What makes me, me?

Posted on Updated on

There is no such thing as a soul, or a seperate ‘mind’ outside our brains and body. We are infact no more than the chemicals, atoms, and neurons that make us up, our conscious, our thoughts, these derive from our biological organisation. So defining a person can be problematic, surely if I take a paracetamol I am no longer the same person as I was a few minutes ago before I took it, because, ultimately my biology has changed since then. Furthermore without paracetamol or infact any kind of drug my biology changes constantly anyway, so my persistence as appearing as the same person is not as a result of me being the same person but as a result of people percieving me as the same person. Personhood is no more than an illusion, we are not people, we are just collections of atoms, and these atoms and our cells are changing all the time, we are changing all the time. Following this there is no objective explanation of what makes a person, because really a person is never in existence as that person for any length of time at all, in just a few minutes an element within me will have changed. Infact time can become an issue, time is infinite, it can always be smaller. So detecting when a change occurs is impossible, most people would accept that I am not the same person I was 10 years ago, but when exactly did I change? It’s impossible to know because there is always a smaller millisecond in existence so a better way to judge is when others begin to identify me as different. My only true claim to being a continuous person is a series of successful and similar actions I do that lead others to percieve me to be the same, I am not the same, but being perceived as the same is what defines me as a person, really the idea of a person is not more than an illusion. This idea of personhood and how it’s percieve relies on a holistic view, I am judged and I judge others holositically, I don’t scrutinise their individual elements but focus on them as a whole and so this almost vague attention to detail when it comes to percieving others allows for generalisation of the indictable components to be seen as the same, thus ignoring minute changes within biology.

7 thoughts on “What makes me, me?

    nannus said:
    December 30, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I think it is stll possible to define something that persists for some time. I am a computer programmer. When I write a program, I describe things in terms that do not require that I understand what is going on on the level of atoms or transistors. The program might run on different computers that have a totally different hardware. A file might be stored on a magnetic hard disc or a CD. The application using that file might not be able to tell the difference. So from an application’s point of view, the differences on the atomic level might be unavailable (they are behind a “Horizon of Accessibility”, as I have called this in a recent article on my blog. The mind might have some constancy because it is emulated by a system who’s details might not be accessible to it. Blood cells and water molecules constantly enter the brain and leave it, we cannot perceive that, so it is beyond that horizon.

    john zande said:
    September 9, 2014 at 12:28 am

    I like it!

    Every twelve months we have replaced 90% of all our atoms. Its really quite staggering how loose we are.

      Mental Pixelation said:
      September 9, 2014 at 12:45 am

      Wow. It certainly is staggering, and indeed more so that we cannot detect such facts with our naked eye. I guess it shows how much of reality we are blind to. Living such a surface level existence. Because we are made of the very things we are surrounded by. And thus an illusion of reality and familiarity is created that we slot into perfectly and fail to penetrate.

      Thanks for the comment John, your blog is fantastic.

        john zande said:
        September 9, 2014 at 10:10 am

        As is yours! I’m going to have fun trolling through here, in the nicest possible way, of course 🙂 Hey, you need a Follow Blog By Email widget thing. It makes following your new posts heaps easier.

        This is how I wrote about the fluidness of our form a while ago. Seems appropriate here. It was branching off from a Mitchell & Webb comedy sketch where this line blew my mind: “King Lear is just English words in order.” In context it was damn funny, but it caused my brain to do little summersaults, and led me to Yāska, the Vedic grammarian (a hero of humanity, although no one knows his name) who came to a remarkable, yet seemingly elementary conclusion (seven generations before the Greek Atomists) that words, not sentences, were the fundamental carriers of meaning. That is to say, the primary element, or prakṛti, of reality. Words, like Democritus’s atom, were the smallest indivisible unit where clusters of words arranged in a certain way following certain grammatical systems, or laws, formed a sentence whose meaning was intended but entirely unique to its constituent parts. It sounds intuitively simple, almost childish, but Yāska had arrived at atomism. Reality, he saw, was nothing but the arrangement of tiny, impenetrable units clustered together to fashion the meaningful universe; a universe which has no resemblance whatsoever to the nature of its parts. Arrange words in a certain way and one external meaning is derived. Arranged in another way the same words produced another meaning altogether. Linked to suffixes and prefixes and the meaning of the sentence would change again, and reality with it. Or in other words: “King Lear is just English words in order.” Reality was as Yāska saw it not reality at all. The individual word was however permanent and unbreakable. The word was in fact the first and last line of reality, like atoms.

