The New Stuff

Who are you?


Greek historian Plutarch explains it with story of a ship. Theseus the mythical king of Athens, single handedly slayed the beast- Minotaur and returned home on a ship. To honor this heroic feat, Athenians preserved Theseus’s ship at the harbor for 1000 years. The maintenance required, annually reenacting his voyage. Whenever a part of the ship was worn or damaged, it was replaced with an identical piece of same material until, at some point, no original parts remained. Plutarch noted the ship of Theseus was an example of the philosophical paradox revolving around the persistence of identity. How can every single part of something be replaced, yet it still remains the same thing?

In your body there are between 50 and 75 trillion cells. Each type of cell has its own life span. Red blood cells live for about four months, while white blood cells live on average more than a year. Skin cells live about two or three weeks. Colon cells have it rough: They die off after about four days. Sperm cells have a life span of only about three days. So, are you the same person as you were couple of years ago?

However, the brain cells typically last an entire lifetime (neurons in the cerebral cortex, for example, are not replaced when they die). Your thoughts remain in your brain. So, are you, your memories? But, let’s think of it this way, few years ago you knew healthy milk is whole fat milk and now you know fat is bad for your health. So, your thoughts changed. You brain cells may not have replaced, but, physical connection between neurons have built and rebuilt over and over since your birth as you learned new things. As you have grown, other people’s views on you have also changed.

Now, let’s forget what you have known about you and try to look at yourself. When, you try to see yourself, you will feel like you are something lives inside your skull trying to look at you through your eye sockets. Close your eyes and touch a nearby object. While your hand progresses toward the object, you will feel like you are waiting inside your brain for the signal when the touch has been made.

So, you live inside your brain, but, do you have a physical existence? Probably not. You are a part of your body, same as your heart, lunges, eyes, hands and others. You are a necessary part, but, not a vital part. Without your heart your body cannot live. Without you your body will be dysfunctional, but, will live. Your importance among your other body parts is somewhere between your lunges and your eyes.

But, what is your purpose and what are your specialties? As your heart is for pumping blood to deliver nutrition to cells, kidney is to filter blood, eyes can deliver image to brain and nose can breathe, what do you do?

You are the oracle of your body. You are good at predicting the future. You learn and become better at it with each passing moments. Without you your body will go into coma, it will be nothing more than a machine. Even to other people, a slightest malfunction of you, will make you a mad person and government will deny your eligibility for getting a national ID card.

So, go ahead and read some books and articles on strategy, statistical calculation and history those help you with your prediction skill.

But, be aware of your other responsibilities. Those are to keep other parts of your body healthy and happy. I am not going to bother writing about how to do that, because, internet’s 90% articles are written on that.

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