Why Neuroscience Can't Explain Consciousness

Truth is what stands the test of experience.
— Albert Einstein

I like the word experience, because your experience is the only real thing about your existence. That is to say, that all you can absolutely know for certain is the information you get from your senses – your direct experience. Everything else is a model in your mind. Saying that your sensation of touch arises out of contact between your physical body and something ‘out there’ in the world is an assumption.  

What makes you think that ‘out there’ is objective and permanent, or that it even exists? Because you can see it? Because you can feel it? Because you can hear it? Because other people agree with you? But we know even from science itself that what you see in your visual field (and from every other sense) is just an approximation, or interpretation that’s created in the back of your skull – and does it really shock you that people with similar brains interpret “reality” in similar ways? It seems to me that it only feels real because it’s so self-consistent.

But that’s where things get tricky, because where does the idea of your brain rendering and interpreting reality come from? It comes from a scientific model with the assumption of your brain being ‘out there’ – it’s formulated in the very same box that it’s trying to explain.

Or put another way, how do you know that you’ve got a brain that renders reality and gives you a mental approximation? You know only because that’s what you’ve concluded with your senses – the very things that the same model is telling you are selective and are limited.

So then what’s real? What is the fundamental, empirical base of existence? It seems to me that the idea that consciousness arises from neurons is groundless – consciousness can’t be secondary because it’s the thing that you’re using to experience and describe things in the first place. And so it seems to me that if your sensory subjective experience is all that you can know for sure, then any field of objective study that assumes an external world will always fall short of explaining it.


All of my writing revolves around the question “what does it take to live the most fulfilling life possible?” or something like that. At the moment it seems to me to be a combination of freedom, creativity, and busting your ass on behalf of the good for society or your community.

If that sounds like something you’re interested in then drop your email in the box below and I’ll send you a weekly newsletter with my best stuff to keep you thinking.    

Jackson xo

P.S. one last thing: All my life I’ve struggled to overcome mental and physical barriers to optimizing my learning and growth in whatever I was doing. Over a period of at least 10 years I pieced together a philosophy that governs optimized practice and long term growth. So if you’re interested in ideas like optimized learning, mastery, discipline and creativity – you should DEFINITELY read this.

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