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

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Wed Aug 15 2001 - 11:15:06 MDT

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> 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.

This is a rather prejudiced way to express certain strains in
transhumanism imo. I think it is too early to assume much about
what is and is not a reasonable and workable view. Brain/minds
at the current level are relatively inefficient and bound up by
evolutionary patterns that make them rather biased, although
"impure" is going too far. If mind can be captured and
transferred from brain to upload "brain" in software and perhaps
downloaded into various vehicles then there is a degree of
support for a sort of mind/body dualism.

> 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.

It is too early to assume that such an emulation will be always
a part of being an upload.

>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.

But we will not have a "brain" in the old sense. It remains to
be seen how much the mind requires such an emulation to stay
sane and functional. It remains to be seen whether mind can
reprogram itself to not be as tied to such an emulation or not.
If we cannot, then Moravec's argument that the true AI/AC will
always be more adept in cyberia seems unanswerable.

>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.

OK. Although I don't think we can make much of a guess about
how much realtime this will take yet.
> 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 don't see how your conclusion follows from your exploration.
Why "firmly embodied"?
> 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.

I don't see why avoidance of mere labels adds anything at all of
value. If the mind is separable from the body you immediately
have a form of real dualism. If we can in fact function as
intelligent beings in a vastly expanded capacity once thus
separated from our original bodies (uploaded) then a form of
what is prejudicially labelled cybergnosticism in fact makes
sense and is seemingly inevitable. Value judgements of the
pre-upload state as being "impure" are of course not necessary

- samantha

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