A Fiction

Koray Benli
Graduate Student, College of Engineering

Medium

Audio

Abstract 

A Fiction is an audio composition transforming an excerpt of dialogue revolving around the concept of objectivity. This dialogue is part of the Making Sense podcast, episode #247 titled Constructing Minds, throughout which Prof. Lisa Feldman Barrett shares her perspective on the origins and function of human brain with the host Sam Harris. They discuss the predictive nature of perception and action, the construction of emotion, concepts as prescriptions for action, culture as an operating system, and the relation between sensory data and the objectivity. Is true objectivity possible or is it based on a collection of subjective experiences that change over time?

A Fiction is an audio composition transforming an excerpt of dialogue revolving around the concept of objectivity. This dialogue is part of the Making Sense podcast, episode #247 titled Constructing Minds, throughout which Prof. Lisa Feldman Barrett shares her perspective on the origins and function of human brain with the host Sam Harris. They discuss the predictive nature of perception and action, the construction of emotion, concepts as prescriptions for action, culture as an operating system, and the relation between sensory data and the objectivity. Below is the transcription of the excerpt that is used in the composition:

“…scientists call this, you know, running a model of the world. But really what your brain is doing is it’s running a model of your body. And the model of your body in the world, but it only knows the world by virtue of the sense data that it gets from the sensory services of your body. So, essentially, every feature that your brain computes, it’s computing in relation to your body. In a particular moment in time, in a particular context or location, relative to or related to the particular shape of your ear and the particular distance of your two eyes from one another and the particular state of your mitochondria and so on and so forth. It’s all relative. That doesn’t mean some kind of post-modernist morass, but what it does mean is that we really have to realize that everything that we experience we experience from a particular perspective, and there is nothing really called objectivity. The best we can hope for, according to the historian of science Naomi Oreskes, is that a bunch of people with their own subjectivity, you know, with different histories and different backgrounds and different experiences in the world that they can come to a consensus over a scientific set of observations and that’s about as close to objective fact we can get. And it’s pretty darn good, it’s worked out pretty well for us, you know. But the idea that there are universal facts that can be objectively adjudicated by being rational or something is just, it’s a fiction that interestingly that brains tell themselves even though the brains are completely incapable of doing such things.” (audio excerpt, 00:59:11 to 01:01:18 – hour:min:sec format)