A Case Study in Experimental Neurophilosophy
The needle penetrated deeper structures, and Reio shuddered with delight as it passed through his nucleus accumbens. But it continued, leaving the zone of pleasure and causing a brief series of ticks in his face, until it finally lodged in his hypothalamus. The world became red with heat and anger, and Reio screamed his rage at his captors like a stream of boiling blood, throwing himself at his restraints with no effect. Unmoved, one of them picked up another needle and began to attach it to the stereotaxic frame around his head. "Use the rostral approach for this one. We don't want to touch the interthalamic nuclei" someone behind him said.
As the operation continued Reio began to drift off, to accept the warpings of his emotions and personality with a kind stoical
acceptance. At least until they activated a last needle in his left amygdala; suddenly the situation became clear, like everything was frozen into a block of cold diamond. He knew and understood that he was strapped into an immobile metal exoskeleton, a stereotaxic frame screwed into his cranium, his brain open to the mercies of his captors and gradually turned into a pin cushion of thin silver needles linked to electronics. The worst thing was that he didn't feel anything - no anger, no fear, no pain, no emotions at all. Just a cold sense of certainty.
"Feeling a bit better now?" the voice behind him asked. He didn't answer, there was no point in it.
"Do you know what the limbic system is?" the voice said, moving to his right. He glimpsed a arm covered in green cloth adjusting some devices. "I'm controlling your entire emotional and motivational system now. I control your sense of self. Your mood. Your will. Even your urges". The hand twisted a dial, and Reio was suddenly filled with lust, insatiable lust. He wanted to reach out and fuck them all, to reduce himself to a rutting animal. But then the hand twisted another dial, and lust smoothly turned into fear. He was completely at the mercy of his captors, and they clearly didn't care for him
more than the white mice he had seen in the adjoining room. When they were finished with him, they would just leave him here, his brain exposed gradually drying out starting to rot...
A twist, and everything was cold and clear again. "See? Emotion consists of both arousal and a cognitive component. I can change both, and turn any emotion into anything else. I can even turn them off completely, although you will lack motivation to do anything."
The voice moved, and this time he saw its source. It was a small man in surgical gown, with large shining eyes reminding Reio of a Disney rabbit.
"If you were somewhat more motivated, you would ask me why I'm doing this". Reio couldn't care less. Why care for the surgeon's reasons?
Knowing them wouldn't change anything.
"I want to ask you a question. You see, I have always wondered about consciousness, the mind, emotion. Are they just biochemical signals and patterns, information itself, or do they exist on a different level from their physical aspects? How can we tell? I want to meet consciousness itself, my boy. I'm going to remove your sense of self, your emotions, your personality, everything except your mind and your consciousness. And when I have done that, you will be just Consciousness - the great, undivided consciousness that might be inherent in every bit or in all matter. Do you understand?"
The researcher began to adjust the equipment. The sense of reality deepened, until it became almost painful. But when another dial marked "cing. gyr." was turned, Reio suddenly didn't care about the agonising clarity he felt. The sense of being trapped in the metal exoskeleton vanished together with the feeling of location. After a while the changes in his mind ended. Not much made any sense, but he didn't force it. He just existed. The ideas of the researcher were pointless, he saw that now. They weren't consistent, and merely an excuse to experiment on him. They were a part of him, like everything else. One fragment of the whole trying to understand another fragment without realising that they both implied each other; any explanation
would be just a tautology.
"Well, it is time to start the second half of the experiment. Remove Its cognitive processes and give It 80% motivation. Let's see what Reality really wants...".