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Woebot
13-12-2007, 08:59 AM
this really fascinates me, cf the idea of the hair as the brain's antennae/tied in with the body's management of energy aura

lots of interesting tie-ins:

- samson of biblical repute obv
- the hippies (what precisely was the hippy spin on it)
- rasta locks

BUT ALSO

things i've experienced first hand:

- conditioner. woah what weirdly magical stuff. when you put it on it's like the creator has a masterplan.
- the yogic/theraputic feeling of pulling another person's hair (ever tried this?

a bit wacko i know but wtf?

IdleRich
13-12-2007, 09:38 AM
"I don’t advise getting a haircut, man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the Government. Hair are your antennae, connecting you to the cosmos. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight"

zhao
13-12-2007, 10:57 AM
wha? energy? aura? creator? yogic? man you better stop that kinda talk before the philistines label you a new-age crackpot like me!

who said that idlerich?

on the energy/body tip... what about piercings which are located at the main chakra points? like at the bridge of the nose between the eyes. or middle of the lip, or below the lips at the indent above the chin. what does it do to your balance and flow? i've heard yoga people say that it blocks energy and disrupts circulation, but i've also heard from piercing enthusiasts that the piecings have to be the right kind of metal, and that it can actually enhance energy flow...

Immryr
13-12-2007, 11:00 AM
danny from withnail & i (IIRC)

zhao
13-12-2007, 11:10 AM
is that movie kind of a cult thing in england? my highschool girlfriend was obsessed with it and i saw it when i was 17 but didn't get it at all... or maybe was too stoned. maybe i need to see it again.

what about pubes? do they conduct / transmit / receive as well? i just shaved all mine off. do it every couple of months. feels great. so at the moment the only hair on my body is a little bit on my fore-arms, under the pits, and on my legs. funny i don't feel uptight at all though :D

straight
13-12-2007, 12:08 PM
is that movie kind of a cult thing in england?

a bit of an understatement there. im thinkin at 17 you hadnt (like i hadnt ) really experienced the horrific depths of what people do for fun, and the disguting people we find ourselves asociating with as a result. still makes me laugh every time i see it, i really have to fight against being one of those quote people

IdleRich
13-12-2007, 12:30 PM
"danny from withnail & i (IIRC)"
Yes. But I did have to look it up, honest.


"is that movie kind of a cult thing in england?"
It's actually a legal requirement that all students have a Withnail poster on their bedroom wall.

noel emits
13-12-2007, 12:35 PM
I've been growing my hair (again), it's quite long now and the spiritual power is actually quite staggering. People of a low vibration can have trouble standing next to me at times. I rarely use conditioner. ;)

Mr. Tea
13-12-2007, 01:10 PM
I read this book where a character known for inventions of the Heath Robinson/Rube Goldberg persuation creates a machine to 'exercise' his thinning hair, which it does, leaving him with a lovely head of thick, lustrous hair. However, he neglects to maintain the exercise regimen and his hair loses its tone, with the result that he ends up with fat hair.

swears
13-12-2007, 01:26 PM
I just use a little bit of T-Gel every morning, I love the smell. I don't have an itchy scalp or anything, but everything else feels sort of weird and sticky to me.

mistersloane
13-12-2007, 02:18 PM
i just shaved all mine off. do it every couple of months. feels great. so at the moment the only hair on my body is a little bit on my fore-arms, under the pits, and on my legs. funny i don't feel uptight at all though :D

too much information! too much information!

Mr. Tea
13-12-2007, 02:22 PM
too much information! too much information!

The shaving spots, ingrowing hairs and general rash as it grows back might make him a bit uptight, though. :D

mistersloane
13-12-2007, 02:31 PM
The shaving spots, ingrowing hairs and general rash as it grows back might make him a bit uptight, though. :D

that's the voice of experience speaking, right there.

Mr. Tea
13-12-2007, 03:09 PM
that's the voice of experience speaking, right there.

Heh, I'm just extrapolating from the few times I've shaved (my face) 'against the grain' - yowch! :eek:

Leo
13-12-2007, 03:33 PM
there was a time when every guy at the local dog run looked exactly like moby. head shaved, just as much scraggly bits on their chins as on the tops of their heads. a half dozen mobys (mobi?), all standing around with cups of coffee watching their dogs sniff another dog's privates. happened every morning before work at the local park, it was so comical but i think i was the only one who seemed to notice.

swears
13-12-2007, 03:38 PM
I used to have quite long hair aged 15-18, but I got sick of a)being mistaken for a girl (honestly, don't think it would happen now, though) and b)getting shit off casuals.

Short hair is just a lot easier to clean, dry, comb. I like the smart look now, anyway.

zhao
13-12-2007, 03:42 PM
is shaving habits taboo and should not be talked about or something?


The shaving spots, ingrowing hairs and general rash as it grows back might make him a bit uptight, though. :D

well i've been doing it for about... 10 years now, never once had these problems. might be because i don't use a razor, but clippers with safety, and a whole lot of care...

STN
13-12-2007, 03:49 PM
I've grown a moustache, it gives me occult power.

Mr. Tea
13-12-2007, 03:58 PM
well i've been doing it for about... 10 years now, never once had these problems. might be because i don't use a razor, but clippers with safety, and a whole lot of care...

Clippers? Fucking hell!

mistersloane
13-12-2007, 04:03 PM
I've grown a moustache, it gives me occult power.

that's the truth, right there.

mistersloane
13-12-2007, 04:06 PM
is shaving habits taboo and should not be talked about or something?


no! not at all. i just like to think of everyone on here as, um, not having bodies.

most of my friends shave. i can't be arsed unless I'm doing something where it's totally essential that I don't leave any dna traces behind.

I've not heard of this 'hair power' cult that woebot seems to be part of until now though, aside from the rastas etc

STN
13-12-2007, 04:12 PM
Anyone know the reasons behind Sikhs not cutting their hair? Muslim guys are meant to have beards as well aren't they? And there's the Chasidic side-curl thing...

So I agree with Woebot that hair habits seem to feature in a fair old range of religions.

Mr. Tea
13-12-2007, 04:25 PM
most of my friends shave. i can't be arsed unless I'm doing something where it's totally essential that I don't leave any dna traces behind.


Hahaha, your secret double life as a ninja assassin is revealed!

Gavin
13-12-2007, 05:09 PM
well i've been doing it for about... 10 years now, never once had these problems. might be because i don't use a razor, but clippers with safety, and a whole lot of care...

I've had partners complain about chafing when it was down to the skin... So a little, ah, cushioning is nice, but it doesn't give you that pornstar fuckmachine look...

Gavin
13-12-2007, 05:10 PM
I'm growing my second beard ever, and it totally sucks (v. patchy), but at least I don't get carded when I buy alcohol. I'm going to shave it off for a tropical vacation in about a month though.

Chris
14-12-2007, 04:04 AM
ZING!

Lol at peoples' regional dialects and assumed religious beliefs!

Bloody silly innit.

Chris
14-12-2007, 04:50 AM
(not that I wasn't giggling through this thread... but my, aren't we a little catty around here?)

Woebot
14-12-2007, 08:28 AM
@mistersloane "hair power cult" rofl. nah just intrigued.


Anyone know the reasons behind Sikhs not cutting their hair? Muslim guys are meant to have beards as well aren't they? And there's the Chasidic side-curl thing...

So I agree with Woebot that hair habits seem to feature in a fair old range of religions.

i'd really like to know about all this! sfunny cos google doesn't produce anything for hair energy, just a few shampoo companies :)

Lichen
14-12-2007, 08:32 AM
You'll have to run your own experiment and grow your hair long. :eek:

Chris
14-12-2007, 08:53 AM
resentment's an ugly thing...

Mr. Tea
14-12-2007, 12:49 PM
The title of this thread makes me think of this sort of thing:
http://www.newschoolrome.com/assets/images/autogen/a_VanderGraaff_4.jpg

STN
14-12-2007, 01:29 PM
Well, there's something in the bible about it (presumably Leviticus? Certainly, Old Testament) which I imagine is the root of the Chasidic peyoth (which is what the side-locks are called) and what Rastafarians call the Nazarene Vow. There's some interesting reggae on the topic; that Morgan Heritage tune about how you don't have to have dreadlocks to be a rasta caused quite a fuss, and there's an Anthony B tune about how you must have locks (called Nazarene Vow, I think; the tune also covers not eating pork). It's a common theme in Linval Thompson's work (Don't Cut Off Your Dreadlocks, Long Long Dreadlocks etc), and there's many a tune about an unfortunate barber getting his comeuppance. I like it when reggae vests locks with occult powers: "Dread flash him locks and weakheart drop"; hair as a weapon. I guess the Bobo Ashanti angle of wrapping dreads in a turban is interesting too - I've no idea why this is done.

Didn't it used to be illegal to show your dreadlocks in Jamaica, hence (to some extent) the hats?

I'd always assumed that the prohibition on haircutting in some religions was to do with your hair having been granted to you by God, and therefore being sacred and not really yours to mess about with.

Incidentally while looking on Wikipedia for the correct name for Chasidic peyoth, I discovered that Chasidic boys' hair is kept long until the age of three, when it is cut ceremonially.

Sorry for long and formless post.

mms
15-12-2007, 08:24 AM
Anyone know the reasons behind Sikhs not cutting their hair? Muslim guys are meant to have beards as well aren't they? And there's the Chasidic side-curl thing...

So I agree with Woebot that hair habits seem to feature in a fair old range of religions.

i think muslim men have beards cos its about accepting what god has given them, ie don't cut it off as its meant to grow.

my other feelings about religion and beards come from my own experience of having long hair and a fairly large beard at times, it's quite hard to look after and a long beard is a bit itchy and you loose some of your face behind it, so it's got dedication points if you like, like being faithful is.
dreadlocks and tam's - funny eh?
it's from the scottish national hat the tam o shanter i think .
rasta tams are more or less like drum shaped hats.

dreads are all over diff religions, esp the spiritual direct connection guys, sadhu's dervishes, nazarites and coptic monks. - samson in the bible was meant to have em too.

I always fancy growing my hair long again but i wonder if im not a little too short on top now for it to look lustrous!

noel emits
15-12-2007, 10:05 AM
i think muslim men have beards cos its about accepting what god has given them, ie don't cut it off as its meant to grow.
Would that apply to knobcheese and blackheads too then?

mistersloane
15-12-2007, 10:28 AM
Would that apply to knobcheese and blackheads too then?

only if they're seen as signifiers of cultural identity, which could certainly be the case with nobcheese with regard circumcision etc.

A bit is written about it here which I found interesting - hair, not nobcheese religions...

http://www.gurmat.info/sms/smspublications/thesikhsymbols/chapter7/

I was always told by the witches not to get your hair cut when the moon is on the wane, cos you'd go bald. That's my hair tip for today.

noel emits
15-12-2007, 10:30 AM
It is weird that shaving and cutting hair is considered the norm in much of the world. Other animals don't need appliances to carry out basic grooming.

mms
15-12-2007, 11:51 AM
Would that apply to knobcheese and blackheads too then?

cleanliness is next to godliness, which is why bobo dreads run the broom industry!

Mr. Tea
15-12-2007, 02:31 PM
It is weird that shaving and cutting hair is considered the norm in much of the world. Other animals don't need appliances to carry out basic grooming.

Other animals tend to have parasites. In fact it's pretty exceptional in nature not to be infested with all sorts of creepy-crawlies most of the time.

mms
15-12-2007, 09:16 PM
Other animals tend to have parasites. In fact it's pretty exceptional in nature not to be infested with all sorts of creepy-crawlies most of the time.

sure but animals groom themselves and each other too.
animals don't have appliances to do anything though!

