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  • #16
    Originally posted by pulphero View Post
    These two statements seem fundamentally at odds to me.

    Cogito ergo sum. I don't know what Thomas Aquinas would have thought about that, but Descartes didn't mention anything about souls doing the choosing.
    I'm tempted to say, "Well, that's Descartes' problem." Of course, you may agree with Descartes more than I do. I would agree with this in the sense that one can say, "Since I do think, therefore, it proves that I do exist," but definitely not in any sense that means that if a being does not "think" in the way we understand thinking, it does not exist, and absolutely not in Descartes' "ghost in a complicated machine" kind of dualism, and in particular with his genuinely toxic approach to non-human creatures. I hope he has learned better now.

    So, YES, it IS the thoughts or the mind that make the life choices. Whether or not you can separate the soul from that in your philosophy is up to you.
    It largely depends on what is meant by "mind." But I certainly don't think that thoughts just happen on their own without a mind to think them.

    I tend not to believe in things like a phantom Ben Kenobi. Whatever 'soul' means is inextricable from the mind, which itself is inextricable from thoughts and memories, at least according to my understanding of it. The only variables in question would be which portions are part of the conscious mind, and which are part of the sub- or unconscious mind. What physical container or form of matter or energy is used to maintain the electrical impulses (or any analogous form of energy) needed for the mind to operate (biological brain or thinking computer) is neither here nor there, as long as it does operate.
    This is probably where our fundamental disagreement lies, then. The phantom Ben Kenobi is, of course, a fictional cinematic depiction, but that no more means that "that's what souls and spirits are really like in their essence" any more than Marvel Comics' Mephisto is really what Satan is like.

    If it's discovered that the original Red Skull has a brain tumor, and has always had a brain tumor since the time he first became the Red Skull, and that tumor is affecting his brain function, neurotransmitters and so forth, or that Hitler used psychotropic chemicals and brainwashing techniques to create the persona of the Red Skull out of Johann Schmidt, who was formerly no more than a petty criminal, does that absolve him of moral responsibility for the choices he has made? Or do we say no, it was because his soul chose to do all those evil things?
    Why can't the truth be some of both? One could even go to non-fantastic real-world scenarios in which someone has a mental illness but still has a level of control, or even in which someone gets drunk and then kills someone in a car accident. Their judgement was affected but not necessarily wholly taken away, which is why matters like that can affect guilt and penalties in the courts. It's also why a crime of passion tends to get a lower penalty than if someone coolly and methodically plans it out. So, too, with this, I would think.


    • #17
      Originally posted by pulphero View Post
      I always liked the Mad Exister. It's disappointing to hear him talk about "destiny" though... that would imply determinism, which would totally invalidate the causality associated with any mental calculations he could make. That would mean he should just change his name to the Mad Destiny-Awaiter. Tch-tch.
      Well, technically, he's the Mad Thinker, not the Mad Exister.


      • #18
        An interesting clone-related excerpt from the ending of the original Gwen Stacy clone storyline turned up today on CBR...


        I think she has it right--the original Gwen is basically like someone she knew really well a long time ago, rather than who she herself is.


        • #19
          Originally posted by ChastMastr View Post
          Well, technically, he's the Mad Thinker, not the Mad Exister.
          He thinks, therefore... he exists. That's my understanding of what Rene Descartes was saying, anyway. One is the same as the other. Je pense, donc je suis as originally quoted from his Discourse on Method -- later translated into the Latin in Principles of Philosophy as cogito ergo sum, although the former seems to put a finer point on it. It seems to be implied that we can only know this about our self, and nothing else, since all of our perceptions of reality are filtered through our thoughts. The shorter version is a subset of "I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am." The implication here being that the latter conclusion is about the only thing we can really be sure of, that being able to think about it leads to the inescapable conclusion that the thinker at least, must exist -- what else beyond that may exist may never be certain. That said, he must at least have allowed a fair probability of something besides himself existing, else why bother to write it down? The thinker can only conclude his own existence beyond the doubt of any false perception. All the rest may be nothing more than an incorrect interpretation of raw perceptual data. ( "Jedi mind trick." ) How, in fact, can we be absolutely sure that there's any perceptual input to be had? It may all be a confabulation of our own thoughts.

          About the only real thing you can say about that is that solipsism is as impossible to prove or disprove as the existence of a God. It might make an interesting topic of debate, but it ultimately gets you nowhere. Or maybe you could effect a diplomatic compromise and say "Why can't there be some truth to both?" Maybe it's all a matter of perspective, or a matter of scale, like chaos theory.

          Not that the Mad Thinker self-identifies himself as anything less than sane. That's an appellation other people who don't agree with his way of thinking have saddled him with. It seems more likely he named himself The Thinker while thinking about Rodin's statue.

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          As far as a soul is concerned, it's a meaningless word to me, in all but the metaphorical (as opposed to metaphysical) sense, since the only thing it indicates to me is some kind of self-acknowledging entity -- and then we're right back to Descartes' "cogito ergo sum" -- or should that be the Hebrew Yahweh's "I Am that I Am" or Popeye's "I yam what I yam, an' tha's all what I yam"? Can you have a soul without a mind, or a mind without a soul? Are both of those words not equally defined metaphysically as "an intangible essence uniquely indicative of an individual entity"? Sentient, entity, mind, consciousness, soul... it's all the same thing. Mere poetics for thinkers who think, perceivers who perceive, observers who observe, existers who exist. Assuming there's more than one of me, I guess.
          Last edited by pulphero; 09-13-2015, 02:20 AM.