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Human Consciousness: Is it transferable?


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#1    manbearpigg

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 06:53 AM

Just a question that i had,

Do you believe that we can transfer our consciousness to another host (i.e. computer, another body) or does that create a
"new" self who shares the same characteristics and attributes while NOT being you.
Just curious what people thought about this.


#2    Frank Merton

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:27 AM

Interesting question; kinda depends on what is the basis of what we call our consciousness.  I suppose if it is some sort of homunculus in our brain somewhere, then one could surgically remove it and put it somewhere else.  That doesn't seem likely.

Of course a head transplant might work, but that isn't quite what you are asking about.  A brain transplant sounds more difficult but is more the idea.

The fact is brain and mind are not quite the same, and we don't know for sure whether there are aspects of what we think of as our mind that are somewhere other than brain.  After all, there is brain-like tissue throughout our body.

If you sit quietly and "watch" your mind, it really isn't a thing anyway.  It's more like a waterfall, with the water pouring here and there, never quite the same water but with certain regularities we call personality.  Maybe a better analogy is to a candle, blown here and there by incoming impulses and senses and memories.


#3    redhen

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 12:05 PM

Excellent question for the philosophy forum. I don't have an answer but you could google brains in a vat, you'll get 977,000 results and it's what philosophers have spent innumerable hours working on.

"drink from philosophy, don't don't gorge yourself on it"


#4    manbearpigg

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 10:35 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 08 April 2013 - 08:27 AM, said:

Interesting question; kinda depends on what is the basis of what we call our consciousness.  I suppose if it is some sort of homunculus in our brain somewhere, then one could surgically remove it and put it somewhere else.  That doesn't seem likely.

Of course a head transplant might work, but that isn't quite what you are asking about.  A brain transplant sounds more difficult but is more the idea.

The fact is brain and mind are not quite the same, and we don't know for sure whether there are aspects of what we think of as our mind that are somewhere other than brain.  After all, there is brain-like tissue throughout our body.

If you sit quietly and "watch" your mind, it really isn't a thing anyway.  It's more like a waterfall, with the water pouring here and there, never quite the same water but with certain regularities we call personality.  Maybe a better analogy is to a candle, blown here and there by incoming impulses and senses and memories.


what makes you believe that the "mind" and "brain" are not one and the same?
I believe that neurons are what cause our "thoughts?" (I'm not very well informed about it...)
Please tell me in what you base your theories.
Thank you!


#5    manbearpigg

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 10:37 PM

View Postredhen, on 08 April 2013 - 12:05 PM, said:

Excellent question for the philosophy forum. I don't have an answer but you could google brains in a vat, you'll get 977,000 results and it's what philosophers have spent innumerable hours working on.

"drink from philosophy, don't don't gorge yourself on it"

I rather enjoyed that quote.
Who said it?


#6    manbearpigg

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 10:42 PM

View Postredhen, on 08 April 2013 - 12:05 PM, said:

Excellent question for the philosophy forum. I don't have an answer but you could google brains in a vat, you'll get 977,000 results and it's what philosophers have spent innumerable hours working on.

"drink from philosophy, don't don't gorge yourself on it"

Also the Brain in a Vat philosophy (Simulation Hypothesis) of Descartes, Plato, and Hume? focuses on reality or the lack there of in our consciousness rather than my question of transferability. No doubt, the two are very closely linked yet focuses on two very separate questions:

Is the universe real?

and

Can i transfer my mind?

In conclusion, I am saying that I am far too lazy to look through all the plato-kant theories to find such a specific answer from all of them.


#7    redhen

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 01:11 AM

View Postmanbearpigg, on 08 April 2013 - 10:37 PM, said:

I rather enjoyed that quote.
Who said it?

"drink from philosophy, but don't gorge yourself on it." I can't recall where I read it. I did a quick search but came up empty. I interpret it as a warning not to dwell exclusively on existential questions, for that way lays madness ...

As for your original question on the transference of consciousness, the brain in a vat metaphor has been widely used as a thought experiment on the question of identity (self). Perhaps a more satisfactory answer can be found in the ancient Greek and Hindu concept of the migration of the soul, aka reincarnation.





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