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|← "Meditations on My First Philosophy"||"First Person" →|
The underlying question raised by Daniel Dennett is this; what constitutes the human person? Is it the brain and the body? If I received another person brain today would I still be me? Or if I gave my brain to another person would my personality be transferred to that other person; meaning that it would still be me living in another person’s body? Firstly, I do not see the need to follow along in his train of thought because, in my opinion, it is virtually impossible to implant a person’s brain on another person’s body (Dennett, 52).
However, for arguments sake, let us assume that doctors have by some miracle discovered a procedure that allows a persons brain to continue living when transferred onto another persons body; in such a situation what then would happen? Before I state my assumptions regarding this imaginary situation, I think it is important that I state how I think the human brain functions in relation to the soul(Dennett, 52).. As I had mentioned earlier I believe all human beings are made up of an immaterial human soul and a material human body which are in perfect union; and that death is the separation of the human soul from the human body. Death therefore occurs when the human body becomes too damaged to “harbor” the human soul. When this damage occurs as in the case of a sever accident, the soul departs from the union as one facet of the human person is no more; that facet being the body.
The human soul, I believe bears the intellect and the will. Any cognitive power we have over and above animals comes from the soul’s facets of the intellect and will. The other faculties that are common to man and animals are within the material brain, these include the memory and the ability to process basic information coming from the sensory organs like physical pain. Higher faculties like the ability to judge, rationalize, plan future events and reminisce on past events result from the soul and this brings about the glaring difference between man and animals- the presence of the soul, that is why, in my opinion, we can do these things and animals can not.
Since we have now established this, the next question would be; is the soul part of the brain? The extent to which, transferring the brain from one body to another would guarantee that you have transferred the soul of the donor to the recipient? I hardly think so. The soul to me is like the energy giving force that gives life to what would be a lifeless body. Many a times, people like to make the comment “He has got so much spirit, he like a ball of energy”, and so on, I do not think that when people make these comments they refer to the brain activities alone. I think I can correctly assume that a person with plenty of spirit is one who is beaming with energy from head to toe(Dennett, 101).. The soul therefore backs up the body in its entirety and there isn’t a part of the body in isolation that one can say holds the soul. An example which I think can come close to explaining this phenomenon is that of a ball. The air that fills the ball gives it its bounce, without it, the ball is but a lump of leather- quite lifeless.
Now, assuming that I could remove my soul from my self, consequently removing my will and intellect and remain with just my body, memory and ability to process basic information from my sensory organs, would I still be me? Take into consideration that people are normally described from traits that emanate largely from the soul; that he is an intelligent person, that he is a bright person, that he is a daring person, that he is an understanding person are all adjectives describing the predisposition of the soul. If all these traits are removed from “me” do I remain as “me” or do I become a different human being who is quite unfamiliar to those who knew me.
Remember King Leo the lion heart, if he had a received a “soul transplant” from Beethoven (who probably dreaded battle) would he have turned out to be the lion heart we know him to have been? And would he have been able to produce world renowned musical pieces like Beethoven given that his brain did not have the prowess of analyzing sounds as much as Beethoven’s did? What then would we have had from that mix up of souls, probably two individuals that the world would have cared less about? I think it is agreeable to state that King Leo the lion heart would not have been King Leo the lion heart without his soul(Dennett, 128).. Moreover; I do not know any identical twins but I think that the easiest way for a stranger to be able to tell them apart in future is by mastering a difference in their character which, is evidence of their immutably different souls.
Consequently, giving you my brain does not make you me and you giving me your body, similarly does not make you me. I am made up of my material body and my immaterial human soul. Moving one of these facets (albeit impossible) to another medium does not make the other medium me.