All Smells Occur In The Brain
A person smelling roses in his or her garden does not, in reality, smell the originals of the roses. What he or she senses is an interpretation of electrical signals by his or her brain. However, the smell seems so real that the person would never understand that he or she is not smelling the original rose, and many people therefore suppose that they are smelling the real rose. This is a great miracle created by God.
If someone is asked how he senses the smells around him, he would probably say "with my nose". However, this answer is not the right one, even though most people would instantly conclude that it was the truth. Gordon Shepherd, a professor of neurology from Yale University, explains why this is incorrect; "We think that we smell with our noses, [but] this is a little like saying that we hear with our ear lobes." 1
Our sense of smell works in a similar mechanism to our other sense organs. In fact, the only function of the nose is its ability to act as an intake channel for smell molecules. Volatile molecules such as vanilla, or the scent of a rose, come to receptors located on hairs in a part of the nose called the epithelium and interact with them. The result of the interaction of the smell molecules with the epithelium reaches the brain as an electric signal. These electric signals are then perceived as a scent by the brain. Thus, all smells which we interpret as good or bad are merely perceptions generated in the brain after the interaction with volatile molecules has been transduced into electric signals. The fragrance of perfume, of a flower, of a food which you like, of the sea-in short all smells you may or may not like-are perceived in the brain. However, the smell molecules never actually reach the brain. In our sense of smell, it is only electrical signals which reach the brain, as happens with sound and sight.
Consequently, a smell does not travel in any particular direction, because all smells are perceived by the smell center in the brain. For example, the smell of a cake does not come from the oven, in the same way that the smell of the dish does not come from the kitchen. Likewise, the smell of honeysuckle does not come from the garden and the smell of the sea, some distance away from you, does not come from the sea. All of these smells are sensed at one point, in a related area of the brain. There is no concept of right or left, front or back, outside of this sense center. Although each of the senses seem to occur with different effects, and may appear to be coming from different directions, they all in fact occur within the brain. The smells which occur in the smell
center of the brain are assumed to be the smells of outside materials. However, the image of the rose is generated in the sight center and the smell of a rose is generated in the smell center. If there is a genuine smell outside, you can never reach the original of it.
George Berkeley, a philosopher who has realized the importance of this truth, says "At the beginning, it was believed that colors, odors, etc., 'really exist,' but subsequently such views were renounced, and it was seen that they only exist in dependence on our sensations."
ALL SMELLS TAKE PLACE WITHIN OUR BRAIN THERE IS NO SMELL IN THE OUTSIDE WORLD
It may be instructive to consider dreams in order to understand that smell is only a sensation. When people dream, in the same way that all images are seen very realistically, smells are also perceived as if they were real. For example, a person who goes to a restaurant in his dream may choose his dinner amid the smells of the foods that are on the menu; someone who dreams of going on a trip to the sea side senses the distinctive smell of the sea, and someone who dreams of a daisy garden would experience, in his dream, the pleasure of the magnificent scents. Likewise, someone who dreams of going to a perfume shop and choosing a perfume would be able to distinguish between the smells of the perfumes, one by one. Everything in the dream is so realistic that when the person wakes up, he or she might be surprised by this situation.
In fact, it is not necessary to examine dreams to understand the subject. It is even sufficient to imagine one of the depictions that were mentioned, such as the example of the daisy. If you concentrate on the daisy, you can feel as if you are aware of its scent, even though it isn't there. The scent is now occurring in the brain. If you want to visualize your mother in your mind, you can see her in your mind, even though she isn't there in front of you; in the same way you can imagine the smell of the lily, even though it isn't there.
