Doug’s “Coming Out” Letter

Here is the text of a letter that appeared in April 21, 2016 edition of the North Coast Journal in which I proclaim (admit?) that I do not accept the present scientific view of reality.

Editor:
In an interesting riff on the insanity defense, my friend Douglas George (mailbox April 14) comes down on one side of a presently unanswerable question. I am here to present the other side.

Douglas argues that what we call “consciousness” is the accidental byproduct of a meaningless evolutionary process. And since evidence now shows that it takes the brain only a half-second to generate a thought that none of us can really be in control of our thoughts or actions. What causes the brain to generate these thoughts? Douglas proposes an inner “robot.”

I want to suggest a radically different approach to the underlying question. I propose that “consciousness” far from being an accidental byproduct exists a priori. That it forms and informs matter be it a rock, a flower, a dust devil or a brain. That it, not some cellular-level mindless robot, generates and is the awareness and the thoughts and emotions flowing through us. This force, I propose, never rests and is endlessly creating. It forms our dreams, our desires and our fears.

It seems we have woken to find ourselves in a classroom. There’s no teacher in charge, no principal down the hall. We are teaching ourselves and what rules exist we make up together. Our task, I would suggest, is to assume ownership of and take responsibility for the astonishing gift that flows in a unique way through each of us. The class is a kindergarten class. Each of us is learning but progress is painfully slow. And here, Douglas and I seem to agree: tolerance, patience, forgiveness, a cookie, the wedge of an orange and an afternoon nap are all helpful.

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Posted in Whimsy | | Tagged | | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Doug’s “Coming Out” Letter

  1. Leib says:

    beautifully stated. thank you…

  2. Eric Kirk says:

    Thanks for the thoughts. Doug G and I have had this discussion as well, and I’ve made the following argument which he doesn’t think disproves his “inner robot,” but I think it at least calls it into question. I believe that some of the articles have suggested that while it takes the mind half a second to process the incoming data, the mind is not waiting around to interpret and respond, but is in fact “predicting” based upon what came in a half second ago and stored information about what is likely to happen within the next half second. If you’re mind is synthesizing a response based upon a prediction then it is simultaneous with regard to the perceived moment even if the prediction is flawed. And it seems that there are few occurrences which could take place within that half second which would dramatically change the prediction. If so, there is no need for an “inner robot.”

  3. You are f0rgetting the stream of conscious thought.
    All thought is triggered by a past experience.
    There is no pure thought.
    How do you picture “nothing” without thinking of
    “something.”

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