Monday, February 15, 2021

Where Am "I"?

This post has no political content whatsoever. It is a random, rather inane question I was pondering last night.

When I think of where "I", am, spatially speaking, the answer is "my brain". That is the seat of my consciousness, it is the physical location I identify as being occupied by the core of my being. When I think, the spot where I feel like the thoughts come from is my head. Which makes sense, since my brain is where I do all my thinking.

But it also so happens that my brain is right behind my eyes. If we imagine our eyes as the holes in our body that we peer through to see the world, it makes sense that we'd conceptualize ourselves as existing right behind them. So maybe that's why that particular spot is the one we associate as being where "we" are.

So here's the question: If our eyes were in our chest, would we still view ourselves as centered around our brain? Or would it move to our chest? Or flip it: if our eyes were still in our head, but our brain was in our chest, would we still identify our thoughts as coming from our head or from our chest? (Or perhaps there'd be a more fundamental divergence between where we feel our thoughts "exist" -- our chest -- versus where the broader core of the "I" is -- our head).

Again, no big moral to this question. Just a random thought that grabbed my attention last night in lieu of sleeping.


Ian said...

I am confident you'll get a kick out of this odd hybrid of short story and philosophy lecture:

Dennett takes your exact question and turns it up to 11.

George Peterson said...

The Ancient Greeks though the center of intelligence was in the liver. During the Middle Ages, it was the Heart. Different cultures had different ideas.

Benjamin Lewis said...

Times beyond counting, that's how often we admonish our kids with: "Your head is where you live!" This stems 100% from the brain as center of cognition and nerve impulses. Maybe they would be more resistant to this in your hypothetical?