brian capleton


post naive realism



Naive realism was a term originally used in philosophy. It referred to the commonplace belief that the world exists just as we perceive it, as a world in its own right, independently of our self. Some philosophers called this "naive realism". It implied that the presumption that the world is just as we perceive it, or that it is "real" in the sense that it has this independence of us, is naive.

Today, the term is being used in relation to neuroscience, and physics, in respected, peer-reviewed, scientific journals. Why? The answer is because both modern physics and neuroscience suggest a radical new understanding of the nature of existence - our existence - that goes beyond naive realism.

Modern quantum mechanics is the most successful scientific theory we have. But there is a difference between using it as a superbly successful calculative tool, which enables us to build high technologies, and interpreting what it means or says about the fundamental nature of the universe and our own existence.

One possible interpretation of quantum mechanics that is well known - and that is no more radical than some other interpretations - is that the fundamental nature of the world is such that everything is mind, or that there is at a fundamental level no duality between mind and matter.

This latter interpretation is entirely consistent with the mainstream view of modern neuroscience, concerning the relationship between the human mind and the human brain. In the mainstream view of modern neuroscience there is no duality between mind, and the functioniong of the material human brain.The current path which modern neuroscience is now on, is the path to understanding the human mind through a far greater and deeper understanding of the human brain than we currently have.

The human brain is a neural network, more complex than anything else known to science. So towards this end, the Human Brain Project and the Human Connectome Project, are aiming to acquire the first, rough, generic map of the network connectivity or topology of the human brain.

Even before this new knowledge emerges, modern neuroscience already demonstrates something about the human mind and experience of being, that demands we should go beyond naive realism. As far as modern neuroscience is concerned, it is the internal functioning of the brain that creates what we experience as self and world. Modern neuroscience calls this the "internal model".

Does the "internal model" operate as kind of interface between the world and our perception and experience of it? No it does not. What we perceive and experience as the world, and our self, is actually the creation of the brain. The world we know is the "internal model" itself.

The naive realism way of interpreting this is to say that there is a duality - that there is the "internal model", and the external "real" world. In other words, two worlds. The one we perceive and experience, embodied in brain activity, and the "real" external one. This interpretation maintains the idea of a "real" world, that is independent of our brain and brain function. And hence is also separate from our self, which is created by nature through the brain. In other words, it says there is a duality of mind and matter.

Post naive realism agrees with the position of mainstream modern neuroscience, and says that there is no such duality of mind and matter, and no need for us to guess or presuppose that there must be. Post naive realism recognises that the world as we experience and perceive it, including the scientific measurements we make of it, is a manifestation of the principle of the brain. Post naive realism recognises that the world, and our experience of self, are created together, through the principle of the brain, instantiated in each human brain organ.

In this understanding, even an individual human brain organ itself, as we may see and experience it, and scientifically examine it, is itself created by the principle of the brain, that is creating our experience of being and world, through the "internal model". It is always encountered by us only as part of the "internal model" created by brain organs, which are themselves representations of the principle of the brain in nature.

Post naive realism recognises that the greatest challenge for science is to understand the intelligence we are being, by understanding the human brain, and through that, to make a "quantum leap" in understanding the true nature of our situation, and of the world. In science, it is to come to realise what the principle of the brain is, and beyond science, it is to go beyond our identification with what this principle produces as our our experience of self and world.

© Brian Capleton 2016
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