Friday 18 April 2008

When does it all begin?

During my 28 years as a nurse I've worked in a variety of clinical settings. Medical, surgical, emergency, office, etc. I have been at the bedside of a few dying patients & watched them draw their final breath. I won't attempt to describe each experience in detail but I've seen everything from traumatic death to long, drawn-out deterioration.

Since 1996 I've cared for childbearing women as an obstetrical nurse (the field of midwifery to some of you). Most of our patients enjoy happy outcomes but on occasion, tragedy strikes. Sometimes death occurs while still in the womb or shortly after arriving.

The question(s) I put forward is:
When does perception begin? When do we become observers?

It's an age-old ethical debate, nothing new about it! But in the light of CTF I am interested in what the group has to say.

(forgive me if this has been covered in an earlier post, I'm trying to get caught up but it's taking some time to read them all!)


Hurlyburly said...

That's an extremely good question and one i have asked many, many times. In particular, i have used this argument in debates with a vicar and a priest, there was no punchline though...

While at university studying sociology, i covered quite a large amount of modules on Religion. I did a 30 minute interview with a super-harcore-religious-man! It turned into about 3 hours. One of the points i made was when do we become ethically and morally responsible for our actions taking in to account the concept of Heaven & Hell (which i think is ridiculous but let's not open that can of worms this early on a friday morning). For example, if a 2 year old were to die, would they go to heaven or hell? Know what the guy's response was???

"If they were my kids they would automatically go to heaven"

.Eternal bliss through automatic default!!!!!!!!!!!! My apologies to any religious people that believe this or anything similar but.....what a load of crap! I pointed out many of these things and this is why the conversations took so, so long!

He seemed to miss a lot of my point which is what you have so nicely captured in your stories. Where does it begin? Why do some people have memories from such an early age and others not? I pride myself on having a pretty awsome memory but the earliest things i can remember don't stretch back much further than age 3-4. When do we become this complete entity? When do we aquire our soul to the point that we are aware of it? Why do i ask so many questions?!

Robin said...

I knew there would be questions in the answers!

My husband never knew his family. As the offspring of an institutionalized teenager, he went straight into the foster care system as a newborn. Apparently he spent his first several weeks in the newborn nursery awaiting a proper foster home. (He was told the nurses named him after 2 of their boyfriends) He claims to recall short yet vivid memories of being held and talked to by these nurses. I bet we'd all recall our time as an infant if we knew how to tap into those specific neurons in the deep recesses of our minds.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Interesting question and one that I could bang on about for a considerable time, but I'll try and condense my thoughts to a few bullet points:

"When does perception begin? When do we become observers?"

Perception and Observation require Sentience so when do we become sentient? I would say that the formation of the Cerebral Cortex in gestation is a basic requirement for sentience. Now when the Cortex has been formed and the Central Nervous System begins then I would expect some empirical consciousness to also form.

However, I question the Independence of Consciousness whilst the umbilical cord is still intact. So this adds a new context to the philosophical approach to the question.

And also, Psychologists suggest that an infants sense of self - that detachment of Id from Ego and SuperEgo - only begins to formulate from age 3 upwards.

My argument is does being Sentient depend on Individuality of Consciousness and sense of self or not?

Karl Le Marcs said...

Very interesting that you say your memories seem to begin at age 3-4 as this is very common across most research in psychology which is where my initial comment regarding the formation of the individual sense of self came from.

In basic terms I think that consciousness does begin in the womb BUT until the umbilical cord is severed we do not have Independent Consciousness. And at age 3 upwards our sense of self develops, memories form and we become sentient.

Hurlyburly said...

Yeah but can't we bitch about religion aswell?!

Karl Le Marcs said...

Not unless we want to introduce Theology to ITLAD and as Tony purposefully avoided such I don't think this is the correct forum to do so.

However, I DO think it is worth considering and discussing somewhere.

Robin said...

I certainly had no intention of bringing morality into the debate. I get enough of that here in Oklahoma... you've heard the term "bible belt"? hahaha

I wonder at what point the mind diverges to the daemon-eidolon?

Karl Le Marcs said...

Hee Hee! You, like I, seem incapable of detaching yourself from your morals!

As to your question, I would suggest that, once sentient, the mind splits immediately to Daemon/Eidolon (providing the prior living of the Virgin Life has been completed).