Are We Real?

Kahleia Corpuz, Editor-in-Chief

Kahleia: Welcome to Thor’s Hammer’s Podcast! Hi, my name is Kahleia Corpuz and I’m the Editor-in-Chief for Thor’s Hammer. Today I am with:

Kevin:  Kevin Osorio

Kahleia: And we’re going to be talking about…

Kevin: About our reality and how we know we are real.

Kahleia: Very interesting topics we have today, folks. So, I have a general understanding of the topic we have here today from the videos you sent me, which I will link in the transcript below for our listeners, but can you elaborate on the topic we have here today?

Links to Video References

Are you a body with a mind or a mind with a body? – Maryam Alimardani

Who am I? A philosophical inquiry – Amy Adkins

How do you know you exist? – James Zucker

Kevin: So, there has been a[n] ongoing debate with philosophers, scientists, and many other academics on how we know we exist. At first, it’s an obvious question, but if we look at some of the most prominent philosophers in this area, like René Descartes, he tries to answer the question by explaining that he knows he is real because he is a thinking being. He says “I think, therefore I am,” and he goes on saying that he knows he is real because he feels with his senses. Likewise, another philosopher George Berkeley claims that the material world is an illusion, existing only as mental perceptions. This is a problem because if you ask a group of twenty people to describe a scene, all of those twenty people will perceive and analyze the scene with their own interpretations, and, it adds on to George Berkeley because you analyze everything through your mind and not through the physical. 

Kahleia: So, with this philosophy, there was an experiment that tested these beliefs. I believe it was called the rubber hand experiment. Can you elaborate on that for me? 

Kevin: [It’s called] the rubber hand illusion, and it’s an experiment where a dummy hand is placed in front of you and your real hand is hidden behind a screen. And, both, the researcher simultaneously strokes, with a paintbrush, both hands, and no matter how much you remind yourself the dummy hand isn’t yours, you eventually start to feel like it is. So, the researcher starts to brush both hands in a course of, let’s say, two – two minutes or so, and you start to feel like it’s yours! Eventually, the researcher brings out a knife and threatens the rubber hand, and you react as if it’s your hand. The importance of this is showing how our mind is mostly adaptive to believing what we see, and not really what we feel.

Kahleia: So, with that experiment in mind, thinking about how we are simply just the consciousness in how we feel; With the topic of prosthetics, could people feel as if the prosthetics are an extension of their being and not an artificial limb?

Kevin:  Yeah, so, there’s a weird thing in the medical field with patients who have lost limbs and patients with prosthetic limbs. So, patients who have lost limbs, they eventually have a syndrome called Prosthetic – No, sorry,  phantom limb pain. And, the phantom limb pain is basically where a patient has lost a limb and they, over a course of who knows maybe a month or years, they start to feel as if that lost limb is with them, and they feel pain where they lost that limb. And, with patients with prosthetic limbs, a lot of those patients have said that they feel as if their prosthesis is an extension of them and they feel as if it’s real, and a lot of doctors have actually tried to, help people with prosthetic limb pain – I mean, sorry, Phantom Limb Pain by giving patients a prosthesis and asking the patient to inflict self-pain onto the prosthetic limb, so that they can trick their mind that their prosthetic limb is real.

Kahleia: So interesting to think about, and also especially since it’s in the medical field. So, the videos we also talked about, talked about potentially uploading our consciousness into computers. What are your thoughts on that?

Kevin:  Yeah, so in my belief, we cannot upload a non-physical entity, which is our mind, into a computer that only reads ones and zeroes. In my opinion, it is a degradation of the divinity of our mind.

Kahleia: Especially since, you know with the upheaval of artificial intelligence that is happening in the tech industry right now, I think that gave a little bit of peace of mind there, and I agree with you on that point as well.  I think the human mind is super interesting and super cool, but, again, thank you for coming to talk with us today!

Kevin: My pleasure!

Kahleia: And thank you Kevin for your time and anyways, so, thank you guys for listening, and I ask all of our listeners today: Are you a mind with a body? Or a body with a mind? Thank you for listening and we’ll see you next time. Bye!