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

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Wed Aug 15 2001 - 11:25:22 MDT

Helen Fowle wrote:
> Mike Lorrey wrote:
> >There is no contradiction. Max's thesis does not demand that the body
> be
> >necessarily a *human* (i.e. homo sapiens) body, or that the word
> 'body'
> >be limited solely to a biological system.
> >
> >We recognise that much of the human race defines itself by its
> physical
> >appearance, but only because sight is such a dominant sense (at least
> >for males), with one's 'feelings' being a close second (but dominant
> in
> >women). Both are assumed by the public to be absent from a mind that
> is
> >removed from its original human body, especially if its body is
> replaced
> >with an artifical construct, and are assumed to be impossible to
> attain
> >for an artificial intelligence. We don't assume these things.
> >
> >We generally think that you are you, no matter what body you are in.
> >Your sense of self will still be highly dependent upon you sight
> and/or
> >feelings, rather than your thoughts, which is what your true self is.
> So you're saying that although our sense of self is about how we see
> and interact with others, it has no bearing on how we interact with
> our body - that is, by changing the body, the self remains the same?
> And that if our body becomes laoded with more functions and more
> senses via uploading, or less drastic modifications, then our 'self'
> will not be effected by this?
> You need to explain more Mike, I really haven't got the jist of what
> you were saying.

Your sense of 'self' includes a concept of the set of your capabilities:
I am an expert marksman, an expert skier, and I type really fast when I
want to (at my speed of thought, generally), and artist, and a writer,
among other things. These things define who I am to myself. Being
handicapped means to lose a capability. When a person does so, they must
learn to redefine themselves, which is a difficult process, especially
for those severely handicapped.

Does a person become less than human when they are handicapped? No, they
don't. Do they stop having a sense of self? No, but they need to
redefine it to be consistent with their new capabilities.

Similarly, if I add on new capabilities that are beyond those of a
normal human body, my sense of self expands to encompass those
capabilities, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on how
significantly I use those capabilities.

If I have a hand calculator and use it to a great degree, its use is a
capability that defines me. If I jump out of airplanes, my parachute
also defines a capability of mine. Taking away my technology amputates
my capabilities, and handicapps my sense of self, especially if those
technologies give me great pleasure.

In this respect, you could say that for many people, they are already
augmented by their personal computers. We can all do far more things
today with the help of our computers than we could before we learned to
use them. Taking them away, we experience some loss, depending on how
extensively we depended on them in our lives. How many of us can say we
could do our jobs nearly as well as we do without computers?

The relationship between you and I at this point is entirely dependent
upon computers. We've never spoken over the phone or by snail mail. We
don't know what the other looks like. All we have here is an exchange of
questions and answers that is entirely dependent upon our computers and
networks. In your case, you are doing your 'job' over the computer. How
easily could you reach the sort of people you are discussing these
issues with without a computer?

Not very, and thus, the use of a computer is a capability that defines
your sense of self to some degree. At the present time, most people use
their computers for a few hours to at most 10-12 hours a day, 5-7 days a
week, and only for some tasks. For some of us, we use our computers more
than we use, say, our legs. Technically, then, you could take my legs
and leave my computer and I would feel less loss of self. If you
replaced my legs with artificial ones, I probably would feel there was
no loss at all. If the new legs were better peforming than the old ones,
I'd wind up with a sense of self that includes that greater performance.

Imagine, then, what would happen when you are using a computer 24/7 for
all functions, because your mind is on that computer. Would you not
consider that computer to be as much a part of you as you now look at
your heart, lungs, and brain?

You might then say, but we all have a sense of where our mind is
(generally a few inches behind the eyes). Would we not lose that by
being on a computer? Not really. The research (that has been cited on
this list in the past) shows that this is a phenomenon of our eyes,
which you can alter with practice from spending time in sensory
deprivation tanks. If your computer is able to use any webcam, or the
cameras on a 'robot' it is connected to, it will develop its own sense
of self.

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