For we are all insulted byThe mere suggestion that we dieEach moment and that each great IIs but a process in a processWithin a field that never closes;As proper people find it strangeThat we are changed by what we change,That no event can happen twiceAnd that no two existencesCan ever be alike; we’d ratherBe perfect copies of our father,Prefer our idées fixes to beTrue of a fixed reality.No wonder, then, we lose our nerveAnd blubber when we should observe…– W.H. Auden
Mind, after all, is almost universally taken to be something inside us. That was Descartes’ view. Inside each of us there is a thing that thinks and feels. Each of us is identical to that thing. Neuroscience updates the picture by adding that that thing inside you that thinks and feels is your brain.You are your brain!What are the implications of such a view? One is that we inhabit our bodies as a submariner inhabits his or her vessel; the main function of the body is to transmit signals from the surrounding sea of stimulation to neural headquarters. And what of the world beyond the body? Well, it is nothing more than a sea of potential stimulation! And what of other people? These are nothing other than more-or-less persistent patterns in the flow of surrounding stimulation!What an ugly idea!…Let’s imagine a new possibility. Your brain is not the thing inside you that thinks and feels. Not because something immaterial does this work for you, but because nothing does. Thinking and feeling is not something that happens in you, not in your brain, or anywhere else. Consciousness is something you achieve. It is something you do, and like everything else you do, it depends on your embedding in and reliance on the world around you (including other people).Trying to find consciousness in the brain — consider this! — would be like trying to find the value of money in the molecular structure of bank notes. And just as the fact that we can’t find the value of money using an electron microscope does not show that value is mysterious, the fact that we can’t find consciousness in the brain does not show that consciousness is somehow unnatural.
The properties of a thing are effects on other “things”:if one removes other “things”, then a thing has no properties,i.e., there is no thing without other things,i.e., there is no “thing-in-itself”.