Suppose that you meet an old man named al
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The Grapes of Wrath
A 47 year old man named Carl died of cancer, and at the moment he was pronounced dead, a series of carefully-orchestrated procedures was performed on his body. A team standing by began cardiopulmonary support to keep air moving into his lungs and blood through his veins.
They lowered his body temperature with icepacks and transported him to a Cryonics facility several hundred miles away. There he was permanently frozen in a container of liquid nitrogen at a temperature of degrees Celsius. Carl went the cheaper route.
He paid for this procedure with his life insurance money in hopes that he could be reanimated in the future when a cure for his type of cancer could be discovered. Science would also have to solve other technical problems before successfully reanimating him.
For one, they would have to develop cloning technology to the point that they could grow Carl a new and improved body for his head. Carl placed hope in the idea that his cells could be injected with microscopic robots that would repair the damage. In the United States there are currently about bodies in cryonic storage and another thousand living people signed up for the program. Cryonics advocates like Carl make several philosophical assumptions about the human mind.
First, they assume that they will be the same people when their bodies are reanimated perhaps several hundred years from now, and that their identities will remain intact through these bizarre activities.
They also assume that, once dead, their minds will not be permanently swept into the afterlife, never to be reunited with their bodies.
Most importantly, they assume that their consciousness is embedded in physical brain activity, rather than in spirit substance. Carl's unique personal identity, his memories and behavioral characteristics, are presumably stored in the structure of his brain. These are some of the central issues in the philosophy of mind, which we will explore in this chapter.
An obvious starting point for our inquiry is to ask "What is a mind? At the moment, we are less interested in the precise structure of the human brain or unconscious brain processes that, for example, allow me to walk across the room without thinking about it. Australian philosopher David Chalmers b. The easy problems are those that are explained in psychology and other sciences, and here is a short list:.
For example, the difference between being awake and asleep can be studied by comparing brain scans of people in both states. The hard problem of consciousness, though, is explaining how it is that we have conscious mental experiences to begin with.
We experience colors like blue when we look at the sky, experience musical sounds coming from instruments, experience the fragrance of a rose.
There is a light of consciousness that turns on within our minds when we have these experiences, and philosophers sometimes call these instances of conscious experience qualia. The bulk of this chapter focuses on the hard process of consciousness, and in this section we will look at our sources of knowledge about consciousness and its main features. There are three sources of knowledge about the conscious human mind. The first is introspection , which involves you concentrating on your own thought processes, and discovering how they operate.
It is as though you have an eye in your mind that gives you direct access to your mental landscape, just as your real eyes give you direct access to the world of vision.
Through introspection, for example, you might explore the nature of your beliefs and feelings, or why you choose one course of action over another. This approach is sometimes called "folk-psychology" or "commonsense intuition".
Regardless of the name it goes by, philosophers and psychologists alike are suspicious about what people claim to know about their minds through introspection. There is no guidebook for you to follow when conducting an introspective investigation of your mind, and I am forced to take you at your word for what you report, since I cannot enter into your mind to confirm it. A second source of knowledge about the mind is our behavior: how we act tells us much about what we are thinking or feeling.
If you cry, that tells us that you are experiencing sadness. If you have a gleaming smile, that tells us that you are happy. What we infer from your behavior might not always be accurate: you might cry because you are happy, or smile to hide your sadness. Nevertheless, the benefit of looking at behavior is that we do not have to take your word for what we see: your conduct is open to public inspection. Introspection and behavior are the two foundational sources of knowledge about the mind, and since the beginning of human existence these were in fact the only tools available for this.
But within the last several decades technology has given us a third tool, namely, physiological monitoring. We are all familiar with polygraph machines used in law enforcement for lie detection, and these have been around since the s. By measuring blood pressure fluctuations, these machines reveal whether a subject is nervous and, presumably, lying.
A more recent alternative to this uses an ordinary video camera and specialized software to detect blood flow under the skin that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye. By monitoring changes of facial blood flow, it can reveal subtle changes in emotion and, again, presumably detect lying.
Other types of physiological monitoring target the brain specifically. Electrodes placed on the scalp can show differing types of brain waves, which in turn can help physicians detect certain types of cognitive disorders.
Electrodes placed into the brain itself can show processes in specific regions of the brain. For example, in an experiment done on a monkey, signals from neural electrodes revealed were the monkey would move its limbs. Further, medical imaging devices such as CAT, MRI and fMRI scans make three-dimensional maps of the brain and can show the regions of brain activity for various cognitive processes, such as listening to music or doing a math problem.
In one experiment, a person watched a film clip, and a brain imaging device played back a fuzzy but recognizable version of what that person was seeing. Until that time, though, we are stuck with introspection and behavior. When philosophers explore the nature of human consciousness, there are three specific features that they commonly ascribe to conscious experiences, namely, that they are private, non-localizable, and intentional.
Not all philosophers agree with this list, but they are invariably the starting point for debates about how consciousness arises. The first of these is that my conscious experiences are private in that you can never experience them in the direct and immediate way that I can. You may be able to know very generally what is going on in my mind, particularly if I volunteer that information.
But that is not the same thing as you directly experiencing it yourself. The best example is the experience of pain. Suppose that I have a severe headache that on a scale of reaches a 9. While you might sympathize with what I am going through, and even remember times when you had bad headaches, you cannot feel the pain that I am experiencing. Unless I tell you how bad it is or I behave oddly, there is no way that you could know that it is a 9.
