Tuesday, March 11, 2014

are you just soft machines?


theatlantic | Aristotle’s definition of man as a rational animal has recently taken quite a beating.
Part of the attack comes from neuroscience. Pretty, multicolored fMRI maps make clear that our mental lives can be observed in the activity of our neurons, and we’ve made considerable progress in reading someone’s thoughts by looking at those maps. It’s clear, too, that damage to the brain can impair the most-intimate aspects of ourselves, such as the capacity to make moral judgments or to inhibit bad actions. To some scholars, the neural basis of mental life suggests that rational deliberation and free choice are illusions. Because our thoughts and actions are the products of our brains, and because what our brains do is determined by the physical state of the world and the laws of physics—perhaps with a dash of quantum randomness in the mix—there seems to be no room for choice. As the author and neuroscientist Sam Harris has put it, we are “biochemical puppets.”

This conception of what it is to be a person fits poorly with our sense of how we live our everyday lives. It certainly feels as though we make choices, as though we’re responsible for our actions. The idea that we’re entirely physical beings also clashes with the age-old idea that body and mind are distinct. Even young children believe themselves and others to be not just physical bodies, subject to physical laws, but also separate conscious entities, unfettered from the material world. Most religious thought has been based on this kind of dualist worldview, as showcased by John Updike in Rabbit at Rest, when Rabbit talks to his friend Charlie about Charlie’s recent surgery:
“Pig valves.” Rabbit tries to hide his revulsion. “Was it terrible? They split your chest open and ran your blood through a machine?”

“Piece of cake. You’re knocked out cold. What’s wrong with running your blood through a machine? What else you think you are, champ?”

A God-made one-of-a-kind with an immortal soul breathed in. A vehicle of grace. A battlefield of good and evil. An apprentice angel …

“You’re just a soft machine,” Charlie maintains.

13 comments:

BigDonOne said...

"The trend toward weight obsession among boys is cause for worry"
Can start when your dad takes up body building and gets his kicks out-benchpressing the local gymrats....(wink, wink)

CNu said...

You got it backwards brother. It starts when you're 14, take up wrestling, get more fit than you've ever been in your life, learn to add and drop weight like it was nothing (gotta make weight for tournaments) and then you go to flexing around the house and thinking wrestless thoughts about challenging the old silverback for supremacy in his own domicile. THAT's what puts the old man back into the Vidalia/Leavenworth penitentiary alumni association weightlifting club.....,

Vic78 said...

What's wrong with wanting toned muscles?

CNu said...

Not a thing. Toned muscles pursuant to athletic and/or martial supremacy is a fine and laudable objective indeed. Toned muscles because it's an obsessively high priority to look good in your Calvin's...., nah, teh geh...,

Vic78 said...

I was going to say if a person wanted toned muscles he should take up Muay Thai or get the Marinovich system http://www.marvmarinovichtraining.com. I'm starting to feel like I don't belong when the guys are wussing out on me. We have furry conventions, brony conventions, and now people want to be toned to show off like some damn chip and dale dancers.

CNu said...

So, I think my underlying concern is with/for the queen bee level of preoccupation with social status within the little school and community of schools pecking order. For an undisclosed violation of strict father rules on Sunday, my boy has been consigned to the tender mercies of his mother's disciplinary standards, among other things he got his iPhone confiscated. Now, I'm happy as a clam about this particular punitive measure it being the equivalent of depriving a crackhead of his pipe. Needless to say, it's straight killing the kid.


What bothers me is the level of his preoccupation with all things social and his place therein. AFAIC, social drama and editorial socialization is about the most useless activity known to womankind. Watching these smartphone equipped and massively socially networked adolescent males as caught up in that horse shyte as they can be, bothers me a lot.

Dale Asberry said...

My own current "toning" regimen is 25+ miles running a week, 60 minutes bike riding, 1.5 hours high intensity kettlebells (weight training and cardio), and 1.5 hours of various ab work.

John Kurman said...

To be honest, I try and stay in shape mostly for the fucking.

CNu said...

get it geraldo...., http://www.eonline.com/eol_images/Entire_Site/2013622/rs_634x1024-130722124241-634.geraldo.ls.72213.jpg

Vic78 said...

I figured there was trouble in paradise when I saw this: http://www.therundown.tv/videos/wtf-files/stephon-marbury-dancing-suspect/.

http://youtu.be/o2QEcadC_Rk

Folks done lost they goddamn minds. I've been concerned about the boys for a minute. A few years ago a lot of college guys were cuddle buddies. Around the same time word was high schoolers were going to parties to play games on their phones instead of talking to the ladies at the party. Seeing the rappers turn bitch like they have recently makes me lose hope.

As far as boys softening up, I blame the 80s.
http://youtu.be/OdximU6Ao00
http://youtu.be/PQ1-RH_8fro

CNu said...

ok, crystal clear why this $5.00 Ocho Cinco now plays with the Beijing Ducks. WTF exactly do you suppose this manchild calls himself doing? lol, alright, alright, whatever he calls himself doing, whoever he calls himself doing it for, at least we don't have to hollar COME GET YOUR GRANDPA!!! like we have to do for that nasty old viagra'd up piece of weasel gristle Geraldo.

BigDonOne said...

Max intimidation item... http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/11/his-muscles-are-among-the-largest-in-the-world-but-they-arent-a-result-of-weight-lifting-or-plastic-surgery/

John Kurman said...

Mystery Date!