Specifically, Egnor asks, if your head were transplanted, would your soul
go with it? Because a human head transplant would induce quadriplegia, many of the philosophical questions are currently theoretical — but fascinating nonetheless:
Head transplantation has not been done on humans. Not because it wouldn’t work — it would be technically easier on humans than on monkeys because humans are bigger so things would be easier to sew. It has not been done on humans because, in order to transplant a head, you must cut the spinal cord, which causes permanent paralysis. Head transplantation causes quadriplegia. There is no real medical benefit in creating a quadriplegic patient — it might preserve life but at the expense of total paralysis. This question occasionally arises in neurosurgery in a different context. The consensus is that deliberate imposition of a catastrophic neurological disability is unacceptable, even if it may save life. With rare exceptions, we don’t deliberately make people blind or paralyzed or comatose, even to prolong life.
An ethical case for head transplantation could be made in the case of an already quadriplegic patient who had multiple organ failure and who would die otherwise. This is a rare scenario.
Head transplantation is interesting from a metaphysical perspective. It’s a question that would have interested Dr. Frankenstein: Imagine that spinal cord repair were feasible and patients would not be rendered paralyzed. If heads were successfully switched, where would the souls end up? Is the soul in the brain, in the body, in both, or in neither? Two people would still exist after switching heads. But who would be who? Where would the souls go — with the brains or with the bodies?
As with so many metaphysical questions about the mind-body relationship, we need first to understand the meaning of the words we use.Michael Egnor, “Are head transplants soul transplants?” at Mind Matters News
You may also wish to read: Your soul has no “Off” switch It’s an intriguing and important question and you may be surprised by some of the answers. (Michael Egnor)
7 Replies to “Michael Egnor: What would happen to your soul if your head were transplanted?”
Dr. Egnor mentions that, “We face this question today with organ transplants. I have a family friend who has had a heart transplant. Is her new heart hers or is it the heart of the young man from whom it was harvested?”
In regards to that question, and to the overarching question of “What Would Happen To Your Soul If Your Head Were Transplanted?”, here are some interesting testimonials from organ transplant recipients,
And here is a 2019 study that goes so far as to try to identify the mechanism,
And here are testimonies from the PDF of the preceding study:
Now as a Christian Theist who believes in an immaterial mind and in an immaterial soul, (as well as believing that we have “a heart”), the preceding makes fairly good sense to me. But I simply don’t see how materialists, who don’t even believe in a immaterial mind, much less believing in an immaterial soul, (or ‘a heart’), can make any sense out of such testimonies.,,, Materialists simply have no way to explain such things in their worldview. Things like this are simply not suppose to happen in their worldview.
What happens to the soul? An interesting question. According to the interactive dualism hypothesis, in physical life the soul experiences the physical world, manifests in the physical, through intricately interpenetrating the brain and to a lesser extent the body. The experiences of NDEers seem to bear this out in their experiences of leaving the physical body and then returning. If this model is correct, then after head transplantation, the soul probably would remain embedded in the old head/brain and take up residence in the new body and be a complete human being if the spinal cord connections were somehow medically restored. The soul of the former individual who contributed the body would go on to better things. Or, possibly, this high medical tech intervention would be judged by the powers-that-be to be far too unnatural to the human condition to be allowed to stand, and the procedure would be forced always to fail.
Another possibility would be that the resident soul of the contributed body and sacrificed head would obstinately refuse to give up its residency, and there even might be a conflict where the soul of the dying recipient battles to prevent the soul of the contributed body from taking over his former brain. Bizarre possibilities.
I just put a rebuilt tranny in my Jeep, so is my Jeep still my Jeep, or the original transmission owner’s Jeep, or is it both our’s, or, or, ????? I’m just so very confused……
Chuckdarwin states, “I’m just so very confused……”
Now if the real Charles Darwin would have just honestly admitted that too, then we could have spared ourselves 160 years of scientific confusion.
So a tranny is equal to a brain, really? Wow
@ chuckdarwin so how does a transmission equate to a living organism?
Even if you take a biological reductionistic approach, you cannot make that parallel as each of those body parts are composed of cellular organisms that have their own DNA , their own life cycles, and their own biological make up. Technically no part of us as we are belong to us. As in Ed Yong’s book we are composed of multitudes.
The only thing that’s confused here is your asinine parallel in an attempt to be clever
which it wasn’t
Like it honestly wasn’t
You’re atheistic skepticism is annoying and miss placed and furthered no part of the discussion other than you jerking off to your own personality thinking you were clever
So obviously you are truly a Darwinist because you had to mark your territory like a dumb chimpanzee
>”During intimate moments, Fred would call his wife “Sandy”, much to the consternation of his wife Karen.”
Yeah, that never goes well, does it? 😎
(Full disclosure: I do NOT know that from personal experience.)
>”After receiving his new heart, the recipient would not touch Power Rangers .”
Given how the child sadly died, there was not enough time for such a memory to lodge in the cells/DNA/proteins/etc. of the body, in order for the information to be transferred through the physical heart. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing those incidents.