The privateness of pain has actually created a problem in the health care industry. When people go to their doctors complaining of chronic pain, physician's frequently assume that their patients are addicted to pain killers and just fabricating their agony. While there are some behavioral signs to help distinguish genuine from fake cases of pain, the physician cannot enter into the patient's mind to see for sure. Out of sheer frustration the physician may just write a pain killer prescription to get rid of the patient.
Second, conscious experiences are non-localizable , that is, they cannot be located in space. Suppose that a scientist enlarged your brain to the size of a mountain and I walked around inside of it to inspect its construction. Consciousness, it seems, is not the kind of thing that is localizable in three-dimensional space.
Third, conscious experiences are intentional in the sense that they are about something. Minds have the ability to direct themselves towards things. If I have a belief, it is not an empty thought: it is a belief about something, like my belief that it will rain. Hopes, fears, desires, thoughts, speculations, all have a specific focus.
The object of our thoughts does not have to actually exist, such as when I hope for world peace or a cure for cancer. Austrian philosopher Franz Brentano argued that intentionality is the true distinguishing feature of the mind: all mental experiences display intentionality, and only mental experiences display intentionality. Some philosophers have found exceptions to Brentano's extreme position. If I have a throbbing headache, that experience does not seem to be "about" or "directed at" anything.
It is just there in all its misery. In spite of problems like this, though, intentionality remains an important notion in investigating the nature of mind. Suppose that my friend Joe walks up to me and we start chatting as we usually do. I then look at Joe and wonder: is this guy really conscious? You look awake and you are talking intelligently, but how do I know that you are really consciously aware?
I am aware of my surroundings and I am aware of my own inner self. I cannot directly inspect your mind to see if what you are saying is true. My conversation with Joe reflects what is called the problem of other minds. For all I know, I am the only person alive who is actually conscious. Joe might claim that he is too, but there is an impenetrable barrier between our two minds and I am incapable of directly confirming his claim. The problem goes further than questions we may have about the minds of other human beings.
Suppose Fido the dog walks up to me and we make eye contact. Fido seems to be conscious, just like Joe, although perhaps not quite as intelligent as Joe. But is Fido actually aware of his surroundings or even aware of himself as a distinct individual with a history and a future? I just cannot go back there! Whether human, animal or robot, we cannot enter the minds of other beings and see for sure whether the light of consciousness is turned on inside them. Philosophers have come to the rescue with arguments devised to show the existence of other minds.
The most famous of these is the argument from analogy and it goes like this. Joe looks and behaves a lot like me. His physiology is virtually identical to mine. He speaks English like I do, works at a job like I do, and has hobbies like I do. Since I know that I am conscious, and Joe is similar to me, then it makes sense to say that he is conscious too.
Joe has physical and behavioral features that are similar to mine. Therefore, when Joe stubs his toe, he consciously experiences pain. The more features Joe and I have in common, the more compelling the conclusion becomes.
Dialogue for Wise Old Man
This is Russell Conwell's famous "Acres of Diamonds" speech—and the inspiration for the university's mission. I am astonished that so many people should care to hear this story over again. Indeed, this lecture has become a study in psychology; it often breaks all rules of oratory, departs from the precepts of rhetoric, and yet remains the most popular of any lecture I have delivered in the fifty-seven years of my public life.
January 1. Which is the only country in the world whose name contains all five vowels once and once only? January 4. Susan needed to go to the store to buy some ingredients to cook with.
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A 47 year old man named Carl died of cancer, and at the moment he was pronounced dead, a series of carefully-orchestrated procedures was performed on his body. A team standing by began cardiopulmonary support to keep air moving into his lungs and blood through his veins. They lowered his body temperature with icepacks and transported him to a Cryonics facility several hundred miles away. There he was permanently frozen in a container of liquid nitrogen at a temperature of degrees Celsius. Carl went the cheaper route. He paid for this procedure with his life insurance money in hopes that he could be reanimated in the future when a cure for his type of cancer could be discovered. Science would also have to solve other technical problems before successfully reanimating him. For one, they would have to develop cloning technology to the point that they could grow Carl a new and improved body for his head. Carl placed hope in the idea that his cells could be injected with microscopic robots that would repair the damage.
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Other Jewish diaspora languages. Jewish humor is the long tradition of humor in Judaism dating back to the Torah and the Midrash from the ancient Middle East , but generally refers to the more recent stream of verbal and often anecdotal humor of Ashkenazi Jews which took root in the United States over the last hundred years, including in secular Jewish culture. European Jewish humor in its early form developed in the Jewish community of the Holy Roman Empire , with theological satire becoming a traditional way of clandestinely opposing Christianization. Modern Jewish humor emerged during the nineteenth century among German-speaking Jews of the Haskalah Jewish Enlightenment , matured in the shtetls of the Russian Empire, and then flourished in twentieth-century America, arriving with the millions of Jews who emigrated from Eastern Europe between the s and the early s.
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Find out more. He asks Ma if she fears that California will not live up to their expectations, and she wisely says that she cannot account for what might be; she can only account for what is. They stop at a service station, where Al argues with an attendant who insinuates that the family has no money to pay for gas. The attendant laments that most of his customers have nothing and often stop to beg for the fuel. He explains that all the fancy new cars stop at the yellow-painted company stations in town.
The Grapes of Wrath
They want desperately to perceive a vast gulf between man and the rest of creation. This mythology of human superiority justifies their doing whatever they please with the world, just the way Hitler's mythology of Aryan superiority justified his doing whatever he pleased with Europe. But in the end this mythology is not deeply satisfying. The Takers are a profoundly lonely people. The world for them is enemy territory, and they live in it like an army of occupation, alienated and isolated by their extraordinary specialness. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.
Acres of Diamonds