We see the world as we are, or do we? Cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman explores the relationship between our brain and our conscious experiences, such as how we experience the taste of chocolate or the feeling of velvet.
This is not a recent mystery, Says Hoffman:
In 1868, Thomas Huxley wrote, “How it is that anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as the result of irritating nervous tissue is just as unaccountable as the appearance of the genie when Aladdin rubbed his lamp.”
Huxley knew that brain activity and conscious experiences are correlated, but he didn't know why. To the science of his day, it was a mystery. In the years since Huxley, science has learned a lot about brain activity, but the relationship between brain activity and conscious experiences is still a mystery. Why? Why have we made so little progress?
While neuroscientists have made considerable progress in documenting what happens in the brain, we are still grappling with fundamental questions of whether what we see is real or just perceived:
Once we let go of our massively intuitive but massively false assumption about the nature of reality, it opens up new ways to think about life's greatest mystery. I bet that reality will end up turning out to be more fascinating and unexpected than we've ever imagined.
The theory of evolution presents us with the ultimate dare: Dare to recognize that perception is not about seeing truth
Yet the theory that perception is like reality and reality is like our perceptions is false. Our progress is in recognizing it. Watch the full talk, including a Q&A with Chris Anderson below.