Pattern-interrupting series Neural Tribe continues: see Brain Is Not an Organ But an Organization for context.
(What’s pattern interruption? Pattern interruption is designed to challenge categories that we take for granted and, in so doing, to open up the mind to new thinking possibilities).
When we think of a brain we think of it as an organ, as a singular neural thing. But it isn’t. In fact, there is no brain because a brain is not a thing but a colony of things, a tribe of neural things called “neurons.”
Say, you are at a concert and you think of yourself as a stand-alone self, as an individual. But then you step out for a smoke and you look back at all those people at the concert and you think “Wow, what a crowd!” Notice what you just did: you took the multiplicity of individuals and you – for the sake of conceptualizing ease – collapsed all this plurality of human life-forms into a single concept of a “crowd.” But there is no crowd as such.
“Crowd” is just a way that you choose to see all these people at the concert. You could choose to see them as… them, as so many individuals without reducing this multiplicity into the singularity of the word “crowd.” Same with the concept-word “brain.” A “brain” is a crowd of neural individuals. And all these neural individuals stand alone, separated by synaptic gaps, just like you are separated by personal space at a concert even if the place is jam packed.
Just because the neural audience inside your skull dances in unison to the rhythms of reality it doesn’t mean that a brain is one monolithic thing… when you yourself dance and sway at a concert in unison you still remain a singular you even if your behavior is in harmony with the rest of the crowd around you… the dance of reality unifies all into a kind of neural oneness…
In sum, a “brain” (just like a “crowd”) is a construct, a category that groups multiplicity into a conceptual unit.
Why does this perspective matter?
When you realize that you are not a “brain” but a neural crowd of neural individuals inside the concert hall of your skull, you tune in to an amazing mystery of how Many (neurons) becomes One (consciousness). Which is the hope of this post: to help Many experience themselves as One. After all, you and I are just neural audiences listening to the signal of Reality at different venues: you there, me here, but, at the end of the day, we are all one Neural Tribe.
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Last reviewed: 7 Nov 2012