Souls have any identity

Personality and Consciousness - Identity Considerations in the Post-Biological Age

Personality and Consciousness - Identity Considerations in the Post-Biological Age

"We have", we explain to the engineer, "seen the scheme of an apparatus that consists of eight billion elements. This apparatus has its own energy center, locomotion systems, a hierarchy of regulators and an all-dominant universal control made up of fifteen billion elements This device can perform so many functions that a lifetime is not enough to list them all. And yet the whole scheme, which not only made it possible to build this device, but built it up itself, takes up no more than eight thousandths of a cubic millimeter. " The engineer replies that such a thing is impossible. He is wrong, because we were talking about the tiny tip of the human sperm cell, which is known to contain all of the information needed to create a specimen of the species homo sapiens is required. (Stanislaw Lem: Summa technologiae. Frankfurt am Main, 1981. S. 156/157.)

I preliminary remarks

Is man really such an apparatus, as in this formally technical description of the structure and capabilities of the human body in Stanislaw Lems Summa Technologiae ? Is it only a question of the complexity of the apparatus, a question of our hitherto limited technical possibilities, that the engineer denies the existence of such a machine, or is it man's reluctance to see himself as a functional - theoretically reproducible - apparatus? Our modern technology, the progress in the areas of cybernetics, genetics and transplant medicine, for example, blurs boundaries and calls into question our self-view. We know almost everything about how the individual parts of the body work, and we are even able to exchange them for "spare parts" taken from artificial or dead bodies. The artificial hip joint, the computer-controlled arm prosthesis, the silicone breast or the artificial heart are now among the less surprising. We even seem to have broken down the how and why of our various types of appearance.The genetic fingerprint still serves us as an unmistakable characteristic of our individuality, but with the - technically relatively simple, yet ethically highly explosive - method of cloning our genetic material could soon be copied exactly . On the other hand, computers are being developed that seek to imitate human perception, the human ability to learn and remember. An independently learning, actively perceiving computer - is it only a matter of time before such a machine is equal to or even superior to us in our mental abilities? With these developments, however, questions arise: How do we get the certainty that we have an immortal soul, a unique personality, an identity, while we would deny such a thing to our intelligent machines almost without hesitation. What makes us who we are or who we think we are? Where does our personality sit between the "eight trillion elements"?

On the one hand, we seem to no longer have a proper relationship to our corporeality, since we let medicine intervene without hesitation in order to have minor "repairs" or "restoration measures" carried out, the body becomes an anonymous, interchangeable thing. On the other hand, it is precisely at this time that emphasis is placed on individualism. The own, unmistakable personality is marked with eccentricity, sought in seminars for self-discovery, presented publicly in talk shows.

In our modern consumer society, the body is treated as a commodity, sometimes changed if it is not satisfied, and many people even perceive it as a burden (according to statistics from a women's magazine, for example, approx. 68% of all women are dissatisfied with their own bodies): Age wrinkles are smoothed out, fat sucked off, the hair should take on its natural tone again without dyeing with newly developed chemical agents. Even the gender of a person is no longer left to fate; this can also be changed with numerous operations and hormones. The size and shape of the woman's breast are artificially adapted to contemporary tastes. Stars like Cher and Michael Jackson show how you can have your appearance completely artificially changed. Pamela Anderson, for example, certainly does not ask herself whether she is really still herself if she has silicone implanted. How many parts of the human body and which, however, can one exchange without losing one's identity? When does this body become a foreign body, or does it become one at all?

Bio- and transplant medicine lead to the fact that the human body no longer resembles the ship of Theseus only in a thought experiment, in which the planks are gradually renewed and the question arises as to which plank it is no longer the ship of Theseus. A bulwark in the history of human self-descriptions is becoming fragile: the person. Does our identity contract in our brain, which is considered non-transplantable, even if the transfer of brain matter is already medically possible? The famous claims to be almost four hundred years old glande des Descartes their position. Is this place of escape safe? If identity is nothing more than the cipher of the genome, what does individuality mean? Just think of the clone, this creepy gene shadow, isn't it smashing this last bastion? How will we have to talk about ourselves so that we don't constantly deceive ourselves about our existence? We have long spoken of the post-biological age and mean that the so-called naturalness has come to an end, that the manipulation by man continues indefinitely, that he does indeed take creation into his hands. (Meyer Drawe, Käte: People in the mirror of their machines. Pp. 15-16).

The irrefutable feasts of our self-view and self-definition are shaken in view of the diverse technical possibilities of our modern society. "How will we have to talk about ourselves," asks Käte Meyer-Drawe, "so that we don't constantly deceive ourselves about our existence?" This question is expressed, among other things, in the ethical debates of our time, in literature (especially in the science fiction genre), in cinema films and TV series, and is therefore an everyday issue. In view of our intelligent machines, we, who, as the heir to the Enlightenment, have fixed the uniqueness and superiority of our human personality in comparison to the animal, so far to our mental abilities, our rationality, language and the possibility of self-reflection, feel as spirit beings in our self-view threatened. In comparison with the intelligent machines, we again emphasize our corporeality, which distinguishes us from the machines. Skills such as creativity and emotions are used as criteria for differentiation in order to distinguish us from machines. It seems to us a need to want to be different, in contrast to past times, in which one could see God as a watchmaker and humans as his precisely designed watches, humans shy away from comparison with the purely functional machine. We want to be more than a sum of individual parts of different functions, we don't want to understand our emotions as mere bio-chemical hormonal reactions, because our ability to love, to love one's neighbor and to considerate in traditional thinking makes us individual, ethically higher beings. But how do we want to fix our personality in view of what is technically possible and what may be technically possible in the future? "Where am I?" asks Daniel Clement Dennett in a thought experiment in Brainstorms.1 "I = x?" is the question from Käte Meyer-Drawe in People in the mirror of their machines 2 and the main character in the story of the same name by Stanislaw Lem is asked: "Do you exist, Mister Johns?".3

To try to answer this delicate question about the human personality even in the beginning, provided that it can be answered for our thinking at all, would mean an intensive, long-term preoccupation with the topic, the various theories and approaches. Of course, we cannot do this within the framework of this work. We have therefore set ourselves the goal of picking up and presenting various impulses for thought, thought experiments and perspectives on the subject in our time, and to consider them against the background of the various theoretical approaches to the development of personality, the self and the self-concept. We use examples from the everyday discussion in the media, but also above all from science fiction literature and films, as fiction and the possibility of exaggerating and exaggerating what is actually technically possible here raise the discussion to another level. The topic is approached more unrestrained from the distance of fiction, because we do not like to see - so it appeared - our self-view and our self-understanding directly touched and questioned. In this work we also ask ourselves whether we want or have to "cheat ourselves about our own existence", so to speak. Does the illusion of the uniqueness of personality, of our autonomy, perhaps, belong to the necessities of human existence?

II Excursus: The body-soul problem

4 Making statements about the soul is outside the empirical methods of psychology, although the name of this science is derived from the term soul. Rather, they fall into the field of theology and philosophy. Nevertheless, psychology often makes use of the models of thought that philosophy and theology provide for it.

