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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (whorl) mechAnIsm of consciousness
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2001 09:07:10 

On Tue, 20 Mar 2001, Dan'l Danehy-Oakes wrote:

> Who is to say, in a universe where [souls are (in some sense) 
> demonstrable fact/consciousness can (apparently) exist 
> independently of hardware], that the brain is the [sole/primary] 
> seat of [soul/consciousness/memory/personality]? 

There is some diversity of opinion on this, but I think Catholic theology
teaches that while the soul can have some kind of existence apart from the
body, that a person isn't fully a person without a body (and not just "a
brain")--thus the importance of the doctrine of bodily resurrection.

From there one can see Wolfe imagining (thought I doubt the church
teaches) that something of a person's "personness" resides in her body
(not just her brain).

Other philosophers (essayist Wendell Berry comes to mind) have argued 
that when considering what makes a person who he is, it is impossible to
draw a neat line between the brain and the rest of the body (the senses,
organ systems, limbs all effect who we are) or perhaps even between a
person's body and his physical and social environment.

Then too, Wolfe also may be drawing inspiration from fantasy/horror
stories such as the ones where someone receives a transplant from a
murderer and begins to have murderous impulses.  Or the magic hand that
will graft itself to the stump of a person's forarm, granting her great
power but slowly remaking her in the image of the hand's original owner.

Magic, in any sufficiently advanced society, is indistinguishable from


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