Author Topic: The brain in a vat problem!  (Read 24319 times)

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Offline confusedseeker

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The brain in a vat problem!
« on: February 24, 2013, 11:30:39 AM »
Hi everyone, how are all of you? I am a Muslim, but a few weeks ago I read the brain in a vat argument which for some reason placed many doubts on my mind. The brain in a vat story states that electrochemical stimulation from electrodes that mimicks bodily inputs could pass messages to your brain creating an alternate fake reality for you.

How do we know that we exist in the real natural world? Is it even possible for electrodes to create such electrochemical impulses that provide the brain with sensory & proprioceptive feedback? Thanks for your responses. I appreciate all clarifications.

Offline adnaanshaikh195

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2013, 01:27:21 PM »
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU GULLIBLE FOOLS?

The other day, a guy wrote: OSAMA ABDALLAH WATCH THIS, SCIENTISTS HAVE FOUND OUT THAT MAYBE OUR LIFE IS JUST A ILLUSION!!

Seriously? Do you believe everything?

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2013, 02:29:43 PM »
I don't know what others were talking about, but is there anyway to disprove this hypothesis?

Offline Mujahid Saifullah

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2013, 07:04:11 PM »
Quote from: confusedseeker
is there anyway to disprove this hypothesis?
The burden of proof is not on us, brother. Watch the film 'The Matrix', as this is what you're basically saying. It is a cool idea to speculate with, but we do not exist in an alternate reality. Each individual has their own consciousness, which exists inside the vessel that is our flesh. Your idea would suggest that we are all dreaming, and what of our actual flesh? Is it being used as a power source be evil beings?

As I said, one can theorize on such things, but to claim that something is so with absence of any empirical evidence is absurd.

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2013, 04:37:06 AM »
Quote from: confusedseeker
is there anyway to disprove this hypothesis?
The burden of proof is not on us, brother. Watch the film 'The Matrix', as this is what you're basically saying. It is a cool idea to speculate with, but we do not exist in an alternate reality. Each individual has their own consciousness, which exists inside the vessel that is our flesh. Your idea would suggest that we are all dreaming, and what of our actual flesh? Is it being used as a power source be evil beings?

As I said, one can theorize on such things, but to claim that something is so with absence of any empirical evidence is absurd.

@ Mujahid Saifullah

You are correct brother. However, this idea has been bothering me for quite some time & a decent refutation would put my mind at ease. All other doubts I ever had were put to rest by Islamic teachings, I am sure there has to be some way to refute this idea as well.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 10:39:35 AM by confusedseeker »

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2013, 06:01:10 AM »
So is there a logical refutation of this scenario?

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2013, 02:13:29 PM »
I found an interesting link dealing with this issue:

http://summerschool2011.esmcs.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Thompson_Philosophical_Topics.pdf

Anyone else has some interesting points to add?

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2013, 01:40:44 AM »
Does anyone else have any interesting information to add?

Offline Mujahid Saifullah

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2013, 03:31:05 AM »
Do you wish to discuss the concept, or are looking for a quick answer? Because the later has been done.

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2013, 02:07:32 AM »
Do you wish to discuss the concept, or are looking for a quick answer? Because the later has been done.

Well that answer was the one I found for myself. It's a very nice read no doubt, but if we were to discuss the concept, do you think it would ever be possible for humans to be able to stimulate nerves to the point of providing proprioceptive & kinesthetic feedback? I guess, if that isn't possible unless real living tissue is used for providing the brain with sensory inputs then the entire concept of the brain in a vat goes down the drain.

Offline Mujahid Saifullah

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2013, 06:47:28 AM »
Quote from: confusedseeker
do you think it would ever be possible for humans to be able to stimulate nerves to the point of providing proprioceptive & kinesthetic feedback?
Yes. The science already exists, or at least the foundations of. It will be a long time before we see it actualized though.

Offline There is only one God

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2013, 09:22:10 AM »
ah this of course, is a very interesting topic most have misunderstood. I recommend reading The real essence of matter by HarunYahya. Yes, we do not sense, you may say: REAL matter. The real matter lies with Allah. Don't worry, it makes sense real nicely here:
http://harunyahya.com/en/works/30035/adnan-oktar-tellsthe-real-essence

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2013, 02:06:08 PM »
Quote from: confusedseeker
do you think it would ever be possible for humans to be able to stimulate nerves to the point of providing proprioceptive & kinesthetic feedback?
Yes. The science already exists, or at least the foundations of. It will be a long time before we see it actualized though.

