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defining a person

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libertygrl
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Posted 03/02/09 - 2:33 PM:
Subject: defining a person
www.thecouchforum.com/attac...nts/whendoeslifebegin.html

a friend of mine posted to facebook the above excerpt from stephen pinker's "the blank slate" along with some miscellaneous photos he had collected from the web.

a number of interesting questions are raised, one of them: when does life begin? another: how do you define what constitutes a person? or what constitutes a soul?

any thoughts?

smiling facelib
Xanthos
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Posted 03/03/09 - 4:11 AM:

Life began in the primordial soup when self-assembling and self maintaining semi-permeable membranes formed; possibly in-between clay sediment particles.

A person appears to be an organism which competently uses self-referential language.

A soul seems to refer to an essential process we can identify in, but can not isolate from, living organisms; that which breathes the life in to them. The definition can differ betwen indidivuals, but from a biological perspective, the soul would be deemed to be the autopoietic process: "Maturana and Varela recognized that a unity is defined by an act of distinguishing it from a background. An autopoietic organization is, in short, a unity that performs this act itself. More formally, Maturana and Varela defines an autopoietic process as ``a machine organized (defined as a unity) as a network of processes of production (transformation and destruction) of components that produces the components which: (i) through their interactions and transformations continuously regenerate and realize the network of processes (relations) that produced them; and (ii) constitute it (the machine) as a concrete unity in the space in which they (the components) exists by specifying the topological domain of its realization as such a network'' ([pp. 78]Maturana-&-Varela-73). That is, an autopoietic machine (where machine should be understood in its broadest sense) is a process that constitutes both its own product as well as the process that maintains it. The unity does neither produce nor maintain the background, however, whereby the unity performs an act of distinguishing itself from this background." www.lucs.lu.se/robert.pallb...acts/Experience/node3.html

Not very romantic is it... *nerd*
Zum
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Posted 03/09/09 - 12:48 AM:

I think Xanthos's explication of the soul is interesting. A complex, powerful and rather free soul is presented. Its mechanistic qualities seem necessary in order to establish the possibility of systematic procedures; so, in this respect, Xanthos's soul is somewhat like the body, which operates lawfully, with systems (awesomely complex ones) functioning always for the body's maintenance and--if enough resources are given it--its improvement. But the soul, in this description(besides doing all the above),also continuously generates and regenerates the network of processes of which it is itself composed, if I understand Xanthos. So the soul seems a self-modifying dynamism, capable of adaptation, and even radical change, within the limits, maybe, of the original "network of processes." Romantic enough for me. And I agree. It seems to me that the interior principle does indeed have the capacity to expand, specialize and reinvent itself. Zum wink
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 03/09/09 - 2:24 AM:

Does the soul add to the miracle by being a nicely romantic concept or subtract from it by simplyfying the unimaginable complexity of life?
happycynic
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Posted 03/09/09 - 3:09 AM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:
Does the soul add to the miracle by being a nicely romantic concept or subtract from it by simplyfying the unimaginable complexity of life?


i think the body is a radio and the soul is the wave, but then i think radio is romantic, too. also simplification and unimaginable complexity are relative to the observer.
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 03/09/09 - 3:57 AM:

To me, the soul is a bit of a deus ex machina... a means to somehow explain the inexplicable. Like the old nature gods were - and the current gods sometimes still are.
It's making things understandable... a story to tell so as to grasp something that is really really hard to grasp.
Xanthos
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Posted 03/09/09 - 4:50 AM:

I agree with you smokinpristiformis; my description requires a boundary be drawn between a unity and the background one views it against - something that is not necessarily there. It seems akin to drawing a circle around a water droplet, or a group of water droplets, in an ocean. It has it's contextual use, but it is an imposition on the reality of those droplets' seamless connection with that ocean. Even referring to droplets in an ocean appears to be such an imposition.

Charlotte Stuart, you say "So the soul seems a self-modifying dynamism, capable of adaptation, and even radical change, within the limits, maybe, of the original "network of processes."", and I am not sure what kind of adaptation or radical change you are inferring, but from my perspective; where Life and the 'living process' are concerned, the soul present in a bacteria or a human being are one and the same; they just have different bodies which house this soul (i.e. they are Sentient Beings). In this sense I could have probably more simply just defined the soul as 'the quality associated with a living system', but maybe this would have caused confusion because I hadn't defined what I deem to be a 'living system' (an autopoietic entity as quoted before).
Monk2400
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Posted 03/10/09 - 12:05 PM:

The person is a ball of thin velcro strips, knotted up by language, rolling through society, picking up bits of fluff, dust, string, and other flotsam, whose clinging power fades with age until all its little hooks are balded and weak, and clingeth no more.
Xanthos
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Posted 03/10/09 - 7:47 PM:

Haha - I like that!
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 03/11/09 - 5:44 AM:

Impeccable, my dear Phlogi. smiling face
libertygrl
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Posted 03/11/09 - 3:08 PM:

brilliant observations all around
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 03/14/09 - 3:41 AM:

Just to be honest, though: I love stories, and I love writing stories. And sometimes I love to believe that they are true.

After all, who am I to say that it isn't true, somewhere, somehow ? wink
happycynic
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Posted 03/15/09 - 12:18 AM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:

After all, who am I to say that it isn't true, somewhere, somehow ? wink


who indeed?
hayden24
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Posted 04/05/09 - 10:32 PM:

I think that the answer to this could be both defined and undefined because the perception of another all depends on who is defining another. Many people tend to see many qualities in others while some are apt to pre-judge others and notice people's faults. The basis of my answer is that this question is answered by the individual who is questioned.
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 04/06/09 - 8:41 AM:

happycynic wrote:


who indeed?


nobody, then ? is this subject meaningless to begin with ?
libertygrl
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Posted 04/06/09 - 9:16 AM:

hi hayden, welcome smiling face
Zum
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Posted 04/13/09 - 1:51 AM:

I'd love to be able to define "soul" in such a way that the definition does not interfere with the boundaries of the "psychic system," the domain of psychology--or, rather, of the various psychologies--and, at the same time, eluded the domain of religion. Well, I'll define "soul," crudely, as "meta-psyche." That definition is arguable already, of course. It can be said that no such thing exists... It seems to me to exist, though. I understand "meta-language" to be language about language; "meta-psyche," then, can refer to a principle prior to the psyche (the subject of psychology), with the potential to view the psyche and perhaps fuss with it--fool with the cumbersome, damaged, archaic machine, the psyche; perhaps make it go better, or even alter its bent and general direction... It seems that something like this has occasionally been achieved by humans.
Zum wink
happycynic
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Posted 04/26/09 - 11:13 PM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:

nobody, then ? is this subject meaningless to begin with ?


i was merely implying that most things are true, in some context. the truth of the context then is judged by the context of all peripheral truths. dreams often relate truth through metaphors, a fantasy may not be true, but you may make it true in some sense by making it a goal.
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 04/27/09 - 1:47 AM:

happycynic wrote:


i was merely implying that most things are true, in some context. the truth of the context then is judged by the context of all peripheral truths. dreams often relate truth through metaphors, a fantasy may not be true, but you may make it true in some sense by making it a goal.



A good thought, that. smiling face
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