This morning, on arising, I felt somewhat thirsty and went downstairs and poured myself a glass of cool orange juice from the fridge. The taste of the orange juice was wonderful and my thirst disappeared. What could be more “normal” than this? The vast majority of human beings, indeed all human beings who have the good fortune to have access to orange juice and a fridge, will, I presume, experience exactly the same sensations as I did. Materialist-Reductionists, wedded to a totally mechanistic and deterministic view of the universe will be included in this group. However there are a series of issues raised by this most prosaic set of circumstances that cannot even begin to be explained by an application of the deterministic-materialistic model. Firstly, and probably most important issue is the “I” that felt thirsty. This is a self-referential consciousness that has self-awareness (by knowing that it is existent within the universe). However as David Chalmers has stated, how inanimate matter and electrical impulses in the brain “creates” this consciousness is impossible to explain using the model of how the universe works presented by our present paradigm. This is the “hard problem” of science.
We then have the “problem” of the feeling of thirst. Why does a lack of water in my body generate the sensation of thirst? indeed what EXACTLY is the feeling of “thirst”. Thirst has no reality in three dimensional space. it is a “qualia”. I know that some will say, what a ridiculous observation … Thirst is what you feel when you are thirsty. But that is exactly my point. It is what you “feel”, a sensation that cannot be shared by anybody else. Something “wills” be muscles of the body to move the legs to walk in the direction of the fridge, wills the hands to open the door. The eyes send a message to the visual cortex where ‘something’, using memories, compares the shape and colour of the orange juice carton to identify that this is what will contain the juice. Again the location of the memories is unknown to modern science as is, as we have already discovered, whatever it is that is doing the recollecting and analysis. The orange juice is then poured into the mouth and the distinct taste of orange is perceived via the taste buds … But where, again, is the actual taste of the orange … And why does the chemicals within orange “taste” of anything? And then, as if by magic, the thirst is assuaged. Where did it go? indeed where is it when you don’t feel the sensation? These are hugely important questions that modern science is far from explaining …. Remember I am not referring to the actual physical process (for example we know what a taste bud does) but the existence of the qualia and the entity perceiving the qualia……
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