On Paul Valery’s ‘Some Simple Reflections on the Body’

In the section ‘On the Blood and Us’, Valery raises questions surrounding the essence of life; What if our blood were pumped in directly without all the prerequisite processes of nutrition, oxygenation, etc, were removed and only the system of the blood remained? It’s sort of a paradox, to think about it; our blood system is certainly the ‘central’ and most important, but only because it exists to replenish and satiate the rest of our organism.

I’m reminded of Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines, where he argues that in the future our bodies will be replaced by hardware smart enough to emulate their functions. The question boils down to, what is life? What is our essence that makes us ‘us’ — is it biological, or spiritual, or somewhere in between?

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