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Philosophy: Dennet May 3, 2007

Filed under: college,philosophy,school — bookwritegirl @ 5:48 pm

While I don’t think it’ll ever be quite possible to remove somebody’s brain completely and create a wireless network, this paper brings up interesting points. (Still, I don’t think events will happen quite as Dennet puts them on paper. )

The brain and the mind are two different things, in my opinion, though they occupy the same space in the body. The brain is merely an organ by definition, and the mind is something “higher up”. Just because you have a brain doesn’t mean you have a mind, per se, re: dogs, monkeys, fish. While they are/can be¬†intelligent, they don’t have “self-concept”, so they don’t have a mind in the same way we do. So, if you believe in evolution, the mind evolved after the brain (and yet somehow not every creature has a mind….). The brain is visible, and the mind is not. So, Dennet says as long as the brain exists, he exists, even though his body may not. (like Stephen Hawking). He also says that as long as he had a body, it doesn’t matter which brain was in charge, so his body also made him. As long as one part of him existed (brain or body), he still exists, though not wholly. It is difficult to believe that a person can still be a person while missing one or the other, but yet they still do. (re: Terri Shivao). If I got a brain injury that changed my personality, I’m still me because my body is intact. People with split brains and multiple personality disorder are still themselves, though they have several personalities or “minds”. (That’s how Dennet says he’s still himself though he switches between the two brains). And though our bodies may have missing or defunct parts (my deafness, Hawking’s Gerhig’s disease (?) ) we’re still ourselves.


One could argue that the mind exists OUTSIDE the brain and body; it exists in conjunction with the soul. (Perhaps there’s an argument that they’re the same thing? I’m not sure). The reason I think this is because of those “out of body” experiences, where all activity ceased, and yet those pronounced clinically dead before coming back to life can report all that happened with some accuracy. Not just hearing, but sight from above, which is really interesting, and somehow points to the “mind’s eye”. When people die we refer to their corpse as their body, which implies that it’s separated from the mind/soul. So, these near-death experiences can be seen as evidence that the mind is separate from the body and brain. Meditation can produce a similar effect, and that state between asleep and awake. The brain is a reaction to the mind.


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