Does the brain live in a world of ideas or does the world of ideas live in the brain? Does it make sense to say that ideas are really brain processes making sense of themselves?

Can we begin to explain the way things are by saying that ideas belong to the brain in the same way that we belong to nature – to an unthinking nature? In other words, are the physical processes doing everything – so thought is not as it appears, because thinking is really a physical process? Does the brain show us what to see – so we are not as we seem to ourselves – so we are able see the reality more ‘clearly and distinctly’ in terms of the physical process that ‘make us real’?

Is this how to come to terms with the nature of thought and ‘our’ thoughts about its reality? Do we equate thought with the nature of the brain because we can think of nothing better, thereby confirming the idea that the brain doesn’t allow us to do anything else? Is there but one reality, one nature? Are we merely entertaining fantasies and illusions by thinking otherwise? What does it mean to say that ‘we entertain thoughts’? Is it true that our ideas cannot exist in a ‘world of their own’, or stand as evidence for an ethereal mind, because they are really something else, belonging to the sole reality of brain function? And how do we come to see this as a deeper truth?

Does the wider truth belong to a deeper truth? Does the idea of the ‘I’ doing the seeing belong to the eye doing the seeing? Or is the brain really doing ‘our’ seeing as the ‘eye’ behind every perceptible idea? How are we to countenance a further reality, beyond the seeming, by presuming to see that things prove to be more or less real when we discover that they are or are not as they seem? Where is the reality of presumption in nature, or indeed in the brain? And who is asking – who is the entity wanting to know? Indeed, how did the idea of reality escape from its ‘rightful’ place in nature – in a reality apart from ideas?

Mike Laidler

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