Will systematic organ replacement do the job? Or even a head transplant? Do we need to remain biological, or could synthetic body parts take over? Setting aside the ‘hardware’ questions, would it be sufficient to transfer the memory into a suitable receptor – real or artificial? Ultimately, could we liberate ourselves from our physical encumbrances? Might this constitute some form of rebirth – or should we accept our lot and patiently await the redemptive intervention of an insuperable supernatural presence? In any case, is it immoral to cheat death? Is it not ethically appropriate to strive for self-improvement, both physical and mental and isn’t modern technology a benign means to a desirable end?
But do these scenarios use up all the options? Are we definable by our embodiments? If not, by what extra-bodily capacity are we able to recognise the difference? And isn’t our brand of intentional action something alien to nature? Also, doesn’t consciousness introduce a real difference that is neither evident in the stark biology nor definable by what we happen to be conscious of? Likewise, what if there is more to us than a life we can call our own? Then what if we are more than a personality forged by circumstance – because personal being transcends our individuality and we retain the flexibility to be more than we can become in any number of biological lives?
It is said that science tells us who we are and how we got here, but there is also something about us that tells us what science is and where it is going.
Science teaches us there is something about personality that we overlook in treating it as a personal possession. Personality is not a fact locked-away inside us, or a thing fixed in ‘the self’; it is also a property of nature, culture and the universe at large. But as a property of nature, it changes the nature of nature – the nature of change being a moot point that we tend to overlook both personally and scientifically.
Everything is subject to change: we change, nature diversifies, the universe evolves, and in the process something ‘impossible’ happens – things become more than they were – and the same thing happens to the nature of nature. Likewise, personal existence is embedded in nature yet marks a dramatic shift in the nature of nature. It opens up new boundaries of possibility with planned designs and purposes that defy scientific definitions of what nature is and does.
Personality is a strong force for change, a power in the universe, which we treat as a weak force, mirroring our weaknesses to the extent that we regard it as belonging to us as a property confined to our nature. However the very thing we strive to possess on our terms is the very thing we are bound to lose; whereas personal existence, as a property of the universe, endures in the nature of change as it shapes, transforms, and elevates.
Everything ‘got here’ through powers of change and everything is subject to changes that herald further expansions of power. ‘Impossibilities’ are overcome, evincing the magnitude of change in realities and realisations newly transformed. Staying as we are defines our incompletes and defies nature in a reality we try to make of ourselves and keep for ourselves. Change invites us to become something more, to grow into life by leaving something behind, thereby to gain capacities and faculties we never had – as did nature ‘in itself’.