The development of the concept of soul is often based on the observation of the motionless body of a deceased person or that of a sleeper who can "experience a colorful series of events in a dream or in ecstatic states of emergency"5 returned. In order to be able to explain these observations conceptually, a difference was thought between the motionless body and the mobile soul. This view of the psychophysical problem is already on a Greek amphora from around 500 BC. Pictured BC. Sleep and death carry a fallen man from the battlefield, while the depicted soul floats away, that Eidolon.

Figure not included in this excerpt

In many languages, the concept of the soul expresses the thought of a breath (breathing) or a tangible movement. (e.g. in Sanskrit atman, in Hebrew nephesh, or the words Psyche, Pneuma, anima and spiritus).

After death the body disintegrates, so the conclusion was drawn that the soul receives the shape or creates shape from amorphous matter (Entelechy). In Aristotelian thinking, the body-soul relationship was expressed in the pair of opposites of form and matter, which continues to have an effect in the teachings of scholastic philosophy to this day. According to the doctrine of hylomorphism, every organism is a whole consisting of matter and form, a "complete substance", whereby soul and body are considered as incomplete substances. Here soul and body are viewed as a unit, and observations on living beings concern the totality of both principles.

A second tradition of thinking sees the body as the prison of the soul from which the soul strives for liberation. The true and free life of the soul is therefore independent of the human body. Plato expressed this in the play on words "Soma = Sema" (tomb). The corporeal is thus increasingly viewed as something lower. According to the Platonic and Neoplatonic view, the body is not only formless matter, but rather it leads a "basically demonic life of its own"6as the apostle Paul expresses it when he speaks of "flesh" and "carnal men".

The Christian tradition contains both approaches, so it is difficult to read out what is meant by "body", whether dead, formless matter or the already formed and self-moving being (flesh). From one attitude grows above all the tendency of Christianity to be hostile towards the needs of the body and the elevation of the spirit to a true, free form of existence which must be overcome by being trapped in the body. In the Middle Ages, for example, Christian mystics tried to suppress the needs of their bodies through physical renunciation, self-chastisement and even self-mutilation, in order to enable a liberation of the spirit. Such practices are also known from other religions, think for example of the ascetics and fakirs of the Eastern religions.

Looking at it closely, there are three different problems: 1. the metaphysical relation between inorganic matter and life; 2. the psychophysical relation between physiological processes and experiences; 3. the psychological relation between instinctual and rational behavior (ibid. P. 188).

Descartes juxtaposes the world of consciousness (res cogitans) and the world of bodies (res extensa), which functions automatically according to the laws of physics, whereby the animals are seen, for example, as automatons, as soulless beings. In humans there is an interaction between body and soul. According to this, the material basis of this interrelation is the only unpaired organ of the brain, the pineal gland (epiphysis, glans pinealis, conarium). But this organ is not really the seat of the soul, since the soul is connected as an indivisible substance with all organs of the body.7

The psychological effect consists in a change of direction of the physical processes, ie the course of the "spirits of life" (spiritus animales) flowing in the nerve tubes, but not in an increase or decrease in the "strength of the body", since this was already accepted by Descartes The soul acts on the body, but it must not disturb the physical energy balance; otherwise it would have to be understood with the categories of res extensa, which would invalidate its substantial independence (Fischer Lexikon, p. 188 ).

The doctrine of the interaction of body and soul was called into question at the beginning of the 18th century, instead it was believed in a psycho-physical parallelism. "According to this system, the bodies act as if there were - which is in truth impossible - no souls at all; the souls act as if there were no bodies; and both act as if they exert an influence on one another '(Monadology § 81) The threefold "as if" of this thesis makes it necessary to show an instance that guarantees the connection between the two self-contained causal series. " [quoted from Fischer Lexikon, p. 188).

Others make divine work (concursus dei) the cause of the coincidence of mental and physical movements (occasionalism). These theories are literally a deus ex machina. Leibniz considered the interplay of soul and body to be predefined in the act of creation, just as two clocks can be coordinated with one another (pre-established harmony). Spinoza explains the phenomenon with the fact that body and soul are not independent substances, but manifestations (modes) of one and the same infinite substance, so here the coexistence of body and soul becomes the doctrine of their identity. Schelling and Fechner also followed Spinoza's teaching in the main. The arc of a circle is often used here as an image, which appears concave on one side, but convex on the other. The concept of complementarity comes from modern physics. A light quantum can appear in the form of a corpuscle or a wave, so the living can also appear as body or soul.

The identity theory, however, makes no statements about the nature of this infinite substance, which appears in different modes. The conceptions were divided into the materialistic, according to which the soul is merely a state or a property of matter or energy (L. Büchner, J. Moleschott, C. Vogt, E. Haeckel and W. Oswald), and the spiritualistic View according to which all reality is of a spiritual kind (including Berkeley, Schopenhauer, F. Paulsen).

Modern thinking is still very much determined by Descartes' thinking, who placed the material basis for our consciousness in a part of the brain. John C. Eccles goes so far as to explain: "This dualism [the dualistic-interactionistic hypothesis with regard to the body-soul relationship, note] of the Socratic-Platonic philosophy leads on to the strong dualism in Descartes in the early days of the modern philosophy.In the light of modern brain research, the mind-body dualism must be transformed into a brain-mind dualism or a brain-psyche dualism. "8 The physical existence is equated with the brain, which as a control center determines all physical functions. Eccles opposes materialistic theories of the mind, since they could all be traced back to determinism and lead to a denial of human freedom and reason. (ibid.)

In contrast, dualistic interactionism is to be reconciled with a life that is concerned with the ceaseless search for the highest values ​​- the true, the good and the beautiful - that give life meaning and purpose, and also with the search for the freedom that moral responsibility brings with it. However, this philosophy inevitably poses great unsolved problems. [...] According to the dualistic-interactionist hypothesis, the psyche exists as an independent whole in the core of world 2, connected to the brain in world 1. So the question ultimately arises: What happens after the death of the brain? Is the psyche then also completely wiped out, or can we hope that there will still be a future, albeit a completely unimaginable one? In this context, the key question is discussed: Can it be a Giving self-knowledge after death? Every detailed memory must be lost, but if, as suggested, a more general memory is connected with the psyche or world 2, then this could be the carrier of self-identity (ibid. Pp. 275-276).