        I was born at 6.23am on the 19th of May, 1970, and since greeting my mother with a blood curdling but otherwise heartfelt primal scream I have been entirely, completely, and categorically remade from the inside out four or five times. This is the literal truth. Not one cell in my body today was present that breakfast time forty-odd years ago, and although not noticing it I have in effect physically died and been resurrected at least five times.
        That’s not a philosophy rather an observed fact. After roughly every 7 to 10 years every cell in a healthy human body has been replaced. Some organs and tissue of course churn through the replacements faster than others – drinkers will be pleased to learn the liver replaces itself every thirty days – but as a rule of thumb every decade the body, including the computer that is the brain, has physically remade itself. Or at least sort of. The pulmonary trunk heart cell being fashioned inside me right now to replace one that’s perhaps 4 years old and fast approaching its use-by date will not, sadly, be made as “new.” Instead it will be a heart cell with all new parts – new molecular strings – pretending to be forty years old. Presently that’s not so terrible, although I wouldn’t say no to the lungs and lower back I had at 17 but failed to appreciate at the time. The cell is new, yes, but it is a copy of the used cell. Age is not reversed. No organism lives ten years then remakes itself as it was; younger and healthier. Life, as such, favours death. Ailments, diseases, rot, and scar tissue are all reconstructed with brand new material and provided I last that long in forty years’ time my body will produce another brand spanking new pulmonary trunk heart cell although that one will be pretending to be a cranky eighty-odd year old wandering aimlessly down a corridor, mumbling incoherently, void of pants, and presumably looking for soup.
        Dive a little deeper and things get even looser, more transient, and quite frankly, purely fanciful. Presently I’m composed of about 7, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 flavoured atoms bundled together to make up 30,000,000,000,000 cells. Supremely more complex than the 5,939 words that make up King Lear, but also frightfully less stable. Virtually every one of those atoms – 98% of them – will have divorced me by this time next year. The atoms presently making my left hand today (an energetic basket of mostly oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, sulphur, sodium, and magnesium) have absolutely no relation to the hand that existed 12 months ago. In this sense, at the atomic level, I’ve been remade – reborn – over forty times since that May 19th, 1970.

    Mental Pixelation said:
    September 9, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    I’ll try and get that widget, sounds like it’d be beneficial, I’ll have to have a fiddle and see what I can do, if its that easy. And thank you very much! I am happy for you to troll along to your hearts desire.

    I agree that words are far less malleable than sentences and thus their ‘meaning’ or their ‘truthfulness’, however you want to put it is perhaps greater, or at least far more succinct than a sentences, which isn’t self authenticating, like a word, but is instead the overall feel that an accumulation of words can create. But I must point out that words are malleable to an extent. And they’re malleable because, as with anything, we cannot experience them ‘purely’ but instead through a biased, subjective interpretation. (I ALWAYS get existentialist, dangit) Of course words such as ‘family’ and ‘friend’ do have objective meanings, but in context the words are never identical in meaning to two people. And what I imagine is different both visually and emotionally to any other human regardless of the objective similarity of a words meaning. So I believe that just as reality is an illusion due to its fragile and malleable nature so too are the more stable components that make it up, so too are the atoms.

    Its intriguing too the sense of continuity we all feel both within ourselves and within society. When in reality we are constantly loosing a part of us. I think it is because as humans we like to look, and cant help but look, at the overall picture of something. We unconsciously blind ourselves from the intricacies of life, from the deeper aspects of things because our brains are channelled to search for patterns and familiar observations. Like in psychological experiments that show our failure to recognise things we have no reason not to see other than a mental defect, if you will. This happens simply by manipulating our focus. If we are focused on one thing we are oblivious to others. In life we focus on the sense of security, familiarity, and stability that personhood and existence is. And so we are programmed not to be effected by such facts as ‘In 12 months 90% of our atoms have been replaced.’

      john zande said:
      September 10, 2014 at 12:42 am

      So wonderfully said! And so true: ‘In 12 months 90% of our atoms have been replaced’ means nothing to us. Should it? What does it actually mean?

    Mental Pixelation responded:
    September 10, 2014 at 1:04 am

    I think all my atoms would implode if I could truly comprehend most things that are true. Living in obliviousness is far more inviting.

Leave a Reply

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s