Mr. Tea
17-12-2007, 01:51 PM
sure but animals groom themselves and each other too.
animals don't have appliances to do anything though!

Indeed: they generally just eat them. Free protein (which came from you in the first place!) is not to be sniffed at.

nomadologist
17-12-2007, 06:00 PM
Other animals tend to have parasites. In fact it's pretty exceptional in nature not to be infested with all sorts of creepy-crawlies most of the time.

We have parasites as well. Tons of em. In your eyelashes, your hair, your intestines, everywhere. Mostly microscopic, though.

zhao
18-12-2007, 05:24 PM
We have parasites as well. Tons of em. In your eyelashes, your hair, your intestines, everywhere. Mostly microscopic, though.

i've heard that something like 1/5 of the population have intestinal worms their entire life and just don't know about it.

noel emits
18-12-2007, 05:34 PM
Actually we are mostly composed of non-human cells, according to these people.

http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2004/10/65252

nomadologist
18-12-2007, 06:00 PM
i've heard that something like 1/5 of the population have intestinal worms their entire life and just don't know about it.

Yup.


Actually we are mostly composed of non-human cells, according to these people.

http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2004/10/65252

Yup. All life is bacteria-based. Bacteria reproduces sexually. I've also heard people talk about how we're ultimately made of left over dust/energy from exploded stars or something like that...

noel emits
18-12-2007, 06:06 PM
Yup. All life is bacteria-based. Bacteria reproduces sexually.
You mean asexually. Seriously just try getting it on with some bacteria, they never give it up.

I've also heard people talk about how we're ultimately made of left over dust/energy from exploded stars or something like that...
Joni Mitchell? Mobi? Hoagy Carmichael? ;) It's what they say isn't it, that all the elements that make up our bodies were forged in burning stars.

nomadologist
18-12-2007, 06:08 PM
You mean asexually. Seriously just try getting it on with some bacteria, they never give it up.

Joni Mitchell? Mobi? Hoagy Carmichael? ;) It's what they say isn't it, that all the elements that make up our bodies were forged in burning stars.

No I don't, I mean sexually. (this is true of many bacteria, especially the ones we have on us) Maybe you're joking I can't tell :)

The Bible concurs with Joni Mitchell and these people who make these claims as well.

noel emits
18-12-2007, 06:12 PM
No I don't, I mean sexually. (this is true of many bacteria, especially the ones we have on us) Maybe you're joking I can't tell :)
I just looked it up and they do both it seems.

nomadologist
18-12-2007, 06:14 PM
I just looked it up and they do both it seems.

Yes they do. Some bacteria cells of the same type reproduce both/either sexually or through fission.

noel emits
18-12-2007, 06:30 PM
That's a lot of little fuckers.

Also every atom in your body is replaced over a seven year period.

zhao
18-12-2007, 06:56 PM
That's a lot of little fuckers.

Also every atom in your body is replaced over a seven year period.

i first heard that from everyone's favorite guru deepak :) "i was a different person back then"...

nomadologist
18-12-2007, 07:03 PM
That's a lot of little fuckers.

Also every atom in your body is replaced over a seven year period.

No, isn't it just your skeletal system that completely replaces itself every 7 years? I'd have to look it up but I think that's the fact...

swears
18-12-2007, 07:34 PM
That's a lot of little fuckers.

Also every atom in your body is replaced over a seven year period.

I heard about this. Does that mean that if the brain is replaced, you are a completely different person, who happens to have the same memories and personality?

yikes

nomadologist
18-12-2007, 07:37 PM
Yeah, because all the potential re cell formation is determined by your DNA, which doesn't change...(well, sometimes DNA mutates, but...)

Mr. Tea
18-12-2007, 07:46 PM
What's even cooler than the bacteria thing, I think, is the idea that some small percentage of the human genome is composed of endogenous retroviruses*, i.e. viruses that have become incorporated as part of our DNA.


*or rather, the DNA corresponding to the RNA of the retroviruses

swears
18-12-2007, 07:53 PM
Yeah, because all the potential re cell formation is determined by your DNA, which doesn't change...(well, sometimes DNA mutates, but...)

So for all intents and purposes, everyone dies every seven years and is replaced by a clone?

That can't be the same person if it's different cells, even if they are identical.

EDIT: I'm not explaining this very well. Let's say somebody makes a cell-by-cell copy of your brain, with the same memories, the same ideas, etc...

That person isn't you is it? You don't experience things the copy is experiencing.

nomadologist
18-12-2007, 07:59 PM
What's even cooler than the bacteria thing, I think, is the idea that some small percentage of the human genome is composed of endogenous retroviruses*, i.e. viruses that have become incorporated as part of our DNA.


*or rather, the DNA corresponding to the RNA of the retroviruses

This reminds me of something I just heard from a med student--that African-Americans (not Africans, but only African-Americans) tend to have high blood pressure because during the middle passage only those who could store high levels of sodium efficiently survived the harsh conditions on the slave ships. This is supposed to account for certain observed differences (in several studies) between other Americans and African-Americans re high blood pressure.

This is interesting to think about in terms of human evolution in general--so many of our negative traits are due to cataclysmic events where having a certain genetic mutation or makeup under harsh conditions meant that the next generation born of survivors then carried a trait that would be unnecessary during normal conditions. One huge example is the bubonic plague--some immune idiosyncracies of European-decended people may be due to this.

Think of how in the distant future our only surviving descendents might be those who genetically carry the inability to contract HIV/AIDS...
Of course this is not an entirely linear process. But. Still interesting to think about.

nomadologist
18-12-2007, 07:59 PM
So for all intents and purposes, everyone dies every seven years and is replaced by a clone?

That can't be the same person if it's different cells, even if they are identical.

But a clone is genetically identical to its "parent", no?

swears
18-12-2007, 08:01 PM
I'm not explaining this very well. Let's say somebody makes a cell-by-cell copy of your brain, with the same memories, the same ideas, etc...

That person isn't you is it? You don't experience things the copy is experiencing.

Being replaced by a clone of yourself is still "dying".

nomadologist
18-12-2007, 08:02 PM
This is a question for a philosophy of mind course that I've taken a few of already.

It's a good question. We're the simulacra of ourselves!

Gavin
18-12-2007, 08:04 PM
This reminds me of something I just heard from a med student--that African-Americans (not Africans, but only African-Americans) tend to have high blood pressure because during the middle passage only those who could store high levels of sodium efficiently survived the harsh conditions on the slave ships. This is supposed to account for certain observed differences (in several studies) between other Americans and African-Americans re high blood pressure.


Hmm, I always thought poorer diet + higher stress would account for a lot of the higher blood pressure.... don't know bastante ciencias to know if that would explain it all though.

nomadologist
18-12-2007, 08:05 PM
So for all intents and purposes, everyone dies every seven years and is replaced by a clone?

The thing is, this is half a myth--some systems regenerate in two years, some three, some six months. The skeletal system regenerates every seven years. So by the time the longest-regenerating systems have fully-regenerated, other organs are "surviving" from the older you. It's not a process where all of your cells simultaneously regenerate over a seven year period.

Does this make sense?

swears
18-12-2007, 08:10 PM
Yes, but I'm only really interested in how the brain is affected. Since I don't believe in a "soul", the idea that I will have a whole new brain in however many years means that the parts of my brain that are thinking right now (my "consciousness") won't exist at that point. They'll be gradually replaced by a copy over time.

nomadologist
18-12-2007, 08:22 PM
Hmm, I always thought poorer diet + higher stress would account for a lot of the higher blood pressure.... don't know bastante ciencias to know if that would explain it all though.

That is always what I thought, and I'm 100% sure it has something to do with it. But this is a theory put forth by a lot of medical types recently and in some ways as a general theory of semi-linear human evolution it makes a lot of sense that cataclysm affects which sort of negative traits get passed down that otherwise might not--e.g. autoimmune diseases. Why do we have these?? It seems feasible that they were passed down because at some point, these were beneficial to our ancestors at a time of crises for whatever reason...

nomadologist
18-12-2007, 08:23 PM
Yes, but I'm only really interested in how the brain is affected. Since I don't believe in a "soul", the idea that I will have a whole new brain in however many years means that the parts of my brain that are thinking right now (my "consciousness") won't exist at that point. They'll be gradually replaced by a copy over time.

Yup makes it seem like the phenomenologists were either way off or really onto something.

swears
18-12-2007, 08:26 PM
At least we don't have to worry about dying of old age...

zhao
18-12-2007, 09:17 PM
I'm not explaining this very well. Let's say somebody makes a cell-by-cell copy of your brain, with the same memories, the same ideas, etc...

That person isn't you is it? You don't experience things the copy is experiencing.

Being replaced by a clone of yourself is still "dying".

of course this and other new-ish scientific findings have completely shattered the 19th century yet still prevalent notions of the self, subjectivity, uniqueness, a static universe, etc.

noel emits
18-12-2007, 09:30 PM
Philip K. Dick (and no doubt others) has written about these issues of self and continuity in several stories involving things like teleportation and downloading personalities into chips.

swears
18-12-2007, 09:55 PM
Yeah, but this is just something that has always happened with all living creatures...

Neurologist/philosopher to thread, plz.

nomadologist
19-12-2007, 12:50 AM
Philip K. Dick (and no doubt others) has written about these issues of self and continuity in several stories involving things like teleportation and downloading personalities into chips.

bemes

nomadologist
19-12-2007, 12:51 AM
and for that matter "memes" too

noel emits
19-12-2007, 02:20 AM
bemes
Meme'z fartz.

IdleRich
19-12-2007, 08:29 AM
"of course this and other new-ish scientific findings have completely shattered the 19th century yet still prevalent notions of the self"
Hardly, the question of whether something can be the same thing despite all of its parts changing is thousands or years old. Theseus' Ship from Plutarch


“The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.”
Those who hold to the "19th century notion of the self" are surely just those who say that the ship was indeed the same (by the way, I'm not saying that it is, I'm just saying I'm not sure that it isn't). I seem to remember a famous case in the seventies(?) about a vintage motorbike in a museum that had all its parts replaced and there was a legal challenge as to whether or not it was the original bike.

Likewise the philosopher's axe or Heraclitus' River or, er, Trigger's Broom.


"A similar example was also seen in Only Fools and Horses, where Trigger (a central character) won an award for using the same broom to sweep the streets for twenty years, even though he’d replaced the head 17 times and the handle 14 times."

zhao
19-12-2007, 10:34 AM
yes sure these ideas have been around for a long time. even older than Heraclitus - loads of his ideas came from India, etc. but despite all that the materialist universe has been the dominant view for recent centuries...

the question of whether it is the same person/broom/motorcycle or not is missing the point, and falling into the binary trap of the 19th century thinking i was talking about.

the question should be: what do we mean when we say something stays the same? when something has changed? what do we mean by uniqueness? self? identity?

the point is that everything is fluid and interconnected. even on a physical level. and that separation is an illusion. a bad dream from which we have yet to rise.

i could hear the sneers and sarcasm from you unbelieving fuckers :p before i even finished typing the above. maybe these ideas have become cliche, but that doesn't detract from their value

noel emits
19-12-2007, 10:47 AM
the point is that everything is fluid and interconnected. even on a physical level. and that separation is an illusion. a bad dream from which we have yet to rise.
Of course the question arises in relation to human beings because we have this subjective sense of continuity, most of the time.

zhao
19-12-2007, 10:49 AM
uh oh we are heading into the pitfalls-of-the-ego debate again...

