Friday, October 22, 2010

Ghost in the Machine?

When TheWife's grandfather passed away a number of years ago, her sister broke the news to her daughter who was about five at the time. Looking thoughtful, she asked her mom where Greatgrandpa is now, to which my sister-in-law responded that his body is still at Greatgrandpa and Greatgrandma's house. Looking a bit confused, she asked, "But where is his head?"

The word body is oddly ambiguous. We do distinguish between head and body, on one hand, and body and mind/soul/spirit, on the other. Surely, these stem from the same notion, the sort of dualism that comes to us from the Greeks and has become part of the Western religious worldview. It is also something that was challenged in the 20th century by Continental thinkers.

So, let's ask their question: Do you have a body or are you your body?