Our memories, our beliefs, our knowledge, our feelings, our emotions and how we react to the universe are all what we are, and they in turn are associated with our mind. But where is our mind?
The overwhelming majority of our neurons, synapses and such like: our grey matter, is in the brain. There are a few other locations like the upper spine , heart controlling our heart rate and our gut controlling our digestion. But apart from these small exceptions the brain in our heads and between our ears is, by far, the main location.
With some exceptions, all our nerves start or end in our brain.
- All our senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch go to the brain via nerves.
- Muscles cause all our movements, and they are activated by nerves which originate mostly in the brain.
There are other movements like digestion and our beating hearts, but these are autonomous and only partially controlled by nerves originating in the brain.
So, for the location for our mind then the brain must be the most credible place. Not our hearts, as in “we know in our hearts,” or in our guts, as in “a gut feeling.” No, what we perceive to be our mind is in the brain. Our mind is in our brain rather than say another part of our body. Although our bodies are essential to our existence, we are our mind.
Our minds can only sense the outside world via our senses. This is the only route for information to pass to the brain and so the mind. Because of this our minds are isolated from the universe and can only understand what is “out there” through our senses.
It is as if we are in a sealed room and only have closed circuit TV inputs, speakers connected to external microphones and other external sensors relaying to displays in the room. Then we must make out what the combination of these inputs tell us about the universe outside of the room we are sealed in.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the external sensors were perfect, but for our isolated mind the senses are not of the best quality and certainly nowhere near perfect. I explain much of this reasoning and how relatively poor our senses are in my book Modelling Mind. (See links below.)
We are our mind in our brain, and we know the universe only via five inadequate senses. We are isolated minds.
You might be thinking so what? That’s all obvious once we think about it and not really anything to seriously dispute. But the ramifications of this are hugely significant.
As we are isolated minds only connected to the universe by inferior senses, then how can we ever claim any absolute certainty and truth. How can we fully understand anything in the universe if our senses are not perfect?
Even more fundamentally, do we (our minds) live in the real universe, or do we (our minds) only know what we have deduced about the universe, our understanding of the universe and, in effect, live in our thoughts? We only know what we know, so this is all we can know, and this is what the mind inhabits.
My explanation of this is too long to justify in this short blog, but my answers are:
- We (our isolated Minds) only know what we know, so this is all we can know, and this is what the mind must inhabit.
- We (our isolated Minds) cannot be completely certain of the majority of what we think we know.
- We (our isolated Minds) inhabit the virtual reality of our Mind’s thought: our understandings of the universe around us.
I discuss this and show how these ramifications play out in my book Modelling Mind.
The Bottom Line: We are isolated minds, and those limitations of our mind are our limitations.