I don't understand, in what sense would that be possible? Do you mean that we could use electrodes to delude the brain in to believing its hand lies in some place it isn't? The various sensory neurons connected to nerves such as pressure sensitive mechanoreceptors couldn't possibly be stimulated by electrodes. Basically, the nervous system & the brain itself seem to require an environment that mimics the human body to function. I might be wrong but I fail to see how provisions for such an environment could be made artificially.

Or are you referring to prosthetic devices some of which are being designed to detect variables like temperature, but they aren't able to communicate with the brain in the manner the arm or leg composed of living tissue does as far as I know that is.

Offline Mujahid Saifullah

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2013, 03:33:40 AM »
It seems as though your crisis of religion has been solved. :-*

How can it be achieved? Psychotropic drugs, virtual reality, mind control, or whatever sci-fi method you like.

They can transplant arms from a cadaver and have them fully functional.

There are simple tricks you can do to people to make them think something is occurring when it is not. Like rubbing their hand, while they are looking at a fake hand being rubbed, then stab the fake hand type stuff. There's augmented reality. You can mess with a person's equilibrium, sensory perception, whatever.

I'm still not sure of what you want here, it seems like you are against believing in this, yet say it makes you question your faith?

Are you trolling?

Oh, also, people who are quadriplegic and can only move their head, or in some cases only eyes, well they have been testing technology for a long time with good results of people being able to control their environment with such limitations. The next logical step would be to have they, themselves believe it was real. This is where the drugs come into it.

Offline There is only one God

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2013, 03:35:27 AM »
yes Mujahid, he's trolling. Of course our matter is an illusion. Only materialist Atheists believe in the contrary.

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2013, 06:54:02 AM »
yes Mujahid, he's trolling. Of course our matter is an illusion. Only materialist Atheists believe in the contrary.

I am not an Atheist & I do believe in the existence of God.

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2013, 06:59:22 AM »
It seems as though your crisis of religion has been solved. :-*

How can it be achieved? Psychotropic drugs, virtual reality, mind control, or whatever sci-fi method you like.

They can transplant arms from a cadaver and have them fully functional.

There are simple tricks you can do to people to make them think something is occurring when it is not. Like rubbing their hand, while they are looking at a fake hand being rubbed, then stab the fake hand type stuff. There's augmented reality. You can mess with a person's equilibrium, sensory perception, whatever.

I'm still not sure of what you want here, it seems like you are against believing in this, yet say it makes you question your faith?

Are you trolling?

Oh, also, people who are quadriplegic and can only move their head, or in some cases only eyes, well they have been testing technology for a long time with good results of people being able to control their environment with such limitations. The next logical step would be to have they, themselves believe it was real. This is where the drugs come into it.

I am not trolling, this idea really did affect my religious beliefs. However, I am much better now thank God. This was a good post, & you did bring up some interesting points. However, things like augmented reality & the rubber hand trick require being embodied in the first place. I think reflex actions such as the one you described in the rubber hand trick make use of mirror neurons right?

The thing that really bothered me was if it was possible to directly stimulate the nerves to make a person feel a change in temperature or pressure etc. I was wondering if electrochemically stimulating the nerves could bring about the proprioceptive sense of your hand lying in a place it isn't? Because if that isn't possible, then the brain in a vat scenario certainly isn't, am I correct?


Offline Mujahid Saifullah

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2013, 09:04:34 AM »
I hope I did not insult anyone, as I think I came across more hostile than I intended.

But, I understand what you mean. I would have to say one could go either way on the issue. Science is always advancing. It would all require this current state to demonstrate such a thing. Therefore, it's bearing on our deen is minimal-to-none.

Oh, and to Only1God, what do you mean exactly? It sounded sarcastic.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2013, 09:09:15 AM by Mujahid Saifullah »

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2013, 10:48:26 AM »
I hope I did not insult anyone, as I think I came across more hostile than I intended.

Forget about it.

