Monday, September 04, 2006

You Are A Soul I

You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
- C.S. Lewis

My current wanderings led me to reconsider a series of thought experiments I wrote off in more optimistic times. Please keep in mind that the point of the experiments is not to speculate about future technologies. The point is to try to abstract out fuzzy terms and get to the essence of being. I confess that I was hostile to this line of thinking when I was first introduced to these experiments and it took me a while to adjust. But the problems the experiments raise and/or address are crucial, it seems, to a rational understanding of existence.

The experiments build on each other, so I think it would be useful to present them as a series.

I also confess that I am a novice in this area and I am still developing my thoughts in the area.

Try them out.

Thought Experiment #1
Suppose the technology exists to create an artificial neuron. The exact composition of the artificial neuron is not important, but suffice it to say that the technology exists to replicate every chemical property of a neuron. The technology to take an accurate reading of a neuron, that is, its exact chemical properties, also exists. Hence it is possible for a neurologist to identify an individual neuron, determine its exact properties and its exact connections to surrounding neurons. The neurologist is further able to replicate the neuron, extract the original neuron and replace with an artificial one.

Query: Suppose a neurologist conducted this procedure on your brain, removing one neuron and replacing it with another. Will there be any impact on your sense of self or your cognitive ability?