The Metaphysical Body

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by DT Strain, Feb 4, 2005.

  1. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    Disclaimers:
    1) Nothing that proceeds is based on the supernatural, the afterlife, souls, sixth senses, out of body experiences, the paranormal, etc. Not to say that these things cannot exist, but just to say that this particular concept is not based on anything beyond our material universe.

    2) The use of the phrase "metaphysical" is meant literally as "that which is not physical". While this may include supernatural phenomena, it also includes those things which are not physical in nature, but every bit a part of the empirical universe. Examples would include emotion, democracy, capitalism, ecology, mind, beauty, ethics, and so on. These are examples of things which cannot be held in the hand as a physical object, but rather are descriptions of processes and relationships. Because they are not physical, they are metaphysical, but not supernatural. This is the sense of the word used here.

    3) This is a fresh attempt at summarizing a concept that was initially not communicated clearly in the thread "Where to WE begin and end". Hopefully this is more successful.


    THE METAPHYSICAL BODY

    When we consider our bodies, we usually think of the organism that is encased within our skin. Biologically, this may be a fitting description, but conceptually it may be arbitrary.

    The ethical value in a human being is not in his biological body, but in his mind - that interaction of data (thoughts, memories, impulses) which together form the "person". With the ability to think as sentient beings, our physical bodies are less significant - now only having ultimate value in that they allow the continued functioning of our minds. This being the case, it may be closer to the truth not to be bound by biology in considering philosophically what is, and is not, our body.

    When I look at my finger on the desk, and the pencil beside it, one I consider to be my body and the other I do not. I say the finger is part of my body for two reasons: I can feel it and I can move it.

    When we feel something we are really just detecting - gathering data. Feeling is just one of five senses. So, if something touches my finger, my brain is informed through nerves. But if something touches my pencil, my brain is also informed, but simply with a different sense (in this case vision).

    When we move our finger, we use nerves as well. But all that is philosophically important is that I am able to move the finger with nerve impulses. I am also able to move the pencil with my finger. Each is done by causing a chain reaction through physical matter, which begins with a decision.

    So, I can move the pencil and I can detect what happens to the pencil. In this respect, many things could be considered my "metaphysical body" - my car, my television, my clothing, my home. By technologically extending our detection and our ability to affect change, our metaphysical bodies can extend over great distances. The metaphysical body is an amorphous thing, pulsating, shrinking, growing, splitting off in various directions, but always rooted back to our decision-making minds.

    One might counter that when our pencil is taken away, we do not feel pain, but when our finger is taken away, we do. But bodies are addictive to a mind. The more dependent we become on something we have made into a part of our metaphysical body, the more we miss it when it is destroyed. There are many forms of pain.

    One might also counter that, we can loose a finger, but if we lose a heart, our lungs, our brain, that our personhood will also cease. So, the parts of our physical body that our life depend on are therefore our "real" body. However, there are other "organs" just as necessary to sustain our life. The food distribution system that brings food to my supermarket for instance. And what if I pollute the air and it damages my lungs, causing me to die early? This is no different than if poison were injected into my veins.

    So that is the concept of the metaphysical body. It seems to me a far more significant body than our biological body. Consider Stephen Hawking, whose physical body is damaged, but who probably has a more powerful and influential metaphysical body, defined by his ability to know about his universe (detect) and change his environment (effect).

    Perhaps the underlying goal of all sentient beings is to attempt to grow their metaphysical bodies as large and as powerful as they can get them.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Blue

    Blue Member

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    "The ethical value in a human being is not in his biological body, but in his mind"

    Shouldn't this read "moral value..."?

    Ethics are any system of laws developed according to particular moral views.
    There can be as many ethical systems of different types as there are moral views and philosophies.

    Also, that quotation seems to suggest that the mind is somehow distinctively not of the body?

    Surely the brain and everything internally of the body is the biological entity we perceive as self, and others perceive as a significant other - whatever the brain likes to conceive? Where is the 'mind' if it isn't simply within the biological body, mainly residing in the brain as an aspect of the self-regarding faculty we appear to have in good measure?

    This seems to nullify the rest of the Post.

    The conclusion has to be there is no such thing as a 'metaphysical body' beyond the personal conception of any particular individual who may affirm its existence and personally even validate it, or as you have done, simply present it as an hypothesis.
    It is a contradiction of terms. Hypotheses concerning a 'body' that is independent of its physical being appear to me as an irrationality... unless evidence in the material domain is to be provided.
    A 'body' is one thing... a metaphysic is a largely affective conceptualisation - something else.

