Re: Mind/Body dualism What's the deal?

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Wed Aug 15 2001 - 05:53:27 MDT

On Wed, Aug 15, 2001 at 11:08:02AM +0100, Helen Fowle wrote:

>I was hoping somebody could help clear something up for me. I've just
>been looking at Max More's Phd thesis on self ownership, which I take
>is largley part of the extropian philosophy. He says that the
>mind/body dualsim should be usurped in favour of seeinng them as a
>whole, i.e. what effects the mind also effects the body. But a lot of
>you on the list want to finally upload your minds - in effect becoming
>disembodied. How do you work this contradition out? Anders, Natasha
>and More all seem to be suggesting the importance of the body to the
>self - but there are a majority of you who want to forget the body
>altogehther and upload. I'm confused.

Well, cybergnosticism - the material world is inefficient and impure, and we
should strive to become pure information - is unfortunately rampant among
transhumanists. But that doesn't mean it is a very workable philosophy, IMHO.

As I see it, uploads are still going to be embodied. As I argued at
TransVision 00 in London, uploads might actually be more obsessed with their
bodies than we are currently! The reason is that an upload doesn't really
lose his body when he is uploaded, but rather gains an extra body: a primary
embodiment as computer hardware and associated electricity patterns, as well
as the emulation of his original flesh body. The emulation is necessary since
our brains are wired to interact with the world through the body and cannot
easily do this without a very close analog to the original body. Also, many
of our emotional states seem to be based not just in our brain neural
networks but use bodily states as markers (the somatic marker hypothesis of
Antonio Damasio). Over time this emulation might be changed, outgrown and
eventually discarded, but that will take plenty of time.

In the meantime the upload - who is likely not directly aware of the primary
computational body - will have to come to terms with his new ontological
status. I have a hard time imagining that uploads would not often try to feel
if their thoughts or visceral feelings have become somehow different. If any
subjective difference is experienced, that will be felt as deeply
significant, and different uploads might react very differently to it - some
might want to tune their bodies to fit their old selves, others might wear
the difference as a badge denoting their new status and others will begin to
play around with the possibilities of changing their bodies. So in the end, I
believe uploads will be firmly embodied beings, it is just that their bodies
will likely be very different from anything we consider bodies today.

I think transhumanism needs a good perspective of embodiment to avoid
becoming dualist or cybergnostic. It is easy to say that one wants to change
one's body, but implicit in that statement is the assumption that the change
will not change oneself. This is not true; any change of the body is a change
of oneself.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:40:09 MDT