Experimenting on ‘The Secret You’

On Tuesday 20th October 2009, as a part of their long-standing series ‘Horizon’, BBC2 screened an episode ‘THE SECRET YOU’ where Professor Marcus de Sautoy explored the issues of experimentality in relation to human self-awareness. The Finding Moonshine blog describes the programme in the following way: ‘[t]o find out what progress they are making Marcus becomes a human guinea-pig in a series of mind probing experiments. He begins by asking when our self awareness emerges and witnesses a cunning test that convincingly reveals a child’s sense of self before they are even capable of talking about what they are feeling. The experiment begs a question: are we alone in the world in being aware of ourselves?’ (http://findingmoonshine.blogspot.com/2009/10/secret-you-horizon-bbc2.html)

This episode raises many questions related to just how much remains to be revealed about the state of brain science and the limitations of experimentality in this context. It also probes the idea of impossibility of singular ontology and fragility of our cognitive perceptions and processes.

In my opinion, it leaves us with the one main philosophical dilemma of whether we are even in the position to conduct external experiments, when, so clearly, we are incapable of mastering the processes behind our own cognitive organs of perception…