Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What it's like to be you


"What are you really?"

- c emerson asked that.

The first thing I want to point out, before I talk about you, or more specifically Self, is that my self-quote and that part of the title which follows after the word Self do not mean the same thing.

To be exact, there is a difference in substantive meaning between ...

(1) What it's like to be you (or: What is it like to be you?), and

(2) What are you really? (or: What you really are).

The first sentence (and question) is derived loosely from Thomas Nagel's famous essay, What is it like to be a bat? (1974). It seeks analogies as to what it is like to be another conscious being. The idea is you can't really know. This raises the whole question of subjective behavior, and subjective experience.

The second question (and sentence) is derived loosely from me, and plenty of others. It seeks further assertions (scientific data; or philosophical arguments) about what living beings, including humans, actually are. The idea is that you can know what Self is, or objectively means.

Whew! Already too many big words, like self, substantive, subjective and objective. But these ideas are important if you want to explore these kinds of things relative to the 'meaning of your life'. I will develop these ideas in future Posts.

Route Marker. Meanwhile, let me explain where we are in this blog. This sort of navigational digression I shall call a 'Route Marker.' This Post starts Part I of this 'live book'. The prior posts collectively form the Introduction. Click on My Index tab above to see how that works out. The unpublished part of my outline currently includes eleven parts to this 'live book', but that might change. I'm not that organized. For now, Part I will be about Self; not just myself; but yourself; ourselves; and even themselves. Other than the wordiness of this Route Marker, this Post was intended to be a short, question-provoking Post. So be provoked.

Whether provoked or not, feel free to express your Self.

UPDATE: This post was moved from (3-30-13) along with any comments. Note that this post's title and Blogspot URL will no longer match, but the title here is correct.


- You can read 'What is it like to be a bat?' (Nagel, 1974) at several places on the web. Here is one such place:   (9 pages)
- I invite you to see my photo log from my recent Death Valley Nat'l Park camping trip (a great place to find space to think about Self), on my other blog Random Walk
- This Post was Updated (4/4/13); moving the Route Marker to the bottom part of the Post; and making minor editorial revisions



Brad said...

Brad's comment moved (by ce) from (3-31-13):

Just came from Random Walk. Nice DVNP ride. Good pics. Ah, Duke-Louisville, there's a random walk for sure. So is the road neuroscience must take to show brain produces mind. No brain, no mind, in my 'live' book. But even so, what IS mind anyway?

Anna Maria said...

Anna Maria's comment moved (by ce) from (4-2-13):

What's it like to be us? Loaded question! ;)

It's flesh and blood and bones uniquely blended to age with wisdom, driven with the help of the ingenious "motor" in our skulls into a useful human being who will leave the earth a better place than is was when we got here.

Oops! Our "Creator" forgot to give us the instruction manual!

c emerson said...

c emerson's comment moved (by ce) from (4-2-13):

Thanks, B. and A.M. It's definitely "flesh and blood and bones blended" ... somehow into ... "mind, in [a] 'live' book". Hope it's ok to repost part of my comment posted over on A.M.'s blog today. RP:

- Life is not for the squeamish. From Wikipedia: "It is estimated that 500 to 1000 species of bacteria live in the human 'gut' and a roughly similar number on the skin. Bacterial cells are much smaller than human cells, and there are at least ten times as many bacteria as human cells in the body (approximately 10^14 versus 10^13)." [10^13 = 10,000,000,000,000 or 10 trillion cells (conservative estimate).] Remember this, each cell and each bacteria, given the right petri dish, can live just fine without "you" - but you somehow emerge from "them" -

Now to add another level of "quantity" that somehow allows "quality" to become "each of us". Also from Wikipedia: "The human brain has a huge number of synapses. Each of the 10^11 (one hundred billion) neurons has on average 7,000 synaptic connections to other neurons. It has been estimated that the brain of a three-year-old child has about 10^15 synapses (1 quadrillion)."

Take a moment, and tell me once more, what and where is that "you" and that "mind" that gains knowledge, understanding and "wisdom" - over time and from generation to generation. Thanks for leaving your thoughts on my trail. Have a great April. Peace.

c emerson said...

c emerson's comment moved (by ce) from (4-2-13):

For any who have subscribed to comments, my apologies for the two rapid corrections to my previous comment. I'll get the hang of getting links and quotes right ... eventually. Here are pastable links. Enjoy:

Human Microbiome -

Neurons -

Human Brain -

Chromosomes -

Why bother? Well, because somewhere in all that complexity, Brad's body and brain came up with or housed his mind (such as it is). And Brad, if you aren't really who I think you are, I apologize again.

Anna Maria said...

Anna Maria's comment moved (by ce) from (4-2-13):

Since you re-loaded the question C.E...I was taught as a young child "me" was my "soul." That got me wondering where the heck it was. Since "sacred" hearts were also big in that religion, I figured it must be located in the heart. Then later, they started doing heart transplants and I figured I had guessed wrong.

Then I figured "me" must be in my brain...but then I heard of folks living for some time who were considered brain-dead and I was confused again. Where were those "souls" if their brain was dead?

Then I decided I could do without that religion who focused so much on keeping the elusive soul "pure" and just be happy knowing I am existing just fine regardless of where "me" is located. :D

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