We are concerned about the mind and the consciousness. What are and how it emerge. This is the hard problem, and lots of efforts are directed to resolve it, if sutter thing is possible.
To do that, to explain the mind, and since no longer we believe in gods and souls or, in any case, we keep them out of the scientific discourse, neuroscience is investigating how the brain makes, generates the mind. Or how can ‘emerge’ this fenomenom from a phisichal substract.
The question to answer is ‘how the brain works’. What else?
Inside our speculations there is a delusion, an assumption, about what the brain is. And this assumption involves some kind of teleological interpretation of the brain function. The brain is that thing what makes possible the consciousness and the mind. But this perception guides us to the current cul de sac.
In a teleological conception, the brain is a part, a fragment of the whole, with a few (but really important) functions: the control of the body, the support of the mind and the connection between those parts.
But this is what the brain is? This interpretation conceives the brain like a central computer, what is compatible with the cognitive paradigm and theinformation metaphor, but misses to explain what is the mind (a program?).
But, this is really what the brain is?
One of the problems in this question is how to explain the evolution of the brain and the emergence of the consciousness. It’s hard to see how something like the mind (the rational mind) can evolve, can develop their capabilities progressively. Our conception about this subject understands easily an snappish awareness.
What other interpretation can we make about what the brain is?
To do that, we need to go back, to the first life forms. Those ancestors lacked of brain (most of them, even lacked of nervous system). They were ‘wired’, ‘hardcoded’. Their reactions were automatically generated, carved by natural selection.
Only when the organisms learn to take decisions and learn to learn, the brain appears (real brains, not merely neural ganglia).
Then, the brain appears to give the organisms the capacity of take decisions, not only react to stimuli. And to take decisions, the brain needs foresee the results of the different possibles decision.
This capacity is tightly linked with learning. But learning is not enough. It’s necessary an environment to apply this learning. A virtual environment. Some sandbox where test the different options and get and assess the results.
And this is what the brain is: a weird world simulator.