V.S. Ramachandran (his TED talks are must-see) is trying to figure out how our minds work by looking at physical problems within the brain and understanding how accidents of anatomy cause real, yet only in the mind, problems. Phantom limb is a prime example:
A contingency of anatomy therefore gets reflected in a psychological association; if the hand area of the brain had been next to the foot area, then tickling the foot might have caused a tickling sensation in the phantom hand. In another patient, amputation of the foot leads to sensations from the penis being felt in the phantom foot, including orgasm. Ramachandran devises a method to enable patients to move their paralyzed phantom arms, by using a mirror that simulates seeing the absent arm by reflecting the remaining arm: the brain is fooled into believing that the arm is still there and lets the patient regain control of its position. There are even cases in which the mirror device enables a patient to amputate a phantom arm, so that he no longer suffers the illusion of possessing it.
My favorite metaphor for the connection between body and mind is Elizabeth Grosz’ Möbius strip, which she borrows from Lacan. It’s almost impossible to separate the two, yet we see them as distinct. Start on one side, end up on the other. It is the strangeness of the embodied mind that argues for a much longer path towards human-like A.I. than perhaps any other single point.
Bioethics is controversial.
No one endorses the ideas or concepts explored here, not even me.
You will develop a strong opinion about something you find here. I want to hear it. Philosophy is a conversation.
popbioethics [at] gmail [dot] com
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