A mystery word… oh goody goody, I like those 🙂 For such a finite object, so widely probed and explained, so much taken for granted, isn’t it ironic that we don’t know where the word comes from?
Now I will try my very best to stay away from the mind-body problem. Not because it’s not an interesting one, but because it gets complicated and mysterious so very quickly and I am simply not trained enough to follow through all the arguments. It would be interesting to try a Socratic discussion on this with good friends over a glass of something and see if we get to the Forms Plato was talking about.
But for now I want to focus on the body. The poor sister, when it comes to philosophy and religion, one of the main objects of study when it comes to human centred science.
Funnily enough, once you start paying attention, rather than taking it for granted as explained above, bodies are discovered to be very complicated, too. You just try to imagine 11 systems working at the same time with a lot of overlapping and minimal intrinsic faults, then tell me the body is a simple matter. At the same time I am fascinated time and time again, with true evolutionary curiosity, by vestigial features, by fail safe systems, by fossil records of limb development and by annoying little things like snot and hair.
But the most fascinating thing of all is, indeed, the way the body good-naturedly accepts commands and tries to fulfill them. Please see above, I am not going to even try to figure out the relationship between the brain, the mind, the spirit and the soul, whatever those last three may be. Sometimes not knowing has to be accepted, much as it frustrates me no end 🙂
When I say commands I do not necessarily mean those I link to survival, like eating, sleeping, defense and reproduction, although they are amazing in and of themselves, and especially when seen in the context of the entire biosphere. I mean those that sit higher on Maslow’s pyramid, static as it is. Our brains command manners, education, bizarre behaviour and entire cultures and our good little bodies speak, act and change accordingly. We also do this to other animals – did you know that certain breeds of dog cannot reproduce anymore without human help? Oh, but the little darlings fit so well on a human lap!
You’d think our bodies would reject some of our commands, if only because they go against survival. Do they? Do they? Well, not really, not until it’s too late to matter. Our bodies obey whether that means they live or die… that is beyond weird!
We usually learn to control a portion of our body functions by 3 years old. We spend the entirety of our life at least marginally dependent on this body. We tend to mistreat it, expose it to diseases, subject it to all sorts of activities that it is not specifically designed for (high heels? office chairs? pierced ears? uplifted mammary glands?) and still it will keep going, finding ways around and forever trying to act and to be used.
Ah well, better indulge it in a bit of gardening 🙂