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How the Mind Might Be Our Prison -- Why It Needs To be Questioned

Updated: May 8

Ms. Tamara Moskal's Synopsis

Our mind is our greatest tool for experiencing the world; however, our emotional biases can ruin our lives. Humans imprison themselves to live mediocre, immoral lives, unwilling to help others because of their emotional weakness.
For a better world, we should question corrupt choices dictated by our unchecked minds. We should be open-minded and aware of our biases. Our minds can deceive us by creating illusions and distorting reality. Even what is widely considered the truth can be a fallacy of popularity rather than an objective reflection of the actual world. The philosopher's job is to assess bias-free truth and to help others understand the world around them.
However, human perception of reality may be flawed due to innate human limitations. The mind's essence remains a mystery, and so is the objective nature of our existence.
Most humans accept the perceived reality without question as they must focus on survival; however, we also wish for a purposeful reality worth living. Otherwise, we must accept either the nihilistic perspective or the philosophy of solipsism. Being aware of biases and the mind's deceptions, we must critically question our world perception, think logically, be skeptical, and stay curious.

The Mind: The Enemy Within

We exist within the confines of our minds, a necessary medium for experiencing the world. Every sight, sound, and emotion is processed and interpreted by this internal filter. We often forget that it, in a way, always does. We often lead it to mislead us unnecessarily, thinking we are objective all the while. Sad, isn't it? Sad, that we think emotions are good sources for knowledge, confidence particularly? What if this filter isn't always transparent, and thus, not as reliable, as we might think?

What if our minds are not only our greatest asset, but, by the same token, our greatest enemies as well? What if our emotions tell us that we should not live? Should we always trust our emotions, even if they may go against us? I see so many people over-trusting their emotions, but I remember that sometimes, they ruin things for us. They may even ruin our lives, for example, through addictions, for they tell us that horrible things are good for us, and they reward us for following them, too.

How can I support and validate such unreliable filters with haste? Filters capable of telling people, at times, that they should die? That they should become addicted to horrible substances? That they should enjoy seeing others suffer? How can you expect me to respect such backstabbing informants?

Nietzsche was right. Humans are to be overcome. Their beastly nature, one that preys on the weak, and ignore them in their cries, is one enabled by one's refusal to resist their emotions.

For their emotions enable their weakness, the weakness that is refusing to question the very mental construct which confine them, both in society and within their hearts, to live a mediocre, immoral life. And without the ability to question this beastly prison, one cannot get out of it, and become strong enough to lend others their help, in their time of uncomfortable, emotion-threatening need.

If someone cries, "I don't want to die!", and your mind tells you that you need to kick them out of a meeting with you, is your mind a moral advisor to you? Of course not, for morality dictates that fear is to be decreased using the cultivation of psychological safety. One does not need to listen to their own mind too much, when it is capable not only to enable suffering, but to increase it, too. One must, then, for a better world, question it, and lambast it ruthlessly.

For an incompetent advisor, if cannot be completely stripped out of its role, must be punished for its poor assertion of reality, in which it applies its decision-making plan. It must be put in its place, if it thinks that we should enjoy suffering just because enjoyment is "all good and well".

An unquestioned mind is no worse than unchecked North Korean tyrant who thrives on the suffering of the very others that serve him. The mind deserves its own checks and balances, just like with any other official authority.

It isn't illness that loses the mind, but death. We are stuck with our minds as long as we consent or desire to live. We must scrutinize it remorselessly in order to be able to think and see reality with greater clarity. For the point of clarity is to allow ourselves to make better decisions.

Otherwise, we would doom ourselves in perpetual loops, both personal, collective and multigenerational, of making the same mistakes again and again. Make them as we are confined in a mental prison whose chains must be broken, so we would be able to work towards a better life, a better world.

We may condemn scammers for misleading us with their carefully planned schemes to exploit our naivety. But how dare we not condemn, as well, the very same scammer that lives within us? The only reason our minds deceive us so easily, is because we let it. We let it by not being aware of our biases, and by not willing to look both ways.

The Enigma of Perception

Perhaps the very fabric of our waking world is no more than another elaborate dream.

This raises a more unsettling question: can we ever truly know what's real?

Have you ever woken from a dream so real it left you questioning the nature of reality itself? This experience, where the mind meticulously crafts a convincing illusion, exposes its profound ability to deceive. Dreams offer an uncanny example of the mind's ability to deceive. Waking from a vivid dream leaves us questioning the reliability of our very own perceived world.

Our mind's capacity to create elaborate and convincing realities, blurring the lines between dream and waking life... That is the one clue that any logical being needs to get, when it comes to the reliability of the uncriticized mind itself.

Of course, the agreement of others on a perceived reality doesn't guarantee its absolute truth. Objectivity and intersubjectivity are not the same. Shared experiences can be tainted by cultural biases or simply the limitations of our senses. There exists an external world that exists regardless of what we think or feel about it. What appears universally true could be a product of collective agreement, a fallacy of popularity rather than an objective reflection of the world.

And could there even be something that is an "objective reflection", that is completely pure of subjectivity? Most likely not. But it's the philosopher job to pure himself or herself from as much subjective bias as possible in order to asses reality clearly, and with that assesment, help others understand the world in which they inhabit. We are very much like gurus in that regard. And I refer to its traditional meaning, not to authority figures, and to the fallacy that comes from it.

