Friday, April 27, 2007

The Body - Trash Or Treasure?

"A lifetime's worth of defensive slogans about the perils of VR started clamoring in her head. She wanted to scrape this whole illusion off her face, like a poisonous, blinding cobweb; she wanted to see and touch reality again. To have real skin, to breathe real air, would change anything. If she could only see the world through her own eyes, and react with the instincts of her own body, she knew she could flee from danger.

It was so perverse it was almost funny. She was perceiving the danger a billion times more clearly than she could ever have hoped to if she'd been embodied. She had all her reflexes at her disposal, and all her powers of reasoning, operating a billion times faster than usual.

It was just a shame that all of these advantages counted for nothing." (Schild's Ladder Egan 39)

What if you could live forever? What if your life, your consciousness, could constantly be transferred to other bodies (or even survive on its own)? What if your senses were enhanced beyond what you are able to with the body with which you were born? Would this satisfy you?

It is a question that might seem to be an easy answer: of course it would. But would it really? The above quote brought perspective that I openly accepted and incited me to post in reply. There is something unique about the human body that discarding it thoughtlessly might not appreciate. True, the idea of our senses being enhanced may seem appealing, but it ignores the intricate system of nerves and the brain that can be found in the human body. I have written about the complexity of the human brain and my doubt of it ever being duplicated, but there is a a desirable uniqueness in the human body. For me, even this cannot be duplicated completely, and the sensations are hard to imitate.

Again, as I have previously stated, there is a conflict for those who might not believe in evolution and rather believe in intelligent design. The idea of just trashing the body is a reminder of how insignificant evolution considers the design of man. There would be more of an importance to those who believe in a design, especially by a loving Creator. For these, the body is a treasure, not just some accident. It is not just something you throw away. So when I read this quote, it provoked my thought to this perspective and reminded me of the importance of the human body. There is still something special that Cass seems to recognize.

On a side note, as I already stated in regards to science fiction in general, this idea of immortality is still depressing. It is just some software program being transferred from system to system. There is nothing truly cherished in this presentation of the humans in the future. Again, for Christians, the hope of immortality is not just a machine; it is rejoicing in a perfect heaven for eternity. I definitely would prefer this, and the human body, over what the book describes.

After all, does she not say that the immortality in the book all amounts to nothing?


Mike Anzia said...

"It is wrong for man to wear that which he has cast off."

Dante's Inferno

Sure, it was written a long time before cyborg culture was even a fleeting thought, but I felt it applied to this rather abstractly. Even with having the Qusp, no one should be brought back, transfered, etc., as they are in the book. Once you are done with your body, you should be completely done with it, none of this "picking up where I left off" stuff. People shouldn't exist for much longer than a century anyways.

Dani said...

Why do you think this though? (not josh, Mike) Perhaps in the way humanity is now, with all it's pettiness, ignorance, and social contrivements, unable to look beyond those self limitng walls, maybe it is good for people to die, to stop breeding, and live as they do. Humnanity would never be ready right now for such high technology or situations. Not saying that all this wouldn't survive into the future, I'm sure it will. But as is, and many decades if not centuries of crap later we won't be ready. Society is not and won't be for a long time, ready for such increasing complexties of technology and the social ramifications. In the book they have an entire universe of expanse for people to increase and survie in, also a population of people who do not physically manifest themselves into the material world, leaving room for bodies. There is also self termination. A society to include such long lives and social mores in what is proper and when to go is crucial for something so vastly different then our own ideas of immortality.

Mike Anzia said...

I guess I feel that I shouldn't be able to outlast anyone by saying I want to transfer to a different place, or be able to inhabit a new body. If I could do that I would break the seeming social idea that a person should inhabit a body that is similar to their own. But I do acknowledge that there may be a difference in peoples beliefs between now and the future.