    BTW
    Metaphysics is usually conceived as literally “what comes after physics,” and
    was used to refer to the treatise by Aristotle on what he himself called “first philosophy.”
    In the history of Western philosophy, metaphysics has been understood in various ways: as an inquiry into what basic categories of things there are (e.g., the mental and the physical); as the study of reality, as opposed to appearance; as the study of the world as a whole; and as a theory of first principles.
    Some basic problems in the history of metaphysics are the problem of universals - i.e., the problem of the nature of universals and their relation to so-called particulars; the existence of God; the mind-body problem; and the problem of the nature of material, or external, objects. Major types of metaphysical theory include Platonism, Aristotelianism, Thomism, Cartesianism, etc.

    You seem to be concerned about the Mind-Body problem. Perhaps we should focus upon that as it has been discussed in the past, and is thought of today.

    :)
     
  3. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    There are many different ethical systems and their are many different moral views. So one can say something is ethical or moral and the same difficulties would apply. There is nothing in particular about either that makes one universal and the other relative, as different people have different ideas about the relationships of these two words. So, whichever you like.

    Where is Windows 98? You have a CD-ROM with a bunch of magnetized elements, you have a computer, you have the activity of the computer. Windows98 is distinct from the computer itself. It is a description of a particular process of the computer. Likewise, a mind is the description of a process of the brain. It is not the brain and we as persons are not our brains. What I'm saying is that the process of the brain is what is significant - not the brain per se. In other words, if there were some way to transfer that active data process into another brain, or onto some other hardware, then the person could hypothetically be preserved while the brain were destroyed. None of that presumes any sort of immaterial soul. It speaks only of data processing and function.

    There is a collection of physical material, be it bones, automobiles, muscles, wrenches, eyes, telephones, etc. that is within the zone of control of our active decisions and within the zone of control of our perceptions. This is an objective empirical fact, and this is what I am referring to as the metaphysical body. For all intents and purposes, it is a more significant distinction to make than the edge of our skins.

    I am defining the body in physical terms. Nothing I am saying proposes the existence of anything that isn't already empirically observable.

    Yes, it is a conceptualization. Just as a democracy is a conceptualization. Yet belief that a democracy can exist does not require any assumptions about the immaterial or nonphysical. The metaphysical body is the same. It is a conceptualization of relationships between physical items in the world to our decision-making faculties.

    I have no questions about the mind-body problem. To me it's as simple as hardware and software.

    I repeat, nothing in my views or in the concept of the metaphysical body contains or has any reference to the supernatural or immaterial or souls of any sort. I'm also not talking about ESP, out of body experiences, or any other sort of paranormal things. It is all completely based in our empirically observable universe.

    You seem predisposed to try and argue for a position of materialism, but I am a strict materialist, empiricist, and naturalist. You just don't seem to be understanding what I'm saying here yet.

    Thanks :)
     
  4. Blue

    Blue Member

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    "It is all completely based in our empirically observable universe."

    If this is so, why have you not posted material re: the function of the brain when working as 'mind' upon problems?

    I am fully qualified and prepared for such a discussion.

    Perhaps you could begin by considering the length of time it actually takes for the human mind/brain to mature its parts responsible for reasoning?
    (Hint... it is the slowest maturing area of the brain.)

    Do research this before I come back with the currrent understandings.

    ======
    Ethics.

    Normative ethics seeks to establish norms or standards of conduct.
    A crucial question in this field is whether actions are to be judged right or wrong based on their consequences or based on their conformity to some moral rule, such as “Do not tell a lie.”
    Theories that adopt the former basis of judgment are called consequentialist; those that adopt the latter are known as deontological.

    NOTICE that the morality question precedes the ethical.

    The derivation of ethical laws for 'moral' conduct is always dependent upon the moral basis chosen for those laws... a moral is not an ethic, it can only be turned into an ethical law.
    ========
    Any comparison of the computer OS and the computer, with a human being is nonsense.
    I'm afraid I do not accept or even understand your point.

    In many ways we are what we think attitudinally, in other words we are what our brains conceive of within ourselves. Our brain/mind is the control centre for our behaviours. The 'mind' is what that brain conceives and IS, through its growth, nature and nurture. There is no distinction here that is valid. You are what your brain/mind tells you/conceives of. That comes from your affective nature and nurture, your genetic inheritance, and nurture and intelligence, all things amenable to investigation materially.

