I once wrote a term paper for a class on Ethics in college on the Prisoner's Dilemna. At the time, I considered it to be one of the best things I had ever created, because it married ethics with mathematics, something I had never really encountered before (ethical calculus does not count).

Descartes once said, "I think, therefore, I am". (See? It's not so late that I was elitist enough to write the French version.) This can't be true. If this was true, then each of us would be perfectly comfortable with our own existance simply by pondering it. We wouldn't need any further social contact to validate ourselves.

Obviously, this isn't enough for any but the most angry loners of us, who, by definition, are disgruntled and will most likely end up relating to somebody, albeit via a pipebomb. Hell, it's still a form of social contact.

But the point is that we *do* care what other people think about us. Whether they choose to admit it to themselves or the rest of us, very, very few people are really completely careless about what other people think about them. "Loners", as we know them, or renegades, or rebels--or whatever class of person you're thinking of that doesn't fit this broad definition--present their own image to the rest of us. That's their way of social interaction.

So we do care about what others think. Why? Why should social interaction, and the validation and affirmation which come from it, be so universally important? Of all the "rules" of "human nature" to which we find exceptions daily, why should there appear to be this one constant amongst a spectrum of erratic behavior?

I used to have a theory about the world. It boils down to an advancement of Descartes' statement. I know I'm alive, that I exist. I don't really have any proof that the rest of you do. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but the rest of you could all be part of an elaborate virtual-reality get-up, or you could be presented by God for my (or Her) amusement, or it could all be a hallucination, or... etc.

But since thinking about what I've stated in the paragraphs above, I've come to reverse that theory. It now seems like I have more proof that society exists, and less proof that I myself exist. And I think that's true for more of us than we'd like to admit.

The brain--indeed, much of the entire human system--is a "black box". Even in thousands of years of research, we still don't know very much of what goes on inside the brain. Where are ideas stored? What part of the brain is responsible for fantasy? Could you build a brain out of spare parts?

Could you transfer consciousness to something else?

Most common attempts to describe being (heart, soul, mind, "seat of reason") focus around the concept that all awareness, all sentience, is internalized. It occurs in the brain, and functions whether or not that brain actually does much at all. All it has to do is think it's alive--a la Descartes--and we give it the credit of being alive.

What if it's a different way--what if all it has to do is interact and it's alive? What if the definition of consciousness, of intellect, of reason, is not an internal ability but rather a function of social interaction? Even the most pessimistic of scientists acknowledges that much of behavior can be linked to society; why not the entire consciousness?

The single greatest annoyance most people harbor is being ignored. It's probably the greatest affront you can give to someone, to not even acknowledge their existance--all other forms of negativity take this for granted. Giving a driver the finger, for example, not only acknowledges the person's existance, but lets them know that they're important enough to warrant attention and focused agression, which is a very powerful emotion.

Why is that? Why is there so much power to the oft-used sci-fi/fantasy theory that those forms of magic (or technology, or people, etc.) which are no longer believed in are destroyed?

Like most ramblings, this one has gone on far too long, and posed more questions than it answered. But I hope it hasn't been a complete waste of your time. After discussing the need to communicate, the need to be heard and be acknowledged, I think you can guess at my motivation for posting this node.

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