For George Herbert Mead, too, it seems unproblematic to see body and mind as two separate entities, between which there are clear boundaries that are recognizable to us. He derives his reasoning from observing how we perceive ourselves and makes the claim that the loss of one or more body parts leaves the identity of a person as such untouched:

We can distinguish very precisely between identity and body. The body can be present and very intelligently active without identity appearing in the experience. It is typical of identity that it is an object to itself, and this characteristic distinguishes it from other objects such as the body. It is true that the eye can see the foot, but it does not see the body as a whole. We can't see our back; we can touch parts of it when we are agile, but we cannot gain an experience of our whole body. There are, of course, experiences that are vague and difficult to pinpoint; but the physical experiences are organized around an identity for us. The foot and the hand are part of identity. We can see our feet as hard-to-see, strange things when we look at them through inverted opera glasses. The body parts are clearly distinguishable from the identity. We can lose parts of the body without any serious interference with identity. The mere ability to recognize different parts of the body is indistinguishable from the perception of a table. The table feels different to the hand that you feel with another hand, but it is the experience of an object with which we definitely come into contact. The body does not experience itself as a whole in the sense in which identity enters into experience.9

Eccles makes similar claims when he writes, for example: "We know that in tetraplegia [paralysis of all four limbs, note], in which the entire body is separated from the brain and thus from the spirit, there is an identity of the person A heart transplant or the transplant of another organ does not affect the person's identity, which is retained even after a commissurotomy, as described in the first lecture. "10 (Psyche of man, P. 282). The view that only the left hemisphere, which has the language center, can be the real material basis of the conscious self - as assumed here - through the ability to think abstractly made possible only by language, is entirely questionable.

Eccles considers the dualistic-interactionistic relationship of mind and body, or mind and brain, to be so clearly structurable in principle that he even shows the interaction of the two worlds (mind and brain) in a schematic drawing as follows:

Figure not included in this excerpt

Fig. 1-7. Scheme of the flow of information in the brain-mind interaction. The three

Components of world 2, external sense, internal sense and the I or self, are shown with their connections (arrows). Also shown are the communication paths across the interface between World 1 and World 2, that is, the communication between the Liasison brain and these components of World 2. The Liaison brain is arranged in a columnar manner, as indicated by the vertical dashed lines. One has to imagine that the area of ​​the liasion brain is enormous, with over a million open modules instead of the few indicated here. (Figure and associated text according to The human psyche, P. 37)

How difficult it is for us, contrary to Mead's claim, to actually separate body and identity, in our opinion becomes clear from the following examples:

Only recently there were reports in the press (including in the ARD news magazine: Tagesthemen) about incidents (happened in Dortmund) in which parents who, after their babies had died of cot, had consented to tissue samples being taken for research purposes , but now feared that organs might be removed from their dead children without their knowledge. Such cases had previously become known from Great Britain. In the Dortmund cases, illegal removal of organs could be ruled out. The parents here were particularly indignant about the idea of ​​burying a completely empty body, and especially the fear of having their heart and brain removed aroused outrage. On the one hand, this is a sign that these two organs are often seen as the seat of our identity and personality, but on the other hand, it is also an indication that we want to bury the lifeless body of a deceased untouched and with dignity, since the dead body does not seen as a mere thing completely independent of human identity.

Another example from the recent past (1992), which is often mentioned in the course of modern ethics debates, is that of an 18-year-old woman from Erlangen, whose dead body was to be artificially kept alive because the fetus in the womb was still alive. So the child should be carried in the dead - artificially kept alive - body of the mother. This case aroused indignation and criticism on various levels. In addition to the controversial question of the priorities (the unborn child's right to life versus the right to personality / dignity of the deceased), the protest was directed against the misogynist reduction of the female body to an incubator, but also generally against the abuse of the human body as a purely functional object. Should the woman's dead body be viewed merely as matter that could be used to enable the unborn to live, or should the deceased's personal rights be preserved? Although the possibilities of medical technology suggest that the dead body should be viewed as a store of spare parts and a mere thing, a large proportion of people seem to find it difficult to view the body of a loved one in such a rational way as mere dead matter. In the Erlangen case, the unborn baby did not survive.11

Many people reacted just as disturbed to the exhibition of Gunther von Hagen's full-body plastinates. Many people were fascinated by the possibility of looking into the human body and the possibility of removing the body from transience. Others were repulsed by the shameless display of dead people, as it violated the dignity of the individual. The fascination may partly be explained by our striving for self-knowledge and our curiosity. Ultimately, the parts of our body that are exposed during the plastinates usually elude our perception. They enable the view that "transparent human beings" already allowed. Some of the people who have already given their consent to the use of their bodies after death for the production of such plastinates hope to bring themselves closer to immortality in this way. A sign that the decay of our body after death scares us because we are not so sure of the existence of an infinite self that is independent of the body. It is disturbing to us that we only see dead flesh as our likeness. The question of the seat and the existence of the soul becomes more pressing in view of these plastinated bodies in the viewer.

This question plays a role in many of the discussions about legal regulations. The possibilities of in vitro fertilization raise the question of what to do with the embryos that have not been inserted into the womb of the mother or a surrogate mother. Do they already count as life, even as a person who should be protected by the law, or are they a waste product and scrap? The possibility of human cloning also raises questions about ethically sound legal regulations.

III A matter of negotiation personality

In this chapter we would like to introduce two fictional stories in which the question of personality is dealt with in the courtroom. On the one hand, the story by the Polish science fiction author Stanislaw Lem Are you real Mister Johns?, in which the possibilities of modern transplant medicine are taken to extremes and the court has to ask the question of how many parts of a human body can be exchanged until a person becomes quasi a non-person and thus - falling out of the legal framework - the Obligation to pay for the prostheses purchased from a company no longer has to be met. (See also Christel Schachtner on this Ghost machine 12 and Käte Meyer-Drawe Illusions of autonomy 13)

On the other hand, we would like to see an episode of the science fiction TV series Star Trek - The Next Generation enter. Here the artificial life form Data, an android who is a member of the crew of the spaceship Enterprise, is on trial because he does not want to comply with the request of a Starfleet officer to have himself dismantled for research purposes. It is now being negotiated whether he is a person or a machine, i.e. a mere object, and whether he therefore has the right to refuse, or whether he is perhaps to be regarded as the property of Starfleet. The fictitious court hearing very clearly expresses our division in dealing with the question of our personality, our independence and autonomy. At the fictional level, however, we can mentally act as advocates for both sides. Most of the time we feel closer to the defense side, as it is about our own personality and our self-image. The content of the two stories is briefly outlined below.

III.1 The Measure of a Man

14 Commander Data is an android and a member of the crew of the Starship Enterprise. When a supervisor orders that he should have himself dismantled for the purposes of android research, assuring him that all his data will be saved and - if a reassembly of his own body fails - reactivated on a later model, he refuses. He justifies his refusal by stating that he is convinced that every experience within personal experience is unique15.

His refusal causes the superior officer to have Data's legal status, i.e. if he is a person with rights or an object and thus property of Starfleet, to be tried in court. Its properties as a machine, created by human hands and operable or manipulated by humans, is demonstrated by the plaintiff by removing one of his arms and switching off his energy supply. The plaintiff argues: "[...] the puppet is broken. The threads are cut. "The other side tries to look at the subject of the negotiation from a different perspective by stating that people are also machines, just of a different" type ". The criteria for the definition of an organism as a "sentient being" are intelligence, consciousness and self-consciousness. In this context, intelligence is understood as the ability to learn, understand and deal with new situations. Self-consciousness is understood as the consciousness of one's own ego and as the consciousness of one's own existence and one's own actions, whereby the concept of consciousness itself is not defined or explained in more detail here. The plaintiff cannot deny these criteria as existing in the case of Data and must admit that the consciousness status of the android Data cannot really be negotiated objectively and therefore no claim to ownership of Starfleet can be asserted. The bottom line of the story here is that we are just as unclear about the status of our own consciousness and our own personality as we are here about the status of the android data. The question of the autonomy of man himself remains an insoluble riddle here and therefore, for lack of evidence, Data has to be granted his personal rights just as much as the human crew members, whose status as a personality is presumably just as little subject to an objective examination by a court, insofar as such would be possible at all in a human court, could withstand.