IdleRich
19-12-2007, 10:49 AM
"the question of whether it is the same person/broom/motorcycle or not is missing the point, and falling into the binary trap of the 19th century thinking i was talking about.

the question should be: what do we mean when we say something stays the same? when something has changed? what do we mean by uniqueness? self? identity?"
Ah ok, fair enough. All I was saying was that the fact that all the cells in something may change in seven years does not in itself shatter the idea of self... there may well be better arguments though.

noel emits
19-12-2007, 10:53 AM
Ah ok, fair enough. All I was saying was that the fact that all the cells in something may change in seven years does not in itself shatter the idea of self... there may well be better arguments though.
Self as pattern, field. The solid matter manifestation being just a part or a construct of something more fundamental.

IdleRich
19-12-2007, 11:02 AM
"Self as pattern, field. The solid matter manifestation being just a part or a construct of something more fundamental."
So... you're agreeing with me right? The self as a pattern can (and does) exist despite the changing of the cells? Seems fairly plausible to me.


"the point is that everything is fluid and interconnected. even on a physical level. and that separation is an illusion. a bad dream from which we have yet to rise."
Surely that should be especially (or only?) on a physical level. Why does that mean that separation is an illusion? Not disagreeing mind, just want to know how it follows.

swears
19-12-2007, 12:12 PM
The self as a pattern can (and does) exist despite the changing of the cells? Seems fairly plausible to me.


.

But I can't see how this works. Where is the self outside of those cells? If the cells thinking this right now are replaced, will I still exist when they're gone?

Mr. Tea
19-12-2007, 12:18 PM
If you think cell replacement is a metaphysical minefield, it's a walk in the park next to quantum teleportation.

swears
19-12-2007, 12:27 PM
Has anybody talked specifically about brain cell replacement and the continuation of consciousness before?

noel emits
19-12-2007, 01:21 PM
Every stoner, ever. And Philip K. Dick. And maybe Rupert Sheldrake.

IdleRich
19-12-2007, 01:32 PM
"But I can't see how this works. Where is the self outside of those cells? If the cells thinking this right now are replaced, will I still exist when they're gone?"
That's the question isn't it? Is there something (soul, dna replicator, self, I dunno) that means that you are the same thing or not? Is Theseus' Ship still the same ship?
Maybe the two things aren't precisely analogous as you might make a distinction between the living thing and the inanimate ship but if you accept that the ship is the same then you would surely have no problem accepting that the person is the same (might not work the other way though ie you might not think that a person being the same person despite having completely different cells is enough to establish that the ship is the same because you might think that the person has a "soul" and the ship doesn't).
I'm pretty agnostic either way and I guess that in the absence of anything that can persuade me otherwise it seems natural to go with the instinct - the feeling - that one is some kind of continuous entity. Be interested to hear any proper arguments though.


"If you think cell replacement is a metaphysical minefield, it's a walk in the park next to quantum teleportation."
Well, that's more like the cloning thing that Swears was on about earlier right?


"Has anybody talked specifically about brain cell replacement and the continuation of consciousness before?"
What do you mean? Anybody ever? I would have thought loads of people have.

Maybe this is a recent high-profile thing that might touch on it (haven't read it though)

http://www.amazon.com/Am-Strange-Loop-Douglas-Hofstadter/dp/0465030785

swears
19-12-2007, 01:41 PM
Every stoner, ever.

Yeah, but not in a "Wow, dig this..." way, from the point of view of neurology and/or philosophy, something more rational.









What do you mean? Anybody ever? I would have thought loads of people have.

Maybe this is a recent high-profile thing that might touch on it (haven't read it though)

http://www.amazon.com/Am-Strange-Loop-Douglas-Hofstadter/dp/0465030785

Yeah cheers. I was hoping for links/books. Didn't think I was the first person in history, lol.

nomadologist
19-12-2007, 02:40 PM
Of course the question arises in relation to human beings because we have this subjective sense of continuity, most of the time.

Was just watching this Steven Hawking documentary where he talked about how when we finally understand black holes, we'll understand the big bang and finally lay to rest the notion that "time" exists in the way we experience it.

Can't wait till they get that math for that all worked out...apparently math breaks down in black holes an energy becomes an infinitely small and infinitely energetic point in space-time (which I doubt is "continuum-like" at all)...

nomadologist
19-12-2007, 02:46 PM
Self as pattern, field. The solid matter manifestation being just a part or a construct of something more fundamental.

Self as a mechanical outgrowth of/response to the dictates of organic life. Where a brain is just a CPU.

And then there's self as a narrative, in the psychoanalytical tradition. Which even Lacan doesn't really escape from.

And then there's self as an illusion of material existence where there's some binary and the ghost is running the machine.

Those are probably the three most prevalent notions of selfhood that float around now. I like the first and second ones best.

Mr. Tea
19-12-2007, 03:28 PM
Rich, I think quantum teleportation is more problematic for notions of self than cell replacement because (in theory) it would be possible to transfer all of the information that can physically be learned about the particles that make up an object (which could be a person) - within limits set by the uncertainty principle - and transmit that information to another piece of matter, which then 'becomes' the original object. Fortunately, we don't have to worry about the original object, because it is destroyed in the process; it doesn't literally disappear, but it would presumably decay into some sort of maximum-entropy state*, an undifferentiated lump of stuff. This is all very hypothetical, of course, since it's been done with one photon at a time, and it's a very big leap from that to 'objects' as such.

However, I heard about some work a team did recently in which they managed to duplicated a quantum state without destroying the original state, using some novel technique.

*I guess, not sure how this would actually happen

IdleRich
19-12-2007, 03:45 PM
"Rich, I think quantum teleportation is more problematic for notions of self than cell replacement because (in theory) it would be possible to transfer all of the information that can physically be learned about the particles that make up an object (which could be a person) - within limits set by the uncertainty principle - and transmit that information to another piece of matter, which then 'becomes' the original object."
Sure, all I'm saying is that that is very like cloning (as Swears had it) but the new version appears somewhere else and the original disappears. The question then is, is the new version that appears merely a copy (a facsimile) or is it the original? Would you happily step into a transporter that promised to recreate an exact copy of you elsewhere at the small expense of the original ceasing to exist? I suspect not.
Perhaps where it diiffers from complete cell replacement bit by bit is in the sense that the (impression of) continuity is broken. Maybe an analogy could be from football. Manchester United players change bit by bit over the years and after a while none of the players are the same - but the team is still Man Utd. On the other hand, when Wimbledon were transported (teleported) to Milton Keynes and recreated identically there with the same players most fans decided that they were not the same team.

noel emits
19-12-2007, 03:50 PM
Would you happily step into a transporter that promised to recreate an exact copy of you elsewhere at the small expense of the original ceasing to exist? I suspect not.
This is more or less what PKD's 'The Unteleported Man' is about, although if I remember right there's a bit of a nasty twist to it.

It's also a famous thought experiment in philosophy and it's bugging me that I can't remember who formulated it.

Mr. Tea
19-12-2007, 03:53 PM
Ah yeah, I see what you mean. I'd say, though, there is a good case to be made for a continuity of consciousness in the case of quantum teleportation; cloning would merely create an organism with the same DNA as you, which is not the same thing as you (just as one manufactured item isn't numerically identical to another instance of the same model); but in teleportation, even the electrical signals being exchanged by your neurons would be duplicated perfectly, so the thoughts, sensations and memories of the new 'you' would be identical to those of the old. I find it hard to maintain that there would be a discontinuity of identity and consciousness here without appealing to a specifically mentalist/nonphysical model of consciousness, some sort of 'soul' or 'spirit'.

noel emits
19-12-2007, 04:04 PM
It's also a famous thought experiment in philosophy and it's bugging me that I can't remember who formulated it.
Some bloke on youtube apparently, pretty sure he got this from elsewhere. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlihiJ528xM&feature=related


Thought experiment #1: you're in a planet that's about to self destruct. There are only two ways to leave the planet. Which do you choose?
1.) you can leave the planet through a spaceship but your chances of surviving the trip to your destination is extremely slim (let's say less than 5%)
2.) You can leave the planet using a "teleportation machine" which creates an exact copy of you with all your memories and personality in another location and then it destroys the original copy

Thought experiment #2: You acquired a disease that gradually rewires your neural networks until all your memories and your personality will be completely changed. Let's say it will be rewired to replicate the brain of your mother so that all your mother's memories and personality will be implanted in you and you will lose all your memories and personality.
The only cure is to undergo a procedure in which a few of your brain cells will be replaced by microchips every year. The microchips will function exactly like neurons. From your perspective, you won't notice any changes. Every year a small group of your brain cells will be replaced until eventually your brain will be composed entirely of microchips. Your consciousness will be preserved but you will lose the original cells that made up your brain.Now would you rather..
1.) keep the integrity of your consciousness and lose your original brain cells by undergoing the procedure or...
2.) just let the disease run its course and keep your original brain cells

Going with either choice in the each of the experiments, you will be sacrificing either the continuity of your material self for the continuity of your consciousness or vice versa. How would you go about making your decision? If the continuity of the material body is more important for you, how would you reconcile the fact that your body regenerates its cells, including some of your brain cells, with your position. And if you think that the continuity of your consciousness is more important for you, would you say that people who've had their consciousness altered (people with amnesia) are still the same person? by not wanting to die, what is it really that you're trying to preserve?

IdleRich
19-12-2007, 04:09 PM
"This is more or less what PKD's 'The Unteleported Man' is about, although if I remember right there's a bit of a nasty twist to it.
It's also a famous thought experiment in philosophy and it's bugging me that I can't remember who formulated it."
I was taking it from Star Trek but I'm sure you're correct that lesser minds have dealt with it as well.


"in teleportation, even the electrical signals being exchanged by your neurons would be duplicated perfectly, so the thoughts, sensations and memories of the new 'you' would be identical to those of the old. I find it hard to maintain that there would be a discontinuity of identity and consciousness here without appealing to a specifically mentalist/nonphysical model of consciousness, some sort of 'soul' or 'spirit'."
I'm not entirely sure of that. If the new you had all the same thoughts, sensations etc and was in every way an exact copy does that mean it's you? What if the old you hasn't been destroyed, would the new you have just as much claim to be you? I don't think that you need to appeal to a soul to say that it wouldn't. I mean, if you create an exact copy of an inanimate object does that actually make the copy in some sense the original?

Mr. Tea
19-12-2007, 04:16 PM
I'd choose 2 and 1, respectively. In the latter case, the last thing I need is memories of changing my own nappy, EEWWW!!!

When you learn about matter at a really fundamental level, you come to realise that information is a lot more improtant than 'stuff'. I read a good book about this (and other things) a few years ago:
http://www.amazon.com/Matter-Myth-Discoveries-Challenge-Understanding/dp/0743290917/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198084400&sr=1-1
The last chapter, IIRC, is called "The Triumph of 'Bit' over 'It'", and sums up how modern physics is increasingly hinting that a more fundamental way to understand the universe is as systems of information, rather than interacting particles, fields etc.
In a wider metaphysical sense it all links in with the ascendency of the information age and the data economy, the demise of the Newtonian 'clockwork' universe and so on. Well worth reading.

