Descartes: A Pretty Chill Dude
If you uploaded your consciousness to a virtual reality server, are you still the same person? Are you still able to Be (or just the regular be) in a world that doesn’t physically exist?
There’s a lot to dissect here, probably. Hypothetically let’s say we’re in 2050 and a fully functional virtual reality is actually a thing. If you have the chance to upload your consciousness to a server to temporarily go into a virtual world, are your mind and body still connected? If you only upload your mind and awareness to some sort of virtual reality are you are you losing a key part of yourself?
The answer to most of those is just “probably”. Your mind and body would still be connected as your mind and thoughts are contained in your body as something like a vessel, but your body in the virtual world you’d be uploaded to along with your mind wouldn’t exist. Personally, the self is fully completed with the mind, soul, and body, with the body being an extension of the mind and soul and the actions they perform. You’d be losing a part of yourself if you’re mentally in a virtual world where your body can’t go, but your soul and mind would still be there. The self is responsible for your own thoughts and actions, and some philosophers have argued that it’s separate from the mind and the body. Artistotle went extreme and said that the self was the core essence of a living being, and an act of the body.
Philosophers like Descartes argued that the mind and the body are separate, and that the brain and the mind are still not the same thing, and identified the mind with consciousness and self-awareness. Since Descartes is literally dead, we can’t really ask him what he thinks about virtual reality. However he did go on that introspective journey where he wanted to find out what could be certain. He ended up doubting that he could have a real body, as it could be an illusion or a trick, which is kinda like virtual reality!
The discussion we had on Friday brought up a couple of other questions and a massive existential headache, but I got input on the difference between being and Being. Before the discussion, I thought that being was a prerequisite for Being, and that you couldn’t be fully immersed and actively living in something without first just physically existing there. Most people came up with the same interesting conclusion – that you couldn’t be in a virtual world, but you could Be. Since you can’t have a real, physical body (obviously having a body on our beautiful earth is 100% objective and up for debate) in a virtual world, you can’t really be and just exist. You’d be way more engaged and actually living your life out in the same virtual world though, so you’d be Being.