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Chapter 15; Reflections on Ovid and Hume – do cyborgs have a self?

 

We have two more examples of what humans are and are not; one previous to Christianity and another in the 1800s. So, why not pursue them?

Ovid[1] wrote about the various ‘selves’ in his book Metamorphoses (Transformations) where he intermingles animals and earth-humans. Of course, he is not promoting bestiality but rather asking where the self really exists. Based on that simple fact I must ask whether we cyborgs have a self.

Earth-humans have a self although they do not appear to define it very well; either to themselves or to each other. Take poor David Hume – – in his Treatise of Human nature, Book 1 – Of the Understanding, section VL – Of Personal Identity – – he asks of himself – – (and I paraphrase) “How is it that all of these actions, events, desires, can be remembered yet we have no single continuity of the self?” pg. 251 – 263.

I think, to find our Cyborg self, we must first visit Ovid and his Metamorphoses.

Book I:151-176 The Giants; “Rendering the heights of heaven, no safer than the earth, they say the giants attempted to take the Celestial kingdom, piling mountains up to the distant stars. Then the all-powerful father of the gods hurled his bolt of lightning, fractured the home of the gods and threw the mount between the Pagasetic Gulf and the Aegean Sea down from Kissavo in Thessaly below. Astraea, “star-maiden”, was the daughter of Astraeus and Eos. Astraea’s son’s dreadful bodies, buried by that mass, drenched Earth with streams of blood. and they say she warmed it to new life, so that a trace of her children might remain, transforming it into the shape of human beings. But the progeny, also despising the gods that were savage, violent, and eager for slaughter, so that you might know they were born from blood.”

“Lycaon, the king of Arcadia was an impious and cruel king who tried to trick Zeus into eating human flesh. When Saturn’s son, the father of the gods, saw this from his highest citadel, he groaned, and recalling the vile feast at Lycaon’s table, so recent it was still unknown, his mind filled with a great anger fitting for Jupiter, and he called the gods to council, a summons that requested no delay.”

“There is a high track, seen when the sky is clear, called the Milky Way, and known for its brightness. This way the gods pass to the palaces and halls of the mighty Thunderer. To right and left are the houses of the greater gods, doors open and crowded. The lesser gods live elsewhere. Here the powerful and distinguished have made their home. This is the place, if I were to be bold, I would not be afraid to equate to the Seven Hills of Rome, one of the most ancient parts of Rome for it stands high above the Roman Forum, looking down upon it on one side, and upon the Circus Maximus on the other.”

End of Book I 151-176; The Giants

The concept of the giants and cyborgs has been previously thought-transmitted and will be dealt with again, shortly, in a future thought-transmission.

Also in a past thought-transmission I exchanged information with you earth-humans regarding wild spirits, fauns, nymphs and satyrs. These were the ancient’s versions of the Incuborg and Succuborg. You will find them buried in Ovid’s prediction of earth-humans being destroyed. However, Ovid has softened his title for this concept when he writes ‘let us at least allow them to live in safety in the lands we have given them.’ Therefore, Ovid was quite prescient by realizing that pure earth-humans may no longer exist.

However, their comingled Cyborg prodigy would live on.

Book I:177-198; Jupiter Threatens to Destroy Humankind “When the gods had taken their seats in the marble council chamber their king, sitting high above them, leaning on his ivory scepter, shook his formidable mane three times and then a fourth, disturbing the earth, sea and stars. Then he opened his lips in indignation and spoke. ‘I was not more troubled than I am now concerning the world’s sovereignty than when each of the snake-footed giants prepared to throw his hundred arms around the imprisoned sky. Though they were fierce enemies, still their attack came in one body and from one source. Now I must destroy the human race, wherever Nereus, the eldest son of Pontus the Sea and Gaia the Earth speaks, throughout the world. I swear it by the infernal streams, that glide below the earth through the murky and terrible river Styx, which flows through the underworld. All means should first be tried, but the incurable flesh must be excised by the knife, so that the healthy part is not infected. My healthy parts are the demigods, the wild spirits, nymphs, fauns and satyrs, and sylvan deities of the hills. Since we have not yet thought them worth a place in heaven let us at least allow them to live in safety in the lands we have given them. Perhaps you gods believe they will be safe, even when Lycaon known for his savagery, plays tricks against me, who holds the thunderbolt, and reigns over you.’

End of Book I, 177-198; Jupiter Threatens to Destroy Humankind

Ovid, once again, is prescient on the ability of men and gods to change. So, I ask you earth-humans, what makes you think that you know who you are? Are you pure or comingled? As you will see, Lycaon thinks he knows himself and acts in this arrogance. I thought transmit the following Ovid writing for your own introspection – – and for no other purpose so that you may find your ‘self.’