III.2 Are you real, Mister Johns?

16 Similarly, in Stanislaw Lem's story, the trial ends with an adjournment; the matter to be negotiated is not really clarified. The legal status of the main character, Harry Johns, is also being negotiated here, and the question of whether he is a person at all is to be clarified.

As soon as the defendant gave his personal details, the lawyer threw in that he was lying because he was "by no means born". His birth certificate and the presence of his brother in the courtroom also do not constitute evidence: "This is not your certificate and this individual is not your brother." Mr Johns refers to his racing career and the prizes he has won. Johns waived legal assistance because his cause was "as louder as crystal". The case is presented. After his various racing accidents, the defendant obtained numerous artificial body parts from the Cybernetics Company (prosthetic arms and legs, artificial kidneys, artificial hearts and other replacement organs, a chest and neck, and later also a "Geniox electronic brain" as a replacement for a cerebral hemisphere) and he is not willing to pay for these body parts. When the defendant's debts grew to $ 29,863, the company tried to sue for the return of all prostheses. However, this action was rejected by the state court, as a return of the required prostheses "would have deprived him of his further existence". "At that time," said the lawyer, "there was only one half of the brain left of the former Mister Johns." This was also later replaced by the company. When the lawyer demands that Johns be admonished ("[...] the defendant maliciously tries to make it difficult for me to speak by drowning me out with all sorts of hissing, twittering and creaking."), Johns replies that he is not responsible for it the artificial brain is responsible for making these noises, so it is the responsibility of the Cybernetics Company. The attorney for the Cybernetics Company further argues that the "unauthorized disgusting prosthetic structure [...] in the courtroom that illegally pretends to be Harry Johns" is the property of the Cybernetics Company. The remains of the physical person Harry John are "scattered on different highways all over America", so no person would be harmed and the company would only take their property. The argument comes to a head and Johns states: "Then everything is very simple: either I am a machine, then this negotiation must not take place at all, since a machine must not be a party in a court case, or I am not a machine, but a person, and what rights does any company claim to me? " When the brother is about to be questioned as a witness, the prosecution objects. It turns out that the brother was the victim of a plane crash and the Cybernetics Company "made a new brother of the defendant on behalf of the widow".Johns is outraged: "So what? Why can't the brother testify? My sister-in-law paid the purchase price in cash?" The narration ends with the words of the judge: "Please be quiet! In view of the need for the court to review additional circumstances - the hearing is adjourned."

III.3. The brain as a refuge for personality?

These two stories clearly show the predicament that these discussions about our "person" put us in. There are arguments for and against, but they are very confusing and extremely difficult - if not impossible - to prove or disprove. Lem's exaggerated satirical story in particular makes it clear how difficult an argumentation is here, and how the lawyer and Johns get entangled here again and again in contradictions and paradoxes.

The sympathy leadership in these two stories is interesting. In the case of Commander Data, the viewer, who knows him as a series character and accepts him within these limits not only as a machine but as a person of the action, is inclined to favor the argument for his personal rights. It is more difficult in the case of Harry John in Lem's tale. After mentioning the artificial brain at the latest, the reader has the unmistakable feeling that this is no longer a person. For this, Johns himself provides a strong argument in that he does not consider himself responsible for his actions (interrupting the lawyer with noises). But it is in the irony of this story that it is extremely difficult for the reader, as well as for the judge and the lawyer, to refute the defendant's clever arguments and to pass a judgment. With the loss of which part of the body is Harry John's person wiped out? And does she become a new person "Harry Johns 2", who should also have rights, or is it an object, a mere "prosthesis structure"? However, according to the argumentation of the Defense of Datas, this "prosthetic structure" is apparently - in whatever form - capable of a consciousness and a self-consciousness.

If one really tries to mentally play through both cases, it becomes clear how little we can say about consciousness. Let us see the brain as the "sole material basis of our personality" and withdraw to the point of view that "the question of the sameness of the person [...] is unproblematic", "because brain transplants are surgically impossible" (Meyer- Drawe Illusions of autonomy, P. 29), things will be easy. The story of Lem can be viewed as a purely fictional thought experiment that raises a question that we will never ask ourselves in the context of what is technically possible today and what is possible in the future. The figure of Commander Data and the question that arises here about his state of consciousness and personal rights could also be rejected as purely speculative, since we have not yet been able to build an android like Data and it will probably not be possible in the future either. Dennett also points out this fact in similar thought experiments:

[...] but philosophers have assumed for the sake of the argument that however technically difficult the task might be, it is "possible in principle". One should be empty of these possibilities in principle. It is also possible in principle to build a stainless steel ladder to the moon, and to write out, in alphabetical order, all intelligible English conversation consisting of less than a thousand words. But neither of these are remotely possible in fact and sometimes an impossibility in fact is theoretically more interesting than a possibility in principle, as we shall see (Dennett, Consciousness Explained, P. 4).

But in the light of contemporary technological developments, how certain can one be that a brain transplant is really such a thing impossibility in fact acts? Is the idea just as absurd as building a ladder to the moon out of stainless steel? It should be noted that it is already technically possible to transplant brain tissue.17

And how certain can one be that the brain is the only material basis of our personality? The view of Meads and Eccles, presented in Chapter II, that the loss or replacement of individual parts of the body does not change anything in the identity of a person, cannot simply not apply.

One can doubt that the person of the human being remains the same after an organ transplant. This does not mean that the donor's soul encroaches. Rather, the idea is that organs are not inserted into a body like a battery in a car. A transplant is also a physical phenomenon that affects being-to-the-world as a whole and not just a temporary, treatable psychological insecurity. The knowledge that it is, for example, someone else's heart that sustains one's own life does not remain without consequences for one's own life experience. The kidney transplant, which makes the ruthless timing of dialysis superfluous, changes the personal existence. Blindness and crippling are not defects that left an obscure interior intact. Even the dead body is not just a body for us, an anonymous thing. This becomes clear when one is concerned about the crash tests carried out on corpses since the late 1960s. This branch of accident research hit the headlines when it became known that children's corpses were being included in the experiments. Without immediately using the magic word "ethics", one can visualize that the deceased other with his body full of signs represents a shared history that makes it impossible for the relatives to see him as a mere physical thing (Meyer-Drawe. People in the mirror of their machines, P. 81).

