X-Message-Number: 14191
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2000 22:11:20 EDT
Subject: Hughes' essay

I have read with interest Dr. Hughes' essay, the web address of which he gave 
on Cryonet yesterday, concerning (among other things) future development of 
ideas about self. Inevitably, there are areas of agreement and disagreement. 

Just to touch on one, in extreme brevity, he gives the impression (at some 
points) that he thinks self is an illusion, and includes the following 

"Despite our every instinct to the contrary, there is one thing that 
consciousness is not: some entity deep inside the brain that corresponds to 
the 'self,' some kernel of awareness that runs the show, as the 'man behind 
the curtain' manipulated the illusion...in The Wizard of Oz.  After more than 
a century of looking for it, brain researchers have long since concluded that 
there is no conceivable place for such a self to be located in the physical 
brain, and that it simply doesn't exist."  (Nash, Park and Wilworth, 1995)

First of all, the self (if defined as the seat of feeling) is not an 
illusion--in fact, it is the only thing that cannot possibly be illusory 
(although of course "deductions" therefrom could be illusory).

Have "brain researchers" really concluded that there cannot "such a self" in 
the "physical brain"? No indeed; many are assiduously looking for it. They 
are not, to be sure, looking for some "homunculus" inside which we need to 
look for a smaller homunculus etc., but they are looking for the 
anatomical/physiological basis of feeling and consciousness. There is no real 
alternative, of which I am aware, to assuming that such exists. 

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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