Thinking caps on, folks. Using a science fictional premise as a framing device, philosopher Daniel Dennett ponders the question “if your mind and body were separated, which one would be ‘you’?” [via MetaFilter]
“Yorick,” I said aloud to my brain, “you are my brain. The rest of my body, seated in this chair, I dub ‘Hamlet.’” So here we all are: 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 the alternatives.
It’s a seventies-vintage essay, so the frame plot is a bit hokey, but the philosophical conundrum still packs a mean punch. Don’t read it if you’ve got anything complicated you’re meant to think about for the rest of the day. 🙂