    Your argument for a 'ghost in the machine' does not seem to me hold water at all. The 'mind' is the firing of neurons and attendant cells in the brain, and thoughts and feelings are the result of the operations and combinations of the 'firings' of your brain cells.

    What you seem concerned about is the philosophy that studies the nature of mind and its various manifestations, including intentionality, sensation and sense perception, feeling and emotion, traits of character and personality, the unconscious, volition, thought, memory, imagination, and belief.

    It is usually distinguished from empirical studies of the mind (e.g., psychology, biology, physiology, sociology, and anthropology) by its method, which emphasizes the analysis and clarification of concepts.

    On the one hand, as I have said to you before, we have the affective aspects of 'Mind' and the empirical studies, the cognitive aspects. Mind and Brain are one in the same only differing in the ways they can studied and approached.

    A psychologist will study Mind in terms traits of character and personality AND clinically in empirical terms, because they are part and parcel of the same thing... the brain.
    =======
    When you say you have no need of recourse to a discussion of the mind and brain/body relationship, because to you the answer is explained by the relationship of "hardware and software" I really begin to think there is something rather irrational in your apparent (to me) confusion. There is no comparison here with hardware and software.

    We are no 'hardware device' and we have no 'software' other than some genetic coding, our nature, and our subsequent nurture. Mechanistic comparisons only get us so far. They do not explain.

    I make another suggestion, that we should also consider that which is 'objective' and that which is 'subjective', as you do seem to suggest.
    I will continue to maintain that any particular brain is the mind of the individual, the seat of both cognitive processes and feelings. Its physicality is simply one aspect of what 'mind' is. We are what that physicality determines according to its chemical and physical processes through experiences that cause us to respond both affectively and cognitively.
    Perhaps that is just what you are saying?

    Yet another suggestion: are you wishing to discuss Phenomenology, which is
    “a descriptive account of the essential structures of the directly given.”

    Phenomenology emphasizes the immediacy of experience, the attempt to isolate it and set it off from all assumptions of existence or causal influence and lay bare its essential structure.
    Phenomenology restricts the philosopher's attention to the pure data of consciousness, uncontaminated by metaphysical theories or scientific assumptions. Husserl's concept of the life-world—as the individual's personal world as directly experienced—expressed this same idea of immediacy.

    Is that something that proves useful to your ideas, re: Mind/Brain?
     
  5. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    I agree. You're not understanding my point. You don't seriously think I'm saying that the brain is literally a digital computer do you?

    I agree 100%

    Yes, absolutely correct. The 'mind' is the firing of neurons and attendant cells in the brain, and thoughts and feelings are the result of the operations and combinations of the 'firings' of your brain cells. I completely agree. Furthermore I'll add that this is ALL the mind is - nothing more. I don't believe in "ghosts" of any kind.

    As I said, you seem to have a predisposition to want to debate immaterial. I'm not the person to hold that debate with.

    Nothing so deep I'm afraid. It's as simple as this - can you see if a pencil is touched with your eyes? If yes, then that's all I need say. Can you move a pencil with your hand? If yes, then that's it. That's all I'm saying - my point doesn't get any deeper than that.

    The brain is a biochemical information processor. It may be analog instead of digital, but it is a physical object capable of processing information.

    And here is your list of our 'software'...

    That is what I mean by the comparrison - exactly what you describe.

    I agree. Fortunately, my goal is not to explain anything. I am simply pointing out what we all agree on as a very minor prelude to the rest of my point - that it is the operation and flow of data in the brain which is significant to us - not the physical material of the brain per se. We only value the brain as such because we have no way of separating the two. If some technology were ever developed that allowed for the data in our brains to be copied over onto another medium, while maintaining a constant stream of consciousness, then it would be more apparent that what we value isn't the brain tissue per se, but rather the function of the brain - the complex assortment and interaction of data being handled by the brain.

    I have no ideas regarding the mind/brain. I am making no points about the mind/brain relationship. You are missing the point and getting stuck on that, perhaps because you enjoy talking about that subject, but it is not central to my point. This is especially ironic since we have the exact same conception of the brain and mind.

    We have yet to even discuss my point about the metaphysical body, which doesn't touch much at all on the mind/body issue.
     
  6. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    Strange, this thread isn't showing as updated with my last message on the main page, even after doing a page refresh.
     
  7. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    I have also noticed that happens sometimes on this board. It will stay that way for days... but the post is still there. Something for us to figure out over time.
     
