Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Mind's I

This is one wonderful book. If you have not read it/ read any chapters from it, take my word - you will enjoy it.

Following is a short excerpt from the introduction from this book-
It does seem (doesn't it?) that if your brain were transplanted into another body, you would go with it. But are you a brain? Try on two sentences, and see which one sounds more like the truth to you:

I have a brain.
I am a brain.

Sometimes we talk about smart people being brains, but we don't mean it literally. We mean they have good brains. You have a good brain, but who or what then, is the you that has the brain?


Our world is filled with things that are neither mysterious and ghostly nor simply constructed out of the building blocks of physics. Do you believe in voices? How about haircuts? Are there such things? Wgat are they? What, in the language of the physicist, is a hole -- not an exotic black hole, but just a hole in a piece of cheese, for instance? Is it a physical thing? Latin still exists, but it is no longer a living language. The language of the cavepeople of France no longer exists at all. The game of bridge is less than a hundred years old. What sort of thing it is? It is not animal, vegetable, or mineral....

In one of the essays, the author ponders upon the physical location of mind in the human body. He hypothesises an experiment. It goes like this -

Assume that the medical technology has reached to an incredibly sophistication. 'They' can now track and monitor every single neuron of the human brain and can actually kind of 'tap' the brain. The experimental setup involves none other than yourself! They have taken the brain out of your head (believe it or not!) and by means of electrical wires they have connected your brain to your nervous system. You are perfectly alright even now. You can control all your limbs - you can see and hear. Just like a normal being. Only difference is that the brain has been taken out of your head.

Having taken out the brain, and successfully isolated your body from your brain, they have decided to keep it in one glass jar (like those in science fiction movies).

The question to answer is if the brain is kept in a jar that faces the rest of the body, and if your eyes can actually see your brain, can you still say that mind is different from the brain? Where are mind's signals originating from?

Now, come come - I can already hear you all saying, "hey are you out of your mind or what?". Well I am not, just to be on the record :)

cross-posted at

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