David Amerland
The mind, reality and free will

The Mind

Without going into too great a length to render judgment on the reading tastes and personal preferences of each of us, we can all agree that Harry Potter (the boy who lived), is a fictional character who has no existence outside the pages of a series of books (and films) which bear his name in the title. Yet, when pressed, we can all say something about his life, his struggles and his eventual victory over an evil only he could avert by way of a very special birthright.

Harry Potter is an entity in way many people aren’t. Yet he’s entirely imaginary. The ability to consider the insubstantial and visualize the invisible lies at the very core of the capacity of our massive brain to see things in the world that go beyond what we can feel, hear, smell or touch.

Even our very physicality, the ability to raise a leg and place one foot in front of the other depends upon our brain. And yet our brain is incredibly easy to fool. Readers of “The Sniper Mind” know just how much of the reality we experience is a construct.

The way the brain creates reality is still open to debate, not so much because we argue it doesn’t happen, it does. But we don’t really understand the mechanism, how. We are hardwired to believe weird things which makes it easy for us to deceive ourselves. At the same time we can use our brains to do amazing things calculate incalculable equations and turn a life that appears little more than a basic struggle for survival into something way more meaningful.

What we will know 100 years from now about the way our brains work is definitely going to world-changing. Even now, we can change our brain just by understanding a little about its operation.

Trying to look inside ourselves and understand what we are and what we can do so that we can become better at will sounds a little like we are re-engineering a plane in flight, including developing, testing and replacing the engines. Reality can, undoubtedly, be hacked. Free will may be an illusion, consciousness may be just a reporting mechanism but by looking at everything and critically examining what we know and can prove we are opening the doors to a new realm of development.

We know we are complex. We don’t quite know how, or why. And the more closely we look the more we devolve into a mass of questions and mystery which has led us down the path where we use one mystery to explain another by invoking quantum mechanics.

It may be that consciousness is a quantum mechanical phenomenon that emerges under very specific conditions. It may also be that reality itself is subject to the indeterminacy of quantum mechanics which leads us into some interesting questions about free will and the flow of information.

Brain-busting as all this may be, it is also exciting. And perspective-changing. When we are faced by the fundamental doubts of the reality of our existence and the independence of our thoughts all other problems we may be facing pale by comparison. We hopefully realize that in our secret superpower lies in our capacity to form social constructs that harness our individual mental and physical powers and while we definitely benefit as individuals from such an arrangement, the biggest win is to be found in our capacity to benefit as a species.

Coffee, right? Lots of coffee. And something sweet: donuts, croissants, cookies and chocolate cake at the very least. All that remains then is for me to say: have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.

© 2019 David Amerland. All rights reserved