This is also supported by the indignation about the aforementioned cases of organ removal from infants who had died of sudden infant death, or the heated debate about the dead mother, whose body should be artificially kept alive as an organic incubator for the still living unborn child. The strange mixture of fascination and disgust at the exhibition of Gunther von Hagen's "Plastinates" could not be explained either. We do not stand in such a rational distance from our body and its finiteness, nor can we easily separate it from our mind. If we were really so sure that with the death of the brain our personality would really be completely wiped out, it should not be difficult to find a dead body as a mere thing, a useful object for the most varied of purposes, as a spare parts store, research object, as natural incubator or as a demonstration and art object. This is supported by the millennia-old need to bury or cremate our dead, which Eccles even lists as one of the criteria for self-knowledge:

It is generally accepted that funeral customs provide us with by far the best criteria for self-knowledge. Let us first remember that no animal in the wild shows any interest in its dead. Hence it does not even make primitive attempts to get rid of the dead body; it is simply ignored. [... Explanations about burial customs among the Neanderthals, note] From this it can be concluded without a doubt that the Neanderthals possessed self-knowledge in the way we experience it and the feeling that other members of his community were beings like him.18

One can therefore be critical of the generally widespread view of reducing the human to the capabilities of the brain, since a person is always a physical being that constitutes his experience of the self and the environment from physical experiences as well as from Perception and cognition.

Only a very reduced look can equate a person's personality with his brain. This view ratifies a rationalist tradition and whitewashes our perplexity with regard to what person means (ibid., Meyer-Drawe, p, 81).

IV Identity - a juggler's trick?

Suppose evil scientists removed your brain from your body while you slept, and set it up in a life support system in a vat. Suppose they then set out to trick you into believing that you were not just a brain in a vat, but still up and about, engaging in a normally embodied round of activities in the real world. This old saw, the brain in the vat, is a favorite thought experiment in the toolkit of many philosophers. It is a modern-day version of Descartes' (1641) evil demon, an imagined illusionist bent on tricking Descartes about absolutely everything, including his own existence. (Daniel C. Dennett: Consciousness Explained, P. 3)

This chapter is about the illusion of identity, we are looking at two mind games, first the chapter Where am I? from Daniel C. Dennetts Brainstorms, which deals with the possibilities of spatial separation of brain and body and the questions and thought problems that arise with it. Another very appropriate example of such a vision of the future is the movie matrix (1999), which raises some very interesting questions about identity and the "necessity of illusion" (see Chapter V).

IV.1.Where on the I?

Dennett poses in his book Brainstorms propose an interesting thought experiment. He talks about how he participated in a top-secret project by NASA and the Department of Defense. The aim was to retrieve an atomic warhead that got stuck in the tunnel while testing a system that would position nuclear warheads through tunnels in the interior of the earth directly under Russia. Due to the proximity to the earth's core, nuclear radiation developed in the warhead of such a kind that it did not damage any other body parts, only the brain.

He was approached because, as a neuroscientist, he has special qualifications for this task. His brain is removed in an operation and kept alive in a tank of liquid. Radio transmitters are attached to the stump of the severed nerve tract, as well as to his brain, thus enabling communication between the brain and the body. When he wakes up from the anesthetic and is soon led to the tank his brain is in, he begins to wonder where he is. Outside the tank or in the tank. (I thought to myself: "Well, here I am, sitting on a folding chair, staring through a piece of plate glass at my own brain ... But wait," I said to myself, "shouldn't I have thought, `Here I am, suspended in a bubbling fluid, being stared at by my own eyes?")19 He tries to put himself in the tank, but fails. He wonders whether it is merely the power of habit that leads him to believe that he is in his body, or whether it is not imperative that a person be where the brain as the physical seat of his personality is . He tries to name the body and the brain differently. He calls the brain "Yorick" and the body "Hamlet". He himself is Dennett:

Yorick's my brain, Hamlet's my body, and I am Dennett. Now, where am I? And when I think ,, where am I? "Where's that thought tokened? Is it tokened in my brain, lounging about in the vat, or right here between my ears where it seems to be tokened? Or nowhere? Its temporal coordinates give me no trouble; must it not have spatial coordinates as well? I began making a list of alternatives.

(1) Where Hamlet goes, there goes Dennett. The principle was easily refuted by appeal to the familiar brain transplant thought experiments so enjoyed by philosophers. If Tom and Dick switch brains, Tom is the fellow with Dick's former body - just ask him; he'll claim to be Tom, and tell you the most intimate details of Toms's autobiography. It was clear enough, then, that my current body and I could part company, but not likely that I could be separated from my brain. The rule of thumb that emerged so plainly from the thought experiments was that in a brain-transplant operation, one wanted to be the donor, not the recipient. Better to call such an operation a body-transplant, in fact. So perhaps the truth was
(2) Where Yorick goes, there goes Dennett. This was not at all appealing, however. How could I be in the vat and not up and about to go anywhere, when I was obviously outside the vat looking in and beginning to make guilty plans to return to my room for a substantial lunch? This begged the question I relized, but it still seemed to be getting at something important. Casting about for some support for my intuition, I hit upon a legalistic argument that might have appealed to Locke.20

He raises the question of what would happen if he flew to California, robbed a bank and was arrested. In which state should he be tried: California, where the robbery took place, or Texas, where the "head" of the company was to be found? And would he be a California offender with an extra-state brain or a Texas offender, who controls a distant accomplice in California? And what if he were actually convicted, California locked "Hamlet" up while "Yorick" remained free in Texas, or Texas locked up Yorick while Hamlet was free to Rio Dennett likes this possibility because he believes that if only the tank with his brain were taken to a prison it would have no effect on himself, the only way to lock him up was by holding his body somewhere.

So he develops a third possibility: Dennett is wherever he thinks he is. It depends on the point of view (point of view) from where the person is. He gives two examples of this. Firstly, an illusory change in this point of view, as experienced by visitors to a Kino 2000 (effect cinema, where you have the feeling of being in the middle of the action, e.g. a rollercoaster ride) and a less illusory shift in the point of view, as experienced by workers who are with Bypass dangerous substances by controlling robotic arms from a safe distance. This shift is less illusory because the workers actually "feel" and "experience" the nature of the objects with which they work.

They know perfectly well where they are and are not fooled into false beliefs by the experience, yet it is as if they were inside the isolation chamber they are peering into. With mental effort, they can manage to shift their point of view back an forth, rather like making a transparent Neckar cube or an Escher drawing change orientation before one's eyes. It does seem extravagant to suppose that in performing this bit of mental gymnastics, they are transporting themselves back and forth. (ibid. p. 315).

Dennett embarks on a mission to recover the underground warhead. The connection to his body is broken, gradually all radio transmitters fail, he is deaf, dumb and blind. Suddenly he realizes that he is without a body (disembodied) in Houston, all contact with his body has been broken off, he thinks he has discovered that all materialistic body-soul theories are refutable:

It occurred to me then, with one of those rushes of revelation of which we should be suspicious, that I had stumbled upon an impressive demonstration of the immateriality of the soul based upon physicalist principles and premises. For as the last radio signal between Tulsa and Houston died away, had I not changed location from Tulsa to Houston at the speed of light? And had I not accomplished this without any increase in mass? What moved from A to B at such speed was surely myself, or at any rate my soul or mind - the massless center of my being and home of my consciousness. My point of view had lagged somewhat behind, but I had already noted the indirect bearing of point of view on personal location. (ibid. pp. 317/318).

