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The Mind: Aristotle Kant and Socrates

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Daniel C. Dennet said in A Glorious Accident that, "our minds--if you like-- [are] just as

real as our dreams"(Kayzer, 37). The implications of this statement are substantial, for if this is

true--if our minds and our consciousness are just dreams or the constructs of our brain, what we

perceive, our memories, and our sense of reality are nothing more than illusions. Not only is this

scientifically a valid statement, but it forces us to question who we are, and what we know . It is

the latter that is of interest at this moment. What I wish to do in this essay is to tie together this

concept of perception and the mind with what we have read in Text and Critics, as well as to

discuss the need for science to find "reality" and "knowledge."

But, first, we must understand what Dennet means by "our minds being as real as our

dreams". Dennet's point is profound and a point that should not be dismissed as a whim of a

philosopher but, instead, a scientific reality-- not the construct of a man's subjective mind. One is

led to believe that the best way to describe the mind as an illusion is to describe it in terms of

dreams. When we sleep, our external sensory input is shut down. However, our minds, when we

dream, are not in a very different state than when we are awake, other than as said before that our

external sensory input is shut down. Thus, we can conclude that, our waking state is just as

illusionary as our dreams, though with supplementary external sources of information. When

dreaming, we obviously receive sensory input that enables our minds to create dreams with sights,

sounds, touch, taste, emotions, experience, and sometimes even smell. If there is no external

sensory input, we must logically imply that it is coming from internal sources in the brain, the

most obvious one being memory. Immediately, we can agree that memory is a subjective source

of reality, as we can see in the ease in which memory fills in its missing gaps with often

incorrect information (often influenced by our personal bias) as well as the ease in which memory

can be altered or repressed and false memory can be created. So, immediately, by looking at

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dreams, we can see that one source of our perception is subject to all sorts of editing by the brain.

While the subjectivity of the memories is most evident during the dream state, our memory is

equally subjective and edited during the waking state. But while our dreams draw on memory as a

source of sensory input, our minds, to a larger degree than when in a waking state, rely also on

sensory input created by the brain such as sight, sound, smell, as well as emotions and

consciousness to create an "artificial" reality. We can conclude that when we dream, since all of

our sensory input is internal (though sounds heard while dreaming can effect the construction of

dreams) and created by the brain in order to fill in for absent external sensory input, that our

dreams are in fact illusions, constructions of the brain. This being so, while during a waking state

we have supplementary external sensory input, it is being modified and interpreted by a brain that

creates (like dreams) an illusion, a construction which we call the self/mind. Thus we must

consider the mind as non veridical; what we see does not necessarily correspond with fact or

reality; it is a creative story with no one to view it. The mind as an illusion gives ironic meaning to

the humors maxim involving those who appear absent-minded: "is anybody home?" For isn't the

self nothing more than a projection?

Further examples of the illusionary construction of our brain can be found through the use

of psycho tropic drugs such as mescaline which alter the brain's chemical composition, allowing

the mind to see images, sounds, and smells, that are in fact not real but constitute a subjective

reality to the mind . It is the same with those who have psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia,

where the brain creates hallucinogenic images which the mind accepts as being real and existing in

the individual's spatial-temporal reality. It is often comforting to think of those individuals with

such psychotic diseases to be the ones experiencing illusions, while we "normal" people see what

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is real. That, however, is a mistake--our minds are as real as our dreams.

While mainly describing the mind as illusion, it is also important to recognize that our

brain has a limited range of external perception. We cannot see ultraviolet light like a bee, we

cannot smell with the power of a dog, we cannot hear to the degree of a bat, and we completely

lack the ability to perceive the world through electromagnetic fields as does a shark. Thus, we

have only a narrow piece of or, rather, a window to reality. Our brain also acts as a powerful

editing machine to filter out what it (independent of



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