A Bit of Philosophy

I read the book Spook recently (which is great, go read it!) and it got me to thinking about some philosophical questions of identity, self, stream-of-conciousness, and survival. I did a bit of googling and found this great article on wikipedia concerning Philosophy of Mind. Interesting stuff. Also, this blog entry gives some interesting discussion on Parfit's divided person.


Sam said...

Hello! It's been a while. I just ordered the book off Amazon.

I personally haven't thought much about the separation between the body and the mind. (Instead I'm usually interested in questions relating to subjective and objective truth).

I tend to view any sort of discussion about the mind or perception as the way we describe the state of our body. In other words, I expect that it's possible to create any sort of mental state if you knew what part of the brain to change and had a technique for changing it. However, I expect that doing so would be an awful lot like changing the state of an operating system by swapping around bits in memory.


To make it even more interesting, you can add in the idea of a soul...

Adam said...

Precisely! So what happens to the soul in the divided person scenario? Does each persist with half a soul, one with a full soul and one without, or did the original soul cease and two new souls came into being?

....I think more caffeine is necessary prior to pondering this further.

Sam said...

So here's the thing: a soul is really tricky to define.

Rand defined the soul roughly as the part of our person that defines what we value.

Rand was an atheist, but that definition more or less comes from Aristotle, which means that it's largely consistent with St. Thomas Aquinas. Or in other words, this definition of the soul is good if you're Catholic or Atheists.


I've heard two ways of describing the relationship between Soul/Mind/Body

1) The mind is part of the body, and the soul is part of the mind.

2) The soul is incorporeal, that is to say separate from the mind.

I'll follow Aquinas and pick 2) as the right answer. Under this scenario, the soul can communicate with the mind, but is not part of it.

Therefor, a split brain (i.e. a split mind) will still only have one soul.

BTW: If you want to know more, there's a book out there by Peter Kreeft called "The Summa of the Summa." It's a heavily commentated version of Aquinas's Summa Theologica, and is limited to the third of the book that deals with philosophy. I've been trying to read through it, but even with the comments and the diagrams it's still slow going.

Jade Mason