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This is ultimately the question that raises for me when I think about the 'nature of consciousness' and neurosciences.

I don't think there's a point in denying science. Perception comes from the brain. It's brain processes that make up our experiences, emotions and thoughts. But it's the perception of physical things that I can't wrap my head around. Why? Because following the logic of 'perception is in the brain', the whole concept of physicality comes from the brain, along with perception of physical things. But if the perception of physical things comes from the brain, the brain is also 'merely' a perception which would be paradoxal. How can a 'mere' perception create another perception? So then if I can't go with what I see, hear and smell, because of this paradox, what is the world really? Some formless blob?

By the way, I assume that 'physicality' is a mere perception created by the brain. It simply seems logical to me following the lines of mechanical thinking. Is this a bad assumption?

I would like to move on with my thoughts on this. Is this paradoxical? If yes, how should I deal with this? Am I making the right assumptions?

I'm pretty sure this thought has been written and talked about before. Where should I look to explore further?

Of course I could go with a dual view where there's the world and the 'observer' of the world. Sure I like this thought, but right now I am looking for a 'non-dual' explanation.

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    I think your line of reasoning is based on mixing two different senses of "in the brain". Neurons and concepts are both "in the brain" but not in the same sense. Neurons are physically in the brain, but perception "in the brain" is an impression of something else, which isn't, so there is no paradox. Perceptions do not "create" other perceptions, but their physical correlates might "create" other physical correlates, and perceptions. Btw, concepts and perceptions are two different things, 'physicalness' is a concept, and while "created" by the brain it may still represent something real. – Conifold Dec 6 '16 at 18:53
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Two responses:


But if the perception of physical things comes from the brain, the brain is also 'merely' a perception which would be paradoxical. How can a 'mere' perception create another perception?

You might find an answer in Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness and Self-Representational Theories of Consciousness. Such theories were proposed to deal with the problem of consciousness, which is what you seem to be alluding to.

To give a rough simplification, HOTC and SRTC try to solve the paradox you mention in the following way: physical objects are preceptions in the mind/brain, the mind/brain is a physical object, so how can it be a perception? Doesn't this mean that it is something different from a perception?

Not necessiraly: you can have perceptions of perceptions, and self-referring perceptions which are about themselves.

everyday physical objects are 1st order perceptions about the outside world, while conscious states are 2nd order or higher-order perceptions about other perceptions (in SRTC, conscious states can be self-referential states about themseleves).

So self-reference and higher order represetations provide a way out of the paradox you mention.


At a more general metaphysical level,

By the way, I assume that 'physicalness' is a mere perception created by the brain. It simply seems logical to me following the lines of mechanical thinking. Is this a bad assumption?

and

Of course I could go with a dual view where there's the world and the 'observer' of the world. Sure I like this thaught, but right now I am looking for a 'non-dual' explanation.

There is, as you say, a (notorious) "Non-dual" explanation: Berkeley's idealism. Berkeley famously followed the reasoning you proposed and took to its logical conclusion: The mental is all there is, there is no physical world. See this post and this post for more details.

  • It seems like self-referring perceptions would give rise to ontological problems for which no one seems to have an answer, unless you're suggesting that it can be explained in terms of Chalmer's theory or neurtral monism. Is that what you're saying? – user3017 Dec 7 '16 at 10:09
  • Accepting this answer because it's the most informative and to the point. I've read about Berkely in Sophie's World earlier. I know what my next 'older' philosopher is gonna be to study now. Also, as I understand there are ways my reasoning is not paradoxical, so I will definitely research that as well. Thank you! : ) – Lucas Dec 7 '16 at 13:32
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Here is a lecture by Noam Chomsky where he argues that there is no mind-body problem because we do not know what the physical is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5in5EdjhD0

  • Thanks for the link. It's great to hear somebody recognizing the need for a little humility with respect to what can be known: "[Newton's] mathematical physics required the admission into the body science of incomprehensible and inexplicable facts imposed on us by empiricism..." (Chomsky) – user3017 Dec 7 '16 at 19:49
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Our so called reality is already an imagination. Everybody has separate realities, solely based on our senses, experience, and genes. So why do we still use the name reality on what is an imagined idea? What is physical doesnt matter. It is just a name. What we believe is physical will be physical. What I want to say is we are able to trick ourselves into thinking smth is blue even if it is orange. For each concept of reality is subjective, we have billions of it. It can be an illusion, but at this point it doesnt really matter, we cant really do anything about it.

My answer would be that it is what we make it to be. But with the knowledge that this, whatever we call it, is our perception is already telling a lot. We should be satisfied with that.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Sure we can imagine that 2+2=5 but if you stand 2+2 feet from a train track and jump the distance thinking you have a foot to spare and a train rolls by... blood on the tracks – Mr. Kennedy Mar 15 '17 at 4:28
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What is the physical world if everything is perception?

If everything is perception, then the physical world is perception.

Everything, however, is not perception.

Perception comes from the brain.

Does it? If everything is perception and perception comes from the brain, are you saying anything other than perception comes from perception?

If perception comes from the brain, how would you even know that everything is perception, or, be able to tell if everything were not perception?

If everything were perception how in the world would you even have the language to pose the conditional question, "what is the physical world if everything is perception?"?

If everything were perception, you would have no means by which to verify the ontological status of the world and confirm any epistemic claims about the world.

For all we know perception happens in the brain but it is insufficient to say that the brain causes perception without any clarification such that a neuroscientist would confirm. When light or audio waves reflect of a surface and fall upon optic and auditory nerves they "cause perception" as much as the internal neurological mechanisms relay the stimulus through your sensory nervous system.

By the way, I assume that 'physicality' is a mere perception created by the brain. It simply seems logical to me following the lines of mechanical thinking. Is this a bad assumption?

It's more than just a bad assumption, what you are wrestling with is what Searle calls, "The Bad Argument". Read Searle's "Perceptual Intentionality" if you are tempted to a denial direct realism.

The proof then that there two different senses of “aware of” are being used here is that the semantics are different In the intentionality sense, the subject S has an awareness A of object O implies A is not identical with O; but in the constitutive sense where subject S has an awareness of entity O, A is identical with O, the painful sensation and the awareness are identical Now let us apply this to the famous Argument from Illusion that we considered earlier In the sense in which I am aware of an object when I look at the desk, the intention- ality sense, in that sense when I have a hallucination I am not aware of anything There is nothing there; hence I could not be aware of any- thing Nonetheless, I am having a conscious visual experience and it is tempting, given the way our language works, to erect a noun phrase to stand for that awareness and make it into the object of the verbs of per- ception So “aware of”, “conscious of”, are used in two different senses We feel immediately hesitant to say that one “sees” anything in the hal- lucination case, so we are tempted to put sneer quotes around “sees” But what is going on, I hope, is obvious and clear In every case there is an ambiguity in the crucial phrases “aware of” or “conscious of”; because in the intentionality sense in which I am aware of something when I see it, in the case of the hallucination I am not aware of any- thing I have a conscious experience, but that conscious experience is not itself the object of the experience; it is identical with the experience

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