The Brain Delusion

If the mind — consciousness, thought, will — is an illusion of the brain, as our modern scientific religion insists, then whose illusion is it? After all, the brain itself, as a recognizable and definable entity, would, on this view, have to be nothing but another facet of the illusion. In other words, the brain itself is an object of conscious thought, and hence cannot serve as pre-conscious grounds for the illusion or epiphenomenon of consciousness. And if we follow this logic back to the level of atoms and neurons, then still we must ask, “Whose atoms and neurons?” To dismiss that question as implying a circular argument is to conveniently ignore the fact that atoms and neurons, qua scientific concepts and objects of examination, must themselves also be mere parts of the same delusion. A missing premise seems to be required to prevent this reductionism about the mind from collapsing into infinite regress. Would an honest reductionist not be forced to trace the delusion all the way back to the ancient notion of prime matter, which is to say matter entirely devoid of all form — pre-elemental matter? But could a scientific materialist seriously try to persuade himself, let alone anyone else, that all those experiences we most closely identify as indicating life and awareness are merely consequences of the indefinable boil of prime matter in some intrinsically impenetrable way, without realizing he is talking nonsense? (To say one substantial word more than this — indeed, even to say this much — would be to undermine the thesis again by making prime matter itself subject to an illusion.)

This devolution into incoherence is a consequence of modernity reversing the burden of proof to force those who believe they are conscious beings who think and will to prove that they are thinking and willing, against modernity’s default scientific presumption that conscious beings who think and will are merely collections of “atoms” or “neurons” experiencing an illusion of thinking and willing. 

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