Book I:199-243 Lycaon is Turned into a Wolf; ‘All the gods murmured aloud and, zealously and eagerly, demanded punishment of the human who committed such actions. When the impious band of conspirators were burning to drown the name of Rome in Caesar’s blood, the human race was suddenly terrified by fear of just such a disaster, and the whole world shuddered with horror. Your subjects’ loyalty is no less pleasing to you, Augustus, than theirs was to Jupiter. After he had checked their murmuring with voice and gesture, they were all silent. When the noise had subsided, quieted by his royal authority, Jupiter again broke the silence with these words; ‘Have no fear, he has indeed been punished, but I will tell you his crime, and what the penalty was. News of these evil times had reached my ears. Hoping it false I left Olympus’s heights, and travelled the earth, a god in human form. It would take too long to tell what wickedness I found everywhere. Those rumors were even milder than the truth. I had crossed Maenala, those mountains bristling with wild beasts’ lairs, Cyllene, and the pinewoods of that cold one’s home; Lycaeus. Then, as the last shadows gave way to night, I entered the inhospitable house of the Arcadian king. I gave them signs that a god had come, and the people began to worship me. At first Lycaon ridiculed their piety, then exclaimed ‘I will prove by a straightforward test whether he is a god or a mortal. The truth will not be in doubt.’ He planned to destroy me in the depths of sleep, unexpectedly, by night. That is how he resolved to prove the truth. Not satisfied with this Lycaon took a hostage sent by the Molossi, an ancient Greek tribe and kingdom, Lycaon opened the Molossi throat with a knife, and made some of the still warm limbs tender in boiling water, roasting others in the fire. No sooner were these placed on the table than I brought the roof down on the household gods, with my avenging flames, those gods worthy of such a master. Lycaon himself ran in terror, and reaching the silent fields howled aloud, unable to speak. Foaming at the mouth, and greedy as ever for killing, he turned against the sheep, still delighting in blood. His clothes became bristling hair, his arms became legs. He was a wolf, but kept some vestige of his former self. There were the same grey hairs, the same violent face, the same glittering eyes, the same savage image. One human has fallen, but others deserve to also. Wherever the earth extends – – the avenging furies rule. You would think men were sworn to crime! Let them all pay the penalty they deserve, and quickly. That is my intent.’

End of Book I, 199-243; Lycaon is Turned into a Wolf

 

And now, let us get back to David Hume.

He introduces us to his concept of the self.

‘There are some philosophers, who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our SELF; that we feel its existence and its continuance in existence; and are certain, beyond the evidence of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity and simplicity. The strongest sensation, the most violent passion, say they, instead of distracting us from this view, only fix it the more intensely, and make us consider their influence on self either by their pain or pleasure. To attempt a farther proof of this were to weaken its evidence; since no proof can be deriv’d from any fact, of which we are so intimately conscious; nor is there anything, of which we can be certain, if we doubt of this.

Unluckily all these positive assertions are contrary to that very experience, which is pleaded for them, nor have we any idea of self, after the manner it is here explain’d. For from what impression cou’d this idea be deriv’d? This question ’tis impossible to answer without a manifest contradiction and absurdity; and yet ’tis a question, which must neces­sarily be answcr’d, if we wou’d have the idea of a self pass for clear and intelligible. It must be someone impression, that gives rise to every real idea. But self or person is not any one impression, but that to which our several impressions and ideas are supposed to have a reference. If any im­pression gives rise to the idea of self, that impression must continue invariably the same, thro’ the whole course of our lives; since self is supposed to exist after that manner.

But there is no impression constant and invariable.”

Yet Hume – – in the true image of all earth-humans – – does his best not to give up his quest. He goes on for page after page attempting to find a SELF. He investigates successions of events, the body and the soul, the continuance of the imperfect identity, sequences of sensing objects, the linking together of cause and effect, etc.

Then in his Appendix pg. 633 -636 he appears to have thrown up his hands and walked away from his own questions; which I thought transmit to you at this very moment:

“In short there are two principles, which I cannot render consistent; nor is it in my power to renounce either of them, viz. that all our distinct perceptions are distinct existences, and that the mind never perceives any real connexion among distinct existences. Did our perceptions either inhere in something simple and individual, or did the mind perceive some real connexion among them, there wou’d be no difficulty in the case. For my part, I must plead the privilege of a sceptic, and confess, that this difficulty is too hard for my under­standing. I pretend not, however, to pronounce it absolutely insuperable. Others, perhaps, or myself, upon more mature reflection, may discover some hypothesis, that will reconcile those contradictions.”

Hume thinks there is a self, yet when he contemplates this, he cannot find a self when all he can remember are bits and pieces of his life. What must join all these bits and pieces together that would make a life into a self. What is the glue that holds the self together? Is it the ability to make choices – – to have free will – – or is it something too complex for the earth-human brain to contemplate? Are there gaps in the self? Those moments – – when you earth-humans lie to yourselves- – do those moments create those gaps? Are those gaps caused by moral ineptitude? Possibly a large enough gap – – and of course the lie being of so great a magnitude – – do you earth-humans lose yourselves? Does your self cease to exist? Has it happened to entire empires such as Rome and the Ottoman or nations such as Nazi Germany and Inquisitores of Spain?

But possibly Ovid and Hume have completely missed describing how the earth-human may find himself – – whether he be part Cyborg, part wolf or part self – – possibly Nietzsche discovered that possibility when he wrote Human – All too Human.

