Tuesday, June 12, 2007

WWS-MT : What would Spider-man think?

This can apply to any fictional character, but it's easier to have an example, so I choose Spider-man (notice the hyphen) given that the film is on release, and he is well known to be given to soliloquising.
Now are Spider-man's thoughts real? Obviously they originate in the minds of Marvel scriptwriters, but they come about as a response to the situation he is in. When you are writing a character, you get inside that person, so you imagine what the character is feeling and thinking. Now the thoughts of Spider-man are contained within the meta-thoughts of the writer. And a person is what he thinks - cogitet ergo est. And to use an analogy, software can run on any compatible computer, so Spider-man's thoughts are being run in the writers' brains. If all these thoughts are gathered together, you have an admittedly rudimentary simulacrum of a human personality.
Does this mean that Spider-man lives? Or if not, is there a level of cognition that could be reached which could be defined as life?
I hope you've got the gist of what I'm trying to get at. I'm sure that some philosopher out there has been over all this, and there's a standard response to this. It's just I've been thinking about this off and on for the last few days, and I'm interested in others' responses to this.


Julie M said...

There's some philosopher, whose name escapes me, who thought that we are all a dream in the mind of God, and when He wakes up, we will all disappear! There's a joking reference to this in 'Alice in Wonderland'. Alice and (I think!) the Mad Hatter come across someone sleeping. 'Who's that?' says Alice.
'Shush!' said the mad Hatter. 'He's dreaming about you..'

Bohemian Road Nurse... said...

Yes, he lives.

He lives, as other characters, in the minds of the people who think about him. Like Santa Clause and (in my family's case) The Birthday Fairy.

(I'm not kidding about this.)

As for the philosophical explanation, I choose to relate it to the old "if a tree falls in the forest but nobody heard it, did it make a sound?" or something like that. Technically, it did NOT make a sound because nobody human heard it. (Let's not count the birds and animals because that complicates things.)

But if someone human were there and heard it---then it DID make a sound.

That's my philosophy, anyway.

(If you believe, clap your hands.....)

(Was that Peter Pan?...)

Deacon Barry said...

Santa, AND the Birthday Fairy! No fair! I want two as well!

Martyne said...

You really should get out more Deacon!