[P. J.] [RU] [FR]

The Body of Freedom

There are lots of talk about freedom. And even more about the body. However, when the former applies to the latter, all we usually get is the freedom of naked flesh, which once was referred to as lechery. It seems like the humanity is just bound to pace the whole way off the dull biology up to the bright spirituality free of any barriers. Provided, there is some future at all.

Fifteen decades after Karl Marx, the idea of the social origin of human subjectivity is becoming to steadily penetrate the thoughtful minds, and it is only the most retrograde (or politically engaged) scientists who still seek for reason in the genes, conditioned reflexes, or supernatural influences. In 1980s, the hypothesis that no biological species could be a forerunner of humans (since the primary definition of reason is its universality breaking the definiteness of any species) was treated as open sedition; today, it is quite common, and, a decade later, it will be commonplace, and the public will wonder why those dummies of the past should fancy anything else. With all that, there is yet another side of Marx' idea that still slips off the general awareness. Establishing the social nature of the spirit, we have to supply that spirit with as social flesh; otherwise, we are sure to roll back to mystical deification of something absolutely impalpable. It's elementary logic, one would say; however, a clear acknowledgement of the objective necessity of an "inorganic body" for any human (as stated by Marx) leads to political corollaries of such importance that one can hardly expect an official recognition of this circumstance in the nearest future. Under the pressure of raw facts, something like that will eventually get through the back porch. And then it's high time to take some principal decisions: albeit in private, but right now.

The transition to that new paradigm is especially difficult because of the millennia-old habit: for all we could ever see, people tend to identify themselves with a chop of meat, and the destruction of this animal hull the present statute qualifies as murder (or "natural" death). Well, similarly, people believed for many thousand years that the celestial bodies turn around the Earth (the only and unique), and what? The outlook of whole solar system has been several times revised; besides, the other stars have been found to govern lots of planets. Now, what prevents us from a radical rejection of the ancient anthropocentrism, to admit that our reason does not inhabit a single piece of organics, but rather is implemented in, at least, an ensemble of organisms revolving around a "common center"? Obviously, this picture will readily incorporate inorganic components too, the products of the human activity involved in the social process.

Of course, it would not be wise to just throw something out. First, one is to find why the human body has been commonly thought of as an abode of the spirit. The influence of the cultural environment is a prompt and trivial explanation. Indeed, when, from the earliest childhood, everybody tries to contact me through some organic blob, I am certain to develop the same habit, thus presenting people a particular biological body as my plenipotentiary. On the contrary, for those who grew accustomed to identify themselves with, say, the content of some distributed database, their self will no longer be associated with any butchery, but rather with the whole bulk of means to support the existence and integrity of that virtual entity. Today, some consider cutting them off the Internet as a cruel way of murder. Losing our things, we lose a portion of ourselves.

There are numerous historical examples of how collective product may gradually acquire individuality and be attributed to some real or mythical personage of some country and epoch. The two Homer's poems are known worldwide; Kozma Prutkov and Panini are famous in their comparatively narrow circles. Let us also consider the common habit of all the chiefs to usurp the services of their subordinates in both material production ("the king such-and-such has built a castle and erected a temple") and spirituality ("and he gave law to the people"). This adds to the common adherence to mapping any cultural outcome to personal intention and effort. So, we do it without being aware, and such role-playing may develop up to an absolutely catastrophic scale: thus, some religious people take the detailed biographies of their gods and saint for reality beyond any doubt; in that debility, they can no longer distinguish fiction from life.

The opposite process is also possible: authorship is diluted in a wide circulation, and the names either get lost or made into common nouns. Thus, eating crêpes on Chandeleur, the modern French hardly ever recall the pope Gelasius I, while the admirers of the Apple computers rarely know anything about the Canadian farmer John. The very ability of names to detach themselves from the bodies is an indication of an essentially non-biological mode of existence in conscious beings.

The inclination to treat things as if they were a part of the human body gets implanted in humans in the course of socialization just like their attachment to their biological bodies. Thus, individuals declaring that they have done anything themselves remain entirely unaware of how many others were directly involved in the arrangement of the very possibility to start working; as each of these millions was also backed by the efforts of millions, every individual act virtually results from the joint action of the whole humanity, and hence a historical event of a global scale.

In this context, the principal direction of personal identification development is clear enough: we gradually drift to better discrimination of consciousness from its specific implementation and admitting alternative embodiments, when needed. A conscious being will acquire the experience of inhabiting a variety of bodies, or even outside any particular body, in an ensemble of interacting bodies collectively forming a higher-level embodiment. Reason is a higher-order integrity; it may be represented by a hierarchy of things, and unfolding this hierarchy into any particular hierarchical structure is nothing but a historical coincidence.

There is a very important special case: a functional interconnection of one brain with another incorporating various computer (networking) technologies. Obviously, such a compound brain is no longer limited to the physiology of a single biological body, with its spatial confinement and the ways of handling things. Now all kinds of artificial organs can naturally extend the biological part. When modern engineers try hard to reproduce the dynamics of live organisms in the movements of robots, this cannot be but a kind of training, exploring the possibilities and preparation for real creative experience. Similarly, the game of intentional robot-like behavior in humans is also directed to the future symbiosis, serving the mutual adaptation of the two world before they become one.

Do we need to specially indicate that such an extension of our "physical plant" is closely related to an entirely different idea of freedom? Surprisingly, one can never lock a conscious being in a cage, since there are numerous ways of switching to another collection of things, effectively bypassing any barriers. The childish play of modern "activists" is just ridiculous. Isn't is silly, to focus on any sex issues, in view of the dominance of the non-organic part of the human body, which has nothing to do with the physiology of gender? Finally, the recognition of the reality of the collective subject will give a new turn to the problem of personal relation to the society. Everybody will be able, unfolding one's individuality in different directions, to be simultaneously present on many levels of the social hierarchy, so that, besides being a part of the whole, one will get a feeling of being that very whole in all its entirety.

[Assorted Notes] [Unism]