Brain Porn

BRAIN PORN!

Alva Noe, philosopher, author and NPR blogger, has a fine post on the long overdue backlash against purveyors of brain porn who claim to be able to use neural imaging technologies to peek under our psychic dresses and see the raw source code of our thoughts, beliefs and attitudes being executed inside of our heads.

The backlash has begun! After years of overselling neuroscience and its results in the popular media, we are now finally beginning to hear public voices of dissent.

The conceit of these brain-peeking voyeurs is that our brains are very complex computer-like organs that, given the right technology, can be viewed and mapped in much the same manner as spy satellites are used to locate and map terrorist training camps and launch drone strikes on them. Once mapped, all we need are some map coordinates and we can zoom right in to see what you’re thinking!

But what if our brains are not really as complicated and sexy as these brain-porn purveyors would like us to believe? What if peeking inside our brains is downright boring? — Once you’ve seen one neuron you’ve pretty much seen them all.

What if the brain is not complex at all? I suspect that it is a very simple all-purpose organ that is applied along with other organs in our behavioral habit of constructing intricate, complicated and very sexy stories.

Take for example the contrast between the organ we call the eyeball, which is indeed a very complicated structure, and the more generalized all purpose organic tissue we call muscle. The eyeball is limited by its specialized structure to performing a narrow set of tasks, but more generalized many-purpose muscles are instrumental in enabling a much wider variety of actions, including of course, rolling our eyes.

I propose that brains are very simple multipurpose organs in which the location and character of its native functions are quite generalized, but that when applied in the context of the whole brain-endowed creature, replete with eyes, muscles and other organs, plays its role in a very complex dance that enables our conscious experience.

Our knowing is not something housed in our brains and called upon now and then to inform our activity. Our knowing is a dance enacted by our whole selves in concert with other selves as we move forward in the world from moment to moment.

Our sexy minds are not in the brain tissue hidden inside our heads. Forget the peep shows and save your money because the real action — the sexy stuff — is outside our heads — the stories we invent among ourselves going forward in the world.

About marc

Instructional Design Consultant
This entry was posted in Current Events, Great Thinkers, Science of Consciousness, Theory of Knowledge. Bookmark the permalink.

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