The human brain has always fascinated me. When you see one in the flesh, it looks like nothing more than slimy, pinky-grey glob, when in essence it is one of the most complex single objects in the known universe; confounding to this day scientists who attempt to uncover its countless mysteries. Our brain is the epicentre of our being. It controls how we perceive the world, and crucially, our consciousness and sense of self. Noë believes that we “make consciousness dynamically, in our exchange with the world around us,” which is an interesting thought because I’m sure that most of us would like to think that we have full control over our brain and, in turn, our consciousness.
On a personal level however, our brain (please excuse the pun) seems to have a mind of its own. I am quite good at remembering faces, but, rather frustratingly, am not so good at remembering names (almost as if my brain is toying with me). In this regard memory is certainly a fickle thing. Andrew talked in the lecture about how sensing certain things can bring back memories. For instance if I ever smell chlorine, I remember in vivid detail the swimming lessons I took when I was a child. On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes I forget the password to my email.
Our brain, our mind, our consciousness (whatever you want to call it) is a mutable thing. It can change. You can improve your memory by teaching yourself memorisation techniques, for instance. BUT, external forces are also able to change how you think. Pamoukaghlian writes that “today, the horrifying landscapes that Orwell imagined are all scientifically plausible,” which is probably why I am as cynical as I am. I don’t want the media (whether it be news sources or advertisers) getting into my head and telling me how to think.
I need to believe that I can think for myself.
Noë, A 2010, ‘Does Thinking Happen in the Brain?’, viewed 27th March 2013, http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/12/10/131945848/does-thinking-happen-in-the-brain
Pamoukaghlian, V 2011, ‘Mind Games – Science’s Attempt at Thought Control’, viewed 27th March 2013, http://brainblogger.com/2011/12/28/mind-games-sciences-attempts-at-thought-control/