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Collective Property

kobieta's picture

I really liked Aliza's juxtaposition of Plagiarism to Tissue Sampling. Like I mentioned in class on Thursday, I think they're very much same processes. With that claim, I'm also claiming that our physical self doesn't belong to us.

Yes, it's a scary thought. But I really don't believe that we own ourselves. At a molecular level, what makes you, you, is your DNA. Even if you have different mutations that are unique to only you—or your family—the fact remains that 99% of your DNA is similar to every other human being's DNA (Stix). Only 1% of your DNA is different from your next door neighbor, your professor, or even Obama. Thus, our DNA, the building block of the self, is collective property. If we all have similar DNA and it’s the same for everyone, it’s not really yours. It’s shared, collective property that you really don’t have any rights to; if scientists want to take your DNA, your consent is not needed.

In another point of view, if we think of emotional, physical, and mental states of self, which I guess can make up your character, your personality, that isn't yours either. The way you look, other than being influenced by your DNA is also influenced by the environment. Your opinions, the way you think, how you feel—in other words, what makes you you—are all influenced by others, whether it be your family, where you live, your interactions with different people, your faith, and what have you. Like I mentioned in a post earlier in the semester, "I am not original. I am the combined efforts of everyone I've ever met." Just as your thoughts' and words' origin cannot be pinpointed—otherwise you'd be tracing a long line of philosophers, scientists, and people in general—the origin of the self can never be traced, can never be claimed yours.

I guess my point is that you can’t claim something that you had no control nor power to create. The self is a compilation of different things and the way you perceive them. Even your perception of things is not controlled by you; that’s controlled by your upbringing, your experiences in life, and other things that you have no control over. There is no free will, no choice in who you become, what you look like, or how you perceive things because everyone is a mere summary of everyone else.

Because of these things, I believe that there no “self” and in fact everyone in the universe is just collective property. Maybe we can just be the property of Earth, the property of the universe. Therefore, there is no need to consent to scientists taking samples and doing whatever it is they want to do with it. It’s just like quoting someone’s words and thoughts; their ideas aren’t solely theirs either, and tracing down its source is impossible, making it collective.

Just like you have no say when (natural) death arrives, you have no control over what becomes of you. Besides, if who we are is influenced greatly by society and our environments, don’t we owe it to those factors to help make progress?

I acknowledge that this is a very radical way of thinking. But hey, even this isn’t my own. It’s a combined effort of Stix, my past experiences, and mostly, what we discuss everyday in class. This too, is collective property. (;


froggies315's picture

I’m with you 100% on the DNA

I’m with you 100% on the DNA thing.  I’m even with you 100% on the character and personality thing.  I guess where I start to lose your train of thought is what comes next.

When I write something, it’s not mine in that it’s derived from the work of everything that has come before me, but it is mine in that my brain did some thinking and my fingers did some typing.  In the same way, I am derived from an ancient biological lineage, but I get to take responsibility for my existence because I have changed what life is on this planet--I have an impact, we all have an impact.  Because we all must take ownership of how our existence touches other life, I believe we also get to take ownership of our body and, by extension, our cells.  Taking ownership is especially important for doctors becuase of the inherent power dynamics that exist between patients and their physicians.  If anything, taking ownership was even more espcially imporant for Henrietta's doctors given the disturbing power dynamics inherent in a black woman’s 1951 visit to a gynecologist who was a white man in Baltimore.

I have to think a little bit more about free will...right now, all I got is that I believe in it.  This might not be enough for a class in a school that wants me to be skeptical about everything, but it is enough for me.  If I come up with some “evidence,” I’ll share it.  Maybe something we can think about without running into a wall is that there might be a difference between making choices and free will.