Immryr
19-12-2007, 04:17 PM
i think you've hit on an interesting reversal there. perhaps by claiming that if it exactly replicated you cell for cell, memory for memory, thought for thought, that it was indeed the original, you are appealing to the idea that there is some sort of soul involved.

in all other none human, 'soul-less', things when you make an exact copy of something it is considered just that, a copy or clone rather than the original. the only thing i can think of that woud make that fact any different would be if you thought we had some sort of soul or spirit elevating humans beyond that.

Mr. Tea
19-12-2007, 04:23 PM
I'm not entirely sure of that. If the new you had all the same thoughts, sensations etc and was in every way an exact copy does that mean it's you? What if the old you hasn't been destroyed, would the new you have just as much claim to be you? I don't think that you need to appeal to a soul to say that it wouldn't. I mean, if you create an exact copy of an inanimate object does that actually make the copy in some sense the original?

Ahh, but only by quantum teleportation would the copy ever really exact, in the strictest possible sense. I take the view that consciousness arises as a sort of gestalt process, and that this process itself could be transferred by means of teleportation. If the no-remaining-original theorem holds true, then we don't have to worry about which of the two 'yous' is really 'you' - although of course it could be interesting to discuss this scenario.
You don't even need wacky physics to raise this possibility, though, just wacky biology: suppose humans could reproduce by binary fission, like bacteria? Then there'd be two 'offspring', each with a claim to being the 'real' original. Actually, I don't find this so problematic, since each one could inherit the memories and continuous consciousness of the 'parent' independently of the other.

noel emits
19-12-2007, 04:23 PM
Rich, I think quantum teleportation is more problematic for notions of self than cell replacement because (in theory) it would be possible to transfer all of the information that can physically be learned about the particles that make up an object (which could be a person) - within limits set by the uncertainty principle - and transmit that information to another piece of matter, which then 'becomes' the original object. Fortunately, we don't have to worry about the original object, because it is destroyed in the process; it doesn't literally disappear, but it would presumably decay into some sort of maximum-entropy state*, an undifferentiated lump of stuff. This is all very hypothetical, of course, since it's been done with one photon at a time, and it's a very big leap from that to 'objects' as such.
What if part of what makes a being is contained in patterns and resonances in it's electromagnetic field? Would this kind of 'teleportation' be able reproduce that accurately?

I don't think there's anything particular that makes an individual, a perfectly accurate copy would still be the same person, but does 'science'' actually understand what does make a person and what would to be copied?

Mr. Tea
19-12-2007, 04:38 PM
What if part of what makes a being is contained in patterns and resonances in it's electromagnetic field? Would this kind of 'teleportation' be able reproduce that accurately?

Absolutely! If you could extract the maximum possible information in this quantum teleportation process, you'd have the orbits and energy levels of the elecrons in every molecule in every neuron in your brain. That's what I mean by copying over the patterns and resonances from which, somehow, memories and consciousness arise as emergent phenomena (IMHO). It's like computers: if you wanted to 'clone' your PC, it'd be no good just buying an identical model brand new, you'd have to copy over the contents of the hard disk, wouldn't you? In fact an even better analogy might be volatile RAM that requires a supply voltage in order to retain the data, and loses it when the voltage is switched off, which could be what happens to memories upon death. Although those crazy American guys who have their heads frozen when they die would obviously disagree.


I don't think there's anything particular that makes an individual, a perfectly accurate copy would still be the same person, but does 'science'' actually understand what does make a person and what would to be copied?
Hmm, I dunno, I think we're getting into realms that, for the moment anyway, are beyond the reach of science per se.

IdleRich
19-12-2007, 04:38 PM
"i think you've hit on an interesting reversal there. perhaps by claiming that if it exactly replicated you cell for cell, memory for memory, thought for thought, that it was indeed the original, you are appealing to the idea that there is some sort of soul involved.
in all other none human, 'soul-less', things when you make an exact copy of something it is considered just that, a copy or clone rather than the original. the only thing i can think of that woud make that fact any different would be if you thought we had some sort of soul or spirit elevating humans beyond that."
Yes, that was more like what I was trying to say.
An exact copy is just a copy, without consciousness or something there is no question that the new version the original - it's not. When you (Mr Tea) said that you need to appeal to a "soul" to say that the new version IS NOT the original you've got it the wrong way round, you need the idea of the soul to argue that it IS - without the soul there would be no debate.
Of course, the idea of a soul does not necessarily imply that the new version IS the original either.

noel emits
19-12-2007, 04:46 PM
Hmm, I dunno, I think we're getting into realms that, for the moment anyway, are beyond the reach of science per se.
I know! That's why I'm asking. I do think there might be more to living beings than what is generally understood by science at present. In relation to this I'm interested in things like 'morphic resonance'. There have been some very interesting experiments in that area with regard to how creatures develop and form. I think it's been brought up before on here that there doesn't appear to be enough information in human DNA to explain how the creatures we are form. I wonder how much those bacteria account for though.

So who's up for going first on the quantum teleport then? ;)

Mr. Tea
19-12-2007, 04:53 PM
Hang on there, I don't believe in souls but I never said I don't believe in consciousness! They're two very different things. When I say a 'soul' is needed to support the claim that the copy is not the original, it is in response to the question "what is different about them?". I would argue that there is no difference, but I think someone claiming that there is would have to seek some sort of nonphysical explanation for the difference (in other words, a soul) since there is no physical difference; this is garuanteed by the quantum-cloning process. If two systems are identical at the quantum level, i.e. they are described by the same wave-function/state vector, then they are identical. Nature does not distinguish between one electron and the next.

I guess you could sum up my position as follows: if two systems are physically identical, right down to the quantum level, then they are interchangeable; it makes no sense to talk about 'this one here' and 'that one there'. So if you insist that there is nonetheless a difference, then you either need to appeal to some unknown sub-quantum theory of physics, or posit a non-physical (spiritual, metaphysical...) difference.

swears
19-12-2007, 04:56 PM
So you get in the teleporter, it sends an exact copy of you to the moonbase.
But you're still here on earth.

"What went wrong?" you ask the technician.

"Oh, don't worry. Sometimes there's a slight time delay, you'll disintegrate within the next few minutes."

noel emits
19-12-2007, 04:59 PM
I guess you could sum up my position as follows: if two systems are physically identical, right down to the quantum level, then they are interchangeable; it makes no sense to talk about 'this one here' and 'that one there'.
I'm inclined to agree here. Except...

So if you insist that there is nonetheless a difference, then you either need to appeal to some unknown sub-quantum theory of physics, or posit a non-physical (spiritual, metaphysical...) difference.
Not necessarily non-physical. For instance when we make a copy can we be sure we are accurate in all dimensions? For instance, the ones we don't really know about. Might
these not appear to us as metaphysical?

Mr. Tea
19-12-2007, 04:59 PM
So you get in the teleporter, it sends an exact copy of you to the moonbase.
But you're still here on earth.

"What went wrong?" you ask the technician.

"Oh, don't worry. Sometimes there's a slight time delay, you'll disintegrate within the next few minutes."

Nah, the teleportation of the original can't happen without the destruction of the original (any more than you can still be in possession of a parcel you've already sent to someone), so it'd be instantaneous. There's a sort of 'conservation of information' principle going on, somehow.

Mr. Tea
19-12-2007, 04:59 PM
Not necessarily non-physical. For instance when we make a copy can we be sure we are accurate in all dimensions? For instance, the ones we don't really know about. Might
these not appear to us as metaphysical?

Yeah, I suppose, but that's what I mean by 'unknown physics'.

swears
19-12-2007, 05:02 PM
Nah, the teleportation of the original can't happen without the destruction of the original, so it'd be instantaneous. There's a sort of 'conservation of information' principle going on, somehow.

That's what the manufacturers would have you believe, but mine's always playing up.

Mr. Tea
19-12-2007, 05:11 PM
That's what the manufacturers would have you believe, but mine's always playing up.

There's a 'Treehouse Of Horrors' episode of The Simpsons where Homer acquires a magic hammock that he can't get in without immediately falling out of, but every time he does it, there's two of him. The clones start jumping in an cloning themselves, so soon there's an army of Homers, only some of the clones are imperfect; there's a weird-looking proto-Homer from the Tracy Ullman Show era, and a Peter Griffin from Family Guy, which I thought was a fair enought dig.

turtles
19-12-2007, 05:49 PM
@Swears: on the fiction front, I would highly recommend reading some greg egan, specifically "Permutation City" (http://www.amazon.com/Permutation-City-Greg-Egan/dp/006105481X/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198089723&sr=8-2) and this collection of short stories (http://www.amazon.com/Luminous-Greg-Egan/dp/1857985737/ref=pd_bbs_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198089723&sr=8-4). He approches it more from the computer angle rather than cell-replacement, but he has all sorts of things with people having exact clones of their minds and such, and if i remember right he has at least one short story that's about the same kind of process described in the second thought experiment posted above. Good mind-bending stuff.

noel emits
19-12-2007, 05:50 PM
Nice one turtles, I think that's the book I was trying to remember. Something about blue crystals...

That's what the manufacturers would have you believe, but mine's always playing up.
Can you guess what the (first) twist in 'The Unteleported Man' is? ;)

Mr. Tea
19-12-2007, 06:07 PM
Nice one turtles, I think that's the book I was trying to remember. Something about blue crystals...

Can you guess what the (first) twist in 'The Unteleported Man' is? ;)

Ooh, lessee....is it that the unteleported MAN is actually a WOman?

Am I close?

nomadologist
19-12-2007, 06:20 PM
This is more or less what PKD's 'The Unteleported Man' is about, although if I remember right there's a bit of a nasty twist to it.

It's also a famous thought experiment in philosophy and it's bugging me that I can't remember who formulated it.

Putnam?

Searle?

Ayer? (j/k)

swears
19-12-2007, 07:14 PM
This is a good one, classic new wave sci fi:

It all started when Captain Nathan Hansard of 'A' Artillery Company, Camp Jackson/Mars Command Post was sent to Mars. A fault in the instantaneous transmission of matter transmitter created two of him: one went to Mars as scheduled, while a 'ghost' stayed on Earth in a strange world of secondary matter, walking through steel vaults and swimming in the concrete foundations of buildings. The original Hansard carried orders for the total nuclear arsenal of Camp Jackson/Mars to be unleashed on the enemy, so precipitating Earth's nuclear holocaust. Something had to be done - and fast. Could Hansard save the world? Could his ghost..?

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/d/thomas-m-disch/echo-round-his-bones.htm

IdleRich
19-12-2007, 08:59 PM
"Going with either choice in the each of the experiments, you will be sacrificing either the continuity of your material self for the continuity of your consciousness or vice versa. How would you go about making your decision?"
This makes the assumption that you can achieve continuity of the consciousness by simply making an exact copy of your self - I don't think you can (and if you think that you can surely you need to argue for it not just state it as an aside in part of the question).


"I guess you could sum up my position as follows: if two systems are physically identical, right down to the quantum level, then they are interchangeable; it makes no sense to talk about 'this one here' and 'that one there'. So if you insist that there is nonetheless a difference, then you either need to appeal to some unknown sub-quantum theory of physics, or posit a non-physical (spiritual, metaphysical...) difference."
No, no, not at all - they are still different entities, you are making the error outlined here in the Stanford Encyclopaedia or Philosophy:


"To say that this and that are numerically identical is to say that they are one and the same: one thing rather than two. This is different from qualitative identity. Things are qualitatively identical when they are exactly similar. Identical twins may be qualitatively identical — there may be no telling them apart — but they are not numerically identical, for there are two of them: that's what makes them twins"
The quantum copy in your example is qualitatively identical but not numerically identical to the original, it is not the same thing. It's not the soul or otherwise that makes two things different.

hundredmillionlifetimes
19-12-2007, 09:33 PM
Putnam?

