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Comment on Body vs Mind

aaron kinney Sun, Jul 22, 2007
Excellent post, folkert. I'm actually very fascinated with this topic and have written about it extensively. I have a blog called Kill The Afterlife, and as you can guess by the title, I have talked about the mind vs. brain issue a few times.

Believing that the mind is a separate and independent entity from the brain is known as "dualism." Of course, I dont believe that the mind can exist without the brain per se, but the question that should be asked is "what can comprise a brain?"

If the electro-chemical functions of the brain can be duplicated or replaced synthetically, then why wouldnt our "minds" be able to exist in a vessel other than our brains? Imagine a world where nanobots are injected into your body to cure disease, fix organs, etc. Could nanobots also be used to replace damaged or malfunctioning neurons in your brain? I imagine so. Could the organic brain be gradually supplanted with synthetic components until no biological portion is left, yet one's mind is still thinking and functioning? Again, I imagine so.

Speaking of reproduction: would it still be necessary in a world where mortality is long gone? And regardless of reproductions necessity (or superfluousness) in a synthetic-life world, wouldnt it be in fact easier to reproduce when all life is synthetic? Just "copy and paste" perhaps? Maybe an assembly line of sorts?

Awhile ago I read an amazing novella called "Afterlife." I wrote a review about it here. Dont let the title fool you; its not what you think. The book explores immortality through technology and the gradual extinction (or, rather, evolution) of the human race through synthetic systems. To put it mildly, that book blew my mind. It talks about pretty much everything you mentioned here. You can even read the book for free online.

A "mind" is an emergent property of the brain. It is the proverbial metadata. One analogy I like to use is that the mind is to the brain as transportation is to the car. Transportation is an emergent property of the car similar to the mind.

Its not the best metaphor, but its simple and easy to understand in the terms of a physical entity having an emergent "property."

Anyway, there's my random thoughts on the topic. Again, great post!