Cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman is trying to answer a big question: Do we experience the world as it really is … or as we need it to be? In this ever so slightly mind-blowing talk, he ponders how our minds construct reality for us.
According to Donald Hoffman, in this TED talk, the greatest unsolved mystery in science is about who we are. “What is the relationship between your brain and your conscious experiences, such as your experience of the taste of chocolate or the feeling of velvet?”
Existentially speaking, what then is the relationship between your brain and your sense of who you are?
How do we go from birth to childhood to adulthood to being parents ourselves? How do we survive our early childhood, or make it past being an angst ridden teenager, and even go on to have kids of our own if we choose to? Why might we not want to! :)
Not because we see reality as it is. Rather, because as we develop, we also adapt. We perceive the distinction between what is and what will keep us alive. And ultimately, survival is a good thing, yes?
Hoffman poses the question, “Do we see reality as it is or as we need it to be that we continue to survive? Neuroscientists tell us that our brains are constructing everything that we see, but we don’t construct the whole world at once. Rather, we construct what we need in the moment.” (And this is an important thing to remember.)
In fact, we even go so far as to reconstruct a reality for the sake of surviving. We may be revisionists when it comes to our own personal histories. (If I wasn’t, I’d avoid family gatherings altogether. :))
Does natural selection really favor seeing reality as it is? Science says no, it favors survival of the fittest. What then constitutes fitness? Fitness can be defined as what we need to be “doing or being” to continue surviving.
With respect to Healthy Sense of Self concepts, how we get included, accepted, acknowledged, and approved of can take many forms that fall under the category of “survival of the fittest.”
We do what we must do as young children, teens, and adults. We just do. And hopefully, we were allowed to develop into our own person in the process. If at some later age in life, we realize we aren’t happy with life as we know it, the good news is we can reconstruct our life and restore our Sense of Self—that we might live some part of our lifetime being true to our self. The more years of that the better.
Remember–Evolution does not favor reality. It’s goal is survival and continuation of a species.
P.S. Here is one pathway to adapt.