  8. Enkidu

    Enkidu New Member

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    Interesting concept; some random musings/questions below:

    Do you generalise your concept to include a time dimension? In other words, do you look at the body as a constant evolution over time, where its 'extremities' [say, for arguments sake, all objects not linked to the brain by a continuous neurological connection] are fluid (I'm basically asking here, do you have to view the body as a 4-dimensional object to properly realise the concept)?

    On a related point, if we consider the physical body [i.e. all things neurologically connected to our brains] there is a sense of temporal immediacy (perhaps because our physical bodies are spatially small). As you extend the definition of body outward, there is a time lag between will and function, therefore the metaphysical body has to be predicated on a time function somehow - would you agree?

    Suppose I create a will where I specify how certain assets that I own are to be used by my beneficiaries. Does this mean that I retain some kind of metaphysical body even after I die (at least for a period of time)?

    If I own an asset, is it only part of my body during such time as my 'will' [mental conscious effort] is affecting it? Does this extend to unconscious mental effort, e.g. suppose I have a machine that I set in operation; does it remain a part of my body until it switches off, even if I don't actively continue to monitor it? If the concept doesn't apply to unconscious mental effort, then what is my immediate physical body when I'm asleep?

    What implications does this concept have for issues of 'ownership'. In particular, physical objects can be manipulated by more than one individual, therefore they form part of different bodies. Extending this, you would get to the concept of diminishing individual ownership of the extremities of the body, with overlapping 'spheres' of influence.

    If an object requires more than one 'will' to direct it [i.e. two or more people need to do something in tandem for an effect to occur - an easy example would be team sports such as rowing] then do you have a metaphysical body with two 'minds'? If yes, then could you consider the entire biosphere as a metaphysical body, being directed by all people? If yes, then would you extend this concept to non-human principals (animals, plants etc)?
     
  9. Blue

    Blue Member

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    DTStrain,

    "The metaphysical body" is a contradiction.

    There is the body, demonstrably so.

    Where is the evidence for a meta - physical body?
    You originally stated: "But bodies are addictive to a mind."

    That is nonsense, and if it isn't please explain simply what it is you do mean.

    Metaphysical ramblings do not seem to achieve anything.

    Our bodies are controlled by the mind... even in sending a reflex message to a limb feeling sudden heat from fire. Mind is centred in brain and is concerned with the whole body... so what is a 'metaphysical body'. Nothing you have said convinces me... so how about some objective evidence...?

    All you seem to be talking about appears to me to be just vague affective concerns which you are hypothesising. Fair enough, but don't let's pretend there is evidence when there isn't. If you are speaking of some form of mental imagery we are capable of creating affectively as part of our self-regarding faculty, it would then need objective evidence for its validation beyond yourself. ;)
     
  10. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    I may be misunderstanding what you're asking, but I would say yes, it would have a time dimension in that, over time, those things which your mind can affect and detect change.

    For example, I might get on a video conference call with someone on the other side of the planet. Insofar as I am able to detect what's going on there and make choices that affect happenings there, then a part of my metaphysical body is extended into that place.

    Ah, nice point. However, there is also a time lag between our choice to move our leg and the leg receiving the signal. But, as you point out, our physical bodies are so small that the time is perceptively negligible.

    But this is merely because it is an amount of time which we are generally incapable of detecting, and because it is what we are "used to". If we train our minds to be patient and keep the big picture in mind, one might say that this is a way to get "used to" the time lag with spacially large metaphysical bodies.

    So, when you take, for example, a fleet commander in the 17th Century, who had to wait for paper messages to be carried back and forth over oceans for detecting what was happening and commanding what is to be done, this would be the example of a spacially large metaphysical body.

    Over time, as technology progresses, these metaphysical organisms, if you will, become more efficient and gain quicker reaction times.

    Another fascinating question. Here we get into an area that I didn't really plan on getting into right away, which is the prospect of other beings as part of our own metaphysical bodies. As with the fleet commander, as the metaphysical body contorts and pulsates over different physical entities, other human beings will inevitably become part of our metaphysical bodies when they become instruments of data collection, and/or instruments of action (doing what we ask/tell them to).

    Here an ethical issue enters into the mix, where we consider the manipulation of others for our own purposes. Ethically, I would say it's best to think of other sentient beings, even when part of your metaphysical body, a part of the "nervous system" so to speak, where they are decision makers as well. What I'm saying is effectually no different than how we think of these things anyway, but the point of the metaphysical body concept is merely perspective shift.

