The nature of consciousness seems to be unique among scientific puzzles. Not only do neuroscientists have no fundamental explanation for how it arises from physical states of the brain, we are not even sure whether we ever will. Astronomers wonder what dark matter is, geologists seek the origins of life, and biologists try to understand cancer—all difficult problems, of course, yet at least we have some idea of how to go about investigating them and rough conceptions of what their solutions could look like. Our first-person experience, on the other hand, lies beyond the traditional methods of science. Following the philosopher David Chalmers, we call it the hard problem of consciousness.
But perhaps consciousness is not uniquely troublesome. Going back to Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, philosophers of science have struggled with a lesser known, but equally hard, problem of matter. What is physical matter in and of itself, behind the mathematical structure described by physics? This problem, too, seems to lie beyond the traditional methods of science, because all we can observe is what matter does, not what it is in itself—the “software” of the universe but not its ultimate “hardware.” On the surface, these problems seem entirely separate. But a closer look reveals that they might be deeply connected.
“The deeper your present moment peace gets, the easier it’ll be to react non- passionately when confronted with hostility. As this gets better, you can begin to realize more deeply just how much someone has to be suffering internally in order to have such harsh reactions. With enough insight, you can develop your empathy and compassion based off this knowledge and these also help you remain even more peaceful in the present moment.
Eventually, with enough compassion and insight on your side, you can begin to extinguish the fires of hostility by extinguishing anger with patience and understanding… It’s hard to continue treating someone harshly when they continue treating you well. In helping them relieve these feelings, you not only help them but you also help yourself, since you no longer have to deal with them as they were.”
It’s a crazy world right now. I don’t know about you, but my news feed is exploding with news from everything happening in the US. In this podcast, I talk a little bit about going over to the “other side”…
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Some important stuff:
Intro Music: “Take a Chance” from Royalty Free by Kevin MacLeod. Released: 2013.
Outro Music: “DarxieLand” from Royalty Free by Kevin MacLeod. Released: 2013.
Check out Kevin’s other music at http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/collections.php
“All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.”