The conceptual pop
We are so close. We have an almost complete picture of reality. There is just one more step to go.
We know that the world we experience, that we share with everyone else, is a world made inside our head. We know that the world exists, we know that our senses perceive it, and we know our brain’s recreate that same world – adding in loads of really complicated stuff as it goes.
Our problem is that this argument still looks like one for some form of solipsism. Our entire argument is deformed by the fact that we do not have the values right in the picture.
For our enquiry started out trying to explain this world in which we all live. It ended up saying this world was not the real one.
The discovery that consciousness took place in the brain and the subsequent feeling that this changed the inquiry, is not the same as doing an operation for a broken bone and finding cancer. It is like the doctor becoming disinterested in surgery because of something he found while operating and turning his hand to carpentry.
The leap we must make is to flip our value system, our judgement system, our entire conceptual structure, to reflect the fact that the stuff that happens in all of our heads is the only thing of value to us, and that it is also a shared phenomena.
The conceptual pop happens when you see that consciousness might be a sometimes inaccurate virtual reality of our shared world. But it is all we have. We have to call it reality, we just have to, its all we’ve got. But it helps to think of it like virtual reality, so I’ll call it (v)R.
The difficulty is that the rules of the investigation change massively when you pop. No longer is it a clear-cut matter as to what is real. Ambiguity and shifting cultural sands lie all around. No longer is there a reductive system of investigation by which reality is pinned down. The conceptual system that explains our (in brain) reality is utterly expansive and interconnected.
Reality now conforms, not to the rules of causation, but to the rules of narrative, the rules of grammar.
The fall out from the pop is to accept that the human sciences – human evolution, psychology and sociology, are in a different bracket of investigations to those whose subject matter is outside the reality. Of course they do talk about material facts – the glands of emotion, the genes of gangs.
But they also have to try and generalize the narratives of living humans. How to you generalize stories? Clearly in a different way to averaging data.
I find it hard not to get waylaid in these thoughts. So many confusions come from our inability to clear our ears at this altitude. If you make the pop and start calling THIS reality, you’ll start to see the oddness of putting all the truth into natural science.
When you pop out into the organized, conceptual, interconnected and narrative brain-created human-reality that we all call home, you’ll see that everything that has meaning and value is completely different in kind to the facts of matter. The truths are based on certainty and action, the concepts are based on stories, and everywhere we tread disconnects and reconnects the connections in new and different ways.
We must stop wishing that science could understand this massively complex shared (v)R world from the outside, and get on with figuring it out from where we are.
It is such a simple picture. The world – my head – our world. Such a simple picture – shared virtual reality. Why isn’t it obvious?