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Thread: Pedroís Thought Experiment...#1 The Man with 2 Souls.

  1. #1 Pedroís Thought Experiment...#1 The Man with 2 Souls. 
    Forum Senior pineapples's Avatar
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    Hi there! :wink:

    Hereís a little thought experiment Iím throwing out.

    (heavily) Based on split-brain experiments to cure epilepsy! - What if...now...what if....A mad nutty brain surgeon performs a brain operation on a patient called Tom by splitting Tomís left brain hemisphere with his right brain hemisphere. He then proceeds to take Tomís left sided brain (By advanced technological mean, still keeping Tom alive and awake!) and fuses it to the right side brain hemisphere of another volunteer called Philip and vice versa attaching Philips left brain to Tomís right brain. Both volunteers survive the operation but are now sharing half of each otherís brains.

    Now, apart from the extreme psychological issues that would probably occur for both volunteers and regarding your understanding of consciousness/self awareness, what the just happened to their souls??? Discus!

    So the Doc started with 2 brains (thatís 2 consciousness), then cut them to 4 smaller brains so thatís 4 consciousness) then we end with 2 brains again (2 consciousness again)

    Can we look at this that we donít have souls and consciousness is just an effect of brain activities?

    Pedro.


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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    I don't believe that "souls" are a concept used or measured when studying neuroanatomy.

    The consciousness question is an interesting one, though, and I'm truly unsure what would happen. The challenge with asking questions about things not currently possible is that any response we give can be equally not possible.

    For example, I could say "It will result in Tom acting like a squid in an olympic swimming pool" and there would be no way of knowing whether I'm right or just making stuff up.


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    Forum Senior pineapples's Avatar
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    My understanding is that split-brain has already been performed to treat severe epilepsy on humans (By cutting their ďcorpus callosumĒ which is what joins the two hemispheres of our brains). The tests on the subjects suggest (If not prove?) that we all have 2 minds (or 2 self-aware consciousness) instead of the presumed 1 mind or 1 self-aware consciousness that we all feel we have.

    So you wonít know which side of the brain is your self-awareness until you get your corpus callosum cut!

    However, It would get a lot more interesting if we DO only have 1 self-awareness that is resident in both hemispheres of our brains. That would mean if my brain was split, then I would be experiencing myself-awareness in 2 separate brains at the same time (Just not be able to communicate with each other). I would effectively be 2 people instead of 1! Which opens the door to the possibility what Bill Hicks said that ď...we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively.Ē

    I suspect Bill Hicks is wrong but Iím not giving up on it just yet.

    Anyway, something for me to ponder on!
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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapples
    My understanding is that split-brain has already been performed to treat severe epilepsy on humans (By cutting their ďcorpus callosumĒ which is what joins the two hemispheres of our brains).
    Correct.


    Quote Originally Posted by pineapples
    The tests on the subjects suggest (If not prove?) that we all have 2 minds (or 2 self-aware consciousness) instead of the presumed 1 mind or 1 self-aware consciousness that we all feel we have.
    I wouldn't say it that way. It's more about different characteristics and parts of our personality than "two minds." Calling them "two minds" is IMO more of a rhetorical short-hand to convey quickly that there are meaningful differences across the different brain regions... but it's not like we're two people with two consciousnesses, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by pineapples
    So you wonít know which side of the brain is your self-awareness until you get your corpus callosum cut!
    Not really. Self-awareness is perhaps better viewed as the aggregate of all of the neural activity. The nature of that awareness would shift if you cut the callosum, but it's not like the self is contained in one hemisphere or the other.
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    Forum Senior pineapples's Avatar
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    Thanks for the response inow,

    Iím taken your point made about the squid from previous response, we just wouldnít know what would happen as itís never been done yet, but Iíd still be curious to hear what people could believe would happen without the need to prove it. Especially from someone who studies consciousness.

    I think basically Iíd like to know where I, the part of me that is aware of my own existence, would hold residence if it was I and not Tom who had undergone the experiment.

    Ta.
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    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapples
    I think basically Iíd like to know where I, the part of me that is aware of my own existence, would hold residence if it was I and not Tom who had undergone the experiment.
    Absolutely, and that's a fantastic question. One thing I learned when studying topics like this is that consciousness does not seem to be localized to just one place. It's spread out, which is why we can still be aware, just different, when we undergo some trauma to the brain or something gets severed or damaged.

    I do not believe we are far enough along with our understanding of consciousness to provide you with a satisfying response to your question, but perhaps someone who knows more than me will see it and post their thoughts. It really is an interesting topic to consider.

    Have fun!
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    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Let's say a baby boy is born without any of the senses. Doctors keep him alive for 30 years. Personally I can't understand how any human in this state could be aware of itself. Perhaps there are built in primal instincts but without any formal knowledge of the world or its surroundings I don't visualize much hope for this person to be aware of itself.

    Of course I am intimating that consciousness is like a switch, requiring that we must at least have a basic knowledge of reality before it turns on. I don't think that brain exchanges between two individuals would eliminate awareness. But what if you got the brain from the person born without the ability to even be aware of the world around himself?
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    Forum Junior Steiner101's Avatar
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    In people who have had a split brain op, both parts of the brain operate without knowing what the other part is doing. For example in experiments where each eye was shown a different fruit (say apple and orange), the subject would write down that they had seen an orange but say that they had seen an apple. When asked what they had written down, they would say "apple" but when shown that they had actually written orange they would have no explanation for the contradiction or they would say some kind of trick was being played.

    another example is with mathematics, their mathematical skills changed markedly when shown problems to the left eye or the right eye. Also the ability to describe what some words mean that represent shapes, or sounds, or whether they rhyme or not.
    There are also other symptoms like "alien hand syndrome" and various other quite bizarre symptoms that make interesting reading.

    The primary hemisphere for a function like talking does not mean that some of the processes are not done in the other. Hence the loss of some concepts like words that describe sounds etc. so it is never clear cut "this is a left hemisphere task", but a split brain is still left with the majority of the function.
    So if cognitive and even some motor function is so obviously split between the two hemispheres, I can see it reasonable that there is in fact essentially two (albeit partially functional) consciousnesses that can only interact with the world with the brain function they have been left with. Hence the reason for the lack of explanation for the persons actions that have been undertaken by the other hemisphere.

    The trouble most people have with this concept is that it does not sit well with their belief that cognitive function is independent from experience/consciousness. That there is some kind of little man, or ghost in the machine kicking back and enjoying the input from the senses. I guess that's exactly what the O.P. means when referring to "soul".
    'Aint no thing like a chicken wing'
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