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We're just cells.

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by Clixby, May 21, 2006.

  1. Clixby Gems: 13/31
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    I've been thinking (something I do too much of, sadly), and I've come to the conclusion that we are just a collection of cohabiting cells.

    Biologically, it's pretty simple: cells began to so-operate to increase the chance of survival, and as the colony of symbiotic cells became more complex, certain cells began to evolve to fit specialised functions. That's where we get organs from. The stomach is a bag composed of tissue full of stomach enzymes, a life form that evolved to break down ingested matter so the nutrients could be absorbed into the system by other cells and benefit the colony as a whole. The brain is another good example of this: cells linked up, evolving the ability to communicate between each other, and relay commands to other cells, forming, basically, the "control cells".

    The thing that's creeped up on me about the whole cell issue is: if I'm just a colony of symbiotic cells, which part is me specifically? Who I am is much more than just a collection of cells: cells can't create art or music, laugh or cry or make really lame dead baby jokes like I can. So at what point in the growth of the complex system of co-dependent cells did I get the bit called "Mediocre Man"? Is what we could call the soul just the by-product of the evolution process and the basic urge to survive to replicate?
     
  2. Felinoid

    Felinoid Who did the what now? ★ SPS Account Holder

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    I had this very same thought around a decade ago. Resolved about two years later as my philosophy settled onto something that pretty much answered it for me. Basically, none of this is real. The mind(s) in the true existence (though I've still not a clue about what or where or how or anything about that one) create this fantasy of a multiverse to keep us entertained. No clue on how many minds there are, whether they each have their own person, or if they all have many, if maybe it's just one mind creating all this, or even a mix of all of the above. But the basic point is that the minds reside elsewhere, linked to these corporeal bodies by way of the brain. A transceiver, if you will.
     
  3. Clixby Gems: 13/31
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    For some weird reason, that only makes me feel more depressed and confused.
     
  4. kuemper Gems: 31/31
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    Congratulations, you just discovered philosophy. :D
     
  5. Clixby Gems: 13/31
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    Is your mind supposed to disintegrate like mine seems to be rapidly doing?
     
  6. Felinoid

    Felinoid Who did the what now? ★ SPS Account Holder

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    [​IMG] Well, mine's completely gone, so judge for yourself. ;)
     
  7. Ilmater's Suffering Gems: 21/31
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    The head of the Philosophy department at my college always tells us something to the extent, on the first day of what ever class he's teaching that the time that we should consider dropping the class because philosophy is the most dangerous of the subjects you can take. Oh he's a damn entertaining prof and a damned good prof as well.
     
  8. Faraaz Gems: 26/31
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    @Mediocre Man: Well...now you know why there's so many religions...it explains away the nasty bits about such questions...a metaphysical carpet to push the confusing bits under, so to speak...
     
  9. Mollusken Gems: 24/31
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    If you're bothered with these questions, read some philosophy. IIRC, Descartes (the one I quoted) had some interesting theories on the subject.
     
  10. Ilmater's Suffering Gems: 21/31
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    Just stay away from Nihilism, that will validate everything... nihilism is the emobodiment of philosophical evil. Oh and Albert Camus' Sysiphus (sp?) led to suicides in the 1970s (I believe it was the 70s, anyway it's now printed saying the book doesn't not condone suicide and philosophical suicide is not the answer).

    Kirkegaard I found the most helpful for the seeming existental futility of life. You can't understand life if you rely on your intellect to figure out life (you become a knight of infinite resignation according to Kirkegaard, unable to move beyond the moral stage). Much like with Camus, life is absurd, it doesn't make sense if we try to tackle it intellectually, hence you need faith (in something, morality, in a philosophical sense of the word, brings you into existance, faith is needed to gain keep that existance) to find meaning in life; essentially, you must give up everything that matters to you before you can find meaning, but once you find faith or meaning, you regain everything, once you have faith you can make proper use of all your material features.

    Note Kirkegaard's faith shouldn't be mistaken for religious faith, but it is more of a philosophical or theological faith that changes/realizes meta-physics in its true form. Kirkegaard has his issues with the Lutheran Church of all faiths; he claimed that Christianity essentially tried to go from the Aesthetic Mode straight to the Faith Mode, skipping the Moral Mode, which is flat out wrong, you have to realize your own existance through your intellect before you can temporarily give it up to become a Knight of Faith and regain everything.
     
  11. Aikanaro Gems: 31/31
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    My thinking: Yes, you're a bunch of cells - so what? How are you any less simply because you're 'just a bunch of cells' or a product of evolution? Why does 'just' have to come into it at all?

    Clearly, 'just' a bunch of cells such as yourself can make music, art and whathaveyou - so yay, accept and move on. Why does there have to be anything more?
     
  12. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Veteran

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    You are also a collection of atoms.

    Waking up and thinking about the universe and everything is important even if it can lead to many disturbing thoughts and truth to tell, ignorance is probably bliss. In my opinion the ability to do so is probably the greatest achievement of humanity despite it actually being very few of who actually do it. Regretfully the majority of humanity are sheep without the ability for that kind of thought or even worse too pre-occupied with staying alive to have the time for such thoughts.
     
  13. Nakia

    Nakia The night is mine Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    "All is Infinite Mind in all its infinite manifestations"

    So say the Christian Scientists.

    It is all a Cosmic joke. So religion and philosophy develop to try and explain the joke.

    All I know for sure is that when I stub my toe it hurts, really hurts. Therefore I am, therefore I think, therefore I question.
     
