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Monday, March 23, 2009

You aren't the same as you were yesterday . . .

. . . but you think you are.

Cells are dying all the time in your body -- and most of them are being replaced at a tremendous clip. (Even brain cells turn out to regenerate themselves far into adulthood.) And yet somehow, despite that enormous cellular turnover, you still feel like yourself week to week and year to year. How is this possible?
(Steven Johnson, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software. New York: Scribner, 2001, p. 83)

I don't really know the answer to that one. Sorry. But part, maybe all, of the answer, may be that our self, whatever that is, is not wholly material. It depends on something besides our neurons.

Thanks for reading.

5 comments:

Keetha said...

This is an amazing fact - - - and I think gives a new insight into the verse that says "we are being continually renewed." Don't have the reference right now - - -

my word verification is medigne - - - does that fit into this post somehow???

Weekend Fisher said...

Really? I suspect our 'self' is wholly material, though in a way that renders the category 'material' fairly meaningless. Just like the Mona Lisa renders the category 'paint on canvas' fairly meaningless, as all good art renders its medium ... well, 'meaningless' was probably a poor word choice. It transcends its medium without ever leaving its medium.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, ladies.

The word verification is, so far as I know, totally random. Which is not to say that God can't influence it.

So you think that the self is "wholly material," Weekend Fisher? Maybe so. I don't think I have any scientific or scriptural proof that it isn't, but I suspect that many Christian thinkers would disagree. I don't know, myself.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi there

I *suspect* the self is "wholly material" -- though if someone asked me to prove it, I couldn't, so I "suspect" it rather than "think" it.

I know that many Christians disagree. But when I ask them _why_ they haven't really been able to prove an opposing view either; the typical response has been to tell me that rationality would be impossible otherwise. Which, y'know, that one I *can* logically refute. Which leaves a standoff when finished ...

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Martin LaBar said...

I know a little something about the controversy over this issue. For proof that I do, see my "Soul uploading: computers and the mind-body problem."

I doubt you want to go there -- it's a long document. I'm not sure about the material/non-material status of the soul, whatever that is. I just wanted to point out that there is more than one opinion on the subject.

Thanks again.