Mind: The Gap

This is a piece I wrote which was featured in The Sophist – a magazine about philosophy at the University of Oxford.

The problems of philosophy are over! The demon of consciousness, lurking in the dark, inexplicable, incomprehensible, beyond reproach, is finally dead and buried. Research conducted in the psychology department of Oxford University has given us the answer, the final, unavoidable truth: the mind does not exist. There are no such things as emotions, desires, pleasures and pains. There are no beliefs, no intentions, no decisions. You are nothing more than an advanced biological machine living in a complex, deterministic social hierarchy. Those spirits and vapours of mental states are nothing but the tired language of romantic literature, like angels and unicorns.

The fact of the matter is, you see, that your consciousness is not real. It is nothing but an epi-phenomenon, a side product like the occasional sparks of metal cogs grinding tirelessly in the ceaseless engine of your brain. Extensive studies have shown that concepts such as “love”, “want” and “intention” are in fact entirely useless. To prove this they ran some tests, the scientists tried and failed to measure the intensity of “love” and plot it on a graph, they passed it over to the logicians who formalised all the statements of “love” and found that there was no proof for any of them, and they led to no useful inferences! It was observed that the study of this dubious, intangible “mind” lead to no accurate predictions of the future, no reliable rules for behaviour and no remarked patterns.

The final nail in the coffin was the historical analysis. The existence of the mind has been believed for millennia, but there have been no advancements in its whole history. The expressions in Greek and Roman literature weren’t really so different from ours at the turn of the twenty first century; our understanding of “feelings” has grown no deeper over all the ages. Now really, in these times of advanced scientific discovery there is no room for stagnant theories. These mental phenomena, unyielding to quantification or formalisation, really cannot be allowed. It is a well-known truth that anything which cannot be measured cannot really exist at all, and so this theory of the mind really should be cast aside, making room for a fully physical, scientific understanding of the advanced animals we are.

These phrases that people used to use so freely; “I’m in pain”, “I believe in God”, “I love you”, they really mean nothing at all. They were only the products of confused thinking, like those primitive mythological explanations for the changing seasons or weather patterns but trying instead to grasp the different patterns of scattered stimulation of the amygdala and insular cortex. The existence of these demon-phrases existed so long only as a result of the blasted trickery of language, the habit we get in to of talking like we might be free, or have some kind of control over the processes of our brains. A belief in mental phenomena is pure ignorance, intolerable in this modern age of accuracy which leaves no room from incomplete explanations or dodgy folk-theories. But now we can forget these meaningless phrases, and express our brain states accurately! You can turn to your lover and say “Your presence activates my biological triggers and hormone receptors; you put me in brain state 4372”, and they will know exactly what you mean.


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