Have you ever heard of the “Hard problem”?
The Hard problem is a popularized name for the struggle it is to fathom how conscious reality emerges from the physical world around us; It specifically comes down to how electrons moving around in our brain can give rise to our subjective, phenomenal experiences of taste, touch, sound, sight and smell.
How does our feelings, the colors we see, and the tastes we taste emerge from electrons buzzing around in our brain?
It isn’t too obvious, is it? Well, it is indeed a Hard problem!
But honestly, the problem is not actually hard (as in difficult); it is also soft! (as in totally ‘soft in the head’…Stupid!)
The wordplay here is both accurate and playful indeed, if I may say so…
But why is the Hard problem stupid?
– Because it’s upside down!
In trying to solve the Hard problem we engage on a mission to deduct mind from the physical;
We try to seek explanation for our conscious experiences by investigating what simultaneously happens in our brains;
Then, when we see electrons in moving somewhere, at the same time as we are having an experience of whatever it may be, we say: “Arrrh, now I understand. I see one thing, and then another. There must exist something more than just my mind.”
Just one thing is wrong, or at least flawed, with this approach:
In defining the hard problem we are so damn sure that it’s the physical that gives rise to the mind, that we never even considered that it could be the other way around…
This is because we all blindly assume the following:
- We assume that something actually exists outside of our mind in spite of the fact that it is isn’t even possible for us to know anything that doesn’t exist in our minds.
Although we can literally only be aware of smell, sound, sight, taste and feelings, we conclude that there exists more; “a world outside”.
Why do we do this? How can we be so damn sure that on the basis of what we feel and hear and see, there must be something other?
And in the light of this, why is our default approach to consider how this “physical” (that no man alive has ever witnessed) should give rise to what we experience in our minds?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to say: “Ok guys, since all we can ever come to know is our sensory experiences, we should work with these; not make up concepts about heaven, hell and “the world above” and then try to come to understand our existence through these fairy tales!”
I mean, wouldn’t that be a more reasonable place to start? Honestly?
I suppose all I’m askin’ is this:
Where the hell is the evidence of something physical, in the face of something which is pure mind? (The five senses)
Comment below, I really want to know… Somehow my Mensa-IQ just can’t figure it out! Oddly enough everyone seems to think it’s obvious and don’t even have to think about it for a second. But me? I just lay sleepless for countless nights, wondering about it, and I still can’t figure it out 🤷
Anyway…This post isn’t only complaints, you know: It’s a declaration of truth! Thus, a solution follows!
Why don’t we turn the Hard problem on it’s head?
By turning the Hard problem upside down, we are making it into another easy one. (Throw it in the pile with the other easy questions pertaining to the fundamental truths of existence itself!)
The Hard problem getting flipped upside down looks like this:
How does mind emerge from the physical? (Soft)
How does the physical emerge from mind? (Easy)
But before you set all your monkeys on fire out on sea, let me assure you: This question makes sense…I think 🤔 (Actually I know, don’t worry!)
But how can the physical be a product of mind, I mean isn’t that just crazy talk?
Chill, Johanna! I’ll spill the beans! And yes it is crazy talk but who gives a damn?!
As I mentioned, so-called “physical reality”, or “the world around us” is nothing but an assumption:
We assume that whatever activity goes on at our five sense-faculties is caused by something else. This something else, we cannot perceive, yet we tend to call it reality.
Before you start setting monkeys on fire again, just tell me once more:
How can you derive the existence of a reality, external to mind, based on data consisting solely on mind-internal phenomena of the five senses?
Tell me that doesn’t sound like a fallacy, just do it. I double dare you!
OK, so what then is the answer to this “easy problem”, mister potato sloucher?!
Well, first off: Watch your mouth and hold your damn horses. I prefer being called…Sir potato sloucher!
The answer to the question, how does the physical emerge from mind, goes something like the following:
The “physical” is but an impression in our minds: We have stories, consisting of “facts” about this “physical reality” to back it up, in case we need it.
A story about reality, which “explains” our perception of it, could be like the following:
The world around me becomes observable to me because it interacts with my body and brain: For instance, I can see because my body receives photons, reflected off of various “external objects”, which interact with my body. My brain then produces visual images.
We can all believe this story, can’t we?
But no matter how we try and twist and twirnkle it (yes, that is a word), we still cannot be aware of something which isn’t mind. Mind is all we know. And the stories that play in our mind let us believe that our mind is reflecting something which isn’t mind.
But to get back to the question…
What happens when we hear one of these stories out loud or in our minds, is that it creates the feeling that there is something physical, which is responsible for the activity of our mind:
A little bit of auditory sense perception here and a little bit of visual sense perception there – before you know it you have an emotion that tells you “that seems about right”.
We are easily fooled, us humans. Because our minds are so damn powerful and we are so damn unconscious of all the stuff that goes on in it.
We are even fooled the moment we open our eyes – It sure as hell look like we are seeing out through the two eyes in our head, doesn’t it? But we know that we are not: We are seeing colors of different intensity and we tell ourselves that it comes from somewhere else.
At best, as far as science will agree with you, we are experiencing a buzz of electrons in the back of our heads…
I’ll wrap up now.. it’s getting late!
It’s damn hard to even consider the idea that there is no physical reality; that there is only mind. But mind you, pun intended, that that is not necessarily what I am saying.
What I am saying is that we shouldn’t be too quick to make conclusions concerning things that we cannot experience, see, hear or even fathom in any way possible.
And as humans, the only things we can fathom, are those of the auditory, olfactory, visual, tangible and the…palatable? (You know what I mean)
With this in mind, we should forget about the Hard problem, turn it upside down and start to see how “reality outside mind” is really only something we have stories about. It’s definitely not something we can indulge in. And if we could, we wouldn’t know it anyway.
We are truly limited to a world that is made up of our five senses. That’s important to understand for anyone who wishes to know their reality.
Having turned the Hard problem upside down, a new Big Question arises:
How the frig does our mind arise?
To be honest, I think this is not possible to know. And who cares? If it was, we would start over again and simply be curious about how that, whatever it would be, had arisen.
I can see it going on and on and on…
Also, coming to the belief that we cannot know what gives rise to mind is quite awesome. Socrates said that his greatest knowledge was that he knew nothing (or something along those lines). And who knows? Perhaps this was what he meant?
And if one cannot know how the fabric of one’s experienced reality emerges, well..then we are all truly clueless about it all, aren’t we?