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Mind And Body Essay, Research Paper

Notebook Question 1:

In her novel, Who is Julie? Barbara Harris invents the strange case of “Julia and Mary Frances.” Mary Frances is out for a walk with her young child when suddenly the child breaks away and runs in front of a streetcar. Julia, who is nearby, sees what is about to transpire and throws herself in front of the child, pushing her to safety. Unfortunately, a double tragedy ensues. Julia, in her effort to save the child, falls across the tracks and is crushed by the streetcar. Meanwhile, Mary Frances, fearing that her child will be hit, has a stroke and collapses on the sidewalk. Both women are clinically dead.

But just then, Dr. Matthews, a brilliant neurosurgeon, happens by. She directs the emergency workers to take the women to her nearby clinic where she performs a macabre procedure. While the trunk of Julia’s body was crushed in the accident, her brain was untouched. Mary Frances, however, suffered irreparable brain damage though her body remained intact. Dr. Matthews decides that, for the sake of both, she will insert Julia’s good brain into Mary Frances’s good body.

The operation was a success. The question is, however, who is the person lying in the recovery room?

The underlying question of this situation is: “what makes a person who he/she is?” Once that is determined, the “Julia and Mary Frances” case can be easily solved. A large number of people would argue that the mind is what makes each of us different from each other. Yet, where is the mind, what is the mind, how does the mind work? Many people believe that the mind is a part of the brain. Somewhere within that brown mushy stuff is your mind. Unfortunately, science and technology has not been able to accurately pinpoint the location of one’s mind. The last two questions are even harder to answer. The mind is not something physical that one can dissect and have all their questions answer. Instead, the mind is something that has been hypothesized and believed to be in existence. As for the last question, no one knows for sure how the mind works. Time and time again, people have pondered over such fascinations.

Among these people was John Locke. Locke believes that everything has an existence. In order for it to be something, it must evolve into existence, be in existence, and then abandon its existence. Everything must have a distinct beginning and a distinct end. Of course, he followed up on this statement by saying that something cannot have more than one beginning. Locke states that if something were to exist for sometime, then its existence ends, and then it returns to exist again, then that something that existed for the second time is not the same as that something that existed the first time. The two would be completely individual of each other, each having their own existence. These theories have been known as Locke’s Principles.

In addition, Locke also discussed the differences between numerical and qualitative identity. In order for two things to be numerically identical, they must have shared the same past and be the exact same thing. Where as for two things to be qualitatively identical, they need only be physically identical. Although two laptops have the same physical properties, they are not numerically identical because they are not the same token. They are, however, qualitatively identical because they have the same physical properties.

There were other individuals like Locke, but came to different conclusions about one’s existence. Those with Lockean beliefs claimed that for two things to be numerically similar, they would have to have shared the same pass and be the exact same thing. Those with Cartesian beliefs declared that for two things to be the same, they only needed to share the same soul. Of course, this is obvious, because as of now, no one has been able to change, switch or even modify one’s soul. When that ability is developed, a Cartesian believer would agree that one could switch souls and still be the same person even though one would not have the same physical features. This, of course, would only be possible if the soul were actually made up of something physical.

The Materialist is even more general in his/her definition that makes two things the same. Two things only need to have occupied the same body in order for it to be considered the same thing. This could prove to be a problem for abandoned hermit crab shells. Having been occupied by many different times, one can hardly argue that the occupants were one and the same hermit crab.

In the case of “Julia and Mary Frances”, we are left with a being created from inserting Julia’s brain into the body of Mary Frances. A materialist who accepts Lockean views would have great difficulties decided which individual is lying in the recovery room. A materialist deals primarily with the physical features of a person, and seeing that Mary Frances’s body is intact, the materialist would say that it would be Mary Frances waking up in the recovery room. However, if the materialist had began to accept Lockean views, then he might be tempted to argue that it will be Julia that just came out of the operation. This would be true, because the new person has all the memories and thoughts from Julia’s past and retains nothing from Mary Frances’s past.

I feel that the person that lives on from this tragedy would have to be Julia. Even though the brain is only one fortieth of one’s total body mass, it is considerably the most important part. Without the brain, the body cannot function. Just as a computer will not function without its processor and a car will not run without the digital fuel injection computer chip, Mary Frances’s body would have been unless without Julia’s brain controlling it. Equally important, Julia’s brain continues to retain all the memories and thoughts of her past, as well as her morality and her beliefs, which drove her to save the child from the streetcar. Once it is reinserted in Mary Frances’s body, all information from that day forth, will be processed and thought through in Julia’s brain and not Mary Frances’s brain. Julia’s brain will separate and distinguish things and problems as it has done so often in the past. These are the reasons I believe that the person that will survive this terrible accident is Julia.

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