Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Not about teaching, just a musing on what it is to be an individual.

There is something which troubles me. Troubles me in that I can't resolve it in my mind. Maybe i am not smart enough, maybe the answer is not there or maybe I am just not thinking about it in the correct way.

Here goes.

We know that there is nothing special about the molecules that make us up. The elements that make the compounds which make us are common throughout the Universe. We know this, we also know that we are made of 'star stuff'. 

OK fine, so the building blocks that make me also make everything else I am happy with that. 

Except that really we aren't here at all. Since 99.99% of all atoms are empty space that means that the majority of what makes up us is empty space.


We also know that our DNA is not that special really, we share 98.4% of our DNA with chimpanzees

However the majority of the cells inside our body is bacterial, ten times as much as human cells. Which means that the part of us that makes us human is very small. 

Although that is a small part of a small part that is not empty space. Still with me? 

So what we are, in terms of what we can see, is mostly empty space and mostly bacteria DNA. The person we see when we look in the mirror is in fact a tiny proportion of a tiny proportion. 

I think I have my head around that, although the part of my body I use to understand this doesn't really understand itself. In fact it makes decisions before I have decided. Seriously, studies show that the neurons responsible for movement fire before a person has actually thought about moving. Which means the brain decides to do things subconsciously before the conscious brain catches up with it.

So the parts of us which aren't empty space are made of stars but most of that in me is bacteria not human and the stuff that makes me human and not a chimpanzee is a tiny part of that, and the thing which I rely on to control and run all this barely human bit actually makes decisions before I have thought about what I actually want to do.


So who am I then? Well surely I am the amalgamation of my experiences and memories. Except memories can be faked or forgotten.

There is a thought that we actually remember everything, it's just the brain can pick and choose what to remember. However we don't see of hear everything that there is. In terms of what frequencies of light we see and what frequencies of sound we can hear is actually very very little! We are practically deaf and blind. 

So this all brings me down to what makes me, well me. 

If its not the atoms that make me, or the DNA that is inside me, or the world I perceive and how my brain recalls this or even the decisions I make. Then what is it?

I am probably missing something or over simplifying something else. I just wonder which part of us makes creates the individual. Is it as simple as the wiring of our brain, however I can't see how that would give us something so unique as a persons personality. Not when everything else seems to be so generic. Well sort of generic. I think.

Actually I don't know. My brain probably does though, somewhere...

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