If I were dead sitting in the front seat of my car, I couldn’t open the door

If I were dead sitting in the front seat of my car, I couldn’t open the door.

This I thought yesterday while sitting in the front eat of my car, eating lunch— and I noticed how my left hand was only a few inches from the door handle-latch, but it would be impossible for me to open it—an unbridgeable gulf. There’s no way to move my hand once I’m dead—there’s also no will to move my hand once I’m dead (unless some other person has the will to move my hand).

And the answer to this point could be: Duh. Of course if you’re dead, you couldn’t do things—that’s pretty much the definition of being dead.

And yet—or maybe, and further—once you’re dead, there is no “you” any more— it’s just a pile of meat and bones that was what you, the former you, animated, inhabited, moved. But even these words feel false—as if the soul, the mind, the whatever, were some puppeteer to the body puppet, when it’s likely that the body gives rise to the mind. I said “likely,” a weird hedge on my part. Science would say the body—its structures, its chemistry—gives rise to mind, even if we don’t know how yet.

But on the walk, not nearly so cold as yesterday, but there is an unpleasantly strong wind out of So-SoWest. And I can’t recall what exactly—oh, I was wondering about why there’s not a lot of wind when it’s super cold—that maybe wind is a sign of a changing weather situation. But once the worst of the cold (for now) is here, it’s gonna settle—it has arrived.

Anyway, I was thinking of a causal relationship—wind is low when it’s super cold because there’s no new front moving in. Then I thought, “you could think of it that way,” which statement implies that such a theory, if useful, may not be accurate. Well, of course it’s not, because the cold and the wind don’t think in terms of causes—they don’t “think” at all, of course. I suspect we use causal thinking a lot when we teach science (in most classrooms—maybe, hopefully, not all). We humans like, or tend to think in terms of, causes—but causes, of course, are abstract.

[From journal of Tues. 20 Dec. 2016, Journal 242, page 29-30]

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