The answer is: no. But there’s a huge difference between the human mind, which is largely mechanical, and the brain, which is almost entirely mechanical. In the brain, we can easily manipulate the size, shape, density, and properties of things to a degree that we have no way at present of doing with our hands. We are able to control machines: our ships, our cars, our machines… but can we get close enough to think of being able to do the same?
In this paper, I will try to answer one question about the relationship between the human mind and the brain. I will explain how the brain works as a tool for understanding and manipulating other things, such as the physical world, language, and consciousness… and how it can be used to explain the mind and the brain.
Why do I need to explain this? The human mind has become something of a holy grail, a problem that has vexed and even perplexed many scientists for hundreds of years. In some ways, it has been the source of one of our greatest scientific discoveries: the universe, thought to be finite and timeless, was once able to be explained by the “mind” of a finite and timeless human mind… but is now beginning to show signs of becoming an infinite and complex network of minds.
The idea of “thinking machine” has been used by thinkers who have investigated the brain for several centuries. But even before Newton or Einstein, the question of “what is the brain” had been hotly debated, and the philosophical debate between the rationalists and the empiricists raged for centuries; the latter insisted that there was a fundamental difference between the physical world and a human mind, whereas the former was the ultimate cause of physical laws and their application. The early philosophers tried to reconcile the two positions, but the human mind remained essentially an empirical phenomenon.
A few philosophers even tried to argue that this question was unanswerable. Indeed, it became one of the “great mysteries” of logic.
For most of the history of physics, the problem of the mind was just another kind of puzzle. It was a simple puzzle that could be solved only by an understanding of the nature of reality. By the time Einstein came along, though, the problem was completely solved; the nature of reality is not something that can be explained, if only by the application of logic or physics. This question had come to be known also as “the mysterium tremendum”, or “the ultimate mystery”. And