The Astonishing Hypothesis

8 Feb

brainTry to wrap your mind around this:

“The Astonishing Hypothesis is that “You,” your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

Francis Crick

Can our sense of self be so callously and casually dismissed?

3 Responses to “The Astonishing Hypothesis”

  1. Mad Hatter February 24, 2007 at 12:11 am #

    I was thinking about this same concept a while before, about a week ago. It is a rather disheartening concept if you don’t believe in something beyond the brain that controls the body. If the brain is the source of consciousness, then everybody is really just a product of their environment, nothing more. They are the end of the giant equation of everything that has happened to them.

  2. Ben February 24, 2007 at 12:11 am #

    If the brain is the seat of consciousness and all experience, does that mean that the subjective experience of consciousness is diminished or somehow not important? Would there not be a physical, biological basis for all experience anyway? (How could there not be?)

    The “Astonishing Hypothesis” is like an elbow to the stomach, but does it really say anything we don’t alread y know? Isn’t it like proclaiming that the ecstatic and delicious taste of cupcakes is nothing more than the interactions of taste buds and atoms?
    i.e. so what?

    Mad Hatter – are you saying free will is dependent on a non-physical basis/aspect of consciousness?

  3. Mad Hatter February 24, 2007 at 12:12 am #

    I was saying that if there is nothing outside of our physical body, then everybody is a direct product of their environment. We are simply just reacting to forces put on us if the brain is nothing more then matter.

    If the brain is where consciousness is stored, then that’s where free will comes from. If the brain is influenced by everything it experiences, then “free will” is just a pre-defined product of our experiences compounded upon one another.

    Essentially yes, true free will (will not based on what we’ve experienced, not based on a personality formed from our experiences) is dependent upon a non physical component.

    “Would there not be a physical, biological basis for all experience anyway? (How could there not be?)”

    I’d say that if there were a non-physical component, call it a spirit or soul, then it could be above biological influences, or at least it would only be translated through them and not created from them.

    I guess it’s just sort of a dim realization.


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