A blog about problems in the field of psychology and attempts to fix them.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Deep Thoughts: The Stomach in a Jar Problem

Many throughout history have wondered about the relationship between mind and stomach. Imagine, if you will, that your body had been almost completely destroyed. Imagine still, that whatever destroyed your body left your stomach remarkably unscathed, and that we put your stomach in a vat. But this vat is a very special kind of vat: It can give you stomach all the physical and chemical signals it would have had if the stomach had stayed in your body, and when your stomach does something, the vat reacts just as your body would. Your stomach could be kept alive like that for quite a long time, perhaps indefinitely. 

Something new for the blog: Deep Philosophical Questions

I've long followed a few online comics at a time. At the moment, I mostly check big players in the Pantheon of geek comics, such as XKCD and SMBC. Good, smart stuff, by ridiculously creative people. I also long followed Sinfest, PhD Comics, and still mourn the decade-old passing of (the original?) online shock-comic The Parking Lot is Full. More recently, I have really started enjoying ExistentialComics, enough that I even signed up to support the guy doing it. I would say 8 out of 10 are very good, which is an absurdly high hit rate for a comic that hasn't even had 60 strips yet (they are published once a week). Even more impressive given that it is written by a guy without formal philosophy training. Check out the Philosophy Tech Support, for example. I'm not sure I am capably of doing smart short-from highly-visual jokes common to xkcd or smbc, but the longer-form intellectual absurdity I got a shot at... so long as I don't pretend I can draw. (Well... I can illuminate medieval manuscripts decently well, but I don't think that lends itself to the web comic genera.)

At any rate, I am inspired. So, coming soon:
There will be a series of posts on Deep Philosophical Questions. Stay tuned for such classics as the Stomach in a Vat problem and the many mysteries of Twin-Earth, including the Zombie Sofas problem.

Other suggestions more than welcome. What classic philosophical debates do you think are absurd? Or, what do suspect might be absurd, but you have been waiting for the right analogy to make up your mind?