Rafa\’s Corner of Nonsense, Part Deux

… where Rafa\’s thoughts see the light of day…

What makes you… you?

As almost all good philosophical arguments, this one was borne out of watching TV, “Battlestar Galactica” to be precise.

For those of you who are not watching this truly awesome show (you know who you are… and shame on you!), let me recap the basics: humans created the Cylons, a race of robots meant to serve mankind. They (of course), rebelled, and turned against humanity. Here’s the twist: the Cylons created human-looking Cylons that are indistinguishable from flesh-and-blood humans: they look, feel and sound human, have the same biological components and behavior as humans, seem to experiment human emotions, and some of them truly believe themselves to be human.

My first question is: why would they not be considered human, then? If they experiment human emotions (whether these are part of some “software” they are programmed to run, or the result of some electrical activity in neurons), doesn’t that make them human? If they truly believe they are having these feelings, and act accordingly, how are they any different from flesh-and-blood humans?

Another plot point of the show is that there are multiple copies of the same human-looking Cylon: some of them believe themselves to be the “real one.” So, the second question that arises from this is: what makes us who we are? Is it our memories? Is it our behavior? Is it our reactions to stimuli?

For instance, let’s say you have a friend who is 25 years old; if you could travel back in time and meet him when he was 8, and discarding any physical resemblance, how could you “tell” it’s the same person? Your friend at 8 years of age has different memories, different behavior, different reactions to stimuli than your 25-year-old friend. Is there any set of tests, quantitative or even qualitative, that you could administer to his 8-year-old self, that would yield the same result if you administered it to his 25-year-old self?

Is the 8-year-old version of your friend, then, a different person? If so, when are we ever “the same person,” if we are constantly gaining new memories, and being shaped by our experiences? Are we just a continuum of ever-changing selves that travel in time, shedding our previous incarnations at every infinitesimal moment, forever destined to being ourselves for only an instant?

Ok, I think I just wore out my keyboard’s question mark: now it’s time to hear your thoughts on this matter (knowing full well, of course, that once you reply you’ll be a different person than when you started writing). 😀

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August 24, 2005 - Posted by | Thinker

10 Comments »

  1. Whoa…its too early for such questions…I don’t drink before 5pm (and you shouldn’t either!) 😉
    Personally what makes me eli, my “eli-ness” if you will, comes from my constant milk drinking. It’s in the cows!
    I might add more comments after drinking some rancid grape juice later tonight. 😀
    ~eli

    Comment by Anonymous | August 25, 2005 | Reply

  2. Good lord. It’s amazing what an episode of Battlestar Galactica can do to your head.
    Personally I didn’t notice the show until my partner started watching it religiously and I was sort of forced to see it, but after a while it grew on me.
    (Plus Xena made a cameo! that’s always a plus!)

    Comment by Kaiser Dämmerung | September 15, 2005 | Reply

  3. Anonymous/Eli: I just hope your “Eli-ness” isn’t due to mad cow disease or something… although it would explain a lot!!! Just kidding, please don’t go all “mad cow” on my ass. 😀

    Comment by Rafa | September 15, 2005 | Reply

  4. Kaiser: Hey, nice to see you around these parts. 🙂

    And yes, it’s amazing what an awesomely-written show can do to one’s head, that’s right. I hope your partner can shed on you some more of his superb taste in TV shows and that you’ll keep watching “Battlestar Galactica.” 😀

    (I can’t believe I’d forgotten that Lucy Lawless had made a cameo appearance: I had to go to IMDB just to see what episode it was!).

    Comment by Rafa | September 15, 2005 | Reply

  5. I watched a couple of episodes of “Battlestar Galactica” almost two months ago in SciFi. The episodes looks like the Revamped Modern Edition (for not to say a simple Special Edition like the Star Wars original movies retouch). I really liked this modern version although I was not hooked enough because of time constraits in being in front of the TV, especially watching SciFi. I hope they release the episodes on DVD so I could see them from the start. 🙂

    Comment by Manny | September 23, 2005 | Reply

  6. Hey Manny, welcome to my corner of nonsense! 😉

    Well, you seem to be telepathically connected with the executives over at Sci-Fi because they actually released the first season of “Battlestar Galactica” on DVD just this week! 😀

    Comment by Rafa | September 23, 2005 | Reply

  7. Tasty blog! Please check out my glasses wine blog.

    Comment by Steve Austin | October 2, 2005 | Reply

  8. Hi Steve, and welcome to my blog. Wow, I gotta say you must have a really good sense of humor if you say my blog is “tasty” after I wrote these two posts! 😀

    Comment by Rafa | October 3, 2005 | Reply

  9. Well, this is interesting. I did a blog search for negative effects of caffeine and found your site. When I get some time I’ll come back and find out where negative effects of caffeine appears and how it relates – if it even does. Take care – nice work.

    Comment by Joe Ferrante | October 3, 2005 | Reply

  10. Hi Joe, and welcome to my Corner of Nonsense! Hehe, well, I cannot say why that blog search likened my ramblings to a caffeine overdose, but I guess bad publicity is better than no publicity, right? 😉

    Enjoy the other caffeine-unrelated posts on my blog! 😀

    Comment by Rafa | October 3, 2005 | Reply


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