The mind is usually defined as all the activity of the neural network of the body. But the agent in the relative world is the protagonist defined in Everett’s theory, the ‘state of the memory of the observer’. And the state of the memory is defined as the ‘record of observations’. It is this entity that philosopher of science Michael Lockwood defines as the mind.
This sounds like just an attribute of the brain, but this field of information has a significance far beyond its origins.
The Perceptual Reality
Firstly, this information forms the ‘perceptual reality’. The brain takes the information reported by the eyes and the other senses, and forms this into the picture of the world that is directly perceived. This is the perceptual reality, the reality you are actually experiencing. This is the image of the world you are aware of at this moment. As Lockwood describes, this is literally the ‘conscious point of view’.
So the record of observations is the technical definition of something of enormous significance to each person.
That is just the beginning. The integrated synthesis of all the recorded experiences is what forms your knowledge and understanding of the world. This is your concept of the world, and your internal map of reality. Whenever you imagine some other place, or work out how to get there, this perceptual reality is what you are using, of course. This is the way you understand the world and its comings and goings.
The actual form of this field of information is totally obvious when we describe it, but this is still not widely known and understood. It is a virtual reality, constructed by the brain. As the famous biologist Richard Dawkins states:
Our brain constructs a three-dimensional model. It is a virtual reality in the head. (1998, 276)
The same thing is stated by Deutsch:
What we experience directly is a virtual-reality rendering, conveniently generated for us by our unconscious minds from sensory data (1997, 120)
The sensory data is the information from the environment. Our eyes perceive the world, and the result is formed into a three-dimensional representation of the environment.
So this is how the perceptual reality works. Each rendering of the world, each new picture of the moment, is recorded in memory and thus added to the record of observations. The integrated synthesis of all the observations forms the virtual reality as a whole, the perceptual reality.
This virtual reality is your map of the world, your concept of reality. Whenever you think about any aspect of the world, where you went yesterday, what might be happening now far away, what you are actually experiencing is in fact this virtual reality. Of course. This is the nature of the perceptual reality. This is what the conscious point of view is ‘made of’.
The World Hologram
There is one more crucial point about the perceptual reality. As you read these words, you perceive them as ‘out there’ in front of you. But the neural activity you are actually experiencing is ‘in here’. As Deutsch goes on to describe, this virtual reality representation of the world is mentally projected out onto the real world.
Consider the nerve signals reaching our brains from our sense organs. Far from providing direct or untainted access to reality, even they themselves are never experienced for what they really are – namely crackles of electrical activity. Nor, for the most part, do we experience them as being where they really are – inside our brains. Instead, we place them in the reality beyond. We do not just see blue: we see a blue sky up there, far away. We do not just feel pain: we experience a headache, or a stomach ache. The brain attaches those interpretations – ‘head’, ‘stomach’ and ‘up there’ – to events that are in fact within the brain itself. (2011, 10)
And that of course is just how the virtual reality works. Otherwise it would not be much use.
So although the virtual reality itself is going on ‘in here’ within the brain, it is experienced as going on ‘out there’ in the world. In other words, the virtual reality being experienced takes the form of a hologram. It is a spatially-distributed, three-dimensional image that is mentally projected onto the real world, so as to match up precisely. I call it the ‘world hologram’. This is the actual form of the perceptual reality.
This is the neurobiological technology that enables the human organism with the essential ability to engage with the world. This is how we know the world looks like and where everything is.
The next main section is The Superworld.