Monday, February 9, 2009

What Am I ?

I can answer this puzzling question only in scientific terms. The rest is unsupportable speculation.

Simply put, I am a deterministic biological machine. I respond to the stimulation of my senses in the only way I can, depending upon my state at the time. My brain makes a choice and a fraction of a second later I become aware of it and I say "I have chosen that." What does it mean to become aware of something? That is an internal mental state which philosophers might call "an emergent phenomenon." The value of awareness is that it permits the brain to critique its own actions and the results of them. It enhances our ability to learn and to modify our own behavior.

I am a little, lost, imperfect machine thrown, will he, nil he, into a prefabricated lunatic culture to which I am ill adapted and of which I was initially wholly ignorant. This deserves a generalized universal lament.

Moon's Joli Blon

A simple example of the multitude of things I didn't understand is currency inflation. Shortly after the big war, circa 1947, I was a college student involved in a debate on the proposition: we should retain the five cent fare on the New York City subways. I took the positive position.

There were others who knew better. Mike Quill, the leader of the subway workers union, always put on his best brogue during salary negotiations. At one time, when told that higher wages would inevitably require higher fares, he thundered "there should be no fare at all!" There was no effective reply to such argument. Mike was no shrinking violet. When the handsome, liberal, Republican Mayor Lindsay visited Mike's hotel room to inquire how the negotiations were going, Mike greeted him with "once a schmuck, always a schmuck!"

New York was not alone in such butting of heads.


A brilliant mathematician of my acquaintance once said of someone "he believes that something is true as soon as he hears himself say it." This was a humorous overstatement (we all practice deception) but there is much truth in it. We are what we are.

We got to be what we are through a process called "evolution." That is an extremely painful
and wasteful process and it has been going on as long as there has been life on Earth. The survival of the fittest is accompanied by the misery of failure for many in the great crapshoot of life.

Reuben James


The brightest kid in my school never came back. Our families in Europe were destroyed.

Mammals have been in existence for about 200 million years. Therefore, I am the descendant of a 200 million year old unbroken line of sex-crazed mammals. So are you. If just one male in this line had been unmotivated by the rear ends of females, you or I would not be here. That explains a lot about our behavior.


fan commercial

Scientists are close to the point of being able to control genetics without evolution. They are almost as close to the point of making intelligent robots. When these things are realized we may have some really different "descendants" in a big hurry.

What a Piece of Work is Man

The human species may become irrelevant, except as a curiosity. Think of it: all of our ethnic, racial, and religious quarrels will go the way of the buggy whip and all of our ideological nonsense will also be in turd with our bones. :-)

One thing more that I am, that I think we all are. It is not so much a thing as it is a potential phenomenon: a moment of extreme passion that comes up like a summer storm and empowers us to do things that we never before could have done and to risk all. I cannot explain it but perhaps you can recognize it.


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