    So, when other decision makers are part of our metaphysical body, we compete or cooperate with them to make the overlapping body function, much as different parts of our brains compete with one another. Sometimes you win out, sometimes they do, so you never have full control when other decision makers are part of your MB. The same would go with the will thing. You leave an influence, but without being present, it's ultimately under the control of those who choose to follow the will. I'd say, in a sense you live on somewhat, depending on the definition of "you" we use.

    Wow, you are really expanding into some interesting areas with this concept. I would say that as long as something is potentially within your control or detection, then it is a part of your Metabody (my new word so I don't have to type all that!). So, if you are in a situation where you can make a decision and affect something, then it's part of your metabody, but as soon as that condition ends, it isn't. That would apply whether it's a machine running or just an inanimate object. With a machine, if you have the control to turn it off or direct its operation if you wish to, then its in the metabody, even if you choose not to. This would be like choosing not to move my finger. As long as the potential is there, then its part of my body.

    Going back to the will, I no longer have the ability to change it or the power to direct its fulfillment, so that's a strong argument for not considering it a current part of your metabody after passing.

    Yes, the metabody is able to merge with other metabodies and share organs. And the decision makers within a metabody are its nervous system, so different individuals will have more or less control and sensation over different parts of a metabody at different times.

    Some of my previous comments have probably answered much of this, but lets take the rowers on the boat. The left person's metabody would include the left paddle and perhaps a portion of the boat. The right persons the right. Then, you simply have two metabodies working together to do something. In other words, the same as if we look at physical bodies of two people, by themselves digging a hole with their bare hands.

    Now, one could look at it as one metabody with different parts to its consciousness. But if one of them controls the other in some way - if one of them takes orders from the other, then the metabody even more solidly over the whole. This is all just my first thoughts about a very rough concept :)
     
  11. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    No, I'm not speaking of any sort of "mental energy" - that would be paranormal hocus pocus and I don't believe in that. I'm not talking about anything like that.

    You keep looking at this as though its phenomenological - as if I'm saying "x" exists and then not proving it. That's not what I'm saying.

    I'm not saying that anythings exists that you don't already believe exists. That's why I've provided no evidence - because I'm not making claims of existence. I'm not saying that "metabodies exist".

    What I'm saying is that we can look at x, y, and z, which we both believe exists, and we can definitionally call that a metabody and think of it as such conceptually. This has to do with linguistics and perspective only - not phenomena.

    Where is your proof that bodies are controlled by the mind? That's what you're asking me about the metabody. My 'proof' for a metabody is the same as your proof for a body...

    Our minds control our cars. And when we detect that it is being damaged (say, when we see it under a tree that is scratching the roof), we can "reflex" by moving the car to a new location.

    So, the circumstances between your limb and your car are identical. In both cases you can detect that it is being damaged, and in both cases you can react to move it away from the damaging item.

    Your mind is not in your limb. And, although your organs are needed to keep your brain alive so that your mind can continue to function, your mind itself is not in your heart and lungs either. Likewise, your mind is not a part of your automobile.

    But your mind can use both a limb and a video camera to detect the environment, and you mind can affect the activity of both the video camera and the limb. So both have the exact same relationship to your mind. That is all I'm saying. I'm not claiming anything that you don't already know fully - I'm just using the term "metaphysical body" or "metabody" to describe that concept.

    So, there's nothing to prove or provide evidence for. Do you want me to provide evidence that you can see your car being damaged and move it to avoid the damage? You already agree on that I'm sure. There is nothing, beyond that, that I am claiming.

    I'm just saying that in some cases it may be helpful or useful to understand that our preference for thinking of our bodies at the limits of our skins is not the most helpful mental conception to have. In some cases it may be more revealing to look at situations from the point of view of what we can actually affect and detect, which I call our metabodies.

    Of course, this wouldn't apply when you need to focus on your biological body. But when thinking about philosophic, ethical issues, or issues of meaning it may be a more enlightening perspective. That's all we're talking about here - perspective.

    It's as if I said, "As long as we remember someone they'll be with us." and you came in, not understanding that it's not a statement of phenomenological fact, saying "Prove it! you have no evidence of that!" As if you wanted me to use some kind of detector and get readings of a presence in the area while test subjects remember others. That's how unapplicable your request for proof here is. You don't understand what I'm talking about yet. I'm trying to convey it as best as I can though. Hopefully this has helped :)
     
  12. Blue

    Blue Member

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    "My 'proof' for a metabody is the same as your proof for a body..."