Michael Posner, a psychologist and Marcus Raichle, a neurologist from Washington University comment on the issue of how sight and other senses occur, even in the absence of an external stimulus:
Open your eyes, and a scene fills your view effortlessly; close your eyes and think of that scene, and you can summon an image of it, certainly not as vivid, solid, or complete as a scene you see with your eyes, but still one that captures the scene's essential characteristics. In both cases, an image of the scene is formed in the mind. The image formed from actual visual experiences is called a "percept" to distinguish it from an imagined image. The percept is formed as the result of light hitting the retina and sending signals that are further processed in the brain. But how are we able to create an image when no light is hitting the retina to send such signals? 2
The purpose of the nose is to receive smell signals and transmit them to the brain. The smell of soup, or a rose, is sensed in the brain. However, a person can sense the smell of the rose or soup in his dream, even in the absence of any soup or roses. God forms such a convincing collection of senses within the brain with the taste, smell, vision, sense of touch and sound that it takes a lot of explanation to demonstrate to people that all of these feelings occur in the brain and that they are actually not dealing with the originals of anything they see. This is the magnificent knowledge of God.
A person can picture the face of his wife or imagine the smell of a daisy in his brain with little concentration. The question then is that who is seeing without the need of an eye or smelling without the need of a nose things that physically do not exist nearby? This being is the soul of the person.
There is no need for an external source to form an image in your mind. This same situation holds true for the sense of smell. In the same way as you are aware of a smell which does not really exist in your dreams or imagination, you cannot be sure whether or not those objects, which you smell in real life, exist outside you. Even if you assume that these objects exist outside of you, you can never deal with the original objects.
All Tastes Occur In The Brain
The sense of taste can be explained in a manner similar to those of the other sense organs. Tasting is caused by little buds in the tongue and throat. The tongue can detect four different tastes, bitter, sour, sweet and salty. Taste buds, after a chain of processes, transform sensory
information into electrical signals and then transfer them to the brain.
ALL TASTES OCCUR WITHIN OUR BRAINS
Subsequently, those signals are perceived by the brain as tastes. The taste that you experience when you eat a cake, yogurt, a lemon or a fruit is, in reality, a process that interprets electrical signals in the brain.
An image of a cake will be linked with the taste of the sugar, all of which occurs in the brain and everything sensed is related to the cake which you like so much. The taste that you are conscious of after you have eaten your cake, with a full appetite, is nothing other than an effect generated in your brain caused by electrical signals. You are only aware of what your brain interprets from the external stimuli. You can never reach the original object; for example you cannot see, smell or taste the actual chocolate itself. If the taste nerves in your brain were cut off, it would be impossible for the taste of anything you eat to reach your brain, and you would entirely lose your sense of taste. The fact that the tastes of which you are aware seem extraordinarily real should certainly not deceive you. This is the scientific explanation of the matter.
The Sense Of Touch Also Occurs In The Brain
The sense of touch is one of the factors which prevents people from being convinced of the aforementioned truth that the senses of sight, hearing and taste occur within the brain. For example, if you told someone that he sees a book within his brain, he would, if he didn't think carefully, reply "I can't be seeing the book in my brain-look, I'm touching it with my hand". Or, if we said "we cannot know whether the original of this book exists as a material object outside or not", again the same superficially minded person might answer "no, look, I'm holding it with my hand and I feel the hardness of it - that isn't a perception but an existence which has material reality".
However, there is a fact that such people cannot understand, or perhaps just ignore. The sense of touch also occurs in the brain as much as do all the other senses. That is to say, when you touch a material object, you sense whether it is hard, soft, wet, sticky or silky in the brain.
THE SENSE OF TOUCH ALSO OCCURS WITHIN OUR BRAINS
The effects that come from your fingertips are transmitted to the brain as an electrical signal and these signals are perceived in the brain as the sense of touch. For instance, if you touch a rough surface, you can never know whether the surface is, in reality, indeed a rough surface, or how a rough surface actually feels. That is because you can never touch the original of a rough surface. The knowledge that you have about touching a surface is your brain's interpretation of certain stimuli.
A person chatting to a close friend while drinking a cup of tea immediately lets go of the cup when he burns his hand on the hot cup. However, in reality, that person feels the heat of the cup in his mind, not in his hand. The same person visualizes the image of the cup of tea in his mind, and senses the smell and taste of it in his mind. However, this man does not realize that the tea he enjoys is actually a sensation within his brain. He assumes that the glass exists outside of himself, and talks to his friend, whose image occurs again within his brain. In fact, this is an extraordinary case. The assumption that he is touching the original glass and drinking the original tea, which appears to be justified by his impression of the hardness and warmth of the cup and the taste and smell of the tea, shows the astonishing clarity and perfection of the senses which exist within one's brain.
