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

From: Helen Fowle (
Date: Thu Aug 16 2001 - 03:06:28 MDT

Lee wrote
>Good, this is choice information. I would next like to know
>if they in retrospect considered the transformation into a
>quadraplegic to be a form of death. My prediction would be
>that they'd answer "no", no more than a rascally teen might
>say of his induction into boot camp; just a strange transformation,
>but not a real threat to existence or identity. But I could be wrong.

As far as I can remember, most of them didn't see it as a death of the self, though they certainly saw it as death to parts of their body - most of them had to redefine their self aling new lines to cope with the changes in their bdy. Some of the topics Seymour covered where practical like clothing, parenting etc, and others were more psyholoical like intimacy and self love/worth. Obviously the difference to be noted is that with their spinal conditions they were losing abilities, while those on the lost who want to modify their bodies are doing so for the betterment of their bodies.  

>Evidently some of us will be more affected than others by changes
>in what we look like. I suggest that we consult the very elderly
>on this matter, who no longer resemble themselves at age 20 at all.
>Moreover, they now have much differently functioning bodies.
>However, again, my personal experience suggests that far from
>thinking that their selfs have changed, they regard themselves
>as being trapped in strangely old and non-functioning bodies.
>At least that's what my father said; and at age 53, that's the
>way it's starting to seem to me too. One is reminded of the
>obese person who shrieked, "Help! I am a thin person trapped
>in this enormous fat body. Someone must help me!".


Completely true, there does seem to be an 'essence' of self, if you can call it that. Something that it 'me' even if all else changes. I'd argue that this is a culmination of experreince and memory - although these expereinces are unmistakably also tied to the body.

Perhaps I should mention that I'm writing a masters paper on attitudes to the modification of the body - grounded in the sociology of the body - hence why I'm trying to understand the various strains of thought regarding the body by those on this list. There is a definite obsession with the body in this particular discipline - something that I'm hoping to challenge in this paper - it seem to be based on modern to postmodern values of subjectivity versus objectivity, knowledge versus expression...and the like. It stems from Satre and even a Romanitic notion that the body and self are a whole, and that happiness can be found by disciplining and shaping the body to an ideal of perfection - here the media comes in and does it's stuff!

Now the problem that I'm getting though is that extropains want to modify and enhance themselves through science and technology - their goal is immportality or at least longivity. Now this goal is based on being able to create/design a better body, one that does not have the fraility and limitations of the present biological one - so aren't you just as obsessed with the body as those people who go down the gym everyday and bust a gut also trying to create the ideal body? So you're question below about strange ideas about the body doesn't make sense to me.

>If I am correct in the above paragraphs, then the next question
>must arise for me and those who agree with me, is, where are
>people getting all these strange ideas about body image? Has
>something in our culture recently changed?

Of course it could all come down to self confidence and if one has a strong sense of identity - if you're particularly subject to others remarks and opinions of you, then ofcourse you will be effected more than someone who has a definite sense of who they are...and more importantly who they want to be.

any thoughts?


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