Searle?

Ayer? (j/k)

I think all of them, beginning with Plato (who was the first to conceive of the notion of a copy without an original - a simulation), have experimented with, and played around with, ideas that challenge transcendence. Interesting that some posters here posit a 'soul' [whether they believe in one or not], by definition immortal, as being somehow tied down to some concrete-physical identity: but such an argument only displaces the problem, however. If this were the case, 'soul' believers would be at the forefront of experiments in biogenetic cloning and manipulation, since they would be fully aware that they were dealing only with the 'merely' material aspect of human existence, not with the spiritual kernel. Their faith in transcendence would protect them from any possible scientific-humanist reductionism. If they believe in an autonomous spiritual dimension, there is no need to fear cloning or biogenetic manipulation.

BTW, every human cell dies (through the process of programmed cell death via inter-cellular chemical 'messengers') and is replaced every year (in some ways this fact oddly escaped biologists for years: if a mother cell - that divides via fission into two daughter cells - never died, we'd all cell-expand into resource-ravaging Giant Monsters as big as the planet in no time, like Capital itself!). There are exceptions, of course: within cells, DNA never replicates 100% precisely (so we have the aging process), while cancer cells are precisely those that somehow never get the suicide chemical command to shuffle off, instead replicating themselves without dying, the teeming tumour then growing uncontrollably ...

But I side with Baudrillard on the cloning issue: the original is itself a copy. So a cloned human - by whatever means - only suffers existential angst, distributed identity crisis, 'subjective destitution', etc - when he/she/it becomes informed, reflexively realises that he/she/it is just a polymorphously mutating clone at the mercy of - and constituted by - environment, always has been.

[Why even Britney Spears has recently - unwittingly - copped this :cool: : Piece of Me (http://youtube.com/watch?v=89oS4SN4mNg) video].

IdleRich
19-12-2007, 10:26 PM
"Interesting that some posters here posit a 'soul' [whether they believe in one or not], by definition immortal"
Well, as "soul" was being used as a clumsy substitute for the want of a better word I don't think you can say that it is anything "by definition".


"as being somehow tied down to some concrete-physical identity: but such an argument only displaces the problem, however"
Tied down to a specific concrete-physical entity or must it simply be linked with one in general? If the former then surely there is no point in biogenetic cloning or whatever.


"'soul' believers"
Keep the faith.

hundredmillionlifetimes
19-12-2007, 10:51 PM
Well, as "soul" was being used as a clumsy substitute for the want of a better word I don't think you can say that it is anything "by definition".

I don't think that anyone who invokes 'soul' does so as an apologetic, inferior substitute for some other term, much less in a clumsy way [symbolically lazy or uncritical, maybe, but not haphazardly), and of all the metonyms in the English language, surely the most rigid and determinate one is that of Soul=Immortal, by whatever definition.



Tied down to a specific concrete-physical entity or must it simply be linked with one in general? If the former then surely there is no point in biogenetic cloning or whatever.


The argument being made was that for those who believe in a transcendent, immortal soul, material manipulation or physical cloning is therefore of no consequence, has no implications vis-a-vis such a belief, not that there is 'no point in' doing it.

nomadologist
20-12-2007, 12:26 AM
I think all of them, beginning with Plato (who was the first to conceive of the notion of a copy without an original - a simulation), have experimented with, and played around with, ideas that challenge transcendence. Interesting that some posters here posit a 'soul' [whether they believe in one or not], by definition immortal, as being somehow tied down to some concrete-physical identity: but such an argument only displaces the problem, however. If this were the case, 'soul' believers would be at the forefront of experiments in biogenetic cloning and manipulation, since they would be fully aware that they were dealing only with the 'merely' material aspect of human existence, not with the spiritual kernel. Their faith in transcendence would protect them from any possible scientific-humanist reductionism. If they believe in an autonomous spiritual dimension, there is no need to fear cloning or biogenetic manipulation.

BTW, every human cell dies (through the process of programmed cell death via inter-cellular chemical 'messengers') and is replaced every year (in some ways this fact oddly escaped biologists for years: if a mother cell - that divides via fission into two daughter cells - never died, we'd all cell-expand into resource-ravaging Giant Monsters as big as the planet in no time, like Capital itself!). There are exceptions, of course: within cells, DNA never replicates 100% precisely (so we have the aging process), while cancer cells are precisely those that somehow never get the suicide chemical command to shuffle off, instead replicating themselves without dying, the teeming tumour then growing uncontrollably ...

But I side with Baudrillard on the cloning issue: the original is itself a copy. So a cloned human - by whatever means - only suffers existential angst, distributed identity crisis, 'subjective destitution', etc - when he/she/it becomes informed, reflexively realises that he/she/it is just a polymorphously mutating clone at the mercy of - and constituted by - environment, always has been.

[Why even Britney Spears has recently - unwittingly - copped this :cool: : Piece of Me (http://youtube.com/watch?v=89oS4SN4mNg) video].

But if you think about where the anti-abortionists stand on all of this, the sanctity of life by their logic is determined by the coexistence of the soul with the body in a sort of "continuum." Conveniently, the "soul" coexists with the "body" (i.e. cluster of cells attached to the wall of a uterus) at the exact moment of conception--the soul does not pre-exist its host body--but is somehow "immortal" from the moment of conception onward, and at the same time not reliant on the host body for its existence post-death.

If you're going to believe in souls, I suppose Hinduism makes slightly more sense, in that it doesn't posit a pseudo-"immortality" where the transcendental stuff of life is somehow also reliant on material/physical beings for its very existence. For Hindus souls just keep being reembodied in a cycle that presumably extends infinitely backward to "creation" and forward to nirvana or karmic fulfillment...

zhao
20-12-2007, 09:57 AM
Surely that should be especially (or only?) on a physical level. Why does that mean that separation is an illusion? Not disagreeing mind, just want to know how it follows.

for me it is easier to envision connection of mind rather than body. but in the end mind is body, and there is no difference between consciousness, energy, and matter.

the first time i did acid (age 15), i could not figure out why exactly the chair i was melting into was not a part of me. i touched my arm, and touched the arm-rest, and was really puzzled (for what seemed like centuries) by why one was a part of "me" and the other wasn't.

atoms are constantly being "traded" between everything, which leads to the completely recycle in a human body in about 7 years -- that's what i meant by the fluidity and interexchangeability of everything, and that the separateness and isolation of entities existing apart from other entities is an illusion.

zhao
20-12-2007, 10:01 AM
If you think cell replacement is a metaphysical minefield, it's a walk in the park next to quantum teleportation.

i am DOWN with quantum teleportation.

IdleRich
20-12-2007, 10:57 AM
"atoms are constantly being "traded" between everything, which leads to the completely recycle in a human body in about 7 years -- that's what i meant by the fluidity and interexchangeability of everything, and that the separateness and isolation of entities existing apart from other entities is an illusion."
Well, I don't think that anyone would argue with the first bit. The question is about whether there is something beyond the (replaceable) physical that links those replaced atoms, a continuation of consciousness that some may characterise as a (not necessarily immortal) soul or by some other name.


"but in the end mind is body"
Is it? Why do you say that? How do you know?


"the first time i did acid (age 15), i could not figure out why exactly the chair i was melting into was not a part of me. i touched my arm, and touched the arm-rest, and was really puzzled (for what seemed like centuries) by why one was a part of "me" and the other wasn't."
Well, yeah, but isn't it perfectly possible to envisage a situation in which your molecules swap with every other thing in the universe but there is still something that is you which is beyond that? Manchester United can change all their players and still be Manchester United, why can't I do the same especially when I appear to have all of the things the football club has that allow it to continue and I arguably have more, not least a sense of self?
I'm not discounting your intuition here, because it's probably only intuitively that I feel that although some atoms that were part of me last year may be part of a chair today there is no question that I am still here looking at the chair, rather than being the chair looking out. But, no-one is likely to confuse me with the chair, there is a sense that most people have that I am still me rather than the chair, you will surely accept that someone who knew you last year and sees you now will recognise you as Zhao, as will you. What is the thing that does that recognising if it isn't a self?

zhao
20-12-2007, 11:02 AM
well that about does it for me at this point. atleast until further pondering. (throws hands up) :confused:

hundredmillionlifetimes
20-12-2007, 11:12 AM
But if you think about where the anti-abortionists stand on all of this, the sanctity of life by their logic is determined by the coexistence of the soul with the body in a sort of "continuum." Conveniently, the "soul" coexists with the "body" (i.e. cluster of cells attached to the wall of a uterus) at the exact moment of conception--the soul does not pre-exist its host body--but is somehow "immortal" from the moment of conception onward, and at the same time not reliant on the host body for its existence post-death.

Yes, such absolutists always condemn themselves to endless circular reasoning and bizarre contradiction, then seeking to escape such deadlocks by simply moving the goal-posts yet again: if the soul is itself immortally 'born' at conception (though how a soul's emergent metaphysical, noumenal existence could be contingent on the material environment without being a part of, immanent to that material environment is never even addressed) and therefore not dependent in any way on the 'host-body' post-conception for its continued immortality, then, again, what happens the foetus/body post-conception becomes unimportant. Of course, when faced with this dilemma, they simply move/displace their 'argument' once again: no, the soul is not 'fully' immortal at conception, but only becomes so at birth! Hilarious, this latter 'argument' is even more contingent: the 'soul' takes time to develop its immortal powers, the same precious 9-month length of time as that of pregnancy itself! Alternatively, why do anti-abortionists oppose biogenetic cloning with sentimentally superstitious appeals to the 'unfathomable mystery of the conception' as if by cloning their physical bodies they are simultaneously cloning their immortal souls?

All of this spurious, hysterical form of argument has nothing to do with reasoning at all, but ultimately simply another version of the Kantian categorical imperative and an empty appeal to a supernatural authority: the soul is immortal because it must be! [and because God says so, etc], the negative corollory of which leads to absolute moral injunctions. "You must not ever have an abortion because you should not" etc.

Returning, then, to the human cloning issue and those who oppose it (both immortal soul fantasists and humanists alike), the argument is usually that it should not be allowed because it would involve the reduction of a human being to an entity whose psychic properties can be manipulated. If biogenetics reduces humans to objects open to manipulation, then Nature, human and inhuman, is 'desubstantialised', its 'impenetrable density' (similar to what Heidegger called 'earth') is fatally undermined. Nature itself is therefore lost. This clearly also eviserates the humanist position, the belief that man is at the centre of the universe and that humanity relies on the belief that we possess an inherited 'human nature', that we are spirited into the world with an unfathomable dimension of ourselves (rather than this being a structural effect of the social construction of the ego during infancy). It seems, therefore, that both soul-supernaturalists and (even atheistic) humanists invoke Wittgenstein's mantra whenever the precious inner human self is threatened: 'Whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.' In other words, they want to assert that we must not ever engage in cloning, because otherwise we may indeed do it, with - somehow unspecified - catastrophic psychological and ethical results. If the humanist, Christian and other opponents of cloning believe in the immortality of the soul or in the holistic uniqueness of the mystical personality - i.e. that I am not just the arbitrarily contingent result of the immanent, seething interaction between my genetic code and my environment - then why do they all insist on opposing cloning? Is it the implication, the secret, dreaded possibility that they do in fact believe - but, as with all other contemporary beliefs, in the form of a disavowal - in the ability of genetics to reach the very hard kernal of our posited 'personality', the last bastion of the Ego and pure, solipsistic subjectivity?

