Tag Archives: Philosophy

Interpreting the World is Seeing the World

Continuing today’s philosophical musings –

“Study reveals individual neurons in the human brain are triggered by the subject’s conscious perception, rather than by the visual stimulus.” (Redorbit).

Through the examination of morphed faces, researchers concluded that only in the act of recognition did neurons actually fire. Subjective perception rather than objective visual stimulus caused the firing.

Professor Rodrigo Quiroga at the University of Leicester then went on to say, “In a sense, the interpretation of this result goes way back to British Empiricism and even to Aristotle. As Aristotle put it, we create images of the external world and use these images rather than the sensory stimulus itself for our thoughts. These neurons encode exactly that.”

Subjective perception… and the power of worldview and our mental models of the world around us.

Ever so subtly the chains that bind

Wrap us in their siren embrace.

And though I see you,

I see you as I see you –
Not as you really are… and rarely your true face.

Dreams and other Stuff

Jonah Lehrer, Seed Magazine, posts a cogent reminder on the limits of reductionism in answering many fundamental questions about who we are and how we live.  And it is worth reiterating here that understanding the physical workings of the brain only gives us certain types of information.

To quote him – “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, but we are also just stuff. What we need is a science that can encompass both sides of our being.”  Indeed.  And somehow through the messiness of sociology, philosophy, religion and other softer sciences we do indeed try to grapple with this messiness of subjective experience.  And there, of course, is the rub.  We are the ghost in the machine.  Understanding the machine is becoming easier.  Understanding ourselves remains, so far, as complex as it ever was.  But we increasingly have tools that make it at least a little easier.  What we do with them has been an evolving process.  Where we go with them remains yet to be seen.