A short time later, Dennett's brain is put to sleep, from which he wakes up again after about a year. As he finds out, he is in a different body. His "former" body could not be recovered from the radioactively contaminated tunnel. When he visits Yorick, he tries to turn the output transmitter lever to OFF and to his astonishment nothing happens. (Before that he was slumped when he He is informed that a computer duplicate of his brain has been made, called Hubert, whose program was running in sync with Yorick's output. All the information Yorick sent to Hamlet was with the simultaneous output of Hubert, the Computers compared. The two systems ran synchronously for days and weeks. Now the scientists had left control of the body (no longer Hamlet, but Fortinbras) entirely to Hubert for the first time. Dennett can now switch between the output of Hubert and Yorick using a switch switch.It is now his fear that a second body could be connected to one of the two "brains" and thus a second Dennett would be brought into being:

The truly unsettling aspect of this new development was the prospect, which was not long in dawning on me, of someone detaching the spare - Hubert or Yorick, as the case might be - from Fortinbras and hitching it to yet another body - some Johnny- come-lately Rosencrantz or Guildenstern. Then (if not before) there would be two people, that much was clear. One would be me, and the other would be a sort of super-twin brother. If there were two bodies, one under the control of Hubert and the other being controlled by Yorick, then which would the world recognize as the true Dennett? [...] I didn't want to be my own rival for the affections of my wife, nor did I like the prospect of the two Dennett sharing my modest professor's salary. Still more vertiginous and distasteful, though, was the idea of ​​knowing that much about another person, while he had the very same goods on me. How could we ever face each other? (ibid. pp. 320/321).

In order to avoid such dangers, he is given control of the two "brains" himself, he receives the only switch on a wristwatch with which he can switch back and forth between the two. The story ends with the two being in sync running "brains" Hubert and Yorick move away from each other and no longer deliver identical output, in the middle of his story Dennett switches between the two brains. The now switched on brain has a consciousness that differs from that of the one previously controlling the body. So the thought experiment ends with the words: “Ladies and gentlemen, this talk we have just heard is not exactly the talk I. would have given, but I assure you that everything he said was perfectly true. And now if you'll excuse me, I think I'd - we'd - better sit down. "

Dennett's fictional considerations require no further explanation, as they play through the entire spectrum of the usual considerations relating to the brain transplant thought game. The problems that such a possibility would bring with it for our usual concepts of person, identity, uniqueness of the person, the concept of "here", etc. All of Dennett's conclusions about this are of course purely speculative and are based on assumptions However, it becomes very clear here that the current theories are not without contradictions, that neither the assumption that the person is where the body is, nor the assumption that the person is where the brain is, nor the that it depends solely on the respective point of view where the person is located to withstand the thought experiment without gaps.


The 1999 movie Matrix tells the story of computer expert Thomas Anderson (he is known as a hacker by his screen name Neo), who worked for a software company in 1999 - or at least believed he worked for a software company. A man named Morpheus and a woman named Trinity made contact under mysterious circumstances via his computer and a mobile phone sent to him. They say that Neo is in danger and is being persecuted and that they know that he is looking for Morpheus. In fact, Neo has already heard something from Morpheus and would like to know what he and "the Matrix" is all about. Finally, Neo is brought to Morpheus. Neo is supposed to find out what the "Matrix" is all about . "It [the matrix] is an illusory world that you are led to believe in order to distract you from the truth," she describes Morpheus. When asked what truth the Matrix should divert from, Morpheus replies: “That you are a slave, Neo! Like everyone else, you were born into slavery and live in a prison that you cannot touch or smell, a prison for your mind. "Morpheus continues that he cannot explain what exactly the matrix is, everyone has to see it for themselves. He gives Neo the choice between two capsules, a red and a blue one. If he opted for the blue one, he would forget everything and wake up at home in his bed again, but if he took the red one he would learn the truth But there is no turning back on this decision. Neo takes the red capsule. Morpheus explains to him that it is part of a trace program that is supposed to locate his "carrier signal". At first Neo does not understand what is meant by danit. Morpheus tries to prepare it: "Have you ever had a dream that seemed completely real to you? What if you wouldn't wake up from this dream? How would you know what dream is and what is reality?" Neo's carrier signal is located and it can be "decoupled". Neo now learns what that means. He suddenly wakes up in a bubble filled with a liquid, his body is covered by numerous connections. He stands up and tears the shell, All around him in a dark, cold rocky landscape hang similar bubbles, which apparently also contain people. Suddenly a machine appears in front of him, which examines him, removes the connections and "disposes of" him. It is flushed into a kind of sewage system, where it is picked up by a ship in which Morpheus, Trinity and a few other people are. Neo is greeted: "Welcome to the real world!"

The situation is gradually becoming clearer. Neo has to endure some interventions ("What are you doing with me?" - "Your muscles are atrophied, we will build them up again!"; "Why do my eyes hurt so much?" - "Because you have them have never used it. ") Morpheus now explains to him that he is on the ship Nebuchadnezzar around the year 2199. "From here we send our pirate signal and hack into the matrix." Neo is connected to a plug with the remaining connector in his neck and is suddenly in an empty, white room. Morpheus explains that it is ,, the construct "- a loading program, everything can be loaded here. When Neo doubts that he is really in a computer program, Morpheus replies: “The connections to your body are gone, you are wearing different clothes, your hairstyle is completely different. We call your current appearance the residual self-image - the mental projection of your digital self. "Morpheus now explains what exactly the matrix is." What is reality, how do you define it - reality? If you understand what you feel, what you can smell, taste or see, reality is nothing more than electrical signals interpreted by your mind. "The matrix is ​​therefore a neuro-interactive simulation that gives people a reality and a Simulating an identity that does not actually physically exist. Morpheus explains how the creation of the matrix came about and what it is used for. At the beginning of the 21st century, humanity has made enormous strides in the field of AI, artificial intelligence and always created new intelligent machines. Morpheus explains that it is no longer known exactly who started the war, the machines or the people. However, people have darkened the sky. They hoped the machines that rely on solar energy would not survive. However, the machines created a different source of energy: the human body possesses an incredible amount of bio-ele ktricity and convert up to 6300 kcal of body heat. So the Maschons began to breed humans specifically to tap into fields, the place where Neo had woken up, and to use them as a source of energy. They are fed, so Morpheus explains, intravenously with dead people dissolved in liquid. People are connected with their brains to a system that shows their brain the matrix as reality. "The matrix is ​​a computer-generated dream world to keep us under control."

The matrix is ​​protected on the one hand by the individuals connected to it, who live in it and depend on it, but also by "agents", intelligent programs that can hook into any software that is linked to the matrix system. These agents are search programs, so to speak, that seek and destroy individuals like Morpheus and Neo who endanger the matrix.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Neo is "the chosen one" who was predicted to have the ability to expose the Matrix for what it is and to set people free. As Neo, Morpheus and the hack others into the matrix, they are attacked by agents, because one of their group (Cypher) is a traitor. He has previously reached an agreement with the agents. (Cypher - In a restaurant in the "Matrix"): "Listen "I know that steak doesn't exist, I know that when I put it in my mouth, the matrix tells my brain it's juicy and delicious. After nine years I've realized one thing. Ignorance is a blessing." . " As a reward for the betrayal, Cypher would like to be reintegrated into the matrix, to know nothing more, to have enough "money" at hand. The agents are primarily interested in the access codes for the mainframe of Zion, the last city in the still free one Humans live in the interior of the earth. Morpheus has these codes. Despite the betrayal, in the end the humans manage to escape the agents and disengage themselves from the matrix. The film ends with the hope that Neo as "the chosen one" will now be the can free the rest of humanity.

