Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Weird Connections

"Truth is but a feeling, which is just chemical & electrical signals in the human brain. So what then do we mean by a quest for truth? Where then, do we hope to reach in pursuit of truth?"
Often, explorations in the areas of Cosmology, Human Mind/Brain and similar fields tend to blurr the difference between science & religion. Because they are all lands of uncertainty. And like every other uncertain world (any world for that matter), they are founded & built on beliefs, not established facts.

The root cause of this uncertainty, is multiplicity of interactions - too many wires in the circuitry. What brings life to the whole design is not the wires, but the way the wires are connected. It is the connections that make the design - alive!

Ironically, these very connections that keep us alive, also make it extremely difficult for us to comprehend everything that is connected with being alive. Here's why - Can an organism alone, without it's environment be called alive? Can there be a mind to think, if there is no world to cause thoughts? Philosophical as they may sound, I feel it's very necessary to understand this relation between our mind & our environment, the society & all the other minds around us.

#1. In a particularly interesting case, a lady by name Diane Fletcher was being treated by David Milner, a neuropsychologist at the University of St. Andrews in Fife. She had been blinded in the traditional sense of the world because of a gas tragedy. At one point, Dr. Milner held up a pencil. "What's this?" he asked. As usual, Diane looked puzzled. Then she did something unexpected. "Here, let me see it," she said, reaching out and deftly taking the pencil from his hand. Dr. Milner was stunned, not by her ability to identify the object by feeling it but by her dexterity in taking it from his hand. As Diane reached for the pencil, her fingers moved swiftly and accurately toward it, grasped it and carried it back to her lap in one fluid motion. You'd never have guessed that she was blind. It was as if some other person—an unconscious zombie inside her—had guided her actions.
(from Phantoms in the Brain, VS Ramachandran)

Cases like the above revealed that even the simplest of human abilities like vision (you may say it's not so simple after all), is not something that is realized in a specific region of the brain. Even if the pathway to give you the sensation of vision is damaged, the pathways to help you process the information your eyes receive & act accordingly may be intact, like in the above case - multiplicity.

So in the above example, can we say that Diane knew what the world around looked like even though she did not feel the knowledge? Doesn't it mean that our existence has much more to it than the feeling of existence? What then does it mean when we say - "I pursue ..." , if there is another (or many) I within us that pursues something else that we might be completely unaware of?

It's precisely such a multiplicity of existence (of particles) that drove classical physics into the quantum arena. Can there similarly be a new way to define/redefine the way we understand - I ?

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