But, I understand what you mean. I would have to say one could go either way on the issue. Science is always advancing. It would all require this current state to demonstrate such a thing. Therefore, it's bearing on our deen is minimal-to-none.

Oh, and to Only1God, what do you mean exactly? It sounded sarcastic.

Do you think the conclusion that I came to about it being impossible is accurate?

Basically I realized that in order to envat the brain, you would need to provide it with a circulatory system, a respiratory system, & other organs. Along with that, the nerves would have to be arranged & laid out in a closed environment for keeping them separate & maintaining temperature. This need for support implies that there must be a skeletal system since it aids in maintaining structure, helping the body deposit calcium, & of course; red blood cells production. In order to dissipate heat, the body requires a protective layer that can expand & shrink to accommodate it while retaining the ability to regenerate. The only material I could think of conforming to that requirement is the human skin. Anyway, going by my example, we seem to be recreating the human body.

So is my view accurate? The only issue here is, could neural inputs ever match those created by living cells?

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2013, 04:40:23 AM »
Any new information anyone?

Offline There is only one God

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2013, 04:44:07 AM »
don't worry about it...omgggg


I don't even see how this makes a difference

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2013, 09:55:53 AM »
don't worry about it...omgggg


I don't even see how this makes a difference

How, what makes a difference?

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2013, 03:05:35 AM »
I just wanted to conclude for letting everyone know that dispelling the brain in a vat argument is simple. The answer lies in the origin of sensation. The brain is able to identify the origin of different sensations including pain. The brain in a vat would realize that feelings of pain do not originate from its visible body similar to soldiers being trained on virtual reality. It is impossible to make that brain feel that the source of sensation comes from the visual virtual body.

I think that finally puts this argument to rest, & I want to thank those that participated in this debate with me. I shall take part in discussing other topics on this forum soon Insha Allah.

Offline Mujahid Saifullah

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2013, 04:47:20 AM »
Have you heard of phantom limb pain? The brain can be manipulated.

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2013, 05:14:40 AM »
Have you heard of phantom limb pain? The brain can be manipulated.

Sure it can be manipulated using certain drugs, but drug influence can be distinguished from normal experience. Similarly, phantom limb pain occurs because the brain to put it simply has a map of the human body specific to that individual. 

When a human's heart beat increases, he is aware of the origin of that sensation & is able to specify the region of the body where that sensation originates. A virtual body can never have such a sensation because it's simply an image. All nervous inputs continue to originate from the real world, so even if the brain was manipulated it does not change the fact that sensations of all their different kinds will be felt in the live body thus distinguishing it from the virtual life less body.

Offline Mujahid Saifullah

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2013, 05:47:40 AM »
Was your original postulation a hypothetical reality in which we all would be simultaneously co-existing in? Because I'm speaking of a specific theoretical scenario of which would apply to only an individual mind.

Offline confusedseeker

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Re: The brain in a vat problem!
« Reply #26 on: April 06, 2013, 10:41:26 AM »
Was your original postulation a hypothetical reality in which we all would be simultaneously co-existing in? Because I'm speaking of a specific theoretical scenario of which would apply to only an individual mind.

I am sorry for the late reply. Well, the brain in a vat thought experiment implies that either all or a few humans could have had their brains removed by an evil scientist & plugged in to a super computer while the brains. That super computer would provide them with impulses that an embodied mind generally receives deluding those beings in to believing that the world it exists in is the real one. That being would have a body, but that body isn't physical, it's virtual. It's argued that such a being would have no method to figure out that it was being tricked.

Unfortunately, this experiment fails to take humoral signals in to account. Those signals are the ones carried by the blood stream. In order to ensure that the brain experiences life exactly as an embodied being, the diabolical controller would have to provide it with a circulatory, respiratory, excretory system, etc. Remember that adequate blood supply for instance is crucial for the brain & is often referred to as functional hyperemia. Basically, this necessitates a need for a body, the body would have to be functionally coupled with the brain itself so that it regulates & is regulated by the nervous system itself. This surrogate body does not have to be organic but it needs to be as complex as an organic body no matter how simplified it turns out to be. Things like respiration for instance have to be under the control of the conscious mind even in the surrogate body.

The provision of this surrogate body implies that this experiment to delude that being would fail.

 

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