Matrix shows a classic future vision of science fiction, the products of human belief in progress become superior to humans, become enemies and ironically take revenge on their creators. Something similar can already be found in Mary Woolstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein or H.G. Wells The Time Machine. In matrix believes in the possibility of creating such an artificial intelligence and sees a potential danger in it. The machines appearing here have consciousness, self-confidence and an instinct for self-preservation, which makes them similar and even superior to humans. Similar to how humans used machines as tools, they now use humans. The really new thing here is actually the idea of ​​the "matrix", the neuro-interactive simulation. People live contentedly in a virtual reality and do not notice that they are actually nothing more than batteries for their machines.

Here the question arises whether it is, in Dennett's sense, a possibility in principle or one impossibility in fact acts. Dennett claims that it is not really possible to create such a complex virtual world in which people have all the options open to them that they also have in reality, too many calculations, too much data would have to be dealt with by the computer , the attempt to create a virtual reality of this kind would probably lead to the phenomenon of the "combinatorial explosion"21 to lead. This phenomenon is known from the famous rice chessboard calculation example. Here the following reward is to be paid to a pawn: On the first square of the chessboard 1 grain of rice, on the second 2, then 4, etc. doubling the previous amount. Continuing this calculation results in an unimaginable amount of rice grains (2nd64 ). Dennett gives another example of this phenomenon:

Closer to our example is the plight of the French, aleatoric "novelists who set out to write novels in which, after reading chapter 1, the reader flips a coin and then reads chapter 2a or 2b depending on the outcome, and then reads chapter 3aa, 3ab, 3ba, or 3bb after that, and so on, flipping a coin at the end of every chapter. These novelists soon came to realize that they had better minimize the number of choice points if they wanted to avoid an explosion of fiction that would prevent anyone from carrying the whole "book" home from the bookstore. (ibid., p. 5).

It may be that it is completely impossible to create such a "matrix" because such a program would have to calculate an infinite number of possible reactions, on the other hand there is a big difference between the classification as "factually impossible" and "unimaginable" When you consider how unimaginable our current technical possibilities must have appeared in the past.

In contrast to the question of purely technical feasibility, it arises similarly to Dennetts Where am I? whether the underlying - also classic - assumption that it is sufficient to stimulate the brain accordingly to allow a certain form of identity and self-image to develop in humans. Does reality as we experience it actually consist of nothing more than "electrical signals interpreted by" our "mind"? What role do physical phenomena play in our interpretation of reality? Our body is really nothing more than the contact surface through which our brains interacts with the world? There seems to be a lot to suggest that the brain, as a control center, also represents the material basis of our personality.

To stick with one example from the film, the question arises: Would the real experience a person have when he put a piece of steak in his mouth and chewed it slowly with his tongue, the roof of his mouth, the teeth, the sense of smell? , "experienced" the eyes, while at the same time having the feeling of touching a chair with the buttocks and back, to perceive noises, conversations, music in the background, this enormous flood of simultaneously occurring sensory impressions interpreted as important or irrelevant, really not differ from the mere electrical stimulation of certain parts of the brain and the nerve tracts? To put it more clearly: Can one generate a physical experience, a concrete experience in the brain without involving any other part of the body? To give an answer to this question It does not seem possible to us today, but it seems doubtful whether human experience and consciousness really relate to a number of things electrical impulses can be reduced.

V The need for illusion

"Ignorance is a blessing!" - Cypher (Matrix)

When we ask ourselves why the Matrix, Lem's or Dennett's Where am I? If drawn visions are so frightening and unsettling, it is probably the fear of the unknown, the fear of change and imbalance. What we have always believed in, our uniqueness, our person, is being called into question. What will happen, one might ask, when we are no longer allowed to believe in our subjectivity - in our autonomy?

The dismantling of subjectivity could mean that the individual cannot or does not want to be held responsible for the consequences of his actions. Ambiguity about identity could also mean subordination to a collective, a form of existence similar to the principle of a bees or ants colony in which the individual only makes sense as part of the overriding principle. This idea is also expressed in many ways in science fiction and in numerous utopias or anti-utopias. The worlds of novels like 1984, Brave New World to be designed live from the fear of the human being of losing his identity. Also in the science fiction series Star Trek The emerging race of cyborg beings, the Borg, which consists of a collective of individual "units" subordinate to a collective consciousness, is an expression of this fear. The possibility of cloning is threatening because we do not know how identical clones are in terms of their consciousness, Do genes alone determine how a person develops, how he thinks, feels and acts, how he reacts to certain situations? Or is this fear unfounded, since even with identical genetic material, the interaction of different influences and Experience would develop an unmistakable identity? Questions that we have to ask ourselves in view of what is technically feasible. Why does the clone, the "eerie gene shadow" (see Meyer-Drawe) seem so threatening to us?

It is to be hoped that identity is made up of more than just the cipher of genes and the functioning of our brain. There is evidence that a clone could never be completely identical in this regard. In order to be completely identical with the adult "donor" of the genetic information, the clone would presumably have to go through the same development, the same experiences, since completely different neuronal connections could develop with identical genetic material. The reference to the "substantial stimulus" of reality "(see above), the uniqueness of a personally lived experience, gives cause for hope.

It seems that there is a human need to trust limitations and principles. The film matrix asks an interesting question.Cypher, who cannot stand the truth, who does not want to live in the bleak real world, says: "Basically, since I've been here I've never thought of anything else: Why didn't I, idiot, want the blue capsule?" Cope with the collapse of the principles in which he trusts?

The need to create an illusory world that man can trust and that allows him to endure the reality of existence is something that Friedrich Nietzsche, among others, has in his design of an aesthetic metaphysics22 in The birth of tragedy from the spirit of music shown.

For the principles that Nietzsche describes in his metaphysics, he borrows the names of two gods from ancient Greek mythology, the "two art deities, Apollo and Dionysus" (Birth of tragedy, P. 19).

In this sense, the gods Apollo and Dionysus are not to be understood as mythical beings, Nietzsche does not accept them as realities, their existence is "for him not ontologically founded, but psychologically motivated"23. "In order to be able to live," says Nietzsche, "the Greeks had to create these gods out of deep necessity" (Birth of Tragedy, p. 30) and thus presents them as works of art, created by human needs.