Of course, the real problem with cloning is ideological: social power and the cloning agenda resides in the hands of capitalist multinationals and wealthy elites, and so it needs to be controlled to prevent further class warfare and social exclusion and antagonism. Much like everything else under late capital.


If you're going to believe in souls, I suppose Hinduism makes slightly more sense, in that it doesn't posit a pseudo-"immortality" where the transcendental stuff of life is somehow also reliant on material/physical beings for its very existence. For Hindus souls just keep being reembodied in a cycle that presumably extends infinitely backward to "creation" and forward to nirvana or karmic fulfillment...

How many hundred million hypertext markup lifetimes does a soul require for nirvana, and how did this fallen nomadic soul lose it in the first place :cool: ??

zhao
20-12-2007, 11:31 AM
How many hundred million hypertext markup lifetimes does a soul require for nirvana

i believe that depends on the choices each one makes during each of its chances to climb higher up the consciousness ladder. (or fall even lower as the case may be)

nomadologist
20-12-2007, 01:30 PM
the first time i did acid (age 15), i could not figure out why exactly the chair i was melting into was not a part of me. i touched my arm, and touched the arm-rest, and was really puzzled (for what seemed like centuries) by why one was a part of "me" and the other wasn't.

atoms are constantly being "traded" between everything, which leads to the completely recycle in a human body in about 7 years -- that's what i meant by the fluidity and interexchangeability of everything, and that the separateness and isolation of entities existing apart from other entities is an illusion.

This is why I think acid is a far superior psychedelic experience than some organic compounds (like psilocybin/peyote/mescaline) because on those I mostly *see* everything melting rather than feeling it in the way you describe. That really is what you can feel on acid, your own energy rubbing up on everything else and all those "vibes" flowing, man. Yeah.

As for atoms being "traded", I think it's more correct to say that particles are traded, or at least that atoms' particles are excited by the excitement (heat) of other atoms' particles. You don't "lose" your atoms to the chair as much as your energy gets transferred to the chair.

What you feel on psychedelics is the "dynamism" of physical existence, and it's wonderful.

nomadologist
20-12-2007, 01:39 PM
If the humanist, Christian and other opponents of cloning believe in the immortality of the soul or in the holistic uniqueness of the mystical personality - i.e. that I am not just the arbitrarily contingent result of the immanent, seething interaction between my genetic code and my environment - then why do they all insist on opposing cloning? Is it the implication, the secret, dreaded possibility that they do in fact believe - but, as with all other contemporary beliefs, in the form of a disavowal - in the ability of genetics to reach the very hard kernal of our posited 'personality', the last bastion of the Ego and pure, solipsistic subjectivity?

Of course, the real problem with cloning is ideological: social power and the cloning agenda resides in the hands of capitalist multinationals and wealthy elites, and so it needs to be controlled to prevent further class warfare and social exclusion and antagonism. Much like everything else under late capital.


Exactly. This is why the same people who condemn cloning humans at the same time have no problem paying Big Biotech their hard-earned money to clone their deceased pets (http://money.cnn.com/2004/12/23/news/newsmakers/cloned_cat/index.htm?cnn=yes)?

These are often the same people who vote for the policy makers who put hundreds of black and hispanic men on death row every year.



How many hundred million hypertext markup lifetimes does a soul require for nirvana, and how did this fallen nomadic soul lose it in the first place :cool: ??

Heh. Who is God's father?

Mr. Tea
20-12-2007, 02:13 PM
The quantum copy in your example is qualitatively identical but not numerically identical to the original, it is not the same thing. It's not the soul or otherwise that makes two things different.

The twins thing isn't really applicable here as no pair of twins are EXACTLY identical (or, at the atomic level, even approximately identical). I state my case above on the basis that the identity between two systems described by identical wave-functions goes far above and beyond any normal definition of 'identical'. And in the case of quantum teleportation, the two things were are considering are the object (or person) pre-teleportation and the object post-teleportation, somewhere else; NOT the teleported object and the unteleported object which is still there, since only one instance of it exists at any time.

IdleRich
20-12-2007, 02:44 PM
"The twins thing isn't really applicable here as no pair of twins are EXACTLY identical (or, at the atomic level, even approximately identical). I state my case above on the basis that the identity between two systems described by identical wave-functions goes far above and beyond any normal definition of 'identical'."
No you're still missing the point, the twins are used a hypothetical example in a thought experiment where you are supposed to imagine that they are as identical as in the teleported example. The point is that even if things are utterly identical they are still not numerically identical.


"And in the case of quantum teleportation, the two things were are considering are the object (or person) pre-teleportation and the object post-teleportation, somewhere else; NOT the teleported object and the unteleported object which is still there, since only one instance of it exists at any time."
Well, not really, you described the teleported object as a quantum copy and thus it matters not whether the original object is still there, the teleported object is not the same thing, just something that is qualitatively identical...

....unless that is you can find some other argument to say that they are identical. I think that the only way you can argue it is the same thing (ie numerically identical) is to say that there is some kind of spirit or whatever that is a result of and inhabits those identical structures and that is somehow passed from the original to the qualitatively identical but identically different bodies during the act of teleportation. You would also need to say how it was passed.

Mr. Tea
20-12-2007, 02:55 PM
If you substitute 'consciousness' for 'spirit', I think that's probably fairly close to what I mean; I think consciousness arises as a sort of emergent phenomenon from electro-chemical activity in the brain - which, like all physical processes, is ultimately quantum-mechanical in nature, in other words all information that can possibly be derived from it can be encoded in a non-observable mathematical object called a wave function - so that this wave function essentially embodies the identity of the system it describes. In experiements people have done using photons, the photon which receives the information taken from the 'sender' photon (which loses that information as a result) in a very real sense *becomes* the original photon. Scaling this up from single particles to big lumps of matter like a human body, including of course the brain and the various consciousness-originating processes therein, I think consciousness would be transmitted along with the wave function. The particles that are so arranged to take on your body's (and mind's) wave function become you.

nomadologist
20-12-2007, 03:23 PM
If you substitute 'consciousness' or 'spirit', I think that's probably fairly close to what I mean; I think consciousness arises as a sort of emergent phenomenon from electro-chemical activity in the brain - which, like all physical processes, is ultimately quantum-mechanical in nature, in other words all information that can possibly be derived from it can be encoded in a non-observable mathematical object called a wave function - so that this wave function essentially embodies the identity of the system it describes. In experiements people have done using photons, the photon which receives the information taken from the 'sender' photon (which loses that information as a result) in a very real sense *becomes* the original photon. Scaling this up from single particles to big lumps of matter like a human body, including of course the brain and various the consciousness-originating processes therein, and I think consciousness would be transmitted along with the wave function. The particles that are so arranged to take on your body's (and mind's) wave function become you.

This sounds right...emergent properties are everywhere in 'nature' ...

IdleRich
20-12-2007, 03:43 PM
"In experiements people have done using photons, the photon which receives the information taken from the 'sender' photon (which loses that information as a result) in a very real sense *becomes* the original photon."
This is the important bit then. I think that if you can (using clumsy words and assuming that there is an essence or spirit or whatever), "copy" the body and "transfer" the "spirit" to that copy then you are on to something.

Mr. Tea
20-12-2007, 03:57 PM
Well yeah, I think in a way it's a bit like the software and hardware of a computer (remember when we were talking about 'brain transplants' re. phone SIM cards the other day?), in that I can sit down at any of fifty-odd PCs in the Linux cluster I have a login on, enter my username and password and that PC 'becomes' *my* PC, with all my data, settings, preferences, browser history and everything. The information has been send to it from a central server; the 'ghost' has been transferred to a new 'machine'. So I think consciousness, identity, spirit or whatever you want to call it is not a 'thing' or a 'stuff' that has any independent existence; it's a pattern, just as data exists as a pattern of bits on a sector of a hard disk or in a memory address.

nomadologist
20-12-2007, 04:00 PM
Well yeah, I think in a way it's a bit like the software and hardware of a computer (remember when we were talking about 'brain transplants' re. phone SIM cards the other day?), in that I can sit down at any of fifty-odd PCs in the Linux cluster I have a login on, enter my username and password and that PC 'becomes' *my* PC, with all my data, settings, preferences, browser history and everything. The information has been send to it from a central server; the 'ghost' has been transferred to a new 'machine'. So I think consciousness, identity, spirit or whatever you want to call it is not a 'thing' or a 'stuff' that has any independent existence; it's a pattern, just as a data exists as a pattern of bits on a sector of a hard disk or in a memory address.

Exactly. People seem to think of computers and similar technologies as "more efficient" than humans, or somehow cold and inhuman, when in fact the way computers and computing machines work is remarkably similar to the way the human mind-body or machine or whatever you want to call it works.

IdleRich
20-12-2007, 04:29 PM
"Well yeah, I think in a way it's a bit like the software and hardware of a computer (remember when we were talking about 'brain transplants' re. phone SIM cards the other day?), in that I can sit down at any of fifty-odd PCs in the Linux cluster I have a login on, enter my username and password and that PC 'becomes' *my* PC, with all my data, settings, preferences, browser history and everything. The information has been send to it from a central server; the 'ghost' has been transferred to a new 'machine'. So I think consciousness, identity, spirit or whatever you want to call it is not a 'thing' or a 'stuff' that has any independent existence; it's a pattern, just as data exists as a pattern of bits on a sector of a hard disk or in a memory address."
I still think the point is that if you transfer the "ghost" it's distinct from copying the ghost. The only thing is that you are saying that copying on a minute scale by quantum teleportation IS transferring.
In other words, although consciousness may not (in fact surely can't) be something with an independent existence, just copying it is not enough, there has to be continuity to make any claim that it is the same thing. I reckon continuity is important here isn't it?

Mr. Tea
20-12-2007, 04:46 PM
I still think the point is that if you transfer the "ghost" it's distinct from copying the ghost. The only thing is that you are saying that copying on a minute scale by quantum teleportation IS transferring.
In other words, although consciousness may not (in fact surely can't) be something with an independent existence, just copying it is not enough, there has to be continuity to make any claim that it is the same thing. I reckon continuity is important here isn't it?
There would be continuity, I think, because this kind of teleportation relies on a quantum-mechanical phenomenon called entanglement, whereby a pair of particles that can be separated by any distance are described by a single wave function, and have to be considered to form a single system. It's like sending a fax (with the added lemma that the original must somehow be destoyed in the process), it's more like the information is 'extracted' from the 'original' (so that it is no longer there) and transmitted, via entanglement, to some new particles which take on the properties of the old. So if it took a while for all your particles to be transmitted, you would in a sense be partly in one place and partly in another halfway until the transmission was completed.



Exactly. People seem to think of computers and similar technologies as "more efficient" than humans, or somehow cold and inhuman, when in fact the way computers and computing machines work is remarkably similar to the way the human mind-body or machine or whatever you want to call it works.
I was under the impression we still knew far too little about how the mind/brain works to make pronouncements like that. Is there really any evidence the brain is a 'bio-Turing machine'?

IdleRich
20-12-2007, 04:58 PM
"There would be continuity"
Well yes it sounds as though there could be in what you're describing, I was agreeing with you (in that last bit at least).
Not sure a fax is a good example though is it, no-one would say that a faxed copy is the original.

nomadologist
20-12-2007, 05:37 PM
I was under the impression we still knew far too little about how the mind/brain works to make pronouncements like that. Is there really any evidence the brain is a 'bio-Turing machine'?

