Since last entry I promised I would talk about it in my next entry, I will now write a bit about the idea of a soul and how it would work. I believe I've mentioned before that I think there are no truly emergent properties in the universe. That is, the higher level can always be predicted with sufficient understanding of the lower level. Moreover, I don't think it is possible to subdivide awareness... I don't see how you can have different components of awareness. For me, this leaves two options: either awareness is an inherent property of all matter, or awareness arises from something outside of matter.
If awareness arises from something outside of matter, we can try to extrapolate some of its nature from our own consciousnesses. I am calling this awareness a soul, though I suppose any other name would do. In order for us to make decisions, to actually have choices, our consciousness must be able to violate the laws of physics, the laws of matter. Otherwise our choices are nothing more than an illusion, as our mind moves along it's set path according to the rules that govern the particles in our brain, or our choices are nothing more than mere probability. Thus, so far I am attributing two functions of a soul: awareness and free will.
Something used to bother me greatly... how could people be their soul, when brain damage actually affected how one could think? People say you are not your body... that if you cut off your arm, you are still you. However, if you lobotomize different parts of your brain, it can change how you think. It didn't seem to make sense to say people were their soul if they were so easily changed by damaging their brain.
However, if we make a reasonable assumption... that the soul's awareness isn't infinite... brain damage changing a personality can make sense. Let's say that the soul can only be aware of so much, and so it focuses on certain parts of the brain, which are to represent all the different functions going on in the body. It may be too difficult to monitor an entire body, but by focussing on specific sections of neurons representing those parts of the body and of personality, it could be done by a limited awareness. Thus, if these parts of the brain are damaged, it can mess up the way the soul reads or is aware of the brain. That's why you can be thinking of something without even realizing it, and suddenly you get an answer... your brain was working on the problem in an area you aren't aware of/your soul doesn't monitor.
Now let's focus on choices. Presumably, you are hard-wired to make many choices... for example, your brain may chemically react to the idea of reproduction or of eating. Assuming a soul could somehow change some small part of the brain (a necessary assumption for free will to exist), that change could be amplified.... something as small as one neuron firing could start a chain reaction involving many parts of your brain. Thus, even if you were biologically wired to act a certain way, your soul (i.e. your awareness or conscious-self) could potentially override this.
Socrates claimed he had a daimon... something that would tell him if the choice he was making was right or not. Basically, I'm suggesting that this knowledge of whether or not a choice is right is your soul overriding your more preprogrammed natural inclinations. Hopefully most people know what I'm talking about... the idea of hunches, taking a choice you inexplicably believe to be the right one.
In "The Age of Spiritual Machines" Ray Kurzweil suggests that in the (near) future, AI will claim to be sentient... and whether or not AI is sentient is irrelevant because we'll believe them. To me, this sidesteps a major issue. A series of complex interacting systems (such as the brain) may produce very complicated behaviour. However, it is still merely complex interacting systems, awareness cannot (at least with our current understanding) be predicted from this. By uploading our brains in to computers, they may still be capable of complex behaviour... but that behaviour would then be entirely predictable, based on the interactions of various systems. If a soul exists, then I think from our own experiences of consciousness, we can say that it is somewhat limited, for example, that it often relies on reading the brain. Also, it seems that since our consciousness is linked with our brain, there must be something special about it... that the way our brain is constructed, perhaps even the chemicals used and the way neurons are built is easier to control/influence than other matter... and by attempting to transfer your consciousness to a silicon based machine, that control or influence of matter may no longer by possible.
I think that's about all for now! So... good news plus awareness/souls... what could be better in a post?! I hope you all have a good day, and hopefully I won't take so long to post again!