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Me and My Body (III)
July 29, 2008, 2:13 pm
Filed under: Philosophical Anthropology

Someone points to a picture of me with both arms raised, fists clenched, eyes wide open, and my mouth wide open in the midst of a victory cheer.  He says, “Hey, isn’t that your joy at receiving a U2 concert ticket?”  I say “Yes.”


A brain scientist points to a brain scan of my neuronal firings that took place at that same moment of joy.  He says, “Isn’t this your joy at receiving a U2 concert ticket?”  I say “Yes, of course.”


But I take it that when the brain scientist says the neuronal firings in my brain are my joy, he means to be saying something philosophical interesting.  So he has to mean something else, right?  For the two cases are perfectly analogous, and the first case is non-controversial and not particularly interesting.  

(He means to say that my joy is only this?  Is ‘reducible’ to this?  That seems obviously wrong.  He means to say that there is nothing left for a soul to do once we’ve mapped my neuronal firings and correlated them to my mental life?  A ‘soul-of-the-gaps’ argument has been defused?  If that’s what he means, evidently he doesn’t understand what I mean by ‘soul’ or what it means for a soul to be embodied.)  


The thing I’d like you to notice is that dualists like myself are perfectly happy to say that when you point at my neuronal firings you are pointing at my joy.  You aren’t just pointing at the fleshy machine in which my ghostly self is exhibiting spooky joy.


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