Scrooge could not feel it himself, but this was clearly the case; for though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless, its hair, and skirts, and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven. ” said Scrooge, returning quickly to the charge, for the reason just assigned; and wishing, though it were only for a second, to divert the vision’s stony gaze from himself. ” returned Scrooge, “I have but to swallow this, and be for the rest of my days persecuted by a legion of goblins, all of my own creation. Now your brain is dead, Jacob – there’s no question about it – so no possibility of your consciousness persisting arises. ” “I keep the books, certainly, Jacob; but that would be a narrow kind of mind…” Scrooge fell silent as he saw the trap he was falling into. ” replied the spirit, “and when did your thoughts last spend a cheerful hour outside the counting house? ” it thundered, “You shall be visited by three ghosts of disembodied consciousness!
Unless we are to be panpsychists, but if that were true, why, I might as well worry about the consciousness of the knocker on the front door! ” Scrooge looked abashed, but he was thinking quickly. So if you are brought here tonight by the revivification of those traces, it is by my mind, and you are indeed nothing more than a phantom of my brain, as I said! The Ghost of Dualism Past; the Ghost of Algorithms Present; and the Ghost of Uploading Yet to Come! * Scrooge was actually rather lucky to get away with that one.
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” “Perhaps you should,” intoned the ghost, unmoved, “I came to effect a moral reformation, but I see I must begin with mereology. “You see, spirit,” he resumed, “those account books may retain vestiges of your personality. very well, then, without a human being, to animate it, to give it significance. Expect the first at the stroke of midnight.” “Humbug! He is, of course, is alluding to Fechner’s Law, which relates subjective sensation to the logarithm of the intensity of the stimulus, hence at the time a shining example of the new empirical psychology (actually rather too new – I don’t think it was published even in German until after A Christmas Carol).
Strangely enough, neither Scrooge nor Marley seem aware that Fechner himself believed in a form of panpsychism and had already set out in Das Büchlein vom Leben nach dem Tode (1836) his vision of human life as having three stages: a sleep before birth, normal life in the middle stage, and entry into the general communion of consciousness after death, with the dead still able to exert a helpful influence on the living.
People often describe a complete transformation taking place in their lives after the death of someone close.
Something about death causes you to reach deeply into your soul – as I said when my sister passed away over 4 years ago, your “heart gets broken open.” Although my relationship with my mother was very frustrating, there is no more intimate relationship than the one we have with the person who bore our body into this world.
There was something very awful, too, in the spectre’s being provided with an infernal atmosphere of its own. “But I see it,” said the Ghost, “notwithstanding.” “Well! “It has been proved not only that consciousness is amenable to scientific investigation, but that it obeys hard mathematical laws; and there’s no manner of doubt that it resides in the brain. Is not that part of my mind still growing and flourishing in your counting-house? Marley in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.The most parsimonious assumption in such a case, you know, is always that a miraculous event such as your appearance is a delusion.” “Why do you doubt your senses?” Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then. But would those things come from your brain, or from mine? Well, really, what have you been doing with your evenings, Jacob? These columns of figures, these legal documents, were the tools I used in life to think about my business.The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre’s voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones. I can tell you, if you wish, things that only Jacob Marley could have known: do you doubt it? You see, we know now, Jacob, that consciousness is a product of the brain. ” Scrooge clung desperately to his exposition as the best means of retaining his equanimity in the face of the apparition’s unwavering gaze; at the same time he felt a little pride over his steadfastness. They are as much part of my mind as the brain I once had.