A curious question


Who are we? What does one mean when they say I?
Is it even reasonable to say my brain does this or that?
And if it is your brain doing things, can you be held responsible and to what extent?
Is this question even sound to begin with?

Advertisements

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

40 thoughts on “A curious question

  1. Excellent question. My smart-ass answer is I’m proof god exists because I do not think it does. I’m interested to see the answers you get.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      I think it would be a very interesting operation whether it will be successful or not.
      I hope none of them changes their mind in between or worse still, becomes stiff

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m very interested to see the results of such an operation. If it works, maybe we can stitch the heads of theists onto atheist bodies just to see what happens. When walking past an Evangelical church, such a person’s head would try to go in, while his body would try to run the other way. Now that would be fascinating to watch. 🙂

        Like

  2. foolsmusings says:

    Yikes, now you’re asking too much of us simple folks :p

    Like

  3. keithnoback says:

    Interesting questions. Identity is conventional. Responsibility is unavoidable. Sometimes it is convenient to talk about ‘my brain’, just as it is convenient to talk about being a parent or child as if those things were separate from some core ‘me’. There is no theoretical truth associated with such statements however.
    Unfortunately, the head transplant patient may discover the practical implications of your questions – most likely via the corollary that the stand-alone neurological organ is necessary but not sufficient for ‘me’.
    I sense a disturbing lack of imagination in that regard, on the part of the patient and the surgeon. As one of the other neurosurgeons in the article says, there are things worse than death.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Is responsibility unavoidable in all circumstances or in some? Do you think when one exception can be allowed, why not allow all?

      Maybe the patient lacks imagination. The surgeon is quite imaginative. He wants to see what happens to one person if you change their heads lo.

      Like

      • keithnoback says:

        All. If I wreck my car because I have a seizure, I am responsible. I will lose my license until I can show that I am unlikely to have another seizure. If I wreck my car because I drink a liter of vodka before I get behind the wheel, I am responsible. I will lose my license until I’ve gone through whatever my society thinks will make a recurrence of my behavior acceptably unlikely. If I wreck my car because I like to race on the street, I am responsible, though the remedy may be more involved and less likely to succeed than in either of the former circumstances. In all three instances, I am responsible. The only difference between the cases is how mad everyone is with me in each instance. Not that they are wrong – their anger will be more effective in the third case than in the second, and in the second more than the first.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          When I said all circumstances I meant can a person with dementia be called responsible. Can a schizophrenic be deemed responsible? Where do you draw the line? Temporary insanity is a valid legal defense. Where and how do we draw the line?

          Like

          • fojap says:

            I think it depends on how you define the word “responsible.” If you’re talking about simple cause and effect, then the person causing the accident can said to be “responsible”, meaning that he is the cause. However, the way we use the word, it often implies some sort of moral judgement. That is why we are angrier at the drunk person. These days, we don’t hold people morally responsible for epilepsy, but we do for drinking. Most people don’t hold people responsible for mental illness, but there are people who do.

            I’m not, myself, interested in assigning moral blame. I’m mainly interested in people not hurting each other. The question then becomes, “What is the best way to prevent people from driving under various handicapping positions?”

            I don’t have an answer for that, by the way. Due to the crime spike in my last place of residence, I’ve been reading about policing and related issues and I’m struck by how little consensus there is about crime, what causes it and what to do about it.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            In my question I meant the moral responsibility.
            And I think we are at the same place in apportioning blame. I prefer we find ways of making our societies healthy

            Like

          • fojap says:

            I think a century or two ago, when we had less ability to analyze large amounts of data, assigning individual moral responsibility for certain actions and punishing the ones society found disruptive may have been the only way of approaching the problem.

            I would think at this juncture in history we should be able to approach it from a more sophisticated perspective.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            Unfortunately most do not approach it with any sophistication. There outlook is based on the 3rd chapter of genesis

            Like

          • keithnoback says:

            I couldn’t have said it better than fojap. But I’ll blather on for a moment anyway.
            It seems like one of the confusions plaguing ethics is a kind of category error – the assumption that we are doing the same thing when we talk about Timmy behaving badly and Timmy being a bad boy, for instance. The latter has two, separate contents. One is that Timmy is behaving badly based on some deeper-seated personality issues, i.e. he’s acting like he tends to act.
            But we are also implying moral disapproval, on top of our more pragmatic judgment. Something like we mean when we say, “He should have known better.” Is it true that he should have known better? Can it be? Or is it the speaker’s way of expressing his attitude regarding Timmy’s behavior and it’s source?

            Like

  4. well, if my brain is squished, then I am not around anymore. My husband is very bipolar, so his brain chemistry does its own thing, so to speak, since he certainly would choose otherwise. human -invented chemical compounds fix this to a degree.

    When he is in the extremes of the cycle, depressed or manic, he doesn’t think much about consequences of actions. Is he responsible for his actions or is he at the mercy of screwed up biochemistry? Before we got the right drug cocktail, he used his intellect as best he could to cope, but sometimes that wasn’t enough. If someone doesn’t have such an intellect, to understand what was happening, if not totally able to control it, are they less responsible?

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Difficult questions those are.

      Like

    • fojap says:

      I lived with a man who was bipolar. He refused to take medication, though. It’s a difficult question. The relationship floundered as a result. It was frustrating, but I don’t fault him for it. Yet I couldn’t live with it.

      Like

      • My husband says that the mania is so addictive, he really didn’t want to take the meds, despite how dangerous it was.

        Like

        • fojap says:

          I always felt a little bit torn about that regarding my former boyfriend. He was obviously happier when he was manic. He hated the depression, on the other hand. But it was when he was manic that he got into trouble. He was once hospitalized because he was at the beach, wearing street clothes, and felt so happy he tore off his clothes and ran naked into the water. Someone called the police. Really, it’s a harmless action, but things like that can get you in trouble. When he was manic, he was constantly wanting to go out dancing. I found it maddening. My friends would say, “But he sounds like fun.” I thought he was until I tried living with him.

          I wish there was some way for him to experience all that without consequences. He was very sweet and kind. I say he got into trouble, but he would never hurt anyone.

          Like

  5. Good questions. Ask ten people, you’ll get ten different answers. For me, that’s answer enough, if you catch my draft.

    Hope you’re well. I still haven’t heard from our mutual friend, Ladysigh, and hope she’s okay.

    Like

  6. When you have time to spare. Neuroscientist David Eagleman explains how most behaviors are driven by brain networks that we do not consciously control. https://youtu.be/753cCnAXR6E

    Who are we? A product of our environment.

    Like

  7. niquesdawson says:

    No. You cannot hold to account separately a man from his brain. And no man can no more accuse his brain separately from himself than he can claim to be alive when his body is dead. ….. at least not physically. ….!!!!

    Like

We sure would love to hear your comments, compliments and thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s