Ever thought about being able to live forever? If so, there’s we might have some good news. Or so it seems. Because it appears as if we have taken a few steps closer to making immortality a reality.
In a latest conference at the US National Institutes of Health, , Nenad Sestan, who is a neuroscientist from Yale, revealed that his team is successful in reanimating the brains of dead pigs found in a slaughterhouse. By pumping them with synthetic blood using a system called BrainEx, they succeeded in bringing them back to “life” for up to 36 hours.
The pigs’ brains did not resume consciousness, but Sestan approved that restoring awareness could be a possibility. Crucially, he also said that the technique could work on primate brains including humans and that the brains could be kept alive for an indefinite period.
Even if your conscious brain was to be kept alive after your body has been long gone, you would have to spend the anticipated future as an intangible “brain in a bucket”, trapped inside your own mind with no senses to allow us to interact with the world and the inputs that our brains long for.
The best scenario in this case is that you would be spending all your life with only your own thoughts for company. Some have argued that even with a fully functional body, immortality would be tedious. With absolutely no contact with external reality, it might just be a living hell.
People are proposing arguments stating that it is impractical for a disembodied brain to work like a normal human mind. Antonio Damasio, who is a philosopher and neuroscientist, explained that in ordinary humans, brain and body are in continuos interaction with each other. Every muscle, nerve, joint and organ is connected to the brain – and vast numbers of chemical and electrical signals go back and forth between them each and every second. Without this constant “feedback loop” between brain and body, Damasio argues, ordinary experiences and thought are simply not possible.
So, to end up as a disembodied human brain may mean to welcome a fate worse than death.
It is unclear whether your disembodied brain would even be you. The question of what happens when people die is has been going on for years. Some running in this area think we are solely psychological beings, and so could survive as disembodied brains so long as our memories and personalities were preserved.
Although if we talk about the view, known as “animalism”, we are undividable from our whole organism – our entire body, made up of cells, flesh, bone and organs. According to this philosophy, what makes us “us” dies when our whole organism dies – even if our brain survives. So, because you die when your body does, your brain will never be you. And so even if it has the same personality and memories as you, it can only be considered to be a psychological duplicate of you.
Anyway, the bottom line is this: to keep a disembodied human brain alive may well be to subject an entity with full moral status to an existence of horrific tedium, or to the mental torture of inevitable madness. Essentially, to a fate which is worse than death.
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