    This is just not so, DTS.

    After years of work with people in a disturbed state, it is perfectly obvious that their body and mind is the cause of their conditions.

    Your concept of a 'metabody' as you later demonstrate in your posting, amply illustrates what we both agree upon.
    Therefore there is no necessity for such a term or description as 'metaphysical' body. It is amply covered by known understandings, and, as is demonstrable through these posts, it is just confusing and unnecessary to refer to 'meta...' anything.

    A clinical psychologist has no necessity for such a term.

    I cannot appreciate, and still do not appreciate, exactly what it is you expect to achieve with such an hypothesis.

    As you say at the end: "You don't understand what I'm talking about yet. "
    I don't... I do not appreciate the point of creating such a confused and confusing term as 'metaphysical body'.
    If you want to say all that you say, you do so here clearly enough, and it is something known and appreciated already in objective and measureable terms.

    If this is truly so:
    "That is all I'm saying. I'm not claiming anything that you don't already know fully - I'm just using the term "metaphysical body" or "metabody" to describe that concept."
    I ask again.... Why?
    As I said earlier... it advances nothing, certainly not current demonstrable understandings.
    You said in your original post:
    "It seems to me a far more significant body than our biological body."
    and that seems to suggest the one is somehow different from the other. It isn't, there is only the body, containing mind, dependent upon the total healthy functioning of that body.
    As I said earlier, the mind has the self-regarding faculty, and it has imagination and intuitions, as well as a reasoning faculty. A substitution of a 'metaphysical body' concept doesn't help at all, does it? (If so, how?)

    Doesn't this: "Perhaps the underlying goal of all sentient beings is to attempt to grow their metaphysical bodies as large and as powerful as they can get them." simply mean that we exhibit the behaviours of wishing to underdstand as much as possible and extend our sphere of influence over the material domain as far as possible.
    There is nothing meta-physical about that.
     
  13. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    Blue,

    It seems we're making progress in our communication here. I didn't see anything in your response this time that I'd call a misunderstanding of what I'm saying - just disagreement :)

    I can understand why you would think that this concept could be an unecessary distraction. I would agree with you that it's not very useful to psychologists, biologists, doctors, physicists, or other scientists in the pursuit of their empirical work.

    But this would be like assessing "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" by disecting eyeballs and looking for proof that beauty is in there. The example I gave previously of "as long as we remember someone they'll be with us" is another example of poetic perspective that is useful in some contexts. In other words, because I'm not making phenomenological claims, but only proposing a certain perspective, the concept only has utility in the proper context.

    By thinking of the world in terms of our metabodies, it can give us another perspective on who we are as persons, how we affect our environment, and how it affects us. Perspective may not mean much to scientific work, but it can mean a lot to our quality of life and our mindset. For instance, a person who is disabled might get more out of life or maintain a more positive attitude by focusing on his or her metabody. A person who is seeking greater control in their lives might think about these concepts of relationship to our environment and have some sort of word to refer to the overall concept by.

    On another note, you seem to not agree with my use of the word "metaphysical", but as I expplained at the outset, it is my understanding that "metaphysical" does not only refer to the supernatural or the paranormal, but also includes those things which are a part of the empirical world and are simply not physical (like democracy, rights, ecology, etc.) These are examples of "concepts of relationship" between components. They themselves are not physical in that you can't measure the mass of democracy or the temperature of ecology. So, technically these things are meta-physical. Even though many people simply think of the word as supernatural, it covers more than just that.

    Now, perhaps I'm wrong about that aspect of the definition of "metaphysical", in which case I'm open to another term, but for now that is my understanding of it.
     
  14. Enkidu

    Enkidu New Member

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    Just a few points to the most recent posts:

    DT Strain, I'm not entirely convinced by the arguments re: potential to affect change as being a necessary and sufficient condition to say something is part of the 'metabody'.

    For instance, suppose I have a situation where I am able to provide inputs to a system of some kind at periodic intervals; do I retain the full system as part of the metabody during the periods in between pulses? If yes, then the above condition is nullified. If no, then arguably this should apply no matter how small the periodic intervals; however, logically, one could argue that from a purely mechanical view of how the brain is wired, there must be gaps of time where direct influence is not being exerted. If you say instead that its contingent on the length of the gaps, then it becomes very messy as a definition.