This important truth, which needs careful consideration, is expressed by twentieth century philosopher Bertrand Russell:
The fact that you are feeling the book you are reading now does not change the fact that the vision of the book occurs within your brain. As with the appearance of the book, the sense of touching the book also takes place in your brain.
As to the sense of touch when we press the table with our fingers, that is an electric disturbance on the electrons and protons of our fingertips, produced, according to modern physics, by the proximity of the electrons and protons in the table. If the same disturbance in our finger-tips arose in any other way, we should have the sensations, in spite of there being no table. 3
The point that Russell makes here is extremely important. In fact, if our fingertips are given a stimulus in a different manner, we can sense entirely different feelings. However, as it will be explained in detail in due course, today this can be done by mechanical simulators. With the help of a special glove, a person can feel the sensation of stroking a cat, shaking hands with someone, washing his hands, or touching a hard material, even though none of these things may be present. In reality, of course, none of these sensations represent occurrences in the real world. This is further evidence that all the sensations felt by a human being are formed within the mind.
We Can Never Reach The Original Of The World That Occurs Within Our Brain
As has been demonstrated here, everything that we live through, see, hear and feel in our life occurs within the brain. For example, someone who looks out of the window while sitting on an armchair feels the hardness of the armchair and the slipperiness of the fabric in his brain. The smell of the coffee coming from the kitchen occurs in the mind, not in the kitchen some distance away. The view of the sea, birds and trees he sees from the window are all images formed in the brain. The friend who is serving the coffee, and the taste of the coffee also exist in the brain.
In short, someone sitting in his living room and looking out of the window is in reality looking at his living room, and the view seen from the window on a screen in his brain. What a human being would refer to as "my life" is a collection of all perceptions being put together in a meaningful way and watched from a screen in the brain, and one can never come out of one's brain.
We can never know the true nature of the original of the material world outside the brain. We cannot know, whether or not the original, for example the green of a leaf, is as we perceive it. Likewise, we can never find out if a dessert is really sweet or whether that is just how our brain perceives it to be.
A person who is observing a particular view supposes that he is watching the view before his eyes. However, that view actually forms in the center of vision at the back of the brain. The pertinent question is this: who is that takes pleasure from watching this view, if it cannot be the brain, which is made of lipid and protein?
Anyone who considers this will clearly see the truth. One such person, George Berkeley, expresses this truth in his work A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge:
By sight I have the ideas of light and colours, with their several degrees and variations. By touch I perceive hard and soft, heat and cold, motion and resistance... Smelling furnishes me with odours; the palate with tastes; and hearing conveys sounds... And as several of these are observed to accompany each other, they come to be marked by one name, and so to be reputed as one thing. Thus, for example, a certain colour, taste, smell, figure and consistence having been observed to go together, are accounted one distinct thing, signified by the name apple; other collections of ideas constitute a stone, a tree, a book, and the like sensible things... 4
The truth Berkeley expresses in these words is this: We define an object by interpreting different sensations that are experienced in the brain. As is the case in this example, the taste and smell of an apple, its hardness and roundness and those sensations related with the other qualities of it are perceived as a whole by our brain and we perceive this whole as the apple. However, we can never actually deal with the original of the apple, only our perception of it. What we can see, smell, taste, touch or hear are only the copies within the brain.
When we consider all that has been discussed up to this point, the truth will be revealed in all clarity. For example:
- If we can see a street full of colorful lights and all the colors with their own brilliant shadings inside the brain where there is no actual light, then we are seeing copies of the notice boards, lights, streetlights and the headlamps of cars which are produced from the electric signals within the brain.
- Since no sound can enter the brain, we can never hear the original of the voices of loved ones. We hear only copies.
- We cannot feel the cool of the sea, the warmth of the sun - we only feel the copies of them in our brains.
- In the same way, nobody has been able to taste the original of mint. The taste someone would sense as mint is only a perception which occurs in the brain. This is because the person cannot touch the original of the mint, see the original of the mint or smell or taste the original of the mint.
