Am I my body?
|Self aware snake - Angela Defendini
What do you think it would be like if your consciousness were transferred into the body of a snake? Would you still be you or would you instead be a snake?
I can imagine what it would be like to slither through grass and smell with my tongue, but would my consciousness also reflect the type of body I now reside in?
Would my consciousness be shrunk to the size of a snake as well? Would I think like a snake and forget my previous body? If so, would I still be me at all?
These are questions that center around mind body dualism. Are we our bodies? Our minds? Or are the two not separate at all but one in the same?
I've been reflecting on these questions for the majority of my life now and the answer I continue to arrive at is "I don't know." Truly, that's the most honest answer isn't it?
Anyone who says they know for sure is surely going on faith, right? For how can there be truth with no evidence?
Then again, who is to say that your truth is the same as mine.
Setting aside the scientific method and objective truths, when we try to imagine ourselves as someone else or something else, it takes more imagination.
We can't possibly know what it's like to be anyone else, we only know what we would feel, do, think if we were in their position. To truly understand someone we would have to live their life up to that point, have had their experiences, their wins and losses, their heartbreak and their great loves.
Would that be enough though? Would we also have to have their specific genetic makeup as well?
There's a lot of argument that points to humans being both of mind and body, but before Descartes introduced this idea, we were seen as body and soul fused into one. As a type of animal automaton, our actions and thoughts led by our souls via God.
Descartes rationalism posited a new foundation of truth: the I of subjectivity. In order to think, I must exist. I think therefore I am.
Under his maxim, our thinking minds exist outside of our senses, and our minds can reason against what our bodies tell us. Our bodies perceive ice and water as two separate things, but our minds tell us they are the same thing. The body alone cannot be trusted, for instance what we see with our eyes is actually grasped by our minds.
Mind-Body dualism separates us into immaterial and material.
For example; I am not Angie.
Angie and I are two separate things. I represents my mind, and Angie my body.
Angie feels the keys under her fingers as she types, but I interpret the smooth texture of them and determine which key I will hit next.
This is obviously a drastic oversimplification, but it gets the point across.
Your body takes in information and your mind interprets it. While they work together, mind-body dualism says they are separate. In this way we can imagine that the immaterial part of us might go on in some way after our bodies pass.
Our minds very well might just be our brains, and the subjective I nothing more than a construct. If that's the case, is the same true for animals?
Does the snake have a subjective I as well that is separate from their bodies but also working in tandem? Or are they more simplistic in their nature and not existential animals such as we are?
We may never know, but it sure is fun to think about. What are your thoughts, do you believe the immaterial I goes on in some way? Or are we bound strictly to our material bodies and death is all encompassing?