Thursday, October 20, 2005

Out, out brief candles

Shakespeare said:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.”

I believe that if the open-minded and perceptive bard were around today to note the observations of cognitive science and neuroscience, and the mental understandings of cognitive science and philosophy, he might add to those lines, or develop them differently. (Perhaps contact with Eastern religions would have stimulated this.)

Try this:
“Life’s but our walking shadows, our poor players
That strut and fret their hours upon the stage;
Each plays its role, no one to mark them all.
Not even inside.”

There is no I. What we think we are is actually many “I’s,” or if you will, “sub-I’s.” More reductionist cognitive scientists like Dan Dennett might talk about subroutines.

But there is no master routine, at least not on a de jure basis. Some subpersonalities are normally in the driver’s seat, but that is by force of habit, acculturation and development.

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