Brain in the Vat!

Oh yes here comes one of the very classic philosophical questions…how do we know if we’re real? This question as well as other classics such as the chicken and the egg have kept me amused for years.

I firs thought about the are we real question when I was quite young and I must say that to this day I still don’t know, though I’d love to, how I arrived at this question no one had died and it’s not like I’d been watching anything more involved then Play School or the Wiggles at the time but I do remember I was roughly at that age when I first pondered this question(no wonder I was so good at it two years a go when we studied it in Philosophy!)

My end conclusion was basically it doesn’t matter, which isn’t me being lazy (I’ll go into the details of my thoughts in a second) but me accepting that no matter if I’m real or not I’m stuck here with my suffering until I finally die. So therefore there isn’t any point in driving myself crazy(er) with the idea unlike Descartes(pronounced day-carts) and as he famously said “I think therefore I am.”, I do know that to whatever extent I personally am in fact real. Now obviously all these types of statements flow onto more questions and I could quite easily go way off the path here so I’ll try my best not to, but for those who can keep up this is how I think:

It’s though chemical and electrical impulses that we experience the world, which makes the world very very different for all of us so for as long as my brain is producing electrical impulses I am experiencing. A general definition of ‘life’ could be experiencing the world, so I know that by experiencing I am in life this for me is a rather easy conclusion to come to(it’s what life is that I find so much more interesting, but that’s not the point!), whether or not my body is real is what I have no way of knowing and while fun to think about it doesn’t actually bother me.

Now in theory the brain could survive in the right conditions outside the body(just because we can’t currently do it doesn’t mean it can’t be done)  and if there was some kind of nervous system attached in some manner it’s possible for it to then be tricked into feeling a body that isn’t there, we’ve all heard the stories of people who’ve had limbs cut off that then itch or feel heavy ect. so that provides proof to a degree that the physical doesn’t need to be there for the brain to think it feel’s it. This is the part that tends to give people a head ache or drives them crazy. So this indicates that it’s entirely possible that my brain could simply think that it feels the physical elements around me, including my body and because it’s my brain that is suppose to tell me what I’m experiencing is real or not I have no real way of telling if the physical things around me are real.

A good example of this would be any kind of hallucination, at the time it looks very real and you’ve got no real way of saying if it’s really there or not, another example which should be much easier for people to relate to would be a dream. Everything in a dream feels real, all your senses are telling you that this is really happening to the point that I woke up the other night with panic attacks because my dream felt that real and it’s not until you wake up from the dream(unless you’ve trained yourself to dream in a lucid manor) that you find it wasn’t real. All that dream was was chemical and electrical impulses from your brain telling you that you felt that slap on the face.

So there you have it, by my own reckoning it’s 100% possible that we could simply be a brain in a vat experiencing things that really don’t exist. But I ask you, if you can experience these things does that in fact make them real?(this too is something I’ve thought a lot on and might cover in another post.)


About Mandy

I live with an assortment of illnesses and one illness causes me chronic pain so I live with my dad. I'm lucky that Dad looks after me, even though I'm an adult, which allows me to actually live a life. I love animals. I have two dogs, five adopted guinea pigs, and two small tropical fish tanks. I listen and sing (badly) to mainly rock music. I really enjoy reading and often read an assortment of different genres but I do have a special interest in true crime. I was studying psychology with the intention of specialising in Forensic Psychology and when I'm able to I will return to university.

Posted on 03/11/2012, in Philosophy, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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