sole purpose is to serve as a home to the soul or the mind. Every human being (basically every living creature) consists of two parts: the body, which is the vat, and the mind, which is the soul.

The structure and functioning of over 100 billion neurons in the brain is as complicated, mysterious and vast as the universe. There are two vast and mysterious universes that mankind is confronted with. There is the universe outside the body and there is the universe inside the body.

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