January 27, 2006

A new kind of Monism

Misleading conclusions - Dr. Alok Pandey NAMAH (Vol 13. Iss.3)
There is a recent dangerous trend in certain scientific circles that explains away deeper and higher truths on the basis of purely material events and processes. It is a new kind of Monism that destroys the differences by first acknowledging and then assimilating phenomena of a different order into itself. Take for example the tendency to explain thought on the basis of purely neurophysiologic processes. The neuroscientist stimulates certain areas of the brain and the experimental subject experiences certain fragments of thought, a snatch of music or fleeting emotion. Conclusion: thought, feelings and creativity are nothing but a by-product of (random) neuronal events. It is simply a question of firing certain brain cells that will create a Shakespeare. There is nothing more to it except perhaps some genes and environmental learning, not the individual that decides who becomes what. It is a new brand of fatalism -- a fatalistic doctrine far worse and rigorous than the psychological fatalism sometimes read under the caption of karmic law.
  • But Mr. Scientist, who is propounding this theory?
  • Is it simply a random firing of neurons selected by genes and environment to which you give the elusive name of logic and reason?
  • And since the neurological event is an unconscious process and consciousness simply a by-product, then what reliance can there be on this 'rational inference' or even 'sense observation' of yours?

It would be as good or bad as any other, - a brilliant babble rather than a blundering one, but a babble of neuronal cells nonetheless.

  • Nevertheless, this apart, tell us where the source of the song is, - in the tape-recorder, or the singer who first lent his voice to it, or perhaps the writer who first conceived it?
  • Or is it the 'idea' (preceding conception and thought) that gave birth to the song in one heart, of philosophy in another and science in yet another mind, but all the same, still the same idea?
  • Or, going a step further, a truth or the Truth expressing itself in infinite but partial ways through endless Time and Space in multitudinous voices and visions!
You should know better. For did you not declare only yesterday that the brain is like a computer and the body a mere machine? We have agreed that indeed it is so. But 'I thought' your explorations would not end here. For natural logic demanded that you would go on to find where the programming of this 24x7 PC (that we carry in the small box in our head) comes from.
  • Did I hear genes and environment? Perhaps, though I suggest there may be some 'conscious will' within me that chooses one out of many possible programmes.
  • Or can some 'conscious or ultra-conscious intent' or even 'original creativity' alter and make use of this programming?
  • Yes, scientist sir, I refer to the skinware behind the hardware and software, the man behind the machine, the user of the brain PC.
No sir, I have no intention of belittling your great discovery of this wonderful transmitter-receiver called the brain. How can I? To belittle it only belittles Nature and God. For it was already there long before you had discovered it. Nay, it was already there even before it developed into what it is today. Uncoiling in the simple cells of Hydra was the future brain-to-be. Or was it not there even before life emerged into the principle of matter as a concealed mind dividing the 'one and infinite universe' into 'infinite universes', 'each' a separate world needing an instrument for expression? The brain indeed is one such evolved instrument that expresses itself through a certain type of thought-world. And it does its task admirably. For it brings into that little circle of our waking cognition what sails in a much wider sphere.
Yes sir, we do become conscious of a form of words, sounds, structure and sequence through neuronal circuits. But that is not thought's own origin. It is a child of another world, built in another substance and born of another parentage than the physical one though it strays here. Proof? Everyday proof sir, which we only choose to ignore. When we sleep and dream, in hypnosis and trance, in moments of inner illumination and creative insight, a different mode of thinking awakes, none of which your brain stimulation can evoke. It can spontaneously awaken when you put the neurons to sleep through anaesthesia or drugs. We then sometimes wake up to worlds anterior to thought; we see there the 'idea-force' in its bare simplicity before it dons the material dress of formed and structured thought. Know it or not, sir? Maybe you were so busy studying the brain and thoughts of 'others' that you forgot to study your own and neglected to see beyond the realm of a 'string of words'. Would you, for the sake of science and truth try it now?

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