I was sitting on the tube today looking at the people around me thinking that we were all just lumps of stuff. The stuff that makes up the world doesn’t increase or decrease – it just gets rearranged. Ashes to ashes dust to dust.
Even on a daily basis the stuff that is us changes and gets recycled. Skin flakes off food gets converted to new skin. Even the apprently solid stuff we are made of is mostly water and that is mostly space.
What is it that holds us together and makes my pile of stuff distinguishable from everyone elses. It’sd the idea of me that sets my limits, sets my character, conditions other people’s sense of what is me.
It’s a bit like technology. The stuff is getting so cheap and common as to be meaningless. Processor power, memory, bandwidth. They all almost come free these days.
The infrastructure is increasingly in the meaning, the code, the trust, the reputation.
Without meaning it’s all just stuff and it’s getting harder to pretend that this isn’t so.
My first response, in the comments, was it’s autopoiesis!, but thinking about it there’s more, and Euan gets the essence by saying “It’s the idea of me that sets my limits, sets my character, conditions other people’s sense of what is me.”
Korzybski said that man is a time-binding animal – by that he meant that we can take ideas and discoveries from the past and build on them. What we are as individuals is as much about the culture we create as it is about the shape we fit. And a big part of that culture is how we link the ideas of others and add our own, unique, slant… is that why blogs are so popular?