He explains these principles using the phenomena of intoxication (Dionysus) and that of dreams. This world embodies Apollo. He dominates the world of beautiful appearances and dreams and the arts through which "life is made possible and worth living" (ibid. P. 21). But Nietzsche also points out this world as one with clear boundaries. The line between appearance and reality must be accepted "in order not to appear pathological" (ibid. P. 22). Looking at this illusory world makes reality bearable, but it wants to remain an illusory world and not be accepted as reality; thus awakening is one of the characteristics of the dream. However, trust in this limitation is a source of calm. This idea is expressed very well in the picture of Schopenhauer used by Nietzsche:

And so, in an eccentric sense, what Schopenhauer says of the man caught in the veil of Maja, World as Will and Idea I, would apply to Apollo: “As on the raging sea, which, unlimited in all directions, rises and howling mountains of water lowers, a boatman sits on a boat, trusting the weak craft; so sits in the middle of a world of torment, calmly the individual person, supported and trusting in the principium individuationis. "

If this principium individuationis breaks at any point, it creates horror in humans, but also fascination ("Horror " and "blissful delight "). This "blissful rapture" arises - so Nietzsche - from the "innermost reason of man, yes of nature". This shows the principle of Dionysian, Nietzsche here with the phenomenon of Intoxication describes. "Either through the influence of the narcotic drink" or in the "mighty approach of spring that lustfully pervades all of nature" through the awakening of those "Dionysian impulses" which dissolve the "subjective" into "complete self-oblivion", becomes the measure, the limitation repealed (ibid. pp. 22/23).

The fear of losing such a principium individuationis shows itself in man's fear of losing his subjectivity, his identity, what is perhaps actually human. Menacing visions of the future, as they are drawn in the numerous examples from literature and film, indicate that we need to believe in our identity. It remains to be considered how man can preserve his subjectivity in the face of the possibilities of modern technology, how he can redefine it. (see Meyer-Drawe Illusions of autonomy, 3. Formations of subjectivity).

With this work we have tried to provide food for thought, to give reasons to think about such a future safeguarding of our identity, and to point out problems of the definition of consciousness and identity.

VI Bibliography

Beyer, Uwe. Christ and Dionysus: Their Contending Significance in the Thoughts of Hölderlin and Nietzsche. Münster, Hamburg: Lit, 1992. (Philosophy, Vol. II.).

Dennett, Daniel Clement. Brainstorms. Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology. Brighton, Sussex: Harvester, 1981.

Dennett, Daniel Clement. Consciousness Explained. London / New York / Toronto: Penguin, 1991.

Descartes, René. Meditations About the basics of philosophy. trans. and ed. v. Arthur Buchenau. Hamburg: Meiner, 1994.

Eccles, John C. Brain and soul. Findings in neurophysiology. Munich / Zurich: Piper, 1987.

Eccles, John C. The human psyche. The brain-mind problem from a neurological point of view. Munich / Zurich: Piper, 1990.

Lem, Stanislav. Night and mold. Stories. Frankfurt a.M .: suhrkamp, ​​1976.

Lem, Stanislaw. Summa technologiae. Frankfurt a.M .: suhrkamp, ​​1981.

Mead, George Herbert. Mind, identity and society from the perspective of social behaviorism. Frankfurt a.M .: suhrkamp, ​​1973.

Meyer-Drawe, Kate. Illusions of autonomy. This side of the powerlessness and omnipotence of the ego. Munich: Kirchheim, 1990.

Meyer-Drawe, Kate. People in the mirror of their machines. Transitions, Vol. 29. Munich: Fink, 1996.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The birth of tragedy from the spirit of music. Stuttgart: reclam, 1952.

Schachtner, Christel: Ghost machine. Fascination and provocation on the computer. Frankfurt a.M .: suhrkamp, ​​1993.


Star Trek - The Next Generation:

The Measure of a Man (Episode 35)

Screenplay: Melinda M. Snodgrass. Director: Robert Scheerer. First broadcast: 1989.


Written and directed by The Machowski Brothers, 1999.


1 Dennett, Daniel Clement. Brainstorms. Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology. Brighton, Sussex: Harvester, 1981. Chapter IV. 17. pp. 310 ff.

2 Meyer-Drawe, Kate. People in the mirror of their machines. Transitions, Vol. 29. Munich: Fink, 1996. Chapter 3. pp. 79-95.

3 Lem, Stanislaw. Are you real Mr Johns?. In: Night and mold. Stories. Frankfurt a.M .: suhrkamp, ​​1976.

4 Unless otherwise stated, all information in this chapter is taken from: The Fischer Lexicon: Psychology. ed. v. Prof. Dr. Peter R. Hofstätter. Frankfurt a.M .: Fischer, 1970.

5Fischer Lexicon, P. 186.

6 ibid., p. 187.

7 Descartes, René. Sixth of the meditations on the foundations of philosophy: "37. Then I noticed that the mind is not directly influenced by all parts of the body, but only by the brain, or even only by a very tiny part of it, namely by that in which the Whenever this part is now tuned in the same way, it represents the same thing to the mind, even if the other parts of the body may behave in different ways in the meantime, as countless experiences prove, which I do not need to enumerate here . " (Descartes, René. Meditations About the basics of philosophy. trans. and ed. v. Arthur Buchenau. Hamburg: Meiner, 1994. p. 74.)

8 Eccles, John C. The human psyche. The brain-mind problem from a neurological point of view. Munich / Zurich: Piper, 1990. p. 275.

9 Mead, George Herbert. Mind, identity and society from the perspective of social behaviorism. Frankfurt a.M .: suhrkamp, ​​1973.

10 According to Eccles (1982), a commissurotomy splits off a conscious mind connected to the right hemisphere of the brain. The left hemisphere (the only part of the brain that uses language and is thus capable of abstract thinking) remains with a relatively intact self-conscious mind and the person connected to it. (cf. Psyche of man, P. 31/32).

11 Just as we were working on this chapter, a new case came to light in Spain in which the baby of a brain-dead woman was born by caesarean section. The mother had previously expressed her will while she was still alive that she would like to be kept alive artificially in order to enable the infant to survive. It is not yet certain whether the baby will survive.

12 Schachtner, Christel. Ghost machine. Fascination and provocation on the computer. Frankfurt a.M .: Suhrkamp, ​​1993. pp. 197-199.

13 Meyer-Drawe, Kate. Illusions of autonomy. This side of the powerlessness and omnipotence of the ego. Munich: Kirchheim. 1990. p. 25 ff.

14 We received valuable suggestions on this from our fellow student Thomas Ruschin

15 Data speaks here of the "substantial stimulus of reality"

16 Lem, Stanislav. Night and mold. Stories. Frankfurt a.M .: suhrkamp, ​​1976.

17 Meyer-Drawe People in the mirror of their machines: "The transplantation of brain tissue from aborted fetuses for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, which has been practiced since 1987, raises the question of the seat of the soul.", P. 83.

18 Eccles, John C. Brain and soul. Findings in neurophysiology. Munich / Zurich: Piper, 1987. pp. 126-127.

19Brainstorms, P. 312.

20 ibid. p. 313.

21 Dennett, Daniel Clement: Consciousness Explained, P. 5.

22 Nietzsche sees existence justified only in its quality as an aesthetic phenomenon.

23 Beyer, Uwe. Christ and Dionysus: Their Contending Significance in the Thoughts of Hölderlin and Nietzsche. Münster, Hamburg: Lit, 1992. (Philosophy, Vol. II.). P. 222.