Imagine that you are entering a dark room which has a big television screen inside. If you could only watch the outside world through this screen, you would naturally get bored of it after a while and want to get out.
Consider for a moment that the place you are in is no different. Inside your dark little skull, similar to a box, you watch visions of the outside world during your life. You continue watching all of these pictures in your brain without getting out of this small place and never get tired of it.
In addition to this, you would never believe that you were watching all of these things from a single screen. The vision is so convincing that in thousands of years, billions of people were unable to realize this great reality.
In conclusion, throughout our lives we live with copy-perceptions which are shown to us. However, these copies are so realistic that we never realize that they are copies. For example, lift your head and have a look around the room. You see that you are in a room full of furniture. When you touch the arms of the armchair in which you are sitting, you feel the hardness of it as if you are really touching the original of it. The reality of these images shown to you, and the excellent artistry in the creation of these images are sufficient to convince you and billions of other people that the images are "material". Even though most people have read that every sensation relating to the world is formed in their brains, since it is taught in high school biology classes, the images are so convincing that they have difficulty believing that these images are only fantasies in their brain. The reason for this is that each image is created very realistically and perfected to an art.
Some people accept that images occur in the brain, yet they claim that the originals of the images are external. But they can never prove this, because nobody has been able to move out of the perceptions that exist in the brain. Everybody lives in the cell that is in the brain, and no one can experience anything except that which is shown by his perceptions. Consequently, one can never know what happens outside of his perceptions. Thus to say "there are originals outside" would in fact be an unjustified presupposition, because there is nothing that could be held up as evidence. Furthermore, even if there are originals outside, these "originals" will again be seen in the brain, meaning that the observer would deal with the images formed in his or her brain. Consequently such claims are unsupportable because people are unable to reach the "material equivalents" which they suppose to exist.
We should also emphasize that scientific or technological development cannot change anything, as every scientific discovery or technological invention occurs in the minds of people, and consequently is of no help to people in reaching the outside world.
The views of renowned philosophers like B. Russell and L. Wittgenstein on this subject are as follows:
For instance, whether a lemon truly exists or not and how it came to exist cannot be questioned or investigated. A lemon consists merely of a taste sensed by the tongue, an odour sensed by the nose, a colour and shape sensed by the eye; and only these features of it can be subject to examination and assessment. Science can never know the physical world. 5
Philosopher G. Berkeley clearly expressed that our perceptions exist only in our minds and that we would be mistaken in automatically assuming that they exist in the outside world:
We believe in the existence of objects just because we see and touch them, and they are reflected to us by our perceptions. However, our perceptions are only ideas in our mind. Thus, objects we captivate by perceptions are nothing but ideas, and these ideas are essentially in nowhere but our mind… Since all these exist only in the mind, then it means that we are beguiled by deceptions when we imagine the universe and things to have an existence outside the mind. So, none of the surrounding things have an existence out of our mind. 6
In addition, it is of no importance for people whether something which a person cannot reach, see or touch, exists or not, because regardless of whether or not there is a material world, a human being only watches the world of perceptions in his brain. A person can never come across the true original of a material. Furthermore it is enough for everyone to see the copy. For example, someone who wanders around a garden with colorful flowers is not seeing the original of the garden, but the copy of it in his brain. However, this copy of the garden is so realistic that everyone receives some pleasure from the garden, as if it were real when in fact it is imaginary. Billions of people, right up until the present day, have assumed that they have been seeing the original of everything. Consequently, there is no reason for people to be interested in the "outside".
2- Michael I. Posner, Marcus E. Raichle, Images of Mind, Scientific American Library, New York, 1999, p. 88
3- Bertrand Russell, ABC of Relativity, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1964, pp. 161-162
4- George Berkeley, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, 1710, Works of George Berkeley, vol. I, ed. A. Fraser, Oxford, 1871 p. 35-36
5- Orhan Hançerlioðlu, Düþünce Tarihi (History of Idea), Remzi Kitabevi, Ýstanbul: 1987, p.447
6- George Politzer, Principes Fondamentaux de Philosophie, Editions Sociales, Paris, 1954, pp. 38-39-44