Philosophy from “Transcendence”

Originally written by me on May 3rd:

Yesterday I saw the movie “Transcendence,” and it was a very thought provoking movie, which I would especially recommend to anyone who has an interest in philosophy or psychology. However, the main reason why I am writing this blog post is to bring up a very interesting debate which was brought up in the movie which relates to one of the big questions in philosophy. If you were about to die, would you willingly sacrifice yourself to some scientific experiment, even if you did not clearly know what the ramifications were? More importantly, would you hold on to life in such a way that you would want to upload your mind and conscience into a computer?

One topic that has constantly been debated throughout the year is, “what defines us?” What makes us unique? Do we have a soul? Is there a part of us that cannot inevitably be explained by science? All of these questions directly contribute to being able to answer the ultimate question proposed by this movie. While I still believe that we have a soul which cannot be replicated in a computer, I think this movie made me realize how hard it truly is to pinpoint to the soul. While many would simply point to emotions and our ability to empathize as evidence of having a soul, I now more strongly believe that the soul goes deeper because emotions are largely controlled by chemicals in our bodies and thus, with very careful research, can be replicated. Even medication for people facing depression shows the flaw in hinging on emotions as proof of a soul. Just because a simple pill can readjust a person’s chemical balance to change his or her emotions, I do not think that that pill can change a person’s soul in such a way.

Therefore, based on my continued position that the soul cannot be recreated by man, I would not allow myself to have my mind and conscience uploaded to a computer. It is unnatural and I think that it is right for people to accept facing what may lie beyond death.


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by David J. Glowny

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