Being You

The beast machine theory of consciousness and self

Bei der Wahrnehmung ihrer inneren und äußeren Welt machen Menschen intuitiv einen Unterschied zwischen materiellen (physischen) und immateriellen (mentalen) Phänomenen. Auf Grundlage dieser Erfahrungen hat sich ein dualistisches Weltbild entwickelt, welches in vielen Kulturen anzutreffen ist und z.B. mit Begriffen wie Leib und Seele, Körper und Geist, Soma und Psyche, Diesseits und Jenseits seinen Ausdruck findet. Die Existenz, Verbindung und gegenseitige Beeinflussung dieser gegensätzlichen Entitäten wird in der westlichen Philosophie und Wissenschaft als das "Leib-Seele-Problem", oder als das "harte Problem des Bewusstseins" (Hard problem) diskutiert und erforscht, um zu klären, wie bewusste Erfahrungen in einer physikalischen Welt entstehen können.

Der Neurowissenschaftler Anil Seth will durch einen neuen Ansatz, den er als "Real problem" bezeichnet, zunächst die phänomenologischen Eigenschaften bewusster Erfahrung erklären, vorhersagen und kontrollieren, da seiner Ansicht nach die Beschäftigung mit grundsätzlichen Fragestellungen, z.B. warum und wie das Bewusstsein überhaupt Teil des Universums ist, nicht zu prüfbaren, wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen führt. Ein Ergebnis seiner Arbeit ist die "beast machine theory of consciousness and self", deren Name sich von Begriffen der französischen Aufklärung ableitet. René Descartes bezeichnete Tiere als "bêtes-machines" (engl. beast machines), da sie seiner Ansicht nach keinerlei Geist, Bewusstsein oder Seele besitzen. Erweitert wurde diese Betrachtung durch den französischen Philosophen Julien Offray de La Mettrie, der postulierte, dass auch der Mensch eine Maschine sei (l’homme machine, engl. man machine), die keine immateriellen Eigenschaften besitzt.

Begriffe

Beast machine theory of consciousness and self

"This brings us to the heart of my ‘beast machine’ theory of consciousness and self. Our conscious experiences of the world around us, and of ourselves within it, happen with, through, and because of our living bodies. Our animal constitution is not merely compatible with our conscious perceptions of self and world. My proposal is that we cannot understand the nature and origin of these conscious experiences, except in light of our nature as living creatures." (Seth 2021)

"At the very deepest layers of the self, beneath even emotions and moods, there lies a cognitively subterranean, inchoate, difficult-to-describe experience of simply being a living organism. Here, experiences of selfhood emerge in the unstructured feeling of just ‘being’. This is where we reach the core of the beast machine theory: the proposal that conscious experiences of the world around us, and of ourselves within it, happen with, through, and because of our living bodies." (Seth 2021)

"The beast machine theory proposes that consciousness in humans and other animals arose in evolution, emerges in each of us during development, and operates from moment to moment in ways intimately connected with our status as living systems. All of our experiences and perceptions stem from our nature as self-sustaining living machines that care about their own persistence." (Seth 2021)

Consciousness

"Consciousness is first and foremost about subjective experience – it is about phenomenology." (Seth 2021)

Controlled hallucination

"The entirety of perceptual experience is a neuronal fantasy that remains yoked to the world through a continuous making and remaking of perceptual best guesses, of controlled hallucinations" (Seth 2021)

"The controlled hallucination of our perceptual world has been designed by evolution to enhance our survival prospects, not to be a transparent window onto an external reality, a window that anyway makes no conceptual sense." (Seth 2021)

Real problem

"According to the real problem, the primary goals of consciousness science are to explain, predict, and control the phenomenological properties of conscious experience." (Seth 2021)

Reality

"You could even say that we’re all hallucinating all the time. It’s just that when we agree about our hallucinations, that’s what we call reality." (Seth 2021)

Self

"The self is another perception, another controlled hallucination, though of a very special kind. From the sense of personal identity – like being a scientist, or a son – to experiences of having a body, and of simply 'being' a body, the many and varied elements of selfhood are Bayesian best guesses, designed by evolution to keep you alive." (Seth 2021)

"The self is not an immutable entity that lurks behind the windows of the eyes, looking out into the world and controlling the body as a pilot controls a plane. The experience of being me, or of being you, is a perception itself – or better, a collection of perceptions – a tightly woven bundle of neurally encoded predictions geared towards keeping your body alive. And this, I believe, is all we need to be, to be who we are." (Seth 2021)

Wetware

"I use the word ‘wetware’ to underline that brains are not computers made of meat. They are chemical machines as much as they are electrical networks. Every brain that has ever existed has been part of a living body, embedded in and interacting with its environment – an environment which in many cases contains other embodied brains. Explaining the properties of consciousness in terms of biophysical mechanisms requires understanding brains – and conscious minds – as embodied and embedded systems." (Seth 2021)

Quelle

Seth, Anil (2021): Being You - A New Science of Consciousness, London: Faber & Faber E-Book

Literatur

Buchtipp: Being You

Being You is not as simple as it sounds. Somehow, within each of our brains, billions of neurons work to create our conscious experience. How does this happen? Why do we experience life in the first person? After over twenty years researching the brain, world-renowned neuroscientist Anil Seth puts forward a radical new theory of consciousness and self. His unique theory of what it means to 'be you' challenges our understanding of perception and reality and it turns what you thought you knew about yourself on its head. © Bild und Text Faber & Faber. Seth, Anil (2021): Being You - A New Science of Consciousness, London: Faber & Faber E-Book. Kommentar zum Buch bei michaelditsch.de

Videos

Being a beast machine | Anil Seth | TEDxSouthampton | November 2016

The cognitive neuroscientist Anil Seth talks to Aeon about consciousness as a prediction, not a perception, of 'reality'