Monday, December 21, 2009

All In My Head

Nature has gifted me with five charming and useful sensory receptors (although the olfactory has always seemed like something of a poor relation, especially when compared with the visual or auditory), but I sometimes wonder whether they’re not all essentially overkill, given that—like everybody else on the planet—my experience of the world is far more governed by what happens between my ears than whatever it is out there that’s actually stimulating my senses.

I live, as I assume do the vast majority of my human brothers and sisters, in a sort of fantasy world constructed out of hopes and dreams, fears and desires, memories and imagined scenarios, laden with all sorts of possibilities, most unrealized, that drive me to think and behave in response to stuff that never really happened, probably never will happen, and certainly won’t ever happen in the manner I envision when I roll the made-up motion picture in my head time and again for my viewing pleasure.

The so-called “problem of other minds,” the philosophical puzzle that has us pondering how we can possibly know that other human beings are not just really sophisticated robots is supposedly solved by analogy: I know I have a mind and behave certain ways; other people’s behavior is relevantly similar, so they must have minds, too—but even so, I don’t think any of us can really assert that we know what’s going on inside someone else’s head; in fact, it’s probably a stretch to say with certainty what’s going on inside of our own—at least it is for me.

I think.

I know how easily it is to be emotionally moved by fiction—heck, I even cry at animated movies—and so it’s probably no surprise that my feelings are so easily tossed to and fro by stuff that I make up, but you’d think that, as the maker-upper, I’d have a better perspective on it.

But, of course, that’s just my fantasy.


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