Maybe, maybe not. It's not easy to say "definitively", but it sure does make sense. Thoughts are electrical signals similar to the ones the internet uses, routed by the brain in the same way routers send signals from server to server. There are obvious parallels.

If you study cognitive science, there's the "weights and balances" model that ends up seeming a lot like a bio-Turing machine even though it was proposed for the opposite reason...like the switches from 1 to 0 changing until information gets transmitted...

turtles
20-12-2007, 06:23 PM
How many hundred million hypertext markup lifetimes does a soul require for nirvana, and how did this fallen nomadic soul lose it in the first place :cool: ??
But in the xml of life, what is the dtd?? < /nerd>

turtles
20-12-2007, 06:33 PM
As for the whole "what makes an object an object" story, I think what Theseus's Ship shows is that the concept of continuously existing objects breaks down under close scrutiny, and is essentially just a convenient, contingent way of dealing with the world from a perceptual standpoint. Our visual system from a very low level up starts finding edges and then puts them together to form shapes so that by the time they actually make it to conscious perception they're already perceived as being "objects" because that's they way our perceptual system classifies them. But this classification is just a practical functional one, objects are things we can perceive edges between and likely have different properties when we interact with them (which is why it's hard to call a bunch of different gasses different objects). giving a thing a name further cements this concept of them being separate objects. But in the end it's an entirely contingent distinction; nothing, not even humans, has an innate essence that defines it as an object. all objects are mutable.

Mr. Tea
20-12-2007, 11:24 PM
There's a crucial difference between a person and a ship, though: a ship doesn't have a sense of self, a sense of its own identity.* The ship is Theseus's ship only in relation to Theseus, and only because conscious beings say it is; outside of this context, it's just a collection of bits of wood that may be more or less similar to any other. But Theseus knows he is Theseus, and even if he changed his name he'd still be the same person, the same entity. If we could chop off his head and somehow keep it alive and conscious, then he would still be alive and conscious - that is, Theseus would still essentially exist - even though most of the matter formerly making up his body had ceased to be part of him. The important thing is, the neurological patterns making up his memories, personality and so on are still in existence in his brain, which is still alive and functioning. Going even further into sci-fi territory, we could still say he exists if his physical body were destroyed altogether, as long as his neural patterns were transfered into some suitable cybernetic vessel. See Dave Bowman's 'presence' in 2010 and, er, Rimmer's hologram in Red Dwarf. :)







*whenever you're asked to 'identify yourself', do you have the urge to sort of inspect yourself for a moment, perhaps look in your wallet, and then reply "Yep, I'm definitely me!"? :cool:

turtles
21-12-2007, 12:19 AM
There's a crucial difference between a person and a ship, though: a ship doesn't have a sense of self, a self of its own identity.* The ship is Theseus's ship only in relation to Theseus, and only because conscious beings say it is; outside of this context, it's just a collection of bits of wood that may be more or less similar to any other. But Theseus knows he is Theseus, and even if he changed his name he'd still be the same person, the same entity. If we could chop off his head and somehow keep it alive and conscious, then he would still be alive and conscious - that is, Theseus would still essentially exist - even though most of the matter formerly making up his body had ceased to be part of him. The important thing is, the neurological patterns making up his memories, personality and so on are still in existence in his brain, which is still alive and functioning. Going even further into sci-fi territory, we could still say he exists if his physical body were destroyed altogether, as long as his neural patterns were transfered into some suitable cybernetic vessel. See Dave Bowman's 'presence' in 2010 and, er, Rimmer's hologram in Red Dwarf. :)

You do the same thing to yourself as to the ship though, you define a set of functionally related and physically collocated things an identity as a coherent object because it's conceptually useful and efficient, and then basically ignore/gloss over the constant change that is going on underneath and the overall lack of unity of the thing you are grouping together as a coherent whole. One way of looking at consciousness is essentially as an illusion created by considering oneself to be a coherent, consistent, persisting whole. Remember I was discussing the classification of objects as occurring largely non-consciously, which makes consciousness-as-just-another-illusory-object make perfect sense as an extension of that same basic perceptual process.

Is a person with complete retrograde amnesia the same person as before? Yes and no--it's a blurry concept. Are we the same person we were as a two-year old, even if we have no memory whatsoever of the time? I'm really not the same person i was when i was 8 years old, that's for sure. If I went to sleep and someone made an exact copy of me, let us both sleep for a while, then killed the original, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference then if they had killed the clone.

Also (and back in reality) there are a bunch of psychological experiments wherein people are made to feel like parts of their body aren't actually a part of their body, or that other things that definitely aren't part of their body are actually a part of their body. Like this. (http://discovermagazine.com/2005/jan/man-mistook-rubber-hand)

IdleRich
21-12-2007, 08:03 AM
"As for the whole "what makes an object an object" story, I think what Theseus's Ship shows is that the concept of continuously existing objects breaks down under close scrutiny, and is essentially just a convenient, contingent way of dealing with the world from a perceptual standpoint. Our visual system from a very low level up starts finding edges and then puts them together to form shapes so that by the time they actually make it to conscious perception they're already perceived as being "objects" because that's they way our perceptual system classifies them. But this classification is just a practical functional one, objects are things we can perceive edges between and likely have different properties when we interact with them (which is why it's hard to call a bunch of different gasses different objects). giving a thing a name further cements this concept of them being separate objects. But in the end it's an entirely contingent distinction; nothing, not even humans, has an innate essence that defines it as an object. all objects are mutable."
That seems very simplistic to me. Just because things are physically mutable it doesn't necessarily follow that nothing has an innate essence. I mean, it may be the case but the fact that the atoms or whatever change is not enough to demonstrate that on its own.

turtles
21-12-2007, 05:56 PM
That seems very simplistic to me. Just because things are physically mutable it doesn't necessarily follow that nothing has an innate essence. I mean, it may be the case but the fact that the atoms or whatever change is not enough to demonstrate that on its own.
Can you describe to me what gives a thing or a person an innate essence? Can you point out where one thing's innate essence ends and another begins? I can't exactly. I can make a general hand-wavy statement about it that's more-or-less true, but when it comes down to particulars I can't, which is why I say it's a handy concept but not one that reflects any particular real-world ontological fact. The "innate essence" seems to be something we project onto things, because I can't seem to actually find it out there in the object itself under close scrutiny. And, well, I'm a sceptic so if I can't find it and can't define it I'm not going to bother believing it exists.

hundredmillionlifetimes
21-12-2007, 08:50 PM
Also (and back in reality) there are a bunch of psychological experiments wherein people are made to feel like parts of their body aren't actually a part of their body, or that other things that definitely aren't part of their body are actually a part of their body. Like this (http://discovermagazine.com/2005/jan/man-mistook-rubber-hand)...

Can you describe to me what gives a thing or a person an innate essence? Can you point out where one thing's innate essence ends and another begins? I can't exactly. I can make a general hand-wavy statement about it that's more-or-less true, but when it comes down to particulars I can't, which is why I say it's a handy concept but not one that reflects any particular real-world ontological fact. The "innate essence" seems to be something we project onto things, because I can't seem to actually find it out there in the object itself under close scrutiny. And, well, I'm a sceptic so if I can't find it and can't define it I'm not going to bother believing it exists.


Indeed. And it gets worse: not only is our narcissistic 'self', our identity - or our 'inner essence' - a linguistic-ideological formation (ie it is not even 'ours', it is other, originates elsewhere), but so are 'real-world ontological facts' (just a more sophisticated - because empirical - version of a belief in 'essences') - they too are inescapably socially mediated. So if notions of either "self" or "truth" are thoroughly ambiguous (the constructed self is actually or seemingly an impersonal mechanism), it is because knowledge is created by way of linguistic and ideological structures that organize not only our consciousness, but also our unconscious lives. There is always the temptation to cling to the empirical, humanist tradition that still believes in a stable self's ability to directly access the "truth," for instance, neuroscience's overdependence on exclusively organic models, with its immediacy and its desire to find the neurological and, thus, "natural", unmediated causes for consciousness and mind/brain development.

On the other hand, Lacan offered a more properly linguistic (post-structuralist) model for understanding the human subject's entrance into the social order. The emphasis was thus less on the bodily causes of behaviour (cathexis, libido, instinct, etc.) than it was on the ideological structures that, especially through language, make the human subject come to understand his or her relationship to himself and to others. Indeed, according to Lacan, the entrance into language necessarily entails a radical break from any sense of materiality in and of itself. According to Lacan, one must always distinguish between everyday social reality (the fantasy world we convince ourselves is the true world around us) and the real (a materiality of existence beyond language and thus beyond expressibility, a pure unconscious desire). The development of the subject, in other words, is made possible by an endless misrecognition of the real because of our need to construct our sense of "reality" in and through language. So much are we reliant on our linguistic and social version of "reality" that the eruption of pure materiality (of the real) into our lives is radically disruptive. And yet, the real is the rock against which all of our 'artificial' linguistic and social structures necessarily fail. It is this tension between the real and our social laws, meanings, conventions, desires, etc. that determines our psychosocial lives. Not even our unconscious escapes the effects of language, which is why Lacan argues that "the unconscious is structured like a language"

And even before we acquire language, we have first the need to construct the Imaginary:


0-6 months of age. In the earliest stage of development, you were dominated by a chaotic mix of perceptions, feelings, and needs. You did not distinguish your own self from that of your parents or even the world around you. Rather, you spent your time taking into yourself everything that you experienced as pleasurable without any acknowledgment of boundaries. This is the stage, then, when you were closest to the pure materiality of existence, or what Lacan terms "the Real." Still, even at this early stage, your body began to be fragmented into specific erogenous zones (mouth, anus, penis, vagina), aided by the fact that your mother tended to pay special attention to these body parts. This "territorialization" of the body could already be seen as a falling off, an imposition of boundaries and, thus, the neo-natal beginning of socialization (a first step away from the Real). Indeed, this fragmentation was accompanied by an identification with those things perceived as fulfilling your lack at this early stage: the mother's breast, her voice, her gaze. Since these privileged external objects could not be perfectly assimilated and could not, therefore, ultimately fulfill your lack, you already began to establish the psychic dynamic (fantasy vs. lack) that would control the rest of your life.

6-18 months of age. This stage, which Lacan terms the "mirror stage," was a central moment in your development. The "mirror stage" entails a "libidinal dynamism" (Écrits 2) caused by the young child's identification with his own image (what Lacan terms the "Ideal-I" or "ideal ego"). For Lacan, this act marks the primordial recognition of one's self as "I," although at a point "before it is objectified in the dialectic of identification with the other, and before language restores to it, in the universal, its function as subject" (Écrits 2). In other words, this recognition of the self's image precedes the entrance into language, after which the subject can understand the place of that image of the self within a larger social order, in which the subject must negotiate his or her relationship with others. Still, the mirror stage is necessary for the next stage, since to recognize yourself as "I" is like recognizing yourself as other ("yes, that person over there is me"); this act is thus fundamentally self-alienating. Indeed, for this reason your feelings towards the image were mixed, caught between hatred ("I hate that version of myself because it is so much better than me") and love ("I want to be like that image").Note This "Ideal-I" is important precisely because it represents to the subject a simplified, bounded form of the self, as opposed to the turbulent chaotic perceptions, feelings, and needs felt by the infant. This "primordial Discord" (Écrits 4) is particularly formative for the subject, that is, the discord between, on the one hand, the idealizing image in the mirror and, on the other hand, the reality of one's body between 6-18 months ("the signs of uneasiness and motor unco-ordination of the neo-natal months" [Écrits 4]): "The mirror stage is a drama whose internal thrust is precipitated from insufficiency to anticipation—and which manufactures for the subject, caught up in the lure of spatial identification, the succession of phantasies that extends from a fragmented body-image to a form of its totality that I shall call orthopaedic—and, lastly, to the assumption of the armour of an alienating identity, which will mark with its rigid structure the subject's entire mental development" (Écrits 4). This misrecognition or méconnaissance (seeing an ideal-I where there is a fragmented, chaotic body) subsequently "characterizes the ego in all its structures" (Écrits 6). In particular, this creation of an ideal version of the self gives pre-verbal impetus to the creation of narcissistic phantasies in the fully developed subject. It establishes what Lacan terms the "imaginary order" and, through the imaginary, continues to assert its influence on the subject even after the subject enters the next stage of development.