    As an example of the above, take an old video game that uses digital inputs (say keyboard control to move your character around); its true to say that you're not continuously pressing keys, so are you in control even when you're not pressing the keys? If you argue that you have the potential to be doing so at any point in time, what about the fact that the keyboard itself limits the speed of reaction (i.e. theoretically, there is a minimum response time for the keyboard, and this is a physical limitation of the keyboard, not your reflexes).

    This is in my view a very important issue, because you're defining the metabody on the basis of this principle, so it needs to be a bit tighter I think (although I'm not sure how you'd formulate things to make this so).


    Moving on, I have a quick question for Blue:

    As far as I'm aware, its actually quite difficult to explain what the body is. There was recently an article in a science magazine (I think New Scientist, but it may have been one of the US titles instead) where it was explained that its extremely easy to fool people into believing that inanimate things are part of their bodies, even when the person can see quite clearly that its not. The way it was set up, a person held their hand onto their thigh, under a table. A false hand was put on top of the table. When the hand under the table was stimulated, say by rubbing, the same (visible) stimulus was applied to the rubber hand. After a few minutes, if you smashed a hammer onto the rubber hand, people actually flinched, thinking they'd feel pain.

    So, my question is, does a physical body explanation cover all situations that would arise within a medical or physiological situation?

    Also, how does the mainstream physical body explanation cover the issue of phantom limbs? [I'm sure you know what this term refers to, but for the avoidance of doubt, people with missing limbs, due to e.g. amputation, often report sensations of feeling the limb still attached to their bodies; this often causes significant physical distress to the person].

    Now, just to be absolutely clear, I don't think DT Strain's idea here addresses these issues necessarily, however I think it can be useful to throw around different ideas about how things could be structured (from a philosophical perspective) because sometimes it may just be the trigger that allows someone somewhere the 'eureka!' moment when they suddenly complete a pattern and solve a problem.


    A final thought. DT Strain, when you start adding in new 'minds' to a given system, I think it could well be that you'd start getting emergent properties. I'm not sure to what extent you'd extend what you're defining to consider this. E.g. my point about the rowers was trying to say, there are some systems that maybe should be treated as irreducible; in the case of the rowers, sure the two guys control one side each, but there is an extra condition that both guys are applying; they are working in a complementary fashion. Its possible that you could argue that this is a sufficient condition in the context of this particular situation to treat the rowers and the boat as one metaphysical body when considering the function of 'rowing'.

    In fact, thinking about it, this may be an alternative way of defining metaphysical bodies. Maybe they should be predicated on a set of functions they are capable of performing, and this then addresses what you consider to be part of the body and what is not part of the body. This may seem messy, but it may just about be arguable that there is an inherent predication on function when we consider our physical bodies, which we haven't spelt out. If we were to do so, then perhaps the metabody concept would seem more similar to the physical body concept.

    In particular, what I'm thinking of here is actually the basic psychological theories (Freud, Jung). These separate function into distinct layers. The idea for example that a metabody is the collection of all objects that we have the potential to influence proximately could be seen as analogous to the consciousness. Setting a machine going overnight while you sleep would then not be part of the conscious metabody, but would be part of the unconscious metabody. I'm not saying this is rigourous, as I just thought of it now and so haven't considered the ramifications, but it may be something to reflect on.
     
  15. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    Enkidu,

    Once again, some great points!

    It seems you are speaking to the problem of quantization (if that's a word). As you point out, we have similar concerns with the physical body. We may choose to move our hand, but once we decided and send the signal out from our brains, there is a period of time from the point the impulse leaves the brain to the point the hand moves, which we are not in control.

    I'd say though, that overall and in general, if you have the ability to affect something, then it counts. Given that these deeper philosophic issues also exist with the physical body, and given that this is a metaphoric concept, I'm not certain how rational or helpful it would be to come up with a laundry list of highly specific circumstances in which something is or isn't an "official" part of the metabody, all the way down to plank time.

    As for the machine which you only have control of in intervals, I'd say it depends. If the machine were set up to take your commands every hour, but you had the ability to reset the machine at any time or interrupt that, then I'd say you maintain continuous control, and it's part of the metabody the whole time.

    If, on the other hand, you really were completely powerless to interrupt it in between, then one might say your metabody regularly flows in and out of this vicinity.

    And now, I throw a monkey wrench into my own point:

    What about our hearts? They beat at regular intervals, and we don't have conscious control over that (not totally anyway, unless we're a supercool zen master or something hehe), although we can feel the beat. So we can detect but not affect.