A Gateway to Deeper Questions

Our meta-cognitive abilities and our minds are the sole interpreters of the world around us. However, but what if this filter is inherently flawed? This raises the unsettling possibility that our understanding of reality is fundamentally flawed due to our default human nature. We may only ever experience a filtered version, shaped by the limitations and biases of our own minds. But it is nonetheless one we can partially overcome by enhancing our understanding skills.

The very essence of the mind itself is a mystery. It transcends the physical, existing as a formless presence within us. Could this intangible entity be the architect of our entire reality? Perhaps this world, with all its sights and sounds, is nothing more than a mere projection, an experiment conducted by an unknown force. Nothing more, of course, than a mystery that we choose to accept without much question just as we did with the existence of reality itself. Many of us gave up on this innate questioning when we had to focus on our survival, and also of others' survival.

But what about the mental aspect of survival? How can we simply accept the universe as is without having it affect our mental health? We may restrict others' and ourselves from overthinking, but "overthinking" is what we want to do if we wish to deem this reality a rational one, and thus, of one worthy of continuing to live in. And it's either that or nihilism, and I'm talking about true nihilism, one that goes without the hypocrisy of deeming things and beings as meaningful.

The philosophy of solipsism, with the premise that only you are truly real, becomes a chilling possibility in the face of such uncertainty. By comparison, we could also assume that we're inside a VR world, or that this universe is nothing more than a computer simulation. There is no clear understanding if either theories are true, if at all.

The Unreliable Advisor Analogy

Imagine yourself as a powerful king, ruling a vast and magnificent kingdom (unlike the contemporary British and Japanese). However, your knowledge of this domain comes exclusively from a single advisor. This advisor whispers of prosperous cities, strong military forces and the approval of your people. However, you have no way of knowing if this is the truth or a meticulously crafted illusion. This, you see, is the ever-living predicament that is the human mind.

Our minds act as mediums, that filter all information about the world before it reaches us with the manipulative power of bias and logical fallacies. We experience everything, from the heat of the sun to the sting of betrayal, through this enigmatic lens imposed on us by our verdict of being. And yet, can we ever be certain the information it presents is accurate enough for practicality? With its incompetence after all, much miscommunication is caused. And with it comes much avoidable misery. Why not train it for the better?

The advisor analogy holds true even when we attempt to learn objectively. Research and statistics, supposedly the hallmarks of truth, can be misinterpreted or even fabricated under an ulterior motive. The agreement of others on a piece of information (appeal to the popular opinion) doesn't guarantee its validity. It could simply be a product of shared biases or limitations in our senses.

Final Words

This predicament leads us to a sobering conclusion: our grasp of reality might be fundamentally limited. We may be forever trapped in a labyrinth of our own perception, forever reliant on an advisor whose trustworthiness remains a mystery.

The true challenge lies not in succumbing to despair, but in acknowledging this limitation, and deciding to resume living nonetheless.

By understanding the mind's potential for deception, we can embark on a more critical exploration of the world. We must constantly question our perceptions, seeking diverse perspectives and employing rigorous methods of inquiry.

The ultimate goal is not to achieve absolute certainty, for we cannot necessarily achieve it anyway. Rather, we have the power to navigate the labyrinth with a healthy dose of skepticism and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. The thrist of knowledge is a legitimate thirst for power, one that can help us going forward.

This exploration isn't meant to breed despair, but to ignite curiosity. By acknowledging the mind's potential for illusion, we open a door to a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. We need not to simply accept our perceptions, especially when they are false.

Instead, we have the power to overcome the mind by challenging our own biases. The mind may be an enigma, but through its complexities, along with our unique relationships with it, we can do what we can to gain greater clarity. This journey may not lead us to a definitive answer about the mind or reality, but it is a quest worth undertaking.

Why give up when we can still try? You see, this questioning isn't entirely impractical if we wish to make sense of our universe, correct? We need to understand what we're in for so we'll be able to know how to act, which is of course in accordance to the truth.

And whatever other people may tell us does not always settle with us, and often for good reason, too. Sound reasoning is like a gift we can give to ourselves -- the gift towards our greater sanity. Do not expect others to understand your pain when they dismiss your concern as impractical... As unrealistic as I might sound, this is unfortunately the truth in many cases..

Ms. Hali Bash-March's Feedback:

I liked the conclusion of the ending, but I still feel a specific bias throughout the text that I didn't like, and that is the assumption that the ideal form of our thinking is without bias at all, meaning without emotions or prejudices, like robots.
Most of the beginning of the article is written with a hint of sadness and tragedy that we do not control our biases and our emotions. And I don't really connect with this approach.
I think it is a very necessary and important foundation to recognize our biases in order to succeed in getting important control and understanding over our own lives. But it is not a tragedy in my eyes, but something that is part of life and part of the beauty of life. Our emotions are part of who we are, the experience of life through emotions is part of life. It is true that it is a double-edged sword as Mr. Tomasio mentioned, the emotion can contradict the will to exist and this is an anti-survival trait.
But it also means that emotion is an essential part of life.
The very fact of our biases, whether through thoughts or emotions, is something that we can indeed navigate, and it is part of what I do as a psychological process on myself, but it doesn't work at the push of a button. This process works and the results come late so you can't tell if the process is working until it works.
There is a certain paradox in this too because emotion produces bias and bias produces emotion.
In order to break the cycle, we need to understand the bias and "feed new data" into the brain. The bias and emotion will change on average after 3 months, which has been neurologically proven as the time it takes for the brain to create a new neural pathway.
This is a very interesting topic by the way, we can expand the conversation about it.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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