I don't know how any of this might be connected with 'hair energy.'

turtles
21-12-2007, 10:02 PM
I don't know how any of this might be connected with 'hair energy.'
Yes another classic dissensus thread derailment. I think my new thread-starting strategy will be to start threads completely unrelated to the topic I wish to talk about in hopes that somehow we'll end up talking about it anyway :D

Anyway, I knew I was getting into potentially shaky ground when I started talking about "real-world ontological facts" and being able to observe things in "reality". I just didn't really know how else to make that kind of point. I understand that every empirical fact is developed through our subjective and socially mediated mind, but I'm still of the scientific viewpoint that it's the best approximation we have of the outside world. Which is actually where I get confused a bit when we start talking in lacanian terms. When I read this:

According to Lacan, one must always distinguish between everyday social reality (the fantasy world we convince ourselves is the true world around us) and the real (a materiality of existence beyond language and thus beyond expressibility, a pure unconscious desire).
It seems to me that "the real" is still being defined in terms of things going on in the mind/brain, just those things that are unrepresentable by language and/or consciousness. But how do we then talk about things that aren't going on in the mind? Or does "the real" here sort of treat all things, mind or otherwise as all being on the same plane of "unrepresentable" reality? Sorry if this is Lacan 101 stuff here but I thought I'd ask because it always seems to trip me up.

Mr. Tea
21-12-2007, 10:21 PM
Is a person with complete retrograde amnesia the same person as before? Yes and no--it's a blurry concept. Are we the same person we were as a two-year old, even if we have no memory whatsoever of the time? I'm really not the same person i was when i was 8 years old, that's for sure. If I went to sleep and someone made an exact copy of me, let us both sleep for a while, then killed the original, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference then if they had killed the clone.

Well of course we're all constantly changing and evolving, but there nonetheless seems to be some sort of thread of continuity from even the earliest childhood onwards into adulthood.
I'd be a bit disturbed if you were exactly the same person you were as an 8-year-old!



Also (and back in reality) there are a bunch of psychological experiments wherein people are made to feel like parts of their body aren't actually a part of their body, or that other things that definitely aren't part of their body are actually a part of their body. Like this. (http://discovermagazine.com/2005/jan/man-mistook-rubber-hand)

Phantoms limbs are cool. I think I want one.

turtles
21-12-2007, 10:39 PM
seems to be some sort of thread of continuity
but what is it?? We're not made of the same stuff, we don't look the same, we don't act the same, hell if I legally changed my name we wouldn't even be called the same thing, my memory of events has probably changed enough over time that I don't even have the same memories as before. What then? I'm the same humanoid-shaped lump of matter that has been located in a temporally contiguous space for the last 25 years? I'm not saying that there aren't things that are continuous, just that there isn't ONE ESSENTIAL THING that has defined me throughout my life. It's just a bunch of things that more-or-less cohere over a period of time. It's a probabilistic, inferential argument.

Mr. Tea
21-12-2007, 10:45 PM
Well for one thing your DNA will be the same now as it was when you were born. Not that it has any direct effect on your inner conscious life or anything, but it's something that's both unique to you and constant throughout your life.

Something that has occurred to me is that in a large proportion of pairs of twins, it could be the case that each one has grown up with the 'wrong name', if you see what I mean, as in the one named Alice in the hospital could easily have been accidentally swapped round and ended up being called Beth, and vice-versa. If one of them didn't have a distinguishing feature as a result of some neo-natal trauma, it'd be basically impossible to tell.

Edit: moral conundrum for you now - is it right to punish Nazi war criminals who may have committed their crimes some 60 or more years ago? Given that you seem to hold the position that they're not even the same people they were back then.

hundredmillionlifetimes
21-12-2007, 10:57 PM
It seems to me that "the real" is still being defined in terms of things going on in the mind/brain, just those things that are unrepresentable by language and/or consciousness. But how do we then talk about things that aren't going on in the mind? Or does "the real" here sort of treat all things, mind or otherwise as all being on the same plane of "unrepresentable" reality? Sorry if this is Lacan 101 stuff here but I thought I'd ask because it always seems to trip me up.

Yes, and their being on the same unrepresentable plane also scrambles the inside/outside dichotomy: once we have entered into the differential system of language, into the Symbolic Order, it forever afterwards determines our perception of the world 'around' us and 'within' us, so that the intrusion of the Real's materiality, its radical otherness, becomes a traumatic event, defines trauma as such, albeit one that is very common since our version of "reality" is built over, is a displacement from, the chaotic flux of the Real, both the materiality 'outside' us and the chaotic, unconscious impulses 'inside' us. There is ultimately only an (uncanny) sublime outside here. Instead of an instrumentalist-reductivist notion of mind, like that of Pinker, for instance ('the brain is how the mind works') the mind rather is just the idea of the body and of the 'outside' world in which it resides.

turtles
21-12-2007, 11:04 PM
Well for one thing your DNA will be the same now as it was when you were born. Not that it has any direct effect on your inner conscious life or anything, but it's something that's both unique to you and constant throughout your life.
DNA's not a bad call, but the case of identical twins (and cloning) argue against it being necessary and sufficient for identity. Also you still have the same DNA when your dead.


Edit: moral conundrum for you now - is it right to punish Nazi war criminals who may have committed their crimes some 60 or more years ago? Given that you seem to hold the position that they're not even the same people they were back then.
:cool: It makes more sense to punish them than someone else. Like I said, it's a statistical-type argument (most of my arguments end up being statistical when it comes down to it, it seems). Though he's not the same person as he was before, he shares more characteristics with war criminal then anyone else, and not just a bit more, but a whole lot more. On the other hand, if had gotten a knock on the head a while back, gotten complete amnesia, then devoted the rest of his life to helping the poor, then I wouldn't prosecute the guy. Now if he had only lost SOME of his memory, and was only sort of a good guy, then it's much less clear what to do....

Mr. Tea
22-12-2007, 12:01 AM
Instead of an instrumentalist-reductivist notion of mind, like that of Pinker, for instance ('the brain is how the mind works') the mind rather is just the idea of the body and of the 'outside' world in which it resides.

Pinker and the Brain?
http://files.myopera.com/kaylinq/blog/pinkybrain.jpg
;)

Edit: (@ turtles) I think even identical twins aren't quite 100&#37; genetically identical, due to a few copying errors that will inevitably occur when the zygote splits in two...but yes, DNA is obviously insufficient for identity, as you could easily imagine twins with 100% identical DNA who are nonetheless distinct individuals. Just saying, like.

IdleRich
22-12-2007, 12:26 PM
"Can you describe to me what gives a thing or a person an innate essence? Can you point out where one thing's innate essence ends and another begins? I can't exactly. I can make a general hand-wavy statement about it that's more-or-less true, but when it comes down to particulars I can't, which is why I say it's a handy concept but not one that reflects any particular real-world ontological fact. The "innate essence" seems to be something we project onto things, because I can't seem to actually find it out there in the object itself under close scrutiny. And, well, I'm a sceptic so if I can't find it and can't define it I'm not going to bother believing it exists."
I can't describe exactly what gives a thing its essence or where it begins and ends - of course that doesn't even approach being an argument to say that such a thing doesn't exist. If you can make a general hand-wavy statement that is more or less true what do you mean by that? You seem to suggest that you are approaching a correct way of describing the situation, I'd probably agree with you. To me it's a handy concept because it describes something that in some sense at least really exists. I don't think that you can argue that there is no sense whatsoever in which selfhood exists and, I'm afraid, I don't believe you when you say that you honestly don't think it exists.

IdleRich
22-12-2007, 12:39 PM
"I'm not saying that there aren't things that are continuous, just that there isn't ONE ESSENTIAL THING that has defined me throughout my life. It's just a bunch of things that more-or-less cohere over a period of time."
Hang on a minute, that's what I was saying from the start wasn't it? The bunch of things that cohere over time you may as well call essence 'cause it seems that that is what it is.


"..the mind rather is just the idea of the body and of the 'outside' world in which it resides."
That doesn't seem too contradictory either.

luka
30-06-2018, 08:44 PM
is that movie kind of a cult thing in england? my highschool girlfriend was obsessed with it and i saw it when i was 17 but didn't get it at all... or maybe was too stoned. maybe i need to see it again.

what about pubes? do they conduct / transmit / receive as well? i just shaved all mine off. do it every couple of months. feels great. so at the moment the only hair on my body is a little bit on my fore-arms, under the pits, and on my legs. funny i don't feel uptight at all though :D

anyone else here a pube shaver? never occured to me to do it but im a baldhead so need all the other hairs to provide balance and compensation.

Matthew
01-07-2018, 09:42 AM
what a mad old thread! :crylarf:

Mr. Tea
02-07-2018, 10:09 AM
anyone else here a pube shaver?

You mean like, as a profession?

Mr. Tea
02-07-2018, 10:10 AM
"Anyone else here..." --> luka confirmed as a professional pubic barber.

martin
02-07-2018, 11:19 AM
When I was working at the post office, centuries ago, a long-haired driver told me this very theory, pretty much - your hair is an antenna to receive positive, wholesome cosmic vibes, and the longer the hair, the better the signal. Apparently this is also why skinheads are typically bothersome.

Mr. Tea
02-07-2018, 12:09 PM
When I was working at the post office, centuries ago, a long-haired driver told me this very theory, pretty much - your hair is an antenna to receive positive, wholesome cosmic vibes, and the longer the hair, the better the signal. Apparently this is also why skinheads are typically bothersome.

Was he paraphrasing Danny from Withnail and I, do you think, or is this actually a fairly common idea?

Moreover, it's interesting that two common ways for holy men of various sorts to demonstrate their detachment from the material world is either to grow their hair as long as possible (and, in extreme cases, never even comb or wash it, so it ends up a disgusting matted mass) or to shave it off completely.

martin
02-07-2018, 01:36 PM
Was he paraphrasing Danny from Withnail and I, do you think, or is this actually a fairly common idea?

Moreover, it's interesting that two common ways for holy men of various sorts to demonstrate their detachment from the material world is either to grow their hair as long as possible (and, in extreme cases, never even comb or wash it, so it ends up a disgusting matted mass) or to shave it off completely.

No idea - is that taken from the film? That's about the most meaningful conversation I ever had with the bloke.

Then again, given the '70s Rasta DJs' murderous contempt for barbers and baldheads, I guess long locks don't totally chill you out. And how does this square with Buddhists and Hare Krishnas?

Mr. Tea
02-07-2018, 02:44 PM
Second post in the thread:


"I don’t advise getting a haircut, man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the Government. Hair are your antennae, connecting you to the cosmos. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight"

But yeah, hippies can be the most uptight sort of people you'll ever meet, so I reckon it's bollocks.