How the brain is useful for living beings
The question should be stupidly simple to answer, right? After all, as human beings we have all seen the wonders that the brain is able to produce, with the epitome being the human civilization with its many wonders and scientific accomplishments.
But the brain is common for all living beings, not only humans. I.e. yes, for humans it is useful for thinking, for dreaming, for idea generation, for creating… But what about animals? Do all animals produce complex thoughts? Do all animals converse? We need to find a common answer that is simple yet holds true for all living beings of the present, of the past and of the future.
We know from the theory of Evolution that the brain is useful because it helps us survive & reproduce. But this answers the Why and not the How.
We also know from Evolution that since our current brain originated (although in less evolved forms) from more primitive living beings, this “How” should transcend the millennia in order to be common from human to birds, to mice, to dinosaurs, to snails, etc. So it needs to be extremely simple to suit all of those kinds of organisms of varying sophistication.
I will provide my personal answer to this How. In my opinion it is very simple but also very concrete. And it elegantly summarizes in a succinct way many of the key points of Noesis Theory:
The brain for the living beings is a predictor & alterer of the future. It
- uses up sensual stimuli from the present environment,
- capitalizes on past experience to produce expectations for future sensual stimuli (i.e. what will follow what I am experiencing now; what is the future),
- performs an “emotional coloring” of those expectations to decide whether this future is for good or bad
- focuses on the most important (good and bad) of those future outcomes and tries to come up with alternative futures that will maximize the pleasure or minimize/negate the discomfort
- For the most promising of those preferred future outcomes, it starts visualizing them and thus begins to alter the environment (through physical action), in order to make this alternate future the new reality
- Finally, it compares the actual future with the visualized (preferred) future, in order to recognized whether it succeeded in producing this altered, better reality, or it needs to try even harder.
In the above description of simple steps, you can try to picture either a snail doing it, or a human. It should work the same for both…!
To summarize again, in simpler words: I perceive my environment, I decide whether I like what is happening now and what will happen in the future, I try to come up with the best ways that can maximize my pleasure & alleviate my discomfort (current or future), I act upon them and compare the expected results of my actions with the reality, to adjust accordingly.
So there you have it, this is the utility of the brain. It is a tool that came up and evolution favored, because it offers to all living beings a capability of altering the future to their benefit.