Thursday, November 17, 2005


The chapter moves on. It is a prelude to the grand finale which I will post tomorrow.

The brain still goes on existing even when alone or in sensory deprivation, which means that there must be other kinds of “me” embodiments beyond the physical and social. We have memories of ourselves and others, not discontinuous ones but ones that flow from past experience to join with the present. Things, places, and people, including ourselves, may change, but as we have seen, with our memory headers, we are skilled at experiencing the continuities and identities below surface alterations. The hippocampus and associated limbic areas in the temporal lobes seem to orchestrate continuity, organizing our memories and our sense of existing through time.

In its limbic parts, a brain knows something apart from its body and its senses; it has a feel for life, a continuous sense of embodied “me” throughout the chaos. According to the neurologist Paul McLean, “without a co-functioning limbic system, the neocortex lacks not only the required neural substrate for a sense of self, of reality and the memory of ongoing experience but also a feeling of conviction as to what is true or false (MacLean 1990: 578). Here, perhaps, lies the neurological center of our subjectivity, the feeling of “me” that is not that of our body but of our existence and being.

But do our physical or social embodiment and our subjectivity make up consciousness? They may be thought to cover various of its aspects, but consciousness, as the Dennett and Minsky quotes at the start of this chapter suggest, is a fickle thing. We are still left with the question of why our experience seems so unlike that of being matter. Being an embodied “me” comes from the experience of doing (or having done) things in the physical world (and, we suggest, the social one). Subjectivity is passive – it is something sensed. But we actively feel we are conscious. So what is the source of this sense that we embody intentions, actions, thoughts, and feelings, and how does it link to the sense we have of being a “me”?"

I am still considering the part that stated that we have 32 brain areas that combine to create the illusion that we have a single visual perception, and that we have 7 brain areas that combine to create the illusion that we have a singular sense of our body through space/ time/ gravity. What a marvel.

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