What Does It Mean to Be a Disembodied Mind?

Really, we should go to the source for a self-report.

We immediately confront a problem, then. Where do we look?

That is to say, if we are to establish communication with the disembodied mind, then we must somehow individuate it. It must be a candidate for intentional inexistence if we even hope to take heed of it.

Yet individuation is precisely the psychological consequence of embodiment.

Look at it from the other side. What if the disembodied mind wants to talk to us poor saps wallowing in bodies?

Mustn’t it make it make the subject-object distinction first? And if it does, hasn’t it wiped out any hope of qualitative distinction from the rest of the body-wallowers?

It is merely a prettier critter, after all.


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2 thoughts on “What Does It Mean to Be a Disembodied Mind?

  1. Joe says:

    This is fun to think about. Could there be an embodied entity that we can not detect with our 5 senses? It seems like there is no reason to believe every embodied thing must be detectable by our 5 senses. But if such an embodied thing could be how could we individuate it? And if we couldn’t then is it really true that “individuation is precisely the psychological consequence of embodiment?”

  2. keithnoback says:

    There are two problems. First is the epistemological problem, which belongs to those who contemplate the disembodied mind.
    I think it is fairly uncontroversial that our perception distinguishes things, and making distinctions is a necessary aspect of perception. I would also say that it is immediate; we make a distinction right away in perceiving, not upon reflection.
    It has been said that we know about things which are not generated by perception, like a prime number or justice.
    I would argue that such claims based on a category error to begin with, but that’s not important, really.
    What matters is that conceptualization – our method of formulating a reliable map of the world – shares an operational necessity with perception in making distinctions.
    Ostensibly ephemeral concepts are identified upon a background in the same way that a running deer is identified upon a background (visually/psychologically).
    Distinctiveness is the relevant part of embodiment for us. Arms and legs are dispensable; so is a liver. Maybe it is possible for a mind to manifest to us as a voice alone, coming from no point in space. It is still recognized upon a background, and so retains the relevant psychological aspect of embodiment.
    The second problem is existential. It is easy to see how the disembodied mind might get by without personal pronouns, and thus the theoretical trappings of having a body. Maybe it is a “pure perceiver” which has no reflective consciousness. But it is hard to see how it might recognize this or that phenomenon, or the totality of phenomena (let’s say it just takes in the whole cloth of all existence in each moment) without the tacit acknowledgement of its own distinct existence – again, the psychologically significant element of embodiment.

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