Past week in class the most intriguing discussion for me was that concerning a person with a broken or damaged spinal cord and the questions which emerged from it. We can understand from the phisical point of view how it is possible that such a person does not have controling power over their body; their nerves are disconnected and are not communicating. However, the fact that the nerves are not communicating does not explain why the "person" is traped inside the brain. It does not seem appropriate to label "person" as just another box within our nervous system. The concept of one's "person" can be explained in two completely contradictory ways. In first option our NS has a box labeled "person", and from this box we coordinate and produce all of our behaviors. The other option is that all of our behaviors combined end up forming what is known to us as "person". In this chicken and egg problem I tend to believe in the second version where all that we do makes our person, this includes our actions and interactions with the outside world and our body as well as the interactions within the NS. The structure of the NS does suggest that some of its parts are specialized for some functions while other parts concentrate on different functions. All of these parts, as far as I am aware, perform their functions in the same way, through synaptic exchange. My idea of how a "person" comes to exist is that throughout our lives, starting with conception, we develop our own unique pattern of comunication between neurons which then becomes known to us as "me". Going back to the damaged spinal cord case, we can see that something that we call "person" is present in the head/brain region of the NS. It is a possibility, nevertheless, that in the lower part of the body there also exists a "person", but that this "person" is not able to communicate itself because the patternes of communication in the body developed in such a way that all the expresion was done through the brain region. I can't offer much evidence in support of this theory and I am not myself sure how much I belive in it, but the concept of who we are and what makes us "be" is in my opinion by no means sufficiently explained by our present scientific knowledge.

Point very neatly made, and entirely appropriate. We'll return to it in class at some point. Indeed, the observations say there is a "person" in the rostral piece of the nervous system, but leave entirely open whether there is one in the spinal cord as well (understand why the observations can't answer that question?). And your extension is an excellent suggestion: maybe "me" is what we mean by a coordinated, interacting set of boxes. PG