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What makes us human?

Posted in Cybermen, Dr Who, philosophy by Tony C on May 4, 2007

This is more of a philosophical question than anything else as I’ve just started to reread the wonderful Philosopher at the end of the Universe by Mark Rowland.  It uses Sci-Fi movies as way of examining the basic questions philosophy explores like the nature of reality, morality, free will, death and the meaning of life.  This was prompted by a conversation I had the other day about cloning and what if we could not only create a clone but transfer all of the experiences, memories, thoughts and feelings from one brain to another.  Would it still be you?  And what about a clone of a clone?  Mark Rowlands as luck would have it discusses just this in his book using the Arnie movie ‘Sixth Day” as an example.  Ok, ok the movie stank but hey philosophy and film don’t always make easy bedfellows.  If this can apply to clones what about Cybermen?  I know that the original Cybermen had completely turned themselves into machines but the later parallel universe Cybermen embedded the human brain in a metal exoskeleton and in some cases didn’t lose their identity.  So if you transfer a human brain into a machine body is the Cyberman still in effect human?   Or is it the body, plus the brain and the ‘mind’ that defines a human?  Or something I’ve missed?

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