    So, this brings up the prospect of things which cannot be detected or affected by our decisions, but which may be necessary for our lives. Hmm.

    I think you're right - it is an important point and would help to think more on this to tighten up the concept.

    Fascinating :)

    Excellent point. I was actually kind of regretting bringing other minds into a single metabody, but this makes me feel a little better about it.

    True, I think you may be onto something that would be a good refinement to the concept. One could even think then of the entire ecology of planet Earth as a metabody (although that isn't a new idea by any means).

    Yes, I think you're getting into very interesting corners of the concept - I like where you're going with it. :)

    I'll think some more about this - thanks!
     
  16. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    just an aside...


    CD ROMS are not magnetic media, they are optical media, which is why they are read with lasers.

    in relation to the OP... Blue, do you consider consciousness to the same as "mind" and, if so, do you consider consciousness to be an epiphenomena of matter?
     
  17. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    Ah yes, of course you're correct! I'm aware of this so I don't know why I said that. Maybe showing my age haha. Well anyway, the point stands but thanks for the correction. :)
     
  18. Blue

    Blue Member

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    Thankyou for the excellent questions, Enkidu:

    "So, my question is, does a physical body explanation cover all situations that would arise within a medical or physiological situation?

    Also, how does the mainstream physical body explanation cover the issue of phantom limbs? [I'm sure you know what this term refers to, but for the avoidance of doubt, people with missing limbs, due to e.g. amputation, often report sensations of feeling the limb still attached to their bodies; this often causes significant physical distress to the person].

    Now, just to be absolutely clear, I don't think DT Strain's idea here addresses these issues necessarily, however I think it can be useful to throw around different ideas about how things could be structured (from a philosophical perspective) because sometimes it may just be the trigger that allows someone somewhere the 'eureka!' moment when they suddenly complete a pattern and solve a problem.
    ===========
    The answer, I think, to the first point is affirmative. I have not seen or heard of any evidence to the contrary, which is replicable under controlled conditions.
    The cited experiment re: the artificial hand, etc., simply employs 'misdirection', as we call it... a technique exploited by magicians and conjurors, too.
    The question of 'phantom limb' phenomena has perfectly reasonable neurological explanation... as I think you may know.
    ref: DTStrain... regarding your final comment quoted above, I agree again.

    I just think he is somewhat confused concerning his point, which I certainly don't follow at all well to be honest.

    I could see some sense in what he says philosophically, for the sake of a discussion that might lead somewhere, but when it comes to what is actually observable and amenable to evidence and maybe objective validation, he seems to go off-centre, if you know what I mean?

    "Metaphysical body" posited in the Thread title seems to me to lead nowhere - to no particular purpose - embodying as it does a contradiction, in my opinion. That which is not objectively physical linked to a physical concept like 'body' seems to me only to express, from his own words, a desire to recognise that mental processes can be translated into actions and we can be considered to have a 'sphere of influence' over others and objects in general through behaviours.... that hardly seems worth saying! ;)
     
  19. Blue

    Blue Member

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    DTStrain said: do you consider consciousness to the same as "mind" and, if so, do you consider consciousness to be an epiphenomena of matter?
    =======
    An epiphenomenom of anything is a secondary phenomenon accompanying another and caused by it.... so -yes.

    Consciousness as I think you use the word is relatively easily defined in terms of human beings.
    When awake and they can respond to external stimuli for themselves they are conscious. When they are unconscious, they are either dead or incapable of responding knowingly to exterior stimuli. A reflex response does not prove consciousness... only that a reflex has operated. They may physically respond to internal stimuli during dream sleep, of course, but that is another matter.

    'mind' is much more difficult.... do you desire some neurological/biological/psychological explanation, or something else?
     
  20. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste blue,

    thank you for the post.

    actually, DTSTrain didn't pose this query to you.

    ah.. ok... then this is where we disagree. fair enough, it's always beneficial, in my view, to have a fairly accurate understanding of the concepts both speakers are using when engaged in an interfaith dialog.

    hmm... perhaps we are using a different understanding of the term... let's see...

    oh, yes, we are using different understandings of the same term which is probably due to our different ontological world views. we do not draw a distinction between "mind" and "consciousness" except in a lingusitic sense in our understanding of this phenomena.

    naturally, physical reflexes are not indicative of consciousness or are they an indicator of a lack thereof. reflexes are a different thing altogether, in our view, and are part of the physical system of the body.

    would you say that you have a Cartesian view of consciousness?
     

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