Brain tawk is cheap

I need to share with you something important. If you want to think better and write better about your mind, consider the following:

Neuroreductionism. Oh, what a nice complicated word! It is essentially assigning the properties of the mind to the brain. Saying that “my brain is so smart that it came up with such clever shit while i slept” is neuroreductionism. So are phrases like:”My neurons want me to do more of this” and “My brain decided to do that.”

– No, your neurons don’t have will, and no, your brain didn’t decide, you decided and your brain enabled the act of decision-making to happen. Not only is such thinking neuroreductionism, but it’s also dualism. Darling, dualism is so 18th century.

Your mind is an emergent property that is of the brain, not in the brain. No part of the brain has the properties that your mind has. All parts of the brain acting together to relate to the environment through the senses makes your mind a possibility. Take the environment away and you don’t have a mind anymore – why would you have memory if there is nothing to remember? Take senses away and the nervous system is isolated and the same happens as when the environment is taken away. Take the brain away and there is nothing to relate to the environment. Take bits and pieces of the brain away and depending on which areas you have eliminated, the mind in some form may still function. Take a part of the brain away that is associated to a certain function and observe what is left – many other functions have disappeared as well. Change the bits that a whole is made of and the whole changes. Change the whole and the bits that make it change too.

Next time you want to say that your neurobiology makes you more inclined to behave in a certain way, say that you want to do it, not that your neurons make you want to do it. Say that you want to do it, but you don’t fully understand why. Honestly, that’s more sophisticated than saying your neurons make you do it, cause the neuroreductionistic talk doesn’t make you understand the underlying causes any better.

Instead of saying your brain is smart that it came up with stuff while you slept, replace it by saying that sleeping over it made you come up with it. Call yourself smart, but a brain is it not. A brain can be efficient, fast in processing, but not smart.

Don’t separate your brain from yourself. You and your brain are one, and you only experience the emergence of your mind that it enables.


Edit: An extra explanation about the emergence and how come the mind and the brain aren’t the same thing. Metaphor: a traditional car. The act of driving is like the mind, the car itself is the nervous system and the roads on earth are the environment. Is the engine the cause of driving? So if you take the wheels away will it drive? Will the engine drive alone? If you assemble the car in such a way that the wheels are on top of the car, engine below, pedals at the back and and the gearbox in front, will it drive? Fuck no – the components that result the act of driving have to be in a certain relation to each other. Just like the engine alone doesn’t drive, your brain in a jar won’t think. If the car functions, has a driver who can drive, but they are in space – there is no friction under the wheels so the act of driving cannot happen. No driving without necessary connection to the environment, no mind without stuff to relate the environment to. And last but not least. The act of driving, ability of a motor vehicle to move from a to b is nowhere in the car. That specific type of movement is not a property that any part of the car has – it’s a property that emerges to the whole car when all necessary components are in the right relations. Just like the mind is nowhere in the brain, but emerges when the components of the brain, senses, and environment come to interact in the right way.

I hope that clears it a bit. If not, feel free to ask questions or debate.






Disclaimer: the main arguments and points are not my original thoughts, but also there isn’t really a physical writing to refer this to that i personally read. If you’re more interested in such thoughts on this topic, read A. Toomela, A. Luria, L. Vygotsky.

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