Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ghost in the Machine

For some time I have been a fan of Kyler England. I love her solo work but she has also written and performed with "The Rescues" and most recently has teamed up with former "Rescues" member, Adrianne Gonzalez, to create the duo: "The Fire and the Sea." Their lyric video, The Ghost in the Machine, can be seen and heard here.
Ghost in the Machine
(from the lyric video by "The Fire and The Sea") 
You are the ghost in the machine
Flickering
And I don't know what it means
You trouble me 
Behind the smoke
And the screen
I'm hiding, I'm hiding
But when the secret's out
And the wounded sing
What's lost is found
You trouble me
And it's troubling 
In the light you follow me
Shadowing
In the dark you're all I see
Surrounding
In a sweet unwanted dream
Trouble needs a place to sleep
But when the secret's out
And the wounded sing
What's lost is found
You trouble me
And it's troubling 
When the secret's out
You are the ghost in the machine
Flickering
When the secret's out
And the wounded sing
What's lost is found
You trouble me
And it's troubling
The concept of "the ghost in the machine" is a well-known philosophical term which refers to the separation of mind and body. Some, like British philosopher Gilbert Ryle1, suggest that it is a false concept while others would suggest that the difficulty we have in explaining "consciousness" indicates that there is a "ghost in the machine" or perhaps a "soul in the body." Consciousness may be a candidate for a distinction between the pure chemistry of the mind and perception; but, is consciousness sufficient to suggest a ghost in the machine?

Regarding consciousness and perception, Alva Noƫ has said,
Consider this; we are conscious of both more and less than affects our nervous system. Let me give you an example. I look at a tomato. It’s sitting there on the counter in front of me. It’s red and bulgy and three dimensional and I experience all that visually. I have a sense even visually of the back of the tomato, but I can't see the back of the tomato. It’s out of view and yet it’s part of my experience of the tomato that it has a back. It’s present in that sense to me, but note it doesn’t strike my retina. It’s present. It informs. It structures my visual experience without actually being an element that stimulates my nervous system.2
N.T. Wright points out that Neo-Platonic concepts of dualism have influenced our concepts of body and soul, brain and mind, and heaven and earth.3 He suggests that the Bible is much more holistic in its presentation and argues for a holistic view of body and being. David Chalmers suggests that a machine could indeed be "all machine and no ghost."4 Others speak of the Holy Spirit of God and how it interacts with humans as the "ghost in the machine." What is the truth? This question is certainly troubling.


1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_in_the_machine
2 http://bigthink.com/think-tank/the-ghost-in-the-machine-unraveling-the-mystery-of-consciousness
3 http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_SCP_MindSpiritSoulBody.htm
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness

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