Friday, 21 September 2012

Can You Trust Your Mind? Does Your Brain Deceive You?

Does the brain have its own selfish agenda?

If the mind is nothing more than the brain, and the brain has evolved solely to ensure the survival of our stone-age ancestors, then how do we know that it can reliably do anything beyond the range of competence for which 'survival of the fittest' selected it?  

Natural selection cannot select directly for true beliefs, but only for advantageous behaviors.

So is the brain giving us a picture of the world that is being dictated by selfish genes, rather than one that represents some true underlying reality? 

Is the brain just a propaganda machine for our genes, telling us to preserve and propagate them?

And, observing it all, is there a non-physical mind that is being deluded by the physical brain?

Researching the Doors of Perception

Darwin had his doubts

Charles Darwin himself doubted whether the brain can give us an unbiased representation of reality:

"But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?"    
- Letter to William Graham, 1881 

A Biological Scam

So who or what is being deluded by this biological scam?   

Free agent?

If we aren't just the products of our genes, then what are we?  How is it possible for us to think of ourselves as potentially non-deluded, non-mechanistic, non-biological free agents, who can see beyond the tricks the brain plays on us?    Is there indeed an immaterial mind that can be trained to penetrate the delusions and discover ultimate truth?  

Is this ability to see beyond the brain's self-serving propaganda the change in awareness that Buddhist meditations aim to bring about?

Read the full article at Evolution, Emptiness and Delusions of the Darwinian Mind

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