(urth) Babbie

John Watkins john.watkins04 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 19 11:58:56 PDT 2009

On Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 2:52 PM, David Stockhoff <dstockhoff at verizon.net>wrote:

> I have to comment that this schema easily allows for the copying of
> persona/whatever by machines in the first place. I don't believe that
> machines could copy souls. Machines are the opposite of souls and could
> never capture them, I'd think. And there would be the theological
> implications. (Again, haven't heard from the Pope on this but I imagine he'd
> be pretty ticked off.)
> Electromagnetic brainwave patterns, however, present no difficulty
> whatsoever. Scan'em in, scan'em out, put'em on a floppy. In fact, you'd have
> to work harder to convince me that any Wolfean characters actually have
> souls at all than that their psyches could not be replicated and merged.

That's basically all an Aristotelian or Thomistic soul is, though--a
pattern.  In Thomistic philosophy, humans *have *souls, but they *are *the
unity of the soul and the body.  Think of the soul as the sum total of all
of your memories up to the present + your will, and that's basically a
Thomistic soul.  In theory, this could be copied--the copy would have an
independent will and independent consciousness, but it would have, for a
infintesimal moment, the same soul that you do.

I can't say that this is Catholic orthodoxy, but it isn't heterodox either.
It's a permitted philosophical viewpoint that merely requires a few other
theological assumptions to salvage its orthodoxy, which someone like St.
Thomas happily would grant (i.e., the soul is miraculously sustained after
death for the particular judgment.)

> ------------------------------
> Message: 3
> Date: Thu, 19 Mar 2009 18:09:03 +0000
> From: Chris P <rasputin_ at hotmail.com>
> Subject: Re: (urth) Babbie
> To: <urth at lists.urth.net>
> Message-ID: <BLU120-W5D3816582B130AD6CAA5286960 at phx.gbl>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="windows-1252"
> Part of this discussion started with some reflections on identity. I
> mentioned that there is a "simple" view where each self is a "soul", thought
> of as a (perhaps eternal) substance that undergoes various changes; it is a
> single, indivisible unit. There is also a "complex" view in which we think
> of the self as comprised as various components - your memories, your traits,
> your vital interests, etc. On this view I am only partially still the same
> person I was when I was in love with my college sweetheart: one is prone to
> say things like "I was a different person then." And if I think of myself as
> (mostly) a different person now than then, there are obviously varying
> degrees along the way. This is not as marginal or purely literary way of
> talking as it seems - it's part of why we have a statute of limitations, and
> why we are inclined to not hold an elderly adult responsible for things they
> did when they were a child. We referred in that discussion, roughly, to the
> collection of little pieces that make up such an identity as a "psyche".
> Most of us waver back and forth between different ways of talking about
> personal identity without noticing it. Different situations make each seem
> much more relevant and true than the other. What makes James's (and possibly
> Wolfe's) theory a little hard to work with and keep a grip on is that it
> forces us to actually hold both views at once. That doesn't make it wrong,
> just that there are going to constantly be points of the text where you want
> to look at it either one way or the other but not both. So I have never been
> able to go much further with this theory, as good of a theory as I think it
> is.
> My gut inclination, as an aside though, has always been that there is a
> point at which Horn has definitely left the combined entity (both psyche and
> soul, whichever way you want to look at it; though if you think of it as the
> psyche you could say that there are some remnants).
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