Newsletter – The Well by Jonny Thomson. Interesting one.


with Jonny Thomson ● April 26, 2022

Welcome to The Well, ideas that inspire a life well-lived. Every Tuesday, Jonny Thomson, philosopher and editor for The Well, guides you through life’s biggest questions with the world’s brightest minds.

Hello readers!This week is about the future of the mind.In our Quote of the week, we examine the everyday reality of experience. As Carl Jung tells us, our psyche — that is, your mind, including the bit which is reading this right now — is an indivisible whole. It can work in many ways, no doubt, but it has a unity that can be compartmentalized only in theory. Everything in your head comes all at once —  the feelings, the memories, the thoughts — and it’s the whole that is irrevocably tied to you.And yet, in our Video of the week, the future might shake even this. The more we learn about the brain, the more it becomes plausible that your skull need not be the limits of “you.” The fact that we are bound to our biology via a nervous system is much more fragile than we supposed. The brain is the start and end of who we are, but the spinal cord is a replaceable contingency. The future, then, is of mind control and telepathy, of brain power and digital identity. It’s an unimaginable world of disembodied minds.Time to cast our psyche wide,Jonny

Interview of the week

3 mind-blowing predictions about the future

with Michio Kaku

Science fiction is of two kinds. The first is a world of wonder, filled with technology designed to rid life of all its aches and everyday bothers. This kind of future, with its nano-bio-quantum harness triangulator thingies, is a place we cannot wait to live in. But, the other kind of science fiction is the bleak, dystopian vision of the cynic. It’s Black Mirror and Isaac Asimov, with the great potential for a Death Star.The world is divided between the progressive optimists and the conservative pessimists. Michio Kaku, in our Video of the week, is certainly of the former. For Kaku, the technology of tomorrow will give us intergalactic colonies built by self-replicating robots, as well as nano-bio medicines to cure cancer as easily as a cold. But most interesting from a philosophical viewpoint are his thoughts on… thoughts.Hold your hand flat on a surface for a moment. Whenever you’re ready, give it a twitch. What just happened? Your brain sent a command down your spinal cord to your hand.  What happens, though, when technology allows us to bypass the spinal cord? What happens when our brains can “trigger” a radio, a chip, or the internet? It’s not science fiction; it’s actually happening. Already we have an “Iron Man” suit controlled by a disabled boy’s brain. We have people typing and communicating with their brains — no bodies needed.So, what use is a body in the world Kaku presents? It looks decidedly expendable. Perhaps we ought to start seeing the body as a useless, faulty, disease-prone appendage and prepare ourselves for a world of interconnected thoughts.

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Quote of the week

Philosophers spend a lot of time looking inward on themselves. They love to ask, “Who am I?” or, “What does it mean to be me?” They examine their memories, desires, reason, emotions, and so on, and they think that somewhere in this exploration, they will stumble upon some answer.The problem with this, as Carl Jung points out in our Quote of the week, is that the self is not something to be divided in this way. We cannot take out our feelings to examine them, like some moldy Petri dish. We are the feelings. We can no more look at the parts of our psyche than we can know what it’s like to be someone else. There is no “view from nowhere,” but only our subjective position, couched in our mind.Phenomenology is the study of what it’s like to actually live, from day to day, moment to moment, as a human. It asks us to stop trying to pretend that we can take some objective or academic view of things, but to embrace the lived experience of “now.” The psyche is not a loosely connected assemblage of parts. It’s a borderless, seamless, pulsing whole.But what happens if Kaku (above) is right? What happens if the mind can be uploaded onto the internet and sent across the world at nearly light speed?What do you think the future of the mind will be?

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Question of the week

What’s our responsibility towards the next generation?

For me, all morality basically derives from the Golden Rule – do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.I think you should leave a room cleaner than you found it, because you would appreciate it being clean or having been cleaned. I think we should collectively strive to leave the world in better shape than the one we were born into. Easier said than done, though, with so many different areas we each create an impact: environmental, economic, social, etc.– Toby, Facebook community member

Next week’s question

How do you think individual action can change the world?

Every week, we will choose an answer from our community to feature in next week’s issue of The Well! Reply directly to me by email or follow us and comment on Facebook to join the conversation.
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