  14. Dragon's Jewel Gems: 14/31
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    Anyone and anything can be broken down to it's smallest parts, and it can be a blow when you realize that our smallest parts aren't any better than others. A lot of humanity likes to think that it's better than the other living things, when we're all just made up of cells. And atoms, if it pleases you.

    At first this can be really depressing, but I've always found it to be an amazing thing. Billions and trillions of cells have come together and somehow created something with the capacity to speak and think and even...set fire to the kitchen.

    Religion can be an amazing thing, if looked at as the extent of human creativity. However, religion can easily be the worst thing we ever created-something to hide behind when we can no longer answer the question of why. Suddenly we're using religion to explain things that science can now explain...suddenly we're using religion to start wars over the disagreement. I think when you ignore the science-and an amazing thing it is-then you admit that you're no longer willing to see things from any view outside the one you already possess.

    I think the best philosophy, one that promotes connectivity, is taoism. We are all connected-everything, every rock and tree and bug and mammal is all part of the same thing, and no one is more or less than another. (There's *a lot* more than that, but I've found the more that I try to explain taoism, the less I understand). That's what I read-the I Ching-when I came to the same realization as Man, but I found it to be an amazing and liberating feeling, like a breathe of fresh air. We're all just a collection of symbiotic cells (and atoms) that grouped together to form different species that are best able to adapt to whatever environment they're in. Somehow. All by themselves, they figured this out. You don't find this to be *wonderful*?

    [ May 21, 2006, 23:07: Message edited by: Dragon's Jewel ]
     
  15. NonSequitur Gems: 19/31
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    Congratulations, MM - the question now is, "If that's true, then what are you going to do next?"

    We only get one shot at this life. You may as well make the most of it. Even if you're dejected and think it's all meaningless, nobody achieves anything by giving up. Hell, I went through a long, depressing phase in my late school and early university years where I was completely miserable; the only thing that made me feel better was making other people laugh. I got through it because I realised that even if that's all there is, it's still the best thing going, and since there's nothing you can do about that, you may as well worry about the things you can change.

    And there's always the possibility that you're wrong - after all, the greatest idea I think humans have ever come up with is the recognition that we don't know everything. Do what you need to do to get along. Just don't become a nihilist. It's the closest thing to suicide I can think of, because it cuts you off from everything and locks you into a position of hopelessness and meaninglessness.
     
  16. Laches Gems: 19/31
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    You may also look at it as the classic mind/body problem; a metaphysics problem. Here is a link:

    http://brainmeta.com/mind/mind9.php

    The link includes a very, very, very brief outline of some of the most influential/widespread ways of thinking about the problem today by modern philosophers (and neurologists etc. who think about this stuff.)

    You can use the link to find the keywords you need to look up more detailed information yourself, if you want to.

    There are other ones that are a lot of fun - identity (if you take a wooden ship called, say, the Enterprise, and you replace one plank of it is it the same ship - is it still the Enterprise? What about if you replace 2 planks? At some point you replace every single plank? Then what is it that was the ship?) There are problems of causation. There are problems of...

    Metaphysics talks about lots of problems. Different people have different views regarding those problems. David Lewis criticized Jaegwon Kim who was criticizing C.D. Broad who was criticizing...

    But, at the end of the day these guys go out and have beers together and watch the game (at least Lewis and Kim did.) Because, you just can't really let yourself worry about it too much. If you get all angsty about things, slap yourself in the face. None of your doubts or worries are more real than the sting so, buck up, and have a beer. (and, of course, the last bit was pretty much stolen from G.E. Moore's "Here is a hand": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Here_is_one_hand
     
  17. Sir Farivald

    Sir Farivald The Obsidian Cleric

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    I have to disagree. We occupy this vessel of cells you describe, but the essence of who we are goes far beyond that. I could write a massive essay on this, but I won't unless I'm asked to - I dislike throwing my opinions in weighty ways as it can cause arguments.


    As for philosophy, hehe, it is a mind boggling subject. I did it at A Level, and we covered some pretty deep stuff, to say the least :D
     
  18. Daie d'Malkin

    Daie d'Malkin Shoulda gone to Specsavers

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    Sir F has the idea here. I guess the Plato in Philosophy A level helps, eh?

    My body is a collection of cells. My body is nothing else. My body is not me, it is the shell in which I live. I am not a bundle of cells, I am something greater than that. My mind simply inhabits my brain, my brain is not my mind.

    I personally believe that even though people see the body as the person, there is something beyond that which defines WHO the person is. It pleases me to call it a soul. Soul, spirit, ghost, call it what you like, but it is more than cells. It goes beyond physical presence.

    My 2 cents there. Now, back to the Plato essay.
     
  19. Iku-Turso Gems: 26/31
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    And this is what modern science also tells us. Especially ecology in the field of biology. We are connected to everything.

    The question of what is the 'me' in the congregation of cells is in my account meaningless. Of course I'm made up of parts that don't have the exact amazing abilities as the whole has. Who cares if I don't 'really' exist at all!

    What it seems (to me?) is that there is an 'I' that does exist, so why should I care what the world is really like if it works. Might as well make the best of it and enjoy as we go along. Every moment is precious and every speck of dirt has its place. Who cares if the world is an illusion if we will never know what's behind this illusion?
     
  20. Daie d'Malkin

    Daie d'Malkin Shoulda gone to Specsavers

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    That's called eikasia. Low level understanding, and taking things at face value. Plato says you're in a cave, and the meaning of life is to break out and disocver the real world.

    Think of it as a 'Matrix' kind of thing, as the film was based on Plato amongst over things.
     
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