Saturday, July 2, 2011

Who are you?

I just stumbled on an interesting old movie, part documentary and part drama: Victim of the brain (1988). The movie dramatizes some old philosophical question about brain & mind:

What is the relation between brain and mind?
What is consciousness?
What happens to you when your brain is removed and lives on in a vat? Are you still you?
Can mere matter think or feel?

The movie is partly based on the book The mind's I, edited by Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett. Both Hofstadter and Dennett appear in the movie. Hofstadter talks about his view on consciousness, brain, mind and free will. Dennett is the key figure in the dramatic part of the movie, which is based on Dennett's own story 'Where am I?'. The Pentagon hires him to remove a radioactive device deep in the earth. However, it's a special type of radioactivity that only affects the brain and not the rest of the body. Therefore, his brain is removed and kept alife in a vat, whereas his body is send on the mission to remove the radioactive device...See what happens...

The movie also adopts the short story The seventh Sally by Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem. The whole movie can be seen below via Google Video's:

And here are the three parts from the same movie in which Daniel Dennett's brain is removed and turned into a brain in a vat: