No “I” anywhere in the brain – not necessary
The chemical process I look at is outside as the low winter sun shines through the branches of the bollard willow. The distance is blurry, inside a piano trio at E-flat Major by Schubert, played by the Busch trio over 85 years ago. It feels like they’re composing music in a cookie bowl, but what a heartbreaking beauty. That’s what you think: heartbreaking, while nothing is torn apart, and certainly not your heart, but an unspeakable happiness overwhelms you, just for the sake of being right now, on a Sunday afternoon. my existence. But it seems to me, for a few minutes, that I am engrossed in being, all the time, of winter, of music.
W.F. Hermans was also aware that a person is nothing more than a chemical process like many others, a reader wrote recently in a letter to the editor. You hear that often. Man is a complex chemical process, which is not yet fully understood, but still. There is no place to be found in the human being or in the brain ‘I’ or ‘spirit’. No, you don’t have to. The 12th century Cistercian monk William of St. Thierry wrote that the soul somehow belonged to the body, “but without sitting inside and taking up space there, or sitting outside and sitting there.” By soul, as well as consciousness or me, we mean something unattainable.
Neuroscience does not yet have an answer to the question of what consciousness is. A byproduct of brain activity, some researchers say lightly, is not at all interesting. funny. For most people, this is exactly what they live off of. If what is so important to our life cannot be described in a scientific paradigm, this does not mean that we should stop talking about it, but that natural sciences are not suitable for describing everything that is human.
The label “no science” may be functional in neuroscientists’ rhetoric, but that doesn’t mean that we, as human beings, need to leave our experiences at bay. Science can teach us something, insofar as we have not already done so through self-examination: for example, there is no continuous and unchanging “self” in us. In fact, everyone knows it – how often people don’t say that they have changed radically through some event or experience, or through time. This may seem as if the previously created ‘I’ has now given way to a new one, but no one really perceives it or means it in this way.
It’s liquid, that’s how we feel. Indeed, brain damage can radically change a person, so the physical basis of the personality is certainly clear. But this does not mean that we should be identified with chemical (or digital) processes.
‘where am I?’ It is the first question everyone asks when he regains consciousness, even upon waking in the morning. Sometimes the answer is faster than the question: here! In this bed, in this tent, on that ice I just hit in the back of my head. The question could also be: Where have you been? I, whatever “me” feel like, is gone for a while, but it’s back now. Abundance.
And also on a Sunday afternoon, a low mist, there, almost unaware of himself, that is the best thing, he seems to be moved by what these guys have played for so long and feels one with everything.
Marjoline de Voss He is the NRC editor.
A version of this article also appeared on NRC on the morning of January 17, 2022
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