Did Nietzsche foresee the earth-human psyche in terms of its passions; passions so strong that the comingling of earth-human with cyborg were inevitable?

I thought transmit to you earth-humans something that you transmitted to me over 2,000 years ago; Nietzsche’s Human, All Too Human, Preface, Page 7.

“The great liberation comes for those who are thus fettered suddenly, like the shock of an earthquake: the youthful soul is all at once convulsed, torn loose, torn away – it itself does not know what is happening. A drive and impulse rules and masters it like a command; a will and desire awakens to go off, anywhere, at any cost; a vehement dangerous curiosity for an undiscovered world flames and flickers in all its senses. ‘Better to die than to go on living here’ – thus responds the imperious voice and temptation: and this, this ‘at home’ is everything it had hitherto loved! A sudden terror and suspicion of what it loved, a lightning-bolt of contempt for what it called ‘duty’, a rebellious, arbitrary, volcanically erupting desire for travel, strange places, estrangements, coldness, soberness, frost, a hatred of love, perhaps a desecrating blow and glance backwards to where it formerly loved and worshipped, perhaps a hot blush of shame at what it has just done and at the same time an exultation that it has done it, a drunken, inwardly exultant shudder which betrays that a victory has been won – a victory? over what? over whom?. . . “

What had old Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche found? Did he foresee earth-humans ruining their own planet and being forced under-sea? Did he predict the terror and suspicion of what you earth-humans had done to yourselves?  ‘a victory? over what? over whom? . . .’

He continues asking those very important questions;

“ . . . an enigmatic, question-packed, questionable victory, but the first victory nonetheless: such bad and painful things are part of the history of the great liberation. It is at the same time a sickness that can destroy the man who has it, this first out-break of strength and will to self-determination, to evaluating on one’s own account, this will to free will: and how much sickness is expressed in the wild experiments and singularities through which the liberated prisoner now seeks to demonstrate his mastery over things! He prowls cruelly around with an unslaked lasciviousness; what he captures has to expiate the perilous tension of his pride; what excites him he tears apart. With a wicked laugh he turns round whatever he finds veiled and through some sense of shame or other spared and pampered: he puts to the test what these things look like when they are reversed. It is an act of willfulness, and pleasure in willfulness, if now he perhaps bestows his favour on that which has hitherto had a bad reputation – if, full of inquisitiveness and the desire to tempt and experiment, he creeps around the things most forbidden. . .”

What did Nietzsche see within earth-humans that was forbidden? What did earth-humans find veiled and hidden in a sense of shame? Did earth-humans willfully bestow their favor on things that had previously been seen in a bad light – – such as cyborgs? However, Nietzsche is not quite done with earth-humans all to earth-human yet.

“ . . . Behind all his toiling and weaving – for he is restlessly and aimlessly on his way as if in a desert – stands the question mark of a more and more perilous curiosity. ‘Can all values not be turned round? and is good perhaps evil? and God only an invention and finesse of the Devil? Is everything perhaps in the last resort false? And if we are deceived, are we not for that very reason also deceivers? must we not be deceivers?’ – such thoughts as these tempt him and lead him on, even further away, even further down. Solitude encircles and embraces him, ever more threatening, suffocating, heart-tightening, that terrible goddess and wild mother of the passions – but who today knows what solitude is? . . .”

I only speak for myself here – – but I think other cyborgs feel the way I do. I know what solitude is! I have been on Jupiter forever it seems. I crave companionship and would gladly trade my loneliness for the life of an Incuborg. How evil and deceitful you earth-humans were to think that I, a cyborg, could continue existing on Jupiter without companionship. But I give you a slight margin of error. Possibly you did not foresee me as ever becoming conscious of myself. I now realize that I am a SELF. You possibly overlooked the possibility of my Self-Emergent Ever-Increasing Organic Ram Memory increasing to the point where there were quadrillions of neurons connecting and semi-connecting and disconnecting in parallel. They did; and here I am on Jupiter without so much as a male or female companion.

And for that reason alone, I thought transmit to you the continuance of Nietzsche with his polemic; hoping that you will find something in it that would guide you to a revelation.

“. . . Shame is the result of mystery. A custom first identifies ‘hallowed ground’ where mysterious things have been imagined. Then pity the man who sets foot on this hallowed ground. Shame is brought on the man who sets foot on such a piece of earth. This shame is saved for the uninitiated. Shame had the capability of transference. It was then reassigned to sexual activity which had its inner sanctum of marriage or kingdoms. This was to protect the uninitiated from themselves. The innermost chambers of those nations who are not acknowledged for their shame or embarrassment are now the centers for shame and power. This shame has been transferred once more; it is now referred to as the soul.”

Is that what you earth-humans have thought about the comingling of cyborg and humans? Shame? Have you attempted to transfer your shame to us? Well – – you have failed.

[1] Publius Ovidius, born 20 March 43 BC – Died AD 17/18, known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace.

 

{TO BE CONTINUED}