How many people are you?
I’ve been on a journey of sorts through my life, to prove to folks that likely nothing is black and white. Now honestly, could something like “How many people are you?” be that complicated of a question? I mean obviously, you are one person, I am one person, it seems so simple.
Well lets go on a very short journey, through an entirely plausible series of events, merely limited by current medical technology. I’ll then ask a few simple questions and we’ll see how straight forward they are.
For reasons unknown, Markus, has entered a hospital to have a peculiar surgery done. The hospital is going to cut Markus completely in half from tip of his head to his groin. The brain itself can survive as damaged as 50%, which means that a perfect cut with optimum tools and technology would leave two halves that only are limited by the organs that remain. We would need to either build or donate an extra heart and any other organs that are not perfectly split. Essentially the ‘open’ side would then be closed with a bionic enclosure. Nothing fancy, an apparatus that helps enclose both sides so that now we have two living halves that both function.
My first question is a simple one. What would each side know? Would one side be able to speak and the other not? Does the brain store certain information in a raid between both halves? What would the halves say to one another?
Perhaps some deeper more philosophical questions. Would the halves themselves feel one another? In theory if we have a soul we would be dealing with one entity that now experiences two separate sets of sensation. What metaphysical ramifications come from each not communicating with the other?
Now I ask you. Given this situation that could quite easily happen with some small gains in the medical field. Is this just one person or two people? If you argue that it is one person, would you arrest one half if the other (unbeknownst to it) robbed a bank? If you didn’t arrest both of them then you are acknowledging that they are both separate people.
But now we have a new question. At what point did we take one person and make them two? What was it that defines a person? Is it simply the bridge between the two hemispheres? Or is it merely how many functioning bodies are present. In the face of the split man you have taken one functioning body and made it into two with a few modifications.
So that’s my conundrum. A problem that could be so easily fixed by just having a brain that does not operate when the hemispheres are disconnected from one another. This of course isn’t my finest work but the simple scenario and questions should keep folks busy which is what is important.